The USS Flier: Death and Survival on a World War II Submarine

By Michael Sturma | Go to book overview

1
The Aleutians

Lieutenant Commander John Daniel Crowley had paid his dues. Before being given command of the newly minted USS Flier, he had spent nearly two years in charge of an antiquated S-boat, popularly known in the navy as a “pigboat” or “sewer pipe.” Conditions on the S-boats were atrocious. There were no showers on board and only one head for nearly fifty crewmen. Without airconditioning, the boats accumulated an incredible stench during prolonged dives. Once the submarines surfaced, the sudden burst of oxygen could render the crew giddy. Even so, the sailors who served on S-boats took a certain pride in having the grit to withstand such discomfort for extended periods. As one writer put it, “An S-boat was a great leveling agent; all suffered equally.”1 To add to Crowley’s suffering, he was assigned to some of the most inhospitable waters in the world.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on 24 September 1908, John Crowley attended local schools before entering the U.S. Naval Academy in 1927. A classmate described Crowley’s passage through the academy as “fairly easy sailing,” and he loved sports.2 When he graduated four years later, commissioned an ensign, Crowley became part of a group renowned for its social as well as military exclusivity. Nevertheless, it was a career characterized by relatively low pay and slow advancement. Like most new graduates, Crowley served on a succession of ships, including the battle

-5-

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The USS Flier: Death and Survival on a World War II Submarine
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Prologue 1
  • 1 - The Aleutians 5
  • 2 - A New Boat 15
  • 3 - Midway 21
  • 4 - Grounded 27
  • 5 - USS Macaw 33
  • 6 - Board of Investigation 39
  • 7 - Resumed Patrol 47
  • 8 - Fremantle 57
  • 9 - Death in Thirty Seconds 65
  • 10 - Cause and Effect 73
  • 11 - Black Water 85
  • 12 - Castaways 91
  • 13 - Guerrillas 97
  • 14 - Brooke’s Point 105
  • 15 - USS Redfin 111
  • 16 - Evacuees 117
  • 17 - On Board 123
  • 18 - Fallout 129
  • 19 - Bend of the Road 135
  • 20 - Inquiry 139
  • 21 - Report Incognito 147
  • 22 - Back in the USA 153
  • 23 - Next of Kin 157
  • Epilogue 163
  • Notes 167
  • Bibliography 191
  • Index 201
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