William Gayle Essex was born in 1921 in Virginia. He attended Knoxville High School.

Parents: George E. and Daisy Essex Breon
Siblings: Robert L. Breon

Served on the USS Fiske DE-143. Buried at sea and is memorialized at Lynnhurst Cemetery in Knoxville, Tennessee and at Cambridge American Cemetery in Cambridge, England.

The USS Fiske reported sonar contact at 1225 on 2 August 1944 and a plane reported the USS Fiske torpedoed amidships, port side at 1236. Latitude 47-10N, Longtitude 32-30W.  The U.S.S. Farquhar (DE-139) began a search at 1245 in the area with the U.S.S. Douglas L. Howard. USS Fiske’s bow and stern were floating. Many life rafts floating, loaded with man. The Farquhar  began picking up survivors while USS Douglas L. Howard screened the area.  Recovered FXR gear. Planes patrolling the area. At 1342 the bow of USS Fiske sinks. At 1618  the Farquhar  completed picking up visible suvivors. Total survivors picked up – 186 (11 officers and 175 men). Four of the men received were dead. About fifty hospital cases, approximately half being stretcher cases. Mostly fractures of lower limbs.
At 1650 the USS Farquhar  began patrolling the area while USS Douglas L. Howard sinks the stern section of the USS Fiske.

At 1930 burial services were held for;
Bertram Marion Engelman, CRM(AA), USN
Robert Glen Pumphrey, CMoMM(AA), USN
William Gaile Essex, FC2c, USNR
Theodore Askew, StM1c, USNR

  • Rank: Fire Controller First Class
  • Date of birth:
  • 23 October 1921
  • Date of death: 2 August 1944
  • County: Knox
  • Hometown: Knoxville
  • Service Branch: Navy
  • Division/Assignment: USS Fiske (DE-143)
  • Theater: Europe
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Awards: Purple Heart
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar VIII, Top Panel
  • Contact us to sponsor William G. Essex

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