Please note in the first of the three submarine silhouettes depicted on the chart in the main graphic above that it clearly shows the World War II Japanese I-Class submarine in the role of a mother ship. It is thought the two-man midget submarine that washed up on shore in Redondo Beach, California in October of 1942 reportedly with the bodies of two dead Japanese officers after being bombed, was delivered along the coast via a mother ship, the events as recorded from the source below:
"It was a quiet morning around 10:00 AM and me and my girlfriend were walking along the beach. All of a sudden out of nowhere, six American bombers flew right over us and started dropping bombs about 500 yards from the shoreline. They then circled back and did it again, dropping at least 50 bombs and then flew away. The next thing I knew about 200 soldiers appeared and they quickly closed the beach.
"Later that day radio news broadcasts said that a Japanese two-man submarine had been sighted off the coast of Redondo and it was destroyed. Two days later the submarine washed up on shore and inside they found the bodies of two Japanese Naval officers."
WORLD WAR II COMES TO REDONDO
On September 10, 1942, one month before the Japanese midget sub was bombed off Redondo, a U.S. Army Air Force maritime patrol bomber out of McChord Field in Tacoma, Washington, on routine patrol, caught the huge aircraft equipped Japanese sumarine I-25 exposed on the surface with a number of crew members on deck. The sub managed to crash-dive eventually escaping with no damage after the bomber dropped a whole bomb bay of explosives on her (some reports cite anywhere from 3 to 10 depth charges unleashed by the bomber).
A few days later, well off the Oregon coast and no longer being pursued --- and apparently what the crew was on deck making preparations for --- the sub took on a two-man midget sub. The sub was apparently offloaded from an armed merchant ship or commerce raider, with all fingers pointing to the Japanese transport ship Hakusan Maru, she being escorted at the time in the open seas south of the Aleutians by the Japanese submarine RO-64, both vessels operating out of the occupied island of Kiska, Alaska.
JAPANESE TWO-MAN SUBMARINE MOUNTED ADJACENT TO THE MOTHER SHIP'S CONNING TOWER
THE I-25, A MIDGET SUBMARINE, AND CALIFORNIA'S CHANNEL ISLANDS:
Early in World War II nine Type B-1 aircraft equipped long range Japanese Imperial Submarines we are talking about here were strategically located along the North American Pacific west coast in areas considered best suited to attack shipping lanes most commonly used by American merchantmen. The nine submarines in numerical order (and their locations) were:
- I-9 Cape Blanco, Oregon
- I-10 San Diego, California
- I-15 San Francisco Bay, California
- I-17 Cape Mendocino, California
- I-19 Los Angeles Harbor, California
- I-21 Estero Bay, California
- I-23 Monterey Bay, California
- I-25 Columbia River, marks the border dividing Washington state and Oregon
- I-26 Strait of Juan de Fuca, U.S. and Canada international boundary
As for the I-25 out of the nine being a mother ship, official records cataloging her movements clearly indicate she traveled from her usual Pacific northwest theater of operation, as listed above, to at least as far south as Point Arguello along the California coast. Although no official reason for doing so has ever been given, intermingled with the I-25's timeline of operation is a strong substantiating co-factor that a Japanese midget submarine possibly holed up on one of the Channel Islands not far from Point Arguello during the same period the I-25 was in the south.(see)
On the night of February 24, 1942, an almost duplicate sister ship to the I-25, bearing the number I-17, unrelated to any I-25 movements, rose up out of the depths of Pacific along the shoreline off the little town of Goleta, 12 miles north of Santa Barbara, California, and totally unchallenged, for a full 25 minutes, unleashed 25 rounds from her five-inch deck gun into the Ellwood oil refinery.(see)
Four months later, with no connection to the Ellwood incident, an article datelined June 23, 1942 was published under the banner of the Santa Barbara News Press written by famed journalist Gladwin Hill. In the article, done sometime previous to the dateline, Hill interviewed one Herbert Lester who, along with his family lived on the island of San Miguel 40.3 miles south of Point Arguello and 41.5 miles south west of Goleta. Although in the interview it doesn't show up (possibly being censored because of the war or by Hill himself not wanting to frighten the mainland folk), Lester mentioned he had seen from a distance what looked like a landing party of several men with a strong military bearing (i.e., uniforms and weapons) who had come ashore in an inflatable boat having arrived from an unseen source, possibly a submarine. Cautious not to be seen he got as close as possible and even from the distance of his hidden vantage point he was easily able see the men were Asian, most likely Japanese. The way they were searching the area and pacing off the shoreline et al, it looked all the same as though they were trying to locate a secure or safe landing spot or possibly an anchorage for a larger vessel.
Now, if Lester's sighting of a landing party was in connection with the two man submarine or if the same or similar landing party was scouting other islands in the channel as well is not known. It is known, as far as San Miguel is concerned, on June 18, 1942, one week before the datelined article, Herbert Lester shot himself. Almost immediately after that Lester's wife and children abandoned the island leaving it uninhabited. It wasn't until November that the first U.S. military contingent showed up, leaving at least a four month window of the island being totally empty of people and prying eyes. During that exact same period, if you remember, within the 20 day span between the September 9th aerial attack on the U.S. mainland in Oregon and the second one on September 29th that the I-25 embarked on it's top secret mission involving the release of the midget submarine that ended up being bombed off Redondo Beach October 4, 1942.
The above four graphics, in order left to right, the first shows the distance from Point Arguello to San Miguel Island (40.3 miles); the second the distance from Goleta to San Miguel Island (41.5 miles); the third the distance from Redondo Beach to Santa Barbara Island (45.3 miles); and the fourth the distance from Redondo Beach to San Nicolas Island (76.3 miles), all islands of the Channel Island group off the southern California coast with San Nicolas being the most distant and remote from the mainland. San Miguel Island, as shown in the graphic below, the island Herbert Lester observed the landing party, is a full 114 miles from Redondo Beach.
Of the three islands, Santa Barbara sitting only 45.3 miles off Redondo Beach would appear to be best selection for access to Redondo, although it must be said, even though the midget sub was bombed off Redondo, there is nothing to indicate the sub was doing anything that involved Redondo per se' other than being in transit. Even then it is not known which direction it was going when bombed or where it was coming from or going. The real mystery is why the sub was exposed on or near the surface during mid-morning daylight hours in the first place.
In the summer of 1952 the relationship with my Uncle, who had been my guardian for the previous six years, came to an abrupt halt. My dad and stepmother had been on an extended trip to Mexico and South America for a couple of years and during that two-year period their marriage deteriorated to such a point it ended. Although during the summer of '52 I was no longer living with my uncle we had been traveling on the east coast with a planned trip to France when my father somehow contacted my uncle. He said he wanted me to return to California immediately in order to register for a new school in the fall. I was also informed that I would no longer be staying with the foster couple I had been living with, but instead, living with my grandmother.
Sixteen to eighteen years passed with my uncle and I not seeing each other for no other particular reason than I was basically moving on (teenage years and all) coupled with my father's insistence, for whatever reason, that my uncle and I stay apart. Then, late in the year 1968, my uncle called for only the second time in his life, telling me he wanted to meet me in Kingman, Arizona --- Kingman being approximately halfway between where I lived in California and my uncle's abode near the Sangre de Christo mountains of New Mexico. That meeting renewed our relationship, running on out to his death in 1989. It also renewed my interest in interviewing and meeting people that had been instrumental in my life in some fashion. So said, in an attempt to fill in gaps in my life, I interviewed any number of people including Albert Nozaki who designed the Martian war machines in the movie War of the Worlds as well as Myrtle Botts who, in her travels had come across and personally seen the Lost Viking Ship in the Desert. I also interviewed Gladwin Hill in his home located on a set of curvy roads just north of the end of Fairfax in the Hollywood Hills. It was during that interview Hill told me about the landing party Herbert Lester saw.
I only bring all the above up because a slew of folk have contacted me over the years insisting that during the time period I talk about Hill interviewing Lester couldn't be so because Hill was in Europe reporting on the war. The logic being, if Hill was in Europe he couldn't have interviewed Lester and if he couldn't have interviewed Lester then Lester could never have told him about any World War II Japanese landing party on San Miguel or anyplace else.
The quoted paragraph below appears in a publication titled Oral History Interview With Gladwin Hill, Journalist an interview conducted by Carlos Vasquez for the Oral History Program, University of California, Los Angeles from October 22, November 25, and December 21, 1987, pages 30-31. In that interview by Vasquez, Hill states the following:
"Anyway, right after Pearl Harbor, the AP got scared that the Japs were going to invade the West Coast. They needed more people in the bureau here in Los Angeles, so they sent me out from New York. I came out early in '42 and worked in the bureau here. And of course the Japanese did not invade, so I was kind of a fifth wheel in the bureau, doing features and a lot of Hollywood things. [I] had a fine time for about six months, and then decided that with a war going on, if you were going to be in the big league, you had better be a war correspondent. So I told New York I wanted to be a war correspondent. So, about August of '42, I went to Europe."
Oral History Interview With Gladwin Hill, Journalist
In August 1946, a former World War II Navy hard hat diver and instructor for the one-time world class and world renowned west coast based Sparling School of Diving by the name of Glen Dean 'Tonga' Stainbrook (1921-2001) reported knowing the whereabouts of and diving on a sunken sub in 180 feet of water in the Catalina Channel a mile off White's Point, Palos Verdes Peninsula. Stainbrook said he discovered the sub while in the Navy and after his discharge dove on it several times. Newspapers articles of the day, which I have linked to fully elsewhere, reported that he actually got the bends diving on it as well as saying that on one of his dives he found skeletons carrying Japanese identification.
According to the Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee (JANAC), whose job was to catalogue all enemy Naval and merchant shipping losses during the war, states no vessel is recorded by either the British or American naval authorities as having been sunk off the West Coast of the United States at any time during the war. Almost every Japanese submarine was accounted for. Of the 130 Japanese submarines destroyed during World War II, the cause of destruction of only five was never determined. Of those the location of only one (except for possibly the I-12) remained unknown. However, black ops, one off operations and such vessels as small ship-to-shore attack boats or miniature or two-man submarines, etc., just aren't recorded, leaving open vast gaps in wartime marine operations.
As for the two-man Japanese sub that washed up on shore next to the pier in Redondo Beach it is not clear what happened to it. For all practical purposes it more-or-less simply just disappeared. I think the submarine Stainbrook discovered while in the Navy is connected, but wasn't discovered in the classical sense at all. I think he knew exactly where it was because as a hard hat diver in the Navy he was in on how it got there in the first place and that the submarine he found was the same two-man sub that disappeared from the beach in Redondo.
It is my suspicion that under the cover of darkness a small quick-strike military team, in a rather intensive secret retrieval operation, quietly and covertly pulled the sub off the beach and towed it around Palos Verdes Peninsula toward some designated and secure place within the Naval docking sheds or warehouses inside the L.A. harbor where it would be far removed from prying eyes. There, most likely it was gone over with a fine tooth comb OR it was simply scuttled and sunk before or after to remove it from history. Which one, if either, is not known. That is to say, while being towed did the sub sink before it ever made it inside the harbor or was it thoroughly gone through and examined at a secure spot inside the breakwater then towed back outside and scuttled? For more on the above, the Sparling School of Diving, Stainbrook's involvement thereof, including diving on midget submarines off the coast of Palos Verdes, et al, please click the following:
(please click image)
There has been some controversy regarding Japanese submarines used as mother ships carrying midget submarines on their deck. Most of the controversy as to what I have written here circulates around my specific contention that the I-25 was used as the mother ship for the two man sub that floated up on shore after being bombed off Redondo Beach, California in October 1942.
In the description of B-1 type submarines at the top of the page, the first of the three submarines in silhouette clearly shows the World War II Japanese I-Type submarine in the role of a mother ship. However, in the side-bar text it specifically points out it was the I-16 that was a mother ship, specially designed without a hanger with the midget sub mounted on the fore deck foreward of the conning tower. However, the I-16, along with the I-18 and I-20, that did carry midget subs fore or aft, although I-Class submarines, they were Type "C" submarines not Type "B." None of the Type "C" ships were known to have operated in the Eastern Pacific. Which brings us back to the I-25.
Please take note of the color graphic a few paragraphs back depicting a submarine about to submerge carrying a smaller submarine mounted on it's deck. The sub doing the carrying is a Type "B" sub, of which the I-25 was, and NOT one of the specifically designed Type "C" midget carrying subs.
In contrast to the picture of the submerging sub the graphic directly below shows the I-27 in a completely surfaced position with a midget sub mounted on it's aft deck. The I-27, which never operated in the Eastern Pacific, was however, an exact duplicate "B" Type sister ship to the I-25. Notice unlike the previously mentioned "C" Type I-16 that was specifically designed to carry midget subs and to do so was constructed without a hanger and launch ramp, the I-27, just like her sister ship the I-25, clearly had both. Notice as well the midget submarine on the I-27 has a net cutter arcing down from the conning tower. The midget submarine on the I-27 mission involved entering harbors, often with anti-submarine netting, hence the net cutter. There were no anti-submarine nets in Redondo.
I-19 ATTACK ON THE SS ABSAROKA
THE SINKING OF THE I-12
As to the subject of donations, for those who may be so interested as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
I-25 SHOWN LAUNCHING ONE OF TWO AERIAL BOMB ATTACKS AGAINST OREGON IN SEPTEMBER 1942
The U.S. bomber, although on routine patrol was on alert and depth-charged the I-25 on September 10th primarily because of the first of two aerial bombing attacks against Oregon, of which that first one was the day before on September 9th, as found at the source so cited:
"On Wednesday morning, September 9, 1942, the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-25 surfaced west of Cape Blanco and launched a small seaplane piloted by Chief Flying Officer Nobuo Fujita. Fujita flew southeast over the Oregon coast, dropping incendiary bombs on Mount Emily, 10 miles northeast of Brookings.
"After Fujita's bombing run on Mount Emily, the I-25 came under attack by U.S. Army Air Corps aircraft, forcing the submarine to seek refuge on the ocean floor off Port Orford. The American attacks were unsuccessful, and Fujita was able to launch an additional bombing sortie three weeks later. Shortly after this sortie, the submarine sank the SS Camden, the SS Larry Doheny, and the Soviet (Russian) submarine L-16."(source)
It was during that 20-day span that existed between the September 9th aerial attack on the U.S. mainland in Oregon and the second one on September 29th, that the I-25 embarked on an extremely top secret mission involving the release of the two-man midget submarine that ended up being bombed off Redondo Beach. In the main text there is a "see" link that will take you to a graph that shows the locations of where all nine of the submarines initially deployed by the Japanese to the North American Pacific West Coast were sent. The graph clearly shows the I-25 was dispatched to an operational area around the Columbia River, which marks the border dividing Washington state and Oregon, but moved at least as far south as Point Arguello and the Channel Islands.
On the east coast the Germans were a tad busy with their own tactics. During World War I they had planned on bombing the U.S., more specifically the city of New York, by using giant 1000 foot long gas filled Zeppelins. By World War II they were planning on using giant all metal six-engine long range bombers, some even armed with nukes well before Hiroshima, no mother ship needed.
"It has been reported that a Ju-390 left Europe coming in over Canada crossing into U.S. airspace to photograph defense plants in Michigan only to exit out over the Atlantic sometime after noon on August 28, 1943 by coming in behind any east-facing aircraft detection systems and passing directly over New York above the Empire State Building."
1944 GERMAN ATOMIC BOMB
THE JAPANESE SECRET WAR
Over and over people want to know why this almost borderline psychological addiction with all this submarine stuff? After all, they ask, are you not a known Zen man of some accomplishment --- why page after page of submarines, why not more on Enlightenment or help for those seeking along the path?
Good question. Even though the submarine pages are each stand alone pages unto themselves, they are still interwoven into the fabric of my own journey along the path, thus inturn it is hoped, casting light however meager, for guidance along your own.
The answer starts well over a half century ago, on the morning of Friday March 10, 1944. On that date I was a young boy traveling in India under the auspices of a foster couple and staying at the ashram of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Totally unrelated and unbeknownst to me or anybody involved with me or the parties I was with, on that same date as well, the British motor merchant MV Tulagi, loaded with a cargo of flour and 380 bags of mail sailed from Australia for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) under control and orders of the British Admiralty. Proceeding down the New South Wales Coast, and, via the Bass Strait she rounded Cape Leuwin and on into the Indian Ocean. Seventeen days later, on March 27, 1944, with a full complement of 54 on board she was torpedoed by the German Submarine U-532 of the First Monsun Group operating out of Penang, Malaysia. She sank in 20 seconds. Of the 54 crew members only 15 survived, taking to two lifeboats. Following the torpedo attack and after 58 days adrift the seven members of ONE of the rafts finally came across a group of small islands. Just before midnight they landed on Bijoutier, a tiny island of the Alphonse Group belonging to the Outer Islands of the Seychelles. The eight members of the second raft, separated halfway into their drift from the first, basically disappeared and have never been officially accounted for. Some time after the sinking of the MV Tulgai found me in the Indian Ocean as a passenger on a lone, unescorted ship in those very same submarine infested waters on a return trip bound for England and then the U.S. During the months I was gone the woman of the couple I was with had written three letters to my father which years later eventually fell into my hands, of which the following quote refers to her comments found in her last letter:
"TheLiverpool Letter, except for several long incoherent paragraphs about picking up a live survivor or two or none at all amongst several dead in a life raft sometime before arriving or after leaving Cape Town, South Africa, circulated mostly around the logistics of bringing me home."
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: And The Last American Darshan
The letter so mentioned in the quote was written by the woman of a couple that took me, as a young boy, to India. In the letter she indicated that a liferaft was encountered in some fashion by the ship we were on during our return trip to England. How she worded it wasn't totally clear and could be deciphered, at least in how I read it, in a number of ways. It was clear in what she said that there was a liferaft, but IF the liferaft was encountered before or after Cape Town or IF there were or were not survivors was muddled. She didn't elaborate one way or the other or attempt to clarify the event because anything regarding the liferaft had nothing at all to do to do with the point she was trying to get across in the letter. I do not remember anything about a voyage home or anything to do with any liferafts. However, backtracking through all the events, in all my research, taking into consideration time, place, ships attacked and sunk, survivors and non survivors, etc., only one ship fits the bill, the aforementioned British motor merchant MV Tulagi. Now, I have no idea how many times the ship I was on came into the periscope crosshairs of German U-boats, if any. However, the whole route of travel from India, around Africa and into the Atlantic on to England was crawling with submarines, every one seeking an easy, vunerable target. Looking back it must have been pure luck, fate or karma, but in any case throughout the years I have come to appreciate the results and established in me a strong interest in how the actions and selected non-interaction of submarines and their operations, Japanese or German thereof, have impacted the outcome of my life.
THE BRITISH MOTOR MERCHANT TULAGI
GERMAN SUBMARINE ATTACK ON HOOVER DAM
THE STRANGE ODYSSEY OF THE GERMAN U-BOAT U-196
In the publication HISTORICAL DIVER, Vol. 9 Issue 3, Summer 2001, Jacko Robinson and Bill Wilson, in a memoriam on the life of Glen D. "Tonga" Stainbrook (1912-2001), write that he was born to American parents living in South Africa on a cattle ranch and at age 13 he ran away, stowing away on a freighter headed for the South Seas. He soon found a job tending pearl divers and eventually became one himself. He followed this trade until the start of WWII when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. On completion of dive school he served primarily in the Pacific as a diver. During this time he also did salvage work at Pearl Harbor. After his discharge in 1945 as a Master Diver, Tonga started his own company, S & S Diving and Salvage in Long Beach, California. He also worked as an abalone diver off the southern California coast, from his two boats, the Naughty Lass and Bobby J. He became an instructor for E.R. Cross at the Sparling School of Diving at Wilmington, California, and for several years he was retained by Lloyds of London and NASA.
The above mentioned E.R. Cross, director and head of the Sparling School of Diving, was a major mover in the diving and salvalge movement on the west coast and around the world following World War II. It is from the connection to Cross through to Stainbrook that knowledge of the sunken submarine found in the channel off the coast of White's Point was able to circle back around to me on a personal level.
As I have written elsewhere, my mother died when I was very young. Her death was soon followed by the breakup of what was left or our family with my brothers and I being split up and quickly being sent to live with shirt tale relatives or foster families. For me it turned out to be a continuing series of foster couples. In the third or so of that series, the woman of the couple, prior to her marriage, was named Pauline Page. Of Pauline Page I write the following as found at the source so cited:
"She had been an entertainer with the USO during World War II, billing herself as Pauline Page and Her All Girl Band. Near the end of the war she became associated with Brenda Allen and Fifie Malouf as well as my stepmother, and then, eventually, after meeting my father, falling madly in love with him. Seeing it was not going to work she married a former sergeant she met while touring with the USO who had never stopped persuing her. They bought one of those look-alike every other house had a reverse floorplan tract homes that sprang up all over in former stoop-labor farmland south of Los Angeles while he went to work for one of the aircraft factories and she stayed home wearing an apron and no underpants."(source)
During the period I was growing up my stepmother was quite wealthy. One of the things she owned was an antique pistol worth many thousands of dollars called a Colt Walker. In later years she had fallen on hard times and somewhere along the way I suggested she could raise a substantial amount of money if she sold the Colt.
It wasn't until sometime in 1974 that I caught up with her and able to discuss the pistol and a potential sale at length, telling her I had a reputable buyer, the cowboy western author Louis L'Amour. As it was, she still had the pistol, or at least she thought she did. After searching through a ton boxes filled with nothing but junk for an hour or two she finally found it, looking exactly the same as it did as I remembered it. In discussing the pistol and how it fit into my life as a kid Pauline Page came up, with my stepmother telling me an old friend of Pauline's had recently moved to a small community about 70 miles north across the desert from where my stepmother lived called Inyokern.
The old friend of Pauline Page turned out to be a woman named Jere Lee Montgomery, only recently divorced from E.R. Cross and former part owner with her ex-husband of the Sparling School of Diving. After her divorce Jere Lee joined her sisters Tally and Sally in a restaurant the two operated in Inyokern. So said, my stepmother and I went by for breakfast one morning to talk to her. Jere Lee remembered Pauline well. In the mid 1930s up to just before the war Jere Lee ran an all girls band that included her two sisters called Jere Lee's Madcaps, traveling all over Asia, and of which Pauline Page became a member. Just before the outbreak of World War II Jere Lee disbanded the Madcaps creating a new band, again with her sisters, only this time called the Mellotones. Around that same time, with Jere Lee's blessing, Pauline Page left and started her own all girls band, and like Jere Lee, toured with the USO. As it turned out, both Jere Lee and Pauline Page met their respective husbands while on USO tours and their husbands-to-be were in the military.
It was Jere Lee's connection with E.R. Cross, then through to me because of my connection to Pauline Page on to Stainbrook that allowed me to catch up with Stainbrook on a one-on-one basis. With that catching up I was able to discuss with him at length on a personal level about the submarine he was said to have explored and what he did or didn't find.
In the line of work divers find themselves they constantly end up in highly precarious situations and depend heavily on their teams and the people around them to ensure the safety for themselves and each other. Everything that Robinson and Wilson have written in the memoriam above on Stainbrook points to nothing less than a highly experienced life-long diver reeking with integrity. Around the same time he was working for E.R. Cross he was also diving on the sub off White's Point. Why Cross or anybody else of similar ilk never come forward to substantiate Stainbrook's claims is a mystery. I will tell you this, as I suspected, the number of skeletons found in the sub as reported in the newspaper articles wasn't accurate and secondly, either when he was in the Navy or diving on the sub as a civilian, Stainbrook didn't dive alone. Who those that assisted him were and why they have never come forward is not known. It is my belief a heavy duty clamp down on the flow of information was put into place as soon as knowledge of Stainbrook's find made it's way to the press and that was the end of it. The following quote on the two-man sub is from the main text above:
"As for the two-man Japanese sub that washed up on shore next to the pier in Redondo Beach it is not clear what happened to it. For all practical purposes it more-or-less simply just disappeared. I think the submarine Stainbrook discovered while in the Navy is connected, but wasn't discovered in the classical sense at all. I think he knew exactly where it was because as a hard hat diver in the Navy he was in on how it got there in the first place and that the submarine he found was the same two-man sub that disappeared from the beach in Redondo."
The niece of a diver other than Stainbrook, in an email writes the following:
"A long time ago, when Uncle Bob was in the salvage business (I believe this was part of the diving partnership), he located a Japanese sub sunk off the coast of Long Beach and was seeking permission from our government in order to raise it. The government, I was told, said that this was an impossibility, and I don't know what transcended from that point."
In World War II Comes To Redondo I make reference to the uncle so mentioned by the niece, a diver named Bob Bell who, like Tonga Stainbrook, according to newspaper reports of the day and of which several of those articles are linked to from the Redondo page, is said to have come across a sunken sub off Palos Verdes, albeit some years after Stainbrook. In that I had personally seen the two-man sub as a boy on the beach in Redondo and that to this day nobody will fess up to it's existence, in a near never ending attempt by me personally to find out what happened to the sub and seek any sort of a connection, Bell's niece, in an email, wrote the above quote in in October 2003 regarding what she knew about the submarine.
Below is a brochure from the Two Sisters Plus One restaurant in Inyokern once co-owned together by Jere Lee and her sisters. It lists all three by name as well as having a vertical group photo of them. Jere Lee, the one time wife of E.R. Cross and part owner of the Sparling School of Diving is the woman with the blonde hair at the bottom.
E.R. CROSS: IN MEMORIAM
While we are on the Three Sisters Plus One Restaurant, for your own edification, when Stainbrook and I was setting up our meeting I suggested somewhere in Wilmington not far from the docks, although I must say I didn't take into consideration at the time where Stainbrook might be, what he was doing, or where he lived. I know now that his widow GeeGee was, at one time, living in Perris, California and if he was living there as early as our meeting it was never brought up.
Although I would be hard pressed to say I hung out in Wilmington very much, I had, however, been in and out of the Wilmington area along the docks and harbor on-and-off a good part of my life starting at a very young age, my father having worked on Liberty ships on Terminal Island and all during the war. From there I came to know the place fairly well. The skipper of the marlin boat I worked on at one time that was owned by David Halliburton Sr., went to his childhood home in Wilmington to live out his final days after he found out he had cancer and I would go by regularly to see him up until his death. While working on Halliburton's marlin boat the Twin Dolphin, in that the skipper had life-long deep connections in the area and knew the ins-and-outs of the harbor and shipyards intimately, although the boat was moored in Marina Del Rey, when parts were needed such as bilge pumps and such things he used to send me down into the bowels of the L.A. Harbor/Wilmington area to backstreet boat and ship repair shops to retrieve them. So too, only the year before I met with Stainbrook I had gone down to the Federal prison on Terminal Island to visit a long time acquaintance, Johnny Roselli, who had been transferred there just before his release on parole.
In any case, the place I suggested to meet and the one Stainbrook suggested are now long since gone, both having been smashed down for L.A. Harbor expansion. My suggestion, the Nut House. His, a mile or so down the same street, Shipwreck Joey's, an infamous and notorious hole in the ground.
My research reveals the full name of Bob Bell, the diver attested to in the articles for having found the Japanese submarine, was one Robert Vaughn Bell (1924-1997). Bell lived a rich and varied life, and of which the submarine find was just an integral part of it. He was a highly decorated World War II veteran having joined the Army the day after Pearl Harbor at age 17. After the war he worked as a deep sea diver in the Philippines, Mexico, Eniwetok and California. At the time of the find, 1959, at age 35, he was a tug boat captain and partner in a California based industrial diving service called the Blue Water Diving & Towing Company operating out of Long Beach. In later years, paralleling Louis L'Amour, he went on to be a rather successful author of several books with an old west or cowboy theme.(see)
As for the submarine, why Bell, a highly qualified and certified salvage diver --- or anybody else for that fact --- after all these years, never raised it from the bottom or even bothered to photograph or video it is not known with any amount of certainty. My personal opinion is that there is a real good chance it may have been moved. Bell and his niece were close and although the two lived on opposite sides of the country and she only visited him on occasion, over the years they kept an on-going regular long term communication relationship between each other. As mentioned in the footnote this sub-section is linked from, in my own personal attempts to find out what happened to the sub, Bell's niece, in an email, wrote the following in in October 2003 regarding the submarine:
"A long time ago, when Uncle Bob was in the salvage business (I believe this was part of the diving partnership), he located a Japanese sub sunk off the coast of Long Beach and was seeking permission from our government in order to raise it. The government, I was told, said that this was an impossibility, and I don't know what transcended from that point."
Every time someone reads the account of the sunken Japanese submarine in the channel between Santa Catalina Island and the Palos Verdes Peninsula the first thing they come up with is the two ships that had torpedoes launched at them Christmas day, 1941. Then they go on-and-on about the sub that did it being sunk.
Every single one of the original nine I-Class Type B-1 subs deployed to the U.S. west coast by the Imperial Japanese Navy at the very start of the war has been accounted for. No midget sub in Eastern Pacific waters ever has.
THE I-15, TYPICAL OF THE I-CLASS TYPE-B JAPANESE SUBMARINES DEPLOYED TO THE U.S. IN WWII
The I-19 has long been confirmed as the Japanese submarine involved in the attempt to sink the two American ships. She left the Catalina Channel immediately after the last torpedo was fired, apparently beating a hasty retreat north from the Point Fermin area passing by a fishing barge off the coast south of Redondo Beach headed toward the deep marine trench off Redondo Beach, and in the process spotted. Attempts to intercept and/or destroy the sub off Redondo using shore batteries or aircraft proved unsuccessful, with the I-19 escaping totally unscathed.
Regardless of reports or wishful thinking the I-19 was NEVER sunk or even damaged off Palos Verdes or Redondo. She went on to kill again before her actual overall ultimate demise on November 25, 1943. The I-19 is officially recorded as racking up considerable damage and sinking of a number of other vessels prior to that demise --- and not just unarmed merchant freighters either. For example, on September 15, 1942, the I-19 fired a half dozen torpedoes at the aircraft carrier USS Wasp, two of which hit and sank her. The remainder of the four torpedoes hit and damaged the battleship USS North Carolina as well as the destroyer USS O'Brien which sank later. The only possible chance for an I-Class submarine to actually have been sunk in U.S. west coast territorial waters is the I-12 Japanese Ghost Submarine.
The two ships attacked by the I-19 were the SS Barbara Olson and the SS Absaroka. See:
I-19 ATTACK ON THE SS ABSAROKA
Please note on the graphic below, along the upper right hand edge, there is a line-drawing outlining the North American Pacific west coast ranging from above Vancouver to below Baja. The location of Santa Barbara and the Ellwood refinery is clearly marked with a small darkened circle as well as Japanese writing in bold script. Somewhat above the heavier or bolder script is a lighter script with a small circle on the coastline apparently marking Cape Mendocino, the area of operation the I-17 was assigned. Lower down is another circle with Japanese writing apparently indicating the location of the city of Los Angeles.
I-17 GUN CREW SHELLING THE ELLWOOD OIL REFINERY FEBRUARY 24, 1942
Notice on the map below it clearly indicates the I-25 moved as far south as Point Arguello. Notice too, the clearly delineated Channel Islands in the same vicinity all within easy striking distance once there (i.e., 40 miles). Even though the map shows the I-25 traveled to the Point Arguello area from her normally assigned Pacific Northwest operating station, absolutely nowhere in any of the records cataloging her movements has anything surfaced that she engaged in any sort of actions for having done so.