Monday, September 9, 2019

Frederick Greeley Crocker Died in 1942

The younger son of Harriet Greeley and her first husband, Alvah Crocker, Jr., was Frederick Greeley Crocker. He was born in 1911 in France and married Mary Jane Bigelow in June 1934, just before his graduation from Harvard. They settled in Milton, Massachusetts.

During their first years of marriage, Frederick attended Harvard Business School, graduating in 1936.

Harvard University, "Harvard Business School Yearbook, 1934-35," p. 109, "Frederick Greeley Crocker"; image,
"U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999," Ancestry ( : accessed 26 August 2019).
This yearbook entry suggests that although his home was "The Hilltop" in Fitchburg, he was possibly living in Brookline while attending Harvard.

At Harvard, Frederick was a member of the naval R.O.T.C. and was commissioned an ensign in the naval reserve at the time of his graduation. While in the naval reserve, he worked for a Boston investment banking firm and then with a manufacturing firm. Three sons were born to the couple, with the third born during World War II.

He was called into service in the summer of 1940 and was assigned to active sea duty in the summer of 1941. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (J G) in December 1941, and then to Lieutenant (S G) in the spring of 1942.

"Lt. F. G. Crocker Missing In Action," The Fitchburg (Massachusetts) Sentinel, 27 August 1942, p. 1; image, ( : accessed 26 August 2019).

This headline blared from the front page of the Crocker family's hometown newspaper in August 1942. The story, although very thin on details of what happened to cause him to be MIA, provided information about Frederick and his family. According to the story, he was "an outstanding athlete," playing football at Harvard and was a good skier and golfer.

The article also noted that he was the son of the late Alvah Crocker, Jr., who died in World War I. I can't even imagine how Harriet must have felt - losing her husband and father of four of her children, and then less than 25 years later, losing a son, both in the service of our country.

The article also reported that his brother, Lieutenant Alvah Crocker, was serving in the quartermaster department of the navy and his younger half-brother, Norman Harrower, Jr. was an aviation cadet in the navy.

The following day's newspaper reported that Lt. Frederick Crocker had been serving aboard the U.S.S. Ingraham when it sank as a result of a collision in the fog in the Atlantic.

The website Naval History and Heritage Command provides additional information about the U.S.S. Ingraham which was launched 15 February 1941 by the Charleston Navy Yard. During 1942, she escorted convoys across the Atlantic Ocean and as far south as the Panama Canal. On 22 August 1942, she was off the coast of Nova Scotia and, in a heavy fog, collided with a tanker. She sank almost immediately with only 11 of the approximately 300 men on board surviving.

Frederick Greeley Crocker is remembered in many ways. His name is inscribed at a memorial at Groton School, where he attended before entering Harvard; there is an award given at Groton, "each spring to a college junior who has brought honor to Groton;" his name is inscribed at the World War II Memorial at Harvard; and there is an athletic award in his name, the Frederick Greeley Crocker Award, still being given at Harvard to the most valuable player on the football team.

He was a half-second cousin to my mother: both shared Samuel Sewall Greeley as a great-grandfather; Frederick descended from his first wife and my mother descended from his second wife.


  1. So many people were lost in those wars. I'm glad you were able to learn what happened to him.

    1. Newspaper research is so helpful to get started on finding out what happened to those who served in the military in the 20th century. Thanks for the comment, Debi.