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Alfred Louis Ede

Alfred Louis Ede
Alfred Louis Ede

Some times there is little to find despite the notoriety someone had garnered. That is the case with this person. He had little time to acquire any sort of name for himself during his short life. This is an attempt to show him as a whole person.

Born July 4, 1887 in Reno, Nevada to parents Walter Ede, who was born in England and migrated to the US in 1868 and Amanda Caroline Dean, who he married in 1870. Alfred had 3 older siblings; Irene born in January 1880; Allen, born in March of 1882; Ada, born in October of 1884. Irene and Allen were born in California and Ada and Alfred were born in Nevada. The family was moving around. The fathers profession was a “Stock Raiser" . The family lived near Truckee, Nevada.

Alfred obtained an appointment to Annapolis and graduated with the class of 1909.

After serving two years as a Midshipman at sea, he, along with 88 others of his graduating class of 155 Midshipmen, passed their examinations and were promoted to the rank of Ensign in May of 1911. He was attached to the Battleship West Virginia at this time.

It appears he then had orders to the Destroyer Truxtun DD-14. And while aboard he was married to Miss Margaret Anne McMillan on June 20, 1911, her age at that time was 23. She was the daughter of the Nevada State Treasurer. They had two children; Margaret Ede born in 1912 and son Alfred L Ede Jr, born in 1913, (he died at age 35 in 1949).

On June 12, 1912, he received orders transferring him from the Truxtun to the USS Buffalo a destroyer tender that had been turned into a transport in 1906. On the 16th of June, 1912 these orders were revoked and he was reassigned to the USS Preble DD-12.

Orders arrived on June 20, 1913 detaching him from the Preble to the USS Alert AS-4 for submarine instruction for duty aboard submarines.

Ede was serving aboard the USS D-3 in 1913 or 1914 when his 1909 Academy class mate, Fitzhugh Green, asked if he could join the D-3 to see if he'd like submarine duty. The trip was from Hampton Roads to New York. Near the Ambrose Channel Lightship the small flotilla encountered fog and the tender, quite probably the Tonopah, anchored and moored her charges either side.

The D-3 was outboard most on the tenders port side. The crews boarded the tender and left watchmen aboard for safety. Before turning in Ede and Green decided to have a look around the sub before going to their bunks. The lookout, Machinist Mate Bob Ring, was swathed in oilskins and standing on the bridge. Ede had brought Ring and the two other sleeping watch standers a thermos of coffee. The two chatted about the weather and Ring thought there was a storm coming.

The trio went up to the bridge and were met with forty mile and hour winds and rain. Seas were covering half the subs decks. As they emerged on the bridge a voice from the next boat yells at them to cast off or they were going to sunk them. Once cast off the anchor was to be let loose but it had jambed, in fact it had been reported jambed in the afternoon and had not been fixed by the tender. The decision was made to submerge the boat so she wouldn't drift out into the shipping channel.

Ede was the senior man present. The small crew had to make sure all the hatches were closed and deck ventilators were closed so the sub wouldn't flood. As it was a forward hatch wasn't secured properly and the torpedo-room began to flood as the sub went under. They settled on to the bottom in eight fathoms of water, 48 feet. Pumps were tried but found to not be able to over come sea pressure so the torpedo room and ballast tanks could not be pumped out.

After a day on the bottom the sub slid down to 15 fathoms, 90 feet. The tide was moving the sub on the bottom. The five spent 3 days on the bottom and only the fact that the D-3 ended up drifting into a current of fresh water were they floated to the surface. The fresh water had changed the subs buoyancy. Ede would not be so lucky the next time.

On July 12, 1914 Ede was ordered to take command of the USS F4 SS-19 at Honolulu Harbor. He was to relieve Ltjg Kirkwood H. Donavin who was in command.

F-4 was being used as a test platform for some new propellers and other experimental equipment. Though she had gone through a yard period Ede was still not satisfied with the boat. Other crew members had complaints about her condition especially her batteries which seemed to overly out gas and have permanent grounds.

Three days prior to the fateful last dive of the F-4, Ede had written to his brother Allen; "This is not a very exciting place, but enough happens to the boat to at least keep up interest. I just came from Pearl Harbor on Thursday … having a new motor put in. Previous to that, we had a hydrogen explosion in the boat, engine breakdown and so on. So, there is something doing aboard the FOUR all the time. Take a mere trifle like today. Down fifty feet, no bottom below, and water trickling in through one of the valves. Still, that does not give us a thrill any more. In fact, if the whole boat should suddenly vanish in smoke, I would not think that I should be terribly astonished." The boat did vanish though not in smoke!

Post recovery of the F-4 the Navy was doing a lot of explaining trying to defend the F-4 condition. But as a result the other 3 F-Class boats were prohibited from diving and were soon replaced by the new K-Class submarines. The F-1, 2 and 3 were towed to Mare Island and were gone through inside and out. They finally were permitted to dive again and operated out of San Pedro, Calif.

All the crew's remains had become disarticulated in the months taken to recover the submarine and suffered from the efforts. They had become jumbled together as the submarine had been bounced on the ocean's bottom as salvage cables and chain broke sending the submarine to the sea floor. As it turned out no bodies were complete as remains were lost through openings in the hull. By the time the F-4 reached dry dock she was almost completely upside down.

The F-4 was ultimately floated out of the dry dock using the same pontoons used to salvage her. The submarine F-4 was never to see dry air again. She was towed, hanging from the pontoons, into Pearl Harbor and deposited on the bottom of Quarry Loch, site of the future US Navy Submarine Base, near where the moorings known as Sierra 12 and 13 are now located. During the 1940 build out of the Sub Base the submarine F-4 was rolled into a trench dredged in the loch bottom and covered over. She remains there today.

Seventeen of the crew were never identified and were buried in one grave in four caskets at Arlington National Cemetery, Ede is one of the men buried there.

A column from “The Bee" of Omaha, Nebraska March 27, 1915 reads; 'Lieutenant Tipton of the local (Omaha) naval recruiting station is well acquainted with Lieutenant Alfred L. Ede, commander of the United States submarine F-4 sunk in Honolulu harbor yesterday. 'We were together at Annapolis.' said the lieutenant. 'He was one class ahead of me being in the eighth company and I in the seventh. He was strikingly blond in complexion, very studious and serious in his temperament.' The men at the local recruiting station are anxiously awaiting receipt of the names of the men on the F-4, fearing that some of their old mates may be among them.'

Letter to brother courtesy of Bill Lightfoot, author of 'Beneath The Surface; World War I Submarines Built in Seattle and Vancouver'

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