Shooting Down the Throat: Mush Morton and the USS Wahoo – Part 2

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In the beginning of the war in the Pacific, many American U-Boat skippers lacked aggressiveness. They didn’t lack courage but they lacked the aggressiveness to close with the enemy and grapple with him — to take the calculated risk necessary to force an engagement. It took Mush Morton to show them how.

Aggressiveness in war usually means throwing the rule book away and writing your own rules for combat. And Dudley Morton was not a man to be bound by rules which didn’t make any sense on active operations. So when he took command of the USS Wahoo, he drilled his officers and crew relentlessly and they learned to do things they had never practiced in peacetime because they weren’t by the book. “Shooting down the throat” was most definitely not by the book yet this is what made Morton so legendary and it occurred in what became his most famous engagement.

[Sources: Execute Against Japan: The US Decision to Conduct Unrestricted Submarine Warfare by Lt. Joel Ira Holwitt, USN and Wahoo: The Patrols of America’s Most Famous World War II Submarine by Richard H. O’Kane (three stars).]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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