Jan. 24, 1942 (Saturday)

SS President Polk, Timor Sea

Rumor says we are supposed to stop at Timor today for water — but I doubt it.

At about 1100, while we were zigzagging about 20 miles south of Timor, headed westerly, a Japanese submarine popped her periscope out of the water about 300 yards off our starboard bow and about 150 yards off the Houston’s starboard quarter. Our skipper saw her first and sounded the alarm, while we all dashed madly for life preservers and “necessities.” I was surprised at the time to find myself so excited as to be unable to remember where my officer’s cap was. Our two escorting destroyers quickly took charge while the rest of us, including the Houston, scattered, and fled. We reformed a little later later and proceeded. One destroyer remained behind for about an hour giving the sub a workout — they dropped three depth charges — whether they got the sub or not, I don’t know. I presume that the Jap was lying in wait for us, but our zigzagging must’ve upset his calculations. I’ll bet he was plenty surprised when he stuck his periscope up in our midst.

Passed close to Kupang, north of Roti, and south of Java, during the night.

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