USS Bancroft (DD-598)

USS Bancroft (DD-598) was a Benson class destroyer that served in the Aleutians, the invasion of the Gilbert, Marshall and Mariana Islands, the invasion of the Philippines, and the landings at Hollandia and on Borneo.

The Bancroft was named after George Bancroft, who served as Secretary of the Navy in 1845-46, establishing the Naval Academy at Annapolis. He was also the author of a massive History of the United States and served as Ambassador to Britain and later Berlin, where he witnessed the formation of the German Empire.

USS Bancroft (DD-256) in 1940 USS Bancroft (DD-256) in 1940

The Bancroft was laid down by the Bethlehem Ship Building Corps at Quincy, Mass on 1 May 1941, launched on 31 December 1941 when she was sponsored by Bancroft’s great-greaddaughter Hester Bancroft Barry and commissioned on 30 April 1942.

The Bancroft’s shakedown cruise took her to Casco Bay in late May and June 1942. She was also used to hunt for U-boats on the route between Boston and Halifax, although without success. She returned to Boston on 30 June for a post-shakedown overhaul. In late June and July she escorted the Merak (AF-21) to Guantanamo Bay and the SS St Marys to Haiti, training in convoy escort duties at the same time. At the start of August she was assigned to the Pacific Fleet. On 10 August she departed from Norfolk with the McCalla (DD-488) and the oilers Lackawanna (AO-40) and Tappahannock (AO-43) heading for Aruba. The small fleet passed through the Panama Canal on the night of 24-25 August and reached San Diego on 2 September.

On 7 August she departed for Alaska. She stopped at Seattle to collect the oil Rampo (AO-12), which she escorted to Dutch Harbor. On 21 September she joined Task Group 8.6 (Louisville (CA-28), Indianapolis (CA-35), and St. Louis (CL-49)), which was then sent to hunt for Japanese shipping north of the Rat and Near Islands. However all they found were Russian merchant ships. In early November she escorted the Pyro (AE-1) and Chaumont (AP-5) as they carried troops and supplies to the newly established US base at Adak. From 24 November to 11 December she joined the Detroit (CL-8) and Raleigh (CL-7) on a sweep north of the Semichi Islands, but poor weather forced them to abandon the patrol without any successes.


In Janary 1943 the Bancroft took part in the occupation of Amchitka Island (Operation Crowbar). On 12 January she escorted the Arthur Middleton (AP-55) as she took part in the operation. The Bancroft  then joined the covering force, and was used to screen the transport and cargo ships as they unloaded Army troops at Constantine. There was no Japanese interference, but the destroyer Worden (DD-352) ran aground and broke up. The Bancroft screened the Arthur Middleton as she rescued most of the crew. The Bancroft then spent five weeks patrolling to the north and east of Amchitka. On 10 February a Japanese reconnaissance plane came close enough for the Bancroft to fire a dozen 5in AA rounds at it.

On 18 February the Bancroft, Indianapolis, Richmond (CL-9) and three more destroyers took part in a shore bombardment of Attu, firing on targets in Chichagof Harbor and Holtz Bay. The Bancroft fired 394 rounds of 5in ammo during this bombardment. The Bancroft returned to Adak on 24 February and spent the rest of February and most of March receiving upkeep and repairs from the Markab (AK-31) at Dutch Harbor or in drydock at Kodiak, where her sonar was repaired.

From 7-9 April she patrolled off Amchitka. She then carried out two escort missions, before moving to a patrol station to the north-west of Attu. On 26 April the Bancroft, Richmond, Santa Fe (CL-60), Detroit, and five more destroyers carried out another bombardment of Chichagof Harbor. The Bancroft then remained off Attu as part of the forces patrolling west of the island to prevent the Japanese intervening in the invasion of Attu (Operation Landcrab). This began on 11 May and Japanese resistance lasted for three weeks. The Bancroft spent another three weeks on escort and patrol duties in the Aleutians, before departed for San Francisco on 29 June.

She arrived at San Francisco on 6 July and entered the Bethlehem yard on 8 July for an upgrade. She was given twin 40mm AA guns instead of her original 1.1in guns and three 20mm mounts. The work was competed by 8 August when she departed from San Francisco to return to the Aleutians.

On 13 August she reached Adak, where she joined Task Group 16, the force assembled for Operation Cottage, the invasion of Kiska. However unknown to the Americans the Japanese had already evacuated the island, so when the Bancroft escorted a group of of 4 LSTs, 3 LCIs, and 7 LCTs to Vega Bay on Kiska on 15 August there was no opposition. On 18 August the Abner Read (DD-526) hit a mine off Kiska. The Bancroft was patrolling nearby at the time, and took her under tow. After an hour and a half the Ute (AT-76) took over and the Abner Read reached Adak on 19 August. The Bancroft remained in the Aleutians until 29 August, when she departed for Pearl Harbor.

On 31 October the Bancroft left Pearl Harbor to escort three LSTs to the Gilbert Islands to take part in Operation Galvanic, the invasions of Makin, Tarawa and Apamama. They arrived in the transport area on 19 November and the Bancroft was used to screen the landing craft and provide anti-aircraft fire during Japanese air raids. She was also used to provide fire support for the Marines fighting on Tarawa. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 11 December.


On 22 January 1944 the Bancroft left Pearl Harbor with the fleet taking part in Operation Flintlock, the invasion of the Marshall Islands. She formed part of TG 52.9, made up of the escort carriers Manila Bay (CVE-61), Corregidor (CVE-58), Coral Sea (CVE-57) and four destroyers. They reached the Marshalls on 30 January and the Bancroft screened the carriers as their aircraft carried out two days of pre-invasion attacks. On 1 February, the day of the landings on Kwajalein, she came close to the atoll, and entered the central lagoon. On 3 February she rejoined the carrier screen and spent the next ten days protecting the carriers as they supported the invasion. She refuelled from the Tappahannock on 13 February then escorted three transports back to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 24 February.

On 3 March the Bancroft, Lexington and two more destroyers left Pearl Harbor heading to the Marshalls, where they arrived at Majuro lagoon on 8 March. The Bancroft was then sent south-east to join the blockade of the bypassed Japanese airfield on Mili Atoll, patrolling the area around that atoll for the next two weeks.

On 22 March the Bancroft formed part of TG 58.3 (with the Lexington) and departed to take part in a carrier sweep against Japanese bases in the Caroline Islands and New Guinea. On 29 March three Mitsubishi G4M1 ‘Betties’ attacked the formation. One was shot down by the CAP, and the other two by the combined anti-aircraft fire of the fleet. The American carriers then launched three days of attacks on Japanese airfields in the Palaus and on Woleai. The Bancroft was detached to refuel, then rejoined the fleet to support raids on Hollandia on New Guinea (13 April) and Humboldt Bay, Wakde and Sarmi (21-22 April). Finally Truk was attacked for three days from 29 April. The fleet then returned to the Marshalls, arriving at Kwajalein on 4 May.

After a brief period of repairs the Bancroft joined the forces blockading bypassed Japanese forces in the Marshalls on 10 May, operating around Mili and Wotje. She blocked Japanese resupply and evacuation efforts as well as acting as a plane guard. On 23 May the Bancroft and Edwards (DD-619) bombarded Wotje, with the Bancroft furing 325 5in shells. On 11 June she departed for Eniwetok, to prepare for the invasion of the Mariana Islands.

On 21 June the Bancroft and Elden (DE-264) departed for Saipan escorting six cargo ships. She then moved to Tinian, arriving on 25 June. During the evening of 25 June she fired illumination shells and harassing fire over the harbour and into Tinian Town. On 26 June she came close to shore to fire at barges and small ships with her main 5in guns and attack the harbour with 40mm fire. On 27 June she left to escort empty transports back to Eniwetok, arriving on 30 June.

The Bancroft then needed two weeks of boiler repairs before on 15 July sheleft Kwajalein to escort the Bowditch (AGS-4) and William War Burrows (AP-6) to the Marianas. This was the start of a month of escort duties from a base in the Marshall Islands. She was also used to maintain the blockade of the bypassed garrisons on  Jaluit, Wotje, and Taroa. On 8 August she bombarded Japanese coastal defences and heavy AA guns on Maloelap Atoll.

On 19 August the Bancroft left Eniwetok to escort a convoy heading to the US, and arrived at San Francisco on 1 September. She entered the Mare Island Navy Yard to an overhaul, which included having her 5in gun sleeves replaced because of the wear caused by their heavy use. The overhaul and shakedown was completed by 23 October when she departed for Pearl Harbor, arriving on 1 November. She spent November in Hawaiian waters taking part in training exercises, including with the Saratoga (CV-3) and anti-submarine warfare training with S-46 (SS-157). During the first week of November she took part in exercises off Oahu with the Baltimore (CA-68), Colhoun (DD-801) and a group of PT boats, returning to port on 7 November.

From 1-8 December she escorted a convoy from Pearl Harbor to the Marshall Islands. She then sent the next ten weeks escorting shipping between Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, and Ulithi Atoll in the Caroline Islands.


This ended on 16 February 1945 when the Bancroft and Bailey (DD-492) left Ulithi to escort five auxiliaries to San Pedro Bay on Leyte, arriving on 19 February. On 27 February the Bancroft and Robinson (DD-562) left San Pedro Bay to escort Rear Admiral Forrest B. Royal’s amphibious command ship Rocky Mount (AGC-3) from San Pedro Bay to Mangarin Bay, Mindoro, arriving on 1 March. The Bancroft spent the next seven weeks in the Philippines, supporting operations on Mindoro, Luzon and Mindanao.

On 10 March she provided anti-aircraft cover for the 41st Infantry Division as it landed at Zamboanga on Mindanao. She was then used to patrol the Basilan Strait to guard against Japanese suicide boat attacks.

On 29 March Bancroft and Liddle (DE-206) escorted six minesweeping craft to Legaspi, Luzon, to support landings on the Bicol Peninsula. During operations in Albay Gulf she fired on a Japanese shore battery, silencing it with 346 rounds of 5in fire. The 158th Regimental Combat Team was then able to land against light opposition.

On 4 April she refuelled in Subic Bay. From 12-16 April she escorted a convoy of 13 LSTs and 4 LSMs to Morotai on Halmahera Island in the Dutch East Indies. The transports then collected pat of the 26th Australian Infantry Brigade, and departed for Borneo on 27 April to take part in the invasion of Tarakan. The convoy arrived at Tarakan on 1 May, and the Bancroft spent the next two weeks covering minesweepers and supply ships, and escorting transport and supply ships between Morotai and Tarakan. This was followed by three weeks of upkeep at Morotai.

On 4 June the Bancroft put to see as part of the screen of TG 78.1 which was carrying the 20th Brigade of the Australian 9th Infantry Division to Brunei. They landed against little resistance on 10 June. The Bancroft spent the next three weeks carrying out radar picket duties in the entrance to Brueni Bay.

The Bancroft returned to Subic Bay on 5 July, and began to train for the invasion of the Japanese Home Islands. She was in Subic Bay when news of the Japanese surrender arrived on 15 August, and she spent the next eight weeks escorting convoys between Leyte and Japan. On 13 September she departed for Okinawa, reaching Leyte again on 21 September. She arrived at Yokusuka for the last time on 3 October.

On 12 October she departed for the United States, reaching Norfolk, Virginia on 10 December. Two months of repairs and modifications followed, before she was inactivated and placed into the Atlantic Reserve Fleet on 1 February 1946. She was decommissioned into the reserve at Charleston on 18 May 1946, and spent twenty five years in the reserve. She was finally struck off on 1 June 1971 and sold for scrap on 16 March 1973.

Bancroft received eight battle stars for her World War II service, for the Aleutians, 1943 Pacific Raids, Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, 1944 Asiatic-Pacific raids, Hollandia, Marianas and Borneo.

Displacement (standard)

1,620 design
1,911t as built

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

37.89kt at 51,390shp at 2,065t on trial (Mayo)


2-shaft Westinghouse turbines
4 boilers
50,000shp design


6,500nm at 12kt design
5,520nm at 12kt at 2,400t wartime
3,880nm at 20kt at 2,400t wartime


348ft 1in


36ft 2in


Five 5in/38 guns
Five 21in torpedoes
Ten 0.5in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement


Laid Down

1 May 1941


31 December 1941


30 April 1942

Sold for scrap

16 March 1973

U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann . The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.
cover cover cover

WWII Home Page | WWII Subject Index | WWII Books | WWII Links | Day by Day

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (3 May 2023), USS Bancroft (DD-598) ,

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us - Privacy