“The galloping Ghost of the Java Coast


Coleman Sellers VI





This all begins with the marriage of Kathlyne Shattuck & Coleman Sellers III on October 16, 1916. their first home was a twin in the Queen Lane section of Philadelphia. On November 16, 1917 Coleman Sellers IV was born. He must have been a happy, smiley baby, because he got the nickname "Jim" from a popular song "Sonny Jim". Two years later, Frank was born January 26, 1920 and a year later Bill was added to the mix on April 7, 1921. I believe that all were born at home. After a few years, the family moved to Malvern in a rented home. I believe that the move to Daylesford was around 1927-28. I was born in Bryn Mawr Hospital on November 13, 1929. As you can see I was 12, 10, & 9 years younger than the boys. Daylesford was a wonderful home! We had a baseball diamond and a tennis backboard behind home plate, we had woods on 2 sides of the property, a separate garage where my father killed the chickens for a good meal, and we had a chicken coup and fenced yard for all the birds, 2 police dogs and great climbing trees. The front yard was flat and perfect for all sports.


I was a big surprise. I was a girl. Jim & I were very close. I tried to make him look like a girl by parting his hair in the middle. He carried me on his shoulders all over the home - telling me to duck when we came to doorways. We rubbed each other's back. Being 6'1" tall, his hand covered my entire back. I had to work hard to cover his. He taught me to throw a baseball straight & hard over home plate. It took me a while to figure out that pitchers do get a turn at bat too. He taught me to swim at Martin's Dam. We would go from one raft to another. When I was 4 he had his license and could drive. In the driveway it was fun to ride the running board. When he went to The Haverford School he would drive me to Miss Wright's school (which was all girls but the owner's son was in my first grade class.) I managed to sneak my football to school (with Jim's help). All was well, until my mother came to pick me up.


At Haverford School, Jim excelled in swimming. His team won the Interact Title undefeated 1934-5 season. I have the medal on a gold chain and wear it from time to time. He was also on the baseball team. At one game, the batter just before Jim hit a ball that came in the bleachers. I was or 5 and I thought I could catch it with no problem in my glove. Mistake. I caught it in my eye. Jim refused to go up to bat and made the game stop until he was sure that I was okay. As teenagers, all three brothers earned their Eagle Scout from Devon 50 Troup. My mother had a silver broche made with all three pins on it.


When Jim wanted to go to the Naval Academy, my mother drove with a friend & me (age 5) to Washington DC 2 or 3 times a week in the hot summer to knock on Legislative doors to secure an appointment to the Academy for Jim. She finally got it! ! ! He passed the physical and when he went to the dentist to be checked out; my mother was scared when the one dentist called the other dentist in to look at Jim's teeth. "What's wrong?" she asked. The dentist told her that he wanted to show the other dentist a set of perfect teeth!! Jim never had a cavity!! His teeth were perfect!!


June 1936 Jim entered the Academy. What a thrill!! The sports that he played were swimming and lacrosse. When he came home, he showed me how to play lacrosse. One Christmas, Jim brought a friend home for the holidays along with fruit cake we found under the bed. Jim had taught me to whistle like a boy a couple of years earlier by me putting my fingers in his mouth and then into mine.


What a thrill when I could do it and it was so loud. Well, this friend of his could whistle WITHOUT fingers. I was determined to accomplish this. I spent the next couple of hours locked in the bathroom and came out victorious!!! To this day I can still whistle like a boy with no fingers. In 1938, Aunt Meme moved to King George Street, Annapolis MI) right near the main gate. We had A place to stay. Frank had joined Jim at the Academy. We rarely drove to Annapolis. We took the B&O etc. It was an adventure. One June parade the heavens opened and we all ran to the porches of the homes surrounding the parade grounds. In 1938-39 clothes shrank when they got wet. It was hysterical. The girls dresses were riding up as they ran. Everyone was laughing. Around this time the midshipmen's magazine, The Log, was asking for pictures of their sweethearts, which were always kept on the back of their locker door. When Jim was approached, he said sure. The picture on the back of his locker door was a picture of me. The Log changed the caption to "Sweethearts & Sisters". I believe I was the only sister.


After Jim's graduation, we had a great party in Aunt Meme's backyard. This was June 1940, which Turned out to be the last 4 year class till after WWII. Jim's class had gone to Germany the summer of 1939, and they had a grand time and the Germans were very nice to them. He brought me home a swastika, which I saved. Hard to believe that Sept. 1" WWII would begin.


When Jim had a choice to where to serve the navy after graduation, he picked the place that was furthest from the Academy, which put him in the Philippines in July 1940. I never thought that when he flew out of North Philadelphia Airport that was going to be the last time I would see him. He liked the Philippines but could not understand why they drank beer warm.


The rest is history. The Houston, flagship of the Far East, lost it's battle to stay afloat on February 28 1942. Jim was listed as Missing in Action. His names is recorded on the Manila Memorial on the Missing in Action wall. I have a copy of that wall.


After the War, 2 of his shipmates & friends came to see my family. (CD Smith & Marshall Hamil.) They gave us a lovely memory of Jim. They last saw him handing out lifejackets to the sailors who could not swim. We are all grateful for that memory. Not having a body to bury is hard to deal with, especially for my mother & father. His was 24 and I was 12 when the ship sank in the Sundra Straits.