How Allied Submariners and Western Australians helped to win the war in the Pacific
By Michael Sturma
Published by Naval Institute Press
RRP USD $32.95 in hardcover
As submarines are the topic du jour, I thought it timely to blog about a book that extolls the value of submarines in the Pacific theatre in WWII.
Back in 2012, Professor Michael Sturma of Murdoch University spoke about his research for this book, saying that Fremantle was underappreciated for its impact in the Pacific theatre.
‘A lot of people aren’t aware of what an important base it was during the war. Around 170 submarines were based there at various times, and they conducted more than 400 war patrols,’ he said.
He said that while there weren’t any Australian submarines, American and British submarines carried a large number of Australian commandos, dropping them behind enemy lines in Borneo, Malaya, Java and the Philippines.
His research has now come to fruition with the publication of this book by the Naval Institute Press of Annapolis, MD.
Part historical and part social history, Fremantle’s Submarines seeks to emphasise the importance of the Western Australian port as a forward operating base in the Pacific War.
While not the US Navy’s first choice because of the distance from the American Patrol areas and supply lines, Fremantle compensated by having an excellent harbour and ironically, by being outside the range of land-based Japanese aircraft.
Sturma also believes that the local civilians played an important role in fostering the close bonds the community developed with the Allied submariners. From the standpoint of morale, Sturma contends these bonds helped make Fremantle ‘arguably the most successful military outpost of World War II’.
Sturma reveals that Fremantle-based submarines ‘sank some 377 ships totalling 1,519,322 tons, with US submarines accounting for 340 of these ships’. These submarines effectively cut off the enemy’s supplies of raw materials, thus severing the logistic lines of Japan’s war machine.
I’m sure this book will have broad appeal, especially to anyone interested in WWII naval operations in the Pacific.