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"We never made a patrol that we didn't sink a ship; we never sank a ship that we didn't get depth-charged." (Audio Interview, 25:29)

   Warren H. Link
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War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Navy
Unit: 6th Submarine Squadron (Subron)
Service Location: Norfolk, Virginia; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Rank: Chief Motor Machinist's Mate
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Warren Link served on the Tambor, the flagship of the Sixth Submarine Squadron, with Robert Hunt. Patrolling off Wake Island the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Tambor saw the island ablaze form Japanese bombs. Six months later, the sub was first to report the Japanese task force off Midway. Two cruisers in pursuit ran into each other, and the Tambor received credit for damaging the ships without firing a shot. According to Link's memoir, the Tambor also transported ammunition, medical supplies, and troops to Filippino guerrillas; laid mines; and engaged in many wolf pack operations. He describes in terrifying detail several depth charge attacks that lasted over 12 hours each.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (11 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (93 min.)
»We Remember the Tambor, SS-198 by the Crew
 Official Documents
»View List (2 items)
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»Submarines: The Silent Service
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (11 items)
Was a machinist's apprentice who got a break working on diving helmets for the Navy; he was going to night school and a professor suggested he join the Naval Reserve to put his hands on equipment he was interested in; this was 1938; Reserve called up in 1939 and he delayed entry to mentor a replacement; basic training in Norfolk in 1940; was far advanced of other new sailors in training as machinist's mates; selected submarine school. (04:39) Testing for claustrophobia in sub school; diving tower tested ability to escape from submerged submarine; important to release your breath as you ascend; his experience working on diving helmets helped him understand the physics of working underwater. (05:45) Going to sound school; machinist's mates were trained to listen to engines for any false sounds; joining crew of the Tambor in late 1941; practice runs around Wake Island; they surfaced only at night; one night, they saw the island was on fire; this was the Japanese attack the same day as Pearl Harbor; Marines running the island refused any help; Tambor captain's policy was they would live through war by sinking ships and vacating as quickly as possible; the wake of a torpedo would lead the destroyer escorts back to them; they always got depth-charged whenever they sank a ship. (08:20)
Sank a Japanese packet (mail) boat; a $5000 gun boat sunk by their $10,000 torpedo; bomber damaged their periscope and they had to returned to Pearl just before Christmas; saw remnants of the fleet; bodies still coming to the surface; harbor was 8 inches deep in fuel oil; went there after the war and oil was still accumulating in isolated pools. (02:29) Put out in front of American fleet at Midway for the big battle; with six other submarines, they were watching for the Japanese fleet; their sector was where the fleet came through; they sailed underwater through the fleet, using a Jane's reference book to identify the individual ships; their periscope was leaving a plume that could be spotted, even in the dark; two cruisers pulled out to pursue them and the Tambor dove quickly; the ships ran into each other, causing major damage to one, and the Tambor got the credit for the damage. (03:28) Communicating with Admiral Spruance on the composition of the Japanese fleet; they were first to notify of the presence of the fleet; had "a little set-to" during the Battle of Midway; disabled by bombs; he was hit on the head by a wrench, which knocked him out cold; they had to go back to port for repairs. (06:43)
Bringing hand grenades into the Philippines to supply the guerrillas; danger in moving cases of grenades from the sub to improvised guerrilla vessels; did regular patrols through the islands; tricky navigation between their home base of Perth, Australia and the Philippines; explanation of how Japanese calibrated their depth charges; concussion from the blast can make your ears pop and knock you off your feet if your knees are not slightly bent to take the shock. (10:39) Physical reaction to constant depth charges: combination of being at duty station for hours without a bathroom break and force of the concussions had loosening effect on the bladder; during depth charge attack, everyone stripped down to shorts and sandals, because the air conditioning was off and there was a lot of perspiring; also outbreaks of prickly heat; painful but effective cure for it; these are details movies about submarines never show. (04:54) When you sink a ship, you aren't thinking of the people on board but the cargo it's carrying; U.S. subs sank many more Japanese ships than their surface counterparts; one in every five submariners and 52 submarines were lost during the war; began the war with 12 ships in their "subron" (Submarine Squadron) and ended it with only two, the Tambor and the Thresher; evasive strategies his captains used after firing torpedoes; taking 70 depth charges in one attack that lasted 16 hours; staying on bottom for that time and getting stuck in the sand and mire; losing over 10,000 gallons of fuel in the effort to get free; Link lowered into the periscope housing to retrieve two dials which had jarred loose; he was the only man small enough for the job; Tokyo Rose reporting the Tambor had been sunk and the report getting back to Washington, where the wife of one of the crew read it; they radioed in the contradiction shortly thereafter. (16:13)
After the war was over, he put away everything related to his service in a chest and got on with his life; worked for General Electric for 15 years, recruited by J.C. Penney, which credited his service at GE as an incentive; was head of customer relations for major appliance repair; developed a friendship with Mr. Penney, who told him if Link could stand depth charges, he could stand listening to an irate customer. (04:09) Early in the war, he designed a system to circulate water that would cool the engines in the submarine; got a commendation for that. (00:32) 
 Official Documents (2 items)
Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal [11/2/1945] Citation for "heroic and meritorious service" from Admiral C. W. Nimitz 

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  October 26, 2011
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