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History of USS Bonefish SS-223

Home  »  History of USS Bonefish SS-223

http://www.subsowespac.org/world_war_ii_submarines/uss_bonefish_ss_223.shtml

 

The USS Bonefish (SS-223) was a Gato Class World War II era submarine.

The namesake of the USS Bonefish is a fish of the Florida Keys and southernCalifornia.  The bonefish has bright silvery sides with faint dark stripes and often reaches a weight of about fifteen pounds.  It feeds on bottom matter in shallow waters.

The radio call sign for the USS Bonefish was: NAN-BAKER-KING-FOX.

On May 28, 1945, the USS Bonefish, captained by Commander Lawrence L. Edge, departed the submarine base at Guam on her eighth and final war patrol in company with two other submarines also assigned to the Operation Barney task group Pierce’s Polecats: USS Tunny (SS-282) and USS Skate (SS-305).  The group was part of the American wolf pack Hydeman’s Hellcats, which consisted of nine boats divided into groups of three.  The other two groups were set up as follows:

1. Hydeman’s Hepcats: USS Sea Dog (SS-401), USS Spadefish (SS-411), and USS Crevalle (SS-291).

2. Bob’s Bobcats: USS Flying Fish (SS-229), USS Bowfin (SS-287), and USS Tinosa (SS-283). 1

Lawrence Lott Edge was born on November 15, 1912, at Columbus, Georgia.  He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1935 and then served for two-and-a-half years aboard the battleship USS Maryland (BB-46).  He applied and was selected for submarine duty and reported to the submarine school at New London, Connecticut in January 1938.  Following his graduation from the school in June 1938, he and Sarah Simms married in Atlanta, Georgia.  A month later, Lawrence reported to the submarine base at Pearl Harbor as a lieutenant junior grade to begin his career as a submariner aboard the USS Narwhal (SS-167).  In December 1940, Edge reported to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for duty aboard the USS O-4 (SS-65), a World War I era boat undergoing refit for service as a training vessel at the submarine school.  In July 1941, Edge reported to the Naval Academy to begin a two-year postgraduate course of study in radio engineering.  This program tied communications with the increasing amount of electrical gear and other technologies with which submarines were being equipped.  As part of his studies, Lawrence and Sarah lived at temporary duty stations up and down the East Coast where he studied the practical side of electronics and other technologies at the private companies responsible for developing them.  On May 1, 1943, Edge was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander.  In July 1943, he was ordered to report to New London to attend the Prospective Submarine Commanding Officer (PCO) School.  He completed the PCO School in late September 1943 and then received orders to report to the headquarters of ComSubSoWesPac in Fremantle, Australia.  He arrived there in late November 1943 and reported for duty to Submarine Squadron Sixteen.  After completing a two-month course of training in submarine operations, in late January 1944 he received orders to serve as the executive officer aboard the USS Bluefish (SS-222).  After serving as the Bluefish’s executive officer for two war patrols under two skippers, on June 13, 1944, Rear Admiral Ralph W. Christie selected Lieutenant Commander Edge to succeed Commander Thomas W. Hogan as the commanding officer of the USS Bonefish (SS-223). 2  Edge would serve as the captain of the Bonefish on her fifth through eighth war patrols.  Under his captaincy, according to the JANAC scoring, he was responsible for sinking five enemy vessels totaling 27,016 tons.  The Alden-McDonald scoring indicates he sank eleven enemy vessels totaling 29,567 tons and seriously damaged the 17,000-ton enemy oil tanker Kamoi Maru.  Based on data collected by the Submarine Operations Research Group (SORG) appearing in a report generated by ComSubPac, during his tenure as captain of the USS Bonefish, Commander Edge sank seven enemy vessels totaling 48,800 tons and damaged three others totaling 15,500 tons. 3

As he steered the Bonefish out to the open sea from Apra Harbor atGuam on their final patrol, Commander Edge was likely thinking about the instructions in his official operation order.  The submarines would enter the Sea of Japan submerged via the Tsushima Strait.  They would gain propulsion from the swift flowing Kuroshio Current, which began in the East China Sea, swept through the Tsushima Strait and the Sea of Japan, and pushed through La Perouse Strait into the Sea of Okhotsk.  When their mission was completed, they would exit via the La Perouse Strait, again taking advantage of the powerful Kuroshio Current.  The most dangerous part of this mission was making safe passage through the enemy minefields sewn in the Tsushima Strait.  All the boats had been fitted with the new mine-detecting FM sonar and their captains and key crew members had received extensive training in its use.  Once they had made the passage and were at their assigned stations in the Sea of Japan, working in groups of three, the submarines were scheduled to begin their attacks at sunset on June 9th.  Their orders from Vice Admiral Lockwood were very specific.  They were to sink any type of Japanese shipping they encountered.

All the submarines in the wolf pack made the passage safely and began hunting for enemy shipping on schedule.  Commander Edge was credited with sinking the 6,892-ton cargo vessel Ojikasan Maru on June 13, 1945.  On June 16, 1945, he kept a rendezvous with his group leader, Commander George E. Pierce, captain of the USS Tunny (SS-282), and informed him of this sinking.  He also asked for and received permission from Pierce to conduct a submerged daylight patrol in Toyoma Wan, a large and 600-fathom deep bay in the mid-part of western Honshu.  Having received permission, the pair parted ways.  Edge’s request to enter Toyoma Wan was merely a matter of form, to let his group leader know where he was going, for the area requested was within his own assigned station. 4

The wolf pack was scheduled to depart the Sea of Japan via La Perouse Strait on the night of June 24, 1945.  However, the Bonefish did not make the scheduled pre-transit rendezvous.  The Tunny waited in vain off Hokkaido until the 27th.  The operation order for the wolf pack had made provision for the submarines to proceed to Russian waters if necessary to claim a twenty-four hour haven, or to submit to internment in extreme need, or to exit from the Sea of Japan prior to or after June 24th.  When all of these factors proved to be irrelevant, on July 30, 1945, the Bonefish was posted as presumed lost. 5

Japanese records reviewed after the war revealed that the 5,488-ton cargo ship Konzan Maru was torpedoed and sunk in Toyama Wan on June 19, 1945, and that an ensuing severe counterattack by Japanese escorts brought debris and a major oil slick to the water’s surface.  The Bonefish was sunk in this action.  She went down fighting with all hands. 6

Records for IJN escort vessel CD-63 provide the following corroborative information:

19 June 1945:
Nanao Bay.  At 0615, BONEFISH torpedoes KONZAN MARU at 37-13N, 137-18E.  The 31st Escort Division is alerted immediately and CD-63, OKINAWA (F) and CD-207 arrive at the scene of sinking.  OKINAWA makes sonar contact with a submerged submarine and drops a series of depth charges set to a depth of 295 to 390 feet.  Next, CD-63 and CD-207 attack.  CD-158 is also dispatched to the same location.  After another attack, the sonar contact is lost.  Pieces of cork and oil are sighted at 37-18N, 137-55E.  USS BONEFISH is lost with all 85 hands. 7

In his book Hellcats: The Epic Story of World War II’s Most Daring Submarine Raid, Peter Sasgen visualizes the final moments of the USS Bonefish:

Patrolling submerged in Toyama Wan, Edge encountered three patrol boats.  He attacked, but the torpedoes missed.  Alerted, the patrol boats counterattacked in force.  There wasn’t time to fire another torpedo salvo – the enemy’s ping, ping, pinging sonars had the Bonefish trapped in a vise.  Get her down fast – four hundred feet!  Rig for depth charge and silent running!  Here they come!  Three sets of angry, thrashing screws swept over the descending submarine.  Depth charges rained down.

Whether by luck or fate, a hull-smashing explosion closer and more powerful than any the submariners had ever experienced caused mortal damage.  In the split second it took the doomed men to grasp what had happened, the sea burst into the Bonefish like a snarling, killing beast.  Sound the collision alarm!  Blow safety!  Blow bow buoyancy!  BLOW EVERYTHING!  In the confusion of anger and fear, frantic efforts to avoid disaster failed.  Flooded and out of control, the Bonefish upended.  Men, tools, anything not tied down crashed into the now horizontal bulkheads at the bottom of compartments.  Depth-gauge needles wound violently to their stops.  The water under the sub’s keel was so deep that it was beyond comprehension.  Down, down she plunged until, at the limit of their endurance, her stout frames and hull, moaning and shrieking in protest, gave way to the merciless sea.  Trailing skeins of air bubbles and oil, the gallant Bonefish with her gallant captain and crew dived into eternity. 8

According to Vice Admiral Lockwood, if Commander Edge had lived to complete his last patrol he would have been shifted to the Submarine Training Command for duty in charge of training new submariners in the use of the latest electrical equipment. 9

The Bonefish earned Navy Unit Commendations for her first, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth war patrols, and seven battle stars for her World War II service.

A list of the personnel lost with the Bonefish is maintained at http://www.oneternalpatrol.com/uss-bonefish-223.htm.

Patrol Data and Captains for the USS Bonefish (SS-223)

 

Patrol
No.

Patrol
Area

Patrol Duration
DD-MM-YY

Captain’s
Rank & Name

Sailed
From

1

South China
Sea

16-Sep-43 to 21-Oct-43

CDR Thomas W. Hogan

Darwin

2

Borneo-
Celebes area

22-Nov-43 to 19-Dec-43

Same

Fremantle

3

South China
Sea &
Makassar Strait

12-Jan-44 to 15-Mar-44

Same

Fremantle

4

Celebes &
Sulu Sea

15-Apr-44 to 30-May-44

Same

Fremantle

5

Celebes &
Sulu Sea

25-Jun-44 to 13-Aug-44

LCDRLawrenceL. Edge

Fremantle

6

Sibuyan Sea &
South China
Sea

05-Sep-44 to 08-Nov-44

CDR Lawrence L. Edge

Fremantle ⇒
Pearl 10

7

East China
Sea &
TsushimaStrait

06-Apr-45 to 07-May-45

Same

Pearl Harbor

8

Sea of
Japan

28-May-45 to 19-Jun-45
(Lost)

Same

Guam

 

JANAC Score for the USS Bonefish (SS-223)

 

Patrol
No.

Date
DD-MM-YY

Vessel
Name

Vessel
Type

Tonnage
Sunk

Location
Sunk

1

27-Sep-43

Kashima Maru

Transport

9,908

10-14N, 109-45E

1

10-Oct-43

Teibi Maru

Transport

10,086

14-44N, 110-19E

1

10-Oct-43

Isuzugawa

Cargo

4,212

14-44N, 110-19E

2

29-Nov-43

Suez Maru

Cargo

4,646

6-22S, 116-35E

2

01-Dec-43

Nichiryo Maru

Passenger-
Cargo

2,721

1-31N, 120-51E

4

26-Apr-44

Tokiwa Maru

Passenger-
Cargo

806

6-12N, 125-47E

4

14-May-44

Inazuma

Destroyer

1,950

5-08N, 119-38E

5

30-Jul-44

Kokuyo Maru

Tanker

10,026

6-03N, 119-54E

6

28-Sep-44

Anjo Maru

Tanker

2,068

13-16N, 120-08E

6

14-Oct-44

Fushimi Maru

Cargo

2,542

16-12N, 119-45E

8

13-Jun-45

Oshikayama Maru

Cargo

6,892

38-30N, 136-58E

8

19-Jun-45

Konzan Maru

Passenger-
Cargo

5,488

37-13N, 137-18E

TOTALS

 

 

12 vessels

61,345 tons

 

 

 

http://www.submarinesailor.com/Boats/SS223Bonefish/FirstPatrol.htm

USS BONEFISH (SS-223)

USS Bonefish (SS-223) was a Gato-class submarine, the first United States Navy ship to be named for the bonefish, which is a name for the ladyfish, dogfish, and sturgeon.

 

Operational history

Her keel was laid down by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut. She was launched 7 May 1943 sponsored by Mrs. F. A. Daubin, wife of Rear Admiral Freeland A. Daubin, commissioned on 31 May 1943, Lieutenant Commander Thomas W. Hogan (Class of 1931) in command.

The submarine conducted shakedown training out of New London, CT, and Newport, RI, until 23 July, when she set out for the Pacific. She transited the Panama Canal on 4 August and arrived at Brisbane, Australia, on the 30th. Following a week of training out of that port, she again got underway for more days of drills in Moreton Bay. The submarine departed there on 16 September for her first war patrol.

 

First patrol, September – October 1943

After transiting Balabac Strait on 22 September, Bonefish continued on to her patrol area in the central part of theSouth China Sea. On 25 September, the submarine attacked a convoy of eight ships. She scored three hits on a freighter before the escorts forced her to go deep to avoid a depth charge attack. Bonefish encountered another convoy on 27 September and fired four torpedoes at the lead ship, the largest of the five, and sank the 9,908-ton transport Kashima Maru. The escort ships pursued Bonefish, but she was able to dive and elude her attackers. On 6 October, the boat approached a third convoy and scored hits on two heavily laden cargo vessels. Forced to go deep to avoid the counterattack, she failed to evaluate the damage that her torpedoes had done to the targets. On 10 October, in her last action of the patrol, Bonefish fired a spread of four torpedoes at two ships of a convoy off Indochina, sending both the 4,212-ton cargo ship Isuzugawa and the 10,086-ton transport Teibi Maru to the bottom. Bonefish concluded her first war patrol back at Fremantle,Western Australia on 21 October.

Below is a personal account of Bonefish’s 1st War Patrol from crewmember Cornelius Russell Bartholomew:

http://www.submarinesailor.com/Boats/SS223Bonefish/FirstPatrol.htm

The BONEFISH SS223 First War Patrol  
 by Cornelius Russell Bartholomew 

 “OOOGAH … OOOGAH . . . ” The sound frightened the crew of the USS BONEFISH (SS223). The sixteen war veterans sprung into action surprised by the unforeseen dive. The forty-four other crewmembers, half of them a year or less off farms or from cities, rushed to their diving stations not knowing what was happening. The veterans expected emergency dives in the war zone but not a few miles west of thePanama Canal. The unexpected dive became a part of every watch as the training intensified en route toBrisbane,Australia. Three months after her commissioning, May 31, 1943, BONEFISH arrived inBrisbaneand stayed for six days of upkeep and final tests. The crew enjoyed their stay because they realized the war zone was only a few hundred miles away. LeavingBrisbane, the route inside the Barrier Reef was followed toDarwin,Australia. Uneasiness had spread throughout the crew because an enemy airplane had attacked a U.S. Navy submarine along the some route two days earlier. After topping off with fuel, BONEFISH departedDarwinon 16 September for her assigned war patrol area in theSouth China Sea. The crew trained as the diesel’s droned on. The sighting of a ship’s mast at 0440 on 18 September gave every crewmember a dry mouth.

First skipper: Thomas Wesley Hogan
(Ensign here, LCDR when he took command)

It was north of Damor Island in the Banda Sea that the mast was identified as belonging to a sailboat. The sailboat, the first of numerous ones, was thought to be fishermen.

“OOOGAH…OOOGAH,” blared at 0816 AM when a lookout sighted an enemy airplane. All eyes turned upwards as BONEFISH crash-dived to two hundred feet. An hour later a periscope look and radar showed the area clear and the BONEFISH surfaced. Twelve hours later a small patrol craft came over the horizon and it was chased until contact was lost in a rainsquall. The following day was uneventful.

On 20 September as the sky was beginning to lighten at 0458 AM a large enemy ship was sighted. Tension rose as BONEFISH maneuvered into the attack position ahead of the enemy. The foe traveling at twenty knots suddenly turned toward BONEFISH forcing her to dive. After dropping one depth charge, the first for a majority of the submarine crew, the attacker sped away. Surfacing for a chase, the excited submarine crew kept alert. During the pursuit an unescorted 10,000-ton tanker, a more lucrative target, hovered into view.

The tanker was stalked and as BONEFISH gained a position ahead for a submerged attack, three sailboats appeared. Diving to avoid detection, the apprehension ran high as the bow tubes were made ready for firing. The tanker reached the sailboats, turned ninety degrees and raced toward black threatening clouds. Surfacing, Bonefish’s engines bellowed black smoke as she tried to overtake the enemy. The tanker disappeared into the black clouds and was lost to sight and radar. Disappointed and figuring that the sailboats had alerted the tanker crew, it was decided to check sailboats when time and circumstances permitted. After a peaceful transit of the Sibutu Passage on 21 September, the Balabac Strait was run the next day and BONEFISH entered theSouth China Sea. Under the watchful eyes of veterans the training and qualification of the crew continued when time permitted. Saturday, 25 September at 0610 a five ship escorted convoy was sighted.

The tension ran high as BONEFISH tracked the convoy at the same time notifying the USS BOWFIN (SS287) which was in the area. Reaching an attack position, BONEFISH dove and waited for the zig-zagging convoy.

The formation changed course toward the BOWFIN’s area. Surfacing and using full power to pursue, BONEFISH’s lookouts and officer-of-the-deck sighted large plumes of black smoke and heard explosions. The crew felt cheated until two stragglers, a 9,000-ton tanker and the same size transport were discovered. Using full power, an attack position was gained.

“OOOGAH … OOOGAH ” sounded at 1846. The stern tubes were made ready as the stress on the crew increased. Torpedo tubes number seven, eight, nine and ten were fired starting at 1918. As the first torpedo exploded under the tanker’s bridge, two escorts crossed the enemy ship’s bow and raced toward the BONEFISH. A second hit was observed and a third torpedo was heard exploding before the submarine pulled the plug to go deep. Three violently bursting depth charges shook BONEFISH. The next three depth charges exploded farther away. The crew heard groaning and cracking sounds like a ship breaking up. As the escort’s high-speed screws faded from sonar, the exuberant crew was ready to continue the hunt. Two days later on a clear night at 0208 smoke was sighted. The smoke turned into a five ship escorted convoy in three columns. The enemy was tracked until BONEFISH was in firing position.

“OOOGAH…OOOGAH”, jarred those sleeping awake at 0545 AM. The bow torpedo tubes were made ready. The convoy changed course so the stern tubes were readied. Four torpedoes were sent on their way toward the leading ship, a large Transport. The crew heard four tin fish explode. Sonar picked up light high-speed screws rushing to attack the BONEFISH. Rigged for silent running she went deep as eight depth charges rattled the submarine. Coming up to periscope depth four more depth charge shook BONEFISH.

The high-speed screws of the escorts crisscrossed the BONEFISH all day while twenty-one more depth charges were dropped. At 1630 the submarine eased up to periscope depth for a look. An enemy float airplane dropped seven exploding bombs forcing BONEFISH deep. The stimulated crew was growing weary of the enemy’s explosive reaction. Before surfacing several leaks were repaired. During the next five days an intense search by the BONEFISH turned up several small patrol boats and she was forced to dive by a zero type enemy airplane. But her luck changed October 3rd.

A six ship convoy with escorts was picked up on radar and then visibly. BONEFISH ran on the surface using three engines but could not get ahead of the convoy before it passed out of view behind the Paula Cecir De Mer Island. Let down, the crew intensified the search. October 6th was a rainy day with a moderate sea and swells increasing when radar picked up a contact. The radar blips were three heavily loaded cargo ships in a triangular formation.

“OOOGAH…OOOGAH,” echoed through BONEFISH at 0609. Starting at 0706 torpedo tubes number one, two and three were fired at the flank ship. One exploded under the ship’s main mast. Torpedo tubes four, five and six were fired at the lead ship. Torpedo four ran erratic but the other two were seen exploding under the center of the target. The third ship tried to ram BONEFISH. Her first depth charge shook the BONEFISH at 0716. The second depth charge exploded astern. At 0944 with no contacts in sight or on radar, BONEFISH surfaced and found wreckage from the two ships that sunk. The swells continued to increase so BONEFISH moved out of the area.

The following morning a HINO MARU type cargo ship was found and tracked. In the downpour of rain, BONEFISH submerged and got into firing position. Number one torpedo tube was fired at 1811. Thirteen seconds later it prematurely exploded vary close jarring the BONEFISH and rattling the crew’s nerves. Number two torpedo passed ahead and number six torpedo passed astern of the enemy ship. Numbers three, four and five torpedoes passed under the enemy ship and exploded beyond the target. The torpedoes had been set to run at ten and fifteen feet. Deciding the enemy ship was smaller than the original estimate, the BONEFISH surfaced to attack using her four inch fifty caliber deck gun.

The gun crew prepared for the battle with their mouths feeling like they were filled with cotton. Their fears changed as adrenalin made them desire the enemy ship like a hunter yearns for a trophy. The chase started in a tropical downpour. The enemy disappeared from sight in the darkness and was lost by radar a few minutes later. The crew’s frustration remained high through the next day. But the following day 10 October turned out to be the most electrifying day of the first patrol.

An enemy airplane forced the BONEFISH to crash dive at 0819. Back on the surface, a lookout sighted a mast on the horizon at 1043. Tracking commenced and visual observation through the raised periscope showed the mast belonged to a large troop transport. The other ships were heavily loaded cargo ships of about 4,000 tons each. All the ships had soldiers milling around on deck. BONEFISH dove ahead of the convoy and checked and rechecked the firing set up. With only four torpedoes left BONEFISH waited. Starting at 1402 torpedo tube number one was fired followed by number two, three and four (periscope photos).

One cargo ship frantically blew its whistle as the first torpedo exploded under her mast. The second torpedo blew the ship apart. Number three torpedo exploded under the troop ship’s mast and the fourth blew her stern off. The enemy fired their guns in all directions making the sky look like a fireworks display. A cargo ship turned toward BONEFISH.

BONEFISH took a steep down angle as the first depth charge exploded. The next three depth charges chipped paint off the inside bulkhead. During a lull in the foes attack, cracking and groaning sounds were heard from the area of the sinking ships. Loud explosions made the BONEFISH crew jubilant because they knew the sinking ships boilers were bursting. Their attitude changed as two more depth charges sprayed them with paint chips. The depth charge put extreme pressure on the hull and a strain on the crew. Minutes later eleven depth charges, three very close, rattled and shook BONEFISH as she used evasive tactics. More breaking up noises from the area of the sinking ships were heard on sonar. Another depth charge made the lights blink and caused another shower of paint chips. As the submarine hid under a negative gradient at 150 feet, twelve additional depth charges exploded but farther away giving the crew hope. The last nine depth charges were heard at 1601. The attack that started at 1043 ended at 1720 when the crew received a shot of Brandy after the Captain ordered, “SPLICE THE MAIN BRACE.” Surfacing at 1821 the fresh air smelled sweet to the joyful crew. The last torpedo had been fired but the battle wasn’t over.

Heading for Australia, BONEFISH stopped and investigated a sail boat inMakassaron 13 October. The next day in the Java Sea an abandoned canoe of excellent workmanship was picked up and lowered into the forward torpedo room. That evening at 1732 a two-masted schooner of about ten tons was sighted. It was decided to attack her with gunfire.

The first burst from the 20MM cannon was over the schooner and resulted in enemy soldiers jumping overboard. The target was riddled with 20MM fire but refused to sink. A Molotov Cocktail was used to set the schooner on fire. It sank. Two days later an enemy airplane forced BONEFISH to crash dive. The following day, 16 October, the transit of Lombok Strait was completed leaving the war zone behind.

BONEFISH arrived inFremantle,Australiaon 21 October a week short of five months since commissioning. She had steamed half way around the world to reach her first patrol area in the South China Sea.

While on war patrol BONEFISH had logged another 12,000 miles and fired twenty-four torpedoes. Torpedoes sank five ships; one by gunfire and 5,800 additional tons of shipping were damaged. Seventy depth charges and seven aerial bombs battered the submarine. The Captain was awarded the Navy Cross and each member of the crew awarded a Navy Submarine Combat Pin. For the aggressive manner in which the patrol was conducted, the BONEFISH received a Navy Unit Commendation.

The bone-weary crew with frazzled nerves relished the awards and the two weeks at the King Edward Hotel, a submarine rest hotel.

Post war records revised downward the total tons that had been claimed sunk and damaged. But the crewmembers that made that first war patrol know their tonnage claim was correct. The Creator gave each of us an individual blueprint for life that makes us experience the events of life through our own senses. That can’t be changed.

Second patrol, November – December 1943

After refit and training, the submarine got underway on 22 November for the South China Sea and her second war patrol. She entered the Flores Sea on 28 November and, the next day, intercepted two enemy ships. Bonefish made a submerged approach and fired four torpedoes. Two of the four — one hit amidships and another struck the freighter under her mainmast — sent the 4,646-ton cargoship Suez Maru down rapidly by the stern. The escort increased speed and headed for Bonefish, but she went deep and escaped the barrage of depth charges. Unknown to Bonefish, Suez Maru was carrying 546 British POWs. Minesweeper W.12 picked up the survivors.

On 1 December, the boat sighted a convoy of three ships with two escorts hugging the Celebes coast. In two separate attacks, the submarine scored a hit on a large passenger-cargo ship Nichiryo Maru which later sank and another on a destroyer escort which apparently survived.

Bonefish conducted a submerged patrol of Sandakan Harbor, Borneo, from 4 December to 6 December and then sailed for Tarakan. On 11 December, she surfaced to engage small cargo vessel Toyohime Maru with gunfire, scoring several hits before a mechanical problem put her gun out of action. The next day, the boat made a submerged approach on an unidentified Japanese vessel, fired six torpedoes, scored one hit, but never learned the fate of her target. She cleared the area and arrived at Fremantle on 19 December.

 Following is a personal account of Bonefish’s 2nd  War Patrol from crewmember Cornelius Russell Bartholomew:

http://www.submarinesailor.com/Boats/SS223Bonefish/StrikesAgain.htm

BONEFISH STRIKES AGAIN
 by Cornelius B. Bartholomew

Australian hospitality, Perth girls, EMU Bitters, Swan Lager and two weeks rest leaves at the King Edward Hotel healed the frazzled nerves of the Bonefish’s crew. Returning to the boat on 3 November 1943, so longs were said to the one-quarter of the crew being transferred. Their replacements were waiting.

The twenty new men were assigned billets on the Watch Quarter and Station Bill. The next day the replacements were integrated into the training program after Bonefish got underway. The new men who had made war patrols on other submarines wondered if the Bonefish’s crew would measure up. The original crewmembers having been bonded by seventy depth charges and seven aerial bombs on the first patrol were guarded in their assessments of their new shipmates. Even so, they worked together and every compartment was meticulously inspected and each piece of machinery tested. A number of uncompleted refit jobs were found and Bonefish returned to Fremantle.

The repairs were finished and Bonefish got underway on 18 November for two days of training. Day and night torpedo approaches were concentrated on. Returning to port, the loading of supplies for the second war patrol was completed. Dispirited because it looked like a Christmas at sea, the crew cast off the mooring lines on 22 November 1943.

The engines belched black smoke as Bonefish started to back away from the berth. On the pier, the Admiral shouted, “Good hunting Tom.”

“Admiral, I’ll have my boat and crew back before Christmas,” Captain Thomas W. Hogan shouted from the bridge.

The Skipper’s enthusiastic and optimistic pronouncement heartens the crew. While the bow of the Bonefish parted the blue Indian Ocean, the thought of being in port for Christmas waned.

The boat was loaded with twenty-four torpedoes and over sixty days of supplies indicating a long patrol unless enemy ships could be sunk before reaching the South China Sea. After topping off with fuel at Exmouth Gulf, a course was set forLombok Strait. On 28 November South of the Strait, Bonefish submerged to await darkness. Surfacing at 1915, the lookouts scrambled to their stations above the bridge for the scary transit.

The lookouts like scouts of Indian Wars were the eyes of the military unit and in this case the Bonefish. Knowing the enemy lurked under the sea, on the sea and over the sea ready to pounce kept the lookouts’ adrenaline flowing. That and the unwritten lookout creed, never allowed the officer-of-the-deck to discover anything first,” kept them alert. Each lookout scoured the sea and sky in his assigned quadrant.

Every suspicious object, discoloring of the sea, log, dark speck in the sky, smoke or a shadow at night was reported to the OOD. At 2210 in Lombok Strait a lookout sang out, “Small ship at zero four five, SIR.”

“Very well,” the OOD answered as he swung his binoculars to the object. It was a patrol boat at 2900 yards and could not be picked up by radar. Skillfully the submarine was conned around the enemy without being detected. After leaving the Strait and entering the Flores Sea at 2245, the crew temporarily relaxed.

The next morning at 0525 a lookout sighted smoke estimated to be at 25000 yards. The word was passed, “Battle Stations for tracking.” A sub-chaser and making eight knots escorted the 5,000-ton cargo ship. Bonefish submerged and went to battle stations torpedo at 0645. The sub-chaser searched the sea sending out sound waves heard onboard on the submarine as a distinct ‘PING.’ Captain Hogan looking though the periscope at 0817 verified the range, bearing and speed of the target. Fifty-five seconds later torpedo number one was fired followed by two, three and four. The first torpedo exploded under the cargo ship listing it to port and settling by the stern. A Mary type aircraft was secured on her well dock. With a burst of speed, the sub-chaser raced toward the Bonefish.

Using a steep down angle the submarine went deep and the crew listened to the cargo ship breaking up. The first depth charge shook the Bonefish making the crews eyes look upwards. The next two depth charges jolted her as a negative temperature gradient at 250 feet stopped her decent. Taking on salt-water ballast, the submarine dropped through the gradient and leveled off at 350 feel. Five more depth charges rattled the hull. After six minutes of pinging, two more depth charges churned the sea above the Bonefish. A two-minute silence was followed by two depth charges exploding farther away. The pinging faded. The sinking of an enemy ship and the twelve depth charges changed the crew’s attitude.

The replacements realized Bonefish’s crew measured up and the original crewmembers knew they could count on their new shipmates. The Christmas in port dream was becoming a possibility. Rising to sixty-two feet, the periscope was raised. Smoke from the sub-chasers stack was observed and a Pete type aircraft circled the area of the sinking. Remaining submerged until dark, the BONEFISH surfaced and set a course for Makassar Straits.

The 30 November midwatch had just settled into their routine when a lookout sighted a patrol vessel. It was at 6,000 yards. Radar could not pick it up. Bonefish was not detected. To avoid discovery by airplanes and patrol boats, Bonefish submerged before sunrise off Cape William. Several sailboats were watched that day wandering near theCape. Surfacing at 1847 and traveling north under the black tropical night, a pip appeared on the radar. The sub-chaser was eluded by Bonefish. Two hours into the midwatch on 1 December two more patrol boats were picked up by radar and dodged. Running on the surface, the Bonefish crossed the equator at 0830 that morning. An hour later an enemy convoy hugging the Celebes coast was sighted.

The ships identified as the cargo carriers London MARU, Kaisyo MARU, Kiso MARU were escorted by an Akikaze class destroyer escort and a Turbahr class minelayer. A Dave type aircraft circled the convoy starting a game of hide and seek with the Bonefish.

While charging ahead full speed on four engines to gain attack position, Bonefish was forced to dive three times by the Dave aircraft. At 1408 on the surface, Bonefish exchanged information about the convoy with the USS Bowfin (SS287). The Bonefish submerged at 1707 when the range to the zigzagging convoy was 13,000 yards. The next change in course would bring the enemy ships into firing range. The enemy ships started talking using flashing lights and the convoy turned away from the Bonefish. Surfacing, BONEFISH took up the chase again. With the bright moon astern of her and the convoy hugging the coast, Bonefish made all torpedoes ready for the surface attack.

At 2100 torpedo one, two and three were fired at the destroyer escort. Numbers four, five and six were fired at the leading and largest cargo ship, As number two and three torpedoes exploded prematurely the Bonefish was racing at full speed and making a turning for a stern shot.

Number one torpedo smashed into the destroyer escort and exploded. Number four torpedo blasted a hole in the lead cargo ship while number five torpedo exploded prematurely. Torpedoes seven, eight, nine and ten were fired. The bridge crew and lookouts observed a second hit on the destroyer escort and the cargo ship. The minelayer raced toward Bonefish but using full speed the submarine opened the distance. And the Captain, the OOD and four lookouts were entertained by a spectacular, violent, bursting, pyrotechnics like display.

The cargo ship sank. The destroyer escort’s magazines exploded engulfing her in flames. The sky lit up like a dazzling Fourth of July firework fanfare. The blast rocked the Bonefish. Reducing speed, all torpedo tubes were reloaded. After a quick trim dive, the chase resumed.

Passing through the area of the sinking, survivors in lifeboats opened fire on the bridge crew and lookouts with small arms. The remainder of the convoy was picked up on radar and it was after sunrise on 2 December before firing range was reached.

Submerging, the stern tubes were fired. One torpedo ran erratic, one prematurely exploded and two missed. The enemy convoy veered away and the bow tubes could not be brought into firing position. Surfacing and using four engines, the Bonefish charged ahead only to be foiled by aircraft.

She was forced to dive at 1125 AM and 1330 by planes. The convoy was lost in one of the numerous coves along the rugged Celebes coast. With only six torpedoes left BONEFISH was assigned a new patrol area off the coast ofBorneo.

A patrol boat was eluded that evening and four days later the Legazpi, a 700-ton minelayer, was tracked. It was not worthy of a torpedo and using the deck gun would give the Bonefish’s position away. The surface hunt continued and she was forced to dive by an aircraft on 9 December. The lack of targets made the crew anxious and combative. The next day an enemy patrol boat scampered behind a reef and into shallow water to avoid being pounced upon by the Bonefish. On 11 December the Legazpi was again sighted. It was decided to sink her.

The four main engines roared as the deck gun crew scrambled to their stations. It was a clear sunny afternoon. The 4″50-caliber gun was cast loose. At 6,000 yards the enemy noticed the charging Bonefish and opened fire with a three-inch gun and small arms. All shots fell short. The submarine deck gun spat fire sending the first round on its way.

The high capacity round with a point detonating fuse fell short. The minelayer zigged and zagged. The second four-inch round set the enemy ship on fire and a cloud of black smoke covered her. The fourth round silenced her three-inch gun. After fifty-three rounds and seven direct hits, the four-inch gun failed to return to the firing position. The gun crew forced the gun back to battery. Another round was fired as a Dave type aircraft was sighted.

The minelayer was seen beaching herself to keep from sinking as the Bonefish dove. The next enemy ship was encountered Sunday, 12 December.

The lone ship was identified as the Tola MARU through the periscope while Bonefish ran on the surface. Getting into firing range, the submarine dove for the attack. The elated crew knew Christmas inPerthwas a reality.

The bow tubes were made ready. At 1006 torpedoes number four, five and six were fired. One torpedo emitting smoke was seen by the enemy and the ship zagged away. New information was fed into the torpedo data computer. The last three torpedoes were fired from number one, two and three tubes. All torpedoes missed and exploded harmlessly at the end of their runs. A submarine chaser appeared on the horizon and the Bonefish turned south.

The equator was crossed on 13 December and every day patrol boats and airplanes harassed Bonefish. A two masted schooner manned by natives was stopped and searched and allowed to proceed having no cargo onboard. With the scaryLombokStraitbehind them, the crew-felt safe and started making plans.

With joy in their hearts, the crew eagerly grabbed the morning lines and secured Bonefish alongside the USS Pelias. Fresh milk, fruit and mail from home and the Admiral came aboard as soon as the gangplank was rigged.

For adding two large cargo ships and a destroyer escort to her total tonnage sunk, the Bonefish’s crew was awarded a star to the submarine combat pin. Filled with pride, the crew boarded busses for the short ride to the hotel where they were to spend the well-deserved next two weeks of rest and recreation.

Third patrol, January – March 1944

Following refit and training, the submarine sailed from Fremantle on 12 January 1944 to conduct her third war patrol. While operating in the vicinity ofMakassar Straiton 22 January, Bonefish encountered a large sailing vessel. The stranger’s crew of seven acted suspiciously as the submarine approached; and, despite repeated orders to do so, the crew refused to abandon ship. However, when Bonefish opened fire with her machine guns, the natives leaped overboard. As the vessel began to sink, Japanese troops emerged from below decks; and Bonefish counted 39 men going over the side.

On 6 February, the submarine sighted a convoy composed of at least 17 ships. As she maneuvered into attack position, Bonefish selected a large oiler as her primary target and launched four bow “fish” at it. She fired the other two bow tubes at a cargo ship and then tried to swing her stern into position to fire her after tubes. With escorts charging her, the boat suddenly lost depth control and ducked her periscope below the water. Nine tons of water rushed into her forward torpedo room before the proper valves were secured. Bonefish managed to evade the escorts, and her crew heard explosions which they interpreted as at least two hits on the oiler and one on the cargo ship. Nevertheless, it seems that neither target sank.

The submarine next trained her torpedo tubes on a convoy of 13 ships which she contacted on 9 February inCamranh Bay. Although detected by a Japanese destroyer, Bonefish succeeded in firing five torpedoes at a tanker before making an emergency dive in shallow water. The submarine escaped damage from both the destroyer’s depth charges and from aerial bombs which enemy aircraft dropped, but they prevented her from observing the results of her attack. Following this action, she continued to seek targets for more than a month before returning to Fremantle on 15 March.

Following is a personal account of Bonefish’s 3rd  War Patrol from crewmember Cornelius Russell Bartholomew:

http://www.submarinesailor.com/Boats/SS223Bonefish/Nemesis.htm

Third War Patrol

 Bonefish’s Nemesis
 
by Cornelius R. Bartholomew

The USS Bonefish’s crew returned from a two-week rest leaves in Perth, Australiaon 3 January 1944. The 4″50-caliber deck gun and number three main engine had been overhauled by the USS Pelias’ Relief Crew. The fresh camouflage paint, gray on vertical surfaces and black on horizontal surfaces, made Bonefish look like a new submarine, not a veteran battered by depth charges and bombs. Only thirty-two of the original sixty-nine members of the commissioning crew remained aboard. After seven days of intense underway training, Bonefish was loaded for the third war patrol.

On 12 January Bonefish got underway for the 1600-mile journey mostly through enemy waters to the assigned patrol area in theSouth China Sea. The intense training continued until Bonefish was forced to dive by an enemy aircraft two days south ofLombokStrait. Enemy planes were not expected south ofLombok, making the crew uneasy. The second crash dive, a day south ofLombok, kept the crew’s adrenaline flowing. Surfacing at 1953 on 18 January with the crew at Battle Stations and using four main engines, Bonefish entered the hazardousLombokStrait.

She dodged patrol craft and avoided being detected by the shore battery crews. Entering theFloresSea, an intense hunt for an enemy submarine was conducted for three days. Not finding the submarine being used for antisubmarine warfare, Bonefish continued north. A sixty-ton, two masted sailing ship was ordered to heave to after the seven-man crew on deck acted suspiciously. It took a burst across her bow from a Tommy Gun to make the crew lower the sails. Two soldiers scurried below deck. The crew was ordered to abandon ship because the vessel had a radio used to broadcastU.S.submarine positions.

As the first burst of 20-millimeter armor piercing and incendiary shells raked the wooden bull, the crew jumped overboard. Round after round holed the sailing trip. Thirty-nine enemy soldiers were counted going over the side as the vessel sank. With the crew’s esprit de corps soaring, Bonefish continued north.

Suspecting an oil leak, three volunteer engineers in daylight checked the topside fuel fittings. The trio set an Olympic dash record when a RUFE type airplane forced the Bonefish to crash dive. The plane dropped two aerial bombs and was joined by two additional planes. Hide and seek with aircraft became a daily ritual wearing on the crew’s nerves.

Bonefish entered the South China Sea on 26 January and arrived at her patrol area offKamranhBayon 3 February. Harassment by aircraft and dodging fishing vessels, twenty-six of the latter in one day, rough seas and torrential rains hampered the patrolling. At 1010 on 5 February, the mast of a large cargo ship loomed out of a rain squall.

The cargo ship was followed by sixteen more enemy vessels heavily laden and steaming in two groups. One group had cargo carriers, troop ships with landing barges and patrol ships. The other group consisted of tankers, cargo carriers; patrol ships and was followed by an Asakaz Class Destroyer. Overhead, RUFE type aircraft circled. The convoy went inside the Isles de Pecheurs making Bonefish race toward intercept when the convoy came out from behindHonNaiIsland.

Running submerged at full speed between periscope looks and rigged for depth charge; Bonefish reached firing position in the shallow and restricted water. As the convoy appeared all torpedo tubes were made ready. Four torpedoes from the bow tubes sped toward the 19,000 ton tanker and two torpedoes raced toward the largest cargo ship. Turning for a stern shot, the Bonefish took a steep down angle dipping the periscope.

Nine tons of water poured into the forward torpedo room before a sluggish torpedo tube poppet valve could be closed. The destroyer and escorts swarmed toward Bonefish.

The destroyer was at 1500 yards when the submarine was brought under control. The crew heard two torpedoes explode against the tanker and one against the cargo ship before the first two heavy depth charges shook the hull.

Using evasive maneuvers and running silent, the crew’s stoutheartedness turned to fright. Two more depth charges rattled the hull as the destroyer’s propellers churned the shallow water above the submarine. One patrol craft pinged, one listened while the destroyer charged and dropped three more depth charges. The lights in Bonefish blinked. On Bonefish’s sonar crackling sounds in the vicinity of the torpedoed targets were heard. The crew felt the tanker and cargo ship had sunk. Six more depth charges shook the Bonefish. Airplanes dropped depth bombs around her. The attackers turned back to the convoy. After planning up to periscope depth, large columns of smoke were observed in the area of the torpedo attack. A RUFE aircraft sighted the periscope and the destroyer and escorts reversed course and raced toward Bonefish.

Going deep the attackers were evaded and the torpedo tubes were reloaded. Repairs were made to electrical circuits, radar, pit log and the leaking hull fittings. Again planning up to periscope depth, none of the enemy was in sight. Surfacing at 1929, the Officer-of-the-Deck and lookouts scrambled to the bridge.

The overcast, black tropical night was turned into daylight when a patrol plane dropped a flare. The Bonefish set a record crash diving. On each of the next three days during inclement weather enemy aircraft forced Bonefish to make emergency dives. And not one enemy ship was encountered. On 9 February patrolling off the mouth ofKamranhBay, a convoy was sighted through the periscope, lifting the crew’s soggy spirits.

The attack approach was laborious because of fog, rain and heavy seas. The convoy consisted of a 15,000-ton tanker, a large troop and cargo ship, four medium size cargo carriers, a Sigure Class Destroyer and five escort vessels.

The destroyer patrolled on a zigzag course well out to seaward and the escorts were ahead and behind the convoy. A RUFE aircraft circled over the convoy as Bonefish closed the range to the tanker. Rigging for depth charge, all torpedo tubes were made ready. The loudly knocking trim pump had to be run to maintain depth control. The tanker was at 3,000 yards when the pinging destroyer belched black smoke

An with a burst of speed charged Bonefish. A spread of six torpedoes was fired from the forward tubes at the tanker. One torpedo refused to leave the tube. The apprehensive crew knew the extreme danger of being caught in shallow water by the offended destroyer. At 1331 the first depth charge slammed the Bonefish, showering the crew with paint chips.

The destroyer’s propellers churned the sea furiously above the Bonefish. Four more depth charges forcefully shook the submarine. The next four depth charges exploded astern as the Bonefish made quick turns to evade the angry enemy. Three more escorts like hungry dingo dogs joined the attack.

The attackers were relentless from 1336 until 1355 while Bonefish strived to reach deep water. One to four depth charges were dropped during each of the fifteen attacks. The twenty-nine depth charges sprang leaks, exploded light bulbs and continued to spray paint chips. Going deeper Bonefish ran aground in mud at 240 feet. Miraculously the submarine got free and the extended sonar wasn’t damaged. Crackling noises, dull explosions and breaking up sounds associated with a ship sinking lifted the crew’s spirits. But the next uncomfortably close depth charge caused more leaks in hull fittings. Another depth charge hammered the hull. An aerial bomb exploded astern as Bonefish reached deeper water. The destroyer’s eerie pinging faded. Slowing to one-third speed, the crew secured from battle stations, thankful that the strong hull withstood the vicious enemy mauling. The torpedo tubes were reloaded, repairs made and debris caused by the forty-nine depth charges and nine aerial bombs was cleaned up. Surfacing after sunset, none of the enemy ships were in sight. The clean air tasted sweet. Weary from depth charges and inclement weather, the crew’s zest returned four days later when a convoy was sighted.

An Asakaz Class Destroyer, two patrol boats and two RUFE aircraft escorted the two large cargo ships. The convoy slipped behindHonNaiIslandand Honnai Point preventing a torpedo attack. Later that day, 11 February, a small cargo ship not worthy of a torpedo was allowed to pass. The rain stopped. It was decided to destroy the Cape Paderan Radio Station by gunfire, even though large swells rocked the submarine.

The Radio Station was outlined by moonlight, but the rolling seas made it difficult to keep it in the gun sights. A high capacity projectile with a point detonating fuse was loaded into the 4″50-caliber gun. On the bridge the Captain ordered, “Commence FIRING.”

The foot firing mechanism malfunctioned. The Gun Captain jerked the hand-firing lanyard. It broke. Tripping the firing mechanism by hand, twelve rounds were fired. One hit and several near misses were observed while the enemy shore battery fired back. The engagement was broke off. The crew’s disappointment continued during the next seven days of patrolling. Rough seas and inclement weather prevented any attacks on enemy ships. The allotted time in the area was up. Bonefish started the long journey back toAustraliawith some torpedoes aboard.

Enemy planes and patrol craft were encountered every day in the Sula and Celebes Seas and Makassar Strait keeping the crew’s nerves frayed. Off North Watcher Island on 27 February Bonefish tried to intimidate a small patrol craft to leave her shallow water haven. The gun crew was ready, but the enemy didn’t take the bait. On the evening of 3 March LombokIslandwas sighted.

Bonefish waited until the moon had set after midnight on 4 March to make the dash through Lombok Strait. Two groups of patrol boats were sighted at about 5,000 yards on each beam. The blackness of the night allowed Bonefish to evade the enemy by passing between the groups. The crew’s spirits rose as theIndian Ocean was entered and a course was set for Fremantle. But liberty plans were abruptly halted.

The Commander Task Force 71 ordered Bonefish to refuel and take on supplies at Exmouth Gulfthen intercept the Japanese invasion fleet headed toward Western Australia.

Patrolling in the Indian Ocean, the crew’s adrenaline flowed as they prepared to attack the enemy fleet. During the five days of patrolling the only excitement was exchanging recognition signals with a U.S. Navy patrol bomber. On 12 March, Bonefish was ordered to Fremantle. The phantom fleet was discovered to be an error in intelligence. The disappointed crew shifted their thoughts to liberty. Arriving Fremantle 13 March, Bonefish had steamed 6,000 miles and spent forty-five days in enemy controlled waters.

For the aggressive torpedo and gun attacks, a star was added to the crew’s Submarine Combat Pin and to the Navy Unit Commendation Medal awarded after the first war patrol. The fatigued men read their mail, ate fresh fruit and drank gallons of fresh milk before setting a course for the well deserved two-week stay at a submarine rest camp.

Materials for this page provided by Cornelius R. (Bart) Bartholomew who commissioned the Bonefish and made four war patrols.

Fourth patrol, April – May 1944

Underway again on 13 April, Bonefish headed for the Celebes Sea and her fourth war patrol. On the 26th, she intercepted a convoy of four ships steaming along the Mindanao  coast. The submarine maneuvered into a position suitable to attack Tokiwa Maru, fired four torpedoes, and then turned to evade the escorts. Two torpedoes struck the 806-ton passenger-cargo ship amidships and aft, sinking her. The next day, Bonefish fired a spread of four torpedoes at a cargo ship headed for Davao Gulf but, in spite of three hits, failed to sink the target.

While in the Sulu Sea on 3 May, Bonefish approached a convoy but was forced to dive when an enemy plane dropped two depth bombs which exploded close aboard. The boat sustained minor damage and surfaced to make repairs, but two Japanese ships began to close in on her. Bonefish went deep once again and rigged for the depth charges which sought to destroy her, 25 in all. When her pursuers were no longer near, she left the area to cover the northern approach to Basilan Strait. She attacked a convoy in those waters on 7 May, firing four torpedoes at an escort vessel, but could not observe the results.

On 14 May, Bonefish approached a convoy which was steaming off Tawitawi in thePhilippinesand headed for Sibutu Passage. There were three tankers and three escorting destroyers in the group. She fired five torpedoes. One hit under the bridge of a tanker and another struck under the stack, enveloping the ship in smoke and flames. The destroyers converged on Bonefish for counterattack, but she escaped into the depths. Postwar records show that, while her torpedoes only damaged the tanker, they sank one of the escorting destroyers, Inazuma.

Bonefish then set course for Sibutu Passage on a reconnaissance mission. She sighted a Japanese task force consisting of three battleships, one aircraft carrier, three heavy cruisers, and one light cruiser, screened by eight destroyers. The submarine relayed the information, then continued her reconnaissance. She again sighted and reported the same task force on the 17th, this time anchored in Tawitawi Bay. Upon completing this mission, she headed forAustralia and arrived at Fremantle on 30 May.

Following is a personal account of Bonefish’s 4th War Patrol from crewmember Cornelius Russell Bartholomew:

http://www.submarinesailor.com/Boats/SS223Bonefish/SuccessFrustration.htm

SUCCESS AND FRUSTRATION
 by Cornelius Russell Bartholomew

Carrying thirteen tons of torpex loaded in twenty-four warheads attached to Mark XIV and XVIII torpedoes (new electric fish), the USS BONEFISH (SS223) entered the Celebes Sea. Four enemy convoy routes ran through the area. It was midnight, 23 April 1944 and the fourth war patrol in succession for the Captain and fifteen others. The first sighting was a dim red light. Investigation showed the light used by a fisherman. At 0706 an aircraft dove out of the clouds and forced BONEFISH to crash dive. The first of many such encounters. Surfacing thirty minutes later, interference on the new Sugar Jig (SJ) radar was interpreted as coming from anotherU.S. submarine in the area. The SJ was just one of the modifications completed during the last refit.

The USS ORION and Submarine Relief Crew 161 refitted the BONEFISH while her crew was on a well-deserved two week leave at a submarine rest camp. The new SJ and PPI radars were installed. Number one and two main engines were overhauled and the four main engine mufflers were renewed. Number four main ballast tank was converted to a fuel oil ballast tank and additional ammunition stowage was installed topside. These jobs in peacetime would have been accomplished at a Navy yard. The BONEFISH crew returned from leaves on 29 March and preparations for war patrol four started.

 

New London Submarine Base October 1944: Rear Admiral Daubin, ComSubLant, 1944 pinning BRONZE STAR on GM1C(SS) C.R. Bartholomew

Getting underway on 5 April, a routine test dive turned out to be not so routine. Water poured into the conning tower. A hole had been burned in the hull while the Relief Crew had installed the new radars. After another day in port for the patch job, the intensive training commenced. The training ended 13 April and BONEFISH departed for the assigned patrol area via Exmouth Gulf, a fuel stop on the Northwest coast of Australia.

The SJ radar broke down. Parts were ordered by radio to be delivered to Exmouth Gulf. As the fuel tanks were topped off, the radar repairs were made. BONEFISH headed north and then east toward Ombia Strait. The usual and shorter route north, Balabac Strait was mined and patrolled by many antisubmarine vessels. There were also many shore batteries on both sides of the narrow strait ready to blast any submarine that came in range. The Ombia Strait transit was uneventful. By radio, BONEFISH’s patrol area was changed to the Celebes Sea. This was greeted with enthusiasm because of her earlier good luck in that area.

In the Celebes Sea at 1050 on 1 April, smoke and then the mast of a ship was sighted by a lookout. The enemy AK, AGUN MARU, was escorted by a CHIDORI, a very effective antisubmarine ship, and six minelayers. The BONEFISH was in good position for the intercept, so she dove.

The forward torpedoes were made ready. Through the periscope the range and course of the enemy was checked. After belching a cloud of black smoke, the AK and escorts changed course and headed for the shallow coastal waters. Surfacing and using four main engines even though the mufflers on number three and four leaked exhaust gas and sprayed sparks, the chase was on.

Six loaded sea trucks heading the same direction were bypassed. It was decided they would be sunk with gunfire after sinking the AK and CHIDORI using torpedoes. Arriving at the point where the AK would have to leave shallow water, speed was slowed to one engine. Staying on the surface after sunrise and keeping the AK in sight by using the raised periscope, BONEFISH came under attack.

Barreling out of the sun, an enemy aircraft forced BONEFISH to crash dive. Later surfacing and with the watch scrambling to the bridge, two planes again forced BONEFISH to dive. After waiting an hour to surface, neither the AK nor escorts or the sea trucks could be located. That night two target blips appeared on the radar screen at 15,000 yards.

The targets were sampans and low visibility prevented sinking them by gunfire. Two days later in the afternoon, an enemy AK, MYOGI MARU, heavily laden and escorted by a subchaser was sighted heading into theSaranganiaStrait.

BONEFISH reached the Strait first and dove for the attack. The strong current in the Strait prevented BONEFISH from getting into firing position. The AK, leaving a trail of black smoke, was easy to follow. Using three engines for propulsion and one for battery charging, BONEFISH raced ahead on the surface and reached torpedo firing position. It was a black, misty night with no moonlight.

Using the electric motors because the diesel engine exhaust would give her position away, BONEFISH charged the enemy ship. Four torpedoes were fired. One blew an escort out of the water. A second burst under the AK. Turning sharply, BONEFISH sped way while the two remaining sub chasers dropped depth charges at random. The AK disappeared from the radar screen indicating it had sunk. Exploding depth charges could be heard astern as the torpedo tubes were reloaded. After midnight BONEFISH returned to theSaranganiaStraitsouth ofMindoroIslandin the northern part of theCelebes Sea.

That night an enemy patrol boat was avoided. Before sunrise the 4,468-ton HEITO MARU fully loaded, making thirteen knots and escorted by a depth charge carrying minelayer, came into the area. The enemy’s high speed made it impossible for the BONEFISH to get into optimum torpedo range. At 3,800 yards four torpedoes were fired.

The first torpedo ran erratic leaving a trail of smoke alerting the minelayer. The minelayer dashed toward BONEFISH forcing her to dive. Three torpedo hits were heard as the angry minelayer passed over the BONEFISH.

Two heavy depth charges set to explode deep rattled the hull. A third depth charge shook the stern. Several aerial bombs followed. Evasive maneuvers were successful. The torpedo tubes were reloaded. Ten hours later with no aircraft in sight, BONEFISH surfaced and continued her hunt for torpedo or gun targets.

Enemy aircraft played hide and seek with BONEFISH on 28, 29 and 30 April. She was up and down like a roller coaster. At 2016 on 30 April, three enemy ships appeared on the SJ radar screen. They were at 15,000 yards.

Because of the dark land background and rain, the ships could not be identified from the bridge. Flashes of lightning and short periods of moonlight between squalls did not help. While waiting for the moon to set, BONEFISH maneuvered into torpedo attack position. Shortly after midnight, the hunter became the hunted.

Peering through binoculars, the bridge crew saw what they believed could be gun flashes from the enemy ships. Projectiles plopping in the water, some exploding, around BONEFISH made the bridge crew realize they were under fire. A convenient rain cloud allowed her to hide. After moonset, BONEFISH dove and waited. The three ships were sub-chasers making a sweep to clear the area of submarines. Rigged for silent running, BONEFISH was not detected as the sub-chasers passed overhead. After surfacing, BONEFISH was ordered by radio to patrol theSulu Sea.

Twice on 2 May BONEFISH was forced to crash dive by enemy air patrols. That evening she entered the Sibutu Passage. A gun firing PT boat chased her. Using four engines and reversing course, she left the Passage and the PT boat behind. After moonset, BONEFISH submerged at the north entrance of the Sibutu Passage. Taking advantage of the two and a half-knot current pushing her, she avoided the many patrol boats wandering back and forth. Surfacing she headed for the convoy lanes in theSulu Sea.

Air patrols were numerous and many crash dives were made. On 4 May at 0710, surfacing from a forced dive, smoke from three ships was sighted. While racing to get into torpedo firing position, an enemy aircraft came screaming out of a cloud catching BONEFISH by surprise.

The emergency dive took her to two hundred feet and no aerial bombs exploded. It was decided the plane hadn’t detected her. BONEFISH planned up to periscope depth. As the periscope broke the water’s surface, one aerial bomb violently shook the conning tower. While going deep, the second bomb jolted the hull. Leveling off at 250 feet, a check was made for damage.

Internal paint chips and other damage put number two periscope out of commission. Number one was out of collimation and could only be used with great effort. The radio antenna trunk was flooded. The main hydraulic system was out of commission. That made hand steering and operation of the bow and stern planes tiring. Many rivets and bolts on the bulkhead stiffeners had been sheared. Broken light bulbs, dishes, cork and paint chips were scattered throughout. While cleaning up, light fast screws and echo ranging, the sign of an enemy destroyer, was picked up on sonar.

The destroyers started dropping depth charges at 0830 AM. Twenty-five heavy charges set to explode deep bounced BONEFISH around. A wicked salvo of eleven shook the hull before evasive maneuvers were successful. The attacker’s propellers sounds faded. BONEFISH came up to periscope depth for a look. The enemy ships were seen disappearing behindPangutaranIsland. A RUFE aircraft-patrolling overhead kept BONEFISH submerged until 1754. Upon surfacing, more damage was discovered.

The searchlight was demolished. The glass cover to the bridge gyro repeater was smashed and the instrument flooded. The bridge talkback system wouldn’t work and some bridge superstructure plating were badly warped. The next two days was spent dodging sub-chasers. On 7 May, the USS FLASHER (SS249) radioed BONEFISH that a MARU was entering her patrol area.

The MARU turned out to be a well-marked enemy hospital ship. Later that day sonar picked up echo ranging indicating an escorted convoy was in the area. The convoy was identified as a 8,800-ton AP, a smaller AK, three sub- chasers and a CHIDORI escort doing the echo ranging. The stern torpedo tubes were made ready.

The four torpedoes parted the water, making forty-five knots. Three ran hot, straight and normal. The fourth was smoking and sighted by the crew of the CHIDORI. She charged BONEFISH while three of the torpedoes blasted holes in the AP.

BONEFISH was passing 250 feet when the first depth charges exploded over her while she hid under a thermal layer of water and reloaded the stern torpedo tubes. When the enemy left, BONEFISH surfaced. The air patrols made crash dives almost routine. During a lull in the air coverage, a thirty-ton sailboat was investigated.

Manned by a hungry Filipino crew, it carried six logs as cargo. Food and cigarettes were given to the crew. Two days later the ITUKUSIMA, a large minelayer, came into view with a TIDORI torpedo boat escort.

A submerged approach was made. Four electric torpedoes, the last in the after torpedo room, were fired. An error in the torpedo setup caused them to miss. Exploding at the end of their run, they alerted the TIDORI. It dropped four depth charges but none near BONEFISH. Later while patrolling on the surface offTawiTawiBay, a three-tanker convoy with three destroyer escorts was intercepted.

The convoy was making fourteen knots. The largest tanker, GENYO MARU, was selected to receive BONEFISH’S last six torpedoes. A destroyer, HIBIKI class, passed close ahead of BONEFISH as the convoy zigged bringing the GENYO MARU into 3,000 yards.

The forward torpedo tubes were fired. Number six tube refused to fire electrically or manually. The first Mark XIV torpedo exploded against the tanker’s bow. The second exploded under her bridge, and the third blew her stern off. The tanker was enveloped in smoke and flame. The fourth torpedo exploded under the destroyer, INAZUMA, which blew apart and sank. Down emergency was ordered as the two remaining destroyers charged in to work her over with depth charges.

The first charge shook the bull as BONEFISH was passing 200 feet. The attackers dropped twenty heavy depth charges before quitting. The crew felt, with only one defective torpedo aboard, it was time to leave the area. It wasn’t.

The crew faced their most frustrating days. After the attackers faded away, BONEFISH planned up to periscope depth. When the periscope was raised, a destroyer charged it and a circling RUFE airplane dropped two aerial bombs. The destroyer used echo ranging trying to locate BONEFISH as she ran silent and deep. No depth charges were dropped, surprising the crew. But several sets of fast screws were heard passing overhead. They were followed by slower and heavy screws indicating large ships. Risking being mauled by the destroyers, BONEFISH planed up to periscope depth. The view brought tears to the Captain’s eyes.

A large enemy task force was passing overhead. Three battleships, three heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, one aircraft carrier and eight destroyers were in the group. BONEFISH’S one defective torpedo and her 4″50 caliber deck gun were no match for the armada.

The one chance in the war to wreak havoc on the enemy fleet passed. After twenty hours and twenty-seven minutes submerged, BONEFISH surfaced and followed the task force toward Sibutu Passage.

Destroyers blocked the way through the Passage so BONEFISH headed for Doc Can Island Passage. After midnight when radio conditions were best, the sighting message was sent. BONEFISH was ordered to patrol offTawiTawiBaywhere the task force had headed.

The next five days were spent surveying the task force anchored inTawiTawiBay. More ships arrived to join the task force. Enemy air patrols were seen with every periscope look. Destroyers made racetrack shaped patrols outside the Bay and dropped a depth charge at each turn. AU.S.submarine with a full load of torpedoes relieved BONEFISH on 21 May 1944.

BONEFISH crossed the equator heading south on 23 May. Enemy aircraft were sighted daily until theIndian Oceanwas entered. She arrived at Fremantle on 30 May 1944. The Captain and fifteen others who had been aboard since the commissioning were transferred to new construction in the

States or to submarine relief crews. Five successful attacks had been made. BONEFISH had been on the receiving end of over eighty depth charges and fifty aerial bombs. The successful patrol earned another star for the Submarine Combat Pin and the Navy Unit Citation.

Under a new Skipper, BONEFISH continued her aggressive attacks on the enemy. Eleven cargo ships, one destroyer, and a small intercoastal steamer have been credited to her record. She earned eight stars for the Navy Submarine Combat Pin and five stars for the Navy Unit Citation. She had two Skippers each earning three Navy Crosses, a Silver Star and Bronze Star. Other crewmembers received Silver and Bronze Stars for specific acts of bravery or service. BONEFISH and her entire crew were lost in theJapanSeaon 18 June 19,45 two years and eighteen days after commissioning atNew London,Connecticut.

Fifth patrol, June – August 1944

Under the command of LCDR Lawrence L. Edge, the submarine began her fifth war patrol on 25 June and headed again for theCelebes Sea. On 6 July, she surfaced to destroy a wooden-hulled schooner by gunfire. She then cleared the area and, the next day, engaged and destroyed another small ship with gunfire. Later that same day, the boat fired eight torpedoes at a small cargo ship, scoring several hits. On 8 July, she used her guns to touch off a blazing fire in a small, interisland steamer and, two days later, sank a sampan with gunfire.

On 29 July, Bonefish commenced tracking a large, but empty, tanker with escorts and, early the next morning, gained a favorable attack position. She fired six torpedoes and scored four hits. The target, Kokuyo Maru, immediately settled by the stern, and Bonefish headed for the traffic lanes north of Sibutu and Tawitawi. On 3 August, she damaged a tanker with one torpedo hit. She set course for Fremantle the next day, ending her patrol there on 13 August.

 

Sixth patrol, September – October 1944

With her crew refreshed and her provisions and ammunition replenished, Bonefish got underway on 5 September for theSibuyan Sea. After three days there without encountering any enemy ships, she departed those waters on 24 September. Four days later, while patrolling offMindoro, the submarine sighted a large, heavily laden tanker escorted by two destroyers. She fired all of her bow torpedoes and heard and felt the hits on the 2,068-ton Japanese ship Anjo Maru. Bonefish tracked the target whose rapidly falling speed indicated her distress until the crippled tanker’s escorts forced the boat to retire. A postwar examination of Japanese records confirmed that Anio Maru sank later that day.

During the later part of this patrol, Bonefish joined Flasher (SS-249) and Lapon (SS-260) in forming a coordinated attack group — popularly known as a wolf pack. Patrolling in the vicinity ofCapeBolinaoon 10 October, the boats attacked a convoy of cargo ships, and Bonefish scored three hits for undetermined damage. Four days later, while en route to a lifeguard station, she sank cargo ship Fushimi Maru. On 18 October, the submarine rescued two naval aviators. She departed her lifeguard station the next day, stopped at Saipan for fuel on the 27th, and continued on toPearl Harbor, where she arrived on 8 November.

FromHawaii, Bonefish continued on toSan Francisco,California, where she underwent overhaul at theBethlehemSteelSubmarineRepairBasinfrom 18 November to 13 February 1945. Then, after refresher training offMonterey,Calif., she returned toPearl Harborwhere she conducted exercises until 20 March.

 

Seventh patrol, March – May 1945

Bonefish then set sail via Guam for theEast China Seaand her seventh war patrol. Despite thorough coverage of the waters assigned her, she made few contacts and each of these was a small antisubmarine vessel. On 13 April, she attempted to sink a patrol vessel, but the target’s radical maneuvers enabled it to escape. While on lifeguard duty offKorea’s southern coast on 16 April, Bonefish rescued two Japanese aviators who had been shot down by a Navy plane. On 7 May, the submarine returned to Apra Harbor,Guam, ending a short and unsuccessful patrol.

 

Eighth patrol, May – June 1945

Upon completion of refit on 28 May, Bonefish got underway in company with Tunny (SS-282) and Skate (SS-305), as part of “Pierce’s Polecats”, commanded by Tunny’s skipper, Commander George E. Pierce. Equipped with a new mine-detecting device, the submarines were ordered to penetrate theSea of Japanto sever the last of the Japanese overseas supply lines. Bonefish successfully threaded her way through the minefields byTsushimaIslandas she transited the Korea Strait to enter the Sea of Japan for an offensive patrol off the west central coast ofHonshū.

During a rendezvous with Tunny on 16 June, Bonefish reported sinking Oshikayama Maru, a 6,892-ton cargo ship. In a second rendezvous on 18 June, she requested and received permission to conduct a daylight submerged patrol of Toyama Wan, a bay farther up theHonshūcoast. The attack group was to depart the Sea of Japan viaLa Perouse Straiton the night of 24 June. Bonefish did not make the scheduled pre-transit rendezvous. Still, Tunny waited in vain offHokkaidōuntil the 27th. On 30 July, Bonefish was presumed lost.

Japanese records reveal that the 5,488-ton cargo ship Konzan Maru was torpedoed and sunk in Toyama Wan on 19 June and that an ensuing severe counterattack by Japanese escorts, theOkinawa, CD-63, CD-75, CD-158 and CD-207, brought debris and a major oil slick to the water’s surface. There can be little doubt that Bonefish was sunk in this action.