William M. Griffith
William M. Griffith, Ensign, U.S. Navy, Date of death: June 19, 1944.
"William M. Griffith, son of Bert and Lena Griffith, was born near Coldwater, September 5, 1915. He attended public and high school at Coldwater, graduating in 1933. In September, 1934, he enlisted in the Navy and was honor man of his company during boot training in San Diego. In January, 1934, he joined his brother, Ralph, in serving aboard the U.S.S. Louisville. He was honorably discharged in September, 1938, but in 1939, reenlisted and went aboard the U.S.S. Portland. He left the Portland and attended diesel school in New London, Connecticut. After graduation, he was assigned to duty in the States and later to an L.S.T. After nearly nine years in the Navy, he rose to the rank of Ensign and held that rank at the time of his death on the French Coast during an invasion, June 19, 1944. He gave his life for his country." -- Ralph Griffith, Lorena Wilson, Comanche County History Memorial Pages
The Western Star, July 28, 1944.
BILL GRIFFITH KILLED IN ACTION
Was on L. S. T. on French Invasion Coast
The people of Coldwater shocked and saddened on Monday of this week when word came to Mr. and Mrs. Bert Griffith that their son, Ensign William M. Griffith, had been killed in action on June 19. The telegram also stated that his body would be recovered. It is presumed that it is buried either in France or England.
Ensign Griffith received his commission in the regular Navy in August 1943, after being sent to an L. S. T. school at Solomans, Md., was assigned to an L. S. T. (Landing, Ship, Tank) in the Atlantic.
He had been in England for several months practicing for the big invasion of Europe. On July 17, two days before he was killed, Bill wrote his parents from England that he would have a big job on in a few days and would have a letter of interest to write them.
The details surrounding his death are not yet known but it is thought that death occurred as a result of enemy bombing or gunfire while unloading troops on French soil.
Ensign Griffith was born near Coldwater, Kansas, September 5, 1915 and at the time of his death on June 19 was 28 years, 9 months and 14 days of age.
He attended the Coldwater schools, graduating from C. H. S. in 1933. In September of that year he enlisted in the Navy and was honor man of his company during his boot camp training at San Diego. In January, 1935, he joined his brother, Ralph in serving on the U. S. S. Louisville, the boys finishing their enlistment together.
He was honorably discharged from the Navy in September, 1938 as Machinists Mate, Second Class and exactly a year later reenlisted in the Navy. He went aboard the U. S. S. Portland and for about six months was on the ill fated Houston with Alfred (Bus) Seidel, one of his closest friends. He would have remained on the Houston and would likely have become a Japanese prisoner along with Seidel had not Bill been chosen to leave the ship and gone to New London, Conn. to attended a diesel school. (Seidel died of exposure and starvation as a Japanese prisoner on camp after 10 months of confinement, it was revealed last month.)
After graduating from the diesel school with high grades, young Griffith was promoted to the rank of Chief Engineer and was assigned to the U. S. S. Barbett, one of two mine sweepers in the caribbean area during the time when the German submarines sank literally hundreds of the then unprotected U. S. ships. The year 1942, was one of almost helpless horror to Bill as he watched thousands of our men on troopships blazing tankers and other craft perish in the flames and waves. But he came through unharmed. Bill had been in every harbor from Portland, Me., to Yorktown, Va.
In June, 1943, he was assigned to duty in the States and later assigned to an L. S. T. as above mentioned.
During his nearly nine years in the Navy, Bill rose in rank, step by step, from apprentice seaman to Ensign, the long hard, but well earned way. He also won the respect and confidence of all who knew him, a clean cut, capable youth, one of Coldwater's finest. He was a member of the Coldwater Christian church and was an example of American manhood at its best.
Ensign Griffith is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bert Griffith of Coldwater, one brother, Machinists Mate Second Class Ralph Griffith of the U. S. Coast Guards, New York City, and one sister, Mrs. Lorena Wilson of Wichita; also by many relatives and a host of friends.
The heartfelt sympathy of all goes out to the sorrowing relatives in this their hour of sorrow.
The Western Star, May 28, 1948.
Last Rites Monday for Ensign Wm. Griffith
Funeral services for Ensign Wm. M. Griffith, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bert Griffith, were held in the Coldwater Christian church at 10:30 a.m. Monday, May 24, and were in charge of the pastor, Geo. Brown, who brought a comforting message. There were many floral offerings.
Mrs. Myrl Haun and Mrs. Gene Dorsey sang "I Won't Care to Cross Jordan Alone" and "Beyond the Sunset," accompanied on the piano by Mrs. J. R. Cline.
The pallbearers were six cousins of the deceased, all overseas veterans of World War II - Charles England of Portland, Ore., Raymond Munger of Amarillo, Texas, George Griffith of Rush Center, Kans., Kenneth Griffith of Manhattan, Kans., Dean Jarnagin of Seibert, Colo., and Jack White of Coldwater. The honorary pallbearers were veterans of World War I.
Ensign Griffith was buried with military honors in Crown Hill cemetery near this city, V. F. W. and American Legion representatives participating in the service. A salute to the dead was given by the V. F. W. firing squad and "Taps" was sounded for the departed comrade.
Ensign Griffith was one of 4,183 Americans whose bodies were returned May 6 to the United States from temporary military cemeteries at Epinal, Ste. Mere Eglise, LaCambe and St. Juan, France. The bodies were accompanied by appropriate military escort.
William M. Griffith was born September 5, 1915 near Coldwater, Kansas, and departed this life June 19, 1944 at the age of 28 years, 9 months and 14 days.
He attended the Coldwater schools graduating with the class of 1933. In September of that year he enlisted in the Navy and was honor man of his company during his boot training at San Diego, Calif. In January, 1935, he joined his brother, Ralph, in serving on the U. S. S. Louisville, the boys finishing their enlistments together.
Bill was honorably discharged from the Navy September, 1938, as Machinist's Mate Second Class, and exactly a year later re-enlisted in the Navy. He was chosen to go to New London, Conn., to attend a diesel school. After graduation he was promoted to the rank of Chief Engineer and was assigned to the U. S. S. Barbet, a mine sweeper in the Caribbean area.
In June, 1943, he was assigned to an L. S. T., and lost his life while crossing the English Channel during the European Invasion.
During his nearly nine years in the Navy Bill rose in rank, step by step, from apprentice seaman to ensign. He was a member of the Coldwater Christian church.
Ensign Griffith is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bert Griffith, one brother, Ralph; one sister, Mrs. Lorena Wilson; two nieces, Erma Wilson and Cheryl Rae Griffith, all of Coldwater, also by many other relatives and a host of friends.
The entire community joins in extending to the bereaved relatives their sincere sympathy in the loss of a brave and noble young man who made the Supreme Sacrifice for his country's security.
USS LST-523 sunk by a mine off Normandy, France, 19 June 1944.
NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive - LST-523
LST-523 LST-523 was laid down on 15 October 1943 at Jeffersonville, Ind., by the Jeffersonville Boat & Machine Co.; launched on 6 December 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Cleona S. Rauth; and commissioned on 3 February 1944. During World War II, LST-523 was assigned to the European theater and participated in the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. On 19 June 1944, she was sunk by an enemy mine. The ship was struck from the Navy list on 22 August 1944. LST-523 earned one battle star for World War II.
Diving on the wreck of the LST-523: "Our first dive was on LST (Landing Ship Tanks) 523. Built in Indianapolis, this 328ft vessel was launched as USS Carbonelle in February 1944 to take part in Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Europe.LSTs were larger than infantry landing craft and operated by beaching themselves. The bow doors would open, allowing the cargo of tanks, armoured cars, bulldozers or lorries to drive off, and the LST would then wait for the flood tide to float it off again.Displacing 1635 tons and capable of 11 knots, LST 523 made several trips across the Channel, carrying Sherman tanks to reinforce the British forces. She finally hit a German mine on the morning of 19 June while fully loaded and, heavily damaged in the bows, turned over and sank in just two minutes, in waters 29m deep."
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