Jump to content

KIA Certificate for Soldier Who Died in U-Boat Attack of the USS Ticonderoga


Recommended Posts

How sad. I found this certificate in a period frame at a flea market in Urbana, Ohio ( where the soldier was from). Pvt Joseph Burley found himself on the USS Ticonderoga in September 1918. Hauling vehicles, animals and other military items, the USS Ticonderoga was part of a convoy leaving New York and heading to France when it suffered engine problems on the evening of September 29 and dropped out of the convoy. U-152 attacked on the 30th. The guns of the U-boat and the guns on the transport engaged in a furious gun battle for two hours. Nearly all the 237 men aboard the Ticonderoga were injured or killed during the gun battle. Out of 237 men aboard the Ticonderoga, only 24 survived.

Kim

post-60-0-60688000-1498141319_thumb.jpg

post-60-0-13977900-1498141330_thumb.jpg

post-60-0-50360900-1498141354_thumb.jpg

post-60-0-23519700-1498141368_thumb.jpg

post-60-0-19292000-1498141384_thumb.jpg

post-60-0-61110700-1498141396_thumb.jpg

post-60-0-96003300-1498141409_thumb.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

That is some remarkable story! This soldier was probably headed to France as a replacement and just on the wrong ship at the wrong time! It's remarkable that there weren't more transports sunk, and this is actually a rare artifact! I can't help but wonder if this framed certificate spent most of its life on the wall in someone's bedroom, or, more likely it was in a drawer or closet as the soldier was long forgotten! It's important to remember that these soldiers and sailors also served and played a part in the Great War! Thanks for sharing this artifact and its story!

 

David

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the comments David.

I did some more reading this afternoon and see where the commander of the Ticonderoga received the medal of honor for his actions against U-152.

Kim

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 years later...

I thought I would resurrect this post and add slightly better photos as well as a period article I found in the local paper ("The Democrat", Urbana, Ohio October 22, 1918) that describes the event and his death.

Kim

 

Burley (1).jpg

Burley (5).jpg

Burley (3).jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good question. I suspect the U-boat captain thought the Ticonderoga was easy pickings for its' deck guns and saved the torpedoes for more stealthy, dangerous work.

However the records show the transport did put up a good fight and its' captain, Lt Commander James J. Madison received the MOH for his performance that day.  

The transport was loaded with supplies of all types. Of the 247 soldiers and sailors aboard, only 24 survived.

Kim

Link to post
Share on other sites

That U-boat Captain took a chance and probably got more fight than anticipated.

 

One good shot form the Ticonderoga and it would have been over.

 

But to shoot the life boats as they rowed away was horrible.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Incredible story and artifact.  Glad someone in-the-know was at that flea market and was able to preserve it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually I was pretty ignorant when I purchased the framed certificate,  about $10 as I recall. I actually had my eye out for the frame it came in, one of those period fake wood painted frames that I wanted to use for something else. But I'm really glad I kept it together, other than replacing the old acidic cardboard backing which had stained the certificate over the years. I started researching the guy and found out about his short military career (2 1/2 months) and that he lived in the same small Ohio town (Urbana) where I found the certificate. I thought I'd stop by and see his house but it is long gone. An auto parts store is now in its place. Would like to find a photograph of Mr Burley so I'll keep looking.

I've read on-line little bits and pieces about the engagement between the 2 vessels and the more I read about it, the more I want to know. 

 

Kim

Link to post
Share on other sites
Salvage Sailor
2 hours ago, manayunkman said:

That U-boat Captain took a chance and probably got more fight than anticipated.

 

One good shot form the Ticonderoga and it would have been over.

 

But to shoot the life boats as they rowed away was horrible.

 

He decided upon a surface action as she only brandished two (2) deck guns and one was put out of action early in the fight

 

Battle with U-152  (DANFS - Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships)


Ticonderoga loaded another Army cargo at Norfolk between 5 and 19 September. She then steamed to New York where she joined a convoy bound for Europe. On 22 September, Ticonderoga cleared New York for the last time. During the night of the 29th and 30th, the transport developed engine trouble and dropped behind the convoy. At 05:20 the following morning, she sighted the German submarine SM U-152 running on the surface; and she cleared for action. For the next two hours, her gun crews fought the enemy in a losing battle. The U-boat's gunners put her forward gun out of commission after six shots, but the 6-inch gun aft continued the uneven battle. Almost every man on board Ticonderoga, including her captain, suffered wounds. Eventually, the submarine's two 5.9-inch guns succeeded in silencing Ticonderoga's remaining gun. At 07:45, Ticonderoga slipped beneath the sea. Of the 237 sailors and soldiers embarked, only 24 survived. Twenty-two of those survivors were in one lifeboat and were picked up by the British steamer SS Moorish Prince four days later. The other two, the executive officer and the first assistant engineer, were taken prisoner on board the U-boat and eventually landed at Kiel, Germany, when U-152 completed her cruise. Ticonderoga's name was subsequently struck from the Navy list.

 

Lieutenant Commander James Jonas Madison received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Ticonderoga. LCDR James J. Madison, USNRF - Awarded the Medal of Honor (Tiffany Cross) for his actions as Commanding Officer of TICONDEROGA - (1918)

 

Ticonderoga 004.jpg

 

Photos and captions and citations below from Navsource.com 

 

At Boston, Massachusetts, 27 November 1917. Also present, at far left, is the [protected cruiser] USS Albany. Three section patrol (SP) boats are partially visible at the far right
U.S. Navy photo NH 42415

 

Ticonderoga 001.jpg

 

Ticonderoga as seen from the U-152, prior to her sinking
Photo from "A History Of The Transport Service: Adventures And Experiences Of The United States Transports And Cruisers In The World War", by Vice Admiral Albert Gleaves, USN, Published by George H. Doran Company, New York

 

Ticonderoga 002.jpg

 

Photo taken from the deck of the enemy submarine shows the only surviving lifeboat from the transport Ticonderoga comes alongside the U-152. The occupants were forced to hold up their hands at the point of revolvers in the hands of the U-boat's crew. In the back ground Ticonderoga may been seen on the horizon line four minutes before she sank
Photo from "A History Of The Transport Service: Adventures And Experiences Of The United States Transports And Cruisers In The World War", by Vice Admiral Albert Gleaves, USN, Published by George H. Doran Company, New York

 

Ticonderoga 003.jpg

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Salvage Sailor

A Note on the above:  There's a statement of interest in the DANFS history of the TICONDEROGA.

 

.....The other two, the executive officer and the first assistant engineer, were taken prisoner on board the U-boat and eventually landed at Kiel, Germany, when U-152 completed her cruise. 

 

This was standard practice by U-Boat commanders after sinking an enemy vessel.  They would search amongst the survivors in their lifeboats and take aboard the senior surviving officers and bring them to Kiel for interrogation and imprisonment.  This is the same way in which Gunnery Officer (and Tiffany Cross MOH recipient) LT Edouard Izac was captured by the U-90 after she sank the transport USS LINCOLN.

Link to post
Share on other sites

S-S:  Thank you for the nice historical additions.

I had a question.  The main armaments of the Ticonderoga was a 3 inch gun forward and 6 inch gun at the rear.  Were these gun positions protected or were they exposed open air positions, no protection from shell fire or flying debris?

Kim

Link to post
Share on other sites

They would have been open gun mounts on the fore and after decks with little protection

 

4 inch gun.jpg

 

This is a 3 inch/50 caliber deck gun on an USN auxiliary and as you can see it affords little to no protection for the gun crew

 

3 inch gun 001.jpg

 

3 inch gun 002.jpg

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.