Run Silent, Run Deep

by Commander Edward L. Beach, U S N

This is a work of fiction. There is no conscious attempt to portray any actual person or character, living or dead, and any conclusions or opinions which may appear to have been reached herein are strictly original and bear no relation to Navy Department, policy, past, present, or future. The submarine tactics and actions, while technically plausible, exist only in the mind of the author. Yet it would be accurate to state that Rich, Jim, Joe Blunt, and the Walrus existed many times over in the submarine forces during the war; that Laura Bledsoe and Hurry Kane have also had their counterparts; and that I have personally experienced the depth charges of Bungo Pete.

With the proviso that there have been some intentional gaps in descriptive information, the motivation, events, and action herein set forth are representative of that brave period between 1941 and 1945 when many of us unwittingly realized our highest purpose in life. To that extent, and with these qualifications, this book, though fiction, is true.

Edward L. BEACH.

Falls Church, Virginia,

January 26, 1955.

Deep in the sea there is no motion, no sound, save that put there by the insane humors of man. The slow, smooth stirring of the deep ocean currents, the high-frequency snapping or popping of ocean life, even the occasional snort or burble of a porpoise are all in low key, subdued, responsive to the primordial quietness of the deep. Of life there is, of course, plenty, and of death too, for neither is strange to the ocean. But even life and death, though violent, make little or no noise in the deep sea.


Washington, D C.

In reply refer to number N/P16/2117.

August 31, 1945.

From: The Director, Broadcast and Recording Division.

To: The Officer-in-Charge, Security and Public Information.

Subject: Commander E. J. Richardson, U. S. Navy; tape recording by

Reference: (a) Article 1074(b) Bu Pers Manual (b) Sec Nav Memo of 11 Aug. 1945

Enclosure: (A) Transcript of subject recording

1. A transcript of a tape recording made by Commander. E. J. Richardson, U. S. Navy, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on August 30, is forwarded herewith as enclosure (A).

2. It is not believed that subject recording can be of use during the forthcoming Victory War Bond Drive mentioned in reference (b) without severe condensation of the material. Subject failed to confine himself to pertinent elements of the broad strategy of the war, and devoted entirely too much time to personal trivia.

3. Subject to the foregoing comments, a verbatim transcript is forwarded for review. In accordance with provisions of reference (a), subject tape will be retained for such future disposition as may be directed.



My name is Edward J. Richardson and I am a Commander in the Navy, skipper of the submarine Eel. They said to tell the whole story from the beginning about the Medal of Honor and what led up to it, I mean-and that's a big order. The story is as much about Jim Bledsoe and the Walrus as it is about me, but it starts long before the Walrus left New London. It properly begins on the old S-16, one frigid day right after Christmas, 1941, and it includes Laura Elwood, Jim's fiancee, and Bungo Pete, a Jap destroyer skipper.

We were out in Long Island Sound making practice approaches in the freezing weather for Jim's qualification for command of submarines. The war had begun nearly three weeks before. When Jim's qualification came up, the S-16 had just started her first refit since going back in commission the previous summer.

Jim was Executive Officer of the S-16 and I was her skip- per. She was a World War I 'S-boat'-though not completed until 1919 and had seen only five years' service until we came along. She had been laid up in 'red-lead row' (for the red preservative paint) ever since 1924. Her main trouble had been her engines, which had been copied from German designs but which could never be made to run properly. The Navy had had enough of her and her mechanical troubles by 1924 and gave her up as a bad job, putting her in moth- balls and hoping to do better next time.

At the time I'm talking about, I was a senior Lieutenant.

S-16 was my first command. Jim was also a full Lieutenant and we had served together since the broiling heat of the Philadelphia Navy Yard the previous summer when, at the urgent request of the Navy, we had dragged the rusted hulk of S-16 from the Navy Yard's back channel and — began to put her back together.

Jim Bledsoe was tall, bronzed, and good-looking; two inches taller than my five-feet-eleven. He was a product of Yale's NROTC and had been in the Navy two and a half years-practically all of it in the Submarine Service. I had graduated from the Naval Academy six years before and had nearly three years more than Jim in submarines.

Jim was of inestimable help in turning the old rust bucket we found in the Navy Yard back into the submarine she once had been. With Keith Leone, an Ensign just out of the submarine school, and old Tom Schultz, a one-time Machinist's Mate, USN, now a Lieutenant (jg), the officer complement of the S-16 was complete-and busy. With the accent on 'busy,' for the ship, when we took her out of the mud, was a gutted shell. All spring and summer we worked on her madly, sweating all the time, crawling about in the filthy bilges, racing against we knew not what, for the increasing tension in the world had its effect on us, too. There was an unmistakable urgency in the air-every- particle of dirt which ground its way into our sweat pores carried its quota of haste and importance with it. There was also a pointed urgency in my orders as 'prospective Commanding Officer,' which said, among other things, 'Report earliest when ready for sea.' We did our best.

I didn't meet Laura until later, on reporting to New London, but I don't want to explain about her yet, although you will have to understand about her to know about Jim and me.

In the spring of 1941, when the Navy Department decided to-shake up S-16's old bones after all, it was with something like despair that I made my first inspection of her innards.

She had been labeled 'junk' for fifteen years.

Jim and I were the first to arrive at Philadelphia; Keith and Tom came a few weeks later. We were all new at our jobs. Tom, with his. sixteen years of enlisted service as a Machinist's Mate, had just received his commission. We practically lived in the bilges and engines of our old pig of a submarine. Jim took to the job of getting, our gradually accumulated crew organized as though he had been an Exec all his life. Keith, fresh from Reserve Midshipman School and submarine school otherwise a simon-pure product of Northwestern University, became Torpedo Officer. Tom, of course, became Engineer. My last job had been Engineering Officer of the Octopus, the boat I had reported to upon grad- nation from the submarine school, and so I concentrated my spare time on finding out what the basic design trouble with the engines had been-and, with a little good luck and the assistance of the

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