Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
No Cover Image

Submarine Commander: A Story of World War II and Korea

Paul R. Schratz
Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 340
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Submarine Commander
    Book Description:

    A fascinating personal memoir of underwater combat in World War II, told by a man who played a major role in those dangerous operations. Frank and beautifully written, Submarine Commander's breezy style and irrepressible humor place it in a class by itself. This book will be of lasting value as a submarine history by an expert and as an enduring military and political analysis. In early 1943 the submarine USS Scorpion, with Paul R. Schratz as torpedo officer, slipped into the shallow waters east of Tokyo, laid a minefield, and made successful torpedo attacks on merchant shipping. Schratz participated in many more patrols in heavily mined Japanese waters as executive officer of the Sterlet and the Atule. At war's end he participated in the Japanese surrender, aided the release of American POWs, and had a key role in the disarming of enemy suicide submarines. He then took command of the revolutionary new Japanese submarine I-203 and returned it to Pearl Harbor. But this was far from the end of Schratz's submarine career. In 1949 he commissioned the ultramodern USS Pickerel, the most deadly submarine then afloat, and set a world's record in a 21-day, 5,200-mile submerged passage from Hong Kong to Honolulu. With the outbreak of the Korean War, the Pickerel was immediately sent to Korea to participate in secret intelligence operations only recently declassified and never before revealed in print. Schratz's broad military experience makes this a far from ordinary memoir.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4361-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. 1 The USS Wichita: Naval War in the North Atlantic
    (pp. 1-21)

    Hvalfjordur, Iceland, December 1941. A few minutes before midnight, as the sixth of December passed into history, I scaled the familiar six ladders from my stateroom to “sky forward,” the weatherbeaten compartment housing the antiaircraft director inWichita, where I stood watch as gunnery control officer. Half the five-inch, 38-caliber antiaircraft (AA) gun crews were at full alert with ammunition at hand; the ship was closed up for battle with one-fourth of her crew on watch. Scores of other ships lay at anchor, scattered around the vast fjord, blacked out and invisible. Only the low conversation of the watch, almost...

  6. 2 The USS Mackerel: The Gold Dolphins
    (pp. 22-38)

    The reunion with Henri and our families in Pittsburgh was deliriously happy. Then somebody asked where I was headed for duty. When I answered, “Submarines,” Mother almost fainted. The morning news carried the story that my home town buddie Samuel H. “Buzz” Hunter, with whom I had competed for an appointment to Annapolis, had been killed in the USSSealionin a bombing raid on Manila, the first submarine casualty of the war. Both Henri’s and my family had three sons of draft age, and wonderful as it was to be home, their concern for the future was never far...

  7. 3 The USS Scorpion: Tragedy in the Pacific
    (pp. 39-80)

    Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is a charming old New England town of tree-shaded streets and stout frame houses topped by widows’ walks suggesting long and close ties to the sea. Brief international fame came to the city and the prominent Rockingham Hotel in August 1905 when President Theodore Roosevelt negotiated the Treaty of Portsmouth there, ending the Russo-Japanese War.

    The shipyard, reached via a creaky drawbridge over the swift-flowing Piscataqua River, is actually located in Kittery Point, Maine. I assumed that both this and the Portsmouth, Virginia, Naval Shipyard located in Norfolk were built at the port’s mouth and named for...

  8. 4 The USS Sterlet: Early Command?
    (pp. 81-130)

    Reunion after seven months’ separation fulfilled all our dreams. Henri and our parents met me at the airport, and I couldn’t take my eyes off Gina, already quite a little lady at three months. The time at home fled swiftly. So much of my leave had frittered away waiting to be released by the board of investigation in Pearl that all too soon we were again on our way to New England, enjoying the spectacular display of fall colors. The smell of harvest sharpened the air and quickened the pulses. Thanks to an outstanding recommendation on Henri’s housekeeping by our...

  9. 5 The USS Atule: Minesweeper?
    (pp. 131-175)

    I watched the sun rise over Tanapag Harbor on that early November day aboardFulton. The morning air carried a tangy fragrance across the calm waters. Somewhere near the top of 1,554-foot Mount Tapotchau a Japanese flag flew unseen to any but the few surviving occupants still holding out in the network of caves and bunkers.

    Saipan was critically important to both sides, the key to U.S. conquest of the central Pacific, the keystone of the Japanese inner defense perimeter. U.S. troops had stormed ashore on 15 June after a spirited bombardment by fifteen battleships and heavy attacks by carrier...

  10. 6 The Demilitarization and Occupation of Japan
    (pp. 176-204)

    Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander of the Pacific Ocean Areas, had invited Admiral Lockwood to attend the surrender ceremonies on the deck of Admiral William F. Halsey’s flagship, the USSMissouri, and to designate a dozen submarines and the submarine tender USSProteusto be present for the ceremony. Departing Guam immediately, 15 August 1945, and steaming steadily toward Tokyo at eighteen knots,Proteusfrom commodore to cabin steward was a hotbed of rumors. Nobody knew what Japanese forces still survived or what reception they, a proud people, were preparing for the American conqueror. An early intelligence bulletin told of...

  11. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  12. 7 The Sorry Sasori
    (pp. 205-221)

    I-203, a Sen-Taka or high-speed submarine, was similar to the German Type XXI, both designed as ultramodern attack submarines capable of very high bursts of speed to break contact with the enemy. Completed in May 1945, I-203 was 259 feet long and displaced thirteen hundred tons. The designed underwater speed was about twenty-five knots—almost three times that of the American fleet boat. She was about 50 feet shorter than a U.S. fleet submarine, and her draft three feet deeper. A very high length-to-beam ratio contributed to her high speed. After sea trials, bow planes, and huge stabilizer fins amidships...

  13. 8 The USS Burrfish: Fast and Loose
    (pp. 222-242)

    Shore duty is often a period of rejuvenation from the rigors of sea duty. In our case it gave us much needed time to live together as a family. I welcomed the home life equally with the challenge of Washington duty. I felt stimulated by the opportunity to contribute to the making of policy in the power center of much of the universe. Temporarily, I had laid down the sword; time would tell whether the pen was mightier.

    I had three weeks’ leave before reporting. After two deliriously happy weeks with the family and the tender moments in first meeting...

  14. 9 The USS Pickerel: Dipsydoodling on Government Time
    (pp. 243-282)

    Pappy Sims and I felt like old friends from the first meeting. Outgoing and always cheerful, he exuded both ability and strength. I quickly learned that behind a Georgia drawl lay the confident presence of a superior athlete and the rare gift to charm seniors and inspire the adulation of subordinates. In both our short- and long-range aspirations we were wholly “simpatico.” Capable beyond my highest expectations, he offered the combination of daring and caution I not only welcomed but needed. We made a very strong team. Equally important, Henri and Martha soon felt like sisters.

    The other officers gave...

  15. 10 War under the United Nations Command
    (pp. 283-314)

    The first streaks of dawn were tinting the morning sky on the other side of the Pacific on Sunday morning, 25 June 1950. At four in the morning a thousand howitzers split the dawn stillness with a shattering roar; ninety thousand North Korean troops backed by 150 heavily armored Soviet T-34 tanks struck in a surprise assault along the entire thirty-eighth parallel, heading south.

    The South Korean (ROK) Army, after months of false alerts, had relaxed for a weekend of vacation. Many of the troops had been given fifteen-day leave periods to go home to work the rice paddies. Heavily...

  16. Index
    (pp. 315-323)