USS BUCHANAN DD-131 Ship History
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1959)
The first Buchanan (DD-131) was launched 2 January 1919 by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine; sponsored by Mrs. Charles P. Wetherbee; and commissioned 20 January 1919, Lieutenant H. H. J. Bensen in command.
Buchanan reported to Commander, Destroyer Force, at Guantanamo, Cuba, and was temporarily attached to Destroyer Squadron 2 until ordered to the Pacific Fleet in July 1919 for duty with Destroyer Flotilla 4. From 7 June 1922 until 10 April 1930, Buchanan was out of commission at San Diego. She then joined Destroyer Division 10, Destroyer Squadrons, Battle Force, and operated on the west coast in routine division, force, and fleet activities and problems. In the summer of 1934, after making a cruise to Alaska with ROTC units aboard, she was placed in reduced commission attached to Rotating Reserve Destroyer Squadron 20 at San Diego.
Again placed in full commission in December 1934, she resumed operations with Division 5, Destroyers, Battle Force. Buchanan was again out of commission at San Diego from 9 April 1937 until 30 September 1939. She was then refitted for action with Division 65, Destroyer Squadron 32, Atlantic Squadron, and from December 1939 until 22 February 1940 operated with the Neutrality Patrol and Antilles Detachment. She was then assigned to patrol in the Gulf of Mexico, operating out of Galveston, TX, and later off Key West and around the Florida Straits. She arrived at Boston Navy Yard 2 September and then proceeded to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where on 9 September 1940 she was decommissioned and transferred in the destroyer-land bases exchange to the United Kingdom.
Commissioned in the Royal Navy on the day of transfer she was renamed HMS Campbeltown. Upon her arrival at Devonport, England, 29 September 1940, Campbeltown was allocated to the 7th Escort Group, Liverpool, in the Western Approaches Command. In January 1941 she was provisionally allocated to the Royal Netherlands Navy, but reverted to the Royal Navy in September 1941. Between September 1941 and March 1942 she served with Atlantic convoys and was attacked on several occasions by enemy U-boats and aircraft, but escaped without damage. On 15 September 1941 she picked up the survivors of the Norwegian motor tanker Vinga, damaged by an enemy air attack.
Her end came as a fitting conclusion to her fine career for she acted as blockship in the lock entrance at St. Nazaire during the raid of 28 March 1942. Early that morning she was driven straight at her objective under withering fire. Her commandos scrambled ashore and commenced their demolition work. After scuttling her, her crew escaped in motor boats. Eleven hours later, her five tons of delayed action high explosives blew up, inflicting heavy casualties among the German members of an inspection party who had gone on board and wrought great havoc in the port. Campbeltown’s captain, Lieutenant Commander S. H. Beattie, R.N., who was taken prisoner of war, was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry.