Don Fetterly       WWII Historian & Traveler


Watson Painting
Artist Gary S. Schofield's depiction of the heroic actions of Private George Watson


s'Jacob during WWII


s'Jacob during WWII


Mention the painting of the sinking of the s'Jacob?
Rod and my paths did not cross again until July of 1998. I had been approached by the US Army Transportation Museum Fort Eustis Virginia a few weeks earlier to help them locate photos of the s'Jacob. The photos were used for a painting commissioned as part of the launching for the first in a series of Strategic Sealift Ships the USNS WATSON. The ship is named after Private George Watson, a quartermaster aboard the s'Jacob who distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in saving several members of the crew and giving his life when she was attacked and sunk near Prolock Harbor New Guinea. The painting depicts Watson rescuing survivors in the water with the s'Jacob in the background. President Bill Clinton awarded Watson the Medal of Honor on 13 January 1997. Action photos of the s'Jacob taken just after the attack and subsequent rescue of the crew were located at the Australian War Memorial. The photos were forwarded to the Army Transportation Museum for use in rendering the painting.

While in discussions with Fort Eustis on photos of the s'Jacob sinking the curator of the museum told me about James Guilford the best friend of Watson's who had survived the s'Jacob sinking. I contacted Guilford to learn more about his time aboard the s'Jacob and the attack on the ship. During our discussions Guilford a spry 84 years old, expressed the desire to retrace the course of the s'Jacob's last voyage. I immediately contacted Rod with the idea of making a documentary as he had done with the B-17 Blackjack. Rod liked the idea and we began negotiating with Guilford for an expedition in early 1999.

We were unable to get an agreement from Guilford and decided to conduct an expedition looking for Australian Beaufighter A19-130, which Rod had been collecting information on for some time.

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