Fischer, Anton, LCDR

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Last Rank
Lieutenant Commander
Last Primary Rate
Last Rate Group
Primary Unit
1943-1943, OFF, USCGC Campbell (WHEC-32/NRDC)
Service Years
1943 - 1944
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander

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This Military Service Page was created/owned by DC John Keyes to remember Fischer, Anton, LCDR.

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Last Address
Not Specified

Date of Passing
Mar 26, 1962
Location of Interment
Not Specified
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Born in Germany and orphaned at any early age, he ran away at the age of 15 to escape being forced into priesthood. He came to America as a deck hand on a German vessel. He sacrificed two months’ pay to obtain his freedom and then went on to sail on American ships for three years. After moving back to New York City in 1910, Fischer sold his first illustration to “Harper’s Weekly”, then illustrated an “Everybody’s Magazine” story by Jack London, for whom he would illustrate many books and magazine stories until London’s death in 1916. Also in 1910, Fischer began illustrating for “The Saturday Evening Post”, a relationship that would last for forty-eight years.

During WWI he was thirty-six years old. He did not serve in the military but he did paint recruitment posters for the U.S. Coast Guard.

During WWII he was commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard as a Lieutenant Commander. He again painted inspiring patriotic recruitment posters, but along with these assignments he also shipped out on convoy duty in the North Atlantic aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Campbell (WPG-32). One night while celebrating his sixty-first birthday below deck with crew members, the lookout swept the sea with a searchlight and sighted a German U-Boat at close range. The alarm was sounded and the birthday cake was forgotten as the artist rushed to the ship's bridge to sketch the engagement. According to the ship's officer, "The submarine was rammed and blasted, time and again, by all the guns we could bring to bear. Without time to fire back, the submarine was raked by rapid fire, as well as by our heavier guns, for two brief minutes. Every one of the men on her decks were swept off by our fire while she sank. We hit the jackpot this time, but we were close to being a dead duck ourselves, if there had been another submarine present, we would have been finished."

Other Comments:

His work on seas scapes got Fischer an invitation to lunch with Vice Admiral Russell Waesche, Commandant of the Coast Guard for the purpose of recruiting at the height of World War II. The January 9, 1943, Post described a good encounter with the Vice Admiral. Although Waesche knew Fischer was born in Germany and anti-New Dealer, but by late that same afternoon, Fischer was sworn in as a Lieutenant Commander in the Coast Guard and named "artist laureate" for the United States Coast Guard. He was charged with putting on canvas some of the heroic deeds of the Merchant Mariners and Coast Guardsmen, then considered at the time the least publicized men of the armed forces. His drawings are archived in the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.

Best known for his Gloucester, Massachusetts fishing scenes, war convoys, and marine battle scenes, among his illustrated books were "Moby Dick", "Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea", and "Treasure Island." He was known for his technical accuracy, as well as the portrayal of men's emotions in a variety of subjects. During his forty-five years with The Saturday Evening Post he painted a dozen covers, as well as over four hundred story illustrations, the last of which appeared in 1956.

U-boat attack, February, 1943
On 21 February 1943, Campbell was escorting the 48-ship Convoy ON-166 when the convoy was surrounded by a U-Boat "wolf pack". U-92 and U-753 torpedoed and sank the NT Nielsen Alonso. Dispatched to assist, Campbell rescued fifty survivors and then turned to attack U-753, damaging it so badly that it had to withdraw. Throughout the 21st and 22nd, Campbell attacked several U-Boats inflicting damage and driving off the subs. Later on the 22nd, U-606, having sustained heavy damage, surfaced in the midst of the convoy attempting a surface attack. Campbell struck the sub a glancing blow that gashed Campbell's hull in the engine room below the waterline, but continued to attack, dropping two depth charges which exploded and lifted the sub out of the water. The crew brought all guns to bear on the subs, fighting on until water in the engine room shorted out all electricity. As the ship lost power and the searchlights illuminating the sub went out, the U-Boat commander ordered the sub abandoned. Campbell ceased fire and lowered boats to rescue the sub's survivors. Campbell, disabled in the attack, was towed to port nine days later, repaired and returned to escort duty.

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USCGC Campbell (WHEC-32/NRDC)
  1943-1943, OFF, USCGC Campbell (WHEC-32/NRDC)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1939-1945 World War II
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