Silent Hunter header

Other Aviator Rescues

By U. S. Submarines

In World War II


The aviator rescues listed below are not included in the Submarine Lifeguard League's statistics. Unless otherwise indicated, the source for the information in this webpage is John Clear's collection of more than 63,000 pages of U. S. submarine World War II patrol reports, compiled from original U. S. Government microfilms.


01  28-January-42, USS Seawolf (SS-197), War Patrol No. 3, LCDR F. B. Warder

Seawolf sailed from Port Darwin on January 16, 1942, carrying 178,875 rounds of .50-caliber anti-personnel tracer shells and seventy-two rounds of three-inch .50-caliber anti-aircraft shells for American forces on Corregidor. The total weight of the cargo was 72,585 pounds, or thirty-six and one quarter tons. She was at Corregidor from January 28 to 30, 1942, where she off-loaded the ammunition and embarked twenty-five passengers, and stowed submarine spare parts and sixteen torpedoes, for transport to Surabaya. The passengers included a British intelligence officer, twelve U. S. Army Air Corps pilots, six U. S. Navy pilots, five U. S. Navy enlisted men, and one U. S. Navy yeoman. The Army Air Corps pilots had been disbanded since the chaos caused by the Japanese invasion in December. Some of the U. S. Navy pilots' planes had been strafed and destroyed by enemy planes. (See Moore, Stephen L., War of the Wolf: Texas' Memorial Submarine, World War II's Famous USS Seawolf, p. 85-92.)


02  18-Apr-42, USS Searaven (SS-196), War Patrol No. 3, LT H. Cassedy

Searaven embarked 1,500 rounds of three-inch AA ammunition at Fremantle for delivery to besieged forces on Corregidor. However, while en route to the Philippines she was ordered to proceed instead to the vicinity of Timor Island in the Netherlands East Indies. On April 18, 1942, she rescued thirty-two Royal Australian Air Force men from enemy-held Timor, an act for which two of her officers were awarded the Navy Cross.


03  08-May-42, USS Porpoise (SS-172), War Patrol No. 3, LCDR J. R. McKnight, Jr.

On the night of May 8, 1942, Porpoise received orders to rescue U. S. Army Air Corps aviators from Ju Island, a very small island found between Halmahera and New Guinea. On the night of May 10th, Porpoise embarked the entire five-man crew of a downed LB-30 bomber, which made an emergency landing there the week before. Porpoise delivered them to Darwin on May 16, 1942.


04  04-Jan-43, USS Grayback (SS-208), War Patrol No. 5, LCDR E. C. Stephan

On the night of January 4-5, 1943, Grayback stood off Munda and served as a beacon for Army bombers during an air raid at that important enemy facility. After the raid, she received a radio dispatch instructing her to proceed to the west coast of Rendova Island. There she would send two of her crewmen ashore to rendezvous with six Army aviators from a downed B-26 bomber and make them ready for transfer to Grayback. At 0405 hours two Grayback crewmen were deployed in a rubber boat. Grayback then submerged to await a prearranged signal from the crewmen that all was ready ashore and they were en route back to the submarine with the six aviators. At 1000 hours the signal was received and the Grayback kept watch for boats approaching from the beach. By 2153 hours, both crewmen and the six aviators were safely aboard Grayback, where they received medical attention from the submarine's pharmacist’s mate. Grayback transported the aviators to New Farm Wharf, Brisbane, bringing an end to her fifth war patrol.


05  08-Feb-43, USS Grouper (SS-214), War Patrol No. 4, LCDR R. R. McGregor

On February 9, 1943, while on her fourth war patrol, Grouper received a radio dispatch ordering her to rescue a downed aviator on Rengi Island. On February 10th, Grouper made landfall off Rengi Island and conducted a submerged reconnaissance of the island in preparation for the rescue of the Army aviator. At 1500 hours, she sighted the downed plane and other landmarks reported by the aviator. She then lay to about 750 yards off the beach facing seaward. She flashed the predetermined recognition signal, which was answered correctly from ashore. At 2030 hours the aviator was spotted in a rubber boat rowing to Grouper. They quickly boarded the aviator and stood out to sea.


06  05-Feb-44, USS Gato (SS-212), War Patrol No. 8, LCDR R. J. Foley

On February 2, 1944, Gato got underway from Milne Bay, New Guinea, for a special mission to evacuate personnel from a location near Matanakunai, on New Britain. On February 3, she rendezvoused with two PT boats off Dreger Harbor, south of Finschhafen, New Guinea. The two PT boats escorted her to the northern limits of Vitiaz Strait, where they parted ways. On February 5, she reconnoitered Open Bay to locate the point designated for the evacuation. At 1100 hours, she spotted the proper security signal ashore and that night she surfaced close to shore in a trimmed down condition. At 2100 hours, she launched two of her rubber boats to ferry the evacuees from shore. In short order, eight men were embarked and Gato headed seaward. The evacuees were: Wing Commander W. Townsend, Commanding Officer, 22nd Squadron, RAAF (shot down at Palmalmal, November 3, 1943); Major A. W. Roberts, AIF (ANGAU), a coast watcher attached to AIB; Captain Fred Hargesheimer, USAAF (bailed out of his P-38 near Ubili, June 5, 1943); Lieutenant Edward J. Czarnecki, USAAF (bailed out of his P-38 near Wide Bay, October 23, 1943); Lieutenant Carl G. Planck, USAAF (crash landed in water off Talili Plantation, November 2, 1943); Flying Officer D. McClymont, RAAF (shot down over Palmalmal, November 3, 1943); Lieutenant O. N. Clertsen, USAAF (crash landed a P-38 eight miles off Wide Bay, November 3, 1943); and Master Sergeant G. R. Manuel, USAAF, Bombardier of a Flying Fortress and its only survivor (bailed out six miles off Put Put Harbor, May 21, 1943). The airmen had been rescued and protected by coast watchers and friendly natives. Gato disembarked the evacuees at Dreger Harbor on February 7, 1944.