‘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.
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.