During late February 1942, USS Edsall and
USS Whipple were ordered to rendezous with USS Langley AV-3 about 200 miles south of Java. The ships were attacked by
nine Japanese bombers which soon reduced the Langley to a blazing
wreck that had to be abandoned. Edsall rescued 117 of her survivors.
Afterwards, ordered to Christmas Island to
with the US Navy tanker USS Pecos and then proceed to Fremantle. Survivors from the Langley were transferred over to USS Pecos. The three ships parted and Whipple set sail for
the Cocos Islands to refuel while the Pecos continued on to Fremantle with the Edsall. 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.
On March 1, 1942 the USS Edsall was last seensailing over the horizon on her way back to Java and was never heard of again. She was one of four American destroyers were
not accounted for, they had simply 'disappeared', or so it was thought
at the time.
In fact, she was attacked by Japanese ships that fired more than 1,000 rounds, but only two hit. 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 D3A Vals from Soryu 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 Chukuma and sank at 19:00.
Fate of the Crew
In 1952, investigators learned that eight of her crew
had been picked up by the Japanese warship Ashigara and deposited
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 ID tags as men from the Edsall.
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February 2, 2016