USN attempts to assist RN Force Z
Four U.S. destroyers of DesDiv 57 based in destroyer tender Black Hawk (AD-9), dispersed on 25 November 1941 by Adm Hart to Balikpapan, Borneo, allegedly for fuel. They were told while there they were then going on to Batavia, Java, (now Jakarta). But as soon as they were at sea they turned towards Singapore, probably back through Philippine waters, to assist Adm Phillips RN of Force Z consisting of HMS Prince of Wales
with Repulse and four destroyers. The U.S. destroyers reached at the port of Singapore on the morning of 10 December to take on British signalmen at the same time as the battleships of Force Z were being attacked by air with about 100 twin engine bombers in the Gulf of Siam. DesDiv 57 arrived at the scene too late but did assist in the rescue of survivors.
The four destroyers were Whipple, Alden, John D. Edwards, and Edsall. All were
Clemson Class (Flush Deck) of 1,190 tons carrying 4- 4" guns and 12 torpedoes and commissioned in 1920. They departed Singapore the morning of the 14th for Surabaya, Java.
Aden (DD-211) then escorted U.S. ships to Darwin, Australia. While in the area Aden and Edsall made an attack on a mine laying submarine I-124. On 26Feb'42 Aden and John D Edwards attacked in the Battle of Java Sea which took 6,339 Allied lives from which only four US destroyers survived with 660 men and the shattered Marblehead (CL-12). Aden was assigned to the Atlantic in mid-1943, helped sink U-544, and survived the war.
John D Edwards (DD-216) followed the same path, attacking Japanese invasion forces before and during the Battle of the Java Sea, also was transferred to the Atlantic and survived the war.
Whipple (DD-217) and Edsall escorted Langley (AV-3) carrying aircraft to Java when Langley was sunk by aircraft 26Feb'42. The destroyers rescued crew and transferred them to oiler Pecos (AO-6). Whipple then returned to rescue survivors when Pecos was in turn sunk by bombers. As with the others of these ships, she escorted ships and convoys from the West Coast to Hawaii until mid-43 then transferred to the Atlantic, where
with Aden, assisted USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60) sink U-544. Post war she served briefly as a submarine training target as AG-117.
Edsall (DD-219) after escorting U.S. ships to Darwin departed with three Australian corvettes to sink I-124 on 20Jan'42. She was escort to Langley and helped transfer survivors to Pecos. On 1Mar she ran across Japanese battleships Hiei and Kirishima, heavy cruisers Tone and Chikuma, and planes from carriers Akagi and Soryu ; Edsall was sunk with few survivors.
See http://www.ww2pacific/ships3.html#edsall and http://www.ww2pacific.com/edsallpow.html
Return to: WW2 Menu
or Chronology: February ,
March , April ,
May , June ,
About this page: DesDiv57 - Four destroyers of Des Div 57 that attempted to aid Force Z.
Last updated on February 12, 2012
Contact us at