Did you know that a U.S. submarine “sunk” an enemy train during World War II?

The Barb’s commanding officer, Eugene “Lucky” Fluckey, posing in front of the sub’s insignia
(Photo: Naval History & Heritage Command)
The Gato-class USS Barb was one of the Navy’s most successful submarines during the war. She sank a Japanese carrier and 16 other ships, becoming the fourth top U.S. submarine by tonnage of enemy shipping sunk. Her most memorable war patrol, however, was her last one over the summer of 1945, when she became the first submarine in history to successfully attack ground targets (factories and towns in this case) with rockets.
 
Even more amazingly, she became the only submarine to “sink” a train. On the night of July 22-23, eight men from her crew took two rubber boats and landed near a railway line on the then-Japanese part of the island of Sakhalin – which coincidentally made her the only American vessel to technically invade the Japanese Home Islands in the war. Once ashore, the men set up a 55-pound bomb made of a scuttling charge and a jury-rigged detonator to destroy the next train, then rushed back to their boats. They were still paddling back to the Barb when the next train came and triggered the bomb, the locomotive flying 200 feet into the air and its 15 cars ending up in a tangled mass.
The Barb’s battle flag at the end of her last patrol. The train at bottom center commemorates her unlikely attack. (Photo: U.S. Navy)
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