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Nicole Summers, MMFN
Bigelow, Henry Forbes, Jr., ENS.
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Home Town Clinton, MA
Last Address Clinton, MA
Casualty Date Nov 07, 1944
Cause Hostile-Body Not Recovered
Reason Other Explosive Device
Location Pacific Ocean
Conflict World War II
Location of Interment North Village Cemetery - Lancaster, Massachusetts
Wall/Plot Coordinates (memorial marker)
Last Known Activity
The USS Albacore (SS-218) began a patrol on October 24, 1944, and refueled at Midway Island on October 28th. There was no further contact with the boat after that date. Japanese records report a submarine exploding as the result of contact with a mine on November 7, 1944 and the Albacore was presumed lost on December 21st 1944. Ensign Bigelow was officially declared dead on December 13, 1945.
Albacore was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the albacore. Her keel was laid on 21 April 1941 by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on 17 February 1942 (sponsored by Mrs. Elwin F. Cutts, the wife of CaptainCutts), and commissioned on 1 June 1942, Lieutenant CommanderRichard C. Lake (Class of 1929) in command.Following shakedown, the submarine proceeded via the Panama Canal to Pearl Harbor and, from that base on 28 August 1942, began her first war patrol, to waters of the north and northeast pass through the coral reef which surrounds Truk. On 13 September, Albacore sighted two cargo vessels in column and prepared for her first combat action. She made a submerged approach and fired three torpedoes at the leading ship and two at the second. One or two torpedoes hit on the first ship; none struck the second. Albacore claimed to have damaged the leading vessel.
Her next enemy contact came on 1 October when she made a night surface attack on a Japanese tanker. She expended seven torpedoes and scored two hits. Although the tanker appeared to be low in the water, she was still able to leave the scene under her own power. On 9 October, Albacore spotted a Shōkaku-class aircraft carrier escorted by a heavy cruiser and a destroyer, but the submarine was depth charged by the escorts and forced to break off her pursuit. The next day, she attacked a freighter. One torpedo hit the mark, and 12 minutes after firing, the sound of two heavy explosions caused the submarine's crew to presume they had downed the vessel.
Beginning on the mid-morning of 11 October, Albacore was depth charged numerous times. At 1548, the conning officer finally spotted the Japanese attackers, two submarine chasers and an airplane. A third ship equipped with sound gear joined the group and continued the hunt. The ships crisscrossed over Albacore, close enough for propeller noise to reverberate throughout her hull and compelled her to proceed at silent running, with her ventilator fans shut down. After a chase of nearly seven hours, the Japanese ships disappeared astern, and Albacore then surfaced to clear the immediate area. The next day, Albacore headed for Midway Island. Although she had had several opportunities to score during the patrol, Albacore was not credited with any damage to Japanese shipping. The submarine arrived at Midway Island on 20 October and commenced a refit.
With her refurbishing completed and a new Oerlikon 20 mm cannon installed, Albacore sailed on 11 November for her second patrol. Her assigned areas were the Roger St. George's Channel, New Britain, along the east coast of New Guineato Vitiaz Strait, and the Dallman Pass off Madang harbor. On 24 November, the submarine spotted a convoy of two cargo vessels. Albacore maneuvered into position and fired two stern tubes, but neither torpedo found its target. Two days later, on 26 November, Albacore herself became the quarry. Two Japanese destroyers depth charged her and the explosions caused numerous small leaks around the cable packing glands in the pressure hull. After a two-hour chase, the Japanese retired, and Albacore shifted her patrol area to Vitiaz Strait. Another golden opportunity arose on 13 December, whenAlbacore found three Japanese destroyers. She released a three-torpedo spread but again was unsuccessful. On 18 December, Albacore was stationed off Madang. The submarine discovered what seemed to be a transport and a destroyer.
Albacore torpedoed the "transport," and it exploded in a mass of flames and sank. Albacore had in fact downed Tenryū, and the second Japanese cruiser sunk by an American submarine in World War II. Albacore put into port at Brisbane,Australia, on 30 December.
Albacore left Pearl Harbor on 24 October 1944 (with Hugh Raynor Rimmer, Class of 1937, in command), topped off her fuel tanks at Midway Island on 28 October, and was never heard from again. According to Japanese records captured after the war, a submarine (presumed to be Albacore) struck a naval mine very close to the shore off northeastern Hokkaidō on 7 November 1944. A Japanese patrol boat witnessed the explosion of a submerged submarine and saw a great deal of heavy oil, cork, bedding, and food supplies rise to the surface. On 21 December, Albacore was presumed lost. Her name was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 March 1945.