Louis H. Lenox
- Radio Operator aboard Minesweeper USS Eider
- June 4, 1917 – End of War
- World War I
Born: December 29, 1896; Deceased: December 23, 1978
Louis Houston Lenox, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, enlisted in the U.S. Navy on June 4, 1917, two months after the United States joined its allies in World War I. He served as radio operator under Commander Walter F. Jacobs on the minesweeper flagship U.S.S. Eider.
One excerpt from Louis’ sailor’s log of the Eider reads:
“Stretching away from the Orkney Islands to Norway was an area of 5,000 square miles, strewn with 70,000 mines, a deadly gate across the North Sea. As the mines were laid, the mine-laying vessels were surging ahead so that they escaped the danger of exploding mines in their wake. The mine sweepers faced a different situation. They had to steam back and forth over the surface which concealed many thousand units of concentrated destruction, cutting, exploding and sinking each in turn. The British sweepers lost two vessels and 40 men. The Americans lost only 11 men and three ships.”
Louis recounted one story of his service for his home town newspaper in 1920:
“An upper level mine exploded directly beneath the U.S.S. Pelican – sister ship to the Eider – and simultaneously five more were countermined about her. With her seams opened up, she listed to port and began to go down. The. U.S.S. Auk and the U.S.S. Eider came to her rescue, the Auk on her port side and the Eider on the starboard side, and with their wrecking pumps going the Pelican began to rise. The sea was very rough and the Teal was ordered ahead to pump oil overside to calm the sea. The pumps clogged and the Pelican again began to sink. The sweepers Swallow and Chewink, with two submarine chasers, proceeded astern to stand by in case of emergency. On the rescue ships the men stood at each line with axes ready to cut loose at the moment the Pelican should start down. Lieutenant Mehugh of the Pelican asked for volunteers to remain on board, at which the entire crew stepped forward shouting ‘Hail, hail, the gang’s all here!’ in a discordant sort of chorus. Exactly what the song brought is not known, but suddenly the pumps cleared and the water which had been pouring into the Pelican began to pour overside and one more crisis was passed. Nearly every day we had experiences like this and to give a list of the vessels that were damaged would take in practically every one in the fleet.”
While stationed in Inverness, Scotland, Louis met his wife, Jessie MacKenzie, a Scottish ambulance driver serving the allied troops. Jessie came with Louis to America following the war.
See Father, John Philip Lenox