The following narrative is quoted from a letter written to me by Charles E. Napier about the time between the log entry on 6/19/43 at 6:32 AM and the one on 6/20/43 at 8:45 PM - a period spanning more than 38 hours.
 

 

Charles E. Napier

Charles E. Napier

"At that time I was a twenty year old sailor serving aboard the Gunnel. The time between those two entries is most vivid in my mind fifty-five years later. When we went to silent running after the attack on the convoy and the subsequent hunt for us by the Escorts the air was very still and continued to get more humid as the day went on. The Escorts were like bulldogs. They just kept hanging on. The sound of the chain dragging down the port side of the boat was very scary. It meant the enemy was so close he could dump a depth charge overboard and destroy us. Fortunately he did not realize that his chain was dragging on our hull. As time slowly went by the pinging continued and the air was getting worse. Then word began to circulate that due to the expenditure of electric power getting in to position during the attack that morning a condition called "low voltage limit" might occur before we could shake the Escorts. We had been informed of "low voltage limit" during our schooling at the Submarine Base but mostly the advice was "do not get in this condition" because the submarine would be almost helpless."

"By late evening the situation was becoming desperate as far as the crew was concerned. We were gasping for breath and the prospect of surfacing to face an angry destroyer was frightening. The Catholics were fingering their rosaries, other religious sailors were praying and some were simply trying to figure how to get out of the situation. My chief, Ed Liedholdt, maintained his composure under extreme circumstances and insisted that we would be ok. When we surfaced at 2050 (after more than fourteen hours submerged) that first gulp of fresh salt air was the most wonderful feeling I have ever had. We stationed the lookouts and started charging the batteries. Forty minutes later we spotted one of the Escorts charging at us. The Captain ordered full speed and changed course to put him astern. In spite of that maneuver the Escort continued to close and the Captain ordered torpedoes fired from the stern tubes. (After sinking this escort) we went through another period of anxiety being attacked by the remaining Escorts but managed to surface at 0307 and charge our batteries. We charged them so fast that Chief Podboy said they were boiling the following afternoon. We were submerged over sixteen hours on June 20 and had to spread CO2 absorbant and release oxygen to be able to breath."

                    Charles E. Napier
                    March 3, 1998

 
 
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