Sometimes when you look for relatives while doing your family tree, you come across obituaries…
Like the one I posted yesterday on this blog.
Sometimes an obituary has to get to the point.
The obituary quickly mentions that Odna lost two boys in WWII, William and Robert.
Both were my 2nd cousins.
William Ritchie (1921 – 1944) and Robert J Ritchie (1925 – 1945) who were
the sons of Odna Lagasse (1893 – 1983) who was
the daughter of Dennis Lagasse III (1864 – 1922) who was
the son of Dennis Lagasse II (1842 – 1927) who was
the father of Léo Lagacé Senior (1888 – 1964) who was
the father of Léo Lagacé Junior (1927 – 1995) who was my father…
Odna Lagasse was a Gold Star mother twice.
Just in case you would like to know more about Robert J. Ritchie who gave his life for his country and did not have the chance to have his own descendants, and more about his mother Odna Lagasse…
Please take the time to read what I found and just try to imagine how Odna felt being a Gold Star mother for the second time when she received a telegram from the War Departement when everyone else was rejoicing because WWII was finally over…
Just try to imagine the look on her face.
Probably the same look as the five Sullivan brothers‘ mother when they broke the news to her about her five boys.
USS Bullhead (SS-332) – Ship’s History
Researched by: Robert Loys Sminkey
Commander, United States Navy, Retired
USS Bullhead (SS-332), named for any large-headed fish, especially the catfish, miller’s thumb, and sculpin, was constructed by the Electric Boat Company at Groton, Connecticut. Her keel was laid down on 21 October 1943. Mrs. Howard R. Doyle christened the submarine and she was launched on 16 July 1944. The Balao Class boat was commissioned on 4 December 1944 with Commander Walter T. Griffith in command.
When commissioned, the Fleet Type submarine displaced 1,526 tons on the surface when in diving trim and drew 16’10″ of water when in that condition; displaced 2,391 tons when submerged; was 311’8″ in length overall; had a beam of 27’3″; could make 20 1/4 knots on the surface and 8 3/4 knots submerged (for one hour); could dive safely to 400 feet; was manned by 6 officers and 60 enlisted men; and was armed with one 5-inch deck gun and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes (six in the bow and four in the stern). Twenty-four torpedoes were carried. The submarine could also carry and lay mines.
The Second World War operations of USS Bullhead extended from 21 March to August of 1945 during which time she completed two war patrols. Her area of operations included the Java and South China Seas and the Gulf of Siam.
USS Bullhead sank four enemy ships, totaling 1,800 tons, and damaged three ships, for 1,300 tons, during her first two war patrols.
Her first patrol was made in the South China Sea from the latter part of March to the end of April 1945. No enemy contacts were made, but, on 31 March, and again on 24 April, USS Bullhead bombarded Pratas Island with her 5-inch deck gun. She also rescued three airmen from a downed B-29 bomber following an air strike on the China coast.
In May and June of 1945, USS Bullhead patrolled the Gulf of Siam and the South China Sea during her second war patrol. There, she sank two small freighters, a schooner, and a submarine chaser…and damaged two more submarine chasers and another small freighter…all in gun actions on the surface.
Departing Fremantle, Australia, for her third war patrol, USS Bullhead, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Edward R. Holt, Junior, on 31 July 1945, started for her patrol area (from Longitude 110 Degrees East to Longitude 115 Degrees East…in the Java Sea). She was to leave her patrol area at dark on 5 September and head for Subic Bay in the Philippine Islands. USS Capitaine (SS-336) and USS Puffer (SS-268) were also to patrol in the Java Sea area, as were the British submarines HMS Taciturn and HMS Thorough.
USS Bullhead arrived in her assigned area on 6 August, but USS Capitaine did not arrive until 13 August. On 12 August, USS Capitaine ordered USS Bullhead to take position the following day in a scouting line with USS Capitaine and USS Puffer. There was no reply from USS Bullhead, and, on 15 August, USS Capitaine reported to headquarters:
“Have been unable to contact USS Bullhead by any means since arriving in area.”
Since those submarines named above were in the same general area as USS Bullhead…and USS Cod (SS-224) and USS Chub (SS-329) passed through in transit at various times, it is difficult to point to one Japanese antisubmarine attack as the one which sank USS Bullhead. However, the most likely one occurred on 6 August 1945, when an enemy army plane attacked with depth charges in:
Position: Latitude: 8 Degrees 20′ South Longitude: 115 Degrees 42′ East.
The Japanese aircraft claimed two direct hits, and, for ten minutes thereafter, there was a great amount of gushing oil and air bubbles rising in the water. Since the position given is very near the Bali Island coast, it is presumed that the proximity of mountain peaks shortened USS Bullhead’s radar range and prevented her from obtaining early warning of the approach of the airplane…which sank her.
USS BullHead (SS-332) received two battle stars for her service during the Second World War.
The following personnel were USS Bullhead’s ship’s company during that submarine’s third war patrol…and all went with her on the last dive:
Alfred Aiple, Junior…Quartermaster Second Class
Harold A. Anderson…Yeoman Second Class
Robert H. Barringer…Seaman First Class
George L. Bell…Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class
James D. Benner…Seaman First Class
Walter E. Bertram…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class
Harold R. Bridgstock…Radio Technician Second Class
Ralph M. Brume…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class
Kadzmir J. Buczek…Torpedoman’s Mate Second Class
Richard B. Burns…Chief Torpedoman’s Mate
Ray W. Church…Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class
James F. Collins…Electrician’s Mate Third Class
Howard E. Crandall…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class
Elmer M. Dahl…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class
Glen M. Davidson…Fireman First Class
Jerry K. Davidson…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class
Charles J. Day…Electrician’s Mate Second Class
Charles W. Dougherty…Ship’s Cook First Class
Edward M. Engebretsen…Chief Quartermaster
James R. Fahey…Radioman Third Class
Ralph G. Foster…Fireman First Class
Kenneth E. Foust…Quartermaster Third Class
Fred C. Fritz…Radioman Second Class
Charles W. Gay…Electrician’s Mate Third Class
Joseph P. Gilheany, Junior…Radioman Third Class
Paul A. Gossett…Lieutenant Junior grade
Clyde M. Graves…Seaman First Class
William F. Greaves…Electrician’s Mate Third Class
Hubert B. Hackett…Signalman Second Class
E. D. Hackman, Junior…Lieutenant
John L. Hancock…Gunner’s Mate Second Class
John J. Harris…Quartermaster Third Class
William P. Hawkins…Boatswain’s Mate Second Class
George V. Heaton…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class
Thomas P. Helferich…Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate
Donald O. Hendrikson…Lieutenant Junior Grade
Edward R. Holt, Junior…Lieutenant Commander…Commanding
LaVerne W. Huisman…Seaman First Class
William Ireland…Torpedoman’s Mate Second Class
Lester L. Jenkins…Electrician’s Mate Second Class
James R. Jensen…Electrician’s Mate Third Class
Fred J. Jewell…Quartermaster Second Class
Percy Johnson, Junior…Signalman First Class
Joseph W. Jones…Chief Electrician’s Mate
Richard A. Keister…Radio Technician Third Class
Jacob J. Kopf…Electrician’s Mate Third Class
W. A. Kulczycki…Ensign
Oscar V. Nassas…Torpedoman’s Mate Second Class
Roy K. Marin…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class
Jack P. Markham…Torpedoman’s Mate Third Class
Harry A. McDermott…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class
George P. Morgan…Torpedoman’s Mate Third Class
Paul W. Olson…Fireman First Class
Paul F. Overbeek…Seaman First Class
Richard W. Palmer…Fireman First Class
William J. Parks…Gunner’s Mate First Class
Joseph J. Parpal…Lieutenant Junior Grade
Robert M. Pattengale…Torpedoman’s Mate Third Class
Robert S. Patterson…Sonarman Second Class
William M. Peart…Electrician’s Mate First Class
Robert J. Perry…Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class
Keith R. Phillips…Lieutenant…Executive Officer
Carl W. Piatt…Ship’s Cook Third Class
Richard A. Pinder…Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate
William J. Ralston, Junior…Torpedoman’s Mate Third Class
Robert J. Ritchie…
Electrician’s Mate Third Class
John A. Roberts…Electrician’s Mate First Class
Jesse Sandoval…Seaman First Class
Lee A. Schlegel…Fireman First Class
Orville G. H. Schmidt…Fireman First Class
William F. Short…Torpedoman’s Mate First Class
Bert Shuey, Junior…Ship’s Cook Third Class
Dale M. Siefken…Fire Controlman Second Class
Jack Simms, II…Lieutenant Junior Grade
Edward M. Smida…Pharmacist’s Mate First Class
Carl J. Smith…Chief Radioman
William M. Smith…Chief Electrician’s Mate
Frank T. Stifter…Radio Technician Second Class
Raymond W. Strassle…Lieutenant Junior Grade
Charles H. Taylor…Seaman First Class
Melvin Tobias…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class
Andrew T. …Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate
Lyle L. Webb…Seaman First Class
Elmer J. Wiersma…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class
75 Enlisted Men
84 Total…Lost in USS Bullhead (SS-332)
A Memorial Website exists…