USS Wickes (DD-75)/ HMS Montgomery

USS Wickes (DD-75) was the name ship of the Wickes class of destroyers. After a brief spell of service late in the First World War she took part in the US Neutrality Patrol in 1939-40, before being transferred to the Royal Navy, where she served as HMS Montgomery.

The Wickes was named after Lambert Wickes, an officer in the Continental Navy who transported Benjamin Franklin to France in 1776, but was lost at sea with his ship in 1777.

The Wickes was built by the Bath Iron Works of Bath, Maine. She was laid down on 26 June 1917, launched on 25 June 1918 and commissioned on 31 July 1918, with Lt. Commander John S. Barleon in command. Her engineering officer was Lt Ryland Dillard Tisdale, who was killed during the defence of the Philippines in 1942, and had the destroyer escort USS Tisdale (DE-33) named after him.

USS Wickes (DD-75) in Devonport Drydock, 1919
USS Wickes (DD-75) in
Devonport Drydock, 1919

The Wickes was rushed into service. She left New York on 8 August escorting a convoy of a dozen merchant ships across the Atlantic. She was detached from the escort towards the end of the run, and reached Queenstown on 19 August. On the following day she departed for New York via the Azores. This was her only visit to European waters during the First World War. After her return to the United States she was used on convoy escort duties off the US north-east. During one north bound convoy, which left New York on 7 October, she was hit by the flu epidemic, and by the time she reached Halifax thirty of her crew (including her captain) needed hospital treatment.

The Wickes last wartime operation also ended badly. On 23 October she left New York along with the armoured cruiser USS Pueblo, escorting another convoy. At just after 9pm she sighted an unidentified ship on a collision course. Despite her crew's best efforts the Wickes was unable to get out of the way in time, and the unidentified ship caused serious damge to the forward part of the destroyer (luckily without causing any casualties), before disappearing into the night. The Wickes managed to reach the New York Navy yard under her own power, arriving on 24 October. She was still there when the First World War ended.

Anyone who served on her between 31 July and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War victory medal.

Interwar Period

USS Wickes (DD-75) moored
USS Wickes (DD-75) moored

In December 1918 the Wickes left New York as part of the escort for President Woodrow Wilson, who crossed the Atlantic on the former German liner USS George Washington. After escorting the President to France, the Wickes carried out a cruise of northern Europe, visiting Hamburg, Stettin and Harwich. On 3 March 1919, while visiting Hamburg, she was involved in another collision, this time with the German merchant ship Ljusne Elf. She was repaired in time to escort President Wilson back across the Atlantic in the summer of 1919.

In July 1919 the Wickes moved to the Pacific. After undergoing an overhaul at Mare Island in the spring of 1920 she was taken over by Commander William F. Halsey (later an important Admiral during the Second World War). When Halsey commanded her the Wickes was part of Destroyer Division 15, and then Destroyer Division 10. On 1 March 1921 she sank the former German submarine UB-88 with gunfire, after the US Navy had finished with her. She was based on the US West Coast until she was decommissioned and placed in the reserve at San Diego on 15 May 1922.

The Wickes was recommissioned on 26 April 1930, and remained in service until she was decommissioned for a second time on 6 April 1937. In 1930 she was based at New York, and was used for training cruises with the Naval Reserve from the 3rd Naval District. In 1931 she visited Tampa, Florida and Mobiel Alabama, then later in the year took part in the Armistice Day observations at Bridgeport, Connecticut. In April 1932 she joined Rotating Reserve Squadron 20 on the West Coast, and from 1933 to 1937 she was based at San Diego.

Second World War - American Service

After the outbreak of the Second World War President Roosevelt decided to create a Neutrality Patrol, which would operate off the US East Coast, at the entrances to the Gulf of Mexico, the Panama Canal and around Guantanamo Bay. The Wickes was one of a large number of destroyers recommissioned to take part in the Neutrality Patrol. She was recommissioned on 30 September 1939, but needed some work to ready her for active service. She was finally ready in November, and she arrived at her new base at Key West, Florica, on 11 November 1939.

The Wickes was used to patrol the Yucatan Channel (between the western coasto of Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico), and the passage between the north coast of Cuba and Florida. She was used to shadow British and Allied warships hunting for German merchant ships, and merchant ships from the warring powers. On 14 December, on her first patrol, she encountered an Allied cruiser (either HMAS Perth or HMS Orion), and later in the month found the destroyer HMS Hereward operating twelve miles off Florida. The British aim was stop any German merchant ships reaching neutral waters. Early in January she began a second patrol, this time off Yucatan. In late January she moved to Guantanamo Bay to operate with the Atlantic Fleet, before joining DesDiv 64 for a visit to Venezuela, the Virgin Islands and the Dutch East Indies. She then became part of the Antilles Detachment of the Atlantic Squadron (USS Wichita (CA-45), USS Vincennes (CA-44), DesDivs 61, 64, 82 and 83). February ended with a patrol in the Florida Straits. In March-April she patrolled off the Yucatan. On her return from this trip she suffered minor damage in a collision with USS Twiggs (DD-127). The damage was soon repaired, and she took part in another Yucatan Patrol in mid April.

This was followed by a tour of San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which lasted into June. On 1-2 July she joined the battleships USS Texas (BB-35), Arkansas (BB-33) and New York (BB-34) and was used to to carry out simulated torpedo attacks against them. Shen was then based at San Juan for the rest of the month.

Second World War - HMS Montgomery

In the summer of 1940 Churchill and Roosevelt agreed the 'destroyers for bases' deal, in which Britain received fifty older destroyers. The Wickes was selected to take part in the deal. She underwent an overhaul at Galveston in July-August 1940. In September-October she moved around the US East Coast, reaching Halifax on 16 October.

The Wickes formed part of the fifth group of destroyers to be transferred. During the transitition period she was visited by the Canadian Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, and the Commander of Destroyers in the US Atlantic Fleet, Rear Admiral F. L. Reichmuth. Four days later, on 23 October, she was handed over the Royal Navy, and on the same day she was commissioned as HMS Montgomery (Pennant Number G.95). Lt Commander W.L. Puxley was her first British commander. After a few days of further preparation, the Montgomery departed for British waters on 1 November 1940. Her course took her across the scene of the one sided clash between the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay and the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer on 5 November. The destroyers were ordered to search for the Admiral Scheer and shadow her if she was found, but there was no trace, and they reached Belfast on 11 November. 

The Montgomery was quickly pressed into action. She was allocated to the Western Approaches command, and based at Liverpool. In this role she rescued 39 survivors from the sunk tanker Scottish Standard, torpedoed by U-96 on 21 February 1941. On 22 February the Wickes may have sunk the Italian submarine Marcello, which was lost while operating in the Atlantic in late February 1941.

Between April and September 1941 she underwent repairs at Barrow, before joining the 4th Escort Group, based at Greenock, on the Scottish coast. For the rest of 1941 and into early 1942 she was used to escort convoys between Britain and Canada. On 17 January 1942 she rescued seven survivors from the SS Friar Rock, torpedoed by U-130 four days earlier.

In February 1942 the Montgomery was transferred to the Western Local Escort Force, based at Halifax. She remained with this force for most of 1942-43, and spent much of this period on loan to the Royal Canadian Navy. She also visited Charleston for repairs over the winter of 1942-43. During this period she rescued the survivors from the Manchester Merchant, sunk by U-628 on 25 February 1943, and on 12 December she assisted the the barge Spruce Lake.

On 27 December 1943 the Montgomery departed from Halifax for Britain, taking with her the survivors from the destroyer HMS Hurricane, which had been sunk by U-415 on Christmas Eve. After her arrival in Britain the Montgomery was placed in reserve in the Tyne on 23 February 1944, and she remained in the reserve until she was scrapped in the spring of 1945.

Displacement (standard)

1,160t (design)

Displacement (loaded)

 

Top Speed

35kts (design)
35.34kts at 24,610shp at 1,149t on trial (Wickes)

Engine

2 shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
24,200shp (design)

Range

3,800nm at 15kts on trial (Wickes)
2,850nm at 20kts on trial (Wickes)

Length

314ft 4in

Width

30ft 11in

Armaments (as built)

Four 4in/50 guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple tubes
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement

114

Launched

25 June 1918

Commissioned

31 July 1918

To Royal Navy

October 1940

Sold for scrap

1945

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (25 January 2017), USS Wickes (DD-75)/ HMS Montgomery , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Wickes_DD75_HMS_Montgomery.html

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