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."