LAWRENCE L. EDGE, CDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Lawrence Edge '35

Date of birth: November 18, 1912

Date of death: June 19, 1945

Age: 32

Lucky Bag

From the 1935 Lucky Bag:

Loss

1935 Edge 1.jpg

Lawrence was lost when USS Bonefish (SS 223) was sunk by Japanese surface forces in Toyama Wan on June 19, 1945. He was the commanding officer.

His wife was listed as next of kin. He has a memory marker in Georgia.

Career

Lawrence had taken command of Bonefish just over one year prior to her sinking, on June 13, 1944; he was skipper for the boat's 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th war patrols. (She was sunk on patrol #8.) Prior to this tour he had been executive officer of USS Bluefish (SS 222).

Remembrances

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on May 24, 2015:

Sure, times were tense, but they would get better. Their baby girl was a bundle of happy life. Sarah’s swelling midriff was proof that their unborn second child was growing well. When the war was over, when Lawrence finished his submarine duties, when he came home to Atlanta, when …

A telegram messenger stood outside the door.

“Ma’am,” the messenger said, “is someone with you?”

On that July day in 1945, she may never have been so alone.

I DEEPLY REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR HUSBAND COMMANDER LAWRENCE LOTT EDGE USN IS MISSING IN ACTION IN THE SERVICE OF HIS COUNTRY.

The submarine he commanded, the USS Bonefish, was missing. It is missing still. The Bonefish and the remains of 85 crewmen rest somewhere on the bottom of Toyama Bay, Japan. In some places, the bay is 2 miles deep.

Monday is Memorial Day. It is set aside for Edge, his fellow submariners and other Americans killed in service to their country. They were soldiers, sailors, fliers, members of the Coast Guard, Marines — nearly 1 million casualties since the Civil War.

Among them: a 33-year-old Columbus resident, U.S. Naval Academy class of ’35, ardent correspondent.

“Dearest, most precious love,” Edge wrote to his wife in June 1944, “… maybe the time will really come some day when this is all over, and I’ll be holding you and (daughter “Boo”) in my arms again.”

The letters, saved for seven decades, remain the property of the daughter and the son. Sarah Edge Shuler of Buckhead cannot remember her dad; she was not yet 3 when he died. Her brother, Lawrence L. Edge of Sandy Springs, never met his father; he was born two months after his dad was killed in the cold waters off Japan.

Still, their father looms large in photographs, old letters, medals for valor, family memories and the admiration of many. At the Officers Club in Pearl Harbor, where a Japanese attack in 1941 launched this nation into World War II, hangs a portrait of the slain commander. He looks a lot like his son — his daughter, too.

Last week, the children of that man sorted through their dad’s mementos. Shuler pointed at her nose and eyes. “I look like him from here up,” she said.

Her brother recalled an observation their mother made decades ago as she watched the younger Lawrence walk under a shadowed stand of trees. “You walk just like your father,” she said.

The comparison still pleases him.

After graduating from the Naval Academy, Edge chose submarines for a career. It was not an easy path. On the surface, subs were vulnerable to airplanes and cannons. Underwater, they were prey for depth charges. And not everyone had the mental steel to slip beneath the waves for hours at a time.

“They were an elite group,” his son said.

In 1944, Edge took command of SS 223, the Bonefish. A black-and-white flag, whose origins are unknown, depicts a grinning, toothy fish, curled around the boat’s name. It’s one of the reminders of their dad the children have kept.

Other mementos include the Navy Cross. Edge’s cross, a silver design topped by a blue ribbon, features two stars — additional crosses. One was awarded for his raids on Japanese shipping; the second star, posthumously.

They were hard-earned honors. A canvas-backed handbook from an earlier voyage, filled with the late commander’s notes, underscores the fear that must have sailed with the crewmen every moment they were on patrol.

One entry, scribbled Oct. 1, 1944, describes a near encounter with the enemy. Bonefish was on its sixth battle patrol when it detected a hostile ship in the distance. The crew hoped the ship didn’t notice them.

“Hope shattered by depth bomb,” Edge wrote. “Not too close, just warning us.”

A half-hour later he took up the pencil again. “Two depth bombs, a little closer,” he wrote. “Went to 200 feet, developing several leaks.”

Minutes later, Bonefish inched up in the water. “About to surface, and had just pulled down periscope when another depth bomb was heard to hit and then explode,” Edge wrote. “It was further away, but let us know our pal was still around. …”

Even now, seven decades later, her father’s calm demeanor amazes Sarah Shuler. “It was underwater warfare,” she said.

Warfare that ramped up on June 9, 1945. Nine subs, including the Bonefish, crept into the Sea of Japan. Each had been outfitted with new sonar equipment that helped locate mines. It appeared effective; for nine days, Bonefish patrolled without incident, sinking one cargo vessel.

On the 10th day, June 19, the Bonefish came to ruin. Peter Sasgen, author of “Hellcats: The Epic Story of World War II’s Most Daring Submarine Raid,” imagines the boat’s last moments:

“Patrolling submerged in Toyama (Bay), Edge encountered three patrol boats. He attacked, but the torpedoes missed. Alerted, the patrol boats counterattacked in force. There wasn’t time to fire another torpedo salvo — the enemy’s ping, ping, ping-ing sonars had the Bonefish trapped in a vise. …

“Three sets of angry, thrashing screws swept over the descending submarine. Depth charges rained down.”

Although Edge’s wife learned he was missing in July, the Navy publicly announced the loss of the Bonefish on Aug. 11. Also that day, Sarah Edge gave birth to a son, named after her lost husband. The next day, The Atlanta Journal published news of the missing sub and the newborn son.

They never forgot him. Mother made sure to stay in touch with other Navy families she’d met. Through them, the children learned more about the man in the family albums. Friends made sure to take him camping, fishing, hunting, “doing the guy stuff,” Edge’s son said.

It’s only now, with the wisdom life bestows on those fortunate to live for decades, that the children realize how much they missed.

Dad was a water-color artist, a violinist, a craftsman who loved working in wood. Old photos show him with an infant Sarah.

Their mother died in 1985 and is buried at Westview Cemetery. On her stone are words commemorating the man who went to sea for her, their children, and for the rest of the world.

On Memorial Day, as they have for so many years, the children of Cmdr. Lawrence Edge, USN, will say a prayer for their daddy, and all the others who fought and died.

Navy Cross

1935 Edge 2.jpg

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Commander Lawrence Lott Edge (NSN: 0-74855), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. BONEFISH (SS-223), during the SIXTH War Patrol of that vessel in enemy Japanese controlled waters of the Pacific, from 5 September to 8 November 19445. Despite intense enemy air and surface opposition, Commander Edge skillfully maneuvered his ship into a favorable position to launch four well-placed and brilliantly executed torpedo attacks and sink three enemy ships totaling 22,000 tons and damaged two additional vessels totaling 8.900 tons. In addition, he effectively conducted the rescue of two downed friendly aviators. A bold tactician, Commander Edge expertly avoided enemy countermeasures and brought his ship safely to port. His inspiring leadership and devotion to duty in the fulfillment of this hazardous patrol reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet: Serial 01155 (February 9, 1945)
Action Date: September 5 - November 8, 1944
Service: Navy
Rank: Commander
Company: Commanding Officer
Division: U.S.S. Bonefish (SS-223)

More on the rescue of the aviators is recounted in "Save Our Souls: Rescues Made by U.S. Submarines During World War II".

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Commander Lawrence Lott Edge (NSN: 0-74855), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. BONEFISH (SS-223), during the SEVENTH War Patrol of that vessel in the East China Sea Area from 6 April to 7 May 1945. Despite the constant danger of navigating in shoal waters and the possibility of aerial bombings and detection by shore-based enemy radar and patrol vessels, Commander Edge daringly penetrated enemy minefields and successfully performed a special mission in this area. In addition, he captured two enemy aviators while performing lifeguard duties and skillfully evaded severe enemy anti-submarine measures to bring his ship safe to port. His conduct throughout the entire mission was an inspiration to his officers and men and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet: Serial 031326 (July 23, 1945)
Action Date: April 6 - May 7, 1945
Service: Navy
Rank: Commander
Company: Commanding Officer
Division: U.S.S. Bonefish (SS-223)

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting a Second Gold Star in lieu of a Third Award of the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Commander Lawrence Lott Edge (NSN: 0-74855), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. BONEFISH (SS-223), during the EIGHTH War Patrol of that vessel in the Japanese Sea off the west coast of Honshu, Japan. Fully aware of the extreme dangers involved, Commander Edge left port in his veteran submarine on 28 May 1945, to conduct one of the First War Patrols to be made in this area. Boldly penetrating strong anti-submarine barriers, he entered the supposedly inviolable waters of the Japan sea and, with superb skill and daring, maneuvered the Bonefish into shallow, confined waters to launch his devastating torpedo attacks against enemy targets vital to the Japanese war effort. Striking with devastating speed and precision, Commander Edge succeeded in sending two valuable ships to the bottom despite strong hostile countermeasures. While continuing this smashing offensive, overwhelming counterattacks were encountered which caused the loss of this outstanding submarine and her gallant commanding officer. A forceful and inspiring leader, Commander Edge, by his brilliant seamanship, initiative and indomitable perseverance, maintained in the face of tremendous odds, contributed essentially to the infliction of extensive damage and destruction on the enemy during this urgent mission and to the success of our sustained drive to force the capitulation of the Japanese Empire. His courage and resolute devotion to duty throughout reflect the highest credit upon himself, his intrepid command and the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Authority: Board of Awards, Submarines Pacific: Serial 0508 (September 13, 1945)
Action Date: May 28 - June 19, 1945
Service: Navy
Rank: Commander
Company: Commanding Officer
Division: U.S.S. Bonefish (SS-223)

Other

USS Bonefish (SS 582) was sponsored by Lawrence's widow.


Class of 1935

Lawrence is one of 56 members of the Class of 1935 in Memorial Hall.