The Capture of U-505

My niece asked about some photos my grandfather took while in the Navy.  Clarence Allan Norton was in the Navy during World War II.  He was aboard the USS Pillsbury when it assisted in capturing a German unterseebot–submarine–the U-505.

The U-505 was captured by the U.S. Navy on June 4, 1944.  Grandpa was only 23 and had a new wife and baby back home in Missouri.

Grandpa postcard 01   Grandpa postcard 02

Grandpa Norton was assigned to the USS Pillsbury.  The Pillsbury’s job was to hunt down German unterseeboots–which means under-sea-boat, or submarines.  I had always heard of Grandpa’s ship capturing the German U-boat 505.  On a school field trip to Chicago, we visited the Museum of Science and Industry where U-505 sits on display.  I was very proud to tell everyone my grandpa helped capture that sub.  I’m still proud to say that!

In a photo album marked as “Clarence Norton Navy Pictures” there are photographs from the Pillsbury, and from the day of the taking of U-505.  There are also some stock postcard photos of Navy Life.  I cannot give too much information about the photos.  I do not know the names of people featured in the images.  I can only recognize my grandfather in one photo–and it was marked.  If there was any description on the back, it is given here.

Grandpa 01

Clarence A. Norton


Navy Postcards–showing the life of a sailor!


swimming 01

“Swimming Instruction”

sailors washtubs 01

“Wash Day”

sailors washing 01

“Company Clothesline”


Some random photographs of what I assume are men–and a dog–on the Pillsbury.


I do not know any names for any of the men.  It is a future research quest to learn more about the sailors on board the Pillsbury.

Could this be the Captain above?  And who is this photogenic canine on the ship?

Some additional shots that show a lot of action onboard the ship.  Then, Grandfather had these pictures of the attack on the U-505.depth charge 001

The above photograph was labeled “depth charge” on the back.

Photos of the U-505 emerging from the sea.

A line was attached to the sub.  The photo on the right is a close-up of the line. (This photo obviously was not taken by Grandpa because it is of his ship.)

German sub 003

Above, a photo labeled “German sub.”

The photos below show Germans being brought onboard the Pillsbury.  I especially notice the sailor with the gun in the bottom photo.


I am not sure where in the timeline the next photo fits, but it seems to show some men holding a Nazi flag.

Sailors Nazi Flag

The Pillsbury and other ships received a Presidential citation.  The photo below shows the men preparing for the ceremony.

Presidential citation 01

If I could go back in time, I would ask some questions.  The photos had fallen out of the album and were not in the same order that Grandma Mary originally placed them.  Grandpa Norton had his own dark room and liked to take pictures, but I wonder if he took some of these shots, or is that just what I thought I heard when I was a kid.


It is Memorial Day weekend, and it seemed appropriate to share these photos.  Perhaps someone will see them and be able to give more details about the men and the ship.

Memorial Day is a day for remembrance.  As a genealogist, I know the names of many ancestors who fought in wars–from the Revolutionary to World War II.  This year I want to remember my grandfathers.

schuylercems 028  I was lucky to have known both of my grandfathers who were in World War II–Clarence A. Norton (Navy) and Clarence Eugene Billingsley (Army).

Happy Memorial Day!


My Son, Myself, My Dad–Our Mothers

Happy Mother’s Day!


Me mom 1970

Lou-Ann Billingsley Norton holding Dann M. “Danny Mike” Norton, 1970


 Mitochondrial DNA (mt-DNA) is a specific type of DNA that is passed down from the mother to all her children.  In biology, you probably learned that men are XY and women are XX.  In men, the Y is from the dad, and the X is from the mother.  Women get one X from the mother, and the other X is from the father’s mother.  This is probably too simplistic, but I keep it simple, and this is basically correct.

 Thinking about the X chromosome that is passed down from the mother, you realize that this particular X chromosome is directly from your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother…and so on back.


x chart

What this means is that my son’s Mitochondrial DNA is not the same as mine.  He got his from his mother, and I got mine from my mother—we have different mt-DNA.  Paschal, his mother, and his maternal grandmother share the same mt-DNA.  My brother and I share with my mother and her mother.  My great-uncle, maternal grandmother Imogene’s brother, Eldon, and I also share the same mt-DNA because we descend from the same direct maternal lineage of Polly Dickson Woods—through her daughter, then granddaughter, then great-granddaughter, and so on.  I could not pass on this mt-DNA to my son, Paschal, because it must come from the mother.  If I had a sister, she would carry the mt-DNA on, but I don’t have a sister.  All my first cousins born of my mother’s sisters also share my mt-DNA, but only the female cousins will pass it on.  All my first cousins from my mother’s brothers will have their respective mothers’ mt-DNA.

Another unique condition about mt-DNA is that the last name of the giver usually changes every generation back.  For example, my surname is Norton, but my mother was a Billingsley, her mother a Beghtol, and the name changes each step back in time.  The surnames of female ancestors are often lost to us as we research farther back into history.

Here’s to some of the important mt-DNA contributors in my and my son’s genes.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Paschal’s mt-DNA from Amy Graham Norton


Amy Paschal

Paschal and Amy Graham Norton, 2016


from Jeanese Stanyer Graham from Elma Dorr Stanyer from Cecil Mae Reeves Dorr from Emma Sroade Reeves from Ann M. Baker Sroade from Ellen McCormack Baker md. Otho Baker, Dec 15, 1841 in Berkeley County, (West) Virginia. 

Dann’s mt-DNA from Lou-Ann Billingsley Norton from Imogene Beghtol Billingsley



Imogene Beghtol Billingsley (1928-2005)


from Bernice Phillips Beghtol from Kate Montooth Phillips from Mary Jane Sloan Montooth from Elizabeth Humphreys Sloan from Jane Woods Humphreys from Polly Dickson Woods wife of John Woods, married late 1790s, probably in Tennessee. 

Danny L. Norton’s mt-DNA from Mary L. Gott Norton from Ida McAtee Shirley Gott from Dicy Harper McAtee



Dicy Harper McAtee (1843-1925)

from Nancy Ratliff Harper from Charlotte White Ratliff from Mary Blackburn White said to be the daughter of Margaret Wilson Blackburn, wife of Archibald Blackburn who died 1749 in Frederick County, Virginia.


Of course, there are many more mothers in my family tree.  These named are just the women who make up the direct-line maternal link that gave the mitochondrial DNA that is part of ME!