William Clayborn Allen

EM1c William Clayborn Allen

On the day after learning that her son was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Mallie McCarty and her husband, Sam, withdrew all of their savings to invest in war bonds. They did the same with the proceeds of a life insurance policy.

“If it will help shorten the war so other mothers wouldn’t have to go through what I’ve been through, that’s all I want,” Mrs. McCarty told a reporter for the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette.

Her son, William Clayborn Allen, was an electrician’s mate and petty officer first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he died on Dec. 7, 1941. A few weeks earlier he had taken exams to qualify as a chief electrician – an electrician’s mate and chief petty officer.

The investment in war bonds, which paid below market returns, was no small sacrifice for the hard-working family. Mrs. McCarty helped another son deliver newspapers every night in Onslow, Iowa, population 230 about 40 miles southwest of Dubuque. When that was done the two of them pulled a wagon to deliver milk around town. She also served as janitor at Onslow Presbyterian Church. Her husband worked at a lumber company, served as village marshal, and maintained the town water supply and electrical box, the Gazette reported. In her spare time, Mrs. McCarty crocheted baskets to sell.

William was her oldest son. He was born Oct. 30, 1910, in Kansas City, Missouri. His father was William C. Allen and his mother was Mallie Coffman Allen, later McCarty. The son spent his boyhood in Onslow before moving to Kansas City to live with a sister. He graduated from Westport High in 1930, where he was a member of the ROTC and orchestra. He’d first studied electrical work when he was 10 and signed up for a correspondence course from Chicago. Mr. Allen enlisted in the Navy in 1935.

Mr. Allen married Margaret McCandless at St. Anthony’s Church rectory in Long Beach, California in December 1938.


Sources: The Cedar Rapids Gazette;  the Oxford Mirror of Oxford Junction, Iowa; the Arizona State Archives; California marriage license; Census; Navy muster roll; U.S. Department of Defense. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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