S2c William Francis Roberts

Unknown Sailor

S2c William Francis Roberts

Young William Francis Roberts was much admired by the townspeople of Oxford, Alabama, population 1,393.

He was 24 when he was killed on Dec. 7, 1941 in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Mr. Roberts was a seaman second class on the U.S.S. Arizona.

His high school principal said he was “one of the finest youths I have ever taught.” The owner of the drug store where Mr. Roberts worked said he “never knew a finer boy nor a more reliable one in my employ.” And the circulation manager of the nearby Anniston newspaper, for which Mr. Roberts was a carrier, called him “one of the finest young men I have ever known.”

Mr. Roberts, born Aug. 10, 1917 in Oxford 60 miles east of Birmingham, graduated from the local high school in 1938. He was an athlete and a member of the debate and glee clubs. He worked as an auto mechanic before he enlisted in October 1940.

His father, George, was a farmer, and his mother, Pearl, a housewife.


Sources: The Anniston Star of Anniston, Alabama; Census; Navy muster roll.; Defense Department. ​​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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