Thursday, December 5, 2013

Submarine Service Training Reel - pre-1941

This is some rare film footage that shows a glimpse of Navy training for new submarine sailors at New London, Connecticut.  Grandpa had to do all this stuff and much more before he earned his qualification and was even allowed to set foot on a submarine.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

World War II Submarine Warfare

Rare footage, partially in color, of World War II submarine warfare. (Documentary, approx 1 hour 52 minutes)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The famous photograph of the USS DARTER aground on Bombay Shoal in Palawan Passage, October 1944. Taken from an aircraft flyover.  Hugh was not able to obtain an 8x10 print of this photo until 1954. In the days before the internet, he had to mail several letters to the Naval Historical Foundation in Washington DC and wait weeks for them to make a print from the archived negative and mail it back to him. This photo was framed and hung on the wall of his radio room. He had to wait 10 years to get it.
Here is the response letter and the photograph.

Service Timeline of the USS Darter

From a typewritten document, ca. 1953:


Launched -- June 12, 1943
Commissioned -- Sept. 7, 1943
Left New London for war zone -- Oct. 31, 1943
Arrived Coca Sola, Panama -- Nov. 8, 1943
Arrived Balboa, Panama -- Nov. 11, 1943
Left Balboa, Panama, bound for Pearl Harbor, T.H. -- Nov. 12, 1943
Arrived at Pear Harbor -- Nov. 26, 1943, operated for a few weeks, left on Dec. 21,1943 on our first patrol run.
Arrived at Johnson Island -- Dec. 23, 1943; refueled and left the same day
Turned back to Pearl Harbor Dec. 25, 1943, due to a leak in the after trim tank.
In Pearl Harbor from Dec. 29, 1943 to Jan. 3, 1944.
Arrived at Johnson Island again, left the same day -- Jan. 5, 1944
Crossed the 180 Meridian -- Jan. 7, 1944.
Crossed the Equator -- Jan. 23, 1944.
Entered Tulagi Bay, Flordia Island across the bay from Guadalcanal -- Jan. 30, 1944.
Crossed into Purvia Bay on Jan. 31, 1944, and left Feb. 2, 1944.
Arrived at Milne Bay, New Guinea -- Feb. 4, Left Feb. 8, 1944.
Arrived at Dregger Harbor, New Guinea -- Feb. 9, 1944
Finally got underway on our first run.
Made our first attack -- Feb. 13, 1944. Fired 10 fish (torpedoes), got two hits went down immediately. Were down 3 hours, and received 21 depth charges.
Completed our first patrol run, credited with a damage, arrived at Milne Bay -- Feb. 23, 1944. Left on the 24th, bound for Brisbane, Australia for leave.
Arrived in Brisbane, Aus. -- Feb. 29, 1944, had a two weeks leave in the mountains, reported back onboard; loaded fish and stores all night, and got underway on March 17, 1944.
Arrived in Milne Bay -- March 21, 1944, refueled and left following day.
Arrived at Langamack Bay, N.G. March 25, 1944, stayed there for three days and trained Marines for landings, this operation was called off, and we set out on our delayed second war patrol.

March 30, 1944, we sank our first Jap ship; went in on the surface, the night was very dark, moon completely blanked out. Fired six fish forward and got five hits. Made a complete turn-about and bent on all four generators and proceeded to make knots away from the escort. The ship, (an 8,000 ton freighter)sank in two minutes, the escort proceeded to depth charge us, dropping 14 charges, but we were then five miles away and still going.

Arrived in Port Darwin -- April 29, 1944, refueled and sent out on the second half of our war patrol. We did not see anything on the second half, and proceeded to make port.

Arrived at the Admiralties Islands May 23, 1944. Spent our two weeks leave on a small island, and left on June 21 on our Third War Patrol.

Layed off the coast of Mindanao for two weeks waiting for a minesweeper to come out; it came out on the 29th of June and we fired six fish at it. We got five hits and it sank within a few minutes. It weighed 4400 tons and carried two planes, the only one of its type in the Jap navy. We were depth charged for 8 hours and helped the Japs get rid of 25 charges.

Finished our third war patrol, credited with one ship and set sail for the Admiralties to refuel.

Arrived in the Admiralties on Aug. 1, and left the same day bound for Australia. 

Arrived in Brisbane, Aus. on Aug. 8, 1944. Most of the crew went down to Sidney for their two weeks leave, and had one helluva time there.

Left Brisbane, Aus. on Sept 1, 1944 on our fourth war patrol.

Arrived in Port Darwin, Aus. on Sept. 10, 1944, left the same day.

Sept. 15, 1944 -- "D" Day in the South West Pacific, we laid off about forty miles from where the invasion took place, our job was to pick up aviators, sink any ships forced out by the invasion, or to report any of the Jap fleet coming up to reinforce the island. We did not see anything, a dull time was had by all.

Sept. 19, 1944 -- We were spotted on the surface by a Jap patrol plane and forced to submerge; we got down to 100 feet and received two aerial bombs, both close.

Sept. 26 -- Arrived at one of the surrounding islands of Biak to refuel and get a fresh load of fish, we stayed there four days and left the first of Oct. on the second half of our Patrol run, bound for the South China Sea.

Oct. 12, Attacked a large convoy, but could not get in position to fire correctly.  Finally had to fire long range shots. Fired four fish and believed to have gotten four hits, each on different ships, the firing was over 6,000 yards. Considering the distance, this was good shooting. Received seven aerial bombs, but continued to chase the convoy for another day, but finally gave up. Found out that we sank one ship, and damaged the other two. 

Oct. 19, 1944 -- Contacted two destroyers, fired four fish at them, but missed, received four depth charges.

Oct. 21, 1944 -- Contacted two battle wagons and one tin can on the radar, chased them for eight hours, but had to give up because of superior speed on their part.

Oct. 22, 1944 -- We again picked the battleships up on the radar, but they were now joined by eleven other ships, a task force goign to the Philippines. We followed them all day and made our attack on the morning of the 23rd. At 5:30 A.M. we fired ten fish, getting nine hits. One heavy cruiser sank immediately, and the other heavy cruiser was badly damaged. We were forced to stay down all day, receiving about 35 depth charges. Surfaced at ten o'clock the night of the 23rd, and immediately picked up the cruiser and two cans on the radar. Maneuvered for two hours and finally went into attack. We were in uncharted waters, the night was very black, and we had not had a position check for two days. Suddenly a large jolt was felt throughout the ship; at first everyone thought we had been fired upon and hit, but finally we found out that we had gone aground on a reef, a place called Bombay Shoals. We worked for four hours destroying the gear and confidential papers. Luckily, another sub was in our area, and came alongside to take us off, the sub was the U.S.S. DACE. After everyone had been transferred off the DARTER, the DACE fired her four remaining fish at the DARTER, but the DARTER was too high on the reef, and no damage was done. We were forced to submerge when a Jap can came alongside the DARTER, what a set up if the DACE had one more fish; for the can was lying dead in the water.  Members of the can boarded the DARTER, but by then we were on our way in. A sub is crowded with 80 men, what a trip into port with double the complement.  It took twelve days to reach Perth, Aus. We sleep in torpedo racks, on the deck, and anywhere else where there was space. Received reports that some of our subs had tried to sink the DARTER, but did not succeed. She is still intact on Bombay Shoals, and could be floated if necessary. 

Arrived in Perth, Aus. on Nov. 6, 1944. and received a three weeks leave.  From there we traveled to Brisbane, arriving on the 28th of Nov. and boarded the transport MONTRAY. 

We left Brisbane, Aus. on Dec. 6, 1944 and arrived in Hollandia, New Guinea to unload troops. 

Left N.G. on the 19th of December, bound for the states. 

Arrived in San Francisco on Jan. 2, 1945, had two day leave and left for home on the 5th of Jan. Spent 32 days at home and on the 12th of Feb., 1945 reported in to New London to go to a new construction and a new submarine, (U.S.S. MENHADEN, SS-377) 

The DARTER was later awarded the "NAVY UNIT COMMENDATION" for her work on that night of the 23rd of October, 1944.


DAMAGES: Three Merchant Ships, One War Ship - Heavy Cruiser
SUNK: Two Merchant Ships, One Minesweeper, One Heavy Crusier

"USS DARTER earned four Battle Stars on the Asiatic-Pacific Area Service Medal for participating in the following operations:

1 Star/Truk Attack -- 16~17 February 1944
1 Star/Battle of Surigao Strait -- 24 October 1944
1 Star/Submarine War Patrol -- 22 March~23 May 1944
1 Star/Submarine War Patrol -- 21 June~8 August 1944"

The ship also received the following Navy Unit Commendation, Pacific, for her Fourth War Patrol:

For outstanding heroism in action during a War Patrol against enemy Japanese Fleet units. Aggressive and relentless in tracking her targets, the USS DARTER daringly penetrated hostile waters and succeeded in contacting a Japanese task force. In an exceedingly planned and brilliantly coordinated attack, she opened fire. As a result of these salvos, launched boldly by the DARTER despite the superior fire power of the hostile concentration, the enemy was forced to retire, thus reducing appreciably the enemy's naval strength subsequently brought to bear against our forces. The splendid combat readiness of the DARTER and the gallant fighting spirit of her officers and men throughout this hazardous action reflect the highest credit upon the United States Naval Service."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Funny cartoons of life aboard the USS Darter

These amusing little cartoons were drawn by a friend of Hugh Siegel, no doubt a fellow crewmember.  They illustrate the cramped commotion of life aboard his submarine, taking after the caricature style of the Army cartoons of Bill Mauldin and, of course, Popeye the Sailorman.  I cannot read the tiny signature on these drawings, the last name appears to be "Gebhardt", but they all seem to be by the same person.  These images also appear as illustrations in the book Cruisers For Breakfast: War Patrols of the USS Darter and USS Dace by John G. Mansfield, which my grandfather helped to research.  Sorry about the quality, these were scanned from poor photocopies, as apparently my grandpa didn't have the originals.  I did try to clean them up a little bit when I made the scans.

"Battle Surface"


"Enemy Sighted! Battle Stations!"

Monday, March 18, 2013

Another photo of grandpa's sub

Here's one I forgot. An aerial photo of the wreck of the U.S.S. Darter, taken by a low-flying recon aircraft.  Undated but taken after 1945.  The ship has been gutted and has broken into several pieces, whether from scrap metal salvage, target practice by other ships or the elements, I am not sure.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Visit to the DARTER in 1965

The following is an eyewitness account of sailors exploring the wreck of the DARTER, with color photographs, no less!

In the summer of 1965, August I believe, I was stationed on the USS PERCH APSS-313.  We were based in Subic Bay. Our skipper was Tom Dyker Jr.  While returning to Subic, we stopped at Bombay Shoal.  We went aboard the remains of the USS DARTER, SS-227.  DARTER ran aground while doing an "end around" in 1944.
From a distance, you could tell that the wreckage was that of a submarine.  Once on board, you could see that everything but the engine blocks had been stripped away.  The forward and aft rooms were destroyed.  But I found several rollers, still free to turn, on a torpedo rack.  
 The boat had major damage caused by demolition charges and deck guns fromn other US submarines.  You could see the trenches caused by the submarines DACE SS-247 and ROCK SS-274.  They both fired several torpedoes at her.  The pot holes caused by explosions were visible in the coral reef.  Many of the PERCH crew went aboard her.  A lot of photos were taken.  The water around DARTER was only three to four feet deep.  It was a real thrill to go aboard the DARTER as she is part of the history of the Submarine Force.  In tribute, I left a PERCH plaque attached to the remains of the main induction valve prior to leaving the site.
~Larry Reuter, EN2(SS)
USS PERCH APSS-313 (1964-1966)

Here are two of the photos featured on this now possibly defunct website:

All the Photos of the Darter Wreck, 1944-1998

The following are all photos of the wreck of the USS DARTER from the air or from sea level that can be found, dated and in chronological order.
Watercolor of the DACE rescuing the crew of DARTER in the early morning hours of October 24, 1944. Undated artist's impression by Gerald Levey.

Taken by a low-flying reconnaissance aircraft shortly after its grounding. October 1944. The holes in the sides from hits by the USS DACE's deck gun are visible.

View from bow of USS DACE the next day. October 24, 1944.
A view of the DARTER grounded on the reef. As we can see her full outline of the hull is out of water.  More damage on the sides are visible from torpedo hits and the DACE's deck guns.

View of the ruined conning tower while standing on the deck.
Standing on the bow of the wrecked Darter. The paint is damaged on the deck plates from the fire which tore through the sub.
The deck and conning tower of the DARTER "After taking 50 shells" empty mount in foreground could be for an anti-aircraft gun.

Low-flying aerial photo of the DARTER aground in 1944.

This is a photo from the Navy archives that Hugh had to wait 10 years to get a copy of. His framed print hung on the wall in his radio room for many years. I think this was his favorite picture and he liked to look at it as a reminder of what he had been through.

Another aerial photograph taken after 1945. The wreck was used for target practice in bombing runs and it broke into sections. An interesting note, the inner structure of the sub is visible.

The rusted hulk of the DARTER being explored by submariners in 1965. A nuclear submarine that patrolled in the Phillippines used to pull alongside the DARTER wreck and let people walk around inside the hull. At the time it was intact enough to climb around in.

Last known photo of the DARTER, taken in 1998.  Parts of this ship were still there when my grandpa was alive.  I wonder if he knew about it.  This photo was taken three years after his death.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Keys to a Ship-shape Marriage


 Ahoy, mate! Is Your Marriage Ship-Shape?

You men who are everlastingly wed to the witching waters of the world, but who incidentally have a wife based on land, may fathom some new helmsman tactics in a marriage contract unearthed by an Edinburgh lawyer from an old deed box. Drawn up by a seafaring man who thought of marriage in terms he knew best, it envisages each mate's duties in a ship-shape union, Bristol-fashion. What a pity his logbook is lost to posterity!

Having read to her the Articles of War, I explained to her the conditions under which we were to sail in company on life's voyage, namely:
 She is to obey signals without question when received;
She is to steer by reckoning;
She is to stand by as a true consort in foul weather, battle or shipwreck;
She is to run under my guns if assailed by picaroons or privateers;
I am to keep her in due repair and see that she hath her allowance of paints, streamers, and bunting as befits a saucy craft;
I am to take no other craft in tow, and if any be now attached to cut her hawsers;
I am to revictual her day to day;
Should she chance to be blown on her beam ends by winds or misfortune, I am to stand by her and see her righted;
I am to set her course for the Great Harbour in the hope that moorings and ground to swing may be found for two well-built craft when laid up for eternity."

--From the Naval Historical Foundation Newsletter - Fall 1980. Typewritten by Hugh Siegel to his wife Jeanette

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Song and Poem about the DARTER

A Poem Written About the Darter
(by Francis Elaine Anderson, girlfriend of QM3/c Tom Bates, SS-227)

"The Darter"

The Darter was her name, sir
And a mighty craft was she
There never was a prouder crew
Than on the day she hit the sea.
Our sub she was, sir, all of her
To always love and honor true
The flag she carried waving high
Symbolized our cause in Red, White and Blue.
As I stood there on the bridge
I knew I'd not forget the sight
Of this beauty, long and silvery grey
and silent as the moonlit night.
We knew not what our destiny
But this we all did know
That where she sailed 'ere near or far
With her to the end we'd go.
This was my first time out to sea
And thoughts ran through my head
Somehow I could not help but fear
A fear half longing yet half dread.
The Skipper's order came, submerge
And silence closed upon the men
As down she sank fathoms deep,
Would we bring her up again?
I tried to think of my duty here
To push this thought aside
I looked to Andy at my right
Was this a man or coward side by side?
I who had feared no man nor beast
Would shirk from depths so great
I prayed to God for courage
That I might stand and face my fate.
My prayer was answered as I prayed
I felt my tears dissolve and courage come
And knew whatever harm should threat
I'd guide the Darter safely home.


A Song About Darter

(sung to the tune of "Thanks for the Memories" with apologies to Bob Hope)

No thanks for the memories
Of sixty days at sea,
Fake sunshine given free,
And little pills to cure ills,
Why did this have to be?
No thank you so much.

No thanks for the memories
Of fifteen hour dives,
Of ringworm and the hives,
Of leaky heads, flooded beds,
And Japs to plague our lives.
No thank you so much.

No thanks for the memories
Of each monotonous run,
The lack of air and sun,
Of sinking ships and radar pips,
And never having fun.
No thank you so much.

No thanks for the memories
Of hearing corny jokes,
And listening to the blokes,
Tell what they did,
While down in Syd,
Their tales are all a hoax.
No thank you so much.

No thanks for the memories
Of combat pins and stars,
And all the glory bars,
Navy crosses,
Navy bosses,
I'd rather be on Mars.
No thank you so much.

No thanks for the memories
Of blood and sweat and tears,
All the valves and gears,
Of vents and floods,
Torpedo duds,
And all the other fears.
No thank you so much.

No thanks for the memories
Of firing one to ten,
Of going down and then,
You hear a blast,
Think it's your last,
But then they come again.
No thank you so much...

--By the radio gang of the USS Darter off the coast of Mindanao, 1944.