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War Patrol #3

For the official war patrol report from Lt.Cmdr Hyde, click on Patrol Report

The loading hatch and hull damage was repaired from the damages incurred from the second war patrol and on 19 January, 1945 the Bergall headed to sea with an important special assignment and an important passenger, Captain Philip G. Nichols (Admiral Christie's former chief of staff).   This was Nichols' fourth war patrol and the 10th for Commander Hyde.   She was being sent north to the Lombok Strait to clear it of enemy patrol boats.   On her return run of her second patrol, enemy patrol boats had tried to catch her but she made it through the narrow pass, having had to make the run on the surface as she returned from her second patrol, holed above the waterline and unable to submerge, she relished the idea of  returning with an effective weapon to "pay back" the courtesy.   As this was a primary path for the Australian subs into the South China Sea, the Strait was an important area to clear.   With only 6 miles separating the islands of Bali and Lombok, this was a real bottleneck.   Add to that a typical tidal current of 6 to 8 knots, you couldn't navigate through submerged until the current changed.   Now, the Bergall was outfitted with a new type torpedo that was capable of dealing with the smaller and pesky enemy patrol craft that had such a shallow draft that the typical torpedo ran under them ineffectively.

On the 24th, as she was nearing Lombok when the SJ radar cut out!   Lack of the SJ would severely limit the Bergall's ability to see distant targets and her mission would be compromised (a nice way of saying they were going into a gauntlet blindfolded!).   It was RT1 Nishan Derderian who made an ingenious use of odds and ends aboard and made up a replacement power pack for the transmitter and put the radar back on line on the 25th.   On the 26th, the Bergall entered the Lombok Strait.

Their assignment: clean out Lombok Strait and bring back one or two prisoners who might give information on worthwhile air raid targets in the vicinity.   This meant they were to go where no submarine had ever done anything previously but make a dash through at high speed and battle stations.   It's believed that Admiral Christie gave the Bergall (Commander Hyde) this assignment as reward for her harrowing passage at the end of her previous patrol.   Although there were still shore batteries to contend with, clearing Lombok Strait of patrol boats would ease the passage for all allied submarines coming through this narrow passage.

They worked through Lombok to the north and came back through again to the south; no contacts.   These were the first two passages of Lombok which the Bergall had made without any contacts, but she was not to wait much longer.   At 0305 on the 27th the Bergall sighted a patrol craft (PC) of about 140 tons, tracked it and sank it using the Mark 27 torpedo (The 174 ton, Japanese Coastal Minesweeper # 102 sank at 8d-37'S, 115d-39'E.   This was the auxiliary minesweeper Wa-102 (ex-Dutch Fakfek)).   The Bergall was one of the first submarines to deploy the Mark 27 Torpedo, electric, passive acoustic homing torpedo, also known as a "Cutie" in active military use.   "We were submerged and going all ahead 1/3 when we should have been dead in the water.   Our first firing was the homesick kind.   I was in the forward torpedo room when we fired from there.   The JP sound man sat in a corner of this room, tracking it.   All of a sudden he flipped his intercom to the control room and said "Jesus Christ, Captain that thing is following us".   We just went to all stop and threw the rudder over to miss it.   It then went on up and got the steamer." (George Marquis)

She surfaced.  Radar sighted a Patrol Craft (PC) at 4,000 yards  but the gun crew, at deck level, in the dark of night, couldn't see it so they decided to stay clear until later when there was more light.   At 5:20 the PC had cleared the area and radar contact had been lost on it but they sighted the wreckage from the earlier torpedo action and sighting a life boat, they fired one pan of 20mm to sink it.   A couple men from the bottom of the boat jumped over the side and the Bergall picked up the two survivors, stripped them topside and made them prisoners of war.    She submerged and aimed for the southern end of the strait to deliver the prisoners to the life guard station but by 13:30 she found herself still bucking a 5 knot current which, in essence, was driving her backward (Underwater speed was normally about 3 knots whereas her surface speed, on diesels, was about 18.).   She reversed course to go with the current back to the northern approach to the Strait where she surfaced and waited for the tide to turn.   At 20:30 she headed back south to deliver the prisoners.    

At 0145 on the 28th she sighted 3 PC's in company, the Japs seemed to have learned quickly.   The decision was made to leave them in peace and pick them off singly.   It was much too bright a night to get anywhere close to an attacking position on the surface and they could not be reached submerged.   She continued south on the surface.   The P.O.W. stated that there were four PC boats operating in Lombok (PC-102, 103, 114 and 115).  The Bergall had sank #102 and the other three were in Soerabaya for repairs, one in drydock.   He said that the bombing raids on Lombok had caused the damage.

At 0318 the same morning the port sang out, "Lightening at 270."   The JO had also seen the flashes and knew instantly where he had seen this kind of lightening before.   He turned to the OD (CDR Frank Smith, another Prospective Commanding Officer): "Frank, they're shooting at us."   Both officers saw the splash about 200 yards off the port beam and the lookout sang out, "Porpoise port beam."   The OD sheered violently to the right (though not too violently; it wouldn't pay to get too close to the other shore) and bent on four engines.   During the next five minutes (the OD later estimated the time at roughly half an hour and why the hell did the current have to pick THEN to run in the wrong direction at 15 knots?) the topside personnel watched the Japs on the Lombok coast fire single shots with great deliberation, and waited, wondering many things, for the interval of time between the gun flash and the splashes.   The Japs missed four or five times, then the range was too great.   Half an hour later at the southern end of the Strait she was able to reverse course and start the run back past their gauntlet.  

How successful the Japanese would have been a second time they never learned; daylight came and forced her to submerge and wait another nightfall.   The night was comparatively uneventful.   One escort was sighted in the moonlight.   They submerged to radar depth to avoid being spotted and set what they hoped was an intercept track it but radar lost the contact.   A few minutes later, sound reported screws almost directly off their port.   Periscope sighting spotted a small craft similar to the one they had just sank two days earlier.   With a radar range reading of about 1,500 yards to the target, the Bergall dropped to 200 feet and released another "cutie".  Without radar, TDC settings or a sound bearing, the chance of the torpedo finding it's mark was doubtful.   No explosion was heard and contact was lost.     An hour later she surfaced (4:26) and patrolled close to shore off Ampenan, Lombok (eastern side and northern end of the strait) and charged her batteries while patrolling.   Submerging at dawn, she continued her patrol with no contacts.   Surfacing again that evening at 6:45 and she commenced battery charge and surface patrol.  

As morning began on 30 January, airplanes added to the general merriment as she spotted one (a Rufe) on the horizon at 1:23.   Even on a bright night an airplane is a difficult thing to see.   They have no bulk and bulk alone is what makes a thing visible at night.   They cannot be heard above the noise of the submarine's own engines.   The first plane was not seen until it flashed a recognition signal.   Not knowing the proper Jap reply she dove, evidently quite astonishing the pilot who dropped no bombs, or, at any rate, none that exploded.   He was not so surprised upon his return and dropped several excellent shots; however in the interim, while he was recovering from the surprise and looking elsewhere, the Bergall waited an hour and then surfaced.   At 3:40 she sighted another patrol boat due south at 10,000 yards heading across the Strait.   The Bergall commenced an end-around to take advantage of the moon to their back and using the land background to get a position ahead of the boat.  She got in position, submerged to radar depth and waited.    At 0425 the separation had closed to 6,500 yards.   When sound reported the ship close enough (5:00), she dropped down to 200 feet and fired one MK-27 and the soundman heard the resulting explosion from above.   Rising to periscope depth they saw the patrol boat sink (munitions transport Arasaki (920 tons)).  Surfacing at that location she spotted another plane (a Betty) and decided to submerge at 0615 for an all day dive in the center of Lombok Strait.   Surfacing at 1910 to begin battery recharge was interrupted when, at 2304 she had to submerge to evade another Rufe.   Coming back up at midnight to continue the battery charge, she was again forced down by another aircraft on the horizon at 0140, on the 31st.    Submerging for the morning of the 31st, they patrolled the southwest coast of Lombok.   Saw enemy battery installations but couldn't confirm the gun that had fired on them earlier.    Since there were a few planes but no patrol boats and since the purpose of the Bergall's mission was not to furnish target practice for Japanese fly-fly boys she set sail for more fertile fields.   Surfacing again at 1815 she was able to commence the much delayed charge and transmitted the results of the patrol, thus far, and asked for a rendezvous with USS Bluegill to deliver prisoners and Captain Nichols.   The skipper noted in the patrol report: "Plane search during the last two nights and failure of all but one of the patrol vessels to put to sea during the last two days led me to believe the next few days would be fruitless.   New rendezvous requested would permit our reaching station two days earlier."

One of the impressions of Bali and Lombok which will remain longest with the Bergallians, even in comparison with the many thrills that the Strait afforded (which are only hinted at in the above paragraphs) is the magnificence of the sunsets.   One may travel a long way to see a sight that will match these two old and huge volcanoes, thrusting straight out of the dark blue sea, high up into the blood-orange and kaleidoscopic vermilions of the dying day-sky.   Sunsets are an overworked glory.   Frequently they are more gaudy than beautiful, but here there is a peculiarity of the atmosphere which combines with the majesty of the backdrop to produce a really fine spectacle.

The 1st of February was a series of surfacing, only to be forced to dive to evade aircraft that seemed persistent to drop a bomb on her.

After having a couple more aircraft sighting on the 2nd, she sighted USS Bream and exchanged greetings at 6:18pm and sighted USS Bluegill an hour later.   Finally, at 7:40pm she was able to rendezvous with the Bluegill and effect the transfer.   Along with one of her mess boys and the two prisoners, Captain Nichols was transferred to the Perth-bound boat, two days west of Lombok.   He left fond admirers behind him and his personality was perhaps best summed up by Lieutenant Espe Drew, who forgot himself one night and said, "Captain, you picked the right ship. You're nuts enough to fit right in with us," The Bergall proceeded northwest to her old happy hunting ground off Camranh and Varella.   By 7pm on the evening of the 3rd she had reached Discovery Rock and entered Karimata Strait.   Clearing the Strait at 5:00 on the morning of the 4th they sighted two small boats but didn't approach close enough to identify in the moonlight.   Diving from a Betty on the morning of the 5th, she resurfaced and continued her run.   She sighted two bombers at great range that showed no intent to come their way so they stayed on the surface.   Half way between the western tip of Borneo and the southern tip of Indo-China, she was heading northwest for enemy near Honnai Point.  

On 7 February, she was hailed by USS Flounder, told her their intentions and heard that USS Hake was guarding VanFong Bay with two tankers taking on stores and Flounder was heading for Hon Lon.   At 6:15 in the morning, while submerged off Hannai Point, the periscope sighted masts!   Two fleet tankers with a pair of DE's escorting them stole along the coast toward Camranh Bay.   At about 0936, six torpedoes secured three hits but it was impossible to estimate damage, since the escorts were headed right down the torpedo tracks while the Bergall was still shooting.   A vigorous four hour attack, in which the DE's maintained close contact while dropping 98 depth charges, was terminated suddenly about 1220 hours.   "In my ten patrols, I have never before felt that Jap escorts really knew where we were.  This time I felt sure they did.   Sometimes charges were dropped singly, at others seven in rapid succession and once or twice seventeen or eighteen at intervals of less than a second.   Evasion was effected by rigging in both sound heads and staying as close to the bottom as possible.   JP heard some charges dropped that did not explode.   Probably they hit bottom before reaching their set depth.   We scraped bottom several times but I believe this is what saved us because the majority of the charges sounded overhead."   (John Hyde)

Reports after the war credit the sinking on the 7th, by the USS Bergall, as the Toho Maru, tanker, records also indicated that, while Bergall had only thought she had damaged a tanker, one of her shots had sunk the 800-ton Coastal Defense Vessel No. 53.

After surfacing, the Bergall discovered - from the Flounder - that American Liberators (B 24 Bombers) had broken up the Japanese party, and that the tankers were, at least, badly damaged.   The Bergall was later credited with the sinking of the 800 ton frigate, Japanese Coast Defense Vessel # 53 (corvette Kaibokan 53) at 12d-04'N, 109d-22'E.  

The submarine remained in her patrol area until 12 February, when she received orders to rendezvous with two other submarines to form a coordinated attack group. She rendezvoused with Guitarro (SS-363) later that day, and Blower (SS-325) joined the pair early on the 13th. After that, the trio took up a patrol station off Cape Batagan, French Indochina.

The 13th of February proved another of the Bergall's big days.   The Bergall spotted a Japanese surface force composed of two battleships, a cruiser, and three destroyers just after noon.   Led by the battleships Ise and Hyuga, a small Japanese task force was making a dash from Singapore to Hainan.   This time the Japanese were clever.   Weather coverage nullified American air superiority, and radical shifts of speed prevented the Americans from ever getting their submarines into any well-formed lines.   But on the thirteenth the Bergall did get close enough to obtain a single hit on an enemy battleship and this is itself a fine feat.   She closed to 4,800 yards and fired six torpedoes before diving to escape.   The Bergall also got close enough to hear the biggest depth charges of it's career, and had the several fleet destroyers escorting the task force had time to persist in the attack this story might as easily be an obituary as history.   "I remember the Captain coming on the intercom, after the charges, saying "Those were thousand pounders."   They really jolted us up good and we had to repair some of the wooden deck strips when we got back to Perth. (George Marquis)


The Bergall had a hand in harassing the Jap fleet, but was not the only boat to make an attempt...

10 February 1945: 
The Imperial Japanese Navy "Completion Force": ISE (Battleship), HYUGA (Battleship), OYODO (Cruiser) and the destroyers KASUMI, ASASHIMO and the HATSUSHIMO sorties from Singapore. 

11 February 1945:
Lt (later Vice Admiral Sir) Hugh "Rufus" MacKenzie's submarine the HMS TANTALUS sights the "Completion Force". The TANTALUS tries an "end-around" but is bombed by an air escort and forced to go deep, unable to attack. 

13 February 1945:
At 1213, LtCdr John M. Hyde in the USS BERGALL (SS-320) picks up the "Force" in poor weather conditions off Hainan Island at 15-34N, 110-50E. Hyde, submerged on the track, cannot get closer than 4,800 yards. He fires six torpedoes at a battleship. The HATSUSHIMO spots the incoming torpedoes and gives the alarm. The ISE opens fire at the torpedoes with her AA guns and snipes one of them. The BERGALL is counter-attacked by the escorts with new, larger explosive depth-charges but escapes. 

The "Force" is also attacked the same day by LtCdr James H. Campbell in the USS BLOWER (SS-325). He fires five torpedoes at a battleship and one at the OYODO, but they all miss. 

At 1515, the "Force" comes out of a rainsquall. One of its ships launches a floatplane. LtCdr H. S. Simpson's the USS BASHAW (SS-241) is sighted on the surface. A battleship opens fire with her main armament on the submarine. One 14-inch shell comes within a mile of the BASHAW. Simpson crash-dives and breaks off his attack. 

16 February 1945:
The "Completion Force" departs Mako, Pescadores for Kure via the Korean coast and the Shimonoseki Strait. The destroyers NOKAZE and the KAMIKAZE join the escorts briefly, then detach southbound. 

LtCdr (later Captain) Benjamin E. Adams, Jr's USS RASHER (SS-269) is alerted by Ultra to the movement of the "Completion Force". At 0507, the RASHER makes radar contact south of Wenchow, China at 26-55N, 122-03E. The RASHER picks up three escorts, range nine miles, heading 030 at 18 knots. In a driving rain, Adams targets the second ship. At 1,800 yards, he fires six Mark-18 electric torpedoes, but the "Force" changes course. All six torpedoes miss. 

20 February 1945:
The "Completion Force" arrives at Kure. In all, the "Force" has escaped pursuit by 23 U.S. and Allied submarines. 


After this patrol (17 February) the Bergall rendezvoused with the escort (DE-225) and entered Subic Bay.   Many of it's crew took advantage of their chance to see how the Army operated, since at this time the Japanese still controlled a large section of Manila and all of northern Luzon.   They wandered through the native villages and made friends, collected souvenirs, and marveled at the ubiquity of Singer sewing machines and nursing mothers.   Joe Parenteau (QM3c, from Central Jersey) who designed and made all of the Bergall's battle-flags lent his talents to the cause of Philippine nationalism and designed them a flag - a Singer sewing machine and several flights of four-engined Mosquitos, in black and on white field.

An interesting side note on Joe Parenteau, QM3C, was that he had chronic seasickness.   As soon as #l line was thrown off from the pier he was sick.   He wanted to be on the sub so badly that he stood every one of his watches and spent the rest of the time in the sack.

(From personal accounts by shipmates)

On to War Patrol #4

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