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Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive

USS Thornhill (DE 195)

Flag Hoist / Radio Call Sign:
N - Q - D - Z
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: American Campaign Medal
Second Row: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal - European-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal - World War II Victory Medal

Class: Cannon
Type: DET (diesel-electric tandem motor drive, long hull, 3" guns)
Displacement: 1240 tons (light), 1620 tons (full)
Length: 300' (wl), 306' (oa)
Beam: 36' 10" (extreme)
Draft: 10' 6" (draft limit)
Propulsion: 4 GM Mod. 16-278A diesel engines with electric drive, 6000 shp, 2 screws
Speed: 21 kts
Range: 10,800 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: 15 / 201
Thornhill (DE 195) Building and Operational Data:
  • 07 October 1943: Keel laid at the Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Port Newark, N.J.
  • 30 December 1943: Launched and christened, sponsored by Mrs. J. E. Thornhill, the mother of Lt. (jg.) Thornhill
  • 01 February 1944: Commissioned at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Lt. John B. Shumway, USNR, in command
  • 17 June 1947: Decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Fla. after 3 years and 4½ months of service
  • 10 January 1951: Transferred (MDAP) to Italy, renamed ITS Aldebaran (F-590) (sold, scrapped, 1976)
  • 26 March 1951: Struck from the NVR
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    48k Leonard W. Thornhill was born on 17 August 1915 in Lamison, Ala. and was appointed to the Naval Academy on 19 June 1934. He graduated on 02 June 1938, and was commissioned an ensign. After serving at sea in Pennsylvania (BB 38) until September 1939 and in J. Fred Talbot (DD 156) until July 1940, he was transferred to Pensacola for flight training. Thornhill received his naval aviator's wings on 23 January 1941 and soon thereafter reported for duty at the Naval Air Station at Opa-Locka, Fla. Following another assignment ashore at San Diego, Calif., Thornhill joined carrier-based Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2 on 13 August 1941. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Thornhill served with his ship, Lexington (CV 2), during the first month of the war, patrolling the Johnston-Palmyra-Oahu triangle against possible enemy incursions. In February and March, he participated in the carrier's offensive patrols in the Coral Sea and in the attacks on Japanese installations at Salamaua and Lae located on the northern coast of New Guinea. Early May found Lexington patrolling the Coral Sea after two weeks of upkeep in Pearl Harbor. Thornhill piloted one of the 12 TBD-1 torpedo bombers launched during mid-morning on 7 May to seek out and destroy Japanese forces converging on the Australian base at Port Moresby. At 1135, VT-2 encountered the light carrier Shoho and immediately launched a well coordinated attack in conjunction with Bombing Squadron (VB) 2. While VB-2 took some of the fighter pressure off the torpedo bombers, Thornhill and his comrades split formation and attacked the carrier from both directions astern. All 12 planes made their runs and drops successfully and without loss to themselves. The "Devastators" claimed nine hits from 12 drops, one of which was credited to Lt. (jg.) Thornhill. The coordinated attacks of VT-2 and VB-2 sent Shoho to the bottom, the first enemy carrier sunk by American forces in World War II. The following day, during the second phase of the Battle of the Coral Sea, Thornhill went aloft with VT-2 at 0910 in search of the two remaining Japanese carriers, Shokaku and Zuikaku. After failing to encounter the enemy ships at their supposed location, Thornhill and his squadron mates initiated a "box search" to find their quarry. Sometime after 1100, they found their target, fleet carrier Shokaku, At 1142, VT-2 commenced its attack; and the carrier began a long, slow turn to the right which allowed each TBD-1 to make its "run without splitting across the stern." The attack ended just eight minutes later, and VT-2 began the flight home claiming five hits on Shokaku, all of which proved later to be wishful thinking. Only the dive bombers succeeded in damaging the enemy carrier. During the return flight, VT-2 planes began to run low on fuel as a result of their drawn-out search earlier that morning. All planes cut back power in order to make the flight most economically. Even so, Lt. (jg.) Thornhill could not make it. His "Devastator" ran out of fuel some 20 miles short of home, and he had to ditch in the ocean. Though a destroyer went to their rescue, Thornhill and his crew perished at sea. For his contribution to the destruction of Shoho carried out with ". . . complete disregard for his own personal safety . . .," Lt. (jg.) Thornhill was awarded the Navy Cross and Purple Heart posthumously.

    USS Thornhill (DE 195) (1944-1947) was the first ship to be named in his honor.      (Photo from the U.S. Naval Academy Yearbook; The Lucky Bag, Class of 1938.)
    Bill Gonyo
    Downey, Cal.

    Assoc. Researcher
    Thornhill 17k undated wartime image (Photo © Richard G. Ray) Nick Tiberio
    Shelton, Conn.
    Thornhill 120k 21 May 1945: On this date, Thornhill was escorting convoy UC-67B from the Solent to New York City; departing 13 May and arriving in New York on 23 May. The Solent was the departure point for convoys leaving Southampton and Portsmouth, England. David Wright
    Navsource Archive Manager
    Destroyer Archive
    Thornhill 151k An SB2C piloted by Lt. Frederick C. Lambert USMCR is seen flying over Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands after the end of WW2. The light cruiser Kashima and the USS Thornhill (DE 195) are in the background. The Japanese ship was at Jaluit 22-23 October 1945 to take 911 POWs on board for repatriation to Japan. Thornhill was station ship at Jaluit the whole month.
    (U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Museum/Naval Aviation Museum, Photo No. 1996.253.538)
    Mike Green
    Port Angeles, Wash.
    Thornhill 35k circa 1955: as Aldebaran (F-590) Bob Hurst
    Worksop, Nottinghamshire,
    England, United Kingdom
    Thornhill 220k April 1967: as Italian Frigate Aldebaran (F-590) (Photo © Richard Mc Namara) Richard Mc Namara

    Thornhill Memorabilia
    Launch Button
    Courtesy of
    Tom Kermen

    Thornhill History
    View the USS Thornhill (DE 195) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.
    View the official War History of USS Thornhill as submitted by the ship at war's end.

    Thornhill's Commanding Officers
    Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
    Dates of Command Commanding Officers
    1.) 01 Feb. 1944 - 03 Jan. 1945Lcdr. John B. Shumway, USNR (Comm. CO)
    2.) 03 Jan. 1945 - 16 Nov. 1945Lcdr. Edwin Thornwell McKeithen, Jr., USNR (USNA '34) (Aberdeen, N.C.)
    3.) 16 Nov. 1945 - 28 Nov. 1945Lt. Alvin W. Evans, USNR (Acting)
    4.) 28 Nov. 1945 - 28 Mar. 1946Lcdr. Richard Allen Brockhouse, USNR (Kansas City, Kan.)
    5.) 28 Mar. 1946 - 15 Jun. 1946Lcdr. Thomas C. Clay, USNR(muster ends)

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information

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    Additional Resources

    Tin Can Sailors
    The U.S. Navy Memorial
    Destroyer Escort Sailors Association
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    The Destroyer History Foundation

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    Page Last Updated: 22 August 2020