USS Bluegill Battle Flag

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USS Bluegill (SS-242) WW2
Sixth War Patrol:  Reconnoiter Pratas Reef

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Last Days

WWII Odyssey

Sixth War Patrol:  Reconnoiter Pratas Reef

"With a little extra time on her hands, Bluegill jogged to the eastward to take a "look-see" at tiny Pratas Island, a dot in the vastness of the South China Sea 180 miles southeast of Hongkong on the air line from North Luzon. Its location gave it value as a weather station and for detection of Allied planes headed for the Japanese-held Chinese and Indo-Chinese coast.

"Bluegill dived. Unseen by the enemy from her point of vantage below the waves, she studied the island at leisure with her 6-power periscope. She spotted a lighthouse, radio towers, a radar installation. a flagpole displaying the Jap colors, barracks and other buildings. Gun emplacements were suspected rather than seen. There appeared to be two usable landing beaches but according to Anderson and Owens the surf conditions were bad. To draw enemy fire and learn something of their strength, young Eric decided to ease out to the extreme range of his 5"s, come to the surface after dark and lob over a few steel-jacketed calling-cards. This he did, with a 'Battle Surface' - a maneuver which brings the vessel to the surface as quickly as possible and the gun-crew on deck to clear the gun and open fire immediately. It's not popular in the cold waters of unsheltered seas, because it means half a bath for the gun-crews. But the Jap wouldn't play, and with no response from the enemy on the island, Bluegill rang up 'All engines, ahead standard' and proceeded on her way to the assigned lifeguard station forty miles off Hong Kong, filing away for future reference everything that she had learned about Pratas Is1and." [ Admiral Christie]

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