A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History
USS BANCROFT DD-598
The Tin Can Sailor, January 2002
The BANCROFT (DD-598) was launched on 31 December 1941 at Quincy, Massachusetts, and was commissioned on 30 April 1942. Off Casco Bay, Maine, in early June, she participated in ASW exercises with the LARDNER (DD-487), LANSDOWNE (DD-486), FITCH (DD-462), and BAILEY (DD-492). During June maneuvers, the BANCROFT, NICHOLSON (DD-442), WOOLSEY (DD-437), and MC CALLA (DD-488) hunted a submarine suspected of prowling off Mount Desert Island, responding to a sound contact with depth charges but never confirmed a hit.
By August, she and the MCCALLA were bound for the Pacific, arriving at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, in September 1942. She operated at various times with the CALDWELL (DD-605), which suffered a crushed bow in a collision with the SPICA (AK-16); as well as the CASE (DD-370), COUGHLIN (DD-606), and KING (DD-242). In October, the BANCROFT, BAILEY, and LONG (DMS-12), with the ST. LOUIS (CL-49) and NASHVILLE (CL-43), formed Task Group 8.7 to intercept and destroy enemy shipping. Later that month, with the INDIANAPOLIS (CA-35), the ships were designated Task Group 8.6 and ranged north of the Aleutians. In January 1943 they participated in the assault and occupation of Amchitka Island. Off Amchitka on 12 January 1943, the BANCROFT and CHANDLER (DMS-9) stood by as the DEWEY (DD-349) and MIDDLETON (APA-25) rescued the crew of the WORDEN (DD-352), which was aground and breaking up near the harbor entrance.
In May she covered the assault and capture of Attu Island and continued to patrol the approaches to Attu, Kiska, and Adak until 29 June, when she and the COUGHLIN returned to San Francisco for overhaul. Back in the Aleutians in August, she took part in the landings on Kiska Island during which the ABNER READ (DD-526) was seriously damaged by an underwater explosion. Taking the destroyer in tow, the BANCROFT searched for survivors. The next day, she took aboard two seriously wounded men from the beach who were cared for by her ship’s doctor.
Following her transfer to Pearl Harbor in September 1943, she began a steady routine of fire support, screening, and escort duties. Her first assignment was with Task Group 15.9 for carrier strikes against the island of Tarawa on 18 September. Next, with Task Group 14.2, she bombarded installations on Wake Island. By November she was escorting LSTs to Funa Futi, Ellice Islands, continuing on to Tarawa for the assault and capture of that atoll.
Between 31 January and 16 February 1944, the BANCROFT, HALLIGAN (DD-584), COUGHLIN, and CALDWELL, alternated screening duties during strikes against Kwajalein, with the HULL (DD-350), DEWEY (DD-349), HEERMAN (DD-532), MILLER (DD-535), HAILEY (DD-556), and MEADE (DD-602). While with carriers off Majuro in early March, she rescued a number of crews from downed planes. She, DEWEY, EDWARDS (DD-619), PHELPS (DD-360), MACDONOUGH (DD-351), HULL, and MEADE then moved on to cover the landings on Mille Atoll and strikes against the Palau Islands until 2 April 1944. The BANCROFT put to sea again bound for Hollandia and Wakde and operations on 21–24 April. Returning from the New Guinea area, her task group raided Truk, Satawan, and Ponape on 28–30 April.
In May DesRon 14, made up of the BANCROFT, MEADE, EDWARDS (DD-619), FRAZIER (DD-607), and CALDWELL, formed the Eastern Marshalls Patrol Group covering Mille, Jaluit, Maloelap, and Wotje. On 23 May, the BANCROFT and EDWARDS bombarded Wotje Island, silencing a shore battery. On 8 June, under heavy shore battery fire, the BANCROFT rescued a Corsair pilot off Mille. The ship suffered no material damage but one of her crew received a minor shrapnel wound.
By 25 June, the BANCROFT was off Saipan and on that night conducted harassing bombardment of the town of Tinian. She subsequently performed escort duties between Eniwetok and Saipan through the end of July. On 8 August she and the GANSEVOORT (DD-608) bombarded Maloelap Atoll. Ten days later, DesRon 14 left for Pearl Harbor and from there, the BANCROFT, EATON (DD-510), and PRINGLE (DD-477) returned to San Francisco for overhaul. She was back in the war early in 1945 and on 28 February was underway for Mindoro and then Zamboanga, Mindanao, to screen the forces occupying that island. Her next mission was to cover minesweeping operations in the San Bernardino Straits and then the landings at Legaspi in the Albay Gulf. On the night of 3 April, off Allen, Samar, the BANCROFT picked up the survivors of an army B-25 that had crashed on Catanduanes Island.
The following day, she headed for Morotai to participate in the assaults on Borneo where she was in charge of the Tarakan and Brunei Bay operation between 1 May and 10 June 1945. Screening duties took her into July when she retired to Subic Bay where she remained until the cessation of hostilities. Her final contribution to the war effort was as an escort between the Philippines, Okinawa, and Japan. She returned to the U.S. in November 1945 and on 1 February 1946 was placed out of commission in reserve at Charleston, South Carolina. She was stricken from the naval register on 1 June 1971 and sold for scrap 16 March 1973.