I’m asking for information on USS SWORDFISH (SS 193) and her crew members. I am writing a history of SWORDFISH from its launching in 1939 to its sinking in 1945. My uncle, Michael Billy (MoMM2c), was lost with his fellow crew members on that last patrol. In addition, I’m seeking back issues of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW which I’ll use for research. If anyone has advice on this project, I’m open to all suggestions. I’m a member of the Naval Submarine League, and I will be most grateful to anyone who can supply information for this book. Please contact me at the following: Dr. George 1. Billy, Chief Librarian, Bland Memorial Library, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, NY 11024. My telephone number is (516) 773-5501; fax (516) 773-5502; e· mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. George J. Billy
MIGHTY MINE DODGERS REUNION
February 5, 2001
The World War II Submarine Veterans are planning a reunion of the crews from the group of 9 submarines that converged on Tsushima Strait at the southern tip of Japan and, on June 4, 5, and 6, 1945, entered the Sea of Japan through the deadly mine fields. The nine boats consisted of BONEFISH (SS 223), BOWFIN (SS 287), CREVALLE (SS 291), FL YING FISH (SS 229), SEA DOG (SS 401), SKATE (SS 305), SPADEFISH (SS 411), TINOSA (SS 283), AND TUNNY (SS 282).
BONEFISH did not return. The purpose of this trip was to enter the Sea of Japan and destroy the remaining supply lines for vital supplies and to demoralize the Japanese people.
This reunion will be at the United States World War II Submarine Veterans Convention in St. Louis, Missouri from August 22 thru 25, 2001. The Convention will be held in the Regal Riverfront Hotel, 200 South Fourth Street. All persons that served on the 9 boats, their families, grandchildren, relatives, and close friends are
cordially invited to attend this reunion.
This reunion of the Mighty Mine Dodgers is primarily for the purpose of preserving the legacy of the deeds accomplished by the group of submarines for our children, grandchildren, and their children. If we do not do it now, it will be gone forever and can never be captured again. Come and help us preserve this legacy for generations to come.
It would be of great value to us if all of you could pass this information onto others and request that they pass it on to all persons that they can. This way it will help others that are not in touch to hear of the reunion. Look for us in the area of the hospitality room.
Willie Z. Noble
CORRECTING SOME MISCONCEPTIONS
18 February 2001
I thought the History Channel program, The Silent Service, was generally excellent, but I did notice two errors that might be of interest to the readers of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW.
In one place it was stated that ARGONAUT had no stern torpedo tubes, which contributed to the loss of the submarine. Actually, four external tubes were added during the boat’s major modernization-two forward and two at the very stem. This was done before she was converted to a transport and the mine gear was removed. Whether these deck tubes would have been of much help during the final attack by Japanese destroyers is, of course, questionable, but she did have them.
In the section on the loss of HARDER, it was indicated that she was sunk by patrol boat P-102, the former U.S. destroyer STEWART. This made for dramatic and poignant television but maligned the ex-STEWART, which was indeed present but not responsible for sinking HARDER. The real killer was an Escort and Patrol Vessel Type D, usually listed by the U.S. as Coast Defense Vessel CD-22, a far more effective anti-submarine ship than the old ex-STEWART.
The early standard references (Morison, Roscoe, Holmes, Blair, DANFS, U.S. Submarine Losses, et al) all attribute HARDER’s sinking to the Siamese destroyer PHRARUANG and a minesweeper. This was based on the patrol report of HAKE, which described the ships as an old three-stack destroyer and a minesweeper, and went on to say that the destroyer left the area heading for port while the minesweeper stayed and later was heard to drop the depth charges that apparently sank HARDER. The references cited above also repeat that the destroyer left the scene before the depth charge attack. The only three-stack destroyer that was known to exist at that time was the Siamese ship, so it was identified as the one seen by HAKE. It was only after the war that we found out that the Japanese had salvaged STEWART, which had fallen off the blocks while in drydock at Surabaya, been hit by a bomb during an air raid, and finally been blown up by demolition charges and abandoned. The Japanese trunked two of her four slacks together, making her the only three-slack destroyer in the Japanese navy.
Postwar Japanese records confirm that the two ships present were P-102 and CD-22 and that the latter dropped the depth charges which brought up debris and oil indicating the sinking of a submarine, after P-102 had left. This information has been published in at least one reference that I know of (The Last Patrol by Harry Holmes, published in Shrewsbury, England by Air life Publishing Ltd. in 1994). I have been unable to find a reference actually blaming HARDER’s loss on STEWART but her presence at the scene was well enough known to have found its way onto the television program.
Incorrect information has a way of spreading and becoming accepted as fact, so I offer the true story in hopes of keeping the record straight.
John D. Alden
49 Tamarack Drive
Delmar, NY 12054