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Hellcats: The Epic Story of World War II's Most Daring Submarine Raid Hardcover – November 2, 2010
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With no knowledge of the secret development of the atomic bomb, senior American sub force commanders, desperate to avoid an invasion of the home islands, believed that if these enemy ships, vitally important to the enemy's war effort, were sunk, Japan would be forced to surrender.
For the first time ever, author Peter Sasgen tells the complete, incredible story of Operation Barney, the daring plot to penetrate the dense minefields protecting the Sea of Japan and decimate the enemy fleet. The brainchild of the dedicated sub commander Vice Admiral Charles Lockwood, the mission would hinge on a new experimental sonar system that would, with luck, guide American submarines safely past the mines and into the open sea.
The nine submarines chosen, nicknamed Hellcats, were tasked with the impossible—the combined crews of 760 submariners all knew their chances of survival were slim. Based on original documents and the poignant personal letters of one doomed Hellcat commander, Sasgen crafts a classic naval tale of one of World War II's most dangerous missions.
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"A worthwhile addition to most naval collections...Sasgen gives eloquent and accessible accounts for the general reader of the development of the FM sonar, the picking of the submarines, and Operation Barney itself...memorable and moving ...Deserves the commendation well done."
- Publisher : NAL; 1st edition (November 2, 2010)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0451231368
- ISBN-13 : 978-0451231369
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.25 x 9.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,560,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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FM Sonar had been developed to help locate enemy mines which would allow American submarines to successfully penetrate the Sea of Japan. After some initial problems were ironed out, nine American submarines, including the USS Bonefish, were headed to the Sea of Japan.
The subs managed to make their way into the Sea, and in the time that they were there, the group managed to sink well over twenty enemy ships. However, not all was well; the Bonefish was lost with all hands.
Sarah Edge, the wife of Captain Lawrence Edge of the Bonefish, refused to believe the initial news that the Bonefish was lost. She spent the next year writing letters to Lockwood and others trying to find out the fate of her husband. Ultimately, as she received replies from Navy personnel, she began to accept the fact that Lawrence was not coming back. The official synopsis of the sinking indicates that the Bonefish had attacked a group of three Japanese patrol boats. All torpedoes fired missed, and the patrol boats began a lethal depth-charge attack that ultimately sank the Bonefish.
Many questions were raised, by Sarah Edge and others, as to the necessity of Operation Barney. Critics argued that Japan was very close to defeat, so why risk nine submarines on a mission that might have proven to be unnecessary? However, in the final analysis, the mission was very successful, and the loss of one submarine can be viewed as acceptable when compared to the Japanese losses.
I found "Hellcats" to be an informative and interesting read. I've read many books about submarine warfare in the Pacific war, but this is the first book I've found that dealt specifically with Operation Barney. Author Peter Sasgen does a good job of describing the FM sonar that was installed in the American submarines to spot the Japanese minefields, and the action in the Sea of Japan is told in vivid detail.
I recommend this book to readers of submarine history. Operation Barney might have been controversial, but there's no denying the final outcome; the Sea of Japan was no longer safe from American submarine attacks.
If you want to get more in-depth reading read Admiral Lookheads version as well. Well done sir!
The book gives excellent information on the development of the FM sonar and Admiral Lockwood's unfailing devotion to it's development and installation.
Where the book fails is the almost non-existent tail of the submarines involved in the mission. The book seems to rely entirely on the letters between the only submarine lost in the mission, USS Bonefish and her captain Lawrence Edge, and his wife.
The letters give an emotional tug as Captain Edge speaks of his love for his wife, daughter and unborn child, and his wish to be done with the war and returning to his family.
Outside of each submarine's relation to the Bonefish, there's almost no information on the crews of the other submarines and their reactions to taking on this dangerous mission.
I'm torn about recommending the book, as it does have some good information, I was just left wanting more.