MORE ABOUT GHOST OF WAR
28 February 1999
Editor: I strongly endorse Prentice Cushing’s recent review of Ghost of War and offer these additional comments.
I was Exec when we sank AW A MARU and as customary on a night attack, the Exec made the approach and attack in the conning tower while the Captain stayed on the bridge with the conn. The target’s radar image looked typical of the many Japanese destroyers we’d tracked (later believed due to her being loaded to the gunnels with only the superstructure a radar target) and she was making high speed without zigzagging directly toward the spot where SEA FOX had hit a convoy 10 hours earlier. We were already on her track so after getting a solution we pulled off and stopped. When the track angle was textbook and the torpedo run 1200 yards, convinced she was a destroyer we fired a 150 percent spread from the after nest at four feet depth. When the first hit-“hooray”. Then the second “We got the tin can.” The third-“We must have hit some debris in the water.” But when the fourth hit told us that this was a much longer ship than a destroyer and we turned and passed over the spot. There were a dozen or so people in the water visible through the thick pea-soup fog under a full moon but they all swam away from heavies thrown to them. One man finally allowed himself to be hauled on board and we took him below and cleaned him up and later interrogated him.
Last year when I saw the flyer for Ghost of War on a hotel counter at a reunion at King’s Bay trumpeting the book as describing the .. victimization of Japan in the Pacific War” I could hardly believe my eyes. On return to the Coast, I called the author, who had interviewed me extensively, and he said those were not his words but those of the Naval Institute. I remarked that aboard USS SAN FRANCISCO in Pearl Harbor that peaceful Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, somehow I felt more the victim than the aggressor as the Japs roared down out of the sky trying very hard to kill me. I got away with just a shrapnel fragment in my hand but the surprise attack left me with a lasting opinion of the Japanese culture and its fully documented lurid military history of ruthless aggression, torture, rape, and vandalism in Manchukuo, Korea, Nanking, etc. which their government officially lied about to the schoolchildren until very recently when a few grains of truth were revealed, e.g. the brutal enslavement of Korean “comfort girls” by the Army. The “victimization of Japan is the last way I would describe the actions of the Imperial Japanese Empire in WWII.
To whom should I apply for reparations for the gross inconvenience, the life endangerment, and the severe mental strain I encountered for four years almost constantly at sea and under attack due entirely to the actions of the Imperial Japanese Empire? Oh, and the pain and suffering caused by being struck and wounded again by a Japanese bomber off Guadalcanal. Victimization of Japan indeed!
INFORMATION WEB SITES
Additional information about the Defense Science Board’s report, and about the new Virginia class SSN, which may be helpful to any letter writers can be found on the N87 website at:
www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/cno/n87 /winter99/defense _ science.htm www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/cno/n87 /usw/winter99/Virginia _class. htm
Hope this is helpful.
AN E-MAIL EXCHANGE WITH THE AUTHORS OF BLIND’S MAN BLUFF
Our Submarine Heritage!
Re: Blind Man’s Bluff
To the authors: Drew & Sherry
What a book! I bought the book as soon as it hit the bookstores, read it, and finished reading it a second time and it’s been simmering~y my head compelling me to speak out-but completely unsure as to what to say! Debating whether to swear and complain or praise and rejoice. Mixed emotions-anger, betrayal, thankful-ness, pride-triggered by reading a book!
The novelty of obtaining information from “entrusted members of a silent service”. Sensationalism at its greatest. On one hand the breaking of a trust, on the other hand, the public awareness and recognition long past overdue “owed by so many to so few”! God knows our leaders and fellow countrymen need to know the part played by our Submarine Force in the defense of our country! Not just during the Cold War or WWII but even today.
I wish to quote the Creed of U.S. Submarine Veterans:
“To perpetuate the memory of our shipmates who gave their lives in the pursuit of their duties while serving their country.
That their dedication, deeds, and supreme sacrifice be a constant source of motivation toward greater accomplishments.
Pledge loyalty and patriotism to the United States Government.”
I take this Creed seriously.
Our country is a free country-to maintain national security in such a society is a true challeng~ut the price of not maintaining that security is so much more important, so much at stake!
Commenting on the events described in the book, ~could be deemed detrimental to national security interests”.
Pelton, the Walker spy ring, and all the other traitors did so much damage to our country, that I make but one comment; I believe that treason in a time of war (Cold or Hot) should be punishable by death.
Submarines and submariners-if you have ever been a crew-member-it’s in your blood! It may be repressed for years; you can hide it, ignore it, or deny it but it’s there and it will surface one day!
So you understand from what perspective you are getting this blast. I made patrols on a couple of boomers (SSBNs) during the ’70s and ’80s. A chunk of the prime of my life was spent underwater away from my family and loved ones, not knowing if the next Battlestations missile would be Armageddon or just another damn drill! I also feel, however, that it was us that helped prevent nuclear war!
Amazingly, I find myself thinking 11When is the next book?\ and at the same time praying that nothing of real value is revealed for fear of damage to the country and service I love.
The sentence in the last paragraph in your Acknowledgments … that this history has to be told before it was lost forever, rings to terribly true.
In the year 2000, our submarine service will be 100 years old. Thank you for helping celebrate the Submarine Centennial. One hundred years ago the struggle was on just to prove that the submarine was a workable, viable weapon worth spending tax dollars
on. The many men who died in the early years of submarines did not lose their lives in vain.
The response received from the authors is as follows:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 09:46:17
Subject: Re: Our Submarine Heritage!
Thank you for the words of praise. As for your concerns: I want you to know that we shared them and worked hard to avoid compromising any ongoing operations. Perhaps it will make you feel better to know that on Nov. 11 former Secy of the Navy John Lehman reviewed the book in the Wall St. Journal and called it Brilliant. We also did a lot of reporting, and we were careful to make sure we were doing no harm. We had many very high-level sources who thought that the information in our book could safely come out. And as you point out, Pelton and Walker had sold the secrets when they were secrets. What was left was putting a human face on all of this. We showed the daring and brilliance of cable tapping, but the Russians already have the cable tap sitting in their museum. We showed just what trailing takes, but we did so years after Walker told the Soviets that we were trailing their subs all over the oceans. We showed people far more than technology. We showed that the submarine force did a crucial job, and that men risked their lives to make it all happen.
Your members also might be interested to know that 11Blind Man’s Bluff” recently won the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Naval History Book Prize. The prize is awarded jointly by the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Foundation, the Theodore Roosevelt Foundation, and the Navy League of the United States.
“After all, submarining has always been a game of Blind Man’s Bluff.” -a top submarine admiral. Shercy@Panjx.com (Co-author “Blind Man’s Bluff’)
I, Thomas Denton, ETC/SS, USN(Ret.), submit this to the Submarine Review at the urging of several of my fellow submarine veterans (Capitol Base members of USSVI) who are well aware of what is at stake and know the true meaning of the Silent Service.
8629 Discovery Blvd.
Walkersville, MD 21793
Dear Vice Admiral Cooper,
I have been writing a letter of heartfelt thanks to all committee and board members of the Naval Submarine League. Such a letter is well deserved not only for all that you do for the Sub League but also for choosing to honor me with the current Admiral Frederick B. Warder Award. I wanted to write to each and every one of the dozens of you.
With my recent transfer to Japan, I have been very busy unpacking and ge~ing settled so please forgive me for not writing this letter sooner!
I was very honored to have been presented with the award. My work on my boat, community service as a chef, and historical teachings as the President of the Civil War Sailor and Marine Magazine and Association could not have been recognized better. I understand that I am the first MS to have received the award. I want to thank you for your continuous support of today’s active submarine fleet and our important role. I’d also like to express how much I appreciate these awards and the awards program in general for the fleet sailor.
I wish you all a happy and peaceful 1999.
MSC(SS) Martin C.J. Mongiello, USN
BRITS PLEAD NOT GUILTY AS CHARGED
See: Memories off Lombak Strait or Rites of Passage, SUBMARINE REVIEW, January 1999.
Although Captain Gillette’s introduction to the Lombok Strait transits by Allied submarines during World War II is not challenged, no evidence whatsoever exists to support his final paragraph! On passage to and from one’s patrol area, Lombok was certainly no place to loiter, or treat lightly. The comments, however, suggesting a gun surface action by an unnamed British submarine, flying a Japanese Ensign, are in my submission unfounded and pure myth. In short, the Brits plead, 11 Not guilty as charged.”
Arguments for the Defence
1. The only British submarine silhouette to resemble that of the Japanese R-0 class is the River class. Only two HM submarines of this class-CLYDE and SEVERN-were operating in the Far East theatre at the time in question. Both were based in Trincomalee, Ceylon with all their operations taking place off the East coast of Malaya and in the Andaman Sea. At no time did either submarine transit the Lombok Strait.
2. HMS MAIDSTONE, the submarine depot ship, arrived in Freemantle in mid-September 1944 and was joined on 24th September 1944 by the first submarine to operate from that area-HMS/M TANTALUS, commanded by Lieutenant Jeremy Nash. Rear Admiral Jimmy Fife relieved Admiral Christie as Commander Submarines Southwest Pacific shortly after the British arrival. It is at least doubtful that any Lombok transits by RN submarine took place while Admiral Christie was in post. Admiral Fife was well known to the more senior RN submarine officers. In 1941, well before the United States came into the war, he, then a Commander, had carried out patrols in the Mediterranean in HMS/M TRIUMPH with Commander Sam Woods with the object of gaining first-hand experience of wartime submarine operations. He was an ideal choice to encourage friendly relations between the British squadron, which was arriving, and the two larger squadrons of United States submarines already based at Freemantle.
3. HMS/M TANTALUS, with Lieutenant Commander Rufus having resumed command after a short period of sickness, was the first British submarine to transit Lombok for a 52-day patrol in the Singapore area. Jeremy Nash remained operating from Freemantle in command of HMS/M TRADE-WIND until July 1945. By that time, the United States squadrons and the British S class submarines had departed for Subic Bay. Jeremy Nash comments that had such an incident occurred all commanding officers would have been informed and briefed accordingly! Quite apart from personal memory, however, a thorough search of the Submarine Museum archives at HMS DOLPHIN has failed to produce any evidence to support the “unusual” action of which we are accused. If the name of the alleged submarine or its commanding officer can be suggested, further research will, of course, be made.
On a more aggressive note, HMS TAURUS commanded by Lieutenant Commander Mervyn Wingfield was involved in a gun action off Penang in November 1943. On completion of minelaying, he was hurriedly reloading his tubes with torpedoes while attempting to make for safer water offshore. Shortly thereafter, a large Japanese I class submarine was sighted making for Penang escorted by a submarine chaser. Wingfield immediately turned to attac~ at periscope depth. A full salvo of torpedoes sent 1-34 to her doom with TAURUS, still in relatively shallow water, coming under attack from the sub-chaser. Going deep in a hurry. the submarine hit the bottom with such force that its bows became stuck in the mud. The second pattern of depth charges exploded around her, doing little damage but shaking the bows free from the firm hold of the bottom. After bouncing along the bottom once or twice, TAURUS was brought to periscope depth for a look at the enemy. Wingfield, sighting the submarine chaser beam on at very close range, decided that gun action was his only option. Closing up, with the gun and conning towers fully manned, he hit the surface with a rush! The first two shells smashed into her bridge and the third aft on her hull. It is doubtful if the Japanese chaser’s crew realized what had hit them.
Mervyn Wingfield very much doubts that his gun action was the origin of the story. As far as the “Japanese Ensign” is concerned, no such flag was included in the RN signal stocks of a submarine at that time. To hoist such an Ensign, in any event, would have been disgraceful and only an idiot would have attempted to do so in the circumstances of this gun action. There was no time to hoist anything on surfacing-Japanese or British. Afterward, with enemy aircraft already on the way, his only thought was to take the shortest possible route to deeper and calmer waters!
Commander R. W. Garson, CBE, Royal Navy
UK POLARIS COMMEMORATIVE COVERS
Having been a Polaris submarine for 20 years I produced a commemorative cover for the decommissioning of the four Polaris submarines, price £5 plus p&p, color printed envelope with Commanding Officer HMS REPULSE and posted in Helensburgh, Scotland. Informative pictorial insert limited edition-only 300 left.
REQUEST FOR INFO RE: INTER-WAR DEVELOPMENT
I am currently engaged in research regarding the development of the submarine from World War I to the end of World War II. My emphasis is on (1) German submarine and tactical developments and (2) how the development of new tactics and technology affect convoy Allied convoy tactics and countermeasures.
I am a non-traditional student that has returned to the university environment after a 25-year absence from higher education. I am enrolled in a senior-level history class devoted to the study of the European conflicts from 1870-1990. I must complete a research paper regarding a topic relating to this area of study. I have always held submarines and their crews in the greatest respect of their courage and sacrifices. I wish to learn more and I was told that this is the place to come to for help and answers. Thanks in advance for any help you can throw my way.
REQUESTING INFQ RE: WWII SQNOBUOYS
Could anyone direct me to a source of information having to do with the development of the aircraft dropped sonobuoys carried by U.S. aircraft during WWII These devices came into the fleet about 1943 and were used in the Atlantic against the German submarines? I am particularly interested in how they were developed and by what governmental and civilian organizations.
I thank you for your consideration of my request and any information you may be able to provide.
REQUESTING HELP WITH ZIPPOS
I was wondering if any of the NSL members might be able to help an old submariner out? I am a retired RMC/SS and was stationed on USS BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, USS BIRMINGHAM, and USS HONOLULU while on active duty. I collect submarine zippo lighters (or zippo types with the subs emblem on them, VULCAN, PENGUIN, etc.). I have around 100 of them right now and it is getting hard to come across some of the recommend boats. Would you happen to have any extras laying around, from your time on the boats, that you wouldn’t mind parting with? I realize they probably hold a lot of good memories, but I would definitely give them a fine home.
I’m not a rich man, but I’d be willing to give you a fair and reasonable price of any that you would want to sell. I also have a few duplicates that I could trade if that’s to your liking (mostly newer boats). My plan is to leave both my submarine insignia and submarine Zippo collections to one of the submarine museums when I am gone. I have a long way to go until I have all of them (or as many as possible) and I could sure use a tech assist. Even if you can’t help me directly, I would appreciate it if you could point me in a direction where I could find some submarine Zippos. Collecting the lighters has pretty much become a passion and I am running out of sources. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Ken “Dert” Gorden, RMC/SS, Ret.
9249 Edgemar Woods Ct. #A3
(703) 553-7381 (work)
(703) 541-0208 (home)
ANOTHER SPECIAL THANKS
Thank you very much for the wonderful way I was treated last year as a Naval Submarine League Lockwood Award Winner. I am sure it was a contributing factor in my selection and advancement to Chief Petty Officer.
I am submitting a Warrant Officer Package this year and I hope will be writing you next year to say my rank and address have changed although my new job here at SP AW ARSYSCEN is very interesting. Take care and God bless always.
STSC(SS) Todd R. Greenfield
THE SUBMARINE BASE IN PANAMA
Regarding my letter to you last year (October 1998) on the topic of the closure of the USNA VSTA Rodman, Panama, I have the pleasure to report that a proposal has been presented to a potential publisher for a book entitled “Submarine Operations in Panama 1942-2000”.
In response to my article, I was contacted by submarine author Dr. Gerald R. Menefee, and separately by Rear Admiral Maurice H. Rindskopf, USN(Ret.). I was especially intrigued by Admiral Rindskopr’s personal account of life in Panama as a submarine. Now, a month and a half later, these two gentlemen have agreed to co-author the book and are presenting the proposal to the Naval Institute Press. I am helping out as the in-country research
Since this project has significant momentum, (and because my e-mail address was previously misprinted) I would invite anyone with personal experience or source material that they would like to contribute to please contact any of us at the following e-mail addresses:
Dr. Gerald R. Menefee
RADM Maurice R. Rindskopf, USN(Ret.)
LT Charles Maher, USN
I especially encourage anyone who had tried to contact me earlier, but was frustrated by the incorrect e-mail address, to contact us at this time.
Finally, the ceremony marking the transfer of USNA VSTA Rodman occurred on March 11, 1999, though the actual turnover will occur in mid to late April. It appears that we will be able to get the base street signs commemorating WWII subs donated to the WWil Submarine Vets Assn., but that the AC/DC motor-generator in the old battery shop and the 25hz diesel generator-which coupled with a 25/60hz converter is still the base emergency power
supply-will be turned over to Panama in place.
LT, USN CO, MSCO Panama