S-51 Motor Machinist's Mate, 3rd Class (124 25 83)

Photo of Robert S. Noble in Navy uniform.

Robert S. Noble

Biography written and submitted by Richard Noble of Beaverbank, Nova Scotia, November 26, 1997.


  • Haverhill Gazette October 26, 1925, Haverhill, MA

  • Haverhill Gazette October 27, 1925, Haverhill, MA

  • Massachusetts National Guard Military Archives & Museum, Worcester, MA

  • National Personnel Records Centre, St. Louis, MO

  • Noble Genealogical Records, Richard Noble

  • Massachusetts Vital Records, Boston, MA


Robert Seth Noble was born on 02 August 1901 in Haverhill, Massachusetts. He was the son of Robert E. Noble (born in Nova Scotia, Canada) and his wife, Catherine C. McCarthy (born in England). He attended Tilton School in Haverhill, and Haverhill High School. He left High School in his sophomore year to enlist in the US Navy Reserve Force on July 13, 1917. His Navy records list his date of birth as 02 August 1898, so some fabrication was used.

He was placed on active service on 17 July 1917, serving as a ship's cook. He served on the USS Covington (Cincinnati), a troop ship carrying troops between New York and Brest, France. He made 28 trips, and on the 28th trip, the USS Covington was torpedoed and sank around 14 July 1918, approximately 200 miles from Brest, with the loss of six sailors. Robert and two companions were rescued after drifting on a raft for three days.

Robert was at Naval Base 20, Rochefort, France until 01 October 1918, then he returned to the United States. He then served on the USS Lake Gakona. He transferred to the US Navy on 22 July 1919, and was awarded an honorable discharge on 03 June 1921.

He re-enlisted on 27 July 1921 at Boston, and began studying to become a Motor Machinist's Mate. He was then was assigned to the USS Chewink for about a month. On December 31, 1923 he was assigned to the submarine USS S-26 at New London, Conn., having qualified for submarine torpedo boat duty. He was discharged on 27 July 1925, being recommended for re-enlistment and for a good conduct medal. He re-enlisted on 18 August 1925, and after taking 10 days leave, which he spent with his parents, he returned and was assigned to the USS S-51 at New London. He served here until his death in the disaster of 25 September 1925.

Robert's body was not recovered until 23 October 1925, and after being identified at New London, by his Mother and his sister Lillian, was returned to Haverhill on the 26th of October. His funeral was held at the home of his parents at 8:30am on Tuesday October 27, 1925, and at Trinity Episcopal Church in Haverhill at 10:00am. Full military honors were paid by the Wilbur M. Comeau Post, American legion. Burial followed at Hilldale Cemetery where the Legion firing squad fired a volley over his grave. His Gravestone in Hilldale Cemetery reads: 1901 Robert S. Noble 1925, with the note "Died in Disaster of S-51".