A delayed salute for Milton Tufts

Looking at the New Hampshire Marine Memorial at Hampton Beach, one thing always bothered veteran Alan Morgan.

The name of a boyhood friend, Milton Tufts, was nowhere to be found.

Tufts worked on Morgan’s father’s farm in Hudson when he was a teenager. When he was 17, Tufts joined the Navy.

Months after boot camp, Tufts was declared missing in action.

Morgan contacted several politicians over the years about getting Tufts’ name on the memorial but had little success.

All that changed when he was contacted by Matthew Bole. The Nashua business owner is working on a project documenting all the veterans in the Nashua region who served during World War II.

When he contacted Morgan, who now lives in Dover, the Army veteran mentioned his efforts to have his friend included on the memorial.

Bole took up the cause, researching the memorial and Milton Tufts.

In April, months after the two men began talking, Tufts’ name was added to the memorial.

“I’m telling you, what a great feeling that was,” Morgan said.

Bole learned Tufts was killed in the Atlantic in 1942 when he was part of a convoy bringing supplies and equipment to England.

The ship he was on – the SS Gurney E. Newlin – was torpedoed twice. The second time, those on board abandoned ship. The captain and several others were picked up by a Canadian corvette.

The rest of those on board, Tufts included, were picked up by a Canadian tanker, the SS Bic Island. According to Bole’s research, the tanker had been sent back to find any survivors.

The ship had about 44 survivors from the Newlin and 77 survivors from another ship.

German submarines looking for any members of the convoy that may have been cut off from the group found the Bic Island. The submarines attacked the ship, which sank, with everyone on board dying.

Tufts, as are all who are lost at sea, was listed as missing in action.

While his name was not listed at Hampton Beach, it was listed in England at the World War II Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial.

A wall at the cemetery has inscribed upon it the 5,126 Americans who died in World War II and whose bodies were never found.

Morgan wanted to see his friend have the same recognition in the United States at the New Hampshire Marine Memorial.

“You don’t know how many different people I contacted. Most of them were politicians,” he said. “I probably should have gone to the (Veterans Administration) or the American Legion. For some reason or other, I didn’t. Nothing got done.”

After researching the memorial and contacting the Hampton Library, Bole learned the memorial fell under the auspices of the Department of Resources and Economic Development.

He learned there was a set of guidelines to determine whether someone’s name can be added to the memorial and that a veterans group needs to recommend the individual.

With some research, Bole was able to prove Tufts lived in Hudson. The Hudson Veterans of Foreign Wars joined the effort.

“It’s a good feeling that Matthew got it done,” Morgan said.

When asked why it meant so much to him to have Tuft’s name on the memorial, Morgan replied: “The guy died for the United States of America. He was 17 years old.”

Anne Lundregan can be reached at 594-6449 or lundregana@telegraph-nh.com.

On the Net

Matthew Bole: www.nashua-veterans.org

The New Hampshire Marine Memorial:

Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial: www.abmc.gov/ca.htm