Burns, William L., BMC

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Chief Petty Officer
Last Primary NEC
BM-0000-Boatswain's Mate
Last Rating/NEC Group
Boatswain's Mate
Primary Unit
1942-1944, BM-0000, Prisoner of War
Service Years
1925 - 1944
BM-Boatswain's Mate
Four Hash Marks

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Tommy Burgdorf (Birddog), FC2 to remember Burns, William L., BMC.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Spring Rock, MO
Last Address
1912 S Quincy St
Sedalia, Missouri
(mother~Mary Burns)

Casualty Date
Oct 24, 1944
Hostile, Died while Captured
Illness, Disease
World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Philippine Islands Campaign (1941-42)/Battle of Corrigedor
Location of Interment
Manila American Cemetery - Taguig City, Philippines
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Tablets of the Missing (Cenotaph)

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
World War II FallenUnited States Navy Memorial The National Gold Star Family RegistryWW II Memorial National Registry
  2015, World War II Fallen
  2015, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
  2015, The National Gold Star Family Registry
  2015, WW II Memorial National Registry

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar
Submarine Enlisted Badge

 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1925, Recruit Training (Great Lakes, IL), 625
 Duty Stations
USS Canopus (AS-9)Prisoner of War
  1939-1942, BM-0000, USS Canopus (AS-9)
  1942-1944, BM-0000, Prisoner of War
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1942 Philippine Islands Campaign (1941-42)/Battle of the Philippines
  1941-1945 World War II
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Oct 28, 2014, General Photos1
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

On 7 December 1941, Canopus, aging but able, lay at Cavite Navy Yard, as tender to Submarine Squadron 20. In the days that followed, her men worked day and night to repair ships damaged in the daily air raids as well as to keep her brood of submarines at sea. With the Army falling back on Manila, Canopus sailed to Mariveles Bay at the tip of Bataan on Christmas Day. On 29 December 1941 she received her first direct bomb hit. A 500-pound armor-piercing bomb penetrated all decks and exploded on the propeller shaft housing. Six sailors were killed mostly from scalding and fires started in the engine rooms and magazines. The six men were buried at sea at 1735 hours in Mariveles Bay at the tip of Bataan. On 1 January 1942 she received a second direct bomb hit. This time a fragmentation bomb which exploded near the top of the towering smokestack resulting in substantial damage to the ship and injuries to 16 men of the gun crews.

Disguised as a bombed out, listing, abandoned hulk, smoke pots were placed around the ship and giving the appearance of an abandoned hulk by day, while the ship hummed with activity by night. Her crew worked at a fevered pace repairing the smaller ships also left behind and keeping the submarines in action.

Just before the New Year, the last of the submarines left Canopus, but she never quit as she cared for small craft and equipment of the Army and Navy, sent her men into battle in the improvised naval battalion which fought on Bataan, and converted her own launches into miniature gunboats dubbed Mickey Mouse Battleships which attacked the Japanese moving south near the shore. But the overwhelming Japanese strength could not be held off forever, and upon the surrender of Bataan on the night of 8–9 April 1942, Canopus was ordered scuttled in Mariveles Bay, Bataan, to deny her use to the enemy. On 9 April, she was backed off into deep water under her own power and the veteran whom the Japanese could not sink ended a lifetime of service to the Navy when she was laid to rest by her own men.

221 of her crewmen were evacuated to Corregidor on 28 February 1942 and served with the Marines 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions on beach defenses. The final 327 crewmen were also evacuated to Corregidor and served in the 4th Marine Regiment's 4th Battalion Reserves (Provisional) which fought gallantly during the final battle for the island fortress. Nearly all Canopus crewmen were captured at the fall of Corregidor and spent the rest of the war in Japanese POW Camps in the Philippines and the Asian mainland.

212 were killed/missing in Action.

Believed to have been POW On this vessel

On October 23rd, when the convoy was about 200 miles northwest of Luzon, two packs of U.S. submarines (total of nine submarines) attacked the convoy. The Arisan Maru carried no markings or flag indicating that it was carrying Allied prisoners. The Americans had no way of recognizing the Arisan Maru as a prison ship. 

About 17h30 on October 24, 1944 the hell ship was hit by three torpedoes fired from an American submarine (either the USS Shark or the USS Snook). The Arisan Maru was hit aft
of midships causing the ship to split open with the rear section sinking downward into the sea. A torpedo is thought to have hit in number three hold where Japanese troops and civilians were located. Graef was working in the ship’s galley and actually saw one of the torpedoes barreling toward the Arisan Maru. “The sharks in that part of the ocean got very well fed that day,” he recalls. The Japanese evacuated the ship and were picked up by their destroyer escorts. This report may not be abridged or reproduced in any form without written permission of the Global Shark Accident File. leaving, the Japanese guards cut rope ladders into the prisoner holds but these were restored by the prisoners and the survivors agree that almost all prisoners were able to get off the ship. Many scavenged whatever food and water they could before leaving the ship. At first, many prisoners swam toward the Japanese destroyers hoping for rescue, but they were pushed and beaten away with poles. The men climbed on whatever wreckage they could find to stay afloat for rescue.

The ship broke in two pieces which remained afloat for about two hours. Most of the POWs perished. There is a question regarding the number of survivors. The documented number is eight, five of whom, naked and emaciated, managed to find their way to freedom in China. A few other men were spotted floating at a distance but sea conditions did not allow them to get close enough to be picked up. 


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