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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Marsh

 

Ens. Benjamin Raymond Marsh, Jr., USNR, born 11 October 1916 in Lansing, Mich., enlisted in the Naval Reserve 17 August 1940 at Detroit. His enlistment terminated 13 February 1941, and he was appointed midshipman in the Reserve the following day, receiving his commission as ensign 15 May 1941. Initially assigned to Tangier, he was transferred 4 November 1941 to Arizona. Ensign Marsh was declared dead following the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941.

 

(DE‑699: dp. 1,400; l. 306': b. 36'10"; dr. 13'6": s. 23.6 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 4 1.1", 6 40mm., 10 20mm., 3 21" tt., 2 dct., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.); cl. Buckley.)

 

Marsh (DE‑699) was laid down 23 June 1943 by the Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, Mich.; launched 25 September 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Ben R. Marsh, mother of Ensign Marsh; and commissioned 12 January 1944, Lt. Comdr. P. M. Fenton in command.

 

Following a Bermuda shakedown cruise, Marsh conducted training exercises and escorted convoys along the northeast coast. On 25 March she steamed from New York, heading for Plymouth, England, on her first transatlantic convoy. She returned to the east coast 1 May and on the 23d sailed for the north African coast. The escort accompanied two more convoys between those coasts before being assigned to the Mediterranean theater. Entering the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar, 9 July Marsh conducted convoys between North Africa, Malta and southern Italy until mid‑August. On 14 August she sailed from Naples with the assault forces for operation “Anvil,” the invasion of southern France. She remained in the Mediterranean for the next month providing gunfire support and convoying supplies in the area.

 

With the successful establishment of another major crack in the crumbling front of the Third Reich, Marsh was reassigned to the Pacific. She departed Mers‑el‑Kebir, Algeria, 28 September, transited the Panama Canal in mid‑October and arrived at Eniwetok 20 December. For the next 5 months she escorted convoys to Guam, Saipan, Ulithi, and Iwo Jima.

 

In May 1945, Marsh joined in the active pacification of bypassed islands in the Marianas. Broadcasting propaganda messages in Japanese and Okinawan, she sailed among the various islands of that group; e.g., Asuncion, Anatahan, Almazan, Sarigan, Maug, and Agrihan, taking on prisoners as they surrendered. Where the broadcasts were not successful, she escorted landing parties and provided gunfire support for the completion of their missions. By mid‑July resistance on some islands remained stiff. Marsh, flagship of the Northern Marianas Expeditionary Force, continued to lead her small force against the holdouts in order to provide safe‑ditch areas for pilots returning to Allied bases from raids on the enemy’s home islands. With the securing of the islands, weather stations and aircraft beacons were set up to further aid the pilots.

 

On 11 August, Marsh, detached from the Expeditionary Force, sailed for Okinawa. Resuming escort duties, she steamed back to the Marianas and then on to Tokyo. Departing Tokyo 31 August, she sailed for Pearl Harbor, arriving 24 September. There she took an equipment which transformed her into a mobile power unit. With this new asset she returned to Guam 26 October to provide ship‑to‑shore power services until the end of the year.

 

The destroyer‑escort returned to the United States in early 1946 for shipyard overhaul at San Pedro. On 16 May she once again departed for the South Pacific. Arriving at Kwajalein on the 31st, she provided power to that island until September. She then sailed for Guam where she received orders for Tsingtao and Fusan, Korea, as the 7th Fleet lent support to the aims of American policy in China and in the United States occupation zone of Korea.

 

Marsh returned to her home port, Pearl Harbor, 31 March 1947 and for the next 3 years operated in the Hawaiian Islands and off the coast of California, deploying in 1948 for 2 months duty at Eniwetok.

 

Her next Pacific deployment came after the invasion of South Korea by the Communists in June 1950. Marsh arrived at Yokosuka 7 September and departed on the 14th for Pusan, where she supplied power to the city for 2 weeks. On 9 October she entered Inchon Harbor and remained as support for that area’s defense until the end of the month. She supplied power at Masan, a seaport on Chosen Strait, for a month starting 9 November, then turned to Pusan where she remained as a ship‑to‑shore power unit for the remainder of her tour.

 

On 8 February 1951, at Pusan, several of her crew were credited with heroic actions in fighting fires which had broken out in the Army gasoline dump adjacent to the pier where the ship lay.

 

Returning to the west coast 26 March, Marsh remained at San Francisco for 3 months before reporting to the Fleet Sonar School at San Diego. Until April 1952, she conducted training exercises for the school and with other units of the fleet off the southern coast of California.

 

On 15 May, Marsh once again joined the battleline off the Korean coast. She patrolled the west coast, operating primarily in the Sochon‑Do area, until the end of May. She then steamed for Okinawa for hunter‑killer exercises, returning to Korea 21 June. Taking up carrier screen duties, she operated with Bataan and HMS Ocean in the Yellow Sea. In July, she again headed south, this time to serve with the Formosa patrol, then on 22 August returned to the battleline. She patrolled off the west Korean coast initially, but was moved to the east coast in late September to blockade. She participated periodically in the shelling of troop and transportation centers in the Songin and Wonsan areas. On 22 October she sailed again to the Korean coast where she conducted patrols until steaming for Yokosuka and the United States 14 November.

 

For the next 5 years, Marsh operated out of San Diego, primarily with the Fleet Sonar School, for 6 months and served in the western Pacific for the remainder of each year. During these WestPac cruises she conducted oceanographic survey tests concerned with the temperature and content of the waters of the Marianas and the Marshalls in addition to her regular duties.

 

On 10 September 1957, Marsh entered the San Francisco Naval Shipyard for overhaul, then went in reserve. Before decommissioning she conducted two cruises, one to Mexico and one to Hawaii. On 16 August 1958, she decommissioned at San Diego, but remained in service as an antisubmarine training ship of the Selected Reserve Forces. Based at Long Beach, she conducted training cruises for selected reserve crews and when they were not embarked served as a training ship for other Naval Reserve units in the Long Beach‑Los Angeles area.

 

During the summer of 1961 Marsh and her reserve crew were ordered activated for a 1‑year period, She was recommissioned 15 December and on 6 January 1962 she sailed for her new home port, Pearl Harbor. On 10 February she departed Hawaii for deployment in the western Pacific. Operating out of Subic Bay, Marsh conducted training exercises for and patrolled with units of the South Vietnamese Navy, 18 March to 21 May. She returned to Long Beach 17 July and on 1 August she was again placed in service, in reserve. Reassigned as a Naval Reserve training ship at the same time, she has continued this duty into 1969.

 

Marsh received one battle star for World War II service and four for Korean service.