Greer DD- 145 - History

Greer DD- 145 - History


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Greer

James A. Greer, born 28 February 1833 in Cincinnati, Ohio, enlisted in the Navy in 1848. He entered the Naval Academy in 1853 and graduated as a Passed Midshipman the following year. After participating in the Paraguay Expedition, he cruised the west African coast until the outbreak of the Civil War. Greer was serving on board San Jacinto 7 November 1861 when she stopped the British steamer Trent and removed the Confederate commissioner on their way to England, thereby nearly drawing Great Britain into the war on the Confederate side. Greer served in St. Louis from 1862 to 1883 and was then attached to Rear Admiral Porter's Mississippi Squadron. While in command of the ironclads Carondelet and Trenton, he participated in the Vicksburg campaign and the shelling of Grand Gulf as well as the abortive Red River expedition. After commanding the Naval Station at Mound City, he assumed command of the flagship Blackhawk and then was in charge of conveying Army transports up the Tennessee River. A tour of duty as Assistant to the Commandant at Annapolis after the war was followed by command of Hohongo on the Pacific Station, where Greer was commended for defending American interests in Mexico. After duty at the Naval Academy between 1869 and 1873, Greer returned to the Pacific Station. In 1878 he commanded Tigress when that ship was sent to find and aid Polaris, wrecked on an Arctic expedition. After special service in Constitution during the Paris Exposition, Greer held a variety of shore posts and then served as commander of the European Squadron from 1887 to 1889. Promoted to Rear Admiral in 1890, he retired 28 February 1895. Admiral Greer died in Washington 17 January 1904. ~

(DD-145: dp. 1,165 314'4", b. 30'11", dr. 9'; s. 36k.; ., cpl. 133, a. 41", 1 3", 12 21" tt.; el. Wiekes)

Greer (DD-145) was launched by William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co., Philadelphia, PA., 1 August 1918; sponsored by Miss Evelinn Porter Gleaves, daughter of Rear Admiral Gleaves; and commissioned 31 December 1918, Comdr. C. E. Smith in command.

Greer's shake down took her to Azores, from which she rendezvoused with George Washington, carrying President Woodrow Wilson home from the Versailles Peace Conference, and escorted her to the United States. After exercises in coastal waters, Greer was assigned to Trepassy Bay, Newfoundland, for duties during a transatlantic flight by four Navy seaplanes, one of which, NC4, safely completed the historic undertaking. After further training exercises and a European cruise, Greer was assigned to the Pacific Fleet, reaching San Francisco 18 November 1919.

Six months' duty with the Pacific Fleet terminated ' March 1920 when Greer sailed to join the Asiatic flee After standing by off Shanghai to protect American live and property during riots there in May, Greer sailed to Port Arthur and Darien on intelligence missions and returned to Cavite, P.I., for fleet exercises. The destroyer returned to San Francisco 29 September 1921 via Guan Midway, and Pearl Harbor. Greer decommissioned San Diego 22 June 1922, and was placed in reserve.

Greer recommissioned 31 March 1930, Comdr. J. W. Bunkley in command. Operating with the Battle Fleet, she participated in a variety of exercises along the coast from Alaska to Panama, with an occasional voyage to Hawaii. Transferred to the Scouting Fleet 1 February 1931, she cruised off Panama, Haiti, and Cuba before being attached to the Rotating Reserve from August 1933 to February 1934. Training exercises, battle practice, and plane guard duty filled Greer's peacetime routine for the next 2 years. She sailed for the East Coast and duty with the Training Squadron 3 June 1936. After conducting Naval Reserve cruises throughout that summer, Greer sailed for the Philadelphia Navy Yard 28 September and decommissioned there 13 January 1937.

As war swept across Europe, Greer recommissioned 4 October 1939, Comdr. Mahoney in command, Co. joined Destroyer Division 61 as flagship. After patrolling. the East Coast and Carribbean, Greer joined the Neutrality Patrol in February 1940. Detached from this duty 6 October, the destroyer patrolled the Carribbean that winter. She joined other American ships on operations in the North Atlantic early in 1941, out of Reykjavik. lceland, and Argentia, Newfoundland. United States ships, as non belligerents, could not attack Axis submarines; but, as the German high command stepped up the pace of the war through the summer of 1941, Greer found herself involved in an incident which brought America'~ entry into the war nearer.

The "Greer Incident" occurred 4 September At 0840 that morning Greer, carrying mail and passengers to Argentia, was signaled by a British plane that a Nazi submarine had crash-dived some 10 miles ahead. Forty minutes later the DD's soundman picked up the underseas marauder, and Greer began to trail the submarine. The plane, running low on fuel, dropped four depth charges at 1032 and returned to base, while Greer continued to dog

the U-boat. Two hours later the German ship began a series of radical maneuvers and Greer's lookouts could see her pass about 100 yards off. An impulse bubble at 1248 warned Greer that a torpedo had been fired. Ringing up flank speed, hard left rudder, Greer watched the torpedo pass 100 yards astern and then charged in for attack. She laid a pattern of eight depth charges, and less than two minutes later a second torpedo passed 300 yards to port.

Greer lost sound contact during the maneuvers, and began to quarter the area in search of the U-boat. After 2 hours, she reestablished sound contact and laid down a pattern of 11 depth charges before discontinuing the engagement. Greer had held the German raider in sound contact 3 hours and 28 minutes; had evaded two torpedoes fired at her; and with her 19 depth charges had become the first American ship in World War II to attack the Germans.

When news of the unprovoked attack against an American ship on the high seas reached the United States public feeling ran high. President Roosevelt seized this occasion to make another of his famed "fireside chats," one in which he brought America nearer to outright involvement in the European war. Declaring that Germany had been guilty of an act of piracy, President Roosevelt in effect unleashed American ships and planes for offensive action as he stated `'in the waters which we deem necessary for our defense, American naval vessels and American planes will no longer wait until Axis submarines lurking under the water, or Axis raiders on the surface of the sea, strike their deadly blow—first." The period of "undeclared war" in the Atlantic had begun.

Greer remained in the North Atlantic through 1941 shepherding convoys to and from MOMP, the mid-ocean meeting point at which American ships took over escort duties from the hard-pressed Royal Navy. After overhaul at Boston, she turned south 3 March 1942 to resume patrol duty in the Caribbean, fast becoming a favorite German hunting ground. In addition to regular escort duties, Greer performed many other tasks, including rescuing 39 victims of German U-boats. In May she stood guard off Pointe a Pitre, Guadaloupe, lest the Vichy French government try to get cruiser Jeanne d'Arc to sea.

Sailing from Guantanamo 23 January 1943, Greer sailed to Boston then headed for the Atlantic convoy duty. Departing Argentia, Newfoundland 1 March 1943, she escorted merchantmen for Northern Ireland. During heavy North Atlantic gales, the convoy lost seven ships to three separate U boat attacks before reaching Londonderry 13 March. Greer then escorted 40 merchantmen on the return voyage without incident, and continued on to Hampton Roads 15 April with tanker Chicopee.

After exercises in Casco Bay, Greer departed New York 11 May with a convoy of 83 ships. Reaching Casablanca, Morrocco, 1 June, the destroyer patrolled off the North African port and then recrossed the Atlantic, arriving New York 27 June. After another run to Northern Ireland, Greer returned to New York 11 August.

After steaming to Norfolk, she sailed for the British West Indies 26 August to serve briefly as plane guard to Santee. She rendezvoused with a convoy in the Caribbean and headed for North Africa. Diverted to New York, she docked there 14 September. Routine training exercises turned into tragedy 15 October as Greer collided with Moonstone (PY - 9) in the New York Harbor.Moonstone sank in less than 4 minutes, but Greer rescued all the crew but one.

After repairs, the destroyer escorted French cruiser Gloire from New York to Norfolk. Greer sailed 26 December with another Casablanca-bound convoy and after an uneventful crossing returned to Boston 9 February 1944. This was the final transatlantic crossing for the old four-stack destroyer, as she and her sister ships were replaced by newer and faster escorts.

The veteran destroyer spent the remainder of her long career performing a variety of necessary tasks in American waters. After a tour of submarine training duty at New London, Greer became plane guard for several new carriers during the summer of 1944. Operating from various New England ports, she served with Ranger Tripoli, Mission Bay, and Wake Island. Sailing to key West in February 1945, Greer continued plane guard duty until 11 June when she sailed to the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Greer decommissioned 19 July 1945. Her name was struck from the Navy list 13 August and her hulk was sold to the Boston Metal Salvage Co. of Baltimore 30 November 1945.

Greer received one battle star for World War II service.


Greer DD- 145 - History

(DD-145: dp. 1,165 314'4", b. 30'11", dr. 9' s. 36k. ., cpl. 133, a. 41", 1 3", 12 21" tt. el. Wickes)

Greer (DD-145) was launched by William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co., Philadelphia, Pa., 1 August 1918 sponsored by Miss Evelinn Porter Gleaves, daughter of Rear Admiral Gleaves and commissioned 31 December 1918, Comdr. C. E. Smith in command.

Greer's shake down took her to Azores, from which she rendezvoused with George Washington, carrying President Woodrow Wilson home from the Versailles Peace Conference, and escorted her to the United States. After exercises in coastal waters, Greer was assigned to Trep I assy Buy, Newfoundland, for duties during a transatlantic flight by four Navy seaplanes, one of which, NC4, safely completed the historic undertaking. After further training exercises and a European cruise, Greer was assigned to the Pacific Fleet, reaching San Francisco 18 November 1919.

Six months' duty with the Pacific Fleet terminated ' March 1920 when Greer sailed to join the Asiatic flee After standing by off Shanghai to protect American live and property during riots there in May, Greer sailed to Port Arthur and Darien on intelligence missions and returned to Cavite, P.I., for fleet exercises. The destroyer returned to San Francisco 29 September 1921 via Guam Midway, and Pearl Harbor. Greer decommissioned San Diego 22 June 1922, and was placed in reserve.

Greer recommissioned 31 March 1930, Comdr. J. W. Bunkley in command. Operating with the Battle Fleet, she participated in a variety of exercises along the coast from Alaska to Panama, with an occasional voyage to Hawaii. Transferred to the Scouting Fleet 1 February 1931, she cruised off Panama, Haiti, and Cuba before being attached to the Rotating Reserve from August 1933 to February 1934. Training exercises, battle practice, and plane guard duty filled Greer's peacetime routine for the next 2 years. She sailed for the East Coast and duty with the Training Squadron 3 June 1936. After conducting Naval Reserve cruises throughout that summer, Greer sailed for the Philadelphia Navy Yard 28 September and decommissioned there 13 January 1937.

As war swept across Europe, Greer recommissioned 4 October 1939, Comdr. J. J. Mahoney in command, and joined Destroyer Division 61 as flagship. After patrolling. the East Coast and Caribbean, Greer joined the Neutrality Patrol in February 1940. Detached from this duty 6 October, the destroyer patrolled the Caribbean that winter. She joined other American ships on operations in the North Atlantic early in 1941, out of Reykjavik. lceland, and Argentia, Newfoundland. United States ships, as non belligerent s, could not attack Axis submarines but, as the German high command stepped up the pace of the war through the summer of 1941, Greer found herself involved in an incident which brought America's entry into the war nearer.

The "Greer Incident" occurred 4 September At 0840 that morning Greer, carrying mail and passengers to Argentia, was signaled by a British plane that a Nazi submarine had crash-dived some 10 miles ahead. Forty minutes later the DD's soundman picked up the underseas marauder, and Greer began to trail the submarine. The plane, running low on fuel, dropped four depth charges at 1032 and returned to base, while Greer continued to dog the U-boat. Two hours later the German ship began a series of radical maneuvers and Greer's lookouts could see her pass about 100 yards off. An impulse bubble at 1248 warned Greer that a torpedo had been fired. Ringing up flank speed, hard left rudder, Greer watched the torpedo pass 100 yards astern and then charged in for attack. She laid a pattern of eight depth charges, and less than two minutes later a second torpedo passed 300 yards to port.

Greer lost sound contact during the maneuvers, and began to quarter the area in search of the U-boat. After 2 hours, she reestablished sound contact and laid down a pattern of 11 depth charges before discontinuing the engagement. Greer had held the German raider in sound contact 3 hours and 28 minutes had evaded two torpedoes fired at her and with her 19 depth charges had become the first American ship in World War II to attack the Germans.

When news of the unprovoked attack against an American ship on the high seas reached the United States public feeling ran high. President Roosevelt seized this occasion to make another of his famed "fireside chats," one in which he brought America nearer to outright involvement in the European war. Declaring that Germany had been guilty of an act of piracy, President Roosevelt in effect unleashed American ships and planes for offensive action as he stated `'in the waters which we deem necessary for our defense, American naval vessels and American planes will no longer wait until Axis submarines lurking under the water, or Axis raiders on the surface of the sea, strike their deadly blow first." The period of "undeclared war" in the Atlantic had begun.

Greer remained in the North Atlantic through 1941 shepherding convoys to and from MOMP, the mid-ocean meeting point at which American ships took over escort duties from the hard-pressed Royal Navy. After overhaul at Boston, she turned south 3 March 1942 to resume patrol duty in the Caribbean, fast becoming a favorite German hunting ground. In addition to regular escort duties, Greer performed many other tasks, including rescuing 39 victims of German U-boats. In May she stood guard off Pointe a Pitre, Guadaloupe, lest the Vichy French government try to get cruiser Jeanne d'Arc to sea.

Sailing from Guantanamo 23 January 1943, Greer sailed to Boston then headed for the Atlantic convoy duty. Departing Argentia, Newfoundland 1 March 1943, she escorted merchantmen for Northern Ireland. During heavy North Atlantic gales, the convoy lost seven ships to three separate U boat attacks before reaching Londonderry 13 March. Greer then escorted 40 merchantmen on the return voyage without incident, and continued on to Hampton Roads 15 April with tanker Chicopee.

After exercises in Casco Bay, Greer departed New York 11 May with a convoy of 83 ships. Reaching Casablanca, Morocco, 1 June, the destroyer patrolled off the North African port and then recrossed the Atlantic, arriving New York 27 June. After another run to Northern Ireland, Greer returned to New York 11 August.

After steaming to Norfolk, she sailed for the British West Indies 26 August to serve briefly as plane guard to Santee. She rendezvoused with a convoy in the Caribbean and headed for North Africa. Diverted to New York, she docked there 14 September. Routine training exercises turned into tragedy 15 October as Greer collided with Moonstone (PY - 9) in the New York Harbor.Moonstone sank in less than 4 minutes, but Greer rescued all the crew but one.

After repairs, the destroyer escorted French crusier Gloire from New York to Norfolk. Greer sailed 26 December with another Casablanca-bound convoy and after an uneventful crossing returned to Boston 9 February 1944. This was the final transatlantic crossing for the old four-stack destroyer, as she and her sister ships were replaced by newer and faster escorts.

The veteran destroyer spent the remainder of her long career performing a variety of necessary tasks in American waters. After a tour of submarine training duty at New London, Greer became plane guard for several new carriers during the summer of'1944. Operating from various New England ports, she served with Ranger Tripoli, Mission Bay, and Wake Island. Sailing to key West in February 1945, Greer continued plane guard duty until 11 June when she sailed to the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Greer decommissioned 19 July 1945. Her name was struck from the Navy list 13 August and her hulk was sold to the Boston Metal Salvage Co. of Baltimore 30 November 1945.


Contents

[edit] 1919 to 1941 [ edit | edit source ]

Greer ' s shake down took her to Azores, from which she rendezvoused with George Washington, carrying President Woodrow Wilson home from the Versailles Peace Conference, and escorted her to the United States. After exercises in coastal waters, Greer was assigned to Trepassy Bay, Newfoundland, for duties during a transatlantic flight by four Navy seaplanes, one of which, NC-4, safely completed the historic undertaking. After further training exercises and a European cruise, Greer was assigned to the Pacific Fleet, reaching San Francisco November 18, 1919.

Six months' duty with the Pacific Fleet terminated March 25, 1920, when Greer sailed to join the Asiatic Fleet. After standing by off Shanghai to protect American lives and property during riots there in May, Greer sailed to Port Arthur and Dairen on intelligence missions and returned to Cavite, Philippines, for fleet exercises. The destroyer returned to San Francisco September 29, 1921 via Guam, Midway, and Pearl Harbor. Greer decommissioned at San Diego June 22, 1922, and was placed in reserve.

Greer recommissioned March 31, 1930, Commander J. W. Bunkley in command. Operating with the Battle Fleet, she participated in a variety of exercises along the coast from Alaska to Panama, with an occasional voyage to Hawaii. Transferred to the Scouting Fleet February 1, 1931, she cruised off Panama, Haiti, and Cuba before being attached to the Rotating Reserve from August 1933 to February 1934. Training exercises, battle practice, and plane guard duty filled Greer ' s peacetime routine for the next 2 years. She sailed for the East Coast and duty with the Training Squadron June 3, 1936. After conducting Naval Reserve cruises throughout that summer, Greer sailed for the Philadelphia Navy Yard September 28 and decommissioned there January 13, 1937.

As war swept across Europe, Greer recommissioned October 4, 1939, Commander J. J. Mahoney in command, and joined Destroyer Division 61 as flagship. After patrolling the East Coast and Caribbean, Greer joined the Neutrality Patrol in February 1940. Detached from this duty October 5, the destroyer patrolled the Caribbean that winter. She joined other American ships on operations in the North Atlantic early in 1941, out of Reykjavík, Iceland, and NS Argentia, Newfoundland. United States ships, as non-belligerents, could not attack Axis submarines but, as the German High Command stepped up the pace of the war through the summer of 1941, Greer found herself involved in an incident which brought America's entry into the war nearer.

[edit] The Greer incident, Sept. 1941 [ edit | edit source ]

The "Greer incident" occurred September 4. By all accounts, a German submarine (later identified as U-652) fired upon the Greer, but made no contact. When news of the encounter reached the United States, public concern ran high. Initial reports reported that a British aircraft aided in repelling the attack.

In response, Germany claimed "that the attack had not been initiated by the German submarine on the contrary, . the submarine had been attacked with depth bombs, pursued continuously in the German blockade zone, and assailed by depth bombs until midnight." [1] The communique implied that the U.S. destroyer had dropped the first depth bombs. [1] Germany accused President Roosevelt of "endeavoring with all the means at his disposal to provoke incidents for the purpose of baiting the American people into the war." [2]

The United States Department of the Navy replied that the German claims were inaccurate and that "the initial attack in the engagement was made by the submarine on the Greer." [3] Roosevelt made the Greer incident the principal focus of one of his famed "fireside chats", where he explained a new order he issued as commander-in-chief that escalated America nearer to outright involvement in the European war. In Roosevelt's words:

The Greer was flying the American flag. Her identity as an American ship was unmistakable. She was then and there attacked by a submarine. Germany admits that it was a German submarine. The submarine deliberately fired a torpedo at the Greer, followed by another torpedo attack. In spite of what Hitler's propaganda bureau has invented, and in spite of what any American obstructionist organization may prefer to believe, I tell you the blunt fact that the German submarine fired first upon this American destroyer without warning, and with the deliberate design to sink her. [4]

Declaring that Germany had been guilty of "an act of piracy," [4] President Roosevelt announced what became known as his "shoot-on-sight" order: that Nazi submarines' "very presence in any waters which America deems vital to its defense constitutes an attack. In the waters which we deem necessary for our defense, American naval vessels and American planes will no longer wait until Axis submarines lurking under the water, or Axis raiders on the surface of the sea, strike their deadly blow—first." [4] He concluded:

The aggression is not ours. [Our concern] is solely defense. But let this warning be clear. From now on, if German or Italian vessels of war enter the waters, the protection of which is necessary for American defense, they do so at their own peril. . . . The sole responsibility rests upon Germany. There will be no shooting unless Germany continues to seek it. [4]

Senator David I. Walsh (DemocratMassachusetts), isolationist Chair of the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, scheduled a committee hearing to unearth the details of the incident, which prompted Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, to issue a written report. Stark's account, made public in October 1941, confirmed that the Greer dropped its charges only after the submarine fired its first torpedo at it, but revealed that the Greer had gone in search of the submarine after its presence was noted by the British aircraft. Admiral Stark's report stated:

At 0840 that morning, Greer, carrying mail and passengers to Iceland, "was informed by a British plane of the presence of a submerged submarine about 10 miles [(16 km)] directly ahead. . . . Acting on the information from the British plane the Greer proceeded to search for the submarine and at 0920 she located the submarine directly ahead by her underwater sound equipment. The Greer proceeded then to trail the submarine and broadcast the submarine's position. This action, taken by the Greer, was in accordance with her orders, that is, to give out information but not to attack." The British plane continued in the vicinity of the submarine until 1032, but prior to her departure the plane dropped four depth charges in the vicinity of the submarine. The Greer maintained [its] contact until about 1248. During this period (three hours 28 minutes),the Greer maneuvered so as to keep the submarine ahead. At 1240 the submarine changed course and closed the Greer. At 1245 an impulse bubble (indicating the discharge of a torpedo by the submarine) was sighted close aboard the Greer. At 1249 a torpedo track was sighted crossing the wake of the ship from starboard to port, distant about 100 yards [(100 m)] astern. At this time the Greer lost sound contact with the submarine. At 1300 the Greer started searching for the submarine and at 1512 . . . the Greer made underwater contact with a submarine. The Greer attacked immediately with depth charges. [5]

Stark went on to report that the result of the encounter was undetermined, [5] although most assumed from the German response that the sub had survived.

Prominent historian (and isolationist) Charles A. Beard would later write that Admiral Stark's report to the Senate Committee "made the President's statement. appear in some respects inadequate, and, in others, incorrect." [6] In his postwar summary of the Stark report, Beard emphasized that (1) the Greer had chased the sub and held contact with the sub for 3 hours and 28 minutes before the sub fired its first torpedo (2) the Greer then lost contact with the sub, searched, and after re-establishing contact two hours later, attacked immediately with depth charges, then (3) searched for three more hours before proceeding to its destination. [6]

The Stark report's account of how the Greer's engagement began caused Pulitzer-prizewinning New York Times reporter Arthur Krock to address it (and the Nazi sub engagements with the Kearny, and the Reuben James) when speaking about "who 'attacked' whom." [7] [8] Krock defined the term "attack" as "an onset, an aggressive initiation of combat, a move which is the antithesis of 'defense.'" [7] "In that definition," he said, "all three of our destroyers attacked the German submarines." [7]

A 2005 book concluded that Senator Walsh's "very aggressive actions in the USS Greer case prevented war from breaking out in the Atlantic." [9]

[edit] 1941 to 1945 [ edit | edit source ]

Greer remained in the North Atlantic through 1941, shepherding convoys to and from MOMP, the mid-ocean meeting point at which American ships took over escort duties from the hard-pressed Royal Navy. After overhaul at Boston, she turned south March 3, 1942 to resume patrol duty in the Caribbean. In addition to regular escort duties, Greer performed many other tasks, including rescuing 39 victims of German U-boats. In May she stood guard off Pointe a Pitre, Guadaloupe, trying to keep the Vichy French government from getting Jeanne d'Arc to sea.

Sailing from Guantanamo Bay January 23, 1943, Greer sailed to Boston then headed for the Atlantic convoy duty. Departing NS Argentia, Newfoundland March 1, 1943, she escorted merchantmen for Northern Ireland. During heavy North Atlantic gales, Convoy SC-121 lost seven ships to three separate U-boat attacks before reaching Derry March 13. Greer then escorted 40 merchantmen on the return voyage without incident, and continued on to Hampton Roads April 15 with tanker Chicopee.

After exercises in Casco Bay, Greer departed New York May 11 with a convoy of 83 ships. Reaching Casablanca, Morocco, June 1, the destroyer patrolled off the North African port and then recrossed the Atlantic, arriving New York June 27. After another run to Northern Ireland, Greer returned to New York August 11.

After steaming to Norfolk, she sailed for the British West Indies August 26 to serve briefly as plane guard to Santee. She rendezvoused with a convoy in the Caribbean and headed for North Africa. Diverted to New York, she docked there September 14. Routine training exercises turned into tragedy October 15 as Greer collided with Moonstone off the mouth of Indian River, Delaware Capes (35 miles (56 km) south-east of Cape May, New Jersey). Moonstone sank in less than 4 minutes, but Greer rescued all the crew but one.

After repairs, the destroyer escorted the Free French Gloire from New York to Norfolk. Greer sailed December 26 with another Casablanca-bound convoy and after an uneventful crossing returned to Boston February 9, 1944. This was the final transatlantic crossing for the old four-stack destroyer, as she and her sister ships were replaced by newer and faster escorts.

[edit] Convoys escorted [ edit | edit source ]

Convoy Escort Group Dates Notes
ON 24 13-15 Oct 1941 [10] from Iceland to Newfoundland prior to US declaration of war
SC 48 16-17 Oct 1941 [11] battle reinforcement prior to US declaration of war
ON 37 22-30 Nov 1941 [10] from Iceland to Newfoundland prior to US declaration of war
HX 165 17-24 Dec 1941 [12] from Newfoundland to Iceland
ON 51 2-11 Jan 1942 [10] from Iceland to Newfoundland
HX 170 16-17 Jan 1942 [12] from Newfoundland to Iceland
SC 121 MOEF group A3 3–12 March 1943 [11] from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 175 MOEF group A3 25 March-8 April 1943 [10] from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland

[edit] Auxiliary service [ edit | edit source ]

The veteran destroyer spent the remainder of her long career performing a variety of necessary tasks in American waters. After a tour of submarine training duty at New London, Greer became plane guard for several new aircraft carriers during the summer of 1944. Operating from various New England ports, she served with Ranger, Tripoli, Mission Bay, and Wake Island. Sailing to Key West in February 1945, Greer continued plane guard duty until June 11 when she sailed to the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Greer decommissioned July 19, 1945. Her name was struck from the Navy list August 13 and her hull was sold to the Boston Metal Salvage Company of Baltimore, Maryland on November 30, 1945.


When the destroyer USS Reuben James (DD-245) was assigned to convoy duty in the North Atlantic in the autumn of 1941, its crew had a sense of foreboding and feared the worst. Germany and Great Britain had been at war for two years. The United States was still neutral, at least officially, but neutrality offered little solace—or protection. Deadly German U-boats were prowling the North Atlantic and feasting on Allied shipping. Convoy duty was hazardous and becoming more so by the day.

Reuben James is a name rich in Navy lore. On February 16, 1804, James, a boatswain’s mate, stood on the deck of the USS Philadelphia in Tripoli as Barbary pirates struck.

When a sword-wielding pirate attacked Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, James is said to have jumped in front of Decatur and taken the blow meant for him. The ship named for James, the USS Reuben James, was a four-stack destroyer, commissioned in 1920. She was 314 feet long, 30 feet in the beam, and capable of speeds of up to 33 knots. She was armed with four 4-inch guns in her main battery, torpedo tubes, depth charges, and numerous antiaircraft weapons. To her crew, she was affectionately known as “Ol’ Rube.”

Although the United States was still offi- cially neutral, Congress had enacted the Lend-Lease Act in March 1941 to help Great Britain survive. The act permitted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sell, lend, or lease munitions, aircraft, weapons, and military supplies to “the government of any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States.” Great Britain was one of those countries.

U.S. Navy ships helped escort the convoys bringing Lend-Lease goods to England. The Royal Canadian Navy escorted the convoys to a point off Newfoundland. The U.S. Navy picked the convoys up there, escorted them out into the Atlantic, and handed them over to the British Royal Navy at a mid-ocean meeting point. The Navy performed these duties while the United States maintained its official neutrality. The pretext was that the Navy was helping to supply American troops stationed in Iceland. Merchant ships of other nations, such as Great Britain, were free to tag along, and these “hitchhikers” got U.S. Navy protection. This subterfuge was necessary because of isolationist sentiment in Congress, but it fooled few, least of all the German Navy.

On September 4, 1941, a German U- boat attacked the destroyer USS Greer (DD-145) as she steamed alone toward Iceland. The Greer dodged two torpedoes and counterattacked with depth charges. In response, Roosevelt ordered the Navy to shoot on sight any Axis warship found in waters “the protection of which is necessary for American defense.” The North Atlantic came within the scope of this order. Roosevelt’s logic was simple: “If you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him.”

USS Reuben James by Navy artist Griffith Baily.

On October 17, 1941, a U-boat torpedoed the USS Kearny (DD-432) as she escorted a 50-ship convoy. U-boats had already torpedoed several merchant ships in this convoy and a burning ship had silhouetted the Kearny, making her an easy target. The Kearny, a modern ship commissioned in 1940, survived the attack and reached port, but 11 sailors were killed and 22 more were injured. “Hitler’s torpedo,” Roosevelt said, “was directed at every American,” but America did not go to war over this act of war.

The escalating danger worried the crew of the Reuben James. They listened to the radio, read the newspapers, and knew the score. When chief machinist’s mate Alton Cousins visited his family that fall, he left his gold watch behind. “It’s not going down with me,” he told his wife. While on leave, boatswain’s mate Frederick Post had a drink with a friend and predicted it would be the last drink they would ever have together. For gunner’s mate Walter Sorensen, his main wish was to come home on leave just once more, “even if it is only for a few days.” “Ol’ Rube” was not as rugged or in the same class as modern destroyers like the Kearny, but “in an emergency … these craft must be used as found,” retired Admiral William V. Pratt told Newsweek magazine.

On October 23, 1941, the Reuben James left Argentia, Newfoundland, to escort convoy HX-156. Her skipper was Lt. Cmdr. Heywood L. “Tex” Edwards, a 1926 Naval Academy graduate and a member of the 1928 U.S. Olympic wrestling team. The Reuben James was one of five destroyers escorting the convoy’s more than 50 merchant ships, many of which flew the Union Jack. Her mission, seaman James Thompson wrote to his parents, was to “see who is raising hell with our ships.”

Only one destroyer in the convoy—the USS Niblack (DD-424)—had radar. On the Reuben James, torpedoman Robert Howard recalled, “All you had was a pair of binoculars and a rubber ear to press against the skin of the ship to listen for [submarine] screw noises.”

The Reuben James’ last day was October 31, 1941. At daybreak, she was about 600 miles west of Ireland and “blacked out to avoid reflection in the inquisitive monocles of U-boat periscopes,” as Newsweek put it. A torpedo fired by U-552 hit her on the port side, ignited her forward magazine, and blew her in half. “With a terrific roar a column of orange flame towers high into the night as her magazines go up,” recalled Griffith Baily Coale, a naval artist sailing with the convoy.

Survivors on the Reuben James saw the instantaneous damage. “The whole front of the ship lifted up and it was gone. Gone in an instant,” recalled electrician’s mate Thomas Turnbull. “Midships was now the bow” is how fireman Norman Hingula described it. The aft part of the ship remained afloat for about five minutes.

Those who survived the blast jumped into the frigid water. They had no choice. The Reuben James carried only two lifeboats and they were now useless. One had been demolished by the torpedo the other could not be lowered into the water because of the steep angle of the sinking ship.

The USS Kearny, shown here, was attacked by a U-boat two weeks before the James was sunk, causing the deaths of 11 Americans. Neither attack provoked the U.S. into declaring war on Germany.

As the survivors struggled to stay afloat, unsecured depth charges from the Reuben James hit the water as the ship sank. Terrified sailors heard the depth charges arm themselves, and then the charges exploded, hurling debris and men into the air. “If it hadn’t been for those depth charges, we probably would have had another 40 or 50 survivors,” recalled Fireman Second Class George Giehrl. “Some were knocked unconscious. Others were torn apart.”

Nearby ships rushed in to save the survivors. Rescuers heard “cursing, praying, and hoarse shouts for help” from sailors struggling to stay alive. “Choking on oil and water, they are like small animals caught in molasses,” artist Coale wrote. Acting with “cold precision,” the ships and their crews rescued the few survivors.

“I know I got picked up pretty quick,” said William Bergstresser, a chief machinist’s mate. “The water was so cold it would kill you in no time. But it didn’t seem quick. It seemed like a long time.”

Of the ship’s crew, only 45 were saved 99 sailors perished, including all seven of the ship’s officers. Among the sailors lost were Alton Cousins, who never reclaimed his gold watch, Frederick Post, who never had another drink with his friend, and Walter Sorensen, who never got his wished-for last visit home.

The presence of the escort destroyers may have saved the crew of the Reuben James from even greater casualties. On April 2, 1942, the same U-boat—U-552— sank the SS David H. Atwater, an unescorted collier, off the coast of Virginia. As the crew abandoned ship, U-552 raked them with machine-gun fire, killing all but three of the 27 men.

Word of the Reuben James sinking quickly reached the United States, but details were few. When Neda Boyd, wife of machinist’s mate Solon Boyd, heard the news on the radio, she “froze in the chair.” She felt a sense of doom because, when last home, her husband had told her, “I’m afraid we won’t be back this time.” Their six-year-old daughter heard the name of her dad’s ship on the radio and wept inconsolably. (Luckily, Boyd survived).

A New York Times editorial said that the sinking “brushes away the last possible doubt that the United States and Germany are now at open war in the Atlantic.” “Worse than piracy,” proclaimed Navy Secretary Frank Knox, and Senator Alben Barkley of Kentucky accused the Germans of trying “to drive us off the seas, and I don’t believe the American people are ready to be driven off.” Senator George Aiken of Vermont, however, said that Roosevelt was “personally responsible for whatever lives may have been lost” because he had ordered convoy duty.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill cabled Roosevelt that he “grieved at the loss of life you have suffered with Reuben James.” In her daily newspaper column, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote that she could not “help but think of every one of the 120 men and their families, who are anxiously awaiting news.” The Russian newspaper Pravda praised the United States for having “taken its fighting post,” and the London Daily Mail predicted that the United States was “marching down the last mile to a declaration of war.”

Germany defended the attack. By escorting British ships, a German official said, the Reuben James became fair game: “Anybody walking along the railroad tracks at night should not be surprised if they get run over by an express train.” Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota seemed to agree. “You can’t expect to walk into a barroom brawl and hope to stay out of the fight,” he said. Japanese officials were strangely silent.

While news of the sinking arrived quickly, word on the fate of the crew took several days longer. In Portland, Maine, where about half the crew lived, the wives of 40 crew members—“red-eyed and listless, after hours of vigil with little sleep”— awaited news of their husbands.

On November 2, Almeda Edwards, wife of Lt. Cmdr. Edwards, wrote to her husband, “It has been two days and still no one has told me that you are coming back to me. I know you will though….” Before she could mail her letter, however, she learned that her husband would not return. Like many others, she received the dreaded news through a telegram from “C.W. Nimitz, Chief of Bureau of Navigation.”

Forty-three years earlier, the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor had led to an outcry for war, but the sinking of the Reuben James did not spark the same reaction. Roosevelt did not break off diplomatic relations with Germany, and he stayed away from the bellicose rhetoric he had used after the Greer and Kearny attacks. As for a declaration of war, the New York Times noted, “The people, their Representatives in Congress and even many high officials of the government are deeply divided on the subject.” Rather than spark enlistments, Navy enlistments declined 15 percent in November 1941, something officials attributed to the loss of life on the Reuben James.

Some did rally to the flag, however. John Ryan, 43, joined the Navy after his son, John Jr., died on the Reuben James. He said he was “itching to get a crack at” the German Navy. Young men in Logan County, West Virginia, home of lost sailor George Woody, sought revenge. “The incident stirred up emotions in our hometown. As a result, several of us local boys enlisted in the Navy,” said Farris Burton, one of those who joined up.

In Boston harbor, the Navy held a memorial service on the deck of the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”), a ship well known to sailor Reuben James, as the families of the lost seamen looked on with “tear-stained, tight-lipped faces.” Six women, led by Almeda Edwards, “tossed flowers on the ebbing tide and even as they did the sun broke through the thick clouds and bathed the wreaths in its pale light,” the Associated Press reported.

World events soon pushed the Reuben James to the side. Five weeks later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Congress declared war on Japan, and Germany declared war on the United States.

The Reuben James, however, was not forgotten, thanks in large part to folksinger Woody Guthrie’s ballad about the sinking: “Tell me what were their names. Tell me what were their names. Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?”

Comments

My two Uncles died on board when the ship was sunk. Corbin Dyson and Charles Harris.


Greer DD- 145 - History

In December of 1955, While under conversion to carry the Terrier anti-aircraft guided missile system, USS Gyatt (DD-712) was redesignated DDG-1, introducing a hull number series separate from that previously used for destroyer types. However, the first eight of a planned new type of guided-missile destroyer (which became the Charles F. Adams class) were designated DDG-952 through DDG-959 in August 1956, placing them in the "mainstream" destroyer series. Late in December of that year, less than a month after recommissioning as DDG-1, Gyatt followed suite, becoming DDG-712. She kept that designation for less than five months, again becoming DDG-1 in May 1957. About a month later, the eight new-construction guided-missile destroyers were also placed in the new DDG hull number series, becoming DDG-2 through DDG-9. Continued to the present day, this separate DDG series absorbed ten former large guided-missile frigates in 1975, and has now extended to well above DDG-110.

There were, however, two significant diversions back into the "mainstream" destroyer series. The first of these involved a planned series of six (later reduced to four) modified Spruance (DD-963) class destroyers ordered by Iran with guided missile "main batteries". Designated DD-993 through DD-996, these four ships were acquired by the U.S. Navy in mid-1979. They were soon redesignated DDG-993 through DDG-996 and retained those numbers until sold abroad in 2003. In 2001 the planned "DD-21" ( Zumwalt ) advanced technology destroyer was recast as "DD(X)" and, in 2006, was designated DDG-1000. The next ship of this type, for which a construction contract was awarded in 2008, became DDG-1001, and subsequent members of the class, if built, will apparently be DDG-1002 and above. Though outside of the regular DDG hull number series, the guided-missile destroyer members of the DD number series are included in the list provided below.

This page provides the hull numbers of all U.S. Navy guided missile destroyers numbered in the DDG series, plus those in the DD series that had "DDG" designators. Links are provided to entries for those DDGs that have photos available in the Online Library.
Note: Some ships built for foreign nations were assigned U.S. Navy DDG hull numbers. However, as is noted in the list below, none of these had USN service.

See the list below to locate photographs of individual guided missile destroyers.

If the guided missile destroyers you want does not have an active link on this page, contact the Photographic Section concerning other research options.

Left Column --
Guided Missile Destroyers numbered
DDG-1 through DDG-50:


This photo of USS Greer DD 145 is exactly as you see it with the matte printed around it. You will have the choice of two print sizes, either 8″x10″ or 11″x14″. The print will be ready for framing, or you can add an additional matte of your own choosing then you can mount it in a larger frame. Your personalized print will look awesome when you frame it.

We can PERSONALIZE your print of the USS Greer DD 145 with your name, rank and years served and there is no ADDITIONAL CHARGE for this option. After you place your order you can simply email us or indicate in the notes section of your payment what you would like printed. For example:

United States Navy Sailor
YOUR NAME HERE
Proudly Served: Your Years Here

This would make a nice gift for yourself or that special Navy veteran you may know, therefore, it would be fantastic for decorating the home or office wall.

The watermark “Great Naval Images” will NOT be on your print.

Media Type Used:

The USS Greer DD 145 photo is printed on Archival-Safe Acid-Free canvas using a high-resolution printer and should last many years. The unique natural woven texture canvas offers a special and distinctive look that can only be captured on canvas. Most sailors loved his ship. It was his life. Where he had a tremendous responsibility and lived with his closest shipmates. As one gets older, the appreciation for the ship and the Navy experience will get stronger. The personalized print shows ownership, accomplishment and an emotion that never goes away. When you walk by the print you will feel the person or the Navy experience in your heart.

We have been in business since 2005 and our reputation for having great products and customer satisfaction is indeed exceptional. You will, therefore, enjoy this product guaranteed.


This photo of USS Greer DD 145 personalized print is exactly as you see it with the matte printed around it. You will have the choice of two print sizes, either 8″x10″ or 11″x14″. The print will be ready for framing, or you can add an additional matte of your own choosing then you can mount it in a larger frame. Your personalized print will look awesome when you frame it.

We PERSONALIZE your print of the USS Greer DD 145 with your name, rank and years served and there is NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE for this option. After you place your order you can simply email us or indicate in the notes section of your payment what you would like printed. For example:

United States Navy Sailor
YOUR NAME HERE
Proudly Served: Your Years Here

This would make a nice gift for yourself or that special Navy veteran you may know, therefore, it would be fantastic for decorating the home or office wall.

The watermark “Great Naval Images” will NOT be on your print.

Media Type Used:

The USS Greer DD 145 photo is printed on Archival-Safe Acid-Free canvas using a high-resolution printer and should last many years. The unique natural woven texture canvas offers a special and distinctive look that can only be captured on canvas. Most sailors loved his ship. It was his life. Where he had tremendous responsibility and lived with his closest shipmates. As one gets older, the appreciation for the ship and the Navy experience will get stronger. The personalized print shows ownership, accomplishment and an emotion that never goes away. When you walk by the print you will feel the person or the Navy experience in your heart.

We have been in business since 2005 and our reputation for having great products and customer satisfaction is indeed exceptional. You will, therefore, enjoy this product guaranteed.


Why Was the Boston Tea Party Not Stopped by British Troops?

Why were the Sons of Liberty not stopped by British troops as they boarded three ships in Boston Harbor on Dec. 16, 1773 (Boston Tea Party)? Were there no Redcoats patrolling the area? How long did the Boston Tea Party last? An hour, two hours? Why weren't they apprehended?

Answer

The tea was on three privately owned merchant ships. One hundred and fourteen chests were on board the Dartmouth, the first ship to arrive in port. The other two ships, the Eleanor and the brig Beaver carried 228 chests between them, along with other cargo. As the ships sailed into Boston Harbor, they each passed by Castle William to the south, which was under the command of a British officer and had upwards of a hundred cannon. When the ships came into the harbor, but before they docked, port officials boarded them. That meant that they had officially reached port and that their movements were now under the command of port officials instead of their captains.

Behind the tea-laden ships, British Admiral John Montagu brought a squadron of warships to prevent the colonists from forcing the ships back out to sea before they were unloaded. This put the captains (and the ships' owners) in a bind. If the tea wasn't unloaded, customs weren't paid. And if the ships tried to sail back out of port, Montagu would stop them and charge them with failing to pay customs on their cargo that was due, according to him, because they had already entered port.

After a few days, the colonists had the ships come in close to Griffin's Wharf. The Sons of Liberty organized a continuous watch of the vessels. Twenty-five men on each shift ensured that the ships were not unloaded under the cover of darkness, or at least to sound an alarm if there was an attempt. The ships' captains came ashore and left the mates on board. The situation remained the same for more than two weeks.

Thomas Hutchinson, the royal governor of colonial Massachusetts, clearly understood that the colonists were angry, but he did not anticipate that they would damage the cargo. He was counting on the fact that after 20 days without having paid customs, the customs authorities—with the assistance of British sailors and soldiers—could legally impound the tea from the ships, and then, from Castle William, disburse it in small amounts to a few merchants who could resell it. This would circumvent the colonists' effort to make sure that the tea did not enter Massachusetts. Hutchinson and the apprehensive merchants who were willing to receive the tea had holed up with the troops in Castle William.

Boston was not under martial law, so soldiers were not policing the city, although Hutchinson could have brought a detachment of soldiers in, had he known beforehand the particulars of a threat. He did not post a military guard at the wharf, however, perhaps to avoid provoking a confrontation with the crowds keeping watch there.

On December 14th, when the 20 days of waiting were almost up, Hutchinson wrote his brother Elisha about the excited Bostonians, "I hardly think they will attempt sending the tea back, but am more sure it will not go many leagues: it seems probable they will wait to hear from the southward, and much may depend on what is done there." (Hutchinson, 96) Yet Hutchinson also believed the colonists might take some form of direct action if an attempt was made to land the tea onto the wharf.

Just after six o'clock on the night of December 16, 1773, a group of about 60 men daubed their faces with burnt cork, coal dust, or donned other makeshift disguises, armed themselves with hatchets, and formed a raiding party. Some of them styled themselves "Indians."

They made their way to the wharf. The Sons of Liberty's watch was already there, and still others joined them, either to assist or simply to see what was happening. The raiding party formed three groups of 50 each, and boarded all of the nearly deserted ships at about the same time. They met no resistance.

Lendall Pitts, the commander of the group that boarded the brig Beaver, "sent a man to the mate, who was on board, in his cabin, with a message, politely requesting the use of a few lights, and the brig's keys—so that as little damage as possible might be done to the vessel—and such was the case. The mate acted the part of a gentleman altogether. He handed over the keys without hesitation, and without saying a single word, and sent his cabin-boy for a bunch of candles, to be immediately put in use." (Thatcher, 181–2).

The moon shone brightly too, so their work was well lit. The night was very quiet and neither the crowd on the wharf nor the raiding party spoke much. Onlookers at the wharf, as well as the men on some of the closer British ships, however, quite distinctly heard the sounds of the chests being staved in.

The party quickly brought the 342 chests of tea (a total of 90,000 lbs.) onto the deck. They split them open and threw the tea and the chests overboard into the harbor. The party took care that no other property on board the ships was harmed, and that none of the raiders took away any of the tea. They even swept the decks clean of loose tea when they were done. They worked quickly, apprehensive of a possible attack from Admiral Montagu's squadron, part of which was only a quarter of a mile away.

Montagu watched the affair from the fleet, but he took no action because of the cargo ships' position next to the wharf. "I could easily have prevented the Execution of this Plan," he wrote the following day in a report, "but must have endangered the Lives of many innocent People by firing upon the Town." (Labardee, 145) Instead, he rowed ashore and watched from a building nearby, even briefly exchanging taunts with the Indians.

The tea party lasted three hours, finishing around nine o'clock. The raiding party then formed in rank and file by the wharf, and, shouldering their hatchets, marched, accompanied by a fifer, back into town, dispersed, and went home.

The next morning a large, winding mound of loose tea still floated in the harbor, and a party of colonists rowed out in boats and sank it down into the waters with their oars. The British fleet witnessed this, too, but did not interfere.

The disguised men's identities were kept secret by their fellow Bostonians, and Governor Hutchinson was unable to charge the members of the raiding party, but Parliament responded five months later (news traveled back and forth across the ocean very slowly then) with a series of measures meant to force Boston to heel.

Bibliography

Benjamin Bussey Thatcher ("A Bostonian") et al, Traits of the Tea Party being a memoir of George R. T. Hewes, one of the last of its survivors with a history of that transaction reminiscences of the massacre, and the siege, and other stories of old times (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1835).

Peter Orlando Hutchinson, The Diary and Letters of His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Esq. (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, & Co., 1884). Benjamin Woods Labaree, The Boston Tea Party (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964).


Yes, Americans Owned Land Before Columbus

What you were taught in elementary school about Native Americans not owning land is a myth. The truth is much more complicated.

There’s a myth that Europeans arrived in the Americas and divided the land up, mystifying Native Americans who had no concept of property rights. In reality, historian Allen Greer writes, various American societies had highly-developed systems of property ownership and use. Meanwhile, European colonists sometimes viewed land as a common resource, not just as individual property.

The mythic vision of clashing views of property goes back to John Locke. In 1689, the Enlightenment philosopher contrasted the “wild Indian” in America with the European property owner. Locke’s imaginary “Indian” had the right to the deer he kills but no claim on the forest itself. In contrast, Locke argued, white men could own property because they mixed their labor with the land, clearing, cultivating, and fencing it.

In reality, Greer writes, most people in the pre-Columbian Americas were primarily farmers, not hunter-gatherers. Around major Mesoamerican cities, cropland might be owned by households, temples, or urban nobles. As in Europe, less-cultivated areas like forests and deserts acted as a kind of regulated commons. They might belong to a person, family, or community, with legal provisions for local people to gather wood, berries, or game. In Iroquois and Algonquian nations, women in a particular family typically owned specific maize fields, although people of the area often farmed them, and distributed the harvest, collectively.

Even among North American hunter-gatherer nations, Greer writes, societies often allocated hunting grounds to specific families. And these people didn’t simply harvest nature’s bounty. They used techniques like diverting streams and burning underbrush to manage the land to ensure future harvests.

If the idea of pre-Columbian America as a universal commons is a myth, so is the story that Europeans immediately divided the land into individual plots of private property. Greer notes that in Mexico and other parts of the Americas, Spaniards established pastures and other common lands around their cities. Officials granted parts of this land to individual owners, but much of it remained a municipal commons owned by the town, with all residents entitled to share its bounty.

Similarly, in colonial New England, communal pastures were common. Some towns also used open-field tillage systems in which people owned plots of cropland individually but managed them collectively. It was only gradually, over the course of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, that New Englanders divided most agricultural land into family farms.

Once a Week

When Native and colonial conceptions of property clashed, it was sometimes in the form of Europeans imposing their ideas of common land on territory that was already owned. Colonists often allowed their livestock to roam freely, disrupting the forest ecosystems and ownership systems that provided a livelihood for local people. As a Maryland Native leader named Mattagund explained to colonial authorities, “Your cattle and hogs injure us. You come too near to us to live and drive us from place to place.”

When individual private property did finally become the norm across the Americas, it was through the destruction of prior systems of property rights.


Service history

1919 to 1941

Greer &apos s shake down took her to Azores, from which she rendezvoused with George Washington, carrying President Woodrow Wilson home from the Versailles Peace Conference, and escorted her to the United States. After exercises in coastal waters, Greer was assigned to Trepassey Bay, Newfoundland, for duties during a transatlantic flight by four Navy seaplanes, one of which, NC-4, safely completed the historic undertaking. After further training exercises and a European cruise, Greer was assigned to the Pacific Fleet, reaching San Francisco 18 November 1919.

Six months&apos duty with the Pacific Fleet terminated 25 March 1920, when Greer sailed to join the Asiatic Fleet. After standing by off Shanghai to protect American lives and property during riots there in May, Greer sailed to Port Arthur and Dairen on intelligence missions and returned to Cavite, Philippines, for fleet exercises. The destroyer returned to San Francisco 29 September 1921 via Guam, Midway, and Pearl Harbor. Greer decommissioned at San Diego 22 June 1922, and was placed in reserve.

Greer recommissioned 31 March 1930, Commander J. W. Bunkley in command. Operating with the Battle Fleet, she participated in a variety of exercises along the coast from Alaska to Panama, with an occasional voyage to Hawaii. Transferred to the Scouting Fleet 1 February 1931, she cruised off Panama, Haiti, and Cuba before being attached to the Rotating Reserve from August 1933 to February 1934. Training exercises, battle practice, and plane guard duty filled Greer &apos s peacetime routine for the next 2 years. She sailed for the East Coast and duty with the Training Squadron 3 June 1936. After conducting Naval Reserve cruises throughout that summer, Greer sailed for the Philadelphia Navy Yard 28 September and decommissioned there 13 January 1937.

As war swept across Europe, Greer recommissioned 4 October 1939, Commander J. J. Mahoney in command, and joined Destroyer Division 61 as flagship. After patrolling the East Coast and Caribbean, Greer joined the Neutrality Patrol in February 1940. Detached from this duty 5 October, the destroyer patrolled the Caribbean that winter. She joined other American ships on operations in the North Atlantic early in 1941, out of Reykjavík, Iceland, and NS Argentia, Newfoundland. United States ships, as non-belligerents, could not attack Axis submarines but, as the German High Command stepped up the pace of the war through the summer of 1941, Greer found herself involved in an incident which brought America&aposs entry into the war nearer.

The Greer incident, September 1941

The "Greer incident" occurred 4 September. By all accounts, a German submarine (later identified as U-652) fired upon the Greer, but made no contact. When news of the encounter reached the United States, public concern ran high. Initial reports reported that a British aircraft aided in repelling the attack.

In response, Germany claimed "that the attack had not been initiated by the German submarine on the contrary, . the submarine had been attacked with depth bombs, pursued continuously in the German blockade zone, and assailed by depth bombs until midnight." [1] The communique implied that the US destroyer had dropped the first depth bombs. [1] Germany accused President Roosevelt of "endeavoring with all the means at his disposal to provoke incidents for the purpose of baiting the American people into the war." [2]

The United States Department of the Navy replied that the German claims were inaccurate and that "the initial attack in the engagement was made by the submarine on the Greer." [3] Roosevelt made the Greer incident the principal focus of one of his famed "fireside chats", where he explained a new order he issued as commander-in-chief that escalated America nearer to outright involvement in the European war. In Roosevelt&aposs words:

The Greer was flying the American flag. Her identity as an American ship was unmistakable. She was then and there attacked by a submarine. Germany admits that it was a German submarine. The submarine deliberately fired a torpedo at the Greer, followed by another torpedo attack. In spite of what Hitler&aposs propaganda bureau has invented, and in spite of what any American obstructionist organisation may prefer to believe, I tell you the blunt fact that the German submarine fired first upon this American destroyer without warning, and with the deliberate design to sink her. [4]

Declaring that Germany had been guilty of "an act of piracy," [4] President Roosevelt announced what became known as his "shoot-on-sight" order: that Nazi submarines&apos "very presence in any waters which America deems vital to its defense constitutes an attack. In the waters which we deem necessary for our defense, American naval vessels and American planes will no longer wait until Axis submarines lurking under the water, or Axis raiders on the surface of the sea, strike their deadly blow𠅏irst." [4] He concluded:

The aggression is not ours. [Our concern] is solely defense. But let this warning be clear. From now on, if German or Italian vessels of war enter the waters, the protection of which is necessary for American defense, they do so at their own peril. . . . The sole responsibility rests upon Germany. There will be no shooting unless Germany continues to seek it. [4]

Senator David I. Walsh (Democrat–Massachusetts), isolationist Chair of the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, scheduled a committee hearing to unearth the details of the incident, which prompted Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, to issue a written report. Stark&aposs account, made public in October 1941, confirmed that the Greer dropped its charges only after the submarine fired its first torpedo at it, but revealed that the Greer had gone in search of the submarine after its presence was noted by the British aircraft. Admiral Stark&aposs report stated:

At 0840 that morning, Greer, carrying mail and passengers to Iceland, "was informed by a British plane of the presence of a submerged submarine about 10 miles [(16 km)] directly ahead. . . . Acting on the information from the British plane the Greer proceeded to search for the submarine and at 0920 she located the submarine directly ahead by her underwater sound equipment. The Greer proceeded then to trail the submarine and broadcast the submarine&aposs position. This action, taken by the Greer, was in accordance with her orders, that is, to give out information but not to attack." The British plane continued in the vicinity of the submarine until 1032, but prior to her departure the plane dropped four depth charges in the vicinity of the submarine. The Greer maintained [its] contact until about 1248. During this period (three hours 28 minutes),the Greer manoeuvred so as to keep the submarine ahead. At 1240 the submarine changed course and closed the Greer. At 1245 an impulse bubble (indicating the discharge of a torpedo by the submarine) was sighted close aboard the Greer. At 1249 a torpedo track was sighted crossing the wake of the ship from starboard to port, distant about 100 yards [(100 m)] astern. At this time the Greer lost sound contact with the submarine. At 1300 the Greer started searching for the submarine and at 1512 . . . the Greer made underwater contact with a submarine. The Greer attacked immediately with depth charges. [5]

Stark went on to report that the result of the encounter was undetermined, [5] although most assumed from the German response that the sub had survived. In fact, U-652 had indeed survived and promptly headed west to participate in the devastating U-boat pack attack on convoy SC 42 in early September. [6]

Historian Charles A. Beard would later write that Admiral Stark&aposs report to the Senate Committee "made the President&aposs statement. appear in some respects inadequate, and, in others, incorrect." [7] In his postwar summary of the Stark report, Beard emphasised that (1) the Greer had chased the sub and held contact with the sub for 3 hours and 28 minutes before the sub fired its first torpedo (2) the Greer then lost contact with the sub, searched, and after re-establishing contact two hours later, attacked immediately with depth charges, then (3) searched for three more hours before proceeding to its destination. [7]

The Stark report&aposs account of how the Greer&aposs engagement began caused Pulitzer-prizewinning New York Times reporter Arthur Krock to address it (and the Nazi sub engagements with the Kearny, and the Reuben James) when speaking about "who &aposattacked&apos whom." [8] [9] Krock defined the term "attack" as "an onset, an aggressive initiation of combat, a move which is the antithesis of &aposdefense.&apos" [8] "In that definition," he said, "all three of our destroyers attacked the German submarines." [8]

A 2005 book concluded that Senator Walsh&aposs "very aggressive actions in the USS Greer case prevented war from breaking out in the Atlantic." [10]

The episode did not escalate into war because both Hitler and Roosevelt were being very cautious. Hitler concentrated his resources on defeating the Soviet Union, while Roosevelt was building up a broad base of support for aggressive patrols of the North Atlantic. [11]

1941 to 1945

Greer remained in the North Atlantic through 1941, shepherding convoys to and from MOMP, the mid-ocean meeting point at which American ships took over escort duties from the hard-pressed Royal Navy. After overhaul at Boston, she turned south 3 March 1942 to resume patrol duty in the Caribbean. In addition to regular escort duties, Greer performed many other tasks, including rescuing 39 victims of German U-boats. In May she stood guard off Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, trying to keep the Vichy French government from getting Jeanne d&aposArc to sea.

Sailing from Guantanamo Bay 23 January 1943, Greer sailed to Boston then headed for the Atlantic convoy duty. Departing NS Argentia, Newfoundland 1 March 1943, she escorted merchantmen for Northern Ireland. During heavy North Atlantic gales, Convoy SC 121 lost seven ships to three separate U-boat attacks before reaching Londonderry Port on 13 March. Greer then escorted 40 merchantmen on the return voyage without incident, and continued on to Hampton Roads 15 April with tanker Chicopee.

After exercises in Casco Bay, Greer departed New York City 11 May with a convoy of 83 ships. Reaching Casablanca, Morocco, 1 June, the destroyer patrolled off the North African port and then recrossed the Atlantic, arriving New York 27 June. After another run to Northern Ireland, Greer returned to New York 11 August.

After steaming to Norfolk, she sailed for the British West Indies 26 August to serve briefly as plane guard to Santee. She rendezvoused with a convoy in the Caribbean and headed for North Africa. Diverted to New York, she docked there 14 September. Routine training exercises turned into tragedy 15 October as Greer collided with Moonstone off the mouth of Indian River, Delaware Capes (35 miles (56 km) south-east of Cape May, New Jersey). Moonstone sank in less than 4 minutes, but Greer rescued all the crew but one.

After repairs, the destroyer escorted the Free French cruiser Gloire from New York to Norfolk. Greer sailed 26 December with another Casablanca-bound convoy and after an uneventful crossing returned to Boston 9 February 1944. This was the final transatlantic crossing for the old four-stack destroyer, as she and her sister ships were replaced by newer and faster escorts.

Convoys escorted

Convoy Escort Group Dates Notes
ON 24 13� Oct 1941 [12] from Iceland to Newfoundland prior to US declaration of war
SC 48 16� Oct 1941 [13] battle reinforcement prior to US declaration of war
ON 37 22� Nov 1941 [12] from Iceland to Newfoundland prior to US declaration of war
HX 165 17� Dec 1941 [14] from Newfoundland to Iceland
ON 51 2� Jan 1942 [12] from Iceland to Newfoundland
HX 170 16� Jan 1942 [14] from Newfoundland to Iceland
SC 121 MOEF group A3 3� March 1943 [13] from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 175 MOEF group A3 25 March-8 April 1943 [12] from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland

Auxiliary service

The veteran destroyer spent the remainder of her long career performing a variety of necessary tasks in American waters. After a tour of submarine training duty at New London, Greer became plane guard for several new aircraft carriers during the summer of 1944. Operating from various New England ports, she served with Ranger, Tripoli, Mission Bay, and Wake Island. Sailing to Key West in February 1945, Greer continued plane guard duty until 11 June when she sailed to the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Greer decommissioned 19 July 1945. Her name was struck from the Navy list 13 August and her hull was sold to the Boston Metal Salvage Company of Baltimore, Maryland on 30 November 1945.


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