William Henry Merryfield was born in Pennsylvania. By 1930 his father had passed on, and his mother had re-married, to a metal-stamper, William J. Smith, who owned a home at 221 Milton Street, in the Poet's Row section of North Camden. At the time of the 1930 census, William Henry was 21, and living with his mother, step-father, brother John E. Merryfield, and step-sisters Margaret, Emma, and Ida at the Camden NJ address. He was working as a repairman in a typewriter shop. He went to sea for the first time around 1932.
William Henry Merryfield was serving aboard merchant ships when America entered World War II in December of 1941. On January 25, 1942 in Newark NJ he married Marie DeVall, of New York City. For reasons not known, the Merryfields kept their marriage a secret from their families at that time.
William Henry Merryfield shipped out as an an Oiler on the freighter SS Pan Atlantic. This ship was on its way to Russia on the Murmansk run, when it was bombed and sunk by dive-bombers of the German Luftwaffe on July 6, 1942, 180 miles north of Cape Canin. Merryfield's crewmates who survived this attack were picked up by the SS Bellingham which was subsequently torpedoed herself, all hands fortunately survived. The Pan Atlantic lost 18 of her crew, and 7 of the naval armed guard.
William Henry Merryfield was reported as missing in action on November 4, 1942. At this time his marriage was made public. He was officially reported as missing on December 4, 1942. He was survived by his mother, of the Milton Street address, and his wife then living at 38 South 27th Street.
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