Like many communities along the Chesapeake Bay, the history of Mathews County is rich in maritime tradition. From naval engagements during the Revolutionary War to shipbuilding during the early 19th century, the residents of Mathews have had a lasting relationship with the sea…
The arrival of World War II was no different.
During the 20th century, it was common for these men to join the merchant marine, and many would go on to become ship captains. When Hitler’s U-Boat fleet arrived during WWII, it created an urgent need for reinforcements along the Atlantic Coast, and the merchant marine became a lifeline. Because of their close ties to the sea and experience, many of Mathews’ local men were called to action.
One of the most brutal attacks came in 1942—fifteen Mathews men were killed when Hitler’s U-Boats torpedoed a fleet of merchant ships. The U.S. Navy named an attack cargo ship after Mathews County to honor the fallen heroes. USS Mathews served as a commissioned ship for over 18 years.
For more information on Mathews County’s history and WWII Men, check out the links below:
- Mathews County Historical Society: http://www.visitmathewsva.com/statistics.html
- Time Inc: http://time.com/4303121/world-war-ii-merchant-marine/
For a more in-depth account, pick up a copy of William Geroux’s newly published book titled The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler’s U-boats. The synopsis reads:
“One of the last unheralded heroic stories of World War II: the U-boat assault off of the American coast against the men of the U.S. Merchant Marine who were supplying the European war, and one community’s monumental contribution to that effort.”
You can read the full summary or order a copy here: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/317491/the-mathews-men-by-william-geroux/9780143109266/