Fremantle's Submarines

How Allied Submariners and Western Australians Helped to Win the War in the Pacific
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Binding:Hardback
Published:September 15, 2015
By Michael Sturma (Author)

From unpromising beginnings in March 1942, the Allied submarine base at Fremantle on the west coast of Australia became a vital part of the Allied offensive against Japan. Pushed back from the Philippines and the Netherlands’ East Indies, American submariners, accompanied by a small group of Dutch forces, retreated to Fremantle as a last resort. The location was chosen for its good harbor and the fact that it was outside the range of land-based Japanese aircraft. From unpromising beginnings in March 1942, the Allied submarine base at Fremantle on the west coast of Australia became a vital part of the Allied offensive against Japan. Pushed back from the Philippines and the Netherlands’ East Indies, American submariners, accompanied by a small group of Dutch forces, retreated to Fremantle as a last resort. The location was chosen for its good harbor and the fact that it was outside the range of land-based Japanese aircraft. Unfortunately the base was also far from their patrol areas and supply lines, and it was difficult to reinforce should the enemy attack. Thanks largely to a welcoming civilian population, morale quickly improved. The hospitality and sense of belonging fostered by Western Australians became legendary among Allied submariners and remains central to their wartime memories. Perhaps as a result of such a positive experience, the Allied forces became much more successful in combat. Intertwining social and military history, Fremantle’s Submarines relates how courage, cooperation, and community made Fremantle arguably the most successful military outpost of World War II from the standpoint of troop morale.

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Product Details
  • Subject: World War II
  • Hardback : 248 pages
  • Illustrations: 17 b/w photos; 2 maps
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (September 15, 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 1612518605
  • ISBN-13: 9781612518602
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 18.9 oz
Praise
  • “The author of this book has crafted a splendid account of men in war in which he blends both social and military history together to form a seamless story. Fremantle Submarines deserves to be in any library trying to cover submarines in warfare.”—Naval History Book Reviews
  • “Part historical and part social history, Fremantle’s Submarines seeks to emphasize the importance of the Western Australian port as a forward operating base in the Pacific War. I’m sure this book will have broad appeal, especially to anyone interested in WWII naval operations in the Pacific.”—MilitaryBooksAustralia.com
  • “Once again, Michael Sturma has provided valuable insight and understanding to a relatively unknown but vital aspect of history. With Fremantle’s Submarines, Sturma not only offers an exhaustively-documented work of great value to researchers, authors and historians, but he has done so in a wonderfully readable way—ensuring accessibility to people of all levels of interest. If more academics were as willing and able as Sturma to relate the human side of events alongside the required, well-rendered, historical perspective perhaps more readers could experience the time, place and life events that are so often lost in the broad sweep of history.”—Don Keith, author of The Ship That Wouldn’t Die and Undersea Warrior
  • “Sturma has provided an important service in reminding readers of the importance not only of submarines in the war but also the alliance between the U.S. and Australia. Too often accounts of the war in the Pacific ignore the role of American allies, including no only the Australians but also the British, Dutch, New Zealanders, residents of the Philippines, and many others who need to be recognized to tell the complete story.”—The Journal of Military History
  • Fremantle’s Submarines blends naval history with a detailed portrait of life in the Western Australian home front, fully describing the crucial and genuinely friendly alliance that formed between Allied submariners and their Australian hosts. Michael Sturma has once again written a significant contribution to the history of the Pacific War.”—Joel I. Holwitt, author of “Execute Against Japan”: The U.S. Decision to Conduct Unrestricted Submarine Warfare
  • “Michael Sturma has interwoven the men’s experiences on patrol far to the north, in navigationally very difficult waters – sometimes harrowing, always stressful – with the warm-hearted respect and affection they met with in Western Australia, a background which undoubtedly contributed to their successes by helping them to relax and unwind. We meet a number of well-known submariner names in these pages, and the book as a whole serves as a useful reminder of what the Allies achieved in that colossal area.”—The Mariner’s Mirror
  • “Well-written and well-researched, Sturma’s work gives us detailed action at sea, discussion of ordnance and tactics, psychological pressures of life in a submarine, command changes and relationships, inter-allied cooperation, and maintenance issues at the far end of a supply line. The author enlivens the narrative with numerous colorful details, both afloat and ashore. Submarine patrols ranged from the usual but far from routine, seeking and destroying enemy shipping or laying mines, to the less common missions to insert or recover commandos, guerillas or intelligence agents, or to rescue stranded seamen or airmen. Some patrols deemed to be successful turned out to be less so in retrospect: a number of boats sank ships loaded with Allied prisoners of war. Sturma does not mention the American policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, invoked against Japan from the first day of the war.”—JAMP (Journal of America’s Military Past)
  • “Michael Sturma’s latest work on the Allied submarine campaign in the Pacific mixes operational and social history in a compelling blend. . . . In a relatively brief book, Professor Sturma has covered its many aspects with impressive thoroughness.”—The Northern Mariner
  • “This book achieved what it set out to do. Sturma moves comfortably between discussing strategy, leaders, tactics, weapons and civilian-submariner relations. Archival material, personal records, memoirs and post-war interviews are all used well to bring the experiences of leaders, rank-and-file and civilians into sharp focus. Fremantle’s Submarines will interest general and academic readers concerned with submarine warfare in the Pacific War and the Australian home-front experience.”—History Australia
  • "The book covers a little-known period of the Pacific War, and gives insights into the problems involved in long-distance naval logistics; it is recommended." - Warship 2017

Michael Sturma is a professor of history and leader of humanities at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. He is the author of six previous books.

More by this Author

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Only seven U.S. submariners earned the Medal of Honor in World War II. Sam Dealey, the USS Harder...Read More
Fremantle's Submarines
From unpromising beginnings in March 1942, the Allied submarine base at Fremantle on the west coast...Read More

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