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Author Topic: Fred! Where are we? [Signs on Gardner/charts of name/ID features?]  (Read 8649 times)

Chris Johnson

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Following on from the possibility that Betty heard the words 'Norwich City' but wrote NY City, what else was there to indicate to the fliers where they were?

1. Fred’s Charts?
2. Other features on the island?

With regards to point 1 there has been some debate about the accuracy of Fred’s charts and I don't mean to second guess what might or might have been.

Point 2 though opens a few other possibilities.  Firstly there is the wreck of the Norwich City, quite a land mark and one that may just have had its name visible on its structure.  Secondly in February 1937 (15/2) HMS Leith landed a shore party who erected a flag pole and placard proclaiming the island for the British Empire A History of the island is this the same plaque that the New Zealand mission noted on their map a year later contour map of Nutiran Shore.  If this is the case where does the notice board British Pacific Airway come from that is also shown on the map?

Do we know what inscriptions were on these markers? These were still in place a year later so why didn't the castaways mention any of the information that was on them?

More than likely the plane was away from these and AE/FN were more interested in sending messages than searching for clues as to their location.
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Walter Runck

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Re: Fred! Where are we? [Signs on Gardner/charts of name/ID features?]
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2011, 07:15:24 AM »

Following on from the possibility that Betty heard the words 'Norwich City' but wrote NY City, what else was there to indicate to the fliers where they were?

1. Fred’s Charts?

The Longs book reports that they were periodically sending used charts back to GP.  Are these in the Purdue library now?  I get the sense that Pan Am was developing their own charts for Trans-Pacific aviation; are there examples available?  What do we know about what chart(s) he would most likely have been using for this leg?  It doesn't seem like there was much of a map of the island itself available until after they were lost, but the islands existence and location wasn't exactly a secret.

Quote
2. Other features on the island?

With regards to point 1 there has been some debate about the accuracy of Fred’s charts and I don't mean to second guess what might or might have been.

Point 2 though opens a few other possibilities.  Firstly there is the wreck of the Norwich City, quite a land mark and one that may just have had its name visible on its structure.  Secondly in February 1937 (15/2) HMS Leith landed a shore party who erected a flag pole and placard proclaiming the island for the British Empire A History of the island is this the same plaque that the New Zealand mission noted on their map a year later contour map of Nutiran Shore.  If this is the case where does the notice board British Pacific Airway come from that is also shown on the map?

Do we know what inscriptions were on these markers? These were still in place a year later so why didn't the castaways mention any of the information that was on them?
 

Maybe there was a "Welcome to Gardner" sign after all.  Still seems odd to me that no one reported hearing them state their location as Gardner.

Quote
More than likely the plane was away from these and AE/FN were more interested in sending messages than searching for clues as to their location.

If I want someone to come get me, what's more important than my location?


« Last Edit: February 17, 2011, 07:58:19 AM by Walter Runck »
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Don Dollinger

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Re: Fred! Where are we? [Signs on Gardner/charts of name/ID features?]
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2011, 09:00:50 AM »

Quote
Do we know what inscriptions were on these markers? These were still in place a year later so why didn't the castaways mention any of the information that was on them?

In my minds eye and you put yourself in that position.  I am assuming that I do not know that you I am on Gardner so I would give the information that I know so that I can at least narrow the search area.  This is what I know.  I'm South of mt intendend landing zone and there is a shipwreck on the reef of where I put the Electra down.  The mention of the Norwich City would be expected as it is kinda big to be missed.  "You would think" that at least FN would be aware that maritime records could be used to find out where the wreck of the Norwich City was located (Wasn't he a Merchant Marine at one time?) The worst part of the whole equation is that due to your radio problems on the way there, I don't even know if anyone is receiving my pleas.

I would think that not much exploring would have been done until such time that the plane/radio is no longer available and I was in wait mode for eventual rescue.  If TIGHAR's hypothesis is correct as to where they landed, those markers were not in the immediate vicinity of the Electra but a ways up the beach.   Whats to say those landmarks still even existed at that time not washed away by a storm and even if they were, and the radio is no longer an option it is kind of a moot point.  At that time I would be looking for the most comfortable place to wait it out.  Finally the gravity of the situation sinks in and I am low on life giving supplies and I start looking around and find the cache left by the Norwich City crew's rescuers.  My immediate water needs are satisfied (corks with chains found with skeleton could be from water barrels) but I just can't deal with these damned coco crabs and miserable conditions.  So I move further down the island where they are less plentiful and eventually find the 7 site.   

IF they did not know where they were and IF Fred had a head injury to a point that he was suffering bouts of delirium, I don't see him doing much star gazing with his sextent to pinpoint a location so relaying obvious physical features would be your best bet.

YMMV

LTM,

Don Dollinger
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Bruce Thomas

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Re: Fred! Where are we? [Signs on Gardner/charts of name/ID features?]
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2011, 01:47:39 PM »

Quote
Whats to say those landmarks still even existed at that time not washed away by a storm

That they appear on the Nutiran Contor Chart makes it probable that they existed as a identifiable feature.

As I read the red annotations that decipher that hard-to-read chart, both items shown are identified as having been put in place some months after July 2, 1937.

One of them, which pinpoints the cairn and marker left by HMS Nimanoa (i.e., the "Maude and Bevington" visit), clearly says they were placed there in October 1937.  (“Before completing our work on each island we did not omit the ceremony of hoisting the flag. A wooden flagstaff was erected, a substantial cairn built round, and the Union Jack nailed to the top with a notice board commemorating our visit.”  From “The Colonization of the Phoenix Islands,” by Harry E. Maude, which includes photos of such a cairn and marker erected on McKean with the Union Jack fluttering above.)

The other marker indicated on the survey map, just above the location of the campsite of the expedition that produced the chart (“Notice Board British Pacific Airway”) reads to me as if it describes a marker set in place by that very expedition, which took place in late 1938 and early 1939, a year and a half after NR16020 disappeared.  This expedition, for “Pacific Island Surveys,” was something “authorized by Parliament in the Supplementary Estimates of 1938 under the vote item “Maintenance of Aerodromes and Services.”"

LTM,

Bruce
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Bruce Thomas

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Re: Fred! Where are we? [Signs on Gardner/charts of name/ID features?]
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2011, 05:06:28 PM »

Good spot so it is possible that the HMS Leith marker may have gone by then, though we don't have an indication of where it was placed or where they could have landed (off the Norwich City being the best bet)

'note to self find out where Bruce gets his specs'  :)

Edit: nice new link, will have a good look tomorrow

About all I can find in the TIGHAR archives about HMS Leith erecting "markers" is Randy Jacobson's paper, "American Equatorial and Phoenix Islands", or comments obviously based on its content.  Quoting Dr. Jacobson, "The cruiser H.M.S. Leith visited the Phoenix Islands in February, 1937, placing placards on all of the islands stating the island was in possession of HM King George VI, and hoisting the Union Jack. Based upon the ship logs, the individual visits lasted approximately one hour or less."  There's a TIGHAR forum entry by Ric Gillespie eleven years ago where he states that the location on Gardner Island was "at the west end of the island."

When I read "HM King George VI" my memory banks whirred a moment, bringing back the latest movie my wife and I have seen, "The King's Speech."  Silently my internal math processor quickly had me nodding, "Yep, yep, Edward VIII abdicated in December 1936 ... George VI is the right one to name on those placards."  But then I found another one of the TIGHAR forum entries that said such placards carried the name "Edward VIII."  But I chased that down, and found it was not a mistake ... it seems that the U.S. and the British claims and counterclaims to the Phoenix Islands had everybody in a diplomatic lather, and HMS Leith had made a similar round-robin visit to all the islands in late 1936.  I guess the February 1937 circuit was just to make sure nobody tried to pull a fast one by saying the old claim had expired with the abdication!  The earlier circuit is described in the New Zealand newspaper The Straits Times, 13 October 1936, page 17.

Chris, I'm not sure the meaning of your comment about my "specs" ... if you're talking about my iconic image next to my postings, maybe picture below gives a better look at my specs (and my hairless forehead).   :)
LTM,

Bruce
TIGHAR #3123R
 
« Last Edit: August 23, 2012, 07:18:39 PM by Bruce Thomas »
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