Farmer, Roscoe L, Sr., S2c

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Last Rank
Seaman Second Class
Last Primary NEC
Last Rating/NEC Group
Primary Unit
1943-1943, SD-0000, USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56)
Service Years
1943 - 1943
Seaman Second Class

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember Farmer, Roscoe L, Sr., S2c.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
South Coatesville, PA
Last Address
Roscoe is remembered on the tables of the Missing in Action and Buried at Sea at the Honolulu Memorial in Hawaii.

Casualty Date
Nov 24, 1943
Hostile, Died
Drowned, Suffocated
World War II
Location of Interment
Buried at Sea, Pacific Ocean
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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  1943, World War II Fallen [Verified]

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 Duty Stations
Naval Station, Great Lakes, ILUS Navy
  1943-1943, AS-0000, Naval Station, Great Lakes, IL/Camp Robert Smalls
  1943-1943, SD-0000, USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1943-1943 World War II
  1943-1943 Gilbert Islands Operation/Battle of Tarawa
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
SD/2c Roscoe Lee Farmer, Sr.
USNR Service # 8217978
KIA Lost At Sea WWII

Roscoe was born in 1920 to Leroy and Addie Farmer in Stanonburg, North Carolina. He was the only son of three children including sisters Ruth and Lucy.

His family moved to Pennsylvania in 1930, residing at 410 South 1st Avenue in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

Roscoe attended local schools, and later found employment at Lukens Steel Company.

Roscoe married Dorothy Martin and moved to 123 New Street in Coatesville.

Roscoe enlisted in the Navy in June, 1943. After basic training, he was assigned to serve as a Steward’s Mate on the new escort aircraft carrier: USS Liscome Bay CVE-56.

Escort Aircraft Carriers were small carriers based on merchant ship hulls, and mass-produced (nearly 100 were constructed in World War II). The Liscome Bay was the 2nd ship of the 50 ship Casablanca Class. These “baby Flattops”, as they were sometimes called, were about 500 feet in length, had a top speed of about 20 knots, and carried 20 to 35 aircraft. (Full size aircraft carriers were about 800 feet long, could make 33 knots and carried 100 aircraft.) The escort carriers served to provide air support for merchant convoys, aircraft for ground support for amphibious landings, and replacement aircraft for the big fleet carriers.

After Training off the west coast, Roscoe’s ship departed for the Pacific theater on October 21 1943, arriving in Hawaii a week later. The family received a Christmas card dated November 9th from Hawaii – the last time they heard from him.

Roscoe’s ship, the Liscome Bay, departed Hawaii on November 10 as part of a task force bound for the Gilbert Islands, America’s first major thrust in the central pacific. On November 20th, the amphibious landings began on Makin, and “Bloody” Tarawa.

The Liscome Bay’s 28 aircraft flew 2,278 sorties in 76-hour battle, against enemy airfields, and supporting the ground troops.

On November 23, the Liscome Bay was sailing south west of Butaritari Island ( in the Makin Atoll) in a small task group with a battleship and 2 other escort carriers. Reveille sounded at 4:30 a.m. and Roscoe was preparing breakfast for 860 men. Dawn General Quarters sounded at 5:05 a.m. as pilots prepared for their morning strikes. 

There was no warning of an enemy submarine in the area. The Japanese submarine I-175 arrived off Makin Island the previous day and was silently waiting for a prey.

At 5:15 a.m. a lookout spotted a torpedo in the water headed for the ship and shouted the warning, but it was too late. The torpedo struck the ship just behind the after engine room with a tremendous explosion in the unarmored ship. Then a secondary explosion occurred and then the entire ship became an inferno. At 5:33 a.m., the ship rolled over to the starboard (right side) and sank.

The Admiral, the Captain and 644 of her crew went down with the ship. Only 272 of her crew were rescued.

Steward’s Mate Second Class Roscoe Lee Farmer Sr. was Killed In Action on November 23, 1943.

A telegram was sent to his wife, Dorothy, but she was away visiting North Carolina. The telegram was then delivered to his parents. The Telegram read:

The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your husband, Roscoe Lee Farmer, Sr. is missing following action in performance of his duties and in the service of his country. The Department appreciates your great anxiety but details are not now available and delay in receipt thereof must necessarily be expected.

Signed by Rear Admiral Randal Jacobs, Chief of Navy Personnel

A year later, his designation of Missing was officially changed to Killed In Action as of the day after the attack: November 24, 1943.

Roscoe was survived by his wife and two children: Roscoe Jr. - three years old, and Tyrone, 6 months old at the time of his death.

Roscoe is remembered on the tables of the Missing in Action and Buried at Sea at the  Honolulu Memorial in Hawaii.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

FARMER, Roscoe Lee, Sr., Steward's Mate 2c, USNR. Wife, Mrs. Dorothy Martin Farmer, 618 S. 1st Ave., South Coatesville, PA.

Sinking, USS Liscome Bay CVE-56

On 23 November, I-175 arrived off Makin. The temporary task group, built around Rear Admiral Henry M. Mullinnix three escorts - Liscome Bay, Coral Sea and Corregidor - was steaming 20 miles southwest of Butaritari Island at 15 knots. At 0430 on 24 November, reveille was made in Liscome Bay. The ship went to routine general quarters at 0505 as flight crews prepared their planes for dawn launchings.

There was no warning of a submarine in the area until about 0510 when a lookout shouted: "Here comes a torpedo!" The torpedo struck abaft the after engine room and hit the aircraft bomb stockpile, causing a major explosion engulfing the entire vessel and sending shrapnel out 5,000 yards. "It didn't look like a ship at all", wrote Lieutenant John C. W. Dix, communications officer on Hoel, "We thought it was an ammunition dump....She just went whoom -- an orange ball of flame."

At 0533, Liscome Bay listed to starboard and sank, carrying 53 officers and 591 enlisted men -- including Admiral Mullinix, Captain Wiltsie, and famous Pearl Harbor survivor Cook Third Class Doris Miller, down with her. Only 272 of her crew of 916 were rescued by Morris, Hughes and Hull.

Counting the sailors who went down with the carrier, American casualties of the assault on Makin exceeded the strength of the entire Japanese garrison of that island. Future legal scholar Robert Keeton, then a Navy lieutenant, survived the attack.
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