- USS Fitch (DD-462)
USS "Fitch" (DD-462/DMS-25), a "Gleaves"-class
destroyer, was the only ship of the United States Navyto be named for LeRoy Fitch, an officer during the American Civil War.
"Fitch" (DD-462) was launched
14 June 1941by Boston Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. H. W. Thomas, grand-niece of CommanderFitch; and commissioned 3 February 1942, Lieutenant Commander Henry Crommelinin command. She was reclassified DMS-25 on 15 November 1944, and again classified DD-462 on 15 July 1955.
"Fitch"s first mission, between
1 July 1942and 5 August, was to escort the aircraft carrier"Ranger" (CV-4) to a point off the Gold Coast, where the carrier flew off Army planes for the base at Accra. The destroyer returned to Norfolk on 5 Augustfor exercises in preparation for the assault on North Africa, for which she sailed from Bermuda 25 October. Screening "Ranger" and two escort carriers, "Fitch" took part in the landings at Fedhala, French Morocco, on 8 November, and guarded the carriers as they flew Army planes off to the captured airfield at Port Lyautey. Returning to Norfolk 24 November, "Fitch" joined in exercises in Casco and Chesapeake Bays, and performed coastal escort duty, sailing as far south as the Panama Canal Zone, through the remainder of 1942.
8 January 1943, "Fitch" cleared Norfolk with "Ranger" on the first of two voyages to launch aircraft to North African bases. Operations with "Ranger" completed, "Fitch" served on patrol out of NS Argentia, Newfoundland, from 6 Aprilto 12 May, then sailed to Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands, Scotland, to join the British Home Fleetfor patrol duty between that base and Iceland. She served on this duty through the summer, protecting northern convoys, then returned to Norfolk 9 August.
2 September1943 to escort a convoy to Londonderry, Northern Ireland, "Fitch" continued to Thruso Bay, where on 20 Septembershe embarked Secretary of the Navy Frank Knoxand Admiral Harold R. Starkfor transportation to Scapa Flow. Operating out of Scapa Flow for the next two months, "Fitch" screened "Ranger" as her planes attacked German forces and installations near Bodø, Norway, on 4 October, and patrolled off Spitsbergenas the men of the weather station there were relieved and resupplied.
"Fitch" returned to Boston
3 December 1943to resume coastal and Caribbeanescort duty and to take part in hunter-killeroperations in the western Atlantic until 25 April 1944, when she got underway from Norfolk for Belfast, Northern Ireland. In the great buildup for the Normandy invasion, "Fitch" escorted single ships and convoys between Belfast and Plymouth, England, and took part in training exercises until 6 June, whenshe sailed from Plymouth for the assault.
Utah Beachearly in the morning of the invasion, "Fitch" followed the minesweepers through the newly swept channels to within 2,000 yards of the coast. Her mission was to draw out and silence German batteries prior to the landings. In addition to her effective gunfire, "Fitch" rescued the survivors of mined "Corry" (DD-463), keeping up her fire at the shore batteries as she did so. After two days screening the transport area, she returned to Plymouth for supplies, then continued to give fire support and to patrol off the beachheads until 19 June. Convoy escort duty around the British Isles was her assignment until 4 July, when she sailed from Belfast for Oran, and exercises in the western Mediterranean.
"Fitch" sortied from
Taranto, Italy, 11 August1944 for the invasion of Southern France on 15 August, during which she spotted the fire of battleship"Texas" (BB-35) as well as firing in the prelanding bombardment. Until 25 October, she supported the buildup in southern Franceby escorting convoys moving between Naples, Palermo, Oran, Gibraltar, and Marseilles. Between her return to Norfolk 10 Novemberand 3 January 1945, when she sailed for the Pacific, "Fitch" was converted to a high-speed minesweeper.
Pearl Harbor 10 February1945, "Fitch" trained in minesweeping exercises there and at Ulithi, where her propellers were badly damaged when she ran afoul of a coralpinnacle. Repairs were made at Pearl Harbor between 10 Apriland 6 August, when she sailed to join the U.S. 3rd Fleetoff Japan. "Fitch" began sweeping the entrance to Tokyo Bay 28 August, and was present for the surrender ceremonies on 2 September. She continued to sweep off Japan and in the East China Seauntil returning to San Diego on 23 December.
9 January 1946, "Fitch" arrived at Norfolk, where she was immobilized for a month. She voyaged between Norfolk, Charleston, and New York transferring minesweeper crews for several months, and in November, from her home port at Charleston, began regular operations training Mine Force officers, exercising in the Caribbean and along the east coast, and cruising to the Mediterranean in 1949, 1951, and 1953. During 1955, she conducted tests in the Caribbean for the Operational Development Force. "Fitch" was decommissioned at Charleston 24 February 1956and placed in reserve.
"Fitch" received five
battle stars for World War II service.
* [http://history.navy.mil/danfs/index.html history.navy.mil: USS "Fitch"]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/05idx.htm navsource.org: USS "Fitch"]
* [http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/ hazegray.org: USS "Fitch"]
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