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Ric Gillespie

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File No. 4439
« on: September 03, 2017, 09:03:06 AM »

As mentioned in "Unmasking the Castaway" in the August issue of TIGHAR Tracks, "After more than two years of research, Dr. Jantz’s re-evaluation of the castaway bone measurements is now complete and is being submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. While we’re waiting for his paper to appear, ...Ric Gillespie is completing a paper addressing the assertions made in the 2015 Cross/Wright paper and detailing the lost opportunities of the 1940/41 British investigation."

Let me give you an update.  This thing has gotten bigger than I anticipated and I want to enlist the Forum's help.  Addressing Cross and Wright's assertions in a supposedly peer-reviewed paper that starts off saying, "“On June 29th 1937, after flying some 20,000 miles, Earhart and Noonan began the last, most dangerous portion of their round-the-world flight." is not exactly challenging, but detailing the lost opportunities of the 1940/41 British investigation has uncovered some dynamite.  We've known since 1998 that "Western Pacific High Commission File No. 4439 (G&E) 1940, Skeleton, Human, finding of, on Gardner Island” is one of the most important documents relating to the Earhart disappearance ever discovered.  Just how important is only now becoming apparent.

For the past 19 years, our evaluations (and those of our critics) of the British investigation described in the file have focused primarily on the bone measurements and report made by Dr. David Hoodless.  Hoodless judged the skeleton to be that of a stocky male.  In 1998, Burns and Jantz said he was probably wrong.  In 2015, Cross and Wright said Hoodless was more likely right. Now Jantz has re-examined the probabilities based on new data, but the debate will always be a contest of probabilities.  However, a close reading of the entire thirty-one page contemporaneous day-by-day record of the British investigation tells a much larger and more disturbing story.

The lost opportunities were, without question, intentionally lost. The man in charge of the investigation, High Commissioner Sir Harry Luke, repeatedly rejected the recommendations of his senior staff members that help be sought from American and Australian sources. The questions I'm struggling with are:

• Why was Luke so loath to let anyone outside of Fiji know about the discovery?

• Who decided that Hoodless should be the one to examine the bones?  MacPherson was vastly more qualified.

• Why was Luke so quick to accept Hoodless' verdict when Hoodless himself suggested that the Anatomical Dept. at Sydney University could provide a more detailed analysis?

• Why did MacPherson readily accept Hoodless' adamant verdict that "the skeleton is that of a MALE" (emphasis in the original) when he had previously said that "I am afraid the data available does nothing to establish the skeleton as that of Mrs. Putnam. It is unfortunate that the complete pelvis is not available as this would have done much to establish remains as being those of a woman."

•  Why is there nothing in the file about the final disposition of the bones?

• Why did no one who was involved in the investigation later talk or write about it, even after the bones were ruled to be of no importance?

It's beginning to look like the British investigation was engineered by Luke to produce a desired result. How far did the engineering go?  The larger question is, "Why?"

We've discovered some minor errors in The Bones Chronology which we'll be fixing.  We'll also be posting scans of the photocopies of the original documents, cleaned up and annotated where necessary to make them more legible.  That will take a little while but we're working on it.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2017, 10:06:38 AM »

It's beginning to look like the British investigation was engineered by Luke to produce a desired result. How far did the engineering go?  The larger question is, "Why?"

Hanlon's Razor recommends that we should not attribute to malice what is adequately explained by stupidity.

I'm not saying Luke wasn't short-sighted or biased.  It may well be that from the very beginning, he did not WANT to know that AE and FN ended up on Niku.  One of my discoveries in Fiji was that the whole world does not share my enthusiasm for "solving the mystery."  In 1940-1941, Luke had bigger fish to fry.  So did the Americans and Australians.  The Japanese war on China began in 1937.  Japan declared the Co-prosperity Sphere in 1938 and become part of the Axis in the fall of 1940.  The American fleet moved to Hawaii in 1940 in order to project American power in the Pacific.  That started badly but, ultimately, worked as intended. 

In that context, I can imagine Luke having a huge resentment against dealing with the box o' bones from Gardner.  He may have been too gentlemanly to put it into words, but people may have gotten the message anyway: "Who [insert various and sundry expletives] cares?"

If the materials that I read in the archives in Suva and in Auckland are any indication, we may never find data [contemporaneous sources] that can answer your question objectively.  Of course, some correspondence or diaries could yet turn up in which Luke or friends of Luke may have said something indiscreet, but the public files are models of bureaucratic tact.
LTM,

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2017, 10:36:19 AM »

I'm not saying Luke wasn't short-sighted or biased.  It may well be that from the very beginning, he did not WANT to know that AE and FN ended up on Niku. 

I think that's probably what's going on.  Consider this.  The British attempt to learn whether the bones found on Gardner Island were Amelia Earhart’s played out against the backdrop of the most desperate period in modern British history. From the fall of France in May 1940 until December 1941, Britain stood alone against Germany - and they were losing.  Their only hope was the U.S. and FDR was doing what he could to encourage greater support but he was up against strong isolationist public sentiment and resistance from many high ranking military officers who believed Britain was doomed and all resources should be devoted to building up American strength.
It was in this context that Sir Harry Luke learned that one of his most junior subordinates, in the most remote corner of one of his colonies, had come upon what might be the remains of the American flyer Amelia Earhart Putnam, the most famous missing person of the day. How would the American public react to the news that the remains of Amelia Earhart may have been found on a British island?  How would the Roosevelt administration react to the embarrassment of its 400 million dollar search having left Earhart to die as a castaway?  If the remains were not Earhart's there would be no need to find out.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 10:40:29 AM by Ric Gillespie »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2017, 11:40:10 PM »

I think that's probably what's going on.  Consider this.  The British attempt to learn whether the bones found on Gardner Island were Amelia Earhart’s played out against the backdrop of the most desperate period in modern British history. From the fall of France in May 1940 until December 1941, Britain stood alone against Germany - and they were losing.  ...


My heavens!  I forgot all about the European theater--which would have a huge emotional impact on ex-pats all over the world.  Not a good time for a thorough investigation of the case, perhaps.

LTM,

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2017, 07:50:56 AM »

I forgot all about the European theater--which would have a huge emotional impact on ex-pats all over the world. 

The administrators of the WPHC were not ex-pats. They were representatives of the Crown. Fiji and the island colonies had no army and no navy.  If the government in London fell, the impact would be more than emotional.  Their would soon be jackbooted troops marching down Victoria Parade in Suva.  And Sir Harry Luke was Jewish.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2017, 08:40:30 AM »

Sir Harry immediately recognized that the news that Earhart's remains had been found on a British island - whether true or not - would have an unknown and possibly damaging impact on UK/US relations at this critical time. On the day he learned about Gallagher's discovery, October 10, 1940, Luke immediately clamped a lid of secrecy on the incident.  Roosevelt was less than a month from election day in his bid for an unprecedented third term and locked in a neck-and-neck race with Republican isolationist Wendel Wilkie. 
If the skeleton really was Earhart's Sir Harry would have to deal with that but his greatest fear was that "Thinnest rumours which may in the end prove unfounded are liable to be spread."
His solution to the dilemma was to keep the investigation entirely under his control, which meant depriving it of the very information required to reach a valid conclusion.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2017, 11:09:55 AM »

... And Sir Harry Luke was Jewish.


Mmmm.  Can't say I was the least bit aware of that--it didn't come up in the reading I did or in the conversations I had in Fiji.


Thanks for the correction on the term "ex-pats," too.  Makes sense. 


LTM,

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2017, 12:09:38 PM »

... And Sir Harry Luke was Jewish.


Mmmm.  Can't say I was the least bit aware of that--it didn't come up in the reading I did or in the conversations I had in Fiji.

In 2001, Tom King looked at the records of the American Consulate in Suva and reported:
"Consul Abbott didn't like Sir Harry Luke at all, and quite bluntly said that a whole lot of other people in Fiji didn't either.  Said he was ineffectual, not a leader, didn't prosecute the war effort with much vigor, and implied a lot of fussing about with little product.  Referred to Sir Ian Thomson as his "boyish" ADC, who he was glad to see replaced.  Also noted in passing that Sir Harry was Jewish and that this prejudiced people against him; puts an interesting light on the Isaac/Verrier matter.  Also suggests that Sir Harry was prejudiced against Americans.  Hard to say what Abbott's biases were, of course."

Also:
<<2nd November 1940

Davidson at Ministry of Information, Malet Street, to Lord Lloyd

Says there have been "disquieting reports" from Fiji about "Luke n_e Luksch," who has had a "pretty sticky career."  Asks "Can't you send an energetic patriotic married Governor?">>

Tom King commented, "That's a pretty nasty comment.  I wonder who was forwarding the "disquieting reports"?  Sir Harry was the senior man present in Fiji.  The disquieting reports had to have been coming from one or more subordinates.  Who is going behind his back and over his head to send disqueting reports to London? 

Davidson goes out of his way to point out that Sir Harry is Jewish and then, essentially, says that the man is lazy, disloyal, and possibly homosexual."

The Ameliapedia page says that according to Jean Brown, "Sir Harry's wife did not come with him to Fiji, and he was "a bit of a playboy. Very clever." It seems that he lived "the bachelor life."

According to his biographical data on the St. Antony's College website his father J.H. Lukacs changed his name to Luke. The Wikipedia page says Sir Harry was born Harry Charles Lukach and "His father, J.H. Luke (né Lukács) was an Austro-Hungarian, but later acquired American citizenship; his mother was a Polish Catholic of the minor nobility."
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2017, 12:33:02 PM »

In the Jewish faith, you're not Jewish unless your mother is Jewish or you convert. Luke attended Eton and Trinity College at Oxford.  I have a hunch that his Jewishness was a label attached to him by his political enemies when they discovered his father was Jewish.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2017, 02:09:24 PM »

In 2001, Tom King looked at the records of the American Consulate in Suva and reported:
"Consul Abbott didn't like Sir Harry Luke at all, and quite bluntly said that a whole lot of other people in Fiji didn't either.  Said he was ineffectual, not a leader, didn't prosecute the war effort with much vigor, and implied a lot of fussing about with little product."


So his handling of the investigation of the Gardner skeleton may be typical of his style of governance.


Everything got looked at.  The investigation may have taken the shortest route to an answer.  Once he got an opinion from Hoodless that meant "nothing more to be done with this," he could rest easy.  There was no need to make a recorded disposition about what was done with the bones, the shoe parts, the sextant box, the kanawa box, or the bones.  And he could feel proud that he hadn't bothered anyone "outside of a small circle of friends." 
LTM,

           Marty
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2017, 12:56:31 PM »

The closer we look at this file, the more questions arise.   
The bones and objects arrive in Suva aboard RCS Nimanoa on March 22, 1941.  Gallagher's accompanying letter is logged in on March 25. That same day, Secretary Vaskess passes the file to Assistant Secretary Patrick "Paddy" MacDonald "For necessary action."  This is the first time MacDonald's name appears. There is no explanation as to what action is necessary so that information must have been conveyed to MacDonald verbally.  Why?

Six days later, March 31, MacDonald writes in the file:

"The Central Medical Authority

We have spoken by telephone concerning this matter & I am sending you the file & the coffin to the Central Medical School to Dr. Hoodless.

2. H.E. will be glad if the bones may be examined & and a report submitted in due course.

P.D. Macdonald
Asst. Secy. W.P.H.C."


This is the only time in the entire file where there is reference to a phone call.  The Central Medical Authority for the WPHC is Dr. MacPherson. At this time (March 31), the decision has already been made that the examination of the bones will be done by Hoodless, but who made that decision?  There is no recorded input from the High Commissioner or the Secretary other than the note passing the file to MacDonald "for necessary action."  If the decision had been made for MacPherson to get the file and for Hoodless to get the bones there would be no need for a phone call.  The necessary action MacDonald was instructed to take must have been to ask MacPherson how best to proceed..  MacDonald calls MacPherson. MacPherson recommends Hoodless.  MacDonald conveys the recommendation verbally to Sir Harry who says to tell MacPherson to go ahead.  Hence the above entry in the file.

But here's the question: Why get MacPherson's recommendation in a phone call?  That's not the way things are done in the WPHC.  If you want MacPherson's opinion you ask for it in writing so that it becomes part of the file, as was done on all other occasions.   Was MacDonald instructed to tell MacPherson that His Excellency's preference was that these bones NOT be Mrs. Putnam's?  Why would MacPherson recommends that the bones be given to Hoodless?  There were doctors at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital who served as "honorary lecturers" at the Central Medical School in subjects that included forensic medicine (Misi Utu, page 20).  Hoodless was primarily an administrator. MacPherson suggested the least qualified doctor in Fiji to do the examination.

MacPherson does not communicate directly with Hoodless.  The same day MacPherson gets the instruction from MacDonald, an individual whose signature is illegilble but whom we think is Dr. George R. Hemming, a surgeon at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital and apparently, at that time, Director Medical Services for the Colony of Fiji, writes in the file:

"Principal C.M.S.

The entries in this file will put us in possession of the known facts of certain human remains which will be sent to you, probably after 1/4 [April 1], for general inspection and later report."


The Central Medical School is a function of the hospital, hence the "us."

Hoodless examines the bones and writes his report on April 4.

On April 5, he writes to the Director Medical Services [presumably Hemming]:

"D.M.S.

My report on these bones is enclosed. I will take charge of these bones until it is decided what to do with them.

D.W. Hoodless"


It is two days later, April 7, when DMS (presumably Hemming) writes directly to Vaskess (not to MacPherson and not to MacDonald):

"Secretary

 My final report from Dr. Hoodless is enclosed at 11
[refers to Hoodless report]. Do you wish to take the further action he mentions? [sending the bones to Australia]"

The wording strikes me as odd.  My final report?  Why is he taking responsibility for Hoodless' report? Final report. Was there a preliminary report?

Four days later, on April 11, Vaskess passes the file to Sir Harry and asks if he wants the bones sent to Australia "although it does not seem possible that any useful purpose will be served by proceeding farther."

The next day, April 12, Sir Harry replies:

"Sec

Pl ask CMA [Macpherson] to convey my thanks to Dr. Hoodlesss for the trouble he has taken in this matter & and to request him to retain the remains until further notice."


No mention of Director Medical Services [Hemming].

On April 18, MacPherson writes in the file:

"Secy W.P.H.C.,

Returned to you. I have read Dr. Hoodless' report with interest and agree with his conclusions.

D.C.M. Macpherson
ADMS, Fiji"


MacPherson is suddenly Acting Director Medical Services.  What happened to Hemming?

What can we learn about what other doctors were working at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in April 1941?



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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2017, 02:44:50 PM »

What can we learn about what other doctors were working at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in April 1941?

What we need is access to a complete set of "Civil Lists."  They are an amazingly comprehensive record of who did what when and where.  I was not able to find all of them when I was in Fiji and Auckland.  I was focusing on the whole period from the opening of the bones file until the office moved from Suva, Fiji, to Honiara in the Solomons (1940 to 1952), so some of the names below may not be relevant to your question.

I caught on to the value of the Civil Lists only late in the game.  I don't know whether they were suspended from publication during the war years or whether the tradition came to an end.  I wasn't able to track everybody that we were interested in during Bones II.  A note to myself reads, "Check Civil List to see the appointments to CMS/FSM after Hoodless."  But I know I couldn't get the relevant lists for the whole period that interested us.

I have a note that reads: "WPHC 15: Registers of Service 1910-1956."  I don't remember looking at that file.  It may have everything you want--if it exists.  The first thing I did was to read through all of the finding aids.  Not everything in the index is in the archive, if I remember correctly.

From the Fiji Archives, outgoing mail from CWMH:

Jock Macpherson: Acting Director of Medical
Services at CWMH circa 1940-41.  Born circa
1901. 

Dr. T. Clunie a colonial services officer.

Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH) had control
of Nukulau.  They were taking applications for the
post of caretaker in July of 1941.  One folder
is labeled: "Use of Nukulau as a weekend resort."

Victor William Tighe McGusty was the director of CWMH circa
1940-41.  He wrote Hoodless in 1941 asking about
Hoodless's retirement plans.  The reply was "July,
1942."

Verrier.


There was a monthly informal staff meeting for
the doctors.  I don't know whether Hoodless attended.

6 August 1942: Hoodless planning to retire May,
1943.  Clunie covered as Principal for Hoodless when
he was on leave and is age 47.  Verrier has
served since 1939. 

25 Aug 1942: Verrier is Medical Officer in Rewa.

27 Oct 1942: Verrier objects to Dr. Steenson being
ousted from the lab by the appointment of Barnes.
But Verrier and Steenson are both "temporary
only."

Phone call with Fergus Clunie:

- KJ Gilchrist was "eccentric enough."  He hoarded stuff.
He was different, but a very, very nice person.

- Frater died young.  He had been in a prison camp during
the war.  Just dropped dead.  FC doesn't know whether he was Principal at the time.

McGusty wrote Dr. Duncan Macpherson's dad to say that
his son had cirrhosis of the liver.  Three days later,
Jock died at age 42 on July 10, 1943.  On 4 October
1943, a silver pocket watch, a silver wrist watch, and
a gold signet ring were sent to the Secretary of the
WPHC: "It was Dr. Macpherson's intent to take these
items to Mr. Gallagher's parents when he next went
to England on leave."

Dr. Jim Samisoni--successor to Gilchrist?  One
of Gilchrist's boys.

Dr. Murphy

I don't think I was able to find the retirement date for Vaskess.  He was 50 in 1941. 
Died in 1969, age 78.

Dr. Harry Lander before Samisoni?

"A quick look at the Civil Lists for 1942 shows that Sir Harry,
McGusty, and Hoodless sat on the same Legislative committee.  Lots
of opportunities for unrecorded conversations about the bones,
I imagine."

Tofiga: "Sir Harry's successor was a British General.  'I came out
here not to govern but to wage war.'  That's all he did.
He didn't last long.  They appointed another High Commissioner
when the war moved away from Fiji.  The press accounts said that
Sir Harry was "stepping aside for a younger man who could better
handle the burdens of the office in war."  But Sir Harry had the
same problem Solomon did."

I didn't ask Tofiga to explain the remark.  1 Kings 11:1-3 claims
that King Solomon had 700 hundred wives and 300 hundred concubines.
Was that a problem?

Tofiga: "Sir Harry kept the French colonies neutral.  He deserved a medal.
He arranged for daily broadcasts in French over a private station
and gave a high-ranking French official a job in the British
bureaucracy.  He didn't want the colonies to side with Petain.
Sir Harry also visited the various parts of the Western Pacific
more frequently than other High Commissioners did."

H.E. Maude: Administrative Officer GEIC 1935-1947
      OBE, Resident
      1947-1971

Civil Lists from Hanslope Park
"Selected Colonial Service Records"

Patrick Donald MacDonald
birth: 21 July 1909

13 July 1939
4 March 1939 President of Fanring Islands
Defense Force, Colonial

8 April 1940 Acting Assistant Secretary to the High Commissioner

25 May Relinquished duties as Assistant Secretary

December--back again



LTM,

           Marty
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« Last Edit: September 08, 2017, 02:47:25 PM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2017, 03:43:48 PM »

Jock Macpherson: Acting Director of Medical
Services at CWMH circa 1940-41.  Born circa
1901. 

He seems to have become Acting Director of Medical Services between April 7 and April 18, 1941.  According to his Service History, he was born 10 November 1900.

Victor William Tighe McGusty was the director of CWMH circa
1940-41.  He wrote Hoodless in 1941 asking about
Hoodless's retirement plans.  The reply was "July,
1942."

McGusty appears nowhere in File 4439.

I don't think I was able to find the retirement date for Vaskess.  He was 50 in 1941. 
Died in 1969, age 78.

According to his Service History, Vaskess was born 15 July 1891 which would make him 50 in 1941.  I didn't track him all the way to retirement.  Last I have, he was Asst. High Commissioner in May, 1942.

"A quick look at the Civil Lists for 1942 shows that Sir Harry,
McGusty, and Hoodless sat on the same Legislative committee.  Lots
of opportunities for unrecorded conversations about the bones,
I imagine."

Sir Harry and Hoodless maybe.  Probably not McGusty.  Knowledge of the bones seems to have been need-to-know. Anyone who was not directly involved seemed to have known nothing about the bones and those who did know never told anyone.  It's really odd that something that was judged to be of no importance remained strictly secret even though the file was never officially classified.

Civil Lists from Hanslope Park
"Selected Colonial Service Records"

Patrick Donald MacDonald
birth: 21 July 1909

His Service History agrees.
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Bill Mangus

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2017, 08:28:07 AM »

I think Ric's analysis in #5 above is spot on.  "Don't rock the boat in uncertain seas." 

But what about after the war?  They (collectively the WPHC administrators) were efficient enough after Japan's surrender to remember they needed to ship Gallagher's trunks home.  I wonder what reason(s) they had for continuing to keep the discovery of the bones a secret?  It seems a simple, "there was too much going on at the time to report it, but back in . . . ." would have been sufficient to sooth any hurt feelings.

Of course, after Hoodless' findings any reason to even remember such an unremarkable discovery would not be unexpected. 

  From Ric:  "Knowledge of the bones seems to have been need-to-know. Anyone who was not directly involved seemed to have known nothing about the bones and those who did know never told anyone.  It's really odd that something that was judged to be of no importance remained strictly secret even though the file was never officially classified." 

Something about this must have been bothering them.  Perhaps a thorough search for diaries, journals or other personal recollections of the parties should be undertaken.  Woud the official records been culled?

Just some views to help stimulate the discussion and perhaps move forward.
Bill Mangus
Researcher #3054SP
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: File No. 4439
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2017, 08:44:49 AM »

Of course, after Hoodless' findings any reason to even remember such an unremarkable discovery would not be unexpected. 

Sir Harry Luke's book, "From a South Seas Diary" (1945) contain's many, many events that were far less interesting.  My hunch is that the handful of people who knew about the whole affair and had lobbied for Sir Harry to seek outside help were well-aware that the investigation had been intentionally short-circuited. Not something you feel good about.  Not something you talk about.
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