In April 1944, the highly decorated submarine USS Gudgeon slipped beneath the waves somewhere in the South China Sea, one of the most dangerous patrol areas in the most dangerous military service during World War II. Neither the Gudgeon nor the crew were ever seen again.
Author Mike Ostlund's "Uncle Bill" was aboard the ship as a lieutenant junior grade. Through extensive research of patrol reports in U.S. and Japanese naval archives, interviews with veterans who had served aboard the Gudgeon before its final patrol, and the personal effects of the lost men's relatives, Ostlund has assembled the most accurate account yet of this remarkably successful submarine's exploits, of the men aboard, from steward to captain, and of what we know about her demise.
Through these stories we experience the excitement of first sighting, then closing in on an enemy ship, and the seconds ticking away as the crew awaits the detonation of torpedoes. We hear the groans of collapsing bulkheads through the hull of the submarine, then the eerie cry of inch-thick steel as it is rent apart. The swish-swish-swish of a Japanese destroyer's attack approach. The thundercrack of exploding depth charges between muttered prayers and anguished, flinching anticipation where the crew, all equally in peril now, must sit absolutely still and take the punishment as they suppress the urge to do something, anything.
We also share the concern of the girls they left behind, and experience how they learned the ship was lost and of the memories and life lessons of these young men, who went to sea knowing hardly anything, and came home having seen too much.