Gansevoort, DesRon 14 flagship before she was damaged, off Mare Island, 15 November 1942.
Destroyer Squadron 14 was part of a wave of repeat Benson-and Gleaves-class destroyers (then known as the Bristol class) placed in commission during the summer of 1942. It also was—after DesRon 12—the second squadron of 1,620- and 1,630-tonners formed in the Pacific. Eight (rather than the usual nine) destroyers were attached:
Destroyer Squadron 14
Destroyer Division 27
USS Meade (DD 602)
USS Frazier (DD 607)
USS Gansevoort (DD 608), later flag
USS Edwards (DD 619)
Destroyer Division 28
USS Bailey (DD 492), initial flag
USS Bancroft (DD 598)
USS Caldwell (DD 605)
USS Coghlan (DD 606)
  • Division 27 consisted of three Bensons built by Bethlehem Steel, Frazier and Gansevoort from San Francisco and Meade from Staten Island, New York, plus Edwards, the second square-bridge Gleaves from Federal, all commissioned between June and September.
  • Division 28 consisted of four Bensons built by Bethlehem Steel, Bailey (DD 492) from Staten Island, and Caldwell (DD 605) and Coghlan (DD 606) from San Francisco, and Bancroft (DD 598) from Quincy, and placed in commission between April and July.

Beginning in September 1942, Benson-class Barton (DD 599, built at Quincy and commissioned in May) operated in the Solomon Islands, as did later DesDiv 27 arrivals Frazier, Meade and Edwards, but was sunk at the Battle of Guadalcanal on 13 November. Although her deck logs do not show that she was ever attached to a squadron, she may have been intended as the ninth destroyer of DesRon 14 and is included in the table below.

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On commissioning, the destroyers of DesDiv 28, with Commodore Ralph S. Riggs embarked in Bailey, were fed into the Aleutian Islands campaign. On 26 March 1943, Bailey and Coghlan plus DesRon 1’s Monaghan and Dale operated with cruisers Salt Lake City and Richmond at the Battle of the Komandorski Islands. There, Bailey led Coghlan and Monaghan in a daylight torpedo attack against a vastly superior Japanese formation, for which she was later awarded the Navy Unit Commendation.

World War II operations of destroyers
originally attached to Squadron 14

DesRon 14 World War II operations

DesDiv 27, in the meantime, begin arriving in the South Pacific: Meade in September 1942, Frazier and Gansevoort in December and Edwards in January 1943.

  • On 15 November 1942, following the Battle of Guadalcanal, Meade shelled four enemy transports beached north of Guadalcanal’s Tassafaronga Point, rescued 266 survivors of destroyers Preston and Walke and then joined the search off San Cristóbal Island for survivors of cruiser Juneau.
  • On 1 February 1943, Meade, Frazier and Edwards were in a formation attacked by enemy bombers at the Battle of Rennell Island.

With Guadalcanal in American hands and with the Fletchers of Squadron 21 and Squadron 22 taking station in the Solomon Islands, DesDiv 28 went north and in March 1943 joined DesDiv 27 in the Aleutians. The squadron provided shore bombardment and fire support for the siezure of Attu Island in May and Kiska in August. On 11 June, Frazier likely sank submarine I-9.

After overhaul on the West Coast, DesRon 14 moved south for the Fifth Fleet’s push across the Central Pacific, beginning with the Gilbert Islands operation in November 1943. On the 22nd, Meade and Frazier sank submarine I-35.

Thereafter, ships of the squadron were increasingly relegated to patrol, convoy escort and screening operations. Although dispersed, one or more of them participated in most offensive operations west to the Philippines in 1944 and south toward Borneo in 1945. Four were damaged:

  • On 1 October 1944 off the Palau Islands, Bailey was struck hard during two strafing attacks. She returned to the war zone only in March 1945.
  • On 7 December near Ormoc Bay on Leyte’s west side, a suicider glanced off Edwards’ fantail.
  • Destroyer Squadron 14
    1 May 1945
    Destroyer Division 27
    USS Bailey (DD 492)
    USS Frazier (DD 607), flag
    USS Gansevoort (DD 608)
    USS Meade (DD 602)
    Destroyer Division 28
    USS Bancroft (DD 598), flag
    USS Caldwell (DD 605)
    USS Coghlan (DD 606)
    USS Edwards (DD 619)
  • On 11 December, a kamikaze nearly hit Caldwell. On the 12th en route to Ormoc Bay, she was hit on the bridge simultaneously by a kamikaze and fragments from a two-bomb straddle. She returned in April 1945.
  • On 30 December at Mandarin Bay, Mindoro, a kamikaze crashed Gansevoort. Wilson and Philip helped fight her fires. With much of her crew initially camped ashore, she survived additional air attacks and only by exceptional effort was made seaworthy by February. She went home and was repaired but did not fight again.

Coghlan, Edwards and Frazier operated off Luzon in early 1945. Then, all the active ships participated in various combinations in the liberation of the southern Philippines and Borneo. Reflecting the squadron’s far-flung operations, Edwards ended the war with 14 service stars, a total surpassed by only nine other destroyers in World War II.

Source: Destroyer History Foundation database and Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships entries for individual ships, Morison.