Navy Memorabilia

Kilgore, William W.

Rank: Sonarman 2C
Serial Number: 5563109
Military Branch: Subchaser USS SC-743
Origin: Florida
Date of Death: 1943-12-16
West Oaklawn Cemetery
Featured: No

William Waldo Kilgore was born May 15, 1925 to parents Andrew and Miranda. He enlisted in the Navy September 25, 1942 in Jacksonville, Florida, and was part of the commissioning crew on SC-743 on February 27, 1943.


Sonarman 2nd Class William Kilgore served aboard the sub chaser SC-743. He was killed in action on December 16, 1943 when SC-743 was strafed by Japanese aircraft during the landings at Arawe, New Britain.

Kilgores story is told in the book Splinter Fleet: The Wooden Subchasers of World War II by Theodore R. Treadwell:

On 16 December a second echelon of LCTs was assigned to bring renewed supplies across from Finschafen. SC 743, under the command of W.W. Bill Robinson, led this group to provide navigation and additional firepower, such as it was. Also in the group were two APcs and the YMS 50, a minesweeper. Army engineers met the group at the entrance to Arawe harbor and, after instructing the LCTs which beaches to head for, told Robinson to report to the beach master to arrange for the return schedule after the LCTs had unloaded. The APcs also came in to unload, while YMS 50 remained on patrol outside the harbor entrance. 

Just then Lieutenant Robinson, who was leaning over the side windscreen of the flying bridge talking to the beach master, saw a row of splashes zipping towards them across the water, aimed just forward of the pilothouse. At first there was no sound, but suddenly enemy planes had swooped in upon them, strafing and dropping bombs as they flashed by. All ships let loose, smoke filled the air, and the hills reverberated with noise. When it was over, Robinson looked down from the flying bridge and saw a large pool of blood on the deck amidships. Two men of the 743 were down on the foredeck, Kilgore with no apparent mark on him and Gentry face down with the middle of his back completely ripped away. Both men were loaders on the 40-mm gun. When they were knocked down, Worthington Worthy Adams, the executive officer stepped in to load. Kittlesen, on one of the 20-mm gunners, had been hit on both inner thighs with a large piece of shrapnel. There were several bullet and shrapnel holes on the ship but no structural damage. The acrid odor of gunsmoke hung in the air. 

Kilgore had been killed instantly, the only sign a tiny bullet hole in his chest, while Gentry had been hit mortally by shrapnel from an antipersonnel bomb. 

Initially buried in USAF Cemetery, Finschafen #1, British New Guinea, Kilgore was later repatriated to West Oaklawn Cemetery in Plant City, Florida.

SoM2C Kilgore's group includes his officially engraved Navy Type 1 sterling silver Purple Heart with its purple presentation box, plus research and pictures from the internet. 

Spring 2022 2022 sold to a collector. 

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