William N. Lambert, Jr. never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on September 26, 1917 in Massachusetts. His father was also born in Massachusetts and his mother was born in New York. His father worked as a leather factory merchandize manager and later as a gas station attendant. William had a younger brother. By 1940 Will Jr. had completed two years of college. He was still living at home at the time.
He enlisted in the navy on October 28, 1940 and despite his higher than average level of education that may have led to him become an officer, he became a seaman second class on the schooner USS Bowdoin which supported surveying efforts to create airfields in Greenland.
While in the service he married in 1942.
At some point he was reassigned to the transport ship USAT Dorchester. It left New York in a convoy bound for Greenland on January 23, 1943. Between crew and troops there were 904 men on board. In the cold, moonless, starless early hours of February 3, the German submarine U-233 fired a torpedo that hit Dorchester forward of her starboard beam. It knocked out all power which greatly hampered efforts to safely abandon ship. Within 20 minutes the ship had sunk. Those men in the water did not last long in the 34 degree water temperature. The accompanying ships were only able to rescue 220 men. The loss of 684 men, that included seaman Lambert, was the worst loss of American lives from any Atlantic convoy ship during the war.
The best known story of the sinking of the Dorchester is that of the Four Chaplains. These four men handed out life belts until they were all gone and then removed their own to give to men without any. They went down on the ship praying.
Seaman Lambert is honored at the East Coast Memorial in Manhattan, New York. I don't know what happened to his widow.
On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!
I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.
Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100