|Death: ||Mar. 1, 1942, Christmas Island|
Evans, Arnold Napoleon
Rank: Fireman, 2nd Class
Serial Number: 3562725
Military Branch: USS Pillsbury DD-227
Date of Death: 1942-3-1
Mother: Mrs. Lena Mae Hall Chickasha Oklahoma
Manila American Cemetery
As can be seen from the date of death, this was a very early WW2 action in which the USS Pillsbury [DD-214] was sunk by Japanese cruisers. The Pillsbury and 2 other ships were sunk in the same area at the same time. No records surfaced until Japanese records were found after the war ended. The ABMC site lists the declared dead date of Nov. 2, 1945.
The Medal consists of Evans' officially engraved Type 1 Purple Heart, named and undated Good Conduct medal, Victory medal with Fleet bar, Asiatic/Pacific medal, American Campaign medal, and American Defense medal;plus photos of Evans. Also included in its shipping tube is the posthumous Presidential Accolade for "Arnold Napoleon Evans" with reference to the Pillsbury; auto signed by Harry Truman. Accompanying the group is the short titled presentation case in its shipping box. The pamphlet "Personal Affairs of Naval Personnel and Aid for Dependents" is included, which was probably sent home.
Information from Ancestry.com shows that Evans was living in Dimmit, Texas in 1930 at the age of 9, which would put his birth date at about 1920.
F2c Evans was a regular Navy man who entered the Navy on April 17, 1940. He was stationed on the USS Saratoga, CV-3, at least during the period November, 1940 through March 31, 1941 as shown in Navy Muster rolls. His accompanying Naval Training Course Certificate dated November 28, 1940 and signed by Commander G. Morgan, commanding USS Saratoga. This shows his promotion to Seaman 1st Class, indicating that he was on the Saratoga at the time.
Pillsbury spent most of her career in China and the Philippines as part of the US Asiatic Fleet. On 27 November 1941, with the Japanese threatening American bases in the Philippines, Admiral Thomas C. Hart, Commander of the US Asiatic Fleet, ordered Pillsbury and a number of other warships to steam to Borneo. After hostilities began on 7 December 1941, Pillsbury (along with Dutch and Australian naval vessels) operated out of Balikpapan, Borneo, on reconnaissance sorties and on anti-submarine patrols. As the Japanese advanced throughout the Pacific, these ships were moved once again to Surabaya, Java. From there, units of the US Asiatic Fleet searched for the advancing Japanese Navy.
Although several American destroyers from the Asiatic Fleet scored a significant victory against the Japanese at Balikpapan on 24 January 1942, that was one of the very few bright spots for the US Navy at that time. Pillsbury took part in the Battle of Badung Strait off the coast of Bali on 19-20 February 1942. A combined force of British, Dutch and American warships (with a total of three cruisers and seven destroyers) attacked four Japanese destroyers that were escorting 2 transports. The action occurred late at night and the Allied ships should have decimated the Japanese task force. However, the Japanese sunk a Dutch destroyer and severely damaged a Dutch cruiser. The Allied warships damaged three of the Japanese destroyers (one of them severely), but did not sink any of them. The battle lasted for several hours and eventually both sides left the area. But, in the end, the Japanese destroyers fought off a much larger Allied task force, did not lose any ships, and successfully protected the two transports they were escorting. The Allies had bitter lessons to learn from this battle: they had to improve communications between Allied warships, learn how to fight together as a team, and they had to perfect their night-fighting capabilities. These were problems that would haunt the US Navy throughout the early part of the war, especially during the early naval battles off Guadalcanal.
After the battle, Pillsbury and the destroyer USS Parrott (DD-218) were sent to Tjilatjap, Java, for some badly needed repairs to their engines. But Java was about to fall to the oncoming Japanese and many American warships were ordered to retreat to Australia so that they could live to fight another day. Unfortunately, many of them did not make it. On the night of 2 March 1942, one of those retreating American warships was Pillsbury. She ran straight into a large force of Japanese warships that was patrolling south of Java. Two Japanese cruisers pummeled the lonely American destroyer with numerous hits, sinking Pillsbury within a matter of minutes. The ship went down approximately 200 miles east of Christmas Island. The Japanese quickly left the area to search for additional prey and did not bother to look for survivors. Pillsbury's crew was never heard from again.
The fall of Java, along with the destruction of most of the US Asiatic Fleet, was one of the darkest chapters in the history of the US Navy. Many American, British, and Dutch warships were sacrificed to buy precious time for the Allies. The US Navy needed that time to regroup and to rebuild its fleet, especially after the disaster at Pearl Harbor. But it was ships like Pillsbury that bought the Allies this precious time and their sacrifice should never be forgotten.
His bio can be found at the following web page which pre dates this entry:
The complete history of the Pillsbury, including details of the sinking by Japanese cruisers, can be found at:
WWII USS Pillsbury DD-227 South Java Sea
Sunk by Japanese Destroyers the night of March 1, 1942
All on board lost at sea.
Lieutenant Commander Harold Clay Pound
Note: Entered the service from Texas.
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial
National Capital, Philippines
Maintained by: Robert Lee Layton Jr. [O...
Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
Record added: Aug 08, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 56748961