James Robert Jennings, III

Conflict: World War II
Branch of Service: Marine Corps
Unit: 6th Recruitment Battalion
Rank: Private
Serial Number: 363944
Date of Death: 8 February 1944

Burial: Tablets of Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England; memorial headstone at Chattanooga National Cemetery, Chattanooga, Hamilton Co., Tenn.

Medals / Citations / Awards: Purple Heart; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal.

James Robert Jennings III was born 27 October 1914 in Chattanooga, Hamilton Co., Tenn., a son of James Robert Jr. and Nell E. Jennings. It is believed that the father was deceased by the time James III enlisted in the Marines as his mother is the only listed parent in his file. Sometime in 1943, she moved to Spartanburg, S.C. She later married a Mr. Allen (first name unknown). James III had the following siblings: Billy and Donald E.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps 24 March 1942 at Nashville, Tenn., for the duration of the National Emergency and was assigned to active duty the same day. His enlistment papers describe him as 71 ½ inches tall, 150 lbs., with blue eyes, light brown hair, and a ruddy complexion. After completing boot camp at Parris Island, N.C., he transferred to Quantico, Va., 26 March 1942; was sent to New York City 18 January 1943; and embarked to Iceland on the USS Henry R. Mallory (ID-1280) on 23 January 1943.

The Mallory was part of Convoy SC-118 heading for Liverpool. Her crew consisted of 9 officers, 68 crewmen, and 34 Naval Armed Guards (who manned the 11 guns on deck). Also on board were 383 passengers: 2 civilians, 136 Army soldiers, 72 Marines, and 173 Navy sailors. As the convoy, which consisted of 60 ships and 26 escorts, sailed near Iceland, a “wolfpack” of approximately 20 Kriegsmarine U-Boats attacked the convoy repeatedly over a four-day period, ultimately sinking 12 Allied ships. On the morning of 7 February 1943, the Mallory was traveling in station 33 approximately 600 nautical miles south-southwest of Iceland of the convoy when she was hit by a torpedo fired from German submarine U-402. Hit in the number three hold on the starboard side, the ship began settling by the stern and listing to port, and sank at about 07:30. Of Henry R. Mallory‘s ten lifeboats, only three were successfully launched, holding 175 men. Many other men jumped overboard for rafts in the water. None of the other ships in the convoy were aware of the Mallory‘s predicament. American destroyer Schenck was searching for survivors another sunken ship and saw lights but was denied permission to investigate. Only when survivors were found by U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bibb some four hours later was the fate of Henry R. Mallory made clear. Bibb rescued 205 men, 3 of whom later died. Another Coast Guard cutter, Ingham, rescued a further 22, of whom 2 later died. Among the 272 dead was the ship’s master, 48 crewmen, 15 armed guards, and 208 passengers.

All those missing in action were officially declared Killed in Action 8 February 1944. James is memorialized on the Tablets of Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England. In 1970, his mother requested that a memorial stone be placed for him at Chattanooga National Cemetery, Chattanooga, Hamilton Co., Tenn.

Sources:
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) – database
Find-A-Grave – Memorial #49928566
Military file—National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Mo.
The Official Roster of South Carolina Servicemen and Servicewomen in World War II, 1941-46, Compiled in five volumes under the direction of Robert E. McNair, Governor, Frank D. Pinckney, The Adjutant General. [Columbia, S.C.] Printed under supervision of The Division of General Services, 1972.

Jennings Photo Taken 28 March 1942; Headstone in photo is at the Chattanooga National Cemetery, Chattanooga, TN.

Biography and documentation provided by Frieda M. Davidson.

James Robert Jennings III “Rink” had two brothers. Billie C. Jennings served twenty-four years active duty in the Marines and was honorably discharged. Donald E Jennings served three years active duty in the Marines and was honorably discharged.

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