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Bradford (DD-545)

(DD-545: dp. 2,050; l. 376'5"; b. 39'7"; dr. 17'9"; s. 35.2 k. (tl.); cpl. 329; a. 5 5", 10 40mm., 7 20mm., 10 21" tt, 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Fletcher)

Gamaliel Bradford, born in Duxbury, Mass., on 4 November 1763, commanded two privateers during the Quasi War with France. In 1799, he was captain of the Mary out of Boston. On 6 March 1799, he encountered two French privateers and, after a sharp two-hour engagement forced them to shear off. Later, Bradford assumed command of Industry, also out of Boston, in which ship he made a cruise to the Mediterranean Sea. On 15 June 1800, he put to sea from Naples, Italy, bound for Gibraltar, arriving there on 18 July. Soon after entering the strait, he spied a large French privateer. The Frenchman came into the wind and began chasing Bradford's ship. The adversary then fired a gun and hoisted French colors. Industry's stern guns could not reach the Frenchman but some of his were reaching her. As if that did not pose problems enough, three more French privateers soon appeared.

Emboldened by their apparent overwhelming superiority, the French foursome closed the American rapidly. Thereupon, Bradford replied with telling effect. About three hours into the fray, Bradford received a wound in his thigh and was removed to his cabin. His brother and First Mate, Gershom Bradford, assumed command for the duration of the fight. After more than two additional hours of combat, the French decided that the cost of Industry’s capture far exceeded her value to them and sheared off. Bradford took his ship into Cadiz, Spain, where the chief surgeon from a British warship examined his wound and recommended amputation. Declining at that time, he took his ship on to Lisbon where the operation was performed. Little is recorded of Bradford's later life except that he died at Cambridge, Mass., on 7 March 1824.

Bradford (DD-545) was laid down on 28 April 1942 at San Pedro, Calif., by the Bethlehem Steel Co.; launched on 12 December 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Sarah Bradford Rose; and commissioned on 12 June 1943, Comdr. Robert L. Morris in command.

Bradford spent almost 10 weeks completing shakedown training and conducting other operations along the west coast before heading toward combat. On 18 August, she shaped a course for Hawaii. The destroyer arrived in Pearl Harbor on the 24th but was underway again on the 25th bound for her first wartime mission. During that assignment, she provided antisubmarine and antiaircraft cover for the forces that reoccupied Baker Island, located about 600 miles southeast of Makin Island, on 1 September. After that operation, Bradford joined the screen of carriers Lexington (CV-16), Princeton (CV-23), and Belleau Wood (CV-24) for the strikes on Tarawa on 18 September and on Wake Island on 5 and 6 October.

Returning to Pearl Harbor after those raids, Bradford began preparations for Operation "Galvanic," the assault on the Gilbert Islands. She stood out of Pearl Harbor on 10 November as an element of Task Group (TG) 50.2, the Northern Carrier Group built around Enterprise (CV-6), Belleau Wood, and Monterey (CVL-26). The task group arrived in the zone of operations on 19 November and, while the carriers sent their planes aloft to support the invasion, Bradford and her colleagues screened them against air and submarine attack. During the afternoon of 28 November, Bradford and Brown (DD-546) escorted Monterey to a rendezvous with TG 50.4. That evening on the return trip to TG 50.2, the two destroyers were jumped by a group of Mitsubishi G4M2 "Betty" bombers rigged for torpedo attack. The two warships escaped unscathed, but their antiaircraft gunners claimed one sure kill with another two probable. During the remainder of her stay, Bradford helped to drive off several more Japanese air raids but claimed no more kills.

Following the Gilberts operation, the destroyer was assigned to the southwestern Pacific sector as a unit of TG 37.2 based at Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. During that assignment, she screened the carriers during two major raids on Kavieng located on the northern tip of New Ireland in the Bismarck Archipelago. The first attack was carried out on Christmas Day 1943, and the second occurred on 4 January 1944. Later that month, after much training, Bradford's task group moved up to Funafuti whence it staged on to the Marshalls invasion. For that operation, the task group: built around carriers Bunker Hill (CV-17), Monterey, and Cowpens (CVL-25) was redesignated TG 58.3. During operations against the Marshalls, Bradford's duties remained the same as they had been at the Gilberts, screening the carriers while their planes pounded the defenses of the objectives.

During the second week in February, the carriers and the screening warships entered the lagoon at newly occupied Majuro Atoll to reprovision, refuel, and rearm. The Fast Carrier Task Force (TF 58) exited Majuro on 12 and 13 February and shaped a circuitous course for the great Japanese naval base at Truk. After providing antiaircraft and antisubmarine protection for the carriers during the morning air raids, Bradford received orders to join an impromptu task group composed of Iowa (BB-61) New Jersey (BB-62), Minneapolis (CA-36), New Orleans (CA-32), Bradford, and three other destroyers. The assignment was to mop up any Japanese shipping attempting to flee. Bradford assisted in sinking light cruiser Katori and destroyer Maikaze. She and the other raiders rejoined TF 58 the next morning, 18 February, and then retired to Kwajalein on the 21st.

After a brief stop to refuel and rearm, Bradford and her colleagues put to sea almost immediately to raid the Mariana Islands. While the destroyer screened, the carriers' aircraft pounded Saipan, Tinian, Guam, and Rota on 23 February. Following that strike, Bradford's task group stopped briefly in the Marshalls before heading on to Hawaii for rest and relaxation. Back at Majuro on 20 March, she began preparations for another series of raids on Japanese installations farther west. The fast carriers and their screens sortied two days later. Between 30 March and 1 April, carriers screened by Bradford sent their planes on strikes against enemy bases on Yap, Ulithi, Woleai, and in the Palau Islands. The fleet returned to Majuro after that operation and began preparations for its role in support of the assault on Hollandia, New Guinea.

Bradford put to sea with TF 58 again on 13 April. After the carrier planes pounded the northern coast of New Guinea on 21 and 22 April, the task force retired briefly to Manus in the Admiralty Islands before heading back to Truk. After a series of air strikes at that enemy base, Bradford escorted her carriers back to the Marshalls. She put to sea again on 14 May in the screen of TG 58.6 for what were essentially training strikes on Marcus and Wake Islands for new carriers and air groups. Those strikes were conducted from 19 to 20 May and on 23 May,

Following another respite at Majuro, Bradford got underway again with TF 58 on 6 June on its way to soften up the Mariana Islands preparatory to the invasion on the 15th. In addition to hitting targets in the Marianas, Bradford's TG 58.1 and TG 58.4 moved north duringthe period 14 to 18 June to strike Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima. On the 18th, her task group rejoined the rest of TF 58 off Saipan to prepare for the expected battle. During the Battle of the Philippine Sea, fought on 19 and 20 June, Bradford never engaged the enemy because their air raids were intercepted ably by the heavy combat air patrol (CAP) and by Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee's battle line. She did, however, rescue seven aviators at the end of the second day.

Over the next seven weeks, Bradford and her colleagues divided their time between the Mariana, Palau, Bonin, and Volcano Islands returning periodically to Eniwetok to rearm, refuel, reprovision, and rest. On several occasions, the destroyer participated in shore bombardments in the Marianas and Bonins. Otherwise, she simply screened the carriers against air and submarine attack. When her task group returned to Eniwetok on 9 August, Bradford received orders to return to the United States for badly needed repairs. After a number of weeks in the Mare Island Navy Yard and several more training new destroyer crews, the warship arrived in Pearl Harbor early in December.

By 19 February 1945, Bradford had rejoined the 5th Fleet in the Central Pacific and was off Iwo Jima supporting the amphibious assault. Assigned to screen the transports, she alternated between that duty and gunfire support missions for the troops fighting ashore. The destroyer also screened nightly retirement groups. On 27 February, Bradford shaped a course for Ulithi Atoll where she arrived on 5 March for a brief repair period.

She departed Ulithi on 13 March and rendezvoused with her echelon of the Okinawa invasion force at Leyte on the 15th. Her initial duty during the Okinawa campaign was to provide antisubmarine and antiaircraft protection to the escort carriers of TG 52.1 which, in turn, gave close air support to the troops on the island. She sailed from Leyte on 21 March and reached the zone of operations on the 26th. During the period she screened the escort carriers, 26 March to 9 May, only one air attack developed on her formation. On 3 April, two Aichi D3A2 "Val" dive bombers mounted suicide attacks on Wake Island (CVE-65). Both near-missed causing some damage but no casualties. On 9 May, Bradford was detached from TG 52.1. She put into Kerama Retto on the 10th and remained there until the 14th.

At that time, she was assigned the hazardous duty of radar picket ship and CAP director. Over the next five weeks, Bradford served on various stations around the Ryukyus providing early warning of incoming Japanese air raids. The destroyer helped to fight off numerous such attacks and, on at least one occasion, managed to splash a kamikaze that tried to dive on her. She participated in a number of other kills and assists as well. On 20 June, the warship joined a force of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers serving as a covering force to the south of Okinawa. Later, the escort carriers joined that force and, together they made antishipping sweeps in the East China Sea. Bradford spent the last days of hostilities, 10 to 15 August, as gunfire support and fighter director ship for forces sweeping mines between Okinawa and Kyushu. From the end of the war to the end of October, the destroyer operated between the Ryukyus and the Japanese home islands in support of the occupation forces. On 31 October, she departed Japanese waters in company with several other destroyers on her way back to the United States. Steaming via Pearl Harbor, Bradford arrived in San Diego in late 1945. She was placed out of commission on 11 July 1946 and was berthed with the San Diego Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet.

The North Korean invasion of South Korea in June of 1950 brought about an increase in the number of ships in the active fleet. According Bradford was recommissioned on 27 October 1950, Comdr. Francis D. Boyle in command. By early March of 1951, she was in Japan preparing to enter the combat zone. For almost six months, the destroyer carried out a varied series of missions. Initially, she served in the screen of TF 77 the fast carriers. In May, the warship joined Helena (CA-75) and Alfred A. Cunningham (DD-752) in shore bombardments of several communist-held ports. In mid-June, she left TF 77 to join TG 95.1 to provide gunfire support for United Nations troops operating ashore. During the latter part of the month, Bradford escorted Toledo (CA-133), Admiral George C. Dyer's flagship when the Commander, Task Force 95, made a tour along the Korean coast. In July, she returned to bombardment duties. The destroyer ended her combat deployment the way she began it--in the screen of TF 77. Late in August, she headed back to the United States in company with the rest of Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 131.

After a winter of operations along the west coast, Bradford put to sea with DesDiv 131 on 22 March 1952 to return to the Far East and the Korean conflict. Steaming via Pearl Harbor, she and her division mates arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, on 14 April. Over the next six months, the destroyer divided her time between screening the carriers of TF 77 and operating along the Korean coast with TF 95 providing shore bombardment services for United Nations troops ashore. During one period, 27 May to 18 June, she served with the Taiwan Strait patrol. At other times, the warship called at Japanese ports for liberty and repairs. That schedule continued until late in October when she headed back to the United States.

Between November of 1952 and May of 1953, Bradford made training cruises along the California coast out of San Diego and Long Beach. Early in May 1953, she departed the west coast on her way back to the Far East. After stops in Hawaii, Yokosuka, and Sasebo, the destroyer returned to the Korean combat zone late in May. Initially, she served with TF 95 providing gunfire support along the east coast of Korea. In July, Bradford served on the Taiwan Strait patrol once again. Though the armistice in July effectively ended hostilities in the Korean conflict, TF 95 continued to patrol the Korean coast ready to support any UN rebuffs to communist infractions; and Bradford served with that task force again for a time in August. In September, she joined the screen of TF 77, carrying out similar contingency patrols in the wake of the armistice. On 2 November, the warship headed back to the United States arriving in San Diego on the 18th.

Between 6 January and 8 April 1954, she underwent regular overhaul at the Hunters' Point Naval Shipyard. Following that, Bradford conducted refresher and type training along the west coast until mid-June. On 15 June, the warship got underway for the western Pacific. She arrived in Yokosuka on 8 July and, after a 10-day stopover, rejoined TF 77 on the 18th. Since the conflict in Korea had ceased the previous July, Bradford's activities during deployments to the western Pacific took on a more routine nature. Training evolutions at sea were punctuated by visits to various Far Eastern ports and an occasional tour of duty with the Taiwan Strait patrol. She ended her fourth tour of duty with the 7th Fleet when she put to sea from Yokosuka on 3 December. The destroyer arrived back in San Diego on 19 December.

Bradford served actively in the Navy for an additional seven years. During that time, she made five more deployments to the western Pacific. Like the 1954 deployment, each of the succeeding tours of duty in the Far East consisted of training missions, goodwill calls at Oriental ports, and service on the Taiwan Strait patrol. The destroyer completed her final 7th Fleet assignment on 23 December 1960. She spent her last 13 months of commissioned service operating out of San Diego. On 22 January 1962, Bradford departed San Diego for Bremerton, Wash. She reached her destination on 26 January and began preparations for decommissioning. The destroyer was decommissioned on 9 February 1962. On 27 September 1962, she was transferred to Greece on a loan basis. She was commissioned in the Greek Navy as Thyella (D-28). Her name was carried on the Navy list until struck on 1 September 1975. In April 1977, she was sold to Greece. The warship served in the Greek Navy until sometime in 1981 when she was apparently scrapped.

Bradford earned 11 battle stars during World War II and an additional six battle stars in the Korean conflict.



14 December 2005

Published: Wed Mar 30 09:16:20 EDT 2016