SEAMAN SECOND CLASS EDWIN JOHN KLENK was born about 1921 to Mr. and Mrs. Edwin C. Klenk, of of 268 South Barrett Avenue, Audubon NJ. His father was the head of the Audubon Heating Company, founded in 1935.
Known to friends and family as "Eddie", Edwin Klenk was well known as a lifeguard at the Jersey shore. He was a guard for two years on Ocean City’s beach and was winner of medals in competition at Atlantic City for life saving and rowing. He was also known to many in the Pitman-Swedesboro area where he worked for his father's heating oil business.
Edwin Klenk resolved to enlisted in the Navy in September of 1941, at the close of the bathing season at seashore resorts. He enlisted on November 5, 1941 in Philadelphia. In March of 1942, after completing basic training, he was assigned to the patrol yacht USS Cythera PY-26. The Cythera was a civilian yacht that had been acquired by the Navy and converted for use as a patrol vessel.
The Cythera was torpedoed on May 2, 1942 by the German submarine U-402, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Siegfried Freiherr von Forstner. One of the torpedos struck in the front of the ship where there was ammunition stored. The Cythera sank very quickly, and most of the crew perished. Seaman Klenk was near the ammunition, and perished with his crew, Two survivors were picked up by U-402, and were held in German POW camps until the war's end.
In June of 1942 the Navy Department announced that Edwin John Klenk was missing at sea and presumed lost. His status was changed to killed in action at a later date.
Edwin John Klenk was survived by his parents and a brother, Charles Klenk, 20, who had applied for enlistment in the Coast Guard and served aboard the USS Joseph T. Dickman, a troopship operated with a Coast Guard crew.
Five members of Audubon High School's 1937 graduating class were also lost while serving in America's military during World War II. Besides Edwin Klenk, the dead include Charles Adamson, George Riggin, Charles Stevenson, and Peter Albano.
USS Cythera I (PY-26)
(PY: dp. 1,000; l. 215'; b. 27'6"; dr. 12'; s. 12 k.; cpl. 113; a. 3 3")
Cythera (No. 575), was Laid down as the yacht Agawa by Ramage and Feguson Ltd., Leith, Scotland. She was launched 20 September 1906; sponsored by Mrs. C. W. Harkness, leased by the Navy in 1917, and commissioned 20 October 1917 a USS Cythera (SP 575), Lieutenant Commander W. G. Roper in command. Decommissioned, 17 March 1919 and returned to her owner, 19 March 1919; Reacquired by the Navy, 31 December 1941; Converted to a Patrol Yacht PY-26, 28 February 1942; Placed in service, 3 March 1942; Torpedoed by the U-402 and sunk off North Carolina, 2 May 1942; Struck from the Naval Register, 24 June 1942.
Specifications: Displacement 1,000 t; Length 215'; Beam 27' 6"; Draft 12'; Speed 12 kts; Complement 113 (71 at time of sinking); Armament three 3" gun mounts.
Sailing from New York 27 October 1917, Cythera arrived at Newport the next day and was assigned to Patrol Force, Atlantic Fleet. She cleared Newport 1 November with her squadron and escorted and towed submarine chasers to European waters, arriving at Gibraltar 29 December.
Joining U.S. Patrol Squadron, based on Gibraltar, she patrolled and escorted convoys between her base and Mediterranean ports in France, Italy, and Africa. On 27 May 1918 while she was escorting a convoy from Bizerte to Gibraltar, two ships of the convoy were torpedoed, Cythera rescued 35 survivors of SS Ariel and dropped depth charges. On another occasion, 3 October 1918, en route from Genoa to Gibraltar, SS Uganda was torpedoed. Cythera searched for the submarine, and rescued the crew of the stricken ship, arriving safely at Gibraltar 28 May [sic]. Cythera cleared Gibraltar with her squadron 21 December 1918 and arrived at New York 5 February 1919. She was decommissioned 17 March 1919 and returned to her owner 2 days later.
Reacquired by the Navy 31 December 1941 upon the outbreak of World War II, Cythera was converted to a patrol vessel and classified PY-26. Her conversion was completed 28 February and she was placed in service 3 March 1942.
Engaged in patrol along the east coast, Cythera was hit by two torpedoes off North Carolina 2 May 1942 and sank so quickly that only two of her crew survived. The men were picked up by the attacking German submarine [U-402] and taken back to Germany where they were interned until the end of the war.
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Audubon Lifeguard Lost In Naval Action
The Navy Department has announced one of South Jersey’s foremost young life guards is missing at sea and presumed lost. He is Edwin Klenk, 21, of 268 South Barrett Avenue, Audubon, whose parents Mr. And Mrs. Edwin C. Klenk, recently received the notification.
Young Klenk enlisted in the Navy last September at the close of the bathing season at seashore resorts. He was a guard for two years on Ocean City’s beach and was winner of medals in competition at Atlantic City for life saving and rowing.
The father is head of the Audubon Heating Company, for which the son worked in the Pitman- Swedesboro areas where he was widely known. The couple has one other son, Charles, 20, who has applied for enlistment in the Coast Guard.
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