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Clemson Class Destroyer
314' 5" x 31' 9" x 9' 3"
4 x 4" guns
1 x 3" gun
2 x .30 cal MG
12 x 21" torpedo tubes
Built by William Cramp & Sons in Philadelphia, PA. Laid down September 9, 1919 as a Clemson Class Destroyer. Launched March 23, 1920 as USS Pope named for John Pope who served in the U.S. Civil War sponsored by Mrs. William S. Benson. Commissioned October 27, 1920 in the U.S. Navy (USN) with Commander Richard S. Galloway in command.
Pop was Initially placed into reduced commission based at Philadelphia assigned to Squadron 3, Division 39 of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. In 1931 during the winter based at Charleston, SC and during the summer at Newport, RI. Between July 30, 1921 to August 1, 1921 escorted U.S. President Warren G. Harding to Plymouth, MA.
During 1921 she alternated between her winter base at Charleston, South Carolina and her summer one at Newport, Rhode Island and escorted President Warren G. Harding to Plymouth, Massachusetts 30 July – 1 August.
On January 12, 1922 engaged in maneuvers with the battleship divisions off Guantanamo Bay then returned to Philadelphia on April 27, 1922 for a refit. On May 12 departed for the Pacific steaming via the Mediterranean Sea. On July 3 via the Straits of Gibraltar and July 15-25 transited the Suez Canal to the Pacific.
On August 26, 1922 joined Squadron 15, Division 43 Asiatic Fleet at Chefoo, China. Afterwards participated in fleet exercises off Chefoo. On October 27 departed for Cavite on Luzon in the Philippines for the winter. Starting September 9, 1923 served on a Yangtze River patrol for a month. For the remainder of the decade continued to patrol off China in the summer months protecting American interests and winter months at Cavite.
In 1924 operated off Japan in support of the U.S. Army "Round the World Flight". In 1926 visited French Indochina then returned to Japan in 1929. Between 1931–1937 continued to operate off China in the summer months and Cavite during winters. On February 3, 1933 assigned to Squadron 5, Division 15. In 1935 and 1938 to French Indochina. In 1934 and 1935 visited Japan. In 1936 made a visit to the Netherlands East Indies (NEI).
In September 1937 Pope evacuated American civilians from Lao Yao and Tsingtao to Shanghai. During July to September 1938 patrolled off Chinwangtao (Qinhuangdao), China. On June 5, 1939 returned with the South China Patrol to evacuate U.S. Consulate and American citizens and transport them to the Philippines. In June to August, 1939 stationed off Swatow (Shantou) and Pehtaiho, China.
On October 12, 1939 returned for Neutrality Patrol duty off the Philippines. On May 6, 1940 assigned to Destroyer Division 59 (DesDiv 59) and resumed patrols off China until late June. In June 1940 returned to Cavite for neutrality patrol duty until the start of the Pacific War.
On December 8, 1941 at the start of the Pacific War at Cavite and a camouflage paint scheme was applied atop her prewar scheme. On December 11, 1941 departs for Balikpapan on Borneo. On January 9, 1942 one of five destroyers with USS Boise (CL-47) and USS Marblehead (CL-12) plus destroyers USS Stewart (DD-224), USS Bulmer (DD-222), USS Parrott (DD-218) and USS Barker (DD-213) departed Darwin escorting transport SS Bloemfontein to Surabaya.
On January 24, 1942 in the early morning during the Battle of Balikpapan four destroyers USS Pope (DD-225), USS Paul Jones (DD-230), USS Parrott (DD-218) and USS John D. Ford (DD-228) attack Japanese transports landing southeast of Balikpapan with gunfire and torpedoes. During the attack Pop made a close-quarter torpedo and gun that helped delay the landings and resulted in the sinking of Kuretake Maru, Nana Maru, Sumanoura Maru, Tatsukami Maru and Patrol Boat P-37 plus damage two other transports.
On February 4, 1942 participated in the Battle of Makassar Strait (Battle of Bali Sea).
During the night of February 19-20, 1942 participated in the Battle of Badung Strait.
On February 28, 1942 in the evening during the Battle of the Java Sea USS Pope and HMS Encounter escort damaged HMS Exeter departing Soerabaja on Java in an attempt to escape from the Java Sea.
On March 1, 1942 during the Second Battle of the Java Sea (The Battle off Bawean Island) intercepted by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Cruiser Division 5 (CruDiv 5) that resulted in the sinking of HMS Exeter and HMS Encounter. During the battle, Pope released all her torpedoes plus 140 salvos of gunfire expending most of her ammunition in a three hour engagement. Afterwards, Pope managed to escape but was still being chased and fired on by Japanese cruisers.
In the morning approximately an hour after the sinking of HMS Exeter and HMS Encounter, Pope was spotted by six D3A1 Vals from Ryūjō and the destroyer's 3" anti-aircraft gun failed as they made dive bombing attacks and scored several near misses that damaged the port engine shaft and buckled plates and caused flooding as the destroyer maneuvered. Damaged with a list to the port side and flooding beyond control the crew abandoned ship. Only one crew member was killed by shrapnel from the scuttling charge. Afterwards, the destroyer was spotted by Japanese cruisers heavy cruisers in pursuit and sunk around 2:00pm.
Kevin Denlay adds:
"The planes were from the aircraft carrier Ryūjō, and if I remember correctly, the two seaplane tenders stationed near Bawean. However at the last moment at least two of the big cruisers that helped sink HMS Exeter came up over the horizon and started shelling Pope too! So it was a combination of bombs (that slowed and stopped her), her own crew scuttling her (the only man to die on board was killed by shrapnel from the scuttling charge), and the big guns of the cruisers. According to the book Mr. Michel's War (an officer from Pope) and as far as I am aware from other extensive study, she received no direct hits whilst her crew were still on board. As far as I recall It was several very near bomb misses that holed her, bent the screw shaft and killed the port engine and made her list initially to port, and which led to her eventually abandonment. It was only AFTER the crew got off that she started receiving the direct hits from the heavies coming up over the horizon. I have many of the Japanese reports of that day translated into English also, along with Popes after action report and Michel's book."
Fates of the Crew
Afterwards, for three days and nights the crew floated at sea in life rafts until spotted by the Japanese and became Prisoners Of War (POW). On March 3, 1942 Inazuma rescued 151 survivors from USS Pope.
The POW crew were handed over to the Imperial Japanese Army at Makassar and detained at Makassar POW Camp. In April 1942 during captivity, Lt(jg) Allan Jack Fisher was being beaten by a guard and Lt. Richard "Dick" Antrim risked his own life to intervene. For his actions, he later earned the Medal of Honor. Later, when tasked with digging air raid trenches he made them in the shape of a "U S" to identify them as Americans and thus avoid being bombed by Allied aircraft. For this action, he earned the Bronze Star with "V" device.
The survivors became Prisoners Of War (POWs) including:
S1c Joe Sam Sisk, 3565278 (POW, survived) Emory, TX
Lt(jg) Allan Jack Fisher
Lt. Richard Antrim
For her World War II service, Pope earned two battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation (PUC).
During December 2008, a group of divers off MV Empress located the shipwreck of USS Pope approximately 60 nautical miles / 110 km from the shipwreck of HMS Exeter (68). However, they discovered that commercial salvage divers had already located the shipwreck previously and scrapped most of the vessel sometime prior.
Jennifer Watanabe (granddaughter of Joe Sam Sisk)
"Hello, I am a U.S. citizen and I am currently residing in Japan. I don't know if you can help me or not but my grandfather and I were very close. He was a navy man in WW2. His ship, the U.S.S. Pope was sank by the Japanese. Later another Japanese ship came and pulled my grandfather and the rest of the men out of the water. After these men were pulled out of the water the Japanese soldiers seized their dog tags. My grandfather made me promise that if I ever went to Japan I was expected to find and bring home his dog tags. Any Idea where I should start looking or who I should start asking?"
NavSource - USS Pope (DD-225) (photos, PUC citation)
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Joe Sam Sisk
FindAGrave - Joe Sam Sisk (photo, grave photo)
Medal of Honor Recipient - Richard N. Antrim (photo, citation)
Thanks to Kevin Denlay for additional information
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