A Compass Saves the Crew

A WWII sailor’s memento recalls the harrowing ordeal when his ship, the SS Alcoa Guide, was struck by a German U-Boat

Merchant seaman Waldemar Semenov used this compass to steer toward safety. (Harold Dorwin, SI)
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Not long after his return to port, Semenov enlisted in the Army and served as an engineer on troopships and supply ships with both the Army and Navy in the Atlantic and Pacific. He continued to serve in the military and as a merchant seaman until 1987. Semenov's nemesis, the U-123, was intentionally scuttled by the Germans off the coast of France in 1944, but was salvaged by the French Navy. Re-christened the Blaison, the sub remained in service until 1959.

Owen Edwards is a freelance writer and author of the book Elegant Solutions.

About Owen Edwards
Owen Edwards

Owen Edwards is a freelance writer who previously wrote the "Object at Hand" column in Smithsonian magazine.

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