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Memories of Donald C. Small

I was only 20 years old when I finished sub school in "Spritz's Navy" and assigned to the boat. I really didn't have much to do at that time so they (the comm. officer, maybe Ens. Welch) had me updating the comm manuals with NRPM's (non-registered publication memoranda). But I had other things on my mind. I was engaged to this young lady who lived in New Haven, and every chance I got I was there. It was easy getting off base because PCM's (prospective crew members) were issued what we called EB buttons, ID's that were used to get into the Electric Boat yard where the boat was being finished. You didn't need a liberty pass if you had one of these, so I'd leave base and truck to New Haven! We were married Apr 20, 1944. Incidentally, I'm still married to the same lady after 55 years! We have 4 sons and 11 grandchildren.

After leaving New London we stopped in Panama for a short time, just long enough time to check out the night life there. It was wide open. Then on to Pearl.

B.O. Todd, MoMM2c, was known universally as "Doats Todd" and his favorite tune he always sang or hummed was "Mares eat Oats, Does eat oats, and little Lambs eat ivy".

I probably had the best job on the boat during the 3rd or 4th patrol, or both. Back then we were operating in wolf packs of 3, 4 or 5 boats. When on the surface patrolling at night and charging batteries we could usually see the radar interference from another or several other boats, we were that close together. We didn't have VHF in those days and couldn't break radio silence, use signal lights. etc. So each boat rigged up the radar so that we could send Morse code by radar and the radar operator could see the radar interference on his screen and read the dots or dashes as the other boat keyed his radar. Since I was an ex-RM I could read the code and get the message from the other boat. So I stood watch all night just for this reason and was off all day when we were submerged anyway and slept.

I was good friends with the baker who made the bread at night. He would always make one more little loaf for me and you know what fresh bread is like slathered all over with butter. At 2 AM. There was usually a bridge game or 2 going every night and the same games would be going on the next morning but with different players.

One memory won't escape me... I was in a movie theater in Perth, Australia, I don't remember what the movie was about and I was probably trying to sober up anyway, during a very quiet scene in the show this shrill Aussie female pipes up "Christ, yank, don't put it in me 'and, put it in me ass. I got to eat with me 'and, you know".

My battle station during surface torpedo attack was the loading crew in the forward room. My battle station submerged was JP sound gear operator which was also in the forward torpedo room.

During our first war patrol, on the night torpedo attack off Borneo, I was the radar operator that made the contact. There was a lot of land clutter on the radar screen when two targets suddenly appeared. I checked on the chart of the area to see if I had missed something before and there was nothing on the chart, so it had to be ships. The rest is history. We sank our biggest target of the war.

Coming into port we were met by the pilot and the pilot boat always had fresh fruit and milk, and that was more important than any thing else. Then we were hustled off the the King George Hotel. There were only two things I was interested in and that was BEER and Pussy. After a few days at the hotel two others and I got on that train that took overnight to Kalgoorie. I remember one of them was Johnny Houston and the other was a cook whose name I don't remember, and we spent a week at the Railroad Hotel.    Plenty of EMU beer and I guess the pussy was plentiful but I didn't get any.    I guess you've heard about the trains in Aus. at that time had to stop every couple of hours for water and at every stop there was a bar where you filled up the train provided pitchers with warm beer to keep you going till the next stop. After two weeks of R&R (that's wrack and ruin) it's back to shake down for a week and then on to patrol #2.

On the the second patrol, when we took the 8" shell from the Jap destroyer, IJN Oshio, I remember Howard Wagner was sitting in fwd torpedo room door just before that shell hit thru the torpedo loading hatch. I was in the starboard torpedo well almost beneath the loading hatch when the thing 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 Wagner was astraddle of the hatch to the ward room with one leg in the forward room and one in the ward room. He had some infection in his hand and it was bandaged so he couldn't help but wanted to be there if needed. 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 he had been there it would have taken off his leg. I think the shell entered from the port side. The 2nd war patrol page shows the stbd. side where the shell exited.

I remember during the third patrol we had a load of "pickles" (sonic homing torpedoes) aboard and were going to sink some patrol boats in Lombok Straits. We did! But anyway some of the "fish" wouldn't respond to sonic stimulus when tested on board and the other tech (Dederian) and I went and tried to find out what the problem was. We didn't cure the problem but got to know the TM's there. I also got to know some of the EM,s in the maneuvering room and used to go and BS with them when not on watch. Let me tell you there was lots of free time for BS'ing and card playing and acey-ducey and cribbage. You couldn't sleep all the time.

Then there was the fifth patrol and the mine incident. I was standing watch on the radar and we were patrolling close to some land, maybe the coast of Java looking for anything to shoot up. We had just made a turn to port to avoid some island ahead when this tremendous explosion happened off the stern which seemed to lift the boat out of the water. All the machinery stopped, lost electrical power, hydraulics, etc. When things got on line again damage assessment indicated that things held together OK and we were not sinking. But we took off for Subic Bay to make sure. There they determined that the reduction gears were out of align and couldn't be fixed there so it was back to the States. That must have been sometime in June '45 and I suspect they knew the war wasn't going to last too much longer and wanted to get personnel home. So after a stop in Pearl and Panama we ended up at Portsmouth, NH, when the war ended in Aug.

When we coming back to the states after the 5th patrol we rigged for surface running. There was a punching bag hanging from the cigarette deck and I got pretty good using it. There was also a big net setup on the deck so that we could toss a medicine ball around. 10 or 12 would stand in a circle inside this net and that ball was big and heavy. However the net had a hole in it and one time the ball went thru the hole into the ocean. "Hey, OD, the ball went over the side". So the boat turns around to retrieve the ball and by that time the deck is lined with sailors who all jump overboard to get the ball. There we were in the middle of the Pacific ocean with a bunch of nude sailors swimming around a submarine. Everyone got back aboard OK, I guess!

After we arrived back on the east coast for repairs I had enough "points" by then (being married with child and time in service) so I was separated in Nov 45. I was 21 years old, my rate was RT2/c and length of service 2Y.-9M.

Here's my lovely wife, Rose Mary, and I at the 2001 reunion.

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