In Memory of
United States Navy Torpedoman’s Mate, Second Class
Everett Ray Clifford
Custer, South Dakota
Custer County
July 31, 1919 – December, 1943
Lost with 77 other men on the USS Capelin (SS-289)

 USS Capelin (SS-289)

Everett Ray Clifford was born to Eve and Elmer Clifford on July 31, 1919 in Curlew, Washington.  His mother, Eve, passed away on January 9, 1928 in Hot Springs, South Dakota.  Mr. Clifford was self-employed in Custer, South Dakota mining feldspar.  He married Arlena Pitts in 1941 or 1942 in New Castle, Wyoming.

TM2 Clifford enlisted in the navy soon after war had been declared on September 17, 1941 in Omaha, Nebraska. TM2 Clifford went aboard the USS Capelin (SS 289), which returned from her first war patrol after 17 days out.  Coming into Darwin 16 in November, 1943 with a defective conning tower hatch mechanism, excessively noisy bow planes, and a defective radar tube, she was corrected to the satisfaction of the Commanding Officer and then departed for a second patrol on November 17.  The area to patrol was in the Molukka and Celebes seas, especially Kaoe Bay, Morotai Strait, Davao Gulf, and trade routes in the vicinity of Siaoe, Sangi, Talaud, and the Sarangani Islands. 

They were to leave the area at dark on December 6.  The last time the Capelin was seen was December 2, 1943 when Bonefish reported seeing an U.S. submarine around the area assigned to Capelin.  There was an attempt to reach Capelin by radio on December 9, 1943, but with no response.  On November 23, an American submarine was attacked off Kaoe Bay, Halamaera, although the Japanese say that this attack was broken off.  The best belief that can be made is that Capelin was lost in Celebes Sea, in Molukka Passage, or the Molukka Sea, probably in December.  Enemy minefields are now known to have been placed in various positions along the area in which the Capelin patrolled and she could have been lost because of one of these mine explosions.  In the 17-day first patrol, the crew of Capelin sank two Japanese medium freighters for 7,400 tons of merchant shipping.  This first patrol was conducted among the islands immediately west of New Guinea.

Everett Ray Clifford, headstone

A tablet of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines is put in memory of TM2 Clifford.  He received the Purple Heart Award for his sacrifice during WWII.  At the time of TM2 Clifford’s death, he had two brothers, Walter, who was in the naval air corps and Howard, who was working for the Roseberry Transfer; a wife, Arlena of Washington; and his father and stepmother.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Jane Heck – English teacher at Lemmon Jr/Sr High School.  Information for this entry was provided by an application for SD Veteran’s Bonus; a 12/30/43 article in the Custer County Chronicle; the WWII Honor Roll; and www. csp.navy.mil/ww2boats/capelin.htm.