Posts Tagged ‘USS Redfin’

Tracking the Flier and her new victim

Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Jun 16 2010

Today, sixty-six years ago, the Robalos have reported back to duty aboard the Robalo.  This is when the Navy would remove some of the experienced hands to be reassigned to new boats, submarine repair ships, or back to the US for a new submarine construction.  Two men at least were removed:  John Wayne Philpot, MoMM1c who transferred to USS Hammerhead, and Jerome Cole Wareheim, who transferred to the Guitarro.  I don’t know how many men transferred aboard Robalo, but one name I do have:  Kimball Elwood Graham, formerly of USS Redfin. They will start their training runs in preparation for their third patrol.

Redfin, having dropped off her Special Mission at Ramos Island, is patrolling the southern Sulu Sea and already has seen some action.  On the 11th, she damaged a tanker, and took 6 depth charges from her escort, but didn’t sink her.  On the 13th, they sighted two convoys, both large and well armed.  The morning convoy was made up of two heavy cruisers, four destroyers and a torpedo boat.  The afternoon convoy was immense.  It was made up of 6 Aircraft Carriers, 4 Battleships, 5 Heavy Cruisers, 1 Light Cruiser and 2 Destroyers.   The usual course for convoys was to zig-zag along their way to make it more difficult for submarines to target them, but both these convoys were very far away and steering a very radical, erratic course, so the Redfin could not catch up nor calculate their course with enough accuracy to race ahead of them for an end-around attack.  Some of the crew were somewhat relieved since, with that many heavy warships, they were sure to receive a thorough pounding.  The Redfin radioed the convoy’s position in, and later discovered that these ships were on their way to the Marianas, and took part in the Battle of the Philippine Sea five days later.

It's a bit tangled to try and follow, especially now that the submarines have reached some of their patrol areas, meaning they moved back and forth within a prescribed zone looking for traffic to report or attack.

Today, Flier is emerging from her second scrape with a convoy and heading down around the southern coast of Luzon Island.  On the afternoon of June 13, 1944, Flier spotted a convoy headed straight for them.  They were coming on strong with little zig or zag to their course, and as it ended up, one column of the convoy passed in front of their bow, and the other passed her stern.  It was a near-perfect setup to fire a quick spread of ten torpedoes and head for the deep.

Except while the convoy was coming, Flier’s stern planes failed, likely causing her to lost control of her depth for several minutes.  Here they are in the path of a major convoy and they can’t even keep her level.  Under depth charge attack, if they couldn’t keep her under control she could easily slip below her crushs depth and implode.

After several minutes, they fixed the stern planes just in enough time to target the two lead ships crossing their bow.  They fired a spread of four torpedoes from the stern, then swung the periscope around to discover the lead ship was passing in less than 300 feet away from the bow, so close that Flier herself would be caught in the concussion if she attempted to launch torpedoes, so started to re-aim for the next ships.  Two explosions from the first wave went off, and heard two hits off their first wave.  It was going to be a successful trip.

Suddenly, an order was mis-heard and Flier was “ducked” and the periscope went beneath the water.  The Sonar heard the escorts converging on the Flier, and the men abandoned the attack and dove deep.  It was  a heavily armed convoy, headed for Manila and spared no punishment.  For five hours, Flier was pounded with over one hundred depth charges, a record at that point.  Since Flier had been patrolling down the coast of Luzon, they were effectively pinned between the escorts and freighters on the sea-side and the coast on the other.

They became creative.  The Escorts would pound a few depth charges, then pull away to run their active sonar and find them.  Once they figured out where Flier was hiding, they ran at the spot and dropped several more depth charges.

But surface ships have a dead zone for their sonar, that extended all the way around their ship a could of hundred feet.  The moment the escorts’ engines started up and converged on Flier, the wash from their engines and the dead zone created an opportunity for Flier to dash beneath or between her hunters and run to safety, then stop, and wait for the escorts to find them again.  Itw as a dangerous game of cat and mouse that Flier played to the limits of her ability.  Al Jacobson records that at one point they were so close to their hunters passing overhead that they could clearly hear the swish of the propellors as they shook Flier as they passed just feet overhead.

It was miserable inside the Flier.  They were conserving all of their energy for the engines and shsut off the air conditioning.  In the warm, tropical waters, Flier quickly heated, and water condensed on every metal surface of the Flier and the men broke out in heavy sweats in a futile effort to cool themselves off.

After five hours, the escorts herded their charges south to Manila and Flier was unable to keep up, so they surfaced to re-start the battery charges.

Al reports that they had been trapped underwater for so long that when he opened the bridge hatch and stepped out into the fresh air, the air actually smelled bad!

One more ship added to Flier’s count.  Three ships in a patrol was becoming a rare feat in 1944.  Crowley and his crew were rapidly redeeming Flier’s reputation.

* As a side note, following the war, this sunken ship was not given to Flier’s score.  Flier’s account and the Japanese records did not match sufficiently enough to give her the credit.  There were many reasons for why this happened, and maybe I’ll go through them at another time.

Dropping the Watchers

Uncategorized, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Jun 08 2010

66 years ago today, Flier had come to the pass between Formosa Island (now Taiwan) and the north Philippines.   Today she spotted something rather strange for 1944: an unescorted ship.  Hardly anyone dared venture through the waves alone now, and Flier tried to close in on her, but being unescorted, the surface ship was running at full speed, and her head start was just too great.  Flier gave up the chase, and is preparing to turn south.

Redfin, meanwhile, is getting ready to drop off the Signal Service Coastwatchers.  They passed through the northern Balabac Straits and anchored near the northeast corner of Ramos Island.  The Coastwatchers were unloaded with a radio, food, supplies, hundreds of dollars, in boxes, waterproof bags, and any other means they could move them.

Seen here, the positions for Flier and Redfin 66 years ago today. Robalo is still in Australia.

Despite practicing the unloading at Perth and Exmouth Gulf, the rough and shallow seas made the actual process very difficult.  The raft flipped more than once, and, unknown to the Coastwatchers, some of their food and nearly half the money (with which they were expected to buy more food, supplies or cooperation and the local’s silence) got lost in the surf.

Before they left though, someone took a Phillipine Peso bill, and all six Coastwatchers signed it.  Larry Coleman, a young Redfin sailor, was entrusted with the note, before the Coastwatchers left for the last time.

The plan was to live behind enemy lines for as long as HQ needed them to, moving to stay ahead of the enemy patrols.  When the time came to be extracted, if any of them were still alive, they would be pulled out by ship or submarine.  With over 200 submarines actively working the Pacific, they probably, logically, expected they were seeing the last of Redfin as she pulled away from shore and sank into the waves.

Flier’s First Bite pt. 1

Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Jun 06 2010

Sorry for the long delay, sometimes I just need about two more hours in the day, either that, or it’d be nice if my body could survive on less sleep, but I’m sure a lot of people understand that!

So to catch up with our boats, Robalo is in Fremantle and is enjoying their R&R for two weeks, and so she’s not in the map below.

Redfin has passed through Lombok the night of June 2, 1944, and then passed through Makassar Strait, and is getting ready to drop off her Special Mission.  To this end, if I’m not mistaken, Redfin is forbidden to approach or engage any targets they may find until that mission is over, lest they get themselves sunk and take the Signal Men/Coastwatchers with them.  The most she can do if she sees someone, is radio the position, speed and direction to HQ which will then see if they can find another submarine that will cross their general path and take them out.

Map of USS Redfin and USS Flier on 1 June 1944-6 June 1944. Robalo is in Fremantle, and is not shown.

Flier meanwhile, has had her first taste of battle and victory.

On 2 June, USS Silversides, on her way back home to Pearl, spotted a convoy heading northwest.  They were headed east, but Captain Coye knew (since submarine captains were informed of each other’s movements, not some super-stealth submarine psychic powers) that the Flier was a few miles north of them and headed west, he told Flier to be on the lookout for this convoy.

Flier changed her course to intercept, but after a few hours, spotted a different convoy headed southwest.  The sea was glassy calm, and the periscope would make a highly noticable wake, so Flier decided to stalk her prey from a distance and attack at night.

They tracked their prey, keeping just out of sight.  One of the advantages a submarine had was being so low to the water, they were difficult to see, but surface ships, with their high superstructures and smokestacks belching trails of smoke could actually be seen while technically over the horizon.

In the afternoon, their convoy dropped a number of depth charges, though they did not show any signs of having spotted Flier, so they continued their stalking.

Suddenly, there was a second ship approaching over the horizon, heading south.  Flier had a choice:  Convoy 1 or convoy 2?  They chose the new convoy for several reasons:  1.) they were heading right for them and would soon be in a favorable range and position 2.) their first convoy might be under attack already.

Complex map of the two submarine track and three convoy tracks over four days in June 1944. This map reflects only subs and convoys recorded in the War Patrol Reports of USS Silversides and USS Flier. There may actually been more than these in the area at that time.

Very soon, they could see that the convoy was made up of eight ships, and had a number of Able King Freighters available.  But they were heavily escorted and operating at top speed.  They didn’t seem to care about the other convoy, now clearly under attack and firing deck guns into the night.  Convoy 2 fired their deck guns once in the general direction of Convoy 1 but otherwise, charged headlong.  Whatever they were carrying was valuable, and they were heading right into Flier’s web.

Book, Exhibit, and more

The Book, The Exhibit | Posted by Rebekah
Jun 02 2010

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to update anyone about the book or exhibit or memorial service.

The memorial service will take place around the 13th, though I have yet to get a solid answer and when the public service will be.  I will be meeting with people next week who hopefully can answer those questions and I can get that stuff nailed down.  So to those of you who have contacted me recently asking for more details about the memorial service, I’m not ignoring you.  I just know about as much as you do.

The book is progressing nicely.  ISBN numbers and all that, so it will appear on Amazon when the time comes.  My editors will hopefully get back to me soon (I’m meeting with a couple in a few days  with one, and another one has been in contact with me.  Each is helping me with different aspects of the book) and I’ll start the final pass on the manuscript.  Still tinkering with the cover, but I’m at a point now that the book size has to be chosen before I can go much further.  Another thing that will be set in a week.  We’re still on track though.

I was recently loaned a copy of Flier’s Deck Log which starts on the day of her commissioning  to just two days short of her arrival in Fremantle after her first full War Patrol.  The deck log following this one likely went down with the Flier.  What’s  really interesting what is different between this and the War Patrol Report.  The Deck Log, when Flier is underway, lists everything that happens during a 4 hour time period every day.  0000-0400 hours (midnight to 4 am) 0400-0800 hours (4 am to 8 am) and so on.  On a boring day, the War Patrol report may list the noon Longitude an Latitude reading and nothing.  The Deck Log will start off with a statement of Underway as before on this course, at this speed, using this many engines, and then track any course change, battery charge, exercises or drills done that day, quick dives, surfaces, or personnel issue.

Conversley, the War Patrol Report, will be more detailed on days when there was an attack, though it’s obvious that the Deck Log provided some source material.  The Longitude/Latitude reports are found only in the War Patrol Report, which is where I’m getting the locations of the Flier, Redfin and Robalo, not the Deck Log.

One of the strange things about this particular Deck Log is the first six weeks are typewritten and very clearly copied.  But then, from December to April, the Deck Log is handwritten, and in places, the writing is either faint or fading, or else poorly copied.  I’m getting to know each person’s handwriting, and in fact, can identify the men from their hands.  Casey wrote lightly, and is often difficult to read, though his lettering is quite open and easy to read when it isn’t too faded.  Liddell has a strong hand, neatly legible and easily read.  Germershausen’s hand is very tight and dark, as though he pressed the page heavily.  I wonder if that was a reflection of his character (and if his name doesn’t sound familiar, that’s because he was transferred to the Sunfish on 21 March 1944, while Flier was in drydock.)

Handwriting being so personal and unique to each individual, this makes me feel closer to these men.  One thing is for sure though:  every one of these guys has better handwriting that most of us today!

Play Catch Up and The Herring Greets Eternity

Lost Subs, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Jun 01 2010

So after Memorial Day Weekend, it’s time to play catch up with our three submarines.

The Robalo has safely made it into Fremantle Harbor sometime around May 30, and so now her crew would be on R&R while the relief crews and repair crews try to fix everything on the damaged list.

Redfin is only a day away from Lombok Strait on her way to her third patrol, and carrying the eight Signal Servicemen, bound for behind the lines reconnaissance work.  On the 30 of May, 1944, they spent the day next to Exmouth Gulf practicing getting these men and the massive amounts of gear off the Redfin, onto rubber rafts, and to shore.

Flier, of course, is still in the middle of nowhere, making her way west towards the battle fields.  She passed north of Wake Island, still occupied by Japanese forces, though due to the continuing advance of the Allies, the Japanese soldiers occupying the island were starting to starve.  American pilots would bomb the island occasionally, (in fact, a young pilot named George Herbert Walker Bush, bombed Wake Island during one of his first runs) but they were otherwise left alone.  All American military and civilians were gone from Wake now: some had been taken to POW camps elsewhere, and the 98 remaining civilians were executed in October 1943.  All American naval vessels steered clear of Wake, and she was slowly starving into submission.

As the Redfin and Flier are setting out on their patrols, and Robalo is taking her break, the Herring scored her last two kills and slipped into Eternal Patrol.

A Gato-class submarine built in Kittery Maine, Herring was one of the few boats who spent time in the Atlantic as well as the Pacific. For her first five patrols her homeport was Rosneath Scotland, where she first patrolled off Casablanca, Morocco in preparation for Operation Torch, the code name for the invasion of North Africa.  She later patrolled Icelandic waters and reported two kills, including a U-Boat (that was later not credited to her).

This photo, taken in Scotland around December 7, 1942, shows the Submarine Tender Beaver and two of her six sub charges. The six submarines stationed in Scotland at the time were the Herring, Barb, Blackfish, Shad, Gunnel and Gurnard. From

Afterwards, she reported to the Pacific where she took down two ships on her sixth patrol and none on her seventh.

It was her eighth patrol, made with her Scottish mate USS Barb, which would be her most successful and fatal.  She left Pearl, re-fueled at Midway, and was assigned to patrol the Kurile Islands, which is string of islands trailing from Russia to northern Japan.  On May 31, according to the War Patrol Reports of USS Barb, (Pg. 155) they rendezvoused and decided to split the  patrol areas, Barb traveling the south and east way, and Herring taking the north and western islands, including Matsuwa Island.

She was never heard from again.

Post war records reveal that the night before seeing Barb, Herring sank two ships, the Hokuyo Maru, and the Ishigaki. In taking out the Ishigaki, Herring avenged her sister sub S-44, which the Ishigaki sank nearly eight months earlier.  After her meeting with the Barb, Herring found two ships at anchor, the Hiburi Maru and the Iwaki Maru, and promptly sank them.  This action cost her her life, since the sinking ships attracted the attention of the shore guns, which sank Herring, taking her eighty-three member crew with her.

USS Herring taken after her overhaul at Mare Island October 1943.

She has not been found.

Incidentally, Herring was assigned to Midway for overhaul between her sixth and seventh patrols, and she arrived there on January 8, 1944.  She was there when Flier grounded, when Macaw grounded and during the whole time the crew at Midway pried Flier free.  Even stranger, just as Flier lost a crewman to drowning, (James Cahl, on January 16) ,one of Herring’s crew, Louis Jones, also drowned at Midway on January 26, just three days after Flier was towed away.

She also had a connection with another lost ship, the Scorpion. According to Herring’s War Patrol Report, (page 96) one of Scorpion’s crew broke his arm and Scorpion requested a rendezvous and transfer of this man since they were heading out on patrol and Herring was nearby and returning.  The transfer was attempted, but the January seas made it impossible.  Since the arm appeared to be healing, the transfer was canceled, and the two submarines went on their way.  Scorpion was never seen again, and there are no Japanese records that hint at her possible fate.  What happened to her and where is a complete mystery, but the Herring was the last to see her.

An interesting article about the loss of the Herring. Note: a number of the links in the article are now disabled.

Location Location…

Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
May 27 2010

They’re all on the move today.

Flier is back on the map again (remember she didn’t exist yesterday?) and in the middle of nowhere making for the southern tip of the island of Formosa (now known as Taiwan) where she’ll curve south and patrol along the western shores of Luzon Island in the Philippines (the Philippines looks a bit like a sitting wolf howling at Taiwan.  Luzon would be the wolf’s head, and Palawan would be the foreleg with the Balabac Straits just below the paw.)  Nothing else happened today.  The most interesting thing that happened, according to  both the war patrol report and the deck log, was the daily battery charge.

Robalo is returning from her most recent patrol, her crew looking forward to a well deserved break, and their ship needing a lot of repairs still.  She’s going to pass Exmouth Gulf since she doesn’t need the extra fuel to get all the way back to Fremantle.   She’d been out for 51 days and, despite dealing with major handicaps in terms of broken systems needing constant repairs, she’d managed to do her duty, stalk several convoys, fire twenty of her twenty-four torpedoes and claimed the destruction of one tanker.  (Sadly, this was not awarded to her by JANAC (Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee ) after the war, so officially, Robalo has no kills to her record.)  Once in Fremantle though, she had  a six-page laundry list of major repairs that needed to be done.  Just the major repairs, never mind a few little tweaks here and there.

Redfin, accompanied by the Harder, has left Fremantle and they are bound for Exmouth Gulf, training with each other in different tactics all the way.  They were escorted by the HMAS Adelaide.

What’s really interesting is all the surrounding boats coming and going out for Fremantle which give a glimpse at just how busy a port she was.

As usual, Redfin is the yellow and Robalo is the green. I decided all other submarines will be white for the purposes of these maps, though Harder will appear again in the story, if only obliquely.

From the War Patrol Reports alone of the Redfin and Robalo, we know the positions of Harder, Crevalle, Flasher and Angler, all of which were either coming to or leaving from Fremantle.  Strangely enough, though Redfin and Robalo are on track to pass each other and probably did on the 28th or 29th, they either didn’t see each other or didn’t record seeing each other.  (Redfin would make note of seeing Bonefish and Lapon over the next two days though, which adds another two submarines so the tally of boats in this general area at this time)

When you consider that Fremantle was one of two American Submarine Bases in Australia, and that Freo also served as base for British and Dutch submarines as well as a variety of battle and supply ships for those three countries, the sheer speed and insanity of that port must have been almost unbelievable.

Robalo’s Airplane Damage

Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Apr 24 2010

By April 23, 1944, Redfin, badly shaken from her compromised rescue attempt, was making good time home through Makkasar Strait.  Flier, of course, is finishing her trials and is having photographs taken.

Robalo had entered her patrol area in the South China Sea.  She had to skirt a little south to avoid a very shallow reef known as “Dangerous Ground”, and started looking for targets.  On her first day, she sighted a submarine, but decided not to attack, since it was quite likely it was an American or Allied submarine.  Since it did not attack Robalo, they simply passed each other.

Robalo is patrolling the South China Sea, the same assigned patrol area Flier was assigned to when she went down. Redfin, somewhere in that scribble, is once again headed home through Makkassar Strait, this time with no more interruptions.

Robalo approached Southern Indo-China (now known as Vietnam).  In her war patrol reports for the day, she noted passing through an oil slick (sometimes a mark of a damaged or sunken ship or submarine) and a small sailboat.

Then, at 5:30 in the evening (1732 hours, for the purists!) the Robalo was surprised by a “Betty” that had snuck up on them by hiding in the glare of the sun.  A “Betty” was the American nickname for a Japanese Bomber.  Robalo dove quickly, hearing the first explosion before she got fully underwater. They dove so quickly in fact, that the air intake valve to the engines wasn’t closed fast enough, then jammed partially closed, allowing water to spray into the engine room.  The XO noticed on the “Christmas Tree” (the panel of lights that told the diving officer whether all of the important valves and hatches were closed) showed that valve was neither open or closed, and went back to help close that valve by hand.

If Robalo thought they had narrowly adverted a disaster, they were wrong.  At 55 feet under, before the periscopes had fully submerged, the Betty struck again, striking Robalo so close, she was thrown violently to one side, then lost dive control.

She plunged wildly, and the men scrambled to re-gain control, because if they didn’t, she would be crushed by the weight of the water.  They manged to stop the descent at 350 degrees, but the problems were only just beginning.

The “normal” damage was noted: dishes and lightbulbs smashed, blades of fans sheered off, the cork lining of the walls cracked and fallen in places.

More serious damage started to be reported:  the SJ Radar was completely out of commission, the Conning Tower hatch leaked, the JP Sound Head, the hydrophone that picked up the underwater sounds was out of commission and stiff, the hydraulic steering was badly leaking so Robalo could steer slowly, and she leaked a lot of oil.

She surface quickly, (thankfully, the seas and skies were clear), and checked the exterior.  The picture wasn’t any better.  All external running lights were smashed, the pelorus (used to take readings and bearings off of landmasses to figure the position of the submarine) was destroyed, two antennae were down, the antennae trunk was flooded due to its smashed insulator caps, causing problems in the radio room.   The Number One Periscope was shattered, flooded and useless.  The Number Two Periscope’s low power was ruined, high power had been jarred and the field covered in black spots.  Gaskets to two ballast tanks leaked, the 4-inch deck gun cap was split and cracked, the targeting sights bent beyond use, and the the auxiliary engine exhaust vents closed so exhaust couldn’t be vented outside.

A CO’s first responsibility was the care of his submarine and crew and the list of the damage Robalo sustained was enough that most CO’s probably would have turned for the nearest Submarine Base or Tender, terminating the patrol early.  Kimmel decided to give his crew the chance to do as many repairs as they could.  It would take over 24 hours.

Foreshadowing Flier’s Final Rendezvous–Concluded

Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Apr 22 2010

We set up yesterday’s account of the Redfin’s last stop on her second patrol, will come back to haunt her later in August.

But quickly, 66 years ago today, Flier is, Guess where?  Yup, still doing exercises and tweaks at the shipyard.   She has a week left to find and fix anything and everything her crew’s hearts desires.  (Add an ice cream machine…)

Robalo (green) has passed through the Sibutu Strait, with Redfin on her heels a few hours later, and has actually just finishing transiting the Balabac Strait.

Robalo (green) has just finished safely crossing Balabac Straits, one of several submarines which will do so between now and August 13, when Flier will sink. Redfin has reached her rescue rendezvous point, which will have disasterous effects. Map from Google Earth, positions gleaned from War Patrol reports for USS Robalo and USS Redfin from

The Redfin, (yellow) has arrived at their classified location, Dent Haven, Borneo.  She’s been ordered to pick up six British nationals (refugees or intellegence agents, depending on the source used).  They were supposed to send a specific signal (probably a pattern of blinking lights) to the Redfin, and Redfin would blink a specfic signal back to confirm they were the rescuing vessel.  Once all identities were confirmed, Redfin was going to send four crewmen to shore in a rubber raft, (the water near shore was far too shallow to allow Redfin to approach much closer than a half-mile) grab the refugees, paddle back and head for home.

It started perfectly.  The signal from shore blinked, Redfin responded, and four men, George Carinder, Robert Kahler, Kenneth Harrington, all lead by Ensign Eugene Helz, set out on thier raft.  The currents and winds pushed the raft north, and they landed a distance away from where they had planned on.  Helz noticed several lights, and decided to re-signal just to be safe, since it was known the Japanese were in the area.  The reply was garbled, so he re-signaled, and recieved the correct reply.

They decided to proceed with the rescue.  Helz got out of the raft with Carinder covering him, leaving Kahler and Harrington behind, and called for the Brits to come out to meet them.   No one responded, and thinking that perhaps, they landed a bit north for the refugees to hear him, Kahler and Carinder proceeded down the beach.

Suddenly, a Japanese soldier ran out from the trees behind them, and attacked.  Carinder parryed the blows the soldier was raining down, but didn’t dare shoot because the raft was directly behind him.

Harrington grabbed the machine gun in the raft, and ran to his crewmates and killed the soldier as soon as he could make sure his crewmates would not be hit. 

But more Japanese were now shooting from the trees, where the Americans could not aim properly.  The three sailors ran for the raft and shoved off, figuring that that British subjects, if they ever existed, were dead or in hiding.  They were going to have to row for the Redfin, a half-mile away, fighing the currents and the winds that had already pushed them north, all the while dodging the rifle shots, and praying the Japanese did not have any larger bore shore guns or cannons hidden in the trees.

Back aboard the Redfin, Captain Austin faced a difficult decision.  Submarines were the secret weapons of the Navy, and his number one priority was to make sure his submarine was not captured, and he had to keep the safety of his crew in mind as well.

The rescue had been compromised, that was obvious, but the question he had to ask was, was this attack an attack of opportunity, and these soldiers had just stumbled on an American submarine close to shore and decided to take advantage, or had this been a trap from the beginning, and a Japanese submarine, or destroyer or something was nearby ready to take them and his boat all prisoners?  The water wasn’t even deep enough to safely sink Redfin to keep her out of enemy hands if worse came to worse.

One of his options included abandoning his men to their fates, and leaving, protecting the rest of his men and his boat. 

As long as the water remained free of any other ships, Captain Austin decided to stay and rescue his men if he could.  It took hours, but eventually, all four made it back to the Redfin, and Austin quickly fled the area, abandoning any more rescue attempts, and reported what happened to Fremantle.

POSTCRIPT:  As it turned out, this was more an attack of opportunity.  On June 8, the Harder was sent to the same point, and sucessfully picked up the British men.

Foreshadowing the Flier’s Final Rendezvous

Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Apr 21 2010

Today, the Flier will be running more training runs outside San Francisco, the Redfin and Robalo are both on patrol, and both about to undergo events that, in retrospect, would foreshadow their futures.

Robalo, seen in the green in the map below, is on her way into her first war patrol, heading for Sibutu Passage, and on to the Philippines.  We’ll return to her in a couple of days.

This map shows the track of Redfin (yellow) and Robalo (green) from 4/19/1944 to 4/21/1944. Original image from Google Earth, locations taken from the War Patrol Reports of Redfin and Robalo.

Redfin, seen in the yellow, was on her way home to Fremantle, after a very successful patrol.  She was supposed to go through Makassar Passage, and Lombok, when she received an order to turn around and head for Sibutu Passage for a Special Mission in Northwest Borneo.

At the end of the day, she found out what she was supposed to do: six British Nationals were trapped and needed to be picked up and transported to safety.  Redfin was selected in part because she was in the area and already on her way home.  (No submarine wanted to carry civilians for longer than was absolutely necessary).