Museum presents a Kalispell native’s underwater ordeal

The Northwest Montana History Museum recently received a donation of military memorabilia that includes a harrowing story from Harry Anderson, a Kalispell native and 1940 graduate of Flathead High School (he is at far right in the front row).

Anderson served in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service during World War II. Assigned to the USS Perch SS-313, Ensign Anderson and crew survived a grueling, two-hour depth charge attack in the Java Sea while on patrol in April 1945. Anderson recorded the 31 depth charges dropped on the submarine in real time with tick marks on a piece of paper (shown).

That faint and fragile paper, along with Ensign Anderson’s personal account of the two-hour attack, went on display May 10 at the museum as part of the exhibit The Silent Service: A WWII Diving Denizen of the Deep.

The exhibit includes Anderson’s gold dolphins pin (awarded to officers) and his combat pin of a successful patrol, along with other medals. Numerous photos enhance the exhibit: the crew of the Perch; Perch officers on deck with one holding Duchess, the submarine’s dog; and Duchess standing on a deck gun.

Were dogs allowed on board during tours of duty? Find out more about the dogs that went on patrol with their crew at the exhibit.

In addition to Ensign Anderson’s memorabilia, other submariner items are on display: a Vietnam era U.S. Navy Submariner Torpedoman’s dress uniform, a child’s sailor uniform from the 1940s, vintage sailor hats and other related submarine items.

Details: Regular museum hours run 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays from June through August

Northwest Montana History Museum, 124 Second Ave. E., Kalispell; 406-756-8381;