USS Waller
WWII Ships History

Office of Naval Records and History
Ships' Histories Branch
Navy Department


The USS WALLER, a flush-deck destroyer of the FLETCHER Class and an answer to Japan's 2,000 ton KAGERO Class ship, was launched in the yards of the Federal Ship Building and Dry Dock Company, Kearny, New Jersey, August 15, 1942. Mrs. L. W. T. Waller, widow of the later Major General Littleton W. T. Waller, USMC, smashed the tradional bottle of champagne across the bow of the new ship, sending her down the ways to a career which was to give the vessel twelve battle stars in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during operations against the Japanese in World War II.

The destroyer was named in memory of Major General Littleton W. T Waller, USMC, who was born September 26, 1856, in York County, Virginia. Major General WaIler was appointed Second Lieutenant in the US Marine Corps on June 24, 1880, and attained the rank of Major General on July 1, 1918. As Second Lieutenant he served with a United States Naval Landing Force which landed in Alexandria, Egypt, to restore order after a serious uprising. During the Spanish-American War he commanded the Marine Detachments of the USS NEWARK and USS INDIANA, participating in engagements with the enemy at San Juan, Puerto Rico; Santiago, Cuba; and in the destruction of Admiral Cervera S fleet off Santiago. Major General Waller was retired March 27, 1920 and died July 13, 1926, at Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The USS WALLER's keel was laid on the 12th of February, 1942 and she was placed in commission August 15th of the same year with Lieutenant Commander L. H. Frost, USN, assuming first command of the ship.

In January 1943, the WALLER moved into the Pacific area and underwent her first baptism of fire near Guadalcanal on the 29th of the same month when enemy torpedo bombers came in at dusk to attack the small task force with which she was operating. During this attack the cruiser, CHICAGO, was torpedoed and taken in tow by another bomber. On the following day the CHICAGO was again attacked by 13 enemy torpedo planes and was sunk. One plane strafed the WALLER during this action, injuring one member of the crew. While under heavy air attack on the 29th, the WALLER assisted in the shooting down of two Japanese planes and the following day shot down another, unassisted, besides contributing to the destruction of two other enemy planes.

A few weeks later the WALLER made the first of her many runs up the Solomons Islands "Slot" during which night operation she aided in the sinking of two enemy light cruisers or heavy destroyers standing out of Backett Strait when her task group caught the Japs by surprise.

Shortly after entering Kula Gulf the WALLER contacted two enemy ships of tonnage heavier than her own. Closing the range to less than 8,000 yards, the destroyer fired a five-tube spread of torpedoes, after which all Allied ships of the group opened up with gunfire. A few short minutes later the torpedoes fired by the WALLER found their mark, causing a terrific explosion which tore the leading enemy ship into two parts, sinking it immediately. The second enemy vessel, burning heavily from gunfire, went to the bottom less than half an hour later. Taken by complete surprise, the enemy had failed to fire a single damaging shot in return.

Serving as a screening vessel during the occupation of Vella Lavella during August, 1943, the WALLER went through numerous heavy air attacks, shooting down at least three enemy planes and taking credit for three "assists". Bombs dropped around the WALLER at close range but she escaped undamaged.

On a "Slot" run during October of the same year, the WALLER sank six enemy troop barges in one night and four the next. During the Bougainville operation, the WALLER's guns helped beat off two air attacks which lasted three hours each. She then stood off the coast of Magine Island and bombarded shore installtions there.

In February, 1944 the WALLER bombarded Buka and Choiseul Islands and then supported the landings on Green Island. On the night of February 29th, the destroyer bombarded airstrips, a radar station, and gun emplacements on Cape St. George, Porpop Harbor, near Namatanai, New Ireland.

Following the Solomons operation, the Waller escorted a convoy of D-plus-l reserve transports to Saipan and after completing this convoy assignment was then given fire support duties off Saipan from June 16th to the 22nd. Her bombarding fire laid waste to coastal installations as well as sinking several small Japanese boats.

Her next job was the reoccupation of Guam, acting as one of the screening units for the landing forces, after which she steamed into the waters off Tinian in fire support status for those landings. Upon completion of this operation, she proceeded to San Francisco, California, for Navy Yard overhaul.

She returned to the combat zone and joined units of the SEVENTH Fleet on November 27th, 1944, just in time to be subjected to one of the heaviest suicide plane raids of the Philippine campaign. Fifteen planes staged the attack shortly before noon, and of this number the WALLER was officially credited with shooting down one and assisting in the destruction of a second. On the night of November 27-28, the WALLER led four ships of Destroyer Division 43 on a sweep into Ormoc Bay and the Camotes Sea - the first penetration of the inland waters of the Philippines by major US Surface units since 1942. The mission of this task unit was two-fold: to bombard troop concentrations in the Ormoc Bay area, and to destroy any shipping encountered. In both respects it was successful.

After pouring shells into the bay area for an hour with results which the Army later described as highly satisfactory, the division proceeded westward through the Camotes Sea in search of shipping. Shortly after midnight a radio report was received revealing that an Allied patrol plane had sighted a surfaced submarine south of Pacijan Island, heading toward Ormoc Bay.

The division reversed course to intercept the enemy raider and at 1:27am the WALLER's radar detected the target just off the northeast coast of Penson Island. Firing with all main batteries and automatic weapons which would bear, the WALLER headed directly for the sub, and the word was passed, "standby to ram". The ramming order was countermanded at the last minute as the enemy craft already appeared to be seriously damaged. The destroyer passed the submarine about 50 yards to starboard, blanketing it with a heavy flow of armor piercing 40 millimeter projectiles as well as five-inch fire. She received only a few inaccurate rounds of three-inch shells and light machine gun fire in return and at 1:45, while the WALLER was coming about for another firing run, the submarine sank stern first. A few survivors were seen to swim away.

The WALLER remained in the Leyte Gulf area until December 2, making a second sweep into the Camotes Sea on the night of November 29-30th for the purpose of destroying a reported 10-ship enemy convoy. No trace of the convoy could be found, but six enemy barges were smashed with gunfire. The task unit was under sporadic air attack throughout both Ormoc raids, three bombs falling within a few hundred yards of the WALLER.

In mid-December, 1944, the destoryer participated in the Mindoro invasion as a unit of the covering force of battleships, escort carriers, cruisers, and destroyers.

On December 15th this force successfully repelled a heavy attack by suicide planes in the Sulu Sea. Of the eight planes shot down over the formation, one sure kill and one assist were officially credited to the WALLER. One plane, a twin-engined bomber, was attempting a suicide run on the WALLER when it was destroyed.

During the Lingayen Gulf assault in January, 1945, the WALLER served as one of the transport screening vessels. The ship fired more than 3,300 rounds of ammunition at air and surface targets, scoring hits on two suicide boats and an undetermined number of aircraft.

The occupation of Palawan Island and Zamboanga Peninsula in February and March 1945 again found the WALLER performing escort and screening duties. She served as Flagship and fire support ship with a small task unit which carried out the landing on Basilan Island on March 16th and received additional fire support assignments in the Tawi Tawi and Jolo (Sulu Archipelago) landings during April.

In the Borneo campaign, from May to July, 1945, the WALLER escorted convoys to Tarakan Island, Brunei Bay, and Balikpapan, and covered minesweeping operations which preceeded landings in the Miri-Lutong area, below Brunei.

After eight months of SEVENTH Fleet duty, the WALLER rejoined the THIRD Fleet early in August, 1945, for the expected "big push" on the home islands of Japan and was escorting a convoy to the Honshu area when Japan accepted the terms of unconditional surrender.

The destroyer returned to the SEVENTH Fleet for duty with the Yangtze Patrol Force and entered Shanghai with the first Allied Naval units on September 19th. Two weeks later, while supervising minesweeping operations in the Chusan Archipelago, off the China coast, the WALLER climaxed her career by singlehandedly immobilizing a Japanese suicide boat garrison and assisted Chinese authorities in disarming 2,700 Japs near the city of Tinghai. The 'Kamikaze" unit surrendered its arms to a WALLER landing force of 21 men, who kept the Japanese at work all night carrying ammunition and removing explosive charges from 87 suicide boats.

The anticlimax came a few days later when, on October 9th, 1945, the WALLER struck a mine in the Yangtze River while returning to Shanghai. Twenty-two men were injured and the ship received structural damage which necessitated drydocking in Shanghai. After another minesweeping assignment and duty as Yangtze River entrance control vessel and mail courier, the WALLER hoisted her "homeward bound" pennant December 12, 1945, and left Shanghai in company with Destroyer Division 43 for the United States.

By Directive dated January, 1947, the WALLER was placed out of commission, in reserve attached to the SIXTH Naval District.

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