Posts Tagged ‘USS Robalo’

Flier’s new Friend

Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Jul 01 2010

One of the things that happened occasionally on a submarine was they took “prisoners”.  Now sometimes, a submarine would find survivors of a wreck or torpedoed ships (usually not their own, if a submarine was not having the stuffing depth charged out of them, they often couldn’t afford to surface near a wreck shortly after an attack lest the boat be swamped by the surviving sailors and either be compromised and possibly sunk or damaged as well, or worse, hijacked,) and if there were only a few people, they would be taken aboard.  If they were Japanese, they were extremely valuable, but sometimes they were native people of the area the submarine was passing through.  Once they were taken aboard they had to complete the patrol and be escorted off the submarine once she came into port where the person would be taken into the custody of the Marines, and interrogated.  Beyond that, I don’t know what happened to these people.  It wasn’t a common situation, but it also wasn’t rare.

Hours after Flier ran across the Robalo, they found a sailboat, and closed with it for inspection.  What inspection, and why this vessel, the records I have access to don’t say, though I know this was a fairly common practice.  One man volunteered to come with them to Australia, and the others requested food.  Al’s memoirs mention that they had limited stores by this time (I guess they used up a good portion of their food stores on that sumptuous feast!) but shared everything they could spare, mostly canned food.

The man they took with them was a young, “brown-skinned male…nationality unknown”.   He spoke through gestures and communicated with the crew.  From what I was able to find out, this man was by and large housed in the Forward Torpedo Room where the guys there took a liking to him, teaching him some English, and were very vocal about the Marines who came to escort him off when they arrived in Freo to treat him well.

That being said, the first English phrase they taught him was “All Marines are Lousy”.  It’s tame really, compared to some of the stories about English lessons I’ve heard from other boats!

They never recorded his name, and after he was escorted off the Flier, his fate becomes unknown.  I wonder if those records are in Australia somewhere.

After handing over the food to the remaining crew of the sailing vessel, Flier crossed Lombok, likely that night, and was in free ocean at last, sixty-six years ago today.

The Robalo Goes on Patrol

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

Sorry, this is going to be a shorter post than it deserves, but it’s already 11 pm and I’ve spent the day at the docs and doing graphics for the book (trying to get the maps as accurate as possible is proving to take much longer than I thought, but I wanted to get these right, or at least as close as I can get to it.)

But I couldn’t let the day pass without acknowledging that sixty-six years ago today, Robalo left on her third, and as it turned out, last war patrol.  We’ll see her again soon, before she vanishes.

She carried a full crew compliment of eighty-one men.

The Golet Goes to the Deep

Lost Subs, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Jun 17 2010

While Flier was attacking her convoy and having her stuffing pounded out of her, over two thousand miles away, another submarine saw her final day.

USS Golet was a Maitowoc boat and was built alongside the Redfin and  Robalo.  She launched just before Redfin and  Robalo were commissioned and shipped down the Mississippi.

On the day of her launch, she wore an unusual sign:  “This Fighting Ship sponsored and made possible by war bond purchases of the people of Shreveport.”   I know of no other ship or submarine that bore a sign like that during their launch.  I wonder if the people of Shreveport had a celebration of her when she passed through the city on her way to the Gulf.

This is the Shreveport sign Golet wore just before her launch

She arrived at Pearl Harbor for final training then left on 18 March 1944 for her first patrol near the Kurile Islands, the island chain connecting northern Japan with the Kamchatka penninsula of Russia. (Herring was sunk in this chain a few days prior).  It was foul weather there, and between the rain, the fog and ice, she never really had a chance to get many targets.  During the entire patrol she only saw one thing that was worth of a torpedo, but it never got close enough to Golet.

The Golet during her trials on Lake Michigan the fall of 1943

She returned to Midway Island where her Commanding Officer, Philip Ross, was replaced with James S. Clark.  She was sent to patrol near the northeastern shore of Honshu on 28 May 1944.  She was never heard from again.

On 26 July, 1944, she was considered “Overdue and Presumed Lost”, though her men were listed as MIA, not KIA, as was normal for this time.

Following the war, Japanese records revealed that on June 14, 1944, a Japanese ship attacked a suspected submarine in Golet’s patrol area, and the attack resulted in debris of cork, rafts and a large pool of oil.  This was considered proof of Golet’s demise.

Perhaps owing to her unusual town sponsor, the state of Louisiana was given the Golet as their memorial submarine.  Her memorial stood on a  military base until its recent closing, and the memorial’s re-dedication has been postponed until a suitible site has been secured.

The Memorial Site for USS Golet and her crew

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 navsource.org

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.

The Distant and Lost Graves

And now for something completely different... | Posted by Rebekah
May 29 2010

On Memorial Day Weekend, I thought I would take an opportunity to honor the men and women who have given their lives so that the rest of us can live in freedom.  From the original soldiers and rebels of the Revolutionary war, all of whom faced a torturous death if the war had been lost and they had been captured and charged as traitors (talk about courage of conviction!) to our modern men and women on numerous bases all over the world, not only keeping us safe, but helping those in need, rebuilding in places where nature or man have destroyed, or all the other innumerable jobs the military does without complaint…

Thank You.

One of the hardest things that the families of the Navy had to face in wartime was the likelihood that if their loved one lost his life aboard his vessel, or his vessel was destroyed, that they would not ever have a grave to visit and remember them by.  Only a little less difficult were those whose sons (and now daughters too) served in conflicts abroad and might be laid to rest in those lands rather than the family plot.

Today, with modern embalming and refrigeration techniques, as many bodies as possible are returned to their families in the States.

But during WWII, that was often not possible.

In the Navy, if a ship or submarine was lost, any men lost with the vessel were lost at sea, sometimes, with no records on either side to record where that may be.  If someone died aboard a vessel during WWII, they were often buried at sea with military rites.  The body would be sewn into a canvas sack, weighted, and slid over the side of the vessel during a formal ceremony.  Even a submarine would pause when it was safest to take care of their lost brothers.  In May 1942, Mike Harbin became the first gunfire casualty of the Submarine Force aboard the USS Silversides.  A round hit him in the head and killed him instantly.  Silversides was battling it out with a small boat at the time, and two more men took Mike’s body inside with them.  After the battle, Silversides left he area submerged, and several hours later, after the body had been prepared, and the men changed into the most formal attire they had, the crew went onto the deck and held a Navy funeral for their crewmate, before sliding his body overboard.  They recorded the latitude and longitude in the deck log that day.  But his family would never be able to visit the grave.

Providing the coordinates were accurate, this is the location of the burial at sea for Mike Harbin of USS Silversides. Japan is the closest country over 750 miles away.

USS Cobia also lost a man to enemy gunfire in 1945, Seaman Huston Ralph Clark Jr., who was buried at sea. This photograph was taken during his funeral on February 27, 1945, just before his body was committed to the depths.

For the land-based military, the Marines, Army and Army Air Force (during WWII, what would eventually become the US Air Force was a part of the Army.  The Air Force would be organized as an independent branch in 1947), the casualties would often be quickly buried in temporary cemeteries erected near the battlefield.

Following the conclusion of the war, the search for a permanent memorial began.  There were serious objections to all the temporary graveyards hastily created all over the Pacific Basin, so a new cemetery was sought.  in 1948, the Government of the Philippines granted the US the right to construct a cemetery on the former site of Fort McKinley, just south west of Manila.  A lot of grading and landscaping began to create a peaceful resting place for those lost in the Pacific.

The Cemetery as it appears from the air. The Chapel and Semi-circles are clearly seen in the center, as are the radiating bands of burials. Like all American military cemeteries abroad, this land was gifted to the United States in perpetuity, and is not taxed or charged any fees of any kind. It is American sovereign soil.

The next of kin for each man whose remains could be recovered were given four options for the final resting place of those remains: repatriation to the US for burial in a private cemetery; repatriation to the US for burial in a national cemetery (such as Arlington); or burial in an American Military Cemetery abroad which would be kept in perpetuity; or leaving them where they were found.  The next of kin had until December 31, 1951 to make that decision.  Approximately 40% of families requested that their dead be buried in the new Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.

In the end, the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial covered 152 beautifully landscaped acres, and became the largest American cemetery outside the United States honoring WWII dead.  Its 17,100 headstones mark the graves of 17,206 men: 16,434 Americans and 570 Filipinos who were serving with the US Military.

13, 434 headstones mark the graves of a single, identified individual.

3,644 headstones identify the remains of a single unidentified individual (unknowns)

6 headstones mark the graves of a group of 28 men whose remains could not be separated into individuals

16 headstones mark the graves of a group of 100 men whose remains could not be separated into individuals.

But for those men buried at sea, lost with their vessels, or, for whatever reason, the resting place of their remains is known only to God, the cemetery erected a double semicircle structure called “The Tablets of the Missing” .  These immense tablets record the names of 36,285 men whose remains are lost or have not been identified.  (It is more than possible that some of the remains buried under the “Unknown” marker are listed on the Tablets.)  The names of the men of the Flier and Robalo would be engraved here.

A photograph of the "Tablets of the Missing". On the column on the right, near the top of the photo, you can see a dark dot on the name "Creighton, John", indicating that his remains have been discovered and identified. Photo taken from Google Earth's Panoramio Photos

In all, a symbol of 53,491 souls who gave all.

The last of the re-locations and burials took place in 1960, and the cemetery was dedicated on December 8, 1960, the 19th anniversary of the attack on Manila.  (The attack on Manila actually took place about eight hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, but due to the International Date Line, it is recorded as happening on December 8, not December 7.)

Unlike a National Cemetery, where veterans and their families can be buried after a veteran’s passing whether he or she was on active duty or retired, died in the line of fire or of natural causes, the Manila Cemetery, like most of the military cemeteries abroad, is closed to further internments.  Family members of those buried there, or even those who fought alongside the men buried there cannot have their remains returned to Manila to rest with their comrades in arms.

That does not mean that there have not been burials and changes in the cemetery since 1960.

Any remains discovered in the Pacific theater and positively identified as belonging to an American military personnel from WWII are eligible for internment (though they are also eligible for repatriation to the states, just as if they had been found in WWII).

The Tablets of the Missing also have been slightly altered. Some of the names have a rosette attached to it, signifying that that serviceman’s remains have been found and his identity returned to him.

Many of these cemeteries became necessary starting with the Mexican-American war, the building of the Panama Canal, and the World Wars.  There are twenty-four of these world wide, all under the care of the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Starting with the Korean War, all remains of American military personnel were returned to America.

Rest in Peace.

Pamphlet about Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.

Frequently asked questions about Military Cemeteries abroad

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.