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Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive

Torpedoed in the Atlantic, South of Iceland - 171 of her crew
were lost with the ship and remain on eternal duty

USS Leopold (DE 319)

Flag Hoist / Radio Call Sign:
N - K - E - F
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive) - European-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal - WWII Victory Medal

Class: Edsall
Type: FMR (geared diesel, Fairbanks-Morse reverse gear drive, 3" guns)
Displacement: 1200 tons (light), 1590 tons (full)
Length: 300' (wl), 306' (oa)
Beam: 36' 10" (extreme)
Draft: 20' 6" (draft limit)
Propulsion: 4 Fairbanks-Morse Mod. 38d81/8 geared diesel engines, 4 diesel-generators, 6000 shp, 2 screws
Speed: 21 kts
Range: 9,100 nm @ 12 knots
Armament: 3 x 3"/50 Mk22 (1x3), 1 twin 40mm Mk1 AA, 8 x 20mm Mk 4 AA, 3 x 21" Mk15 TT (3x1), 1 Hedgehog Projector Mk10 (144 rounds), 8 Mk6 depth charge projectors, 2 Mk9 depth charge tracks
Complement: 8 / 201
Leopold (DE 317) Building and Operational Data:
  • 24 March 1943: Keel laid by the Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex.
  • 12 June 1943: Launched and christened, sponsored by Miss Helen S. Leopold, sister of Ensign Leopold
  • 18 October 1943: Commissioned, Lcdr Kenneth C. Phillips, USCG, in command
  • 9 March 1944: Torpedoed and sunk by U-255 South of Iceland. Joyce (DE 317) rescued 28 survivors at the close of the action; 171 others were lost through explosion on board or drowning after abandoning.
  • 25 March 1944: Struck from the Navy List

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    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Contributed
    By And/Or Copyright
    Leopold 8k Robert Lawrence Leopold was born 11 November 1916 in Louisville, Ky. He graduated from Louisville Male High School in 1934 and continued his education at the University of Louisville earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1938. During his years at the University of Louisville he was the President of the Student Council and belonged to the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. He became a member of the Kentucky State Bar Association and American Bar Association after earning his a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree in 1940 and was presented the Phi Alpha Delta Senior Award. Shortly after graduation he enlisted in the Naval Reserve 10 July 1940. Following training on the USS Wyoming, he was appointed midshipman 16 September 1940 for active duty training at Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School (Abbott Hall) Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois. Having completed his training he was commissioned an ensign 12 December and reported for duty aboard the USS Arizona on 28 December 1940. Ensign Leopold served aboard the battleship until killed in action on the morning of 7 December 1941 during the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart on 21 January 1943 having been killed in action as a direct result of wounds received in action with the enemy of the United States. His other awards received posthumously included the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; American Defense Service Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal in 1948.

    USS Leopold (DE 635) (1943-1944) was the first ship to be named in his honor.

    (A special thank you to the University of Louisville Ekstrom Library Archives and Records Center for their kind assistance.)
    Bill Gonyo
    Leopold 116k Submitted in honor and memory of my mother's brother, F1c Kenneth Jack Johnson, who was killed aboard Leopold when she was torpedoed by German submarine U-255 on 9 March 1944. Major Ron Lowrance,
    United States Army
    Leopold 60k "SEVEN WHO SURVIVED THE LEOPOLD SINKING:" These seven Coast Guardsmen, shown in a hospital somewhere in the British Isles, survived the sinking of the Coast Guard Destroyer Escort Leopold by a German submarine somewhere in the North Atlantic. Only 28 out of a complement of 200 escaped death in the loss of the vessel - one of the worst sea tragedies of the war. Here, Richard R. Novotny, S1c, of Riverside, Long Island, who suffered a back injury, is visited by six of his buddies, all of them survivors. The others are (standing, left to right) Cleveland E. Parker, Chief Commissary Steward, of Pulaski, Tenn.; W. G. O'Brien, S1c, of New York City, N.Y.; Antone Freitas, Jr., S2c, of Fall River, Mass.; Joseph A. Burgun, Soundman 3c, of Glen Rock, N.J.; (seated) Troy S. Gowens, S1c, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Joseph M. Hanysz, S1c, of Detroit, Mich." (undated, possibly late March/early April 1944); USCG Photo No. 2192; photographer unknown) Bill Gonyo

    View the USS Leopold (DE 319) DANFS history entry
    located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information

    Last Reunion Location and Date
    Branson MO, 8 - 12 October 2000
    Joint Reunion With Joyce DE/DER 317
    Contact Name: James J. Rocheleau
    Address: 2902 Memorial Drive / Two Rivers WI 54241
    Phone: (920) 793-4617

    Note About Contacts

    Contact information is compiled from various sources over a period of time and may, or may not, be correct. Every effort has been
    made to list the newest contact. However, our entry is only as good as the latest information that's been sent to us. We list only
    a contact for the ship if one has been sent to us. We do NOT have crew lists or rosters available. Please see the Frequently Asked
    Questions section on Navsource's Main Page for that information.

    Additional Resources

    Destroyer Escort Sailors Association
    Tin Can Sailors
    The Destroyer History Foundation
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    Page Last Updated 21 December 2009