Bigelow, Henry Forbes, Jr., ENS

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Last Rank
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1944-1944, USS Albacore (SS-218)
Service Years
1943 - 1944

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Nicole Summers, MMFN to remember Bigelow, Henry Forbes, Jr., ENS.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Clinton, MA
Last Address
Clinton, MA

Casualty Date
Nov 07, 1944
Hostile-Body Not Recovered
Other Explosive Device
Pacific Ocean
World War II
Location of Interment
North Village Cemetery - Lancaster, Massachusetts
Wall/Plot Coordinates
(memorial marker)

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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.

Service number: 313151
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USS Albacore (SS-218)
From Month/Year
December / 1944
To Month/Year
December / 1944

USS Albacore (SS-218) was a Gato-class submarine which served in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II, winning four Presidential Unit Citations and nine battle stars for her service. During the war, she was credited with sinking 13 Japanese ships (including two destroyers, a light cruiser, and the aircraft carrier Taiho) and damaging another five; not all of these credits were confirmed by postwar JANAC accounting. She also holds the distinction of sinking the most warship tonnage of any U.S. submarine. She was lost in 1944, probably sunk by a mine off of northern Hokkaido on 7 November 1944.[2]

Albacore was the second vessel 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 Captain Cutts), and commissioned on 1 June 1942, Lieutenant Commander Richard C. Lake (Class of 1929) in command.

On the morning of 18 June, two days after American forces began landing on Saipan, Albacore shifted from her position west of the Mariana Islands to a new location 100 miles (160 km) further south. Admiral Charles Andrews Lockwood (ComSubPac)[8] ordered this move in the hope of enabling the submarine to intercept a Japanese task force (under command of Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa) reportedly steaming from Tawi Tawi toward Saipan. At about 0800 the next morning, Albacore raised her periscope and found herself in the midst of Ozawa's main carrier group. Blanchard allowed one Japanese carrier to pass unharmed and selected a second one for his target. Once inside 5,300 yards (4,800 m), the submarine's Torpedo Data Computer started giving false information. To maximize the odds of a hit, Blanchard fired all six bow tubes. The carrier was in the process of launching an air strike, and one of the pilots (Sakio Komatsu) intentionally dove his plane into a torpedo, setting it off early. Three Japanese destroyers immediately charged Albacore. While the submarine was diving to escape, her crew heard one solid torpedo explosion. About that same time, 25 depth charges began raining down on the submarine. Then Blanchard heard "a distant and persistent explosion of great force" followed by another.

One of Blanchard's torpedoes had hit the carrier. It was Ozawa's flagship, Japanese aircraft carrier Taiho, 31,000 tons, the newest and largest in the Japanese fleet. The explosion jammed the ship's forward aircraft elevator; its pit filled with gasoline, water, and fuel. However, no fire erupted, and the flight deck was unharmed.

The one torpedo hit on Taiho caused little concern on board. Ozawa still "radiated confidence and satisfaction" and by 11:30 had launched raids Three and Four. Meanwhile, a novice took over the damage-control work. He thought the best way to handle gasoline fumes was to open up the ship's ventilation system and let them disperse. When he did, the fumes spread all through the ship. Unknown to anybody on board, Taiho became a floating time bomb.

About 3:30 that afternoon, Taiho was jolted by a severe explosion. A senior staff officer on the bridge saw the flight deck heave up. The sides blew out. Taiho dropped out of formation and began to settle in the water, clearly doomed. Though Admiral Ozawa wanted to go down with the ship, his staff prevailed on him to survive and to shift his quarters to Japanese cruiser Haguro. Taking the Emperor's portrait, Ozawa transferred to Haguro by destroyer. After he left, Taiho was torn by a second thunderous explosion and sank stern first, carrying down 1,650 officers and men.

No one on Albacore thought Taiho had sunk, and her skipper was angry for "missing a golden opportunity." After this action, Albacore was assigned lifeguard duty for planes striking Yap and Ulithi. On 2 July, Albacore shifted over to intercept traffic between Yap and the Palau Islands. The submarine spotted a wooden inter-island steamer loaded with Japanese civilians. Albacore decided to stage a surface gun attack. After ensuring the ship was afire, Albacore dived to avoid an airplane. The submarine surfaced soon thereafter and picked up five survivors.

Albacore put in to Majuro on 15 July. She was praised for an aggressive patrol and received credit for damaging a Shokaku-class carrier. American codebreakers lost track of Taiho after the Battle of the Philippine Sea and, while puzzled, did not realize she had gone down. Only months later did a prisoner of war reveal her sinking.

After a refit alongside Bushnell, the submarine began her tenth patrol on 8 August. Her assignment was the Bungo Suido-Kii Suido area, and, during this period, Albacore was credited with sinking two Japanese vessels, a cargo ship and a submarine chaser. The patrol ended at Pearl Harbor on 25 September.

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 Hokkaido 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.
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From Month/Year
December / 1944
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December / 1944
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
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