CHARLES R BARTON
CHARLES R. BARTON
My father , Bob Barton, was 21 years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. He enlisted in the Navy in May 1942 as soon as he graduated from Drexel University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
After completing the Naval Training School at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, he served as an Ensign on the USS Zircon. The PYs, private yachts acquired by the Navy, were named for jewels or semi-precious stones.
Dad served at a time German U-boats terrorized the East Coast from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. They were lethal, destroying Allied ships who were bringing food/supplies to a starving England. The U boats hunted in wolfpacks. Multiple submarines stayed close together, making it easier for them to sink a specific target.
My father’s mission on the Zircon was to safely escort convoys up and down the Atlantic Coast from New York to Cuba in U boat-infested waters. Beginning in July 1942, he spent his time either in the engine room as the Engineering Officer or up on deck as the Deck Watch Officer.
Dad’s service took place in 1942-43 before the German U-505 was captured in 1944 by Hunter Killer Task Force 22.3. Finding the German’s enigma machine and intelligence allowed the Allies to break their code. After that, the Germans were less successful.
More information about the capture of the U-505: http://www.msichicago.org/explore/whats-here/exhibits/u-505-submarine/
By the end of the war, German U boats sunk almost 3,000 Allied ships (175 military and 2,825 commercial ships). I am glad the Zircon was not one of them.
At the time my father was in the service, he was engaged to my mother, Mary Michael. Getting married depended on “leave.” “We got married when your father’s ship came in — literally.” The ceremony took place in Mount Airy, Philadelphia on August 2, 1943. There were three other officers present, so they were obviously able to get leave together. My mother was a beautiful young bride who would not get to see her husband much over the next two and a half years. The Navy took him away soon after the wedding.
Newlyweds Bob and Mary Barton are pictured below with Dad’s fellow Navy officers. My mother’s sister, Helen, on left. My father’s sister, Dorothy, on right.
On August 20th my father was sent to Lakehurst, NJ for Naval Airship Training followed by Subchaser Training in Miami, Florida. Then back to Philadelphia for Oil Burning School. Afterwards, he went to Destroyer Escort training in Norfolk, VA to prepare him for his next duty station on the USS Kendall C. Campbell. For more details, visit: https://kendallcampbell.wordpress.com/aboard-the-de-443/