Commander Submarine Force,
           U.S. Pacific Fleet


 
           COMSUBPAC Press Release

         Attack! The USS Wahoo’s Final Patrol.
         Aggressive WWII Submarine Skipper “Mush Morton”
        Always Took The Fight To The Enemy!

                  by JOCS(SW/AW) Darrell D. Ames

  Pearl Harbor, HI. At the outset of World War II, Rear Admiral Charles Lockwood, newly appointed commander of the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force, was seeking daring and courageous men to lead his submarines into battle. Frustrated by the lack of enemy sightings or engagements when his subs returned from patrol, he began replacing the existing commanding officers with a younger, bolder breed of skipper who would aggressively seek out and engage the enemy. Cmdr. Dudley “Mush” Morton was just this type of leader.

  Born in Virginia and raised in Kentucky, Cmdr. Morton had a feisty and daring nature about him. A lifelong yearning for greatness and his desire to always “give that extra effort” led to his success at U.S. Naval Academy (Class of 1930) and eventually to command of one of the U.S. Navy’s most fierce warships of all time, the USS Wahoo (SS 238).
  “When I first met Cmdr. Morton it only took me one minute to realize that I would follow that man to the bottom of the ocean if necessary,” said former Wahoo Sailor, retired Chief Yeoman Forrest Sterling. “Mush Morton was a true leader of men and knew his business inside and out,” he added.
  Cmdr. Morton commanded his first submarine, the USS R-5 in the Atlantic, and was transferred to the Pacific after two successful patrols. He served as Wahoo executive officer under LCDR M. G. Kennedy and returned to assume command of the ship in January, 1943. Nicknamed “Mush Mouth” and later shortened to “Mush” because of his story-telling ability, Morton was an uncommonly talented submarine commander. Extremely capable and aggressive, he feared nothing on or below the sea. Every time Wahoo departed on patrol Lockwood was confident there would be engagement with the enemy and reports of enemy ship sinkings to follow.


  Fresh off a west-coast overhaul, Wahoo headed westward from Pearl Harbor on August 8, 1943 to begin her sixth war patrol. Targets were plenty, but faulty torpedoes had Morton in a fit of rage. He was risking his crew and his ship in one of the most hazardous areas of the world. “Damn the torpedoes,” wrote Morton in his messages back to COMSUBPAC. Lockwood ordered the Wahoo to return to Pearl.
  Upon arrival in Hawaii, Mush Morton paid a visit to Lockwood’s office. He described in detail how frustrating his patrol had been, a patrol that saw Wahoo fire ten “duds” in a row. After several heated discussions, Cmdr. Morton convinced Lockwood to let him go back to the Sea of Japan with a load of new Mark 18 electric torpedoes. Lockwood gave his permission, assigning USS Sawfish to go with Wahoo. Although the Mark 18’s had not yet been debugged, Cmdr. Morton and LCDR Sands (Sawfish) felt they were better than taking out a load of Mark 14’s. Both ships departed Pearl Harbor on September 9, 1943 with a mixture of each.












  Wahoo topped off her tanks with fuel at Midway Island and proceeded west with order to enter the Sea of Japan via La Perouse Strait around September 20th and patrol below the 43rd parallel for about four weeks. Sawfish was to enter the Sea of Japan three days later and patrol that area above the parallel. If all went well Wahoo would depart the area on October 21st. Mush Morton and his 79 crewmembers were never heard from again.

  A study of Japanese records after the war revealed the submarine’s fate. Between September 29th and October 9th Morton was taking the fight to the enemy. Wahoo was able to sink four ships in the area. On October 5th, the Japanese news agency Domei announced to the world that a “steamer” was sunk by an American submarine off the west coast of Honshu near Tsushima Strait, with the loss of 544 lives. This was the 8,000-ton Konron Maru. The other three ships that Morton sank totaled 5,300 tons.




  TIME Magazine reported this broadcast in their October 18, 1943 edition under the headline, “KNOCK AT THE DOOR.” The magazine’s readers were reminded that the torpedoing occurred in waters, which were “Japan’s historic door” to Asia’s mainland.

  Morton’s ship sustained some damage from unknown causes during this period because it was leaking oil as it transited the La Perouse Strait on the surface on the morning of October 11, 1943. This explains why Cmdr. Morton chose to make the passage in broad daylight. A large-caliber coast artillery gun on Soya Misaki promontory sighted Wahoo around 8:30 am and opened fire. Morton submerged his damaged submarine and continued on course. Sawfish had been depth-charged by patrol boats while transiting the strait two days prior. There was little doubt that the target on the 11th was Wahoo. Meanwhile, the Japanese battery commander alerted patrol aircraft and ships to the intruder’s presence. An hour later, a patrol seaplane arrived and spotted small oil slick on the water. Closer inspection revealed a submerged black hull and conning tower. The seaplane and another dropped several bombs on the target and brought up bubbles and oil.




  At noon a submarine chaser arrived and dropped 16 depth charges, bringing up one of Wahoo’s propeller blades. Following this barrage the Japanese could not find the submarine. Only an expanding oil slick of diesel fuel 200 feet wide and three miles long marked Wahoo’s watery grave. A teary-eyed Lockwood examined the Japanese records with much sadness as it described the loss of one of his favorite sons – “Mush the Magnificent.”

  The loss of Cmdr. Dudley “Mush” Morton and Wahoo sent shock waves throughout the entire submarine force. When Wahoo was officially reported missing on November 9th, Lockwood ceased all further trips into the Sea of Japan. The area was abandoned as a patrol route and was not invaded again until June 1945. Morton was posthumously awarded a fourth Navy Cross, and when he died, was responsible for sinking 19 ships totaling 55,000 tons. These figures, in terms of individual ships sunk, placed him as one of the three most successful submarine skippers of the war. Incidentally, the only man who surpassed Morton in the entire submarine force was Morton’s former executive officer, Captain Dick O’Kane, who totaled 24 kills in the USS Tang before she was sunk by the last of her own torpedoes with the loss of all but nine of her crew in 1944.

  In 1960 Lockwood was asked to write the forward for former Wahoo crewmember Forest Sterling’s book, “Wake of the Wahoo.” He wrote about Morton. “When a natural leader and born daredevil such as Mush Morton is given command of a submarine, the result can only be a fighting ship of the highest order, with officers and men who would follow their skipper to the Gates of Hell….And they did,” wrote Lockwood. “Morton lined up an impressive number of ‘firsts’ during the short ten months that he commanded Wahoo: first to penetrate an enemy harbor and sink a ship therein; first to use successfully a down-the-throat shot; and first to wipe out an entire convoy single-handed,” added Lockwood.




  Several former Wahoo crewmembers were discussing their beloved commanding officer years later and were able to sum up “Mush Morton’s” attitude in one word – “Attack!” Thus marked the end of another in a long line of WWII U.S. Navy submarine heroes, Cmdr. Dudley “Mush” Morton, a man who always took the fight to the enemy.


August, 2000



 
Wahoo (SS-238) Peace Memorial, dedicated September 9, 1995 at Wakkanai, Cape Soya, Hokkaido, Japan. Standing only a few miles from where the Wahoo (SS-238) lies on the bottom with 80 men.
Wahoo leaving Pearl for patrol
CDR Morton with XO LT Richard H. O'Kane, 1943
WWII Mystery at Sea Solved
  
By NED POTTER, ABCNews.com

TROUT RUN, Pa., (Nov. 21) -- This story is about a submarine, but perhaps it is best to begin it in the hills of central Pennsylvania.

When Bobby Logue was a boy in the 1930s, he loved to go hunting here, in woods his family had owned for half a century.
  "He was a great athlete, a hunter, a fisherman, and when I was a little kid I used to go fishing with him," said his younger brother George, now 79. "He was going to be a great engineer."
But the Depression was at its deepest when Bobby finished high school in 1938. He joined the Navy and, after Pearl Harbor, was assigned to the crew of a submarine.
Its name: the USS Wahoo.
   The Wahoo's early maneuvers in the Pacific were considered unremarkable, but then it was assigned a new skipper-a charismatic, aggressive young man named Dudley W. Morton. The men who served under him called him "Mush," and, apparently without exception, they loved him.
"My father took over the sub in 1942," said his son Doug, who now lives in Colorado, "and he got the crew together, and he said to them, 'We are not going to sit around. We are going to go out and kill 'em. And in so doing, we might, you might be killed.'"
Morton offered his crew the option of reassignment, no questions asked. "And not one person left. They absolutely adored him."
   The Wahoo became one of the most-celebrated submarines of World War II. In a year and a half, Morton's crew sank at least 19 Japanese ships-more than any other submarine of the time.
The U.S. Navy, breaking with its usual wartime secrecy, allowed newspaper stories about the Wahoo's exploits. A movie was made, "Destination Tokyo," with Cary Grant as the captain of a fictional submarine that steals into Tokyo harbor. Mush Morton was technical adviser, and people who saw the film said Grant's character was modeled after him.
   In September 1943, the Wahoo set out from Midway Island on its seventh mission. The sixth had been unsuccessful; there were problems with the torpedoes. Now the sub was equipped with the Navy's newest torpedo model. Bobby Logue, who had been due for reassignment, was asked to stay on with the crew.
And then, unexpectedly, the submarine went silent. By October, the Wahoo was supposed to be in a very dangerous place, looking for enemy ships in the La Perouse Strait (the Soya Strait on Japanese maps), just miles off the coast of northern Japan.
   "And I come home from school one day," Logue told us slowly, "and my mother was ironing, and she was crying. "I said, 'What's wrong?' And she showed me the newspaper. It said USS Wahoo was overdue and presumed lost."
   Overdue and presumed lost. The phrase was accurate as far as it went; all the Navy knew was that the Wahoo had not returned to base.  But to parents, wives and children of submariners, no phrase was more feared, or less conclusive. "I was four, said Morton. "I know my immediate response was, 'Why don't they find him?'" "I wasn't going to settle for that," said Logue, who was seven years younger than his brother. "When I heard 'overdue and presumed lost,' I said, 'Like hell. I'm going to find out what happened to the Wahoo.' I was just a kid."
   For decades, the trail was as cold as the waters off Hokkaido. Logue pored through naval records, made contact with Japanese researchers, traveled to Japan in search of the lost submarine, and helped erect a peace monument there. And then, an extraordinary thing happened. War records showed that on Oct. 11, 1943, at 9:20 in the morning, an American submarine had been fired upon in the La Perouse Strait.
A Russian expedition came to the strait in August 2006. And there, in 200 feet of water, they found the wreck of a submarine. Three weeks ago, the U.S. Navy confirmed it is most likely that of the USS Wahoo.
   "I'm not sure I'll ever get over his loss," said Morton, the skipper's son. "Maybe through finding the Wahoo, we'll solve that, but I'm not sure that it will. "It's just nice that there's a place now," he said. "I'm glad it was found." I asked Logue how he thought his brother should be remembered. "He should be remembered as a real, true American hero," he said. "A guy who went through four years of submarine warfare and then volunteered to go on another trip. "I'll never forget about Bobby. You know, I still think about him a lot." Logue's eyes moistened. He gestured to the hills out the window. "But my brother loved this place up here. This is being close to him."


See bottom for some interesting and important links on Wahoo and submarine history
I would like to give a big Thank You to Ned Potter and ABC News for allowing us to use this story about our ships namesake. It helps keep his memory alive. The name Morton means a lot to us who sailed her and now we know a little more about the man she was named for. Thanks Ned
These links are to the story and to a video from an ABC News Story on World News With Charlie Gibson, reported by Ned Potter and aired on Nov 21st, 2006.

The Use this link to view the  text version of our story is on our web site


This  links to a streaming video of the version we did for "World News with Charles Gibson."  It aired on Nov. 21.

ABC New main website


NOTE:. This website has recieved no monies for any advertising and will not accept any. I post these links as a courtesy to ABC News for being gracious enough to share their reporting with us so we can all learn a little more about our naval history and out=r ships namesake. God Bless Ned and all at ABC News.
    God Bless the families of all those missing at sea and all those who scarificed so much so we may live on in a free nation. Lets keep it that way. God Bless all who served and those who are serving. Without them there would be no USA.









These two pictures and the one above  in middle of crew with subs sail behind them are courtesy of Ned Potter and ABC News
Wahoo at sea
Right appears to be a Japanese destroyer going down. Good shot. I don't know if this was from a Wahoo patrol or an archive but this is what they looked like from the periscope. Wahoo is credited with 19 Jap ships sunk.
About the memorial
Wahoo (SS-238) Peace Memorial, dedicated September 9, 1995 at Wakkanai, Cape Soya, Hokkaido, Japan. Standing only a few miles from where the Wahoo (SS-238) lies on the bottom with 80 men.

In the Second Book of Shmuel (Samuel), 22nd chapter, 5th through the 20th verses, translated from the original in Hebrew and published by the Koren Publishers of Jerusalem, Israel, 1982, can perhaps aptly describe the fate of the crew and all other U.S. submariners who died defending their county:

"When the waves of death compassed me / the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; / the bonds of She'ol encircled me; / the snares of death took me by surprise; / in my distress I called upon the Lord, / and cried to my GOD: / and he heard my voice out of his temple, / and my cry entered into his ears. / Then the earth shook and trembled; /the foundations of heaven moved / and shook because of his anger /...the heavy mass of waters, and thick clouds of the skies /... And the channels of the sea appeared, / the foundations of the world were laid bare, / at the rebuking of the Lord, at the blast at the breath of his nostrils. / He sent from above, he took me; / he drew me out of many waters; / he delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too strong for me. / They surprised me in the day of my calamity: / but the Lord was my stay / He brought me forth also into a large place: / he delivered me because he delighted in me./"
American World War 2 submarine ops
Silent Hunter and the Pacific War, 1941 to 1945
A great website for submarine hirtory