Your War Department

through the

Bureau of Naval Semi-Intelligence

as part of the series

Get to Know Your Enemy, but Donít Get Serious



Back to Contents

    In an aerial view we look over Tokyo Bay toward the snow-capped cone of Mount Fuji. Below us we see ships moving across placid water and we see the cities that line the shore. We descend and we see that we are headed toward one boat thatís headed out to sea.

NARRATOR: Among all of the weapons of war available to Man, few are as deadly as the submarine, the sniper of the high seas. Lurking under the waves, it can destroy a ship and then sneak away unseen.

    We swoop close to the water and as we pass the sub we see on the conning tower the identification number - I-12B4F.

NARRATOR: Here we see the I-12B4F heading out of Tokyo Bay on a war patrol in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Their mission is to prevent men and material from reaching our positions in Australia and on the islands that we occupy.

    We see the interior of the submarine with Japanese sailors standing at their stations. Thereís little room for movement and we see one sailor jostle another, then back up a step, bow, and say, "So sorry preeze!"

NARRATOR: It takes a special breed to man a submarine. Space is limited and the air is foul, so the men need to possess exquisitely refined social skills in addition to their technical skills.

    We hear more sailors saying, "So sorry preeze!" and the apologies become a continuous background as we tour the boat. We start with a view of the forward torpedo room, where bunks rise five high and each bunk is half filled with a torpedo.

NARRATOR: Here in the forward torpedo room is where the sailors sleep. Each man shares his bunk with one ton of high explosive. Sweet dreams, guys!

    We see the mess hall, a narrow passage past a counter. At one end sailors enter and take a bowl and chopsticks from a bin. As each sailor sidles along the counter, he comes to the server, who uses an oversized ice-cream scoop to scoop up a heap of rice-like glop and drop it into the sailorís bowl with a "splop!". The server bows and says "So sorry preeze!" The sailor continues sidling along the counter and the chopsticks seem to spin wildly, becoming a blur and sending a stream of glop from the bowl into his mouth. He puts the chopsticks and the empty bowl into a basin and sidles on out of the mess hall.

NARRATOR: Of course, the navy is known for the quality of its chow. Those from whom much is demanded deserve only the best! No SOS here, boys! (No, itís something much worse - Ed.)

    In the engine room the diesel engines, which should be emitting a droning thrum with the tapocketa-tapocketa of lifting valves, sound like a chorus of old men coughing and wheezing.

JAPANESE VOICE: Our diesel engines all cough and wheeze. Very many misfires. So sorry preeze!

NARRATOR: The engine room is the beating heart of the sub. Mighty diesel engines pound out a drumbeat of power. Yes, this mechanical whale, with its crew of Jonahs, surges through the heaving waters, seeking its hapless targets.

    Suddenly we hear the ah-oogah of a klaxon. The sub seems to be completely filled with sailors sidling past each other, crawling over equipment, even moving along the overhead like spiders. The cries of "So sorry preeze!" reach a frantic crescendo.

NARRATOR: Battle stations! Battle stations! A target has been sighted and the sailors swing into action!

    The forward torpedo room is filled to the overhead with sailors loading two torpedoes into their launch tubes.

    We see a view across the subís deck as the sea rises over it and we get a view of the deck from underwater.

NARRATOR: Swiftly the deadly craft slips beneath the waves. Here we see the submarineís advantage over its victims - its ability to approach them unseen. They must also approach unheard. All stop on the diesels! Now the stealthy craft runs on the electricity stored in massive storage batteries.

    In the battery room electricity arcs and crackles over giant batteries. Sailors throw switches, jostling each other as they do. One sailor rises halfway to the overhead and becomes a silhouette of himself with a white skeleton visible. We hear a loud bízap! and he drops back down with steam and smoke rising off him.

NARRATOR: Be careful not to touch the wrong part of the battery!

    On the bridge the captain looks through the periscope while being jostled by the sailors that pack the compartment. We see that the view through the periscope, circular with cross-hairs superimposed, is blocked by a large wave. The view jerks from side to side as the wave descends to reveal a ship in the distance.

NARRATOR: Thereís the target - a big, fat freighter. Sheís carrying much-needed supplies to the troops. Sinking her would put a big dent in the war effort. Oh, please donít sink that ship!

    On the bridge the submarine captain calls out orders, which are relayed forward. He continues to peer through the periscope. Throughout the sub men are lurching to and from their posts. In the forward torpedo room one sailor lurches against another, who sprawls forward, putting his hands up to break his fall. Both his hands slam against the triggers.

    Two torpedoes emerge from their launch tubes in clouds of bubbles and speed away toward their target. Peering through the periscope, the captain sees a wave descend and reveal the freighter, which is clearly flying the Japanese flag. At the same moment a double explosion partly lifts the freighter out of the water and breaks it in two, leaving the pieces to fall back and sink.

JAPANESE VOICE: Oh, so sorry preeze!

NARRATOR: In the chaos of war everybody makes little mistakes. This one was ten thousand tons.

    We see another sub, the I-MN42N8, cruising along the surface of a calm sea. Suddenly the lookouts spot the silhouette of a ship on the horizon.

NARRATOR: But not all ships are targets. Some, like the destroyer, are predators.

    The submarine slips beneath the surface as the destroyer approaches.

NARRATOR: Here the submarineís unique ability will save it. Sneaking under the swells, the sub will lie doggo until the danger passes. Absolute silence is a must for the sailors.

    Grinning sailors in the sub hold fingers to their lips. In the electronics cabin on the destroyer a frustrated sonarman, with his headphones in place, stares at a green-glowing screen as an officer stands on the opposite side of the console. The sonarman points at the screen and shrugs.

NARRATOR: The destroyermen know that thereís a Jap sub under them somewhere, but itís hard to get a good fix on a quiet sub. OK, boys, letís shake Ďem up a bit!

    Looking over the stern of the destroyer, we see a pair of depth charges rise and then fall to splash into the water. Several seconds later we hear two dull booms and see the water hump up in two white-spray mounds that erupt into towering fountains of water and smoke.

NARRATOR: Ashcans, depth charges, should do the trick we want to see.

    The sub rocks from side to side, tossing sailors about. A chorus of "So sorry preeze!" breaks out. Horrified looks come over the sailorsí faces as they clap their hands over their mouths. Aboard the destroyer the sonarman grins, points to his screen, and gives the officer standing over his console the thumbs up sign.

NARRATOR: It looks like our sonarman may have a fix on the enemy submarine. But does he really have a fix? Oh, we hope he has a fix. Please have a fix!

    Twin depth charges soar off the stern deck of the destroyer and splash into the water. A short time later the water humps into two white-spray mounds that erupt into rising columns of water, smoke, and submarine parts.

NARRATOR: He had a fix!

    Again we see I-12B4F cruising on the surface of a calm sea. Only water and sky appear in all directions.

NARRATOR: The I-12B4F has avoided the fate of her sister sub, but she faces an equally daunting challenge - that of getting home. In the trackless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, perhaps the most important member of the submarineís crew is the navigator.

    Inside the sub a sailor bends over a map table the size of a dinner tray. As heís trying to draw lines on the map that drapes over the table like a tablecloth, sailors jostle him ("So sorry preeze!") and make him draw wrong lines on the map. Frantically he erases the errors and tries again, with the same result.

NARRATOR: At the end of a long war patrol the sailors are eager to get home for some well-deserved shore leave. Itís the navigator who tells the helmsman which way to steer the boat so that they will reach their home port quickly and safely.

    We see the submarine cruising on the surface as the lookouts on top of the conning tower scan the horizon through binoculars.

NARRATOR: Day after day the sub motors homeward as the lookouts eagerly scan the horizon, looking for the first signs of land.

    The lookouts continue scanning, then one jerks around and leans forward to peer intently through his binoculars. Excitedly he then shouts to the other lookouts and points forward. Then he yells down into the sub.

NARRATOR: Land ho! Two words dear to every sailorís heart. Land ho! Home at last!

    We look forward over the sub and see land with houses and other buildings on it. The sailors raise the Japanese flag as they motor into the harbor.

NARRATOR: Straight into the harbor they go, there to receive a warm welcome...

    We see the submarine surrounded by warships flying American flags and pointing giant cannons at the sub.

NARRATOR: ... to San Diego.

JAPANESE VOICE: Woe! So sorry preeze!


Back to Contents