1945 — Hawaii
Loris Henry Duncan was born in November 1919, in Troy, Athens County, Ohio, the 3rd child of John Preston Duncan and Edna White Duncan. Edna died in childbirth. Loris was the Grandson of James H. Duncan and Mary Ann Wilson Duncan, as well as the Grandson of Marion Francis White and Ella J. Moore White. He was a Great Grandson of Rev. James E. Moore and his third wife, Elizabeth Louemma Harper Moore. His roots can be traced back to Moses Moore and Hannah Risk Moore, (very early settlers in Pocahontas County, West Virginia) on both his paternal and maternal sides.
After his birth and the death of his Mother, Loris, his Father, and Sister,
and Brother lived for a while with his late Mother's parents in Troy, Ohio.
His Father soon moved his family back to Pocahontas County, WV, where
Loris grew up and went to school. He graduated from Marlinton High School, where he had played on the softball team.
On 15 October 1942, Loris enlisted in the United States NAVY, at Charleston, Kanawha County, WV. He was sent to Submarine School at Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut. Despite being physically located in the Town of Groton, CT, the name New London became associated with the Navy Yard. The base had their main offices and housing in the larger city of New London, hence it was
christened as Naval Submarine Base New London. The second largest expansion of Submarine Base New London occurred during World War II, when it grew from 112 acres to 497 acres. The Submarine Force leaped in size, and the Base accommodated thousands of men to service the growing combat fleet.
Loris was trained as an Electrician's Mate. Electrician's Mates (EM) stand watch on generators, switchboards, control equipment and electrical equipment; operate and perform organizational and intermediate maintenance on power and lighting circuits, electrical fixtures, motors, generators, voltage and frequency regulators, controllers, distribution switchboards and other electrical equipment; test for short
circuits, ground or other casualties; and rebuild electrical equipment, including solid state circuitry elements, in an electrical shop.
On 20 July 1943, Loris H. Duncan was Transferred to the Commander Submarine Force; of the Pacific Fleet For Assignment To Duty. On 30 July, he was assigned to the crew (5 Officers and 54 Enlisted Men), of the USS Snapper, a Salmon-class composite diesel-hydraulic and diesel-electric submarine.
HISTORY FOR U.S.S. Snapper: WAR PATROL MISSIONS:
No: Captain: From: Date: Duration: Score (WT): JANAC Return:
7 Merrill K. Clementson Pearl Harbor 7/43 54 2/10,400 1/860 Pearl Harbor
8 Merrill K. Clementson Pearl Harbor 10/43 56 3/20,300 1/4,575 Pearl
During the seventh War Patrol mission, conducted in the vicinity of Guam, Snapper sank her initial victim of the war. According to her war diary, she sighted two vessels moored in the extreme northeast corner of Apra Harbor, Guam, and decided to patrol submerged off the harbor until they departed. Seven days later, on 27 August, she headed to the north of the harbor, firing three torpedoes at the first target and one at the second. As she quickly departed the vicinity, Snapper observed one hit on the first target, sinking the passenger-cargo ship Tokai Maru, stern first.
On 2 September, Snapper closed a convoy of five cargo ships and two escorts. The primary targets, the cargo ships, zigged away; and, when the port escort came into view "head on," the submarine fired a "down-the-throat" shot at the escort, Japanese frigate Mutsure, that blew the enemy's bow completely off and enveloped her in flames as she sank. The submarine quickly cleared the locality as the other escort
commenced a depth charge attack. On 6 September, Snapper intercepted another convoy and fired three torpedoes; but all were misses. On 17 September, she terminated her seventh patrol at Pearl Harbor.
Snapper’s eighth war patrol was conducted off Honshu, Japan, from 19 October to 14 December. While battling heavy seas on 29 November, the submarine sighted a convoy of five ships and two escorts and began to close the range. She fired three bow torpedoes and scored two hits that set the cargo ship Kenryu Maru ablaze as she settled by the bow and sank. Upon completion of her 8th War Patrol mission, USS Snapper returned to Pearl Harbor Naval base for a complete overhaul. On 22 February 1944, EM3C Loris H. Duncan was Transferred to Duty on board the USS Swordfish, a Sargo-class submarine, with a crew of 5 Officers, and 54 Enlisted men. Swordfish was the first submarine of the United States Navy named for the swordfish, a large fish with a long, swordlike beak and a high dorsal fin. She was the first United States Navy submarine to sink a Japanese ship during World War II.
On 31 July 1944, Loris H. Duncan received a promotion to EM2c (Electrician's Mate, Second Class).
Swordfish put to sea on 13 March 1944, for her eleventh war patrol, conducted in the Mariana Islands. Although several enemy ships were damaged during this patrol, no sinkings could be confirmed; and the submarine returned to Majuro on 29 April 1944.
Swordfish's twelfth war patrol was conducted in the area of the Bonin Islands. On 9 June, the submarine found Japanese destroyer Matsukaze clearly illuminated against the horizon and sank the enemy ship with two torpedoes from her bow tubes. On 15 June, she torpedoed and sank a cargo ship. The remainder of the patrol was unproductive, and the submarine terminated her twelfth patrol at Pearl Harbor on 30 June.
On 22 December, Swordfish departed Pearl Harbor to conduct her thirteenth war patrol, in the vicinity of Nansei Shoto. She topped off with fuel at Midway on 26 December and left that day for her area. In addition to her regular patrol, Swordfish was to conduct photographic reconnaissance of Okinawa, for preparation of the Okinawa Campaign.
On 2 January, Swordfish was ordered to delay carrying out her assigned tasks in order to keep her clear of the Nansei Shoto area until completion of carrier-based air strikes which were scheduled. She was directed to patrol the general vicinity of 30°N; 132°E until further orders were received. Her acknowledgement of those orders on 3 January
was the last communication received from Swordfish.
On 9 January 1945, Swordfish was directed to proceed to the vicinity of Okinawa to carry out her special mission. It was estimated that the task would not take more than seven days after arrival on station, which she should have reached on 11 January. Upon completion of her mission, Swordfish was to proceed to Saipan, or to Midway if she was unable to transmit by radio. Since neither place had seen her by 15 February,
and repeated attempts to raise her by radio had failed, she was reported as presumed lost on that date.
In the report of her loss, mention was made that Kete (SS-369), which at the time was patrolling the vicinity of Okinawa, reported that on the morning of 12 January she contacted a submarine by radar. It was believed that contact was with Swordfish. Four hours later Kete heard heavy depth charging from this area, and it was believed that this
attack might have been the cause of Swordfish’s loss.
Japanese information on antisubmarine attacks does not mention the attack heard by Kete on 12 January, and records no attacks in which Swordfish is likely to have been the victim. However, it is now known that there were many mines planted around Okinawa, since the Japanese were expecting an Allied invasion of that Island. The majority of the mines were planted close in. It is considered about equally likely that
Swordfish was sunk by depth charge attack before she reached Okinawa for her special mission or that she was lost to a mine at that place.
Loris Henry Duncan was Killed In Action, Lost At Sea, on 12 January 1945, along with his 5 Commanding Officers and 53 crewmates.
Loris was survived by his Father, John Preston Duncan, his Sister, Mrs. Robert S. (Mabel) Gay, and his Brother, Harry F. Duncan; numerous Aunts, Uncles; and Cousins.
NEVER FORGET His Service & Sacrifice.