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Tambor &

The Fifty Party

On February 8, 1943, the USS Tambor (SS-198), captained by Stephen Henry Armbruster, departed Fremantle on the second Spyron mission of World War II. The Allied Intelligence Bureau’s (AIB) orders had directed Armbruster to embark the operative code-named Q-10, together with his commando team, 50,000 rounds of .30-Caliber ammunition, 20,000 rounds of .45-caliber ammunition, and $10,000 in currency, and to clandestinely transport and insert the passengers and cargo on enemy-held Mindanao Island in the Philippines. The mysterious operative known as Q-10 was Lieutenant Commander Charles “Chick” Parsons, who General Douglas MacArthur had placed in charge of Fifty Party, the AIB’s code name for an operation to sneak supplies, weapons, and ammunition to guerrillas on Mindanao. On the night of March 15, 1943, after the proposed insertion point had been carefully reconnoitered, Parsons and two of his men were placed aboard a wherry, which had been taken off its skids and lashed to the deck. Once the submarine was close to the beach off the town of Labangan, the team was sent on its way aboard the wherry. Later that afternoon, a small power launch towing a native lighter approached, flying both a white flag and an American ensign, signals from the team indicating all was clear. Tambor surfaced and over the next hour all the supplies, weapons, and ammunition were loaded aboard the lighter. After the transfer was finished, Parsons came back aboard the Tambor to transmit his report to Fremantle. He then bid farewell to the Tambor and her crew, and headed ashore aboard the launch.

The remainder of Tambor’s sixth patrol would be relatively uneventful. She returned to Fremantle on April 14. There she was credited for damaging a 2,500-ton naval auxiliary and a 5,000-ton cargo vessel, however, postwar analysis did not support these claims.

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