The Pearl Harbor Avenger, U.S.S. Bowfin is a collection of facts and crew reminiscences covering the launching and commissioning of BOWFIN, it’s nine war patrols, and post-war service. Author Robert Beynon, who was on board during the eighth and ninth war patrols, wrote the book to highlight the experiences of those who served on BOWFIN during World War II. He weaves their anecdotes and sea stories into each of the patrols and includes their answers in an interesting question and answer section regarding submarine life.
USS BOWFIN, launched at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on the anniversary of the Pear Harbor attack, Dec. 7, 1942, was nicknamed the Pearl Harbor Avenger. She made nine war patrols under four commanding officers, whose biographies are included in the book: Commander John H. Willingham, Jr., Commander Walter Thomas Griffith, Commander John Corbus, and Commander Alexander Kelly Tyree. One of the most dramatic incidents of BOWFIN’s service occurred in June, 1945, when she penetrated the Japanese minefields and moved into the Sea of Japan as part of a submarine wolf pack. She continued to serve after the war, and in 1971 her name was removed from the navy list of ships. She was eventually obtained by the Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association to be made into a museum to preserve the history of the submarine.
The book also includes chapters on the characteristics of diesel submarines, the history of the submarine service, and the stories of the submarine Medal of Honor winners, who are prominently honored in the BOWFIN museum. The text is accompanied by charts, diagrams and photographs, including the handsome cover photograph of BOWFIN at her present mooring at BOWFJN Park in Pearl Harbor.
Beynon’s love for the ship and his fellow submariners makes up for some of the editing inconsistencies and loose organization of the book, which tend to make reading confusing at times. However the book represents a solid and well-researched effort in adding to the submarine lore of the Second World War.