Saturday, January 25, 2014

Silent Service: Dace and Darter Attacks In Palawan Passage. Late 1940's ...

This is a late 1940's or early 1950's film about the USS Darter and USS Dace. My grandpa had a videotape of it he may have copied from 8mm film, judging by the quality. Well, I realized that there are absolutely NO videos mentioning the Darter at all on Youtube, and with the wealth of documentaries already on it about WWII submarine warfare, I think this story should be preserved. It was the Darter that located the Japanese fleet and fired the first shot of Leyte Gulf!

This is a dramatic reconstruction of the crew's actions aboard the Dace and the Darter, with dialogue partially lifted from the short story "Battle Stations Submerged", written by Lt. Cmdr. Benitez of the Dace crew. It is an eyewitness account, and grandma specifically mentioned that Hugh was interviewed and provided testimony so this movie could be made. This is reconstructed by actors and the style is typical of 40's war movies.  But I guarantee this video clip is one of a kind, and you won't find it anywhere else on the internet. It could very well be the only copy that survives.

The drama of the Darter-Dace incident that played out on the early predawn hours of October 24, 1944 is one of the great untold stories of WWII, and if we do not preserve these memories now they will be forgotten and lost forever.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Family Testimony: Hugh Siegel's Bronze Star

The following is transcribed from a voice recording of Jeanette Siegel, (now deceased) wife of retired US Navy RT3/c Hugh Siegel, about how he was awarded his Bronze Star medal for Valor:

(exact wording is approximate, recording can no longer be retrieved)

JEANETTE: "My name is Jan , I would like to explain how Hugh Siegel earned his Bronze Star in the World War Two. The year was 1944, the day was October twenty-third. I was a typist in an office job in Camden, New Jersey and Hughie was in the navy, he was a radio technician on the USS Darter, but he also operated the radar and sonar and did electrical work aboard the Darter. On this particular day he was on the radar. Now, we knew the Japs were out there, we didn't know where and everyone was on patrol searching, searching for the Japanese fleet. You see radar was a new thing at the time and it wasn't very accurate, and if you saw a dot you had no way to know if it was a ship, or an airplane or a flock of birds, or a storm out on the ocean. Well my Hughie was sittin' in front of that radar screen and he saw a big cloud where there wasn't supposed to be anything. He gave the bearing and told the captain to fire the fish (torpedoes) right in the middle of that cloud. It was just a hunch, and he made a good call. The Darter fired the first shot of the battle of Leyte Gulf and sunk one of the big ships , it was a cruiser. Later that night, early morning the next day Darter ran aground and was mired on a reef. They knew the Japs saw 'em, and were in the area. They had to blow up the sub and get everyone off, so Hughie got on the radio and he sent a distress call in code to the other sub, the Dace. The Dace came and they got everybody off, they saved the crew. They tried to scuttle but they couldn't scuttle. So men volunteered to go back aboard the sub when it was burning and smash all the radios, the radar, the code machines, everything. Hughie did that, he volunteered. He was so brave, and they gave him a V for bravery on his medal. He said that God saved everyone that day, and they were so lucky.." 

JEFF: "You just heard the testimony of Jan Siegel of Alder Creek New York, born 1928 about her husband Hughie in the Navy. It is March two thousand twelve, Jan is 84 years old."