Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. VJ Day

 

My dad survived the war in the Pacific. He enlisted at 17 years of age, and completed Submarine School shortly before his 18th birthday. He was in combat off the coast of Japan as an 18-year-old submariner.

The United States Navy Submarine Service lost 52 submarines, 374 officers and 3,131 enlisted men during World War II. These personnel losses represented 16% of the officer and 13% of the enlisted operational personnel. This loss rate was the highest among men and ships of any U.S. Navy unit.

Less than two percent of American sailors served in submarines, yet that small percentage of men and their boats sank 214 Japanese warships. This included 1 battleship, 4 large aircraft carriers, 4 small aircraft carriers, 3 heavy cruisers, 8 light cruisers, 43 destroyers, 23 large submarines and 1,178 merchant ships of more than 500 tons.

In all, U.S. submarines sank more than 55 percent of all Japanese ships sunk. More than surface ships, Navy air and the U.S. Army Air Corps combined.

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz summarized their efforts after the war by writing:

We, who survived World War II and were privileged to rejoin our loved ones at home, salute those gallant officers and men of our submarines who lost their lives in that long struggle. We shall never forget that it was our submarines that held the lines against the enemy while our fleets replaced losses and repaired wounds.

Rest in peace, dad. He asked the radio operator of the USS Sand Lance for a paper copy of the cease-fire message sent to submarines. We still have his ribbons, one of which is a Presidential Unit Citation. We have his Submarine Combat Pin, as well as the Gold Dolphins he earned as an officer when he went back to the boats as an officer.

On the night of 12 and 13 March, Sand Lance was running on the surface toward Honshu when a marauding airplane forced her to submerge. At about 0200, she came up to periscope depth and found herself in the midst of a Japanese convoy, consisting of five merchantmen and three heavily-armed warships. Sand Lance had only six torpedoes remaining, but she made them count. She loosed four from the stern tubes and two from the bow tubes. All six hit the mark. Two of the four stern torpedoes hit a merchantman and the other two ripped into a light cruiser, while the two from the bow tubes smashed into another freighter. At least two of the ships went to the bottom, light cruiser, Tatsuta, and cargoman, Kokuyo Maru. For her success, Sand Lance underwent a 16-hour, 100-depth charge pounding from the accompanying destroyers. Finally, she was able to head home. She arrived in Pearl Harbor on 23 April 1944. The successes of her maiden war patrol brought Sand Lance a Presidential Unit Citation.

Here is the copy of that cease-fire message that the family still has to this day.

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  1. Richard Fulmer Member

    16 hours of depth charging. If that’s not Hell, it’s close.

    • #1
    • August 14, 2020, at 5:47 PM PDT
    • 15 likes
  2. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    One uncle was back from the Pacific, training new Navy pilots in California. One was in Ohio, back from Europe on 30-day leave before shipping off to start training for Operation Coronet, the invasion of Honshu. I’ve never been able to work out where the third uncle was. He had been repairing 8th Air Force B-17s in England. Some of the bomber groups were being transferred to the Pacific, but I’m not clear on whether his had been scheduled to go yet. He spent a few months in England “getting into trouble.”

    • #2
    • August 14, 2020, at 6:04 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  3. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My dad was Army Air Corps, still in training in Rapid City SD when the war ended. Was sent to the Philippines from November ’45 to March/April ’46. He said they still got shot at every night.

    He lost two cousins in the war, both in the Pacific.

    Gordon Spredeman, killed in a kamikaze attack on his LST in December ’44. He received a posthumous Silver Star.

    Clifford Sebastian, LAS in the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the last weeks of the war.

    • #3
    • August 15, 2020, at 5:28 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  4. Cow Girl Thatcher

    My dad served in the Navy during WWII. He was a radioman stationed on Mindanao in the Philippines. He used to say that he listened to the war. He’d been a farm boy in Wyoming, and he told me once that when he got to the dock in San Francisco, the ship taking them to the Philippines was the biggest thing he’d ever seen. But, then, when they were underway in the vast Pacific Ocean, and a huge storm came up, the ship suddenly was very, very small compared to the waves. He was fluent in Morse code forever.

    My husband joined the Navy in 1972 when the draft lottery numbers were posted, and his birthday was #3. He was always going to join the military-that’s what they did in his family-but he wanted to choose when and how. He was a TRADEVMAN, a rate that is no longer current. He worked on training devices. He’d grown up on a horse in the mountains in Wyoming, and had wanted to see the world. He saw Memphis and Tennessee. From the shore. Since then, he actually has traveled the whole world working for a company that had the very first surveillance drones.

    Our youngest son joined the Navy when he was 23, and became s sonarman on fast attack submarines. He’s an amazing musician, so sonar/sound technology was a natural for him. Plus, he is fluent in Russian due his missionary service for our church. He served in the Navy for seven years and then got out, and now he installs and services sonar systems on submarines as a civilian. He grew up moving around the country with his parents, and as a sailor he mostly saw the screen of his sonar device. But he also spent some shore time in various places in Asia. I asked him once if his Russian language skills were useful in his Navy job, and he laughed and said, “Mom, I can’t tell you anything about what I did on the subs. Let’s just say my commander was pleased that I spoke that language.”

    Go Navy! (And your dad looks really handsome in those blues!!) (I have a soft spot for that uniform.)

    • #4
    • August 15, 2020, at 12:54 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  5. Lois Lane Coolidge

    This is lovely. I am so claustrophobic that getting into elevators sometimes causes me panic. I have never been able to fathom those brave souls on subs, but thank God for the work they did.

    My grandfather was in the Navy as well, though his time in the Pacific was spent on the Big E.

    • #5
    • August 15, 2020, at 1:03 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  6. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    My grandfather was in the Navy as well, though his time in the Pacific was spent on the Big E.

    Otherwise known as The Gray Ghost, because the Japanese announced that they had sunk it three times, to the considerable amusement of the crew.

    • #6
    • August 15, 2020, at 1:14 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  7. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    My avatar is a photo of my father who enlisted in 1918, at the age of 15 and qualified in submarines but the war ended before he went on patrol. In WWII he was married with kids and did not go but, when the war ended, he and my mother had a party for each family member as they came home. On VJ Day, they had a party that lasted 3 days. My cousin went to work from the party after washing her face and then came back to the party each day. My sister and I had bunk beds and found a few party goers crawling in with us for a few hours.

    Dad at 15.

    • #7
    • August 15, 2020, at 1:54 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  8. Cow Girl Thatcher

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    my father who enlisted in 1918, at the age of 15 and qualified in submarines

    Fifteen???! Wow, I’m impressed that they’d let him sign up! I wonder how many 15 year olds today could do this, if they were given the opportunity. It’s such a big responsibility, and I fear that many of them don’t really know what that word means. Your father looks fantastic in those blues!

    • #8
    • August 15, 2020, at 4:54 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Cliff Hadley Thatcher

    After doing his part at Iwo Jima, my Marine dad and his 4th Division buddies were training in Hawaii for a November date on the beaches of Kyushu. The exhilaration on hearing of Imperial Japan’s surrender was indescribable. None of them expected to survive a landing on Japan’s main islands.

    • #9
    • August 15, 2020, at 7:33 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  10. Kervinlee Member
    KervinleeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My Pop and his two younger brothers all served in WWII. The middle brother, still a minor no doubt, joined the navy before Pearl Harbor. The youngest boy was in the navy, too, developing automatic firing systems off the east coast. My old man was doing quality control work at a sulphur plant in San Francisco, and had a very tough time getting released from war work to join the Army. He said he was the only young guy in town wearing a suit. He served from ’43 to home alive in ’45 in New Guinea and the Philippines. Never talked about it much but it was, I think, the defining period of his life. My Dad the Dogface.

    • #10
    • August 16, 2020, at 3:19 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  11. CACrabtree Coolidge

    I always know it’s VJ Day because there will be an editorial in the newspaper by an “intellectual” decrying our use of the atomic bomb to end the war.

    This year, the editorial was written by some loon from Greenpeace (or some organization like that) that made the same tired, unprovable arguments; Japan was already beaten, Japan was on the verge of surrender, etc. etc.

    Of course, everyone except the Japanese knew they were beaten; the carnage of Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa proved that. And, the young turks on the Japanese General Staff were perfectly willing to sacrifice every man, woman, and child in the country before surrendering.

    Truman made the right choice. And, by doing so, he saved the lives of not only Americans but millions of Japanese. It’s long past time for the revisionists to clam up; at least until next year…

    • #11
    • August 16, 2020, at 1:04 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  12. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    I always know it’s VJ Day because there will be an editorial in the newspaper by an “intellectual” decrying our use of the atomic bomb to end the war.

    This year, the editorial was written by some loon from Greenpeace (or some organization like that) that made the same tired, unprovable arguments; Japan was already beaten, Japan was on the verge of surrender, etc. etc.

    Of course, everyone except the Japanese knew they were beaten; the carnage of Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa proved that. And, the young turks on the Japanese General Staff were perfectly willing to sacrifice every man, woman, and child in the country before surrendering.

    Truman made the right choice. And, by doing so, he saved the lives of not only Americans but millions of Japanese. It’s long past time for the revisionists to clam up; at least until next year…

    From Paul Fussel’s essay “Thank God For The Atomic Bomb”. A brief excerpt:

    On the other hand, John Kenneth Galbraith is persuaded that the Japanese
    would have surrendered surely by November without an invasion. He thinks
    the A-bombs were unnecessary and unjustified because the war was ending
    anyway. The A-bombs meant, he says, “a difference, at most, of two or three
    weeks.” But at the time, with no indication that surrender was on the way,
    the kamikazes were sinking American vessels, the Indianapolis was sunk
    (880 men killed), and Allied casualties were running to over 7,000 per week.
    “Two or three weeks,” says Galbraith.
    Two weeks more means 14,000 more killed and wounded, three weeks
    more, 21,000. Those weeks mean the world if you’re one of those thousands
    or related to one of them. During the time between the dropping of the
    Nagasaki bomb on August 9 and the actual surrender on the fifteenth, the
    war pursued its accustomed course: on the twelfth of August eight captured
    American fliers were executed (heads chopped off); the fifty-first United
    States submarine, Bonefish, was sunk (all aboard drowned); the destroyer
    Callaghan went down, the seventieth to be sunk, and the Destroyer Escort
    Underhill was lost. That’s a bit of what happened in six days of the two or
    three weeks posited by Galbraith. What did he do in the war? He worked
    in the Office of Price Administration in Washington. I don’t demand that he
    experience having his ass shot off. I merely note that he didn’t.

    As I mentioned in an earlier comment, one of my Dad’s cousins was one of those lost in the last weeks of the war.

    Anybody who says the bomb wasn’t necessary doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

    • #12
    • August 16, 2020, at 4:19 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  13. Ekosj Member

    I’ve been away for a while. Just wanted to add my own story to these wonderful tributes.

    USS Twiggs. (DD-591)

    4/7/1943 – 6/16/1945

    Twiggs was a Fletcher-class destroyer named after Marine Major Levi Twiggs – a hero of the Mexican War. She was built in the Charleston Navy Yards and was launched on April 7, 1943. She served in the Pacific theater of operations. In addition to convoy and anti-submarine duties, she participated in the invasions of Leyte, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. She survived several close calls with Japanese kamikazes.

    On June 16, 1945 she was a battle scarred ship with a battle hardened crew. She was on radar picket duty … Radar Picket station #11, west of Okinawa. The mission was to provide early warning of any air attack on Okinawa. As the sun was setting, reports were received of an enemy plane inside the outer picket ring. The Twiggs crew went to General Quarters. A single B6N “Jill” torpedo bomber approached the Twiggs from the West under the cover of a low cloud deck. At a range of just over 1000 yards the Jill dropped out of the clouds and began its torpedo run. The Twiggs’ gunners opened fire but could not prevent the Jill from releasing its torpedo and ducking back into the clouds. With so little warning, the Twiggs could not evade. She was struck on the port side, forward, beneath the forward 5-inch gun mounts and the torpedo exploded the #2 magazine. The bow jack-knifed but stayed attached. The plane then circled around and completed its suicide attack by diving into the crippled ship. The fuel laden aircraft exploded amid the rear gun mounts. Twiggs was wrapped in flames and racked by exploding ammunition. The USS Putnam was nearby and sprinted to the Twiggs location to give assistance. She pulled 188 survivors from the smoke and flames. But the Twiggs was mortally wounded. She sank in less than an hour. 152 sailors perished with her including her captain. June 16, 1945. 75 years ago.  One of the sailors lost that day was my great uncle.

    • #13
    • August 16, 2020, at 5:11 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  14. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    I always know it’s VJ Day because there will be an editorial in the newspaper by an “intellectual” decrying our use of the atomic bomb to end the war.

    This year, the editorial was written by some loon from Greenpeace (or some organization like that) that made the same tired, unprovable arguments; Japan was already beaten, Japan was on the verge of surrender, etc. etc.

    Of course, everyone except the Japanese knew they were beaten; the carnage of Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa proved that. And, the young turks on the Japanese General Staff were perfectly willing to sacrifice every man, woman, and child in the country before surrendering.

    Truman made the right choice. And, by doing so, he saved the lives of not only Americans but millions of Japanese. It’s long past time for the revisionists to clam up; at least until next year…

    From Paul Fussel’s essay “Thank God For The Atomic Bomb”. A brief excerpt:

    On the other hand, John Kenneth Galbraith is persuaded that the Japanese
    would have surrendered surely by November without an invasion. He thinks
    the A-bombs were unnecessary and unjustified because the war was ending
    anyway. The A-bombs meant, he says, “a difference, at most, of two or three
    weeks.” But at the time, with no indication that surrender was on the way,
    the kamikazes were sinking American vessels, the Indianapolis was sunk
    (880 men killed), and Allied casualties were running to over 7,000 per week.
    “Two or three weeks,” says Galbraith.
    Two weeks more means 14,000 more killed and wounded, three weeks
    more, 21,000. Those weeks mean the world if you’re one of those thousands
    or related to one of them. During the time between the dropping of the
    Nagasaki bomb on August 9 and the actual surrender on the fifteenth, the
    war pursued its accustomed course: on the twelfth of August eight captured
    American fliers were executed (heads chopped off); the fifty-first United
    States submarine, Bonefish, was sunk (all aboard drowned); the destroyer
    Callaghan went down, the seventieth to be sunk, and the Destroyer Escort
    Underhill was lost. That’s a bit of what happened in six days of the two or
    three weeks posited by Galbraith. What did he do in the war? He worked
    in the Office of Price Administration in Washington. I don’t demand that he
    experience having his ass shot off. I merely note that he didn’t.

    As I mentioned in an earlier comment, one of my Dad’s cousins was one of those lost in the last weeks of the war.

    Anybody who says the bomb wasn’t necessary doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

    Among other things, there was a plan for the Japanese army to massacre the 400,000 POWs being held as soon as allied invaders set foot on a Home Island.

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/63890.html

     

    • #14
    • August 16, 2020, at 6:31 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  15. Ontheleftcoast Member

    My father never would talk about his WWII service, which was all stateside. I know from my mother’s recollections that late in the war he was at the Vigo Ordnance Plant in Terra Haute, IN and was part of an operation testing protective equipment and production line safety procedures for the planned production of anthrax bombs.

    The 1944 order converting the plant to a BW facility directed that it become a factory capable of producing 275,000 boutlin [sic] bombs or one million anthrax bombs per month.

    I guess that was part of plan B or C if the atomic bombs didn’t work or didn’t bring Japan to surrender.

    • #15
    • August 16, 2020, at 7:31 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  16. Cliff Hadley Thatcher

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    My father never would talk about his WWII service, which was all stateside. I know from my mother’s recollections that late in the war he was at the Vigo Ordnance Plant in Terra Haute, IN and was part of an operation testing protective equipment and production line safety procedures for the planned production of anthrax bombs.

    The 1944 order converting the plant to a BW facility directed that it become a factory capable of producing 275,000 boutlin [sic] bombs or one million anthrax bombs per month.

    I guess that was part of plan B or C if the atomic bombs didn’t work or didn’t bring Japan to surrender.

    Not surprised. We’d dropped our entire atomic-bomb supply on those two days in August. It would have taken months to make more. Good thing the Japanese didn’t know this at the time — they may have kept fighting.

    • #16
    • August 17, 2020, at 4:52 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    CliffHadley (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    My father never would talk about his WWII service, which was all stateside. I know from my mother’s recollections that late in the war he was at the Vigo Ordnance Plant in Terra Haute, IN and was part of an operation testing protective equipment and production line safety procedures for the planned production of anthrax bombs.

    The 1944 order converting the plant to a BW facility directed that it become a factory capable of producing 275,000 boutlin [sic] bombs or one million anthrax bombs per month.

    I guess that was part of plan B or C if the atomic bombs didn’t work or didn’t bring Japan to surrender.

    Not surprised. We’d dropped our entire atomic-bomb supply on those two days in August. It would have taken months to make more. Good thing the Japanese didn’t know this at the time — they may have kept fighting.

    http://www.dannen.com/decision/bomb-rate.html

    “The final components of the first gun type bomb have arrived at Tinian, those of the first implosion type should leave San Francisco by airplane early on 30 July. I see no reason to change our previous readiness predictions on the first three bombs. In September, we should have three or four bombs. One of these will be made from 235 material and will have a smaller effectiveness, about two-thirds that of the test type, but by November, we should be able to bring this up to full power. There should be either four or three bombs in October, one of the lesser size. In November, there should be at least five bombs and the rate will rise to seven in December and increase decidedly in early 1946. By some time in November, we should have the effectiveness of the 235 implosion type bomb equal to that of the tested plutonium implosion type.”

    • #17
    • August 17, 2020, at 5:40 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  18. Ekosj Member

    This topic brings to mind a book I’d like to recommend. The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. It tells the story of the women who worked at the Oak Ridge Tennessee facility to produce the nuclear material for the Bomb. They went to a place they were not told – it wasn’t even on a map – to do jobs that were not described; promised only a good, steady wage and a chance to do something important to end the war.

    • #18
    • August 17, 2020, at 6:29 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    CliffHadley (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    My father never would talk about his WWII service, which was all stateside. I know from my mother’s recollections that late in the war he was at the Vigo Ordnance Plant in Terra Haute, IN and was part of an operation testing protective equipment and production line safety procedures for the planned production of anthrax bombs.

    The 1944 order converting the plant to a BW facility directed that it become a factory capable of producing 275,000 boutlin [sic] bombs or one million anthrax bombs per month.

    I guess that was part of plan B or C if the atomic bombs didn’t work or didn’t bring Japan to surrender.

    Not surprised. We’d dropped our entire atomic-bomb supply on those two days in August. It would have taken months to make more. Good thing the Japanese didn’t know this at the time — they may have kept fighting.

    The Japanese knew all about the Uranium bomb. And they knew that we could not have enough for a second bomb. However, they did not know about the Plutonium bomb and, when that was dropped, they feared we had more.

    • #19
    • August 17, 2020, at 8:30 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  20. Cliff Hadley Thatcher

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    CliffHadley (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    My father never would talk about his WWII service, which was all stateside. I know from my mother’s recollections that late in the war he was at the Vigo Ordnance Plant in Terra Haute, IN and was part of an operation testing protective equipment and production line safety procedures for the planned production of anthrax bombs.

    The 1944 order converting the plant to a BW facility directed that it become a factory capable of producing 275,000 boutlin [sic] bombs or one million anthrax bombs per month.

    I guess that was part of plan B or C if the atomic bombs didn’t work or didn’t bring Japan to surrender.

    Not surprised. We’d dropped our entire atomic-bomb supply on those two days in August. It would have taken months to make more. Good thing the Japanese didn’t know this at the time — they may have kept fighting.

    http://www.dannen.com/decision/bomb-rate.html

    “The final components of the first gun type bomb have arrived at Tinian, those of the first implosion type should leave San Francisco by airplane early on 30 July. I see no reason to change our previous readiness predictions on the first three bombs. In September, we should have three or four bombs. One of these will be made from 235 material and will have a smaller effectiveness, about two-thirds that of the test type, but by November, we should be able to bring this up to full power. There should be either four or three bombs in October, one of the lesser size. In November, there should be at least five bombs and the rate will rise to seven in December and increase decidedly in early 1946. By some time in November, we should have the effectiveness of the 235 implosion type bomb equal to that of the tested plutonium implosion type.”

    Thanks for this. I’d never seen it before. Is there still time to change my tune?

    • #20
    • August 20, 2020, at 2:53 PM PDT
    • 2 likes