Cromwell, John Philip, CAPT

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Last Rank
Last Primary NEC
112X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Submarine Warfare
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1943-1943, 112X, USS Sculpin (SS-191)
Service Years
1924 - 1943

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Robert Cox, YNCS to remember Cromwell, John Philip, CAPT.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Henry, Illinois
Last Address
1165 Harker St
Palo Alto, California
(Wife Margret R Cromwell)

Casualty Date
Nov 19, 1943
Hostile, Died
Lost At Sea-Unrecovered
Pacific Ocean
World War II
Location of Interment
Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial - Honolulu, Hawaii
Wall/Plot Coordinates

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
World War II FallenUnited States Navy Memorial The National Gold Star Family RegistryCongressional Medal Of Honor Society
WWII Memorial National Registry
  2014, World War II Fallen [Verified]
  2014, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
  2014, The National Gold Star Family Registry
  2014, Congressional Medal Of Honor Society [Verified]
  2014, WWII Memorial National Registry

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

On 29 November, COMSUBPAC radioed Sculpin to order Captain Cromwell to activate the wolfpack. When Sculpin failed to acknowledge the message, even after several repetitions, she was assumed - correctly - to have been lost at sea. It wasn't until after the war that the details of her loss - and that of Captain Cromwell - to enemy action became known from both Japanese sources and surviving crewmembers who had been prisoners of war.

Sculpin had actually arrived on station on 16 November and made radar contact with a large, high-speed convoy on the night of the 18th. After making a fast surface run to get ahead of the quarry, LCDR Connaway submerged for an attack at dawn. As he started his final approach, however, his periscope was spotted by the enemy, and Connaway was forced to take Sculpin deep and allow the convoy to pass overhead. Then, he surfaced again to attempt another end run in broad daylight. Unfortunately, the Japanese destroyer IJS Yamagumo had lagged behind the convoy specifically to counter such a move and after forcing Connaway to make a quick dive, dropped a pattern of depth charges that - unbeknownst to the crew - damaged the depth gauge. Sculpin went deep and laid low for several hours repairing damage.

When Connaway decided to go to periscope depth, the diving officer failed to realize that the depth gauge wasn't moving, and instead of levelling off at 62 feet, Sculpin heaved herself to the surface with the depth gauge still reading 125 feet. She was spotted by the destroyer Yamagumo, which opened fire at once.

Connaway ordered a crash dive, but Yamagumo's follow up depth charge attack was perfectly timed and, with Sculpin uncontrollably submerged, Connaway was forced to surface and attempt a gun action.

Yamagumo's first salvo hit Sculpin's bridge, killing Connaway, along with his executive and gunnery officers. With the senior officers dead, Lieutenant G.E. Brown, Jr. assumed command, ordering the crew to abandon and the boat to be scuttled. Cromwell decided to go down with Sculpin, fearing that he could be forced to reveal what he knew about ULTRA and Galvanic. Ensign Fiedler, the diving officer who had failed to notice the defective depth gauge and presumably felt responsible for what had happened, also chose to go down with the boat.

The 41 survivors were split into two groups and put aboard the aircraft carriers Chuyo and Unyo for transport to Japan. In an ironic twist, Chuyo was torpedoed and sunk by Sailfish‚??the raised and renamed Squalus, which Sculpin had been instrumental in finding after she was sunk on a training exercise‚??killing all but one of the 21 Sculpin survivors aboard.

Captain Cromwell, who knew secret details of the impending operation to capture the Gilbert Islands, deliberately remained on board as she sank. For his sacrificial heroism in preventing the enemy from obtaining this information, he posthumously received the Medal of Honor.

When the story of what Captain Cromwell had done became known after the war, he was nominated for the Medal of Honor. This was awarded posthumously to his widow. In 1954 the destroyer-escort U.S.S. Cromwell was named in his honor.


Name of Award
Navy Medal of Honor

Year Awarded
Details behind Award:
Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Captain John Philip Cromwell (NSN: 0-58950), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commander of a Submarine Coordinated Attack Group with Flag in the U.S.S. SCULPIN, during the 9th War Patrol of that vessel in enemy-controlled waters off Truk Island, 19 November 1943. Undertaking this patrol prior to the launching of our first large-scale offensive in the Pacific, Captain Cromwell, alone of the entire Task Group, possessed secret intelligence information of our submarine strategy and tactics, scheduled Fleet movements and specific attack plans. Constantly vigilant and precise in carrying out his secret orders, he moved his undersea flotilla inexorably forward despite savage opposition and established a line of submarines to southeastward of the main Japanese stronghold at Truk. Cool and undaunted as the submarine, rocked and battered by Japanese depth charges, sustained terrific battle damage and sank to an excessive depth, he authorized the Sculpin to surface and engage the enemy in a gunfight, thereby providing an opportunity for the crew to abandon ship. Determined to sacrifice himself rather than risk capture and subsequent danger of revealing plans under Japanese torture or use of drugs, he stoically remained aboard the mortally wounded vessel as she plunged to her death. Preserving the security of his mission, at the cost of his own life, he had served his country as he had served the Navy, with deep integrity and an uncompromising devotion to duty. His great moral courage in the face of certain death adds new luster to the traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Action Date: 19-Nov-43
Service: Navy
Rank: Captain
Company: Commanding Officer
Regiment: Submarine Attack Group
Division: U.S.S. Sculpin (SS-191)
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 Ribbon Bar
Submarine Officer Badge
Submarine Combat Patrol Badge

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
USS Maryland (BB-46)Submarine School Officers Basic CourseUS NavyAdvancement Schools and Courses
Bureau of ShipsCOMSUBPAC, COMNAVSUBFORUSS Sculpin (SS-191)
  1924-1925, 111X, USS Maryland (BB-46)
  1926-1926, 117X, Submarine School Officers Basic Course
  1927-1929, 112X, USS S-24 (SS-129)
  1930-1932, 112X, Diesel Engineering Officers School
  1936-1937, 112X, USS S-20 (SS-125)
  1939-1940, 112X, Bureau of Engineering
  1939-1940, 112X, Bureau of Ships
  1942-1943, 112X, Submarine Division 203
  1942-1943, 112X, Submarine Division 44
  1942-1943, 112X, Submarine Division 43
  1943-1943, 112X, USS Sculpin (SS-191)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1943-1943 USS Sculpin (SS-191)/USS SCULPIN (SS-191) 9th War Patrol
 Colleges Attended 
United States Naval Academy
  1920-1924, United States Naval Academy2
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  USS Sculpin (SS-191) Men recovered from Japanese prison camps
  Submarine Hero - John Philip Cromwell by Edward C. Whitman
  Nov 19, 1943, Sailors Lost On USS SCULPIN (SS-191)
  Jul 20, 2014, General Photos1
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