A memorial to the 84 officers and crew of the last US Navy ship lost in WWII, the USS bullhead (SS-332), was recently unveiled in Fremantle, Western Australia, a vital home port for US, British and Dutch submarines in the Pacific Theater.
The memorial, located outside the Western Australian Maritime Museum, was inaugurated on August 6, on the 76th anniversary of the sinking of the submarine by Japanese planes in the Java Sea, off Bali, near from the mouth of the Lombok Strait.
US Consul General David Gainer said at the dedication ceremony that the memorial underscored the United States’ unwavering commitment to Australia. “Lives aboard the USS bullhead were lost defending Australia. This memorial is a powerful symbol of their courage and of the unwavering alliance between our two countries.
The submarine left Fremantle on July 31, 1945, on its third patrol after a brief refit and replacement of its five-inch gun, according to Naval History and Heritage Command.
The man behind the memorial of Bullhead, who received two battle stars during the war, is Tim Baldock, author of Fortress Fremantle: his lost submarine and his contributions to World War II.
In an email interview, Baldock said: “I felt very strongly connected to the boat, and the men on board therefore. [I] I wanted the memorial to be a lasting legacy to them from my family and a contribution to the town of Fremantle and the State of Western Australia. “
The double significance of the sinking of the submarine and the nuclear bombardment of Hiroshima on the same day “inspired me to write the book on Fremantle and to dedicate it to the memory of Bullhead.
Before the book’s launch in 2018, after three years of research and writing, he decided that all proceeds would go to the Fremantle Foundation, a local philanthropic organization. He had already decided to dedicate the book to the memory of the crew. When I spoke at the book launch, I once proposed my idea for a memorial to the bullhead as well as. My profits went to the Fremantle Foundation, my family paid for the memorial on our own that I was determined to carry out ”after the book came out.
After the publication, he wrote to Prime Minister of State Mark McGowan, who is a former Australian naval officer and a staunch supporter of the effort. McGowan put Baldock in touch with the museum.
Meanwhile, Baldock also contacted the US Consulate about his memorial plans. “They supported the project from the start and gave me all the support I needed,” he said.
There were already two submarine service memorials at the entrance to the museum – one in the Australian Submarine Service and the other a list of all the submarines that served at Fremantle during the War of the Peaceful.
The Bullhead Memorial sits behind the others and is higher so that all three can be read by one person standing in front of them. Baldock designed the memorial himself, with help from Peter O’Donoghue, president of the Western Australia branch of the Submarine Association of Australia.
Baldock said that as a child he and his father watched old war movies. It was then that his lifelong interest in building model battleships began. These activities fueled his interest in military history, especially World War II. But it was his time as a tour guide at the Oliver Hill Artillery Battery on Rottnest Island – off the coast of Perth, Australia – much later that he “learned of the importance of the base. Fremantle’s submarine and contribution to the outcome of World War II “. World War.”
Fremantle was right behind Pearl Harbor as an Allied submarine base during WWII.
“I would ultimately like to see it lead to something much bigger in Fremantle, like an interpretive center to educate about the importance of the place, the underwater service that he supported during the WWII and the impact of these submarines on the outcome of the Pacific War, ”Baldock said.
According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, bullhead was laid on October 21, 1943, in Groton, Connecticut, by Electric Boat Co .; launched on July 16, 1944; and commissioned on December 4, 1944. Cmdr. Walter T. Griffith was in charge from its commissioning until its loss.
bullhead was struck off the Navy’s list on September 17, 1945.
Baldock said a “bucket list” objective is to visit the USS bullhead Memorial Park in Albuquerque, NM, opened in 2010.
Baldock’s son, Max, is an aspiring maritime warfare officer in the Royal Australian Navy, studying in Canberra. “His goal is to someday command his own frigate or destroyer (or dare I say submarine).”