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 U.S.NAVY...War crimes ? Read the log of the USS Wahoo SS238

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Domenic Pappalardo
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PostSubject: U.S.NAVY...War crimes ? Read the log of the USS Wahoo SS238   Wed May 27, 2009 2:58 pm

I had made comment of an American Submarine, The USS Wahoo SS238 on her third war patrol in 1943
The Navy log on this action can be found at:

legends of the deep (read the third war patrol)

This is a story some writer should take on.

Was this action a war crime? By today’s standards it would seem so. If anyone was a member of the SS Yahoo in 1943, the answer might be no. There was a great hate for the Japanese during the war between the years 1941-1945. If the action in question was a war crime, who are the guilty? The American people were conditioned to hate the enemy. The News Media, Hollywood, and those in Washington D.C. were all part of the propaganda that portrayed the Japanese as not human. It was un-American not to hate the enemy during the war.

The log shows the submarine Yahoo came under machine-gun fire from some of the lifeboats. Fire was returned. The lifeboats were destroyed. Members of the crew of the Yahoo (with the permission of the Captain) fired on those in the water.

Reading the log will not give the feeling of the time. It does give an account by the Captain...nothing was hidden in the report.
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Richard Stanbery
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PostSubject: Re: U.S.NAVY...War crimes ? Read the log of the USS Wahoo SS238   Wed May 27, 2009 5:10 pm

There is also a book called Dust on the Sea, which covers the same incident. A novel format is used to explain how submarine warfare really was in the Pacific war. It is a good explanation of things that went on, and racism was not the driving force behind things at every turn.
It seems that the chief Japanese Anti-submarine officer in the IJN (according to the book) was a fellow named "Bungo Pete" (Nakame), after the infamous Bungo-Suido waters off Japan in which he opperated.
Bungo Pete was quite an expert in killing US submarines.

He was one of the FEW ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare)experts that the IJN (Imperial Japanese Navy) had.Often Bungo Pete used tricks, like having a virtually unsinkable (filled with ping-pong balls) and heavily armed Q-ship disguised as a harmless freighter as a decoy to provoke an attack by a US sub.

What the American sub-drivers didnt know was that there was usually a Japanese sub lurking to sink the US sub once it had fired on the unsinkable Q-ship.
The IJN was weak in ASW tactics anyway, but Bungo Pete made up for that, and was training other IJN officers to bring the IJN ASW capability up to snuff.
The story line is that the brass hats in USN headquarters in Pearl Harbor sent the US sub out with explicit orders to eliminate Bungo Pete, as he was considered so vital to the IJN war effort. The US sub fought a terrible battle against Bungo's Q-ship, and his waiting sub and destroyer. After his flagship destroyer of the Akikaze class was sunk in the fight, Bungo Pete took to a lifeboat.
The storyline also has it that Bungo Pete was actually firing a rifle at the US sub from a lifeboat after his destroyer was sunk out from under him, and thus he made himself an unrepenitent and legitimate target as he refused quarter and kept on fighting. This kind of thing was not uncommon in the Pacific war.

If the US sub skipper had not ran down the lifeboats with the sub, then Bungo Pete would have been back in business in a weeks time, and more US submariners would die. Obviously, Bungo Pete had to go.
So, no, the story of the killing of Bungo Pete by the USN was not just a story of a sensless act of racism. It was about a planned, sanctioned, and explicitly ordered assasination. It was just like when the British SOE knocked off Reinhardt Heydrich (SS General) in Prague, or how the Americans rubbed out Admiral Yammamoto of the IJN.
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Domenic Pappalardo
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PostSubject: Re: U.S.NAVY...War crimes ? Read the log of the USS Wahoo SS238   Wed May 27, 2009 5:23 pm

The log of the Wahoo makes no mention of killing Bungo Pete, nor does the naval report given in Hawaii. The killing of Bungo Pete would have been in the report. Was this learned after the war?
If you read the report...they killed people in the water that were holding up white rags.( a sign of surrender.)
Records of the Pacific war do show, Americans killed 90% of those who surrendered. I guess if there must be a war, if it moves, shoot it.

Thank you for the information about Bungo, I have never heard about him.
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Carol Troestler
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PostSubject: Re: U.S.NAVY...War crimes ? Read the log of the USS Wahoo SS238   Sat May 30, 2009 5:49 am

Subs in the Cuban Missile Crisis
Most of his is my abridged version of The Submarines of October, official declassified government documents found at the National Security Archives. Full info at:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB75/

During the Cuban Missile Crisis there were also actions beneath the sea. No one in the US knew that in the fall of 1962, Soviet submarines were heading toward Cuba to help develop a Soviet Naval base at Mariel Bay. Each of these submarines carried a nuclear-tipped torpedo.

In 2002, Russian researcher Alexander Mozgovoi published The Cuban Samba of the Quartet of Foxtrots, and Peter A. Huchthausen, who served on the USS Blandy during the crisis, published October Fury. Both books brought out information not available in 1962.

Under usual circumstances, the Russian submarine commanders were highly disciplined, but exhaustion after many weeks at sea increased the possibility of the chances of an accident or miscalculation. The US Navy was given orders to track the Soviet subs during the quarantine of October 1962. They were ordered not to attack the subs, but were to use practice depth charges, known as PDCs, explosive devices the size of hand grenades, to signal the submarines.

Those on Soviet subs B-59 and B-130 became so rattled by the practice depth charges thinking they were dangerous explosives, that they spoke of the possibility of firing the nuclear torpedoes. The fifteen-kiloton explosives of these nuclear weapons were approximately that of the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima in August of 1945. The US did not know the subs were carrying these torpedoes.

Huchthausen, who gathered accounts from both US and Soviet sources regarding the subs, heard one such frightening account aboard Soviet sub C-130, as US destroyers dropped the PDCs around it. Captain Nikolai Shumkov ordered the preparation of torpedoes, including the tube for the nuclear torpedo. The special weapons officer warned Captain Shumkov that the nuclear tube could not be armed without permission from Soviet headquarters. However, Shumkov then reneged and said he really didn’t have any intention of using that torpedo, “Because we all would go up with it if we did.”

On October 27, Vadim Orlov, communications intelligence officer, recalled actions on submarine B-59. Destroyers pitched PDCs at the sub, and an exhausted Captain Valentin Savitsky became extremely angry when he could not establish communications with Moscow and ordered the nuclear torpedo assembled for battle. Savitsky roared, “We’re going to blast them now! We will all die, but we will sink them all.” Deputy brigade commander Second Captain Vasili Archipov calmed Savitsky down and they surfaced the submarine. However, other Soviet submarine commanders do not think Savitsky could have made such a command.

Captain Joseph Bouchard, the author of a major study on Naval operations during the missile crisis, suggested the greatest danger was not from deliberate acts but from accidents. If the Soviets had used nuclear torpedoes, the US would have made a “nuclear counter-response.” US aircraft carriers had nuclear depth charges on board, and non-nuclear components for more depth charges were stored at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As the article of the National Archives on “The Submarines of October” states, “Fortunately the US and Soviet leadership, from heads of state to naval commanders, wanted to avoid open conflict: cool heads, professionalism, and some amount of luck, kept the crisis under control.”

The US detected and closely tracked three of the four submarines that left the Soviet Union for Cuba on the first of October 1962. The four submarines did not have combat orders, but the Soviet Navy sent submarines B-75 and B-88 to the Caribbean and Pacific with combat orders. B-75 carried two nuclear torpedoes. It left the Soviet Union the end of September with orders to defend Soviet transport ships en route to Cuba if they came under attack. After President Kennedy announced the quarantine, B-75 was recalled and returned to the Soviet Union by November 10.

Another submarine, B-88 left Kamchatka peninsula in Russia on October 28 and sailed to Pearl Harbor to attack the base there if the missile crisis escalated into US Soviet war. This sub arrived near Pearl Harbor on November 10 and patrolled the area until November 14 when it received orders to return to base, but these orders were rescinded the same day. B-88 did not return to Russia until the end of December. It is not known whether the Navy detected B-88 or B-75.

My husband and I attended a Harmonica convention in Milwaukee in August of 2007. We spoke to a man known to fellow harmonica players as “Smoky Joe.” He spoke of being on a ship in the Caribbean during the crisis. He told about a sudden severe jolt to their ship. As a diver he had to go down to cut off part of the prop, which had been damaged from “whatever they had hit below them.” They were in very deep water and he felt they could have only hit a Russian sub, but they did not learn this officially.

Bob Balch, a later member of my husband's squadron, spoke of being in Pearl Harbor on October 22 across from submarines based there. That night before Kennedy’s speech there had been ten submarines in the harbor. When he awoke on October 23, there were zero.
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U.S.NAVY...War crimes ? Read the log of the USS Wahoo SS238

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