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Jack Wilbur Penhollow

Jack Penhollow

Jack Penhollow was on a transport on his way to duty in China when the war started.  He was transferred at sea, somewhere off the Dutch islands, to the USS Pensacola, then transferred at sea again to the USS Marblehead.  He was aboard the USS Marblehead during the battle of February 4, 1942.

Mr. Penhollow was eating breakfast when the attack began.  They had so many false alarms on the USS Marblehead in the days prior that he at first dismissed the alarm.  Then a bomb hit in the post office which was nearby.  Water started pouring into the ship, carrying mail and postage stamps with it.  He scrambled through the water and up to a higher deck where his station was located.  He carried out his duties as signalman during battle.  He was not wounded during the attack, so afterward he assisted with damage control and assisting the ship to reach the harbor in Java.

While in Java, Mr. Penhollow was informed that the Dutch ship DeRuyter needed a signalman because there had been difficulties with the Australian, Dutch and U.S. ships communicating amongst themselves.  He was transferred to the DeRuyter and left Java aboard the ship.  He was aboard the ship on February 27, 1942 when it was involved in a battle about 50 miles north of the Dutch East Indies in the Java Sea.  The ship was sunk.  He spent the night in a life raft by himself.  The next day he was able to get aboard a life boat from the DeRuyter.  The life boat had too many in it, but he told them they would need to have him aboard to signal any U.S. ship they may encounter.

Mr. Penhollow believes it was two day later when the periscope of the American submarine S37.  He signaled it.  He is not sure if his signaling helped, but the submarine did surface and give them food and water.  He spoke with the skipper of the submarine and told him there were only two U.S. sailors in the life boat.  The skipper had them get aboard the submarine.  It was a small submarine - only 37 crew members and four officers.

Mr. Penhollow stayed aboard the S37 as it finished its patrol and then proceeded to Perth, Australia for R & R.  He was in a rest camp in Australia for a period of time.  He was then approached by the American submarine officers and asked if he would consider serving aboard the submarine. He agreed.  He served aboad the submarine for five patrols out of Brisbane, Australia.  He then returned to the United States to San Diego where he taught officers how to dive and navigate.

Mr. Penhollow was working at a dock in San Diego one day when he was approached by the company producing the movie "The Story of Dr. Wassell" and asked if he would consider having a bit part in the movie.  He agreed.  He appears in the Java dock scene unloading crates while the wounded are brought ashore.

Mr. Penhollow was recommended for Officer training, and he was promoted to a warrant officer.  The Navy transferred him to become the skipper of tug boat USS Arivaca at the Naval Supply Depot in Oakland, California.  He spent the rest of his time in the Navy there until he was discharged in March 1945.  After leaving the Navy, Mr. Penhollow spent his working career as a salesman.

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