Posts Tagged ‘James Alls’

Flier’s grounding and the First of the Jim All’s films

Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Feb 17 2011

Hey everyone,

Sorry this has taken so long.   I’m having to finish the design for the potential exhibit in the next two weeks, and a few other, family related issues have swallowed my time.  I am sorry, I’ve been hating how little time I’ve had to devote to this blog lately.

But I hope the following will at least partially make up for the prolonged absence.

First, I thought for those who have never taken a look at Midway Atoll,  that you might be interested in just how Flier wound up grounded at Midway when so many other submarines came in and out of Midway all through WWII with little trouble.  I ended up doing a lot of research to help myself out here, and I’m indebted to Michael Sturma of Murdoch University in Australia not only for his excellent book, USS Flier: Death and Survival on a WWII Submarine, but also because he kindly forwarded a digital copy of the JAG investigation and transcript into this incident.

Reading about this incident in the Deck Logs and Sturma’s book was one thing, reading it, in the men’s own words, was another thing completely.  It brought new insights I hadn’t thought of.  Between the Deck Logs, the JAG Transcript and Sturma’s book, I put together a little video about how, exactly, Flier ended up on the reef.

Following this incident, and the tow back to Pearl, Crowley would be found responsible for Flier’s damage, but then again, a skipper is responsible for his ship and all of his crew.  He could have been asleep when this happened, and still be found responsible.  The fact that the investigation panel decided that even though he was responsible, it was through no fault of his own, nor negligence, or anything that could be helped.  In short, he’s responsible, but only because he had to be found such.  They permitted him to retain command of Flier, which says a lot about their opinion of his command abilities, and I’m sure, was a great vote of confidence for Crowley himself.

Jim Alls was on that patrol the day Flier ran aground.  For those who don’t know, Mr. Alls came to the Flier Memorial service in Muskegon this past August.  To my knowledge, he’s the only known Flier crewman still alive.  He was there the day she was commissioned and is listed among the commissioning crew, and remained with her until just a few days before Flier left Fremantle on her final, fateful patrol.  The only reason he didn’t go with her was he had his jaw smashed in by a New Zealand soldier a few days before departure.  All submariners are still required to be in peak condition before leaving on patrol, so Alls was left behind in Freo, with a retainer on him so he would re-join Flier’s crew as soon as he was cleared and she was back in port.

And of course, she never came back.

He’s amazing.  I mean, here’s a guy who lies about his age to join the military at 15 years old (making him 16 years old when this happens) then spends the next several years on the most dangerous and complicated equipment in the world in the middle of a war zone.  He has a great memory too, especially about these guys.  I got to interview him and his wife back in November, and he told story after story, about the men, gilly, Panama, Pearl Harbor, poker games, working in the engine rooms, and on and on and on.  Just incredible.

Since he was there the day they were at Midway, I asked him about it.  The thing that stuck out most in his mind was the surgery performed on Waite Daggy, and the burial of James Cahl.  I’m still working on the Cahl film, but here, in the words of someone who was there, is how surgery ended up being performed on a grounded submarine being thrashed by a winter storm.

And because I just can’t help myself, here’s a funny little bit about what happens when you screw up a Christmas Turkey on a submarine…

In case you’re wondering, I tend to complete these and upload them to YouTube as I find time, but it may be a while before they show up here.  As a result, all three of these movies have been available for two days to two weeks.  If you’re interested in seeing them as soon as I upload them, you can subscribe to the ussflierproject account, and YouTube will keep you advised as to when I upload these.  I will eventually feature them here, as I can and it fits, but there you go.

Enjoy!

Important Update

The Exhibit | Posted by Rebekah
Sep 18 2010

Most of you who were at the Memorial Service and especially those who weren’t, I have an update for you.

Many of you have heard the story of James Alls, commissioning member of Flier’s crew, who was aboard from the day she was commissioned as a US Naval Submarine in New London Connecticut, traveled through the Panama Canal, suffered the grounding at Midway, went on the complete patrol, and was ABSENT for the doomed second patrol.  The night before (or two nights before, I’ll be sure to get the full story) Mr. Alls got in a bar fight in Fremantle, and was hit in the jaw with a bottle, breaking it (the jaw, jury’s out on the bottle, not that it matters).

An injury so serious grounded Mr. Alls in the hospital in Fremantle, and the Navy assigned another man  to take his place on the Flier. Mr. Alls hoped that he would be re-assigned to Flier when she returned, since everyone aboard was so close to one another.

And of course, Flier never did return.

Mr. Alls, like the other survivors, questioned why he survived, and felt incredibly guilty that he wasn’t there with his friends who were like family the moment that it happened.  It haunted him for years.

But then the Flier was found, and Mr. Alls decided to make the trek from Kentucky to Michigan to memorialize his lost crewmembers, and throw a rose into the water for Fireman Donald See, the man who took his place.

The memories of these men, their personalities and stories, are still vivid in Mr. Alls’s memory and at that service, he was able to give the gift of introducing relatives of these long-lost men to those whose lives remain forever frozen in 1944.  In the words of a nice of Joe Kucinski (who apparently, everyone called “Ski!”) “Mr. Alls gave me my uncle back.  I never knew him before, but I feel I know him now through the stories [Mr. Alls] told me.”

I’m posting today the fact that Mr. Alls and I have tentatively arranged to meet for an extensive interview sometime in the next eight weeks in an undisclosed location.  (all this hinging on arrangements still being settled, hence the “secrecy”.)

So if you have a question you’d like me to ask Mr. Alls, e-mail me at ussflierproject@gmail.com.  I can’t promise that it will get asked, but I will certainly try.  I hope to continue to talk to and correspond with Mr. Alls for as long as possible, so if I can’t ask it during this first interview, hopefully I can soon.

I will be filming and recording this too, so if all goes really, REALLY well, I’ll try to post segments of the interviews here for everyone to see.  How’s that for exciting?

I know I’m excited.  Some of his information has been really enlightening.  It’s going to add some details to the book and definitly force a re-write of a couple of places.

For more about Jim Alls and the short interview he did for the Grand Haven Tribune,click here.  And see below.

Jim Alls remembers the U.S.S. Flier