James Arthur Busey

Rank: Fireman 1st Class
Outfit: USS Leopold (DE-319)

March 9th 2017 marks the 73nd anniversary of the passing of James Arthur Busey. James served with the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II as a Fireman 1st Class (F1c) aboard the USS Leopold (DE-319), an Edsall Class Destroyer named after Robert Lawrence Leopold. Leopold was an Ensign who was killed aboard the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. 
The Leopold was part of Escort Division 22, Task Group 21.5, escorting Convoy CU-16 across the Atlantic Ocean when on the evening of March 9th 1944, approximately 400 miles south of Iceland, it had made contact with U-255, a German U-boat closing within 7 miles of the convoy. The Leopold crew was immediately ordered to general quarters and began the intercept firing illuminating flares to spot the sub. After a visual sighting of U-255 quickly submerging in the distance, the guns of the Leopold opened fire but missed their target. The sub however, managed to fire an acoustic torpedo as it was diving which struck the Leopold in her port side, splitting the ship almost in two. The men scrambled to escape as the order to abandon ship as given. Many were trapped in the wreckage, and those who were not faced jumping into the frigid sea and the huge waves breaking over the life rafts knocking men back out into the ocean. A sister ship in the escort convoy, the USS Joyce (DE-317) responded to assist with rescue operations but had to evade incoming torpedoes from the same U-boat that struck the Leopold, delaying their efforts to save the survivors. By morning of March 10th, the Leopold had broken in two and a portion of the stern was still afloat. The Joyce was ordered to stay in the vicinity to pick up any survivors and to sink any wreckage of the Leopold. The Joyce rescued the 28 survivors and recovered 3 bodies then used gunfire to sink the wreckage of the Leopold, and set off to rejoin to the convoy. 28 survivors out of 199 men aboard the Leopold and not one of the ship officers survived this tragedy. James Busey's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge England.
James was born in 1921 to parents Samuel and Zelah Busey. James also had a younger sister, Elizabeth. He was a member of the Saint Francis Xavier Church. James attended Eastern High School in Washington D.C. and worked as a clerk at a grocery store. He then took a job as a sheet metal worker until enlisting in the Coast Guard on March 18, 1942. The last time his family saw James, was a month prior to his death while he was home on leave. The family was from the Washington D.C. area and the only tie to Mount Ephraim that I have found so far is that Samuel Busey was living at 134 2nd Avenue at the time of James death. Samuel had worked as a machinist at the navy yard in Washington D.C. prior to coming to this area, and was working at the shipyard in Philadelphia.


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