Photo source: C. “Bud” Shortridge, author of a very detailed website on US Liberty and other ships sunk by U-boats in WWII. http://home.comcast.net/~cshortridge/MERSHIPHIS/AMERSHIPL/SS_BLOODY_MARSH.pdf
The Bloody Marsh was, like the Esso Gettysburg, a T-2 tanker built at Sun Shipbuilding in Chester Pennsylvania. Of 10,195 tons she was completed the same year – 1943 for the US Maritime Commission – and was on her maiden voyage. Her owners were the Cities Service Oil Company of New York and her home port Philadelphia. Bloody Marsh’s Master was Captain Albert Harrison Barnes and her total crew was 77 souls, 27 of them with the Naval Armed Guard. Her course was northwards with a full cargo of 102,500 barrels of fuel oil for the Navy, destined for New York from Houston.
Just after midnight German time on the 2nd of July 1943, Markworth in U-66 sent a torpedo towards the ship roughly 75 East of Savannah, Georgia. As part of relatively new technology, an automatic sensor on board the Bloody Marsh detected an incoming torpedo, and sounded the alarm. This enabled the captain to order a sharp turn to port, however the projectile still struck 30 seconds later (Uboat.net, Bud Shortridge article online). The impact was felt directly in the engine room, which was destroyed utterly. All three watch-standers below – Fireman James Mitchell, Oiler Frank Robuck, and Third Assistant Engineer Robert T. Winslow – were killed instantly.
The Naval Armed Guard leader and three of his team stood their ground at the 5”, 3” and 22mm guns until up to their knees in water, at which point they dove for it and were later picked up by #1 lifeboat. The after crew thought they saw a submarine conning tower and tried to fire at it, but the explosions had jammed the gun. The gun up forward, meanwhile could not be twisted far enough aft to be of any use in that direction.
All but the Naval Armed Guard and the dead managed to leave the sinking ship in four lifeboats and three rafts (Uboat.net). A coup-de-grace was fired by Markworth 20 minutes later and the torpedo explosion mid-ships broke the Bloody Marsh in half. Surfacing to survey the damage, U-66 inadvertently came up immediately beneath one of the lifeboats, toppling its occupants into the sea. At sunrise – 6 AM the following morning – a US Navy blimps spotted the survivors and managed to tell them that help was on the way. The US Navy Sub chaser SC – 1048 rescued them at 9 AM and took them to Charleston the same day (Shortridge – see citation below).
SOURCES: Survivor Statements from NARA, Washington DC, www.uboat.net, and http://home.comcast.net/~cshortridge/MERSHIPHIS/AMERSHIPL/SS_BLOODY_MARSH.pdf