William Russell White

William R. White Reported Killed in Europe

(Oct. 5, 1944) -- Quartermaster 3/c William Russell White, 30, the son of Mrs. Caroline E. White of Holmes Street, was presumed to be dead by the Navy.

White had not been heard from since his destroyer the USS Rowan was blown up off the beaches of Salerno, Italy, on Sept. 11, 1943.

According to Destroyers.org-Histories:

The convoy was attacked by German E-boats (similar to a U. S. patrol torpedo boat) just hours after leaving Salerno harbor . . . 

The wake of a torpedo was seen streaking towards the USS Rowan, fortunately it missed, but a second tin-fish hit the ship on her port quarter. This caused her 5 inch magazine to explode.

The Rowan took only 40 seconds to sink, killing 202 of her crew of 273. There were only 75 survivors.

From The Tin Can Sailor, October 1998:

DD-405 prepared to escort the empty freighters and transports. In the first few minutes of September 11, 1943, ROWAN spotted German E-boats.

The fast torpedo craft immediately attacked the convoy, only to be chased off by the destroyer. As she returned to her convoy, the enemy attacked again, and ROWAN turned to block the new threat.

Too late, lookouts aboard DD-405 spotted a torpedo in the water, fired from just over a mile away. ROWAN was hit in her port quarter and, moments later, the after magazine exploded.

Only seventy-three of ROWAN's crew survived the catastrophic blast.

White enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve  on Nov. 2, 1942. His service number is 07087795.  He was called to active duty the following May.

He was awarded the Purple Heart.

He is listed among the Missing in Action or Buried at Sea Tablets of the Missing at Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, Nettuno, Italy.


American Battle Monuments Commission

Belleville Times, Oct. 5, 1944



Tin Can Sailors USS Rowan

Tin Can Sailors

USS Rowan

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