Petty Officer Thomas Ashton Jr. Aboard Triton Sub, Reported Sunk

Thomas E. Ashton, Nutley, NJ. MIA April 22, 1943THE NUTLEY SUN (July 23, 1943) -- Petty Officer Thomas Edward Ashton Jr., electrician’s mate 3/c, on submarine duty was reported missing in action April 22, 1943.

The young sailor was known by his parents,  Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Ashton Sr., who formerly lived on Cathedral Avenue, to have been aboard the submarine Triton, which was reported by the Navy on July 22 as having been sunk in the Pacific with 11 Jap ships to its credit. 

He attended St. Mary's elementary school. He was an assistant scout master of troop 12 at St. Mary's Church.

Tom has been engaged to Miss Olive Shaefer for the past year. He has three sisters, Alice and Melina who live in Nutley, and Mrs. Eileen Rudowsky.

Sailor Reported Missing In Action

   THE NUTLEY SUN (April 30, 1943) -- The parents of Thomas Edward Ashton Jr., were notified Thursday that their son, an electrician's mate 3c, on submarine duty was missing at sea. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Ashton Sr., who formerly lived on Cathedral avenue, have recently moved to E. Glen Avenue in Ridgewood.
Tom Ashton enlisted in the Navy in February 1942. After two and a half months of preliminary training at New London, he was sent to the Navy Electrical Engineering School.

His military education included Submarine; Battery & Gyro; Electrical Theory; Electrical Laboratory; Mathematics; tool instruction; General Instruction; Wiring Shop.

His assignments and geographical locations included: N.R.S., N.Y.; NavTraSta - Newport, R.I.; US Nav Tra Sch - Detroit, Mich.; Submarine Sch - New London, Conn.; USS Guardfish (Flag CSD 82); USS Triton.

Upon completion of his training he was assigned to a submarine as an electrician's mate.

Tom was working for the plant department of the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company at the time of his enlistment in the Navy. He attended St. Mary's elementary school, and St. Peter's and St. Mary's Rutherford high schools, where he played football and basketball.

A fine athlete, Tom also played golf, went bowling, and belonged to the Nutley Chess Club. He was an assistant scout master of troop 12 at St. Mary's Church.

Tom has been engaged to Miss Olive Shaefer for the past year. He has three sisters, Alice and Melina who live in Nutley, and Mrs. Eileen Ruowsky.

US Submarines and crews lost in WWII

US Submarines and crews lost in WWII

US Submarines lost in WWII (The National World War Two exhibit)

Elect. M/3 Thomas Edward Ashton, Jr.



The USS Triton is one of 52 World War II U.S. Navy submarines that remain on Eternal Patrol. Commissioned at the Navy shipyard in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in July 1940, she and her 74 officers and crewmen were on patrol off of Wake Island on Pearl Harbor Day December 7th, 1941. Three days later she torpedoed a Japanese destroyer gaining the distinction of being the first Navy submarine to sink a Japanese vessel. By September 1942 Triton had sunk 19 Japanese ships and damaged 7 more - more Japanese tonnage than all other Navy submarines operating out of Pearl Harbor at the time. On board was Tom Ashton of Ridgewood, NJ.

Tom lived at 45 Cathedral Avenue in Nutley with his family while he attended St. Mary’s School in Nutley and later St. Mary’s High School in Rutherford from which he graduated in 1939. Known to some as Huck, he was active in dramatics, football, basketball and baseball, was class treasurer his junior year and on student council his senior year. His family moved to Ridgewood to live at 642 East Glen and he attended St. Peters in Jersey City. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve immediately after Pearl Harbor and did his initial training in Rhode Island. He later trained in California and Australia before being assigned to the USS Triton, a Tambor Class submarine.

Ashton was lost aboard the Triton March 15, 1943 in the Caroline Basin, northwest of the Admiralty Islands and southwest of Rabaul. On March 16, 1943 the Triton was ordered to change her area slightly and to return to Brisbane on March 25, 1943. When she failed to make a routine report of position, she was ordered to do so. When no report was received she was reported overdue from patrol and presumed lost on April, 10, 1943, without a doubt sunk by enemy destroyers since the Japanese reported on that day seeing "a great quantity of oil, pieces of wood, corks and manufactured goods bearing the mark 'Made in U.S.A.'."  His Shakespearean high school quote seems eerily appropriate: “A scar nobly got is a good livery of honor”.

Tom Ashton is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila. At death he was 21 years old.

Excerpt from At Death He Was 25 Years Old by Christopher Stout

Copyright © 2004 by Christopher Stout, used by permission

Thomas E. Ashton, Jr.

ID: 06464572
Entered the Service From: New Jersey
Rank: Electrician's Mate, Third Class
Service: U.S. Navy, United States Naval Reserve
Died: Sunday, April 09, 1944
Memorialized at: Manila American Cemetery
Location: Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines
Awards: Purple Heart, World War II Victory Medal (both posthumously)

American Battle Monuments Commission

American Legion Post 70 Memorial

At Death He Was 25 Years Old  by Christopher Stout

National World War II Memorial

The Nutley Sun; April 30, July 23, 1943: Army Flyer And Sailor Are Reported Missing In Action; 
Both Entered Country's Service Shortly After Attack On Pearl Harbor  

World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing,
State of New Jersey, War Dept. June 1946

This Page Updated: February 12, 2020

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