USS GUNNEL

USS Gunnel SS-253 Port side view 1945

SS-253

Seventh War Patrol

October 21, 1944 - December 28, 1944

Lt. Commander Guy E. O’Neil, USN, Commanding Officer

Officers on board for the 7th War Patrol

Patrol 7 officers
(L-R)

J.M. Thornton, T.E. Stevens Jr., G.E. O'Neil, S.L. Knotts, C.J. Zurcher, W.P. Robinson, E.W. Murphy, J.B. Linton, G.C. Woods

Prologue

As noted in the accounts of the earlier GUNNEL war patrols, verbatim excerpts from the Captain’s official Patrol Report are in the paragraphs commencing with times in bold face (date/times underlined). This war patrol report that follows, with the higher command comments as submitted at the end of this patrol, December 28, 1944, is now unclassified, and it can be found in the official files of the U.S. Navy. Additional comments have been added to the original report by the former Commanding Officer, Capt. Guy O’Neil, USN (Ret), and by former members of the crew, many of whose names are noted in this narrative. These inputs and recollections are printed in Italics to distinguish them from the official report narrative. Extensive research of the historical records has been made to insure the faithfulness of GUNNEL’s story. However we take full responsibility for any omissions or inaccuracies and will welcome your comments. This work continues in progress.

The SEVENTH war patrol of the USS GUNNEL was conducted in the SOUTH CHINA SEA and SULU SEA in areas under the operational control of CTF-71. The duration of the patrol was 68 days, of which 40 were spent on station. The numerous aircraft and ship contacts made this a most active patrol. Two special missions were undertaken. Lifeguard services were performed. The GUNNEL was hampered on occasion by SD and SJ radar failures and heavy weather. In spite of these difficulties and strong anti-submarine activity by enemy aircraft, GUNNEL conducted a most successful and aggressive patrol.

USS Gunnel War Patrol #7 - Area Covered

The official report follows:


September 22,1944: The GUNNEL arrived at Fremantle, Western Australia, completing this vessel's Sixth War Patrol. Commenced refit by USS GRIFFIN and Relief Crew Division 121. Ship's officers and crew left ship for two weeks recreational leave in the Perth area.

October 6,1944: Refit completed with the exception of a major docking job discovered necessary at the time of the routine docking during the refit period and postponed awaiting availability. Regular ship's officers and crew returned aboard. Ensign J.B. Linton, E-M, USNR reported aboard for duty. Lieut. (jg) J.L. Schilansky, E-V(RS), USNR was detached for treatment at Hollywood Hospital. He sustained a severely burned foot when he stepped into a bucket of scalding water prior to the time of getting underway. Commenced loading and completing minor items.

October 7-13, 1944: Docked in Marine railway. The bent and ruptured frames and bulkheads in #3 FBT, Safety Tank, #2-3 Auxiliary and #4 FBT were removed and replaced with new frames and bulkhead plates.

"This was damage we hadn't realized had been done to the outer hull by the bomb dropped on us near the end of the last patrol in the early hours of August 31. We were lucky on that one. The fuel ballast tanks and safety tank are known as variable ballast tanks, meaning they can be kept partially full or empty of fuel or water as needed to obtain a neutral bouancy submerged. These tanks are located at the junction of the after battery compartment and forward engine room and a collapse of this structure with loss of fuel oil and flooding with water could have resulted in catastrophic loss of depth control. At the least we would have lost fuel needed to get us home again and even a continuing fuel oil leak could have been fatal. Several of our boats were detected and destroyed because they inadvertently left an oil slick while submerged. (Former C.O.)

October 14-15, 1944: Underway conducting electronics and cavitation tests. Submerged in Cockburn Sound for sound tests and found the starboard shaft excessively noisy at 80 RPM and above. Most of our machinery was found at or above the allowable limit of noise level.

October 16-18, 1944: Underway in operating area conducting practice day and night approaches. On October 18 took CSD-122 aboard and fired one exercise torpedo. In the afternoon conducted underway sound tests and finding our starboard shaft still excessively noisy, docked in ARD-10.

October 19, 1944: In dry dock. Removed and replaced the starboard propeller and increased the stern tube clearances on both shafts to .070" in order to decrease the noise. In afternoon undocked and conducted sound tests which showed a decrease in noise level

"Remaining silent submerged was extremely important. It could be a matter of life and death. The state of the art in 1944 in sonar equipment was almost primitive compared to today. All Japanese escorts were not equipped with the latest sonar gear of the time, nor were they all equally capable in their use of the equipment. However they all were capable of making successful attacks given a noisy target, an aggressive C.O. and perseverance. Our losses would have been greater in the early years of the war had the Japanese persisted in their attacks, and had they had the foresight to set their depth charges to a greater depth. By this time, 1944, the Japanese anti-submarine forces had vastly improved their tactics; they were harder to shake off, aircraft bombs and tactics had improved, and their surface escorts were beginning to set their charges to deeper depths. Fortunately our newer submarines built and brought into use as the war started, the GUNNEL being one, had the capability of operating at deeper depths, and more attention was paid to the capability of silent running. The GUNNEL had a limiting depth several hundred feet deeper than my first home, the USS SALMON, for which I was very grateful."(Former C.O.)

October 20, 1944: Completed final loading and took on board fourteen Mk23 and two Mk14 torpedoes forward and five Mk 18-1 and three Mk18 torpedoes aft for a full load.

"The Mk 14 and Mk 23 torpedoes were essentially the same. Both were 21- in. diameter, about 21 feet long, weighed about 1.5 tons, and carried a warhead with 668 lbs. of Torpex. The Mk 14 had a two speed setting; 46 knots to a range of 4500 yards, and 31.5 knots to 9000 yards. The Mk23 was a war time expedient lacking the low speed setting. They were steam propelled using alchohol as fuel. The major portion of the body was an air flask containing high- pressure air (2000 lbs pressure) which supported the combustion of the fuel. The Mk 18 was an electric torpedo, with a standard lead/acid storage battery providing power for an electric motor. It had the advantage of being wakeless so the enemy was not alerted to its approach, but the disadvantage of being slow, 28 to 30 knots, complicated the fire control problem. They also required having to be pulled out of the tube for frequent charging, and were subject to hydrogen explosions and fire. All the torpedoes used the Mk 6 exploder, an extremely complicated device which would detonate the warhead by magnetic induction as the torpedo passed under a steel hull, or by physical contact against the hull of a target. Its only reliability was its unreliability. This was the principle reason we fired torpedoes in spreads, but also of course to compensate for fire control errors."(Former C.O.)
NARRATIVE

October 21, 1944 1035(H): Underway in accordance with ComTaskGroup 71.1 operation order No. 151-44 to conduct unrestricted submarine warfare against the enemy in the South China Sea. Routing via Darwin, East of Timor, Flores Sea, Makassar Straights, Sibutu Passage and Mindoro Straight to the South China Sea.


Capt.O’Neil remembers: "This was always a thrilling but anxious moment for the Commanding Officer. From departure, until the return to port and the first mooring line cast ashore, we were on our own. All decisions, every action taken, would be mine alone, guided only by the sealed orders which could now be opened and read (by me only) and told me only the area assigned, the route to take to the area, and the date to return (unless all torpedoes earlier expended). During the patrol I would be informed of Japanese ship movements, friendly submarine movements (only if they affected me), or new tasks required to be performed. Messages for submariines on station in the enemies waters, were sent blind and in code, repeated at set intervals, and did not require acknowledgement. We were expected to remain silent, sink ships, and on the expected date show up at the rendezvous point outside the harbor entrance. 52 of our submarines failed to return. 374 Officers and 3131 men of the submarine service gave their lives in the winning of this war".

1711: Commenced exercising at day and night approaches in company with the USS HARDHEAD and HMAS INVEREL as target.

"A note should be added here on tactics. In this war, with the submarine of that time, most attacks were made on the surface at night where we could make the most use of our advantage in speed, and with little freeboard we provided a very small target for enemy lookouts and radar. On the surface in daylight, aircraft and surface escorts permitting, we made use of our speed capability upon contact with a target to "end around". That is, to obtain a position ahead of the target, remaining out of visual range, then submerge and be ready to shoot torpedoes upon his arrival,.

Either on the surface or submerged the best position to attack was directly ahead on the targets track, (the course made good by the zig-zag plan). As the target drew near, one then maneuvered to gain a firing position requiring the smallest torpedo gyro angle possible (the torpedo going straight out the tube), and allowing the distance for the warhead to arm, a torpedo run as short as possible. At the same time the submarine should be in such a position that the torpedo track would be close to 90 deg. (the torpedo course intersecting the target course at right angles). If possible the firing position should be inside the Escorts position to avoid detection. Possible Fire control errors, faulty design performance of the torpedoes, sea state effect on the torpedo run , all combined to normally require firing the torpedoes in salvos of three or more hoping for at least one hit".(Former C.O.)

2310: Completed exercises, set course for Exmouth Gulf in company with HARDHEAD in the Joint Zone.

October 22, 1944: Two years ago this month, this commanding officer departed Fremantle in a boat bound for overhaul in the States and exactly one year ago to this day arrived back in Fremantle following the first patrol in a new boat. Someone is figuring my foreign duty very closely.

Spent the day alternating with HARDHEAD in making practice approaches; trained sound operators, radar operators, and lookouts and exercised tracking party in the afternoon and night. Commenced daily school of the boat for each section.

Reading the entry above, 55 years after writing it, the former C.O., Capt. O’Neil, remembers his feelings at that time: "The war had started for me in Manila Bay, a junior officer in the USS SALMON (SS182), at 0400, Dec 8 1941, awakened by the news of Pearl Harbor,(and bombed by the Japanese at 1100) while we were trying to finish repairs to two engines and get away from the tender. The Japanese invaded the Philippines while we were on our first war patrol, and we ended that run in Australia with no other place to go. In October, 1942, the SALMON departed Freemantle on her fourth war patrol which ended in the States for a badly needed overhaul. I went East to commission a new submarine, the BONEFISH , as Executive Officer and Navigator, and found myself back in Freemantle at the end of the BONEFISH first patrol, on October 22, 1943. Now five war patrols later, I was heading to sea for my second patrol in command of the GUNNEL with great confidence in a splendid crew, a good boat, and every expectation this would be a successful run. My former homes did not fare too well. The BONEFISH was lost with all hands in the Inland Sea of Japan, and the SALMON was damaged so badly in a depth charge attack, she was towed to the States and found damaged beyond salvage."

1802: (SC#1) Sighted and established identification with a friendly allied submarine homeward bound.

Continued exercising with HARDHEAD and training sound and radar operators and lookouts. In the afternoon fired 20mm guns for training. During the night tracking exercises discovered the Arma Clock Zig is practically impossible to plot. Although the base course was determined with reasonable accuracy and the limits of the zig plan could be determined, the zig plan itself could not be worked out. Each zig remained a complete surprise

Editors Note: "The Arma Clock mechanism was a new device which fit over the helmsman’s compass dial and provided a continually moving lubber line he could follow with the helm. The attacking submarine fire control party could solve the base course, but could never know between periscope observations which way the ships head would be swinging. Fortunately for us the Japanese never developed such gear"

1740: HARDHEAD departed company in order to proceed independently to Exmouth Gulf. Remained in radar contact however to exercise the second team tracking party until contact was lost at 2155(H).

Very valuable training was afforded during these two days in company with the HARDHEAD and it is believed whenever possible this should be done when boats leave for patrol. This training gave us a chance to tune the radar to perfection, it afforded a target for all radar operators during every watch, and all sound operators became efficient in use of the sound gear while surfaced and submerged. Lookouts were given a view of a periscope under various conditions and their efficiency rapidly improved at night with a target to view at various ranges and angles. In addition the radar operators became proficient in communication by keying the SJ radar through the drills that were held.

October 24, 1944: Enroute independently to Port Darwin. Conducted daily dives and battle problems for training. Exercised 4", 20mm and .50 caliber gun crews firing a total of 10 rounds 4" common, 8 magazines 20mm, and several belts of .50 cal. A group of balloons tied to a box made a very satisfactory target. The gunnery officer distinguished himself and shamed the 20mm gun crews by breaking one balloon at 1,000 yards with 3 shots from a .30-06 service rifle

October 25, 1944 0045: Sent message #1 giving ETA Darwin.

2112: In position Latitude 14-29 S, Longitude 121-47 E picked up radar signals on 203 MC and 40 PPS coming in 5 out of every 20 seconds on ARP. Believed to be friendly

October 27, 1944: Continuing surprise dives and battle problems for training.

"Enroute to station and until we got into Japanese controlled waters, much time was devoted to training for the ship as a whole. This was our last chance to hone our skills and I made the best use of the time I could. It became a game between the people on watch and the skipper. Every time I moved about through the boat I was watched and they all became ready for my calling out "fire in the paint locker" or as I left the bridge "take her down"(Former C.O.).

0532: (AC#1) Made contact on the SD radar at 8 miles, with IFF response. Not sighted. Position: Latitude 12-19 S, Longitude 129-30 E.

"IFF, (Identification, Friend or Foe), was generally used in US and Allied aircraft and consisted of electronic equipment in the aircraft which automatically broadcast a signal back to our radar when contact was made confirming their friendly status."

1040: (SC#3) Sighted and exchanged recognition signals with HMAS ML 814, our escort into Darwin.

1230: Passed through net, received Commander G. S. Nichols, USN., Commander Martin Xavier Smith, USN., and Pilot aboard.

1400: Moored port side to USS CHANTICLEER, Port Darwin. Commenced taking on board fuel, lube oil, and fresh water. Sonar repairmen from CHANTICLEER commenced work on our faulty JK-QC sound gear. In order to arrive Timor at nightfall for passage through Malay Barrier and have time for more drills decided to spend night and depart in the morning.

2200: Completed loading having received 28,600 gallons diesel fuel, 500 gallons lube oil symbol 9370 and 2760 gallons fresh water from CHANTICLEER. Sound gear back in commission. The Commanding Officer, USS CHANTICLEER deserves much credit for the efficient manner in which our needs were met and the proficient and rapid completion of repairs to our sonar gear which had baffled our own ship's force for the past five days of almost continuous work

October 28, 1944 0800: Pursuant to CTG.71.6 transfer order P16-4 of 28 Oct.'44, Lewis, S.M. 376-74-28, EM2c V-6 USNR was transferred to section base Darwin, Australia, and Seibert, H.W. 800-27-47, F1c V-6 USNR reported on board for duty.

0842: Underway enroute assigned patrol area following the swept channel leaving Darwin and joint zones East of Timor. During the day held numerous dives for training, exercised at battle stations, and resumed school of the boat for each section.

1518: (AC#3) SD Radar contact at 15 miles showing IFF. Not sighted.

October 29, 1944 0932: Submerged for a trim dive and found that starboard shaft had again become noisy. Ran tests and discovered that if speed was brought up slowly on that shaft we could reach 100 RPM before the squeak started. If speed were brought up suddenly or full rudder applied the squeak commenced at a much slower speed which seems to show the load or thrust of the propeller has a lot to do with the cause of the squeak.

"During this night, we passed through Flores Straits on the surface. I always enjoyed the exotic odors of sandalwood, the smell of the smoke, and the sight of occasional native campfires in the villages along the shoreline as we not so silently passed through the confined waters between these islands in the Malay Barrier. I never understood why the Japanese didn’t make a greater effort to close these passages. They had a few small craft operating , but we could pick them up easily and avoid being sighted. Our diesel engines always sounded very loud but probably couldn’t be heard as far as our imagination pictured. Once into the open sea again any contact was a potential target until proven otherwise, and any aircraft was unfriendly. In the years since, I have often thought of returning and cruising these waters in daylight to see what I only imagined in those war years. Sadly I never made that trip."(Former C.O.)

October 30, 1944 2328: (AC#14) SD contacts at 16, 18 and 22 miles. The 22 mile pip faded out, the 18 mile pip closed to 16 miles then opened and was lost at 17 miles, while the 16 mile pip closed to 13 miles and stayed steady. Slowed to reduce wake and waited to see what he would do. Position: Latitude 06-15 S, Longitude 121-35 E.

2348: Didn't have to wait very long for pip started to close. We had been keying our SD radar but in making contact left it on in order to keep track of range. Believe this fellow DF'ed our signal. When range had closed to 9 miles

2349: Submerged, went deep, and waited for bomb. This attack by a type PETE took place in bright moonlight near Salieir Island in the Flores Sea. Our SD radar, still in commission at the time, picked up a contact which closed to 13 miles and stayed steady for about three minutes. I believe the plane had radar and having contacted us was circling to come in away from the moon. As our radar was on steady after having made contact he may have been homing our signal. We submerged as soon as the range closed to nine miles and a water noise shortly afterwards indicates an unarmed bomb or depth charge was dropped on the first run which failed to explode. A check with SD radar at 50 feet, 48 minutes later, picked him up again at ten miles, the range again closing fast after leaving our mast out for a few minutes. 29 minutes later, while taking a look with the periscope prior to raising the SD mast for a search, the aircraft was seen at about 500 yards range, zero angle on the bow, flying at about 100 feet and passing directly over us. I believe he was making a run on our periscope by radar, and I saw him just as he reached us, as we were then several miles from where we had first submerged. JP sound heard him fly over, and JK sound heard another water noise immediately afterwards which I believe was another dud bomb or depth charge.

October 31, 1944 0037: (AC#15) At fifty feet, raised SD radar mast and made contact at 10 miles, closing fast. Sneaked back to 150 feet. This bird is persistent.

0106: (AC#16) Back to periscope depth. Raised periscope and looked one Jap "Pete" square in the engine cowling. He went by so close I could have punched a hole in his float with the periscope and JP sound heard him as he passed overhead. As I had more fuel than he did decided to wait him out. I believe he had radar and picked up our periscope the first time time I took a look because we were now several miles from where we dove. A peculiar water noise of short duration heard by JK-QC sound astern might have been another dud bomb on this last pass

0253: 45 feet and all clear by SJ and SD radar so surfaced and proceeded on our interrupted way. A limey submarine in this area will probably catch hell tonight if he doesn't have an aircraft warning radar.

0347: Picked up Salieir Island ahead distance 42 miles by SJ radar

0530: Commenced passage between Salieir and Tiger Islands, passing south of Salieir Island.

1200: Position: Latitude 06-26 S, Longitude 119-41 E

1523: Sighted Debrill Lighthouse on port bow distance 20,700 yards by SJ radar. Entered Makassar Strait.

November 1, 1944 0030: Made contact by SJ radar on Cape Mandar bearing 029°(T), 75,000 yards

0529: (SC#4) As dawn was breaking sighted smoke over the horizon on port quarter. Manned tracking party and reversed course to end around contact. Position: Latitude 02-51 S, Longitude 118-29 E.

0710: In position on base course of target and just about to dive for the attack when it was discovered the target had almost reversed course. We headed in on a converging course to get a better look and finally at

0740: Identified target as a small (150 ton) ex "Whale Killer" type patrol vessel apparently covering his assigned area off Cape William. Secured tracking party and continued on our way.

When first sighted with just stack and mast over the horizon he appeared to be a fairly good sized AK and making a huge amount of black smoke. His area seemed to be a large square from about 6 miles off the beach out to the shoal water to the Westward and between Cape William and Cape Mandar

1057: (AC#17) Made SD radar contact at 7 miles which closed to 6-1/2 miles. Submerged to avoid detection. One lookout sighted the plane astern just before clearing the bridge and stated it had a single wing and single float.

Note by former C.O.:"Good Lookouts were extremely important, day and night. It was a tough, demanding job as a former crew member, Tommy L. Witt, GM3/C, recalls: "We left Perth, Australia bound for Darwin to refuel and from there to combat with the Japanese where and when we could see them. Our course out of Darwin brought us by the Japanese held island of Timor. We were now in the midst of the enemy, and could no longer holler for help regardless of how we might have needed it. Timor is a very small island about 400 miles from Australia. We were just entering the Makassar Straits , a body of water separating Borneo from Celebes, when our aircraft radar went out. This meant the lookouts would really have to stay on their toes and sight all airplanes before they sighted us and got in close enough to drop their bombs. I had been a lookout my first four runs and was still one on my fifth run. A lookout had a pretty rough job on a submarine. We would have to stand for hours at a time with binoculars to our eyes at night and day in all kinds of weather. On dives, the lookouts operate the bow and stern planes and also stand wheel and sound watches.""

1145: All clear so surfaced.

1904: (SC#15) Picked up interference on SJ radar ahead, identified as U.S. Submarine. Unable to make contact by radar.

2227: Exchanged calls and recognition signals via SJ radar with the same U.S. Submarine ahead.

November 2, 1944 0129: Made visual contact with U.S. Submarine, previously identified ahead, range 9,000 yards. Altered course so as to pass clear as we are slowly overtaking him.

0202: Passed Cape Mangkalihat abeam to port, entered Celebes Sea.

At some point during the early morning hours, GUNNEL passed north of the Equator. No mention of this is made in the Patrol Report

2 Subs meet at sea.

1117: (SC#6)Sighted high periscope of Southbound U.S.Submarine over the horizon ahead

Exchanged recognition signals, then closed range to hailing distance and exchanged data on enemy activity noted. Position: Latitude 01-49N, Longitude 120-46E.

1405:(S.C.#7) Sighted by high periscope what appeared to be periscope shears of a submarine overtaking us from astern, range about 30,000 yards. Commenced tracking and found we were right on base course.

1425: Submerged, went to battle stations and commenced approach

1450: Identified target as U.S. Submarine we had overtaken and passed this morning and now overtaking us. Simulated making tubes ready. Submarine constant helming thirty degrees right and left of base course.

1504: With a torpedo run of 1,100 yards for the stern tubes, 90 port track and zero gyro fired two recognition smoke bombs and sent recognition signal by sound. Observed lookouts eyes bulge as smoke bombs burst.

1515: Surfaced, exchanged recognition, and claimed drinks on the house when we reach Frisco from one very irate skipper. I believe our lookouts are now 100% more alert and fire control party received good training on a constant helm zig.

Note by Capt. O’Neil: "The submarine was the MUSKELLUNGE, and the C.O. was Larry Lajaunie, a USNA classmate. At this moment, writing this note and looking back, this action was probably a bad idea. At the time he did not hold this against me, and yes I did get the drink."

1954: Sighted Bomgao Island bearing 000°(T), 60,000 yards

2022: Commenced northward transit of Sibutu Passage.

2136: Completed uneventful transit, set course for Pearl Bank.

November 3, 1944 2100: Received orders to proceed to a position 30 miles west of Sampaloc Point, Luzon, to act as lifeguard for air strikes on Manila the 5th, 6th and 7th November. I did not relish the thought of an aircraft search for us in the bright moonlight then existing with no SD radar for a warning, so decided to delay acknowledging receipt of orders until daylight. From past experience the Japs don't need radar equipped aircraft to spot us in this visibility, and we can't see them in time.

November 4, 1944 0610: Transmitted serial #2 to VIX0 informing CTG 71.1 we would arrive on station by daylight the 5th. Position: Latitude 12-09 N, Longitude 120-58 E.

0630: (AC# 20) Sighted unidentified aircraft overhauling us from astern, range 7 miles. Submerged to avoid detection

0700: All clear, surfaced.

0747: (AC# 21) Sighted an unidentified aircraft bearing 075°(T),range 10 miles and closing. Submerged to avoid detection. It looked like we stirred them up and at this rate we will have a hard time meeting our schedule.

0829: All clear, surfaced

0843: Sighted Ambulong Island bearing 345°(T), 22 miles

0927: Submerged for transit APO East Passage into the South China Sea.

1200: Position: : Latitude 12-09 N, Longitude 120-58 E.


1827: Surfaced and set course for assigned position

2320: (AC# 22) Sighted an unidentified aircraft bearing 115°(T), range about 3 miles and closing. No indication of radar on APR. Submerged and went deep but no bomb.

Tommy Witt, GM3/C, remembers this also. "The scenery around Borneo is beautiful, but we had no time to enjoy it or rather the Japanese wouldn't give us time. Late in the first evening that we were in the straits, a Japanese plane appeared over the horizon to drive us down in the security of deep water for a number of hours . We stayed down until darkness and then surfaced to continue on our merry way. After we had surfaced, I got up out of my bunk in the forward torpedo room and went to the crews mess to shoot the bull with a few of the boys and maybe get in a hot game of cribbage. The crew's mess was what you might call the social room where those who weren't on watch got together to swap stories or play some kind of card game."

November 5, 1944 0149: Surfaced, sent serial #3 blind to VIX0 informing the boss we can't make our station on time.

0152: Submerged until visibility improves to the point we will have a chance to see these planes first. I figured we had stretched our luck awfully far already on moonlight contacts.

0427: Moon directly overhead and clear horizon, surfaced and proceeded our station.

0430: (SC# 9) Picked up radar interference astern and ten minutes later exchanged recognition's and calls with a U.S. submarine. Found he had been forced down by a plane also. Position: Latitude 13-06 N, Longitude 119-50 E.

0615: (AC# 23) Sighted two unidentified two engine bombers bearing 100°(T) and closing, range about 6 miles. Submerged to avoid detection.

0647: Surfaced.

0702: (AC#24) Sighted one unidentified aircraft, bearing 350°(T), range about 7 miles. Submerged to avoid detection.

0722: Surfaced.

0736: (AC#25) Sighted aircraft identified as a Frances, bearing 010°T, range about 10 miles and crossing our bow from port to starboard. Slowed to reduce our wake as it didn't appear he could see us. We watched the plane continue on it's way thinking the pilots were heading for some cold beer after a hard nights duty.

0741: Although the Frances was flying at about 2,000 feet the PPI picked him up at 15 miles bearing 039°(T). We kept the plane in sight until about 0753 when he suddenly made a steep diving turn below the horizon towards the sun. That looked very much like gambit tactics so we were all set when at

0755: Sighted same Frances coming in fast with a zero angle on the bow right in the sun glare flying not more than 20 feet off the water and with a range of 7 miles by SJ radar PPI when we pulled the plug and took her deep. That trick would certainly work like a charm on these moonlight nights

The former C.O. comments: "It was a good thing we kept watching that aircraft. I hadn't seen or heard of that trick before. Lifeguard duty was a necessary, but unwelcome job. We would much rather have been hunting and sinking ships. When air strikes were conducted such as this attack on Manila, and Subic Bay, available ships and submarines were stationed along the route taken by the aircraft to and from the target as lifeguard to pick up flight crews in trouble who bailed out or could crash land near by. Submarines of course were placed nearest to the target, as we were the only ships able to get there. Getting into position was easy, but then it was necessary to remain on the surface and available day or night, a target for enemy subs and aircraft, and often in shallow water that could be and probably was mined. I depended upon the lookouts while on the surface, because I felt use of the aircraft detection radar would only draw more Japanese aircraft to us." Tommy Witt mentions this particular morning in his memories of this patrol. "On the morning of this day, I was on the bridge, standing lookout watch. Land had just been sighted and I was keeping my eyes peeled for anything I might see. All of a sudden, a big Japanese bomber loomed up in front of my eyes about ten miles from us. I told the captain, and down we went. We stayed down only a very short time, being in a hurry to get to our post before the fleet started bombing. We had been on the surface only a short time when I sighted another plane. During the course of the morning, seven Japanese bombers were sighted."

0x56: (Hour unreadable from log) Our friend still in sight by periscope but patrolling low up ahead, apparently about over our lifeguard station. At this rate it began to look like we never would get there. Decided to stay submerged a while longer as we wouldn't always be this lucky at spotting these planes first. So far no indication that the raid on Manila had started.

1135: Surfaced, all clear. Heard voices on VHF circuit indicating raid had started but could not make out what was said

1149 to 1319: Picked up indication of radio signal on APR but the radio technician believed it to be our aircraft VHF carrier wave and not a radar signal.

1439: Finally reached our lifeguard station at Position: Latitude 14-45 N, Longitude 119-39 E. No indication of any of our aircraft in the water yet. Several group leaders were heard ordering planes in trouble to go home but that was all. The raid seemed to be a success but no signs of activity or smoke could be seen.

1900: (SC# 10) Noted interference on SJ radar and exchanged recognition and calls with a friendly submarine.

xx00: (Hour unreadable from log) (AC# 26) Noticed a momentary pip on SJ radar PPI bearing 175°(T), range 12 miles. As it could not be seen again and surface visibility was excellent with a bright full moon rising decided it was a moonlight air patrol.

2345: Submerged for the remainder of the night, keeping a periscope watch in case any traffic passed this way. Having stayed on the surface all afternoon in this same spot, and no SD radar for protection I considered it best to remain out of sight in the moonlight.

November 6, 1944 0515: Surfaced on station.

0544: (AC# 27) Sighted an unidentified aircraft, bearing 180°(T) range 7 miles, and closing so submerged to avoid detection.

0745: Surfaced on station.

0820: (AC# 28) Sighted an unidentified aircraft bearing 080°(T), range 10-15 miles, on a northerly course so submerged to avoid detection. At this time our VHF radio went out of commission, leaving us in the dark as to what was happening, but from conversations heard just before this it appeared Subic Bay was under attack.

0919: All clear, surfaced on station. Sighted a huge column of black smoke arising from the northern shore of Subic Bay. Much flak could be observed bursting in the air above the bay but no planes were seen

1025: VHF radio back in commission, nothing heard.

1213: Received message from one of attacking air group that a plane was down and two aviators were in the water in a rubber boat with dye markeru showing to seaward of Corregidor Island. Put four main engines on the line and set course for the rescue. Requested check on their position and air cover for us

1222: Received word that downed aviators were in a rubber boat in position 10 miles bearing 230 from Corregidor Island. Air cover was promised.

1243: (AC# 29) Sighted expected air cover consisting of four U.S.Navy Hellcats. Position: 14-38 N. Longitude 119-44 E. Two of them commenced a patrol over us while the other two went ahead to locate the rubber boat which had originally been reported by another plane. It was certainly a grand feeling to see the white bar and star flying overhead in this area. Cooperation was excellent and the air cover group coached us on the course continually. Thinking the air cover would remain with us I intended to head straight for the reported position of the boat, although that took us only nine miles off Bataan. I figured we could pick up the aviators and get out or at least dive before any opposition from shore batteries developed. This plan turned out wrong for after closing the coast we surely were spotted from the beach the air cover announced they were running short of fuel and at:

1330: All four Hellcats departed leaving us with a very very naked feeling. The two who had gone ahead could not find the raft and aviators before they left but told us they had dropped four more rubber boats in the reported position.

"I hadn't been this close to Corregidor since that night in December, 1941, when I left Subic Bay in the USS SALMON on our first war patrol. Right now it looked awfully close, and I could picture the gunners at the shore batteries waiting for us to get a little closer. The Navy Hellcats assigned us as cover were a most welcome sight. I remember the day was clear and sunny, and the sea calm and blue. I can still remember that naked feeling when I saw the aircover dropping their fuel tanks and realized they were going to leave us"(Former C.O.)

1445: (AC# 30) Sighted four unidentified aircraft passing from port to starboard ahead, one of which showed IFF. Thinking these might be the relief group we tried to contact them on VHF but with no success. They came no closer than 15 miles but remained in sight until we finally dove, flying on a southwesterly course. These four were followed by three more of the same type. The presence of these planes seemed peculiar for the Hellcats told us before they left the last strike for the day had gone home. We were almost in the reported position of the life raft and searching very carefully by high periscope but so far nothing could be seen on the water. Corregidor looked awfully close and we were almost to the 100 fathom curve so I was beginning to worry about the mine field. We had a good check on the current, setting 227, 5 knots, so I intended to turn when in the reported position of the rubber boat, then follow the current out. The high periscope was being used continually and the shore batteries on Corregidor were probably waiting until we arrived in square XY before opening up

1508: (SC# 11) Sighted what appeared to be either a fishing trawler or patrol boat with the periscope and from the bridge heading to sea from the north side of Corregidor. The range was about 10 miles.

1518: Sighted what appeared to be a rubber boat bearing 124, range about 2 miles. On closing however it turned out to be an empty CARVEL built type of wooden rowboat or life boat painted brown.

1521: (AC# 31 & 32) Lookouts sighted first two JAKES bearing 345°(T) about 5-6 miles and almost simultaneously two PETES, one bearing 214 at 3 miles and the other about 200°(T) at four miles. I took one look at the nearest PETE and as he filled my binocular field we took her down in record time and started deep

1523: One bomb, not close followed by a second bomb, closer, a half minute later. One JAKE hung around the rest of the afternoon patrolling back and forth overhead so rescue operations were a bit curtailed. We searched the area as well as we could by periscope submerged until dark. I do not understand why we could not find at least one of the five rubber rafts unless they were all thoroughly strafed and sunk by Nip aircraft. The presence of the two PETEs and two JAKEs in plain view of seven other aircraft who were still in sight when we dove convinces me the first seven we were unable to contact on VHF were Nips (either JUDY or JILL) and using IFF. I don't think a comparatively defenseless PETE would venture within 50 miles of one of our aircraft even with a juicy submarine in view.

1820: (SC# 12) It was very dark and we were just coming up to 45 feet for a sweep with the SJ radar when sound reported screws and I sighted three PC type patrol boats on a course of about 080°(T) and a range of about 4,000 yards. They were apparently for the northern entrance to Manila Bay. I thought at first they might have been escorting a convoy in but as they passed between us and a large fire at Subic Bay I could see they were alone and apparently completing a routine sweep

1857: Surfaced and headed back in to further search the area. Jap searchlights were combing the sky from the direction of Cavite and Manila

(Former C.O.): "We appeared to have stirred up a bit of a hornets nest here, but they couldn't keep us down and the crew were handling things in great style. Carl D. Laverick, MoMM2C, wrote about this in an epic poem after the war entitled WAR PATROL. He had this to say about that day:


"Aircraft!" an excited lookout casts
"A fighter, Sir, and she's closing fast,
"Out of the cloud at two seven five!
"Clear the bridge! Dive! Dive!"
Beneath the surface in seconds to a hundred feet,
When she's leveled off, it's mighty sweet.
The bomb with a roar, yet sharp report,
Shows this Nip is competitive sport.
He was out for blood, that wasn't a bluff.
That was mighty close; not close enough.
We'll stay down awhile after the initiation,
Then to periscope depth for an observation.
The Jap is gone at least we hope,
For it shows all clear on the periscope.
So we ease up more for the radar gear,
To show damn sure that the sea's all clear.
It looks good and we're standing by,
To surface now for another try.
Air to the tanks forward, hit the air aft.
Open the induction for the engine draft.
Throttleman rolls 'em, they're off with a whir;
"Ready to answer bells on the engines, Sir,"

1900: Picked up radar interference bearing 220°(T) on the SJ radar. Could not establish identification so assumed it was a Jap patrol. He dogged our tail until 2330, while we searched and after we shoved off at high speed, but never once challenged us or answered our challenge. He was rotating his antenna at about 12 RPM between looks at us which seemed rather fast for a submarine.

2038: Saw a terrific explosion which lighted the whole sky and sent a huge black cloud into the air from somewhere beyond Corregidor Island, possibly Cavite. We hoped it was a fuel or ammunition dump. Our airdales got in a good lick today.

2100: Knocked off search and set a course on four engines to clear the area and return to our station. Our chances were nil of finding a small raft in the darkness, we were known to be in the area, our unknown friend was still snooping around, and the moon and aircraft would be up soon so I believe the risk was greater than the stake involved.

November 7, 1944 0030: Sent message #4 to VIX0 giving dope on the results of our search for the information of the carrier striking group.

0054: Submerged to avoid any night patrolling aircraft during the bright moonlight which our message might stir up.

0518: (SC# 14) Sighted a U.S. submarine bearing 307°(T). He apparently saw our periscope for when he was at a range of about 3,000 yards and between looks he disappeared so I assumed he submerged. Headed away to clear area.

0731: All clear, surfaced on station.

1545: (AC# 33) Sighted one unidentified aircraft bearing 110°(T).

1730: Lifeguard duties completed, set course for newly assigned area bounded to the north by Latitude 17-30 N, to the south by Latitude 16-30 N, to the east by Longitude 118-00 E, and to the west by Longitude 115-00 E

1800: Master gyro compass went out of commission for two hours due to faulty tubes in the follow up system.

November 8, 1944 0115: SJ radar went out of commission.

0429: (SC# 15) (Torpedo Attack # 1) Sighted smoke of many ships bearing 340 at an estimated range of 25,000 - 30,000 yards. Position: Latitude 16-14 N. Longitude 118-45 E. Stationed tracking party, put three engines on the line, and commenced maneuvering to attain a position ahead of them on their base course. No prospects yet of SJ radar being put in commission. At various times one or two ships were in sight, but with no radar it was very difficult to determine convoys base course and we seemed to either lose them entirely or get too close in the moonlight. They appeared to be on a base course of about 140°(T) which would head them to Manila.

0530: Attempted to get contact report out but transmitter failed to load up and was reported out of commission

0541: With convoy bearing 320°(T) and the true bearing about steady, submerged, went to battle stations, and commenced approach. The pit log took this time to go out of commission due to a leaky petcock. The estimated range to the nearest ship, later found to be a Chidori escort, was about 17,000 yards. The composition of the convoy was never made out, but five smoke plumes were usually in sight in addition to two Chidori's

0557: Took an observation and saw a large searchlight signaling in our direction from the upper works of an unidentified ship. I believe he was communicating with the air escort seen later and which may have seen us in the moonlight before we submerged. One Chidori was on our starboard bow and the other our port bow and both were closing.

0600: Five depth charges from the direction of the convoy. At this time the nearest escort appeared to be a destroyer so he was chosen as target and tubes made ready. I intended to get inside and fire our electric fish at him then get the bow tubes on one of the merchantmen but our plan was foiled for both escorts were heading our way at high speed. I believe now the nearest escort made radar contact on us (both had radar antenna mounted on foremast) just before we dove and alerted the convoy, then steamed out to investigate

0613: Picked up pinging and screws on sound, range 5,000 yards.

0618: Identified both escorts as Chidori class. Decided to let the nearest go by, then get in on the convoy. Closed outer doors while we went to 100 feet to let the nearest escort pass 800 yards ahead. Sound felt sure he had contact on us at this time. If he did he wasn't sure about it for he circled us and then headed away again. The next observation showed the convoy had made a large zig away, so at:

0634: Went to normal approach course on convoys smoke, nearest Chidori still heading away.

0638: (AC# 34) Sighted one PETE circling over convoy and fairly close

0645: The nearest Chidori appeared to be still pinging on us and now reversed course and headed directly towards us again, range about 5,000 yards. Came left to head towards him, opened outer doors, and set torpedoes to run at 3 feet.

As the former C.O. remembers: "It was now daylight and the visibility was excellent. I decided this was our chance to get that troublesome escort so I turned toward him for a "down the throat" shot. To make sure he wouldn't turn away, I left the scope up to give him a "Tice". The Japanese almost always avoided a torpedo track sighted ahead by turning left to evade; so I had instructed the fire control party to set the first torpedo to run straight ahead down the track, the second to be angled 1/4 degrees right, and the third 1/4 degrees left. If they didn't run deep, and if the exploders worked, we had him."

0657: In position Latitude 16-09.5 N, Longitude 118-56 E., with a target bearing of 010°(T), zero angle on the bow and range 1,230 yards for a down the throat shot, held one second divine service praying torpedoes would run at depth set, and at:

0657-20: Fired tube #4.

0657-25: Fired tube #5.

0657-30: Fired tube #6. Went ahead full and started deep as he looked awfully big

"I still have a vivid memory of my last look as we started deep; the escort’s bow with a bone in her teeth, and the Japanese C.O. on the bridge looking me right in the eye through his binoculars."

0658-00: #4 torpedo hit

0658-05: Tremendously loud explosion followed by typical breaking up noises, which lasted twenty minutes. We must have set off a magazine or his depth charges all went off together as he submerged. So ended the career of the IJN SAGI.

IJN Sagi

IJN Sagi - Photo courtesy of Allyn Nevitt

0705: Stopped at 300 feet and steadied on course 090°(T), as #6 torpedo tube outer door wouldn't close with the gyro spindle stuck in the withdrawn position.

0711: Went to 330 feet, outer door closed, and slowed to 80 RPM, the highest speed we could make without the starboard shaft squeaking.

0711-20: First string of 8 depth charges astern from the other escort which had been about 10,000 yards away when we fired and heading towards us. Changed course to 000°(T) in order to put him on our port quarter and open the range in order to surface and end around the convoy

0744: Escort still hanging on our port quarter, started up to take a look. At 280 feet received two depth charges so went back down

0813: Started up again, screws heard faintly still on port quarter.

0935: All clear by periscope, with exception of convoy's smoke, which looked closer. Went to normal approach course in case this was a different outfit but found bearing remained about steady and smoke drew further away. Could still make out air patrol occasionally. Resumed work on SJ radar and Pit Log. Commenced pumping air down in the boat and repairing an air leak on the high pressure manifold.

1115: All set to surface, took a look at 50 feet and found our old friend bearing 183°(T) range about 17,000 yards and closing. Position: Latitude 16-12 N, Longitude 118-53 E. He stayed on this general bearing, several times closing to about 8,000 yards and then opening again searching hopefully. He was apparently using his radar as I could see the antenna rotate. The convoy smoke was still in sight bearing 221°(T) now.


1419: All clear by periscope, surfaced and headed south hoping we could catch up. Transmitter was back in commission so sent a contact report several times blind in hopes someone was on the surface in position to get ahead. The smoke was now out of sight.


Tommy Witt, GM3/C, remembered this day in his memoirs "My 5th Run:" "About one hour before daylight, a lookout sighted the ships coming in our direction slightly on our starboard beam. We changed course in their direction to intercept them, but were spotted in a few minutes by the Jap(sic) tin cans. Two of their cans pulled out of the column heading for us to give us the old one-two. This forced us to dive, but the skipper said we would try for one of the cans about two miles from us. They split up, one coming in on the starboard beam and the other coming dead ahead. The old man picked the one coming in dead ahead as our target. His plan was to fire three torpedoes and then go deep as quickly as possible. In all probability, if we missed, it would be the end of us because before we could get down the Jap would drop several depth charges on top of us. When the Jap (sic) was only 1500 yards (Former C.O. "It was 1200yds") away, the skipper fired the fish. We all held our breath waiting and hoping that one of those fish found its mark. We were rewarded two minutes later ( "Actual run was 40 seconds. It felt like 2 minutes.) when one of the fish struck the can and sent her to the bottom. -- it wasn't long before (the other tin can) was throwing depth charges right and left, and not for fun either. Several hours later he was still with us dumping his charges as often as he liked. It was night again, in fact, it was almost morning, and the air was getting stale. Everybody was getting hungry and sleepy, but we would have to remain quiet until the enemy left. He finally left after keeping us down with depth charges for almost thirty hours of silent running.(It was only 7 hours, but it seemed like thirty hours to all of us)"

Former C.O.):"After the war Japanese records confirmed this ship as the SAGI, an OOTORI Class Torpedo boat, of which 8 were built in 1935 - 1937. These were an improvement on the TOMODZURU /CHIDORI Class, which had been ordered in the 1931 program designed to beat the treaty limiting types and numbers of naval vessels. They were excellent ships with beautiful lines, 288 ft overall x 27x 9 1/2 ft, 2 shaft geared turbines, capable of 30-1/2 knots. In 1942, they were rearmed to carry 2-4.7 in.DP, 11 -25mm AA guns, 3-21 in. Torpedo Tubes, and 48 depth charges. Only the KIJI survived the war. Several years ago, I found out that the SAGI was placed in service in July 1937, one month after my graduation from the USNA and first commission as Ensign, USN. Who would have guessed we would meet in the South China Sea a little over 7 years later"

1449: Placed Pit Log in commission.

xx48: Hour unreadable in log. No possible chance of repairing the SJ radar by tonight so gave up chase and headed for our area. I did not relish running around at night without the SJ radar in the vicinity of our own submarines when everybody believes we are many miles from here.

November 9, 1944: Patrolling area on surface.

1200: Position: Latitude 17-05 N, Longitude 116-32 E.

1440: SJ radar placed back in commission. The exact trouble was not found, the main difficulty seemed to be a multitude of minor items. It definitely was not up to par yet

November 10, 1944 2000: Sent radio technicians aloft to inspect SD radar mast. Both coaxial lines inside the mast between the upper insulator and the transformers were snapped off, and one was missing. That eliminated the SD radar for the remainder of the patrol.

Former C.O. "The SD radar, used to detect aircraft, sent an all around signal and provided range only. At that time we were all convinced the Japanese aircraft had radar detectors installed, because almost every time we turned our radar on, we very shortly afterward detected an airplane. We therefore used it sparingly, usually in short pulses. After the war we found the Japanese did not have such gear, nor did they have radar on their aircraft. They just had a lot of planes out searching, and we didn't know they were there until we turned on our radar. In daylight our lookouts could spot them in time. Moonlight nights were a problem without radar."

November 11, 1944 0752: Picked up Japanese life preserver painted white with black Japanese characters. SS TERUKUMI MARU - KOBE could be faintly made out in English. It appeared to have been in the water at least a month. Position Latitude 15-02 N, Longitude 117-00 E.

2300: Another topside job. Shifted forward and after bridge speakers, the forward speaker having flooded out through the cable packing gland.

November 12, 1944 1132: (SC# 16) Sighted the upper works of a ship bearing 240°(T) range about 31,000 yards. Position: 17-13 N, Longitude 116-26 E. Stationed tracking party and commenced tracking by high periscope

1256: Two ships could be seen and were identified as a Yamato class battleship and a Tone class heavy cruiser. Sent first contact report blind to VIX0 giving an estimated course of North and a speed of 19 knots.

1402: Sent second contact report blind to VIX0. Base course now appears to be about 020°(T), speed still 19 or 20 knots. At this time the SJ radar managed to pick up the battleship but the maximum range obtained was 30,000 yards. (It should have been at least 40,000 yards had the radar been working properly). This was much too close for tracking as at this range his superstructure and stack could be seen from the bridge and I felt he surely should have seen us. We were slowing but surely losing out for with the sea beginning to pick up to condition 3 from ahead, our maximum speed was 16.5 to 17 knots. Attempts were made to contact other submarines by voice and by VHF with no success and so far VIX0 hadn't indicated their reception of our contact reports. We sent out several reports by voice blind hoping someone would hear.

1530: Reception seemed to be better so sent third contact report to VHA1 and VIX0 blind, this time getting it back on schedule. The base course was now 028°(T), speed 19 knots, and the end around was on us.

1600: Lost sight of contact by periscope in a rainsquall with estimated range 35,000 yards. Radar had no sign of a pip anymore. Base course still 028°(T). Decided to continue on, though seas were becoming heavier, in hopes they would make a large zig to the right. Since sighting this morning they had gained almost 80° in true bearing on us

2130: Gave up search, as we couldn't possibly contact them unless they reversed course. Still couldn't raise anyone on the voice circuit. Commenced return to area.

2150: Sent message #5 to VIX0 giving last dope obtained on the above contact.

"This was heartbreaking to be outrun by these beautiful targets. It was the dream of every submariner to find and sink the YAMATO, one of largest of the Japanese battleships, and we had a heavy cruiser with it.! As it turned out, no one else saw them and they got safely to where ever they were bound. That Battleship looked very impressive with the typical Japanese high superstructure. Thinking of it now I could paint the picture from memory."(Former C.O.)

November 13, 1944 0600: Entered area

1155: (AC# 35) Sighted an unidentified aircraft bearing 230°(T), estimated range 8 miles. Submerged to avoid detection. Position: 16-52 N, Longitude 116-58 E.

1237: All clear, surfaced.

1524: (AC# 36) Sighted what appeared to be a type Pete aircraft bearing 230°(T) range about 5 miles. Submerged to avoid detection. Position: Latitude 17-06 N, Longitude 117-16 E.
The sea was rapidly approaching typhoon intensity and the sky was becoming covered with clouds making aircraft detection difficult, so decided to remain submerged until the air activity ceased. If the plane sighted was actually a Pete he was certainly a long way from his base, but the seas were too heavy to admit the possibility of his flying from a warship.

1754: All clear, surfaced

2235: #3 Main Engine out of commission due to air in the circulating water system.

November 14, 1944: Patrolling on the surface. The sea had moderated considerably.

1227: Sighted an unidentified aircraft bearing 150°(T) range 8 miles. Submerged to avoid detection. Decided to remain submerged for awhile as we were right on a convoy focal point, and consistent air activity points towards something coming our way.

1510: Surfaced, all clear

1549: (SC# 17) Sighted smoke from at least three ships bearing 068°(T) range about 45,000 yards. Position: Latitude 17-13 N, Longitude 117-25 E. Stationed tracking party and commenced closing to determine course and speed.

1655: Sent contact report to the submarine to our north by voice, and heard several other boats with unidentified calls repeat part of our message. The convoy course appeared to be between 000°(T) and 030°(T) and speed about 7-9 knots. No air cover was noticed. The sea had moderated but was still fairly heavy for high speed running.

1750: (SC# 18) Picked up friendly SJ radar interference bearing 000°(T), later identified by exchange of calls as submarine in the area adjoining us to the north. Another radar was noticed to the south of us but unable to identify

1848: (SC# 19) Made contact with convoy bearing 108°(T), range 15, 150 yards by SJ radar. Position: 17-31 N, Longitude 117-54 E. Commenced end around their port side. The air was full of radar interference by this time and estimated at least three friendly plus one or two enemy present. This was very confusing for at no time could we establish identification and our radar operator insisted none of it looked like friendly signals

1930: Closed range to 9,000 yards as contacts were becoming weak on our A scope. Base course 010°(T), speed 8 knots

1959: (SC#20) Have solved the problem, picked out our target, established the general disposition of the convoy and was just about to turn in for the attack - range 9,130 yards, bearing 135°(T) - when the SJ Radar picked up a pip bearing 245°(T), range 6,400 yards and closing fast. Attempted to establish identification believing it was a friendly submarine, but as no answer was received and his radar seemed to be on us steady, put the fourth engine on the line and went ahead flank to pull ahead and clear. The trouble with # 3 engine was still not located but hoped it could be kept running by continually venting the water pump

2023: With range still closing and now 5,500 yards, #3 main engine again became air bound and had to be secured. He tracked on a course heading straight for us at 17 knots and still no sign of a challenge or answer to our challenge. Continued flank on three engines.

2041: Slowed to ten knots as range of our pursuer now opened rapidly and his course plotted as a turn out to the left away from us and the convoy. Could not pick up the convoy anymore, but while searching at

2044: (SC#21) Made contact on a ship showing weak interference bearing 140°(T) range 7,200 yards and closing. Challenged this ship with no success so speeded up until he dropped astern. During this time we could hear parts of messages over our voice circuit, but as each boat seemed to be using at least three or four calls could not make sense out of it, and all messages were badly garbled. We were rapidly becoming a rank outsider in someone's wolf pack.

2115: Saw and heard a tremendous explosion that must have been a gasoline loaded tanker, bearing 191°(T), range at least 15,000 yards. Position: Latitude 17-57 N, Longitude 118-00 E. As still no contact on our radar, reversed course and headed towards the explosion hoping we could pick up one of the ships as they scattered. I began to suspect our contact #20 was a friendly submarine trying to outrun a radar patrol and in so doing had picked us up on his bow and turned rapidly away. Our second contact right afterward (#21) could have been the escort who had chased him and was then slowing to rejoin the convoy. The submarine was probably the one who had just got in the attack. Our radar seemed to be useless at the moment, we couldn't even pick up a rainsquall visible from the bridge. I hoped we had at least drawn off the escorts allowing our unknown friend to get in his attack.

Capt. O'Neil had never known the name of the submarine that sank the ship he saw explode that night, until the spring of 1999 when he came across a study recently published by a former submariner, John Alden. which identified the target as the UNKAI MARU, and the submarine as the USS RATON.

2120: (SC#22) More close radar interference, could not determine bearing. No reply to our challenge.

2130: Depth charges heard ahead.

2144: (SC#23 & 24) Picked up momentary contact, bearing 170°(T), range 10,000 yards and then a second contact bearing 240°(T), range 8,080 yards. Started tracking the 8,000 yd contact. Position: 17-55 N. Longitude 118-04 E. The contact at 10,000 yards was just a single flash on the PPI scope and never found again.

2155: More depth charges

2203: Before we could establish a course and speed, and with the range still about 8,000 yards, lost all contacts on the radar.

2210: Picked up our target again bearing 229°(T), range 7,600 yards, a very weak pip. This must have been a U.S. Submarine for he tracked on a rough course of 180°(T) and now seemed to be stopped.

2223: Lost contact again. Our radar seemed to be slowly giving up the ghost. Continued searching.

2230: Picked up same contact bearing 270°(T), range 7,700 yards, and this time established identification. Position: 18-01 N, 117-59 E. Commenced tuning our SJ radar while we had a target on the screen.

2250: Established communication via TBL radio, and notified him we were attempting to retune our SJ while we had a contact with him. He apparently was tracking part of the convoy, be we could get nothing on our SJ. We soon lost him entirely after the range had closed to 6,000 yards, so hauled clear and tried to get our radar to working before these people got too far away.

November 15, 1944 0015: Radar in operation but with no noticeable improvement. Commenced steering a retiring search curve hoping to pick up remnants of the convoy before dawn. From the messages intercepted it appeared the convoy was close by, although no positions were given.

0039: Heard two or three torpedo hits and sighted flash of light in the sky bearing about 050°(T) which checked pretty well with where the convoy should be. Heard unknown submarine announce sinking two unidentified ships. We later found out it was the same submarine we had been tuning our radar on a short while before.

0101: (SC#25) SJ radar contact bearing 105°(T), range 6,600 yards, showing interference, which was lost five minutes later at 4,600 yards. No answer to our challenge but felt sure it was friendly. Our radar appears to be no better than before. Position: 18-14 N, Longitude 117-48 E.

0313: (SC#26) SJ radar contact bearing 090 range 8,000 yards which was lost immediately and never regained. Again no answer to our challenge. Beginning to suspect we aren't putting out enough energy for our interference to even be noticed. Position: 18-36 N. Longitude 118-05 E.

Note by Former C.O.: "The poor performance of the surface search radar, while we were caught in this melee, really worried me. If the energy emitted by our radar could not be detected nor identified by a friendly submarine, we could be mistaken for an enemy vessel and subject to attack. It was a terribly uncomfortable position. Our radar technician jumped on the problem right away, and before the situation became critical he found the problem and got the set working again. I don’t remember his name, and I am sorry now for I probably gave him a rough time while he struggled to get it working again. With the cramped working space, and with limited resources, he accomplished miracles and he should be commended."

0435: (SC#27) SJ radar interference noted, bearing 259°(T). This time received challenge, so answered and then established identification with a Pearl Harbor submarine. To our question he stated he was not in contact with the convoy.

0553: Dawn. Observed friendly submarine we had been in communication with submerge. As fragments of messages we had intercepted seemed to indicate the convoy had been wiped out by the unknown wolf pack, and nothing now in sight, set course for a new area assigned us during the night. The new area extended from the French Indo-China coast between Latitude 14-00 N. and 16-30 N. and out to Longitude 112-30 E. The seas were still force 3 but the wind was picking up with all indications of a typhoon.

0803: (SC#28) Sighted periscope bearing 135°(T), range about 5,000 yards so put it astern and opened at high speed. About 10 feet came out of the water as we watched, and remained in sight, so assumed it was friendly. Attempted challenging by sound but received no reply. Position: Latitude 18-34 N. Longitude 117-39 E.

1200: Position: 18-19 N. Longitude 117-39 E.

"The last few days had been very frustrating, busy and non-productive. The crew were taking it well despite having to stand their four- hour watches one in three around the clock, up for hours at a time at battle stations, and with all that, coping with breakdown of vital machinery and making miraculous repairs despite exhaustion and lack of sleep. Sleeping accommodations were marginal with bunks three deep. The air was usually bad, and always smelled of diesel oil, battery acid, and unwashed bodies because the main storage batteries had priority on water which we had to distill from the sea. Air conditioning was inadequate because these boats were not designed for operation in tropical waters, however it did provide a lot of condensate we collected and used for bathing even though it was 70% sweat. Most of us smoked cigarettes in those days, and became so used to the foul air, that when we could surface at night after long periods submerged, and air out the boat, the cigarettes tasted awful."(Former C.O.)

November 16, 1944 0714: Submerged for a trim

0735: Surfaced.

0840: Put #3 main engine in commission. Found one head had cracked thus admitting exhaust gas into the fresh water system.

1200: The Radio Technician reported the SJ radar now ok, though nothing definitely had been found wrong.

2320: (SC#29) (Torpedo Attack #2) Made contact by SJ radar bearing 304°(T), range 20,670 yards. This range indicated the SJ actually was operating properly for a change. The seas and wind were now force 5, coming from the Northeast, with numerous rainsqualls and sky overcast. Conditions were perfect for an attack with the exception of the heavy sea. Stationed tracking party, put three engines on the line and commenced working up ahead. Position: Latitude 16-30 N. Longitude 110-14 E.

2340: The convoy consisted of at least 7 ships, three or four being very large. Their base course was about 045°(T) and speed between 6-7 knots. The end around was a slow process, our maximum speed with the existing sea was 11 knots and we were making turns for 17 (knots). Our escort appeared to have radar although nothing was noted on our APR. It was the first time our Pit Log and Radar had worked perfectly, and all four engines were in commission. I was delighted.

November 17, 1944 0116: The convoy's base course now 047°(T), speed 7 knots, zigging every 5 to 10 minutes

between 020°(T) and 070°(T).

0315: In position ahead of convoy, went to battle stations, made all tubes ready, and started in. Three large ships were arranged in a line of bearing roughly 270°(T) - 090°(T) with the largest in the center and an escort on the nearest vessel's starboard bow. Two fairly good sized ships were astern of the nearest and middle large ship (see sketch A). It was decided to fire all bow tubes at the three large vessels on about a 70°(T) starboard track, then turn and try and get the stern tubes on a good target. This allowed the torpedoes to run across sea, while our approach would be down sea and our retirement course could also be down sea.

I had been on the bridge with the OOD (Officer Of The Deck) and the lookouts since our contact at 2320. The executive officer was with the fire control party in the conning tower just below. It was very dark with a lot of whitecaps and although an escort vessel was just a little over 1100 yards away, nothing could be seen. The range to the escort was decreasing so I decided this was the best position we were going to reach without detection. We had a good solution on enemy course and speed, and with ships lined up in depth we had a chance of getting several with one salvo, plus the chance of turning away and getting a shot at another ship with the stern tubes.

Sketch A - Part 2 of Surface Torpedo Attack # 2 November 17, 1944

Sketch A, noted in the patrol report as an attachment, is missing, but enough information is available to reconstruct it.. It is shown here labeled SKETCH A, SURFACE TORPEDO ATTACK #2.. The GUNNEL and the enemy formation are shown in their relative positions, course and speed at the instant the first torpedo was fired. The GUNNEL position is noted at the instant each following torpedo was fired. A longitudinal spread was used, and each torpedo track is shown in color (red a hit, blue a miss) . The subsequent positions of the enemy ships are shown dotted in the position they occupied the instant the first torpedo hit. The second ship hit is shown in the position it occupied at the time it was first hit. The data checks out very well for the expected torpedo run and reported ship speeds.(Former C.O).

0355: In position Latitude 16-56 N., Longitude 110-30 E., with our course 270°(T), speed 9.5 knots; the three targets lined up on about the same bearing ahead between 4,290 yards and 2,218 yards, their course 030°(T), speed 7, and the escort 1,100 yards 10°(T) on our starboard bow at:

0355-28: Fired #1 tube

0355-36: Fired #2 tube.

0355-42: Fired #3 tube.

0355-49: Fired #4 tube

0355-55: Fired #5 tube.

0356-02: Fired #6 tube.

The escort now was at a range of 900 yards still on our starboard bow, so turned with left full rudder and went ahead flank to clear this vicinity. As we were turning:

0356-51: Saw and heard #2 torpedo hit nearest large ship

0356-54: Saw and heard #3 torpedo hit same ship.

0357-01: Saw and heard #4 torpedo hit same ship

The ship seemed to go all to pieces and momentarily light the surrounding area as fire and fragments shot in all directions. In the brief glare two torpedo wakes could be seen passing just astern of him.

0357-29: Saw and heard #5 torpedo hit next ship.

0357-35: Saw and heard #6 torpedo hit next ship.

Immediately the second ship blew up with the greatest explosion I have ever witnessed, worse than the gasoline explosion the other night. It had been dark for a moment after the first ship was hit and now it was as light as day with only the smoke left where the first ship had gone down. From the type of explosion and the size as indicated by radar in comparison with the other vessels it could only have been a tanker. It must have gone right down also for after the huge billows of flame has lasted several minutes, everything suddenly died out leaving only a glow along the water in the black smoke, apparently oil still burning as it spread out.

"At the time of the attack, we assumed the lead ship in the nearest column was a merchant ship, because of the size of the radar blip and the presence of an obvious escort off its bow, near us. After the war, when Japanese records became available, we were credited with sinking the HIYODORI, a sister ship to the SAGI we had sunk some days earlier, and the SHUNTEN (a.k.a." SYUNTEN") MARU. It is obvious now that the lead ship in the near column was the HIYODORI, not a merchant ship , and this explains the nature of its destruction that I witnessed. The second ship hit and sunk, was the SHUNTEN MARU, because the recognition book photo (reproduced in this account) notes that it was ‘believed to be carrying oil in bulk’. By the manner of its going it certainly was so loaded. Another bit of information I recently came across was that the HIYODORI was credited with sinking the USS AMBERJACK (SS219), in an attack Feb 16, 1943. I am happy to have had a hand in settling that score"(Former C.O.)

SYUNTEN MARU

OLYMPIA MARU which is in the same class as SYUNTEN MARU

In the meantime we had picked out a ship on our starboard quarter and with our course 120°(T), speed 18 knots, target bearing 280°(T), range 2,060 yards and assuming his course still 030°(T) speed 7 knots, at:

0358-38: Fired #7 tube.

0358-45: Fired #8 tube.

0358-55: Fired #9 tube.

Although nothing more could be seen astern of us, explosions were heard from 0359-13 to 0407-00. The plot showed none of them could be hits, although several might have been premature as the sea was rather rough for the six foot depth setting we had set on the electric fish. Assuming they were depth charges about 15 were dropped in all which must have shaken the A/S vessel considerably in the existing sea.

Surface torpedo attack - torpedo track chart

The captain had this to say about this episode when he was preparing his notes for this chapter. "I realized it then, and admit it now, I botched this attack by continuing at speed in the existing sea. I should have ignored the escort (so easily said now), slowed when on the new course, and taken a tad longer to check target data. The plot attached shows clearly that our firing set up was faulty, and we obviously missed astern with all three fish. They ran hot, straight and normal, but they were just aimed wrong. Note that the torpedomen in both forward and after rooms, were able to reload 6 tubes forward, and 3 of the 4 tubes aft, in less than one half hour, despite our steaming on various courses pitching and pounding in the heavy sea."

0429: (Torpedo Attack #3) Reload completed fore and aft. We were attempting to locate another target and at this time decided on a ship bearing 280°(T) range 8,740 yards. Again we had to beat up into the sea, but as his zigs were between 010°(T) and 115°(T) we soon were in position ahead.

0522: Made ready four bow and four stern tubes and started in. This ship was the same one we had just fired at with the stern tubes and his speed checked at 7 kts. We intended to get him on his 115°(T) leg so as not to end up dead ahead, but as we started in he steadied on a course of 045°(T) so that meant a long run into the sea in order to fire. About 8.5 knots was all we could manage without pounding too heavily and throwing white water high in the air. As it was beginning to get light and the problem checked good, decided to fire at 4,000 yards before he saw the spray we were tossing up and turn away.

Surface torpedo attack

0545: In position Latitude 17-05 N., Longitude 110-42 E., own course 006°(T) speed 8 knots, target's course 045°(T) speed 7 knots, at:

0545-27: Fired #1 tube

0545-35: Fired #2 tube.


0545-41: Fired #3 tube

0545-46: Fired #4 tube.

Turned away down sea in order to open out before we could be seen in the dawn's light and located one large target at about 19,000 yards bearing 270°(T) and a smaller pip at around 12,000 yards a little to the left. Apparently the convoy was beginning to form up again

0548-10: Heard one hit in our last target which was seen by one lookout. At this time a rain squall blotted everything out in that direction. Started a reload forward, drained the after tubes, and commenced working up to the North westward in order to regain contact

0650: Sighted our last target again, range about 8,000 yards, as the rainsquall cleared off. It was seen to be a MFM medium AK of about 4,000 tons. It was in view from the bridge and the high periscope and could be seen to be well down by the stern and listed to port. It now tracked at 2 or 3 knots so we started working up along its port side and opening the range keeping hidden as the rainsquall closed in. We never saw this ship again after losing it on the radar.

"It had become light at this time, although visibility was limited due to the rain. Seeing this ship at this time badly damaged, listing and down by the stern, convinces me it couldn't possibly have survived in that sea state. Although the Japanese never reported a ship lost or damaged at that time or place, I still claim it as a score for the GUNNEL. When we passed that way later there was no sign of it, and it did not appear in the convoy again."(Former C.O.)

0845: (SC#30) Regained contact, sight and radar, on our convoy bearing 107°(T) range 18,000 yards. The formation now consisted of an unidentified escort, one two stack transport, one tanker and an unidentified escort astern, all in a rough column on a base course of about 047°(T), speed 6-7 knots. We built up to our maximum speed of 11 knots again into the sea and started working around the port side to get up ahead. The seas looked mountainous by this time and visual contact was soon lost in frequent rain squalls, although SJ radar could hang onto the tanker to 18,000 - 19,000 yards. I couldn't understand why radar couldn't pick up the transport as it was at first identified as the HORAI MARU class (page 14 ONI 208-J Rev.) The tanker was identified as similar to the KIYO MARU (page 275 ONI 208-J Rev.) and did not appear to be heavily loaded. The escorts could not be identified. Our Medium AK with one hit was no longer present which makes me think he must have sunk, as this was an awfully heavy sea for such a ship with one hit in the stern to stay afloat.

0944: (AC#38) Still working ahead when we sighted one unidentified aircraft bearing 010°(T), range about 6 miles, coming out of a cloud. Submerged to avoid detection. This looked like the end of our chase for the clouds were clearing away overhead, leaving frequent rain squalls about the horizon, and our diving time was almost 2 minutes in this sea. Decided to remain submerged although I was afraid the convoy had made a turn to the right and was now heading east for TAKAO.

1020: (AC#39) While making a periscope observation sighted what might have been the same aircraft as before bearing about 090°(T) as it popped out of and into a rain squall

1202: (SC#31) (Torpedo Attack #4) Wonder of wonders - sighted our convoy again bearing 055°(T) range about 10,000 yards with a 90°(T) angle on bow. Changed to a normal approach course and commenced closing at full speed, running deep between looks every 15-20 minutes. After about an hour the situation still looked good, so at:

1330: Went to battle stations and made ready all torpedo tubes. The convoy was still in the same relative formation (See sketch B) and I had chosen to attack the two stack transport, intending to fire with a large track forward then turn and get the tanker with the stern tubes.

"The convoy was now down to two escorts and two merchantmen. I had to accept a long torpedo run, but it was a favorable track, and not too great a gyro angle setting, and we felt sure of the targets course and speed. The closest escort was about on us so I didn't have much choice., SKETCH B attached below ,shows the GUNNEL and enemy positions keyed to the time of firing and time of the one hit." (Former C.O. )

1344: Things began to happen pretty fast. The convoy changed base course and made a large zig to their left putting us in a beautiful position. At the same time I recognized the transport as the TAIZAN MARU (P15 ONI 208-J Rev.) and quite small so switched to the tanker as primary target which was coming on the range nicely. A quick look around however showed the trailing unidentified escort to be a WAKATAKE class DD and it now turned giving a zero angle on the bow at a range of about 2,000 yards

Decided to accept the set up as with the heavy sea it was very difficult to make an observation and at the same time prevent showing too much periscope.

In position Latitude 17-36 N., Longitude 110-33 E., our base course 340°(T) speed 2.7 knots the AO course 255°(T), speed 7 knots, range 3940, torpedo run 3650 for the bow tubes, torpedo track 68°(T) and about a 25° R gyro angle, at:

1348-15: Fired #1 tube

1348-22: Fired #2 tube

1348-31: Fired #3 tube, our last torpedo forward

I had just been able to get one short glimpse of the target for a final bearing and then the periscope was ducked by a huge wave, so not knowing just how close the DD was now decided to seek safety in the depth rather than try and get the AP with the stern tubes.

Ship Contact # 31 - November 17, 1944

1350-30: Heard one torpedo explosion which checks in time for a hit with #1 torpedo. At this point we passed 150 feet and everything blanked out on sound. It was the most peculiar sound conditions I have ever found. JP sound at periscope depth had been tracking the tanker from 10,000 yards on in and as we passed under the gradient we lost contact with the range now about 3,500 - 4,000 yards. JK sound had shifted to the destroyer while QB had been following the torpedoes out and both lost their contact at this same instant. The bathythermograph showed a sudden temperature drop of 4° at 175 feet depth, and 12° at 300 feet.

1353: Seven depth charges, not close.

1357: Nine depth charges - close but no damage. They sounded like big ones from the jar but it was hard to tell as the noise was mushy. He was unloading them in a hurry.

1358: Secured from battle stations. As not a thing could be heard by sound decided to try and get another look so started up by cutting normal auxiliaries in

1458: Finally at periscope depth but rain squalls all around prevented a good look. Depth keeping precarious.

1517: (SC#32) Sighted our friend, the destroyer, on a parallel course in the rain squall about 6,000 yards away. Sound could hear nothing. Went to battle stations again but could not regain contact. I am afraid the electrics could not have been set shallow enough in this sea to get the DD. I believe of the original convoy there was now one small AP and a damaged tanker left plus the escorts. Their last course headed them for SANA.

Comment by former C.O." At the time I wrote the above entry, l claimed only damage, and assumed the tanker possibly got back to port. The post war assessment of Japanese records didn't show a ship damaged at this position and time. Much later, however, further studies (by Alden) revealed that the ship we hit was the BANSHU MARU, an engines aft tanker just as I had observed, and that it burned all night and was seen to sink the next day by the US Submarine PAMPANITO. I have wondered since how the Japanese C.O.'s of the two remaining escorts felt as they brought the only ship left of the convoy into port. I can hear their superior now asking the senior Captain: "Mr. Yamoto, where is honorable convoy?""

Carl Laverick, our poet, put everybody's feelings in verse:


"It sure is a damn good thing we dove'er
For here's two escorts to work us over;
One to act as a submarine spotter,
The other to blast us out of the water.
Our boat can take it, all they send,
Their deepest pattern in series of ten,
Each one a thrill, a new sensation,
A chaotic blast, and the reverberation,
The crew sits quietly in pools of sweat,
Unspoken thoughts on how close they'll get.
The deck clock ticks slow and loud,
And ominously in our dim lit shroud,
Yet we move along ever so silent,
Hoping their charges will soon be spent.
For they are not so close, nor near as fast,
And the pinging finally quits at last.

Tommy Witt, GM3/C remembers this also: "As we were firing the other escort turned and headed in our direction. There was another explosion. We had gotten one hit on the last ship we had fired at, but this was not enough to sink it, only damage it and slow it down. The old mans plan was to get in front of the remaining ships then dive and make a submerged run on them. His plan went haywire when a Japanese bomber forced us to dive. The Captain then sent word through the ship that everybody could relax. This suited the crew very well because we were all tired and our nerves were a little on edge after what we had been through. Two hours after we had dived, all the crew that wasn't on watch had hit their rack to catch a few winks, only to be awakened for all hands to man their battle stations at once. The convoy we had fired on the night before had been sighted coming in our direction, and all we had to do was to wait until they came within range of our torpedoes. The skipper picked the merchant ship to fire at first, and the next target was to be a 5,000 ton tanker. Just as soon as the fish had been fired, the skipper gave the command to go deep. As we were going down, we could hear our fish hitting the target. We had just leveled off at four hundred feet, when the remaining escort started dropping depth charges. The fifth one landed close enough to us to knock us down several feet. I was on the bow planes doing everything in my power to keep the ship at an even level. The escort stayed with us for several hours dropping his ash cans at will. After the first hour, he had lost us, and from then on he was just dropping his charges by guess. Luckily for us, his guess was very poor. After the escort had left, we surfaced to recharge our batteries and fill the ship with good fresh air."

1752: Surfaced, all clear. Seas had moderated somewhat but the wind seemed to be picking up and it looked like higher seas than ever before the night was up. Decided not to follow any longer as we were thoroughly lost and not far from the China Air Force blind bombing zone.

1801: Passed through what appeared to be a large oil slick in approximate position of our last attack.

1805: (AC#40) Sighted an unidentified aircraft on a Southwesterly course which disappeared into the clouds ahead of us at about 15 miles.

2000: Received orders to conduct offensive reconnaissance in company with the MUSKALLUNGE of the North exit from Dangerous Grounds which is located at Latitude 11-11 N., Longitude 115-08 E. Set course for new area after obtaining a very lucky star fix through the clouds

"'Dangerous Grounds' are a large shallow sea area bordering the western side of Palawan Island, marked 'uncharted' and known to be full of many rocks and shoals. The only chart of the area available to the US Navy at that time was a survey completed by Captain Bligh of the HMS BOUNTY during his voyages in the Kings service. This is not a joke. It was true. We always stayed clear of the area, unless in hot pursuit. The Japanese of course had charts of their own, but they had never shared them with us. Two of our submarines, the USS DACE, Cdr.B.D Claggett, and the USS DARTER, Cdr. C.H. Mclintock, did enter that area the late evening of 23 October, 1944, and the DARTER is still there today perched almost completely out of the water on what is now called Bombay Shoals. Together as a wolf pack, they made contact with a large Japanese formation, and in a brilliant coordinated attack sank the heavy cruisers ATAGO and MAYA, and severely damaged the TAKAO. The enemy force then entered the area known as Dangerous Grounds, with DARTER and DACE regrouped and attempting to end around for another attack. DARTER hit the shoal at 17 knots and slid to a stop with the water line at about two to three feet. The DACE was able to take the entire crew aboard before daylight, so there were no personnel losses."(Former C.O.)

November 18, 1944 0651: Submerged for a trim.

0718: Surfaced. Wind had died down but seas were still high and numerous rain squalls were around the horizon. This is the kind of weather we could certainly use the SD radar - intended to try and work on it again tonight.

1200: Position: Latitude 15-24 N., Longitude 110-34 E.

November 19, 1944 0047: Commenced work on SD radar mast. The plan was to remove the coaxial lines and take them below deck where the broken pieces could be welded back on. Had to give this up however as we found the lines were not jointed midway as called for in the print and were too long to pull out the top of the mast in one piece.

"This was very dangerous, and the radar technician knew full well he might have a rough time getting clear, should we be unexpectedly attacked by an enemy aircraft. At the same time the radar was his responsibility, He knew the trouble was with the wiring within the mast, and he would have to work from the top. He was willing to try and I agreed. This is just another example of the caliber of the men in the submarine service"(Former C.O.)

0215: Pit Log out of commission again. Same trouble as last patrol.

0421: (AC#41) Sighted a type MAVIS aircraft bearing 125°(T) on a northeasterly course, range about 3 miles. Submerged. Decided to stay submerged remainder of the day for sky was overcast with numerous rain squalls and a plane could get very close before we would be able to see it.

1748: Surfaced, all clear.

November 20, 1944 0430: Received contact report from MUSKALLUNGE of unidentified force on a course of 230°(T), speed 17 knots. Set course to intercept. The seas were now very high and it was raining almost continuously.

0630: (SC#33) Sighted masts of a ship as the rain cleared for a moment, bearing 286°(T), range about 30,000 yards. No radar contact.

0633: A faulty bearing plus the OOD insistence the ship was getting closer led me to believe we were on his track so we submerged and started on approach. A check on the bearing and the navigational plot however showed we were way off the track and already well astern which meant they had passed us at about 15,000 yards in the rain and we did not see them until they had gone by. The plot showed it must have been the same force reported by the MUSKALLUNGE and still on base course 230°(T), 17 knots. The ship seen was tentatively identified as a TENRYU class light cruiser. This was hard to take as by this time, with the distance they had gained, we could never have caught up even assuming we could make 17 knots in the present sea. Our radar seemed to be in its normal condition again. Decided to remain submerged as the overcast sky would make aircraft detection difficult.

The cruiser was the last major Japanese naval vessel Captain O'Neil saw for the rest of the war. They were an endangered species, most of them already sunk. Another heartbreaker to have such a target get by .

1823: Surfaced. Seas condition 4, wind force 4 from about 010°(T).

0712: Submerged on station

1826: Surfaced.

1900: Raised USS MUSKALLUNGE by voice radio and directed her to rendezvous with us to receive instructions for joint patrol.

2113: (SC#34) Made contact with USS MUSKALLUNGE by SJ radar interference bearing 035°(T) and exchanged recognition and identification

2326: USS MUSKALLUNGE stood in to visual signal distance. Directed her to take position 15 miles bearing 090°(T) from our point of origin Latitude 12-20 N., Longitude 115-20 E. and patrol 15 miles east and west at patrol speed of 5 knots during the night, diving at discretion during the day

November 22, 1944 0702: Submerged on station.

xx16: Surfaced. Seas were becoming heavier again. (time from log is unreadable).

November 23, 1944: Seas very high, with high wind and almost continuous rain.

1120: (SC#35) Contact on the SJ radar bearing 318°(T) range 16,800 yards. Position: Latitude 12-20 N., 115-24 E. It was raining hard with the present visibility not over 5,000 yards. Stationed tracking party and commenced heading into the sea to work ahead.

1135: The rain cleared in the direction of the target and it was identified as a properly marked hospital ship similar to the ASAHI MARU (Page 56 ONI 208-J Rev.) Placed it astern and opened range to avoid being sighted. The target tracked on a steady course of 080°(T) speed 8 knots.

2400: Received instructions to secure reconnaissance patrol of northern exit Dangerous Grounds and assume patrol of area bound by Latitude 12-00 to 14-15 N between Longitude 115-00 and 116-30 E.

A study of the area showed the majority of the traffic routes between Manila-Empire and Singapore to run in a generally east-west direction through area so decided to maintain a surface patrol, weather permitting, in a north south direction close along the eastern boundary.

The typhoon was very near, and during the next two days no sights were obtained. The center of the storm during that time moved from the Southeast to the Northwest passing south of us over the Dangerous Grounds

Note by Former C.O. "Navigation was difficult in submarines even in the best of times. Star sights were almost impossible to obtain unless taken within the period of morning twilight and evening twilight. During those periods only the stars used for navigation remained visible, as they were the brightest, but that 15 to 20 minute period was not always available to us. We all got to be pretty good at picking out the navigational stars from among the millions of stars in the sky when we were late in surfacing or couldn’t wait for twilight. Also using a sextant is difficult on a submarine, the bridge being low, hence a poor horizon, and a submarine with a round hull tends to continually roll and pitch.. Bubble octants were available, but they were complicated and most submarine navigators (this was a job assigned to the executive officer) preferred the standard sextant. The DR,,(dead reckoning position), was kept automatically by inputs from the pit log (speed) and the gyro compass (course) and displayed by a light point under the chart on the chart table. Morning, Noon, and afternoon sun lines for longitude were usually out of the question. When submerged at 2 knots with the currents encountered in the South China sea, the navigator could find himself miles from where he thought he was. Loran or satellite navigation was but a dream at that time. That war period was the last use of classical celestial navigation by sextant, chronometer and star tables."

November 23, 1944 0545: Riding out storm, remaining on surface

November 24, 1944 0545: First star sights found us only 70 miles from our DR position.

0650: Lost vacuum in North rotor of Master Gyro Compass.

0700: Submerged while waiting for auxiliary gyro compass to come up to speed. Discovered both bearings had failed in North rotor. Commenced renewal as no spare rotor carried aboard.

1xx2: Surfaced, steering by auxiliary gyro compass. (time from log is unreadable)

November 27, 1944 0623: Submerged for a trim

0640: Surfaced

November 28, 1944 0628: Submerged for a trim

0635: Surfaced.

1700: Received orders directing us to proceed to approximate position Latitude 11-46 N. Longitude 121-55 E. to await orders for a special mission. Advance information indicated a party of about sixteen aviators in friendly hands were to be picked up. This position corresponded with the town of Libertad on the southern edge of the Northwest tip of Panay Island and shown on U.S.C.&G.S. Chart #4414.

1906: Sent message number 6 to VIX0 acknowledging receipt of new orders. Proceeding to new station.

November 29, 1944 0520: Sighted Talabasi Point, Mindoro bearing 080°(T), distance 60 miles.

0845: Sighted APO ISLAND lighthouse range 19 miles.

0912: (SC#36) OOD sighted a periscope bearing 168°(T), range about 8,000 yards. Position: Latitude 12-40 N. Latitude 120-20 E. Maneuvered to place astern and open out. Believe it was a friendly submarine in this area.

1020: Submerged to close APO EAST PASS.

1124: (AC#42) Sighted one aircraft identified as a VEGA VENTURA, bearing 256°(T) range about 5 miles, flying low on an easterly course.

1304: (AC#43) Sighted an unidentified aircraft bearing 198°(T) range about 15 miles.

1845: Surfaced. Commenced transit APO EAST PASS.

2100: Completed uneventful transit, set course for Panay Island.

2135: (SC#37) Picked up radar interference ahead on SJ radar. Exchanged recognition and calls with a U.S. Submarine northward bound.

2229: Passed same friendly submarine abeam to port 5,000 yards.

November 30, 1944 0515: Submerged in position five miles bearing 240°(T) from Pucio Point, Panay and commenced closing the coast to reconnoiter. A study of the chart showed the 50 fathom curve to run roughly parallel to the coast line varying from 1/2 mile to 3/4 mile off the coast, and the 100 fathom curve about another half mile to seaward. No dangerous reefs existed outside the 50 fathom curve.

0800: Repairs completed, placed master gyro compass in commission. Secured auxiliary gyro compass.

1000: In position 2.5 miles bearing 180°(T) from the town of LIBERTAD. Commenced closing the coast. We spent about an hour just off the 100-fathom curve opposite the town, which at that point put us about 1.5 miles off the beach. No sign of life could be seen and the town was largely hidden in the dense trees growing along the beach with the exception of two large sheds or buildings with tin roofs that could be seen through the trees. The beach appeared to be slightly shelving sand down into the water with no reefs in the vicinity. Several large sailboats were drawn up on the sand. No pier or wharf could be seen at any point up to five miles in either direction.

Having located various distinctive peaks and become familiar with the topography, we pulled clear and at:

1836: Surfaced and spent the night patrolling at five knots in an east-west direction about five miles north of Maniguin Island. No trouble was experienced during the day in plotting our position, as it was found that bearings on Maniguin Island, Batbatan Island, the left tangent of Pucio Point, and MT. Pinapoan always gave a pin point fix. When close to shore the right tangent of Patriya Point could also be used. A steady current of 287°(T), .5 knots was found to exist all day in this area.

1946: (SC#38) Made contact on the SJ radar with two small vessels bearing 182°(T) range 6,550 yards. They were on a course 010°(T) at about 4 knots passing to the west of Maniguin Island and identified in the moonlight as small luggers or landing craft. As I did not want to reveal our presence decided to leave them alone.

2300: Received detailed instructions for pick up of evacuees. At 1730(H) the next day we were to meet a sailboat flying an American flag in position: Latitude 11-45 N. Longitude 121-55 E. which was one mile bearing 180°(T) from the town of Libertad and between the 50 and 100 fathom curves. At 1600(H) a security signal of two white discs placed 100 meters apart was to be displayed on the beach indicating everything was clear.

Preparations were commenced to receive the evacuees, a total of about 20 being expected, and during the next day all the food we could spare, all small arms, ammunition, medical supplies, etc., were made up in bundles that could be conveniently handled for debarking the next night.

We were also told a second party of Naval aviators required pick up off the Northeastern tip of Palawan Island the following night, so a portion of the food and equipment was set aside for landing at this time.

December 1, 1944 0518: Submerged in same position as yesterday, five miles off Pucio Point., and commenced closing the coast.

1600: In position 2 miles bearing 180°(T) from the town of Libertad. Commenced keeping practically a continuous periscope watch of the beach while approaching the rendezvous point. No sign of life had been seen all day and at 1730 there still had been no activity on the beach. Three large sailboats were drawn up onthe beach at the town, but they remained in position all day and no one approached them. No sailboats were seen at any time in this vicinity out to the range of visibility of the periscope. By 1700 the current had carried us a bit to the west so turned and headed east paralleling the coast

x133: (AC#44) Sighted one unidentified aircraft bearing 228°(T), range about 10 miles.(time from log unreadable)

1800: Dusk, and as it became dark the beach became obscured in a sudden rain squall. As no security signals had been observed, and no sign of life, decided to take advantage of the sudden rain squall to surface and pull clear.

1815: Surfaced, pulled clear on the battery till we were five miles from the shore, then put on two engines and set a course to the westward in order to inform the base of our activity today.

2028: Sent message #7 to VIX0 informing CTF 71 of our failure to pick up evacuees, and in the light of the second mission due the following night, requested instructions. Decided to remain in this vicinity until further instructions were received in case it was desired we try again the next night.

A few years ago I discovered a paperback book, "Guerrilla Submarines", Bantam Books publisher, March 1980, written by Edward Dissette and Hans Adamson, which finally shed some light on this operation. I quote from page 183.

"The Panay (Filipino Guerrillas) rounded up 20 downed aviators and reported this via Spyron to GHQ-Brisbane. The SS Gunnel, Lieutenant Commander G.E.O'Neil, Jr., on combat patrol in the South China Sea, was ordered to pick up the airmen. Unfortunately no contact was made at the rendezvous and after several days of fruitless waiting the rescue mission was abandoned. The fate of these fliers remains one of the mysteries of World War II that will never be solved." The authors go on to say "subsequently, SS Hake, Commander F. E. Hayler, was ordered to pick up 19 people from Panay, some of whom turned out to be downed American pilots. It has never been determined whether the men where part of the original group which Gunnel was to rescue, or whether they were recent additions to the guerrilla rescue net. No matter, 19 American fighting men got off Panay-thanks to their loyal compatriots, the guerrillas, and the submarines that made them an effective organization."(Former C.O.)

Unfortunately, the authors of Guerrilla Submarines did not have present day computers and the World Wide Web available to aid their research. The mystery is now solved. On December 1, 2000 I received a message from Bob Hamilton, a reporter for the New London Day newspaper in Connecticut telling me I should check out a web site on "Li'l Jo Toddy", an Army Air Force bomber shot down near Balikpapan, Borneo. This site had the diary of Dennis Jones, a sergeant and gunner aboard Li'l Jo Toddy, telling the story of his parachuting from the stricken plane and rescue from the sea by friendly natives who eventually passed him on through Filipino Guerrillas to the town of Libertad, Panay. He arrived in Libertad on November 28, 1944, to find among the gathered evacuees 15 USN aviators and one submariner-Rudolph Velle, late of the USS GUNNEL. The group had gathered during the past weeks and they were anxiously awaiting rescue. Dennis Jones diary tells of his anxiety and worry that as yet no submarine had appeared. Communications were admittedly difficult. They had a makeshift radio station on the nearest peak, which could faintly reach and communicate, with a station in Australia. A runner had to go back and forth between the peak and town to carry the messages sent and received between the Guerrilla commander in Libertad and the military in Australia. Dennis diary briefly described December 1 as a dreary day with rain commencing in the evening and no arrival date set. At the end of the day he reported they received word a submarine might be there on the 2nd, but nothing happened. Finally on the 5th, the USS HAKE arrived and they joyfully sailed for home. After reading his diary I talked to Dennis by telephone, and he was devastated, as was I, to find out 56 years later we had been sitting just off the town within stones throw for two days while he fretted and worried. If they had only known we were there they could have swum out."(Former C.O.)

2249: Received instructions to pick up a party of eleven Naval Aviators led by Commander Miller, USN. We were to rendezvous with a sailboat in position 10 miles bearing 117°(T) from Flechas Point, Palawan which plotted as Latitude 10-18 N., Longitude 119-43 E. We were to be in position at dusk of 2 December. The boat or boats were to show a torch at ten minute intervals and shout the password "BALLAST".

(The Japanese couldn’t pronounce BALLAST)

A study of the chart showed this position to be very close to numerous coral reefs, and two miles from several 4 fathom spots. The last five miles of the approach would have to be in water inside the fifty-fathom curve, rapidly shoaling to 18 fathoms. A large scale chart was made up covering the area of operations by cutting up C&GS charts #4317 and 4319 and pasting them together to make one complete chart.

As we couldn't make a landfall before daylight, it was decided to continue at three engine speed during the night and make a landfall on Dumaran Island in the morning, then approach our rendezvous point until we were within 10 miles of it before submerging for the day. In this way we could least likely be sighted, and would have an opportunity to sight our sailboats approaching before dark. This would allow us to determine the prevailing current and to locate prominent landmarks for use while submerged.

It was decided to transfer all the stores, arms and ammunition at this place as it was considered unlikely we would be ordered back to Panay again.

December 2, 1944 0915: Submerged.

0718: Made landfall on Langoy Island with the lighthouse bearing 305°(T) distance 27 miles. We continued on course 270°(T) passing Langoy Island Light abeam to starboard 10 miles. Surfaced

0915: Submerged and continued approach to rendezvous which we reached by 1600(H)

Flechas Point Map

 

1728: Surfaced and commenced search for our sailboat. As it turned out the evacuees in the boat did not leave Capayas until 1600, which is about 8 miles north of Flechas Point, so it became dark before the boat hove into sight.

With so many shoals and reefs about, we remained well flooded down and kept the fathometer in operation to obtain advance warning of shoal water. We did not start any engines until after the party was picked up so as to avoid making smoke. It was found rather difficult to maintain our position for a current of 1.7 knots setting 276°(T) began running at 1630 and this tended to set us onto the reefs. This also hampered the sailboat on its trip out.

I decided to remain in the vicinity of the rendezvous point until at least 2100 before beginning a search along the coast. This turned out well for at:

1848: Sighted a bright light bearing 317°(T) which went out and about 10 minutes later came on again. It was rather confusing for a while for about three or four lights were in sight in the darkness, and several of them appeared to flash at regular intervals.

We watched the light on 317°(T) flash for a third time at about a ten minute interval, and deciding that was our party commenced flashing a light ourselves in that direction as a beacon. I was afraid they were stopped and lying to, so we sent them a signal "Keep coming", which was acknowledged. This was fortunate for the party had assumed they were at the rendezvous point and had dropped their sail and were lying to at the time our signal was received.

1917: Picked up the sailboat on our SJ radar at 6,000 yards and we soon sighted it when the range closed to about 4,000 yards. At this time we stopped and heading into the current kept ourselves stationary with the screw about 1,000 yards off the nearest reef.

Capt O'Neil with rescued men

Capt. O'Neil and the rescued men on the deck of the GUNNEL.

2019: Sailboat alongside. The party, consisting of the following U.S.N. personnel, came aboard and were taken below:

 

Service Number


Rank and Name

 

70066

Commander Justin Miller, USN

 

142214

Lieut. William Augustus Read, Jr., A-V(S), USNR

 

264310

Lieut.(jg) Everett Ross Bunch, Jr. A-V(G), USNR

 

278227

Lieut.(jg) Ralph Harvey Beatle, A-V(G), USNR

 

334822

Ensign Hector Singleton McDaniel, USN

 

306385

Ensign George Henry Martin, A-V(G), USNR

 

272 47 91

Curtin Scruggs Ford, ARM1c, USN

 

301 00 94

John Francis Cashow, AOM2c, USN

 

554 01 91

Harry Albert Rummerfield, AOM3c, USN

 

570 00 20

Edwin Doan Cunningham, ARM3c, USNR

 

In addition, the following Guerrilla leaders came aboard and were taken to the wardroom for refreshments.

Colonel Jacinto Cutaran, C.O A.I.B. (Sgt. USA)
Major Pablo P. Muyco, INF P.A., C.O. PALAWAN SPECIAL BATTALION (USAFFE)
1st Lt. Alberto Sandoval, (MD) PALAWAN SPECIAL BATTALION (USAFFE)

In the meantime our stores, already made up, were being transferred to the sailboat. The Guerrilla leaders almost cried when they were shown the list of stores and equipment being given them and it is sincerely hoped the Japanese forces on Palawan are seriously depleted by this time with the use of our arms and ammunition

A peculiar situation existed in that COLONEL CUTARAN was actually a Sergeant in the U.S. Army and has assumed the rank of Colonel in order to carry on his work more efficiently. In order to avoid friction and assure an even distribution of supplies, Cmdr. Miller kindly went over the list and from the knowledge he had already gained of their needs assigned each article specifically to certain forces.

The high point of the evening for the Guerrilla leaders and the rescued aviators was a serving of pie and ice cream with chocolate cake and coffee, the first they had tasted in a long while

Stanley Scott, MoMM2/c, remembers this occasion. "One patrol comes to mind -- the Seventh Patrol when we were in the Sulu Sea and going into a small cove with not much water to cover the GUNNEL had we been spotted from the Island and aircraft called in. We were ordered in to pick up eleven Naval Aviators. We entered the cove and waited until after dark for the correct light signal. We all hoped it would be the correct one and not an ambush. All of us who could handle a firearm ringed the deck in case things went wrong. It was a nice cool night, but the sweat trickled down your body. The boat that brought the aviators also had a load of green coconuts. While we unloaded the coconuts down the after battery hatch, the Guerrillas and Aviators went up to the Officer country for some refreshments, etc. In turn we loaded the Guerrillas boat up with all our firearms, ammo, food, clothing, and medical supplies until the deck coaming was almost to the water line."

2115: Completed loading stores in the sailboat. As soon as the sailboat cleared, put the low pressure blowers on, started a battery charge, and set a course for NASO Point, Panay. None of our passengers were in need of medical attention as they had received good care under Dr. Sandoval, and after a good meal they all turned in for a long sleep.

2210: Picked up radar interference on our SJ radar which might have come from Langoy Island. No contact on our APR.

It did not last very long and soon faded out. If it was a patrol vessel he was a long way off.

2330: Sent message #8 to VIX0 informing CTF 71 of the successful recovery and our intentions for the next day.

Major Muyco stated his greatest needs were small arms and ammunition, the next important being clothing, shoes, and medical supplies. This vessel incidentally carried two.50 cal aircraft machine guns and considerable .50 cal ammunition and these were eagerly accepted. A large quantity of hand grenades was also needed and they were given all we had on board. For a complete list of the supplies furnished the Guerrillas, see the addenda to this report.

It was stated that food was not a serious item but any type of canned food was welcome. Sugar was non-existent in Northern Palawan

Clothing and shoes were a problem. The average Filipino’s feet are small, and although the ships company volunteered to a man, very few shoes of the small size required (5 to 7) could be collected. Clothing was no problem as it could always be cut down to fit.

Colonel Cutaran was given two 9-63 binoculars and a 6-30 binocular, all that we could spare, for the use of his coast watchers.

Major Muyco stated the Japanese were very thinly spread in Palawan and except for occasional raiding parties after food very seldom visited the Northeastern coast. A group of about 50 Japanese were garrisoned at Araceli, on Dumaran Island, and other garrisons were located on Langoy Island, Mantulali and Cotad Islands. We had been in full view of Langoy Island for about four hours that morning and weren't bothered so apparently they don't keep a good lookout.

It is recommended that whenever possible in arranging a rendezvous between submarines and sailboats a system of horizontal or vertical lights be specified for display by the sailboat to aid in its location. In our case the rendezvous could have been more quickly made had this been possible for the coast was dotted with lights after dark and led to a great deal of confusion. However the plan did work well and the Filipino leaders deserve much credit for the efficient manner their end of the mission was carried out.

December 3, 1944 0550: (AC#45) Sighted one unidentified aircraft bearing 240°(T), distance about 15 miles. Submerged to avoid detection.

1808: Surfaced, set course for Pucio Point, Panay

2115: Received orders to proceed to approximate position 18-00 N., 119-00 E. and at 0400(H) 5 December pass to operational control of CTF 17. Set course for Mindoro STRAITS.

December 4, 1944 0222: Commenced transit APO East Passage, Mindoro Straits

0252: (SC#39) Sighted a small vessel, possibly a patrol craft, in the center of Apo East Passage, between Ambulong Island and the shoal water to the west. His course was 170°(T) speed about 5 knots. We avoided him to the west passing 8,000 yards by radar without being sighted although the moon was bright and clear.

0430: Completed transit, set course to open out from Mindoro Island.

0452: (SC#40) Picked up radar interference bearing 335°(T) and shortly thereafter established identification with a friendly submarine south bound.

0525: Sighted same submarine, 4,700 yards by SJ radar, just as he submerged for the day and we followed suit

1814: Surfaced, set course for Balintang Channel.

0400: Attempted to raise NPM with no success, so sent message number 1 to CTF 17 twice blind reporting and requesting routing to SAIPAN.


(Former C.O.): "I worried about this at the time, because we were leaving a patrol area and at the same time transferring to the operational control of another area commander. It was most important to report to the new commander on schedule, and to receive in turn directions as to how to proceed. Once we were outside Japanese controlled waters and a stranger in an area controlled by our own forces, we were in danger from our own people who would not know, unless warned, we were a friendly sub. No one liked to have strange submarines about.

Our instructions on how to proceed to Pearl Harbor via Saipan, and radio frequencies to use, were not too clear and our inability to get a message through meant it had to be repeated again giving the Japanese warning of our presence. Fortunately I had a very good and skilled radioman, Arthur Schelling, RT1/c, and I knew he could, by some means, get our message through before we got into trouble."

0821: Sighted and picked up a red and white Japanese life preserver inscribed with black Japanese characters. Position: Latitude 16-02 N., Longitude 118-59 E.

1040: (AC#46) Sighted one unidentified aircraft bearing 240°(T) range 7 miles. Submerged to avoid detection.

1310: Surfaced, all clear. Seas beginning to pick up and sky becoming overcast.

1538: (AC#47) Sighted one BETTY bearing 050°(T) range 6 miles. Submerged to avoid detection. The sky was now completely overcast making aircraft detection difficult so decided to remain submerged until dark.

1805: Surfaced.

1935: (SC#41) Picked up radar interference of a friendly type bearing 090°(T). Unable to establish identification, and it soon faded out.

2212: Retransmitted our message number 1 to CTF 17 as we had no indication it had been received. Although radio reception seemed better we again had to send it blind, I certainly hated to do this with no SD radar and a moonlit night ahead.

2340: (SC#42) Picked up friendly radar interference, and later exchanged recognition signals with a U.S. Submarine. We were unable to exchange calls.

December 6, 1944 0505: (SC#43) Picked up radar interference bearing 080°(T) and exchanged recognition and calls with a U.S. Submarine.

0623: (AC#48) Sighted a JUDY bearing 130°(T) range about 10 miles on a course of about 045°(T). Submerged to avoid detection.

0821: Surfaced, all clear.

1432: (AC#49) Sighted an unidentified aircraft bearing 286°(T) range about 7 miles. Submerged to avoid detection.

1700: Wind increased to moderate gale, seas force 6.

1900: Received message from CTF 17 giving us routing instructions to Longitude 134 E. Further instructions to come later.

"This was a relief. Hopefully our own people would be advised that we were friendly and coming through."


1950: While making about 7 knots into the sea, took a huge wave over the bridge and into the control room which necessitated securing the engines and slowing to 1/3 speed. No damage was done although the ventilation system was flooded. Got one engine going again and found we couldn't make over 3.5 knots without taking water down the hatch. Thoroughly disgusted with this low bridge! We were making turns for 9 knots.

Scotty, on the bridge as a lookout about this time, remembers this storm well. "A big, big typhoon hit. We ran straight into it. We had to slow to one-third speed to keep from taking water over the bridge. The lookouts were called down from their perch high on the periscope shears to the bridge deck where they held on tight behind the O.O.D. The waves we had to run into looked like they were 60' to 80' high, and the boat ran up and over each crest real slowly, then plunged down the slope into the trough, and back up the next slope. The navigator couldn't get any sights day or night.

The O.O.D. got an order from the Captain for two-thirds speed-but that didn't last long for here came a giant wave as we reached a trough and we didn't go over, but right through it. All hands on the bridge held on for dear life. We started to take water down the conning tower hatch and the quartermaster couldn't reach the toggle and get the hatch closed quickly. My, My what a lot of water! It looked and felt like a ton of water coming down into the conning tower, the control room, and the auxiliary pump room bilge beneath. The GUNNEL went back to one-third speed."

December 7, 1944 2020: (SC#44) Picked up radar interference bearing 260°(T) and established identification and calls with a U.S. Submarine also heading for Balintang Channel. No sights now for 42 hours. Still beating into heavy seas at 3.5 knots, our best.

December 8, 1944 0500: Navigator made lucky observations on three stars through the clouds and rain which showed we had been set to the Northwest with a 1.5 knot current. Our DR had long since gone south of Bataan Island and through Balintang Channel. Changed course to 085°(T) to pass through Baski Channel and found we could speed up to 6 knots on this course without flooding the control room.


"This was turning out to be a monstrous typhoon, the worst I've ever seen, and the boat did everything but an outside loop. The waves were over thirty feet high and the wind well over 60 knots from the Northeast, and increasing.

During the last two days The wind had been blowing the water off the crests of the waves in a solid sheet. When in the trough, we couldn't see the sky until we burst through as we topped each crest, then under again down the slope to the next trough-repeated over and over. As we topped each crest and burst through the sheet of wind blown water, the whole boat would shake as the bow dropped and the propellers lifted thrashing out of the water. When we reached the trough, the bow would go under, then shudder and shake as we clawed our way out of the wave front and start up the next slope. I estimated the distance from crest to trough as 400 to 450 feet, because the GUNNEL was 300 feet long, and halfway up or down a slope one could see 50 to 60 feet of water ahead and astern to the bottom and top of the wave. It was physically and mentally paralyzing. All we could do was keep way on the boat, keep our bow into the waves, and not let the ship get broadside to the sea and broach. The cooks bless them, kept hot soup going as usual, and did their best to have meals for the few who could still eat, and life went on. It was at this time, although we knew nothing about it then, four US destroyers of a task force operating very close to us were sunk by this storm. Attempting to maintain formation, they one by one lost power as engine or boiler rooms flooded, broached to the sea, overturned and sank with the loss of all personnel. I have been asked at times why we didn’t just submerge and ride it out. For one thing the storm was lasting too long. About 72 hours was the maximum time we could stay down. The main reasons however was a peculiarity of submarine design. On the surface, as a normal ship, we were fairly stable. with a small positive metacentric height,, that is the center of buoyancy was above the center of gravity or mass.. Upon opening the flood and vent valves to submerge, the metacentric height reversed, and the boat became top heavy while the tanks were flooding. With the ballast tanks full, the boat was again completely stable. In heavy seas, such as this storm,, it was possible for the boat to roll over during those moments the ballast tanks were partly full, submerging or surfacing. Additionally, in heavy seas, it was very difficult to get the boat under, and impossible to hold the boat at periscope depth without broaching. It also wasn’t particularly comfortable while submerged in heavy weather. I have experienced occasions, in lesser seas, when the boat rolled 15 degrees to a side at 200 -300 feet depth due to the rough seas overhead."(Former C.O.)

Picked up Yari Island bearing 105°(T) range 37,800 yards by radar. Commenced passage through Bashi Channel. Nothing could be seen through the rain.

1200: Completed transit of Bashi Channel. Set course 090°(T). Speed still between 6-7 knots, making turns for 13.

2130: (SC#45) Picked up radar interference bearing 320°(T). Identifed as friendly.

December 9, 1944 0835: (SC#46) Picked up SJ radar interference bearing 350°(T). Exchanged recognition and calls with a friendly submarine.

1100: (AC#50) Lookout and OOD sighted a type RUFE aircraft abeam to port on a parallel course at a range of not over one mile. Had the pilot not been flying along "Fat, dumb and happy", we would not be here for it took us three minutes to get under in the extremely heavy seas.

1403: Surfaced, all clear.

1735: (SC#47) Picked up slight radar interference bearing 075°(T). Could not establish identification but believe it to be the same submarine as our contact #46 this morning.

December 10, 1944: Uneventful. Seas still very high and wind about 50 knots. First star sights since leaving Yani Island.

December 11, 1944: Uneventful. Heavy seas.

1200: Position: Latitude 21-06 N., Longitude 129-52 E. Advanced clocks one hour to -9 zone time.

December 12, 1944: Seas beginning to slacken and weather clearing. Position: Latitude 21-23 N., Longitude 133-06 E.

We had now been beating into heavy seas since early evening of December 6, almost 7 days now, and spirits lifted rapidly as the sea abated. We were heading home, or at least to Pearl Harbor, and a chance that a lot of us would be able to see the States and family soon

2131: Attempted to raise Saipan with no success so sent message number 1 to CTG 17.7 twice blind requesting routing to Saipan.

December 13, 1944 0359: Sent our message to CTG 17.7 blind again as we still couldn't establish communication on the designated frequency and there was no evidence our previous transmission had been picked up.

2213: Sent second message to ComSubPac blind concerning our inability to raise Saipan for routing instructions as I was becoming worried about fuel.

December 14, 1944 0239: Received orders from ComSubPac not to go south of Latitude 18-30 N. until routing instructions received from CTG 17.7.

0245: (SC#48) Picked up radar interference from friendly SJ radar bearing 353°(T). Unable to exchange challenge although we made contact at 7,500 yards as the submarine went by on a southerly course.

0605: Submerged for the day to conserve fuel and avoid Jap submarines while waiting for routing instructions.

1729: Surfaced.

December 15, 1944 0206: Tried to raise Saipan again with no success.

0229: Finally received CTG 17.7 message 131918 rebroadcast on NPM fox schedule giving our routing to Saipan. Set course in GUNNEL with three engines on the line.

"The ‘Fox schedule’ often referred to in this narrative, was a system set up early in the war to get messages and instructions to submarines on patrol. All messages to submarines were sent blind, in code, at specific times day and night and at our first opportunity we tuned in and copied those messages addressed to us, plus general messages in the schedule for everyone’s information. We did not have to reply to the messages unless specifically required. As I recall now, the messages for each addressee were repeated over three days. Antenna technology improved during the war years. At the beginning, submarines had wires strung above the deck between stub masts on the foredeck and after deck. By this time we had a short antenna from the conning tower superstructure to a mast aft, and a whip antenna mounted on the periscope shears. This allowed short range communication between submarines in a wolf pack. The radar could also be keyed for this purpose."(Former C.O.)

0528: Attempted to acknowledge above instructions. Finally received receipt from Guam at 1320(I).

1120: (SC#49) Sighted a friendly submarine bearing 218°(T) range about 28,000 yards on an opposite course.

December 16, 1944 0522: Sighted smoke bearing 130°(T) over the horizon which was soon identified as the USS HERALD, our escort. Position: 14-48 N., Longitude 144-30 E.

1100: Passed through net, entered Tamapag Harbor, Saipan.

1137: Moored in nest starboard side to USS FULTON.

1340: Changed all clocks to -10 zone time. Tender commenced work on master gyrocompass, SD radar mast, Pit Log. and #2 main motor.

Frank Cunha visits the grave of his brother
Frank Cunha visits the grave of his brother
Sgt. Edward Cunha, USMC
Killed In Action during the invasion of Saipan
 

December 17, 1944 - December 18, 1944: Undergoing voyage repairs alongside USS FULTON, Saipan Island. Took on 77,000 gallons diesel fuel, 1,000 gallons 9370 lube oil and topped off fresh and battery water. Unloaded five Mk18 torpedoes and took on board four Mk 14 torpedoes for transportation to Pearl Harbor.

December 19, 1944 1000: Underway for Pearl Harbor having completed all necessary repairs.

Proceeding in company with USS LCI 441 and USS GAR.

December 20, 1944 - December 27, 1944: Underway Saipan to Pearl Harbor. Uneventful.

"Uneventful, but very busy. We kept busy not only with training; emergency dives, battle stations, tracking party drills when ship contacts were made, but also cleaning and scrubbing to make the boat stand out when we presented ourselves to the Submarine Command at pearl. Interestingly we crossed the International Date line, Christmas day, December 25, and because we were heading East we repeated it and celebrated Christmas again the next day."

December 28, 1944 0640: Sighted escort Peter Charlie 603 and made rendezvous. Proceeded into Pearl Harbor. Completed War Patrol # 7.


Epilogue

The Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, subsequently commented in his official evaluation of GUNNEL's patrol:

"This very interesting and highly successful patrol was well planned and expertly conducted. Intense enemy anti-submarine measures were encountered along with typhoon weather. The GUNNEL, however, with a consistent display of tenacious and aggressive action inflicted severe damage upon the enemy and successfully accomplished her special mission."

"The Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, congratulates the commanding officer, officers, and crew of the GUNNEL for this outstanding patrol. The GUNNEL is credited with having inflicted the following damage upon the enemy during this patrol:"

IJN SAGI TB (EC) - SUNK - 600 tons

Unidentified (UN) - SUNK - 4,000 tons

Oiler - SUNK - 10,000 tons

AK - DAMAGED - 4,000 tons

Discrepancies in reporting are common.
The numbers reported here are what Gunnel was credited with by COMSUBPAC on July 18,1943.


AWARD OF SUBMARINE COMBAT INSIGNIA IS AUTHORIZED FOR THIS PATROL

Patrol Statistics

Miles steamed = 14,991

Fuel Oil expended= 192,910

Patrol Length = 68 Days

Torpedoes Remaining = 5

Fuel Remaining = 7,000

Provisions (days) = 20

Endurance Factor Ending Patrol = Orders



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