The October issue of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW included an article by Mike Ostlund concerning lhe Loss of GUDGEON (SS 211) on 18 April 1944. His father’s brother, Lieutenant William C. Ostlund, was a member of GUDGEON’s wardroom and in the years since the war it became a matter of interest within the family to learn more about the end of GUDGEON. His article Finding Uncle Bill concerns his search of records and supporting data to answer questions about differences in the accepted position of the boat’s sinking. The postwar debrief of a sinking at the probable time of GUDGEON’s loss was quite a bit to the north of the boat’s assigned area, being listed IJy the interpreter as “166 miles 13 degrees T from Yuoh Island”. A major point in the article was identification of “Yuoh Island” as lwo Jima.
During the period in which the article was being processed for publication the author came across additional evidence which appears to resolve the large ambiguity in that position. The actual record by the crews of the bombers listed the action as “166 miles, 132 degrees off lwo Jima “. The author, therefore, modified his article 10 reflect that resolution. Unfortunately, the part of that revision which summed up the resolution did not make it into the published version. That portion is therefore printed here and will be entered in the archived copy as an insert on page 147 .
…I had found Uncle Bill.
Over a period of months this find was shared with long time naval veterans and historians to generally positive reviews. When the long considered 13 degrees theory is plotted northeast of Iwo Jima the sinking would have occurred around 215 nautical miles away from the northwest comer of GUDGEON’S patrol area. Some doubted that GUDGEON would have been that far out of her zone. A few others expressed doubt that GUDGEON would have left her assigned patrol area without breaking radio silence to report her current position.
This discussion became irrelevant once records from the Advanced Base Group appeared. The sinking position 132 degrees off Iwo Jima lies well within GUDGEON’S assigned patrol area for April 18.
The most significant difference between the long discussed sinking northeast of Yuoh Island and the claims of the pilots from the Chichi-Jirna Group is the location of the attack. One possible explanation of the difference of location is that the “2” after the 13 was somehow dropped by either the interrogator or the clerical staff. This is plausible especially when one considers that “Yuoh” is a pronunciation variation of “Iwo” which surely confounded the intelligence officer.
Had the Chichi-Jirna Advanced Base Group’s records been uncovered right after the war, the interpretation error would have likely been disregarded due to the weightier claims contained in the actual Japanese records of the sinking within GUDGEON’S area. GUDGEON’S loss would probably have been regarded as having occurred southeast of lwo Jima. Type 96 Nell bombers had crews of 7 or 8, one of whom would have had responsibilities for pinpointing the exact location of the attack.
One hesitates to claim that GUDGEON is surely there, because the Japanese made numerous claims of submarine sinkings that were not borne out in factual analysis after the war.