USS HARDER – Report of a Special Mission
Period from 26 May 1944 to 21 June 1944
[Ed. Note: During her .fifth war patrol, HARDER was assigned the task of picking up a team of coast watchers from the northeast coast of Borneo. Three other submarines had tried unsuccessfully to bring out that same intelligence group. Since the rendezvous point was in the vicinity of Sandarkan, on the Sulu Sea, HARDER had to go through the narrow straits between Borneo and the Sulu Islands which stretch northeastward to Mindinao. The main Japanese fleet was at that time at the Tawi Tawi anchorage in the Sulus, about 40 miles east ofthe straits.
On the way to the rendezvous, Commander Sam Dealy, HARDER’s skipper, ran intoajorce ofdestroyers and sank two of them. On the way back down through the straits, enroute a surveillance patrol of Tawi Tawi, he sank three more. More importantly, his anti-DD actions precipitated an early Japanese withdrawal from their anchorage,· and his report of that move allowed adequate disposition of the U.S. naval forces for the coming Battle of the Philippine Sea.
Commander Dealy received the Medal of Honor for his work on that patrol, and the account of his anti-destroyer actions, in Roscoe’s U.S. Submarine Qperations in World War 11 (pages 375 to 378), is highly recommended.
It is the other part of that patrol which is reported here,· in order to emphasi:t.e the importance of multi-mission jlaibilily to successful sulmuzriM warfart. Sam Dealy had to fight his way into and out of the rendezvous, but he did get the Allied intelli-gence party out with their important lnjomUJtion. He also conducted a highly important surveillance operation in conjunction with his other missions,· and, he caused significant attrition in the enemy’s war lighting strength.]
ANNEX DOG TO COMMANDER TASK GROUP
SEVENTY-ONE POINT ONE
OPERATION ORDER 64-44
- An attempt is to be made to evacuate six Allied Intelligence Bureau personnel (British and Australian Army Officers) from the Northeast Coast of Borneo in the vicinity of latitude 5°-25′ North and longitude 119°–02′ East.
- Major Jinkins and partner will board HARDER in Pre-mantle with all equipment necessary to effect the evacuation. This will consist of boating equipment and walkie-talkie radio units for communications.
- In general, the plan is to conduct Major Jinkins and partner to the general vicinity of the area specified above. There disembark them, each in a small boat, to proceed to the beach and pick up the party on shore and return to HARDER. Recognition signals between the submarine and the shore are unnecessary. Communications between the submarine and the boats will be by walkietalkie high frequency radio.
- Attempt at evacuation will be made during the period 6 to 12 June inclusive. If not successful on first attempt, further attempts will again be made as deemed feasible by Commanding Officer, HARDER. The party on shore will be informed of these dates. Any directives for change in this general plan will be received from Commander Task Force Seventy-One. Minor details of execution of the general plan will be worked out personally between Major Jinkins and the Commanding Officer,HARDER.
- Prior to departure of HARDER from Exmouth Gulf, training exercises will be conducted to insure satisfactory operation of all equipment and thorough indoctrination in details of the plan.
- Maintain strict secrecy concerning this operation and submit separate written report to this Command upon return from patrol.
From: The Commanding Officer, USS HARDER
To: The Commander Task Force Seventy-One
Subject: Special Mission of USS HARDER
NARRATIVE: (all times local)
26 May 1944
1230 Major William L. Jinks (MBE), Australian Imperial Forces, and Sergeant Stanley W. Dodds, Australian Imperial Forces, reported aboard for duty in accordance with reference (a).
The equipment for the special mission consisted in general of the type normally carried for operations in the jungle, and two collapsible rubber canoes, provided with outboard motors and paddles and of three U.S. Army type walkie-talkies. (It is here strongly recommended that all subs be provided with boats of similar type and with several sets of walkie-talkies in order that they may be better prepared to always carry out tasks of similar nature.)
Before leaving port, one of the walkie-talkie sets was put on board USS REDFIN in order to test the equipment for strength, modulation and maximum range.
1300 Departed Fremantle in company with USS REDFIN in compliance with dispatch orders.
Enroute Exmouth Gulf held day and night test of the communication sets with results as follows:
Maximum range: 13,000 yards
Maximum range: 7,000 yards
Modulation: Only fair
(Much static and several different, distant stations prevented good reception.)
May 29. 1944
0800 Arrived at Exmouth Gulf.
1400 Held drills in quick assembly of the collapsible boats and tested the boats and their outboard motors.
1500 Sent boats out from submarine and found that our SJ radar could not detect them at ranges beyond 1000 yards .
A radar target was therefore devised, consisting of a wire mesh screen secured to a 3 ‘x3’ frame and made fast to an oar which could be raised to a height of 10 feet. Credit for this device should be given the Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander F.C. Lynch.
2200 Assembled all equipment and held a dress rehearsal of the special mission to be accomplished. The radar target worked perfectly. When held aloft by a man in the boat, our radar was able to take bearings and ranges out to 5,600 yards, although the canoes had disappeared from sight at 500 yards. Walkie-talkie communication was used to advise the proper courses which the boats should steer enroute to the beach and when returning to the submarine.
May 30-June 8. 1944
Enroute to area for special mission, detailed plans and alternative plans were worked out with Major Jinkins.
Our two day late arrival at the designate rendezvous was occasioned by torpedo attacks which resulted in the sinking of two Jap destroyers and a thorough arousing of the hostile nature of six more destroyers assisted by night flyers who held us down in Sibutu Passage.
June 8. 1944
1400 Arrived off rendezvous and made periscope reconnaissance of the coastline, and a study of prominent peaks and coastal currents for navigational purposes.
1940 Surfaced. Remained flooded down to deck level with propulsion on the batteries, and moved in toward the coast.
2015 Assembled boats and all equipment topside and made last minute preparations.
2139 With one fathom of water under the keel and bow pointed toward the beach 6,500 yards away, put boats in the water.
2140 Major Jinkins and Sergeant Dodds embarked in boats and shoved off. Radar contact on the screen, held aloft in the leading boat, was maintained out to 5,400 yards and the boat was guided toward its prearranged landing point by walkie-talkie communication.
The moon was full, visibility like that in daytime, and the bridge watch was doubled with attention concentrated on looking for night flyers and enemy patrol craft.
Radar navigation made it easy to keep the ship in its proper position.
2318 Received communication from Major Jinkins stating that the party ashore had been contacted and had replied with the proper signal.
June 10. 1944
0125 Rescue boats returned to ship with the following listed officers and men:
Major Chester, British Army
Lieutenant Woods, Australian Imperial Forces
Warrant Officer Chew, Australian Imperial Forces
Sergeant Cottee, Australian Imperial Forces
Sergeant Olson, Australian Imperial Forces
Sergeant Neil, Australian Imperial Forces
All were in good spirits and apparent fairly good physical condition except for the fact that all were slightly starved and in need of much rest. It is doubted if succeeding events on HARDER provided the latter requirement. Enroute to Darwin, Major Chester, Lieutenant Woods, and Sergeant Cottee suffered several recurring attacks of malaria.
Major Jinks and Sergeant Dodds were adopted 100 percent as members of the crew. Their carefully planned and courageous rescue of the comrades won the respect of officers and men alike on HARDER. Both offered to share part of the work on the cruise and Major Jinkins stood watches as JOOD while Sergeant Dodds took his tum as Both did their jobs well, and the Major showed a particular adeptness in submarining. Though his ambition to qualify as a submariner during the patrol lacks the essential elements of time and experience, his presence aboard was of definite benefit to the ship and all aboard are proud to have served with him. Any ship to which he may be assigned for other special missions can be sure that his presence will be an asset to the ship.
June 11-16. 1944
In assigned operating areas.
June 17. 1944
June 21. 1944
Arrived Darwin and disembarked passengers. Special mission completed.
From : Major W .L . Jinkins, MBE
To: Commander Task Force Seventy-One
Subject: Special Mission of USS HARDER (SS 257)
- The following is a report on the special mission which consisted in picking up a party of six officers and NCOs from the northeast of B.N.B. This mission was carried out from USS HARDER (SS 257) on the night of 8 June 1944.
The report covers only the sequence of events of the mission between the hours of 1830, 8 June to 0145, 9 June 1944.
The mission was carried out by Major W.L. Jinkins and Sergeant S.W. Dodds of the A.I.F. with the able and very cooperative assistance of the captain, officers and all members of the crew of USS HARDER.
- At 1900, 8 June 1944, two Folboats (special canoes to be used for the operation) were made ready in the forward torpedo room and all accessories assembled ready for passing through the forward torpedo room hatch to the deck.
HARDER, at this time, was underway on the surface and making 1/3 speed on the batteries toward a preselected position approximately 6,000 yards north of the shore rendezvous.
At approximately 2055, the canoes were passed topside. Major Jinkins and Sergeant Dodds, together with assistance of V.L . Dallessandro, TMlC, USN and W.F. Young, TM2C, USN (both members of HARDER crew), completed the assembly of the canoes. The accessories were then passed topside and stowed in their respective places in the canoes.
Final bearings and the range were checked with Lieutenant Commander F.C. Lynch, Jr., USN, the navigator. A course of 158° magnetic, at a range of 7,500 yards from the shore, rendez-vous was established. The canoes were launched from this position at 2140; the course set on the compass and the paddling to shore commenced.
- The weather conditions were ideal for the execution of this type of operation:
Wind – Very slight
Water – Smooth
Sky – Cloudy and overcast
Moon – Full (moonrise at approximately 2130)
Tide – Slight westerly set.
- At 1200 yards range, a radar range and bearing check was made by voice with the walkie-talkie sets. This check was made by voice and repeated from time to time up to 5,000 yards when radar contact for some unknown reason was lost (believed to be due to the proximity of the trees on the land, all low lying, some 2,500 yards from the canoes.)
- A green light was flashed to sea in the direction of the submarine to check the bearing; the bearing was found to be correct and the paddling proceeded. Direction was maintained quite accurately by means of a P. 8 Air Force compass and by the stars. At approximately 600 yards from the shore, contact with the sub was again established; the sub was informed that the light signal to shore was about to be flashed.
- A white light was flashed directly on the compass bearing ashore, a pause of a few seconds and the light was again flashed on the position ashore. No reply. The light was then moved in an arc of 100 left and 15° right to cover the immediate vicinity of the coast and then returned to the first position. This time a light flash was seen from the shore at the exact spot. The letter V for Victor was flashed ashore to which was replied Y for Yoke; a B for Baker was flashed ashore and the commentary of the proceed-ings was given to the submarine by radio. Indication that the canoes were then proceeding ashore was also given the sub. The radio was secured and the canoes paddled in-shore to approximate-ly 100 yards from the mangroves. The water, at this stage, was less than six inches deep with a soft, thick, mud bottom.
Radio communication was again opened up with the sub and light contact with the shore party reestablished.
7 . Voice contact was then established with the shore party and an open circuit maintained with the submarine. The first chal-lenge, “Who are you?” was replied to by “Gort”. This reply was recognizable by the voice as being that of Major Chester. The second challenge made was, “Is Alec with you?” The answer was “Yes” in Warrant Officer Second Class Chew’s voice was heard. Chew was then asked who his Platoon Sergeant was (he having had one). The reply was “Doddsie”. This reply was correct and proved beyond doubt that the party ashore was the Python Party.
8 . The canoes were paddled approximately 20 yards closer ashore where they grounded. The shore party were then told to walk out. The mud was too thick to allow the party to walk; they were compelled to crawl through the mud and water to reach the canoes. At this stage, Sergeant Dodds transferred to the towing canoe.
The submarine was informed that everything was as planned and that the return trip would commence in five minutes.
Major Chester was the first to arrive at the canoes, then Lieutenant Woods, Sergeants Cottee, Olson and Neil. Warrant Officer Chew was not in sight and did not answer a call to him. Sergeant Dodds was asked to go to his assistance; this he did and found Warrant Officer Chew on his way out, he having delayed to bury his weapons in the mud.
All men were in various stages of exhaustion on reaching the canoes. The sub bad been informed that the party were on their way out and that the return would be commenced within five minutes. This was not done owing to the excitement and fatigue of all concerned. The return to the submarine was commenced at approximately 0025. The shore party were covered with mud and were advised to throw their clothes away to avoid both the bad smell and bringing the mud aboard the sub. This was done by Major Chester and Warrant Officer Chew; the others being too excited or tired to comply. The canoes were pushed into deep water and all personnel embarked. Sergeant Neil, Lieutenant Woods, Major Chester in No. 1 canoe. Sergeants Olson and Cottee and Warrant Officer Chew in No.2 canoe. Both outboard motors were set up on No. 1 canoe owing to the loss of the outboard cleat from No.2 canoe. No.2 canoe was taken in tow. The port motor was started, the radar screen held in position and the 7,500 yard return trip was commenced at approximately 0030.
- It was found that one man cannot safely manage two motors on one canoe so the starboard motor was rigged in and not used. Communication with the submarine had not been opened again owing to the difficulty of transmission when the motor was running. Although, radar contact was regained by the sub at 3,000 yards at 0055.
- The compass course was reversed and steered on until the sub became visible, the course was then changed (f left and steered on until 0125 at which time the canoes were separated and hauled alongside HARDER. The party was given a rousing reception aboard, then taken below. The canoes were taken aboard and HARDER put to sea. The canoes were then disman-tled and stowed below. This was completed by 0145.
The shore party took a hot shower and were then treated to a supper party especially prepared for their benefit. This being just another of the many considerations by the captain of HARDER for the comfort of the visitors.
- A total mileage of 1,096 miles to reach the pickup area, a total of 4-112 hours operational time and the Special Mission had been successfully completed.
I would like here to report and express, in writing, my sincerest appreciation to the captain, all officers, and all members of the crew of USS HARDER for their able assistance and cooperation prior to, during and after the completion of the mission. Also, to Admiral W.C. Christie and members of his staff for the opportunity to travel by a U.S. submarine to attempt this mission.