USS Pomfret SS-391 WWII Victory Flag – SOLD

Japanese made personal sized silk flag displaying the significant combat experience of this Portsmouth, NH built submarine.

SKU: JM20- 216 Category:

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The USS Pomfret, SS- 391 was launched 27 October in 1943 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, in Kittery, Maine, and was commissioned on the 19th of February, under the command of Commander Frank C. Acker.

Pomfret arrived at Pearl Harbor on 1 June, 1944, and after provisioning, left there 22 days later on her first war patrol.  On the second patrol, leaving Midway for the Luzon Straits. On the 2nd October she sent the Japanese cargo vessel to the bottom, for which she received depth charging without injury.   She departed her assigned area and arrived at Tanagag Harbor in Saipan on 12 October.

Now under a new skipper, Commander John B. Hess, Promfret entered the last area she had been assigned, the Luzon Straits and South China Sea area.  Here she sank two more cargo ships.  She tackled with a Japanese Patrol Boat and another cargo ship around the later part of November.

The 4th patrol began on 25 January, 1945 in a wolf pack to sweep in front of a carrier task force in the Toyyo- Nagoya area.  On the 16th of February the Pomfret picked up a downed pilot from the light carrier, USS Cabot CLV- 28, and with action that was not commonly done, she ventured into the outer waters of Toyko Bay.  (This action was described in Clay Blair’s book, Silent Victory, Lippincott, 1975);  Pomfret, commanded by John Hess, made a spectacular rescue. A pilot from the carrier Cabot was forced to ditch in the outer waters of Tokyo Bay. Fighters circled over Pomfret, guiding Hess to the rubber life raft.  Hess fearlessly took Pomfret into these restricted waters and rescued the pilot, Ensign R.L. Buchanan. During this same bold operation, Hess picked up another pilot, Lieutenant Joseph P. Farrell from Hornet, and a Japanese pilot.  War correspondent Ernie Pyle devoted a column to the rescue entitled “Even If You Was Shot Down in Tokyo Harbor, the Navy Would Be In to Get You.”

Shortly after Pomfret headed for Midway, arriving on 30 March, returning on 7 June, with some action but little results.

In her last wartime war patrol, Pomfret was given lifeguard duty off Honshu on 2 July.  On the 19th of that month she sank 44 mines.  Five days later she shelled the Kuskaki Jima Lighthouse and radio installation and the next day destroyed a few other small craft.   On 8 August she rescued 5 downed B-25 crewman. Pomfret picked up Japanese and Korean survivors until the war ended on 15 August 1945.  She left for Guam, and by the 9th of September was in safe harbor at San Francisco.

Post war service began on 2 January, 1946, leaving Mare Island Naval Shipyard, and left for Guam and eventually Subic Bay, Philippine Islands on 9 March.  From the Philippines she made her way to Tsingtao, China.  By 18 May, Pomfret had returned to Pearl Harbor, her new home port.  For the next three years, Pomfret served in the Pacific.

For his first shipboard assignment, future president Jimmy Carter served on Pomfret from 17 December 1948 to 1 February, 1951.  Pomfret also saw Korean War service, and was decommissioned for conversion in April of 1952.

This silk war flag was most likely made just after the war.  It appears to be either Japanese or Chinese made. Most likely several of these were made for crewman still service on Pomfret after the war. and when in Guam or China in 1946, may have been the time these were done.  In researching this one, I found another very similarly done in construction, color, and detail.  This flag measures 13″ x 18″ and retains its wonderful color and condition.

These navy submarine victory flags all tell their own wartime story, with figures depicting the actions they were involved in, and those credited to their war service.  Center is the adopted insignia of the Pomfret (pomfret fish- a powerful and speedy swimmer who can dive at great depths), holding a torpedo, while donning a sailor cap.  The boat above shows the Pomfret running on surface, displaying the characteristics of the Balao- class submarines. Above the boat are five pennants representing 5 confirmed hits with sinking the vessel engaged.

To the upper right are the lighthouse and radio installation that was destroyed on Kuskaki Jima. Below that are the 2 navy pilots rescued in Tokyo Bay and the 5 below that are the army B-25 crew. The flags along the bottom are confirmed kills to merchant shipping and Japanese naval vessels (the later represented with the Rising Sun flags). Finally the black figures are not torpedoes, but the 44 plus mines that were sunk in the South China Sea.

Included with the flag is an original launching tag from the day of her launching from the Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard.

This is a super opportunity to own an important WWII submarine victory flag, with a very good history.  100% original.

Additional information

Weight .9 lbs