On Her fourth and last war patrol, under the command of Lt. Commander R.R. Managhan, Spikefish sank the last enemy man o' war to be sunk in World War Two, it happened in the Ease China Sea in the early morning hours of August 14, 1945. All six forward torpedo tubes were fired and two torpedoes found their mark, the 1500 ton I-373 which turned out to be the 127th and last Japanese submarine sunk in the war. The I-373 was one of Japan's latest radar equipped submarines and was on rout to Formosa having departed Sasebo just two day after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
The crew of the I-373 must have been kept in the dark about Hiroshima and Nagasaki because, when later told that the war was over due to the total destruction of two major cities by atomic bombs, the sole survivor of the I-373 asked "what cities New York, Chicago ?" Incidentally that sole survivor was not the only crew member of the ill-fated I-373 to live through the two torpedo blasts that sunk the sub. Other Japanese crew members were seen swimming off into the cover of the early morning fog refusing to be picked up by the Spikefish. No doubt they went to what they considered a noble and honorable death for their Emperor God and country.
In a final bit of irony, it is very possible that, at least, some of those Japanese sailors were still clinging to life somewhere in the Ease China Sea after wars end because Japan surrendered the very day the I-373 went down.
Above: August 14, 1945 Somewhere in the Ease China Sea, survivor of the ill-fated I-373 is taken aboard the Spikefish by Ensign Gelderman and RM3/c Thompson as Ensign Schumann stands by holding gun. Photographer unknown.
Pictures obtained from USS Spikefish 50th anniversary/Reunion booklet. Details about the sinking of the I-373 came from 50th anniversary/reunion booklet and from conversations I had with some of the origional Spikefish crew (plank owners) that were on board at the time of the sinking.
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