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Clemson Class Destroyer
314' 5" x 31' 8" x 9' 10"
4 x 4"/50 guns
1 x 3"/223 AA
12 x 21" torpedoes
USN February 19, 1942
Phil Bradley 2002
Goh Loon 2008
On December 27, 1941 Peary departed Manila Bay bound for Java. While passing Campomanes Bay off Negros again attacked by Japanese aircraft and shadowed down to the Celebes Sea by torpedo planes. While transiting through the Molucca Passage, accidentally attacked by RAAF Hudsons.
The damage control parties and the gunners kept up the fight for the next three hours as the planes kept coming at them. But another bomb hit, maiming the brave ship once more. Then a fourth bomb crashed into the forward magazine and finally a fifth, another incendiary, striking the after engine room. Dragging her shattered fantail, the Peary was dead in the water and at 1:00pm and broke up and sank. As she went down by the stern, her machine guns continued to fire at enemy aircraft. Aboard, ninety-one of her crew went down with the ship, the U. S. Navy's greatest loss of life in Australian waters.
The restored 4" naval gun and a memorial plaque are displayed at Bicentennial Park off the Esplanade at Darwin overlooking Darwin Harbor and the location where the destroyer was sunk. The memorial plaque reads: "USS Peary DD 226 In remembrance of these men who lost their lives February 19, 1942 during the bombing of Darwin, Australia by Japanese aircraft." The plaque also lists the ninety-one lost in the sinking.
A second memorial plaque reads: "A Story of Sacrifice Darwin Harbour is the resting place for the U.S. destroyer Peary sunk on 19th February 1942 by Japan's Pearl Harbour veterans. This 4 inch gun was salvaged from the Peary in the 1950's by diver Carl Atkinson (dec.). It was restored by the RAN for the Northern Territory's 1992 War Service Memorial Year and now points towards the Peary's grave. This plaque was unveiled by the Chief Minister The Hon. Marshall Peron MLA on 29th January 1992 in the presence of Peary survivors Dallas Widick and Melvin Duke and a colour guard from the U.S. frigate Robert E. Peary. The wartime Peary came under repeated fire from December 1941 - February 1942. In her last action she sank with her guns still blazing and represents the U.S. Navy's greatest loss of life in Australian waters. Her gallant sacrifice is forever part of Darwin's history."
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