May 31, 1922 (Norwalk, CT) – March 7, 1944; 21 years old; unmarried
Last local address: Newtown Avenue
Service number: 6426012
MIA (at sea)
Awarded the Purple Heart Medal
Having actually gone “Missing” on the above date, he was not officially declared by the military as being dead until January 16, 1946 when PT-337 was sunk by Japanese fire in the Pacific area during the war.
CREW OF PT-337
Captain Ensign Henry W. Cuttler, USNR
Crew MoMM3c Francis C. Watson
Crew Ensign Robert W. Hyde (MIA)
Crew Bruce S. Bales, USNR, O-257522 (MIA / KIA) NC
Crew QM2c Allen B. Gregory, USNR (MIA / KIA)
Crew RM2c Harry E. Barnett, USNR
Crew Y2c Henry S. Timmons
Crew TM3c Edgar L. Schmidt, USNR, 5763780 (MIA / KIA) TX
Crew MoMM3c Evo A. Fucili, USNR (MIA / KIA)
Crew SC3c James P. Mitchell
Engine Room MoMM1c William Daley, Jr., USNR, 7079462 (WIA / MIA / KIA) NY
Crew TM2c Morgan J. Canterbury, USNR
Nicknamed “PT Intrepid” and later “Heaven Can Wait”. This PT Boat operated from Dregger Harbor PT Boat Base on the north coast of New Guinea.
During the night of March 5, 1944 to March 6, 1944 PT-337 participated in a successful attack against Bogia Bay. The next night a follow up mission was planned further to the north deeper into enemy territory.
On March 6, 1944 during the evening departed Dregger Harbor PT Boat Base along with PT-338 under the command of captain LtJG Carl T. Gleason. The pair proceeded northward into enemy territory to search for enemy barges in Hansa Bay.
On March 7, 1944 at 2:00am the pair were idling outside Hansa Bay then spotted targets close to shore on radar and attacked two luggers moored together, but heavy machine gun fire opened up from the beach area.
Turning to strafe the beach, more guns opened up including a heavy battery at Awar Point. Their first shell fired landed in the water near PT-337, with three or four others hitting nearby. Another hit the engine room, and started fires aboard, wounding crew member Daley, forcing them to abandon the boat that exploded and sank. Attempting to render aid, PT-338 tried to approach the area but was driven away by gun fire every time and was forced to withdraw alone before dawn.
In a life raft, the crew attempted to paddle out to sea, but were fighting strong currents. During in the night, Daley died from his wounds and was buried at sea. By morning, their raft was still near Hansa Bay drifting toward nearby Manam Island. They attempted to reach the island as it might be easier to escape detection and locate food or water. Currents kept them from reaching the island. Two of the crew attempted to swim to the island, but currents swept them back. Two others also tried in the night and were never seen again.
By dawn on March 8, 1944, they were still to the north of the island. Delirium gripped the surviving crew, with more trying to swim to the island, but disappearing. They thought they saw one of them reach the shore, then Japanese appear on the beach. Mitchell successfully reached the shore, saw enemy and returned to the raft. That night, a boat approached them from shore with armed men aboard, but a sudden squall came up and the boat disappeared. On the morning of the March 9, 1944, they found an overturned Japanese boat, and a crab clinging to it that they ate, and a drifting dried coconut. This was the only food or water they had and all were covered in sores and sunburn.
On March 10, 1944 at noon three B-25 circled them and dropped a package but it sank, but two other packages survived, with instructions that a PBY Catalina would rescue them the next day.
On March 11, 1944 a PBY Catalina escorted by two P-47 Thunderbolts arrived, rescued the five survivors and transported them to Dregger Harbor.