The articles linked to this webpage discuss the final patrols of each of the fifty-two American submarines lost during World War II. My sources for these articles are listed in the footnotes and in my bibliography.
The namesake descriptions in some of my articles are from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships Online. In most cases they have been updated.
The radio call signs in some articles are from NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive and the U.S. Navy Radio Call Sign Book. When necessary, they were converted to the phonetic alphabet in use during World War II.
The Navy Department Communiqués in some of the submarine articles are from the School of Information and Library Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They have been formatted to conform with the styles used in my webpages.
The abbreviation "JANAC" is used in most of the articles. This refers to the appendix of the report Japanese Naval And Merchant Shipping Losses During World War II By All Causes, which contains a listing of Japanese naval and merchant vessels sunk by individual United States submarines during World War II. The 1947 report and its appendix was prepared under the auspices of The Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee, usually referred to as "JANAC." The report and the appendix is published online in a very searchable format at ibiblio.org.
When used in an article, the term "Alden-McDonald" refers to data contained in the book United States and Allied Submarine Successes in the Pacific and Far East During World War II, Fourth Edition, by John D. Alden and Craig R. McDonald. Please refer to my bibliography webpage for the publication pedigree of this book.
Finally, I want to leave you with some words from Captain Edward L. Beach, Jr., who, in his prolific writings, left us so many perfect and beautiful visions of submarines and submariners. Wherever Ned is now, I know there is an ice cream machine connected to the refrigeration system.
The date is August 15, 1945. Ned is the captain of the USS Piper (SS-409). They are in the Sea of Japan and have just been informed of Japan's surrender - the war is over.
A wild cheer rang through the boat. We had known it was coming, and had been following the signs, but now it had come. The fighting was over. We had made it. I could well understand and appreciate the joy felt by everybody on the ship.
My own feelings I could not understand so well. Instead of wild exultation, a fit of the deepest despondency descended upon me. I tried to join the happiness of my officers and crew, but after a while I left them. I went to my stateroom and drew the curtain. I didn't bother to turn on the light - just sat there on the bunk, not stirring. During the next several hours I was aware that the curtains fluttered once or twice, as though someone had started to call me and then had thought better of it, or had been stopped by someone else.
Eventually it was time to surface. After we had brought Piper up, I told the officer of the deck that I was going out on the main deck for a while. This, of course, was never permitted without good reason, and never without the captain's express permission. But I was the captain, and I kept my reasons to myself.
The night was clear and cloudless, with just a hint of the moon soon to rise. The air was warm, seemingly devoid of the oppressive mustiness I had so often noticed. The sea was nearly calm. It was a night of peace. I wearily paced the deck, around and around, from bow to stern, and back to the bow again. The same old thoughts were still running through my mind. After this, what? Why Trigger, and not Piper, or Tirante? Why Penrod Schneider, Johnnie Shepherd, Stinky, and Willy Kornahrens? What about Johnnie Moore, the man who had ordered me to submarine school against my will, back in September of 1941? He had gone down as skipper of Grayback, after a series of outstanding patrols.
What about Penrod's wife, Sammy, who had christened Dorado as she was launched? And Al Bontier, who had had the bad luck to run his new Razorback aground off New London, as a result of which he was transferred off the ship and to Pearl, where they gave him the recently overhauled Seawolf? And what about that skipper of the destroyer escort who to his dying day must reproach himself for not having tried harder to identify the submarine which desperately signaled him as he ordered the fatal hedgehogs thrown?
What was the difference between Dave Connole, cut short after bringing Trigger back into the payoff column once more, and Jack Lewis, who caught pneumonia on our first run up in the Aleutians three years ago - what indeed was the difference, except that one of them was dead?
As I turned about the deck, always it came back to the same thing. We had won the war. It was over - finished - and somehow I had the incredible luck to be spared. But what little divided those of us who were alive to see this day from those who were not? Just a few feet over the side, the long, cool, clean, silent water was the answer. It could claim many secrets - had claimed them for thousands and tens of thousands of years - one of them might as well have been me - could still be me...
I shrank from the abyss of lunacy yawning in front of me. The revulsion from four years of tension, and ultimate rejection of the subconscious idea that I might not make it after all, had plumbed its depth. Stinky and Johnnie Shepherd had not taken my place in the Trigger; it had simply been their bad luck, and my good. 1
The 52 Lost Boats
Reasons For Submarine Losses
UK - Unknown
AB - Aerial Bomb dropped by aircraft
DC - Depth Charge dropped by surface vessel or aircraft
GF - Gun Fire from a vessel's deck guns
CT - Circular Torpedo run
FF - Friendly Fire or hostile action by friendly vessel
NC - Non-Combat related loss - training, accident, etc.
RA - Ran Aground
MN - Enemy Mine
SB - Shore Battery gun emplacement
SM - Sunk by enemy submarine
|UK - 16||Capelin, Dorado, Escolar, Grampus, Grayling, Growler, Grunion, Kete, Pickerel, Pompano, Runner, Scorpion, Shark I, Snook, Swordfish, & Triton|
|AB - 5||Barbel, Bullhead, Grenadier, Gudgeon, & Sealion|
|AB & DC - 2||Grayback & Wahoo|
|DC - 10||Amberjack, Bonefish, Cisco, Golet, Harder, Lagarto, Scamp, Shark II, Trigger, & Trout|
|DC & GF - 3||Argonaut, Perch, & Sculpin|
|CT - 2||Tang & Tullibee|
|FF - 1||Seawolf|
|GF - 1||S-44|
|NC - 3||R-12, S-26 & S-28|
|RA - 4||Darter, S-27, S-36, & S-39|
|MN - 3||Albacore, Flier, & Robalo|
|SB - 1||Herring|
|SM - 1||Corvina|
1. Beach, Edward L., Submarine!, p. 351-353.