A legendary U.S. submarine toting a rocket launcher began its own campaign of coastal terror that foretold the future of naval warfare.
At midnight on July 23, the Barb slipped up to within a kilometer of the shore, and a landing party commanded by Lt. William Walke, paddled quietly to the beach. While three men took up guard positions—they encountered a sleeping Japanese guard in a watchtower, whom they left unharmed—the other five buried the demolition charge and managed not blow themselves up jury-rigging the detonation circuit. They were furiously rowing back to the Barb when a second train passed.
In the closing months of World War II, heavy losses and depleted fuel stocks kept many of Japan’s remaining combat aircraft grounded and warships in port, awaiting an anticipated amphibious invasion. Starting in July 1945, Allied battleships embarked on a series of naval bombardments of coastal cities in Japan in an effort to draw these forces out to battle—with little success. However, a week before the battleships began lobbing their massive shells, a legendary U.S. submarine toting a rocket launcher began its own campaign of coastal terror that foretold the future of naval warfare—and also engaged in the only Allied ground-combat operation on Japanese home-island soil.
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