William S. Wickwire

S-51 Diver / Gunner's Mate, 1st Class

Photo of William Wickwire in the sea, hanging onto the side of a pontoon during the salvage efforts.

Wickwire dug his fingernails into the slippery sheathing, climbed aboard. (Photo from On the Bottom by Edward Ellsberg.)


William Sidney Wickwire was born with the sea in his blood. He was born in New York in March of 1893. He was the son of a sea captain, Frederick Augustus Wickwire, who was born in Portland, Maine. His mother, Alfreda Hoffman Wickwire, had Danish roots. William spent his childhood growing up with his siblings Alfreda, Elizabeth, and Edna along the shores of Narragansett Bay, which is located in Providence, Rhode Island.

William entered the navy and became a specialist in deep sea diving. He was commissioned by Rear Admiral Edward Ellsberg in 1926 to help in the raising of the Submarine S-51, which had sunk off the coast of Block Island. He is mentioned in Admiral Ellsworth's book, "On the Bottom", and there are photographs in that book which depict him. The raising of this boat off the shores of Rhode Island was a major news event in the state, and photographs also appeared in the local paper, The Providence Journal.

After this Navy commission was over, he married his fiance, Anna, and went on to raise a family of two daughters, Delores and Patricia Wickwire. He lived most of his adult life in New York. After his death, his family moved to California.

Biography written and submitted by Elaine Clark.