USS Pillsbury (DD-227)
USS Pillsbury (DD-227) circa in 1930.
|Namesake:||John E. Pillsbury|
|Builder:||William Cramp and Sons, Philadelphia|
|Laid down:||23 October 1919|
|Launched:||3 August 1920|
|Commissioned:||15 December 1920|
|2 battle stars (World War II)|
|Fate:||Sunk in battle, 2 March 1942|
|Class & type:||Clemson-class destroyer|
|Displacement:||1,190 long tons (1,209 t)|
|Length:||314 ft 4 in (95.81 m)|
|Beam:||30 ft 8 in (9.35 m)|
|Draft:||9 ft 3 in (2.82 m)|
|Speed:||35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph)|
|Complement:||116 officers and enlisted|
Pillsbury was laid down by William Cramp and Sons of Philadelphia on 23 October 1919; launched on 3 August 1920, sponsored by Miss Helen Langdon Richardson; and commissioned on 15 December 1920, Lieutenant H. W. Barnes in command.
Pillsbury served for many years with the Asiatic Fleet. During that service she was involved in the 1927 Nanjing incident as part of a U.S. Navy flotilla helping protect American lives and property. On 27 November 1941, by order of the Commander Asiatic Fleet, Admiral Thomas C. Hart, Pillsbury departed from Manila under the command of Lt. Commander Harold C. Pound, together with other units of the fleet. When the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, she was operating in the vicinity of Borneo, and had done so for some time.
After the war commenced, Pillsbury, together with United States, Dutch and Australian naval vessels, operated out of Balikpapan on reconnaissance sorties and on anti-submarine patrols. Later she moved to Surabaya, Java, and from there made night patrols with cruisers Houston (CA-30) and Marblehead (CL-12) and destroyers of Division 58, including the Battle of Badoeng Strait on 4 February 1942.
On 18 February the Japanese began moving ashore on Bali and the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDA) surface forces including Pillsbury set out to disrupt further landings from a Japanese convoy reported in the area.
While steaming through Badoeng Strait on the night of 19/20 February during the Battle of Badoeng Strait, Pillsbury fired three torpedoes at a Japanese ship without result. A searchlight was trained on Pillsbury, and several shots were fired at her. She turned to starboard and made smoke to escape the light. The relatively small Allied forces at this time were forced to lightning strikes and rapid evasive retirement in the face of superior Japanese forces in the dim hope of disrupting the enemy advance.
At 02:10 Pillsbury sighted a ship dead ahead and opened up with her main battery and .50 caliber guns. The amidships gun crew of the Japanese ship was put out of action by the first burst of the .50 caliber machine guns. The target ship then received a direct hit with a shell from either Pillsbury or from the destroyer in the opposite column. This caused the Japanese destroyer to swing to starboard. The spotter then observed three sure hits from Pillsbury: one on the bridge, one amidships and one on the fantail. As soon as the last shot hit, the Japanese ship erupted in flames, and her firing ceased.
A few days later Pillsbury met her end. There are no US logs or battle reports giving the details of the action in which Pillsbury, Asheville (PG-21) and Edsall (DD-219) were sunk, and their fates were mysterious until after the war when Japanese logs could be examined. A powerful force of Japanese ships was operating to the south of Java to prevent the escape of Allied ships from that area. The Japanese force consisted of four battleships, five cruisers of Cruiser Division 4, the aircraft carrier Sōryū and the destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 4.
Edsall was sunk in the area of the Second Battle of the Java Sea on 1 March 1942 [the Second Battle of the Java Sea was fought north of the island of Java, USS Edsall was lost south of Java]. At 18:24 she received a direct hit from the battleship Hiei and at 18:35 another from the cruiser Tone. Edsall was also attacked by nine Aichi D3A dive bombers from Sōryū and eight from Akagi, which hit her with several bombs, leaving her dead in the water by 18:50. She was destroyed by the cruiser Chikuma and sank at 19:00 with 5-8 survivors. The remains of 5 executed sailors from the Edsall were recovered in Indonesia in 1952.
Asheville, slowed by engine troubles, was caught at 09:06 on 3 March by the destroyers Arashi and Nowaki and sunk after a 30-minute battle. One crew member was rescued from the water, but died later in a prisoner of war camp.
All three sinkings took place approximately 200 miles east of Christmas Island. After sinking the three U.S. ships, the Japanese forces retired from the scene.
Pillsbury received two battle stars for World War II service.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Photo gallery of USS Pillsbury (DD-227) at NavSource Naval History
- USS Pillsbury (DD 227)
- Movement records for Takao, Atago and Tone from combinedfleet.com