|Dick in Bermuda 1945||Dick in 1988|
Richard Andrew 'Dick' Barry was born on June 10th 1919 in Bay Ridge Sanatorium, Brooklyn, NY. He attended Blessed Sacrament, P.S. 87 and St. Gregory's grammar schools, as well as De La Salle Institute, from which he graduated in 1937. After highschool he went to Manhattan College in September 1937, from which he graduated on June 10th 1941. While at Manhattan he worked as a page at the New York library at 25 cents per hour, the mimimum wage at the time.
While at Manhattan, one of his extra curricular activities was attending "Tea dances" at the College of New Rochelle, never realizing that his future bride Josephine Sheehan would graduate from there in 1949.
Dick registered for the draft in October 1940 at 149th Street and Convent Ave. He was deferred until graduation in 1941. Then he was further deferred to "1B" because of his eyesight.
After college his uncle Jim Crane got him a job at he Mergenthaler Linotype Company. After several months, he left this "boring" job, and started working for the Borden Milk Company, soliciting grocery stores.
In January of 1942 he got wind of a job in Trinidad (British West Indies) as a paymaster for the Walsh Driscoll Construction Company, which was constructing a huge base because the West Indies were in danger of an invasion.
One of the early starters among the overseas contractors was the Walsh Construction Co. of Davenport IA, who opened headquarters at 41 E. 42nd Street for the recruiting of its Trinidad army base, with the George F. Driscoll Co. of Brooklyn. The estimated cost of building the Trinidad base was $51 million and approximately 2500 men were hired. The plans for the Trinidad Army base included an airfield, quarters for troops and dock.The Navy base in Trinidad, estimated at $11 million, and 1000 men, was handled by other contractors. The British required the hiring of natives as unskilled labor, and the contractors and their employees had to comply with all local laws and conditions.
Courtesy of Alison Wallner
It wasn't until May that he sailed on the Robert E. Lee - an Alcoa Transport - with stops at Puerto Rico, St. Lucia and Antigua, finally landing at Port of Spain, Trinidad, 9 days later. His draft board had given him a deferment to take this job.
SS Robert E. Lee - © Uboat.net
The Robert E. Lee was torpedoed by U 166 on the return trip and sunk in the Gulf of Mexco
on 30 July 1942.
SS Robert E. Lee boarding pass (front and back)
He only stayed in Trinidad 7 months, then decided to join the Armed Forces. Dick's brother Bob had meanwhile graduated in June 1942, then enlisted in the Coast Guard and was commissioned an ensign in November 1942. Dick had resigned from the construction job and arrived just in time for the graduation.