Ships – WW II


U.S.S. William Lee Davidson
| U.S.S. Davidson | U.S.S. Neal A. Scott | U.S.S. Hunter Marshall

Four ships in service during the second World War were named after Davidson College, founders, or alumni.

Ship at sea

The U.S.S. William Lee Davidson at sea.

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U.S.S. William Lee Davidson

The U.S.S. William Lee Davidson was a liberty class ship launched from Wilmington, NC in March 1943. Davidson College has the same namesake. General William Lee Davidson was a local Revolutionary War hero who died at the battle of Cowan’s Ford in 1781 whose son, William Lee Davidson II, provided the initial acreage for the college.

Mrs. Chalmers G. Davidson (whose husband, Davidson College’s library director, was only Davidson faculty member to accept a commission into the armed forces) dedicated the U.S.S. William Lee Davidson. Davidson College donated New Testments for each sailor abroad the ship, as well as a Bible, history of Davidson College, and a picture of Chambers Building.

Manned largely by merchant marines, the S.S. William Lee Davidson ran supplies from 1943-1946. On March 9, 1946 it was grounded off of Oksoy Light, Norway; the ship was “refloated without assistance but sustained extensive bottom damage.” [Gossom] The U.S.S. William Lee Davidson entered the James River Reserve Fleet on October 3, 1946. On March 18, 1947 the U.S.S William Lee Davidson was withdrawn from the Navy for use in underwater explosion tests by the Navy.

” The ship [U.S.S. William Lee Davidson] sailed alone and Lieutenant R.W. Drexmit reported that there was no action except firing on a whale. The Captain, however, logged an incident in which a submarine attacked and was repelled by firing.”
– [“Davidson College Sailing”]

Ship launching

Launching of the U.S.S. Davidson Victory in Portland, Oregon [February 27, 1945]

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U.S.S. Davidson

The U.S.S. Davidson was a victory class ship launched February 1945 from Portland, Oregon. Dr. Chandler B. Beall, class of 1922, represented Davidson College at the commissioning.

The U.S.S Davidson was one of 534 Victory class ships built during WWII, approximently 120 of which were named for American colleges and universities.

As a Victory class cargo ship, she was over 455 feet in length, had a beam of 62 feets, and 369,330 cubic feet of dry cargo space. With her 8500 H.P. steam engine, she could reach speeds in excess of 15 knots. Her dead weight was 10,600 tons.

Davidson alumni and community donated more then 200 books for the ships’ library, along with “charts, etchings and pictorial publications, of the college.” [Books] The U.S.S. Victory was last operated by States Steamship Lines before being sold for dismantling to the Oregan Shipbreakers on March 27, 1968.

U.S.S. Neal A. Scott

The U.S.S. Neal A. Scott (DE-769), a Cannon class destroyer escort, was named for Ensign Neal A. Scott ’40. Scott died defending his ship on October 10, 1942 at the battle of Santa Cruz. Ensign Scott was awarded Purple Heart and the Navy Cross, posthumously.

The ship was launched June 4, 1944 and commissioned at the Lee Terminal, Tampa, Florida on July 31, 1944. Mrs. Leigh Scott and Miss Margaret Scott, Neal Scott’s mother and sister Neal Scott’s father, dedicated the ship. His father, Dr. Legh R. Scott ’08, represented Davidson College at the commissioning.

The U.S.S Neal A. Scott was an armed vessel approximently 300 feet long. Her four 16-278A diesel engines provided a maximum range of 10,800 miles at 12 knots and a top speed of 21 knots. She carried a complement of between 15 and 21 men.

On April 30, 1946 the U.S.S Neal A. Scott was decommissioned and joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. On June 1, 1968 she was stricken from the Navy record.

Christening party and ship

Christening the U.S.S. William Lee Davidson at Wilmington, NC. Mrs. Chalmers Davidson is holding the bottle. [March 24, 1943]

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U.S.S. Hunter Marshall

The U.S.S. Hunter Marshall (APD-112), a Crosley class high speed transport, was names in honor of Ensign Hunter Marsall III, class of 1939.

In April 1942 Hunter Marshall was assigned to the army merchant tanker Merrimack. On June 9, 1942, while carrying military supplies to the Panama Canal Zone, his ship was torpedoed by submarine J7-68 south of Yucatan Channel. “Despite the danger of further attacks Ensign Marshall led his Armed Guard gun crews in furious resistance to the submarine until the forward part of the ship was actually awash. Because of his loyal and determined fighting spirit, Marshall was one of the last to leave the ship and was lost.” [“Hunter Marshall”] He received a commendation from Secretary of the Navy and a Purple Heart, as well as a Silver Star, posthumously, for bravery in action.

The ship was commissioned on May 5, 1945 at the Bethlehem Hingham Shipyard Corporation, Hingham, Massachusetts. Hunter Marshall’s mother, Mrs. Hunter Marshall, dedicated the ship. Thomas Hill, class of 1929, represented Davidson College at the commissioning.

The U.S.S. Hunter Marshall was decommissioned on May 30,1946 and stricken from the navy record on June 1, 1960.

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Ships – Works Cited

“Books Given to Ship As School’s Gift.” Article. 1 November 1948. Wars – World War II – Ships – SS Davidson College Victory Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC

“College Names for 40 Vessels.” Article. Wars – World War II – Ships – SS Davidson College Victory Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC

Cunningham, J.R. 27 April 1945. Letter to Bethlehem Hingham Shipyard Corporation. World War II – Ships Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC

Cunningham, J.R. 29 March 1943. Letter to the Captain of the William L. Davidson. Wars – World War II – Ships – SS William Lee Davidson Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC

“Davidson College Sailing On ‘The Bounding Main’.” Davidsonian. 29 January 1971. Wars – World War II – Ships – SS Davidson College Victory Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC

“Details for Hunter Marshall, III.” Gold Star Veterns. 2000. Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. 28 January 2008. <http://www.cmstory.org/ww2/display2.asp?id=216>

“Details for Neal Anderson Scott.” Gold Star Veterns. 2000. Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. 28 January 2008. <http://www.cmstory.org/ww2/display2.asp?id=738>

Gossom, R.C. Report concerning the Davidson Victory and Article and William Lee Davidson. Wars – World War II – Ships – SS Davidson College Victory Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC

Hill, Thomas E. 8 May 1945. Letter to John. R. Cunningham. World War II – Ships Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC

“Hunter Marshall.” Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY – NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER. 28 January 2008. <http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/h9/hunter_marshall.htm>

“Neal A. Scott.” Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY – NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER. 28 January 2008. <http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/n3/neal_a_scott.htm>

“U.S.S. Neal A. Scott.” Davidson College Bulletin, Alumni Journal Issue. October 1944. World War II – Ships Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC

Author: Tammy Ivins
Date: January 2008

Cite as: Tammy Ivins, “Ships – WWII” Davidson Encyclopedia January 2008 <http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/ships-ww-ii/>

Related Entries: War College

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