Over the course of her World-War-II service, USS CREVALLE (SS-291) completed seven war patrols, won five battle stars and four Navy Unit Commendations, and sank close to 52,000 tons of shipping. During her first two war patrols, CREVALLE was commanded by Lieutenant Commander H.G. Munson, a 1932 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who won two of his three Navy Crosses during his time aboard.
Although he was clearly a skilled submariner, Munson also proved to have a dry sense of humor, as evidenced by the entry he penned in his war patrol report on 18 November 1943. The evening of that day found CREVALLE off the coast of Luzon, in the Philippines, in pursuit of a wildly zigzagging Japanese carrier. The sub chased the ship for nearly two hours before firing a spread of torpedoes. The carrier’s crew, clearly angry at being shot at, returned fire with the vessel’s five-inch and machine guns as CREVALLE, running on the surface, steamed by at about 400 yards’ distance.
“Mindful of the necessity of keeping the initiative but feeling that it had just plain run out on us,” Monson wrote, “we decided that retirement was in order and so we neatly executed the maneuver known as getting the hell out of there.” Given that escape required the sub to dive, members of the crew who remained topside scrambled to get below. “An argument arose later as to who left the bridge first. The C.O. [Commanding Officer] was of the opinion that he led the way, the OOD [Officer of the Deck] stated definitely that he was first in order to tend the hatch and one of the three lookouts firmly stated that he observed (from below) both these officers decend [sic]. In whatever order it was accomplished we must have resembled a totem pole or else gone through the hatch three abreast. The incentive was there. Like the arab, we quietly folded our tent and stole away, running silently (this ship runs very quietly when silenced)….”
All in all, it was a successful day: the Japanese carrier sank and CREVALLE, along with her crew and their jocular captain, escaped.