The USS Grenadier (SS-210) was a Gar-class World War II era submarine. The Gar-class boats were duplicates of the Tambor-class design. 1
The namesake of the USS Grenadier is any deep-sea soft-finned fish of the family Macrouridae, typically having a large head and trunk and a long tapering tail.
The radio call sign of the USS Grenadier was NAN-EASY-LOVE-DOG.
On March 20, 1943, Grenadier departed Fremantle for her sixth and final war patrol with Lieutenant Commander John A. Fitzgerald at the helm. Her orders were to proceed to the shallow Strait of Malacca to search for and destroy enemy shipping.
On April 21, 1943, while on station in the Strait of Malacca, between the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, at about 0835 hours, Grenadier's lookouts spotted what appeared to be a twin-engine enemy bomber on her port quarter. Lieutenant Commander Fitzgerald gave the order to crash dive. As Grenadier passed 120 feet, a bomb dropped by the plane exploded directly above the boat near the bulkhead between the maneuvering room and the after torpedo room. All lights and power went out. Grenadier sank until she hit the bottom at around 270 feet. Her crew labored throughout the day to restore power to the boat. At around 2130 hours, after thirteen hours on the bottom, the crew managed to coax the heavily damaged submarine to struggle to the surface. Once on the surface, the conning tower and forward torpedo room hatches were opened, and accumulated smoke was sucked out and fresh air flowed in. 2
The electricians and engineers continued working to restore propulsion from the diesel engines, but both shafts were too badly damaged. At 0400 hours the next day, they informed Fitzgerald that the propulsion system was too far gone to be restored. Fitzgerald had his men begin working on a sail that might be able to move Grenadier closer to the beach, so the men could disembark and she could be blown up. But the sail was not effective in the still, tropical air. 3
With the deck gun inoperable, and only the bridge machine guns available, Fitzgerald knew fighting was not an option. He gave the order to scuttle the boat. The radio, radar, sound and TDC gear, and decoding machines were destroyed, and the codebooks were weighted and sunk. While this was taking place, the bridge gunners fought off a Japanese aircraft. The pilot dropped two bombs which overshot the boat by about 200 yards. It was later learned that the pilot was critically injured by Grenadier's bridge gunners - he died that night from bullet wounds and injuries sustained from a crash landing when he returned to his base. The electricians had managed to get Grenadier's radio working, so a message was dispatched describing her condition and Fitzgerald's intention to abandon her. Then a Japanese merchant vessel with a small escort came into sight headed for Grenadier. 4
Fitzgerald lined his men up on the deck in their life jackets. As the IJN ships came into sight, the vents were opened and Grenadier sank by the stern, at the approximate geographic position 5° 30' 60.000" N, 98° 45' 0.000" E. The crew floated in their life jackets as the Japanese ships circled them. They were taken aboard a Japanese merchant ship and transported to Penang, Malaysia. There the Japanese captors tortured them for many weeks in an unsuccessful effort to extract intelligence information. Next they would be sent to Singapore. Eventually, all of the men were transferred to the prison camps at Ofuna and Fukuoka in Japan, where they underwent additional relentless interrogation. Four of Grenadier's men died while prisoners. The rest were freed following Japan's surrender more than two years later. 5
On September 14, 1943, Grenadier was declared overdue and presumed lost:
Navy Department Communiqué No. 464, September 14, 1943
1. The U. S. Submarine Grenadier has failed to return from patrol operations and must be presumed to be lost. The next of kin of personnel in the Grenadier have been so informed.
The Grenadier was credited by JANAC with sinking the 14,457-ton cargo ship Taiyo Maru. Her Alden-McDonald score is 17,733 tons sunk in five vessels and five vessels damaged for 18,527 tons. Her SORG score is five vessels sunk for 40,700 tons and two vessels damaged for 12,000 tons. The Grenadier received four battle stars for her World War II service. 6
A list of the personnel lost with Grenadier is maintained at On Eternal Patrol.
After the war, Lieutenant Commander Fitzgerald was awarded the Navy Cross for "extraordinary heroism" and "unflinchingly withstanding the cruelties of his captors." 7
1. Alden, John D., The Fleet Submarine in the U. S. Navy: A Design and Construction History, p. 74.
2. United States Submarine Losses World War II, p. 46; Blair, Clay Jr., Silent Victory: The U. S. Submarine War Against Japan, p. 396-397; Moore, Stephen L., Presumed Lost: The Incredible Ordeal of America's Submarine POWs during the Pacific War, p. 67-112.
6. Alden, John D., and Craig R. McDonald, United States and Allied Submarine Successes in the Pacific and Far East During World War II, Fourth Edition, see USS Grenadier (SS-210), Attack Nos. 96, 136, 148, 250, 432, 433, 526, 533, 534, 566, 4762, 4768, and 4840; Submarine war patrol reports on CD, data collected by the Submarine Operations Research Group (SORG) in the report "Results of U. S. Submarine War Patrols Listed Alphabetically by Name of Submarine"; Japanese Naval And Merchant Shipping Losses During World War II By All Causes, Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee, USS Grenadier (SS-210); On May 1, 1942, the Grenadier erroneously fired torpedoes at and sank the 4761-ton Soviet cargo vessel Angarstroi. No crew or passengers were killed. This attack is included in the Alden-McDonald book, however I have not listed it in my presentation.
7. Blair, op. cit., p. 397.