The merchant vessels and LST’s were not damaged and were able to continue on to Bizerte, Tunisia.
Still without power, the USS Holder was taken undertow by the HMS Mindful around 0230[12 April] to begin the 8 hour trip to Algiers. At the shipyard, debris was removed from the escort and her hull supported/patched in preparation for sea. While the crew worked hard to get their ship ready for the trip home, they were also able to obtain some rest and relaxation.
Early on 24 May 1944, the crippled DE was taken in tow by the USS Choctaw [ATF-70] to join a convoy to New York City. The Choctaw had been summoned for this task from her home base in Bermuda. No problems were encountered on route and the Holder arrived at the New York Navy Yard on 9 June 1944. The Choctaw was released to return to Bermuda.
While the USS Holder was in Algiers undergoing emergency repair work , the Coast Guard manned USS Menges [DE-320] had been torpedoed by the U-371 [ 3 May 1944]. At the time, she was escorting west-bound convoy GUS-38 near the Spanish coast. The aft part of the escort was destroyed---propellers and rudder carried away--- compartments wrecked—and the weapon system disabled. Like the Holder, she underwent repairs in Algeria and was subsequently towed to the New York Navy Yard, arriving 22 July 1944. Another escort in convoy GUS-38, the USS Fechteler [DE-157] was torpedoed by the U-967 on 5 May 1944. She went down carrying 29 members of her gallant crew. Location: 36d 7m N, 2d 40 m W. The USS Fechteler was the only DE lost in the Mediterranean Sea.
By this time, the repair staff at the New York Navy Yard had determined that it would not be economically feasible to overhaul the Holder. It was felt that she could better serve the Navy as a source of needed parts for other less damaged ships.
Shortly after the Menges arrived, it was decided that the stern of the Holder would be welded to the “remaining two-thirds” of the Menges. This destruction—reconstruction procedure took place at the New York Navy Yard between 14—31 August 1944. The “new” USS Menges left the Yard on 26 September for a shakedown cruise. She went on to serve throughout World War 11, winning 2 battle stars, and was decommissioned in 1947.
This was not the first “cross-over” between US warships during the war. Back on 25 May 1942, the USS Blakeley [DD-150] had her bow blown off by a torpedo fired by a U-boat. The incident occurred just off the coast of Martinique. Six men were killed and twenty one injured. Due to superb damage control, the destroyer made Port de France where she was fitted with a crude timber bulkhead. Upon her return to Philadelphia, Pa., where she had been built in 1918, the bow of the former USS Taylor [DD-94], now being used as a damage control training hulk, was grafted on to her. By September, the Blakeley was back on duty in the Caribbean. Ironically, she was one of the escorts with the USS Holder on the evening of 11 April 1944.
The USS Holder was formally decommissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 13 September 1944.
She now assumed her third career, that of a moored training ship [MTS]. After her aft section was braced, a 5” enclosed gun mount was mounted on her bow replacing the 3”/50 gun. She was used to train prospective destroyer escort crews.
After the war, on 19 June 1947, she was sold for scrap to John A. Witte, Staten Island, N.Y. The records show that she was awarded one battle star for her war service.
Cdr. Winthrop P. Buck, her last CO, passed away in 1974, Lt. Cdr. Harlan S. Friensehner on 24 March 2000, and Lt. Edward Maki on 6 June 1998.
A second Holder went on to serve in the fleet after the war. The USS Holder [DD-819], a Gearing Class destroyer, was placed in commission on 18 May 1946. In a déjà vu scenario, Mrs. Annette Holder again served as sponsor at the 25August 1945 launching. CDR. B. K. Atkins was her first commanding officer. Unlike the first USS Holder, she went on to have a long and distinguished career in the US Navy. High points included participation in the July 1958 landings in Lebanon, the November 1962 naval quarantine of Cuba, recovery of the Gemini 11 capsule in 1965, and the following year conducting fire support missions off Vietnam. She was stricken on 1 October 1976 and subsequently transferred to the Ecuadorian Navy where she served as the BAE Presidente Elroy Alfaro [DD-01].She was decommissioned in 1992 and scrapped.
The USS Stewart [DE-238], sole survivor of the 85 ship Edsall Class, has been a landlocked museum at Seawolf Park, Pelican Island, Galveston, Texas, since 1974. A victim of vandals and neglect throughout the years, the Cavalla Historical Foundation has begun restorative work on the DE and is receiving community support.
The veterans of the two Holders have established the USS Holder Association. Their purpose is to promote the memory of the two vessels and maintain fellowship among former crewmembers. To this end, a reunion is held annually, the last one being in Branson, Missouri, October 2002. The 25th annual reunion will be at the Sheraton Hotel, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, from 4---8 October 2003. Former crewmen can contact the Association at:
717 Canary Drive
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was last Updated: 13 August 2008
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This page was created by Doug Dame Sr.