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Pope I (DD-225)


John Pope was born 17 December 1798 in Sandwich, Mass., to John and Mary Pope. Sometime during his youth, the family relocated to Maine, from whence Pope was appointed Navy midshipman on 30 May 1816. 

In late October 1816, Pope reported for duty aboard the brig Chippewa at Boston. On 12 December while en route to the Gulf of Mexico, Chippewa ran aground and sank in the Bahamas. After returning to the United States, Pope served aboard ship-of-the-line Independence, guard ship at Boston, from 10 March–31 October 1817. He then transferred to the schooner Lynx, which sailed to the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies to combat piracy. 

Pope next reported to the schooner Enterprise on 13 September 1820, once again patrolling the Gulf and Caribbean for pirates, smugglers, and slave ships. He left Enterprise on 28 June 1821 and reported to ship-of-the-line Franklin, on which Pope sailed to the Pacific in October 1821. In what would become a recurring theme of his subsequent naval career, Pope detached from service in the Pacific Squadron due to ill health and reported aboard the frigate Constellation on 1 May 1822 to return to the U.S. In August 1822, Pope received permission to visit Maine to see friends until his health improved sufficiently for him to return to duty, at which time he would report to Boston. 

In June 1824, Pope received orders to proceed to New York for duty on board the frigate Constitution. He reported aboard on 11 July 1824 and became Acting Master of the ship on 26 June 1825. Constitution sailed to the Mediterranean late in 1824 and was stationed there for the rest of Pope’s tenure on the ship. He attained the rank of Lieutenant on 28 April 1826 and detached from Constitution on 31 March 1828. 

Pope returned to the United States and took a lengthy leave of absence until receiving orders to report to New York for duty aboard sloop-of-war Falmouth in March 1831. His stay with this ship was brief, however, as in April Pope requested to be detached on the grounds that Falmouth was scheduled to depart for the Pacific, and he believed that the climate there would ruin his health. His request was granted on 2 May, and Pope again received a leave of absence.  In July 1831, he reported to the Navy Yard at Portsmouth, N.H., for his next tour. 

From September 1832–July 1833, Pope served aboard the sloop-of-war St. Louis, which sailed to the West Indies during that time. After two months of leave, Pope was to report to Norfolk for duty aboard the sloop-of-war Ontario, which was scheduled for duty in the Mediterranean, but he was excused from that service due to his ill health. His subsequent orders to report to the frigate Brandywine, bound for service in the Pacific, were revoked in early 1834. Pope next served aboard the sloop-of-war Erie, reporting for duty in June 1834 and assuming command of the ship on 12 August 1835. Pope detached from Erie, which had been cruising off the coast of Brazil, at Rio de Janeiro on 26 October 1835, once again on account of his poor health. 

After reporting to Boston Navy Yard in November 1836, Pope next returned to Independence in February 1837. In May, the ship departed for Russia and subsequently served off the coast of Brazil before returning to New York on 30 March 1840. Following four months of leave, Pope next had a lengthy tour of duty at Boston Navy Yard, stationed there until April 1843, at which time he was promoted to commander, retroactive to 15 February 1843. From May 1843–May 1844, he served at the receiving ship in Boston but had a lengthy wait before he received his next orders. 

On 1 October 1845, Pope received orders to assume command of Dolphin and led the brig on a two-year tour off the coast of Africa. Detaching after the ship returned to the United States in November 1847, Pope again had a long wait for his next assignment. He spent two weeks in New York in February 1849 serving as a witness in the case of the prize brig Laurens. Then beginning on 1 October 1849, he completed another two year term at Boston Navy Yard. 

Ordered to take command of the sloop-of-war Vandalia on 24 November 1852, Pope set course for the Far East in March 1853, as part of Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s East India Squadron. Vandalia arrived off the coast of China in August 1853 and then in February 1854, the squadron went to Japan, where Commodore Perry signed the Treaty of Kanagawa with that country on 31 March. One year later, Commodore Joel Abbott, now in command of the squadron, put Pope in charge of protecting American interests at Hong Kong and Canton during revolutionary troubles there. In July 1855 Pope was sent to Guam to investigate reports of mistreatment of American sailors there, returning to Hong Kong on 22 August. He achieved the rank of Captain 14 September 1855. 

At Amoy, China, on 3 January 1856, Pope received word of the death of Commodore Abbott, which left him, as Senior Officer, in command of the East India Squadron. He proceeded to Hong Kong about 14 January and took command of the frigate Macedonian, which then sailed to Singapore in February 1856. On 4 April, Commodore Armstrong arrived at Singapore to assume command of the squadron, and Pope was ordered to return to the United States with Macedonian and Vandalia. The ships arrived at Boston in early August 1856. Pope detached from Macedonian on the 9th and took three months leave. On 8 August 1857, Pope was ordered to Portsmouth Navy Yard, serving as Commandant there until 1 October 1860. 

As tensions between the northern and southern states came to a head in early 1861, Pope took command of the steam sloop Richmond, reporting aboard on 3 March. En route to join the Gulf Blockading Squadron in the summer of 1861, Richmond searched in the West Indies for CSS Sumter, the Confederate cruiser wreaking havoc on Union merchant vessels. In September, Richmond arrived on station at the mouth of the Mississippi River, and in early October, Pope led a squadron of four ships upriver to Head of Passes, where they were to enforce the blockade and provide protection for Army engineers constructing batteries nearby. 

Well before dawn on 12 October 1861, the Confederate ram Manassas initiated a surprise attack against Pope’s squadron, slamming into the side of Richmond and puncturing the ship beneath the waterline. As Confederate fire barges and gun boats advanced to join in the engagement with the squadron, the hole in Richmond’s side was temporarily repaired, and Pope ordered the squadron to retreat downriver. As the Union ships withdrew, both Richmond and Vincennes ran aground and faced bombardment from the Confederate vessels. Describing the engagement the following day in his after-action report to Flag Officer William M. McKean, Commanding Officer of the Gulf Blockading Squadron, Pope stated, “the enemy, who were now down the river with five steamers, commenced firing at us, while we returned the fire from our port battery and rifled gun on the poop, our shot, however, falling short of the enemy, while their shell burst on all sides of us and several passed directly over the ship.” After two hours, the rebel ships retreated as the Army transport McClellan drew near. The following day, McClellan extricated Richmond from the mud and then helped free Vincennes as well with the assistance of the just-arrived screw steamer South Carolina

While none of Pope’s four vessels were captured and the damage they sustained was relatively minor, the incident at Head of Passes was an embarrassment for the Union. Perhaps already feeling the sting of negative judgment, in a supplemental report to Flag Officer McKean written on 17 October, Pope disputed the notion that Richmond’s officers and crew displayed any sense of panic during the engagement with the Confederates. In defending his own actions, he wrote, “My retreat down the Pass, although painful to me, was to save the ships, by preventing them being sunk and falling into the hands of the enemy, and it was evident to me they had us in their power by the operation of the ram and fire rafts. If I have erred in all this matter it is an error of judgment; the whole affair came upon me so suddenly that no time was left for reflection, but called for immediate action and decision.” McKean’s assessment of the matter, however, was unsympathetic. Writing on 25 October, he stated, “I am sorry to be obliged to say that the more I hear and learn of the facts the more disgraceful does it appear.” Press coverage likewise expressed outrage over the Head of Passes episode. In an article published on 28 October 1861, the New York Times felt that “the affair was far from creditable to those engaged in it.” Citing “the at least equal imbecility of the enemy” as a factor for why the end result had not been far worse for Pope and his ships, the Times further stated that “the conduct of our own officers seems to have been anything but what we had a right to expect.” 

On 22 October 1861, Pope wrote to Flag Officer McKean, requesting to be relieved of command of Richmond. Pope explained, “mental anxiety, loss of sleep and indigestion, connected with an affection of the liver, contracted in China, have so reduced my strength, as to make me unequal to the circumstances in which I am placed.” Pope’s request was granted on 24 October, and on 21 December 1861 he was placed on the RetiredList.

Commodore John Pope circa 1864. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 47378)
Caption: Commodore John Pope circa 1864. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 47378)

Despite his subpar performance at Head of Passes as well as his advanced age and his retired status, John Pope’s lengthy naval career had not yet reached its conclusion. On 27 March 1863, Pope was promoted to Commodore, retroactive to 16 July 1862, and he was appointed Prize Commissioner at Boston. On 7 October 1865, he received what would be his final naval orders for duty as Inspector of the First Light House District. Pope served in this capacity until 2 October 1869, at which point he had spent 53 of his nearly 71 years in the service of the Navy. 

Commodore Pope spent the last years of his life at home in Dorchester, Mass., caring for his wife, who was an invalid. He also enjoyed gardening, reading, and spending time with his children and friends. Pope passed away on 14 January 1876, six weeks after the death of his beloved wife, Sarah Eliza Hartwell Pope, whom he had married on 27 February 1829. The Popes had seven children, two of whom died as infants. Their son Percival Clarence Pope served with his father aboard Richmond before accepting a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps in November 1861. The younger Pope rose through the ranks and became brigadier general after 44 years of service. 

(DD-225: displacement 1,308; length 314'4"; beam 30'11½"; draft 9'4"; speed 35 knots; complement 122; armament 4 4-inch, 4 .50 caliber machine guns, 12 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Clemson

The first Pope (Destroyer No. 225) was laid down 9 September 1919 by William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co., Philadelphia, Pa.; launched 23 March 1920; sponsored by Mrs. Mary Augusta Wyse Benson, granddaughter of the ship’s namesake and wife of Adm. William S. Benson, the first Chief of Naval Operations and chairman of the U.S. Shipping Board; redesignated from Destroyer No. 225 to DD-225 on 17 July 1920; and commissioned on 27 October 1920 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Cmdr. Richard S. Galloway in command. 

Pope -- initially placed in reduced commission at Philadelphia while being outfitted -- was assigned to Squadron 3, Division 39 of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. On 17 January 1921, Pope departed for her new home port of Charleston, S.C., arriving the next day. Through the spring of 1921, the destroyer operated locally, conducting exercises with her squadron or division. She underwent a drydocking at Charleston Navy Yard from 26-28 April to replace her port propeller, which had been damaged on 8 March as Pope attempted to maneuver around Herndon (DD-198) during tactical exercises. 

On 10 May 1921, Pope got underway with Pillsbury (DD-227), John D. Ford (DD-228), and Truxtun (DD-229) en route to New York City for liberty and recreation. The destroyers of Squadron 3 remained anchored in the Hudson River until 31 May, when they continued north to Newport, R.I., their operational base for the summer. In late June, Pope took part in exercises with Division 48 off of Long Island. On 1 August, Pope was among the ships that escorted Mayflower (PY-1), carrying President Warren G. Harding, from the Cape Cod Canal to Plymouth, Mass. 

Traveling with Ford and Peary (DD-226), Pope arrived at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 13 August 1921 for overhaul and additional repairs to the port propeller and shaft, including a dry dock period at League Island Navy Yard in Philadelphia from 31 August–12 September. After a trial run on the 12th, Pope returned to Philadelphia Navy Yard but completed another ten days in dry dock toward the end of the month. On 7 October, Pope, John D. Ford, and Peary departed Philadelphia to rejoin Squadron 3 the following day at New York City. The destroyers then sailed to Charleston for the winter, arriving on 12 October. 

On 5 January 1922, Pope departed with Destroyer Squadron 15 en route to Guacanayabo Bay, Cuba, where beginning on the 16th, they would rehearse and complete Ready Torpedo Practice, Short Range Director Practice, and Night Battle Practice. The ships moved to Guantanamo Bay on 3 February, and after a three-week respite, the destroyers conducted Long Range Battle Practice, Short Range Director Practice, and anti-aircraft gunnery practices through the month of March. On 3 and 4 April, Pope engaged in maneuvers with the battleship division. After one additional day of torpedo recovery duty on the 7th and an additional two weeks spent at Guantanamo Bay, Pope took leave of Cuban waters on 22 April. She arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on the 27th to begin a two-week refit period. 

Pope departed Philadelphia on 12 June 1922 and spent a week at Newport before commencing a transatlantic crossing en route for duty with the Asiatic Fleet. She arrived at Gibraltar, Spain, on 29 June and touched at Algiers, Algeria, and Valletta, Malta, over the next two weeks. After entering the Suez Canal on 15 July, Pope called at Ismailia, Egypt, on the canal route, for six days before finally exiting the canal on 25 July. The destroyer’s voyage to the Far East continued with additional port stops at Aden, Arabia; Colombo, Ceylon; Singapore, Straits Settlements; and Namkwan Harbor, China. On 26 August, Pope joined Squadron 15, Division 43 of the Asiatic Fleet at Chefoo [Yantai], China. Through the month of September, Pope operated out of Chefoo, rehearsing for Short Range Battle Practice (SRBP). On the 22nd, an incident occurred where a Chinese man ashore was hit in the forehead by “buckshot” that had been fired from Pope. One of the destroyer’s torpedoman’s mates had apparently been shooting a toy air gun at a target on deck when an errant shot struck the civilian, who accepted the commanding officer’s explanation of the event and expression of regret and declined medical treatment.

Pope at Algiers, Algeria, July 1922, while en route to the Asiatic Fleet via the Suez Canal. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 77097)
Caption: Pope at Algiers, Algeria, July 1922, while en route to the Asiatic Fleet via the Suez Canal. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 77097)

Pope sailed for Shanghai on 30 September 1922, and over the course of October, the destroyer moved south along the Chinese coastline as she participated in combined maneuvers with the Asiatic Fleet. On the morning of 22 October, Pope departed Amoy [Xiamen] en route to Hong Kong with orders to conduct night maneuvers with the Destroyer Squadron along the way. Exercises with Division 43 commenced shortly after seven that evening. At 1940, Pope made a hard right turn to avoid hitting a Chinese junk. Beginning at 2115, the destroyer began maneuvering to investigate a series of lights spotted in the darkness on the water. Just over an hour later, the ship spotted a junk dead ahead with two others close aboard. Although Pope maneuvered to try to get out of the way, the first junk, “which at no time showed any lights or made any effort to avoid collision” according to the destroyer’s deck log, ran into Pope’s starboard side. The destroyer stopped and turned her spotlight on the scene to discover that the junk, its bow smashed from the collision, had capsized. Although Pope’s crew could now see that there were many other junks in the vicinity, none of the Chinese vessels came to the aid of the overturned boat. Pope slowly made her way back to the scene and rescued four crewmen clinging to the side of the battered wreck. The Chinese men remained on board the destroyer until the 27th, when they were provided passage to Swatow [Shantou] from Hong Kong. 

On 28 October, Pope was almost involved in another accident when it nearly collided with an American submarine while participating in maneuvers. That afternoon, the ship set course to Lingayen Gulf in the Philippine Islands for a special assignment to recover a lost torpedo. Pope’s executive officer and a recovery party left the ship on the morning of the 30th to retrieve the torpedo from Flavino Carambas, a local man, who received a $20 reward for the weapon’s safe return. The ship then proceeded on to Manila, the Asiatic Fleet’s winter base of operations. 

Arriving at Manila on 31 October 1922, Pope operated locally for the next several months, exercising with Destroyer Division 43. From 8–20 January 1923, the destroyer completed an availability period at Cavite Navy Yard for repairs to her blowers. On 11 January, Pope’s crew learned of an accident involving one of their shipmates. Temporarily assigned to the tender Black Hawk (AD-9) during Pope’s overhaul, TM2c F. A. Fox, while diving for lost torpedoes in Manila Bay at a depth of 60 feet, became stricken with decompression sickness or “the bends.” Although immediately placed on board the submarine S-6 (SS-111) for treatment, Fox died early on 12 January. 

On 2 March 1923, Pope departed Manila in company with her division and the flagship, the heavy cruiser Huron (CA-9) on a courtesy visit to the Dutch East Indies. The ships called at Batavia [Jakarta] and Soerabaja [Surabaya] on the island of Java and at Makassar, Celebes [Sulawesi] and refueled at Balikpapan, Borneo, before returning to Manila on 26 March. Pope continued to exercise with members of the destroyer squadron near Manila for the next month and then arrived at Shanghai on 24 April for two weeks of leave, liberty, and recreation. 

After stopping at Tsingtao [Qingdao] from 8–14 May 1923, Pope returned to her summer base at Chefoo on the 15th. The ship exercised locally through June and then called at Dairen, Manchuria [Dalian, China] from 30 June–8 July for liberty and recreation before returning to training exercises. Pope arrived at Chinwangtao [Qinhuangdao] on 28 August, and two groups of crewmen traveled to Peking [Beijing] on leave. After a quick stop at Chefoo and then refueling at Shanghai, on 9 September the destroyers of Division 43 commenced their first trip up the Yangtze River.  

China was in a state of political flux during this period, with much of the country under the control of military warlords at odds with each other. “Conditions on Yangtze are very bad,” Admiral Edwin A. Anderson, Jr., Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet wrote in his annual report for 1 July–11 October 1923. “Bandits, robbers, junkmen, troops of fighting factions, have fired into American steamers,” he stated, “robbed American business concerns and in general made the life and property of Americans and American interests unsafe.” The destroyers would supplement the gunboats of the Yangtze Patrol Force to protect U.S. lives and property in Chinese ports as far inland as Hankow [Wuhan], 600 miles from the sea. 

Despite Adm. Anderson’s characterization of the situation on the Yangtze, Pope’s first duty with the Yangtze Patrol Force at Hankow that began on 14 September 1923 proved uneventful. On 9 October, Pope steamed back downriver with Pillsbury and spent three days in Shanghai for liberty and recreation before departing on 16 October for Alacrity Anchorage in the Saddle Islands to observe the sinking of the recently decommissioned gunboat ex-Quiros (PG-40). Pope then proceeded to Amoy to rendezvous with the fleet for maneuvers. 

On 26 October 1923, Pope steamed for her winter base of Manila. She completed exercises with her division in the area before entering Dewey Dry Dock at Olongapo, Philippines, for repairs to her propeller shafting. Completing repairs from 11–16 November and 25 November–4 December, the destroyer operated locally until 11 December, when she departed the Philippines for Canton [Guangzhou] via Hong Kong. Steaming with Peary, Pillsbury, Noa (DD-343), Sicard (DD-346), and later William B. Preston (DD-344) and transporting nine marines from Huron, Pope arrived at Canton on the evening of 15 December. These ships were part of an international naval demonstration, including warships from Great Britain, France, Japan, Italy, and Portugal, that came to Canton to prevent the seizure of the Chinese Maritime Customs at Canton. 

Departing on 6 January 1924 in company with Sicard, Pope headed back to the Philippines, where she operated locally in the Manila area completing training exercises with her squadron. From 29 February–17 March, Pope completed her annual overhaul at Cavite Navy Yard and then jumped back into her training regimen.

Pope steaming at high speed with her guns manned during short range battle practice off Luzon, Philippine Islands, 15 January 1924. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 90123)
Caption: Pope steaming at high speed with her guns manned during short range battle practice off Luzon, Philippine Islands, 15 January 1924. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 90123)

At Manila on 29 March, Pope’s crew began making preparations for a special assignment to support the U.S. Army Air Service’s Around the World Flight. On 6 April 1924, eight crewmen flying four Douglas World Cruiser airplanes took off from Sand Point, Wash., beginning a journey that they hoped would end several months later as the first successful circumnavigation of the globe by air. Such an ambitious undertaking required a great deal of advance planning and preparation, including the selection of a route that would take the planes on segment hops of a few hundred miles each as well as diplomatic negotiations to secure permission for the planes to land in nearly two dozen foreign countries. In addition, the planes would require logistical support as they traveled around the world, including the fuel, oil, spare parts, and other supplies required to refuel, repair, and maintain the aircraft as needed. On the lengthy Pacific stretch of the voyage, much of that logistical support would be provided by the destroyers of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet. Pope’s initial role in the endeavor was to carry personnel and supplies to Bettobu Bay, Japan, for the Around the World Flight’s anticipated late April arrival at Yetorofu in the remote Kurile Islands. 

After fueling with Black Hawk, Pope and John D. Ford departed for Japan on 1 April 1924. Traveling through stormy weather and rough seas with a troublesome starboard engine, Pope arrived at Yokohama with John D. Ford on the afternoon of 7 April. On the 10th, the ship loaded provisions and fresh water and welcomed aboard some Around the World Flight guests including representatives from the Japanese and U.S. armies and the Japanese Navy as well as a motion picture photographer. Pope then got underway, again with John D. Ford, for the Kurile Islands to assume her assigned station at Bettobu Bay to meet the airplanes. The Japanese had been concerned that U.S. might spy on their defenses during the flight, so Japanese officials prescribed the route taken, required the ships to have a Japanese Army and Navy officer on board, and prohibited photography from the ships.

On 12 April 1924, the two destroyers found that their intended route through the Kunashiri Suido was completely blocked by an ice floe, forcing them to change course. The ships skirted the edge of the floe the next day and soon found that Yetorofu Kaikyo too was completely blocked by ice. The ships requested permission to change the planes’ landing place from Bettobu Bay to Hitokappu Bay, Yetorofu, where the destroyers anchored on the 13th. The next day, the Americans were joined by three of their Japanese destroyers. After taking fuel from Pope, John D. Ford stood out on the 15th, headed still further north to Paramushiru, the aviators’ first planned stop in Japan. Two of the Japanese destroyers soon followed, leaving only Isokaze at Hitokappu Bay to await the arrival of the Army Air Corps planes with Pope. It would be a long wait. 

The Around the World Flight experienced several difficulties while traversing Alaska that put the mission nearly three weeks behind schedule by the end of April. In particular, loss of oil pressure requiring a replacement engine for the No. 1 aircraft, Seattle, on 15 April 1924 delayed that plane’s progress for more than a week, and then following the repairs, foul weather kept her on the ground for almost another week. Finally on 30 April, Seattle departed from Chignik to rendezvous with the other Douglas World Cruisers at Dutch Harbor, where they had been waiting patiently since the 19th, but the plane never reached its destination. On 2 May, with still no sign of Seattle or her crew, the remaining three planes were ordered to continue their journey as soon as weather permitted. The following day, they continued down the Aleutian Island chain and arrived at Atka. 

At Hitokappu Bay, Pope rode out a gale on 26 April 1924 and then received orders to sail to Paramushiru to relieve John D. Ford, which was running low on fresh provisions due to the delay in the planes’ schedule. Arriving at Kashiwabara Bay on 3 May, Pope received fuel and provisions from John D. Ford before the latter departed to resupply. On the 11th, Pope rendezvoused with John D. Ford at Kujira Bay, on the opposite side of Paramushiru Island. After taking on provisions from John D. Ford that afternoon, Pope returned to her station at Hitokappu Bay. 

Weather grounded the Around the World aviators for another week after their arrival at Atka on 3 May. They reached Attu, the last stop in the Aleutians, on the 9th. The Kurile Islands would be their next stop, but now bad weather ahead would delay the mission as Pope rode out two typhoons in three days at Kashiwabara Bay. The first of these, noted one press report, lasted two and a half days and was the most violent storm the captain had ever seen. On a positive note, the two lost airmen from Seattle were found alive and reasonably well on the 10th. In heavy fog, the plane crashed into the side of a mountain en route to Dutch Harbor on 30 April, and the crew survived ten days of snow and frigid temperatures trekking through remote territory before they reached assistance. The three remaining planes were able to depart Attu on the 15th and after an unscheduled and unwelcome landing in Russian territory at Nikolskoye, they finally arrived at Paramushiro on the 17th. 

Pope arrived back at Yetorofu Island and anchored in Hitokappu Bay on the morning of 13 May 1924. For the next three days, the ship sent working parties ashore to land gasoline and oil and otherwise prepare for the impending arrival of the Army Air Corps planes. Beginning on the 16th, however, adverse weather conditions at Hitokappu Bay including overcast skies, rain, snow, and moderate gale-force winds kept the flight crews grounded at Paramushiru. Finally, on the morning of 19 May, Pope landed a 15-hand working party to handle the planes. At 1546, the three remaining Douglas World Cruisers landed safely in Lake Toshimoye, and a working crew from the destroyer helped to secure the aircraft in their anchorage and guarded the planes and their stores. The six Around the World aviators boarded Pope at 1930 to spend the night on board the ship. Lt. Leslie P. Arnold, co-pilot of the No. 2 plane, Chicago, noted in his diary, “I imagine the crew was glad to see us, for they have been waiting a month.” 

At 0430 the next morning, the air crews left the ship to set off on the next leg of their journey, but their departure was postponed due to fog. Grounded by the elements again on the 21st, in the early morning hours of 22 May, the weather began to clear, and at 0525, the planes took off from the lake, passed over Pope, and headed southwest in the direction of Minato [Ominato], their next destination. Less than two hours later, after loading in all of the supplies for the planes, Pope steamed for Aomori, where she would take on fuel the next day. After briefly rejoining Division 43 at Yokohama on the 25th, Pope steamed independently for Kushimoto on 28 May to once again assist with the Around the World Flight. 

Arriving at Oshima Ko and anchoring off of Kushimoto on 29 May 1924, Pope spent the next several days entertaining representatives from the Japanese Army and Navy as well as government dignitaries, and hundreds of local citizens visited the destroyer. The morning of 1 June dawned with overcast skies, occasional showers, and fresh to moderate breezes, but shortly after 1000, the three Douglas World Cruisers came into view and landed off of Kushimoto. In a strong wind and heavy seas, two of the planes immediately began to drag at anchor, so the planes and the destroyer repositioned to the Oshima side of the harbor to get a lee. Conditions required three extra anchors to securely moor the aircraft and Pope’s crew had to keep close watch on the planes overnight to ensure that they did not drag anchor. 

Meanwhile, the people of Kushimoto welcomed the Army aviators with great fanfare. On the morning of 2 June, the mayor of Kushimoto and a delegation from the village came aboard Pope to greet the fliers, and later they all participated in a welcoming ceremony in town. At 1253, the three planes took to the air again, bound next for Kagoshima. After the planes’ departure, Pope’s crew discovered that a 32-inch ring life buoy masking two of the aviation anchors had sunk, and the buoy and anchors could not be recovered. 

Pope’s involvement with the Around the World Flight was not yet complete. The planes’ route after Kagoshima took them across the East China Sea to Shanghai. The destroyers of Division 43 would be positioned at intervals across the sea to stand by in case any of the planes required assistance after an unplanned landing at sea. Pope arrived at her assigned position at approximately 31°15'N, 127°39'E on the evening of 3 June 1924 and lay to, awaiting the planes’ arrival. Spotting two of the familiar aircraft at 1105 the next morning, Pope steamed full speed ahead, and five minutes later the Douglas World Cruisers flew overhead and passed out of sight to the west. Still expecting the last plane, Pope resumed her position, but Chicago still lay at Kagoshima being repaired after being unable to take off that morning. 

At 0912 on 5 June 1924, Pope finally spotted Chicago. As the destroyer again steamed ahead at full speed, the plane flew 75 feet overhead and disappeared to the west to rejoin the others at Shanghai. Two of the Douglas World Cruisers, Chicago and New Orleans, completed the entire circumnavigation at Seattle, Wash., on 28 September 1924, and they were indeed the first fly all the way around the world. The third plane, Boston, sank in the Atlantic Ocean on 3 August, but her crew was able to complete the rest of flight from Nova Scotia in a replacement plane. After more than two months, Pope’s involvement with the Army’s Around the World Flight officially concluded, and the destroyer also set course for Shanghai, arriving on 6 June. 

Following machinery overhaul and some much-needed liberty for the crew in Shanghai and Tsingtao, Pope returned to her regular duties on 26 June 1924, taking part in tactical maneuvers with the Fleet off of Tsingtao. On 12 July, the ship traveled to Chinwangtao for a week of crew leave in Peking. After returning to Chefoo for a week and then stopping at Shanghai to return unused supplies belonging to the Army Around the World Flight to Naval Port Officer, the destroyer sailed for Cavite on 31 July. Pope underwent overhaul and repairs, including re-tubing her main condensers, from 3 August–8 September and rejoined the fleet at Manila on the 9th. 

On 10 September 1924, Pope sailed for China to begin another tour of duty with the Yangtze Patrol Force. After stops at Woosung [Wusong], Nanking [Nanjing], and Kiukiang [Jiujiang], Pope arrived at Hankow on 15 September and showed the flag with Peary and William B. Preston through 29 October. Pope made her way back down the Yangtze and on 1 November joined the squadron at Tsingtao, where she remained until 7 December. She then steamed to her winter operational area in the Philippines, arriving off of Cavite on 19 December. 

Pope conducted routine operations in the Manila area through 20 April 1925. On that day, Destroyer Division 43 – less Peary -- got underway, conducting tactical maneuvers with Division 45 while en route to Shanghai, where Pope arrived on 8 May. At the end of the month, violence erupted in the city, when, on 30 May trouble broke out again at Shanghai, beginning with the shooting of a number of Chinese in a mob by the local police and gradually developing into an anti-foreign strike and boycott (principally against the Japanese and British), and spreading all over China.  In June anti-foreign sentiment spread throughout the country. Pope remained in the vicinity of Shanghai to protect American interests until 20 June, when she steamed up the Yangtze River. Upon her arrival at Hankow on the 23rd, the destroyer received word that the body of QM1c Eben B. Kersey had been recovered from the Whangpoo River in Shanghai. Quartermaster Kersey went missing and was declared absent without leave on the afternoon of the 19th. There was concern that Kersey had been the victim of foul play stemming from the current resentment of foreigners, but the Board of Inquest convened to investigate the death determined it to be accidental. 

Stationed at Hankow for the next month, Pope then traveled back down the river to rejoin the destroyer squadron on 24 July 1925 at Chefoo for her normal training routine. In mid-September, Division 43 – plus Edsall -- made the passage from Tsingtao to Manila for winter operations. From 2–23 November, Pope underwent overhaul at Cavite Navy Yard. While participating in Long Range Battle Practice (LRBP) training runs with her division on the morning of 2 December, Pope experienced the catastrophic failure of a fan on blower No. 3, causing extensive damage in the No. 1 fire room and completely disabling her engineering plant. The crippled destroyer received a tow to Cavite and remained there for repairs through 4 January. She then resumed her normal course of training exercises with her division in the Manila area. 

After some additional repair work at Cavite from 25 March–3 April 1926, Pope got underway on 5 April for a southern recreation cruise in company with Division 43 – less Truxtun, plus Paul Jones (DD-230). Pope called at Cebu and Zamboanga in the Philippines as well as Saigon [Ho Chi Minh City] and Cape St. James [Vũng Tàu] in French Indochina [Vietnam] during this voyage. On 28 April, the American warships turned north again, en route to the summer operational base of Chefoo via Amoy and Tsingtao. Over the summer of 1926, the ship completed a standard routine of training exercises. 

Traveling in company with Stewart (DD-224) on 1 September 1926, Pope ventured up the Yangtze to Hankow to protect American citizens and property as General Chiang Kai-shek’s Revolutionary Army advanced from Canton in the south toward the Yangtze during the Northern Expedition. Early in the morning of 5 September while passing Wuchangshien, troops on the shore fired at the American destroyers for nearly 20 minutes, expending approximately 300 rounds, according to Pope’s log. Three shots struck Pope near the bridge, but she suffered no casualties and the ship did not return fire. A few hours later, the ship arrived at Hankow, where the violence continued the following day. At 1515, a shell possibly intended for a nearby Chinese yacht exploded off of Pope’s starboard quarter. The watch officer also reported intermittent rifle fire aimed at the Chinese gunboats underway along the Yangtze which twice hit Pope. With no subsequent incidents reported, Pope left Hankow on the 16th, stopping at Kiukiang to investigate local conditions before continuing on to Shanghai for fuel and finally to Chefoo to rejoin the fleet and resume training operations. 

On 3 October 1926, Pope returned to Shanghai for possible duty with the Yangtze Patrol should the rapidly-evolving situation warrant. On 17 November, Pope began another voyage up the river, first stopping briefly at Chenkiang [Zhenjiang] to investigate conditions there. Stationed at Nanking until the 29th, the destroyer then continued upriver to Hankow, arriving on the morning of 2 December. The city had fallen to Chiang’s Cantonese forces three weeks earlier, becoming the new headquarters of the Nationalist government, and anti-foreign sentiment there ran high. Pope remained in Hankow providing landing parties to protect American lives and property through 7 March 1927, when Pope and Truxtun stood out from Hankow and headed back down the Yangtze. On 9 March, Pope stopped at Wuhu, where American property had reportedly been looted when the Revolutionary Army occupied the city on the 6th, and took aboard 18 refugees for transport to Shanghai.

Landing party on Pope’s forecastle, Hankow, China, 1927. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 50900)
Caption: Landing party on Pope’s forecastle, Hankow, China, 1927. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 50900)

Temporarily taking leave of the volatile situation in China, on 19 March 1927, Pope arrived in Manila and exercised with Division 43. On 30 March, the destroyer commenced a nearly month-long overhaul period at Cavite Navy Yard followed by several days in Dewey Dry Dock at Olongapo. Exiting dry dock on 30 April, Pope sailed back to Shanghai for Yangtze patrol duty, arriving on 3 May. Several days after Pope had departed for the Philippines, Chiang’s troops had overrun Nanking and “looted, perpetuated outrages, assaulted, robbed and killed foreigners.” The violence escalated to the point that at least two U.S. destroyers and a British light cruiser opened fire on the city to stop the attacks against foreigners. Further, philosophical differences within the Chinese government between nationalists and communists had also turned violent by the time Pope returned to China. In this tense and unsettled situation, Pope once again steamed up the Yangtze to Hankow, delivering mail, people, and supplies while en route, from 18–25 May. She departed Shanghai on 31 May to make her way up the river again, stationed at Chinkiang from 1–22 June, Nanking from 22–26 June, and Wuhu from 26 June–5 July. The destroyer returned to Shanghai on 6 July. 

Pope arrived at Chefoo on 18 July 1927 and resumed her normal routine of gunnery exercises with other destroyers. On 15 September, Division 43 embarked on a liberty cruise, spending several days at Tsingtao, Amoy, and Hong Kong before sailing for French Indochina and visiting Haiphong from 5–10 October. Pope then returned to Shanghai to continue with Yangtze Patrol duty. As the ship steamed upriver past Wuhu, watch officers began to notice Chinese soldiers along the riverbanks. Pope completed ship’s work at Kiukiang from 24 October until 4 November. She then spent the next month at Wuhu and returned to Shanghai on 11 December. On the 29th, Pope drifted into some junks that were secured to the dock. Three boats moored next to each other suffered damage, but no people were injured in the mishap. 

The new year of 1928 brought Pope back up the Yangtze, still on river patrol duty. The ship steamed upriver to Chinkiang on 3 January and remained there until the 10th, when she headed back to Shanghai. In company with Stewart, Pope departed for Manila on 14 January, with Pillsbury and Truxtun soon joining their fellow division-mates. Pope spent the late winter months training with Division 43 in the Manila area. On March 12–13, the ship participated in joint Army-Navy maneuvers. Then from 14–19 March, Pope carried out a “Special Mission,” cruising to several ports on the southern Philippine islands of Panay, Negros, and Cebu -- New Washington, Capiz, Iloilo (Panay); Pulupandan, Escalante, San Carlos (Negros), Toledo (Cebu) -- with members of an Economic Investigating Party representing the Philippine Governor-General Henry L. Stimson on board.

Returning to Manila on 20 March 1928, Pope underwent four days of maintenance and repair in Dewey Dry Dock at Olongapo.  On 29 March, she embarked upon a recreation cruise with the destroyers of Division 43 as they made their way north. Pope’s hardworking crew enjoyed several days at Amoy, Swatow, and Samsa Inlet, China, before joining the Fleet Sortie at Alacrity Bay for three days of maneuvers from 10–12 April. The recreation cruise then resumed, with a ten-day port call at Kobe, Japan, from 16–26 April followed by a two-week visit at Chinwangtao. 

Pope returned to Chefoo on 14 May 1928 and participated in normal training activities for the next six weeks. On 25 June, she stood out from Chefoo to return to the Philippines for overhaul. Stopping briefly at Tsingtao on the 26th to change commanding officers, the destroyer caught up with William B. Preston the next day and steamed to Cavite, arriving at Machina Wharf on 30 June. Pope spent all of July and most of August in overhaul, completing trials on 22 August. From 29 August–4 September, Pope took part in gunnery exercises off of Manila. After a brief two-day dry docking at Olongapo, the ship got underway on 6 September to rejoin Destroyer Squadron 15 in China.  

Pope arrived at Chefoo on 13 September 1928 and then cruised to Nagasaki, Japan, with Stewart, Peary, and Pillsbury for recreation from 20–28 September. The destroyers took part in gunnery exercises at Alacrity Bay on the 29th and ended the month refueling at Shanghai. On 4 October, on the heels of night spotting practice the night before, Pope, Peary, and Pillsbury conducted long range firing practice, sinking their target, the recently decommissioned gunboat Elcano (PG-38). The destroyers also observed Division 39’s firing runs, which sank the gunboat ex-Villalobos (PG-42). Pope and Division 43 – less John D. Ford –then took a recreational cruise up the Yangtze as far as Wuhu, returning to Shanghai on 14 October. 

Pope rendezvoused with Pittsburgh (CA-4), Light Cruiser Division Two, Rizal (DM-14), Hart (DM-8), and Destroyer Squadron 15 at Alacrity Bay on 30 October. The entire group then departed for Guam, with Pope assuming a submarine screening role. The Fleet conducted tactical and gunnery exercises while en route and then on 6 November conducted battle exercises, “raiding” Guam, which continued well into the next day. After a three-day stay at Apra, Guam, the Fleet minus Destroyer Division 39 departed for Manila, again conducting exercises along the way. Pope arrived at Manila on 15 November and conducted gunnery and Battle Depth Charge Practice with her division. 

On 28 November 1928, Pope departed on a special mission to investigate an area of the Philippines that had recently been devastated by a typhoon. Over the next several days, the destroyer made stops at Carigara, San Isidro Bay, Palompon, and Ormoc on the island of Leyte, and at Catbalogan, Samar, as well as the city of Cebu. Pope received orders to return to Manila on 2 December, and with the exception of a ten-day upkeep period at Cavite from 18–28 December, the destroyer conducted normal battle practice exercises with her division through early February.  

Beginning on 11 February 1929, Division 43 -- less Pillsbury and Truxtun-- embarked upon a recreation cruise to the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. The destroyers called at Cagayan, Jimenez, Fatima Island, Parang, and Zamboanga during this cruise. The ships returned to Manila on 25 February and resumed their exercise schedule on the 28th. On 17 March, Division 43 departed for Amoy to rendezvous with the Fleet for a special recreational trip to Japan. Pope visited Nagasaki from 29 March–11 April and Yokohama from 13–22 April. The destroyer then spent ten days at Shanghai and trained for the next several weeks out of Tsingtao or Chefoo. She returned to Shanghai on 15 June for dispatch duty for the Commander in Chief. Arriving at Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippines on 24 June, Pope underwent overhaul through 5 August and spent a week in dry dock at Olongapo from 9–16 August before returning to China.

Pope stood in to Shanghai on 24 August 1929. At 2230 that evening, Chief Pharmacist’s Mate Cecil Allen Stonehouse slipped and fell from the gangway when returning to the ship from liberty. Although rescue efforts commenced immediately, Stonehouse disappeared in the water. The destroyer’s crew continued the search into the early hours of the 25th, even using grapnels to comb the river bottom, but they found no trace of Stonehouse or his body. Pope departed for Chefoo via Tsingtao at 0416 that morning. She participated in LRBP with Division 43 through mid-September and took part in several days of maneuvers with the Fleet before setting course for Manila from Amoy with Division 43 on 29 September. After spending the first two weeks of October in Manila, Pope cruised in company with Division 43- -- less John D. Ford and Pillsbury to the southern Philippines from 16–29 October, calling at Zamboanga, Jolo, and Cebu. 

Pope operated in the Manila area through 10 February 1930. The destroyer then departed independently for temporary duty on Yangtze River Patrol, steaming upriver from Shanghai on 14 February. The next day, after the ship departed from her overnight anchorage at Vine Point, Sea1c Earl Blansfield accidentally shot himself through the calf while cleaning his Navy pistol, forcing Pope to reverse course to seek medical assistance from the doctor on board Pillsbury. Pope arrived at Wuhu on the 17th. She spent a few days in late February at Chinkiang and made a quick one-day trip to Nanking on 4-5 April but otherwise remained stationed at Wuhu until 15 April. Back at Shanghai, the destroyer yet again required outside medical assistance when at 1220 on 23 April, CMM John C. Crewe was discovered in the after engine room with numerous self-inflicted knife wounds to his wrists, throat, and chest. The Division’s medical officer attended to the sailor, who was then transferred to Pittsburgh for emergency treatment. Although it appears that Crewe did not succumb to his injuries, suicide proved a problem in the Asiatic Fleet at this time. The Fleet Commander’s Annual Report noted that five sailors took their own lives that year. 

On 26 April 1930, Pope arrived at Tsingtao for a tender availability alongside Black Hawk. She then steamed independently for overhaul at Cavite Navy Yard from 13 May–27 June, followed by a short stay in Dewey Dry Dock at Olongapo. Upon her return to Tsingtao early in the morning of 9 July, Pope moored next to the submarine tender Canopus (AS-9) for emergency repairs to her main engines. Completing repairs and a test run on the same day, the destroyer stood out to serve as a target for Submarine Division 16. She continued to operate out of Tsingtao, exercising with the submarines and conducting SRBP runs with Paul Jones through 8 August. Pope then moved to Chefoo, temporarily operating with Division 38 until late November. The ship spent 11–21 October at Chinwangtao for leave and liberty and five days at the end of the month at Tsingtao for station ship duty. 

Reunited once again with Division 43, Pope got underway for Manila on 28 November 1930 following a fuel and provisioning stop at Shanghai. The ships arrived at their winter base of operations on 1 December and engaged in their usual array of gunnery and tactical training through February 1931. On 2 March, Pope arrived at Cavite for annual overhaul. She completed her post-repair trial run on 3 April, just in time to participate in the Joint Army-Navy War Game that took place off of Corregidor on 6–7 April. At the end of the month, Pope spent a week in Dewey Dry Dock at Olongapo before departing for Shanghai on the 27th. 

On 1 May 1931, Pope stood in to Shanghai. When moving to Tsingtao on the 8th, the ship experienced difficulties with her port shaft. After repairs and a trial run at Tsingtao, Pope returned to Shanghai on the 18th and entered the Yangtzepoo Dry Dock at the New Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. for emergency repairs to the shaft. While the ship lay in dry dock, it was noted that paint and anti-corrosive that had been applied to the hull at Dewey Dry Dock in April had already scaled off and some of the cement used to fix pitting damage had washed out. With repairs completed and the bottom of the hull once again repainted, Pope exited the dry dock on 22 May. 

Pope spent six weeks stationed at the southern Chinese port of Swatow and then returned to the north, arriving at Chefoo on 17 July 1931. During that summer, the ship operated out of Chefoo and Tsingtao with her division, newly designated Destroyer Division 15 as of 1 April. Pope had a tender availability alongside Black Hawk from 4–16 October and spent the next month at Shanghai. She then steamed up the Yangtze for another turn at river patrol duty, staying at Nanking from 19 November–15 December. Pope arrived in the Philippines on 21 December, spent the Christmas holiday at Manila, and moved to Cavite Navy Yard on the 28th. 

Pope spent the first month of 1932 in overhaul and departed Manila on 1 February to return to Shanghai, where heavy fighting had broken out between Chinese and Japanese forces, threatening American lives and property in the area. Pope fell in with Whipple (DD-217), Barker (DD-213), Smith Thompson (DD-212), and John D. Edwards (DD-216) en route and arrived at Shanghai, along with Peary and John D. Ford, on the morning of 5 February. The situation in the city remained tense throughout the month. On 24 February, Pope recorded an instance of violence in the ship’s log: “At 1644 a Chinese ferry barge landed at M.S. Mill landing with about 20 Chinese, two of whom commenced firing with automatic rifles upon four Japanese soldiers standing at mill entrance. Seven Japanese soldiers joined the four at the entrance. They deployed and captured the Chinese. The Chinese gunners attempted to escape; one was captured, the other bayoneted in the back.” Fortunately, Adm. Montgomery M. Taylor, Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet, believed the danger to have diffused sufficiently by early March to release several destroyers, including Pope, for other duty. Departing Shanghai on 9 March, the ship arrived at Matsu Island the following day. After a brief stop at Swatow on the 11th, Pope and Pillsbury traveled together to Manila to participate in exercises with the division through 25 April, when Pope entered Dewey Dry Dock. 

On 3 May 1932, Pope left the Philippines to deliver fuel and stores to Smith Thompson at Swatow before continuing on to Shanghai, where she arrived on the 7th. Division 15 (except Peary) departed for regular summer operations at Chefoo on 23 May. During the first week of September, Pope served as target ship for Submarine Division Five’s torpedo exercises off of Tsingtao and then returned to Chefoo. The division arrived at Shanghai on 4 October, and Pope got underway again on the 8th to return to the Philippines. The destroyer made liberty calls at Foochow, Swatow, and Hong Kong and arrived at Manila on 11 November. She began a month-long overhaul at Cavite on 14 November, completed dry docking at Olongapo from the 19th–22nd, and anchored at Manila for the holidays.

Pope resumed regular operations on 3 January 1933, first assisting the submarine division for a week and then working with Destroyer Divisions 13 and 14 for LRBP for the rest of the month. The ship conducted various gunnery exercises through February and March. On 11 April, Destroyer Squadron 5 got underway to return to China, conducting maneuvers, drills, and exercises while en route. Pope and Division 15 called at Amoy and Foochow before arriving at Woosung late on 26 April. The destroyers arrived at Chefoo on 18 May to conduct their customary training and upkeep activities. From 8–20 July, Pope exercised with the submarines off Tsingtao and then returned to Chefoo. She completed tender availability with Black Hawk from 29 July–12 August and resumed operations with the Division. 

On 2 September 1933, a highly unusual incident punctuated the destroyer’s normal routine. At 1025, CM2c Edward Steiger entered the cabin of Lt. Cmdr. Robert O. Glover, Pope’s commanding officer, and pointed a Colt .45 pistol at him. Steiger forced Glover into the wardroom, where he had the captain and three other officers line up at the port transom. The fortuitous entrance of a mess attendant provided Glover the opportunity to escape from the wardroom. Although Steiger took a shot at him, Glover arrived topside unharmed and ordered that two men be armed and sent to the wardroom. These men tried unsuccessfully to reason with their shipmate. At 1045, Ens. John E. Edwards, whose USNA classmates remembered him as one less attracted to athletic glory as a prospective heavyweight boxer than as one who saw the “chance of moving from training table to training table…very much like Napoleon’s Army,” entered the wardroom, stopping just inside the door from the port forward room. Stieger swung around and fired at “Tiny” Edwards, but the cartridge misfired. CBM(PA) J. C. McCoy soon sprung into the wardroom and attempted to fire a .45 caliber pistol at Steiger, but McCoy had not released the safety on the gun. Steiger shot at McCoy as well, but his gun once again misfired. Steiger tried to clear the weapon but ended up jamming it instead, and three of the officers in the room took the opportunity to rush the gunman. In the ensuing scuffle, Steiger hit Lt. (j.g.) Donald T. Eller in the head twice with his gun, leaving Eller with two scalp lacerations. The struggle moved to the commanding officer’s stateroom, where officers finally overpowered Steiger. Placed in single irons, and brought topside, Steiger broke free when they reached the well deck, however, and jumped overboard. He was soon rescued by the ship’s motor whaleboat crew. Soon thereafter, Steiger -- placed in double irons and lashed to a stretcher -- was transported to Black Hawk for confinement and observation. 

After that unsettling episode, life on board Pope quickly returned to normal. The destroyer spent the second half of September 1933 alongside of Black Hawk for maintenance. Just after midnight on 5 October, Destroyer Squadron 5 left Chefoo en route to Shanghai. After a few more days of maintenance in Shanghai, Pope sailed for the Philippines on 17 October, escorting Peary to Olongapo. Pope delivered her sister ship to her destination on the 20th and continued on to Manila but returned to Olongapo for dry docking from 24 October–11 November. After her availability, Pope spent the rest of the year and the first three months of 1934 completing her scheduled training while continuing to conduct maintenance activities. 

On 10 April 1934, Destroyer Squadron 5-- less Bulmer and John D. Ford -- departed Manila for a special trip to Japan. Pope spent 16–25 April at Yokohama and 27 April–3 May at Kobe, providing the ship’s crew the opportunity to enjoy some leave. The Squadron arrived at Shanghai on 6 May, but three days later Pope left to return to Manila. The destroyer underwent overhaul at Cavite Navy Yard from 14 May until 18 June, and following a brief stay in the Dewey Dry Dock from 19–22 June, the ship got underway for the return trip to China on the 27th. 

Upon her arrival at Tsingtao on 1 July 1934, Pope took part in submarine target training exercises until the 13th, when she left to rejoin her division in Chefoo. Pope exercised with the other destroyers all summer, and on 5 October, Destroyer Squadron 5 began its annual migration to the Philippines, stopping first at Tsingtao. The ships then spent three weeks at Shanghai before continuing south. On 31 October, Division 15 arrived at Amoy. The ships stood out on 5 November and rejoined the rest of the squadron en route to Hong Kong, where they spent two weeks. Pope arrived at Manila on 21 November and conducted her training and maintenance routine into the early spring. 

Pope and Pillsbury -- detached from squadron exercises on 1 April 1935 -- embarked on a brief trip to investigate islands in the southernmost area of the Philippines. Pope called at Jolo, South Ubian Island, Tandugaan Island, Siasi Island, and Zamboanga before returning to Manila with Pillsbury early on 13 April. Then after a brief dry docking and a change of command, Pope got underway for Kobe, Japan, on the 29th. The ship spent 4–17 May at Kobe and then arrived at Chefoo on the 19th. Pope spent the first week of June in Tsingtao and then operated out of Chefoo through early September. She spent 8–16 September at Tangku [Tianjin] and then began working her way south with the Division, arriving at Swatow on 25 September and Hong Kong on the 30th. 

On 14 October 1935, Pope stood out of Hong Kong with Peary, Pillsbury, and Black Hawk en route to Tourane [Da Nang], French Indochina. Joined by Parrott (DD-218) the next day, the group arrived at Tourane on the 16th and continued on to Saigon on the 22nd. The destroyer squadron assembled at Saigon and departed for Manila on 2 November. Pope reported to Cavite on 9 November and spent the next month in overhaul. After five days in Dewey Dry Dock, the destroyer spent the holiday season at Manila. 

During the early months of 1936, Pope operated in the Manila area. Destroyer Squadron 5 stood out to return to Chinese waters on 13 April. The destroyers remained at Shanghai for nearly a month after arriving on 17 April and then stood in at their summer headquarters at Chefoo on 15 May. Pope operated out of Tsingtao from 24 May–4 June, serving as a target vessel for the submarines’ battle practice, and then returned to Chefoo for SRBP and tactical exercises with her division. She then spent the first nine days of July at Tangku before resuming exercises out of Chefoo through 14 October, when the division departed for Shanghai. 

In the month of November 1936, Destroyer Divisions 15 and 14 trained together, with the ships spending a week at Hong Kong and another at Singapore between exercises. Division 15 then steamed to Java in the Dutch East Indies, where the destroyers visited Batavia from 25 November–2 December and Soerabaja from 3–7 December as well as Sanur on the island of Bali from 8–11 December. Pope then spent the 13th–15th at Balikpapan, Borneo, and sailed with Paul Jones to the southern Philippines, conducting reconnaissance of Dumanquilas Bay in Mindanao before arriving at Zamboanga on the 17th. The following day, 39 of Pope’s crewmen came down with food poisoning, which was blamed upon one or two cans of corned beef that had been served at dinner on the 17th. After a brief stop at Iloilo on the 20th, Pope concluded the cruise at Manila on 21 December. 

Pope completed the usual assortment of trainings out of Manila through February 1937. She entered Cavite Navy Yard on 6 March for a month-long overhaul and then completed a four-day dry docking at Olongapo from 12–16 April. On the 18th, Pope in company with Edsall (DD-219) got underway en route to Shanghai, where they arrived on the 22nd. On 6 May, Destroyer Squadron 5 departed for Chefoo and over the next month, the destroyers conducted SRBP, division maneuvers, and squadron tactical exercises. Pope then arrived at Tsingtao on 6 June to serve as a target vessel for the Submarine Squadron’s Battle Torpedo Practice. At 0200 on the 8th, Pope was struck in the bow by a large junk that had lost steering control, but the destroyer was not damaged in the incident. 

A hazard of a different sort emerged at this time as well. On the morning of 9 June 1937, the medical officer aboard the submarine tender Canopus issued an order to transfer Pope’s Sea1c H. I. Pousson to Canopus for medical observation. Pousson was quickly diagnosed with cerebrospinal fever, a form of meningitis that was potentially infectious and could be fatal without treatment. Two days later, another seaman first class was transferred from Pope to Canopus for medical treatment, although the destroyer’s log does not state if this action was connected to the meningitis case. Pope then departed to return to Chefoo, where upon the ship’s arrival on 12 June, the division medical officer inspected Pope’s crew for symptoms of spinal meningitis and the ship was placed in quarantine. For the next two and a half weeks, the division medical officer made daily inspections of the crew checking for symptoms of infection. Having found no further symptomatic sailors, the medical officer released Pope from quarantine on the morning of 30 June. 

The destroyer, however, did not return to regular duties immediately. On the afternoon of 1 July 1937, Pope got underway to conduct a burial at sea. The decedent, Mr. Eric Pownall Railton, was a British citizen who had served in the Royal Army during the World War and was a merchant in Chefoo. The next morning, Pope again put to sea for a burial service, this time for Harvey Eric Railton, the son of Eric Railton who had been buried the day before. Both ceremonies took place at 37°43'30" N, 121°22'15" E. The Railtons died in the waters off of Chefoo on 20 June 1937 when Harvey, age 8, fell overboard from a motorboat and disappeared. The father Eric, 40, dove in the water to rescue his son and drowned. 

Pope returned to Tsingtao on 6 July 1937 to exercise with the submarines. Sea1c Pousson returned to the ship on 8 July, having recovered from his bout of cerebrospinal fever. The destroyer sailed back to Chefoo on the 10th for Battle Depth Charge Practice runs and then departed for Shanghai on the 25th. After a brief stop at Tsingtao to transfer another medical case to Canopus, the destroyer returned to Chefoo on 29 July and joined with Division 14 for training. Following a tender availability with Black Hawk during the second half of August, Pope arrived at Tsingtao in company with Pillsbury on 1 September.

Pope, third from left, nested alongside the destroyer tender Black Hawk (AD-9) with other four-pipers at Chefoo, China, during the 1930s. (Color-tinted photograph by the Ah-Fung O.K. Photo Service, Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH...
Caption: Pope, third from left, nested alongside the destroyer tender Black Hawk (AD-9) with other four-pipers at Chefoo, China, during the 1930s. (Color-tinted photograph by the Ah-Fung O.K. Photo Service, Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 90545-KN)

Meanwhile, the sociopolitical situation in China was again rapidly deteriorating and endangering the lives of foreigners. Chinese relations with Japan had been uneasy for a number of years, particularly since the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931. On the night of 7 July 1937, fighting had broken out between Chinese and Japanese troops near Peking [Beijing]. By the end of the month, the countries were at war with each other, and Peking and the nearby port city of Tientsin [Tianjin] had fallen to the Japanese. In August, the conflict also erupted in Shanghai, and by the end of the month, the Japanese had begun amphibious landings on the coast near the city. 

At the same time, Japanese forces continued their southward advance through northern China. By mid-September, they had reached the vicinity of Haichow [Lianyungang], a Yellow Sea port city approximately 270 miles northwest of Shanghai and 100 miles southwest of Tsingtao. Late on 18 September, Pope departed Tsingtao on a mission to evacuate U.S. citizens from Haichow. After arriving at Lao Yao anchorage on the morning of the 19th, the commanding officer left the ship with two boats to pick up the evacuees. However, 45 minutes later, the boats returned empty after they were repelled from landing at the beach by rifle fire from Chinese troops. Instead, Chinese tugs brought the evacuees’ luggage out to the destroyer, and Dr. J. H. Reed, cited in the ship log as a “passenger,” left the ship in the tug to make arrangements to bring the American nationals aboard Pope. Finally at 2005 that evening, a tug brought 19 Americans out to the waiting destroyer, which departed to return to Tsingtao as soon as the evacuees were safely on board. 

Pope stood in to Chefoo on 29 September 1937. According to media reports, on 4 October, Destroyer Squadron 5 received orders from the Chinese military to leave Chefoo within 48 hours, as after that time the harbor might be “unsafe.” The Chinese, according to an Associated Press, report expected the Japanese to attempt to land at Chefoo to launch a new assault on Shantung Province. Despite the warning, Pope and the other American destroyers did not depart from Chefoo until 8 November. 

Following a stop at Hong Kong from 13–18 November 1937, Destroyer Division 15 arrived at Manila on 21 November. For the next three weeks, Pope trained with her division, but on 11 December, the destroyer departed independently to return to China. The ship spent several days at Shanghai and then arrived at Tsingtao on 20 December. According to one media account, “besides huge fires, there were occasional tremendous explosions at Tsingtao, leading to the belief the Japanese mills and other properties were being dynamited” by the Chinese. With Japanese warplanes ever-present over the city, an attack seemed likely. Adm. Harry E. Yarnell, Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet, characterized the situation at Tsingtao as “threatening” and the consulate urged the 300 American citizens that remained in the city to evacuate. Pope, the light cruiser Marblehead (CL-12), and the gunboat Sacramento (PG-19) had been sent to complete the evacuation. Sacramento departed on the 28th carrying 45 American evacuees. Pope and Marblehead anchored closer to shore, continuing to stand by as Japanese troops approached to within 100 miles of the city. 

Late on 29 December 1937, Pope’s crew heard several explosions in Tsingtao and observed a fire in the area of the railroad station. Several hours later, the morning watch noted more explosions and several fires in the general direction of the factory district. At 0730, they watched a Japanese naval seaplane circle over the city. As Chinese troops retreated, American media reported that the Japanese occupation of Tsingtao seemed inevitable. On the last day of 1937, Pope departed the devastated city with six American evacuees on board, leaving only Marblehead in Tsingtao to protect the remaining American citizens. 

Pope arrived at Shanghai with the American evacuees from Tsingtao on 1 January 1938. The destroyer spent a week at Yokohama, Japan (20-28 January) and returned to Shanghai on 31 January. The ship entered the Shanghai Dock Yard Dry Dock for a brief three-day interim dry docking on 12 February. When Pope got underway on the 23rd, both propellers, which had been in good condition in the dry dock, seemed to be vibrating, and the ship returned to port. The following morning, a civilian diver inspected the propellers and found two damaged blades on each propeller and several turns of wire wrapped around the port shaft. Pope returned to dry dock on the 26th, had her propellers repaired, and departed for Manila on 1 March. 

Pope spent the spring of 1938 in the Philippines conducting exercises. In June, Pope, Stewart, and Parrott made a goodwill visit to French Indochina, stopping at Tourane from 20–25 June and Haiphong from 26–28 June. The ships then steamed to Manila, arriving on the 30th. Destroyer Division 15 returned to Chefoo on 15 July and conducted training locally over the next month. From 20 August–2 September, the division was at Chinwangtao and then returned to Chefoo. Pope got underway independently on 14 September, en route to Manila via Hong Kong. Arriving at Machina Wharf at Cavite on the 23rd, Pope underwent regularly scheduled overhaul through most of October. The destroyer entered Dewey Dry Dock on 31 October and upon exiting anchored at Manila. Pope spent a month from 14 November–16 December at Hong Kong and then spent the next several months completing training exercises with Division 15 in the Manila area. 

On 3 April 1939, Pope and Peary embarked upon a tour of the southern Philippine Islands. For several days, the destroyers hopped from island to island as they moved southward. On the 10th the ships rendezvoused with Pillsbury and Ford, reuniting the division, and steamed together to Tutu Bay off of Jolo. Division 15 joined Destroyer Squadron 5 on the 12th at Polloc Harbor. Except for an underway day for division anti-aircraft defense practice on 28 April and a brief trip to Zamboanga to end the month, Pope remained anchored at Polloc Harbor through the rest of April. On 2 May, Divisions 15 and 13 stood out and conducted maneuvers and then made their way north, anchoring at Davao Harbor and Awasan Bay. Division 15 left Awasan Bay together on the 5th, but as the other ships were called away on special assignments, Pope continued to Iloilo Harbor independently. 

Receiving a special assignment of her own very late on 9 May 1939, Pope got underway for Arena Island with orders to stand by the British freighter Lindenbank that had run aground on the south side of the island. Just over an hour later at 0051 on the 10th, the destroyer received word that Lindenbank had been refloated and was continuing on with her voyage, and Pope’s mission was cancelled. However at 0405, Pope was ordered to get underway again as Lindenbank had sent out a distress call and was now sinking five miles north of Arena Reef. Ten minutes later, the cargo ship reported that the crew was abandoning ship in the lifeboats. At 0959 Pope spotted two lifeboats and shortly took aboard all 66 souls from Lindenbank. The destroyer then set course for Iloilo Strait, where that afternoon they transferred the Lindenbank survivors to the custody of the British Consul and Customs Authorities. Pope then rendezvoused with Peary. The ships rejoined the division at Casiguran Sound on 12 May and operated around Polillo Island for several days before arriving at Manila on 24 May. 

Pope again received special tasking on 3 June 1939 when she was ordered to depart for Amoy, China. Japanese military expansion had by this time reached southern China. In May 1938, the Japanese launched an amphibious assault against Amoy and occupied the city. One year later, on 11 May 1939, prompted by the shooting of a Japanese citizen by a Chinese national, the Japanese sent a landing force to Amoy’s International Settlement at Kulangsu. The Japanese action prompted protest from the American, French, and British Consuls, and the countries dispatched warships to protect the interests of their citizens there. 

On 8 June 1939, Pope witnessed fighting at Amoy firsthand. Beginning at 1800, the watch officers observed Chinese forces on Sung Seu Peninsula exchange artillery fire with two Japanese destroyers in the harbor. Twenty minutes later, three seaplanes from the Japanese heavy cruiser Myoko arrived and each dropped three 50-100 kilogram bombs on the Chinese entrenchments and then strafed the ground with machine gun fire. The next day, the ship’s crew heard gunfire and “an occasional burst of a high explosive shell” but did not witness any action. Pope left Amoy briefly on 10 June to transport U.S. Consul Samuel J. Fletcher to Foochow. When Pope returned to Amoy on the 13th, Capt. John T. G. Stapler, Commander of the South China Patrol (ComSoPat), hoisted his pennant in the destroyer, which then got underway again. At Swatow the next day, ship observed a Japanese seaplane drop a few bombs as it circled the city uncontested. Pope then continued on to Hong Kong and stayed there several days. 

As she returned to Amoy on 20 June 1939, Pope had an encounter at sea with the Japanese Navy. At 2110 while watching a Japanese cruiser, destroyer, and several troop ships, a vessel on Pope’s port bow challenged the American destroyer, telling her to change course to the south. Pope identified herself to the unknown ship, which only revealed herself to be a “Japanese warship,” and maintained her course and speed. Several minutes later, a group of darkened vessels appeared dead ahead and close aboard on both sides of the bow. Pope slowed and then stopped to avoid the convoy of two transports, three destroyers, and nine unknown vessels heading to the northwest. Pope quickly resumed her course at 2/3 speed, and the ship that had challenged her earlier warned again to “go south.” Pope acknowledged the message but continued on her course and speed without further contact from the Japanese. She arrived at Amoy on the 21st and then got underway again for Swatow. 

On 21 June 1939, the Japanese launched an invasion of Swatow, having previously warned foreign consuls to remove their people and their warships from the area. At that time, Pillsbury was the lone U.S. warship stationed at Swatow to protect the lives and property of the 48 Americans still present in the city, and Pope was en route to provide reinforcement, as Adm. Yarnell had asserted that the “the paramount duty of United States naval vessels is the protection of American citizens and they will go wherever it is necessary at any time to carry out that mission and will remain in such places as long as American citizens are in need of protection or assistance.” 

Pope arrived at the outer harbor of Swatow on the morning of 22 June 1939 and was escorted into the port by the Japanese destroyer Matsukaze. Capt. Stapler thereupon called upon Vice Adm. Kondo Nobutake in his flagship Myoko, and the U.S. destroyer then proceeded into the harbor and moored near Pillsbury, with two British ships, 11 Japanese warships, and numerous Japanese commercial vessels also present. According to a Baltimore Sun report, “The [American] warships found nothing to do, however, since there was a complete lack of any disorder threatening foreigners.” For the next several days, the Americans observed as the Japanese landed troops, horses, equipment, field pieces, and supplies ashore, punctuated by the occasional Japanese plane circling the city and sporadic sounds of gunfire. On the morning of 25 June, three British merchants came aboard Pope for transportation to Amoy and Hong Kong, and Pope stood out of Swatow. Arriving at Amoy later that afternoon, one of the British merchants disembarked and Capt. Stapler shifted his pennant to the gunboat Asheville (PG-21). U.S. Consul R. S. Ward came aboard for transportation to Foochow and the ship got underway again. Pope touched at Foochow on the 26th and arrived at Hong Kong on the 27th. 

Returning to Swatow on 1 July 1939, Pope relieved Pillsbury as the station ship assigned to the city. Two seamen and a signalman left the ship for temporary signal duty at the American Baptist Mission at Kakchio [Queshi]. The destroyer spent two quiet weeks at Swatow and then stood out on the 14th with four American and two European passengers aboard. While exiting the harbor, the watch noted a mine floating 500 yards abeam to port, but the ship departed without incident and arrived at Hong Kong later that evening. 

On 17 July 1939, Pope headed to northern China. She arrived at Shanghai on the 20th and then spent the week from 27 July–4 August exercising with Submarine Squadron 5. After a brief stop at Chefoo, Pope arrived at Chinwangtao on the 6th. Over the next two weeks, two parties of sailors received training at the U.S. Marine Rifle Range at Camp Holcomb. Pope steamed for Chefoo on 19 August, rejoining Division 15 for exercises for the rest of the month. On 2 September, the destroyers – except John D. Ford -- arrived at Tsingtao, mooring alongside the tender Black Hawk. Pope left independently for Chefoo on the 15th and then departed with Pillsbury for Shanghai on the 29th. 

Pope returned to the Philippines with Division 15 on 10 October 1939. Her assignments over the next several months took her to Polloc Harbor on 21 October, Davao on 27 October, and Iloilo on 19 November. Arriving on 21 November, Pope operated in the Manila area for the next several months, riding out two typhoons in December while serving as Neutrality Station Ship. During the first four months of 1940, she conducted training exercises with Division 59 and Destroyer Squadron 29, both redesignated as of February 1940, as well as the submarine squadron. Pope entered Dewey Dry Dock at Olongapo on 29 April for regular maintenance, which included replacing a cracked starboard propeller. Immediately after leaving dry dock on 4 May, the destroyer steamed independently to return to China. 

On 6 May 1940, Pope rendezvoused with Division 59 off of Hong Kong and the group continued on to Tsingtao, arriving on the 11th, and Chinwangtao the following day. Pope moved to Chefoo on 25 May and then returned to Tsingtao with the division on 7 June. On 24 June, Division 59 departed for Manila. Pope arrived at Cavite on the 28th for regular overhaul. She completed post-repair trials on 1 August and dry docking at Olongapo from 5–17 August. The ship transported Rear Adm. John M. Smeallie, Commandant of the Sixteenth Naval District, and his aide Lt. Cmdr. Francis J. Grandfield to Dumaguete on the 27th and also called at Cebu before returning to Manila. After muster on the morning of 25 September, the commanding officer received word that Lt. (j.g) David C. Crowell (USNA 1937) one of Pope’s junior officers, had shot himself at the Army-Navy Club in Manila. Shortly thereafter, “Dave” Crowell – who had been known to his USNA classmates as a “steady friend and steady companion,” with a “constant supply of humor” and having a personality that spread “charm and good cheer,” died at Fort Sternberg hospital. In late October, the division participated in tactical exercises with Division 58 off of Jolo. Back in Manila again, Pope spent most of December in overhaul at Cavite. 

Pope opened 1941 in Dewey Dry Dock at Olongapo, where she remained until 10 January. For the rest of the month, she primarily conducted sound exercises with submarines. The destroyer continued operating in the Manila area for the next several months, conducting a full array of training exercises. On 21 April, Pope left Manila with the Fleet en route to Cebu and then Jolo, where they arrived on the 26th. Here Division 59 conducted anti-aircraft and machine gun battle practices and then set course for Chongos Bay, Tawi Tawi Island, arriving on 4 May. The ships continued gunnery and tactical exercises in mid-May and practiced submarine attacks and sound training exercises during the return passage to Manila, where they arrived on 25 May. 

Pope remained in the Manila area during the summer of 1941. In mid-July, the destroyer began patrolling the entrances to Manila Bay off of Corregidor Island and escorting merchant vessels through the channels to avoid the mine fields. In early August, the ship resumed training with the Division. On the morning of 9 August while shifting berths at the fuel dock at Canacao Bay, Pope collided with the open lighter YC-181, drilling a significant hole in the barge’s side and causing it to list severely. The destroyer did not sustain any damage in the incident. 

In company with William B. Preston, on 11 August 1941 Pope steamed to Tutu Bay off of Jolo, where most of the squadron destroyers had already assembled along with Submarine Division 202. The ships conducted Battle Torpedo Practice and tactical exercises for two days. After exercises concluded on the 15th, Pope and Paul Jones sailed with heavy cruiser Houston (CA-30) as Task Group 51 to Cebu. The group returned to Tutu Bay on the 19th. Pope trained with Division 59 off of Jolo through 15 September and then moved to Tawi Tawi Island. The ship continued to train with subs and the other destroyers off of Bongao. Returning to Manila on 22 September, Pope maintained her routine of training exercises and patrol duty off the entrances to Manila Bay into December. 

At 0330 on 8 December 1941, Pope’s commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Welford C. Blinn, received word that Japan had commenced hostilities with the United States. He went ashore to confer with ComDesDiv 59 and soon returned to the ship. At 0515, the crew broke out ready ammunition for all of the ship’s guns and removed non-essential items from the ship, preparing her for wartime service. The destroyer stood by, ready to get underway on ten minutes’ notice. That evening, Pope and John D. Ford escorted the seaplane tender Langley (AV-3) and the oilers Pecos (AO-6) and Trinity (AO-13) from Manila, screening for enemy submarines. The following afternoon, multiple crewmen on Pope reported sighting a torpedo wake on the port beam. The ship searched for a sound contact and came across a slick in the water. One of the gunners then reported seeing a periscope. Both destroyers searched for a submarine but found nothing. 

Pope and John D. Ford returned to Manila on the morning of 10 December 1941. At 1240, the watch officer observed a flight of Japanese planes coming in over the city. Pope got underway and maneuvered in the bay to avoid the air attack. Over the next hour, the crew observed several waves of planes attack facilities and shipping in the vicinity of Cavite Navy Yard, which was ultimately destroyed. That evening, the two destroyers escorted the yacht Isabel (PY-10), submarine tenders Holland (AS-3) and Otus (AS-20) from the bay as Task Force 6, bound for Balikpapan, Borneo, Netherlands East Indies (NEI). At 0545 the following morning, Pope had to maneuver to avoid a hot running torpedo fired accidentally by John D. Ford.  That evening, the ship dropped five depth charges on a slick and sound contact. The task force joined Houston and light cruiser Boise (CL-47) on the 12th. The following day, Pope temporarily left the formation to investigate a suspicious object on the horizon, which turned out to be floating trees. Task Force 6 arrived safely at Balikpapan on 14 December and continued on to Makassar, Celebes, NEI, the next day. On the 21st, Pope and John D. Ford escorted Boise back to Balikpapan and then on to Soerabaja, Java, where they arrived on Christmas Eve. From 25–29 December, Pope received a much-needed tender availability alongside Black Hawk

On 30 December 1941, Pope assembled in Soerabaja Strait with Boise, Black Hawk, Barker and the U.S. tanker George G. Henry to form Task Force 5.1. The next day, the task force got underway for Darwin, Australia, with the two destroyers providing an anti-submarine screen for the other ships. The convoy arrived at Darwin on 6 January 1942. On the 8th, Pope joined Division 58 to screen Boise, Marblehead, and the Dutch motorship Bloemfontein used as an Allied troop transport. The convoy was en route to Java, but Pope was instead sent to Kupang Bay, Dutch Timor, from which she departed on the 11th screening Marblehead with the destroyer Bulmer (DD-222). On 13 January, Boise and Pillsbury joined the convoy, which arrived at Saleh Bay, Sumbawa, NEI, later that day. Pope and John D. Ford, later joined by Parrott and Pillsbury, next screened Marblehead as the ships steamed for Kema on the island of Celebes to attack Japanese forces reported to be concentrated there. The Japanese had come and gone from Kema already, however, so the mission was cancelled and the ships put in to Kupang Bay again on the 18th. 

Pope’s crew finally got the chance to go on the offensive against the Japanese near the end of January. With Parrott and Paul Jones following her, Pope steamed in column formation astern of John D. Ford towards Balikpapan, Borneo, in the early morning hours of 24 January 1942. The destroyers’ objective was to attack a large group of Japanese vessels in the area. At 0215, the watch observed “a huge glow” on the starboard bow, which was believed to be from fires caused by an Allied air attack the previous afternoon. As the formation drew closer to the target area, a haze of smoke obscured visibility. John D. Ford changed course at 0255, leading the division into the lines of enemy ships. She soon gave word to fire torpedoes at available targets, and at 0303, Pope fired a single torpedo at a Japanese destroyer abeam to starboard. Two minutes later, “a ship on our starboard quarter blew up, flames reaching about five hundred feet in height.” However, Parrott took the credit for this hit. As the American destroyers weaved through the aggregation of Japanese ships at 27 knots, the enemy vessels did not seem to know what hit them. Spotting several large ships bunched together, Pope launched her remaining five starboard torpedoes at this group, scoring two hits. Pope then fired one of her port-side fish, missing a destroyer, but again Parrott, next in line behind Pope, hit the mark. Ten minutes later, Pope fired her last torpedoes at a destroyer to port, scoring two more hits. 

Having expended all of her torpedoes, Pope next turned her guns upon the wounded Japanese convoy. Still moving rapidly, Pope had difficulty training her guns upon a target for long, but she did take aim at three destroyers and a transport, hitting the transport three times. At 0340, Pope made a sharp turn to port to avoid colliding with column leader John D. Ford, which had stopped to radio that she believed that she was about to enter a minefield. No longer knowing the location of the two trailing destroyers, Pope ceased fire until encountering a Japanese destroyer five minutes later. Shortly thereafter, Pope joined up with Parrott, and Paul Jones soon fell in behind them. John D. Ford then radioed the group, ordering them to retire. John D. Ford caught up with the group at daybreak, and at 0800, the four destroyers rendezvoused with Marblehead and Bulmer and returned to Soerabaja the next day.

The surprise attack by the Americans sank three transports and a patrol boat [high speed transport] and damaged at least two other transports. Pope was credited with sinking the transport Sumanoura Maru and, with Parrott, Patrol Boat No. 37 [destroyer converted to high speed transport]. The conduct and performance of Pope’s crew during their first real experience of combat at Balikpapan pleased their commanding officer. “PRAISE and PRIDE are the best words that I can muster to express the conduct of the officers and men during the night attack. All had for some time been itching for a chance to fight back at the enemy,” Blinn wrote on 25 January in his action report to the Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet. “It was a tired and weary-eyed crew that was observed the morning after the attack but it was a crew of officers and men full of pride in a job well done.” Blinn received the Navy Cross for this action, an individual accolade for which he shared the credit with his crew. According to Pope’s First Lieutenant, Lt.(j.g.) John J. A. Michel, Blinn told them, “’This Navy Cross has been awarded to me, but I want you all to feel that it belongs to you as well. A note will be made on your records to the effect that you were serving on this ship during the action for which this award was made.’” 

Pope’s next assignment was to screen the Dutch steamers Tjileboet and Tjitjalengka with John D. Ford and Parrott on 30 January. While standing out of Soerabaja Harbor, Tjileboet broke down and stopped to make repairs. Pope and Parrott screened her while John D. Ford continued on with Tjitjalengka, and the ship was ready to proceed again that evening. On 2 February, the destroyers received orders to rendezvous with a U.S. convoy headed back to Java from Darwin, and the Dutch ships continued on unescorted. After meeting the westbound convoy and arriving at Tjilatjap on the 4th, Pope had another very much needed tender availability with Black Hawk

At 2215 on the night of 19-20 February 1942, Pope and Ford took part in a combined operation with the Dutch light cruisers DeRuyter and Java and destroyer Piet Hein to raid Japanese forces at Badung Strait off the coast of Bali. With the Dutch ships leading the way and Pope stationed at the rear of the column, the Allied ships steamed close along the southeast coast of the island through calm seas on a clear, moonless night. At 2230, about three miles ahead of Pope, the Dutch cruisers began to engage with Japanese ships near the shore. Less than ten minutes later, after engaging with the enemy, Piet Hein was hit by torpedoes, veered to the right, and exploded. About the same time, Pope fired her first two torpedoes to port at a Japanese ship believed to be either a transport or a cruiser. The destroyer then briefly stopped to avoid collision with John D. Ford and fired two more torpedoes to port at a smaller Japanese ship thought to be a light cruiser or large destroyer. While under fire from her port quarter, Pope expended another fish to port, this one aimed at a heavy ship near the shore. Two men manning no. 2 gun observed an explosion on this ship. 

At 2258, John D. Ford and Pope were challenged by an unknown cruiser. The U.S. destroyers showed their recognition signals which were answered with gunfire that fortunately missed both destroyers, which Lt. Cmdr.  Blinn “considered almost miraculous.” Pope aimed both torpedoes and guns at the cruiser and fired. The cruiser extinguished her searchlight and stopped firing at the destroyers. Pope and John D. Ford then retired from the action. At 2315, ten minutes after the American destroyers left the scene, Pope observed searchlights and heavy gunfire between destroyers and an explosion in the area that they had recently vacated. In an interview recorded after the end of the war, Blinn stated: “Looking astern, we could see plainly visible four destroyers illuminated in the searchlight beams of cruisers which were also cross-illuminated by the destroyers. These two enemy forces were having a severe battle at short ranges each blinded by the searchlights of the other. In a short time three of the four destroyers were in flames and several heavy explosions were observed.” Pope’s crew watched this “most surprising incident” of the Japanese ships shooting at each other for fifteen minutes as they steamed away from the action. 

Pope and John D. Ford returned to Tjilatjap on 21 February 1942 and refueled from Pecos. They took aboard personnel from the Royal Air Force for transport and steamed together to Christmas Island to rendezvous with Black Hawk to reload torpedoes. The destroyers then made their way back to Soerabaja to rendezvous with Allied naval forces, which were going to attempt to thwart the Japanese invasion of Java. Lt. Cmdr. Blinn characterized the situation as “taking a desperate chance,” but, he explained, “our orders were to sacrifice ourselves in the face of superior enemy, if necessary, to prevent a landing on Java.” 

Pope, however, was unable to participate in the Battle of Java Sea. At Soerabaja, the engineering department reported a leaking hot well that required emergency welding at Soerabaja Navy Yard on 26-27 February 1942. Pope received her repairs and then waited for orders. Late on the night of 27 February, Pope spotted a cruiser returning to Soerabaja. The ships exchanged recognition signals, and Pope learned that the ship was the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter, which had sustained serious damage by a hit to her engine room during the Battle of the Java Sea that limited her speed to five knots. British destroyer HMS Encounter accompanied her. The U.S. destroyers Paul Jones, John D. Ford, Alden (DD-211), and Edwards soon returned to Soerabaja as well. 

On 28 February 1942, with the Japanese invasion of Java all but inevitable after the Allied defeat in the Java Sea, the Allied Forces made plans to escape to less dangerous waters. As the only destroyer still carrying torpedoes, Pope received the assignment of escorting Exeter, which since her arrival at Soerabaja had received emergency repairs to her boilers that should allow her to make 16 knots. Together with Encounter, the ships would head north into the Java Sea towards Borneo and then turn southwest to exit into the Indian Ocean via Sunda Strait, at the western end of Java. The other American destroyers, having only their speed and their guns for defenses, would instead head east and navigate around Bali to reach the Indian Ocean. Although this was considered to be the safer route, the draft of Exeter was thought to be too great to use the eastern channel out of Soerabaja. After nightfall descended on the island, the Allied ships stood out from Soerabaja, and Pope and her British colleagues headed north into the Java Sea. 

At 0915 on 1 March 1942, Exeter sighted Japanese heavy cruisers cruisers Haguro and Nachi and destroyers Yamakaze and Kawakaze, and the Allied convoy changed course. Shortly thereafter, a Japanese plane flew overhead and kept the ships in sight. Then a Japanese destroyer and two heavy cruisers were spotted ahead. The two allied destroyers engaged the Japanese destroyer with gunfire at a distance of 12,000 yards at 0935. Ten minutes later, Exeter and the Japanese cruisers opened fire. Pope laid a smoke screen and the other two ships followed suit, allowing the Allies to maneuver under cover while still firing their guns. Enemy fire splashed down all around Pope, but the destroyer remained unharmed and scored a hit on the Japanese destroyer with her own gunfire, causing the enemy ship to retire. Pope also fired two torpedoes at destroyers ahead with no discernable results. 

Having survived this initial engagement with the enemy, the three Allied ships encountered a fresh group of Japanese warships – heavy cruisers Ashigara and Myoko and destroyers Akebono and Inazuma -- at 1100 and came under heavy fire. Pope expended her remaining torpedoes, with reported hits on a destroyer and a cruiser. The efforts of Exeter’s engineering crew to continue making repairs while underway meant that the ship’s maximum speed had increased to 25 knots, but at 1140, the British cruiser took a direct hit that completely knocked out her power, leaving her dead in the water. The Japanese ships continued to pound the cruiser with gunfire as Encounter tried to shield the crippled ship with a smoke screen. Soon however, Encounter, too, slowed, mortally wounded, and if Pope was to escape the powerful Japanese fleet, she would have to do so alone. 

The plucky destroyer dashed at full speed into the shelter of a rain squall ahead, using the lull in the action provided by the temporary cover to replenish the ammunition for the forward guns and plan her next move. Although thus far the only damage Pope had sustained was to her main antenna, the stress of battle took its toll on the old four-piper that was well overdue for major overhaul. Firing more than 140 salvos from her guns caused the No. 3 boiler’s brick walls to collapse, requiring the boiler to be secured. As a result, Pope’s maximum speed decreased. 

At 1215, a Mitsubishi F1M2 Type 0 reconnaissance floatplane [later nicknamed Pete] from Chitose located Pope after she emerged from a second rain squall. Fifteen minutes later, six planes appeared from the enemy cruisers and began to dive bomb the ship. Pope used evasive maneuvers to avoid being hit, but on the 11th of 12 attacks, the bomb splashed abreast of number four torpedo tube and exploded close to the ship beneath the waterline near the stern. The blast inflicted two lethal injuries to the destroyer. The force of the blast badly misaligned the port propeller shaft, causing a severe vibration. In this condition, the forward engine had to be shut down, further reducing the speed at which Pope would be able to flee from her pursuers. The explosion also blasted a hole in the side of the ship and split the seams in the hull’s steel plating for some distance along the port side, causing water to rush into the ship. The pumps could not keep up with the inflow of sea water, and the destroyer began to settle by the stern as she maneuvered on a single engine to avoid the bombs of six Japanese Nakajima B2N1 Type 97 carrier attack planes from the small carrier Ryujo

By 1240, just ten minutes after the fatal blow, Lt. Cmdr.  Blinn issued orders to prepare to abandon ship. As the destroyer continued to evade level bombing attacks, Pope’s crew quickly dumped the depth charges, opened the ship’s watertight doors, destroyed classified materials, and loaded the motor whaleboat with caches of provisions as well as several men injured in an earlier bomb blast. The demo crew set up a large demolition charge in the forward engine room to scuttle the ship. On the bridge, Blinn detonated a demolition charge to destroy the sensitive submarine sound detection gear. The explosion was more powerful than anticipated, however, and unfortunately a piece of metal debris pierced the chest of Y2c Howard E. Davis, who had been a member of Pope’s ship’s company since 8 May 1941, as he lay face-down on the deck, killing him. There was no time, however, to mourn the fallen sailor at that moment, as a well-aimed Japanese bomb or shell could put an end to them all at any moment. Pope’s other engine was shut down, and Blinn performed a quick inspection below decks as all hands save the demo crew abandoned ship. The captain gave the all clear and the demo team set off the charge and joined the rest of the crew in the water. 

Very soon after Pope’s brave crew had taken leave of their stricken ship, the Japanese cruisers Ashigara and Myoko appeared on the scene, firing at the dying vessel. “On the sixth salvo,” Blinn later recalled, “the sinking ship was heavily hit and sank within 15 seconds, stern first, listing somewhat to starboard.” The enemy cruisers then steamed toward the Pope survivors, but just as suddenly as they had appeared, they retired from the scene without further tormenting the men in the water. Japanese planes did return, however, and made two strafing runs at the motor whaleboat. Fortunately only one man was slightly grazed in this attack, and after making several passes over the men in the water, the planes too departed. The crewmen of the valiant destroyer Pope now drifted, alone, in hostile waters with limited food and water and without any clear indication if their ordeal was just getting started or was coming to a conclusion. 

Lt. Cmdr. Blinn took charge of the perilous situation. He had the motor whaleboat round up the three life rafts. Muster was conducted at 2000; of 152 total officers and men then serving on Pope, there were no absentees save for Yeoman Davis, who had been killed in the demo charge mishap. The captain instituted a watch system, dividing the crew into six groups, one of which would be allowed to occupy the motorboat along with the wounded men every half hour while the others held on to the rafts in the water, clinging also to the hope that a U.S. submarine would soon come to their rescue. No ship came, though. Blinn stated that on the second day of their plight, “after sundown, in the interest of morale, since all men were becoming restless, the [whaleboat’s] motor was started and the rafts were towed in the direction of Java.” That night, the castaways finally spotted ships, but they proved to be Japanese. Fearing detection by the enemy, they turned off the whaleboat’s motor. Around noon the next day, nearly 48 hours into their ordeal, the motor ran out of gas. Refusing to abandon hope, the determined sailors used a blanket as a sail and began rowing south in relay teams. 

Late on 3 March 1942, the survivors saw another ship, which they realized would not be a vessel from a friendly nation coming to their rescue. By this time, the crew had run out of food and water, they suffered from prolonged exposure to the sun, and weary from their exertions and a lack of proper rest, most of Pope’s men were simply exhausted. After some discussion, they used a lantern to draw the attention of the ship, and the Japanese destroyer Inazuma, which had been among Pope’s foes two days prior, shone her spotlight on the drifting American sailors. The destroyer rescued all of Pope’s survivors, and Blinn stated the Americans were treated well by the Japanese sailors. Two days later, the Americans, now prisoners of war, were delivered to Makassar and were eventually transferred to a prison camp outside of the city.

The world would not learn the fate of Pope or that of her crew until the end of the war in September 1945. On 1 April 1942, Blinn and the ship’s other officers were transferred to labor camps in Japan. Pope’s men were held in captivity for the duration of the war, and 27 of her sailors died in the prison camps. Correctly presumed to be lost at sea, Pope was stricken from the Navy List on 8 May 1942. 

Pope received the Presidential Unit Citation and two battle stars and for her World War II service in the Asiatic Fleet. 

Commanding Officers Date Assumed Command
Cmdr. Richard S. Galloway 27 October 1920
Lt. George O. Etheredge 13 November 1920
Ens. Clarence H. Pike 25 January 1921
Lt. Martin R. Derx 19 March 1921
Cmdr. Henry George S. Wallace 26 November 1921
Lt.(j.g.) Edwin Friedman 9 May 1922
Lt. Cmdr. Deupree J. Friedell 8 June 1922
Lt. Cmdr. Howard M. Lammers 10 June 1922
Lt. Cmdr. John W. McClaran 22 August 1923
Lt. Cmdr. George W. Simpson 7 June 1924
Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Perlman 10 December 1924
Cmdr. James P. Olding 5 April 1925
Cmdr. Harold H. Ritter 12 June1925
Lt. Cmdr. Romuald Peter P. Meclewski 26 June 1926
Lt. Ernest Herman Von Heimburg 26 June 1928
Cmdr. Stuart S. Brown 21 July 1928
Lt. Ernest Herman Von Heimburg 17 December 1928
Lt. Cmdr. Theodore E. Chandler 26 April 1929
Lt. Cmdr. George P. Brewster 17 September 1930
Lt. Cmdr. Robert J. Walker 23 February 1932
Lt. Cmdr. Robert O. Glover 4 May 1933
Lt. Cmdr. Nelson N. Gates 29 April 1935
Lt. Cmdr. Alexander J. Couble 15 February 1936
Lt. Cmdr. Wade DeWeese 3 May 1937
Lt. Cmdr. Clarence L. C. Atkeson Jr. 16 August 1939
Lt. Cmdr. Henry T. Wray 30 July 1940
Lt. Richard N. Antrim (temporary)  2 February 1941
Lt. Welford C. Blinn 12 April 1941


Stephanie Harry
20 March 2017

Published: Mon Aug 07 10:12:11 EDT 2017