Tuesday, December 18, 2012

USS Glennon (DD-620)

Figure 1: USS Glennon (DD-620), date and place unknown. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 2: USS Glennon (DD-620), date and place unknown. The ship in the center background is probably the battleship USS Nevada (BB-36) which would place the photograph in the period just prior to D-Day, 6 June 1944. Courtesy of Fred Weiss and Bill Fessenden. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 3: USS Glennon (DD-620) in the foreground with another unidentified destroyer in a convoy bound for France. Photograph taken from US Destroyer Operations in World War II by Theodore Roscoe. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 4: USS Glennon (DD-620) on 22 October 1942 at the New York Navy Yard, New York. Courtesy Ed Zajkowski .  Click on photograph for larger image. 

Figure 5:  USS Glennon (DD-620) on 19 October 1943, place unknown. Photograph from the collection of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum, Vallejo, California. Courtesy of Darryl Baker. Click on photograph for larger image. 

Figure 6: USS Glennon (DD-620), at right, after her stern was blown off by a mine off Normandy on 8 June 1944. USS Rich (DE-695), a US PT boat, a British motor launch, and an American Auk class minesweeper are standing by. Rich soon hit another mine, which also destroyed her stern, and was then sunk by a third mine. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.   

Named after US Navy Rear Admiral James H. Glennon (1857-1940), the 1,620-ton USS Glennon (DD-620) was a Gleaves class destroyer and was built by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company at Kearny, New Jersey, and was commissioned on 8 October 1942. The ship was approximately 348 feet long and 36 feet wide, had a top speed of 35 knots, and had a crew of 270 officers and men. Glennon was armed with four 5-inch guns, two 40-mm guns, five 20-mm guns, 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, and depth charges.
After completing her shakedown cruise off the coast of New England, Glennon was assigned to escort and protect convoys carrying men and supplies for the invasion of Italy. From 9 to 15 July 1943, Glennon participated in the invasion of Sicily. She eventually returned to the United States and steamed into New York harbor on 3 December 1943. The destroyer then made two round-trip convoy escort voyages to England and one to Gibraltar. Glennon arrived in New York from Gibraltar on 22 April 1944 and left on 5 May with a convoy that arrived at Belfast, Ireland, on 14 May. The ship then joined the giant naval armada that was gathering for the Allied invasion of Normandy, France.
Glennon was assigned to “Assault Force U” of the Western Naval Task Force for the invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944. The destroyer arrived in the Baie de la Seine, France, on D-Day and after patrolling the area for German submarines and motor torpedo boats, was ordered to join the other warships providing gunfire support for the Allied troops on shore.
The next day, on 7 June, Glennon steamed off “Utah” beach at Normandy and fired 430 5-inch shells at enemy shore positions in support of Allied ground troops moving toward Quineville, France. On 8 June, the ship, which was under the command of Commander Clifford A. Johnson, was moving along the Normandy coast  for another gunfire support mission when at 0830 hours Glennon’s stern struck a mine. The blast destroyed most of the ship’s stern and the minesweepers USS Staff (AM-114) and USS Threat (AM-124) arrived on the scene to sweep the area for additional mines. The destroyer escort USS Rich (DE-695) also arrived a few minutes later to assist Glennon, but suddenly Rich hit three mines which exploded within a few minutes of each other. These catastrophic blasts blew off a 50-foot section of Rich’s stern. Rich sank 15 minutes after striking the mines.
The minesweeper Staff discovered that she could not tow Glennon, whose fantail seemed to be firmly anchored to the ocean bottom by her starboard propeller. Most of Glennon’s crew was moved on board Staff and those remaining on the destroyer lightened her stern by pumping fuel forward and jettisoning depth charges and topside equipment. On 9 June, additional salvage equipment was gathered on some nearby ships that came to assist Glennon. Approximately 60 officers and men also re-boarded Glennon to assist in the salvage operation.
But on the following morning of 10 June, just as Commander Johnson was preparing to resume salvage efforts on board his ship, a German artillery battery on shore near Quineville spotted Glennon and began firing cannon shells at her. A salvo soon hit Glennon amidships and cut off all power. After being hit yet again, Commander Johnson ordered “Abandon Ship” and the remainder of the crew was taken off in a landing craft. The battered hulk of USS Glennon remained afloat until 2145 hours on 10 June 1944, at which point she rolled over and sank. During this whole ordeal, the ship lost 25 crewmen killed and 38 wounded. Glennon was awarded two battle stars for her service during World War II.