The Lansdale (DD-426) was built by the Boston Navy Yard. She was commissioned on September 17, 1940 under the command of Lieutenant Commander John Conner. Her initial assignment took her to the Caribbean for patrol duty. She returned to Boston for training as an escort. She was then sent to Iceland at the end of June. For the rest of that year she escorted vessels sailing between Newfoundland and Iceland.
Action in World War II
After escorting troopships on the Eastern seaboard she performed antisubmarine patrols off of Iceland, the Panama Canal, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. She returned to Norfolk in mid 1942. After two escort voyages to Ireland and Scotland she departed for French Morocco. Until the end of the year she patrolled the waters off of Morocco and then escorted a large convoy back to New York.
In New York, the Lansdale was overhauled before going with another convoy to Ireland. From there she escorted a group of tankers to the West Indies. During the journey several German submarines attacked the tankers and sank three of them. Two others were damaged. The Lansdale launched counterattacks that prevented any further damage. She then sailed to Trinidad and then to Curacao as an escort. She made eight trips between the United Kingdom, the Caribbean and New York between the end of March and October.
The Lansdale made two trips to North Africa from the end of the year to the first part of 1944. She continued onto Algiers and then to Italy for operations off of Anzio. She returned to Oran in March and patrolled the waters for German submarines. She also provided fire cover for the bombardment of the western Italian shore. The Lansdale was escorting a convoy of 60 merchant ships and six troop transport ships when they were attacked by German bombers off of the coast of Algeria. The USS Holder was hit by a torpedo but no ships went down despite the repeated enemy attacks.
Destruction in Algeria
On April 18, German attacked the UGS-38 as their convoy headed for Bizerte. Because the German planes were flying low and close to the shoreline they evaded radar until they were already upon the convoy. The Lansdale was hit by a torpedo on the starboard side of the ship and was almost cut in two by the damage. She started to list and the skipper ordered the crew to abandon ship. The ship began to break in two and soon sank. In all, 235 survivors were rescued including the skipper and two German crewmen, though 47 members of the crew went down with the ship.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially during World War II, naval destroyers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.