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Bailey III (Destroyer No. 269)


The third U.S. Navy ship named Bailey but the second named for Rear Adm. Theodorus Bailey (1805-1877); see Bailey II for complete biography,.


(Destroyer No. 269: displacement 1,215; length 314'4½"; beam 30'11½"; draft 10'3¼" (full load) (aft); speed 34.5 knots (trial); complement 109; armament 4 4-inch, 1 3-inch, 3 Lewis machine guns, 12 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Clemson)

The third Bailey (Destroyer No. 269) was laid down on 1 June 1918 at Squantum, Mass., by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 5 February 1919; sponsored by Miss Rosalie Fellows Bailey; and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 27 June 1919, Cmdr. Alexander Sharp in command.

After fitting out at Boston, Bailey arrived at Newport, R.I., on 21 August 1919 to take on board her assigned torpedo equipment. Then, proceeding via Greenport Harbor, Long Island, Bailey visited New York from 28 August to 3 September before heading back to Newport for a brief visit. Returning to New York late on 12 September, the destroyer joined three of her sister ships and set out for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on 17 September. Pausing there from the 20th to the 22nd, Bailey departed Guantanamo Bay on 22 September, bound for Panama.

After transiting the Panama Canal in company with Dorsey (Destroyer No. 117) on 25 and 26 September 1919, Bailey departed Balboa on the latter day, bound for the coast of Mexico. On "despatch duty" en route, Bailey visited the Honduran ports of Punta Arenas and Amapala on 4 and 5 October, respectively, before she fueled from Edwards (Destroyer No. 265) on the 7th. Arriving at Salina Cruz on the 8th, Bailey cleared that Mexican port on 10 October and headed for her assigned base, San Diego, which she reached on the 13th.

As the post-World War I economy shrank the funds available for U.S. naval operating forces, Bailey seldom got underway for extended periods during the remaining months of 1919. Her time at sea was limited largely to sub caliber runs, gun trials, and full power runs in late November and a stint of target practice in early December. The year 1920 saw Bailey operate almost exclusively in the waters off the coast of southern California and along the Mexican Pacific seaboard from her base at San Diego, Punctuating periods lying nested with other with destroyers came two visits to Manzanillo, Mexico, one to Mazatlan and two periods of upkeep and repairs at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo,Calif. . On 17 July 1920, she was designated DD-269 when the Navy adopted the alphanumeric system of hull classification and identification.

Bailey's sphere of operations expanded northward to cover the waters of the Pacific northwest. Departing San Diego on 25 March 1921, Bailey touched briefly at San Francisco en route, and reached the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash., on 31 March. She spent April, May, and June at the yard, undergoing a major overhaul, before visiting Seattle, Wash., and San Francisco on the way south to her home base. Bailey tarried at San Diego only very briefly before heading north to visit Aberdeen, Seattle, and Bellingham, Wash.; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Marshfield, Oregon Interspersed were periods spent at the Puget Sound Navy Yard and at San Francisco before she returned to San Diego early in September. There she remained until decommissioned and placed in reserve on 15 June 1922.

Bailey remained idle for nearly two decades. War in Europe, which began with Germany's invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, however, resulted in the expansion of the Navy to meet the needs of a Neutrality Patrol soon established off America's coasts. Until new construction destroyers could join the fleet, their older cousins had to leave "red lead row" to fill the breach. Accordingly, Bailey was recommissioned at the Destroyer Base, San Diego, on 6 November 1939, Lt. Cmdr. Henry E. Richter in command.

Bailey proceeded to the Mare Island Navy Yard on 9 December 1939. There, on the 15th, Comdr. Edward H. Jones relieved Lt. Cmdr. Richter in command of the ship and assumed the concurrent role of Commander, Destroyer Division 72. Departing Mare Island on 18 January 1940, the ship returned to the destroyer base at San Diego where she completed reactivation work. Bailey sailed for Panama on 5 February in company with three of her sister ships. Transiting the Panama Canal on 16 February, Bailey shifted to the Submarine Base, Coco Solo, the following day. While there, her crew manned the rail on 18 February to honor President Franklin D. Roosevelt who was inspecting the base. Underway for the east coast soon thereafter in company with Williams (DD-108), Bailey touched at Key West, Fla., and arrived at her new base, Galveston, Texas, on the 29th.

Assigned to the West Gulf Patrol, Bailey operated out of Galveston through late June 1940, carrying out four patrols between 7 March and 13 May. In the course of these, she principally steamed off Mexican gulf ports such as Tampico and Vera Cruz to keep an eye on shipping moving in the area and occasionally ran into the storms, or "northers," that give mariners in the area headaches. Handicapped by a disabled engine on her fourth patrol, Bailey underwent repairs at Galveston between 14 May and 25 June. After running trials, she departed Galveston for the last time on 29 June, bound for Key West.

From that port, the destroyer steamed via St. Augustine, Fla., to Jacksonville where she arrived on the 5th. The following day, the destroyer embarked Naval reservists for a two week training cruise to Guantanamo Bay. Visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the course of this first training cruise, Bailey, accompanied by Shubrick (DD-268), carried out battle practice on the outbound trip and antiaircraft practices on the return leg. The embarked reservists manned the destroyer’s antiaircraft machine guns and fired at a kite target streamed by the ship. Disembarking the reservists at Jacksonville on 18 July 1940, Bailey sailed via Charleston to Norfolk, where she arrived on 25 July. Over the next few months, Bailey conducted three more reserve training cruises, with units from Richmond, Va., and New York City. Two of these saw the ship steam to Guantanamo and back, while she conducted the third in the waters of the Southern Drill Grounds off the Virginia capes. Winding up her last reserve cruise while moored in the Hudson River on 20 September, Bailey spent the rest of September and much of October at the New York Navy Yard before returning to Norfolk.

After a few weeks at Norfolk, she proceeded via Newport and Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she arrived on the morning of 21 November 1940. Embarking a "British Indoctrinal Unit" on 24 November, Bailey conducted a brief familiarization cruise for those sailors. Decommissioned at Halifax on 26 November 1940 and turned over to the Royal Navy that same day, the destroyer was renamed Reading, to honor towns both in England and the U.S., and was given the pendant number G.71. Assigned to the Fifth "Town"-class Flotilla, Reading sailed for the British Isles soon thereafter and, proceeding via Belfast, reached Plymouth, England, on 17 December 1940. In the United States, her name was stricken from the [U.S.] Naval Vessel Register on 8 January 1941.

Reading worked out of Liverpool, escorting Atlantic convoys. In May 1941, she was assigned to the 8th Escort Group and, while serving therein at the end of June 1941, escorted Convoy WS 9B carrying troops and military stores from the Clyde via the Cape of Good Hope to the Middle East. Reallocated to the Newfoundland Escort Force in July 1941, she served with escort groups of destroyers and corvettes. Refitted at Liverpool between September 1941 and February 1942, Reading resumed her duties with the Newfoundland Escort Force until determined to be in need of another refit that spring. Arriving in the Thames on 20 May 1942, the destroyer remained in dockyard hands through September. In October 1942, she was allocated for duty as a target vessel for aircraft operating from the Royal Navy air station at Fearn, Scotland. She continued this employment until July 1945 when she was handed over to the shipbreakers at Rosyth, Scotland. Her scrapping was completed at Inverkeithing by 24 July 1945.

Robert J. Cressman

Updated, 25 January 2024

Published: Thu Jan 25 13:53:26 EST 2024