Hellcats by Peter Sasgen

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Authors: Peter Sasgen
was likely the last submarine to make contact with the doomed ship. On August 13 the Flier struck a Japanese mine while transiting the Balabac Strait south of Palawan and sank in less than a minute. With help from Philippine guerrillas eight Flier survivors, including her skipper, were rescued by the USS Redfin (SS-272).
    Admiral Christie noted in his endorsements to the patrol report Edge submitted after his return to Fremantle that the new skipper had conducted the patrol in an aggressive and thorough manner. He concurred with Edge’s assessment of sinkings and damage: one freighter and one oiler sunk, another oiler damaged. He noted too that Edge’s report was well written and filled with operational details on Japanese antisubmarine tactics and convoy routines that would be useful to other skippers assigned to patrol the same area.
    Edge’s narrative provided Admiral Christie with an exceptionally clear and accurate picture of the action that had unfolded day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute aboard the Bonefish . Christie surely found the report, with Edge’s colorful personal observations inserted into the narrative, as lively and exciting as a fast-paced short story. For his outstanding performance, Edge received the Bronze Star, the Bonefish her fourth unit commendation.
    In an undated letter written during the long, arduous days of patrolling in enemy waters, Lawrence told Sarah in words carefully chosen to avoid censorship that he’d just concluded his first patrol as skipper of the Bonefish . He also dropped a hint that before too long the Bonefish might return to the States for an overhaul. He also explained his reasons for fighting in a war that seemed it would never end.
    Dearest, most lovely of all sweethearts, I love you, I love you, I love you....
    Again a patrol is nearly over ... there are things I want to tell you—so many that the censor will not let me tell—and most of the others just adding up to the fact that I love you two and miss you so terribly much that I can hardly bear dwelling on it.... What we are doing each day is, of course, our part in the war, be it big or small, and as such I can’t tell you. The nearest thing to a diary allowed on board is the ... patrol report.
    Just recently, I’ve read a little article in last January’s Readers Digest, a letter of an Army doctor to a friend telling ... his thoughts, feelings, and experiences during 60 days of the heaviest fighting in New Guinea. Luckily, I have not had to go through all the terrible experiences he had in that bitter jungle warfare, but much of what he says I know to be true—and none more so than his last paragraph:
    â€œBut most of all I know that the best thing on earth is the love of a man’s wife, and the sustaining strength of a man’s family at home.”
    In the last analysis, I’m sure that that is what most of us are really fighting for in our hearts—for our country, the place where our wives and families are, the place which we want to keep safe and happy for you, so that we can eventually return to you there and live the kind of life with you that both you and we believe is the best the world has yet to offer....
    As for me ... I’ve won no medals this time, certainly [his Bronze Star had not yet been awarded] . But I’m not complaining very bitterly. Our luck in many ways was very good indeed ... insofar as damage done to the enemy is concerned. Yes, it has ... earned another star for my combat pin. In fact I guess it was somewhat more successful than the last patrol I was on. And I’m not nearly as tired out or whipped down this time as last, either. In practically all respects, too, my job this time has continued to be the best one I’ve yet had in the Navy. But that doesn’t mean I won’t really be glad when this war is over and I can be with you two once more....
    Lawrence concluded with news

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