Remembering the lost submarines of WWII

This article has photo gallery Published on US Navy FT1 (SS) Derek Hammerstad (author)

Location(s): Albany, WA

Topic(s): Submarines (SSG), Naval Heritage and History, Memorial Service

SUBFOR Members, both USN and RAN, join with local Naval Cadets from TS Vancouver for a unified photo. (photo: )
SUBFOR Members, both USN and RAN, join with local Naval Cadets from TS Vancouver for a unified photo.

Trumpets sounded out the anthems of Australia and the United States at Albany's National Anzac Centre on 26 May, as all in attendance stood to attention - remembering 52 US submarines lost during the Second World War.

The audience included cadets from TS Vancouver, retired and active duty sailors from the United States Navy, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Navy, as well as their families and two WWII veterans.

All had gathered in the West Australian town to pay their respects to the brave souls who made the ultimate sacrifice, remaining on an eternal patrol and forever watching over American and Australian submariners.

US Navy Commander William Dull delivered a moving speech that encompassed how the events of the past affected the relationship of the two countries and the traditions their militaries still abide by today.

“We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.

“In the United States submarine force we have an expression, “you earn your dolphins everyday”, which refers to the submarine insignia worn on the chest and means to never be satisfied and constantly strive to improve,” Commander Dull told the crowd.

The tolling of the bells is a remembrance service in which each submarine and lost crew member is remembered one by one, as the bells toll. This year the names were read by Senior Chief Sonar Technician Submarines Kirk J Wright and the bell tolled by Petty Officer 1st Class Fire Control Technician Derek Hammerstad.

The names they read and their sacrifices are forever etched in history.

More than 75 years have passed since the brave sailors lost their lives. On 27 December 1941, just three weeks after the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, the Australian Prime Minister John Curtin put out a call for help “without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom.”

Fremantle and Albany were safe havens for the American submarines which played a vital role in the overall success during the war. American submarines launched 521 patrols from Australia, sinking over 1.7 million tons of shipping, but sadly lost 52 submarines totalling 374 officers and 3131 sailors.

Lest we forget.

The memorial service was carried out next to the National Anzac Centre, Albany, WA, overlooking King George Sound.

The memorial service was carried out next to the National Anzac Centre, Albany, WA, overlooking King George Sound.