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World War I Honor Roll

William John Golle

Fireman Second Class, U.S. Navy

USACT TICONDEROGA

Entered the Service from: Pennsylvania
Died: September 30, 1918
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Suresnes American Cemetery
Suresnes, France

FIREMAN SECOND CLASS WILLIAM JOHN GOLLE was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 23, 1891 to Mary and Julius Golle. He was the fifth of six children. Julius Golle worked as a baker to support his family. The family lived at 1725 South 7th Street in South Philadelphia when the census was taken in 1900. Sadly, Mary Golle died on July 20, 1900. When the census was taken in 1910 William Golle was living with his father in the 900 block of Ritner Stret in South Philadelphia, and was working in a piano factory. At some point after 1914 Julius Golle moved across the river to 118 South 24th Street in East Camden.

William Golle was still working in a piano factory when he registered for the draft in June of 1917. He enlisted in the United States Navy on October 18, 1917 at Philadelphia PA. He was assigned to the USS Ticonderoga, and armed cargo ship.

The USS Ticonderoga, the third ship to bear that name, was originally built as the Camilla Rickmers, a steamer, in 1914 by Rickmers Aktien Gesellschaft, at Bremerhaven, Germany, and operated by Rickmers Reederei & Schiffbau Aktien Gesellschaft. She was seized by United States Customs officials in 1917; turned over to the Navy; fitted out as an animal transport (the Army and Marines Corps where a long way from being mechanized at the time); renamed Ticonderoga; and commissioned at Boston in the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS) on January 5, 1918, with Lieutenant Commander James J. Madison, USNRF, in command. Ticonderoga was equipped with a three-inch and a six-inch gun for defense.

Ticonderoga departed Boston on January 16 and reached Newport News, Virginia three days later. There, she loaded a cargo of automobiles, trucks, animals, and sundry other Army supplies before moving north to New York City to join a convoy which sailed for France on February 20. Ticonderoga entered port at Brest, France on March 7 and began discharging her cargo. She completed unloading operations and departed France on the March 23 to return to the United States. She arrived at New York on April 8 and the following day headed for Norfolk, Virginia, to undergo repairs and take on cargo before returning to New York on the April 30.

On May 3, Ticonderoga steamed out of New York harbor once more, bound for Europe. She reached Brest on May 18 and proceeded southeast along the coast of France to the Gironde estuary where she unloaded her cargo and took on ballast for the return voyage. The transport put to sea on June 10 and entered Hampton Roads 15 days later. Ticonderoga took on another Army shipment at Newport News and joined an east-bound convoy at New York on July 12. She delivered her cargo at the Gironde estuary once more, laying over there from July 18 to August 21 before heading home.

Ticonderoga loaded another Army cargo at Norfolk between September 5 and September 19. She then steamed to New York where she joined a convoy bound for Europe. On September 22, Ticonderoga cleared New York for the last time. During the night of the 29th and 30th, the transport developed engine trouble and dropped behind the convoy. At 05:20 the following morning, she sighted the German submarine U-152 running on the surface; and she cleared for action. 

The submarine opened fire at a range of 500 yards, the first shots taking effect on the bridge and forecastle, one of the two guns of the Ticonderoga being disabled by the second shot. The fire was returned and the fight continued for nearly 2 hours. Lieutenant Commander Madison was severely wounded early in the fight, but caused himself to be placed in a chair on the bridge and continued to direct the fire and to maneuver the ship.

For the next two hours, Ticonderoga's gun crews fought the enemy in a losing battle. The U-boat's gunners had put her forward gun out of commission after six shots, but the 6-inch gun aft continued the uneven battle. Almost every man on board Ticonderoga suffered wounds. Eventually, the submarine's two 5.9-inch guns succeeded in silencing Ticonderoga's remaining gun. At 07:45, Ticonderoga slipped beneath the sea. Of the 237 sailors and soldiers embarked, only 24 survived. Twenty-two of those survivors were in one lifeboat and were picked up by the British steamer SS Moorish Prince four days later. The other two, the executive officer and the first assistant engineer, were taken prisoner on board the U-boat and eventually landed at Kiel, Germany, when U-152 completed her cruise. Ticonderoga's name was subsequently struck from the Navy list.

Lieutenant Commander James Jonas Madison received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on the Ticonderoga. The destroyer USS Madison DD-425 was named in his honor.

Fireman Second Class Golle was among those of Ticonderoga's crew who were killed during the action of September 30, 1918. He was survived by his father, Julius Golle, of 118 South 24th Street, Camden NJ.


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