Northern Territory Government

Roll of Honour

VIBERT, Ovila Napoleon

USS William B Preston

The USS William B. Preston


Ovila Napoleon Vibert, Seaman 1st Class, was born on 29 November 1917 in Massachusetts, the second son of four sons and a daughter born to Phillippe and Marie Vibert of 38 Salem Street, Salem, Massachusetts. His parents and grandparents were all born in Canada.

He enlisted on 3 December 1935 in Boston, Massachusetts and served on the destroyer Moffett and the destroyer tender Melville. Vibert transferred to the Preston on 14 June 1940.

USS William B. Preston was anchored in Darwin Harbour, tending PBY Catalinas, when the Japanese attack began on 19 February 1942. She quickly got underway, zigzagging through the crowded Harbour. Four bombs exploded off William B. Preston’s bow, breaking bridge windows. She was then hit near the deckhouse, losing control of her steering and jamming the rudder. The aft living compartment was seriously damaged; the deck house was strafed and her machine guns were out of action. Fourteen men were killed, including two missing and three were wounded.

Vibert was twenty-three and unmarried when he died in Darwin. He was buried at sea. 

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