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USS Bagley, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack




U.S.S. Bagley (386)

Pearl Harbor, T.H.,

December 11, 1941.


From: Commanding Officer.  
To: Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.  
Subject: Report of Action Taken during Engagement at Pearl Harbor, T.H.  
Reference: (a) Cincus Despatch 102102 of December 1941.  
  1. In accordance with reference (a) the following report is submitted.

      On December 7, 1941 the USS Bagley was moored at the Navy Yard Pearl Harbor, T.H., (Berth B22) for restricted availability (repairs to starboard bilge keel). At about 0755 dive bombers were seen in action over Hickam Field. They were believed at that time to be U.S. Army bombers. A few minutes later a torpedo plane came in from the direction of Merry Point (between the navy yard and Kuahua Island) at about 30-40 feet altitude and headed for the U.S.S. Oklahoma. When about 200-300 yards from the Oklahoma the plane dropped its torpedo and retired. The Oklahoma was hit about amidships. Immediately general quarters was sounded. One of the forward machine guns was manned by the Chief Gunner's Mate, SKINNER, Harry L., 271 92 16, USN, who started firing at the third torpedo plane, and hit the fourth plane to come in. This plane was seen to crash in the channel off the Officer's Club Landing.

      The machine gun fire on about the eighth plane was so heavy that it swerved to the left in front of the Bagley. This swerving caused the torpedo to drop and it exploded in the bank about thirty feet ahead of the Bagley. The plane crossed the bow of the Bagley and turned to recross. At this point JOHNSON, Alpan W. 360 31 76, Sea2c, USN, fired at the plane from No. 1 50 Caliber machine gun and downed it in the Navy Yard channel.

      The third torpedo plane to be hit by the Bagley was shot down by PETERSON, Lowe, 368 58 62, Sea1c, USN, who was not a machine gunner but who volunteered to assist at No. 3 machine gun. The plane, swerving under the fire of the forward machine guns, headed for the light cruisers, Honolulu and St. Louis, moored in the slip astern of the Bagley. As PETERSON's shot hit it, it went out of control, dropped its torpedo and seemed to hit the L head crane in the Navy Yard. The machine gunner was seen to fall out. This was probably about the eleventh plane to come in.

      WILLIAMS, Lewis E., 164 41 21, BM2c, V6, USNR, regular machine gunner on the after machine guns shot down the next plane to be hit by the Bagley. This plane came down over the dock, evidently thinking it would escape the Bagley's fire which was very well placed. WILLIAMS, an excellent machine gunner, downed it with one short burst. The torpedo was dropped in the lumber pile on the dock and the plane is believed to have crashed on the dock.

      The Bagley's fifth plane was brought down by WILLIAMS and PETERSON together. This plane came down on the starboard side to the Bagley, having crossed over from the port side. As the bullets hit the plane smoke came out of the plane, it nosed directly up into the air and spun into a crash losing its torpedo.

      The sixth plane shot down by the Bagley was one of the dive bombers, a part of the second phase, occurring after the torpedo attack. This plane was shot down by No. 3 5"/38 Caliber gun and guns from other ships. During the first part of the torpedo attack orders were given to make all preparations for getting underway and the main battery was cleared of all awnings and hamper in short order. All preparations made below deck were very well carried out. The Communication Officer, Lt. (jg) W.R. HUNNICUTT, Jr., USN, a gunnery school graduate, manned the director and controlled the fire. The five inch battery was placed in local control for the dive bombing attack.

      The ship was underway from the dock at 0940, after having to run lube oil down in one system in the engine room. The ship proceed[ed] as quickly as possible around the north side of Ford Island, because it was thought that the other channel was blocked, and out to sea, pausing only to pick up Lieutenant Commander F.R. WALKER, USN, commanding officer of the U.S.S. Patterson. Lieutenant Commander WALKER was transferred to the Patterson after leaving the channel, and Lieutenant Commander H.N. WILLIAMS, USN, and Lieutenant G.M. CHAMBERS, USN, commanding and executive officers of the U.S.S. Blue were picked up at the same time at sea.

      Because of the defective bilge keel this ship was ordered to return to the off shore patrol area and it did not accompany Task Force Eight. Lieut-Comdr. WILLIAMS and Lieut. CHAMBERS were sent into Pearl Harbor in a ship's boat on Monday December 8, 1941 at about 1700.

      This vessel patrolled in Sector One until ordered to return to Pearl Harbor on December 9, 1941.


      As listed in paragraph (A). Five torpedo planes, one dive bomber and high altitude bomber.

      1. The ship received no direct hits.
      2. The shock of the firing and the explosions near by broke three bridge windows, several light globes and cracked some of the "light house" glasses on the reduction gears. The last mentioned item caused considerable loss of lubricating oil which will have to be replaced.

      Casualties to own personnel were as follows:

      1. WELLS, Charles H. 271 82 33, CQM(PA), USN, received a very slight flesh wound in leg from piece of shrapnel or a splinter. This was dressed by the doctor after getting underway.
      2. QUIGLEY, Charles D. 382 31 38, F2c, USN, received second degree burns on face and arms when disconnecting electric power leads from dock, while power was still on. No navy yard personnel were available to cut off power.
      3. ESTERLINE, James L. 243 65 90, F2c, USN, received a first degree burn on left arm from hot shell case.
      4. PYEL, Quinton E. 360 15 47, F2c, USN, received laceration on the left arm while cutting gromets from 5" shells.

      None of the above injuries incapacitated the recipients for duty.


      In general the officers and entire crew of the ship responded to the emergency in an exemplary manner. There was not one case of improper conduct or attitude. The officers and men carried out their orders in a manner which was most gratifying. All the officers were outstanding in their willingness to endure the lack of rest to keep the stations manned properly to repel any further attack.

      The action of the following enlisted personnel were especially creditable.

      1. PETERSON, Lowe, 368 58 62, Sea1c, USN, who although he had no previous experience as a machine gunner, performed that task like an expert; brought down one plane, and assisted in bringing down another.
      2. LA VOIE, Joseph E., 243 34 39, FC1c(M), USN, who was the only rangekeeper operator on board and who manned that station on the director for 48 hours, leaving his station only to go the head very occasionally.
      3. SKINNER, Harry L., 271 92 16, CGM(AA), USN, whose presence of mind put No. 2 machine gun in action almost as soon as general quarters was sounded with the attendant result of shooting down the first enemy plane.
      4. WELLS, Charles H. 271 82 33, CQM(PA), USN, whose aid was invaluable in assisting in getting the ship underway and clear of the dock.
      5. BRYANT, Robert J., 286 84 54, CBM(PA), USN, who practically unassisted made all the deck preparations for getting underway while the ship was under fire.
      6. MERRY, Sherman F., 393 48 71, Sea1c, USN, who volunteered in singling up and casting off lines when under fire from enemy machine guns.




  1. There were no stoppages on the machine guns although about 3400 rounds were fired and only one part broke which part was renewed in less than 30 seconds because the spare parts were layed out at the gun.
  2. There was only one slight casualty to the 5"/38 Cal. guns. (Rammer casualty on #1 gun which was overcome in less than one minute) 165 rounds of A.A. Common were expended.
  3. The remarkable coolness fire discipline of a green crew under actual battle conditions.
  4. It is believed that the Bagley was the first ship to open fire on the enemy, (SKINNER opened fire on the third torpedo plane to come in.)
  5. The 5"/38 Gun crews were made up largely of volunteers, engineers off watch, etc., because the shortage of personnel did not allow a full crew on each gun.
  6. The men off watch, after getting underway, during the evening, asked for 30 Caliber rifles and desired to stand watches hoping for a chance to shot at enemy planes, and had to be ordered to "turn in".
  7. HOHLT, Harold, Sea1c, USN, and KAMM, Howard, Sea1c, USN, came on board from the U.S.S. Schley because that ship had no guns to fire. Their assistance to the machine gunners was very valuable. Their action in considered meritorious.

    The foregoing is the statement of the acting commanding officer, Lieutenant P.W. CANN, U.S.N.

  8. The Commanding Officer, Lieut-Commander G.A. SINCLAIR, executive officer and navigator, Lieutenant R.L. NORRIS, the gunnery officer, Lieutenant T.E. CHAMBERS, and Ensign P.S. OLIVER, USNR, were away from the ship on authorized leave of absence at the time of the engagement and were unable to rejoin the ship prior to getting underway. Lieut-Comdr. SINCLAIR, Lieut. NORRIS, and Lieut. CHAMBERS reported to Commander Destroyers, Battle Force (U.S.S. Whitney) and Ensign OLIVER reported on board U.S.S. Mugford. Lieut. CHAMBERS later assigned to Conyngham for temporary duty.
  9. It is the opinion of the commanding officer that the performance of Lieutenant CANN is highly commendatory and worthy of suitable recognition. His handling of the Bagley during the above mentioned period was flawless.


Copy to:


Source: Enclosure (E) to CINCPAC action report Serial 0479 of 15 February 1942, World War II action reports,
the Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740.



Published: Fri Feb 16 11:49:28 EST 2018