Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sketch given to fellow POW-British

I am looking for an ensign of the US Navy who served aboard the USS Houston, survived the battle where she was sunk, and was a POW in Formosa (now Taiwan). He was in the camp Shirakawa and was alive on 5/30/1944. He drew a picture in my father's autograph/scrapbook of what I assume is the USS Houston's coat of arms, surrounded by her battle honours. His signature is pretty much illegible, but perhaps if we could find an ensign who was in Shirakawa at that time we could identify him. My father died in November, aged 99. He was a British Army (Royal Artillery) officer during the war. My father (Captain W K Forbes) must have known this man quite well to have him draw a picture in the booklet, which is only 2.5 x 3.5 inches in size. I now live in Texas and would like to find out what happened to this man. Perhaps he was moved from the camp before the war's end.
I would be grateful if you could explain to me how an ensign would be described on the Crew Roster which is a part of the USS Houston website.
With Regards, David Forbes - Texas.

Don Kehn deciphered the name. This is Ens. Herb Levitt - noted in the crew roster to have died in an Automobile Accident - home of record - NYC. The year of his death is unknown. MORE PHOTOS HERE.

8 comments:

Buzz Creek said...

Herb Levitt Ens. USN, drew this for a fellow POW, held in Formosa (Taiwan) in 1944. He survived the war but died in a car wreck some time later, this has not been determined yet. He was apparently a native of NYC. This image came from Dr. David Forbes, son of Capt. W.K. Forbes, British Royal Artillery. The inquiry below has been researched to at least know Herb Levitt drew it. Fortunately we knew from Otto Schwarz's work that a number of the Houston Officers were sent to Japan and to Formosa out of Java POW camps and there are photos of British and Aussie (perhaps some American) POWS being repatriated in Formosa in 1945. The little personal stories like this one from the Asiatic Fleet sailors and survivors are always greatly appreciated by those who honor their sacrifice.

From Dr. Forbes -- Nov 2008--

I am looking for an ensign of the US Navy who served aboard the USS Houston, survived the battle where she was sunk, and was a POW in Formosa (now Taiwan). He was in the camp Shirakawa and was alive on 5/30/1944. He drew a picture in my father's autograph/scrapbook of what I assume is the USS Houston's coat of arms, surrounded by her battle honours. His signature is pretty much illegible, but perhaps if we could find an ensign who was in Shirakawa at that time we could identify him. My father died in November, aged 99. He was a British Army (Royal Artillery) officer during the war. My father (Captain W K Forbes) must have known this man quite well to have him draw a picture in the booklet, which is only 2.5 x 3.5 inches in size. I now live in Texas and would like to find out what happened to this man. Perhaps he was moved from the camp before the war's end.
I would be grateful if you could explain to me how an ensign would be described on the Crew Roster which is a part of the USS Houston website.
With Regards,David
***********************************************
Dr. T. David A. Forbes

Kathie said...

Ensign Herbert A. Levitt was my father. He served as Communications Officer onboard the USS Houston. It is reported that he gave the order to abandon ship. His portrait, writings while in prison camp, and military commendations are on display in the USS Houston Exhibit at The University of Houston. He was liberated from POW camp and returned home. He retired as Cdr USN. He died on 8/1/73 in an auto accident outside of Philadelphia. There are many references to his service on the Houston and as senior POW officer in the published accounts. If you would like additional information on him, you may contact me directly. Kathie Levitt Tiedeman

bgdavisdds said...

Herbert A. Levitt was my father. He was a survivor of the sinking of the USS Houston and the POW experience. He died in an auto accident in Aug. 1973. That is most definitely his signature on the drawing.

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darrell said...
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Ian said...

Kathie. I have some correspondence between your father and Colonel Searle. Let me know if you would like copies.
Regards
Ian