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USS Darby DE 218
This History Was Provided By Robert Anderson
The USS Darby was assigned on 23 February 1959 as "in service, in reserve" for the training of the Naval Reservists at the Naval Reserve Center, Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. The Darby was assigned the USS Darby Selected Reserve Crew (DE-218). They would train aboard this ship on weekends and perform annual two weeks training underway. Assigned to Baltimore, Maryland also was the USS Roberts (DE 749).
President Kennedy called to active for the Berlin Crisis the USS Darby and USS Roberts Reserve Crews. The USS Darby was recommissioned in 1962. After nine months with the Atlantic Fleet, the Darby returned to Baltimore, Maryland. Through the spray-filled salutes of three fireboats and a rousing cheer and general excitement the two destroyer escorts touched the dock, families and friends had to wait through an hour-and-half welcoming ceremonies while music was provided by a portion of the Naval Academy Band from Annapolis.
The Navy League of Baltimore went all out to make it a welcome in the best wartime tradition. They were welcomed back by acting Mayor Philip H. Goodman who complimented the men on "preventing a war instead of fighting one". He also accepted a painting of the Darby and Roberts which hangs in City Hall.
The Darby returned to duties of training the Naval Reserve.
Some of her crewmembers were:
This Account Was Provided By Harold (Hal) Jennings, Fire Controlman lst (USNR, ret.)
I was assigned to the USS Darby DE 218 on Dec. 3 1943. A new DE that was commissioned on Nov. 15,1943 at the
Philadelpia Navy Yard and had already left on her "shakedown cruise " to Bermuda around the end of Dec. I went aboard the USS Bostwick, a new diesel DE, that was leaving for Bermuda on her "shakedown" and caught up with the Darby and reported on board on Dec. 21,1943.
After about 2 weeks we returned to the Philly navy yard for a few corrections and repairs then proceeded to
Norfolk V A. for stores and further orders. Orders came through to leave for Orange TX to take on ammunition then leave for the South Pacific to win the war . Our first duty was to meet, just north of the Galapagos Islands, a French Troopship that was going to Bora-Bora, in French Polynesia, about 4,500 miles as the crow flies. This took quite a while as their ship was always having boiler trouble. This was, as it turned out great, gave us a chance to practice eveything they tried to teach us on the shakedown cruise in a very short time.
The art of "zig-zag" , sonar and radar techniques, gun drills, ( AA, torpedo, hedgehog, depth charges) and really good learning for "lookouts". Everything that we needed to be better trained for the things to come. Left Bora- Bora without the troopship, headed for New Caledonia in the Loyalty Islands. We were to eventually join up with the DE's 217 & 219 to form the nucleus of our Division of DE's that would operate from Tulagi in the Solomon Islands. Tulagi is right across the 'slot" in "Iron Bottom Bay",
from Guadalcanal. When we took up station there all the South Islands had been secured previously. From New Georgia, north, still in enemy hands. Our duties were: "ping"(subs), AA (aircraft), C (convoy), S (surface) patrol. For most of 1944 we were up & down the slot (the middle of the Solomons about 10 to 30 miles wide.)
Our specialty was to hunt down Jap resupply craft that were sneaking in supplies and troops to the bypassed Islands with Jap garrisons on them. Got quite a few but they were fast and shallow draft so when the chips were down they holed up in shallow water where we couldn't follow. When you got to Bougainville you were in range of Jap planes from New Britain so would go to AA status. The slot was not quite wide enough and too shallow for subs to maneuver in so we did not have much to look for there. However, if my memory serves me, I think the Harmon & England flushed a few north of Bougainville close to Green Island in deep water, believe the report
said they sank a couple.
The Americans kept "Island hopping" up the Solomons. We participated in invasions of Bouganville at Empress Augusta Bay, Buka, Kavieng all the way to Manus Island. Usually on AA or S patrol. Helped shoot down a few Betty bombers, Jake & Zero fighters and helped with shore bombardment with our puny 3/50 "main " battery. Didn't do much damage but probably scared the heck out of a few Nips. Manus Island was a staging point for the proposed invasion of the Phillipines. We were the "gophers" for the Big Boys. Day after day of ping and AA Jines around the Island, delivering mail, running errands etc. Manus had a huge staging area and I have never
seen such large fighting ships. Battle wagons, big & small aircraft carriers, big & little cruisers, destroyers by the dozens, troop transports,
supply and repair ships, hospital ships, every kind of PT, tugboat, minesweeper and smallcraft you could think of. Don't forget the DE's, they were there in force too!
About this time the enemy started using suicide planes. Believe me, that is one "hairy" experience. They would come in out of the sun, after the big guys, and on the way they would be strafing the escorts with 30 & 50 cal. and drop 500b. bombs close by hopping to spray
shrapnel all over. Lots of guys got wounded but they were all minor flesh wounds with no fatalities. I got an almost expended 30 cal in the leg. Healed up in a week.
We did escort duty, besides patrols, all through the Gilbert and Marshal Islands. Followed up the South China Sea to the Phillipines.
Mindanao, Leyte, Subic Bay, and north to Lingayan Gulf. Going into 1945, thru the North Mariana Islands to Iwo-Jima is best narrated by the 1945 calendar/diary enclosed. We were in Hawaii when the war ended.
They sent us, 217--218--219--678--679--680 to San Francisco, Mare Island Shipyard, and I went on a 60 day leave. When I got back on board the Darby in late Dec. 1945 I couldn't believe my eyes! They had removed the torpedo tubes, replaced the old 1.1 's with quad 40mm midship where the tubes had been and aft. The 3 mounts of open 3"50's were gone and in their place were 2 new 5" Turrets.
This, after the war has ended!! Such is the Navy way. Into 1946, back to the beginning. Left the dear Darby in New London CT And travelled to Bremerton WA to be discharged March 7 1946.
The old Darby got us all home! ! I stayed in the Reserves and was called to duty during the Korean war. Spent another year on the BB Alabama at the mothballed fleet in Bremerton WA. Most of this narration comes from a late 70's old brain that has developed a glich in the memory modem, so bear with me on times, places and goings on.
THANKS TO THE DARBY I AM STILL HERE.
Harold (Hal) Jennings, Fire Controlman lst (USNR, ret.)
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