Subchaser in the South Pacific Bookcover


The saga of the USS SC-761, involving the smallest warship in the United States Navy , is, in effect, the story of the "Splinter Fleet"; a microcosm of that unsung portion of the U. S. Navy. It relates the activities of an extremely small ship in a very big war.

This ship began it naval career in 1942 performing convoy duty along the Atlantic coast from New York to Cape May. However, the critical needs in the South Pacific caused the SC-761 and other selected subchasers to be reassigned to the South Pacific Fleet in January 1943. Reporting for duty at Guadalcanal in early April 1943, it took part in the Solomon Islands campaigns of that year. It, and its sister ship, the SC-760, took part in the initial invasion of Vella LaVella in August of 1943, under heavy aircraft attacks. This was the first time a subchaser was so used.

Working with our submarines, the SC-761 played an active part in returning"coastwatchers" from Bougainville shortly prior to the invasion of that island.

Like other subchasers, the SC-761 accomplished the mundane convoy of merchant ships, survived South Pacific hurricanes, fought Japanese dive bombers with its 40mm and 20mm guns, fired depth charges at suspected enemy submarines, and claimed credit for a "kill" as to one submarine. As with other subchasers, it was manned mainly by reservists, many of whom had never seen salt water prior to their naval service. This subchaser and its crew had a distinct part, not heretofore chronicled, to play in the Pacific Theatre, and, typical of subchaser crews, they handled their tasks with such skill that on one memorable occasion they were personally commended by their task force commander, Rear Admiral T. S. Wilkinson.

The story of the SC-761 begins with its construction at Ipswich, Massachusetts, in early 1942 and ends with its decommissioning at Mare Island, California, in late November of 1945.

Current Reviews and Comments:

Subchaser in the South Pacific is a slim but highly evocative book that will bring back poignant recollections of World War II�This is not high wartime naval drama, but neither is it a "Mr. Roberts" or"South Pacific". The SC-761 performed gallantly under enemy fire in the Solomon Islands campaign and the invasion of Vella LaVella, and the author gives us solid factual accounts of that action, as well as the everyday convoy and escort duty for which the ship was designed and which the subchaser fleet carried out so staunchly during critical stages of the war.

For many, the book will bring back vivid memories. It is, incidentally, a labor of love, with all royalties assigned to the Museums of Abilene, Inc.

From a detailed book review in the Fall 1994 issue of Amherst, a quarterly publication of Amherst College.

This is one of the most interesting histories of ships that I have ever read. The SC-761 served gallantly during World War II and was involved in several major invasions in the South Pacific�It was the subchaser chosen to help remove the coastwatchers from Bougainville [and] a military scouting party prior to the main invasion of Bouganville�I am sure you will find it a very interesting book, I know I did.

Thomas P. Gaffney, Naval Historian
Manchester, New Hampshire

I recently was privileged to read Subchaser in the South Pacific. It really touched me! I don't know how you could have written a more comprehensive or interesting book; I really enjoyed it and I admire you for it.

Woodsen E. Dryden, attorney, Beaumont, Texas. Former officer on an LST in WWII.

This is to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your book, I hope [others] will order it up because many will have the same reaction I did. It was particularly rewarding to me for the memories it rekindled because I had Navy service very much like [that].

Warren Weaver, Jr., Washington, D.C. Former political correspondent for the New York Times.

Subchaser in the South Pacific came from the publisher earlier this week. What a book! I read it the first night. It's great. It's exciting and I liked every page of it.

T. R. Havins, Jr., Oil Producer, Burkburnett, Texas. Naval Aviator, World War II.

Your wonderful book, Subchaser in the South Pacific, which I am now reading is particularly fascinating to me [as] I had the same subchaser experience in the South Pacific aboard the SC-505 . You have described very well our day-to-day routine, including the frequent air raids. Let me say [in closing] how much I'm enjoying your wonderful book.

Earl Silvers, Boca Raton, Florida.
Former Commanding.Officer USS SC-505.


The USS SC-761, under way, standing out of Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, Spring 1945.

The officers and crew of the USS SC-761, Christmas Day, 1943, at Lautoka, Fiji Islands.

Gunnery drills at general quarters in the South Pacific. Spring, 1943.

The Australian/New Zealand coastwatchers returning to Guadalcanal from Bougainville on board the SC-761. They gathered on the forecastle for this photo after they had taken a good hot shower, shaved, and eaten a hearty hot meal. They were in good spirits after their arduous experiences as coastwatchers in the jungles of Bougainville. Only two of their expedition had been captured by the Japanese and beheaded.

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Publisher: Eakin Press, Austin, 1994. Hardcover edition, $15.95, plus S&H, and any tax. 1-800-880-8642
Printed and bound at a Press in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

All text and photos copyright by J. Henry Doscher, Jr. 1997. All Rights Reserved.
Void where prohibited.