John C. England

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John Charles England
Born (1920-12-11)December 11, 1920
Harris, Missouri
Died December 7, 1941(1941-12-07) (aged 20)
Pearl Harbor
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1940–1941
Rank Ensign
Unit USS Oklahoma (BB-37)
Battles/wars

World War II

Ensign John Charles England (December 11, 1920 – December 7, 1941) was an officer in the United States Navy.

Biography[edit]

John Charles England was born in Harris, Missouri, on December 11, 1920. His family then moved to Alhambra, California. He attended Alhambra High School, as did his sister Lennie England (Bemiss). He was president of his graduating class in 1938, acted in the senior play, was a member of the Light and Shadow drama club and Senior Hi-Y. He was voted Yell King of his senior class according to his sister Lennie. He later attended Pasadena City College, Pasadena, California graduating in 1940. He was a Yell King on the Pep Commission, a member of the Players Guild, where he was in the cast of their annual fall presentation of, "Bachelor Born." He was also a member of Delta Psi Omega, a national honorary dramatics fraternity performing in their annual spring production, "Outward Bound." J.C. graduated in spring, 1940.

He enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve as an Apprentice Seaman at Los Angeles on September 6, 1940. After active duty training on board USS New York from November 25, to December 21, 1940 he attended Naval Reserve Midshipman's School, New York, N.Y. and was appointed Midshipman, USNR, March 6, 1941. He completed his training on June 5 and was commissioned Ensign, USNR, June 6, 1941.

He was next assigned duty under instruction at the Naval Radio School, Norton Heights, Connecticut, reporting June 20, 1941. Upon detachment from school, he reported on September 3, 1941 to USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor.

During this period he had also married and in early December he was eagerly awaiting the arrival of his wife and three-week-old daughter (Victoria Louise England) who were due to arrive in a few days. He had never seen his daughter.

On the morning of December 7, 1941, just four days from his 21st birthday John C. England volunteered to work in the ship's radio room for a friend so that he might have more time with his family when they arrived. That morning the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and USS Oklahoma was one of their first targets. Oklahoma was moored at Battleship Row 7, outboard alongside USS Maryland. USS Oklahoma took 3 torpedo hits almost immediately after the first Japanese bombs fell. As she began to capsize, 2 more torpedoes struck home, and her men were strafed as they abandoned ship. Within 20 minutes after the attack began, she had swung over until halted by her masts touching bottom, her starboard side above water, and a part of her keel clear.

A persistent myth, perpetuated by person or persons unknown, maintains that Ensign England lost his life while saving fellow sailors aboard USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The United States Navy’s records contain several acts of heroism by sailors aboard USS Oklahoma on that fateful Sunday morning, including two posthumous awards of the Medal of Honor. Ensign England was not among them and, in point of fact, his record reflects that he was issued no valor awards during his brief career.

His unidentified remains were buried at the National Cemetery in Hawaii. 75 years later his remains were identified and he was reburied in Colorado Springs next to his parents.[1]

Namesakes and honors[edit]

Two ships have been named USS England for him. In 1943, USS England (DE-635) was named to honor John Charles England. His mother Thelma cracked the ceremonial bottle of champagne on England 's bow in San Francisco Harbor on September 26, 1943. Lennie England served as maid of honor and kept the ribbon wrapped bottle until her death in 1995. The second ship to bear the name, USS England (DLG-22) was launched in 1962.

Alhambra High School continues to award the John C. England award to their most outstanding senior each year.

BEQ 836 at NSTC Great Lakes is also named in honor of England.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.