U.S.S. PUFFER (SS268) – Report of Eighth War Patrol
by Lt. Commander Carl R. Dwyer

 

ss268crew2x.jpg (88907 bytes)5 July 1945: Patrolling across entrance of MADCERA STRAIGHTS.

O235 APR contact 155/350/5. From later events it is believed that this radar is in BULULENG ROADS.

O302 SJ radar interference 130 T. Probably the LIZARDFISH headed for area E-5. They were due to transit LOMBOCK enroute to area tonight. Tried to exchange recognition signals off and on for an hour but could not raise them. Bearing holding steady. They must be making a sweep along BALI COAST.

O444 Submerged to close and investigate CHELUKAN BANANG BAY, BALI.

Sighted a U.S. Submarine firing on CHELUKAN BANANG BAY with her deck guns. Very surprised by this scene.

Position: Lat. 8 -09’S; Long. 114 -51’E.

Battle surfaced. Exchanged calls with the LIZARDFISH. Began to close the coast along the West side of CHELUKAN BANANG BAY.

LIZARDFISH completed firing. Secured all men topside and hauled out of Bay after starting two fires.

Steamed close aboard Tg. TINGA TINGA and got a good look at the landing place. There were two boat houses, open native type with thatched roofs. Results of the LIZARDFISH gun attack are very evident by two fires. A wooden supply craft type lugger is on fire just East of the Western boat along the beach. The Eastern boat house was empty. There were five well camouflaged barges (type Super "A")(Ship Contact #4) in the Western boat house. Those barges were painted a mottled green and yellow. Selected those barges as the 5 inch gun target. Held the 40MM and two 20MM guns in ready condition in case a shore battery opened up. Did not mount or man the 30 and 50 caliber machine guns.

With the barges bearing 310 relative (210 True), range 1,400 yards, commenced firing the 5 inch gun using controlled fire spotting between each shot. The third shell hit the far barge, followed by a terrific explosion of white flames about 300 feet in the air. Went to rapid fire. As each barge was hit, the explosion repeated. It was the most amazing sight I have seen in four years of submarine warfare. Took colored movies of the scene for Lieutenant Commander LONG’s "SILENT SERVICE" picture. They should be something to see. It is believed that the barges were loaded with tins or drums of aviation gasoline to cause the explosions. The gun crew peppered the targets continuously with only 2 or 3 misses. Their shooting was magnificent. The targets were soon demolished and the boat house area a mass of flames. There seemed to be a gasoline storage just behind the boat house as 300 foot high flames leaped into the air from there continuously. It was noted that the fire on the lugger east of the boat house had died down and the hull was still intact so shifted fire to that target. First shell was a hit and it started burning again as before. Stepped up the rate of fire and demolished the lugger.

APR contact of previous night is back again.

With the barges and lugger destroyed, and the gasoline dump and boat house on fire and no more targets in sight, secured all guns and retired to seaward at high speed to join the LIZARDFISH who had been standing off the bay. Expended 33 rounds of 5 inch ammunition for about 28 hits. Decided to make a daylight coastal sweep of BALI Coast to Westward looking for luggers, sea trucks, and barges. Closed to about 1,000 years, stationed the crews at the 5 inch and 40MM guns. All gun crew members were put on sector lookout for planes. Started keying the SD radar. It is almost useless with so much land return.

APR contact steady on us at saturation.

Found TEMUKUS ROAD empty except for a sunken sea truck, and three native sail boats.

Lost sight of LIZARDFISH.

ss268underway2x256.jpg (8038 bytes)Sighted masts of several ships in BULELENG ROAD. This is stated by the Coast Pilot to be the largest trading station in BALI and also a Telegraph Cable Station. Jap radar is trained on us like a beacon but it cannot be seen.

The BAY is filled with native fishing vessels of all descriptions in addition to one steel sea truck, one wooden sea truck, one powered Sampan, and one type "H" Landing Barge. (Ship contact #5). The wooden Sea Truck is anchored farthest to the East and next is the beached Landing Barge, the motored Sampan and steel sea truck are farther west at the mouth of the river and to seaward of the anchored native sail boats. The greatest difficulty in this situation is to keep from hitting the native boats and homes. Fortunately there are no people along the waterfront. The steel sea truck and motor Sampan are well camouflaged with foliage. The barge appears to be very new, with a glistening coat of greyish-blue paint. With the APR contact steady on us at saturation pip, scanned the town and hills anxiously for a control station and possible shore batteries.

Opened fire with the 5 inch gun on the nearest target, an anchored wooden sea truck with relative bearing 075 , true bearing 145 , range, 1100 yards. Three rapid hits amidships broke the target in two pieces. Got several more hits into the bow and stern sections before the remnants of the target disappeared from sight. At this close range it was a revelation to see the power and destruction of this 5 inch High Capacity ammunition. Fourteen rounds expended. Shifted to the next target in the line, the brand new, shiny landing craft beached at the waters edge. It looked as if it had just been put into the water so we proceeded to christen it with three rapid hits, relative bearing 060, true bearing 130 , range 1200 yards. 5 rounds expended. This left the motor sampan and steel sea truck. Came left to unmask the 40MM gun and clear the PANARUKAN REEF. Shifted the 5 inch gun to the steel sea truck and the 40MM to the motor sampan. And then it happened! There was a wisp of smoke on the beach (at a spot we had previously passed at 800 yards) on our starboard quarter, the crack of a gun, and the splash of a shell about 15 feet off the starboard side near the bridge.

1404 Cleared the deck, sounded the diving alarm and pulled a blanket of water over our frightened skin. As the last man came down the hatch so did the water. Very close, but no damage there. Could hear the splashes of the shells around the conning tower as we went under. Headed out to sea.

Hate to lose that chance at the sea truck. Pulled out from the beach to look the situation over. People are running around like mad on the beach. The well camouflaged bridge over the BULULENG River seems to be the traffic focal point. All those on the left bank are crossing to the right, all those on the right are crossing to the left. There are soldiers, sailors and civilians in the melee – what, no marines? Decided to try a shot with a torpedo, so at

Battle stations submerged, commenced approach. Worked down to the Southwest and then cut back Southeast to get the best track. The sea truck seems to be loaded with about fifty men aboard now. Getting a slight set to the Northeast. Saw a truck load of Nip soldiers cross over the bridge.

Fired tube #6 with depth set 0, range 1,250 yards, 60 port track, zero gyro, with torpedo aimed at center of target. Torpedo broached twice and drifted to the left at first due to the current and then moved to the right when the cross current hit it. Missed astern.

:35 Fired tube #5 with depth set 0, range 1,160 yards, 60 port track, zero gyro, point of aim ship length ahead. Torpedo broached twice, moved over to the left at first then back to the right. Men are running around pointing at the torpedo.

:50 Saw and heard one hit. Target blew up.

:15 First torpedo ran up the river hit beach near bridge and exploded. Started a fire. Hope it hit a Jap installation there.

Headed back out to sea. Getting too dark to see very well.

Surfaced and headed for the LOMBOK STRAIGHTS. Encountered several sailboats enroute.

Commenced night surface transit of the LOMBOK STRAIGHTS under a very clouded sky. Passage was uneventful, no contacts. However, just before we entered the strait between NOESA BESAR and the SW tip of LOMBOK, an enemy radar was detected on the APR – 162 mcs, 400 prf, 5 microseconds. He apparently tracked us through that part of our passage but no hostile moves developed.

2400 Completed transit of LOMBOK.

Transcribed by Craig McDonald  crmcdona@indiana.edu