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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


Patch contributed by Mike Smolinski

Growler (SS-215)

Radio Call Sign: November - Charlie - Bravo - Papa

Gato Class Submarine: Laid down, 10 February 1941, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT.; Launched, 22 November 1941; Commissioned USS Growler (SS-215), 20 March 1942; Reported lost to enemy action, 8 November 1944; Growler received eight battle stars for her service in World War II.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 1,526 t., Submerged: 2,424 t.; Length 311' 9"; Beam 27' 3"; Draft 15' 3"; Speed, Surfaced 20.25 kts, Submerged 8.75 kts; Complement 6 Officers 54 Enlisted; Operating Depth, 300 ft; Submerged Endurance, 48 hrs at 2 kts; Patrol Endurance 75 days; Cruising Range, 11,000 miles surfaced at 10 kts; Armament, ten 21" torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes, one 3"/50 deck gun, two .50 cal. machine guns, two .30 cal. machine guns; Propulsion, diesel electric reduction gear with four General Motors main generator engines, HP 5400, Fuel Capacity, 97,140 gals., four General Electric main motors, HP 2740, two 126-cell main storage batteries, twin propellers.
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Growler 300k Letter by the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, to Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley, asking her to be the Growler's (SS-215) sponsor at her launching, 22 November 1941 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. USN - Electric Boat photo courtesy of three generations of Ghormley's: Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley (wife of Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley) who commissioned the submarine. She passed it to her son, Cdr. Robert L. Ghormley, Jr. (USNA, class of '48, retired), who in turn passed it to his daughter, Louise Ghormley Lamb.
Submitted by TR Lamb.
Growler 186k The Sponsor of the Growler (SS-215), Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley stands next to Admiral Charles A. Dunn on 22 November 1941 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. USN - Electric Boat photo courtesy of three generations of Ghormley's: Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley (wife of Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley) who commissioned the submarine. She passed it to her son, Cdr. Robert L. Ghormley, Jr. (USNA, class of '48, retired), who in turn passed it to his daughter, Louise Ghormley Lamb.
Submitted by TR Lamb.
Growler 339k Copy of the bottle used by Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley, Growler's (SS-215) sponsor at her launching, 22 November 1941 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. USN - Electric Boat photo courtesy of three generations of Ghormley's: Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley (wife of Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley) who commissioned the submarine. She passed it to her son, Cdr. Robert L. Ghormley, Jr. (USNA, class of '48, retired), who in turn passed it to his daughter, Louise Ghormley Lamb.
Submitted by TR Lamb.
Growler 339k Growler's (SS-215) data plaque at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. USN - Electric Boat photo courtesy of three generations of Ghormley's: Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley (wife of Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley) who commissioned the submarine. She passed it to her son, Cdr. Robert L. Ghormley, Jr. (USNA, class of '48, retired), who in turn passed it to his daughter, Louise Ghormley Lamb.
Submitted by TR Lamb.
Growler 1.10k The Growler (SS-215) slides down the ways on 22 November 1941 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. USN - Electric Boat photo courtesy of three generations of Ghormley's: Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley (wife of Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley) who commissioned the submarine. She passed it to her son, Cdr. Robert L. Ghormley, Jr. (USNA, class of '48, retired), who in turn passed it to his daughter, Louise Ghormley Lamb.
Submitted by TR Lamb.
Growler 615k The Growler (SS-215) is towed to dock by the tug Aogtoncik (?)on 22 November 1941 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. USN - Electric Boat photo courtesy of three generations of Ghormley's: Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley (wife of Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley) who commissioned the submarine. She passed it to her son, Cdr. Robert L. Ghormley, Jr. (USNA, class of '48, retired), who in turn passed his daughter, Louise Ghormley Lamb.
Submitted by TR Lamb.
Growler 226k Growler (SS-215) being towed to dock by tugs immediately following her launching on 22 November 1941 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. Courtesy of ussubvetsofworldwarii.org. / Electric Boat.
Growler 91k Growler (SS-215) in post launch yard fit out at Electric Boat (EB) some time late '41 or early '42. What appears to be shore line in the background is the construction shed over the ways at EB Courtesy of MMCM (SS) Greg Peterman, USN Retired, & Ric Hedman.
Grunion62kU.S. Naval Submarine Base, New London, Groton, Connecticut:
Members of the 4th Command Class at the Submarine Base, February 1942.
Those present are, bottom row left to right:
Lieutenant Commander Mannert L. Abele; first command would be the Grunion (SS-216). He would be K.I.A. while commmanding the Grunion, 30 July 1942.
Lieutenant Commander Thomas B. Klakring; first command would be the Guardfish (SS-217),
Commander Karl G. Hensel, Officer in Charge;
Lieutenant Commander George W. Patterson, Jr., Senior Assistant; and
Lieutenant Commander Jesse L. Hull; first command would be the Finback (SS-230).
Top row, left to right:
Lieutenant Commander Howard W. Gilmore; first command would be the Growler (SS-215). He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after he was K.I.A. on the bridge of the Growler, 7 February 1943.
Lieutenant Commander Philip H. Ross; first command would be the Halibut (SS-232),
Lieutenant Commander Arthur H. Taylor; first command would be the Haddock (SS-231),
Lieutenant Commander Albert C. Burrows; first command would be the Swordfish (SS-193) and
Lieutenant Commander Leonard S. Mewhinney; first command would be the Saury (SS-189).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph # 80-G-88577, now in the collections of the National Archives. Courtesy of the USNHC.
Growler 57k Growler (SS-215) off Groton CT, 21 February 1942. US Navy photo from DANFS, courtesy of Joe Radigan, MACM, USN Ret.
Growler 28k Commemorative postal cover marking the Growler's (SS-215) commissioning at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, 20 March 1942. Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Trout 21k Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii. Vertical aerial view of the drydock area, 28 July 1942. Floating drydock YFD-2 is at left, with Alywin (DD-355) inside. Small drydock in center holds Growler (SS-215) and Nautilus (SS-168). Litchfield (DD-336) and an ARD floating drydock are in Drydock # 2, in right center. Drydock # 1, at right, contains West Virginia (BB-48). Submarines partially visible alongside 1010 Dock, in the extreme upper right, are Trout (SS-202) and Pollack (SS-180). Note anti-torpedo nets and booms protecting this area.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, # NH 83998, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of The Honorable James V. Forrestal.
Growler 2.00k Growler (SS-215) underway, 5 May, 1943. Note 3" gun mounted forward. US National Archives photo # 80-G-394372, from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Growler 37k Growler's (SS-215) Commander H.W. Gilmore, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Courtesy of Theodore Roscoe, from his book "U.S. Submarine Operations of WW II", published by USNI.
Growler 231k "Take her down!" Commander H.W. Gilmore, wounded on Growler's (SS-215) bridge, makes heroic sacrifice by ordering an immediate dive. The submarine, badly damaged by collision by the 900 ton Japanese cargo ship Hayasaki bearing down on the upper left side of the drawing, was saved. In giving up his life for his ship, Commander Gilmore followed the highest traditions of naval service. Drawing by Lt. Cmdr. Fred Freemen, courtesy of Theodore Roscoe, from his book "U.S. Submarine Operations of WW II", published by USNI.
Growler 58k At the Submarine Base at New Farm, the Growler's (SS-215) main hull is pointed towards the CSR Sugar Refinery across the Brisbane River but her battered bow is pointing towards Hawthorne. Courtesy of home.st.net.au.
Growler 49k Growler (SS-215) at Brisbane after ramming the 900 ton Japanese cargo ship Hayasaki. The front 25 feet of the bow was bent over in the collision, but the pressure hull was not damaged. While being riddled with machine gun fire, the wounded Capt Gilmore ordered the Growler to dive. "Take her down," were his orders to his crew. They dove with him and several others who had been killed still on the bridge. Gilmore was awarded the Medal of Honor for this action. Courtesy of Ric Hedman (TN)SS. Photo courtesy of ibiblio.org.
Growler 61k Growler (SS-215) Citation for Commander Gilmore. Courtesy of ussubvetsofworldwarii.org.
Growler 52k The Growler (SS-215) at the submarine base in Brisbane showing officers and repairmen discussing just where to slice away the boat's bow. Photo from War Under The Pacific, by K.Wheeler, and submitted courtesy of Robert Hurst.
Growler 61k Growler (SS-215) gets a new bow in Brisbane. Heroic work by Cdr. Schade and crew got battered submarine home. Miraculous job by repair forces put Growler once more in action. Courtesy of Theodore Roscoe, from his book "U.S. Submarine Operations of WW II", published by USNI.
Growler 61k Oil on canvas by the artist McClelland Barclay entitled Growler (SS-215)May 1943. This painting was presented to the U.S. Navy Submarine Force Museum in Groton, Connecticut after the War by Commodore James Fife where it remains on display today. The inscription in the lower right reads: "For Captain J. Fife, USN and his shipmates with my admiration and gratitude for their many kindnesses- McClelland Barclay USNR Southwest Pacific 1943". "When the Australians replaced our damaged bow they put two little kangaroos there - as a sort of figure-head. It is now our most prized distinctive marking." Quoted by LCDR Arnold F. Schade. Text & Photo # 2004-71-1 courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center.
Growler 391k Officers & CPO's pose for a group shot circa Growler's (SS-215) fifth, sixth, and seventh patrols.
Officer in the middle I believe is Lt Comdr. Arnold F. Schade.
Officers photo courtesy of Gerhard Mueller-Debus via Gary Priolo.
Lt Comdr. Arnold F. Schade drawing by the artist McClelland Barclay,Conte' crayon on paper, 1943.
Photo # 85-236-AR, courtesy of the USNHC.
Growler 161k The battleflag of the Growler (SS-215) showing her tally score of ship's kills.
Courtesy of ussubvetsofworldwarii.org.
Sealion664k Saved! British and Australian survivors of Japanese prison ship Rakuyo Maru, torpedoed by Sealion (SS-315). Rescue was by Sealion, Growler (SS-215), Queenfish (SS-393), & Barb (SS-220).Text courtesy of Theodore Roscoe, from his book "U.S. Submarine Operations of WW II", published by USNI.
Photo from NARA FILE #: 080-G-281718, Photo # HD-SN-99-02609, courtesy of dodmedia.osd.mil, Defense Visual Information Center.
PDF courtesy of Steve Burton.
Growler 229k Growler (SS-215) returned to Majuro 16 April 1944, and departed there 14 May to take up patrol in the Marianas-Eastern Philippines-Luzon area, where the first stages of the attack on the Marianas and the Battle of the Philippine Sea were getting underway. Rendezvousing with Bang (SS-385) and Seahorse (SS-305) to form a wolfpack, she continued the patrol closing several targets but achieving firing position only once, when she sank the cargo vessel Katori Maru. Photo courtesy of Tommy Trampp.
Growler 87k Mrs. Howard W. Gilmore is presented with her husband's Medal of Honor by Rear Admiral Andrew C. Bennett, USN, Commander, Eighth Naval District, 18 August 1943. Standing by are the Gilmore's son, Howard Jr., and daughter Vernon Jeanne. The medal was posthumously awarded to Commander Gilmore for heroism in action on board Growler (SS-215) on 7 February 1943. Official U.S. Navy Photograph # 80-G-42661, National Archives collection.
Photo added 10/06/13.
Growler 104k Mrs. Howard W. Gilmore transfers her late husband's Medal of Honor to her son, Howard Jr., at the ceremony in which the medal was posthumously awarded to Commander Gilmore for heroism in action on board Growler (SS-215), on 7 February 1943. Standing by are Commander Gilmore's daughter, Vernon Jeanne, and Rear Admiral Andrew C. Bennett, USN, Commandant, Eighth Naval District. This presentation ceremony took place on 18 August 1943. Official U.S. Navy Photograph #80-G-42663, National Archives collection.
Photo added 10/06/13.
Growler 42k Commemorative photo in honor of the memory of the crew of the Growler (SS-215).Photo courtesy of Tom Kermen. Dante's Prayer courtesy of Loreena McKennitt via quinlanroad.com.
Growler 104k Google Earth satellite photo of the site and surrounding islands of Growler (SS-215) last approximate position based during post-war debriefings. This position is thought to be the final resting place of the Growler and her crew.
View courtesy of Google Earth.
Shiratsuyu class62kDrawing of the Japanese Shiratsuyu class destroyer Shigure, which, along with the escort vessel Chiburi, and Coast Defense Vessel No. 19, sank the Growler (SS-215).
Courtesy of combinedfleet.com.
Growler 27k Thomas Benjamin Oakley, Jr.,Commander (Commanding Officer) of the Growler (SS-215) at the time of her loss. U.S. Navy photo courtesy of oneternalpatrol.com.
Growler 184k N.Y. Times article from 2 February 1945 on the loss of the Growler (SS-215). Photo courtesy of three generations of Ghormley's: Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley (wife of Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley) who commissioned the submarine. She passed it to her son, Cdr. Robert L. Ghormley, Jr. (USNA, class of '48, retired), who in turn passed his daughter, Louise Ghormley Lamb. Submitted by TR Lamb.
Tolling the Boats 117k Joyce DaSilva, the wife of Jesse DaSilva of the Tang (SS-306), one of the nine survivors of the boat, tosses a flower into a reflecting pool to honor the memory of one of the 52 submarines lost during World War II at the National Submarine Memorial-West on board Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Calif. On this Veterans Day, the Submarine Veterans of World War II transferred ownership of the memorial to the U.S. Navy.

The following text is from The Coming Fury by Bruce Catton., pg. 478.
"Major Sullivan Ballou of Rhode Island was killed in the battle, and just before it he had wrote to his wife, Sarah, to tell her that he believed he was going to be killed and to express a tremulous faith that could see a gleam of light in the dark:
"But O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and float unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you in the gladdest days and in the gloomiest nights, always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your chest it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait, for we shall meet again!"
Text i.d. courtesy of Marlynn Starring. Photo i.d. courtesy of Chuck Senior, Vice Commander, Los Angeles-Pasadena Base, USSVI.
U.S. Navy photo # N-1159B-021 by Journalist 2nd Class Brian Brannon, courtesy of news.navy.mil.
Growler 275k Robert Helmes, a Pearl Harbor Survivor, places a lei on the Growler (SS-215) plaque during a Veterans' Day service held at the Naval Submarine Memorial on 11 November 2004. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 2nd Class Corwin Colbert, courtesy of news.navy.mil.
Growler 31k Growler (SS-215) off Hunter's Point, near San Francisco, CA., 1 February 1944. In about 9 months her entire crew would be M.I.A.

In Memorium:
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 G-D: / 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./"
Courtesy of Hyperwar in WW II.

View the Growler (SS-215)
DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway Web Site.
Crew Contact And Reunion Information
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation
Fleet Reserve Association

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
SubmarineSailor.com - The Kangaroo Express USS Growler (SS-215)
USS Growler (SS-215), Collision and Machine Gun Strafing Damage,Off New Britain, Bismarck Archipelago, 7 February 1943
On Eternal Patrol
ComSubForPac Report of loss of USS Growler (SS 215), 8 November 1944 - 86 Men Lost
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ

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