A Tin Can Sailors
Destroyer History


The USS THOMPSON (DD-627) was launched 15 July 1942 at Seattle, Washington, by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation and was commissioned on 10 July 1943. In mid-October, she joined Convoy UGS-21 from Norfolk to North Africa and continued her transatlantic escort duties until mid-April when she sailed for England with DesRon 18.

In Portland, England, she participated in landing, shore bombardment, antiaircraft, and anti-Schnellboote, or E-Boat exercises, which were briefly interrupted on 28 April when German Heinkel-111s bombed and mined the harbor. On 5 June, she got underway for Omaha beach, arriving off Point du Hoc as army rangers were struggling to gain a foothold on the rocky promontory. She opened fire, efficiently eliminating her targets. Later, she cruised close inshore where her 5-inch guns destroyed three German “Wurzburg” radar antennae and a fortified house. Meanwhile, working with spotters ashore, her 40-mm guns blasted shore batteries and sniper nests.

On the evening of 9 June, she helped fight off an E-boat attack and on the 10th, she splashed a low-flying German plane. The next night it was back to chasing E-boats. On 12 June, the THOMPSON carried Admiral Ernest J. King, General Dwight D Eisenhower, General George C. Marshall, and General Henry H. Arnold across the channel to Omaha Beach and back. She continued off Normandy through June 1944, with frequent trips to England, including another to transport General Eisenhower.

On 24 July 1944, she steamed for North Africa and, then, Italy. On 6 August, she joined the Allied expeditionary forces for Operation Anvil, the invasion of southern France. The THOMPSON served in the screen and patrolled offshore throughout the operation from 15 to 18 September when she was homeward bound. On 3 January 1945, she began a regular schedule of East Coast operations and transatlantic convoy escort duty through April 1945. On 30 May, she was reclassified as a fast minesweeper and redesignated DMS-38. She was en route to the Pacific when Japan surrendered. She proceeded to Okinawa where she spent September and October dodging typhoons. In October, with MineDiv 61, she engaged in sweeping the Yellow Sea, an inlet of the East China Sea. By 17 November the area was clear of Japanese mines, 64 of which were located and destroyed by the THOMPSON. Her next sweep was off Nagoya.

A brief trip to Bikini Atoll before the atomic bomb tests, an overhaul, and operations out of San Francisco took her up to February 1947, when she sailed for Tsingtao, China, and six months duty with American occupation forces. In February 1949, the THOMPSON and three of her sister fast-minesweepers became Mine Squadron (MineRon) One and were assigned to the General Line School at Monterey. In June 1950, she was undergoing an overhaul at Pearl Harbor, when war broke out in Korea. She was rushed through overhaul and training and, on 4 October 1950, she and the CARMICK (DMS- 33) left San Diego for the Far East.

The THOMPSON and CARMICK joined the hastily assembled minesweeping task group consisting of the FORREST ROYAL (DD-872), CATAMOUNT (LSD-17), HORACE A. BASS (APD-124), PELICAN (AMS-32), SWALLOW (AMS-36), and GULL (AMS-16), LST Q- 007, four Republic of Korea minesweepers, and a helicopter from the  ROCHESTER (CA-124). Their mission was to open up the mined port of Chinnampo, which they did in slightly over two weeks. By early November, Chinese Communist forces had driven United Nations troops back to the coast. One of the evacuation ports was Chinnampo. There, the THOMPSON escorted the troopships loaded with evacuees out of the harbor.

Following duty as a harbor control vessel at Inchon, she was ordered to Sasebo, where MineRon 1 was regrouping. On 30 December 1950, with the DOYLE (DMS- 34) and ENDICOTT (DMS-36) she left for the east coast of Korea to clear the way for fire support ships. By mid-February 1951, she was operating from Wonsan north almost to the Manchurian border. Later, she screened the MISSOURI (BB-63) and MANCHESTER (CL-83), during their bombardment of Songjin. At Chunron Jang, the THOMPSON’s guns destroyed two railroad bridges. She also took part in “junk-busting” operations, patrolling for suspicious junks used by communist forces for infiltration and minelaying, and on one occasion, eliminating six North Korean junks.

From 1 April to 3 November 1951, the THOMPSON shelled communist positions, supply lines, and troop concentrations. On 14 June 1951, her gunners had just destroyed a railroad bridge near Songjin when shore batteries opened fire. One shell struck her bridge, knocking out her fire control, killing three of her crew, and wounding three others. Before she retired, however, she had destroyed one enemy battery and damaged another. She remained in Korean waters until 3 November when she headed for home.

In June 1952, she was again bound for Korea. Based in Songjin, she patrolled the coast and provided gunfire support. On 20 August 1952, off Songjin, a shell from a Chinese battery hit her flying bridge, killing four and wounding nine. Retiring from the scene, she transferred her casualties to the IOWA (BB-64). Following repairs at Sasebo, she headed back to Songjin to patrol as part of the United Nations blockade. On 20 November, while serving as gunfire support ship for the KITE (AMS-22) in Wonsan Harbor, she was hit by enemy fire amidships on the starboard side. Following repairs at Yokosuka, she returned to Songjin for the first of three tours that took her into February of 1953 when she and the CARMICK headed for the states.

She operated on the West Coast with MineDiv 11 through the summer of 1953, when she served as the CAINE during the filming of The Caine Mutiny. On 18 May 1954, the THOMPSON was decommissioned and placed in reserve. She was struck from the navy list on 1 July 1971 and sold to the American Ship Dismantlers of Portland, Oregon, on 7 August 1972 for scrapping.



From The Tin Can Sailor, October 2006

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