USS Buchanan (Destroyer
# 131, later DD-131), 1919-1940
a 1090-ton Wickes class
destroyer, was built at Bath, Maine. She was commissioned in
January 1919 and initially operated in the Atlantic and Caribbean
areas. In May the new destroyer helped provide route protection
for the trans-Atlantic crossing of the Navy's NC flying boats. Buchanan
transited the Panama Canal in July 1919 to join the Pacific Fleet,
serving along the West Coast until she was placed out of
commission in June 1922.
April 1930, Buchanan was assigned to the Battle Force and continued her work in
the Pacific for seven more years. She also made a training cruise
to Alaska in mid-1934. Buchanan
was decommissioned in April 1937, as newer destroyers entered the
Fleet, but was brought back to active duty at the end of September
1939 after the outbreak of World War II in Europe caused the
United States to enlarge the Navy for neutrality enforcement
purposes. She operated for the rest of 1939 and well into 1940 in
the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. In early September 1940 Buchanan
was sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she was decommissioned and
turned over to Great Britain as part of an agreement by the U.S.
to trade fifty old destroyers for basing rights in British
possessions in the Western Hemisphere.
She became HMS Campbeltown
in Royal Navy service. After spending a few months as an escort in
the Western Approaches to the British Isles, she was assigned to
the Royal Netherlands Navy in January 1941. After returning to the
R.N. in September 1941 the destroyer escorted shipping in the
Atlantic, where she saw action against German submarines and
aircraft. In March 1942 Campbeltown
was outfitted as an explosive blockship. On the 28th of that month
she played the lead role in a raid on the German base at St.
Nazaire, France. After steaming into the the large dry dock there,
she was deliberately sunk. Later in the day HMS Campbeltown
blew up violently, wrecking the dry dock entrance. Her sacrifice
made it impossible to carry out major repairs to heavy ships on
the French west coast, thus greatly reducing the risk that the
German Navy might employ the battleship Tirpitz in raids against the Allies' Atlantic shipping routes.
was named in honor of Admiral Franklin Buchanan (1800-1874), who
was an important figure in the United States and Confederate