WWI & WWII Navy Destroyers Named after York Veteran

Memorial Day Tribute to Yorker Henry Laub

Memorial Day Tribute to Henry Laub [1792-1813] (Photo of Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial from National Park Service, Remainder by S. H. Smith, 2015)

Memorial Day Tribute to Henry Laub [1792-1813] (Photo of Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial from National Park Service, Remainder by S. H. Smith, 2015)

While reading old newspapers on microfilm at the York County Heritage Trust, an article from July 9, 1918, piqued my interest; quoting that article from The Gazette and Daily of York PA:

DESTROYER NAMED AFTER FORMER YORKER

The “Laub,” a new destroyer which is now being built at a Western shipyard is named Laub in memory of Midshipman Henry Laub, at whose death in action Congress expressed deep regret, commended his gallantry, and ordered that a sword, be presented to his nearest male relative. Midshipman Laub was born in York; appointed midshipman October 1, 1809, and served under Commodore Perry. He was wounded in the Battle of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813, and carried below, where he was killed instantly by a shot, which crashed through the cockpit. Conrad Laub, who was Sheriff of York County in 1789, is believed to have been a relative of the midshipman.

Some family history research at the York County Heritage Trust revealed that Conrad Laub [1750/51-1807] is the father of Henry Laub. Conrad and Mary Elizabeth (Yost) Laub had eight children. Henry was next to the youngest. Henry Laub was born on March 9, 1792 and was baptized on June 3, 1792 in Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in York, PA. Conrad Laub served as Sheriff of York County from 1789 to 1792 and also served as Justice of the Peace for the First District in 1792.

Henry Laub enlisted in the United States Navy in 1809 and was appointed midshipman October 1, 1809. Early during the War of 1812, Henry took part in several battles on the ocean. In March 1913, Henry Laub went along with Commodore Perry’s command when Perry was given the task of overseeing the construction of a Lake Erie Fleet, whose mission would be to seize control of the lake from the British. The September 10, 1813 naval Battle of Lake Erie, off of the shoreline of Ohio, had a significant bearing on the outcome of the war.

The experienced British Great Lakes Fleet was under Commander Robert H. Barclay; it consisted of 6 ships with a total of 63 long-range cannons.  Oliver H. Perry commanded the recently built flotilla of 9 smaller vessels for the United States; they were armed with a total of 54 shorter-range carronades.  On September 10, 1813, these fifteen wooden war ships engaged in a fierce battle on Lake Erie.  Against all odds, Commander Perry’s men achieved complete victory.  It was the first time in history that an entire British fleet had been defeated, with all British Ships either destroyed or captured virtually intact.

Commander Perry reported his victory with the simple statement, “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.”  Washington Irving almost immediately published a biography of Oliver Perry, who became a national hero.  Author Irving penned the line, “The last roar of cannon that died along the shores of Lake Erie was the expiring note of British domination.”

The War had a side benefit of settling the issue of the Great Lakes.  Following American Independence, all of the Great Lakes were still British territory.  The War of 1812 Treaty declared the Great Lakes neutral.  The boundary between the United States and Canada, as it is today, running roughly through the middle of the Great Lakes.

Henry Laub was killed while serving on Commander Perry’s flagship, The Lawrence. Later in the battle, Perry famously transferred his command, via rowboat, to The Niagara. Of over 1,000 combatants, 27 Americans and 43 British died. Most of the dead, from the Battle of Lake Erie, were buried-at-sea in Lake Erie. Henry Laub was among the three American officers buried the day after the battle in what is now DeRivera Park in Put-in-Bay Township, Ohio.

Marker in Floor under Rotunda of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial (American officers were John Brooks, Henry Laub and John Clark, while the British officers were Robert Finnis, John Garland and James Garden)

Marker in Floor under Rotunda of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial (American officers were John Brooks, Henry Laub and John Clark, while the British officers were Robert Finnis, John Garland and James Garden)

With the construction of the 352-feet tall Perry’s Monument at Put-in-Bay, the six officers, three American and three British, were exhumed from the park and re-interred September 11, 1913, under the floor of the monument’s rotunda, exactly 100-years after they were first buried. The monument is officially called Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial; symbolizing the longstanding peace between the United States and Canada. The 317-foot observation deck, at the top of 461 steps, is the highest man-made observation deck in the National Park System.

Likely as a result of the publicity in conjunction with the re-interments in 1913, Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, ordered WWI Destroyers to be named after officers Brooks and Laub; whom lost there lives while serving on Commander Perry’s flagship, The Lawrence.

The LAUB [DD-263] (United States Government Navy Photo)

The LAUB [DD-263] (United States Government Navy Photo)

The LAUB (DD-263) was a Clemson-class destroyer launched August 28, 1918 from the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in Squantum, MA. Miss Marjorie Mohan, a collateral descendent of Henry Laub, sponsored the christening of the destroyer.

The LAUB saw action in the Atlantic and Mediterranean during WWI. From December 1919 until LAUB was decommissioned on June 15, 1922, she performed torpedo experiments and reserve training cruises along the Pacific coast. The LAUB was transferred to Great Britain on October 9, 1940, as part of the destroyer-bases agreement. In the Royal Navy the she was named HMS Burwell (H94) and modified for trade convoy escort. Following WWII, the HMS Burwell was scrapped in 1947.  With the original LAUB renamed, a new LAUB Destroyer was constructed during WWII.

The LAUB II [DD-613] (United States Government Navy Photo)

The LAUB II [DD-613] (United States Government Navy Photo)

The LAUB II (DD-613) was a Benson-class destroyer launched from the Bethlehem Steel Company in San Pedro, CA on April 28, 1942. Miss Barbara Mohun Handley, a collateral descendent of Henry Laub, sponsored the christening of the destroyer.

The LAUB II saw action in the Atlantic and Mediterranean during WWII. Following the Victory in Europe, the destroyer returned to the States for overhaul and had begun training in the Caribbean in preparation for Pacific duty when the Japanese surrender was announced. LAUB II received four battle stars for WWII service and was decommissioned February 2, 1946; joining the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. LAUB II was stricken from the fleet July 1, 1971 and sold for scrap on January 14, 1975.

Related posts include:

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

About Stephen H. Smith

Stephen H. Smith is a design engineer who worked at York International Corp. for 33 years before retiring several years ago to research and write books full time; his second career. The initial emphasis was on family history when he won a national award during 2002 for his first book “Barshingers in America." Positive feedback and that award were influential in his decision to retire early from engineering and start a retirement career.
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