SEAMAN FIRST CLASS RALPH E. BATEZEL was born in 1919 in Gloucester City NJ to Clifford and Charlotte Batezel. In 1930 he was living with his grandparents Daniel and Jeanetta Higgenbotham Batezel at 211 Hudson Street in Gloucester City. Daniel Batezel owned a grocery store. Also living in the home were his mother Charlotte"Lottie" Batezel, and older brothers Clifford D. and Elmer Q. Batezel, and an aunt Edna V. Batezel. His mother was working as an instructor in a paper mill. Ralph Batezel attended Gloucester High School, where he played baseball and basketball.
Ralph Batezel entered the United States Navy in 1942. Married, his last visit home came around Christmas of 1942. He was serving aboard the minesweeper USS SKILL AM-115. The SKILL AM-115 was laid down on November 28, 1941 by the American Shipbuilding Co. of Cleveland, Ohio; launched on 22 June 1942; and placed in service on November 17, 1942, with Lt. Comdr. E. J. Kevern, USNR, in command.
After a brief shakedown cruise, SKILL was ordered to the Mediterranean Sea where she swept mines and performed other mine-warfare countermeasures along the North African coast before the invasion there. SKILL also participated in the invasion of Sicily. After the initial invasion at Salerno, Italy, she was assigned patrol and convoy duty in that area. She returned to the area from escort duty on September 25, 1943 and was assigned a patrol station. At 1140, not long after she had taken station, her forward magazine exploded. This was probably due to a submarine's torpedo because a survivor, whose station was on the bridge, later reported having seen a wake of undetermined origin paralleling the ship at a distance of about 150 yards.
SKILL was blown in half and the forward section capsized. The after half caught fire, and the flames moved aft until that section exploded and sank at about 1200. Ten minutes later, the capsized bow slipped beneath the waves. Of her 103 officers and men, none of the officers and only 32 of the men survived. Her name was struck from the Navy list on October 11, 1943. USS SKILL AM-115 was awarded one battle star for World War II service.
Seaman First Class Ralph Batezel was survived by his wife Helen Mary Batezel of 232 North Broadway, Gloucester City NJ, mother "Lottie" Batezel, and his brothers Clifford and Elmer Batezel, who were still working at the paper mill in Gloucester City. His death was reported in the October 14,1943 edition of the Camden Courier-Post.
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