Posts Tagged ‘Fremantle’

Flier Investigation Concluded

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

Dello Russo was up next.  Now due to whatever reason, his name was always listed in James D. Russo, in all the records.  His last name was properly Dello Russo, but he wasn’t permitted to list that apparently.  Thankfully, a sharp researcher in Grand Haven figured out his real last name, allowing us to track down his family in time for the memorial.  As a youth, Dello Russo loved to swim to the various islands around the Boston area, which accounts for his ability to swim for the islands.  In fact, he beat everyone to the shore, and was the only person to make it without hanging onto a floating piece of bracken for support.

But I digress.

Dello Russo’s testimony was brief.  As Quartermaster, his job was the drive the submarine from the helm.  Unlike a surface ship, which usually had windows in the room where the steering was done, a submarine is driven blind.  The Quartermaster has to steer based on the angles of the gyroscope and a great deal of trust with the navigator and radar and sonar teams.  All Dello Russo was essentially asked (beyond “Name, Rank, Station”) was where he was located that night.  At the helm.  In the Conning Tower.  That was it.

Donald Tremaine was the last man up for questioning.  I’ve always found Tremaine to be interesting if only because he is nearly a complete cipher.  I’ve never been able to find out anything about him, outside of the fact that he was on the Flier and was assigned to the Maryland during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Anything and everything else is a complete matter of speculation, and when I tried to research him, I got a quick and painful research lesson in just how many “Don(ald) Tremaine”s live in the USA.  But I don’t even have a photo of him, he was the only survivor in no condition to be photographed that day on the Redfin.

Tremaine was a Fire Controlman, which made him an essential part of maintaining, repairing and operating all weapons systems aboard Flier. Tremaine stated that the night Flier went down, he was in the Conning Tower as a part of the Radar Tracking Party in case they made contact.  If I’ve done my research correctly, that means that he was likely standing at the TDC (Torpedo Data Computer-an analog computing system that helped submarines perform the trigonometry needed to aim torpedoes.) that night.  And that was all.

Last up was Lt. Liddell.  After Crowley, Liddell had the most on the line, since he could potentially be held responsible if he hadn’t navigated correctly and allowed Flier to stray into dangerous waters.

He was questioned closely, the investigators wanting to know when was the last fix taken by stars, landmarks, the last reading on the azimuth, how often did he take depth soundings, radar fixes, and on and on.  Judging from his responses, he was a highly skilled navigator, and his skill stood the interrogation.

The strangest part of the tale is simply that when Liddlel and Crowley planned their route that evening, there were two reasons why they did not follow the Crevalle’s route precisely, when that was the route HQ sent them to help them safely transverse Balabac.  The first was Crevalle was heading north, not west, which meant that Flier would have to take a wide arc out of their way to match her track precisely.  But more importantly, Crevalle tracked very close to a pair of reefs, which were clearly shown on the map.  That was too close for comfort for Crowley and Liddell, and they decided to put more distance between Flier and those reefs, which would have been easily mineable.  Today’s charts, however, clearly show that the ocean floor drops steeply down near the reefs and comes up gradually near Comiran Island.  Liddell and Crowley tried to keep her as safe as they could, but this time, her luck ran out.

The remaining portions of the investigation/trial are detailed, and interesting, but maybe only to me.  There was a lot of questioning of Admiral Christie’s staff from this point forward, about intelligence gathering, known Japanese mines, how was information gathered and relayed to submarine COs, the risks of Natsubata Channel verses the other channels in the strait, on and on and on.  They even covered the history of Robalo’s CO, and called in the temporary COs of Robalo and Flier (these men were the CO while the real COs were on R&R and who remained onboard during all of the training sessions prior to patrol departure to observe the training and the abilities of the crews) to inquire how the crew and CO worked together, and how prepared the crews of these lost boats might or might not have been.

The conclusions reached by the investigation was that Flier and Robalo both had been given the best information possible, but their loss was officially attributed to “the fortunes of war”.  Both Admiral Christie and Commander Crowley were absolved of all fault regarding the loss of these boats and their crews, but Admiral Christie’s career had reached its zenith.  Shortly after this investigation, for unknown reasons, he was assigned to a new post: overseeing the Naval Yard in Bremerton Washington.  This sort of assignment was often given to admirals who were on their way to retirement, and despite the fact that four submarines (Flier, Robalo, Harder and USS Seawolf, sunk on 3 October in one of the few friendly fire incidents of WWII–carrying 17 Army Special Forces aboard) had been recently lost out of Fremantle, Christie had a good record of safety and support of his submarine crews.

It is possible that Christie simply got shuffled around in the normal rotation of things, but, while there are no written records, and no one willing to go on record, there were rumors that Christie may have been on the receiving end of some other admirals’ displeasure for the clean slate given to Christie and Crowley.  It’s also interesting to note that Admiral Daubin, the presiding officer, was also shortly relieved of the command of Atlantic Submarines (at which he also had been doing a laudable job) and moved to oversee the Naval Yard at New York.

Who knows?

But now the Navy had to sit and wait.  There were rumors of at least four survivors of the Robalo. Four men, Ensign Samuel Tucker, Signalman Wallace Martin, Quartermaster Floyd Laughlin, and Electrician’s Mate Mason Poston, had dropped a note from their Puerto Princesa prison cell on August 2, which had been smuggled out to the Allies.  Their current whereabouts were unknown.  There were also seven survivors of Flier who potentially could have swam to other islands and be living as castaways or captured.  In addition, Flier was believed to be in 40-50 fathoms of water (240-300 feet of water).  All submariners are trained to escape out of a disabled submarine at that depth, so if some of the Fliers had survived the crash into the seafloor and could reach the escape hatches, is was possible that more might surface after the war.  There was no way to tell.

But the families were going to have to be told something…

This particular Submarine Escape Training Tower is located in New London Connecticut at the Subamarine School. Every man was required to escape from the bottom of it to the top, learning how to use the various escape equipment. So it was possible, not likely, but possible, that other Fliers might have found their way to the surface after the Flier came to rest on the bottom. It would have been a potentially lethal and nearly impossible ascent, but with eight men already proving the impossible could happen, the Navy was willing to leave that door open for now.

Thomas Bohn

And now for something completely different..., Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Sep 12 2010

Today, the Fliers who were dropped in Kalgoorlie are boarding another plane headed back to Fremantle.  The Investigation starts tomorrow.

But on a slightly separate note, I’ve had the honor of helping a Flier family the past few weeks, and thought I’d share the story.

Near the time of the memorial, the niece of Electrician’s Mate Thomas Bohn of Easton Pennsylvania, contacted me, telling me about her relation Bohn, and they couldn’t make it to the memorial service.  Since they couldn’t travel to Michigan, they were working on putting the money together to set a stone memorializing Bohn near his parent’s graves in the hometown cemetery.  While the headstone was provided by the government (there’s something I don’t mind paying for with my taxes!) it was going to cost a pretty penny to simply purchase the granite and set it.

Thoma Bohn, age 18 on August 13, 1944. His family knew him for ever as "Uncle Sonny". As it turned out, over the course of asking questions of his only remaining sibling, he wasn't altogether fond of the nickname!

We started working back and forth and together, wrote and submitted a series of press releases to the local papers and television stations telling the story of Bohn and his family’s efforts to memorialize him.  It has lead to an outpouring of funds so Bohn will not only be able to have his headstone set in place, but possibly also a scholarship fund for a student at his alma mater Wilson High School.

It has been a fun time to work with another family, and been great to see these men receiving their memorials that has been so long in waiting, and been amazing to help these people discover these relatives that they never knew, and learn more in turn.  Just asking these questions and listening to the stories has lead to more stories come to light that otherwise might have remained hidden.

THIS is what I find so rewarding about what I do.

To read the articles about this process, see below!

The first article that appeared about Thomas Bohn

And the follow up article from two days later

The article that appeared this morning

The News Station Report. (I originally posted the video link here, but it kept playing automatically, so I removed it. You can see it right here. I think it’s really really good.)

Gold Country

Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Sep 11 2010

The Navy quickly realized, once the Fliers returned to Fremantle, that they had a problem.  The Submarine Force was far, far too small.  Eight Flier crewmen (almost 10% of the crew!) were going to be wandering around Fremantle, being seen by men they knew and who knew that these men belonged on the Flier…and it wouldn’t take long before people realized that Flier herself wasn’t in port, which would raise interesting questions.

Questions that, the Navy, in order to keep the other submariners from uneccessary fear and worry, would rather remain unasked.

Captain Crowley had to stay in Fremantle because he needed to prepare his defense.  While the Board of Investigation he was now facing (standard for investigating the presumed or known losses of any given vessel) was not a court martial, it was only one step down, and if it proved unfavorable, he could face a real Court Martial.  Since Admiral Christie was also going to be a defendant in this investigation, the Navy was flying Admiral Freeland Daubin in from the East Coast to preside over the trial.  In fact, he landed in Fremantle 66 years ago today.

Earl Baumgart requested to stay in Fremantle, as he was friends with a local family with whom he was staying. Since he was staying there, and eating his meals there rather than in the hotels and restaurants that the submariners haunted, the Navy decided to honor his request.  Besides, a spare Flier crewman wouldn’t raise that many eyebrows–last minute reassignments were common enough.

The other six–Liddell, Jacobson, Miller, Tremaine, Howell, and Dello Russo–were loaded on a private plane and flown 350 miles inland to a town named Kalgoorlie.  It was also in the middle of nowhere.  In short, it was the perfect place to stash six guys whose location needed to be kept secret for another week or so.

It may not look like much, but there is nearly 350 miles between Perth and Kalgoorlie. Once in Kalgoorlie, there is NOTHING for miles. It is so far from any other non-mining civiliazation that the mines are still "on-site" workers. (As mines are being located in more remote places, some mines find it cheaper and better to fly their workers in for an intense several days shift, then fly them home. Kalgoorlie is so far from anywhere, it's cheaper to haul everyone there, families and all.

Here's another way to look at the distance. In scale, the distance from Fremantle/Perth to Kalgoorlie is roughly the same distance as the Ohio/Michigan border to Whitefish Point in the Upper Penninsula. (as the crow flies). That is a beast of a drive, and in Michigan, you don't deal with desert. (I'm now showing my childhood roots, aren't I?)

Kalgoorlie is still, as it was in 1944, a large mining town with some of the biggest gold and nickel mines around.  It sits near “The Super Pit”, Australia’s largest open pit gold mine.

A satelite shot of Kalgoorlie, now a cluster of a number of towns working several mines, the largest of all is still the Super Pit.

Al Jacobson, who, along with Lt. Liddell, stayed in the mine foreman’s house that week, (the enlisted, I presume stayed in one of the numerous hotels in Kalgoorlie) got a first hand look at a mining operation–or he would have had they stayed there any other week of the year.  The first morning there, he recalled going to the mine with the harrassed looking foreman where all the miners were gathered.  The Union leader yelled, “Are we going to work today men?”  “NO!” was the resounding answer.

Then they all trooped away…to the racetrack.  They weren’t on strike.  Kalgoorlie’s biggest week of the year is the horse races held each September and war or not, they continued, and all mining operations were suspended until then, despite the fact the foreman’s orders were to run the mine at full capacity.

We know Al visited the racetrack on September 9, because he still has the program for that day.

The Cover to the September 9, 1944 Kalgoorlie Races. While this doesn't conclusively prove that Al visited the racetrack that day....

The fact that he recorded the first, second and third place winners in each category for all the races I think does.

Soon, however, they were going to return to Fremantle to face whatever music the Navy decided to play for them.

The Coastwatchers

Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Aug 26 2010

Al and the Fliers were now on the slopes of Addison Peak, waiting for pickup.  The moment Captain Crowley knew he had the ability to send  a message to Brisbane Australia (the Coastwatchers, being an Army unit, not a Navy unit, had the clearances, frequencies, ect. to contact McArthur’s headquarters, not Admiral Christie’s, but of course, were willing to forward it to Fremantle) he sent a message saying Flier was lost with some survivors, and that they likely hit a mine in Balabac Strait, and needed pick up.  Up until this point, it was suspected/assumed that Balabac was mined because it was such a used strait with such limited paths through making it nearly ideal for mining.  But now, Crowley was convinced it was, and despite the convenience,  should be avoided at all costs.

The message was embedded in the usual weather report (the Japanese could always be listening in, but since what the Coastwatchers sent was, more often that not, weather reports, it wasn’t too likely they’d listen closely), sent to Brisbane and quickly forwarded to Fremantle.

Fremantle, to put it lightly, wasn’t happy.  Not. At. All.

The next night, they sent a blistering scolding to the Coastwatchers, who weren’t even their men, telling them that they were highly disappointed in the quality of the men’s observations and that they were supposed to be watching the straits for things like mines, and they expected much better in the future.

For the commander of the group, Armando Corpus, who had suffered from depression before during this mission, it might have been the last straw.  If he followed the pattern established earlier in this mission, he likely withdrew from the other men and talked openly about how he was useless to do anything.  The other men, lead by Palacido who was the de facto leader of the group, tried to tell him it wasn’t their fault, certainly not Corpus’s alone, and that he was a valuable leader of their band.

From what I have seen, the Fliers certainly never held the Coastwatchers responsible for what happened to their boat, it was the fortunes of war.  Moreover, the Straits had been mined before the Coastwatchers got there.  Personally, I think the accusation a bit unfair, but a lot of these facts came out after the war, and 1944 wasn’t exactly a relaxing time for anyone in the Submarine Force.  Fresh off the realization that Robalo isn’t answering her repeated calls, nor calling in to report when she’d be in port, and is therefore, likely lost, to hear Flier was certainly lost in the same general area, had to be a devastating blow.  To add to that, submarine Hake reported that her hunting partner, submarine Harder, had taken a severe depth charging from the escorts of their last targets, and wasn’t answering Hake’s calls.  Hake suspected Harder was  lost with all hands, including legendary skipper Sam Dealey.  So news of all three submarines lost with their crews was hitting Christie’s office at once.  It might have been too much to take for whoever composed the scathing message.

The Fliers meanwhile were sitting back and relaxing for the first time.  As their feet healed, they started to participate in the activities of the mountain encampment and meet the people around here, including trapped missionaries, survivors of the Bataan Death March, and salvage divers.

But more on that tomorrow.

Exmouth Gulf

Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Aug 04 2010

Flier pulled into and out of Exmouth Gulf for the traditional top off of the fuel tanks sixty-six years ago yesterday and today.

Exmouth Gulf is a city on the western coast of Australia.  With the destruction of Pearl Harbor and Manila in December 1941, the Navy’s remaining fleet, including most of her submarines had to scatter and fleet to stay ahead of the Japanese.  (It was here that submarines proved their worth, being able to sneak into Manila and deliver supplies and remove important people, papers and even several tons of gold.)

Pearl Harbor would remain a submarine base, but she was so far away from the front and important enemy shipping lanes, especially those in the south west Pacific, that the Navy realized they would need another one or two bases.  At first they tried to establish bases in Java.  But Java was soon taken as well, and the fleet kept moving south. looking for a place to establish their new base, most likely in Australia.

There were three main candidates on Australia’s western coast: Darwin, Exmouth Gulf, and Freemantle.  Darwin was an attractive post, but it was soon bombed by the Japanese.  As one of the most northern cities in Australia, it was most at risk for invasion.  In addition, the waters were open, easily minable, and worst of all, were subject to huge tide changes.  It could work well for an emergency, but all things considered, they had to go south.

Exmouth Gulf was next, but an idea for a base there was quickly abandoned.  When the tender Pelias docked there, rough seas prevented the subs from tying up next to her.   Exmouth Gulf lacked the towns, hotels and other infrastructure to handle more than a couple of submarines at a time.  Even today, less than 2,000 people permanently live at Exmouth Gulf.

Fremantle, despite her distance from the front (about five days travel) had everything that the Submarine Force was looking for in a new home: a deep, protected harbor (or mouth of a river in this case) a town already equipped with hotels, restaurants, workmen, warehouses, and defensible places in case the worst came.  It even had drydocks for those damaged ships who couldn’t make it back to Pearl or the States.

But being so far from the front, the Navy decided to create a refueling station at Exmouth so submarines could top off before heading to patrol and, if necessary, get more fuel to make it back.

Flier pulled into Exmouth Gulf the evening of August 3, and spent the night refueling.  No one outside of Captain knew where they were going still, and the rumors were probably rampant.

After leaving the next day, Jacobson and the fire crew, Chief Gunnery Officer Lt. John Edward Casey, Chief Gunner’s Mate Charles Pope, Gunner’ s Mate Joseph Galinac, and Fire Controlman Donald Tremaine, initiated a deck gun targeting practice using an old wreck grounded near Exmouth Gulf.  According to Jacobson’s memoirs, “This ship had the distinction of being shot at by more submarines than any other ship in the world.  Every sub that passed would fire at it.”

In the days before I knew about Google Earth, it took me a LONG time to find the identity of this vessel, but I think I found her.

As seen from Google Earth, you can see the hulk of the Mildura, most of which now lies below the surface.

It’s the SS Mildura. Wrecked on a reef during a cyclone in 1907.  Her crew made it to shore, but the Mildura stayed stranded on the reef.  Several war diaries from WWI and WWII record using her for targeting practice.  In addition to submarines, larger surface vessels used it for target practice, as did planes for bombing practice.  In addition, timbers from her frame and decking as well as some of her iron fixtures were removed (shortly after she wrecked, long before bombing practice!)  for rennovations at Yardie Homestead.

All things considered, over one hundred years later, it’s amazing that ANY of this wreck still exists!

A photo of the wreck from the beach taken in 2007. From Google Earth's Panoramio photos.

After she finished, Flier turned north, ready for business.

The wreck of Mildura can be visited today, at the end of the Mildura Wreck Road.

Website about the three Milduras.  A photo of the SS Mildura prior to her wrecking is located in the library of New South Wales, but has never been posted online.

USS Flier away

Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Aug 02 2010

I don’t want to take from the Grunion (see below) but I also need to post that today, was the day Flier left Fremantle for the last time.

After the successful sound testing on July 30, she trained during the 31 with the Muskallunge, then after Muskallunge left on the first of August, did a night training mission from 1-2 August, pulling in for final refueling and stores the morning of the second with orders to depart by that afternoon.

Al was the commissary officer and it was his job, along with Flier’s cooking crew, to provision the boat with as much food and creature comforts as they could.  Flier had an ice cream machine, a HUGE coffee maker, carried coke syrups to make sodas with (or pop, as we say in Michigan), and a cold room and refrigerated room so they could carry fresh produce and meats and dairy.

Despite that, Flier would have been absolutely swamped with the dry and canned goods everywhere.  They would be stashed under the tables, behind control panels, wedged between pipes, stashed under bunks.  It says a lot that the Dace, when carrying the full crew of the Darter onboard, found a bag of flour stashed behind one of Dace’s engines when they were desperate for food.  It had been sitting there for no one knew how long!  (The crew didn’t care, using the flour and some lard, they made donuts and ate those for their last 24 hours at sea!)  Storage of food and items like that, I’m told, was one of the more “creative” jobs on the last day leaving harbor.

They also updated their means of entertainment.  Submarines were allowed to carry a small library of books (up to 200 volumes) provided by the Navy and exchangeable between patrols, as well as a record player and records.  I’m also going to point out that earlier that during Flier’s first victory banquet, I said that, according to the menu that night, the men listened to the strains of Victor Herbert and I didn’t know who he was, but he wasn’t on the second patrol.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  Thanks to a reader named “Maria’, she told me Victor Herbert was a composer, and so that was the music the men listened to.  Gives us a touch of insight as to their musical tastes (or maybe just the kitchen staff or commander Crowley).  So he might have been on the second patrol.

After their last stores were brought on board, Flier pulled up her anchor and left Fremantle.  Only Commander Crowley knew where they were headed and whether they were supposed to return.

It’s time to Return

Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Jul 07 2010

Thanks to all of you who e-mailed me and condoled me on the loss of my Kairey Girl.  She was one special dog.  But then again, I think everyone says that about their dog, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

I do want to make one correction to that post.  My husband talked to the firemen who hit Kairey (they were nice enough to come back so we at least knew what happened to her) and told him why they couldn’t stop when it happened.  They were the ones who told him about the little girl.  When I asked him if the girl survived, he apparently said “I don’t know,” but between his sobs and mine, I heard “No”.

The girl may have survived.  I dearly dearly hope so. I have not seen any obits for anyone that young, nor any articles in the local paper.

If Kairey had to go, at least another life might have been spared.

Taken last fall by my brother, this was my Kairey dog. She loved to run, fetch, play, give kisses and nap. She could fit into two square inches of space and nap, especially if it was against a warm body or in the sun.

I thought I would post a photo of Kairey dog.  Though purebred, she had too much white on her chest to really qualify as a show animal (which was fine by us, we wanted a hunting dog and family pet and had no interest in breeding,) but the white patch on her chest was in the shape of a nearly-perfect five-pointed star.  I’m not kidding.

The star on Kairey's chest was one of the first things we noticed about her. That, and the fact that she kept trying to chew our shoes apart. Though technically considered a "disfiguring" mark, we thought it was great. She narrowly avoided being named "Star", but apparently "S" names don't work well in the hunting field. Some of her full-blooded brothers and sisters are in breeding programs all over the country, so maybe someday, several years from now, we'll adopt a great-great nephew or niece. I'd even take one of those sisters or brothers if they need a home after being retired from breeding.

Thanks for your patience and understanding during this difficult time for me and my husband.

Now back to our (semi) regularly scheduled program…

Flier arrived in Fremantle on July 5, 1944 to a welcoming committee.  Having claimed to sink four boats on patrol and damaging another two, she was one of the stars of Fremantle at that time.  Captain Crowley would win a Navy Cross for this patrol, and Flier and her crew would earn a battle star for that patrol.

The Flier was in decent condition.  Unlike the Robalo, who had six pages of defects to check and fix, Flier had only three items that needed attention:  The high pressure air compressor motors needed to be looked at since both had been flooded during a routine dive, and had been disassembled and dried before being reassembled.  The electrical panels controlling the low-pressure blowers seemed to be troublesome too, and needed to be looked at.  The worst trouble, however, was the Flier lost control of her stern planes three times during critical moments during an attack.  It turned out that the motor operating those planes had three settings: slow, medium and fast, in terms of how quickly it would change the tilt angle of the planes.  When on slow or medium, there was an electrical problem, that caused the planes to fail completely, so Flier kept them on “full” for the rest of the patrol.  They wanted all of that looked at and fixed in addition to the usual  tinkering, polishing, deep cleaning, airing out, and other usual things.

The men were now free to spend the next two weeks any way they wanted.  They had four hotels to pick from and the Navy would pick up the tab, in addition to the family homes of any friends they might have in Fremantle (at least Earl Baumgart had such a friend).  There was swimming, fishing, dancing, sports, almost anything one could think of to do.  Some men, according to Michael Sturma’s “USS Flier: Death and Survival on a WWII Submarine” borrowed Flier’s small arms and ammo to go kangaroo and rabbit hunting in the Outback.

Redfin, meanwhile, pulled into Darwin, sixty-six years ago today.  Pluta was taken off the sub and transported to the hospital in Darwin, and since Redfin had already been out for over a month, she was told to proceed to Fremantle and terminate her patrol there.

Robalo, on the other hand is a mystery.  She may have been sunk by now, or severely damaged.  On the other hand, she might be just fine, stalking the west coast of Palawan or on her way to Indo-China.  I have to go through my research and organize my thoughts before I can delve really deeply into this.

Today, I also want to take time to remember the USS S-28, for two reasons.  One, because it sank sixty-six years ago on the Fourth, and two, she was Captain Crowley’s command before he was awarded Flier.

S-28 was a very old boat, who completed seven patrols in Alaska, the first four of which were under Crowley’s command.  After the seventh patrol, the S-28 was transferred to Pearl Harbor to be a training boat.  On July 3, 1944, S-28 left Pearl with a crew of fifty to train with the US Coast Guard Cutter (though the Coast Guard vessels had been taken over by the Navy by this point, ) Reliance. On the Fourth of July, they went into the last exercise, but Reliance had problems contacting S-28. It was as if S-28’s radio was having problems or was broken. An hour after they dove, Reliance heard one brief radio call, then nothing.  Alarmed, Reliance called Pearl Harbor, who sent out several more ships.  Two days later, on the 6th of June, they discovered an oil slick in the vicinity that S-28 was last spotted.  It was quickly discovered that S-28 was far too deep to recover using the best technology of the time, and so she was left in peace, along with her crew.  She has remained undiscovered.

The S-28 taken after her refit in 1943.

Since S-28 sank during a practice patrol, the Navy did not wait to announce her loss.  Captain Crowley likely heard about her loss the day they came in from patrol, if not shortly afterwards.

What effect this might have had on him is not known.  I’m sure he grieved the loss of his old boat, and her crew, though more than likely, all the men he had known had been transferred off over the course of the last year and a half.  It was becoming disturbingly commonplace to hear of lost boats every time a submarine came to port, but it must have been a touch of a shock to hear of the loss of a boat he had previously commanded.  It wasn’t going to get better…

Memorial Page for USS S-28’s lost crew

Homeward Bound

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

Flier is on her way home, via Sibutu Passage, Molukka Passage, and Lombok Strait.  With only four torpedoes left, I’m sure they were anxious to get back to home port.

The night that Flier received permission to go home, They threw a victory party with an extensive menu to celebrate their successful patrol.

Thanks to the families of Al Jacobson and James Liddell, we have those menus AND the only known (that I know of at least) drawing of the Flier insignia.  This bears the initials “RM” or so it appears.  That does not match any names in the roster of those that went down.  It makes me wonder who did it.

I think it’s funny that despite the fact that “Flier” is named for a common type of sunfish found all over America, the men designed a sailor-hat wearing fly to be their insignia.

The menu is AMAZING.  Just look at the amount and variety of food.  And this, mind you, is after 40 days at sea.  That menu is made from the LEFTOVER food in their stocks.  Little wonder that the kitchen staff on a submarine were coveted and highly regarded by their crewmates.

Just take a gander at all this food! Chicken a la King, Shrimp Cocktail, Beef Broth, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Buttered Corn, Beef Steak, Roasted Pork, Chocolate Cake, Cold Chocolate (I wonder if that was as opposed to Hot Chocolate?) I'm getting hungry just typing this! I do wonder about the music selection and what that means...

The two men named on the menu for their musical selection are being transferred off Flier when they get to port, they just don’t know it yet.

The Flier is heading for Fremantle, the most popular destination for submarines.  Pearl Harbor was nice, but, from what I’ve read, most of the women there were already married, engaged or in a steady relationship.  Most of the eligible Australian men, however, had volunteered for the military and been shipped off to the European and African theaters years before, leaving the girls behind.  Most of the veterans I’ve interviewed said Fremantle and her sister city of Perth were open and welcoming to the American military men, and especially submariners, since they had top secret missions and faced danger on their patrols.  There are many fond memories of these Australian cities I’ve heard, and several stories that stopped abruptly when the veterans realized, in their reminiscing, that their wives and/or children were listening intently. ( “I went to this party at the Swan Hotel and saw this gorgeous brunette across the room and…and…she stayed across the room.  That’s all.”)

The book is progressing.  I’m being picky and paranoid about the editing process now, trying to catch every grammatical and content error I can.  I don’t know if it’ll be perfect, but I’m sure trying.

As soon as that’s done, I have to get to work on the information for the temporary exhibit and the memorial book.  And here I thought I was going to have a relaxing summer.  Oh well.  It’s not often one gets to do something like this, help define and tell history on such a personal and close level.  I’m also going to try to update this website soon with information about the temp exhibit and the Memorial service.  Keep watching!

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.