MOONLIGHT SURFACE TORPEDO ATTACK
by Cornelius B.
Wee hours of carousing at Santa
Ana Dance land in Manila, December,1941, numbed my sensory impulses. The
following morning, perspiring while exchanging practice torpedoes with
HOLLAND and off loading, flammables, reality
grabbed me. Skilled as a helmsman,
lookout, bow and stern plane operator and drilling for war the preceding
two years didn't condition me for the facts of warfare or possibility of
U.S. Navy depth charges dispatched
U-boat crews to watery graves. That's what newspapers printed. Scuttlebutt
had only one depth charge needed to sink a sub including SARGO. While
SARGO searched for the enemy, we became hunted.
To diminish detection, diving before
sunrise and surfacing after sunset became the rule. Prohibited from using
the heads, life long elimination habits revolved into gut wrenching agony.
Foul air, brackish water and meals at night refashioned my equilibrium.
Sweltering daytimes submerged, I
relished surfacing so I could fill my lungs with fresh air as a lookout.
Befuddled night vision turned floating objects, birds, clouds and dark
blobs, into the enemy. Smoking engines, mechanical break-downs, no contact
with the outside world, erratic torpedoes and depth charges made my
ghostly domain illusory.
Fun loving shipmates, port calls at
Balikpapan, Borneo, Soerabaia, Java and Fremantle, Western Australia
prevented me from going wacky. A torpedo bull's eye during the fifth
patrol run restored my trust. A battle surface to bump off the wounded
cargo ship gushed adrenaline throughout my slender body.
Salt water dripped off the fifty
caliber machine gun and me while I trained my sight on the enemy.
Dumbfounded because the Gun Officer filled my sight, I grabbed his
shoulder. “If you move SIR, I'll open fire." After six baffling war
patrols with one ship sunk another damaged, I was ready new construction.
Feminine companions while drinking on
Georgia Street wipe out time waiting orders. The gals main concern was
drinking unlike Australian Lassies who ideas of fun was getting married. A
cross country train ride and a 30 day stop at home in Minnesota nurtured
my mind and body. On SARGO I was a rookie. Reporting to BONEFISH my status
changed to a seasoned petty officer and veteran. Enthusiastic training
interspaced with drinking and pursuit of feminine companions readied me
for commissioning on
May 1943. Eight months after leaving
Brisbane, Australia, 29 November 1941 I was back and prepared for my sixth
Trailblazing submarine tactics rattle
my leaning. To cover more area, BONEFISH ran on the surface. Daily trim
dives and unannounced dives became routine. Bonefish's first war patrol
covered the area from Brisbane to the South China Sea. Dodging sampans,
sailboats and crash dives to avoid detection by enemy planes kept me
exhilarated. Even several depth charges didn't diminish my enthusiasm. My
euphoria lasted through the rest and recreation period in Fremantle and
Perth, Australia after a very successful war patrol.
Twenty-four torpedoes sunk or damaged
five ships and another riddled by gun fire. Returning to BONEFISH after
the stay at the King Edward Hotel, I prepare for my seventh war patrol.
Leaving Fremantle on 22 November
1943, dejection engulfed me. I didn't like the thought of spending my
third Christmas in a row at sea hunting the enemy or being hunted. The
Captain's last shouted words to Admiral Christie, "I'll be back to
have Christmas dinner with you," didn't comfort me. As BONEFISH raced
on the surface through Lombok Strait dodging patrol boats, thoughts about
Christmas in Perth vanished.
Two days later, the sinking of a
cargo ship improved my temperament. Then just north of the Equator,
BONEFISH dodged patrol boats and airplanes while chasing a three ship
convoy escorted by a destroyer and a sub-chaser. Being the starboard
lookout on a moonlit night, I felt exposed. Tidbits of Information I heard
from the bridge approach party collecting datum and exchanging ideas made
me certain this approach was innovated.
The usual full power end run to gain
attack position ahead then to submerge changed to an approach on the
surface. The four diesel engines rumbled as the destroyer and cargo ships
turned from fuzzy spots into silhouettes filling the lens of my
binoculars. My knees knocked as I wondered why enemy lookouts didn't see
us. The diesels' roar faded as they stopped. The main motors hummed as the
silhouettes turned into ships. I feared every verbal order or report would
alert the enemy as BONEFISH glided silently like a sail boat to reach
"Range 1000 yards," radar
reported "Make all tubes ready,” the Captain ordered.
The hull shook at 2300 as three
torpedoes jumped out of the bow tubes and raced toward the destroyer. The
next three torpedoes sped toward the largest cargo ship. Like long
fingers, the wakes spread out behind the torpedoes.
BONEFISH turned to bring the stern
torpedo tubes into firing position. The first torpedo exploded.
Ton of water, smoke and fire engulfed
the destroyer. A second torpedo exploded under the cargo ship. BONEFISH
shuddered as the four stern torpedoes raced toward the convoy. The smoke,
sparks and fire evolved into a speculator horizon filling show.
Like a grand array of fireworks, the
fanfare reminded me of the grand final at the Minnesota State Fair.
Another torpedo eliminated the sinking destroyer. The second hit under the
cargo ship tore her apart. Like a mixture of sparklers, pyrotechnics and
giant fire crackers boilers and ammunition magazines continued bursting.
Bonefish's four diesels roared to life as the sub-chaser raced out of the
The pursuer dropped several patterns
of depth charges in the are where BONEFISH launched the ten torpedoes. The
sea erupted like a geyser. After reloading the tubes and a trim dive, the
pursuit continued. Passing through the wreckage, survivors in lifeboats
shot at lookouts and the bridge crew. Drinking hot, black coffee on mess
deck, I told and retold the breathing triumph. Returning to Fremantle with
an enemy destroyer and two large cargo ships sunk and a ten ton large
schooner riddle with 20mm armored piercing and incendiary shells, I
celebrated Christmas in Perth, Western Australia.
All the anguish fleet on the first
six war patrols faded. As 1943 disappeared, I looked forward to another
war patrol, And I quit DAMNING the Mark XiV torpedo.
Lost June 18, 1945
ABEL, D. A.
ADAMS, T. B., JR.
ADAMS, W. S.
AMBURGEY, L. M.
ANDERSON, G. I., JR.
AURELI, S. J.
BECK, M. L.
BROWN, R. W.
BROWNING, J. A.
BURDICK, C. A.
CANFIELD, K. T.
COLEMAN, J. A.
COOLEY, Q. L.
DANIELSON, 0 . C.
DUNN, D. H.
EDGE, L. L
ENOS, E. R.
EPPS, W. H., JR.
FELD, P. E.
FOX, D. C.
FRANK, R. E.
FUGETT, M. A.
FULLER, G. M.
HACKSTAFF, H. J.
HARMAN, G. P.
HASIAK, J. J.
HESS, R. D.
HOUGHTON, W. S.
JENKINS, R. W.
JOHNSON, J. C.
JOHNSON, S. E., JR.
JOHNSTON, T. M.
KALINOFF, M. W.
KERN, F. B.
KING, E. W.
KISSANE, J. E.
KNIGHT, F. S.
LAMOTHE, J. N.
LARACY, J. J. JR.
LEWIS, M. A.
LOCKWOOD, T. G.
LYNCH, J. F.
MAGHAN, A. G.
MARKLE, J. E.
McBRIDE R. J.
MILES, H. V., JR.
NESTER, S. A.
NEWBERRY, J. R.
O'TOOLE, W. P.
PAULEY, G. W.
PHENICIE, J. E.
PRIMAVERA, L. J.
PRUNIER, G. A.
QUENETT, C. F.
RALEY, C. H.
RAY, R. C., JR.
RAYNES, J. A.
REID, J. A.
RHANOR, C. J.
RICE, R. M.
ROSE, R. A., II
SCHILLER, R. G.
SCHMIDLING, C. J.
SCHWEYER, R. G.
SMITH, L.G., JR.
SNODGRASS, R. L.
STAMM, R. S.
SURBER, R. M.
TIERNEY, D. R.
VELIE, R. C.
VINCENT, T. F., JR.
WILSON, J. R.
WILLIAMS, J. J.
WILLIAMS, I. R., JR.
WILLIAMS, T. F.
WINEGAR, C. D.
WOLFE, L. E.
WRIGHT, G. W., JR.