James Brona Elliott, Jr., was born on December 23, 1912, in Delaware City, Delaware, son of James B. Elliott, a life-long Merchant Marine Veteran, and Mrs. Madeline (Beatty) Elliott. He attended West Philadelphia High School, and in 1932 joined the US Merchant Marine as an apprentice boy, subsequently the freighter City of Dallas, prior to his appointment as Ensign in the US Naval Reserve on February 27, 1941. He advanced progressively to the rank of Lieutenant Commander to date from October 3, 1945, and on July 9 of the next year, he was transferred to the US Navy. His date of rank as Commander, USN, is July 1, 1951.
Called to active duty in the Navy in May 1941, he had instruction at the Merchant Marine Training center, New York, New York. The next month he reported for duty in connection with the conversion of the luxury lineer America into the troop transport USS West Point. The vessel was commissioned on June 15, 1944, and he joined her to participate in her famous eight months round the world cruise, evacuating diplomats and refuges from Singapore. Following the United States entry into World War II, December 8, 1941, she was engaged in evacuating beleaguered Allied troops.
Detached from the West Point in May 1942, he was ordered to the Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut, where USS Black Fish (SS 221) was building. The submarine was commissioned on July 22, 1942 and he was assigned to her as First Lieutenant and later had duty as Engineering and Diving Officer. He participated in five War Patrols in the Blackfish, in European waters, including patrols off the entrance to Dakar, and in the landings on Casablanca. On her third War patrol she sank a German destroyer.
After a year in European waters, the Blackfish was transferred to the pacific, where she made one patrol in which she sank three and damaged two Japanese transports and also participated in the fleet’s heavy carrier strike at Rabaul.
From December 1943 to April 1944, he had duty in connection with relief crews of Submarine Division EIGHTY, Task Group SEVENTY-ONE, after which he commanded USS S-38, operating with Submarines, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in the Southwest Pacific. Under his command, the S-38 participated in varied Pacific operations until she was nearly sunk in a rain of aerial bombs near Espirtu Santo. After emergency repairs, she sailed to Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, where she received additional repairs before crossing the Pacific to the West Coast. Upon her arrival she was decommissioned due to her severe damage.
In January 1945 he transferred to USS Cambrilla as Executive Officer ad later assumed command. He returned her to the United States from decommissioning, after the end of hostiles. He then attended a course at the General Line School, Newport, Rhode Island, after which he was ordered to Balboa, Canal Zone, for duty as Engineer Officer on the staff of Commander Submarine Squadron SIX. In August 1949 he was assigned to the Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Design Superintendent. In May 1951 he was ordered to command USS Sea Dog, remaining in that submarine until September 1953.
Ordered next to the staff of Commander Military Sea Transportation Service, Washington, D.C., he served there until ordered on June 25, 1956 to duty in command of the USS Staten Island (AGB 5), assigned to Task Force 43, the Navy’s Antarctic Expedition, Operation Deepfreeze.
Commander Elliot has the American Defense Service Medal with Bronze “A”; the American Campaign Medal; the European-African-Middle eastern Campaign Medal, with two engagement stars; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four stars; the World War II Victory Medal; the National Defense Service Medal; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. He also has the Submarine Combat Insignia, with four stars.