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Honoring Service: Fallen Veteran John N. Compton, WWII

Our reporting on local veterans is a collaboration with RyeVets.org to highlight those from Rye who have served our country across times of war and peace. There are over 2,100 veterans from the City of Rye. Learn more about how you can help research and write biographies of those that have served.

Honoring Service - 062023 - John N. Compton
John N. Compton

John N. Compton was born on July 6, 1919, in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was the son of John Norvin Compton, Sr. and Lenore H. Cox Compton, and had two younger siblings named Robert and Lenore. His father worked as an engineer at Carbide Carbon Chemical Inc, while his mother was a homemaker. John attended St. Andrews school and graduated from Yale in 1941. On September 9, 1943, he married Adrienne Rickert Compton at the Church of the Resurrection in Rye, N. Y. During the war years, Mrs. Compton lived in Rye and was a niece of Mrs. Douglas Vought of 973 Forest Avenue.

Date of Birth: 7/6/1919
Died On: 6/1/1944
Street Address: 973 Forest Avenue
Service Number: 0-119254
Branch of Service: U.S. Navy – USS HERRING (SS-233)

In the spring of 1942, John joined the U.S. Navy and served as a Lieutenant on the U.S.S. Herring after completing his initial training. On May 21, 1944, the  USS HERRING SS-233  embarked on its eighth war patrol, departing from Midway towards the Kurile Islands, an archipelago spanning over 800 miles from Hokkaido, Japan, to Kamchatka, Russia.

On the final day of the month, the Herring met with the USS Barb SS-220. After a megaphone conference, it was decided that Barb would cover the south and west of the lane, while the Herring would cover the north and east to Matsuwa. The conference ended at 11:20, and Herring headed south for a roving patrol along the lane. Sadly, the Herring would never be seen or heard from again.

Before parting ways with Barb, the Herring had sunk two enemy vessels the previous night, including the Ishigaki, which had been responsible for the loss of the USS S-44 SS-155 in October 1943. However, Japanese records indicate that the Herring met its demise. The day after meeting Barb, the Herring arrived at Matsuwa Island and encountered two more ships at anchor, which it promptly sank but was spotted in the process.

Japanese shore batteries fired shells at the submarine, hitting it twice on the conning tower. An area about 5 meters wide was covered in bubbles, and heavy oil extended across approximately 15 miles, according to records.

On June 1, 1944, eighty-three men perished aboard the Herring, marking both its most successful and least successful war patrol. The boat was awarded five battle stars for its wartime service.

It wasn’t until late August that Lieutenant John N. Compton, U.S. Navy, was reported missing in action, as conveyed through a telegram received by his wife, who was staying at the Coveleigh Club in Milton Point with other family members. The Rye Chronicle requested the parishioners of the Church of the Resurrection to include him in their prayers during Masses.

At the time of his death, John had served in the Navy for two years and four months. He was decorated with a unit Presidential Citation, World War II Victory Medal, and the Purple Heart. His remains were not recovered. More on Compton.


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