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USS Menges (DE-320)


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 aircraft carrier ENTERPRISE (CV-6) 28 November 1940. Ensign Menges was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941.


Edsall Class Destroyer Escort

Builder: Consolidated Steel Company Shipyard at Orange, Texas,

Commissioned: 26 October 1943

Decommissioned: 12 April 1946 (Coast Guard crew removed)

Disposition: Sold for scrap on 10 April 1972

Displacement: 1,253 tons standard; 1,102 tons full load

Length: 306’ oa

Beam: 36’7” 

Draft: 10' 5' full load

Machinery: 4 x Fairbanks Morse Model 38d81/8 Geared Diesel Engines (2 per shaft), 6,000 bhp (shp) horsepower output,  2 shafts

Range:  10,800 nm at 12 knots

Top Speed: 21 knots

Complement: 186 

Armament: 3 x 3”/50; 2 x 40mm; 8 x 20mm; 3 x 21" torpedo tubes; 2 depth charge tracks; 8 depth charge projectors; 1 hedge hog.


The USS Menges (DE-320) was named for Herbert Hugo Menges, born in Louisville, Kentucky on 20 January 1917.  He enlisted in the Naval Reserve as seaman second class at Robertson, Missouri on 3 July 1939.  He was appointed as a naval aviator on 24 July 1940 and after flight school and commissioning was assigned to Scouting Squadron 6 on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) on 28 November 1940.  ENS Menges was killed during the 7 December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 


History:

The Coast Guard-manned USS Menges (DE-320) was built at the Consolidated Steel Company Shipyard at Orange, Texas, and launched on 15 June 1943.  She was commissioned on 26 October 1943.  Her only commanding officer was LCDR Frank U. McCabe, USCG.  She proceeded to Galveston where she remained until November 7th, for sea trials and then to New Orleans.  On November 14th she proceeded to Bermuda where she underwent shakedown until 16 December 1943, and then to Charleston for post-shakedown availability until 3 January 1944.  January 6th to the 28th was spent training nucleus Destroyer Escort crews in the Chesapeake Bay and in training the ship's crew at sea, being based at Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia.

In addition to the Menges, Escort Division 46 included the Coast Guard-manned USS Mosley (DE-321), USS Newell (DE-322), USS Pride (DE-323), USS Falgout (DE-324), and USS Lowe (DE-325).  On 28 January 1944, these these vessels except the Lowe and Falgout, had completed shakedown and training of shakedown crews in Norfolk, Virginia, and started first operations as a division.  On that date, with the Commander of Escort Division 46 on the Menges, she departed Norfolk with the Mosley, Pride and Newell, for New York, to escort the New York section of UGS-32 to Hampton Roads, Virginia.  They returned on February 2nd with the 23-ship convoy section they were escorting and on that date began operating under Commander, Task Force 65, which consisted of Escort Divisions 6 and 46 and the destroyer USS Eberle (DD-430).  From 3 to 19 February this task force escorted convoy UGS-32 to the Straits of Gibraltar and then moored at Casablanca from 20 to 25 February.  They began escorting convoy GUS-31 from the Straits of Gibraltar to the United States on 26 February, arriving at New York on 18 March without incident.  From the 19th to the 28th of March the division had an availability period at the New York Navy Yard, and then conducted exercises in the practice area off Montauk Point until the 31st.

The Menges, along with the Newell, Pride, and Lowe, arrived at Norfolk from the practice area on 1 April 1944, and on the 3rd, together with the Mosley and Falgout, began escorting convoy UGS-38 from Hampton Roads to Bizerte, North Africa.  The Task Force (66) consisted of Escort Division 46, two vessels of Escort Division 9, four vessels of Escort Division 21 and the Coast Guard Cutter Taney (WPG-37).  The escort mission was carried out without special event until the early morning of April 20th, when a HF/DF bearing on an enemy transmission was obtained, indicating a submarine within 30 miles of the convoy's rear.  About 2100 on April 20th the convoy was heavily attacked with torpedoes from some 20 or 30 German aircraft, just north of Algiers in the Mediterranean.  During the engagement, five ships were torpedoed, three of them being sunk.  One of these, the USS Lansdale (DD-426) was sunk in about four minutes.  The Menges picked up 113 survivors of the Lansdale, using bowlines from the ship's hull and the ship's motor whaleboat for men that couldn't reach the ship.  The Newell picked up the reminder of the Lansdale's survivors, which numbered 119.  The merchant ship SS Paul Hamilton, an ammunition freighter, was struck first and exploded, killing the entire personnel of 600 men, including 498 who were part of an specially trained demolition squad on its way to the Anzio beachhead.  The Menges shot down one of the attacking Nazi planes and rescued two of the bomber's crew.   The SS Samite,  torpedoed in the bow, was towed to Algiers.  The SS Stephen F. Austin, also torpedoed in the bow, managed to reach Algiers.  The SS Royal Star, torpedoed aft, was abandoned by her crew, who took to life rafts arid were taken aboard the Chase.  A tug began to tow her to Algiers but had to beach her as she was sinking slowly. The Menges and the Newell discontinued their search for survivors at 0330 on the 21st and proceeded to Algiers to disembark the survivors.  They rejoined the convoy at 1930, and arrived with it at Bizerte on the 23rd, remaining there for the rest of April.

The Menges with the rest of Escort Division 46, six other DEs, the USS Steady (AM-118), a British anti-aircraft cruiser, and the Taney, departed Bizerte on 1 May 1944, escorting convoy GUS-38, relieving British escorts.  The convoy consisted of about 70 merchant vessels and proceeded in a broad front formation, with the Menges maintaining a position about two miles behind the convoy.  There was a smooth sea, light westerly airs and good visibility from the bright moonlight for most of the night.  While enemy air attacks were more or less routine in this area, the heavy air attack on the east-bound convoy in April was still fresh in the memory of escort personnel.  There was however, only a general possibility of a submarine attack in the Mediterranean.  At 2234 on 2 May the Pride investigated a flashing white light off the port quarter of the convoy and reported it by TBS to the Task Force Commander as "some kind of a carbide light which is submerged and emits a bright light intermittently."  The Menges had intercepted this message and had also sighted a flashing white light.  At 0037 on May 3rd, a small radar surface target appeared on the scope about six miles from the Menges, who reversed course to investigate.  A few minutes later a plane appeared on the radar scale at a range of about 7,000 yards and passed directly over the Menges at about 200 feet in the direction of the convoy.  Visual identification by the Menges' gun crews indicated that it was a Junkers JU-88 medium bomber.

When neither the surface target nor the Menges was molested by the plane, a large air operation against the convoy was expected, with the strange lights evaluated as decoys to lure escorts from the convoy and the surface target some type of radio beacon to guide enemy planes.  At 0112 the surface target disappeared from the radar screen.  Up to this time it had not been positively identified as a submarine.  To prevent its escape the Menges started an erratic approach towards the point of submergence.  Five minutes later the Menges had a sound contact on the port beam at 1,500 yards and at 0118 a torpedo hit her stern.  The explosion was followed two minutes later by several heavy explosions shaking the ship.  The torpedo was not heard by the sound man and was probably a new, circling, turbine-propelled type of acoustic torpedo.  The force of the explosion demolished the stern of the ship aft of number 3 gun.  Many casualties were caused by the depth charge racks, depth charges and other objects being blown from the stern high in the air forward, one man being killed by a washing machine which had been secured below decks aft.  One depth charge rack, with 12 charges, landed on a 40mm gun, bending the barrels almost double and ripping the gun from its foundations.  Depth charges crushed the officer and men on the torpedo tubes but did not explode.  Torpedoes were jarred partially out of their tubes and at least one had a hot run.  Total casualties were two officers and 29 men killed or missing, and 13 men requiring hospitalization.

The first vessel to arrive on the scene was the Pride.  At 0247 the Pride located the underwater enemy, later determined to be the U-371, by sound gear at 1,800 yards down moon from the Menges and evidently at periscope length.  She made a good hedgehog approach which was, however, ruined by the failure of the hedgehog electrical circuit.  The Pride had approached the Menges in the "up moon" position, correctly assuming that this would be the most probable location of the submarine, which, at periscope depth and in a "down moon" position, could sight "up moon" an escort proceeding directly from the convoy.  This probably saved the Pride from being torpedoed, as the U-boat could not turn fast enough, at periscope depth, to aim at the Pride approaching her beam. The USS J. J. Campbell (DE-70), with Commander, Escort Division 21 on board, arrived shortly after this and these two were joined by a French and British destroyer, a French destroyer escort and a U. S. mine sweeper in attacking the submarine.  After 26 hours of coordinated depth charge attacks and "hold-down" tactics by these vessels, the submarine was finally scuttled by its crew, but not until it had torpedoed the French destroyer escort FNS Senagalese.  To scuttle the sub, the crew put it in motion, heading for water deep enough to prevent salvage and all hands apparently abandoned it successfully.  46 were taken prisoner and probably four escaped by swimming ashore.

The following personnel of the Menges were presented with awards for outstanding achievements on 20 April and 3 May, 1944:

LCDR F. N. McCabe, USCG: Legion of Merit
LT LeRoy Van Nostrand, USCG: Bronze Star
LT(jg) James A. MacKay, USCG: Bronze Star
Harold Levy, C.Ph.M., USCGR: Legion of Merit
W. A. Riskedahl, MoMM 1/c, USCG; Navy and Marine Corps Medal
V. B. Mathis, MoMM 1/c, USCGR: Bronze Star
J. D. Lawless, WT 2/C, USCGR: Navy and Marine Corps Medal
S. D. Putzke, RM 2/C, USCG: Navy and Marine Corps Medal
James Lee, Sea 1/c, USCGR: Navy and Marine Corps Medal
G. E. Doak, F 1/c, USCGR: Navy and Marine Corps Medal
C. G. Sandas, BM 2/c, USCGR: Navy and Marine Corps Medal (Posthumously)

By dawn on 3 May 1944, a tug arrived on the scene and towed the disabled Menges to Bougie, Algeria, where the dead and wounded were landed.  From there she was towed to Algiers for minor repairs and then to Oran, where the damaged part of the ship was cut off, leaving two-thirds of the original ship.  She was then towed in a convoy toward the United States, but because of continual breaking of the towing chain, the tow put in to Horta, Azores, where a more suitable towing rig was procured.  She was then towed to Bermuda and from there to New York.  At the New York Navy Yard, 95 feet of the stern of the USS Holder (DE-401), which had been torpedoed amidships by an aerial torpedo, was welded onto the reminder of the Menges.  This was the first known case of a large section of a battle damaged ship being welded to another battle damaged ship to make a complete ship.  A new crew was put aboard, except for the commanding officers and a few of the original officers and men, and the new Menges departed from the Navy Yard on 16 September 1944.

After a four-week shakedown at Casco Day, Maine, the Menges  resumed escort duty, taking a North Atlantic convoy to French and English ports and then returning to the United States to Mediterranean runs.  On 11 February 1945, the Menges, along with the Pride, Mosley, and Lowe, was assigned as an independent Killer Group in the North Atlantic, commanded by CDR H.  H. French, USCG.  This was the only Killer Group completely manned by Coast Guard personnel.  On the 18th of March, 1945, the Menges and Lowe succeeded in destroying a German submarine, the U-866, the first target assigned to this Killer Group.  The following awards were made as a result of this action:

LCDR F. N. McCabe, USCG: Bronze Star Medal
LT(jg) H. W. Tyas, Jr., USCG: Commendation Ribbon
Thomas H. Watkins, SOM 2/C, USCGR: Commendation Ribbon

The Killer Group operations were continued in the North Atlantic and later this Killer Group was joined with two carriers and other Killer Groups.  This combination succeeded in sinking three other German submarines. One DE was sunk.

On 14 May 1945 Germany having surrendered, the Killer Group was dissolved.  The next assignment for the Menges was to escort the last trans-Atlantic convoy to England, along with the Pride and the USS Davis (DD-325).  The escorts put into Liverpool and returned without a convoy.  The Menges was then assigned as one of the training vessels for the U. S. Coast Guard Academy.  The Menges and the CGC Cobb (WPG-181) made two one-month cruises to the West Indies, carrying separate groups of cadets.  Upon being detached from this duty the was assigned as a training vessel at New London Submarine Base.  After being inspected at Fall River, Massachusetts, on Navy Day, 27 October 1945 the Menges proceeded to Green Cove Springs, Florida, in the St. John's River for preservation and decommissioning in the Inactive Fleet.  She was decommissioned and the Coast Guard crew removed 12 April 1946.


Click here for a list of Menges' crewmen who were killed in action on the night of 3 May 1944.


Photographs:

A photo of the USS Menges

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

The USS Menges.

A photo of the Paul Hamilton exploding

No caption; 20 April 1944; photo number unknown; photo by PhoM 1/c  Arthur Green, USCGR.

The ammunition-laden Liberty ship SS Paul Hamilton is completely destroyed after being attacked by German aircraft soon after entering the Mediterranean in Convoy UGS-38, with one of the escorts being USS Menges.  Photographer's Mate 1/c Arthur Green, on board Menges, captured the explosion on film.  None of the 8 officers, 39 crew, 29 armed guards, and 504 troops aboard survived.  The ship had apparently been granted a waiver prior to sailing that permitted her to carry passengers although she was loaded to the gunwales with ammunition!

A photo of the USS Menges in action

"COAST GUARD RESCUES MANY OFF AFRICAN COAST: During an air-battle off the coast of North Africa, the Coast Guard rescued many seamen and officers after attacking German torpedo bombers sank a Navy destroyer, the USS LANSDALE.  The Nazis swarmed over in the early morning.  In this picture, taken by a Coast Guard combat photographer, aboard one of the rescue ships, survivors are aired after their removal from the oil-covered waters.  Left to right: Coast Guardsman James P. Dewey, Radioman Third Class, of Tulsa, Oklahoma; one of the unidentified rescued sailors; Coast Guardsman Elmer C. Hoffman, TM 2c, of Hale's Corner, Wis.; Coast Guardsman Virgil B. Mathis, of Saint Augustine, Fla.; and two more of the survivors."; 20 April 1944; CG Photo No. 2141; photo by PhoM 1/c  Arthur Green, USCGR.

The USS Lansdale (DD-426) was struck by two aerial torpedoes in the same attack that sank the SS Paul Hamilton (above).  Forty-nine of her crew were killed.  Among the survivors rescued by the Menges was LT Robert M. Morgenthau, USNR, the son of Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau.  Ironically, the Coast Guard served under the Treasury Department during times of peace.  A grateful SECTREAS Morgenthau sent a check for $100 to the Menge's  morale fund as thanks for their efforts that night.

A photo of the USS Menges in action

"OIL-COATED SEAMAN RESCUED BY COAST GUARD: One of many rescued by Coast Guardsmen of two Destroyer Escorts during a German bomber attack off the coast of North Africa, a U.S. Navy seaman relaxes as two Coast Guardsmen scrape a thick coating of oil from his body.  The survivor's ship, the USS LANSDALE, was sunk by Nazi planes (April 20, 1944 in the Mediterranean).  The Coast Guardsmen in this picture are: Virgil Mathis (left), Motor Machinist's Mate, of St. Augustine, Fla.; and Melvin Howard of Pittsburg, Kansas.  These men are on board the Coast Guard-manned Destroyer MENGES (DE-320), when it picked up 119 survivors of the ill-fated destroyer LANSDALE.  Virgil Mathis later was himself a survivor when the MENGES was torpedoed by a Nazi submarine on May 3, 1944."; 20 April 1944; CG Photo No. 2140; photo by PhoM 1/c  Arthur Green, USCGR.

A photo of the USS Menges in action

"COAST GUARD RESCUES MANY AS NAVY DESTROYER SINKS: Picked up from the sea by Coast Guardsmen on two destroyer escorts, survivors of the USS Lansdale (DD 426), sunk off the coast of North Africa, are brought safely to port by the rescue craft.  The destroyer was sunk during an attack by a force of German JU 88 bombers in the dark of early morning.  Two of the Nazi planes were knocked out."; no date; CG Photo No. 2144; photo by PhoM 1/c  Arthur Green, USCGR.

Photo was released on 10 May 1944 and was probably taken on 21-22 April 1944.

A photo of the USS Menges in action

"RESCUED NAZI FLIER DEBARKED AS PRISONER: A German bomber pilot, who gave the name of Peter Gerlich, is taken down the gangway of a Coast Guard-manned destroyer escort at a North African port after his plane had been shot from the sky and he had been picked up from the sea.  At the foot of the gangway are the commanding officers of two DE's -- Coast Guard Commander Russell J. Roberts (hand to mouth) of . . . Washington, D.C., and Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Frank M. McCabe, of Arlington, Virginia."; no date listed; CG Photo No. 2143; photo by PhoM 1/c  Arthur Green, USCGR.

The photo was released on 11 August 1944 and was probably taken on 21-22 April 1944. The POW, Peter Gerlich, was the radio operator, not the pilot, of one of the two downed Junkers JU88 that attacked the convoy.  There is a written comment on the photo that Gerlich's JU-88 was the German aircraft that torpedoed the Lansdale.

A photo of the USS Menges

"'DOOMED' COAST GUARD-MANNED DE BACK IN ACTION AFTER 'SURGICAL MIRACLE' MAKES ONE SHIP FROM TWO: AFTER -- A third of her hull gone, her fantail a twisted metallic wreckage of death, her decks littered and torn, the Coast Guard-manned destroyer escort USS MENGES appeared to be a doomed ship after falling victim to a German sub's torpedo in the Mediterranean in May, 1944.  Today the MENGES is back in action again, a testimonial to the genius of the Navy Bureau of Ships and talent of American Shipyard workers.  Towed to North Africa and then to New York after being blasted, the MENGES was made whole and healthy again as a result of a miracle of maritime surgery which took a portion of another torpedoed DE and joined it with the remnant of the MENGES.  The Coast Guard vessel was 'grafted' to the remains of the USS HOLDER, which was in dock after undergoing a torpedo attack.  United, these two stricken ships today seek out the enemy as a healthy one."; no date listed (May, 1944?); CG Photo No. 4622; photo by PhoM 1/c  Arthur Green, USCGR.

The Menges as she looked from above while being towed to North Africa after being struck by an acoustic torpedo fired from U-371.

A photo of the USS Menges

"'DOOMED' COAST GUARD-MANNED DE BACK IN ACTION AFTER 'SURGICAL MIRACLE' MAKES ONE SHIP FROM TWO: THE MORNING AFTER -- There were few aboard her the morning after the USS MENGES, Coast Guard-manned destroyer escort, fell victim to a German submarine's torpedo in May, 1944, who thought their stricken vessel was not a done-in ship.  The violence of the explosion of the torpedo which carried away a third of her hull is shown here as the Coast Guard-manned vessel was being towed through the Mediterranean to North Africa.  Yet this was the first step in the vessel's rebirth.  Today she is back at sea again, a fighting testimonial to the genius of the Navy Bureau of Ships which conceived the plan of making two ships into one.  From North Africa, the vessel was towed to New York where shipyard workers grafted the floating portion of the MENGES to the remnant of the USS HOLDER, another DE in dock for repairs.  These two stricken ships became one -- one which is back in action against the enemy.";  no date listed (May, 1944?); CG Photo No. 4626; photo by PhoM 1/c  Arthur Green, USCGR.

A photo of the USS Menges

"'DOOMED' COAST GUARD-MANNED DE BACK IN ACTION AFTER 'SURGICAL MIRACLE' MAKES ONE SHIP FROM TWO: THE PRICE ONE PAYS -- Dead and wounded sprawled on the torn and twisted decks of the Coast Guard-manned destroyer escort USS MENGES, after she fell victim to a German sub's torpedo in the Mediterranean last May.  Like this fallen Coast Guardsman who lies dead where he fell under the vessel's steaming torpedoes, the ship appeared doomed.  Today, however, the MENGES is back in action after a 'miracle of ship's surgery' which joined the floating portion of the Coast Guard-manned ship with part of the USS HOLDER, another torpedoed DE, to make a healthy, fighting ship once again seeking out the enemy.  The Coast Guard skipper refused to abandon his stricken vessel.  She was towed to North Africa and then to New York, where, coincidentally, the HOLDER was awaiting repairs.  The ingenious Navy Bureau of Ships conceived the 'one for two' plan and the talent of American shipyard workers made the scheme a reality."; no date listed (May, 1944?); CG Photo No. 4627; photo by PhoM 1/c  Arthur Green, USCGR.


A photo of the USS Menges

"'DOOMED' COAST GUARD-MANNED DE BACK IN ACTION AFTER 'SURGICAL MIRACLE' MAKES ONE SHIP FROM TWO: THE DEAD HAVE RISEN -- The Coast Guard-manned destroyer escort, USS MENGES, a third of her hull carried away by a German sub's torpedo, lies apparently doomed off the coast of North Africa.  Completely disabled, the vessel had been towed there after having fallen victim in the Mediterranean in May, 1944.  Yet the MENGES is at sea again today following a 'miracle of maritime surgery' which joined two disabled ships to make one healthy, fighting one.  From North Africa the stricken ship was towed to New York where the Navy Bureau of Ships ingeniously devised a plan of 'grafting' part of the MENGES to part of the USS HOLDER, another torpedoed DE in dock for repairs.  'Ingeniously conceived, resourcefully planned and skillfully executed' -- these phrases seem to apply to the 'two vessels,' which today are back in action seeking out the enemy.  The dead MENGES is very much alive."; no date listed (May, 1944?); CG Photo No. 4623; photographer unknown.

A photo of the USS Menges

"'DOOMED' COAST GUARD-MANNED DE BACK IN ACTION AFTER 'SURGICAL MIRACLE' MAKES ONE SHIP FROM TWO: THE AFTERMATH -- The dead and wounded are transferred from the stricken Coast Guard-manned destroyer escort USS MENGES, to a tug after the DE fell victim to a German sub's torpedo in the Mediterranean in May, 1944.  With more than a third of the hull gone, the MENGES appeared doomed as the members of her crew whose lives were snuffed out by the undersea raider.  Yet through a 'miracle of maritime surgery' the MENGES lives again today, the result of an ingenious scheme which made one ship from two.  The disabled vessel was towed to North Africa after her skipper had refused to abandon her.  From there she was towed to New York where the Navy Bureau of Ships devised the plan to graft the floating portion of the MENGES to what remained of the USS HOLDER, another torpedoed DE in dock for repairs.  The daring plan is a fighting fact today.  The two stricken ships, made into one, are back at sea."; no date listed (May, 1944?); CG Photo No. 4629; photo by PhoM 1/c  Arthur Green, USCGR.

A photo of the USS Menges

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

Wounded German survivors of the sunken U-371 are taken off the USS Pride (DE-323).

A photo of the USS Menges

"NAZI OFFICERS RELIEVED OF THEIR COMMAND: Surviving German officers from a submarine, blasted to the bottom by a Coast Guard-manned Destroyer Escort, sullenly disembark.  Coast Guardsmen captured the crew of the U-boat."; 5 May 1944; CG Photo No. 2620; photographer unknown.

Here U-371 survivors disembark from the USS Joseph E. Cambpell (DE-70).  The U-boat's commanding officer, Horst Fenski, is believed to be at the far left.

A photo of the USS Menges

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

The Holder (left) and the Menges (right) in drydock prior to their "melding."  Note the welded repair plate across the Menges' stern area which was used during her tow across the Atlantic.  US Navy Photo.  Note: The image is not 300 dpi.

 

A photo of the USS Menges

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

The Menges in drydock prior to having the Holder's stern welded to her.  US Navy Photo.  

A photo of the USS Menges

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

The Holder's stern is transplanted to the Menges.  US Navy Photo. 

A photo of the USS Menges

"'DOOMED' COAST GUARD-MANNED DE BACK IN ACTION AFTER 'SURGICAL MIRACLE' MAKES ONE SHIP FROM TWO: BEFORE -- The Coast Guard-manned destroyer escort USS MENGES, thought doomed after being torpedoed in May, 1944, is back in action again today as a result of a 'miracle surgical operation' which took two torpedoed DE's and made them into one healthy, fighting ship.  Shown here from the mast, looking aft, in Mediterranean convoy two weeks before falling victim to a German sub, the MENGES, lost a third of her hull when the underwater missile ripped into her stern.  The Coast guard skipper refused to abandon ship.  After transferring dead and wounded the stricken vessel was towed to North Africa and then to New York.  There, the Navy Bureau of Ships conceived the plan of making one whole ship out of two disabled ones, and American shipyard workers did the job.  Half of the USS HOLDER, another torpedoed DE in dock for repairs, and the floating portion of the MENGES were joined.  Today, two men o' war fight as one."; no date; CG Photo No. 4624; photographer unknown.


DANFS' History:

USS 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 enroute to the east coast, was attacked by 30 German torpedo bombers. After splashing one of the planes, MENGES rescued 137 survivors of destroyer LANSDALE (DD-426), sunk by an aircraft torpedo, and two German flyers. 

On 3 May, MENGES was 15 1/2 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 destroyer escorts 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 tug 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 tug CARIB (AT-82) for New York, arriving 22 July. From 14 to 31 August, the stern of destroyer escort 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 Bay, 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 sister ships PRIDE, MOSLEY (DE-321), and LOWE (DE-325) late in February 1945 to form the only hunter-killer 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 the 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 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 Spring, 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 service. 

Stricken from the Navy Register on 2 January 1971, MENGES was sold for scrap on 10 April 1972.


Sources:

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, (1969) Vol. 4, pp. 322-323. 

Edgar M. Nash.  World War Two USCG Warriors of USS Menges, DE 320. Privately published, 2003. [A publication put together by a Menges' veteran and includes copies of official documentation & reports and reminisces of some of her crewmen.]

Scott Price, "Battle in the Mediterranean.” Commandant’s Bulletin (July, 1994), pp. 24-29.

United States Coast Guard. The Coast Guard At War. V. Transports and Escorts. Vol. 1. Washington: Public Information Division, Historical Section, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, May 1, 1949, pp. 123-125.


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