From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Nelson Allen '39

Date of birth: April 14, 1916

Date of death: November 19, 1943

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1939 Lucky Bag:


From Naval History and Heritage Command:

Nelson John Allen was born in Duluth, Minnesota, on 14 April 1916, son of John Allen and Mabel (Nelson) Allen. He attended Duluth High School and in 1935 entered the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, upon appointment from his native state. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on 1 June 1939, he was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade), to rank from 1 November 1941, Lieutenant, to date from 1 June 1942 and Lieutenant Commander (posthumous), to date from 12 April 1944.

Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1939, he joined USS Astoria in which he served for three months. He next had fitting out duty in USS Biddle at the Navy Yard, Philadelphia, and reported on board that destroyer upon her commissioning, 16 October 1939. During December 1940 he assisted in the fitting out of USS Gwin Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, but was detached before the Gwin was put into commission for submarine training at the Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut.

Ordered in April 1941 to Submarine Division FIVE, Asiatic Fleet, he subsequently had duty on board USS S-41 and was serving in that assignment when the United States entered World War II, 8 December 1941. He received a Letter of Commendation, with authorization to wear the Commendation Ribbon, from the Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet. The citation follows:

"For meritorious the USS S-41 during the Fourth War Patrols of that vessel in the Solomon Islands Area from August 7, 1942 to September 3, 1942. As diving Officer, his careful and precise control of depth was of invaluable assistance to his commanding officer in conducting successful attacks, which resulted in the sinking of a 1,500 ton enemy submarine and damage to other ships of a convoy. His coolness and high devotion to duty contributed directly to the success of his vessel in evading enemy countermeasures."

During June and July 1943 he had temporary duty with the Submarine Force, US Pacific Fleet and Submarine Division TWENTY ONE and on 8 July, joined the submarine Sculpin, participating in two war patrols (the eighth and ninth). On the eighth war patrol, she was credited with sinking a freighter transport. On her ninth war patrol the Sculpin was severely damaged on 19 November 1943, north-east of Truk by depth charges from an enemy destroyer. Forced to surface, she fought the enemy vessel with her guns until she was badly holed and practically all of her gun crew on deck was killed. Impossible to fight further her vents were opened and she was sunk.

"For meritorious service while attached to the USS SCULPIN during the Ninth War Patrol of that vessel in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Truk Island Area, November 19, 1943..." he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V." The citation continues in part: "After his ship had been severely damaged and forced to the surface during a terrific enemy depth charge attack, (he) gallantly manned his battle station despite overwhelming opposition resolutely carrying out his duties until he fell, mortally wounded by enemy fire...He gallantly gave his life for his country."

In addition to the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V," and the Commendation Ribbon also with "V," Lieutenant Commander Allen was entitled to the Purple Heart Medal; the Army Distinguished Unit Badge; the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with star; the World War II Victory Medal; and the Philippine Defense Ribbon.

His wife was listed as next of kin.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

October 1939

Ensign, USS Biddle

Others at this command:

June 1940

Ensign, USS Biddle

Others at this command:

November 1940

Ensign, USS Biddle

Others at this command:

April 1941

Ensign, for assignment, 16th Naval District

Others at this command:

Class of 1939

Nelson is one of 78 members of the Class of 1939 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.