Norfolk, VA (off shore) Cruiser TRENTON Explosion, Oct 1924
DEATH TOLL OF SHIP EXPLOSION INCREASED TO 6.
THREE OTHER MEMBERS OF SCOUT CRUISER TRENTON ARE IN CRITICAL CONDITION.
SHIP WAS ENGAGED IN TARGET PRACTICE ON DRILL GROUNDS OFF CAPE HENRY WHEN ACCIDENT OCCURRED.
Norfolk, Va., Oct. 21. (AP) -- Six dead, three in a critical condition and 12 or 14 others more or less seriously injured, comprised the casualty list today, resulting from an unexplained explosion yesterday in the forward twin gun mount of the new scout cruiser Trenton.
The ship was engaged in target practice on the southern drill grounds off Cape Henry when the accident occurred, and rushed immediately to Hampton Roads. Eight of the most severely burned were transferred by tug to the naval hospital at Portsmouth, where one died early today and several others were thought to have little chance to recover.
The dead include:
Ensign HENRY CLAY DREXLER, of Sussex Beach, Delaware.
ROWLAND PHILIP HANSON, seaman first class, Soldier, Iowa.
BERNARD BEVERLY BYAM, seaman second class, Bristol, Conn.
WILLIAM ALFRED WALKER, seaman first class, Mayo, S.C., who terribly burned, was blown overboard and drowned.
GEORGE ROBERT CHOLISTER, boatswain's mate first class, Merchantsville, N.J., who died of his injuries in the hospital.
A message from the Trenton received by naval officials said the powder and shell were being hoisted into the turret at the time of the explosion and that "all safety precautions had been observed." No shot had been fired, and electrical trouble was not regarded as the cause.
"Immediately after the explosion," the message added, "the access door in the rear of the turret was opened and four men fell overboard because of the overhang. Three were rescued. One, WALKER, apparently was badly burned and drowned, but the body was not recovered."
The scout cruiser Raleigh took up the search for WALKER'S body as the Trenton sped to Port, where, hours later, a casualty list of twenty names was made public although, prior to the death of CHOLISTER, it had been reported that four were dead and 18 injured. The less serious injured included one officer, JOHN ARTHUR SEDGWICK, Lieutenant junior grade, of Winthrop,
Mass., the other being enlisted men.
Ensign DREXLER'S was the outstanding name in the stories of heroism told by some of the men taken to the Portsmouth Hospital. He was near the turret when the explosion rocked the ship, throwing men to the deck fore and aft. Rushing into the blaze, he dragged three men to safety. His face a mass of burns and his clothing in flames, he was turning back into the fiery turret when he dropped dead.
Lieut. SEDGWICK, others related, was hurled overboard by the blast. His right arm was broken, but with his left he saved two others from drowning and was trying to keep WALKER'S head above water when a heavy wave broke his hold.
The Trenton was commissioned about six months ago, shortly before the turret explosion aboard the Battleship Mississippi off the California coast, which caused 47 or 48 fatalities. She had just completed a shakedown cruise around Africa by bringing home the body of Robert W. Imbrie American vice counsul who was killed at Teheran by a mob of Persian religious fanatics. She is commanded by Captain E. G. Kalbfus and is designed to carry a crew of about 400.
Washington, Oct. 21. -- The death of BENNETT WILLIAMS, a seaman of South Easton, Mass., today brought up to six the list of fatalities from the explosion yesterday on the cruiser Trenton off Cape Henry.
The others killed were:
Ensign HENRY CLAY DREXELER, of Bethany Beach, Del.
ROLAND PHILIP HANSON, seaman, of Soldiers, Iowa.
WILLIAM ALFRED WALKER, seaman, Mayo, S.C.
BERNARD M. BYAM, seaman, Bristol, Conn.
GEORGE R. CHOLISTER, boatswains mate, Merchantville, N.J.
Cumberland Evening Times Maryland 1924-10-21