The first Pillsbury (DD 227) was laid down by William Cramp and Sons, Philadelphia, Pa. 23 October 1919; launched 3 August 1920; sponsored by Miss Helen Langdon Richardson; and commissioned 15 December 1920, Lt. H. W. Barnes in command.

Deployed to the Far East in 1922, Pillsbury served thereafter with the Asiatic Fleet in Destroyer Division 59 (with Pope, DD 225, Peary, DD 226, and John D. Ford, DD 228, one of Destroyer Squadron 29’s three divisions.

In late 1941, following a collision with Peary, the two ships entered Cavite Navy Yard for repair and overhaul. Work concentrated on Pillsbury, the less-damaged ship, and was approaching completion on 8 December when news arrived that war with Japan had been declared.

On the afternoon of the 10th, a flight of Japanese high-level bombers attacked, devastating the yard. As Pillsbury backed clear without damage, one bomb hit Peary, which was towed clear by Whippoorwill (AM 35). Pillsbury joined in fighting her fires and transferring wounded to nearby Cañacao Hospital.

On 17 December, as the Japanese secured footholds on Luzon and Mindanao and air raids became an almost-daily event, most seaworthy ships at Cavite were released to sail south to safety, Pillsbury and Peary requested permission to join them but instead were formed with PT boats into striking forces under the direction of RAdm. Francis W. Rockwell. Two torpedo mounts were landed from each destroyer and Pillsbury made two round-trip runs to Mindoro.

On Christmas Day, Adm. Hart learned that Gen. MacArthur had declared Manila an open city, making Cavite untenable. Refueling at Sangley Point, Pillsbury and Peary watched facilities being blown up as rumor spread that the two destroyers were to be scuttled.

Off Corregidor, 26 December, after they were again attacked by air, RAdm. Rockwell granted permission to put to sea. Pillsbury took departure and, on the 28th, completed an uneventful trip Balikpapan. There, together with other United States, Dutch and Australian naval vessels, she operated on reconnaissance sorties and anti-submarine patrols before moving to Soerabaja, Java, There, she made night patrols with cruisers Houston (CA 30) and Marblehead (CL 12) and destroyers of Division 58, including an action in Badoeng Strait 4 February 1942.

On 18 February, the Japanese began swarming ashore on Bali and Allied surface forces including Pillsbury set out to disrupt further landings from a Japanese convoy reported in the area. While steaming through Badoeng Strait on the night of 19–20 February, Pillsbury fired three torpedoes at a Japanese ship without result. A searchlight was trained on Pillsbury, and several shots were fired at her. She turned to starboard and make smoke to escape the light. The relatively small Allied forces at this time were forced to lightning strikes and rapid evasive retirement in the face of superior Japanese forces in the dim hope of disrupting the enemy advance.

At 0210 Pillsbury sighted a ship dead ahead and opened up with her main battery and .50 calibre guns. The amidships gun crew of the Japanese ship was put out of action by the first burst of the .50 calibre machine guns. The target ship then received a direct hit with a shell from either Pillsbury or from the destroyer in the opposite column. This caused the Japanese destroyer to swing to starboard. The spotter then observed three sure hits from Pillsbury: one on the bridge, one amidships and one on the fantail. As soon as the last shot hit, the Japanese ship erupted in flames, and her firing ceased.

At this time Pillsbury and Parrott (DD 218) were detached from the striking force and sent to Tjilatjap. After the action around Bali the ships had few torpedoes and were sadly in need of overhaul.

A few days later, Pillsbury met her end. There are no logs or battle reports giving the details of the action in which Pillsbury, Asheville (PG 21) and Edsall (DD 219) were sunk between the 1st and 4th of March 1942. A powerful force of Japanese ships was operating to the south of Java to prevent the escape of Allied ships from that area. The Japanese force consisted of four battleships, five cruisers, aircraft carrier Soryu and the destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 4.

Interrogation of officers of the Japanese Task Forces at the time garnered the following information. In a night surface action, Pillsbury and Asheville were sunk by “teamwork” firing of three cruisers of Cruiser Division 4 and two destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 4 in Bali Strait, Netherlands East Indies. Edsall was sunk by gunfire of four battleships of the 3d Battleship Squadron, two cruisers of Cruiser Division 8 and two bombers from Soryu.

All three sinkings took place approximately 200 miles east of Christmas Island. After sinking the three U.S. ships, the Japanese forces retired from the scene hastily. Hence, no survivors were picked up by the Japanese warships.

Pillsbury received two battle stars for World War II service.

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A second Pillsbury, Edsall-class DE 133, was launched at Orange, Texas in 1943. She served with distinction in the Atlantic and received a Presidential Unit Citation was part of a hunter-killer task group with escort carrier Guadalcanal (CVE 60). Converted as a DER in the 1950s, she was sold for scrapping in 1966.