The Sinking of Japanese Submarine I-45

The following comments were made by Mr. Roy E. Graham,  July 10, 1997.  Mr. Graham was a crew member of the USS Whitehurst at the time of the sinking of the large Japanese submarine, I-45:


Roy Graham 2004

Roy Graham WT 3/c


We were escorting a convoy out of Leyte Gulf. That is, the Eversole, Bull, and Whitehurst. I believe we had assumed the starboard flank position and as I recall the Eversole might have been at the point position. At 3:30 general quarters was sounded and we heard on the speaker that the Eversole had been torpedoed. The Whitehurst and Bull made way to the Eversole and we transferred medical supplies at the site of the Eversole sinking. We proceeded to chase the submarine and used hedgehogs rather than depth charges as our method of attack. The hedgehog method was one in which we would come up from behind the submarine and shoot off 12 to 24 hedgehogs in a pattern from the bow of the ship. If a hedgehog made contact with the submarine then all the hedgehogs would explode. If no contact was made the hedgehogs would remain undetonated so as not to disturb our ships sonar gear in searching out the submarine. After several runs at the submarine we reported at 12:00 - 12:30 seeing wooden repair plugs bobbing to the surface. This was the type of cone shaped wooden repair plug to insert in a hole in the submarine to stop water leakage. We put a whale boat over the side to see if we could recover any of the items from the submarine. We also saw books and other papers floating to the surface but these quickly returned to deep below the surface of the water and was out of reach. We also saw much oil in the water too. I walked to the stern of the ship about this time and also saw other debris floating in the water that I presume was from the submarine. I would have to say it was doubtful that anyone survived from the submarine. The hedgehogs must have exploded when making contact with the submarine that was deeply submerged. No survivors from the submarine were ever found.

The large I-45 sunk by Whitehurst was a "Cruiser Submarine".
 It was externally same as I-24 pictured above, but
had a hardened steel hull and simplified Diesel engines.


Excerpt from p.437, "United States Destroyer Operations in World War II"

by Theodore Roscoe.  U. S. Naval Institute, 1953

Contributed by Roger Ekman, Capt. U.S.N. Ret., who served on Whitehurst


Shortly after Eversole went down, destroyer escort Whitehurst received over the TBS word from destroyer escort Bull, that their sister DE had been torpedoed and sunk.  Whitehurst was operating at the time with Task Unit 77.7.1, which had the mission of feeding fuel and ammunition supplies to units of the Seventh Fleet supporting the Leyte landings.  After relaying the word on Eversole, destroyer escort Bull requested a DE to act as A/S screen while she rescued survivors.  Whitehurst was thereupon dispatched to the scene of the sinking.  Her skipper, Lt J. C. Horton, U.S.N.R. took the ship through a search pattern around the area.  The search had almost completed when the Whitehurst picked up a sonar contact at 0545.  Ten minutes later she reached firing position and let fly with a full hedgehog salvo.  Results were negative.  At 0608, 0634, and 0648, she delivered hedgehog attacks.  Eleven seconds after the fourth salvo splashed into the sea, a series of explosions echoed up from below.  The rataplan ended in a thunderous detonation which ebbed away with a prolonged rumble.  The undersea blasting was violent enough to knock out Whitehurst's pinging gear.

Thereupon Bull was asked to continue the search.  After fruitless efforts to gain contact, Bull's skipper reported over TBS,  "From the sound of the explosions where I was, three miles away, I don't think there is anything left of the sub.

His implication was correct. However, the destroyer-men, making a daylight search of the area, discovered some submarine residue.  splintered teak, a wooden damage control plug, chunks of painted wood and what not.  After the war these items were attributed to the submarine I-45, the sub which probably sank Eversole.

Whitehurst had lost no time in tracking down and exterminating the Japanese killer.



Many thanks SSgt USAF Jack McLaughlin, family & friend of the USS England for the following link which traces the movements of the Japanese Submarine I-45

  Movements if Submarine I-45

Souvenirs of I-45
Remnants of I-45 were salvaged, cut into small pieces
and distributed to Whitehurst crewmen by the
Ship's Carpenter
Story and pictures provided by Neal Mielke, son of
Ens. Fred Mielke, Whitehurst Supply Officer

Ens. Fred Mielke 1944, and circa 2005

Photo of backside with story attached by Fred Mielke.  The long dimension is 3.75"

Photo of Front

Fred added his name sometime after the Dynamo Tape Labeler was introduced in 1958.
The 1966 "Tessa Attack" is evident. 


The following, paraphrased, information was supplied by:
 Louis "Lew" Cowden, Machinist Mate 2nd Class in 1944

Louis Cowden MM2/c,  and more recently

The Ship's Carpenter worked with a mate named Connelly to make the
souvenir pieces from the scraps recovered at the site of the sinking.
We did not all get one.  The Carpenter" Mate probably did the work for the
officers and others did their own.  Bob Zobal got pieces of the Teak Wood from
the sub.  He did his own finishing work after he got home.

Note: Neal Mielke got in touch, after his father died, to offer the pictures of the souvenirs and
the display of the Purple Heart and Campaign Ribbons his dad earned in WWII.
Click this link and scroll to the WWII Medals section of the page.

Our thanks to Neal and Lew for this follow up to the "Sub Sunk" story.      mc

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