Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Uncategorized, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Dec 02 2010

It’s been quite  a long time.  Sorry.  I have two small children which means that the moment you make plans to travel to see family for the holidays, they must get sick…and cranky…and trade diseases back and forth until new and more disgusting varieties emerge…oh the joys of motherhood.  I’ve been busy with that and of course Thanksgiving.  I’m just glad we only have to bring soup and pies and not hold it here.  Eep!

But it was a great holiday, and I got to see most of the family.  It’s a blast.  I hope most of yours were as fun too.

I’ve started receiving items from family members, which are wonderful in revealing the character of the Flier.  One particular postcard must have been truly nerve wracking for the family…but I’ll share that when Flier passes through the Panama Canal…which she will in just a day or so.

Back to the Deck Logs.  There are just too man yto post, and literally, of the 20 that I could post to technically catch up, eight say “Underway, No Administrative Remarks”.  There’s some thrilling reading.  Several more simply note that Flier is moored at the sub base, took muster, raised colors, went out on an exercise, came back, retired colores, and reported everything to the OOD.  Another thrilling day.  When not under attack or attacking someone, submarine life was REALLY boring.  At least officially.

So I’ve pulled the interesting ones from the days we missed.

Between November 10 and November 15, nothing much happened.  A number of sailors reported aboard Flier for a day’s patrol and training runs, but left at the end of the day, so there were no permanent additions to Flier’s crew.

There is an interesting anomaly in the Deck Log:  The page for November 15 is missing.  It’s been cut from Lt. Liddell’s copy of the deck log (created sometime after declassification in 1968 and before his death in 2001.)  whether by the National Archives of Lt. Liddell is unknown, but the missing page was not found in Liddell’s library.  What’s really interesting, is Flier leaves the Submarine Base on November 14, and is still underway the 16th adn 17th until she returns on the 18th.  So what’s on that page?  The actual deck log is located in Naval Records Archives in Baltimore, but being a thousand miles from there, I can’t tell.  But it could be anything: a U-Boat sighting, or “Underway as before, no remarks”.

So here’s the first page I decided to post today.  It’s from 21 November 1944.

The notable thing here is Edwin Canady arrived aboard.

So that was for the Canady family.  Then, another infusion of crew happene don 23 November.  Payne, Skow and Dolshea reported aboard.

Chester Payne, Alvin Skow and another man reported aboard today. She's getting ready to leave.The third man, Dolshea, must have transferred off at some point, for he is not listed in Flier's second patrol list. In addition, provided he stuck with submarines, he likely survived the war, for he is not listed in the On Eternal Patrol database.

And finally, today a James Johnston was transferred off of Flier, and Flier was underway at 1130 pm. What this doesn't tell you is that Flier is now underway for the Panama Canal and then to Pearl Harbor.

Today, 67 years ago, Flier ported in Panama for the crossing of the Canal. For the next four months for some reason, the deck logs will be handwritten and far more detailed than before. We'll learn about just how many drills and things that happened. We'll also get more details about the crew.

Since that Deck Log is difficult to read (you have no idea how many filters nad monkeying I had to do in Photoshop to read some of that writing) I took the liberty of transcribing it earlier.  I’ll post the transcriptions with the deck logs for those truly interested in what they say.


Thursday, 2 December 1943

Pg. 46

Zone Description +4


Underway in accordance with COMTASKFOR 25 operation order #180-43 on course 226° T making standard speed (15 knts) using two M.E. conducting battery charge using one M.E. 0135 Secured from battery charge and one M.E.

J.W. Liddell, Lt. USNR


Underway as before.  0703 Made…course 226° T  0740 Surfaced …

J.E. Casey


Underway as before.  1128 Sighted land bearing –6° T distance 16 miles.  1145 Changed base course to 24-° T

B.J. Germershausen


Underway as before.  1215 Sighted merchant vessel bearing 255° T on opposite and parallel course.  Steering various courses and speeds to pass well clear.  1230 Set clock to +5 zone time.  1252 Steaded on course 135° T to close west vessel.  1305 Steering various courses and speeds conforming to rules for entering CRISTOBAL HARBOR . 1443 Various courses and speeds enetering – of COCA SOLA Naval Operating Base/  1502 Moored starboard side to another submarine on west side of Pier A. NAVAL OPERATING BASE, COCA SOLA C.Z.

J. W. Liddell  Lt. USNR


Moored as before


Hope you enjoyed today’s post!

The Jim Alls Interview

Uncategorized | Posted by Rebekah
Nov 18 2010

Well, I know several people have been waiting to hear about the interview with James Alls, one of the last crewman who was ever stationed on the USS Flier.  It took place Saturday at Mr. Alls’s residence in Kentucky.  Why so long to post about it?  I think  I’ve been running myself longer and harder than I realized.  Every time I sat down to do this I pretty much fell sound asleep!  (Either that, or I’m more boring than I thought…)

We had a wonderful time, talking on tape for about three and a half hours.  With two camcorders and a voice recorder, we  made sure that we got it all, and at times from several different angles.  But as always happens, once we turned the cameras off after deciding we had covered everything and no one could think of anything else to ask, we turned everything off, broke the cameras down, and one short phrase started a whole new round of stories.  I took notes, and now have to convert everything and edit a lot of dead air out.  It will be worth the wait, I promise.

Before this interview, I thought that Jim had been injured a night or two before the Flier left port, but that wasn’t the case.  Sounds like the injury happened at least a five days before Flier left, if not much earlier.  According to a letter written by Donald See’s aunt to Oliver Kisamore’s family, See, who replaced Alls, was officially assigned to Flier on July 30, so by then, it was apparent Jim wouldn’t be back aboard for the second patrol.

And it would have been Alls’s last.  He was never outside once Flier entered enemy territory and spent most of his time in the engine rooms and the Crew’s Quarters.  He would not have made it.

How did he get out of it?

He had been assigned Shore Patrol, and was supposed to go with another guy to clear out the Fremantle bars that night, and tell the guys to get on the buses back to their hotels and barracks, liberty was canceled.

He and his partner decided to split up (a move that was against regs) and in the next bar, Jim discovered an Army Ranger Sergeant, a little in his cups, threatening to take on a bunch of newly-arrived New Zeeland soldiers.  Jim steered the guy out of the bar, but a parting insult inspired a soldier to grab the empty beer mug and Jim’s world went dark.

He woke up outside the bar, the barman or someone apparently decided to move him outside to avoid trouble.  His jaw wasn’t just broken, it was shattered.  He managed to wave down an Australian passing by who took him to the hospital, where he had to wait two days while the Navy and the civilian hospital debated who was the proper person and had the right facilities and techniques to best set the jaw.

They did a good job, I’ll say.  No one looking at Jim today would guess that his jaw had once been that badly broken.

But the Flier didn’t desert him.  Capt. Crowley put a retainer on Jim, reserving him to come back on the crew as soon as he was medically cleared.  Since Flier was, according to the final investigation, scheduled to return to Fremantle in early September had the second patrol gone well, he likely would have rejoined the crew then.

But of course, she never did.

The interview was long, talking about people things, places, even the unusual “flag” the Flier had.   What is Gilly juice and how does it affect the men?  (Answer, a torpedo component, approximately 190 proof and with that description, I’m sure you can use your imagination!), the way the men showered in the Engine room when the showers were full of potatoes and later dirty laundry, the reason why their Christmas turkey feast didn’t turn out the way they expected, even stories about various crew members, though, since Alls was a Motor Mac, he tended to hang around with the other motor macs.  It was fun, amazing, and Alls is a natural storyteller.

I now have this great sense about what the Flier was and how she and her crew worked together as an individual (and quite unique!) boat, rather than an echo based on statistics and stories of a number of similar boats.

This is a great interview from the Cincinnatti paper about Jim.  Enjoy!

Deck Logs later.  Sorry.

The Alls interview and the deck logs today

Uncategorized, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Nov 06 2010

For those that missed the update, due to the very urgent and dangerous turn of health a close member of Jim Alls’s family took a few days before our scheduled interview, the October 23 interview was rescheduled.  If all turns out well, and I hope it does this time, the interview will take place on November 13, next Saturday, and I’ll be able to ask all those questions that you have been eager to hear, as have I?

Did they celebrate birthdays?  What were the nicknames?  Where did they go when they were in port?  Did anybody think the Flier was jinxed, or said so out loud? (I know from family members of several Flier crewmen that they sensed their last visit home really would be their LAST visit forever, but whether that was ever spoken aboard the Flier is another question…)  What was it like to be in a submarine?  How did they decorate their space or try to make it more comfortable?  What was it like during Midway?  Did they celebrate holidays if they were aboard for them?  July 4?  Christmas?

Can’t wait.

Now I know I’m behind on this blog.  I really do try, but lateley, I’ve been absorbed by another project: the deck log.  You see, starting in December, with no warning or explination, the deck log switches from the typewritten logs you’ve been looking at to handwritten logs, and continues that way for over four months.  It’s a significant part of Flier’s story, starting from before she enters Panama Canal, through the grounding at Midway, through the repairs at Mare Island, detailing who went home when and what happened to the crew (including one Summary Court Martial for a Flier crewman who got too drunk to perform his duties…and apparently knocked down the MPs who tried to arrest him!  Not the first time we’ll see this type of incident, and this guy won’t be the only one who pulls this stunt!)

But before I could post any of those, and before I could read them to see what I might want to glean for the interview,  I had to transcribe them.  Mind, I’m working with a high-quality photograoh of a xerox of the originals (and the xerox was taken in the 1960’s or 70’s), so that gets even more interesting.  Even using photoshop and tinkering with dozens of settings to pull the handwriting out, some entries are only spare sketches of what they really say.

This is the deck log from 2 November, 1943. The interesting point to this one is at 10 AM, Ervin Borlick, of Chicago Illinois, was discharged at the end of his four years of contracted service. He's featured on the USS Flier Lost Crew page, so you know this isn't the end...

This entry, for 3 November 1944, shows two additiosn to the crew, a J.C. Strain was assigned to the Flier's crew at 10:15 at night, and then, five minutes later, after apparently 18 hours footloose and fancy free in exotic Groton CT, Borick is back, and reenlisted for four more years.

The Next day, 4 Novmber, 1943, another man was assigned to Flier, Mike Ricciardelli of Pennsylvania. They're starting to finalize the crew lists in preperation to go.

5 November, 1943, and an electrician's mate named Basil "B" ROWE reported aboard. Makes me wonder what the "B" stood for since it's in quotations, it might be a nickname. I know there were at least three "Bud" or "Buddy"s on board. Makes me wonder if this was another one.

And on today's date, 67 years ago, they did...nothing. Stayed moored in one place and did nothing. Well, that's probably not true. They were likely running checks, drills, cleaning, securing watchign making sure that when they were finally given the okay to head for war, that Flier was at her best.

For anyone interested in getting a closer look at any of these deck log pages, you can click on them to pull up a much larger image of the deck log.  Also, since these logs are considered the property of the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States, they are in the public domain, so you can feel free to print them and do whatever you like with them. Just please be respectful of the men who’s story is told in these pages.

The Catch Up Decklogs

Uncategorized | Posted by Rebekah
Oct 25 2010

Sheesh, that last post took forever, because I had to track down so many images.  Figures.  You work on  a project over five years and multiple computers, and you need to play “hide and seek” with files if you haven’t used them in a while!

If yo are a Flier Family member, please please PLEASE, check out this entry, and see if you can spot a familiar face.  I need help recognizing all the men in these photos.

So today we’ll catch up with the deck logs that we’ve missed.  There won’t be much to miss yet.

Taking on more stores and drilling today. The "O.O.D" you see at the end, means "Officer of the Deck". This person is a direct representative of the Captain and is responsible for the Boat unless releived by the CO or a higher officer.

Still moored in Groton. From what I understand, many of the married men's wives lived in the Groton area at this time, and at this point, they would be going home and visiting as much as possible.

The interesting note in October 23's log is the first addition to the commissioning crew: Seaman first Class Bruce Murray. (the entry marked 1430 hours)

The October 24 Deck Log features an early delivery of stores and Flier's first patrol assignment, off the exotic New England coast. Considering the face that there were known U-Boat's patrolloing the American East Coast and the fact that two divers discovered a "missing" U-Boat wreck off the coast of New Jersey as recently as 1991, having the new submarines who were not ready to leave for the Pacific do some training runs in the area killed two birds with one stone. They certainly were going to come across more enemy action than those built in the Great Lakes!

Now for one of those rare, but REALLY dull Deck Logs: "Underway: No Administrative remarks." While these pages are more common in the first two months of Flier's life, they are rather amusing. It's almost like someone said, "Just in case nothing happens today, let's mimeograph three dozen of these (in the days before Xeroxing, boys and girls) and fill in the date later." Seriously. That date is the only thing that lets me know that I'm looking at a new page, not the same one earlier.

So there she is.  67 years ago today, Flier is somewhere of the coast of New England, doing her first unofficial patrol, but more importantly, starting to work her crew into a real team that can save each other’s skins in a tight spot, come what may.

Commissioning and the Party

Uncategorized | Posted by Rebekah
Oct 24 2010

This entry is going to be rather graphic heavy, but I hope you all enjoy it.  For those of you in the Flier family who have or have received their DVDs of the photo show, a lot of this will look familiar.

There are four significant events in a ship or sub’s life:  Keel Laying, Launching, Commissioning (at the beginning) and Decommissioning  (at the end).  There’s also disposal I suppose, and for a modern sub there’s only one option (scrapping) but I digress.  Think of the first three as Conceiving (Keel Laying), Birth (Launching) and Graduation (Commissioning).  There’s even tests and standards between the Launching and Commissioning, similar to school for a human child.

There are rituals and ceremonies inherent with each of these rites of passage, most of which are traditional and follow a standard pattern.

First, the US Congress has to order a submarine built and name it in Congress, then bid the job out to the various shipyards and awards the contract to one of them.  In Flier’s case, her contract was awarded to the Electric Boat Company in Groton Connecticut, which built submarines before submarines were officially part of the Navy.

Her keel, or the bottom portion of her hull, was laid on October 30, 1942.  At this time, the Flier had no sponsor, Captain or crew.  The only thing I do have from that time is the Cachets, or special envelopes designed by the Navy and sold on the day of the keel laying to commemorate the event.  You can see them below.

Two of the Cachets in honor of the birth of Flier

She was built quickly, as were most warships in the early 40’s.  And during this time, her CO was selected and reassigned to the Groton yard to oversee her construction. Cmdr. John Crowley, formerly CO of the old S-28 (and I do mean old-no offense to the 28, but she was already 20+ years old and serving in the Alaskan frontier.  I’m sure Crowley was thrilled to have a new boat–and a warmer climate: Connecticut.) was the choice for commanding officer, with Benjamin Adams as his XO, or Executive Officer (first Mate).

Eight and a half months later,  on July 11, 1943, she was complete enough to be launched into the ocean to begin her testing phase, making sure she was built properly and could withstand the pressures of the sea and war maneuvers.  Her sponsor, the person who would crack the champagne over her bow and name her, was chosen.  She was Mrs. A.S. Pierce, and did an admirable job spraying herself and everyone around her with the champagne.  Thankfully, the bottle was encased in a silver cage, so no one was hurt by flying glass!  Flier slid into the water, carrying several men aboard her on her deck.

The Launch invitation

The Program for the Launch, which gives an idea of a typical Submarine Launch. At this time in 1943, there was a huge push to "Keep 'em sliding".

Judging from the spray, Mrs. Smith Pierce did a commendable job christening the Flier. The bottle likely remained with her family, I know the Christening bottle for Silversides did.

And the launch.

The postal Cachets in honor of the launching of Flier

And now she had to undergo her sea trials to prove she was fit enough to be accepted for military service.  Today, this period in a submarine’s life can take a year or two.  Flier had three months, almost exactly.  She was Commissioned on 18 October 1943, and the men and their families were given a party in her honor.  In a few short weeks, Flier would leave for the front, and this party was kind of a grand farewell, a time for the men of the Flier to introduce their families to their world, and a time for the wives to get to know one another.

This was the invitation and entrance card for the Commissioning Party. I'm still looking for this "Longo's Inn" on W. Norwich Road. I found several references in 1940's and 50's papers referencing this Inn as an apparently popular place to hold events.

The Commissioning Cachets

A few photographs were taken at the Commissioning party.  Do you recognize any of these men?

The original Commissioning Crew of Flier. Recognize anyone?

I'm told that the marks on the uniforms identify this group of men as the Chiefs of Flier. Recognize anyone?

one of the photographs taken at the Flier Commissioning party. You can see the submarine cutout in the foreground, the same one that was used at all the commissioning parties.

Some of the men at the bar during the same party

The Buffet for the Flier Commissioning Party. Throw a bunch of hard working men in a room together and they'll eat everything that's even remotely edible. 😉

Today’s Deck Log

Uncategorized | Posted by Rebekah
Oct 20 2010

So here I was writing today’s blog entry when a phone call changed EVERYTHING.

The interview with James Alls must be postponed for a few weeks.  Due to the health issues of one of his close family members, we just can’t meet up this week.  Thankfully, the family member is doing much better than just 24 hours ago when this person was in a critical state, but they are still in ICU.  So please keep him and his family in prayers.  We’re only a couple of hours apart so hopefully, when things calm down and he is able to entertain company, we’ll be able to get together.  I’m already looking through my calendar to schedule the next weekend.  The good news is, both of us are determined to do this as soon as possible.  I’ll keep you posted.

But please keep him and his family in your prayers.

Below, you’ll find the day’s Deck Log from USS Flier 20 October 1943.

Today's Deck Log. Note the phrase "Secured No. 3 (or 4) engine" in the entries in the 2100 hours area. This means the engines were stopped and secured from running on the diesel systems. You'll see this phrase a lot, just thought I'd explain it. One thing you need to know about WWII subs is the engines DO NOT run the propellors. An electric motor doees this. What the diesel engines do is run the generators that charge the batteries that run the boat. The diesels, due to the amount of oxygen they use can only run when the boat is on the surface, hence the reason for marking when they were on and off, because running one of those puppies when the submarine is underwater could use up all your oxygen in a matter of minutes.

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.

Take me out to the ball game…

Uncategorized | Posted by Rebekah
Sep 06 2010

Never one to waste a good afternoon (especially in an era before television, computers, video games, internet and when their mothers would release them to play unsupervised outside in the neighborhood with their friends…good grief how did these boys survive to adulthood?) the Redfins decided to have a game of pickup baseball the afternoon before heading out on patrol.  The photos are some of my favorites.

Quickly dashing back to boat before she left, the Redfin, all refueled and reloaded, headed back out to sea.

The Fliers, meanwhile, were boarding a plane for Fremantle, where they were supposed to get their clothing allowances, collect their pay, and resupply their uniforms and anything else.  They were also given medical checkups.  Donald Tremaine was already down with malaria, and Wesley Miller was also in the beginning stages of malaria.  To my knowledge, no other Flier survivors were afflicted with malaria, but I have yet to meet all the family members of the Flier survivors.   Due to the condition of their feet, however, all eight were classified unfit for duty and were given rest and relaxation as a part of the cure.

Earl Baumgart found rooms with a family he had met when they were in town just a month before.  Captain Crowley, anticipating an investigation, stayed at Admiral Christie’s residence while both worked on their defenses.  (They were to be investigated together.  Crowley to see if he had any part in his boat’s loss, Christie to see if he had provided all the pertinent information and the latest intelligence to Crowley to assist with the crossing.)  The rest, when not under a doctor’s direct care, stayed at one of the four hotels in the Fremantle area the Navy had completely rented.

And now to wait…


Uncategorized, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Sep 05 2010

It was a boring journey back which I’m sure everyone was grateful for.  Sixty-six years ago today, Redfin pulled into Darwin to discharge her human guests.

Rounding the eastern side of Timor Island, they were finally in friendly ocean.  Just after dawn, several planes flew overheard.  Austin, knowing Redfin was supposed to receive aerial escort to port, didn’t dive as was standard practice, but rather gave a recognition signal, which was quickly responded to correctly.  They were finally safe.

The Track of Redfin from the moment she was told to head to the area near Brooke's Point for an unknown mission to the day she arrived in Darwin.

The refugees and Fliers were allowed out on deck to see the sun.  A Redfin hand, whose name has been forgotten, had a camera, and started taking more photos.  (I say more because if you look at the Redfin’s website, you’ll see a lot of photos taken aboard Redfin during the course of her WWII career.)  The first photo was likely the photo taken on the aft bridge deck of the two sub commanders, Crowley and Austin, then the seven Flier survivors (Donald Tremaine was bedridden with malaria, so only seven were on deck) then all the survivors.

The Redfin was not met with the usual bands and other trappings of a victorious returning submarine.  Her entrance to harbor was quiet, and in fact, the men soon found out that officially, their fourth patrol was not over, they were expected to leave on the new second leg of patrol in 24 hours, as soon as Redfin was refueled and resupplied.

There were jeeps on the dock.  The non-Flier survivors were loaded up and whisked away, never to be seen again by the Fliers and most of the Redfins.  For the rest of his life, Al Jacboson wondered what became of these people.

The Fliers were put up in a hotel in Darwin for the night.  Captain Crowley and Lt. Liddell had to know that there would be an investigation into the loss of Flier and whether or not they were partially or wholly responsible for the loss of her crew.  All of them faced the choice of whether or not they would want to continue on in the Submarine Force.

The men of Brooke’s Point

Uncategorized, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Aug 29 2010

To play catch up as the main part of our story draws to a close:

There were several souls trapped at Brooke’s Point.  In addition to Mr. Edwards, who had married an Filippino woman and therefore, had some family connections. there were other people there too.

Mr. Harry Garretson was convelesing at the Edward’s home.  A salvage diver before the war, he used his skills behind enemy lines during WWII to salavage equipment from sunken boats before the Japanese could get to them.  In one case, while he was on Negros Island, he helped salvage the SS Panay, a ship heading to the guerillas full of ammunition, rifles, gas masks and other equipment for the Allied war effort.  The Japanese caught on and torpedoed the ship before it could reach them.  The Panay tried to beach herself, but it was too late: she sank innearly 100 feet of water and Garretson and his soon-to-be business partner salvaged as much as they could.  They got most of it, and today, the wreck is a popular tourist dive, and you can see the gas masks and ammo boxes scattered around where Garretson left them.

After the Panay, they kept traveling, helping the guerilla movement whenever they could, though always behind the scenes since their pale skin would give them away as foreigners to the Japanese.  They eventually came to the sparsely populated Palawan Island, where Garretson fell ill with malaria, and now, over a year later, he was suffering some severe complications, and was mostly bedridden.  With the addition of the Fliers, he and the Edwards were hoping Garretson at least could go with them on the rescue boat if it came, because he soon would either die, or have to be left behind if the Japanese invaded.

There were also three military men at Brooke’s Point, hunting, fishing, helping all the while waiting fo ra chance to get back to Allie dTerritpory where they could formally fight.  Two of them, George Marquez and William “Red” Wigfield, were Army men stationed at Nichols Air Base near Cavite Navy Base in Manila.  While stationed together, they did not know each other at the time.

On the morning of December 8 (December 7 in Hawaii, across the International Date Line) both men were on duty at the Air Field when the Japanese attacked.  An attack from the Japanese was suspected, but the military was convinced if they did something so foolish, it would happen at Manila, or Hong Kong, not Pearl Harbor.  No one suspected the Japanese would strike all three and more over 48 hours.

They spent the day running around, trying to protect the airplanes at the field, and after the initial fight was over, helped with the cleanup and salvage.

But the Japanese were still coming, and coming hard.  The Air Base was evacuated further south, but when the Japanese conquered Corregidor on May 6. 1942, the surrender tacitly included the surrender of all American Military men in the Philippines.

Red and George decided surrender wasn’t for them, and with many other American military stationed at that base, took to the hills and the seas, trying to get south, or hide behind enemy lines as a part of the new guerilla forces hassling the Japanese forces bit by bit.

At first, they took off for Panay Island, but since it was large, heavily populated and obviously going to be in the path of the Japanese advance, they built rafts and took off for tiny Cuyo Islands.  That worked for about 18 months, though early in the war, the Japanese military sent an officer and enlisted man to the Islands looking to “recruit” the locals.  George claimed to have killed and buried them, but apparently, no one ever showed up to figure out what happened to these guys.

Eventually, however, the time was up.  One morning while George and Red were hunting in the hills, they saw an invasion force land on the beaches and round up the Americans and a number of natives.  These two hid for most of the day and were missed in the round up.  That night, they grabbed one of the rafts and headed further west for the island of Palawan.

They made their way down the spine of mountains that makes up that island until crashing until Charlie Watkins and the guerillas one night in the vicinity of Puerto Princesa.

Charlie was a navy boy who had been on Corregidor Island and was forced to live through the horror that was the Battle of Corregidor.  After the surrender (the one that sent George and Red scurrying for the hills,) he was rounded up and marched to Camp Cabanantuan, and subsequently shipped to Puerto Princesa  to the POW camp there.  During the day, the prisoners were forced to build an airstrip out of the jungle using only crude hand tools.  When the call of nature could no longer be ignored, the guards would permit the men in small groups to go into the jungle to relieve themselves then return.  One day in late 1942, Charlie and a buddy were granted permission to go.

And they took it literally.

They were quickly found by the local Filipinos, who, though formally forbidden from assisting the Americans (death to all who tried) still hung around the camp adn work areas, leaving food, encouraging notes, whispering messages back and forth, to keep the men’s spirits up.  Charlie and his friend, Joel Little, were smuggled beyond the reach of the Japanese.

Whether a direct result of this, or other escapes, soon afterwards, the Japanese counted their work gangs into groups of ten.  The rules were simple:  Ten men go out, ten men come back.  If less than ten men come back, the rest are summarily executed.  It put an end to more escapes.

George and Red's journey and Charlie's journey from the morning of December 8, 1941 to the Flier's arrival. Each man covered well over 500 miles between land and sea travel. To put things in perspective, despite what the Flier's have undergone, they've traveled a realtively short distance. The white-rimmed dot near the Balabac Area is the approx. location of the sinking. You can see the great scale of each man's journey to Brooke's Point, on the off chance they may (someday) be picked up.

The three men stuck around in the area until December 1943.  Unknown to a lot of the locals, the war had started to turn badly against the Japanese, and the rules they were being handed from the Imperial Headquarters were getting more and more strict and severe.  The guerillas near Puerto Princesa decided for everyone’s safety, the group of three Americans should move to Brooke’s Point and wait for evacuation, if it ever came.

Then of course, there were the Sutherlands.   Sandy Sutherland and his wife Maise were Scottish missionaries living in the Palawan area.  They returned to Palawan right before the attack on Manila and suddenly found themselves stranded in Palawan with no way out, a two year old girl and five year old boy, and death warrants on all their heads.  Despite their trust in the local people, the Sutherlands took to the mountains, living a subsistence lifestyle, never sleeping or living in the same place for more than a few days, in case their location was tortured out of someone.  With no airstrips, no harbors and no allied ports nearby, their son Alastair began praying for a submarine to come and take them away, because only a submarine would be able to get in and be able to sneak through the enemy lines to take them to safety.  Sandy Sutherland heard his son praying to God for a submarine to rescue them all, and started to pray too.  It was a two years long prayer.

In the meantime, despite the danger, the Sutherlands helped out wherever they could, with medical expertise, religious services, or anything else needed.

All these people needed a way out.

And Perth decided that the eight Fliers were important enough to retrieve, but they would need time to think about the civilians and the Army boys.

Before the Fliers arrived, a local village was going to throw a party for the Coastwatchers and the refugees to keep up their spirits and the Fliers were quickly included.  The Mayors were coming up the mountain with their children which Mrs. Edwards was going to watch for the evening, and so the Fliers and most of the Coastwatchers were sent ahead while a few waited for the Mayors.

They had just left the clearing when they heard a gunshot.  Dashing back, they discovered that while Palacido was greeting the Mayors, Corpus, unable to deal with his depression any longer, had shot himself in the chest with his .45.  It was a hot evening, and no time could be spared.  The men, all of them, quickly went to various groups, some prepared Corpus in his best coveralls for his burial, some dug a simple grave in the woods, and others built a quick coffin.  Due to the more detailed description of the coffin detail that Jacobson gives in his memoirs, I think that he must have been on this duty.  He said after all the years being cut off from the world, there was hardly any cut wood left,a dn they had to creatively join many pieces, and in the end, Corpus fit, though barely.

It was a hard blow to them all, and as anyone who has lived through the suicide of a friend or family or coworker can attest, each man probably went back over the last several days wondering, ‘What could I have done better?   Could I have said something or done something differently?’

But life had to continue.  Perth called back saying that they had sent a submarine to pick up the survivors.  That night, by arrangement, Crowley radioed the rescuing submarine (he had been told one was being sent, but not who it was) and was shocked to hear his friend Cy Austin, commander of Redfin, who had been parked next to Flier most of the time in Fremantle.  After arranging signals (three lanterns hung in a row from the abandoned light on the point) for safety and a rendexvous point, Austin started to sing “Sweet Adeline” into the radio.  This confused Crowley a bit, but since both had been in the same barbershop quartet, he quickly joined in, singing his part.  Austin was satisfied that Crowley was the real deal and that he wasn’t being set up again.

Crowley told him about the civilians needing a space on the boat, and the desperate straits they were in.  Austin said he would contact HQ but for now, his orders were to pick up the submariners and keep on patrol.

So where was the Redfin all this time?  Off the western coast of Borneo, merrily hunting anything that crossed her path. She was actually sitting at the western entrance to Balabac Straits on August 24 when she was told to head fro Tuabbatha Reefs to wait for a Special Mission.  The quickest way there was through the Balabac Straits, which they were told was strictly closed.  Redfin would have to go all the way around Palawan Island.  And now Austin knew what he was supposed to do.  The rescue was set for August 30.  If something happened that night, like rough weather, that prevented rescue, they were to try again on August 31.  If they STILL could not meet, Redfin was to call HQ for further orders.

A kumpit with and outboard motor and a second one to drag behind were standing by.  All they had to do was motor out and be picked up by a friend.

But things were never that easy.

A video taken of the wreck of the SS Panay in 2006.  Personally, I think whoever did it was more interested in playing with their video editor than showing the wreck, but there you go if you’re interested in seeing the wreck of the Panay as Garretson and his partner left it.

For more information of the Puerto Princesa Prison Camp and the men who lived through it, read “Last Man Out” by Glenn McDole, Survivor of Puerto Princesa.

As an aside, the landing strip the American POWs were forced to build is still in use: it is the international airport of Puerto Princesa.