War Patrol #2

After a refit and drydocking in ARD-10, the second patrol of the Bergall, which began 2 December, 1944, is it's claim to fame. Sailing from Perth to Exmouth in the escort of USS Dace she headed to war on the 5th.   She passed through Lombok Strait late on the 8th and cleared Karimata Strait on 11 December. Altogether the Bergall made four successful patrol runs but except this one which the newspaper men later described with an abundance of Hollywood adjectives, none were truly outstanding. Here is her personal accounts by shipmates.

For the official war patrol report from Lt.Cmdr Hyde, click on Patrol Report
For a complete historical report from Anthony Tully, click on
USS Bergall vs IJN Myoko: A Tale Of Two Cripples.


Late afternoon, December 13, 1944.

About 6 pm, Radarman Nishan Derderian reports two large contacts on the radar, range approximately 20 miles, bearing 105 degrees True.   Lieutenant James Nickerson later sights two masts steaming towards Royalist Bank off the southern coast of Indo-China. Coastal waters (approximately 10 to 14 fathoms deep with several 6 fathom spots).   The Bergall was near Pulo Obi, on her way to lay mines along the coast.

"When the targets put on speed and gained ahead of the submarine, Bergall surfaced and bent on four-engine speed to make and "end-around" on the surface vessel by nightfall. But the targets passed into the shallow coastal waters before attack range was closed. The water was so shallow that the Bergall was unable to reach a position ahead for a submerged attack. Though the sea was glossy-clear, it was a moonless night - one factor in the submarines favor. The primary target was identified as a cruiser (CA). Soon it developed that the primary target's company was either a destroyer or another cruiser."  During the two hours of daylight remaining it was not possible to close sufficiently to identify the target, and it was 2015 and dark before Lieutenant Commander Ben Jarvis identified one of the ships as a heavy cruiser.  

Intelligence later ascertained that both ships were CA's (later corrected to show the heavy cruiser as IJN Myoko and the destroyer IJN Ushio), but during the period of attack the greater range of the leading ship made it appear much smaller than the second - the one attacked.  Throughout much of the approach enemy interference was visible on the radar, but not till just before firing was there any evidence that the Japanese were aware of the presence of an enemy.

Balancing the risk against a success, Commander John M. Hyde made his decision "to make our attack on the surface like a PT boat." Bergall raced forward on the starlit surface. At some 3,000 yards, a minute or two before the perfect firing position was reached, she sent six bow torpedoes spinning towards overlapping targets. The torpedoes were let go a little early because the two ships began signaling, probably aware at last of the enemy submarine. At 2038 she completed firing and turned away. at 2040 a tremendous flaming explosion so great that it could have resulted only from a direct hit in the cruiser's magazine split the Jap warship asunder just aft of the bridge, ripping the  Japanese cruiser IJN Myoko completely in half.

Commander Hyde observed: "The explosion forced the two ends of the ship apart so that there were two huge fires which after ten minutes, were about 1,000 yards apart. Radar now had three pips instead of two. The stern section of the target had a definite down angle toward it's newly acquired bow. The bridge structure was completely demolished and was not seen after the explosion although the other parts of the hull were seen. The bow section had a decided up angle... The escort made no effort to chase us but stopped abeam of the target while we opened range to 10,000 yards to reload forward."

The Bergall turned away from the ships and started a reload of her forward tubes for another attack.   The flames from the crippled Myoko continued to grow as the Bergall was finishing her reload.

As Bergall had fired at overlapping targets and had not been pursued, it was reasoned that the second enemy warship had been damaged. At 2100 Captain Hyde made his decision to attack the second warship.   In their endorsements on the Bergall's second war patrol report , both the Squadron Commander and Admiral Christie, Commander Submarines Seventh Fleet, emphasized that fact that Commander Hyde made his decision to renew the attack in full knowledge that he was in water where he could not dive, that he would approach a ship fully alerted and far superior to his own in armament, speed and armor, and that his only advantage was that he knew where his enemy was and the enemy did not exactly know his position,   He did not have even this advantage.   While the helmsman still had the rudder on that was turning the Bergall back toward the enemy, a new series of flashes were seen that Lieutenant Commander Jarvis correctly identified as gunfire. Two close 8" salvos followed immediately, and the Japs, who had been so lax as watch-standers, proved themselves accurate fire-controllmen. At 10,000 yards range the first missing astern less than 100 feet (so close that it's explosion tripped out the submarine propulsion!) The other pierced her forward torpedo loading hatch, tearing a five square foot hole in the starboard pressure hull near the waterline. Donald Small was in the starboard torpedo well almost beneath the loading hatch when the shell hit. "If it had of been an exploding shell, I and lots of others would have been history. As it was, I think one of the things that saved me was that there was lots and lots of laundry stuffed up in that area that caught on fire but muffled the blast. Howard Waggner was astraddle the hatch to the ward room with one leg in the forward room and one in the ward room. He was unable to help with the torpedo loading due to an infected finger. He had just moved away when the shell hit. Afterwards we saw a hole in the step deckplate where a piece of steel had gone thru. If Howard had been there, it would have taken off his leg." George Marquis recalled, "There were two bunks in the rear overhead of the forward torpedo room just inside the hatch to the Officers Quarters. These bunks were for the two black Officer Mess Stewards. Just underneath these bunks was where I was standing, reloading torpedoes when we took the 8-inch shell. A lot of shrapnel and shit from the shell landed in these two bunks. There were also air and water lines and electric lines spurting all over. It was quite a mess and we used a lot of mattresses to plug holes both incoming and outgoing. The Mess Stewards weren't in their bunks and this probably saved their lives."   At this moment the Bergall was 2,000 miles from Lombok, pursued (she thought) by a perfectly healthy and angry destroyer or light cruiser, with no way other than inertia, damaged to an unknown degree, at least one fire in one compartment and with several bad air leaks.

A searchlight swept the submarine's section of the sea but failed to steady on her as she turned away at four-engine speed. A second salvo landed a few hundred yards to starboard as Bergall raced away from the scene "determined to put as much distance as possible between us and the scene of action by daybreak, nine hours away."   All hands went to their tasks and there was not known to be any case of panic, shirking of duty or any refusal to go beyond the call of duty.   The five inch deck gun was manned; Lieutenant Commander Jarvis, Prospective Commanding Officer and Lieutenant Ison, Executive Officer, led the efforts at damage control, Chief Torpedoman Ken Cost, leading man in the damaged compartment got an accurate concise report of the damage to the bridge within thirty seconds of the shell hit.   Seaman H. H. Wilson was at that time already battling the electrical fires.   Motor Machinists Vodopich, Bryant and J. J. Ott worked all that night and all day from sunup to sundown for the next three days in efforts to make their ship seaworthy.   The entire crew worked with will and it is perhaps wrong to mention individual cases of merit.   But at least one man, Commander Hyde and perhaps his chief support in the following days of terrible decisions, Ben Jarvis, were really indispensable and without them the thing could not have been done.

Bergall's men spent the remainder of the first night "extinguishing small electrical fires, moving sound gear and electrical motors from under the loading hatch, clearing out the compartment of debris and keeping the open ocean spray out with mattresses."

With her pressure hull holed, and unable to dive, Bergall was committed to a surface run. The following morning found the Bergall well clear of Pulo Obi with all fires and air leaks under control, and with the shell's hole somewhat closed with wooden bracing and mattresses, her danger had only just begun. She had to make passage on the surface to and through the enemy gauntlet all the way from French Indo-China, through the dangerous Karimata Strait, across the length of the Java Sea (including the well traveled air route from Soerabaya to Balikpapen) to the Lombok Strait, and on down to Australia.

Diving, a submarine's only defense against aircraft, was impossible. Being sighted by just one plane meant certain destruction. Fighting one off meant nothing; one could leave and return with several dozen. No airplane ever saw the Bergall, and the Bergall sighted only one plane; one was enough. Noon of the next day following her shell hit, the JOOD saw a Japanese plane, a Mavis, on the starboard bow. The plane never closed but while it ran down the starboard beam many a Bergallian made his peace with God, wondering if the terror in his heart showed as plainly on his face as it did on his shipmate's, and went to his battle station.

The remainder of the run was a time of much laughter (you might be laughing for the last time!) and decisions probably more urgent than those young men would ever make again. 

On the night of December 14th, the Bergall informed CTF 71 of her plight and became the personal worry of the entire task force, because her skipper did not transmit again until he was south of Lombok and out of danger.   Meanwhile, Operations in Perth went frantic and the Bergall's sisters at sea waited and hoped.   The first message from Admiral Christie directed the Bergall to proceed to Northern Natuna, rendezvous with three other submarines and scuttle in deep water. The Bergall decided to keep moving in the other direction, toward Perth.   This was no easy decision to make; and only one man, John Hyde, bore all the responsibility.   Meanwhile messages kept coming from CTF 71 when the submarines sent to rendezvous with the Bergall reported no contact.   Commander Hyde was sometimes as disturbed over the prospects of the Admiral's wrath as he was over the possibility of contact with an enemy plane.

Message sent by Commander, Submarines Pacific Fleet, 17 December, 1944, 1216.
Action Bergall, Angler, Paddle, Bashaw.
Hyde, we think your silence means you are making repairs. First consideration is save your people. If you can make twelve knots in moderate sea and consider it prudent, proceed with Paddle through dangerous ground to vicinity of Jackson Atoll via Amnoyna Cay Allison Reef Union Banks. Will arrange air escort to relieve Paddle from Jackson to friendly forces in South Mindoro. Otherwise transfer crew to Angler or Paddle thence to Bashaw and destroy Bergall in deep water. Bashaw return to Perth. Angle, Paddle resume patrol

Message sent by Commander, Submarines Pacific Fleet, 17 December, 1944, 1222.
Action Bergall.
Your operation orders may be of assistance. Latest dope directs course change to Starboard instead of Port as therein stated.

Message sent by USS Paddle to Commander, Submarines Pacific Fleet, 17 December, 1944, 1700.
Action Bashaw. Information Paddle, Angler, Bergall.
Here is the picture as we see it. Bergall is in trouble. Others mentioned assisting or endeavoring to assist. Certain instructions and Directives have been issued by us in serials 30 and 37. What is going on? Nickols, make it feasible for either you or Angler to open up and tell us what you know.

Message sent by Bershaw.
Situation to date:
Paddle here since two hours, sixteenth. Tried unsuccessfully communicate Bergall in transit. Attempted blinker light communication one mile off north coast that night. Searched north during daylight and north coast late afternoon, sixteenth. No contact or response. Bashaw here since seventeenth, searched north and west of north Natuna last night and north-west coast today. Nothing seen. No contact with Angler by either Paddle or Bashaw. No radio till now to avoid indication activity.
Bashaw 4. Fuel 32,000
The Bergall continued her limp toward home racing from one squall line to another to avoid enemy aircraft contact.

The captain, having decided to not scuttle her, asked for volunteers for a skeleton crew. The first vote returned almost no volunteers.   The idea of running the Karimata Strait and then the famous Lombok strait on the surface was thought just short of insane. Another vote was taken but still returned with too few to man the sub.   The Commander got on the MC1 and asked that another vote be cast.   This returned almost enough to continue the run so there was a skeleton crew drawn up from the volunteers and once shifts and assignments were decided there was still a few more men required and these were assigned by the commander from the remaining crew.   

On the fifteenth, at 1100, The USS Angler was sighted heading north on four engines to give whatever aid was possible.   After uniting with the Angler and unloading excess personnel, the Bergall limped home with her skeleton crew of eight officers and 21 men. Not being able to dive, and having to run Lombok Strait on the surface was a daunting reality for all on board. Hyde told the Angler (who would trail the Bergall home) to not assist the Bergall if she came under attack. "Save your boat and the rest of my men."

The Bergall now started the most critical portion of her voyage with eight officers and twenty enlisted men standing watch.   One man alone was too  weighted with the responsibility upon him to enjoy the cruise as his cruise did.   Commander Hyde said little and slept fitfully.   Occasionally he would show his customary joviality but mostly he was plainly worried and badly in need of sleep.   He planned his run expertly and with great care with consideration for weather and plane routes and his large knowledge of Japanese tactics.   Through the Strait of Lombok, the last test, he took the deck himself and not till he reached the safety of the Indian Ocean did he slump forward on his arm and sleep on the bridge where he sat.   Half an hour later two of his officers led him to his cabin where he slept soundly for the first night in five.  

It was a proud crew that waved greetings to the sailors who waited for them in Fremantle. The crew affected a note of carelessness, and when asked about their adventure they were sufficiently modest-but when no one asked they were disappointed and asked each other.
Admiral Christie told them he was proud to stand on the deck of their ship and they were flattered.   Everyone was good to them and they appreciated all of it.   Mostly though, they appreciated the forty gallons of ice cream and the mail that was waiting for them and these they had always.  

Message sent by Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet, 25 December, 1944.
Three cheers, Johnny Hyde, Officers and crew of the Bergall. Your safe return nothing short of miraculous. All hands say welcome back.

Message sent by Commander, Task Force Seventy-One, 26 December, 1944, 0739.
Following attack, 13th, in Position_____ Bergall saw forward half of the cruiser sink and left the other half sinking and enveloped in flames. Second cruiser damaged, dead in the water. Straddled Bergall from 9,000 yards on first two gun salvo of eight inch gun as Bergall was commencing second attack. One flat trajectory hit through forward loading truck knocked off hatch but did not explode. No injuries to personnel. Torpedo room deck plates brazed in ragged hole. Mattress, caulking plus escape hatch held in place with chain fall. Fairly dry in seaway but unable to dive. Angler escorted on surface run to Typewriter via Sultan, Eyesplice, Hogcaller. No ship or plane contacts. "Brought Bergall back,", say Hyde, because, "Too much ship to throw away for one small hole." Attack and subsequent return Bergall is one of wars great achievements.

From: The Commander Submarine Squadron Twenty-Six
To: The Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet
Via: (1) The Commander Submarines, Seventh Fleet
(2) The Commander Seventh Fleet

1. The second war patrol of the U.S.S. Bergall was of 21 days duration, 9 of which were spent north of the Malay Barrier. One enemy contact was made which resulted in a successful torpedo attack. Damage from enemy gunfire following this attack forces Bergall to return to port. One special mission assignment was not completed due to this damage.

2. Following a two and one half hour surface chase Bergall, in a night surface radar attack, fired 6 bow tubes at a Tone or Atago class cruiser and an overlapping unidentified cruiser. Two torpedoes were seen and heard to hit the near cruiser, the resulting explosion and blinding flame prevented observation of the results of the other torpedoes. The near cruiser was broken in half and the forward section sank: when last observed the after section was burning furiously and apparently in a sinking condition. After opening range for a torpedo reload Bergall commenced an approach on the second cruiser which had stopped after the first attack and was then dead in the water. At a range of 9,000 yards this cruiser fired three salvos of two rounds each: Bergall was hit through the forward torpedo loading trunk by an estimated eight-inch shell of the first salvo and retired. The fact that this cruiser was stopped and did not follow up her offensive action indicates that she was probably damaged.

3. With his pressure hull holed and unable to dive, the Commanding Officer made a rendezvous with U.S.S. Angler and transferred all personnel not vital to handling the ship. After making such temporary repairs as were possible, with eight officers and 21 men aboard, by brilliant planning and skillfully taking advantage of weather conditions, he succeeded in returning from the heart of enemy controlled waters undetected without further damage. Fortunately, there were no injuries to personnel.

4. The Squadron Commander congratulates the Commanding Officer, officers and crew of the U.S.S. Bergall, not only for the considerable damage inflicted on the enemy but on the magnificent achievement of bringing their damaged ship back. The decision to attempt this in view of expected enemy opposition reflects credit on an intrepid Commanding Officer and a fighting ship. All hands will bend every effort to get this stout-hearted crew back on the firing line as soon as possible.
L. J. Huffman

SS320/A15/P15/Nm U. S. S. BERGALL (SS320)
Care of Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, California
Serial ( 0122 ) Fleet Post Office,
San Francisco, California.
8 January 1945.

From: Commanding Officer.
To: The Task Force Board Of Awards.
via: (1) Commander Submarine Division TWO-SIXTY-TWO
(2) Commander Submarine Squadron TWENTY-SIX

Subject: Recommendations for Awards to Certain Personnel -
U.S.S. BERGALL Second War Patrol,

Reference: (a) Comsubpac Conf. Ltr. #6-44, serial. 01411,
dated 15 July 1944.

Enclosures: (N) List of Skeleton Crew and Officers Recommended
for Navy and Marine Corps Medal.

1. The commanding officer has been recommended for the Navy Cross for his performance of duty as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Bergall during her second war patrol, and for the Legion of Merit in recognition of his success in bringing back his severely damaged submarine from enemy controlled waters. No previous awards have been made to personnel of the U.S.S. Bergall as a result of this patrol.

5. In recognition of their voluntary act of heroism the officers and man of the skeleton crew as listed in Enclosure (N) are recommended for the Navy and Marine Corps Medal with the following citation: ---

"For heroism in the face of considerable danger as a member of the skeleton crew of the U.S.S. Bergall during her second war patrol. You voluntarily risked your life In manning your severely damaged submarine through fifteen hundred miles of enemy controlled waters under constant threat of land, sea and air attacks and under the most arduous conditions of watch standing. Your heroism made it possible for the commanding officer to save his ship from destruction or capture by the enemy."

/s/ J. M. HYDE
Commander, U.S. Navy,
Certified to be a true copy Commanding Officer.
of paragraphs and enclosure
taken from basic letter W.H.F. Wahlin, Lieut.CMDR., U.S. Navy

Message sent by Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, Washington, D.C.
My dear Hyde,
Only this morning there came to my desk a copy of your action report covering the patrol for which you are preparing when I visited your ship in November. I had, of course, heard something of your exploits, but it was not until today that I had a full appreciation of the magnificent job that you did. I count it a high privilege to have seen at close range, the ship, the officers, and men who set up such a record.
With best wishes for further good hunting and my congratulations to you, I am
G. F. Hussey, Jr., Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

External damage and trajectory of 8" shell. Photo taken just as she was pulling into port

The IJN Myoko was a Heavy Cruiser, built in 1929 and later modified for the war effort. As originally built her specification were; displacement: 14,980 tons, dimensions: 661' 9" x 68' x 20' 9", speed: 34 knots, armament: 10 x 8"/50, 8 x 5"/40 DP, up to 52 x 25mm AA, 8 x 24" TT, crew: 773. IJN MYOKO had been torpedoed earlier in the Leyte Gulf and then again by BERGALL during this patrol, but she survived and was laid up (beached), unrepaired, at Singapore for the remainder of the war where she was used as an anti-aircraft platform. She was scuttled in the Malacca Straits 8 July 1946.

The IJN Ushio was a Destroyer of the Fubuki class.
This ship revolutionized the way navies viewed the destroyer. When Fubuki appeared in 1928, she was the first destroyer in the world to feature power-worked, weatherproof dual 5" mounts, and torpedo reloads. At that time, she was hands-down the most powerful warship of her size anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, the design was also structurally suspect (a common flaw in Japanese warships of this era) as a result of trying to cram too much weaponry into too small a displacement. Subsequent rebuilds remedied this problem, but at the cost of slightly reduced speed and torpedo reload capability.
Ships in this class: Shirayuki, Hatsuyuki, Miyuki, Murakumo, Shinonome, Usugumo, Shirakumo, Isonami, Uranami, Shikinami, Asagiri, Yugiri, Amagiri, Sagiri, Oboro, Akebono, Sazanami, Ushio.
Year(s) Class Members Completed: 1928-1931, Displacement: 2,090 tons, Dimensions: 378' 3" x 34' 0" x 10' 6", Speed: 38 knots, Armament (when first built): 6 x 5"/50 DP, up to 22 x 25mm AA, up to 10 x 13mm AA, 9 x 24" TT, 36 DCs, Crew: 197

(From personal accounts by shipmates)

Commander Hyde received the Navy Cross, Ben Jarvis and two other officers received the Silver Star and several other officers received the Bronze Star for this patrol.

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to John Milton Hyde, Commander, U.S. Navy, for gallantry and intrepidity and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. BERGALL (SS-320), on the SECOND War Patrol of that submarine during the period 2 December to 23 December 1944, in enemy controlled waters of the South China Sea. Through his experience and sound judgment Commander Hyde brought his ship safely back to port. His conduct throughout was an inspiration to his officers and men and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


Lieutenant Commander Ben Jarvis left to go on and command the USS Baya where he earned HIS Navy Cross...
The Navy Cross is presented to Benjamin C. Jarvis, Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism in action in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer, U.S.S. BAYA (SS-318) during her Fourth War Patrol, in enemy-controlled waters from 20 April 1945 to 18 May 1945. His night surface attack, on 2 May against a convoy closely guarded by two wily radar equipped escorts was one of the outstanding attacks of this war. It was particularly noteworthy in that the Commanding Officer pressed home this attack in only seven fathoms of water, knowing from the start that submerged escape was impossible. The escorts detected BAYA and successfully maneuvered the convoy to avoid the torpedoes. With the range closed to 900 yards, BAYA changed course just in time to prevent ramming; and by the time the range was 1100 yards she was engulfed in a stream of 4.7", 40-mm., and 20-mm. fire. After eighteen minutes of this bombardment, during which BAYA was illuminated, for a time, by searchlights, she miraculously escaped. For 24 hours BAYA pursued her prey until a second attack was frustrated. The courage, daring, and skill of this fighting team was again demonstrated when the Commanding Officer completely destroyed an entire convoy of two freighters and an escorting minelayer. This attack was also consummated in water too shallow for submergence and was beautifully executed. BAYA also performed valuable life guard service in support of air strikes over SIAGON. The heroism displayed by the Commanding Officer, throughout these particularly dangerous attacks, was truly great and indicative of the splendid fighting spirit of our armed forces. His conduct throughout was an inspiration to the officers and men under his command and in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States.

On to War Patrol #3
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