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Menges (DE-320)

(DE‑320: dp. 1,200; l. 306'; b. 36'7"; s. 21 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 2 40mm., 8 20mm., 2 dct., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (h.h.), 3 21" tt.; cl. Edsall)

Herbert Hugo Menges, born in Louisville, Ky., 20 January 1917, enlisted in the Naval Reserve as seaman second class at Robertson, Mo., 3 July 1939. Appointed naval aviator 24 July 1940, he was assigned to Squadron 6 on Enterprise (CV‑6) 28 November, 1940. Ensign Menges was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941.

Menges (DE‑320) was laid down by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex., 22 March 1943; launched 15 June 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Charles Menges, mother of the late Ensign Menges; and commissioned 26 October 1943, Lt. Comdr. Frank M. McCabe, USCG, in command.

After shakedown off Bermuda, Menges spent January 1944 on schoolship duty in the lower Chesapeake Bay. On 26 January she got underway from Norfolk for New York City. She departed the 31st for Europe on the first trip of 3 months of convoy escort operations.

On the night of 20 April her convoy, UGS‑38, while off the coast of Algiers en route to the east coast, was attacked by 30 German torpedo bombers. After splashing one of the planes, Menges rescued 137 survivors of Lansdale (DD‑426), sunk by an aircraft torpedo, and two German flyers.

On 3 May Menges was 15- miles astern of the convoy chasing down a radar contact when she was hit at 0118 by an acoustic torpedo from U‑371. The U‑boat was sunk the next day by Joseph E. Campbell (DE‑70) and Pride (DE‑323). The explosion was so violent that the aft third of the ship was destroyed with 31 men killed and 25 wounded. However, Commander McCabe properly refused to give the order to "abandon ship" as long as there was chance of saving her. In addition, several of the crewmembers heroically jumped astride torpedoes loosened in the blast to disarm them. Menges, thanks to such creditable action, remained afloat.

Four hours later Menges was taken in tow by HMS Aspirant and reached Bougie, Algeria, that same day to debark her dead and wounded. The escort ship, with temporary repairs made, got underway from Oran, Algeria, 23 June under tow of Carib (AT‑82) for New York, arriving 22 July.

From 14 to 31 August the stern of Holder (DE‑401), whose forward two‑thirds had been shot away by submarine torpedoing in the Mediterranean 11 April, was welded to the remaining two‑thirds of Menges. The "new ship" came out of drydock at the New York Navy Yard for shakedown from 26 September to 20 October in Casco Day, Maine.

On 15 November Menges steamed in convoy CU‑47 from New York for Europe, arriving Plymouth, England, the 26th. She spent the next months again on Atlantic convoy duty before joining Pride, Mosley (DE‑321), and Lowe (DE‑325) late in February 1945 to form the only hunterkiller group in the North Atlantic to be manned completely by Coast Guard personnel. On 18 March Menges assisted Lowe in sinking U‑866, their first target. She continued antisubmarine sweep and patrol operations until Germany surrendered 7 May.

On 30 May she escorted her last convoy to Europe, CU‑73, arriving Cheshire, England, 8 June. Menges arrived back at New York the 21st for duty as training ship for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, with two cadet cruises to the West Indies before arriving New London, Conn., 7 September.

Three days later she departed for the Cape Cod area, arriving Boston, Mass., the 17th. By Navy day, 27 October, Menges was moored at Fall River, below Boston.

The escort ship moved on to Green Cove Springs, Fla., for assignment in March 1946 to the 16th (Inactive Reserve) Fleet. Menges decommissioned in January 1947 and entered the berthing area in the St. Johns River to spend the next 15 years there in reserve. By 1 January 1962 she was berthed at Orange, Tex., in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, where she remained into 1969.

Menges received two battle stars for World War II.

Published: Mon Apr 18 19:42:55 EDT 2016