FIREMAN FIRST CLASS JAMES ARTHUR BUSEY was the son of Mrs. Zelah Catherine Busey of 1669 Port Davis Place SE, Washington DC, and Mr. Samuel A. Busey of 154 Second Avenue, Mount Ephraim NJ. As a member of the Coast Guard, he served aboard the destroyer escort USS LEOPOLD DE-319.
USS LEOPOLD (DE-319) was laid down 24 March 1943 by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex.; launched 12 June 1943; sponsored by Miss Helen S. Leopold, sister of Ensign Leopold; and commissioned 18 October 1943, Lt. Comdr. Kenneth C. Phillips, USCG, in command. The Leopold was 100% manned by Coast Guard personnel.
After a shakedown cruise off Bermuda, Coast Guard manned LEOPOLD departed Norfolk December 24, 1943 to escort convoy USG-68 to Casablanca. Arriving January 11, 1944, the destroyer escort made an antisubmarine patrol off the Straits of Gibraltar until sailing 5 days later on an escort passage to the United States. Departing New York March 1 on her second voyage, LEOPOLD screened convoy CU-16 for the British Isles. While investigating a submarine contact on the eve of March 9, 1944 at 57d 37m N., 26d 30m W., LEOPOLD was struck by an acoustic torpedo fired from U-255, a Type VIIc U-boat commanded by Oberleutnant Erich Harms.. The explosion split the warship in half. Sister ship JOYCE (DE-317) rescued 28 survivors at the close of the action; 171 others were lost through explosion on board or drowning after abandoning. LEOPOLD remained afloat until early the next morning, then sank, approximately 400 miles south of Iceland.
The USS LEOPOLD was the first destroyer escort lost in World War II. James Busey was 23 at the time of his death.
June 12, 1943
Consolidated Steel Corporation,
The USS LEOPOLD was named in honor of Robert Lawrence Leopold, born November 11, 1916 in Louisville, Ky., enlisted in the Naval Reserve July 10 1940. Following training on the gunnery training ship WYOMING (AG-17), he was appointed midshipman September 16, 1940 and commissioned ensign December12. Reporting for duty on board ARIZONA (BB-39) two weeks later, Ensign Leopold served in that battleship until killed in action December 7. 1941, during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
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