North of the River

VFW 10859​​

Donald Cecil Coombs

Military Tribute Page

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USS Silversides (SS/AGSS-236) is a Gato-class submarine, the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the silversides, a small fish marked with a silvery stripe along each side of its body.

SS-236 USS Silversides

Gato/Albacore class Fleet Submarine:
Displacement: 1,526 tons surfaced, 2,424 tons submerged
Length: 311'8"-311'10"
Beam: 27'3"
Draft: 16'107"
Speed: 20 knots surfaced, 9 knots submerged
Armament: 1 3"/50 or 1 4"/50 or 1 5"/50, 6 bow and 4 stern torpedo tubes, 24 21" torpedoes (loaded tubes plus reloads: 10 forward, 4 aft)
Complement: 80
Diesel engines/electric motors

Built at Mare Island Navy Yard, and commissioned 15 December 1941

Her keel was laid down on 4 November 1940 by the Mare Island Navy Yard in Vallejo, California. She was launched on 26 August 1941 (sponsored by Mrs. Elizabeth H. Hogan), and commissioned on 15 December 1941, with Lieutenant Commander Creed C. Burlingame (Class of 1927) in command.
The following describes the USS Silversides’ operations during the time Donald would have been aboard:

Fifth and sixth patrols: May – September 1943

Silversides 's fifth war patrol commenced on 17 May 1943 and was conducted in the Solomon Islands area. Her primary mission was to lay a minefield in Steffan Strait, between New Hanover and New Ireland, but she did not neglect enemy shipping. On the night of 10 June – 11 June, she sank the 5,256-ton cargo ship Hide Maru; for her efforts, Silversides was forced to endure a severe depth charging. She returned to Brisbane for refit on 16 July.

For her sixth war patrol, from 21 July to 4 September, Silversides patrolled between the Solomons and the Carolines. Since she was plagued with malfunctioning torpedoes and a scarcity of targets, she returned to Brisbane empty-handed.

Seventh and eighth patrols: October 1943 – January 1944

Silversides set sail on 5 October1944 for her seventh war patrol, in which she sank four enemy ships in waters ranging from the Solomon Islands to the coast of New Guinea. On 18 October, she torpedoed and sank the cargo ship Tairin Maru, and, on 24 October, made a series of daring attacks to send the cargo ships Tennan Maru and Kazan Maru and the passenger/cargo ship Johore Maru to the bottom. She returned to Pearl Harbor for refit on 8 November.

Silversides patrolled off the Palau Islands for her eighth war patrol, where, on 29 December 1943, she brought havoc to an enemy convoy of cargo ships, sinking Tenposan Maru, Shichisei Maru, and Ryuto Maru. She terminated her eighth patrol at Pearl Harbor on 15 January 1944.

Ninth and tenth patrols: February – June 1944

For her ninth war patrol, Silversides departed Pearl Harbor on 15 February and set course for waters west of the Marianas Islands. On 16 March, she sank the cargo ship Kofuku Maru. The remainder of the patrol was devoid of worthwhile targets, so the submarine returned to Fremantle on 8 April.[clarification needed]

While on her tenth war patrol, again off the Marianas Islands, Silversides destroyed six enemy vessels for a total of over 14,000 tons. On 10 May, she torpedoed and sank the cargo ship Okinawa Maru, followed up with the passenger/cargo ship Mikage Maru; and then sent the converted gunboat Choan Maru Number Two beneath the waves. Ten days later, she added to her score when she sank another converted gunboat, the 998-ton Shosei Maru. On 29 May, the submarine torpedoed and sank the cargo ships Shoken Maru and Horaizan Maru; and then headed for Pearl Harbor, arriving on 11 June. Two days later, she got underway for Mare Island Navy Yard for overhaul, returning to Pearl Harbor on 12 September.

Eleventh and twelfth patrol: September 1944 – February 1945

Silversides cleared Pearl Harbor on 24 September for her eleventh war patrol, conducted off Kyūshū, Japan. Although this patrol was unproductive, she aided in the rescue of a stricken sister submarine. Salmon (SS-182) had been badly damaged in a severe depth charging and was forced to surface and try to escape while fighting enemy escorts in a gun battle, a task for which a submarine is badly outmatched. The gunfire flashes brought Silversides to the scene. She deliberately drew the attention of some of the escorts, then quickly dove to escape the gunfire. Soon, submarines Trigger (SS-237) and Sterlet (SS-392) joined in helping Silversides to guard Salmon, and in escorting the stricken submarine back to Saipan, arriving on 3 November. Silversides terminated her eleventh patrol at Midway Island on 23 November.

Silversides' twelfth war patrol commenced on 22 December 1944, and was spent in the East China Sea. Despite aggressive searching, she found few worthwhile targets. However, when an opportunity did come her way, Silversides took full advantage. On 25 January 1945, she torpedoed the 4,556-ton cargo ship Malay Maru. She returned to Midway Island on 12 February.

Thirteenth and fourteenth patrols: March – July 1945

During her thirteenth war patrol, Silversides was a member of a coordinated attack group with submarines Hackleback (SS-295) and Threadfin (SS-410), patrolling off Kyūshū. Although she again found few worthwhile targets, the submarine did manage to damage a large freighter and to sink a trawler before returning to Pearl Harbor on 29 April.

Silversides 's fourteenth and final war patrol began with departure from Pearl Harbor on 30 May. This patrol was spent on lifeguard station in support of air strikes on Honshū, Japan. On 22 July, she rescued a downed fighter pilot from the light aircraft carrier Independence (CVL-22), and two days later recovered a downed United States Army Air Forces airman. She ended this patrol at Apra Harbor, Guam, on 30 July. The submarine was undergoing refit there when the hostilities with Japan ended on 15 August.

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