Allied Warships

USS Leary (i) (DD 158)

Destroyer of the Wickes class

USS Leary shortly before she was sunk

NavyThe US Navy
PennantDD 158 
Built byNew York Shipbuilding Corp. (Camden, New Jersey, U.S.A.) 
Laid down6 Mar 1918 
Launched18 Dec 1918 
Commissioned5 Dec 1919 
Lost24 Dec 1943 
Loss position45° 15'N, 21° 40'W

Decommissoned 29 June 1922
Recommissioned 1 May 1930

On 24 December 1943, the American hunter-killer Task Group 21.14, formed around the USS Card was spotted by a German reconnaissance aircraft and the wolfpack Borkum was ordered to attack. The carrier had a narrow escape when three FAT torpedoes fired at 01.43 hours by U-415 (Neide) missed her. The same U-boat also missed the USS Decatur (DD 341) with a Gnat. At 05.05 hours, U-275 fired a Gnat at the USS Leary (DD 158) (Cdr. James Ellsworth Kyes, USN) and hit her on the starboard side in the after engine room. A second Gnat fired by U-382 (Zorn) at 05.21 hours missed the already sinking destroyer. She sank after a huge internal explosion within one minute about 585 miles west-north-west of Cape Finisterre in position 45º15'N, 21º40'W. 97 of the crew, including the commanding officer died and 59 survivors were rescued by the USS Schenck (DD 159), which found U-645 (Ferro) later the same day, evaded a torpedo and sinks the U-boat with depth charges.


Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 24 Dec 1943 by U-275 (Bork).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the USS Leary (i)

Commands listed for USS Leary (i) (DD 158)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Ethelbert Watts, USN17 Apr 19388 Jan 1941
2Lt. William Lockhart Harmon, USN8 Jan 1941Mar 1941
3Lt.Cdr. Clifford Ashton Fines, USNMar 194115 Dec 1941
4Lt. John Connor Atkeson, USN15 Dec 194111 Aug 1942
5T/Lt.Cdr. James Ellsworth Kyes, USN11 Aug 194224 Dec 1943 (+)

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Notable events involving Leary (i) include:

24 Dec 1943
On 24 Dec 1943 she was part of the escort for USS Card, when she was hit by 3 torpedoes, fired by U-275. 97 of her crew of 149 were lost. (1)

Media links

U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor
(£ 38.25)

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Blood on the Sea

Parkin, Robert Sinclair
($ 15.98)

U.S. Destroyers

Friedman, Norman

United States Destroyer Operations In World War II.

Roscoe, Theodore


  1. Personal communication

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