Thursday, November 28, 2013

"Soldier of the Horse"--The Saga Continues

I recently checked to see what the latest was re their marketing of Soldier of the Horse. Interestingly, they list the paperback at $13.68, with the Kindle edition at $9.99. (Other e-readers can access through the publisher, TouchWood Editions.) The original list price is $19.95.

The Audiobook version is now on the market, also at $19.95. Here's what Audiobook says about it:
"Narrator Paul Christy's mature voice provides a calm and steady pace to this story set in early 20th-century Canada. Law student Tom Macrae has been falsely accused of a crime, and given a choice between going to jail or off to the trenches of the Great War, Tom reluctantly chooses to fight. Just before he is shipped out to England, he meets the love of his life, only to be torn away from her. Christy's performance is moving and realistic, and he portrays the gamut of Tom's emotions - from hopeful joy to horror and bleak resignation - with sensitivity."

I would add to that--yes, but it's not ultimately a downer, at least in my mind.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

USS Burrfish aka HMCS Grilse--A Two-Navy Warrior (Part 5)

Like her sisters in the USN submarine fleet, USS Burrfish continued to seek out the enemy in the far-flung reaches of the Pacific. Her third war patrol was a historic one, commencing on 11th of July and continuing until he 27th of August, 1944.

Sailing from Pearl Harbour in the Hawaiian Islands, the boat had on board five members of Underwater Demolition Team 10 as well as a chief petty officer and a lieutenant from the UDT training staff. The UDT had with them inflatable rubber boats which were carried in free-flooding tanks on Burrfish's after deck.

On the 9th of August two teams of two men each swam ashore and gathered intelligence on the beach of Peleliu. The four swimmers plus their fifth member who had stood by in the inflated boat returned safely to Burrfish, waiting in deep water.

A second beach reconnaissance was carried out on August 18th, but was ill-fated. One team of two did not return to the waiting inflatable, and one of their mates swam in to try to assist. The men were not seen again. Burrfish searched for the three men until the night of August 20th to no avail, and was forced to leave the area. All three were captured by the Japanese and reportedly tortured and executed.

The Burrfish had carried out the only USN submarine-launched Underwater Demolition Team beach reconnaissance of the Second World War.

Friday, November 22, 2013

USS Burrfish aka HMCS Grilse--A Two-Navy Warrior (Part 4)

When the Royal Canadian Navy took command of USS Burrfish in 1961, it borrowed a bloodied and proud World War II combatant.
Burrfish took part in six war patrols against the Japanese in the Pacific theatre between February 2nd 1944 and May 13th 1945. In reviewing her activities during the first two, it appears there was a steep learning curve.

The boat's first patrol began when she sailed from Pearl Harbour and ended seven weeks later as she came alongside at Midway Island. During that time she fired torpedoes at a tanker, missed, and was depth-charged for her trouble. Having surfaced to repair a dangerous leak, she again attacked a freighter and suffered some damage from depth charges. Once again, she attacked a destroyer, missed, and proceeded to Midway.

Undaunted, Burrfish proceeded on her second patrol. She fired three torpedoes at a tanker, and was rewarded with three hits. It seemed her luck had turned, as the boat returned once more to Pearl Harbour for a well-earned month-long break.

Next: a historic third patrol.

Friday, November 8, 2013

USS Burrfish aka HMCS Grilse--A Two-Navy Warrior (Part 3)

The United States Navy SS-312, USS Burrfish, was launched at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Maine, on June 18th, 1943, and was commissioned on September 14th the same year. One hundred nineteen Balao class boats were completed; eleven were lost during World War II. (A lower loss rate than for previous boats, the Balao class for the most part coming later in the war when Japanes forces were on the run.)
Burrfish's complement was six officers and sixty enlisted men.
She bristled with weapons: ten 21" torpedo tubes, six forward and four aft; a 5" deck gun, and antiaircraft armament consisting of one 40-mm, two 20-mm, and two .50 calibre machine guns.
On the surface the Burrfish could pound along at 20.25 knots, and dived at 10.
She set out on her first war patrol on February 2nd, 1944.

Next: The War Patrols

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

USS Burrfish aka HMCS Grilse--A Two-Navy Warrior (Part 2)

USS Burrfish had a remarkable career, which can be divided into three main phases.
First phase: Operations against the Japanese in World War II. (designated SS-312).
Second phase: Conversion to and operations as a radar picket submarine (SSR-312).
Third phase: On loan to the Royal Canadian Navy as HMCS Grilse (SS-71).

Here is a photo of Burrfish under way during the second phase of her life. She has been converted to carry early warning radar in order to serve as a radar picket for large warships such as aircraft carriers. In that role she served extensively in east-coast American areas, the Baltic, and the Mediterranean on three extended assignments. She had been fitted with her radar equipment and operated with it from 1950 to 1956, when she decommissioned.

Next up on my series about the Burrfish: her distinguished wartime service.