October 15 This Day During World War ll

October 15, 1942 – Aircraft from carrier Shokaku and Zuikaku sank destroyer USS Meredith off San Cristobal, Solomon Islands. USS Meredith (DD-434), a Gleaves-class destroyer, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for Jonathan Meredith, a United States Marine Corps Sergeant who served during the First Barbary War. Meredith was laid down 1 June 1939 by Boston Naval Shipyard; launched 24 April 1940; sponsored by Miss Ethel Dixon Meredith, and commissioned 1 March 1941, Lieutenant Commander William F. Mendenhall, Jr., in command. Departing Espiritu Santo on 12 October 1942, Meredith, now commanded by Commander Harry E. Hubbard, was underway as part of a convoy with Alchiba, Bellatrix, Jamestown, Nicholas, and Vireo, each pulling a barge carrying barrels of aviation gasoline and 500 pound bombs to the United States forces on Guadalcanal. Two days later it was learned that a Japanese carrier task force was in the vicinity and all ships except Meredith and Vireo turned back. Despite the fact that Meredith was equipped only with surface-search and not air-search radar, Commander Hubbard decided to press on to deliver the critically needed aviation gas. Meredith was sighted by a Japanese patrol plane on the morning of 15 October, and shortly after midday took aboard the 68 man crew of Vireo to depart the area at high speed. However, while preparing to torpedo Vireo to keep her out of Japanese hands, Meredith was attacked by a force of 38 bombers, torpedo planes, and escort fighters from Zuikaku. In the first three minutes of the attack, Meredith was struck by a bomb that exploded beneath her bridge, destroying all communications, steering control, and gun direction. A second bomb struck the forward port side, and a torpedo exploded below the ready ammunition reader locker, igniting the ship’s pyrotechnics and setting fire to fuel oil leaking from her bunkers. Meredith fought fiercely, and brought down three of her attackers, but she was struck by an estimated 14 bombs and seven torpedoes. Meredith rolled over and sank in 10 minutes at Lat. 11-53 S., Long. 163-20 E. Of the crew of 261 on board that day, only eight officers and 73 enlisted men survived the attack and the three ensuing days of exposure to the open sea and sharks until they were rescued by Grayson, Seminole and Gwin . Six members of the Meredith’s crew managed to swim to the Vireo, and were rescued by naval PBY on the 19th of October.

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