8 JUNE TO 2 AUGUST, 1945
The Story Begins:
Upon completion of her 11th patrol, Barb was sent to Mare Island for a
yard overhaul and alterations, which included the installation of 5 in. (130
mm) rocket launchers at the Captain's request. Returning to the Pacific,
she commenced her 12th and final patrol on 8 June. 1945. This patrol was
conducted along the coasts of the Sea of Okhotsk.
For the first time in submarine warfare, Barb successfully employed
rockets, against the towns of Chiri, Hokkaido, Shikuka, Kashiho, and
Shiritori on Karafuto. She also bombarded the town of Kaihyo with her
regular armament, destroying 60 percent of the town. She next landed a
party of carefully selected crew members who blew up a railroad train.
This is notable as the only ground combat operation that took place on
the Japanese home islands during W.W. II.
Fluckey (aptly nicknamed Luckey Fluckey) was the first submarine
commander to use rockets to attack land based targets (rudimentary
rockets to be sure, but they made a big bang).
In so doing, he raised havoc all through Patience Bay in the southern
Sakhalin Island, which was Japanese homeland territory. The Japanese
began to think that this rocket shelling was prelude to an invasion of the
islands by the United States.
Finally, to put the frosting on the cake, Fluckey carefully steered the Barb
into the shallow coastal waters south of Kashiho, Patience Bay, and
launched two rubber, inflatable boats filled with 8 members of the Barb
crew who had devised a plan to blow up the railroad line that ran from
Kashiho to Otomari, a city on Aniwa Bay.
The basic idea was simple….land two rafts, plant an explosive, blow up
the rails…but the Barb wanted more…blow up the train along with the
rail. To do this, members of the crew needed to plant a 55 pound super-
torpex high explosive charge into a dug out “box” about 14 x 14 x 16
inches. Then, a device had to be constructed to ignite the charge when
the train passed over it.
Fluckey dismissed the idea of a timer mechanism since it was too
unreliable, but in conversation with crewman, Billy Hatfield (yes, a
descendant of the Hatfield/McCoy feud), the Commander learned about
and approved placement of an electrical battery wired to the charge in the
Wires from the battery's two poles would run between two rails, needing
only a “contact point” to complete the circuit and ignite the explosive.
When Fluckey asked Hatfield how they would be able to set off the
charges at the right time, Hatfield replied, “You don’t sir. The train does.”
“How?” Fluckey asked…and the answer was that the weight of the train
engine would depress the rails slightly as it passed over them. This
depression of the rails would lower them down the fraction of an inch it
took to make contact with the switch under the rail, completing the circuit
to the battery and setting off the explosive. Hatfield was the first person
selected to go ashore to blow up the train.
Fluckey then had a problem. Every man on the sub wanted to go, and he
did not want perceptions of favoritism to flow from recommendations he
might get from his officers. So, he made the decision himself using these
No married men. (except Hatfield)
All departments represented
Half regular Navy, half Naval Reserve
Half had to have been Boy Scouts, in case they were all stranded.
Fluckey then made his choices:
Lieutenant Bill Walker, big, strong, and the leader
Paul Saunders, gunner and second-in-command
John Markuson, strong and could repair anything
Lawrence Newland, cook, if stranded, he could feed them
Jim Richard, Engine Room. Fluckey called him a "born pirate"
I note that Jim was after all a descendant of Jean Lafitte.
Frank Server, signalman, who would handle communications
Ed Klinglesmith, torpedo man, big and strong
Billy Hatfield, device installer. Hatfield, a descendant
of the famous feud, knew about explosives.
After announcing the selections Fluckey “took the temperature” of the
officers and crew. There was widespread, strong, informal agreement
with his choices.
Fluckey then questioned a Japanese prisoner they had rescued from the
waters; the prisoner had begun to pick up English, and was cooperative.
He told Fluckey that the Japanese patrolled on foot, two men armed with
rifles and pistols, accompanied by a dog and passing in two hour
The crew ripped out some steel plates in the lower engine room and
fashioned them into a pick and a shovel. They would use these tools to
dig the pit.
Then, the question: what should be the gap in the “switch” which Hatfield
had described? Fluckey calculated that Japanese train engines were
smaller than American and that a “gap” of 7/10th of an inch would be
closed by the weight of the engine passing over the rails.
To be certain of an explosion, he instructed Markuson to create a switch
with gap at 3/8 inches, (half the likely needed distance), and gave orders
that Hatfield would be the one to hook it up, alone, with all other crew at
least 20 yards away and flat on the ground.
He could risk losing Hatfield (well, it was his idea), but none others.
On 21 July, 1945, Fluckey gathered his “raiding party” together for their
final instructions. Each boat would contain four men. Each boat would
have a metal tag so that radar could follow it. Different signals of voice,
bird calls and flares provided for all contingencies. Then Fluckey gave
his orders to the landing party:
“Upon beaching, Sever and Newland will guard the boats. The other six
proceed up the meadow and cross the highway to the track. At a suitable
position for planting the charge, the party will divide. Markuson will go 50
yards south on the track near the road as a guard. Klinglesmith goes 50
yards north near the road and Richard 20 yards inland if he’s not needed
Walker, Swish, and Hatfield dig under the tracks and plant the battery can
and charge. Then adjust the microswitch clearance and recall the
guards. All get well clear, flat on the ground, head turned away with eyes
closed while Hatfield makes the final hookup of the firing circuit to the
charge. Understood?” Fluckey, Thunder Below, p. 377
At midnight, 23 July 1944, the Barb floated into the bay, and stopped 900
meters out from shoreline; there were 12 feet of water under its bow. The
rafts launched without incident, but immediately found unexpected
They were separated because navigation points were obscured. The
mountains on land were obscured by clouds and their compass settings
were erratic due to magnetic interference from steel on the Barb. They
finally just used the Barb itself as a bearing while they paddled into the
The trip to shore took twice the anticipated time, but the eight men made
it quietly and safely to the beach, although "Swish" Saunder's party
landed about 50 yards from Walker’s group and near a house. Dog prints
and Japanese patrol footfalls were evident in the sand. Saunders then
hooked up with Walker’s foursome and after traversing tall, noisy
bullrushes, they found the track, about 100 yards from shoreline and
each man took on his task.
The lookouts (Richard, Markuson and Klinglesmith) went to their
positions, with Markuson ordered to look over a water tower to the south,
down the track.
Cousin Jim went inland, and thus became the American serviceman who
advanced farthest into the Japanese homeland during W.W. II.
Klinglesmith went up the track and the rest started digging.
They quickly put away the shovel and pick because the tools made too
much noise. They dug by hand for the most part and were progressing
nicely when Markuson came out of the dark, too winded and nervous to
use the bird call he was supposed to employ.
He had checked out the “water tower” and it turned out to be a lookout
tower. He had climbed it, poked his head over the ledge and saw the
guard there….fast asleep. He left him sleeping, but clearly, the area was
Then, shortly after Markuson reported, the four noticed a light coming
down the track. It was a train, less than 80 yards away. They dove in
every direction to find cover and waited.
Hatfield threw himself into a shallow foxhole and then felt two shots hit
him as the train roared on by with its engineer leaning far out of the cab
looking at them.
Hatfield, thinking he had been shot, felt his body for damage and learned
that his life vest had gone off and inflated, creating sound and pressure.
He was fine, and the digging resumed. The train, unscheduled was NOT
Sever and Newland, guarding the boats, had pistols in hand along with
meat for the dogs if they showed up. By now, 12:52 a.m., the landing
party was an hour into its mission and if Japanese patrols were on a two
hour schedule, as the prisoner suggested, they could be showing up at
any time. The raiding party was nervous.
Twenty minutes later, the hole was dug, the explosive was in place and
the guards came creeping back to the site. There were six of them,
including Jim Richard, while the two guards, Sever and Newland,
remained with the boats.
The group then violated orders, deciding to half the distance of the gap in
the switch, to be POSITIVELY CERTAIN the charge ignited, and rather
than let Hatfield wire it alone, they all gathered around him and watched
him connect the wires. The gap was .25 of an inch.
At 1:32 a.m. the crew of eight left Japanese soil and headed for the Barb
which Fluckey had now moved within 600 yards of shore, with clearance
of less than six feet under the keel. They now represented the first (and
would be the only) armed enemy forces that set foot on Japan's home
islands during W.W. II.
As they paddled to the Barb, lookout announced the onrush of another
train. At 1:47 a.m. the Japanese train engine depressed the rail, closed
the circuit and ignited the charge. The explosion formed a huge fireball,
throwing engine parts more than 200 feet into the air as rail cars began
flying, criss-crossing themselves as they fragmented into air born scrap
metal. It was, Fluckey described, “a writhing, twisting maelstrom of
Four minutes later, the boats alongside, the Barb already turned around,
the raiding party and equipment were raised and the Barb headed out of
the bay at two knots. Fluckey invited all hands who could leave their
stations to come on deck to look at the fireworks on shore. They poured
out of the hatches to get a glimpse of their work. Only helmsmen,
controllers and radar watch remained below.
It’s a story fit for Steven Spielberg, and in fact, he has taken an option on
Thunder Below. Commander Eugene B. Fluckey received the
Congressional Medal of Honor, rose to the rank of Rear Admiral and
commanded postwar Pacific Submarine Operations from his submarine’s
successor, the nuclear powered USS Barb.
Throughout his career, Fluckey remained the beloved and bonded captain
of the crew. He retired in 1972 and at the time of his death in 2007, he
was the most highly decorated living American.
His innovative strategies in attacking the Japanese navy and merchant
marine (and land targets too) were tactical attitudes that carried on
throughout his career, and the U.S. Navy nuclear submarine Combat
Systems Training Center was named after him, a unique honor for a living
He spent years after the war consulting with the Japanese to learn their
records of ships the Barb sank or attacked, and he wrote his book,
Thunder Below, based upon his own records, recollections of shipmates
and officers, U.S. Navy official reports and Japanese war records, along
with information and perspective of one member of his crew, Leading
Torpedoman Charles Tomzyck of New Jersey.
Contrary to US Navy regulations, Tomzyck kept a diary throughout the
war patrols of the Barb and we are all glad that he did. You know what?
So did Cousin Jim.
ENTIRE SERIES OF ENTRIES IN JIM'S DIARY
12th War Patrol
6th For Me...last I hope
5-16-45: left M.I. for Pearl..."Oh Unhappy Day. 77 Days in States."
5-23-45: Arrived at Sub Base Pearl Harbor.
6-8-45: Departed Pearl for Midway
6-11-45: Arrived at Midway
6-12-45: Departed Midway
6-14-45: Crossed 180th Meridian
6-21-45: Moved to Battle stations...sank a trawler, caught two aerial bombs.
6-22-45: Shelled City Sheri with 12 rockets
6-26-45: Battle Stations ..."fired one large fickle pickle, it didn't hit".
My Remark: Barb carrying MARK XXI ELECTRIC TORPEDO which travelled at
31 knots. Battle went on for over two days, and Fluckey was very unhappy
with the torpedoes performance. Launched eight "fish"...none hit...6 went
under target. By July 6, only 2 of 15 torpedos had exploded when they hit
target. When a submarine shoots first and misses, it gets punished badly.
6-27-45: Tangled all day with the same conm\voy and got stomped on by
several ...a fleet can, he unloaded 12 charges on us.
6-28-45: Tangled with the same convoy again...fired 8 fish at the can and got
holy hell stomped out of us. 30 depth charges...all too close...
7-2-45: Went to battle stations...shelled island... and village..."assault party
got ready to go over, but didn't get to. ...villagers on island...sank large
My remark: Fluckey considered a plan to land on and capture Kaihyo island,
and that is Jim's reference to the "assault party that did not get to go". That
was a good thing, since intelligence later showed that there were three
companies of Japanese infantry defending the island.
7-3-45: Firing 12 rockets at city off Shikuka; fired one pickle which sank a
large trawler...then we shot all personnel with carbines...Messy.
THE TORPEDO WAS A MARK 27 HOMER (homed in on the propeller sound of
the ship and it was electric).
7-4-45: Sighted escort vessel...alone.
End of Jim's Log.
Tim and I have consulted at to why Jim's log ends at this point, just prior to
the landing team's accomplishments in blowing up the Karafuto Express on
July 23, 1945. There was ample room on the page Jim was using to make
further entries. After reviewing the papers remaining and Jim's detailed
calendar markings (without remarks), there was most likely an additional page
which has simply been lost.
Summary below is drawn from Commander Eugene Fluckey's book, Thunder
Below, and conversations with Tim Richard and his talks with his dad. I also
spoke with Bill Richard and had some brief conversation with Jim.
|This is the most storied single patrol of the USS Barb, and it received a
lot of publicity. It occurred about three weeks before atomic bombs
dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended W.W. II. It is best told
through Jim's diary, succinct as it is, along with Jim's comments to son,
Tim, and the account by Fluckey in Thunder Below. Tim has also
provided me with DVD recordings of 8 mm film taken aboard the BARB,
and Jim appears in it clearly.
I have included several of those film clips at selected times in the
|Tim's Comment: When he was standing sentry, the only thing I recall
him discussing was the lookout tower that was nearby and the Japanese
soldiers manning it; they had no idea there was a U.S. Navy commando
team right under their feet.
|Tim's Note: on Submariners Training...SEALS
By the way, in WW II there was no such thing as Navy SEALS. All
submariners were trained as special forces personnel, or
commandos, and to this day submarine duty is considered Navy
special forces along with today’s more specialized Navy SEALS and
Dad used to talk about commando training and practicing lopping
off a guy’s head with piano wire. They practiced on banana trees.
|TIM RICHARD REPORTS:
Dad said the Navy photographer they took out got seasick a lot so the footage
jumps around a lot. Like I said, he is on the video several times. He had a
beard because fresh water was scarce on WWII boats. They could not make
their own water like we do today on boats so it was limited. Therefore, growing
beards and such was acceptable so as to save water.
He also had a pierced left ear. The reason for that is because submariners
considered themselves linked to pirates, remember my previous e-mail about
maritime warfare? So, they all, or most, pierced their left ears to signify that
link. They would buddy up and buy a pair when they hit various ports and then
split the pair between them. He wore a blue sapphire and later acquired the
mate from his buddy. Mom still has them and from what I understand, Yvette,
Bernadette and Suzette all wore the blue sapphires when they got married.
Tim's Note: USS Barb, for which my Dad and many of his ship mates are
probably all individually and collectively best known for, is regarded as the
most decorated wartime submarine in history of the U.S.
The only submarine that I know of that was decorated more was the USS
Parche (SSN-683) and its exploits were all covert spy missions during the Cold
USS Barb sank more ships, 29-1/3, and more tonnage, 146,808, then any other
U.S. submarine in the War. At one time, several ships were ranked slightly
higher but that all changed when Fluckey was able to travel to China in the
1990’s and get confirmation on ships/tonnage sunk during the Namkwan
Harbor attack for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Those confirmations put Barb over the top in both categories and ahead of
such famous submarines as the USS Flasher, USS Tang and USS Wahoo.
Admiral Fluckey, at the time of his death in June, 2007, was the most
decorated living American having won the Medal of Honor, four Navy Crosses
(2nd highest award possible), three Distinguished Service Medals (3rd highest
award possible), three Legions of Merit (5th highest award possible), and a
slew of other both individual and unit awards.
|Jim's Comments to Tim:
He also talked about their departure after setting the charge. They
had to cut through some backyards and at least one dog began
barking. One of them also wanted to toss a grenade in the bed of a
Toyota pickup truck but he was quickly dissuaded.
He talked about when they were in the rafts paddling back towards the
Barb, which was surfaced about 600 yards out [Fluckey's estimate];
they got about halfway and heard the train coming, slightly ahead of
schedule. Once the train blew, he said it was immediately like daylight,
and the sub as well as the eight of them in the two rafts, could clearly
Fortunately, the Barb had the deck machine guns manned for support
and when the Japanese shore gunners began firing upon them, the
Barb was able to return fire. Dad said that they still had their tommy
guns, ammo, a variety of small arms and their survival gear which they
quickly tossed overboard so they could lighten the load, and he said,
they all began paddling all out.
Fluckey was yelling at them to hurry up as the sub turned and began
actually accelerating towards open ocean. Of course, they made it.
He used to talk about the rounds whizzing by them and hearing and
seeing them splash all around. No one got hit though. He said the
award Admiral Fluckey was most proud of was the Purple Heart
because none of the men under his command ever got one.
|KARAFUTO STILL CATCHES ATTENTION
This item in the Honolulu Paper is pretty dramatic,
until one notices that the date of publication is June
4, 1945. The raid was in MID-July, so I don't know
what this is all about.
John Sever, the sole survivor of the Karafuto Raid,
reminisces in this piece. July 4, 2008
Here is another bit of coverage. The event still gets
attention in the naval submarine community. Here in
the Silent Sentinel
This is a wonderful review of Commander Fluckey:
|CLICK HERE TO SEE JIM PRACTICING THE FIRING OF
THE THOMPSON SUBMACHINE GUN WHILE ABOARD THE
BARB. HE IS THE ONE WITH THE BEARD, LATER ALSO A
CIGARETTE AND PEARL EARRING.
|CLICK HERETO SEE SOME OF THIS CREW PRACTICING
PADDLING IN THE RAFTS. THEY ARE MUCH SMALLER THAN I
HAD IMAGINED, AND IT TOOK A LOT OF SKILL TO MOVE THEM
FORWARD. THERE WERE 4 MEN TO A RAFT PLACED IN JUST
THE RIGHT PLACES. THE NIGHT OF THE OPERATION, THEY
WERE ALSO ARMED WITH TOMPSONS AND SOME OTHER
WEAPONRY, ALL OF WHICH THEY DUMPED IN THE WATER ON
THE WAY BACK.....WHY? THE THOMPSONS ALONE WEIGHED
10 LBS. EACH, AND THE AMMO ADDED TO THE LOAD.
|CLICK HERE TO SEE RECON ON TRAIN ON KARAFUTO;
DRAMATIC FOOTAGE, ALTHOUGH THIS IS NOT THE TRAIN
THAT WAS BLOWN UP.
|ELOISE AND JIM. A PROUD,
RELIEVED MOTHER AND A
|Admiral Lockwood, Commander Submarine Force Pacific, pins the Navy Commendation
Medal on Jim.
On right, after receiving the Silver Star.
|Fluckey writes to congratulate Jim for being recommended for the
Silver Star "as a result of your liberty in Japan, working on the
railroad." Fluckey had a great sense of humor as well as a keen mind
and a competitive appetite to sink ships. He was a great skipper.
On the right are the signatures of the Team of Eight who landed on
Japan to blow up the railroad.
|This cover appeared highlighting the
BARB's enormous success in sinking
ships in Namkwan Harbor and then
"making a run for it".
|MAPS OF THE OPERATIONS OF USS BARB IN ITS