On 22 April 1943, USS GRENADIER (SS-210) was lost near the island of Phuket in Thailand. She did not die quietly.
GRENADIER departed Australia for her sixth war patrol on 20 March. One month later, on the night of 20-21 April, the sub discovered and pursued two enemy merchantmen. Unfortunately, as dawn broke she was spotted by a Japanese plane. She dove to 120 feet, but seconds later two bombs exploded near the boat, heeling her over nearly twenty degrees and killing all power. As she settled on the bottom at 270 feet, her crew scrambled to put out a serious fire in maneuvering and make the repairs that would enable her to make her way back to the surface.
Miraculously, 13 hours later, she made it. As his boat rose out of the water, Lieutenant Commander John Fitzgerald, GRENADIER’s commanding officer, and his crew went topside to inspect the damage, which was substantial. Without a functioning propulsion system, Fitzgerald tried to jury-rig a sail to get the boat closer to a nearby island so his men could escape. The effort failed. Dawn on 22 April proved to be little better than the same time the day before when the crew spotted two enemy vessels heading straight for them. With few options left, the men began burning confidential documents and preparing to scuttle the ship. As they did so, the part of the crew that remained topside contended with a Japanese plane that appeared in the sky overhead. They managed to hit the aircraft with fire from the deck gun, but as the injured plane veered away it dropped a torpedo that exploded just a few hundred yard from the stricken sub.
Moments later, GRENADIER’s crew opened all the boat’s vents, then abandoned ship and watched her sink beneath the waves. A Japanese merchant vessel picked up all 76 crewmembers. The men spent the rest of the war in prison camps along the Malay Peninsula and then in Japan, suffering starvation and torture but refusing to provide their captors with any information. After two long years, the 72 surviving crewmembers were released at war’s end. Illness claimed the remaining four men: Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class Charles Doyle, Steward’s Mate First Class Justiniano Garcia Guico, Machinist’s Mate Second Class Charles Freeman Linder, and Machinist’s Mate Third Class George William Snyder, Jr.
GRENADIER received four battle stars for her wartime service.