Anyone happening to glance towards the American fleet-type submarine USS Gudgeon (SS-211) during the night of Sunday, 27 December 1942, as she lay moored to the dock at Fremantle, Australia, might have observed an unusual sight. Seven mess boys boarded the submarine, saluted the colors, and then immediately proceeded down the hatch. No sooner were they below decks than Gudgeon, captained by LCDR William Stovall, Jr., slid away from the dock and quietly maneuvered out to sea.
fleet-type submarine USS Gudgeon
(SS-211) in San Francisco Bay, California in August 1943. Gudgeon
was sent on the first official guerrilla submarine mission to the
Philippines, and later completed one more. Gudgeon’s CO on the
second occasion concluded his official report by stating: “As long as a
torpedo shortage exists, it seems feasible and highly desirable that
every submarine bound for the Philippines or the South China Sea carry
what men and equipment it can to [the Philippine guerrilla] troops who
are on the spot and capable of seriously harassing the enemy.”
U.S. Submarine Landing Zone on Panay Island
transport submarine USS Nautilus (SS-168) is shown here
returning to Pearl Harbor in August 1942 after transporting part of the
Marine Corps’ 2nd Raider Battalion – “Carlson's Raiders” – to Makin
Island to divert Japanese attention and supplies from the battle for
Guadalcanal ranging over 1,000 miles to the southwest. That mission
foreshadowed her later clandestine runs to the Philippines, transporting
men and supplies to anti-Japanese guerrilla fighters there.
transport submarine USS Narwhal (SS-167) during trials off
Provincetown, Massachusetts in July 1930. During a 1943 mission with Chick
Parsons aboard, Narwhal encountered two Japanese patrol ships while
running on the surface. The boat’s near miraculous escape from the
ensuing stern chase led the captain to dub the boat’s four ancient and
rickety diesel engines “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John” – the four
The “mess boys” were in fact disguised Filipino soldiers and intelligence officers, led by Major Jesus Villamor, U.S. Army. Two days earlier, Gudgeon’s crew had loaded her with a ton of equipment specially ordered for the mission their passengers were about to embark upon. Gudgeon’s top- secret task: to deliver the soldiers and their gear to Mindanao and Panay, two key Philippine islands, to help bolster the Philippine guerilla forces resisting the Japanese occupation, without being detected.
Over the next two years, a total of 8 missions to Panay Island were completed - delivering supplies and
evacuating/delivering personnel and civilians:
April 30, 1943
lands men and equipment on Panay.
July 31, 1943
USS Grayling lands supplies at Pucio Point, Pandan Bay, Panay Island.
August 23, 1943
USS Grayling lands supplies on Panay Island.
(The sub was never heard from after completing this mission, and was presumed lost)
February 5, 1944
USS Narwhal lands supplies on Panay Island,
takes in passengers.
USS Narwhal - Patrol 9 Report
March 21, 1944
USS Angler evacuates 58 civilians from Panay Island.
Special Mission Report
Periscope Photos of Landing Zone
Instructions to Passengers
List of Evacuees
War Patrol 2 Report
June 20, 1944
USS Narwhal lands supplies and personnel on Panay Island,
takes in evacuees.
USS Narwhal - Patrol 12 Report
On 7 June 1944, a four man Weather Team (M/Sgt Dacquel, S/Sgt Francisca, Sgt Kintanar and Cpl Salvacion) of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion (Special) left Camp Tabragalba south of Brisbane and headed for Darwin where they boarded USS Narwhal the following day. They arrived off Panay in the Philippines on 20 June 1944. They surfaced off the coast near a small town and met up with some local guerrillas led by Lt. Col. Cerilo Garcia to unload their 50 tons of cargo. The four man team went ashore to complete their mission.
Weather Team Operations Report
September 30, 1944
USS Nautilus lands supplies on Panay Island,
takes in evacuees.
USS Nautilus - Patrol 11 Report
December 5, 1944
USS Hake lands cargo and ammunition on Panay Island,
takes in downed airmen.
USS Hake - Patrol 7 Special Mission Report
In addition, USS Swordfish evacuated Pres. Manuel L. Quezon from Corregidor to Panay in February 1942,
before the Japanese invaded Panay Island.