Donnell DE-56

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This Month in Naval History
Donnell DE-56

Donnell

Earl Roe Donnell, Jr., born 3 September 1918 in Temple, Tex., enlisted in the Naval Reserve 24 August 1940 and was appointed an aviation cadet 6 December. Ensign Donnell was killed in action while serving in Scouting Squadron 6 on board Enterprise (CV-6) during the attack on the Marshalls 1 February 1942. For his courage in pressing home his attack in the face of enemy fighter opposition and heavy antiaircraft fire, he was posthumously awarded the Air Medal.

(DE-56: dp. 1,400, 1. 306', b. 37'; dr. 9'5" B. 24 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 3 21" tt. 8 dcp., 1 dcp.(hh.) 2 dct.; cl. Buckley )

Donnell (DE-56) was launched 13 March 1943 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Hingham, Mass.; sponsored by Mrs. E. R. Donnell, mother of Ensign Donnell; and commissioned 26 June 1943, Lieutenant Commander F. C. Billings, USNR., in command.

Donnell sailed from Boston 31 August 1943 for transatlantic convoy duty. She guarded the safe passage of four convoys to Londonderry and return in the buildup for the invasion of Europe in June. At sea bound for Londonderry again on her fifth voyage, on 3 May 1944 Donnell made a sound contact, then sighted a periscope a few minutes later and pressed home a depth charge attack. Simultaneously she was struck by a torpedo which blew off her stern. Explosion of her own depth charges inflicted additional damage on the escort. Her casualties were 29 killed and 25 wounded.

Donnell was towed by Reeves (DE-156), Hopping (DE-155), and HMS Samsonia to Dunnstaffnage Bay, Scotland, arriving 12 May. Since repairs would have involved extensive reconstruction, she was placed in commission in reserve at Lisahally, Northern Ireland 20 June 1944, for use as an accommodation ship. She was reclassified IX 182, 15 July 1944. Towed to Plymouth, England, in July to embark passengers and take on cargo, Donnell was towed in August to Cherbourg, France, where she supplied electric power to shore installations. In February 194.5 she was returned to England, and served as barracks ship at Portland and Plymouth until towed back to the States, arriving at Philadelphia Navy Yard 18 July 1945. She was decommissioned 23 October 1945, and sold 29 April 1946.

 

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