Forum artHighlights From the Forum

January 14 through 20, 2001

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Pre- and Post-loss AE Transmissions Ron Bright
GMT vs. GCT trivia Walt Holm
Re: Pre- and Post-loss AE Transmissions Randy Jacobson
Re: Pre- and Post-loss AE Transmissions Mike Holt
Ships that weren't there Don Neumann
Metal fragments Mike Muenich
Re: Metal fragments Mike Muenich

Message: 1
Subject: Pre- and Post-Loss AE Transmissions
Date: 1/17/01
From: Ron Bright

According to Goerner, CDR Bridwell told him on Saipan that he should look for some answers from the Navy ships in the area at the time that may have picked up AE/and or Japanese radio traffic 2 July 37. The ships were the Goldstar, Blackhawk, Henderson, and Chaumont. Goerner apparently didn't follow through.

I know I read a book or an author/researcher or maybe a TIGHAR source that after a review of the ships logs, none were in the vicinity of Howland, Marshalls or Gilberts and couldn't have made any intercepts. One was in Norfolk, one enroute from Guam to Japan, etc. Of course those intercepts from the Japanese would have been in naval code, but AE's transmissions, if any, would have been from KHAQQ.

Do you or anyone on the forum recall the source of that research?

Ron Bright

From Ric

That's all news to me.

Message: 2
Subject: GMT vs. GCT trivia
Date: 1/17/01
From: Walt Holm

I was reading over the excerpts from the Earhart Forum in December, when I had been on the road. In the December 14-15 digest, some comments about time zones were made and you wrote the following:

> Greenwich Civil Time (GCT) is simply what Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was
> called in 1937 and is what the military and others (such as the aviation
> industry) call Zulu time today. All same same. That's where Safford got
> screwed up. He somehow got it into his head that GCT was something
> different. We beat this horse to death on the Forum a long time ago.

This rang a bell in my head, so I did a little bit of checking. It turns out that GMT and "civil time" were different, right up until 1925. The use of Greenwich as the prime meridian had been standardized in 1884, as well as the notion that civil time would have days beginning at midnight. GMT, however, was the time kept by astronomers, and for them it was more convenient to make the days change at noon. It was not until 1925 that they abandoned this convention for GMT, although it still exists in some of their other timekeeping systems. GMT has since been superceded by universal coordinated time (UTC or Zulu time for pilots).

If Safford had been reading through old (pre-1925) reference texts, one can understand how he got himself confused on this issue.

Source is Marking Time by Duncan Steel, pp 22-24, ISBN 0-471-29827-1.

-Walt Holm, TIGHAR # something or other

Message: 3
Subject: Re: Pre- and Post-Loss Radio Transmissions
Date: 1/18/01
From: Randy Jacobson

Ron Bright wrote:

>According to Goerner, CDR Bridwell told him on Saipan that he should look for
>some answers from the Navy ships in the area at the time that may have picked
>up AE/and or Japanese radio traffic 2 July 37. The ships were the Goldstar,
>Blackhawk, Henderson
, and Chaumont. Goerner apparently didn't follow through.

I have bridge log extracts and weather reports from all of those ships, and none were anywhere close to the Gilberts/Marshalls. This is very old information: Goerner was provided a red herring.

Message: 4
Subject: Re: Pre-and Post-Loss AE Transmissions
Date: 1/19/01
From: Mike Holt

Randy Jacobson wrote:

> I have bridge log extracts and weather reports from all of those ships, and
> none were anywhere close to the Gilberts/Marshalls. This is very old
> information: Goerner was provided a red herring.

This brings up a question I've had from time to time. Why did Goerner make that error, which seems so simple to check and correct?

I've noted that a lot AE/FN information is confused at best, and every now and then someone seems to be intentionally deceptive. Is this protection of turf? I used to see that sort of thing in the UFO world, and I'd also see tales made up to put someone else off an interesting scent.

LTM (who identifies all her flying objects before calling Itasca.)

Mike Holt

From Ric

I can't explain the motivations of others but from what I've seen, the big problem in Earhart research has been that the people doing it had no training in historical research. Goerner was a journalist. Many of the others were retired military people or airline pilots. Fine, respected professions all, but not necessarily qualification for historical investigation.

Message: 5
Subject: Ships that weren't there
Date: 1/19/01
From: Don Neumann

Ron Bright wrote:

>According to Goerner, CDR Bridwell told him on Saipan that he should look for
>some answers from the Navy ships in the area at the time that may have picked
>up AE/and or Japanese radio traffic 2 July 37. The ships were the Goldstar,
>Blackhawk, Henderson
, and Chaumont. Goerner apparently didn't follow through.

According to articles written by Navy veterans, (who served on Guam & were assigned to the Navy's advanced radio listening post...Station Baker) for a special issue of the CRYPTOLOG (published by the US Naval Cryptological Veterans Assoc.) featuring operations on Guam from the 1920s thru the post war era, several of the ships mentioned were connected with services rendered to the island.

The Henderson & Chaumont were Navy transports berthed in San Francisco that made two trips a year to Hawaii & the Orient (including Guam) bringing supplies & replacement personnel to Guam.

The Goldstar was a collier (on station at Guam) that made periodic trips to Japan & back (prewar of course) to provide coal & provisions a well as transportation for Navy personnel & their wives, stationed on the island, for R & R in Yokohama.

The only other ship mentioned by these writers was the stationship Penguin, used exclusively for harbor duties. They make no mention of the Blackhawk as having any connection with Guam, nor do they report any specific scheduling of voyages for the other vessels. (Unfortuately, none of these writers was serving on Guam at the time of the AE/FN flight.)

According to Daryll Bollinger, Capt Laurence Safford, in his writings, claimed that the Goldstarwas equipped with advance Radio & DF equipment for surveillance of the IJN 1933 fleet exercises, however none of the CRYPTOLOG writers mention any radio intercept activity assigned to the Goldstar, which spent most of its port time at Guam.

In addition to the prewar, covert radio intercept activities performed by Navy personnel on Guam, some of those involved also operated an adhoc (unauthorized) 'ham' radio station that served as a conduit for 'personal' communication with Hawaii & San Francisco. Unfortunately, from their articles, it appears that this 'ham' station may not have been in operation in 1937, because its chief operator was shipped out earlier & he didn't know whether operations continued after he left the island.

Don Neumann

Message: 6
Subject: Metal fragments
Date: 1/19/01
From: Mike Meunich

I know TIGHAR has taken the position that no other aircraft have been located which could have "crashed" on Niku other than AE's 10E and while they haven't been able to match various metal skin fragments with a specific location on the aircraft, it is of the opinion that the fragments could be from the 10E. I am also aware of other metal items, control cable, inlays on boxes, fishooks etc. have been located or referred to as further possibilites of AE's presence.

I think TIGHAR has previously stated that it couldn't find any other "missing" aircraft in the area that could account for the parts/fragments. I started reading John B. Lundstrom's most recent book, The First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign, Naval Institute Press, 1994 and found the following reference on page 27.

TF-16 crossed the equator at midday on 19 July, (1942) but the line-hardened Enterprise dispensed with ceremony. Late the next afternoon 10 miles west of the ships, Ens. James C. Dexter of VB-6, (VB-6 was flying SBD-3's at the time) a Midway veteran, towed a gunnery sock for eighteen F4Fs and six other SBDs. Somehow he became disoriented and flew away from the ships. Kinkaid broke radio silence to try to make contact, but even if Dexter copied the messages, he did not use his radio. He evidently tried for the nearest land, the Phoenix Islands, but he and his radioman were never found.
Unfortunately, Lundstrom does not provide a primary source for the incident nor is it footnoted. This is the second reference I have read in the last month about carrier operations in the vicinity of the Phoenix Islands, unfortunately I can't located where I read the first. I am aware the Lundstrom's passage does not put Dexter on Niku, but given Lundstrom's usually carefull research and detail, I presume Dexter was close enough to reach one of the Islands, if not Niku (the Enterprise deck log would show lat./long. and a quick check of a SBD-3's characteristics would show if Niku was in the potential range).

There appears to be a fairly large amount of Task Force, including carrier, movement within the Solomons-Tarawa-Fiji-Samoa area during 1942 and early 1943. I am not casting aspersion upon TIGHAR's position about other aircraft, but I am curious about the nature and extent of the research done to exclude other aircraft from the Niku hypothosis.

From Ric

We should probably check the logs of the Enterprise as you suggest, but remember that Nikumaroro was inhabited as a British colony from late 1938 until 1963. We have quarterly progress reports and other official records of the island's history up through 1949. There was an active U.S. Coast Guard unit there from July 1944 until May 1946. Nowhere is there mention of an aircraft crashing on the island.

Message: 7
Subject: Re: Metal fragments
Date: 1/19/01
From: Mike Muenich

As a follow up to my post of 01/18/01 I have been reviewing other volumns of my WW II library and found the following in Thomas B. Buell biography of Admiral King, Master of Sea Power, Naval Institute Press, 1980 at page 174:

King meanwhile ordered Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher in Yorktown to patrol near the Phoenix Islands as a central reserve.
To place the quote in context, previous paragraphs are referring to events in late February, 1942, beginning with the February 15th fall of Singapore. There is nothing to indicate any aircraft losses and no further details, but without examining logs of each of the various carriers or some central "loss" records, how do we account for the possibility of missing Task Force aircraft through at least the early part of the war?
From Ric

Lots of airplanes went missing at sea during the war. Not a small number disappeared in the Central Pacific within theoretical range of Gardner Island. The question, of course, is whether any of them reached the island and landed/crashed there. Gardner is a small enough place so that I think anyone would agree that it would be very unlikely that an airplane could arrive there unbeknownst to the inhabitants. These inhabitants were not a stone-age tribe of cannibals. They were a colonial outpost of British subjects with regular, if sometimes sporadic, contact with the civil and military authorities in the region.

We know of one instance of an aircraft crashing on one of the Phoenix Islands during the war (the C-47 crash at Sydney Island). Finding the official accident report took literally years and then was accomplished more or less by accident, but the folklore describing the wreck was there from the start. The same was true of the bones/shoes incident. Finding the documentation was really tough but the folklore was always there.

Based upon those examples, it's hard to think that a wartime crash could have occurred at Gardner and we wouldn't have heard about it at least anecdotally. The closest was a reference made by Pulekai Songilvalu when I interviewed him on Funafuti in 1997. The transcript can be found at I Saw Pieces of an Airplane.

Here's an excerpt:

RG: Have you heard of an airplane crash on Manra or Sydney Island?
PS: No, but I saw pieces of an airplane on the lagoon side [looking toward the 1943 map of Nikumaroro].
RG: Where was it? Can you show me on the map?
PS: [Silent, studying the map intently] Here, it was somewhere along here [pointing to the shoreline of the lagoon directly across from Taziman Passage in the cove spanning the boundary between Nutiran and Taraia]. It appeared to be an old crash.
RG: Did you talk to anyone about it?
PS: No, not really, I thought it was from the war, I did not think to ask anyway.
RG: Did you use it to make anything?
PS: Yes, they would use the metal to make plates and other things.
RG: Was the airplane near the lagoon?
PS: Yes. I think maybe it was a plane from Canton, I am not sure. I am trying to think of why it was there. I think the plane ran out of oil, or gas, maybe. They said the pilot was saved though. The people looked after him. I asked, "Where was the pilot taken?" They said he was taken by the Americans on a ship.
[Ed. note: there is no known record or rumor of an airplane crashing on Nikumaroro during World War II.]
RG: Did you ever visit Manra or Sydney Island?
PS: Yes, I went there to examine the school on a tour once.

Mr. Songivalu's rather confused explanation of the origin of the debris he saw sounds very much like the crash that occurred at Sydney.


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