Worth Bagley, born in Raleigh, N.C., on 6 April 1874, entered the Naval Academy in 1891. He graduated on 7 June 1895 and, after two years at sea as a passed midshipman, was commissioned ensign on 1 July 1897. At the beginning of hostilities between the United States and Spain late in Apri1 1898, Bagley was serving in Winslow (Torpedo Boat No. 5), a ship that was soon on blockade station off the northern coast of Cuba.
On 11 May 1898, Winslow left her position for Cardenas to replenish her coal bunkers from one of the larger warships located there. When she reached Cardenas, the senior officer present, the commanding officer of Wilmington (Gunboat No. 8) ordered her to reconnoiter Cardenas Bay for mines in company with the revenue cutter Hudson. The negative report on the mines that the two small ships made at the completion of their mission prompted Wilmington's commanding officer to decide to take his ship into the bay to search for three Spanish gunboats reportedly lurking there. Bagleys ship and Hudson served as escorts. At about 3,000 yards from Cardenas, a lookout caught sight of a small, gray steamer moored alongside the wharf. Winslow moved in for a closer look. At about 1335 that afternoon, Bagleys torpedo boat reached a point about 1,500 yards from the wharf when a puff of smoke announced the beginning of an artillery duel that lasted an hour and 20 minutes. Winslows 1‑pounder responded, and then Spanish shore batteries opened on her. The little torpedo boat bore the brunt of Spanish fury and quickly suffered a number of hits.
The first shell to strike Winslow put both her steam and manual steering out of action. While members of her crew tried to rig some type of auxiliary steering gear, Ens. Bagley carried orders to the after engine room hatch in order to keep the warship maneuvering with her propellers. However, at one point the ship swung broadside to the enemy batteries, and a shell knocked out her port main engine. Wilmington and Hudson came to the rescue with their larger guns, and Winslow requested Hudson to tow her out of action. While the two ships attempted to make fast a towline, a shell burst near the after engine room hatch, slaying Bagley and four enlisted men. He was the only naval officer killed in action in the Spanish‑American War.
David Worth Bagley, the brother of Ens. Worth Bagley, was born in Raleigh, N.C., on 8 January 1883. He attended North Carolina State College in 1898 and 1899 before entering the Naval Academy in 1900. After graduating on 4 February 1904, he went to sea in Missouri (Battleship No. 3) attached to the North Atlantic Fleet. In December 1905, Passed Midshipman Bagley was reassigned to the Asiatic Fleet and served successively in Concord (Gunboat No. 3) and West Virginia (Armored Cruiser No. 5). While in Concord, he was commissioned ensign on 2 February 1906. He was detached from West Virginia in March of 1907 and, the following year, reported on board Rhode Island (Battleship No. 17) of the Atlantic Fleet and made the voyage around the world in her with the Great White Fleet. In April 1909, he left Rhode Island and went to the General Electric Co. in Schenectady, N.Y., for a year of instruction. He then became aide and flag lieutenant to the Commander, 2d Division, Atlantic Fleet, in April 1910.
After a similar tour of duty on the staff of the Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet, and a two‑month furlough, he reported for duty at the Naval Academy in September 1912. Two years later, Bagley returned to sea as first lieutenant 1n Michigan (Battleship No. 27) serving with the Atlantic Fleet. He got his first command in September 1915 when he took over Drayton (Destroyer No. 23). During the first month of 1917, Bagley moved from Drayton to Jacob Jones (Destroyer No. 61). By May 1917, he and his ship were conducting antisubmarine patrols and convoy escort missions in the western approaches to the British Isles. Later, his area of operations widened to include the Irish Sea and the English Channel.
On 6 December 1917, Bagley conned his ship out of Brest harbor. At about 1621 that afternoon, the watch spied a torpedo wake. The destroyer maneuvered to avoid the torpedo, but in vain. It struck her starboard side and pierced her fuel oil tank. Though Bagley and his crew worked frantically to save the ship, she went down within eight minutes carrying 64 crewmen with her. Bagley and 37 others made it into the icy water in boats and on rafts, and, thanks to the humanitarian gesture by Kapitänleutnant Hans Rose, the U‑boat commander who radioed their location to Queenstown, they were all picked up by the 8th. Bagley earned the Distinguished Service Medal for his part in handling the situation.
He returned to the United States after the sinking of Jacob Jones and became the prospective commanding officer of Lea (Destroyer No. 118) then under construction at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. He put her into commission on 2 October 1918, but commanded her only until January 1919 when he became the American port officer at Rotterdam in the Netherlands with additional duty as the assistant naval attaché in the American legation at The Hague. He later served as naval attaché before returning to the United States in December 1921 for a tour of duty ashore in the Office of Naval Intelligence. In March of 1922, Bagley returned to sea in command of Reno (DD‑303) and as Commander, Destroyer Division 32, Pacific Fleet. He transferred to command of Division 35, Destroyer Squadrons, Battle Fleet, in August 1923. Bagley went ashore again in May 1924 for another two‑year tour of duty at the Naval Academy. At the end of the academic year in 1926, he left the Academy to become chief of staff to the Commander, Naval Forces, Europe, embarked in Memphis (CL‑13). In April 1927, Bagley moved to the 9th Naval District as the assistant (later changed to chief of staff) to the commandant with temporary additional duty as acting commanding officer of the Naval Training Station, Great Lakes.
He returned to sea in December 1931 as the commanding officer of heavy cruiser Pensacola (CA‑24), then serving in the Atlantic with Cruiser Division (CruDiv) 4, Scouting Fleet. That assignment lasted until May 1933 when Bagley was called to Washington, D.C., for duty in the Bureau of Navigation. He later became assistant bureau chief. In May 1935, orders sent him to Newport, R.I., to attend the Naval War College. Upon completing the senior course, he remained there as a member of the staff. Next came a year of duty as Commander, Destroyer Squadron 20, Destroyers, Scouting Fleet. From July 1937 to May 1938, he served as Commander Minecraft, Battle Force. While in that position, he was promoted to flag rank to date from 1 April 1938. In May of that year, Rear Admiral Bagley began a 32‑month tour of duty as Commandant, Mare Island Navy Yard. At the beginning of 1941, he broke his flag in Tennessee (BB‑43) as Commander, Battleship Division 2. He was serving in that command billet when his flagship was slightly damaged on 7 December 1941 during the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor.
On 4 April 1942, Bagley relieved Rear Admiral Claude C. Bloch as Commandant, 14th Naval District, and Commander, Hawaiian Sea Frontier, and he served in that capacity until January 1943. On 1 February 1943, he assumed command of the Western Sea Frontier and, on 30 March 1943, added the duties of Commandant, 11th Naval District. He held the latter office only until January of 1944, but continued to head the Western Sea Frontier until the following fall. Promoted to vice admiral to date from 1 February 1944, he was relieved of duty as Commander, Western Sea Frontier, on 17 November 1944. Eleven days later, Vice Admiral Bagley returned to Oahu and resumed duty as Commandant, 14th Naval District, and served in that position until ordered to Washington on 25 July 1945. On 20 August, Bagley reported for duty in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations and served on the International Defense Board, the United States‑Mexican Defense Commission, and the Permanent Joint Board on Defense. Vice Admiral Bagley was relieved of all active duty on 22 March 1946 and was placed on the retired list with the rank of admiral on 1 April 1947. Admiral Bagley died at the Naval Hospital, San Diego, Calif., on 24 May 1960.
The first three Bagleys; Torpedo Boat No. 24, Destroyer No. 185, and DD‑386 were named for Ens. Worth Bagley. The fourth, DE‑1069, honors both Worth Bagley and his brother, Admiral David W. Bagley.
Bagley (DD-386) was laid down on 31 July 1935 at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Va.; launched on 3 September 1936; sponsored by Miss Bella Worth Bagley, sister of Ens. Worth Bagley; and commissioned 12 June 1937, Lt. Comdr. Earl W. Morris in command.
After fitting out at Norfolk, the destroyer sailed north on 30 July, arriving at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I., on the 31st. There, battle practices held in Narragansett Bay during the first week of August emphasized torpedo attacks over surface gunnery. Bagley's design, which gave her the capability of firing all sixteen torpedo tubes at once, reflected this thinking. Her large torpedo armament meant, however, that the two after 5-inch gun mounts had to remain unshielded to save weight topside.
Departing Newport on 9 August, Bagley steamed back to Norfolk, mooring there the following day. The destroyer then sailed south on 27 August for an extended shakedown cruise in the waters off Central America. She arrived at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on the 30th; and, following a week of rest and recreation for the crew, then steamed for Panama. After transiting the Panama Canal on 9 September, she paused briefly at Balboa, Canal Zone, before sailing for the Galapagos Islands. On the morning of the 12th, the warship crossed the equator, "wherein many pollywogs underwent their shellbacking." Anchoring off San Cristobal in Wreck Bay, the crew visited there and other nearby islands until returning to Panama on 16 September. Bagley transited the canal on the 24th, stopped at Havana, Cuba, between 28 September and 2 October, and ended her shakedown cruise at Norfolk on the 4th.
The destroyer entered the Norfolk Navy Yard for post-shakedown availability soon thereafter, receiving her final dry dock repairs and alterations. Assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 4, Bagley spent the next six months working through training evolutions and conducting exercises off the Virginia capes. Ordered to the west coast, the warship sailed for Guantanamo Bay in company with Dunlap (DD-384) on 16 August, arriving at the Cuban base three days later. After transiting the Panama Canal on the 25th, the warships spent the next two days moored at Balboa before steaming on to San Diego, putting into that port on 5 September.
Reassigned to Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 7, Bagley began her peacetime duty with the Fleet, conducting flotilla tactics, torpedo attack drills, short range battle practice, and individual ship training exercises off the southern California coast. These exercises, lasting through the end of the year, also included target ship drills for the submarines of Submarine Squadron (SubRon) 6.
Four days into 1939, Bagley departed San Diego for Panama and, after transiting the canal, reached Cristobal in the Canal Zone on 13 January. She operated out of Gonaives, Haiti; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, before getting underway on 5 February for a subsidiary role in Fleet Problem XX. These exercises, slated to take place throughout the West Indies, were designed to test the ability of the navy to conduct long-range search operations, cover convoy operations, establish advance bases, and fight a fleet battle.
The destroyer operated on plane guard station before the exercise, between 6 and 11 February, and then sailed to Miami, Fla., via Gonaives, arriving there on 14 February. For the next two weeks, as the "Black" and "White" Fleets battled it out at sea, Bagley acted as a radio guardship in that port, an important, if uninspiring, role in the fleet problem. Departing Miami on 2 March, the warship visited Gonaives in Haiti and Santiago and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before sailing north with the Fleet on 6 April and mooring at Norfolk three days later. There the crew prepared for a planned fleet review in New York City on the 29th. The Fleet's visit to the region was cut short, however, by orders to return to the Pacific; orders given after the State Department grew worried about possible Japanese aggression in the Far East with the Battle Fleet in the Atlantic. Bagley, however, did not sail with the warships on 26 and 27 April. Instead, the destroyer entered the Norfolk Navy Yard for an overhaul, not finishing that work until 5 July.
Ordered to the Pacific afterwards, the warship departed Norfolk on 11 July and arrived at Guantanamo Bay on the 14th. After refueling, the destroyer steamed to Cristobal the next day, transited the Panama Canal and arrived at Balboa that evening. She sailed for San Diego on 20 July, arriving back in that familiar port on the 28th. For the next eight months, Bagley conducted standard training evolutions in the waters off southern California, including; flotilla tactics, gunnery practice, torpedo attacks and assisted cruisers and submarines in squadron exercises at sea. She punctuated these operations with upkeep and overhaul periods alongside Altair (AD-11) at San Diego.
Bagley sailed for Hawaii on 2 April, arriving at Lahaina Roads on the 10th. There, she participated in Fleet Problem XXI, conducting "security patrols" off the port of Honolulu and off Pearl Harbor during April and May. Meanwhile, the Roosevelt administration, alarmed over Japan's aggressive course in the Far East, determined that a show of American resolve was necessary. Accordingly, a major portion of the Fleet, including Bagley, was ordered to stay in Hawaii indefinitely.
Over the next five months, Bagley operated locally out of Pearl Harbor and Lahaina Roads. Her missions within the Hawaiian chain included such evolutions as antiaircraft practice, battle depth charge practice, gunnery and torpedo firing, and target services for SubRon 6. The warship also continued security patrols off the Lahaina Roads anchorage, off Maui, and off Honolulu harbor. The fall of France to the Axis powers in June 1940 gave these operations an element of seriousness unusual in peacetime exercises.
Owing to a shortage of yard space, detachments from the Fleet were rotated back to the west coast at periodic intervals. Bagley thus returned to San Diego briefly for leave and liberty during the fall of 1940, arriving on 20 October. On 4 November, the destroyer sailed north to San Francisco, arriving there two days later. She received degaussing gear, installed by Union Iron Works between 11 and 24 November, before returning to Pearl Harbor, via San Diego, on 12 December.
From that port, Bagley maintained her normal routine into the critical year 1941. Following several exercises at sea in late January, the destroyer headed back to the west coast on 2 February. Arriving at Bremerton, Wash., on the 8th, she received 11 days of repair work in drydock at the Puget Sound Navy Yard. After finishing the repairs, the destroyer sailed for San Diego on 1 April, mooring there on the 5th. Bagley took departure from San Diego on 21 April, rendezvoused with Enterprise (CV-6) off San Pedro, and joined the carrier's escort screen. The force conducted antisubmarine warfare (ASW) drills en route to the Hawaiian Islands, reaching Pearl Harbor on the 27th.
For the next seven months, Bagley operated locally out of Pearl Harbor. Frequent exercises with DesDiv 7 were interspersed with carrier task force evolutions centered around Enterprise and Lexington (CV-2). The pace of these operations intensified as American economic sanctions, instituted in response to Japanese actions in China and French Indochina, provoked Japanese protests. On 3 December during an antiaircraft practice at sea with DesDiv 8, Bagley's starboard side bilge keel tore loose. The destroyer slowed to 10 knots and changed course for Oahu, mooring at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard the following morning. On 6 December, the warship shifted berths to the starboard side of berth 22 near the naval dry docks. By this time, Bagley had gone cold iron, receiving electricity, steam, and fresh water from the dock.
At 0755 on 7 December, shortly before morning colors, Japanese aircraft from six fleet carriers struck the Pacific Fleet as it lay in port at Pearl Harbor. Other Japanese planes attacked the surrounding air and military facilities defending the naval base. On board Bagley, the crew first saw dive bombers in action over nearby Hickam Field and then witnessed a Nakajima B5N2 Type 97 carrier attack plane pass down Southeast Loch and torpedo Oklahoma (BB-37) moored off Ford Island. The destroyer immediately went to general quarters, firing her .50-caliber machine guns at the torpedo-carrying Nakajimas passing down the port side to attack the American battleships. Shortly after 0800, a second B5N2s torpedo exploded in the bank about thirty feet ahead of Bagley. A third torpedo plane, hit by antiaircraft fire over the navy yard, dropped its torpedo in the lumber pile on the dock near the warship. The main battery, cleared of all awnings and hamper in short order, joined the growing volume of antiaircraft fire directed at the intruders.
A few minutes after the attack began, the "black gang" ran lube oil down into the sumps and lit fires under the boilers to build up steam. At 0829, the Commander, Destroyers, Battle Force, directed his ships to get underway. During the second phase of the attack, which began about 0840, Bagley's crew fired on Aichi D3A1 Type 99 carrier bombers attacking Ford Island and the navy yard dry docks. Her gunners claimed to have splashed at least six aircraft that morning; but, given the intensity of antiaircraft fire from all ships, her "kills" cannot be conclusively proven.
At 0940, the warship headed for the channel and the open sea, leaving her commanding officer, executive officer, and gunnery officer ashore. Bagley, under the temporary command of Lt. Philip W. Cann, paused only long enough to pick up the skipper of destroyer Patterson (DD-392), who was subsequently transferred to his own ship at sea. Although she served briefly in the antisubmarine screen of Task Force (TF) 8, the damage to her bilge keel forced her reassignment to the offshore patrol area near Honolulu that afternoon.
The next morning, Bagley investigated a submarine contact off Nanakuli but found nothing more than a burning sampan off Barbers Point light. On 9 December, the destroyer escorted another sampan to the Honolulu harbor entrance, turning Nisshin Maru over to the Coast Guard that evening. She turned toward Pearl Harbor the next day, mooring alongside Helm (DD-388) in the navy yard for repairs. The loose section of the bilge keel was cut off and the warship received fuel, ammunition, and stores. On 13 December, a submarine scare in the harbor sent her out to sea, and Bagley took up a patrol station off Honolulu. She made a sound contact that afternoon, dropping three depth charges on the suspected submarine, but did not find her quarry. Entering Pearl Harbor again on the 15th, the warship refueled and loaded more stores and ammunition.
Meanwhile, plans matured for the relief of Wake Island. One force, built around Saratoga (CV-3), was to head for Wake with aircraft reinforcements and supplies while a second force with Lexington raided Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Bagley sortied with five other DesRon 4 destroyers on 16 December, and they took up station around Saratoga in TF 14. Joined on the 17th by Neches (AO-5) and Tangier (AV-8), the task force steamed west toward Wake Island.
On 21 December, however, planes from two Japanese aircraft carriers raided that atoll, shooting down the last two operational Grumman F4F "Wildcats" of Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF) 211. The news of Japanese aircraft carriers in the area prompted the reconsideration, and later cancellation, of the relief attempt. On the 23rd, the crew heard the news that Wake had fallen.
Bagley covered the arrival of TF 14 at Pearl Harbor four days after Christmas. The next day, the destroyer sailed with Saratoga to patrol west of Oahu, covering the islands while two carrier groups escorted reinforcements to Samoa. On 11 January 1942, however, a single torpedo from Japanese submarine I-16 hit and damaged the aircraft carrier. Bagley returned to Pearl Harbor with the injured Saratoga and, taking advantage of the opportunity, underwent a restricted availability at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard between 23 January and 3 February, adding four 20-millimeter machineguns to her antiaircraft battery.
Departing Oahu on the last day of January, Bagley joined TF 11, comprising Lexington, four cruisers and nine destroyers, to cover transports delivering reinforcements to Christmas Island, Canton Island in the Phoenix Islands, and New Caledonia. Worried about Japanese intentions in the Fiji-New Caledonia area, TF 11 joined the ANZAC cruiser force; HMAS Australia, HMNZS Achilles, HMNZS Leander with Chicago (CA-29) and two destroyers on 16 February. Shortly thereafter, the task force turned to the northwest and headed for Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.
Before the planned raid on Rabaul could be launched, however, Japanese reconnaissance planes spotted the task force on 20 February, some 350 miles from the objective. At 1630 that afternoon, Lexington's air-search radar picked up an incoming air raid. Nine minutes later, Bagley's crew spotted the carrier's "Wildcats" engaging the first of two enemy bomber waves (4th Kokutai) at a range of about nine miles. Soon thereafter, the destroyer's main battery opened up at a range of 14,000 yards, firing a time-fuzed barrage at the four surviving Mitsubishi G4M1 Type 97 land attack planes. She ceased firing at 1650 when the four bombers withdrew to the west, closely followed by the American fighters.
At 1707, the destroyer opened fire on a second wave of nine bombers with her 20-millimeter battery, joining the barrage of antiaircraft fire around Lexington. Minutes after that, one bomber attempted to crash Bagley's stern, but fire from Aylwin (DD-355) helped splash the "Betty" some 200 yards distant on the starboard quarter. The destroyer ceased firing at 1718, having expended 269 rounds of 5-inch ammunition. Thanks to the "Wildcats" of Fighting Squadron (VF) 3 only two of the 17 Japanese planes returned to Rabaul.
With all chance of surprise lost, TF 11 came about and steamed southeast, skirting the Santa Cruz Islands, and sailed into the Coral Sea. After a rendezvous with Yorktown on 6 March, the task force sailed back towards Rabaul, intending to try another air attack on that base. On the 8th, news arrived that the Japanese had landed at Lae on the north coast of New Guinea, opposite Port Moresby. The carriers changed course, arrived in the Gulf of Papua on 10 March, and launched a 104-plane strike across the Owen Stanley Mountains at Japanese shipping off Lae and Salamaua. Following the strike, which sank a light cruiser, a transport and a minesweeper, the force returned to Pearl Harbor, with Bagley berthing there in a nest alongside Dixie (AD-14) on 26 March.
Upkeep and repair, punctuated by a dry dock period, kept the destroyer's crew busy for the next month. Bagley took departure from Pearl Harbor on 30 April, carrying mail and passengers to Palmyra Island, Christmas Island, and the Society Islands. Off Bora Bora on 9 May, she rendezvoused with with Hunter Liggett (AP-27) and escorted her to the Fiji Islands, arriving at Nukualofa Bay, Tongatabu, on the 15th. The destroyer then spent a week patrolling outside the harbor, protecting departing convoys from enemy submarines, before continuing on alone to Brisbane, Australia, arriving there on 30 May.
Assigned to the Southwest Pacific Force (TF 44), Bagley protected convoys in the approaches to Australia, searched for submarine contacts during two patrol sweeps with Henley (DD-391), and conducted night battle practice and other exercises with the cruisers of TF 44 through mid-July. On the 17th, she departed Brisbane for New Zealand, arriving in Auckland on 20 July. There, she joined TF 62 and began preparations for Operation "Watchtower," the invasion of Guadalcanal in the British Solomon Islands.
Bagley steamed to the Fiji Islands, in company with cruisers Chicago, Salt Lake City (CA-25), HMAS Australia, HMAS Canberra, HMAS Hobart, eight other destroyers, and 12 transports. Joined by other convoy elements on the 26th, including three more cargo ships, Bagley guarded the transports as they conducted rehearsal landings at Koro Island. The task force then proceeded to the Solomon Islands, arriving in the transport area off Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, on 7 August.
Assigned to "Southern Force," one of three picket patrols, Bagley and Patterson accompanied HMAS Australia, HMAS Canberra, and Chicago in protecting the transports south of Tulagi. At 1320, the destroyer's crew spotted a wave of 27 bombers and fighters heading for the ships off Guadalcanal. They observed four planes splash in the face of "Wildcat" attacks and heavy antiaircraft fire. Shortly thereafter, at 1340, a Mitsubishi A6M2 carrier fighter ("Zero") flew out of a cloud bank on a parallel course to starboard. Bagley's 5-inch guns opened up at 6,000 yards; but, although they fired 26 rounds, all failed to score; and the plane escaped. That night the "Southern Force" patrolled south and east of Savo Island.
The following morning, Bagley and Patterson resumed antisubmarine patrol around the transports off Tulagi. At 1125, Bagley sighted 23 "Bettys" and 15 "Zeros" swing around the east tip of Florida Island and head toward the ships off Lunga Point. Three minutes later, the warship began firing both 5-inch and 20-millimeter guns at the low-flying planes. Her gunners claimed to have shot down one of the 13 "Betty" bombers splashed in the ensuing attack. Afterwards, Bagley steamed over to investigate several wrecked bombers floating on the surface. The crew of one "Betty" fired pistols at the destroyer without effect before killing themselves to avoid capture.
After resuming patrol off Tulagi that afternoon, the southern screening force moved south and east of Savo Island to begin night patrol at 1850 on 8 August. HMAS Australia, with Rear Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, RN, on board, left formation for a command conference at Lunga Roads at 2130. Just over two hours later, with visibility low owing to overcast sky and rain showers, unidentified ships loomed into view about 3,000 yards distant on the port bow. These were seven Japanese cruisers and a destroyer under Rear Admiral Gunichi Mikawa sent from Rabaul to attack the American transports. At that moment, 0144 according to Bagley's log, float planes from the Japanese cruisers dropped flares that lit up the American warships.
Bagley turned sharply to the left to bring the starboard torpedo tubes to bear on the Japanese warships looming out of the darkness but, as the "fish" were not armed in time, she continued her turn and fired four torpedoes to the northwest from number two port mount. Although the torpedomen claimed hits a few minutes later, no Japanese ships were damaged by torpedoes in that area. It is possible, but unconfirmed, that Canberra, in a vain attempt to avoid Japanese gunfire, may have strayed into the line of fire and suffered hits from these torpedoes on her port side. Bagley then turned left again and her gunners scanned the passage between Guadalcanal and Savo Island; but, as the Japanese cruiser force had already passed by to the north, they saw no enemy ships. She then steamed to the northwest, toward the designated destroyer rendezvous point, and at about 0300 came across the heavily damaged and burning Astoria (CA-34). That warship, along with Quincy (CA-39) and Vincennes (CA-44), had been mortally wounded in the short, but violent, Battle of Savo Island before the Japanese force retired to Rabaul.
Bagley came alongside Astoria and rescued about 400 survivors, including 185 wounded, from the stricken warship, out of the water or from nearby rafts. With daylight, Bagley delivered a salvage party of 325 men to Astoria to fight fires, plug holes and raise steam. The effort ultimately failed, and the cruiser sank that afternoon. Meanwhile, Bagley's medical officer and pharmacist's mates treated shell-fragment lacerations and second-degree burns before the wounded were transferred to President Jackson (AP-37) that afternoon. Bagley then withdrew to Noumea with TF 62, mooring there on 13 August.
After refueling, the destroyer cruised for enemy submarines on offshore patrol near the Bulari Passages. On 19 August, she rendezvoused with the cruisers of TF 44 and sailed for the two American aircraft carrier task forces patrolling south of the Solomon Islands. Joining with TF 11 two days later, the destroyer took up station in the screen around Saratoga, not far from Enterprise and TF 16.
On 23 August, American reconnaissance planes spotted a Japanese convoy of six transports and seven escorts heading for Guadalcanal. The following day, sightings of Japanese carrier aircraft indicated enemy "flattops" were nearby. Reports of more Japanese warships trickled in all day while American fighters intercepted and splashed two enemy search planes. At one point, Bagley's crew witnessed four "Wildcats" shoot down a "Betty" only seven miles from the task force. After radar spotted a force of 21 enemy planes heading for the airfield on Guadalcanal, Saratoga launched the raid of 29 Douglas SBD-3 scout bombers ("Dauntless") and eight Grumman TBF-1 torpedo bombers ("Avenger") that found and sank the Japanese light carrier Ryujo late that afternoon. In the meantime, however, another Japanese search plane had spotted the American carriers.
Around 1500, Japanese carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku launched bomber and fighter aircraft toward TF 16. Despite attacks by "Wildcats" flying combat air patrol (CAP) and intense antiaircraft fire, Japanese "Val" dive bombers scored three hits on Enterprise, damaging the carrier and forcing the two task forces to withdraw east and regroup. The next day, 25 August, Wasp (CV-7) arrived in the area and, after her planes sank a destroyer and a transport, the Japanese reinforcement convoy withdrew as well. The Battle of the Eastern Solomons had turned back a major Japanese attempt to recapture Guadalcanal.
Bagley continued to operate with Saratoga northwest of Espiritu Santo. She shifted to screen Hornet (CV-8) when that carrier joined TF 61 on 29 August. Two days later, after a torpedo from Japanese submarine I-26 damaged Saratoga, the destroyer received orders to rejoin TF 44 and the Southwest Pacific Force. Bagley arrived at Brisbane, Australia, on 3 September and spent the next six months covering the movement of reinforcements and supplies from Australia to New Guinea. Part of "MacArthur's Navy," a small force of cruisers, destroyers, and amphibious craft, Bagley first supported the Allied toehold at Milne Bay. Task Force 44, based in the Palm Islands near Townsville, primarily patrolled in the Coral Sea but, on occasion, entered Milne Bay to protect convoys from Japanese attack.
Relieved by Mugford (DD-389) on 21 September, the destroyer steamed to Sydney for repairs to her main battery director. Moored alongside Dobbin (AD-3) on the 24th, the warship remained at Sydney until 7 October when she returned north to the Palm Islands. On the 13th, the task force sailed to cover a troop convoy carrying an Australian force to seize Goodenough Island. After the completing the operation on the 21st, TF 44 steamed south to Brisbane for training exercises in Moreton Bay. Another convoy, this one carrying reinforcements for the combined American and Australian attack on Buna, arrived without incident at the end of November. This pattern of patrols in the Coral Sea, occasional convoy escort to the China Strait or Milne Bay, and exercises near Townsville and Brisbane lasted until late spring 1943.
On 15 March 1943, Bagley executed orders reassigning her to TF 74 as the newly created 7th Fleet readied itself for offensive operations in New Guinea. In preparation for the first amphibious operation in the Solomon Sea, Bagley escorted three troop transports from Townsville to Noumea, arriving on 22 May. After a brief trip to Espiritu Santo, between 22 and 29 May, the destroyer received tender services from Prometheus (AR-3) and dry dock repairs from ARD-2 at Noumea until 10 June. Departing New Caledonia that same day, the warship returned to Australia ready to participate in Operation "Chronicle," the occupation of Woodlark and Kiriwina Islands in the Solomon Sea.
Underway from Townsville on 27 June, Bagley, in company with Henley and SC-749, escorted six LSTs carrying 2,600 Army troops and airfield equipment to Woodlark Island. While the destroyers patrolled south of the island, the landing proceeded without Japanese interference on the night of 30 June and 1 July. Bagley escorted three more echelons of LSTs from Townsville to Woodlark between 9 July and 7 August; all arrived safely, and the fighter airstrip became operational on 23 July. The destroyer then escorted Henry T. Allen (AP-30) between Milne Bay, Cairns, and Brisbane, arriving at the last port on 15 August.
Returning to Milne Bay on the 19th, Bagley patrolled off Buna, Monrobe, and Goodenough Island in support of the landings at Lae planned for 4 September. On the 6th, after the Australian 9th Division had successfully landed in Huon Gulf, Bagley escorted the invasion convoy back to Sydney, arriving there on 11 September. The destroyer spent the next two weeks supporting HMAS Australia at Palm Island.
Bagley steamed back to New Guinea late in the month, delivering a convoy to Milne Bay on 1 October. She quickly returned to Townsville to pick up another convoy, escorting it safely into Milne Bay on the 8th. Sailing again to Australia, this time to Brisbane, the destroyer shepherded a third convoy from Townsville to Milne Bay between 25 and 29 October. After moving to Buna on 8 November, Bagley helped escort a convoy of three LSTs to Finschhafen, delivering supplies to the Australian 20th Brigade on the 11th. Over the next four weeks, the destroyer escorted six more reinforcement convoys out of Buna; three to Finschhafen, one to Lae, one to Woodlark Island, and the last to Cape Cretin on 12 December.
In order to control the Vitiaz and Dampier Straits, a bottleneck endangering amphibious operations farther along the northern coast of New Guinea, landings were planned in western New Britain to neutralize Japanese airfields on Cape Gloucester. On 14 December, Bagley departed Buna with HMAS Westralia, Carter Hall (LSD-3), and two fast transports. The convoy arrived off Arawe, New Britain, on the 15th, landed the 112th Cavalry Regiment and returned to Milne Bay the next day.
After steaming to Buna on 23 December, Bagley joined the seven LSTs of TU 76.1.41, carrying the 7th echelon of 1st Marine Division's engineers, artillery, and stores for the Cape Gloucester operation. The crew watched the heavy cruisers bombard the beach at 0600 on 26 December, and then Bagley screened the LSTs as they landed troops and equipment. That afternoon, around 1430, a large Japanese air raid attacked the task force, sinking Brownson (DD-518) and damaging Shaw (DD-373). Later that evening, Bagley's crew saw friendly fighters splash three "Betty" bombers over the beachhead.
Returning to Buna on 28 December, Bagley then helped leapfrog elements of the 32d Infantry Division to Saidor, New Guinea, bypassing a strong Japanese garrison at Sio. The third echelon convoy landed troops and equipment without incident on 2 January 1944. Over the next week, the destroyer escorted one reinforcement convoy to Finschhafen, and two more to Saidor, before turning south for Australia. Arriving at Sydney on 15 January, the crew enjoyed leave and recreation until once again sailing north on the 24th. Following ASW exercises with Peto (SS-265) in Moreton Bay, Bagley headed for Milne Bay, arriving there the last day of the month.
Ordered "to act as stand-by escort for supply echelons," the destroyer delivered a convoy of LSTs to Saidor on 5 February and the next day, in company with Smith (DD-378) and two LSTs, steamed for Cape Gloucester. That evening, an enemy plane tried to attack the convoy, but Bagley's gunners drove it off with 320 20-millimeter rounds. After dropping the LSTs off in Borgen Bay on the 7th, the destroyer returned to Milne Bay. No longer needed in the southwest Pacific, she departed the region on 10 February, steaming east for the west coast of the United States.
Arriving in San Francisco on 27 February, after stops at Florida Island, Guadalcanal, Palmyra, and Pearl Harbor, Bagley entered the Mare Island Navy Yard for a major overhaul on the 28th. Over the next eight weeks, she added two more 20-millimeter guns (for a total of six) and an improved fire control radar while a twin 40-millimeter gun tub was placed forward of the two after 5-inch guns.
Underway for Hawaii on 5 May, Bagley began training at sea for Operation "Forager," the planned invasion of the Marianas. Arriving at Pearl Harbor on the 10th, the destroyer conducted screen, antiaircraft, and shore bombardment drills before sailing for the Marshall Islands on 29 May. Anchoring in Majuro Atoll on 3 June, Bagley joined one of the four fast carrier task groups, putting out to sea with Bunker Hill (CV-17) and TG 58.2 on the 8th.
On 11 June, after CAP fighters shot down several Japanese patrol planes, air strikes from the 15 American carriers smothered enemy bases on Saipan and Tinian. That night, Bagley's task force foiled an attack by a few "Betty" torpedo bombers. After screening further air strikes on the 12th, the destroyer then joined the battleships of TG 58.7, for two days of prelanding bombardments. During daylight hours, she screened the seven new battleships on the 13th, followed by the eight older ones on the 14th, as they fired on coastal targets on both Saipan and Tinian. In the evening, Bagley closed shore to conduct night harassing missions south of Tinian town, firing 240 5-inch rounds in an attempt to prevent the Japanese from moving up reinforcements.
The destroyer then moved to the transport area on 15 June, screening the initial landings on Saipan before returning to the bombardment group on the 17th. From that screening position Bagley participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Although primarily an air battle, later dubbed "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot," in which most of the several hundred Japanese plane casualties were lost to American fighters, several small groups of Japanese aircraft broke through the CAP. These were mostly driven off by intense antiaircraft fire from the battleships and destroyers. Bagley fired on three planes that day, lobbing 24 5-inch shells at a "Val" and a "Kate" at a range of 6,000 yards astern and another 147 20-millimeter and 40-millimeter shells at a "Zeke" that passed 1,000 yards distant to starboard. In the following days, the destroyer continued to screen the battleships as they vainly chased the retreating Japanese.
On 25 June, the destroyer returned to the Marianas for two weeks of call-fire assignments in support of Marine Corps operations. Under the direction of fire control units ashore, Bagley fired over 700 5-inch rounds of high-explosive, white phosphorous, and starshell into the final pocket of Japanese resistance at the north end of Saipan. On 6 July, after receiving more ammunition from Montpelier (CL-57), she closed shore and fired on "caves and crevasses near waters edge on Saipan," expending 537 5-inch and over 1,000 rounds of 20-millimeter and 40-millimeter shells.
Rejoining the transport screen the following day, Bagley cruised off the islands, guarding the cargo ships from air attack, until closing Tinian on the 25th. She fired 200 5-inch shells during a night harassment mission off Tinian town that evening. At 0533 on the 26th, two Japanese 5-inch shore guns fired at Bagley but missed astern. After firing four shots in return, the destroyer called in an air strike and returned to the transport screen.
Following refueling and upkeep at the Saipan anchorage on 4 August, Bagley got underway for Eniwetok on the 12th, arriving there four days later. Moored alongside Prairie (AD-15), the destroyer spent the next two weeks receiving minor repairs and provisioning ship. As part of the preliminaries to the invasion of the Philippines, the four carrier task groups received orders to attack Japanese air strength in the Bonins, on Yap, the Palaus, and Mindanao. On 28 August, in company with TG 38.4 consisting of Franklin (CV-13), Enterprise, San Jacinto (CVL-30), two cruisers, and eleven other destroyers, she steamed west for a diversionary raid on Iwo Jima. Returning to Saipan on 4 September to refuel and rearm, TG 38.4 departed the next day for operations in the Palaus. Following an air strike on the 6th, Bagley, accompanied two cruisers and three other destroyers in closing Yap on the morning of 7 September. Bagley opened fire at 0931 and, despite losing communications with the spotting plane, fired 200 5-inch rounds at gun emplacements on Gagil-Tomil Island. The next day, she screened a second bombardment run before the group proceeded to the vicinity of Palau. The carriers flew strikes and support missions in support of the landings on Peleliu and Angaur.
The task group then steered for Seeadler Harbor, Admiralty Islands, arriving there on 21 September. Joined by Belleau Wood (CV-24), TG 38.4 sailed to support mopping up operations in the Palaus on the 24th. Then, after the three other carrier groups sailed from Seeadler Harbor and Ulithi, the entire task force steamed northwest for raids on the Ryukyu Islands, Formosa, and the Philippines. Bagley screened Enterprise during the strikes on Okinawa and the smaller Ryukyus on the 10th. This was followed by a raid on Aparri in the Philippines on the 11th before the large-scale effort to destroy Japanese air power on Formosa began on 12 September.
Although the American attacks neutralized much of the defending Japanese planes on the island, the task force was plagued by night harassing attacks by "Betty" bombers out of Kyushu. Just after 1900 on 12 October, two damaged bombers passed near Bagley. The first, already afire and approaching the warship on the port beam, was taken under 20- and 40-millimeter fire at point-blank range. As the plane passed just over the fantail, the bomber's port engine fell off, and the burning aircraft plunged into the sea about 600 yards away on the starboard quarter. The second plane attracted about fifty 20-millimeter rounds as it passed up the starboard side but escaped without injury.
On the night of the 13th, while the task force recovered planes from that day's strikes on Formosa, Bagley helped repel another night attack by Japanese twin-engined bombers. Her 5-inch guns helped splash one plane at a range of 6,000 yards, and several other planes "were seen to plunge flaming into the water." The next day, the task force slowly steamed east, covering the retirement of the crippled cruiser Canberra (CA-70), heavily damaged by a Japanese aerial torpedo. The carriers of TG 38.4 then struck at the Manila airfields on the 15th, prompting retaliatory attacks that were broken up by combat air patrol (CAP). Attacks on the Luzon airfields resumed on the 17th, preparing the way for the planned landings farther south on Leyte.
The Japanese responded by sending four groups of surface ships, one of which comprised carriers, to intercept the American invasion. On the morning of 24 October, one of the Japanese surface forces was attacked and bombed by planes from TG 38.4, which sank battleship Musashi, in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea. Later that day, Bagley's task group received orders to intercept and sink the four Japanese carriers spotted several hundred miles to the north. All three Japanese surface groups, however, although mauled by attacking American dive and torpedo bombers, still closed the invasion beaches.
Bagley's only part in the ensuing Battle for Leyte Gulf was to join the ad hoc cruiser-destroyer group dispatched in futile pursuit of the retreating flattops, mere decoys with only half their air component on board. Late on the 25th, the crew watched as first the damaged Japanese light carrier Chiyoda, and then the large destroyer Hatsuzuki, succumbed to gunfire and torpedoes. In the meantime, an American battleship force, supported by cruisers, destroyers, and torpedo boats, shattered two of the Japanese surface groups in the Battle of Surigao Strait, while the third retreated after desperate resistance by American destroyers and escort carriers in the Battle off Samar.
With the Battle for Leyte Gulf over on 25 October, and the surviving Japanese naval forces in retreat, Bagley rejoined the carriers as they stood by to support ground operations on Leyte. In order to destroy Japanese aircraft staging into the central Philippines, TG 38.4 launched attacks on Luzon from its patrol area east of Leyte Gulf on 30 October. Unfortunately for the American carriers, a Japanese kamikaze raid of five suicide planes eluded the CAP and closed the group. Bagley's guns helped destroy three, but one crashed Franklin's flight deck while the other plane hit Belleau Wood. Both carriers suffered heavy damage from explosions and fire, losing 45 planes and 148 men in the action. The battered pair, escorted by Bagley and the rest of TG 38.4, retired to Ulithi.
Arriving 2 November, Bagley received four days of overhaul from tender Markab (AD-21). The destroyer then sailed on the 10th with TU 77.4.1, built around carriers Hoggatt Bay (CVE-75) and Tulagi (CVE-72), to provide air support for Leyte ground operations. Japanese air attacks had slackened off by this time, and the only event of note occurred on 22 November when the warship rescued the crew of a twin-engine Lockheed PV-1 ("Ventura") patrol plane accidently shot down by friendly fire. Retiring to Seeadler Harbor on the 27th, the destroyer spent the next month training, or receiving repairs from Briareus (AR-12), all in preparation for Operation "Musketeer," the landings on Luzon, Philippine Islands.
On 27 December, the destroyer got underway for the Palaus, arriving there on the 30th. The 12 escort carriers of TG 77.2 and 77.4, and their screen of 19 destroyers, including Bagley, sortied from Kossol Roads on 1 January 1945. The group entered Leyte Gulf on the 3d and steamed on to the Mindanao Sea, heading for Lingayen Gulf to provide air support for amphibious operations. Late in the afternoon of the 4th, after a day of false alarms and "snooper" alerts, a single twin-engine Japanese suicide plane crashed Ommaney Bay (CVE-79), setting off explosions and fires which destroyed that escort carrier.
The next day, after the force entered the South China Sea, four Japanese kamikaze raids attacked the American warships. Although the first two waves were driven off by CAP, Bagley's crew saw suicide planes from the third attack crash Columbia (CL-56), Manila Bay (CVE-61), HMAS Australia, and Stafford (DE-411), damaging the latter badly enough to force her retirement to Leyte. Bagley screened the escort carriers between 6 January, when they began flying ground-attack missions over the Lingayen beaches, and 13 January when the next kamikaze plane attacked the group. Just after 0900, an undetected plane surprised and crashed Salamaua (CVE-96), causing extensive damage. Several more closed the formation at 0908, and one Nakajima Ki.43 single-engine fighter ("Oscar") made a run toward Bagley. All guns that could bear opened fire at 3,600 yards, and the plane splashed about 1,000 yards out on the port beam. The next four days passed without any Japanese attacks, and the task group retired to Ulithi, arriving there on the 23d.
With Philippine operations well underway, Bagley was assigned to the next major amphibious operation, the landings planned for Iwo Jima in February. Following a repair period alongside Cascade (AD-16), the destroyer set out from Ulithi on 10 February, touched at Saipan to refuel, and escorted the small carriers of TG 52.2 to the operating area west of Iwo Jima on 16 February. Over the next three weeks, Bagley either screened the escort carriers or patrolled an air-sea rescue station during B-29 raids on Honshu. The destroyer then departed the area on 12 March, arriving at Ulithi on the 15th.
After a mere six days to conduct repairs and replenish, the warship embarked upon the last major amphibious operation of the war, the invasion of Okinawa, in company with the escort carriers of TG 52.1, Bagley arrived off Okinawa Jima on 25 March. The destroyer screened Anzio (CVE-57) during ground attack and support operations into April without incident. Over the next several weeks, numerous small Japanese air raids appeared on her radar screen, but only one closed the formation, an ineffective attack by a lone plane on the 12th. On 28 April, while the escort carriers launched raids on Sakishima Gunto, the crew spotted a Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka rocket-propelled suicide bomb ("Baka") pass harmlessly overhead at 26,000 feet.
On 30 April, Bagley and Lawrence C. Taylor (DE-415) escorted Rudyerd Bay (CVE-81) to Kerama Retto on a replenishment mission. Bagley received 400 rockets from SS Mayfield Victory and delivered them to the air squadron on board Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70) on 2 May. Over the following three weeks, the warship protected the escort carriers against air and submarine attack, delivered mail throughout the task group, and, on the 19th, rescued a pilot from a plane downed at sea. On 24 May, after Bagley "blew out" her number one main generator, she turned toward the Philippines. Arriving in Leyte Gulf on the 27th after 102 days underway at sea, the destroyer went alongside Markab (AD-21) for repairs.
The warship's last combat operation began on 15 June when the destroyer departed Leyte for Kerama Retto. She rendezvoused with the six escort carriers of TG 32.1 on the 18th and supported them during a series of air strikes on Okinawa. A week later, however, Bagley's main battery director failed, and she once again retired to Leyte for repairs. After mooring there on 27 June, she went alongside Yosemite for three days of availability. As the tender was unable to repair the director, the warship steamed to Saipan on 5 July and thence on to Guam, arriving in Apra harbor on the 6th.
With a new director installed by 14 July, Bagley sailed to Saipan on the 15th. There, she conducted air defense and convoy escort drills in preparation for operations in the Okinawa area. Departing the Marianas on 6 August, the warship escorted a convoy of merchant ships to Okinawa on 12 August. Three days later, her crew heard of the Japanese capitulation while shepherding a return convoy back to Saipan. Following 10 days of rest and recreation, Bagley embarked Rear Admiral Francis E. M. Whiting and staff for transport to Marcus Island. She arrived there on 31 August, and Japanese Rear Admiral M. Matsubara surrendered the island and its garrison to Rear Admiral Whiting on board Bagley.
Returning to Saipan on 2 September, the destroyer then reported to the Commander, 5th Fleet, for extended duty. After a brief stop at Buckner Bay, Okinawa, the destroyer sailed for Japan, arriving in Sasebo on 20 September. Bagley spent the next five weeks operating as a minefield marker ship, assisting minesweeping efforts, and providing courier services between Sasebo, Nagasaki, and Wakayama. Several officers also inspected various Japanese naval vessels in port to determine compliance with Allied surrender terms.
The destroyer departed Sasebo on 29 October for the United States and, steaming via Pearl Harbor, arrived in San Diego on 19 November. Originally marked for use in experimental testing, probably the two-detonation series of atomic tests held in the summer of 1946 at Bikini Atoll in the central Pacific, Bagley steamed to Pearl Harbor in late April 1946. The destroyer did not participate in the atomic tests, however, but instead reported for inactivation at Pearl Harbor on 2 May. Decommissioned there on 13 June 1946, she was towed to San Diego for scrap sale. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 25 February 1947, and she was sold to the Moore Dry Dock Co., Oakland, California, on 8 September 1947.
Bagley (DD-386) earned 12 battle stars for World War II service.
Timothy L. Francis
23 September 2005