Books About Subchasers

Subchasers in World War II

Alvin P. Chester. A Sailor’s Odyssey, at Peace and at War 1935 - 1945. Odysseus Books, 1991.

Although primarily about Chester’s experiences on USS Cofer (DE-208), it has a chapter about SC-981, as well as experiences at Submarine Chaser Training Center (SCTC). ISBN: 0-9631239-0-4

Bill Robinson. A Sailor’s Tales. W.W. Norton, 1978.

Although it is highly personalized with biographical tales both before and after the war, one chapter is devoted exclusively to his experiences as commanding officer of SC-743 in the Southwest Pacific. Mr. Robinson is the former editor of Yachting magazine and writes extremely well. His stories about SC 743 are informative, witty, humorous and true. (Out of print but available through most library exchange programs.). ISBN 0-393-03211-6.

Paul K. McDevitt. All Came Home. Charleston, SC:Publish Pros, 2015. ISBN 978-0986341002.

All Came Home is an engaging memoir written by a son - chronicling the experiences of his father prior to, during, and after WWII on the U.S. Navy Amphibious Transport USS Leon, APA 48. The book is written in a very down to earth style, is well researched, and includes many photos. A gem of a book that truly gives one a feel for “the way it was” during WWII, and the many trials and tribulations faced in that era. Although not specifically about subchasers or patrol craft, the book does have a lot of information about amphibious craft, and McDevitt also served on Control Vessel PC-1079.

John Lambert & Al Ross. Allied Coastal Forces of World War II. London:Conway Maritime Press, 1990. ISBN 978-0851775197.

Also an excellent reference book with line illustrations and photos of subchasers. Gives some details regarding postwar disposition of subchasers. Note: this is a two volume set – the first volume contains information on subchasers. The set was republished in 2005.

J. Edward Day. An Unlikely Sailor. Parsons, WV:McLain Printing Co., 1990; ISBN 0-9626033-0-9.

The story of a Kennedy Cabinet Member in the World War II Antisubmarine Navy, the adventures of PC-597 and the DE-222 (USS Fowler). Author J. Edward Day pulls no punches and “tells it like it is” in this interesting summary of life aboard a PC. Interesting insights into personal relationships and great anecdotes.

Charles M. Sternhell and Alan M. Thorndike. Antisubmarine Warfare in World War II. Washington, DC:Operations Evaluation Group (OEG) (OEG Report No. 51), Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, 1946. 193 pages.

No mention of Subchasers or Patrol Craft in this report. Good glossary.

James McKay. Bill Creelman’s Conflicts. Xlibris, 2008. 280 pgs. ISBN: 978-1436350327.

This novel is partially autobiographical, and takes Bill Creelman through the Agriculture College at Cornell University, and later as a junior marketing specialist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The life and career of Bill Creelman was changed forever following the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. After Bill Creelman is commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy, the story recounts his experiences in the U.S. Navy as executive officer of a 110-foot subchaser, and later as the commanding officer of a 178-foot patrol craft. This story reflects the worries and concerns of a young man who grew up quickly during a chaotic and tragic period in the history of our country.

Eric Purdon. Black Company, The Story of Subchaser 1264. Washington-New York:Robert B. Luce, Inc., 1972. ISBN 978-1557506580.

This is a great true story about PC 1264, which was a warship manned 100% by black Americans as part of an experiment conducted by the navy to prove that the color of one’s skin was of no consequence when it came to running a ship and going to war. PC 1264 distinguished herself and performed so well that she, of all the PCs built during the war, was the one selected to be honored in a giant “Navy Day” celebration in New York City in October 1945 when President Harry Truman reviewed over fifty warships on the Hudson River after their return from victory.

Navy Department Bureau of Ships. Detail Specifications for building Submarine Chasers, Nos PC-497 to PC-508. 1941. 115 pages.

M.D. Kincaid. Harold’s Voyage, Based on the WWII Diaries of Seaman Harold Kiel. Adventurous Books, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-979669361.

Mr. Kincaid did an excellent job of incorporating the WWII diaries of Seaman Harold Kiel with some diary entries of Hayashi Ichizo, a Japanese Kamikaze pilot who died in the vicinity of Harold's ship, PCR (Patrol Craft Rescue) 851, as well as giving an overall good history of the battles in the Pacific. It was very obvious that Mr. Kincaid did extensive and thorough historical research. Seaman's Kiel wrote detailed diary entries, covering the gamut of the joy of receiving mail and ice cream to the horrors of war. Hayashi's diary entries were more reflective of his feelings of duty and honor of being selected to be a kamikaze pilot. Dispersed throughout the book are numerous historical and related photographs. This book is a good addition for WWII history buffs.

A.D. Rathbone IV. He’s In the Sub-Busters Now. 1943, reprinted by Kessinger Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-1432571436.

Nice summary of anti-submarine warfare theory and operations during the early years of World War II. Provides a good overview of the fight against the German U-Boat menace and some nice pictures.

J.W. Eides. Hitra. Bergen, Norway, 1987.

Detailed story of Subchaser SC-718, which was transferred to Norway during WWII and became “Hitra”, one of the fleet of Shetland bus. Book contains pictures and story of Hitra and Invald Eidsheim, the commander of Hitra. After the war the HNoMS Hitra was restored to WWII configuration and is operational, and is a museum ship in Norway. Note: the book is in Norwegian.

Raymond R. Malott. If We Save But One: Going to War with Jinrai Butai "The Kamikaze". Publishers Syndication, International, 2001. 95 pages.

The awkward title aptly summarizes this short book that contains the World War II memoirs of Dr. Raymond Malott, Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps, and the history of the Jinrai Butai (Divine Thunderbolt Corps) of the Japanese Navy's Kamikaze Special Attack Forces. Dr. Malott served on a ship that functioned as a floating battalion aid station with a 75-berth sickbay, an operating room, and an X-ray room. The title comes from the quote, "If you save but one man, your mission will have been successful," which someone in the family of the ship's commander said to him when first given command of the ship. Dr. Malott had a unique perspective of Japan's kamikaze attacks, since his ship PCE(R) 852 picked up and treated survivors from several ships that suffered hits by suicide planes in the Philippines or near Okinawa. Although this privately-published book had limited distribution, it provides the enlightening perspective of a medical doctor who witnessed firsthand the devastation inflicted on numerous American ships and crewmen by kamikaze planes.

John Hammond Moore. Jacko War: Strange Tales from America, 1941 – 1945 Pentland Press, 2001. ISBN 1-57197-286-2.

Has a chapter on SC-449, which was in trials to become the world’s smallest aircraft carrier (at 110’). Illustrated with pictures of the decoy aircraft carrier.

James R. Shultz. Long Way Home, a Pacific Odyssey of WWII. Creative Arts Book Company, 1996. ISBN 0-88739-114-1.

Wartime experiences on APc-37 and PC-804. Jim Schultz subtly reminds us that the nation and the U.S. Navy routinely invested enormous responsibility in young inexperienced men in WWII, and that they not only performed well, but in many instances, heroically. Since America will never again mobilize for war and call upon its youth to the extent it did for WWII, it is well that Jim has preserved and shared with us his Naval experiences and those of his shipmates.

Staff of “The Motor Boat and Yachting”, 13th edition. Motor Boat and Yachting Manual, A Practical Handbook devoted to Yachts, Motor Boats, also Commercial and Naval Motor Craft. Temple Press Limited, London, 1945.

Limited subchaser information, but they are mentioned.

Lewis M. Walker, Cmdr., USNR, (Ret.). Ninety Day Wonder. Harlo Press, 1989.

Still another good book about a commanding officer’s experiences on a subchaser. The writing is excellent and some of the descriptions are gripping, such as the one telling about being aboard a subchaser during a typhoon. (Out of print but available through most library exchange programs.). ASIN: B0006ES7BE.

Electro-Motive Division, General Motors Corporation. Operating and Maintenance Instruction Manual (Restricted), G.M. Diesel Engine, Model 16-184A Propelling Engines for USN Patrol Vessels SC-497 Class – 110-Foot Submarine Chaser, United States Navy Contract Nos. 99334. La Grange, IL, 1942.

Electro-Motive Division, General Motors Corporation. Parts Book, G.M. Diesel Engine, Model 16-184A Propelling Engines for USN Patrol Vessels SC-497 Class – 110-Foot Submarine Chaser, United States Navy Contracts Nos. 99334 and 78926 (This Manual is identified as ⁕E-M-C-NS-2⁕. La Grange, IL, 1942.

Patrol Craft Sailors Association (PCSA). Patrol Craft Sailors Association – Too Good to Be Forgotten. Turner Publishing Company, 1990.

General History, Ships’ Album, Rough Riders, Sea Stories, Sailor’s Bios, Roster, many pictures, and much more. ISBN: 938021-89-3 (Note: not the same content as the 1995 book by the same name)

Patrol Craft Sailors Association (PCSA). Patrol Craft Sailors Association - Too Good to Be Forgotten. Turner Publishing Company, 1995.

Patrol Craft Histories, Sea Stories, Biographies, Rosters, many pictures, and much more. ISBN: 1-56311-204 (Note: not the same content as the 1990 book by the same name)

Wm. J. Veigele, Ph. D., USNR (Ret). PC Patrol Craft of World War II. Astral Publishing Co., Santa Barbara, CA, 1998. 400p.; ISBN 978-0964586710.

This is an excellent account by a veteran sailor of PC 793. PCs were the “big brother” to the smaller 110' SCs. They were 173' steel-hulled vessels, built and used for the same purposes as the SCs and commonly referred to as subchasers. The men who served on PCs were trained at the same training center in Miami (SCTC) as those who served on SCs, and their experiences were very similar to those of the SC sailors. Dr. Viegele’s book, supplemented with more than 170 photographs, contains stories of the exploits of over 175 PCs and provides a thumbnail history of each one of the 361 PCs commissioned during the war. A series of exquisite engineering drawings of ship’s details provide complete and accurate details of PCs and their design.

Art Bell. Peter Charlie the Cruise of PC-477. Courtroom Compendiums, 1992. ISBN: 0-910-355-00-2.

Story of PC-477, with pictures. Ship was on the East Coast, went through the Panama Canal, then on to Hawaii and the Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal, New Guinea, and the Philippines in the South Pacific during WWII. Good read.

Douglas L. Roberts. Rustbucket 7, Chronicle of the USS PC-617 During the Great War. Mill Pond Press, 1995, ISBN: 0-9648769-0-6.

Chronicle of extremely youthful college graduate hurried to maturity in the cauldron of war. Possibly for the first time it recounts the role of the armed raider, or Q-ship, in the U.S. Navy in WWII. The German glide bomb which narrowly missed ending the experiences of the Rustbucket 7 (USS PC-617), is shown to be the genesis of today’s “smart bomb”. It is described in detail. Good read.

Wm. J. Veigele, Ph.D., USNR (Ret). Sea Bag of Memories—Images Poems Thoughts and Crafts of the Small Ship Sailors of World War II. Astral Publishing Co., Santa Barbara, CA, 2003. 320pp; ISBN 978-0964586741.

This recent addition to the history and lore of subchasers and patrol craft of World War II is not only rich in its depth of information, but fascinating for its photos, cartoons, poems, art, drawings and miscellany about and by the men who served on the “Little Ships That Could.” Thirty pages of exquisitely drawn plates by Robert Baldwin will make ship modelers ecstatic while historians and researchers now have a gold mine of information heretofore never disclosed. It is a beautifully executed hardbound book complete with Prologue, Introduction, Notes, Bibliography and Index and is highly recommended as an invaluable part of subchaser history. Don’t wait. Get a copy and see for yourself.

William Edward Syers. The “SEVEN” Navy Subchaser. Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1960.

This novel is an interesting story of life aboard a WWII subchaser. The author obviously must have been on a subchaser for he gives details that would be missing only and unless. (Out of print but available through most library exchange programs.). ASIN: B000N36BMA.

David Howarth (Lt. Cmdr, R.N.V.R.). The Shetlands Bus. Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd., London and New York, 1951; reprinted by Time-Life Books Inc., 1992; reprinted by Lyons Press, 2008. ISBN: 978-1599213217.

The author was attached to the secret base in Scalloway from whence the “Shetlandsbussen” operated. It is a fascinating story of the heroism and patriotic fervor among a small group of Norwegian fishermen as they plied back and forth between the Shetlands and Norway carrying arms, radios, counteragents, spies, and munitions to their underground patriots in occupied Norway and, on their return trips, whisking key figures to freedom. A lot of it deals with the fishing boats used but there are some good stories about the three American subchasers acquired later in the war.

H.G. Jones. The Sonarman’s War—A Memoir of Submarine Chasing and Mine Sweeping in World War II. McFarland & Company, Jefferson, NC; 2010. ISBN 978-0-7864-5884-4.

In the words of the author: “ intimate and sometimes irreverent account of one man's coming of age during World War II...” Jones, born a North Carolina farm boy, served as a U.S. Navy sonarman aboard a wooden subchaser operating from Africa and Sicily during the Allied invasions at Anzio and Southern France. He also served as sonarman and yeoman on two fleet mine sweepers in the Okinawa, Formosa and China operations. This memoir is not only drawn from memory, but from the author’s surviving diaries from the conflicts, daily logs of the three ships upon which he served, and the secret reports of military commanders and other official records.

Theodore R. Treadwell. Splinter Fleet, the Wooden Subchasers of World War II. Naval Institute, 2000. ISBN: 1-55750-817-8.

Describes the cramped quarters and unforgiving seas, as well as the tenacious courage and close bonds formed by the men as they sought out the enemy and confronted nature. Long overshadowed by the larger, faster warships and more glamorous PT boats, subchasers, until now, have been mostly forgotten. This work restores the plucky little ships to their hard earned status as significant members of the fleet. Many of the photos included here were taken by the author during the war.

Robert W. Daly. Steaming As Before: World War Two 173 Foot Steel Hulled PC Subchaser Histories and Stories. PC Daly Press, Connecticut, 2004. ASIN: B002J08FXS.

Bob was a Plank Owner of the Patrol Craft Sailors Association (PCSA) and was the “Go To” guy for a lot of the information on the SCs and PCs. Bob was extremely knowledgeable about Patrol Craft and had an extensive collection of photos. Sadly, Bob passed away in 2015. His book provides a nice summary of Patrol Craft.

Edward P. Stafford. SUBCHASER. Naval Institute Press, 1988.

This is a very good book by the former skipper of SC 692. Well researched and documented he describes in detail the early days of the war, the makeup of convoys and their escorts, the crossing of the Atlantic requiring refueling at sea while underway, and operations in the Mediterranean theater. ISBN: 978-0870216923.

Josef Berger. Subchaser Jim. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1943. ASIN: B0007FD32A.

This is a little nugget of fiction that you can’t put down once you start reading it. Written by someone who knew a lot about the Gloucester fishing boats and also knew something about deceptive warfare and U boats. He takes the reader through some fascinating and exciting experiences aboard one fishing boat that the Coast Guard used to spy upon the U boats and, finally, to sink one. The book is written in a style intended for junior high school-age reading but I found it a great read, thoroughly exciting and enjoyable.

J. Henry Doscher, Jr., Captain, USNR, (Ret.). Subchaser In The South Pacific, A Saga of the USS SC-761 During World War II. Eakin Press, 1994, iBooks, 2006 (paperback)

Another good documentary by a former subchaser skipper. Subtitled “A Saga of the USS SC 761 During World War II”, the author tells some interesting tales of life aboard a subchaser in the Solomons. ISBN: 978-1596873322.

Kevin J.P. Joynt. Subchaser, Motor Launch Q072. Ottawa, Canada, 1992.

Story of little known class of ship; the Motor Launches (M.L.’s), Fairmile Type “B” (112 ft), of the Royal Canadian Navy commissioned during WWII.

Charles W. Rice. The Submarine Chaser Training School. Published in “Tequesta”, the Journal of HistoryMiami, Number LXX, 2010.

Extensively researched history and operation of SCTC in Miami, and illustrated with photographs. Over 50 page long.

Navy Department. Submarine Chaser Manual (Restricted). U.S. Government Printing Office, (2nd Edition, 1942, 297 pages; 3rd Edition, 1943, 316 pages)

T. Garth Connell. U.S. 110’ Subchasers in Action – Warships No. 33. Squadron/Signal Publications, 2009. 64 pgs, ISBN: 978-0897475877.

Theodore R. Treadwell. Taste of Salt, a World War II Skipper Looks Back. iUniverse, 2008.

A true, personal narrative of the author’s four years in the Navy during World War II. Two of the years were on a subchaser, the last eight months of that service as the commanding officer. Written with passion, humor and authority, Treadwell shares in vivid, graphic detail the people and places, the events and adventures encountered during those turbulent years. U.S.S. Subchaser SC 648 served in the Southwest Pacific where she participated in four assault landings, the liberation of the Philippines, and the Borneo-Kuching P.O.W. liberation, earning five battle stars on the way.

Naval History Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. United States Naval Chronology World War II. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1955.

Day-by-day account of various Naval activities during WWII. Dry reading, but a good reference for noting major incidents involving subchasers and patrol craft during WWII.

Joan W. Lofland. The Vinyard Shipbuilding Company, Delaware’s Only Surviving Historic Shipyard. Bookmasters, 2015.

The Vinyard Shipbuilding Company is a remarkable survivor. The restored yard still contains the original boat shed, machine shop, woodworking building, sail loft, and railways from the 1920s, and its present owners have preserved and restored three motor yachts built there, including both the first of the type (Augusta, built in 1927) and the last (Vignette, built in 1951). During the yards earlier years, its products were what one might expect for a small operation: ferries, tugboats, small traders, and military light craft (submarine chasers and Coast Guard patrol boats). From the late 1920s the business’s primary products were recreational watercraft (and more sub chasers during World War II). All receive due attention, though there is a notable preponderance of yacht images, probably because such craft attracted more contemporary attention. Lavishly illustrated. Copies of the book can be obtained through the author at

Alfred Samuels. War Patrol of the PCER 852. Publishers Syndication, International, 1989. 141 pgs, ASIN B005NWRILE.

From review found online: “What a great and interesting little book this is. It is probably not the most well written book there is, but the story and the details in the book are amazing. One always thinks that the big ships of the navy had all the action in the Pacific and often forget that there were numerous little ships that did a lot of the hard work in the navy. This is a real tribute to the men of the smaller boats in the Pacific theater. Also the records of all the men saved and treated by the USS PCE(R)852 is a great addition to this book as well as the crew list from the ship.”

Subchasers in World War I

William Washburn Nutting, USNR. The Cinderellas of the Fleet Standard Motor Construction Company, Jersey City, 1920.

This book is a “collector’s item” about the experiences of several different SC-1 subchasers during the First World War. It has several fine illustrations and photographs and gives a good insight into subchaser life in World War I. It won’t be easy to find.

W. Macneile Dixon. The Fleets Behind the Fleet; the Work of the Merchant Seaman and Fisherman During the War. Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1917.

Title describes the content.

Todd A. Woofenden. Hunters of the Steel Sharks: The Submarine Chasers of WWI. Signal Light Books, Bowdoinham, ME, 2006.

This recently published book is a treasure that should be owned by all WWI naval history buffs. Carefully researched, painstakingly documented, and chock full of rare photographs and documents, it is a definitive work about the subchasers of World War I. The author has the unique advantage of being the grand-nephew of George S. Dole, commander of SC 93. Lieut. Dole, in addition to his long service, left an extensive and valuable collection of documents, revealing not only his own story on SC 93, but that of the chasers and the men who served on them. Mr. Woofenden draws upon these documents in a wonderfully effective way. I highly recommend this book for its well-presented historical content.

Prosper Buranelli. Maggie of the Suicide Fleet. Doubleday, Duran, and Company, 1930.

As written from the Log of Raymond D. Borden, Lieutenant, U.S.N.R., story of the “Margaret” (aka “Maggie”), Submarine Patrol 527 (S.P. 527), a converted yacht during WWI. A converted yacht of 176 ft; this was part of the “Suicide Fleet” and not one of the 110’ Submarine Chasers built for the Navy. Interesting reading.

Malcolm F. Willoughby. Rum War at Sea. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1964; ASIN: B001EEWXEC.

Although not about WWI, it is an interesting read about that era. Also, a few WWI submarine chasers were used by the rum runners to smuggle whiskey as well as by the Government to try to stop the rum runners. One such rum runner was Annetta I of New York, a former WWI Subchaser, which was seized.

Ray Millholland. The Splinter Fleet of the Otranto Barrage. Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1936.

The author was a crew member aboard a World War I subchaser and he wrote about his experiences in a breezy, interesting style. Incidentally, his son, James Millholland, served on SC 699 in the Pacific in World War II. (Out of print but available through most library exchange programs.)

W. Adolphe Roberts. The U.S. Navy Fights. Bobbs-Merrill, 1942. ASIN: B0007E0M4I.

General book about various Navy battles starting with the Revolutionary War. Has a chapter on the Submarine Chaser 215 at Durazzo, and another chapter on Torpedo Boat 41 in the Philippines, as well as other chapters on WWII Naval battles.

Hilary Ranald Chambers. United States Subchasers. Knickerbocker Press, NY, 1920.

A small, rare book 91 pages long written by the Commanding Officer of SC 128 during World War I. An easy reading 91-page book describing operations in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, including the Durazzo attack, the only major battle of WWI in which the U.S. Navy participated. Good information about typical ship’s complement, crew accommodations, training methods, administrative duties, etc. Post-Armistice duty in the Mediterranean is also described, including the “liberation” of certain enemy equipment. Reprinted in 2010 by Kessinger Publications; ISBN: 978-1166284718

Capt. Alexander W. Moffat USNR (Ret). Maverick Navy. Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT 1976.

A first-hand account of Capt. Moffat’s experiences as skipper of a WWI subchaser. Well written and includes photos


Bluejackets’ Manual United States Navy. U.S. Naval Institute, 1940.

Critchell Rimington. Fighting Fleets 1942. Dodd, Mead and Company, 1942.

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS). Naval History Division, Navy Dept, 1977.

An 8-volume encyclopedia of U.S. warships. Many libraries carry this as a standard work on their reference shelves. One section gives a thumbnail sketch of every subchaser launched and commissioned in both wars as well as information regarding fates and/or postwar disposition.

Daniel E. Barbey. MacArthur’s Amphibious Navy, Seventh Amphibious Force Operations 1943 – 1945. Naval Institute, 1969. ASIN: B0006BZ1D4.

MacArthur's Amphibious Navy is the work of Admiral Daniel Barbey, and tells the story of the U.S. Navy's Seventh Amphibious Force, which was Barbey's command from its creation in early 1943, through to the end of WW2. This is the force that conducted the amphibious landings in General MacArthur's Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) from June, 1943 onward. Readers will find bibliographical citations to this book in virtually any publication dealing with the command and operations of the SWPA. Subchasers are briefly mentioned.

U.S. Naval Vessels 1943. Naval Institute Press, 1986. ISBN: 0-87021-724-0.

Pictures and descriptions of Naval vessels in 1943.

Norman Friedman. U.S. Small Combatants. Naval Institute Press, 1987. ISBN: 0-87021-713-5.

An excellent reference book with photographs and line illustrations and chapters on first and second generation subchasers.