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Clarence Harold Smitter

Male 1921 - 2003


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  • Name  Clarence Harold Smitter 
    Nickname  Claus, Smitty 
    Born  5 Aug 1921  Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender  Male 
    Military  7 Aug 1942  [2, 3, 4
    first muster role 
    • Clarence Harold Smitter – World War II Submariner

      15 June 2011

      The first record I can find for Clarence is his US Navy muster record dated 7 August 1942. It shows his service number is 3120555, that he is a quartermaster 3c, and is aboard the USS R-14. This ship was a 569-ton R-1 class submarine launched at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's Fore River Plant in Quincy, Massachusetts on 10 October 1919 and commissioned for service on Christmas Eve 1919. In 1941 the R-14 was moved to Key West, Florida, and spent nearly all of World War II on training and patrol service in the Gulf of Mexico area. Clarence was aboard this sub through 30 January 1943.

      Muster records for 31 August 1943 show Clarence joining the 60-man crew of the Redfin, SS-272. The Redfin was a Gato class submarine laid down 3 September 1942 by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, launched on 4 April 1943, and commissioned for service on 31 August 1943, Lt. Comdr. R.D. King in command. The Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company built 28 submarines; all of them sailed down Lake Michigan, the Illinois River, and the Mississippi River to New Orleans. The Redfin had a displacement of 1,526 tons, was 312 feet long, and had a surface speed of 20 knots and a submerged speed of 8.7 knots. She was armed with a single 3-inch torpedo tube and ten 21-inch tubes.

      The Redfin departed New Orleans on 15 October 1943 and proceeded to Fremantle, Australia. She began her first war patrol on 4 January 1944 and encountered an enemy convoy of four ships in the South China Sea on 16 January. Before the Redfin could attack, however, the Japanese destroyer Amatsukaze spotted her in the afternoon haze and began a surface chase. After the Japanese warship began firing at Redfin from about 5,000 yards, the submarine carefully fired four torpedoes at the fast closing destroyer, scoring at least one hit that damaged Amatsukaze and allowed Redfin to escape. The submarine then returned to Fremantle to refit, a period broken by an emergency patrol off western Australia in mid-March to defend against a possible Japanese strike.

      Her second war patrol was from 19 March to 1 May. On 11 April and while submerged, Redfin fired four torpedoes at the 1,900-ton Japanese destroyer Akigumo off Zamboanga, Mindanao, in the Philippines, and scored three hits. The destroyer's magazine exploded and she sank by the stern in a mass of flames. During the night of 15-16 April, she sank two Japanese passenger-cargo ships, Shinyu Maru, 4,621 tons, and Yamagata Maru, 3,807 tons. On the night of 22-23 April, she landed four of her crew near Dent Haven, Borneo (Malaysia), to evacuate a British reconnaissance party. Attacked by the Japanese, the landing party returned to Redfin without their charges, but the British agents were later evacuated by Australian forces.

      On her third war patrol, 26 May to 1 July, she landed six Philippine guerrillas on a small island near Balabac Strait on 8 June. Proceeding to scout the enemy naval base at Tawi Tawi (Philippines), she sank the 5,142-ton Japanese tanker Asanagi Maru on the 11th. She also warned American forces in the Marianas of the departure from Tawi Tawi of the Japanese task force that was later defeated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea on the 19th and the 20th. Operating off Leyte (Philippines) on the 24th, she sank the 3,028-ton Japanese passenger-cargo ship Aso Maru, before returning to Fremantle. The muster records show that Clarence was promoted to quartermaster 2c at the end of this patrol.

      A muster record shows that Clarence was aboard the Redfin on 31 July 1944, and this is the last record I can find until he appears on the 17 August 1945 muster record for the Mero, SS-378. If Clarence was still aboard the Redfin, they departed Fremantle on 6 August and laid a minefield off the west coast of Borneo on the 19th before rescuing eight survivors of Flier (SS-250) at Palawan Island on the 30th. After lifeguard duty for airstrikes against Balikpapan, Borneo, she departed Fremantle 26 October and sank the 15,226-ton Japanese tanker No.2 Nichinan Maru west of the Philippines on 8 November. Completing her fourth war patrol 7 January 1945, the Redfin proceeded to Mare Island Naval Shipyard, San Francisco, where she received special mine detection gear.Underway from Pearl Harbor 30 May to 10 July she made mine surveys off Honshu and Hokkaido, Japan.

      Clarence appears on the 17 August 1945 muster roll for the Mero (it’s not clear yet how he got from Pearl Harbor on 10 July (if he was still aboard the Redfin) to Wisconsin). The Mero was the last submarine built at Manitowoc; she was laid down on 22 July 1944, launched on 17 January 1945, and commissioned on 17 August 1945. She displaced 1,526tons on the surface and 2,424 tons submerged, was 312 feet long, had a top speed of 20 knots on the surface and 9 knots submerged, carried 66 crew, and was armed with a single 5-inch torpedo tube and ten 21-inch tubes. Mero got underway for shakedown in Lake Michigan on 25 August, and between 6 September and 17 November she cruised the Great Lakes and visited Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago. She reached New Orleans via the Mississippi River on the 29th, and sailed for the Panama Canal on 6 December. After training one month in the Canal Zone, the Mero sailed for Pearl Harbor 19 January 1946, reaching it on 5 February. After a short operation, the Mero departed 22 February for the West Coast, arriving in the San Francisco Bay on 1 March. Two weeks later she steamed to Mare Island Naval Shipyard at Vallejo ,joined the 19th Fleet, and was decommissioned at Mare Island on 15 June 1946.During this tour Clarence was promoted to quartermaster 1c.

      The 14 June 1946 muster rolls show Clarence joining the crew of the Boarfish, SS-327. The Boarfish was laid down on 12 August 1943 at Groton, Connecticut, by the Electric Boat Company, launched on 21 May 1944, and commissioned on 23 September 1944 with Comdr. Royce L. Gross in command. The Boarfish was 312 feet long, displaced 1,525 tons when surfaced,2,415 tons submerged, and had a top surface speed of 20 knots and almost 9 knots submerged. Clarence would have been one of the 81 crew members. The submarine had a single 5-inch torpedo tube and ten 21-inch tubes. The Boarfish had already seen plenty of action in the western Pacific before Clarence joined the crew. The Boarfish conducted training exercises out of San Diego until 9 September, and then departed for a tour in the western Pacific. After a brief stopover in Pearl Harbor, the submarine got underway on 1 October for a tour that included visits to Midway; Marcus Island; Okinawa; Tsingtao, China; and Guam. She began her return cruise to San Diego on 11 November and, upon her arrival, resumed local operations. Boarfish remained in the San Diego area until 15 November 1947 except for one cruise to Pearl Harbor in February 1947 and another to Alaska and Canada between July and November. During this time, his wife Grace Marie, was living at 910 South 24th in Manitowoc. On 15 November, the submarine entered the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for overhaul before being transfer to the Turkish Navy. She left Mare Island on 21 February 1948 and steamed via San Diego and Panama to New London, Connecticut,where the muster roll for 23 May 1948 shows Clarence disembarking at the New London submarine base.

      References (from whom I plagiarized heavily):

      Department of the Navy – Naval History & Heritage Command, Washington DC. http://www.history.navy.mil (accessed 26 May 2011). Mary P. Walker wrote the Boarfish report.

      US World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 2011. Original data:  Muster Rolls of U.S. Navy Ships, Stations, and Other Naval Activities, 01/01/1939-01/01/1949; A-1 Entry 135, 400 rolls, ARC 594996. Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel,Record Group Number 24. National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

      Wisconsin Maritime Organization. http://www.wisconsinmaritime.org (accessed 26 May 2011).
    Military  30 Jan 1943  Gulf of Mexico Find all individuals with events at this location 
    finishes training aboard the USS R-14 
    Military  31 Aug 1943  Manitowoc, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin Find all individuals with events at this location 
    joins the Redfin for maiden voyage 
    Military  15 Oct 1943  New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Redfin departs US for Fremantle, Australia 
    Military  4 Jan 1944  Fremantle, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Redfin departs Fremantle for on first patrol 
    Military  16 Jan 1944  South China Sea Find all individuals with events at this location 
    damages the Amatsukaze with torpedoes 
    Military  11 Apr 1944  near Zamboanga, Mindanao, Philippines Find all individuals with events at this location 
    sinks the Akigumo 
    Military  16 Apr 1944  near Zamboanga, Mindanao, Philippines Find all individuals with events at this location 
    sinks the Shinyu Maru and Yamagata Maru 
    Military  23 Apr 1944  near Dent Haven, Borneo (Malaysia) Find all individuals with events at this location 
    attempts to evacuate British reconnaissance party 
    Military  8 Jun 1944  somewhere in Balabac Strait, Philippines Find all individuals with events at this location 
    lands Philippino spies 
    Military  11 Jun 1944  near Tawi Tawi, Philippines Find all individuals with events at this location 
    sinks the Asanagi Maru 
    Military  24 Jun 1944  near Leyte, Philippines Find all individuals with events at this location 
    sinks the Aso Maru 
    Military  Abt 27 Jul 1944  Fremantle, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Redfin returns from third patrol 
    _UID  98B1F7342EB8354394AF858D89F3A6357E48 
    Died  12 May 2003  Corvallis, Benton County, Oregon Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Person ID  I1434  Page-Dumroese
    Last Modified  28 Nov 2011 

    Father  Nicholas Smitter,   b. 12 Mar 1883, Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 Oct 1937, Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother  Afke Klooster,   b. 5 Dec 1888, Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 Nov 1982, Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  12 Dec 1906  Arlene, Missaukee County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID  F521  Group Sheet

    Family 1  Grace Marie Rysticken,   b. 4 Mar 1924, Manitowoc, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Nov 2008, Corvallis, Benton County, Oregon Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  29 Jun 1946  St. Marys Catholic Church, Manitowoc, Wisconsin Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    • Rysticken-Smitter -- At 9 o’clock this morning Miss Grace Rysticken daughter of Mrs. Mary Rysticken, 910 South 24th street, became the bride of Clarence H. Smitter, petty officer, son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Smitter,Grand Rapids, Mich. The Rev. John Landowski performed the ceremony in the St.Mary’s church. The bride wore a light-weight white wool dressmaker suit with navy blue accessories. She carried a bouquet of red roses. Mrs. Dorothy Fredrick, sister of the bride, as matron of honor wore a light blue dressmaker suit with white accessories. She carried a bouquet of deep pink roses. Wally Frederick, the bride’s brother-in-law, was best man. Following the ceremony a dinner was served at the Hotel Manitowoc to the immediate families and friends.The couple will leave this evening for California where the groom is stationed with the United States Navy. He is a veteran of four years in the service and has served extensive duty in the Pacific.
    Children 
     1. Living
     2. Living
     3. Robert Smitter,   b. 1954,   d. 1996
    Family ID  F523  Group Sheet

    Children 
     1. Living
     2. Living
     3. Robert Smitter,   b. 1954,   d. 1996
    Family ID  F763  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 5 Aug 1921 - Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - finishes training aboard the USS R-14 - 30 Jan 1943 - Gulf of Mexico Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - joins the Redfin for maiden voyage - 31 Aug 1943 - Manitowoc, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - Redfin departs US for Fremantle, Australia - 15 Oct 1943 - New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - Redfin departs Fremantle for on first patrol - 4 Jan 1944 - Fremantle, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - damages the Amatsukaze with torpedoes - 16 Jan 1944 - South China Sea Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - sinks the Akigumo - 11 Apr 1944 - near Zamboanga, Mindanao, Philippines Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - sinks the Shinyu Maru and Yamagata Maru - 16 Apr 1944 - near Zamboanga, Mindanao, Philippines Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - attempts to evacuate British reconnaissance party - 23 Apr 1944 - near Dent Haven, Borneo (Malaysia) Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - lands Philippino spies - 8 Jun 1944 - somewhere in Balabac Strait, Philippines Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - sinks the Asanagi Maru - 11 Jun 1944 - near Tawi Tawi, Philippines Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - sinks the Aso Maru - 24 Jun 1944 - near Leyte, Philippines Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - Redfin returns from third patrol - Abt 27 Jul 1944 - Fremantle, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 29 Jun 1946 - St. Marys Catholic Church, Manitowoc, Wisconsin Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 12 May 2003 - Corvallis, Benton County, Oregon Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos

    » Slide Show
    Smitter, Nicholas and Effie (Afke nee Klooster) Family
    Smitter, Nicholas and Effie (Afke nee Klooster) Family
    Nicholas and Effie (Afke nee Klooster) Smitter family. Standing L to R: Frederick, Anna, Evelyn Mary, Lambert, Catherine, and Edna Hermina. Seated L to R: John Harvey, Nicholas, Clarence "Claus" Harold, Effie (Afke). Circa 1926.
    Redfin (SS-272) -- The submarine Clarence Harold Smitter served on during World War II
    Redfin (SS-272) -- The submarine Clarence Harold Smitter served on during World War II
    Broadside view of the Redfin (SS-272) off Mare Island (near San Francisco) on 12 April 1945. U.S. Navy Photo # 2681-45. http:// www.navsource.org/archives/08/08272a.htm (accessed 26 May 2011). This site has many other photos too.
    Smitter Children, Nicholas and Effie Smitter Family
    Smitter Children, Nicholas and Effie Smitter Family
    Left to right: Clarence, Evelyn, John, and Anne, children of Nicholas and Effie (Klooster) Smitter, ca 1928
    At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.

  • Sources 
    1. [S327] Social Security Death Index (Ancestry), Clarence H. Smitter; 372-14-8501.

    2. [S388] Wisconsin: Maritime Organization, (accessed 26 May 2011).

    3. [S389] WW II - Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949 (Ancestry), (accessed May 2011).

    4. [S390] US Dept of the Navy – Naval History & Heritage Command, (accessed 26 May 2011).

    5. [S393] Newspaper: Herald Times Reporter (Manitowoc) (Ancestry), Saturday 29 Jun 1946, page 6.
      Rysticken-Smitter-- At 9 o’clock this morning Miss Grace Rysticken daughter of Mrs. Mary Rysticken, 910 South 24th street, became the bride of Clarence H. Smitter, petty officer, son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Smitter, Grand Rapids, Mich. The Rev.John Landowski performed the ceremony in the St. Mary’s church. The bride wore a light-weight white wool dressmaker suit with navy blue accessories. She carried a bouquet of red roses. Mrs. Dorothy Fredrick, sister of the bride, as matron of honor wore a light blue dressmaker suit with white accessories. She carried a bouquet of deep pink roses. Wally Frederick, the bride’s brother-in-law, was best man. Following the ceremony a dinner was served at the Hotel Manitowoc to the immediate families and friends. The couple will leave this evening for California where the groom is stationed with the United States Navy. He is a veteran of four years in the service and has served extensive duty in the Pacific.