News from 1944: Death of Capt Thompson


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Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 15 November 1944

JAMES THOMPSON, MASTER OF SHIPS
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Former Captain of White Star Vessels Dies at 71---Saw Olympic Sink 2
U-Boats
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Capt. James Thompson, a former master of ships in the transatlantic
trade for the old White Star Line and a veteran of the first World War,
died on Monday night at his home, 68-63 108th Street, Forest Hills,
Queens, after a long illness, at the age of 71.

His chief war service was aboard the famous liner Olympic. In recent
years he had held a port position with the United States Lines.

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Captain Thompson went to sea in 1888
on sailing ships that for the next fifteen years took him to many parts
of the globe. While still a young man he became a ship's master, and for
several years sailed out of San Francisco to China on steamships of the
White Star Line.

Later Captain Thompson was master or other officer of various White Star
cargo and passenger vessels plying from England to Australia, England to
New Zealand and England to the United States. He served on the White
Star vessels, Doric, Celtic, Republic and Adriatic, before the first
world conflict as well as the Red Star liner Zeeland.

The Olympic was used in the war to transport American and other troops,
altogether 200,000, and it was Captain Thompson's duty to assign the
troops to their quarters and generally supervise their comfort. At that
time he bore the title of staff captain on the ship and commander in the
Royal Navy.

One day when he was aboard the Olympic, the ship was attacked by two
German submarines near Southampton, England. The ship rammed and sank
one of the U-boats and her gunners sent the other to the bottom. For a
time, when the Olympic was out of service. Captain Thompson served
aboard another transport vessel, the Afric, which was torpedoed near
England and sunk. He spent nearly twelve hours in a small boat before
being rescued.

For his war service Captain Thompson was made an Officer of the Order of
the British Empire. Later he was made a Commander of the Order.

From 1921 to 1934 he served the White Star Line as marine superintendent
here under the International Mercantile Marine Company. In 1934, when
White Star was merged with the Cunard Line, Captain Thompson joined 'the
merged lines in an executive capacity. Captain Thompson joined the
United States Lines here in 1935.

He leaves a widow, Mrs. Sarah W. Vint Thompson; a daughter, Mrs. Warren
Wilson of Winnetka, Ill.; two sisters and three brothers.

-30-
 
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