World War II operations of destroyers
originally attached to Squadron 15

DesRon 15 World War II operations
Destroyer Squadron 15 was the newest squadron of 1,620- and 1,630-tonners completed in time to operate during the invasion of North Africa in November 1942:
  • DesDiv 29 consisted of round-bridge Mervine (DD 489) and Quick (DD 490) and square-bridge Davison (DD 618), 1,630-tonners built consecutively at Federal, plus Beatty (DD 640) and Tillman (DD 640), the last two 1,630-tonners built at Charleston Navy Yard. All commissioned between and May and September 1942.
  • DesDiv 30 consisted of Cowie (DD 634), Knight (DD 635), Doran (DD 636) and Earle (DD 636), the last four 1,630-tonners built at Boston Navy Yard, which commissioned between June and September 1942.
Destroyer Squadron 15
1 November 1942
Destroyer Division 29
USS Mervine (DD 489), flag
USS Quick (DD 490)
USS Davison (DD 618)
USS Beatty (DD 640)
USS Tillman (DD 641)
Destroyer Division 30
USS Cowie (DD 632), flag
USS Knight (DD 633)
USS Doran (DD 634)
USS Earle (DD 635)

Less Earle and Davison—the two newest ships—which were were assigned to escort convoys into the area, the squadron participated in the invasion of North Africa in November 1942. Off Casablanca on the 16th, Quick, with DesRon 13’s Woolsey and Swanson, sank U-173, which had torpedoed Hambleton the previous day.

Over the next six months, squadron destroyers typically escorted convoys along the East Coast or between the East Coast and North Africa.

In July, DesRon 15 reformed in the Mediterranean for Operation “Husky,” the invasion of Sicily. Together with DesRon 16, it formed the destroyer screen for cruiser Philadelphia and the “Cent” attack groups of RAdm. A. G. Kirk’s Task Force 85, which landed the US 45th Infantry Division at Scoglitti on the 9th. The squadron moved around the coast to Palermo after General Patton’s troops siezed it on the 28th, and then swept east toward the Strait of Messina in search of Axis shipping.

Thereafter, until the Naval war in the Atlantic and Mediterranean wound down in 1945, the squadron returned to convoy escort assignments.

DesRon 15 in the Mediterranean Sea

DesRon 15 in the Mediterranean Sea.

It did not join Operation “Avalanche,” the assault on the Italian mainland at Salerno in September 1944, but that operation provided two highlights:

  • On the 9th, Knight and two Dutch gunboats siezed the offshore islands of Ventotene, Ponza, Procida and Ischia west of Naples and the Isle of Capri to the south.
  • In November, Davison, Mervine, Beatty and Tillman plus DesRon 16’s Parker, Laub and McLanahan were escorting 23 transports with reinforcements for Naples when German bombers and torpedo planes attacked off Cape Bougaroun, Algeria. Isolated in the rear of the formation, Tillman narrowly escaped both glider bomb and torpedo hits but Beatty was torpedoed and lost.

In 1945, DesRon 15 ships less Tillman were converted as fast minesweepers and sent to the Pacific in the summer as MinRon 21.

Tillman preceded them in April, and between May and September served as flagship of Destroyer Division 12 with Satterlee, Herndon and Shubrick, operating from Guam and Ulithi on lifeguard and antisubmarine picket duty. On 5 September, she accepted the surrender of Yap Island, and headed home in November.

Sources: Destroyer History Foundation database, Roscoe, Morison, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships entries for individual ships.