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Joseph Freer and Raymond Trumpe Papers, 1927-1988 (bulk 1939-1943): Finding Aid

Published in December 2013

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 244
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Joseph Freer and Raymond Trumpe Papers
  • Dates: 1927-1988
  • Bulk Dates: 1939-1943
  • Size: 2.58 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 manuscript box, 2 flat boxes
  • Creator: Freer, Joseph M.
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Joseph M. Freer and Raymond Franklin Trumpe were stewards for the United States Lines before and during World War II who sailed aboard the S.S. City of Flint. The Joseph Freer and Raymond Trumpe Papers focus primarily on the cruises of the freighter City of Flint during 1939 and 1940, which included her rescue of the passengers and crew of the Athenia and her later capture by German forces.

Biography of Joseph M. Freer and Raymond Franklin Trumpe

Joseph M. Freer and Raymond Franklin Trumpe were both stewards for the United States Lines before and during World War II who sailed aboard the S.S. City of Flint. Both hail from South Baltimore and were related by marriage, as Freer became the stepfather of Trumpe after marrying Trumpe's mother, Cyrilla.

On September 3, 1939, the British passenger ship Athenia was torpedoed by a German submarine off the north coast of Ireland. The American freighter City of Flint, captained by Joseph Gainard, came to the Athenia's rescue, taking aboard 236 survivors.

All but six of the Athenia's survivors disembarked at Halifax, Nova Scotia on September 13, 1939. The City of Flint then traveled on to New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, reaching its final port of call, Norfolk, Virginia, on September 23, 1939.

Less than a month after returning from rescuing the Athenia, the 4,963 ton City of Flint sailed from New York for England. On October 9, 1939, the City of Flint was stopped by the German pocket battleship Deutschland. The freighter's cargo, which included lubricating oil, was declared war contraband by the Germans, who then claimed the ship as a prize of war. The City of Flint, the first U.S. ship to be so captured by the Germans became a subject of diplomatic dispute.

An armed German prize crew was placed aboard the City of Flint, while thirty-eight British seamen, survivors of the British ship Stonegate were transferred aboard City of Flint for transport to a Norwegian port. During its journey, City of Flint stopped at several Norwegian ports, as well as Murmansk, Russia. On November 3, the Germans brought City of Flint into the port of Haugesund, Norway.

At 11:45 p.m. on November 3, an armed party from the Norwegian Navy boarded the City of Flint and informed the ship's captors that they had forfeited their rights by anchoring in violation of Norway's neutrality laws. The Germans were removed and the liberated vessel sailed on November 4 for Bergen, Norway for consultation with the American consul. The City of Flint departed Narvik, Norway on January 7, 1940 and returned to America, docking in Baltimore on January 27.

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Description of Contents

The Joseph Freer and Raymond Trumpe Papers, comprising 2.58 linear feet of documentation, span from 1927 to 1988. The papers focus primarily on the cruises of the freighter City of Flint during 1939 and 1940, which included her rescue of the passengers and crew of the Athenia and her later capture by German forces.

Included in the papers are newspapers, pamphlets, a book, a scrapbook, an audiocassette, photographs, photocopies, and artifacts.

The papers primarily focus on ordeals encountered by the United States Line freighter City of Flint and two of her seaman; stewards Joseph M. Freer and Raymond F. Trumpe. In addition to materials on the sinking of the British ship Athenia and the capture and release of City of Flint, the papers offer details of Freer and Trumpe's maritime careers, the sinking of other American freighters and British Naval vessels in the early days of World War II, and events at the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard in Baltimore. The artifacts in the collection include personal effects of Freer's, as well as several items bearing the crests of H.M.S. Dragon and H.M.S. Norfolk.

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The Joseph Freer and Raymond Trumpe Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type and topic into a single series with no subdivisions.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Joseph Freer and Raymond Trumpe Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gifts of Raymond Franklin Trumpe in August 1985 and June 1989. Accession Nos. 85-34 and 89-22.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

There are no other known collections of papers of Joseph M. Freer or Raymond Franklin Trumpe.

Materials Cataloged Separately

Photographs of the ships Admiral Graf Spee (German battleship), Bibb (Coast Guard gunboat : WPG-31), Campbell (Coast Guard gunboat : WPG-32), and Deutschland (German armored ship) were removed from this collection and placed in the Special Collections Picture File at the time of accessioning.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Joseph Freer and Raymond Trumpe Papers, MS 244

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in December 2013. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in December 2013, adapted from a guide by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1990.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Athenia (Steamship)
  • City of Flint (Ship)
  • Freer, Cyrilla
  • Freer, Joseph M.
  • Gainard, Joseph A
  • Merchant marine -- United States -- History -- World War, 1939-1945
  • Trumpe, Raymond F.
  • Trumpe, Raymond F.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Atlantic Ocean
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations, German

Genre Terms

  • Audiocassettes
  • Certificates
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Manuscripts
  • Memorabilia
  • Monographs
  • Pamphlets
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
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Contents List

Box 3[OS] Folder 1

Album, 1939-1940

Contains newspaper clippings, photographs, correspondence, envelopes, a cap ribbon and Joseph M. Freer's account of the capture of the S.S. City of Flint. Covers the rescue of the crew of S.S. Athenia, German threats against S.S. Iroquois, and the capture and return of S.S. City of Flint.

Box 1 Folder 1

Artifacts - Ashtray, undated .

Metal ashtray inscribed "Joe's."

Box 1 Folder 2

Artifacts - Napkin Ring, undated

Features seal of H.M.S. Dragon.

Box 1 Folder 3

Artifacts - Pill Box, undated

Black lid featuring the seal of H.M.S. Dragon.

Box 1 Folder 4

Artifacts - Pin, undated

Horseshoe shaped enamel pin featuring the seal of H.M.S. Norfolk.

Box 1 Folder 5

Artifacts - Pin, 1936

German May Day pin featuring a plough, hammer, sword, eagle, and swastika.

Box 1 Folder 6

Artifacts - Pocket Watch, undated

Waltham pocket watch, inscribed "JMF" for Joseph M. Freer.

Box 1 Folder 7

Audiocassette - "In Like Flint", 1987 January 27

Box 2 Folder 1

Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard (Baltimore) Materials, 1943, undated

Event programs and printed ephemera pertaining to the launching of the S.S. Roald Amundsen and Robert J. Collier, as well as the Maritime Commission Awards and the Song of the Victory Fleet.

Box 2 Folder 2

Joseph Freer Documents, 1927-1939

Includes a Spanish immigration document, a U.S. Maritime Commission Record, and a U.S. Department of Commerce Certificate of Service.

Box 3[OS] Folder 2

Newspapers, 1940

Baltimore Sun, January 28, 1940. Stories regarding the cruise and return of the City of Flint.

Box 3[OS] Folder 3

Newspapers, 1941

Daily News November 15, 1941, Sunday Daily News November 23, 1941, and Daily Mirror November 24, 1941. Includes articles on the torpedoing of the freighter Lehigh and the loss of H.M.S. Ark Royal.

Box 3[OS] Folder 4

Newspapers, 1942

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, January 21, 1942, Daily Mirror, February 28, 1942, and the Daily News, February 28, 1942. Includes articles on the loss of tankers off the New Jersey coast and other U-boat activity off the U.S. east coast.

Box 3[OS] Folder 5

Newspapers, 1943

The Stars and Strips (Africa), May 22, 1943 and Los Angeles Examiner December 25, 1943.

Box 2 Folder 3

Newspapers, 1988, undated

Includes articles entitled "The Voyage of the Flint," and "The Ships that Broke Hitler's Blockade" from Invention & Technology.

Box 2 Folder 4

Photograph, 1939

Image of a dinner in honor of the City of Flint at the American Club of Bergen, Norway.

Box 2 Folder 5

Postcard, undated

Postcard on the Panama Canal captioned "Meeting of the Atlantic and Pacific 'The Kiss of the Oceans.'"

Box 2 Folder 6

Publications - General Information on the United States Maritime Service, 1940 January

Box 2 Folder 7

Publications - The Most Wonderful Collection of Famous Recitations Ever Written, undated

By Pat O'Malley.

Box 2 Folder 8

Publications - A Ship was Torpedoed (I was on the Athenia), 1941

By Montgomery Evans. Inscribed to Joseph Freer.

Box 2 Folder 9

Publications - "S.S. City of Flint: A History", 1985 September 19

By Beverly B. Byron. Published in Congressional Record.

Box 2 Folder 10

Publications - Yankee Skipper: The Life Story of Joseph A. Gainard; Captain of the City of Flint, 1940

By Joseph A. Gainard.

Box 2 Folder 11

Raymond Trumpe Documents, 1939-1980

Narrative of Trumpe's voyages aboard and photocopies pertaining to the City of Flint's service during World War II.

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