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McCalla

 

Bowman H. McCalla, born 19 June 1844 at Camden, N.J., was appointed midshipman 30 November 1861 . McCalla’s courage and leadership during his career often earned him great, and due, respect among his fellow officers. In the spring of 1885 he led an expeditionary force of 750 seamen and marines which landed at Panama to protect American treaty rights as a revolution there threatened to block transit across the isthmus. As commanding officer of Marblehead (q.v.), 11 September 1897 to 16 September 1898, he took part in the blockade of Cuba and was responsible for the cutting of submarine cables linking Cienfuegos with the outside world, thus isolating the Spanish garrison there, May 1898. While in command of Newark during the Boxer Rebellion 2 years later, he was cited for conspicuous gallantry in battle as he led a force of bluejackets from Tientsin to Peking. McCalla’s force of 112 men spearheaded an international column, under British Admiral Seymour, which was attempting to fight its way to the aid of foreign legations under seige at Peking. In the course of the battle at Hsiku Arsenal, McCalla, along with 25 of his force, was wounded; five were killed. Commissioned rear admiral 11 October 1903, and entered on the retired list 19 June 1906, McCalla died 6 May 1910 at Santa Barbara, Calif., and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

 

I

 

(DD‑253: dp. 1,190; l. 31415"; b. 31'8"; dr. 91311 (mean); s. 35k.; cpl. 120; a. 4 4", 2 3", 4 21" tt.; cl. Clemson)

 

The first McCalla (DD‑253) was laid down 25 September 1918 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Fore River Plant, Quincy, Mass.; launched 18 February 1919; sponsored by Mrs. Elizabeth McC. Miller, daughter of Rear Admiral McCalla, and commissioned 19 May 1919, Lt. Comdr. G. B. Ashe in command.

 

McCalla remained in active status for less than 7 months. On 26 November 1919 she went into reserve at the Norfolk Navy Yard and decommissioned 30 June 1922. As storm clouds gathered over Europe, the destroyer recommissioned 18 December 1939 and prepared for turnover to Great Britain. She decommissioned and became a ship of the Royal Navy 23 October 1940 at Halifax as one of the overage destroyers transferred to England in exchange for bases in the West Indies. Commissioned as H.H.S. Stanley (1‑73) she was designated for service in the Fourth “Town” Flotilla and departed Halifax 1 November. At St. John’s on the 5th, when the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer attacked a convoy underway for the United Kingdom, sinking six ships, Stanley was dispatched to escort the convoy back to Nova Scotia. She rendezvoused with ships 60 miles out and escorted 15 vessels to Trinity Harbour. Delayed further for repairs, she finally got underway 14 December, arriving at Plymouth, England, 2 January 1941.

 

Ready for service by August, Stanley was assigned first to the Western Approaches Command and then to the 40th Escort Group. One of her first convoys took her to Freetown, Sierra Leone, escorting ships carrying troops and equipment for Commonwealth units in the Middle East. On the return voyage she escorted a merchant convoy, departing 30 November. At Gibraltar in mid‑December she joined convoy HG 76, departing 14 December for Britain. On the 17th one of the auxiliary carrier Audacity’s aircraft sighted a submarine 22 miles on the port beam of the convoy. Stanley and four other escorts quickly established contact, sank the enemy, U‑131, and picked up 55 survivors. The next day, Stanley, with Blankney, scored another success, sinking U‑434 and picking up 42 of her crew.

 

On the 19th, success ran out. Stanley, on station astern of the convoy, reported the presence of another U‑boat. Half an hour later U‑574 scored a direct hit; Stanley exploded and sank (38° 12' N.; 17° 23' W.) with the loss of all but 25 of her crew. Within 12 minutes, however, sloop Stork gained revenge by sinking the submarine; 16 survivors were picked up.