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  USS Edsall DD-219
USN
Clemson-class destroyer

1,190 Tons
314' x 31' 9" x 9' 3"
4 x 4" guns
1 x 3" gun
12 x 21" torpedo tubes with Mark 8 torpedoes
.30 cal MG
.50 cal MG

Ship History
Built by William Cramp & Sons in Philadelphia. Laid down September 15, 1919 as a Clemson-class destroyer. Launched July 29, 1920 as USS Edsall named for U. S. Navy Seaman Norman Eckley Edsall killed on April 1, 1899 and was sponsored by his sister, Mrs. Bessie Edsall Bracey. Commissioned November 26, 1920 assigned to Commander A. H. Rice.

Prewar
On December 6, 1920 departed Philadelphia on her shakedown via the Panama Canal then arriving January 11, 1921 at San Diego. For most of the year, operated off the west coast and participated in gunnery training with other warship then returned to the east coast. On December 28, 1921 arrived Charleston.

On May 26, 1922 departed Charleston bound for the Mediterranean Sea. On June 28, 1922 arrived at Constantinople as part of a U. S. Naval detachment operating off Turkey and for the remainder of the year engaged in humanitarian duties including evacuating Anatolian Greeks from Turkey to Greece. During her cruise visited ports in Turkey, Bulgaria, Russia, Greece, Egypt, Mandate Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Dalmatia and Italy then back to the United States. On July 26, 1924 arrived Boston for overhaul.

On January 3, 1925 joined the Asiatic Fleet and participated in maneuvers off Cuba, San Diego and Pearl Harbor then across the Pacific arriving at Shanghai on June 22, 1925. Afterwards, operated off the coast of China, Philippines and Japan to protect U. S. interests and frequently visited Shanghai, Chefoo, Hankow, Hong Kong, Nanking, Kobe and Manila. During late October 1927 under the command of Commander Jules James arrived Bangkok and had three of the Royal Princesses aboard for tea.

On November 25, 1941 before anticipated hostilities with Japan, U. S. Navy Admiral Hart, commander of the Asiatic Fleet, dispatched Destroyer Division 57 (DesDiv 57) including USS Whipple, USS Alden, USS John D. Edwards and USS Edsall plus destroyer tender USS Black Hawk from Manila Bay southward to Balikpapan.

Wartime History
On December 8, 1941 at the start of the Pacific War, Edsall was enroute to Batavia (Jakarta) on Java with other destroyers from DesDiv 57 and was ordered to Singapore to join Force Z. After arrival at Singapore, embarked a British liaison officer and four men from HMS Mauritius to search for survivors of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse sunk December 10, 1941. During the search, captured Japanese fishing trawler Kofuku Maru escorting it back to Singapore. On December 15, 1941 joined USS Houston at Surabaya and escorted the cruiser to Darwin and afterwards escorted a convoy from Torres Strait to Darwin.

During late February 1942, USS Edsall and USS Whipple were ordered to rendezvous with USS Langley AV-3 about 200 miles south of Java. On February 27, 1942 at 11:40am bombed by nine G4M1 Bettys from Takao Kokutai roughly 75 miles south of Java. During the attack, USS Langley AV-3 was heavily damaged and scuttled with Edsall rescuing 117 of her survivors.

Afterwards, Whipple and Edsall was ordered to Christmas Island to transfer survivors from the Langley to USS Pecos. The three ships parted with Whipple to the Cocos Islands to refuel while the Pecos and Edsall were to proceed to Fremantle. Underway, the Pecos was attacked and sunk by D3A Val bombers from Japanese carriers in the area. The Whipple, after picking up her distress calls, turned back and rescued 233 survivors.

Sinking History
On March 1, 1942 the USS Edsall was last seen proceeding over the horizon bound for Java and was never seen or heard from again. She was one of four U. S. Navy destroyers were not accounted for.

In fact, she was engaged by Japanese warships that fired more than 1,000 rounds at the destroyer but only scored two hits. At 6:24pm she received the first direct hit from the Hiei and at 6:35pm a second direct hit from the cruiser Tone. Also, Edsall was also attacked by nine D3A Vals from Soryu and eight D3A Vals from Akagi, which hit her with several bombs and by 6:50pm was dead in the water from the damaged sustained. Finally, hit by gunfire from cruiser Chukuma and sunk at 7:00pm.

Fate of the Crew
In 1952 investigators learned that eight of her crew had been picked up by the Japanese warship Ashigara and transported on Celebes Island and executed near Kendari. Postwar, a group of natives directed Allied searchers to five graves covered with jungle vegetation. The graves were exhumed and five skeletons found, all identified by their dog tags as crew members from USS Edsall.

References
FindAGrave - Norman E Edsall

FindAGrave - Ens Norman Eckley Edsall (photo)
NavSource - USS Edsall (DD-219)

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Last Updated
September 6, 2020

 

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