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Wintle (DE-25)

1943-1945 

Jack William Wintle, born on 18 April 1908 at Pittsburg, Kansas, was appointed a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy on 14 June 1928, where a classmate wrote that “Jack” (or “Wintly”) exhibited a “sunny disposition and generous ways,” and “all of the qualifications of a good Naval Officer.” Graduating with the Class of 1932 on 2 June, he reported for duty in California (BB-44) on the 30th and served a three-year tour of duty in that battleship before being transferred to the submarine tender Bushnell (AS-2), an assignment that lasted for 17 months. Following that service, he traveled to the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash., reporting on 6 August 1936 to help fit out the destroyer Perkins (DD-377), remaining in that ship after she went into commission on 18 September 1936.

In the summer of 1939, Lt. (j.g.) Wintle received postgraduate instruction at the Naval Academy before reporting for duty to prepare Du Pont (DD-152) for recommissioning and service with the Neutrality Patrol that had been instituted following the outbreak of hostilities in Europe. His tour of duty in that destroyer, one of the first in the Atlantic squadrons to be equipped with sonar, ended in August 1940, when he was sent to New Orleans, La., where he instructed Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps midshipmen.

Late in April 1942, Wintle reported to the Bureau of Navigation in Washington, D.C., where he learned of his assignment to be aide and flag lieutenant to the Commander South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force. On 15 June 1942, he received promotion to lieutenant commander, and four days later reported for duty in his new assignment in the South Pacific.

Lt. Cmdr. Wintle served under Rear Adm. Daniel J. Callaghan, the Chief of Staff to the Commander, South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force, through the early months of the struggle for Guadalcanal. Late in October 1942, when Rear Adm. Callaghan went to sea in command of a cruiser-destroyer force, Wintle accompanied him in the heavy cruiser San Francisco (CA-38), the admiral’s flagship. In the brutal nocturnal action of 12-13 November 1942, San Francisco took heavy damage from Japanese gunfire, her bridges receiving hits that killed the admiral and all but one of his staff. For the sacrifice of his life while serving on Rear Adm. Callaghan’s staff, Wintle received the Navy Cross, posthumously.

(DE-25: displacement 1,140; length 289'5"; beam 35'2"; draft 11'0"; speed 21.5 knots (trial); complement 156; armament 3 3-inch, 4 1.1-inch, 9 20-millimeter, 8 depth charge projectors, 2 depth charge tracks; class Evarts)

BDE-25 – an escort vessel allocated to the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease – was laid down on 1 October 1942 at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif.; launched on 18 February 1943; sponsored by Lillian Hunt Street; reallocated to the U.S. Navy on 4 June 1943; named Wintle on 14 June 1943 when DE-266 was allocated to the Royal Navy as her replacement; and commissioned on 10 July 1943, Lt. Cmdr. Leonard W. Bailey, USNR, in command.

Wintle completed shakedown training in late July and early August 1943, then returned to her building yard for post-shakedown repairs and alterations. On 21 September, she put to sea with a convoy bound for the Territory of Hawaii and arrived at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, on 8 October. She departed Oahu almost immediately to return home in the screen of another convoy on 17 October.

On 25 October 1943, the escort vessel stood out of San Francisco Bay in the screen built around the escort aircraft carrier Breton (CVE-23) for a convoy bound, via Pearl Harbor, to Viti Levu in the Fiji Islands. She delivered her charges at Nandi Harbor on 14 November and, after a three-day stopover, departed Viti Levu on 17 November to escort the oiler Neshanic (AO-71) to Funafuti in the Ellice Islands. She stopped there for two days before returning to sea on the 21st to escort Tallulah (AO-50) to a fueling rendezvous. When she returned to Funafuti the following day, Operation Galvanic, the Gilbert Islands invasion, was well underway. All the escort’s recent movements and those she made over the following fortnight were undertaken to support the warships participating in that campaign. On 8 December, Wintle completed her labors in behalf of Galvanic and set a course for Funafuti where she stopped between 9 and 12 December before continuing on toward Oahu in the screen for a convoy.

The warship arrived in Pearl Harbor four days before Christmas [21 December 1943]. After several days in port, she began battle practice training in the Hawaiian operating area. On 3 January 1944, Wintle and Dempsey (DE-26) came alongside one another to practice fueling at sea. After transferring about 1,000 gallons of fuel to Wintle, Dempsey prepared to leave. Suddenly, she rammed Wintle on her starboard side. Her anchor ripped open Wintle’s starboard side from the lower platform deck to the main deck at frame 40. Dempsey’s anchor also cut Wintle’s degaussing coil and severed her return steam line. In her haste to change course, Dempsey swerved sharply, colliding with Wintle again, this time stern to stern, crushing Wintle’s propeller guard against her hull. The damaged escort vessel's repair party quickly stuffed mattresses into the breach in her hull and shored them up as best they could to prevent serious flooding. Wintle was able to make 10 knots without shipping too much water and reached Pearl Harbor the following morning to begin repairs. She completed repairs rapidly and returned to sea to resume exercises on 11 January.

Ten days later, Wintle received orders assigning her to the Fifth Amphibious Force for Operation Flintlock, the invasion of the Marshall Islands. She departed Pearl Harbor that same day escorting four tank landing ships (LST) to Majuro. Wintle and her charges reached that atoll on 1 February to find that the U.S. force had taken it without opposition the previous day. The escort vessel led the patrol of the entrance of the lagoon on the 2nd, then met Caliente (AO-53) at sea and escorted her into the lagoon on the 3rd. She then resumed antisubmarine patrol off Majuro and continued the task for the next six days. On the 9th and 10th, she escorted the ammunition ship Sangay (AE-10) to Kwajalein, then headed back to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on the 23rd. Wintle remained in the Hawaiian Islands until 2 March, when she got underway with Stadtfeld (DE-29) to escort a three-ship convoy to the Gilberts. They saw their charges safely to their destination on 11 March and got underway the following day for the Solomons. Proceeding via Funafuti, the two escort vessels arrived off Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, on 18 March and reported for duty with the Third Fleet. For the next six months, Wintle crisscrossed the Southwest Pacific escorting tankers, transports, and cargo vessels to and from various U.S. bases, most frequently between the Solomons and the Admiralty Islands. When not engaged in escort missions, she honed her antisubmarine kills during exercises with U.S. boats.

On 19 September 1944, she arrived at Manus Island concluding her last Solomons-Admiralties run. On the 22nd, she headed out of Seeadler Harbor for a new theater, the Palau Islands in the Central Pacific. The warship arrived in the anchorage at Kossol Passage three days later. Her stay proved brief because she set course back to Manus that same day. She reached Seeadler Harbor on 5 October and, after a brief availability alongside the destroyer tender Piedmont (AD-17), headed back to the Palaus where she arrived on 15 October. During the following month, Wintle performed patrol and escort duties in the Palaus. On 10 November, she relieved destroyer Buchanan (DD-484) off Denges Passage and fired starshells over the passage and nearby Ngeregong Island in support of troops embarked in landing craft patrolling against the possibility of enemy reinforcements reaching Peleliu from Ngeregong. That duty lasted until 12 November when she left station to assist the submarine chaser PC-1260, which had been damaged in a collision with the cargo ship Kenmore (AK-221).

The escort-vessel exited Kossol Passage on 18 November 1944 and steamed via Ulithi to the Marianas. She entered Apra Harbor, Guam, on the 28th and became a unit of the Saipan Patrol and Escort Force. For about 12 weeks, the warship patrolled the Marianas, primarily between Guam and Saipan. On Christmas night, she helped to repulse a Japanese air raid on Army Air Force installations ashore on Saipan. Two days later, she rescued three survivors from a Boeing B-29 Superfortress that crashed near Nafutan Point. After the excitement of late December, January 1945 proved uneventful save for two round-trip voyages to Eniwetok and back.

On 5 February 1945, she received orders transferring her to the Marshalls-Gilberts Escort Force. She arrived at Eniwetok on 10 February and began duty shepherding convoys from bases in the Marshalls and Gilberts to forward areas. She made frequent voyages between Guam, Kwajalein, and Eniwetok, and cruised with a hunter/killer group in search of Japanese submarines reportedly operating in the Marshalls. On the night of 2 April, Wintle exchanged gunfire with Japanese shore batteries on bypassed Wotje Atoll after they opened fire on her while she hunted for a midget submarine. During U.S. air strikes on enemy-held Mili, Jaluit, and Wotje in late April and early May, Wintle provided air-sea rescue services; but, fortunately, no aviator needed her assistance. On the night of 5 and 6 May, she and the motor minesweeper YMS-354 covered the evacuation of 500 natives from Japanese-held Jaluit Atoll, the people being embarked in the large infantry landing craft LCI(L)-394, LCI(L)-479, and LCI(L)-481. On 13 May, Wintle departed Eniwetok to screen two merchant ships on a voyage to the Palaus.

Wintle arrived in Kossol Passage on the 18th and, two days later, headed for Ulithi. There, she joined Hazelwood (DD-531) and Rathburne (APD-25), two ships damaged at Okinawa, and escorted them on the Ulithi-to-Eniwetok leg of their voyage home. The ships departed Ulithi on 25 May and made Eniwetok on the 29th. There, the destroyer escort resumed patrol and escort duties with the Marshalls-Gilberts Escort Force which she continued to perform until mid-June.

On 17 June 1945, Wintle and Levy (DE-162) stood out of Eniwetok to take up antisubmarine station on the shipping lanes between Eniwetok and the Marianas. The next day, she responded to a report that Endymion (ARL-9) had been torpedoed but, upon reaching the landing craft repair ship, found no submarine to attack. After an unsuccessful search, she headed back to Eniwetok. The warship continued intermittent patrols until 1 July when she put to sea from Eniwetok lagoon to rendezvous with a hunter/killer group built around Kasaan Bay (CVE-69). She searched for Japanese submarines along the Eniwetok-Marianas shipping lanes until relieved by Snyder (DE-745 ) on 8 July. Wintle returned to Eniwetok where she took on fuel and supplies in preparation for the long voyage back to the U.S. The escort vessel exited the lagoon on 12 July, visited Pearl Harbor en route (18-19 July), and stood into San Francisco Bay on the 26th.

Wintle unloaded ammunition at the Mare Island Navy Yard and entered Hunters Point for repairs that same day. She was resting on keel blocks in dry dock on 15 August when news of the Japanese capitulation arrived; and, on the 18th, most work on the vessel ceased. Finally, on 15 November 1945, Wintle was placed out of commission and berthed at Mare Island Naval Shipyard..

On 28 November 1945, her name was stricken from the Navy Register. The ship was sold for scrap to the Union Minerals & Alloys Corp. on 25 August 1947.

Wintle (DE-25) received three battle stars for her World War II service in the Pacific.

Published: Fri Mar 20 14:57:23 EDT 2020