Cunningham, William Henry, Jr., S1c

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Last Rank
Seaman 1st Class
Last Primary NEC
S1c-0000-Seaman 1st Class
Last Rating/NEC Group
Seaman First Class
Primary Unit
1943-1944, S1c-0000, USS Nelson (DD-623)
Service Years
1943 - 1944
Seaman 1st Class

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Wade Cunningham-Family to remember Cunningham, William Henry, Jr., S1c.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Tredyffrin Township, PA
Last Address
He was buried in a local military cemetery in France. In 1948, his body was returned home for reburial at Grove Methodist Cemetery in Tredyffrin Township, Pennsylvania.

Casualty Date
Jun 12, 1944
Hostile, Died
Not Specified
Not Specified
World War II
Location of Interment
Grove Methodist Church Cemetery - West Chester, Pennsylvania
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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World War II Fallen
  1944, World War II Fallen [Verified]

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 Duty Stations
US NavyCommander Naval Recruiting Command (CNRC)
  1943-1943, Naval Training Center (NTC)
  1943-1943, NRS Bainbridge, MD
  1943-1944, S1c-0000, USS Nelson (DD-623)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1944 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater
  1944-1944 Normandy Campaign (1944)/Operation Overlord
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Jan 13, 2019, General Photos
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
SN William Henry Cunningham, Jr.

Bill was born in 1915 to William H. and Caroline Cunningham  who lived in Tredyffrin Township. His father was a framer for a contractor. William was the youngest of three children: Mary W., Horace F., and William.

William, whose nickname was "Fox" attended Tredyffrin High School, and Tredyffrin-Easttown Middle school on Conestoga Rd. in Berwyn. The school yearbook, the "Garnet and Gray" describes him thus:

When Fox sits in class, he seems to be constantly amused. Indeed, after the twinkle in his eye becomes pronounced, we are sure of soon hearing some humorous remark which will be followed by his own hearty laugh. But Bill has other characteristics beside humor;  one of these is interest in his studies which evinces itself in that concentrated frown which  he is sometimes seen wearing.

Bill participated in Field Day his first years, football 1st, chorus 3rd, and was a stagehand all 4 years of high school. He graduated with the class of 1932.

William enlisted in the Navy in September 1943. After basic training, he was assigned to the new destroyer USS Nelson DD-623. The Nelson was commissioned in November1942.

Bill's ship served escorting crucial convoys in the North Atlantic protecting them against the dreaded German U-boats during the winter of 1943 and early 1944.

In May 1944, the Nelson sailed to England for the coming Normandy invasion.

On May 24th, while William's ship was moored next to a tanker at Plymouth harbor the port (left) propeller and shaft became fouled with a mooring buoy, causing extensive damage. When she was dry docked for repairs, damage was found to be beyond repair, and her one propeller was removed. But the need for ships for the Normandy landings was so great, the Nelson was sent to Normandy with only one propeller.

The Nelson arrived at Omaha Beach Normandy on June 8th, serving on the "Dixie Line"  guarding against enemy submarines and E-boats (German PT style fast boats). That night she was attacked by an enemy Glide Bomb, which missed and exploded off her starboard quarter.

On the night of June 8th and 9th, the Nelson with other destroyers defeated and attacked 3  German E-boats, two of which were sunk.

On the evening of June 12th the Nelson radar detected a contact approaching. Challenging the contact by radio and signal light (friend or foe) they received no response and opened fire. The single contact grew to three contacts. The Nelson was hit by an enemy torpedo which blew off the stern of the ship. Twenty-four of her crew died or went missing. The ship survived, but William did not.

Seaman 1st Class William Henry Cunningham II was Killed In Action on June 12, 1944.

He was buried in a local military cemetery. In 1948, his body was returned home for reburial in his home country. Services were held at the Mauger funeral home in Malvern on Saturday July 24th. He was buried with military honors at Grove Methodist Cemetery on Boot Road.

William was survived by his wife Veronica, and by his 5 year old son, William H. the 3rd.


This Military Service Page was created bySteven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember Cunningham, William Henry, Jr., S1c.
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