Spare Gear Log Part 2
Used with permission of the author
Patrol Run #3, Oct. 31,-Dec. 3
Oct. 16, 1944. We returned from the Royal Hawaiin and commenced our routine training; etc. During this time we had a serious fire in the control room, electrical, and lost most of our electrical and hydraulic power. We surfaced by blowing all main ballast.
Oct. 31st, 1944. Underway on third war patrol.
Nov 4th, 1944 0950. Moored at Midway Island to top off with fuel and drink beer.
1630 Underway in company with U.S.S. Kete for the East China Sea. Our area lies from Formosa to Shanghi to Colnett Straights. The first few days we expect to hold many surface battle drills in anticipation of much surface action.
Nov. 5th. Underway as before heavy weather.
Nov. 6th Underway as before. Weather heavy held routine drills
Nov. 7th Underway as before. Weather still very heavy. Held routine drills
Nov. 8th Same as day before
Nov. 9th “ “ “ “
(Note in margin at top of this page: U.S.S. Kete announced as overdue and presumed lost on July 1, 45)
Nov. 10th, 1944 Underway as before weather too heavy for drills.
Nov. 11th, 1944 U.S.S. Sealion goes to “Battle Stations, Surface”. Engaged enemy surface craft, a large armed flack vessel. She carried 2-40mms and many smaller guns. Heavy seas made accurate fire impossible on our part. Fired 27 rounds of 4”x50, 600 rounds of 20 mm and many hundred rounds of .50 and .30 cal. Received heavy accurate return fire. 3 men superficially wounded. Minor damage sustained. We made several hits with 20 mm fire but could not make out much damage. My new twin 20 fired pretty well. 1730 another enemy vessel of the same type endeavored to close us on our disengaged side, forcing us to break of the engagement. U.S.S. Kete refused to enter into the engagement with us and we had to leave them afloat. Our Capt wanted to return and get them after dark. Believe we had the best of the engagement. We expect to encounter strong anti sub measures as a result of revealing our position and course.
Nov. 11th, 1944Underway as before. Heavy weather.
Nov. 12th Underway as before. Weather still very bad. Barometer dropping. Movie in fwd room “Grapes of Wrath”
Nov. 13th, Underway as before. Very rough and nasty.
Nov. 14th Underway as before. Weather moderating. Forced down three times between 1000 and 1200 by Jap patrol bombers. Finally rigged for depth charge and stayed down until 1800. Tonight is the night we go through Colnett Straights. It’s a pretty dangerous place leading into the east china sea.
Nov. 15th Safely through Colnett Straights (Tokara Kaikyo) Runnig submerged. Heading north towards Nagasaki. Movie in fwd room, dedicated to Montgomery’s desert fighters. Many enemy patrol bombersoverhead. Surfaced 1830.
Nov. 16th 0130. Set out in pursuit of a crippled carrier with three destroyers as escorts. Could not catch them. Forced down 0830 by squadron of Jap bombers in 210 ft of water. No action. Surfaced at 1030. At 1330 No. 8 torpedo tube was fired accidently with both doors closed. Fired fish and door to sea. Hope we don’t take to much depth charging now.
Nov. 17th Cruising near Barren Islands. Submerged at 0630. Many sampans, sail boats, fishing vessels and patrol planes topside.
Nov. 18th. Patrolling off Barren Islands submerged. Many small craft and an occasional patrol bomber topside.
1600. Battery explosion and electrical fire in #5 torpedo. Unable to put out fire. Unable to surface due to many small craft and patrol bombers overhead. Much smoke and fumes in for’d room. Over five tons of high explosives in this room and a fire and explosion can be dangerous. Reloaded fish in tube after failing to subdue fire in it. Bell, torpedoman in charge of room deserves the highest praise for his level headedness and bravery in handling the situation. The fish expanded due to the pressure and heat inside it and stuck halfway in the tube. It was finally forced in, the door was closed and the tube flooded. Several minor explosions occurred inside the torpedo. Many prayers were said. We couldn’t fire it to sea due to the shallow depth of the water. 1830. Surfaced surrounded by small craft of all kinds. As many as fifty of them in sight at one time. Backed down full for about a half mile and fired defective fish to sea. Four Sisters and Two Brothers Islands in sight to eastward.
Nov. 19th. Submerged 0630. routine patrol. Received word that wolf pack composed of seven U.S. submarines engaged flack vessels in same area we did. They sank three, damaged two and two escaped when submarines ran out of ammunition. One boat received two holes in the pressure hull. Three men were seriously wounded. These flack vessels are especially equipped to fight aircraft and we did well to get away unharmed.
Nov. 20. Routine patrol on surface. Forced down by planes, 1230. Surfaced 1300.
Nov. 21. 0013. Radar contact at 44,000 yards. Hunter on the radar. At 0015 I relieved him. Three large pips at such an extreme range denote ships of tremendous size.
0030. “Station the Radar Tracking Party”. All indications are of a large task force.
0045. U.S.S. Sealion goes to “Battle Stations Night Attack”.
Tracking high speed task force composed of two cruisers, three battleships, three to seven destroyers. They are doing about 17 knots, our best is 18 knots. We get ahead of them and about 0300 turn and come in on their port bow, on the surface.
0315. With the nearest destroyer at 1800 yards, dead ahead, and the nearest battleship at 2800 yds, ahead, we fired our six bow tubes at #1 Battleship, swung around to the right and fired three stern fish at #2 Battleship. Three fish hit #1 BB causing a tremendous explosion. Two fish hit #2 BB causing major explosions. The Japs opened up with many guns, firing starshells, tracer, etc. and dropped many depth charges. We escaped on the surface and took up a position on their port beam to reload our tubes and try for another shot. The weather has been pretty heavy all night and is now getting worse. Our tracking party shows that the task force is continuing at the same speed and that we are slowly loosing ground.
0340. #1 BB turns out of force with two destroyers escorting.
0345. We set up on No. 1 BB and start in for another shot. A short time before we reach the firing point she slows to fourteen knots, then six knots, then zero knts. As we come in for the kill at about 0430 there is an explosion that tops by far anything we have ever seen before. The sea is lit up for miles around. A great cloud of smoke, steam and debris flies up in the air and in the midst of it all a great Japanese Battleship breaks in two pieces and sinks. The Sealion has done something no submarine has ever done before. Sunk a BB.
(Note in margin: “Later identified as the battleship “Kongo Maru” of 30,000 tons”)
We immediately set out in pursuit of the rest of the force. Plot showed them slowing down. It was growing very rough now and our motors were starting to show the strain of running at flank speed for so long. Green water was coming over and down the conning tower hatch in large quantities. Twice the hatch was closed to prevent swamping.
0630. Still holding position but can’t get close enough to attack.
0730. Tremendous seas force us to slow. Task force mastheads go out of sight. We submerge and secure from “Battle Stations” with score of one BB sunk, one damaged.
(Note in margin: “One large destroyer was sunk when she came alongside Kongo as it exploded”)
The rest of the day is spent repairing minor damages caused by heavy seas.
Nov. 22. Patrolling on surface. 1230 we are forced down by two large bombers which are directly overhead when seen. We finally dove and then broached from 150 feet with bubble in bow buoyancy. Laid on the surface for a minute and a half before we could get down again. The Japs were evidently so amazed by this performance that they didn’t know quite what to do. After thinking it over they dropped a marker buoy and proceeded on their way. It is only by the Grace of God that we lived thru this one. I hope I never get as scared again. Surfaced at 1830.
Nov. 23. Thanksgiving day. It comes at an appropriate time. Submerged at 0630, routine patrolling. Thanksgiving dinner while submerged. Turkey and all the trimmings. Movie in for’d room “Pussy Café” & “Mrs. Hadley Goes to War”. Surface about 1430.
Nov. 24. 0100 Waiting for another Jap task force to come out of harbor on the northwestern shore of Formosa. We are laying ten to twenty miles out and hoping. One carrier, two battleships, seven destroyers in force. They failed to come out so at 0700 we submerged and carried out our routine patrolling. Expect to contact Japs tonight. Eleven fish to fire and head for the barn.
Nov. 25. Submerged 0700 after an unsuccessful night. Have word from the fly fly boys that there are oil slicks 35 or 40 miles long in the vicinity of our last attack. The ship can be made out resting on the bottom. Pictures will be taken.
Nov. 26. Routine patrolling submerged. Movie in for’d room Tarzan> Secured movie in middle of second show because of two anti-submarine vessels. Capt decides not to attack. Figures they are clearing the way for something big. Heavy air patrol all day. Surface 1830.
2000. “Station the Radar Tracking Party”. Radar contact at 70000 yards.
2045 U.S.S. Sealion goes to “Battle Stations, Night Attack”
We track a Battleship and four destroyers for about three hours. They were traveling too fast for us to get ahead of them. It was a smooth moonlight night visibility about 10000 yards and we couldn’t close them on the surface. We submerged about 2345, got as close as we could and fired six fish at extreme range, all at the BB, missing. One destroyer turned and came in on us. We went deep, rigged for depth charge and silent runnig. A little nervous because of the missing outer door aft. Hit soft muddy bottom at 280 ft. secured everything and lay on bottom. Only two depth charges but they were king size. Stuck in mud on bottom. Had a little trouble working free. Surfaced about 0130, Nov. 27.
Nov. 27 and set out in pursuit of same group. Capt really out to get them but can’t catch up. Chased them down into Formosa Straights before giving up because of daylight. Radioed in for permission to reload in Saipan, submerged at 0630. Routine patrolling submerged. Surface 1900. Received orders to clear area and start for barn.
Nov. 28. Running on surface, heading for Colnett Straight.
2000 “Station the Radar Tracking Party” Tracked a couple ships but couldn’t catch them
Nov. 29. Running on surface, submerge 1000. Danjo Gunta astern. Pass through Colnett Straight tonight. Ordered to Guam for fuel and fish.
Nov. 30. Underway as before. Passed through Colnett Straight. Proceeding on surface. Listening to Radio Tokyo. They give their version of the transport load of limeys and aussies we sunk off Hainan in Sept.
2330 Successfully evade torpedo attack by Jap sub.
Dec. 1 Underway as before. Made trim dive at 1000. Surface 1020. Standard speed 15 knts. Expect to be in Guam Sunday Dec. 3. Movie in fwd. room.
Dec. 2 Underway as before. Two Jap subs reported in vicinity, proceeding with caution.
Dec. 3. Underway as before. Picked up escort at 0630. Moored alongside U.S.S. Sperry at 1000. Apra Harbor, Guam. Capt Reich gets orders to turn over his command to Lt. Com. Charles Putnam and return to Pearl Harbor by plane.
End of Patrol #3
Dec 4th. Effecting repairs, etc. No rest leave this time. Capt. Reich turns over his command to Mr. Putnam. Capt says a few words to the crew. Tells us he thinks we’ve won the Presidential Unit Citation. Beer party.
Dec 5th. Capt reich leaves us for Pearl Harbor. Beer party on beach.
Dec 6th. Moored as before. Routine work.
Dec 7th loaded torpedoes and stores.
Dec 8th Training operations
Dec 9th “ “
Dec 10th “ “
Dec 11th Routine Training Operations
Dec 12th “ “ “
Dec 13th Loaded fish, stores, fuel. Made all preparations for getting underway. Beer party on beach.
ComSubPac gives official credit for one Battleship, 30,000 tons, sunk. One Battleship, 30,000 tons damaged. Calls, quote “Sealion’s historical third patrol run is the most daring, courageous, extraordinary patrol run in submarine history. Weaving its way thru a protective screen of destroyers to carry out its audacious attack on a Japanese task force the Sealion succeeded in sinking one BB and damaging another, etc.”
Sunk First Patrol Run 19,700 Tons
Sunk Second Patrol Run 51,400 Tons
Sunk Third Patrol Run 30,000 Tons
Official 101,100 Tons
Damaged second run 10,000
Damaged third run 30,000
Joyce’s Concise Account
The new Sealion was launched on Oct. , 1943 at the Electric Boat Company’s main yard in Groton, Conn.
The Capt., Eli Riech, and five of the crew were aboard the old Sealion when she was bombed and sunk at Cavite during the first few days of the war.
About the first of November the work of assembling and schooling the crew was started.
I reported aboard as BM 2/c Nov. 11, 1943 at the ship’s office in EB Co., Groton, Conn. School of the boat was held from Dec. 27th to Jan 25th, 1944.
March 8th, 1944 the U.S.S. Sealion went in commission at the Submarine Base, New London, Conn.
Underway training, etc., started almost immediately and continued with various periods spent in the EB yard for repairs, alterations, etc., until April 15th.
The boat was then stripped for action and loaded with stores and war shots.
We left the states April 19th, 1944. Half of us drunk and the rest of us with hangovers enough to last us to Panama, our first stop on the way to war.
Panama, April 28th. The best liberty port any of us had ever seen. Canadian Club whisky, forty two dollars a case. More young ladies of easy morals and clean habits than in any place in the world. Sailors paradise.
We left Panama after four days of heaven.
May 17th we passed through the nets and moored at the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, Territorial Hawaii, on the island of Oahu.
We made a few liberties here. It would take a long time to curse the place and the people appropriately.
We had three weeks of intensive training operations here and then, the morning of June 8th fell in for quarters. The cap’t said a few well chosen words and then we stationed the maneuvering watch and got underway for our area, via Midway, on War Patrol #1.
June 12th stopped at Midway to top off fuel tanks and drink a little beer.
Underway the same afternoon for the East China Sea and the yellow sea.
On our way to station we held more drills, etc., and had a pretty smooth working outfit by the time we made the lower tip of the Japanese mainland. There we rendezvoused with the “Tang” and “Tinosa”, sending our exec over to the “Tang” in a rubber boat to hold a conference and exchange movie films. All this was done literally alongside a Japanese lighthouse which illuminated us every time it flashed.
Getting the word on a convoy of crippled ships, etc., supposedly heading for Nagasaki we passed through “Colnett Strait” and steamed up to take station on the Northwestern approach to Nagasaki Harbor, we being the junior boat, and left “Tang” and “Tunosa” to the better approaches.
June 23rd, our first day of patrolling, brought what appeared to be a small freighter in front of our virgin periscope. We went to “Battle Stations, Submerged” and fired three fish at him, feeling a little ashamed of ourselves because he was so small. We didn’t feel ashamed long because we missed him or rather the fish went under him and turning down the wake of the fish he started dropping depth charges all over us. The Japs have quite a few of these vessels, Q boats they are called and they steam along praying for a sub to fire at them.
He gave us a couple of bad hours dropping 21 depth charges before we finally evaded him. We continued our patrolling off Nagasaki for a couple more days with no success, therefore we eased up into the “Yellow Sea” for a look around.
June 28th, 1944, running submerged and spotted a five thousand ton freighter with a P.C. as escort. 1000, went to “Battle Stations, Submerged”. We made our approach and fired three fish, hitting and sinking him in 57 seconds with one fish.
The P.C. dropped depth charges, none of which came very close and then got busy picking up survivors. Sealion no longer a virgin.
June 30. Battle surfaced on a sampan, fired 67 rounds 4”x50. 900 rounds of 20 MM. Heavy seas made accurate shooting hard, sank her finally.
Heading down towards Shanghai.
On July 6th I picked up a convoy of 14 ships and six or seven escorts at twelve miles on the radar. 0430 went to “Battle Stations, Night Attack”. We ran in as close as possible on the surface and then were forced to submerge almost out of range by daylight. We fired our six bow tubes, all steam fish, at an excessive range and sank an 8000 ton tanker with one hit. Two of the destroyers escorting them turned on us and made several, most of them close. We were off the mouth of the Yangtze river and Shanghai at the time with only 80 to 90 feet of water to operate in. We could easily have been in a bad way.
We fired four fish at one of the tin cans, missing with all of them and then proceeded to work our way out to sea and deeper water. Bombers and P.C. came out from Shanghai and from 0600 to 1600 we were bomber and depth charged steadily. None of them after the first couple of hours came very close.
We cleared this area that night and headed up into the “Yellow Sea” with eight fish left, seven for’d and one aft.
Things were pretty slow up here.
The whole area was heavily mined and we had several close shaves with free floating mines, passing one thirty feet abeam and exploding another with my 20 MM. It was a common thing to pass two or three mines in a day and God knows how many we shaved by at night. We put boarding parties aboard several sampans up here. I was the searcher on these forays but I never found anything fit to drink or any Oriental girls of easy morals.
July 11th, 1944, while cruising in the “Yellow Sea” near “Darien” we made radar contact with a freighter of 5000 tons. It was a thick of fog and raining. Visibility was zero, alto at times it would lift to two or three hundred yards. We made a radar approach, going to “Battle Stations, Night Attack” at about 2230. We fired a three fish spread, hitting and sinking her with one fish. We continued our search and went to “Battle Stations, Night Attack” again at about 0230. Another radar contact. The Japs figured they were safe in the fog. This ship seemed to be anchored and we stalked it for an hour or so, being afraid of a trap. We finally fired three fish, missing with all of them.
Having only two fish left and being deep in enemy waters, amidst mine fields and free floating mines and with a Jap “Killer Pack” composed of three destroyers and eight or ten P.C. boats hunting us, the old man decided to clear the area for home. We had 18,000 tons of shipping at this time, as well as a fishing boat which we had rammed and sunk in “Colnett Straits” (Tokaro Kaikyo) and the Jap sampan, which is a pretty good batting average for one run.
However, at 0400 we went to “Battle Stations, Night Attack” again. The visibility was about three to five hundred yards at times. We had radar contact with two vessels, both of them apparently good-sized, and the old man decided to get them both, one fish a piece. We made our approach on the larger of the two and fired our stern fish at him, missing.
We pulled out and tracked him again and made a high speed approach on him at right angles.
The Cap’t determined not to miss, held the fish until he could make out her bow wave and fired at about five hundred yards. We were making standard speed on all four main engines and coming head on into the freighter’s beam. The Cap’t roared out “Right full rudder, all ahead flank. Rig for collision, we’re going to ram him”.
At that time the fish hit him amidships with a terrific explosion. Deckplates, hatches and debris of all kinds showered around us We cleared his stern by a matter of feet, doing 20 knots, and fired 60 rounds of high explosive 20 MM into his bridge, our after lookout Devitt manning the after 20. The freighter sank in a matter of minutes and we finally started for the southern end of Japan and the narrow pass through to the Pacific and safety.
We had a fairly uneventful run down Japan’s western coast, dodging P.Cs, the “Killer Pack” and bombers. In “Colnett Straits” we had another close one about 2230 while running on the surface. A Jap sub was lying in wait for us and fired three fish at us. One crossing under the bow and the other two passing close by astern.
North of the Bonin Islands, about July 15th, we were forced down by a Jap four motored bomber who dropped one large one fairly close and hung around for four or five hours, keeping us down. We had a movie in the for’d room while he patrolled above us and surfaced that afternoon.
July 21st we moored at Midway Island and the next day we went up to the rest camp for two weeks of rest and relaxation. The less said about this two weeks the better.
For this Patrol Run the Cap’t was awarded the Navy Cross.
14 other awards were passed out to officers and men.
Men recommended for awards first run
Cap’t Eli T. Reich, Lt Com. Navy Cross
DO Harry Hagan, LtJG Silver Star
Ens. D.P. Brooks Silver Star
Utz, J.L. CBM Silver Star
Gorsky CmoM Bronze Star
Bell, J.S. TM 1/c Bronze Star
Goetz, A. RT 1/c Admiral’s Commendation
Maslowski TM 1/c Admiral’s Commendation
Ext. O. Henry C. Laureman, Lt. Com. Silver Star
Navy Cross Comm., Eli T. Reich, Washington, D.C.
“While commanding a submarine he penetrated strong enemy escort screens and succeeded in sinking enemy ships totaling over 19,000tons. In addition, a well conducted gun attack destroyed a 100 ton enemy sampan.
He skillfully evaded serious damage by depth charging and brought his ship safely to port.”
War Patrol #2, Aug 17th to Sept 30
Left Midway Aug 17th, on War Patrol no. 2.
Most of the crew went to sea in regulation fashion, broke and with hangovers.
Aug.18, running on the surface 1230 spotted Jap periscope taking a bearing on us. Successfully evaded same.
We had a few new men aboard and our first few days enroute to the station we drilled, etc., as usual. My new battle station, the helm, gave me a much better chance to observe things and get the inside dope.
Aug. 29th, arrived on station, rendezvousing and forming a “Wolf Pack” with the “Growler” and the “Pampanito”. The “Growler” had a good name for itself but the “Pampanito”, with a lee skipper, was known as the “Peaceful Pamp”.
Our area this time was between the Philippines and Formosa. Most of the action the first half of our run took place in the “Bashi Channel”.
The first day on station we patrolled submerged, surfacing that evening after an uneventful hunt.
Aug 31st, 1944, 2430. The U.S.S. Sealion went to “Battle Stations, Night Attack”
We had a convoy of about ten large ships and seven escorts, destroyers, corvettes and P.C.s. At about 0200 we made our run but about twenty seconds before we reached our firing point a big ten thousand ton tanker blew up in our faces and we escaped on the surface amidst a wild barrage of gunfire and depth charges. The Growler* had slid in from the other side and, in addition to the tanker, pickled a destroyer.
At about 0400 we made another run, this time firing all six for’d and missing. Swinging our stern we fired the after tubes, getting two hits on a ten thousand ton tanker and sinking it. The convoy scattered and we escaped again on the surface through heavy gunfire. We ran up ahead of them and submerged at daylight on what the captain figured to be their track. He figured right.
At 0700 they came in sight of our periscope, back in formation, with one of the Japs biggest and newest destroyers leading the convoy and flying the Commodore’s flag. We made a submerged approach, firing three fish at the tin can and three at an eight thousand ton transport behind her. The destroyer picked us up on her sound gear as we fired but failed to turn in time. **Two fish hit her amidships, one striking her magazine and she went up in a terrific explosion. Two more fish hit the transport which ploughed into the wreckage of the destroyer and the whole works sank in the midst of heavy explosions and a great cloud of black smoke. One other fish exploded somewhere in the convoy, the capt thought it hit a tanker but was not sure because we started to get ours at that time.
We had both scopes up, watching the damage our fish were doing and trying to line up our stern tubes. A large bomber, which we had previously sighted through the scope, spotted us and dropped a bomb directly on top of us, almost between the scopes. This was the biggest bomb in the world and it drove us down out of control, shattering light bulbs, jarring cork and paint off the bulkheads, putting two holes in expansion tank, etc. Destroyers and P.C.s were on top of us immediately and really holding field day with king sized depth charges, driving us deeper and deeper. We went deeper than any of us had ever been before we finally got control and got back up to a safe depth. The depth charging and bombing never slacked off during this time. They had us cold and really meant to get us. We took a terrific beating for about seven hours and finally worked clear of them and up to periscope depth at about 1600. The scope went up and the command came down “Battle Stations Submerged”. This was another Q boat similar to the one we had encountered off Nagasaki. These things are a definite menace to navigation.
We fired three fish at this one, set depth two feet, knowing full well what would happen if we missed. We missed, went deep, rigged for depth charge, and got what we rigged for.
We took another three hour beating before we finally worked clear.
We surfaced about 2000 that night and radioed in for permission to reload in Saipan. We received orders to try and intercept a Jap sub in Bashi Channel that night and to proceed into Saipan the next day. We failed to spot the Jap so proceeded to Saipan in the morning.
Arrived in Saipan Sept 5th. Had a beer party on the beach, reloaded, etc., and left Sept 6th for our area.
This part of our run took us into the South China Sea up off Hong Kong and the province of Hainan.
At about 0330 Sept 12th, two hundred miles from the nor east part of Hainan, we went to “Battle Stations, Night Attack”. A convoy of nine ships and seven escorts.
We made our first run on the surface, lining up on a large transport which later turned out to be the ex American ship, President Harrison, 12,500 tons, which the Japs had taken in Singapore.
At the firing point our gyro angle setters went haywire, causing us to fire two fish wild. We were seen just as we fired and three P.C.s turned on us. Every ship in the convoy opened fire on us and we escaped on the surface again amidst a terrific barrage of everything the Japs had. One P.C. boat chased us for an hour firing continuous broadsides.
After eluding him we ran up ahead of the convoy and submerged.
We saw several Jap two man submarines during our escape. Evidently they are using them as anti submarine weapons. They nearly got us.
At about 0630 the convoy came into view, steaming along at about 9 knots and we went to “Battle Stations Submerged”.
We fired our bow tubes into the convoy and tried to swing our stern around to fire, but were driven down by escort vessels. Five fish hit out of the six we fired, sinking two troop transports, 9400 tons each and one tanker, 15,000 tons.
Again we took a severe depth charging but at 1000 we managed to surface between a destroyer and a P.C. and set out in pursuit of the convoy again. It was a clear sunny day and why they didn’t see us I’ll never know. We could see them plainly.
At about 1400 we were driven down by eight large bombers. They looked like our own.
Failing to contact the convoy again we resumed normal patrolling.
The morning of Sept 15, 1944, we received a message from the “Pampanito” She gave her position as about 200 miles nor east of Hainan province, the same place we had sunk our last three ships, and said she was engaged in picking up survivors, English and Australians, and needed assistance.
We bent on all four mains and made full speed for a little over six hours, arriving at the scene about 1630.
Not knowing what to expect the rescue party went on deck heavily armed.
The surface of the water was covered with Limey and Aussy prisoners of war who had been aboard one of the transports we had sunk. They were in terrible condition, having been for the most part without food or water since the attack, floating in life jackets or on half submerged wooden rafts. They were all badly sunburned, covered with fuel oil and suffering from salt water sores and other skin diseases. All of them had malaria, some of them had beriberi, pellagra, and many other diseases resulting from two or three years in Jap prison camps.
Many dead bodies were floating in the water around us, suspended in life belts or on rafts.
Rescue operations commenced immediately. We took aboard 54 men and then were driven off, about 2230, by three Japanese corvettes whom, we were told later, came out every night and circled the prisoners, taking away their food and water and guarding against the possibility of rescue by American subs.
Out of 1300 of these men 154 were rescued by American submarines. The rest were left by the Japs to drown or die of thirst.
After evading the three corvettes, with some trouble, we made full speed for Saipan.
A party of male nurses, volunteers from the crew, gave first aid and treated the survivors under the able direction of Doc Williams PhM 1/c, who made CPhM as a result of his work.
Three men died the first night from a variety of causes. One man died about 0200, Sept 20th. They were buried at sea with a four inch shell lashed to their feet.
1100, Sep 20, we moored alongside the submarine tender Fulton in Saipan Harbor and transferred the survivors to the military hospital on the island.
Sept 21. Underway for Pearl Harbor.
Sept 30. Had a close shave with Jap submarine
Sept 30. Moored at Sub Base Pearl h.
Oct. 1st. All hands go to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel for two weeks leave.
Cap’t received Navy Cross again for this run.
Total tonnage officially confirmed for both runs 71,000 tons.
Data on other awards for officers and men not yet available.
Received letter of thanks and congratulations from British Admiralty, Oct 15th.
Men recommended for awards, 2nd Run
Capt. Eli T. Reich, Comm Navy Cross
Ens. D.P. Brooks
Joyce, H.A. BM1/c
Hunter, N.C. TM3/c
Devitt, W. S1/c
Williams, R. J. PhM1/c
Smith, J. MoM3/c
Schnoering, E. EM1/c
Thornton, G. QM3/c
Ryan, J. F. TM2/c
Joyce, H.A. BM1/c
*Noted in margin of diary: “Growler was sunk by P.C.s and shore batteries in Lombock Straights Dec. 44. All hands lost.”
**Noted in margin of diary: “All ships and escorts in this convoy except one small freighter were sunk the same day by American submarines. The small freighter was also sunk that night.”