Day by Day

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Speaking of war atrocities...

...behold the story of the submarine boat USS Wahoo, December 1942:

At this point, Morton's actions became somewhat controversial. He surfaced to recharge batteries, at the same time going after the surviving troops from the transport (Buyo Maru) with gunfire. Unfortunately, most of the troops in the water were actually Indian prisoners of war, along with a number of Japanese garrison troops. A total of 195 Indians were killed, along with 87 Japanese—this includes those killed in the torpedo attack and sinking—out of 1,126 men aboard. It should be noted that, contrary to some reports, O'Kane related that Morton actually ordered the boats to be sunk, but did not order the deliberate shooting of survivors.

Morton's actions were not generally condemned at the time. It was presumed that combat troops remained legitimate targets as long as they were in a position to resist, were actively doing so, and were likely to be able to resume the fight. In a sinking close to enemy held islands, leaving the boats intact would arguably have meant the troops would be able to do just that. Also, it was reported that the Japanese were shooting at Wahoo.
SS-238, U.S.S. Wahoo

The italics are mine.

I don't know. When in battle, isn't it "Just Win, Baby"?

More from the Wahoo:

Made numerous approaches on the tanker first, as he was not firing at us. Even attempted backing in at full speed, but the ship would not answer her rudder quickly enough. After an hour and a half was able to diagnose their tactics. Closed in on tanker from directly astern, when they zigged to the right we held our course and speed. When they zigged back to the left we were on parallel course at 2000 yards range. Converged a little on the tankers port beam, then twisted left with full rudder and power. He thus gave us a stern tube shot, range 1850 yards on a 90 degree port track. At 2025 fired two torpedoes at tanker the second hitting him just abaft of his midships breaking his back. He went down in the middle almost instantly.
Having torpedoes only in her stern tubes, they backed in at full speed to try to get a shot off.


Our "gun-club" could take a lesson from their powder manufacturers. It was truly flashless, a glow about the intensity of a dimmed flash-light being the only indication that a projectile was on its way. It is somewhat disconcerting when a splash is the first indication you are being fired upon.
God Almighty.

U.S.S. Wahoo, Third Patrol, report of

UPDATE: Here you can read more about "The Gun Action", where survivors from the sinking of the Japanese Transport BUYO MARU came under fire from the Wahoo. The auther includes commentary about the ethics of machine gunning survivors.

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