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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Lawford

 

A British name. Capt. John Lawford commanded HMS Polyphemus during the Battle of Copenhagen 2 April 1801.

 

__________

 

DE-516 was laid down by Boston Navy Yard 9 July 1943; launched 13 August 1943; transferred to the United Kingdom under lend lease 3 November 1943; and commissioned as Lawford the same day. As one of 78 “Captain” class destroyer escorts, she served the Royal Navy in the Atlantic prior to the invasion of Europe. She supported the Normandy invasion 6 June 1944, and was bombed and sunk off Juno Beach while supporting landings 8 June 1944.

 

James Lawrence, born in Burlington, N.J., 1 October 1781 and entered the Navy as Midshipman, 4 September 1798. After service in frigates Ganges and Adams, he became first lieutenant of schooner Enterprise. On 2 June 1803 he put off from Enterprise as second in command of David Porter’s expedition in seven small boats and rowed for the shore of Tripoli where more than a thousand enemy had drawn up behind a barricade of 12 craft and shore structures. Musket fire from five of the American boats kept the enemy at bay while the other two went among the enemy craft and set them ablaze. They returned to their warships some 2 hours later without the loss of a life during the daring attack on the enemy’s shore. Lawrence was second in command under Stephen Decatur in the expedition to burn captured frigate Philadelphia in ketch Intrepid, 16 February 1804.

 

During the years that followed he commanded Gunboat Number 6, Vixen, Wasp, and Argus. He sailed for Europe as commander of Hornet in the fall of 1811 and returned the following May with the last dispatches from England before the declaration of war, 19 June 1812. Three days later he took Hornet to sea with the squadron of Commodore John Rodgers which took seven prizes including a privateer captured by Hornet offthe banks of Newfoundland on 9 July 1812. He next set sail on 27 October in company with Commodore Bainbridge in frigate Constitution for the coast of South America. He blockaded British sloop-of-war Bonne Citoyenne at Salvador (now Bahia), offering every challenge to get her out of the harbor for a fight until 24 January 1813 when 74-gun British ship Montagu made an appearance. Escaping the latter antagonist in the dark of night, he cruised northward off Pernambuco where he captured the brig Resolution. Off the mouth of the Demerara River 10 days later, he fought British brig Peacock forcing her to strike her colors, but she rapidly sank. Lawrence returned home 19 March, was promoted to captain as of 3 March 1813, and took command of Chesapeake at Boston harbor on 20 May.

 

On 1 June 1813 he sailed out to meet the challenge of the 38-gun British frigate Shannon. After a furious exchange of broadsides at pistol shot range for some 12 minutes, his sails were destroyed as he passed broadside and Chesapeake fouled her mizzen rigging with the Shannon’s fore chains. Unable to answer her helm, she was helpless before a raking fire. Lawrence was mortally wounded but spent his ebbing strength urging his men to “Fight her till she sinks!” and “Don’t give up the ship!”

 

IV

 

(DD-250: dp. 1,190; l. 314'5"; b. 31'8"; dr. 9'3"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 101; a. 4 4"; 1 3", 2 dct, 12 21" tt.; cl. Clemson)

 

The fourth Lawrence was laid dowm 14 August 1919, by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; launched 10 July 1920; sponsored by Miss Ruth Lawrence; and commissioned 18 April 1921, Lt. Comdr. J. H. Wellbrook in command.

 

After shakedown Lawrence was assigned to the Destroyer Force Atlantic Fleet. Departing Newport 13 June 1922, the destroyer sailed for the Mediterranean and joined Naval Forces at Constantinople 4 July. For the next year she cruised in the eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea during the Crimean crisis. During this time of turmoil throughout the Near East and south Russia, she rendered aid to American commercial personnel, Red Cross workers, and U.S. Food Administration officials who were assisting the stricken inhabitants. Lawrence together with other American destroyers also evacuated thousands of Greek refugees from areas of Asia Minor which had been occupied by Turkish Forces. The destroyer returned to New York 30 October 1923, and resumed operations with the scouting fleet.

 

She departed New York 3 January 1924 to join in Army-Navy exercises which tested the defenses and facilities of the Panama Canal. In August of that year Lawrence was stationed off Labrador during the Army around the world flight, returning to Boston 6 September to resume operations with the Scouting Fleet. For the next 3 years she performed reserve training cruises, maneuvers along the east coast and engaged in simulated attack exercises on the Hawaiian Islands.

 

Lawrence detached from the Scouting Fleet 11 February 1927, and sailed off the coast of Nicaragua to protect American lives and property during the Civil War raging in that country. The destroyer departed the Nicaraguan coast, 5 weeks later, and she resumed her cruising cycle with the Scouting Fleet, continuing these operations until she decommissioned at Philadelphia 6 January 1931.

 

Lawrence recommissioned 13 June 1932, Lt. Comdr. T. E. Downey in command, and departed Philadelphia 15 August to join the Pacific Fleet. From her arrival San Diego 8 September until 1938, she operated continuously with Pacific destroyer squadrons, engaging in fleet tactical and strategical exercises along the coast and fleet problems off the Canal Zone and Hawaii. She decommissioned at San Diego 13 September 1938.

 

Once again Lawrence recommissioned 26 September 1939, Comdr. H. D. Clarke in command, and sailed 2 months later for maneuvers and patrol in the Caribbean. Following training operations, she arrived at Boston 1 March 1940, and later that month was assigned to the Past coast sound school at New London. The destroyer conducted tactical exercises along the east coast until 3 December when she steamed for the Pacific

 

Arriving at San Francisco on the 27th, she was later Assigned to the Sound School at San Diego, continuing these operations until America’s declaration of war on Japan. During the early months of the war the destroyer performed convoy escort operations between San Francisco, and Seattle. Lawrence departed San Francisco 13 August 1942 to escort a troop convoy en route to Kodiak, Alaska, arriving there 7 days later. For the next month the destroyer covered convoy approaches between Kodiak. Dutch Harbor, and Adak before returning to San Francisco 27 September.

 

Based at Treasure Island for the rest of the war, Lawrence served on patrol and escort operations to the approaches of San Francisco Bay. On 31 May 1944, the destroyer rescued 192 men of SS Henry Bergh which had grounded on Farallon Island, then resumed patrol and escort operations. After the war, Lawrence departed San Francisco 28 August 1945, arriving Philadelphia 20 September. She decommissioned at Philadelphia 24 October and was sold to Boston Metal Co., Baltimore, Md., on 1 October 1946.