During the night of February 4, 1942, the submarine USS SEADRAGON (SS 194) made its way into Manila Bay and to the dock at Corregidor, where the first team consisting of four officers, LCDRs S.A Carlson, G.M. Richardson, LT R.J. Fabian (1) and ENS R.W. Lewis and 13 men embarked.
The submarine slipped out of the harbor in the early morning hours of February 5 and set sail for Java. In addition to the Radio Intelligence party, she had picked up two tons of submarines spare parts, 23 torpedoes, and three other officers (one Army and two Navy) who were not identified. The voyage was without incident and the party disembarked at Surabaya, Java on or about February 11.
The next day they proceeded by train to Bandung, the capital of Indonesia’s West Java province. The group was joined by LCDR Raymond S. Lamb, who had been the Asiatic Fleet Communication Intelligence Officer between 1935-37.
While the Corregidor team was attempting to establish operations on Java, the Japanese attacked it with several strafing runs on their operations site. After the attack, Carregidor team convinced the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Southwest Pacific that the team should be evacuated to Australia.
As a result, USS SNAPPER (SS 185) was ordered to Tjilatjap, a port on the south coast of Java where the team embarked the submarine on February 21. While there, the team was joined by Y1c Grover W. Taylor, who served on the staff of Admiral Hart, CINC Asiatic Fleet.
Arriving at Exmouth Gulf on the West Coast of Australia, the team transferred to the USS HOLLAND (AS 3), a submarine tender on February 26. The ship sailed shortly after to the port of Fremantle, West Australia, where the team disembarked on March 3 and proceeded to the nearby city of Perth, where they awaited further orders.
First List of Evacuees – 4 February, 1942
Y1 R. V. Anderson RM2 J.B Capron
LCDR S.A Carlson LT R.J Fabian
RM1 A.D Groff RM1 F.P. Hadley
CRM T.C. Hoover CRM C.J. Johns
Y1 J.Y. Kochen Y2 H.A. King
ENS R.W. Lewis CRM V.L. Long
RM1 A.L Monroe Y1 O.L. Osborne
LCDR G.M. Richardson RM2 M.H. Smith
RM1 D.W. Snyder
Fort Darwin personnel who Joined First Corregidor Party
Sealc Y3c JH Bell(2) Y2c JW Densford, Jr.(2)
Y3c KR Hebert Y2c RA Jamison
Sealc WH McGinley Y2c SH Palmer(2)
Sealc RW Rohr Sealc HW Stewart, Jr.(2)
ENS LW Waters
On March 8, Commander Southwest Pacific (COMSOWESPAC) informed Commander in Chief (COMINCH), Commander in Chief Pacific (COMINPAC), Chief of Naval Operational Operations (OPNAV), Commander 14th Naval District (COM 14), and Commander 16th Naval District (COM 16) by message that the special intelligence unit that evacuated from Corregidor would be established in Melbourne along with an Australian unit a small British communications intelligence unit from Singapore. On the same date, LCDR Redfield Mason, assigned as the Fleet Intelligence Officer on the staff of COMSOWESPAC, received orders to take charge of the four officers and thirteen men along with Y1c Taylor and proceed to Melbourne, Australia and set up a Fleet Radio Unit.
LCDR Mason went from Perth to Melbourne by air, arriving on March 12, while the rest of his team made the journey by train. In Melbourne they joined a Royal Australian Navy unit in Victoria Barracks. The Officer in Charge of the Australian unit was LCDR Jack Newman, Royal Australian Navy (RAN), who was appointed Assistant Officer in Charge of the combined unit.
(1) Commanding Officer of NCTC Corry Station, Pensacola, August 1960 to June 1961.
(2) CHAUMONT group; two others originally with it were CY A.B. Anderson and CY J.A Harrell. Harrell was transferred to the USS HOUSTON and was taken prisoner in Mongolia by the Japanese when that vessel was sunk. CY Harrell resumed Security Group duties as a Chief Petty Officer after the war.
Source: Jim Pearson, OTRG, NCVA