Walter Kenneth Howland
Walter Kenneth (Ken) Howland was born on January 11, 1910, in New York to Clara Burk, age 21, and Walter Claude Howland, age 30. He married Adah Louise Stevens in Port Chester, New York, on September 13, 1928, when he was 18 years old. His daughter Patricia L was born on April 16, 1929, in New York. Ken Howland was working as a civil engineer in North Pelham before enlisting in the Navy during World War II when he was 34 years old.
He had been in the navy about a year and attended Navy Quartermaster School at Guilfort, MS, before going to sea. He was assigned as a member of the crew USS Hull DD 350.
USS Hull was ordered to join a 3rd Fleet refueling group, departing 20 November 1944, to rendezvous with fast carrier striking forces in the Philippine Sea, at the instructions of South Pacific Commander William Halsey Jr.
Fueling operations with the fast, carrier strike-force in the Philippine Sea began on 17 December 1944, but increasingly heavy seas forced cancellation later that day. The fueling group became engulfed next day in an approaching typhoon, designated Cobra, with barometers falling to very low levels and winds increasing above 90 knots.
After Hull was ordered to change course to 140 degrees, ostensibly by Admiral Halsey "to see what they were doing," the wind increased to over 100 knots. At about 11:00 hours, on 18 December, Hull became locked "in irons", in the trough of the mountainous sea.
Unable to steer with the north wind on her port beam, yawing between 80 and 100 degrees, the whaleboat and depth charges were swept off. As the roll increased to 70 degrees, she was pinned down by a gust as the sea flooded the pilot house and poured down the stacks.
All hands worked feverishly to maintain integrity and keep the ship afloat during the heavy rolls, but finally, in the words of her commander, Lt. Cmdr James A. Marks, "the ship remained over on her side at an angle of 80 degrees or more as the water flooded into her upper structures. I remained on the port wing of the bridge until the water flooded up to me, then I stepped off into the water as the ship rolled over on her way down". A later finding was that additional sea water ballast could possibly have helped the ship recover from the 70-degree roll.
Reportedly, some time before Hull became locked "in irons," some officers had debated whether to remove captain Marks from his command in order to turn the ship to a safer course, but the executive officer, Greil Gerstley, refused to do so on the grounds that there had never been a mutiny on a US Navy ship.
This incident provided novelist Herman Wouk with the inspiration for the climax of his novel The Caine Mutiny, in which a captain is actually relieved of his duties by his officers in the course of Typhoon Cobra.
Rescue work by USS Tabberer and other ships of the fleet in the days that followed saved the lives of 7 officers, including the captain of the ship, and 55 enlisted sailors. 11 officers of the Hull, including the executive officer, and 191 enlisted sailors perished in the sea. In all, 790 men of the Fleet lost their lives in the typhoon.
The death of Seaman Walter Kenneth Howland, originally reported missing on the destroyer USS Hull, lost on December 18, 1944 in a South Pacific typhoon, was officially confirmed by the U.S. Navy in March 1945. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter K Howland, Post Road, and was thirty five years old.
Besides his parents he was survived by his wife and 15-year old daughter, who then lived in New Rochelle. Mrs. Adrian Van Haasteren, 47 Adelaide Street, was his a cousin.
Walter Kenneth Howland is memorialized at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. MEMORIAL ID 56752241
At 2:27 on above film USS Hull is shown coming in to refuel.