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Chapin, Richard T.

Richard T. Chapin Merchant Marines WWII
Richard T. Chapin Merchant Marines WWII

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Date of Birth: 4/14/1914
Died On: 4/16/1942
Street Address: 291 Rye Beach Avenue
Service Number: 63490
Branch of Service: Merchant Marines - Merchant Marines - SS Robin Hood

Veteran Code: KIA-1

Richard Traill Chapin

Richard Traill Chapin was born in Rochester, NY on 14-Apr-14 to Charles H. and Dorothy Traill Chapin. He had two older siblings Emily and Charles Jr. and the family lived at 291 Rye Beach Avenue, Rye, NY. His Father was a sales manager and his mother was a homemaker. Richard enlisted and served in the Merchant Marines during World War II.

Richard enlisted in the Merchant Marines during the Great Depression at age of 19. He was described as having a fair complexion with brown eyes and auburn hair, standing 510. His first ship was the SS Exiria and left New York in October 1933. He would continue his seamanship, travelling the world throughout the 1930s and into World War II, while based in New York.

SS Robin Hood American Steam Merchant

In early April 1942 Richard signed on as a third officer with the SS Robin Hood a 6. 687 ton steam merchant in NY enroute to Capetown - Trinidad - Boston, Massachusetts. Her course at the time was 343 degrees true north northwest, and Captain O’Pray was adhering to the British zig zag patterns 11 and 34. Speed was 10.7 knots through the water. It was a dark and cloudless night with winds were southwest in the 14-20 knot range, a choppy sea and lots of phosphorus in the ship’s wake. There were two look-outs, one on each wing of the bridge, with Third Officer Richard T. Chapin manning the starboard bridge wing.

Unbeknownst to them, Robin Hood was being stalked by U-575 under Günther Heydemann. At 9:42 pm local time Captain O’Pray was in the chart room on the bridge when Second Officers Curtis W. Denton called him to say that a torpedo fired from astern had just passed along the starboard side close by. O’Pray ordered a hard turn to port..

At 03. 38 hours on 16 Apr, 1942, the unescorted and unarmed Robin Hood was hit on the starboard side by two torpedoes from German submarine U-575 while steaming on a zigzag course at 11 knots in rough seas about 300 miles southeast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. The ship had been missed five hours earlier by a first torpedo. One torpedo struck amidships at the fireroom, killing one officer and two crewmen on watch below and caused a boiler explosion that lifted the deck up and folded it over. The next hit forward of the first and blew the hatch covers off the #1 and #2 holds and carried away the foremast. The vessel flooded rapidly, broke in two at #3 hatch and sank within seven minutes.

Most of the nine officers and 29 crewmen aboard abandoned ship in one lifeboat, but three other officers and eight more crewmen were lost. After 7 days adrift the survivors were picked up on 23 April by USS Greer DD 145 and landed at Hamilton, Bermuda.

Third Officer Richard T. Chapin, U. S. Maritime Service, was not among the survivors and was reported missing in the Atlantic. Although the sinking of the Robin Hood took place in April 1942, Richard was not officially declared dead until late 1945.

The German U-Boat 575 was eventually sunk on March 13th 1944 by the combined efforts of the Canadian frigate HMCS Prince Rupert, the American destroyer USS Hobson and destroyer escort USS Haverfield, a British Vickers Wellington of No. 172 Squadron RAF, two B-17 Flying Fortresses of 206 and 208 squadrons and a TBM Avenger from USS Bogue. Depth charges were used in the attack.

18 men died with U-575; there were 37 survivors.

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