Action in the South Pacific Aboard the Crevalle

Larsen had all the facts about the Navy's submarines well in mind, and he was proud of their record.

"The sailors on submarines made up only 1.7 percent of the Navy, but we were very successful," he said. "Submarines sank 55 percent of all the Japanese boats that were destroyed. The Navy lost 52 subs during the war."

The Crevalle did its share of fighting, sinking 18 Japanese ships - four in one six-day period in June of 1945 - and disabling 11 others. While on board the Crevalle, Larsen was involved in its most famous mission.

The Crevalle rescued 40 people off an island in the Philippines, an eclectic group that included a handful of American soldiers who had been Japanese POWs, surviving the Bataan Death March. They'd escaped the POW camp, driving off in a stolen jeep, and spent two years hiding out in the jungle with the Filipino resistance. Also in the group were American and Philippine missionaries and workers from a sugar plant, some of whom had been hiding from the Japanese for three years.

With the help of Filipino fishermen, the Crevalle took 40 men, women and children aboard - along with a few chickens - and brought them to safety. The trip was not without incident. Larsen said the submarine's commander still had torpedos on board, and decided to use them against a fleet of Japanese ships they spotted. The Crevalle was discovered during the attack, and had to sit on the bottom while the Japanese tried to destroy it with depth charges, doing extensive damage. They would be depth charged one other time on the daring rescue mission.

It would later be revealed that this rescue mission was actually a cover for getting into Allied hands some important, secret Japanese war plans. The plans were discovered after the crash, during a bad storm, of two Japanese planes carrying high ranking officers. One set of plans washed ashore three days after the crash and were discovered by Filipino guerrillas. Known as Z Plan , they were the Japanese military's strategy for a decisive counterattack against American forces in the Pacific. Having access to these plans was considered one of the most important intelligence achievements of the war.

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