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The Epic Story of the Submarine GROWLER

Published in 1998
R J L Express Publications
Laurel, FL
ISBN 0-9659995-0-5 $14.95

The following describes an interesting book recently provided by the author concerning significant submarine operations in World WarII. These comments which follow include and expand on those contained on the rear cover of the book. Kangaroo Express represents an important contribution to any collection of submarine history.

Kanagroo Express: The Epic Story of the Submarine Growler is a unique collection of recollections of many of the men who valiantly served during World War D on GROWLER (whose nickname became Kangaroo Express)-previously unpublished material from the official War Patrol reports of this gallant submarine, and personal recollections from Vice Admiral Arnold Schade, USN(Ret.), then a Lieutenant Commander and Executive Officer of the submarine-the only one of the three captains of GROWLER to survive the war. The written material in the book is well complemented by many pictures, highlighted by photographs of the crew taken both then during the war and in later years.

Who can forget the dying words of the skipper, Commander Howard Gilmore: “Take her down!” and Schade’s response to that order which saved the badly damaged submarine and brought GROWLER back to port. Gilmore and two others bad been mortally wounded on the bridge by machine gun fire during a close-in attack on a Japanese destroyer. After 10 war patrols including four under the command of Gilmore, four with Schade in command, and two with Commander Ben Oakley, GROWLER was lost with all hands including Oakley while on the 11th patrol.

Schade went on to conduct three more war patrols in the Pacific as Commanding Officer of BUGARA and to a long and distinguished Navy career. His courage and dedication were exemplified in the combat operations in which he participated and in particular in the tremendously difficult period of the fourth patrol when GROWLER’s captain was lost and the submarine critically damaged. Schade continued the same exemplary performance of duty at sea and adiore in such significant assignments as Director, Political Military Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Commander Middle East Force in the Persian Gulf, and Commander Submarine Forces, Atlantic Fleet. In retirement he continued to show his leadership by actively participating in civic affairs.

In addition to his own research, author Richard Lanigan has included vivid accounts of GROWLER’s heroic war patrols that have been told by her crew in the Kangaroo Express newsletter. These personal narratives are deeply moving, as is the entire book. Many incidents stand out which can only be read to appreciate their telling impact. One of these incidents, probably not well remembered by even those familiar with submarine history, is the successful attack by GROWLER against Japanese destroyers in the Aleutians in early July 1942. Other incidents relate to the continual stress of the individual patrols and the high tension of attacks on the enemy, each attack almost certainly to be followed by the terrible effects of depth charge attacks-effects which could only be understood by those who had been there.

The major incident of all is that in which the Japanese destroyer and GROWLER collide while mutually trying to ram each other, Gilmore orders GROWLER to dive u he is gunned down and dying on the bridge. Executive Officer Schade carries out that order, resurfacing at the earliest opportunity to attempt to continue the attack and look for any survivors, and then takes the boat back to Brisbane through hostile waters-2000 miles on the surface at eight knots for 10 days-with holes in the conning tower and with serious damage internally-and with 18 feet of the bow bent at right angles and war shot torpedoes banging from the bow tubes with no way to disarm them.

Kangaroo Express is a compelling story of ships sunk and battles won against the Imperial Japanese Empire, patriotic American lives lost and finally the tragic disappearance of GROWLER during her 11111 patrol. It is a testimony to the patriotism and daring of the submariners who have served their country. It is also the story of lifelong bonds formed by the men who served their country together and continue to meet annually to perpetuate the memory of those who have died.

Naval Submarine League

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