The Answer is Often:
It was Meant to Be
We will never know why a very young Canadian seaman, ‘Bud’ Bridgman, volunteered to remain on lookout aboard HMCS Comox after the search for survivors of the Liberty Ship Martin Van Buren had ceased. Nevertheless, despite the bone chilling fog, Bud continued to scan what parts of the ocean he could see. Sixty six men are very grateful that he did.
Left: Seaman Arthur 'Bud' Bridgman
with 'Cookie' aboard HMCS Comox
Fog did not Spare Convoy BX-141 (Boston-Halifax)
On January 14, 1945 German U-1232 sank or damaged beyond repair 3 ships in fifteen minutes – some reports indicate it may have been as little as thirteen minutes. The U-boat commander reported sinking four boats but he missed HMCS Ettrick and probably was unable to see that the Ettrick evaded the torpedo. Minutes later the Ettrick rammed the U-boat ‘causing extensive damage to the conning tower, periscopes and radio mast’ although U-1232 was able to evade subsequent depth charges and make for home. (Hitler’s U-Boat War by C. Blair).
HMCS Ettrick - evaded the torpedo U-1232 meant for her and turned to ram the U-Boat causing extensive damage.
The first to be hit was the tanker British Freedom. The Master was lost and 46 crew members and 9 gunners were picked up by the minesweeper HMCS Gaspe.
Martin Van Buren
Minutes later, the next torpedo found the Liberty Ship Martin Van Buren. Three navy gunmen were lost, sixty three of the crew were rescued by HMCS Comox and three by HMCS Fundy).
The last ship hit was another tanker, the Athelviking. The Master and three members of the crew were lost and there were forty seven survivors.
To the Rescue
More About Bud Bridgman
Arthur L. ‘Bud’ Bridgman grew up in St. Thomas, Ontario and enlisted in the R.C.N.V.R. as soon as his age allowed. He saw active service in the Atlantic on board the minesweeper, HMCS Comox. His military service also included 18 years in the militia from 1947-1965. He was a Warrant Officer and received the Canadian Forces Decoration for Long Service.