The Sonarman’s War

A Memoir of Submarine Chasing and Mine Sweeping in World War II


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About the Book

This memoir is an intimate and sometimes irreverent account of one man’s coming of age during World War II. Born a North Carolina farmboy, Jones served as a U.S. Navy sonarman aboard a wooden submarine chaser 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 drawn not only 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.

About the Author(s)

H.G. Jones (Ph.D. Duke) has served as a history professor in several universities; state archivist and director of the North Carolina Department of Archives and History; and curator of the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His career was capped in 2002 with the North Carolina Award for Public Service, the state’s highest civilian recognition. He lives in Pittsboro.

Bibliographic Details

H.G. Jones
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 260
Bibliographic Info: 62 photos, 3 maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-5884-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-6003-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

1. The Agony of Waiting December 1941 –September 1942      5
2. “You’re in the Navy Now” September–December 1942      10
3. Farm Boy in the Big Apple December 24, 1942–March 4, 1943      17
4. Introduction to Africa: French Morocco March–August 1943      22
5. Closer to the Front: Algeria and Tunisia August–December 1943      42
6. Agony at Anzio January 1944      58
7. “No-Hands Ward Ambassador” January–March 1944      75
8. Cinq-Deux-Cinq While I Was Away January 26–March 10, 1944      86
9. Back Aboard, Back to Anzio March–July 1944      95
10. Attacking the “Soft Underbelly” of Europe July–September 1944      109
11. Another Side of War: Ashore in Sicily, Italy, Corsica and France January–September 1944      127
12. Back to the “Good Ole U.S. of A.” September–November 1944      150
13. Stateside Interlude: Norfolk and Panama December 1944–March 1945      161
14. Hiatus: California and Hawaii. March–June 1945      168
15. Bloody Okinawa June–August 1945      178
16. Finishing Off the Japanese August–October 1945      193
17. Formosa, China, and Japan Again November 1945–January 1946      203
18. The Long Way Home January–March 1946      212

Chapter Notes      225
Bibliography      239
Index      245

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Jones’s book is as solidly researched as it is well written”—The North Carolina Historical Review
  • “this tale is a detailed view of a seaman’s life…Jones’ war is a microcosm of a thousand seamen’s wars, in a dozen navies and therein lies its value in recording history. Sometimes the larger histories fail to give a picture of what it was really like from day to day. This tale accomplishes that”—The Northern Mariner/Le Marin du Word
  • “a well-written account of one young man’s coming of age during World War II…highly recommend”—PCSA Newsletter
  • “offers a detailed description of the life of a sonarman aboard a wooden submarine chaser. The book will interest World War II buffs and particularly readers who would relish a first-person view of the war from the decks of the small submarine chasers and minesweepers”—Reference & Research Book News