(Jan. 19, 1945) -- Pfc. Malcolm Christopher, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry C.
Christopher of Chestnut street was reported missing in the European area. In
March 1945, he was reported killed in action.
Christopher was aboard the Belgian troopship Leopoldville when it was
sunk by a German submarine on Christmas Eve,, Dec. 24, 1944, killing 802 men of the 2,235
served in the 264th Infantry Regiment, 66th Infantry Division. He received
the Purple Heart. He is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Normandy
American Cemetery, St. Laurent-sur-Mer, France. S. Sgt. Gilbert Stueble
of neighboring Belleville served in the same regiment and perished on the
According to the 66th Division website:
The 66th Infantry Division was activated April
15, 1943 at Camp Blanding, FL. The 66th Division was part of the
Sixth Army Group and participated in the Northern France
The 66th Infantry Division has not been without
tragedy. On Christmas Eve 1944, one of their troopships the SS
Leopoldville, a Belgium passenger ship converted into a transport,
was crossing the English Channel and was hit and sunk by a German
U-Boat. They were on our way to replace the troops at the Battle of
the Bulge. That night they lost 14 officers, including two battalion
commanders, and 784 enlisted men.
Two days later they were assigned to fight 60,000
Nazis in the pockets along the French Atlantic coast, the Black
Panther Division, the 66th Division entered combat with grim
determination - to avenge those who died in the English Channel.
SS Léopoldville was an 11,500-long-ton passenger
liner of the Compagnie Belge Maritime du Congo. She was converted
for use as a troopship in the Second World War, and while sailing
between Southampton and Cherbourg, was torpedoed and sunk by the
U-486. As a result, approximately 763 soldiers died, together with
56 of her crew.
Prior to the attack, the Léopoldville had made 24
cross-Channel crossings, transporting more than 120,000 troops. She
sailed as part of convoy WEP-3, a cross-channel convoy from
Southampton to Cherbourg. The Léopoldville was in a diamond
formation with four escorts; the destroyers HMS Brilliant and HMS
Anthony, the frigate HMS Hotham, and the French frigate Croix de
Lorraine, and another troopship the SS Cheshire.
On the day of the attack, the Léopoldville was
carrying reinforcements from the 262nd and 264th Regiments, 66th
Infantry Division of the U.S. Army towards the Battle of the Bulge.
While in the English Channel on 24 December 1944, approximately five
miles from the coast of Cherbourg, the convoy was attacked by U-486
and at 17.54 hours the Léopoldville was hit by one of two torpedoes
fired from the U-boat. She finally sank by the stern at 20.40 hours.
Of the 2,235 American servicemen on board,
approximately 515 are presumed to have gone down with the ship.
Another 248 died from injuries, drowning, or hypothermia. Captain
Charles Limbor, one Belgian and three Congolese crewmembers also
went down with the ship. An unknown number of British soldiers died.
Documents about the attack remained classified until 1996.
Christopher has been in service nearly two years and was formerly an Army
Specialized Training Program student at the University of Wisconsin. The
young soldier had spent a leave with his family over Armistice Day and left
for overseas shortly afterward. He
is a graduate of
Nutley High school, class of 1942. Before entering service, he was employed
at Hoffman-La Roche.
Sgt. Charles W. Katt and
Pfc. Frederick Comer
were killed when their troopship HMT Rohna
was destroyed in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Algeria on
Nov. 26, 1943.
From The Nutley Sun
January 19, 1945:
Pfc. Malcolm Christopher,
Thurston Woodford Missing
March 30, 1945: Pfc. CHRISTOPHER
KILLED IN ACTION
American Legion Post 70
Belleville Sons Honor Roll, Gilbert Stueble
Leopoldville: a Tragedy Too Long Secret,
By Allan Andrade
Leopoldville, 66th Division
Wikipedia contributors. "SS
Léopoldville (1929)." Wikipedia, The Free
Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 Dec. 2018. Web. 30
Links subject to change