Do you have a W.A.S.P. in your tree? No, I’m not talking about the insect but about the women who served as pilots during world war 2.
While researching descendants of John Lewis Ricketts, I came across the Find a Grave site for Helen Lucille Ricketts Rownd. Since her obituary was included on the site, I discovered that Helen Ricketts was a member of the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (W.A.S.P.)
So far, Ancestry and Fold3 have failed to turn up records for Helen Ricketts’ service. However, Google turned up quite a bit of information about Helen Ricketts Hooks Rownd.
Helen Ricketts is listed as a member of Class 43-W-2 which reported to Dallas in June 1943.
Eleven women from Class 43-2 reported to Dallas in June: Betty Bachman, Ruth Dailey, Frances Dias, Betty Eames, Jane Emerson, Kay Gott, Ross Kary, Avanell Pinkley, Helen Ricketts, Cappy Vail and Betty Whitlow. These women followed in the footsteps of the WAFS – who served as flight leaders for them – and of the “Guinea Pigs” who had graduated a month earlier.
Sarah Byrn Rickman, WASP of the Ferry Command: Women Pilots, Uncommon Deed (Denton, Texas: University of North Texas, 2016), page 125; digital book, Google Books, https://www.google.com/books viewed online 22 November 2021.
The Woman’s Collection on the Texas Woman’s University Libraries web site has a list of the members of the WASP Class 43-W-2.
WASP CLASS 43-W-2
Dates: November 13, 1942-May 28, 1943
Number of Trainees: 51 trainees, 43 graduates
Place: Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas
This class completed training at the Houston Municipal Airport, Houston, Texas. They then flew to Sweetwater, Texas, in AT-6s and AT-17s which were being transferred from Houston. The exodus of this class marked the deactivation of the 318 th AAFFTD.
Graduation Speaker: Colonel J. H. Hills, Adjutant General and Executive Officer, AAF Flying Training Command, Fort Worth, Texas
Jacqueline Cochran, Director of Women’s Flying Training Command Major Francis Heasy, Public Relations Officer, AAFFTC Captain H. G. Gibbons, Commanding Officer, 318th AAFFTD, Municipal Airport, Houston, Texas Major L. J. Jurdan, AAFFTC
Well, a Find a Grave memorial has done it again. They have just enough information about a military service member to prompt me to find more. This time, it is a second cousin twice removed on my Thompson line, Second Lieutenant Gene Marion Ashmore.
Thanks to the picture on Find a Grave, I was able to locate the obituary in the 17 Jan 1950 issue of the Greely Daily Tribune on Newspapers.com.
VFW Here Will Have Charge of Ashmore Service
Committal services for Second Lt. Gene M. Ashmore will be held at Linn Grove Saturday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock. Veterans of Foreign Wars will be in charge of military honors and Macys is making arrangements. The body will arrive Saturday.
Survivors are his parents, Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Ashmore of 1230 Twelfth street; three sisters, Miss Jessie and Miss Bernice Ashmore both of Greeley, and Mrs. Doris Anderson of Denver.
Born April 23, 1925, at Hastings, Nebr., the Lieutenant was graduated from Greeley high school and attended CSCE. He was killed Sept. 14, 1945, on Mindanso, Philippine Islands.
Ashmore was reported missing in flight over Luzon Island in late September, 1945. He served as a navigator on a R-24 and began his overseas duty in July, 1945. In August 1945, he was stationed on the island of Ie Shima.
Lt. Ashmore entered the service when he was 18. He was an aviation student at Wofford college, Spartanburg, S.C., where he took a five months course prior to his appointment as an aviation cadet in the army air forces flying training command.
He was classified a navigator at the completion of his course and assigned to the Nashville army air center in Tennessee for determination of branch of air crew service. He took his pre-flight training at Maxwell field, Ala., and received his second lieutenant wings as an aerial navigator at San Marcos, Tex.
The plane went down when its crew was ferrying prisoners of war out of Japan to the Philippine Islands.
“VFW Here Will Have Charge of Ashmore Service,” Greeley Daily Tribune (Greeley, Colorado), 17 January 1950, page 1; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 19 November 2021).
A search of Fold3 for Gene M Ashmore turned up two men of that name in the records for World War II. One is obviously the incorrect Gene Ashmore since he served in the Medical Administrative Corps. Fortunately, the second Gene Ashmore appears in records that help confirm the information in the obituary. One of these results leads to a “Missing Air Crew Report”
Confidential War Department Headquarters Army Air Forces Washington
Missing Air Crew Report Important: This report will be compiled in triplicate by each Army Air Forces organization within 48 hours of the time an aircraft is officially reported missing.
IE Shima Ryukyus
Organization: Location Retto Japan; Command or Air Force V Air Force Group 43rd Bomb Group; Squadron 65th Bomb Sq.; Detachment _____
Specify: Point of Departure Moro[xxd]; Course Unknown; Intended Destination Clark Field Luzon; Type of Mission Routine
Weather Condition and Visibility at Time of crash or When Last Reported _______
Give: (a) Date 14 Sep 45; Time Unknown; and Location Moratai of last known whereabouts of missing aircraft.
Aircraft was lost or is believed to have been lost, as a result of ( ) Enemy Aircraft; ( ) Enemy Anti-Aircraft; (x) Other circumstances as follows Unknown
Aircraft: Type, Model and Series B 24 M; A.A.F. Serial Number 1562
The person listed below were reported as (a) Battle Casualty ______ or (b) Non-Battle Casualty __X___
Number of Persons Aboard Aircraft: Crew –5– ; Passengers — 0 — ; Total — 5 —
Crew position — Name in Full — Rank — Serial Number Pilot Pickens, William E Jr Capt. 01165546 Co Pilot Furman, Clarence J. 2nd Lt 083825 Nav. Ashmore, gene M. 2nd Lt 02081367 Eng. Biergel, William [M] Sgt 31348888 Radio Op. Ryan, William W. Sgt 11067496
Identify below those persons who are believed to have last knowledge of aircraft, and check appropriate column to indicate basis for same: Unknown
If personnel are believed to have survived, answer yes to one of the following statements: (a) Parachutes were used _____; (b) Persons were seen walking away from scene of crash ______; or (c) Any other reason (Specify) Unknown
Attach aerial photograph, map, chart, or sketch, showing approximate location where aircraft was last seen, UNKNOWN
Attach eyewitness descriptions of crash, forced landing, or other circumstances pertaining to missing aircraft. UNKNOWN
Attach a description of the extent of search, if any, and give name, rank and serial number of officer in charge here UNKOWN
Date of Report: Unknown
Bernie W. White Jr (Signature of Preparing Officer) Bernie W. White Jr 1st Lt. Air Corps Commanding
Sixty Fifth Bombardment Squadron (H) Forty Third Bombardment Group (H) APO 245
30 September 1945
Subject: Casualty Report
To: Commanding General, Far Est Air Force, APO 925
S.W. Pacific 5th A.F. (handwritten)
In compliance with FEAF Regulation 35-45, dated 1 May 1945, the following report is submitted
Cut – Missing
Non-Battle Casualty Pickens, William E. Jr., Capt., 01165546, White 65th Bomb Sq, 43rd Bomb Op (H) Pilot – 1092 Missing in flight between Morotai Island and Clark Field, Luzon. Plane took off from Morotai and is unreported at Clark Field 14 September 1945 Body was not recovered Unknown Line of Duty – Yes Not own misconduct On Flying Status, Yes. Pilot Award Pay – None Mrs. Lady Lytle Pickens, wife, 716 N. Church St., Murfreesboro, Tennessee Presbyterian
Non-Battle Casualty Furman, Clarence J., 2d Lt., 0838253, white 65th Bomb Sq, 43rd Bomb Op (H) Pilot – 1051 Missing in flight between Morotai Island and Clark Field, Luzon. Plane took off from Morotai and is unreported at Clark Field 14 September 1945 Body was not recovered Unknown Line of Duty – Yes Not own misconduct On Flying Status, Yes. Pilot Award Pay – None Mrs. Anna Mary Murman, wife, RFD#1, Punsxutawney, Penna Methodist
Non-Battle Casualty Ashmore, Gene M., 2d Lt., 02081367, White 65th Bomb Sq, 43rd Bomb Op (H) Navigator – 1034 Missing in flight between Morotai Island and Clark Field, Luzon. Plane took off from Morotai and is unreported at Clark Field 14 September 1945 Body was not recovered Unknown Line of Duty – Yes Not own misconduct On Flying Status, Yes. Navigator Award Pay – None Mrs. Louis J. Ashmore, Mother, 1230 Twelfth St., Greeley, Colorado Methodist
Non-Battle Casualty Biergel, William A., Sgt., 31348888, White 65th Bomb Sq, 43rd Bomb Op (H) Aerial Engineer – 748 Missing in flight between Morotai Island and Clark Field, Luzon. Plane took off from Morotai and is unreported at Clark Field 14 September 1945 Body was not recovered Unknown Line of Duty – Yes Not own misconduct On Flying Status, Yes. Aerial Engineer Award Pay – None Mrs. Mary Biergel, Mother, Northwest St., Feeding Hills, Mass Catholic
Non-Battle Casualty Ryan, William W., Sgt., 11067496, White 65th Bomb Sq, 43rd Bomb Op (H) Radio Operator – 757 Missing in flight between Morotai Island and Clark Field, Luzon. Plane took off from Morotai and is unreported at Clark Field 14 September 1945 Body was not recovered Unknown Line of Duty – Yes Not own misconduct On Flying Status, Yes. Radio Operator Award Pay – None Mrs. Mary A. Ryan, Mother, 11 Westchester St., Lowell, Mass Catholic
Report delayed because of lack of information concerning the flight at this Headquarters.
Max W. Williams Max W. Williams Capt., Air Corps Commanding
Even though the “Missing Air Crew Report” indicates there were no passengers on the plan, a letter in the same file names three other people on the plane.
AFPPA-8/FK/d1b/72490 Rm 5E 185 26 September 1946
AFPPA-8 AAF 201 – (14993) Pickens, William E., jr. 0-1165546
30 September 1946
Mrs. Lounora B. Pickens Box 124 Lewisburg, Tennessee
Dear Mrs. Pickens:
Reference is made to your letter of 8 June 1946, addressed to The Adjutant General and referred to this office for further reply concerning your son, Captain William E. Pickens, Jr.
According to information received in this Headquarters, the following are the names of the passengers who were aboard your son’s aircraft when it crashed in the Pacific area. The names and addresses of their emergency addresses are also furnished.
Private First Class Paul W Fors Killed — Mrs. Anna C. Fors (Mother) Ewen, Michigan Private First Class Pasquale Castigliola Killed– Mrs. Mary Castigliola (Mother) 414 Columbus Street, Brooklyn, NY Private First Class Leonard W. Jennings Killed — Mrs. Ella M. Jennings (Mother) Route 1 Morrill, Nebraska
It is noted from a review of the War Department reports regarding your son that all of the known details concerning your son’s death have been conveyed to you in correspondence from this Headquarters and The Adjutant General.
Again, my deepest sympathy is extended to you in your great loss.
Leon W. Johnson Brigadier General, J. S. Army Deputy. AC/AS-1
Little additional information about the Gene Ashmore has been found. However, some news articles about the pilot and others on the plane has been found.
Capt. Pickens, B-24 Pilot, Is Reported Missing Off Luzon
Capt. William E. Pickens, Jr., husband of the former Miss Lady Houston of Murfreesboro, is reported missing off Luzon since September 14, a message received from the War department yesterday by Mrs. Pickens brought word.
Pilot of a B-24, Captain Pickens went overseas the past June.
Messages from the War department stated that Mrs. Pickens would be notified if any further word was obtained regarding her husband. The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S. F. Houston, she and Captain Pickens were married in June, 1944. He is a native of Lewisburg.
The Daily News-Journal (Murfreesboro, TN), 14 Oct 1945, page 1 on Newspapers.com
Confirm Death of Captain Pickens, Missing Off Luzon
Word of the death of Capt. William E. Pickens, Jr., 28 husband of the former Miss Lady Houston of Murfreesboro, in a plane crash off Luzon last September, has been received from the War department.
Captain Pickens had been reported missing since last September 14, when a four-plane flight of B-24 Liberators, en route from Morotai to Manila, encountered a typhoon. Three of the planes reached Manila safely, but Captain Pickens’ plane, which he was piloting, was lost in the storm.
Captain Pickens had been overseas since June of last year, and had participated in many raids on Tokyo. He was stationed at Ie Shima, and witnessed the arrival there of the Jap surrender plane, bearing envoys to meet MacArthur’s representative in Manila.
A native of Lewisburg, where he was graduated from the high school, Captain Pickens was the son of W. E. Pickens, Sr., Marshall county circuit court clerk, and Mrs. Lounora Pickens. He was in charge of the city electric department there prior to entering service. His marriage to Miss Houston occurred in June, 1944.
The Daily News-Journal (Murfreesboro, TN), 30 Jan 1946, page 1 on Newspapers.com
I recently wrote about Ernest Eugene Ricketts who was captured while serving for the U.S. Navy, help prisoner at Cabannatun and rescued by the Army Rangers. However, there is another side to his story — and that is her story.
Ernest Rickett married Alice Mok on September 20, 1937 in Shanghai, China.
Ernest Rickett was called back to active service in October 1940 leaving behind his wife Alice along with their three young children. In March 1942, Ernest Rickett was reported missing in action. In October 1942, Ernest Rickett was imprisoned at Cabannatun. In January, 1945, Ernest and about 500 other prisoners were rescued. By March 1945, Ernest was back in Iowa, while his wife and children were still in China.
So far, I haven’t found any newspaper articles about the arrival of Alice and her children in the United States. However, there is a 1959 article about the family that indicates they arrived in 1946. There is a short article on the front page of the 13 Nov 1946 Hedrick Journal which indicates the family had purchased a house in Hedrick.
Mrs. Ernest Rickett and family have moved into the property they recently purchased which is located on North Main street and which was formerly occupied by the Aben Swanstrom family. Mrs. Ricketts is glad of an opportunity to live in her husband’s hometown and to know his relatives and friends. Ricketts is still confined to the Navy hospital.
“Local news,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 18 November 1946, page 1; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 17 November 2021).
In December 1946, Mrs. Ricketts visited her husband at the Great Lakes Naval hospital.
Mrs. Ernest Rickett returned Sunday after a few days spent with her husband who is in the Great Lakes Naval hospital. Rickett’s condition is somewhat improved.
“Local news,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 18 December 1946; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 17 November 2021).
Ernest Rickett died 18 Jan 1947 leaving behind his wife, Alice and their 3 children: Margaret, Ernest and Pauline.
In November 1948, Alice and her children moved to Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
Interesting newcomers from Hedrick, are the Alice Rickett family who have purchased the Lee Courtney property here. Mrs. Rickett is a native of China and her three children: Margret, Ernest and Paulne, al were born in China prior to world War II. Their father, an American, a former resident of Hedrick, is now deceased.
“Local Happenings,” The Mount Pleasant News (Mount Pleasant, Iowa), 22 November 1948, page 3; digial images, Southeast Iowa Advantage-Preservation (seiowa.advantage-preservation : viewed online 17 November 2021).
In July 1949, Alice Mok Rickett took the exam to become a naturalized citizen. Alice Rickett was naturalized on 19 Sep 1949 in Ottumwa, Iowa.
Alice Rickett Widow of Ernest Rickett veteran of World war 2 had a thrilling experience September 19th when she became a citizen of the United States of America. A native of China, she and her children, Margaret, Ernest Jr. and Pauline, came to this country to join Chief M. M. Ernest Rickett following the close of World War II. The arrived at Hedrick, Iowa where relatives gave them a warm welcome. Then it was that Alice Rickett applied for naturalization papers in Wapello county. She took the written examinations July 29th and it was a happy day for her and her American citizen children when she received notice to appear at the Post Office building in Ottumwa for the final proceeding. with seven other persons she was presented a certificate of citizenship following an impressive address by a member of the American Legion — it was a dramatic moment in Alice Rickett’s life when, by a member of the D.A.R. she was presented a small American Flag. How did you feel at that moment, we asked Alice, and she quickly answered, “Like a million — I am proud to be a citizen of the United States of America.”
“Around Town and Countryside,” The Mount Pleasant News (Mount Pleasant, Iowa), 8 October 1949, page 6; digial images, Southeast Iowa Advantage-Preservation (seiowa.advantage-preservation : viewed online 17 November 2021).
Thanks to another user of the FamilySearch tree, I was able to quickly locate the ‘Petition for Naturalization’ of Alice Mok Rickett.
United States of America
Petition for Naturalization
[Of a Married Person, under Sec. 310(a) or(b), 311 or 312, of the Nationality Act of 1940 (54 Stat. 1144-1145)]
To the Honorable the United States District southern District Court of Iowa at Ottumwa, Iowa
This petition for naturalization, hereby made and filed pursuant to Section 310 of the Nationality Act of 1940, respectfully shows:
(1) My full, true, and correct name is Alice Mok Rickett
(2) My present place of residence is 306 E. Clay, Mt Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa. (3) My occupation is housekeeper
(4) I am 43 years old. (5) I was born on December 23, 1905 in Provin of Kwong Tse, China
(6) My personal description is as follows: Sex: Female; Color Oriental: complexion Medium, color of eyes Dk Brown, color of hair black, height 5 feet 1 inches, weight 110 pounds; visible distinctive marks mole on chin; race Chinese; present nationality Chinese
(7) I was married; the name of my husband was Ernest E. Rickett; we were married on September 20, 1937 at shanghai, China; he was born at Hedrick, Keokuk County, Iowa on Dec. 19, 1895
entered the United States at XXX on XX for permanent residence in the United States, and now resides at
deceased January 18 1947 and was naturalized on XXX at XXX
certificate No XX; or became a citizen by birth in the United States
(8) I have three children; and the name, sex, date and place of birth, and present place of residence of each said children who is living, are as follows:
Margaret (f) Dec. 2,1933, Hankow, China, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
Ernest (m) March 12, 1936, Hankow, China, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
(9) My last place of foreign residence was Shanghau, China (10) I emigrated to the United States form Shanghai, China
(11) My lawful entry for permanent residence in the United States was at San Francisco, Calif under the name of Alice Nok Rickett on June 2, 1946 on the SS Gen J. C. Breckenbridge as shown by the certificate of my arrival attached to this petition.
(12) Since my lawful entry for permanent residence I have not been absent from the United States, for a period or periods of 6 months or longer, as follows:
(18) I have resided continuously in the United States of America for the term of three years at least immediately preceding the date of this petition, to wit: since June 2, 1946
(19) I have not heretofore made petition for naturalization
Signed: Alice Mok Rickett
Iowa Naturalization Records, 1859-1990, Alice Mok Rikett, 2 June 1946; database with images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : viewed online 17 November 2021).
In 1959, Alice Rickett’s visit to Iowa was chronicled in the article, “Ernest Rickett Would Have Been Proud of His Family.”
Ernest Rickett Would Have Been Proud of His Family
Mrs. Ernest Rickett, now of Fullerton, Calif., is visiting friends and relatives in this community, and her youngest daughter, Pauline, who is enrolled as a freshman at the state University of Iowa, this fall.
Mrs. Rickett, a native of China, formerly lived in Hedrick, having come form China in 1946 with her three children to join her husband, Ernest, who had been freed from a Japanese prison camp, in the Philippine a few months earlier. Rickett met his wife in China, while serving with the U.S. Navy.
The family moved to Hedrick in the fall and the children entered school. However, Mr Rickett became ill and only lived five months after the arrival of his family. He died in a Naval hospital in Illinois, a victim of tuberculosis, which he had contracted in the prison camp.
The family lived in Hedrick about two years, before moving to Mt. Pleasant, where the two older children, Margaret and Ernest, graduated from high school with high honors. Margaret graduated from the State University three years ago, having maintained a high average, serving in several offices, and was vie-president of the Motor Board. She is now employed in the data processing division of I.B.M. in Long Beach, Calif., and lives with her mother.
Ernest attended Grinnel college one year, having received a scholarship, and transferred to State University, graduating in 1958. He enlisted in the Navy and is now at Officer’s Candidate School in the east.
Pauline, the youngest, graduated from Fullerton high school in California as an honor student. She received a scholarship to the University of California, but preferred to come to Iowa as the others had graduated here.
Mrs. Ricketts is employed as a dietitian’s aid in the Veterans Administration hospital near her home. She has attended Adult Education classes, and paints as a hobby. She owns her home, dries a car, and with her family are typical Americans, having made the best of the opportunities which are offered to the family on one who gave his life for his country.
“Ernest Rickett Would Have Been Proud of His Family,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 7 October 1959, page 1; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 16 November 2021).
Ernest Rickett’s story is not complete without also knowing his wife’s story.
When researching a distant cousin, do you ever run across some information about that cousin that just begs you to research more of the story? Well, that’s the case with one of the descendants of William Taylor Thompson that I’m researching.
The Find a Grave site for Ernest Eugene Rickett contains a copy of an obituary.
Hedrick Journal, January 22, 1947
Chief Machinist’s Mate Ernest Rickett, 51, who survived 38 months of imprisonment by the Japanese at Cabannatun, Philippine Islands during World War II, died at 10 p.m. Saturday in the Naval Hospital at Great Lakes, Illinois.
Rickett had been in the hospital since August but was improving and his death was unexpected. His wife, who with their children live in Hedrick, had visited him at the hospital a week before his death. He was born and reared in Hedrick and had been in the Navy 30 years. He was living in Shanghai with his family when recalled to active duty prior to the outbreak of World War II and was serving at Manila Bay when captured.
He was liberated January 30, 1945 and arrived in Hedrick March 3, 1945. When his family first arrived in Iowa, they lived in Oskaloosa, lately moving to their home in Hedrick. He was a member of the American Legion Post at Oskaloosa. Surviving are his wife, Alice, two daughters, Margaret, 13, and Pauline, 6, and a son, Ernest Jr., three sisters, Mrs. Earl Hamilton of Hedrick, Mrs. Ollie Tennis of Beacon, and Mrs. Herbert Dickey of Cantril, and two brothers, Andrew Rickett of Knoxville and Clifford Rickett of Phoenix, Arizona.
The body arrived in Ottumwa at 8:30 this morning and will remain at the Cooperative Burial Association in Fremont until time for the funeral services Thursday. The funeral services will be conducted at the Christian Church Thursday afternoon at 2 o’clock with complete military services at the grave. Interment will be made in Brooks Cemetery beside his mother.
****Ernest Rickett gave a good accounting of his life in a Japanese POW camp. His story was published in the Hedrick Journal on March 07, 1945. Excerpts from the story are below, but the entire story is a good read.
“Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Chief Rickett was a member of the Naval Reserves and resided in China. He was called into action and was on shore patrol at Manila Bay, where he was captured on May 6, 1942.”
“The camp [Cabannatun] was a half mile long and a quarter mile wide, surrounded by high wire fence. Outside the camp was a 900 acre farm on which the prisoners labored. Their food was principally rice, radish tops, a native sweet potato plant, and a native lettuce. Every ten days they were given a small portion of meat with which they made gravy.”
“At the time of his release, he was preparing for bed and was clothed only in his shorts. When the firing started, everyone fell to the ground for they thought these shots were from Japanese guns. He said he heard shouts, ‘Come on, the Yanks are here!’ At these words, all made a dash to freedom. In Rickett’s own words, “I didn’t wait for my clothing; I grabbed my shoes and left.'”
“Chief Rickett, who has been in the Navy for 28 years, is wearing seven service stripes and four campaign medals; they are South West Pacific, American Defense, China Service, Filipino Defense, for World War II. For World War I, he has the Victory Medal, Second Nicaraguan Campaign, Yanks Sea Service, and Good Conduct.”
This information on Find a Grave challenged me to learn more about Ernest Eugene Rickett and his military service. My initial search of Fold3 was unsuccessful. Not willing to give up, I turned to newspapers — and located articles that help fill in the details.
Ernest Ricket Is Reported Missing
Mrs. Earl Hamilton has received word from the navy department that her brother, Ernest Eugene Rickett, 47, machinist’s mate first class of the U.S. Naval Reserve, is reported missing in action May 6, 1942, in the Manila Bay area, when Corregidor fell.
Mr. Rickett enlisted in the navy in 1917, serving in World War No. 1, and retired in 1937, after 20 years service and had residedin Shanghai, China, since. He was called back to active service Oct. 18, 1940, and was assigned tot he U.S.S. Luzon, which was severely damaged by enemy gun fire and was sunk by U.S. forces, when capture appeared imminent. So far as is known no casualties resutled and it is feared he may be a prisoner of war.
He is the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. A. D. Rickett of Hedrick and was born and reared in Hedrick and attended the Hedrick schools from which he graduated in 1913. As far as can be learned his wife and three children are still in China.
“Ernest Rickett Is Reported Missing,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 23 December 1942, page 1; digital iamges, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 14 November 2021).
Rickett Believed Rescued at Luzon
Included in the rescue of 513 Yank prisoners ant Luzon, Phillippines, recently was one Earnest E. Rickett with address of Shanghai, China. Mrs. Earl Hamilton, of Hedrick, has a brother by that name and address, who is the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. A. D. Rickett, of Hedrick.
Rickett graduated from the Hedrick high school with the class of 1913. Shortly after graduating he entered the navy and served over 20 years. He retired from the navy service and established a home in Shanghai, China, where he lived with his wife and three children at the start of the present war.
He was called into service with the outbreak of the war and shortly after re-entering the service was reported missing. His wife made an attempt to correspond with his relatives in Hedrick and her communication was answered. No reply has been received and relatives have been unsuccessful in receiving information through several other sources.
His relatives believe that the Earnest E. Ricktt rescured fits the description of the former Hedrick man with the same name, address and rating. Also from the fact that when he was last heard from he was in the Philippine area. Other relatives are a sister, Mrs. H. A. Dickey of Cantril, a brother, Andrew at Knoxville, and a brother Clifford address unkown.
Hedrick Journal — Feb. 7th 1945 page 1
Rickett Home From Phillippines
Chief machinist Mate Earnest E. Rickett, who was recently released as a prisoner of war from Camp Cabannatuan in the Phillippines, and arrived in Hedrick Sunday, gave the following story of his life as a prisoner of the Japanese:
Before the attack on Pearl Harbor Chief Rickett was a member of the Naval Reserves, and resided in China. He was then called into action and was in shore patrol at Manilla Bay, later assigned to defense patrol at Ft. Hughes, where he was captured May 6 1942, following the fall of Corregidor. He was among 7,000 other Americans who were then sent to various prison camps. On October 29, 1942, he was sent to Cabannatun, where he remained until his recent release.
Rickett described Cabannatun as a former Phillippine army training camp, and mamy barracks still remained. The camp was half a mile long and a quartr mile wide, surrounded by high wire fence. Outside the camp was a 900-acre farm on which the prisoners labored.
Their food was principally rice, radish tops, a native sweet potato plant, a native lettuce called pichi, and very ten days they were given a small portion of meat with which they made gravy. They had no bread, but during the later months they ground rice from which they made a bread which would not keep well. Their food was eaten from regular army mess kits and the prisoners made rude stools and tables. There beds were nothing but bamboo slats and Chief Rickett sad one was very lucky if they had and bedding.
At the time of his release with the 511 disabled men the resto of the 7,000 had been moved for war work and to various other camps.
Regular church services were held in the prison camp, with Chaplains for every denomination. There were plenty of doctors but a very small amount of medical supplies. In the early part of 1943 they received a small amount of medical supplies.
Rickett said that time moved quickly until the planes started coming over last September. He said he had never given up hope for freedom, and that the planes made them realize something was ready to happen.
At the time of the release he was preparing for bed, and was clothed only in his shorts. When the firing started everyone fell to the ground for they thought these shots were from Japanese guns. He said he heard shouts, “Come on, the Yanks are here!” At these words, all made a dash to freedom. In Rickett’s own words, “I didn’t wait for my clothing; I grabbed my shoes and left.”
When asked about his feeling when he was released he said, “If there was a happier man in the world than I was, I would have like to have seen him.” Of General MacArthur, Rickett said, “He is the grandest general in the world, and there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the MarArthurs, for at one time the General’s brother, Capt. Arthur MacArthur, was captain of my ship.”
Rickett flew from Pearl Harbor to San Francisco on the flying boat the Mars with eight other prisoners of war. The thing that impressed him most was the improvement and change in the navy and their new weapons.
Chief Rickett, who has been in the navy for 28 years is wearing seven service stripes, and four campaign medals; they are South West Pacific, American Defense, China Service, Phillippine Defence for World War II. For World War I, he has the Victory Medal, Second Nicaraguan Campaign, Yanks Sea Searvice and Good Conduct.
This is the first time Chief Rickett ahs been in Hedrick since 1929. A family reunion was held Sunday at the Earl Hamilton home in his honor. The following relatives were present: Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Rickett, Mrs. Vance Sterling and daughter Charlotte, Mrs George Slocum and daughter Connie Joe, all of Knoxville; Mrs. George Perry and daughter Marilyn of Oskaloosa; Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Dickey and son Zane, of Cantril and Herschel Dickey.
Hedrick Journal – March 7, 1945
Still determined to find muster rolls, I turned to Google and searched for “u.s. naval reserves muster rolls 1939”. The first item was a link to the National Archives. However, the second and third item led me to digital versions of these muster rolls on Ancestry and on Fold3.
A search of the Ancestry database resulted in 6 records that are likely for the same Ernest Rickett.
The Fold3 link led me to the ‘WWII Navy Muster Rolls’.
A search of this Fold3 record set for Ernest Rickett resulted in links to the actual muster rolls.
He was called back to active service and reported aboard the U.S.S. Augusta on 18 Oct 1940.7,12–13
He served in the military aboard the U.S.S. Luzon (PR7) on 31 Dec 1940.14
Ernest served in the military aboard the U.S.S. Luzon (PR7) on 31 Mar 1941.12
He served in the military aboard the U.S.S. Luzon (PR7) on 30 Sep 1941.15
He was reported missing in action when Corregidor fell on 6 May 1942 in Manilla Philippines.7
On 29 Oct 1942, Ernest was sent to prison camp in Cabannatun.16–17
In in Jan 1945,he was rescued from the prisoner of war camp in Cabanatuan, Philippines.16,18
He was listed aboard the U.S.S. Hearld of the Morning (AP-173) on 15 Feb 1945–28 Feb 1945.19–20
Ernest was on list of nonenlisted pasengers on U.S.S.Triangulum (AK-102( on 27 Feb 1945.21
On 4 Mar 1945, he arrived home from the war in Hedrick, Keokuk, Iowa, United States.16
He died on 18 Jan 1947 at the age of 51 in Great Lakes, Lake, Illinois, United States.2–4,22–23
Ernest was buried at Brooks Cemetery in Hedrick, Keokuk, Iowa, United States.3–4
1. 1900 U.S.Census, Wapello County, Iowa, population schedule, Highland Township, Wapello County, Iowa, ED 133, Sheet 2B Image 4 of 22, household 36, A.D. Ricket; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online Juen 2017); NARA T623
2. Find a Grave, database and images, Find a Grave (www.findagrave.com : viewed online 12 November 2020), memorial for William Andrew Rickett (1882-1964), Find a Grave Memorial no. #146462885, created by Cindy Lovell & Steve Hols, citing Westview Cemetery, Kirkville, Wapello County, Iowa; accompanying photograph by Cindy Lovell & Steve Hols, William Andrew RIckett.
3. Find a Grave, database and images, Find a Grave (www.findagrave.com : viewed online 14 November 2021), memorial for Ernest Eugene Rickett (1895-1947), Find a Grave Memorial no. #88524800, created by Jane Cockayne weaver, citing Brooks Cemetery, Hedrick, Keokuk County, Iowa; accompanying photograph by djtruitt, Ernest Eugene Rickett.
4. “Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index 1916-1947,” database online, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 November 2021), Ernest Eugnee Rickett.
5. “Iowa State Census 1905,”The State Historical Society of Iowa, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : Hedrick, Keokuk, Iowa, viewed online (13 November 2021), Manda A Rickett.
6. 1910 U.S. Census, Keokuk County, Iowa, population schedule, Benton Township, Keokuk County, IA, ED 44, sheet 5A Image 9 of 20, family 131, Albert Di Rickett; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online October 2018)
7. “Ernest Rickett Is Reported Missing,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 23 December 1942, page 1; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 14 November 2021).
8. 1920 U.S. Census, Military and Naval Forces – U.S.S. Chattanooga in Harwich, England, population schedule, U.S.S.Chattanooga, Harwich, England, Sheet 2B Image 4 of 6, line 82, Ernest E Rickett; digital imge, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 November 2021); NARA microfilm publication T625
9. 1925 Iowa State Census, Keokuk County, Iowa, Iowa state census, Hedrick, Keokuk County, Iowa, image 49 of 96 Image 49 of 96, Rickett Albert D; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online September 2018)
10. U.S., Merchant Marine Applications for License of Officers, 1914-1949, Ernest E Rickett, 26 March 1927; database with images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 November 2021). Original Source: Merchant Marine Applications for Licenses of Officers.
11. Find a Grave, database and images, Find a Grave (www.findagrave.com : viewed online 14 November 2021), memorial for Albert Virgil Rickett, Find a Grave Memorial no. #53768061,
12. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Rickett, Ernest Eugene, 31 March 1941; database withimages, Fold3 (www.fold3.com : viewed online 15 November 2021).
13. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Ernest E Rickett, 18 October 1940; .
14. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Ernest E Rickett, 31 December 1940; .
15. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Ernest RIckett, 30 September 1941; .
16. “Rickett Home from Phillippines,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 7 March 1945, page 1; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 15 November 2021).
17. Navy Casualties Books, 1776-1941, Rickett, Ernest, database with images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 November 2021). Original Source: U.S. Navy Department Library.
18. “Rickett Believed Rescued at Luzon,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 7 February 1945, page 1; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 15 November 2021).
19. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Ernest E. Rickett, 28 February 1945; .
20. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Ernest Ricketts, 15 February 1945; .
21. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Ernest E Rickett, 27 February 1945; .
22. Find a Grave, database and images, Find a Grave (www.findagrave.com : viewed online 14 November 2021), memorial for Harry Clifton Rickett (1893-1947), Find a Grave Memorial no. #167656528,
23. Iowa World War II Bonus Case Files for Beneficiaries, 1947-1959, Ernest Eugene Rickett, 16 May 1949; databast with imags, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 November 2021). Original Source: State Historical Society of Iowa.
‘Do you ever run across some information that does fill in the birth-marriage-or-death blanks that leave a lot of questions. That’s the situation I’m in as I research descendants of my ancestor, William Taylor Thompson.
Meredith C. Hall’s record on Find a Grave indicates he or she died 1 Mar 1942 at sea.
Based on the death indicating a loss at sea in 1942, I assumed this was a military related death. Hoping to learn more about Meredith C. Hall, I started by trying to find an obituary or a death notice in a South Dakota paper in March 1942. My initial search on Newspapers.com wasn’t very productive.
So I turned to Google to try and find out what military event(s) resulted in deaths at sea on March 1,1942. One of the results was a Naval History Homepage site that listed casualties from the U.S.S. Houston which sunk on March 1, 1942. Since I didn’t find Meredith Hall on this page, I turned to Fold3.
On Fold3, I found several rosters listing a Meredith C. Hall aboard the U.S.S. Houston.
31 Dec 1939
31 March 1940 Roster
30 June 1940 Roster
4 August 1940 Roster
The entry for Meredith Hall in the booklet, State Summary of War Casualties [South Dakota] by the U.S. Navy in 1946 indicates that Meredith Hall was from Artesian and the son of Mrs. Anna Hall. This matches the descendant of William Thompson that I’m researching.
Also on Fold3 was a page created by the American Battle Monuments Commission for Meredith C Hall. This page indicates a death date of 15 Dec 1945.
Since the memorial contains a different date of death than the Find a Grave record, I returned to Newspapers.com and broadened the search to include the years of 1942 thru 1946. That turned up the article, “11 More S.D. Men in Navy Are Missing’ in the 15 May 1942 issue of the Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, South Dakota).
11 More S.D. Men in Navy Are Missing
Department Issues Third Casualty List — 18 Reported Before
Washngton, May 15. – (AP) – Eleven South Dakota navy men were listed today by the navy department as missing as the department issued casualty list No. 3. The list covered the period from December 7, 1941 to April 15, 1942. In previous casualty lists, the navy reported 12 dead and six injured from this state in the same period. The missing and next of Kin: carl R. Davidson, second lieutenant, marine corps; father, Harry B. Davidson, 412 west Twenty-sixth st., Sioux Falls. (Parents of lieutenant Davidson wee notified as of May 5 that their son had been removed from the “missing” classification and is now officially considered dead). Elra Franklin Barringer, fire controlman, second class; mother, Mrs. Marjorie Jan Barringer, 945 Wisconsin street, Huron John Roger Bell, water tender, second class; father , Clement Henry Bell, Watertown. Frank Joseph Glesen, chief torpedoman; sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Wermers, Dimock. Meredith Carrol Hall, seaman, first class; mother, Mrs. Anna D. Hall, Artesian. Elmer Charles Halverson, seaman, first class; brother, Francis Herbert Halverson, McIntosh. Wendell Herbert Hanson, signalman, second class; father, Herbert Miller Hanson, Hartford. Lawrence Headly, machinists’s mate, first class; mother, Mrs. Eva M. Headly, 203 S.E. Fourth street, Watertown. Clifford Emil Henn, seaman, first class; father, Emil Emanuel Hehn, 308 North Jay, Aberdeen. Thayne Charles Smith, torpedoman, second class; father, Lester Irvin Smith, 17 South Ohio street, Clark. Dwyce Donald Wince, machinist’s mate, second class; mother, Mrs. Ruth Elizabeth Wince, 314 E. Main street, Vermillion.
So far, these records indicate the following:
Meredith Hall was aboard the U.S.S. Houston
In May of 1942, Meredith Hall’s name was added to the list of U.S. Navy men who were missing
Meredith Hall was declared dead in 1945 with burial at sea
Since the rosters place Meredith Hall aboard the U.S.S. Houston, the tale of the U.S.S. Houston adds more to the story of Meredith Hall’s death. Quoting from the Wikipedia article about the U.S.S. Houston,
On board Houston, shells were in short supply in the forward turrets, so the crew manhandled shells from the disabled number three turret to the forward turrets. Houston was struck by a torpedo shortly after midnight, and began to lose headway.Houston‘s gunners had scored hits on three different destroyers and sunk a minesweeper, but she was struck by three more torpedoes in quick succession. Captain Albert Rooks was killed by a bursting shell at 00:30, and as the ship came to a stop, Japanese destroyers moved in, machine-gunning the decks and men in the water. A few minutes later, Houston rolled over and sank. Of the 1,061 aboard, 368 survived, including 24 of the 74-man Marine Detachment, only to be captured by the Japanese and interned in prison camps. Of 368 Navy and Marine Corps personnel taken prisoner, 77 (21%) died in captivity.
Houston‘s fate was not fully known by the world for almost nine months, and the full story of her last fight was not told until the survivors were liberated from prison camps at the end of the war.
I may never find an obituary for Meredith C. Hall. However, these various records and web pages help tell his story.
Meredith C. Hall was born on 3 Jun 1918 in Artesian, Sanborn, South Dakota, United States.
He lived in Diana Township, Sanborn, South Dakota, United States in 1920.1
He lived in Artesian, Sanborn, South Dakota, United States in 1930.2
Meredith served in the military aboard the U.S.S. Houston as a seaman 2nd class on 31 Dec 1939.3
He served in the military aboard the U.S.S. Houston as a seaman 2nd Class on 31 Mar 1940.4
He served in the military aboard the USS Houston as a seaman 2nd class on 30 Jun 1940.5
Meredith served in the military aboard the USS Houston as a seaman 2nd class on 24 Aug 1940.6
He served in the military aboard the USS Houston as a seaman 1st class in Dec 1940.7
He served in the military aboard the USS Houston as a seaman 1st class on 30 Sep 1941.8
Meredith served in the military aboard the USS Houston as a seaman 1st class on 31 Dec 1941.9
He served in the military aboard the USS Houston as a seaman 1st Class on 1 Mar 1942.10
The U.S.S. Houston was sunk on 1 Mar 1942 during the Battle of the Java Sea.
He appeared on causalty list as missing at sea on 15 May 1942.11
Meredith was missing at sea and declared dead on 15 Dec 1945 at the age of 27.12–14
1. 1920 U.S. Census, Sanborn County, South Dakota, population schedule, Diana Township, Sanborn County, South Dakota, ED 220, Sheet 6B Image 4 of 7, family 39, Walter Hall; digital iamge, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 12 November 2021); NARA microfilm publicatin T625
2. 1930 U.S. Census, Sanborn County, South Dakota, population schedule, Artesian, Sanborn County, South Dakota, ED 56-2, Sheet 4B Image 8 of 12, family 117, Anna Hall; digital iamge, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 12 November 2021); NARA microfilm publication T626
3. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith Carrol Hall, 31 December 1939; database with imges, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 12 November 2021). Original Source: Muster Rolls of U.S. Navy Ships, Stations and Other Naval Activities.
4. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith Carrol Hall, 31 March 1940; .
5. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith Carrol Hall, 30 June 1940; .
6. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith C Hall, 24 August 1940; .
7. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith C Hall, 31 December 1940; .
8. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith C Hall, 30 September 1941; .
9. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith C Hall, 31 December 1941; .
10. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith C Hall, 1 March 1942; .
11. “11 More S.D. Men In Navy Are Missing,” Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), 15 May 1942, page 5; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 12 November 2021).
12. American Battle Monuments Commission, Meredit C Hall, 15 December 1945; database, Fold3 (www.fold3.com : viewed online 12 November 2021). Original Source: American Battle Mounuments Commission.
13. World War II Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Casualties, 1941-1945, Meredith Carrol Hall, databae with images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 12 November 2021). Original Source: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel.
14. , State Summary of War Casualties [South Dakota] U.S. Navy 1946 (N.p.: Navy Department, 1946), page 2; digital images, Fold3, http://www.fold3.com viewed online 13 November 2021.
While trying to find an obituary or notice of death for my husband’s relative who died during World War II, I came across a great resource for anyone researching Kansans who served during World War II – particularly those who were injured, captured or killed.
The Manhattan Mercury (Manhattan, Kansas) had a series of articles entitled ‘War Casualties’ that appeared on a regular basis. The Manhattan Mercury was the only paper that had this type of article. Since Fort Riley is near Manhattan, that may have been a factor in the papers decision to publish this information. This paper is searchable on Newspapers.com.
When searching for the death of a family member, the surname can be added to the search.
The “War Casualties” article in the May 3, 1945 issue of the paper is a great example of the variety of ways this information was reported.