What are you willing to risk to celebrate Independence Day? 1

Happy Independence Day

God Bless America

Like most people, I think of Independence Day as a wonderful way to celebrate all things America and have some great food.

Fireworks and festivities crowd out the fact that over the years, many Americans have been unable to actually celebrate the day. Those are the men and women of the armed services who are engaged with the countries business.

While we in the homeland enjoy our barbeques and baseball, somewhere today a young man or woman is manning a post in a hostile environment. As we swim in our pools, another sailor relieves the watch under the threat of an unseen missile attack from a rogue state. As we watch the rockets sailing into the dark night, a pilot provides close in air support to one of our ground troops in danger from being overrun by radical terrorists.

The spirit has been there since the very beginning

Countless sacrifices have been given through the years to make sure that everyday ordinary Americans can celebrate our freedom in relative peace.  One such sacrifice happened over seventy five years ago in a little know event in the Philippines after the Japanese invaded and brutally punished the American and local defenders. Because of many factors, large numbers of Americans had become prisoners of war. They would be  over three years of brutal treatment at the hands of the Japanese captors.

These men had been stationed in the Philippine Islands with the intent of defending the vital country from aggression. As America slept and dithered on and on about not becoming entangled in a foreign war, they had prepared for the worst. When the worst came, we were not prepared and they were sacrificed to buy time to actually build up our forces and beat back the Japanese invaders. While America geared up to answer the call, they suffered unspeakable horrors.

But on July 4th, 1942,  75 years ago, a group of very brave men who had recently been captured showed the true spirit of America while held capture by the Japanese Army.

American prisoners of war celebrated American Independence Day in Casisange prison camp at Malaybalay, Mindanao, against Japanese regulations, 4 Jul 1942

Most of the men in this picture would never make it home. But they never forgot who they were and what country they served. The penalty if they had been caught would have been death.

It was against Japanese regulations and discovery would have meant death, but the men celebrated the occasion anyway.

The Visayan-Mindanao Force under US Army Brigadier General William F. Sharp was composed of the 61st, 81st, and 101st Infantry Divisions of the Philippine Army. Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright, in nominal command of all the Allied Forces in the Philippines, ordered Sharp to surrender on May 9. Sharp complied and most of his men entered captivity at Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, on May 10. Camp Casisang had been a training ground for the Philippine Constabulary. The barracks were of crude construction, some with corrugated steel roofs but most were made of either thatched wood or nipa palm fronds. Water was a scarce commodity and the prisoners were limited to one canteen of water per day for all purposes. One pump was the sole source of water for about 1,000 Americans and 11,000 Filipinos.

On August 15, 1942, All Generals, Full Colonels and their orderlies left Camp Casisang. There had been a large number of full Colonels plus five Generals at the camp. One of them was Philippine General Manuel Roxas, who after the war became the President of the Philippines in 1946. The Japanese gathered 268 men and marched them to Bugo where they boarded the Tamahoko Maru on October 3, 1942 for a 3-day voyage to Manila. At Manila they were marched to Bilibid Prison to wait for transportation to Japan. Many did not survive the war. On October 15, 1942 Camp Casisang was closed. All remaining prisoners were moved on the Japanese frieghter Maru 760 to Davao.

When you celebrate Independence Day this year, please remember all of those who paid a price for your freedom and pray for those who are still out on patrol.

God Bless each and every one of them and God Bless America

Mister Mac

“These are the times that try men’s souls” 2

“In time of crisis when the future is in the balance, we come to understand, with full recognition and devotion, what this Nation is, and what we owe to it.”

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75 Years ago the nation found itself in a very bad state.

This is a copy of President Roosevelt’s Address over the radio in celebration of Washington’s Birthday, February 23,1942. America was being beaten back in the South Pacific and the Philippines and the country had not yet been mobilized to fight in a way that was equal to the task.  

This speech was important in outlining the way the country would go to war. It highlighted our continued support of our struggling allies, a rejection of the isolationist calls within the country and even a broad based appeal to labor not to strike against the companies building the ships, planes and materials needed to fight this war.

These are his words appealing to the nation:

“Washington’s Birthday is a most appropriate occasion for us to talk with each other about things as they are today and things as we know-they shall be in the future.

For eight years General Washington and his Continental Army were faced continually with formidable odds and recurring defeats. Supplies and equipment were lacking. In a sense, every winter was a Valley Forge.

Throughout the Thirteen States there existed fifth columnists-selfish men, jealous men, fearful men, who proclaimed that Washington’s cause was hopeless, that he should ask for a negotiated peace.

Washington’s conduct in those hard times has provided the model for all Americans ever since-a model of moral stamina. He held to his course, as it had been charted in the Declaration of Independence. He and the brave men who served with him knew that no man’s life or fortune was secure without freedom and free institutions.

The present great struggle has taught us increasingly that freedom of person and security of property anywhere in the world depend upon the security of the rights and obligations of liberty and justice everywhere in the world

This war is a new kind of war. It is different from all other wars of the past, not only in its methods and weapons but also in its geography. It is warfare in terms of every continent, every island, every sea, every air lane in the world.

That is the reason why I have asked you to take out and spread before you the map of the whole earth, and to follow with me the references which I shall make to the world-encircling battle lines of this war.

Many questions will, I fear, remain unanswered; but I know you will realize I cannot cover everything in any one report to the people.

The broad oceans which have been heralded in the past as our protection from attack have become endless battlefields on which we are constantly being challenged by our enemies.

We must all understand and face the hard fact that our job now is to fight at distances which extend all the way around the globe.

We fight at these vast distances because that is where our enemies are. Until our flow of supplies gives us clear superiority we must keep on striking our enemies wherever and whenever we can meet them, even if, for a while, we have to yield ground. Actually we are taking a heavy toll of the enemy every day that goes by.

We must fight at these vast distances to protect our supply lines and our lines of communication with our Allies-protect these lines from the enemies who are bending every ounce of their strength, striving against time, to cut them. The object of the Nazis and the Japanese is to separate the United States, Britain, China, and Russia, and to isolate them one from another, so that each will be surrounded and cut off from sources of supplies and reinforcements. It is the old familiar Axis policy of “divide and conquer”.

There are those who still think in terms of the days of sailing ships. They advise us to pull our warships and our planes and our merchant ships into our own home waters and concentrate solely on last-ditch defense. But let me illustrate what would happen if we followed such foolish advice.

Look at your map. Look at the vast area of China, with its millions of fighting men. Look at the vast area of Russia, with its powerful armies and proven military might. Look at the British Isles, Australia, New Zealand, the Dutch Indies, India, the Near East, and the continent of Africa, with their resources of raw materials and of peoples determined to resist Axis domination. Look at North America, Central America, and South America.

It is obvious what would happen if all these great reservoirs of power were cut off from each other either by enemy action or by self-imposed isolation:

  1. We could no longer send aid of any kind to China-to the brave people who, for nearly five years, have withstood Japanese assault, destroyed hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers and vast quantities of Japanese war munitions. It is essential that we help China in her magnificent defense and in her inevitable counteroffensive-for that is one important element in the ultimate defeat of Japan.
  2. If we lost communication with the southwest Pacific, all of that area, including Australia and New Zealand, would fall under Japanese domination. Japan could then release great numbers of ships and men to launch attacks on a large scale against the coasts of the Western Hemisphere, including Alaska. At the same time she could immediately extend her conquests to India and through the Indian Ocean to Africa and the Near East.
  3. If we were to stop sending munitions to the British and the Russians in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf areas, we would help the Nazis to overrun Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Persia, Egypt, and the Suez Canal, the whole coast of north Africa, and the whole coast of west Africa-putting Germany within easy striking distance of South America.
  4. If, by such a fatuous policy, we ceased to protect the North Atlantic supply line to Britain and to Russia, we would help to cripple the splendid counteroffensive by Russia against the Nazis, and we would help to deprive Britain of essential food supplies and munitions.

Those Americans who believed that we could live under the illusion of isolationism wanted the American eagle to imitate the tactics of the ostrich. Now, many of those same people, afraid that we may be sticking our necks out, want our national bird to be turned into a turtle. But we prefer to retain the eagle as it is-flying high and striking hard.

I know that I speak for the mass of the American people when I say that we reject the turtle policy and will continue increasingly the policy of carrying the war to the enemy in distant lands and distant waters-as far as possible from our own home grounds.

There are four main lines of communication now being traveled by our ships-the North Atlantic, the South Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, and the South Pacific. These routes are not one-way streets, for the ships which carry our troops and munitions out-bound bring back essential raw materials which we require for our own use.

The maintenance of these vital lines is a very tough job. It is a job which requires tremendous daring, tremendous resourcefulness, and, above all, tremendous production of planes and tanks and guns and of the ships to carry them. And I speak again for the American people when I say that we can and will do that job.

The defense of the world-wide lines of communication demands relatively safe use by us of the sea and of the air along the various routes; and this, in turn, depends upon control by the United Nations of the strategic bases along those routes.

Control of the air involves the simultaneous use of two types of planes-first, the long-range, heavy bomber; and, second, light bombers, dive bombers, torpedo planes, and short-range pursuit planes which are essential to the protection of the bases and of the bombers themselves.

Heavy bombers can fly under their own power from here to the southwest Pacific, but the smaller planes cannot. Therefore these lighter planes have to be packed in crates and sent on board cargo ships. Look at your map again and you will see that the route is long-and at many places perilous-either across the South Atlantic, around South Africa, or from California to the East Indies direct. A vessel can make a round trip by either route in about four months, or only three round trips in a whole year.

In spite of the length and difficulties of this transportation, I can tell you that we already have a large number of bombers and pursuit planes, manned by American pilots, which are now in daily contact with the enemy in the southwest Pacific. And thousands of American troops are today in that area engaged in operations not only in the air but on the ground as well.

In this battle area Japan has had an obvious initial advantage. For she could fly even her short-range planes to the points of attack by using many stepping stones open to her-bases in a multitude of Pacific islands and also bases on the China, Indo-China, Thailand, and Malay coasts.

Japanese troop transports could go south from Japan and China through the narrow China Sea, which can be protected by Japanese planes throughout its whole length.

I ask you to look at your maps again, particularly at that portion of the Pacific Ocean lying west of Hawaii. Before this war even started the Philippine Islands were already surrounded on three sides by Japanese power. On the west the Japanese were in possession of the coast of China and the coast of Indo-China, which had been yielded to them by the Vichy French. On the north are the islands of Japan themselves, reaching down almost to northern Luzon. On the east are the mandated islands, which

Japan had occupied exclusively and had fortified in absolute violation of her written word. These islands, hundreds of them, appear only as small dots on most maps. But they cover a large strategic area. Guam lies in the middle of them-a lone outpost, which we never fortified.

Under the Washington Treaty of 1921 we had solemnly agreed not to add to the fortification of the Philippine Islands. We had no safe naval base there, so we could not use the islands for extensive naval operations.

Immediately after this war started the Japanese forces moved down on either side of the Philippines to numerous points south of them-thereby completely encircling the islands from north, south, east, and west.

It is that complete encirclement, with control of the air by Japanese land-based aircraft, which has prevented us from sending substantial reinforcements of men and material to the gallant defenders of the Philippines. For 40 years it has always been our strategy-a strategy born of necessity-that in the event of a full-scale attack on the islands by Japan we should fight a delaying action-attempting to retire slowly into Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor.

We knew that the war as a whole would have to be fought and won by a process of attrition against Japan itself. We knew all along that, with our greater resources, we could out-build Japan and ultimately overwhelm her on sea, on land, and in the air. We knew that, to obtain our objective, many varieties of operations would be necessary in areas other than the Philippines.

Nothing that has occurred in the past two months has caused us to revise this basic strategy-except that the defense put up by General MacArthur has magnificently exceeded the previous estimates, and he and his men are gaining eternal glory therefor.

MacArthur’s army of Filipinos and Americans, and the forces of the United Nations in China, in Burma, and the Netherland East Indies, are all together fulfilling the same essential task. They are making Japan pay an increasingly terrible price for her ambitious attempts to seize control of the whole Asiatic world. Every Japanese transport sunk off Java is one less transport that they can use to carry reinforcements to their army opposing General MacArthur in Luzon.

It has been said that Japanese gains in the Philippines were made possible only by the success of their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. I tell you that this is not so.

Even if the attack had not been made, your map will show that it would have been a hopeless operation for us to send the fleet to the Philippines through thousands of miles of ocean, while all those island bases were under the sole control of the Japanese.

The consequences of the attack on Pearl Harbor-serious as they were-have been wildly exaggerated in other ways. These exaggerations come originally from Axis propagandists; but they have been repeated, I regret to say, by Americans in and out of public life.

You and I have the utmost contempt for Americans, who, since Pearl Harbor, have whispered or announced “off the record” that there was no longer any Pacific Fleet-that the fleet was all sunk or destroyed on December 7-that more than 1,000 of our planes were destroyed on the ground. They have suggested slyly that the Government has withheld the truth about casualties-that eleven or twelve thousand men were killed at Pearl Harbor instead of the figures as officially announced. They have been served the enemy propagandists by spreading the incredible story that shiploads of bodies of our honored American dead were about to arrive in New York Harbor to be put in a common grave.

Almost every Axis broadcast directly quotes Americans who, by speech or in the press, make damnable misstatements such as these.

The American people realize that in many cases details of military operations cannot be disclosed until we are absolutely certain that the announcement will not give to the enemy military information which he does not already possess.

Your Government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst, without flinching or losing heart. You must, in turn, have complete confidence that your Government is keeping nothing from you except information that will help the enemy in his attempt to destroy us. In a democracy there is always a solemn pact of truth between government and the people; but there must also always be a full use of discretion-and that word “discretion” applies to the critics of government as well.

This is war. The American people want to know, and will be told, the general trend of how the war is going. But they do not wish to help the enemy any more than our fighting forces do; and they will pay little attention to the rumor mongers and poison peddlers in our midst.

To pass from the realm of rumor and poison to the field of facts: The number of our officers and men killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7 was 2,340, and the number wounded was 946. Of all the combatant ships based on Pearl Harbor-battleships, heavy cruisers, light cruisers, aircraft carriers, destroyers, and submarines-only 3 were permanently put out of commission.

Very many of the ships of the Pacific Fleet were not even in Pearl Harbor. Some of those that were there were hit very slightly; and others that were damaged have either rejoined the fleet by now or are still undergoing repairs. When those repairs are completed the ships will be more efficient fighting machines than they were before.

The report that we lost more than a thousand airplanes at Pearl Harbor is as baseless as the other weird rumors. The Japanese do not know just how many planes they destroyed that day, and I am not going to tell them. But I can say that to date-and including Pearl Harbor-we have destroyed considerably more Japanese planes than they have destroyed of ours.

We have most certainly suffered losses-from Hitler’s U-boats in the Atlantic as well as from the Japanese in the Pacific-and we shall suffer more of them before the turn of the tide. But, speaking for the United States of America, let me say once and for all to the people of the world: We Americans have been compelled to yield ground, but we will regain it. We and the other United Nations are committed to the destruction of the militarism of Japan and Germany. We are daily increasing our strength. Soon we, and not our enemies, will have the offensive; we, not they, will win the final battles; and, we, not they, will make the final peace.

Conquered nations in Europe know what the yoke of the Nazis is like. And the people of Korea and of Manchuria know in their flesh the harsh despotism of Japan. All of the people of Asia know that if there is to be an honorable and decent future for any of them or for us that future depends on victory by the United Nations over the forces of Axis enslavement.

If a just and durable peace is to be attained, or even if all of us are merely to save our own skins, there is one thought for us here at home to keep uppermost-the fulfillment of our special task of production.

Germany, Italy, and Japan are very close to their maximum output of planes, guns, tanks, and ships. The United Nations are not-especially the United States of America.

Our first job then is to build up production so that the United Nations can maintain control of the seas and attain control of the air-not merely a slight superiority, but an overwhelming superiority.

On January 6 of this year I set certain definite goals of production for airplanes, tanks, guns, and ships. The Axis propagandists called them fantastic. Tonight, nearly two months later, and after a careful survey of progress by Donald Nelson and others charged with responsibility for our production, I can tell you that those goals will be attained.

In every part of the country, experts in production and the men and women at work in the plants are giving loyal service. With few exceptions, labor, capital, and farming realize that this is no time either to make undue profits or to gain special advantages, one over the other.

We are calling for new plants and additions to old plants and for plant conversion to war needs. We are seeking more men and more women to run them. We are working longer hours. We are coming to realize that one extra plane or extra tank or extra gun or extra ship completed tomorrow may, in a few months, turn the tide on some distant battlefield; it may make the difference between life and death for some of our fighting men.

We know now that if we lose this war it will be generations or even centuries before our concept on of democracy can live again. And we can lose this war only if we slow up our effort or if we waste our ammunition sniping at each other. Here are three high purposes for every American:

First. We shall not stop work for a single day. If any dispute arises we shall keep on working while the dispute is solved by mediation, conciliation or arbitration-until the war is won.

Second. We shall not demand special gains or special privileges or advantages for any one group or occupation.

Third. We shall give up conveniences and modify the routine of our lives if our country asks us to do so. We will do it cheerfully, remembering that the common enemy seeks to destroy every home and every freedom in every part of our land.

This generation of Americans has come to realize, with a present and personal realization, that there is something larger and more important than the life of any individual or of any individual group-something for which a man will sacrifice, and gladly sacrifice, not only his pleasures, not only his goods, not only his associations with those he loves, but his life itself. In time of crisis when the future is in the balance, we come to understand, with full recognition and devotion, what this Nation is, and what we owe to it.

The Axis propagandists have tried in various evil ways to destroy our determination and our morale. Failing in that, they are now trying to destroy our confidence in our own allies. They say that the British are finished-that the Russians and Chinese are about to quit. Patriotic and sensible Americans will reject these absurdities. And instead of listening to any of this crude propaganda, they will recall some of the things that Nazis and Japanese have said and are still saying about us.

Ever since this Nation became the arsenal of democracy-ever since enactment of lend-lease-there has been one persistent theme through all Axis propaganda.

This theme has been that Americans are admittedly rich, and that Americans have considerable industrial power-but that Americans are soft and decadent, that they cannot and will not unite and work and fight.

From Berlin, Rome, and Tokyo we have been described as a nation of weaklings-“playboys”-who would hire British soldiers, or Russian soldiers, or Chinese soldiers to do our fighting for us.

Let them repeat that now.

Let them tell that to General MacArthur and his men.

Let them tell that to the sailors who today are hitting hard in the far waters of the Pacific.

Let them tell that to the boys in the flying fortresses.

Let them tell that to the marines.

The United Nations constitute an association of independent peoples of equal dignity and importance. The United Nations are dedicated to a common cause. We share equally and with equal zeal the anguish and awful sacrifices of war. In the partnership of our common enterprise we must share in a unified plan in which all of us must play our several parts, each of us being equally indispensable and dependent one on the other.

We have unified command and cooperation and comradeship. We Americans will contribute unified production and unified acceptance of sacrifice and of effort. That means a national unity that can know no limitations of race or creed or selfish politics. The American people expect that much from themselves. And the American people will find ways and means of expressing their determination to their enemies, including the Japanese admiral who has said that he will dictate the terms of peace here in the White House.

We of the United Nations are agreed on certain broad principles in the kind of peace we seek. The Atlantic charter applies not only to the parts of the world that border the Atlantic but to the whole world; disarmament of aggressors, self-determination of nations and peoples, and the “four freedoms”-freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

The British and the Russian people have known the full fury of Nazi onslaught. There have been times when the fate of London and Moscow was in serious doubt. But there was never the slightest question that either the British or the Russians would yield. And today all the United Nations salute the superb Russian Army as it celebrates the twenty-fourth anniversary of its first assembly.

Though their homeland was overrun, the Dutch people are still fighting stubbornly and powerfully overseas.

The great Chinese people have suffered grievous losses; Chungking has been almost wiped out of existence, yet it remains the capital of an unbeatable China.

That is the conquering spirit which prevails throughout the United Nations in this war.

The task that we Americans now face will test us to the uttermost.

Never before have we been called upon for such a prodigious effort.

Never before have we had so little time in which to do so much

“These are the times that try men’s souls.”

Tom Paine wrote those words on a drumhead, by the light of a campfire. That was when Washington’s little army of ragged, rugged men was retreating across New Jersey, having tasted nothing bat defeat.

And General Washington ordered that these great words written by Tom Paine be read to the men of every regiment in the Continental Army, and this was the assurance given to the first American armed forces:

“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us: That the harder the sacrifice, the more glorious the triumph.”

So spoke Americans in the year 1776. So speak Americans today!”

Mister Mac

Gunfighters on the Java Sea – May 28 1945 2

Japara MapI have been chronicling the actions of the US Forces in the Pacific fleet for a number of months and in doing so have found some really great stories with a lot of detail about how the war was progressing in mid 1945. One of those stories started with a small footnote about a wolf pack operation in the Java Sea conducted by the submarines USS Blueback (SS-326) (Balao-class submarine – commissioned 1944) and USS Lamprey (SS-372) (Balao-class submarine – commissioned 1944) as they battled the Japanese submarine chaser Ch.1 in a surface gunnery action off Japara, N.E.I., 06°28’S, 110°37’E.

 

 

Sub chaser

 

What I like most about these stories is the human face they put on the war’s prosecution. The Blueback’s war patrol records and deck logs have been preserved and I was able to trace the action in the words and sometimes very interesting thoughts of her skipper M.K. Clementson Cdr. USN. one small example came in his final report where he spoke about crewmembers who were departing before the mission began. While reading the original report, I was a bit confused for a few moments about the upcoming re-assignment of Lt. James Mercer who had completed 13 war patrols.

Lt. James Mercer departing

By this time in the war, many of the submarine skippers were modifying their deck guns to suit the missions they would be conducting. During his refit in Perth AU prior to commencing the third war patrol, Clementson and his crew rearranged the location and firing support devices for much of his topside weaponry. The hope was that with an increased capacity to conduct surface operations, they would be able to have more flexibility in attacking the dwindling enemy surface fleet and merchant fleet. During the third war patrol, Blueback would get credit for sinking one patrol boat using surface tactics.

Night Action – Java Sea

This story occurs on May 28th in the Java Sea. While the world and most of the military was still focused on the continuing battle of Okinawa, patrols by the US Submarine force continued all across the pacific. The boats that had been rushed into service during the previous few years had finally started overcoming the torpedo problems of the early years. Success after success had started piling up and even though submarine losses also took their toll, new fleet boats were adding to the overall efforts in ways never before imagined. At 0355 on the morning of the 28th, Blueback had just completed a secret mission and was beginning her patrol. She sighted what she thought was a Jap destroyer at 0510 and sent a report to the Wolf Pack she was operating with.

From that moment on, she would join with the Lamprey in a running torpedo and gun battle in the Java Sea.

The Balao  submarine classs was made up of 120 boats and those were typically armed with the following weapons:

10 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
(six forward, four aft)
24 torpedoes
1 × 5-inch (127 mm) / 25 caliber deck gun (which replaced the 4-inch 102mm gun installed at the beginning of their service)
Bofors 40 mm and Oerlikon 20 mm cannon

5_inch_25_caliber_gun_USS_Bowfin 640px-Boffin_40mm_bofors_cfb_borden_1 c7c38083acef7a46e63e1cf387b73eae

During her overhaul prior to WP 3, the guns on the Blueback were modified as follows: the twin 20 MM was moved from the cigarette deck to the main deck forward and a second 40mm was installed on the cigarette deck. They also installed specially braced mountings for twin 50 caliber machine guns and twin 30 caliber machine guns on the bridge. In short, the Blueback was loaded for bear and was ready to take on any targets she would encounter on the surface.

Wolf Pack – American Style

German submarines are well known for Wolf Pack tactics that resulted in horrific losses. Not as well known are the Wolf Packs that the US Forces operated in during the Pacific campaign. Starting with the coordinated attacks of the USS Cero, many combined operations were mounted. At first, there was a reluctance among the individual skippers to advocate for this type of operation. But some, including Captain Swede Momsen saw the need for new tactics in this war . USS Cero cleared New London 17 August 1943 for Pacific waters, and on 26 September sailed from Pearl Harbor, bound for the East China and Yellow Seas on her first war patrol. This patrol was also the first American wolfpack, comprising Cero, Shad (SS-235), and Grayback (SS-208), commanded from Cero by Captain Swede” Momsen.

Torpedo Attack

At 0843, the Blueback submerged and began a day long track and search pattern looking for the contact the had sighted at 0520 and at 1910 sighted a submarine that was identified as the USS Lamprey. At 1954, she surfaced and  communicated with Lamprey using blinker lights. At that time Blueback was informed about the three targets in the Japara anchorage. Plans were then exchanged for the hunt. At 2010, there was a radar contact which the skipper verified was not a submarine. The contact was at approximately 12,000 yards and zig zagging.

From the action report:

“Can just barely get in a night tracking surface approach before the just rising full moon gets too high. Tracking 10 knots, base course 090 true. Am convinced this is our OOD. Will have enough moon before shooting to make certain it is not a submarine.”

One of the greatest fears of submarine commanders concerning the Wolf Pack approach was in not shooting a fellow American submariner in the heat of the battle. Our technology in weapons firing and ship identification was pretty basic during that war so this was a real concern.

At 2033, confident of his target, Blueback headed in at flank speed.

At 2102, Blueback slowed to 2/3 speed. He received a message from the HMS THOROUGH giving his position and stating that a patrol craft has been patrolling in the area all day. Target was not THOROUGH. Target definitely not submarine. (Note: HMS Thorough was a British T class submarine that served in the Far East for much of her wartime career, where she sank twenty seven Japanese sailing vessels, seven coasters, a small Japanese vessel, a Japanese barge, a small Japanese gunboat, a Japanese trawler, and the Malaysian sailing vessel Palange)

At 2107, with confidence that the vessel was not a submarine, Blueback fired five MK 18-2 torpedoes forward. Torpedo run was 3000 yards.  At 2109, the skipper turned the boat and fired 2 MK-14-3A torpedoes aft, torpedo run 2200 yards. All missed and as a good close broadside view of the target was obtained, it was discovered that this was not a destroyer but a patrol boat.  Blueback headed away at 19 knots. The patrol boat headed away from a torpedo that broached just ahead of him.

Blueback’s skipper made a note in the log:

“Made mental note to always use binocular formula hereafter in an attempt to avoid such costly errors in the future. Even with grim visions of my income tax soaring to the stratosphere. Won’t be able to look a taxpayer in the eye.”

At this point he slows the ship and manned the 5″ and two 40mm gins and informed Lamprey who was 9-10,000 yards to the northwest.

Open Fire

At 2135, Blueback opened fire and immediately got some hits. These hits resulted in a small fire being started on the patrol ship’s forward action station. He commenced returning fire , too accurately according to reports with 25mm explosive shells.

at 2140, Blueback laid a smoke screen and opened range. The moon was brilliant by that time and very low. Blueback was heading into the moon and was weaving to each side trying to distribute the smoke in any direction but true west. The target’s gunfire was on them every time they emerges from either side of the narrow screen.

At 2143, Lamprey opened fire with her 5′ gun but in the words of the Blueback CO “The silly target didn’t know enough to shoot at him.” Then Blueback opened range to 6500 yards and headed to join the Lamprey. The target was making radical maneuvers and returning fire on both Lamprey and Blueback by this time with four guns. The Lamprey skipper reported that “his aim was not very good”. Lamprey expended 40 rounds of 5″ ammunition and recorded two sure hits.

At 2200, Blueback fired a few more rounds of 5″ at his gun flashes but when he ceased firing, there was no more point of aim. Blueback decided to call it a draw (except that Blueback was not hit thanks to the smoke screen.) Lamprey made the same decision at 2209 and the engagement was completed. Blueback’s skipper records in his log that better night sights and star shells would have helped considerable to eliminate “this boil on the heel”.

Lessons learned from the action that night:

1. Get and keep the TARGET up moon,

2. Concentrate forces on initial attack.

At 2207, Blueback set course for new area, 3 engines… At 2339, Lamprey departed for her new patrol area in the Karimata Strait.

The CH-1 would survive the rest of the war but had one more brush with the American submarine fleet.  On the 16th of July 1945: West of Surabaya, Java, she was escorting gunboat NANKAI (ex-Dutch minelayer REGULUS) when they were attacked by LCDR William H. Hazzard’s  USS BLENNY (SS-324). Hazzard fires a total of 12 torpedoes in a night surface radar attack and claims four hits that sink NANKAI at 05-26S, 110-33E. At about 0700, Hazzard finds and shells CH-1 with his 5-inch deck gun. BLENNY gets two hits that set CH-1 on fire at 05-16S, 110-17E.

http://www.combinedfleet.com/CH-1_t.htm

Despite two attacks, CH-1 survives the war and is finally scuttled by the Royal Navy in Singapore in 1946.

Both Blueback and Lamprey also survive the war. Guns would be removed from the decks of post war submarines for a host of reasons. Submarines evolved through technology to be more effective under the water during all modes of warfare and a deck gun was no longer needed or practical. One of the many enemies a submarine fought was the airplane and post war development of antisubmarine air forces increased the danger of being on the surface for any period of time. But having those guns on board WW2 boats was a critical factor during the early months and years where the unreliable torpedo corrupted the ultimate mission of a submarine. The other factor of not wasting a torpedo on smaller craft played a key role as well

Seventy years has passed since that night action on the Java Sea. The bravery of those men on both sides under some very difficult conditions is a testament to the strength found in men who are committed to a cause.

Mister Mac

By the way, come to Pittsburgh this September 7-13 and celebrate the heroes of the US Navy submarine forces.

USSVU National Convention web site:     http://www.ussviconventionsteelcity2015.org/

1 USSVI-Pittsburgh Convention-Large

 

 

 

 

Silent Service: Submarine Warfare in WW2 2

Chub 2 Chub 3 Chub

As Memorial Day 2015 approaches, I am once again reminded that submarine sailors paid a heavy price during the second World War in a way that is vastly more expensive that nearly any other type of war fighting based on a per capita measurement.

This video certainly captures many of the issues they faced.

225,000 Visits… Nicely done! 2

The leansubmariner just went over 225,000 visits today. That’s pretty cool. I can’t tel you how much I appreciate your visits and those that come back for a second and maybe even a third look.

Live has been pretty interesting lately. The place where I have been working is in the process of mothballing due to changes in the sales in our market. At first, it was pretty disheartening since I was comfortable and I was looking forward to a day sometime in the future when I could write full time. That may come sooner than I had expected but I am still measuring the impact of the shrinking workforce.

I have been very busy this spring so far posting on my World War 2 in the Pacific page on Facebook. Every day, there are entries from historic records and sprinkled in between are letters from my Dad to his parents during the same time period. If you get a chance, check it out. I intend to continue posting stories there until the anniversary of the end of the Second World war in the Pacific.

https://www.facebook.com/WarInThePacific19411946

800px-USS_Bunker_Hill_hit_by_two_Kamikazes 1945_05_12_bb40_kamikaze_a

Thanks again for the visits. I will be back with more submarine stories in the very near future.

Mister Mac

An inglorious end… sinking of the Yamato 6

Yamato_during_Trial_Service

 

Seventy years ago today (April 7 1945) marked the end of the Japanese battleship Yamato and her escorts.

By this time in the war, ceaseless American bombing and submarine attacks had decimated the Japanese fleet and support activities. As the battle for Okinawa raged, the Yamato set sail with just enough fuel to make it to her destination – the supporting American battle fleet in and around the island of Okinawa. This was designed from the start to be a one way trip and try and inflict maximum damage on the hated Americans.

Yamato was the lead ship of the Yamato class of Imperial Japanese Navy World War II battleships. She and her sister ship, Musashi, were the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed, displacing 72,800 tonnes at full load and armed with nine 46 cm 45 Caliber Type 94 main guns. Neither ship survived the war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_battleship_Yamato

Starting on April 1st, the actual invasion was moving brutally through the island in an attempt to establish a presence in Japan’s backyard. This base would be the launching point for much of the planned invasion of Japan that would follow. Kamikaze attacks were exacting a heavy toll on American ships and the plan was for Yamato to take as many American ships to the bottom with her as possible. The ultimate Kamikaze attack that would be coupled with the submarine attacks already being attempted.

Unfortunately for the Japanese, things did not go as planned.

526_large_image USS Missouri

CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 324, APRIL 7, 1945

On April 6 and 7 (East Longitude Dates) the enemy attempted strong counterattacks against our forces operating in the vicinity of Okinawa.

During the late afternoon and evening of April 6, a large force of enemy aircraft attacked our ships and shore installations in the vicinity of Okinawa. One hundred sixteen of these enemy aircraft were destroyed‑55 by our fighters and the remainder by our antiaircraft fire. The attacking enemy aircraft pressed their attacks in with desperation and succeeded in sinking three of our destroyers and damaging several destroyers and smaller craft. No larger fleet units were hit.

Early on April 7, Navy Search Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing One sighted an enemy surface force which had left the Inland Sea and passing south of Kyushu had headed into the East China Sea. The force included the large battleship Yamato, the most powerful ship left in the Japanese Navy, an Agano class light cruiser, one other small light cruiser or large destroyer, and a number of destroyers. A fast carrier task force commanded by Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher steamed toward the enemy at high speed and dur­ing the middle of the day brought the Japanese Force under air attack.

Our carrier aircraft which had destroyed 245 enemy aircraft on April 6, met no opposition over the Japanese ships but did meet heavy antiaircraft fire. At a point about 50 miles southwest of Kyushu they sank the Yamato, the light Agano class cruiser, the small cruiser and three destroyers. Three other destroyers were left burning. About three destroyers escaped from this attack. 

The Yamato was hit by at least eight torpedoes and eight heavy bombs. All the enemy ships were heavily strafed with rockets and machine guns.

Our carriers lost seven aircraft in this action. During minor contacts on April 7, they and their aircraft shot down 30 enemy aircraft. The task groups participating were commanded by Rear Admirals F. C. Sherman, U. S. Navy, A. W. Radford, U. S. Navy, G. F. Bogan, U. S. Navy, and J. J. Clark, U. S. Navy.

Yamato_hit_by_bomb ch4p9 Battleship_Yamato_sinking

With her sinking, the age of the battleship as ruler of the seas came to an end. Battleships would continue to operate intermittently for the next half century but the specter of a rampaging behemoth of the seas ended with the deaths of both Yamato and Bismarck.

Mister Mac

CINCPOA PRESS RELEASE NO. 34, MARCH 15, 1945 Taking Possession Of Iwo Jima Reply

Iwo Jima CemetaryThe capture of Iwo Jima was supposed to take ten days. It would take 36. It was the bloodiest assault the Marines had ever been involved with.

 

Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, Mar. 14.‑(Delayed)‑With the rattle of mus­ketry to the north, where the remnants of the Japanese garrison force were being exterminated by Marines, faintly audible, the United States government today officially took possession of this desolate but strategic island on the road to Tokyo.

It did so in a proclamation issued by Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas and military governor of the Volcano Islands. After the proclamation had been read, the American flag was officially raised over the island.

http://media.nara.gov/mopix/428/npc/428-npc-8876.wmv

The ceremony, held in the shadow of Suribachi, extinct volcano at the southern tip of Iwo, and attended by high ranking officers of the Marine Corps, Navy and Army, was marked by simplicity.

Deep‑throated roars of nearby Marine field pieces drowned the voice of Marine Colonel D. A. Stafford, of Spokane, Wash., Fifth Amphibious Corps personnel officer, as he read the words suspending all powers of government of the Japanese Empire on the island.

The Stars and Stripes were run up on a staff atop a strongly reinforced Japanese bunker with an anti‑aircraft gun emplacement above it. The military notables formed in rank on one side of the staff. On the other, an honor guard composed of eight military policemen from each of the three divisions that participated in the seizure of the island, was drawn up.

Among the military and naval leaders who planned and executed the in­vasion were: Vice Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, USN, Commander, Am­phibious Forces, Pacific; Rear Admiral Harry Hill, USN, of Oakland, Cal., deputy commander of the attack force; Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, Commanding General of the Fleet Marine Force of the Pacific; Major General Harry F. Schmidt, Fifth Amphibious Corps Commander; Major General Graves B. Erskine, of La Jolla, Cal., Third Marine Division commander, and his chief of staff, Colonel Robert E. Hogaboom, of Vicksburg, Miss.; Major General Clifton B. Cates, Fourth Marine Division Commander, and his chief of stag, Colonel M. J. Batchelder; and Major General Keller Rockey, Fifth Marine Division Commander, and his chief of staff, Colonel Ray A. Robinson. The Army was represented at the ceremony by Major General James E. Chaney.

While Marine Private First Class John E. Glynn (309599), 21, of 2319 Humanity Street, New Orleans, La., veteran of Guadalcanal, sounded “Colors”,

Old Glory was sent fluttering in the breeze to the top of the flagstaff by Marine Privates First Class Thomas J. Casale (411750), 20, of (no street address) Herkimer, N. Y., and Albert B. Bush (437298), 24, of 16712 Wood­bury Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio. Marine Sergeant Anthony C. Yusi (285607), 25, of 68 Grove Street, Port Chester, N. Y., was in charge of the color detail.

The bugler and the color detail were chosen from the Fifth Amphibious Corps Military Police Company. Their commanding officer, First Lieutenant Nathan R. Smith, of Whitehaven, Pa., said the men had been selected for general efficiency and military bearing. Both Yusi and Bush took part in the seizure of Saipan and Tinian in the Marianas. Moreover, Yusi was serving aboard the USS Wasp when she was sunk by the Japs September 15, 1943.

The proclamation was the first issued by Fleet Admiral Nimitz as military governor of the Volcano Islands. It was addressed, in Japanese as well as English, to the people of the islands. It read:

 

“I, Chester William Nimitz, Fleet Admiral, United States Navy, Com­mander in Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, do hereby proclaim as follows:

“United States Forces under my command have occupied this and other of the Volcano Islands.

“All powers of government of the Japanese Empire in the islands so oc­cupied are hereby suspended.

“All powers of government are vested in me as Military Governor and will be exercised by subordinate commanders under my direction.

“All persons will obey promptly all orders given under my authority. Of­fenses against the Forces of Occupation will be severely punished.

“Given under my hand at Iwo Jima this fourteenth day of March, 1945.”

 

The ceremony took place as the battle for Iwo Jima entered its 24th day. The stubborn Japanese defenders had been driven northward to the end of the island.

The enemy was still defending his caves and bunkers to the death.

As the official flag was raised, the one that had flown over Suribachi since the fifth day of the battle was lowered. The Stars and Strips had been planted on the volcano by the Marines who wrested it from the Japs.

The place selected for the official flag is just off the beach in the south­western section of the island. Selection of the site was prompted by con­venience and the height of the ground.

Several hundred dirty, bearded and weary Marines working and biv­ouacked in the vicinity gathered to witness the brief ceremony, which required less than 10 minutes. They, as well as the participants, came smartly to at­tention and saluted while the bugler was sounding colors.

Another step on the pathway to Tokyo. But what a horrendous cost in men. This video (in color) captures much of the battle in horrific detail.

Mister Mac

May 1945 Iwo Jima

Hakko Ichiu (“Eight corners of the World under one roof.”) Reply

thRZMYP1SB        Join the Army

Hakko Ichiu. (“Eight corner of the World under one roof.”)

Japanese World War II slogan alluding to the Emperor Jimmu, the first emperor of Japan. In an 8th Century literary collection, his words are recalled that the “eight corners of the world be united under one roof” creating a brotherhood of races.

In AD 660, the Emperor Jimmu decreed that he would:

…extend the line of Imperial descendants and foster rightmindedness. Thereafter, the Capital may be extended so as to embrace all of the six cardinal points and the eight cords may be covered so as to form a roof.

This was the beginning of Japanese government and social organization. Since that time, the kingdom of Japan has suffered neither military defeat nor foreign occupation, making it the oldest government of its kind. Japan’s rulers believe that it is their destiny to rule Asia and perhaps the world. As an example of this premise a shogun councilor, Masayoshi Hatta, made the following memorial in 1858:

“In establishing relations with foreign countries, the object should always be kept in view of laying the foundation for securing hegemony over all nations. The national resources should be developed in military preparations vigorously carried out. When our power and national standing have come to be recognized we should take the lead…declare our protection over harmless but powerful nations…Our national prestige and position thus ensured, the nations of the world will come to look up to our Emperor as the Great Ruler of all the nations, and they will come to follow our policy and submit to our judgment…”

Fire and Never Quit

For 2,600 years, Japan had never been defeated in battle

In 1945, that changed because of the men and women of the Allied Forces

Iwo Artillery 3

Mister Mac

You can follow the progress of the War in 1945 on https://www.facebook.com/WarInThePacific19411946?fref=photo

War in the Pacific – February 1945 3

Buy Bonds
The war in the Pacific was raging at full force in February of 1945. The battles in the Philippines were brutal and costly for the warriors and the people who lived there. Iwo Jima was about to be invaded costing the lives of many brave American Marines and Japanese defenders. Back home, citizens were still being asked to help fund the war by the purchase of bonds. This is a great little video that captures the spirit of the Bond Drive and has some fantastic footage of the island fighting and its aftermath. The Beginning of the clip includes one of the last times President Roosevelt is seen by the general public on film. The end of the clip has a little known movie actor named Eddie Albert Jr. encouraging his fellow citizens to contribute.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL3Q-EqZTb4Prior to World War II, and before his film career, Albert had toured Mexico as a clown and high-wire artist with the Escalante Brothers Circus, but secretly worked for U.S. Army intelligence, photographing German U-boats in Mexican harbors. On September 9, 1942, Albert enlisted in the United States Navy and was discharged in 1943 to accept an appointment as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for his actions during the invasion of Tarawa in November 1943, when, as the pilot of a U.S. Coast Guard landing craft, he rescued 47 Marines who were stranded offshore (and supervised the rescue of 30 others), while under heavy enemy machine-gun fire.

Eddie Albert
Bronze Star

From his biography: “Years later, Albert would recollect the heroism displayed by his brothers in arms. In one instance, he found a small group of Marines who were unharmed but lost their weapons when trying to land. Albert offered to take them back to his boat, but they refused and asked to be given something to fight with. He returned later only to discover that they had fallen under enemy fire.

Tarawa Landing craft Landing craft 2

Albert returned to acting once he left the military. His fame reached greater heights than before the war, and his extensive filmography includes “Escape to Witch Mountain,” “Miracle of the White Stallions,” and “You Gotta stay Happy.” Over the course of his career he was awarded an NSFC Award and a Star on the Walk of Fame. Despite his accomplishments in acting, Albert went on record to say that the day he served as a landing craft commander at Tarawa was the accomplishment that meant the most to him. He passed away in 2005 of pneumonia at the age of 99.”

Mister Mac