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Author Topic: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation  (Read 86171 times)

Ross Devitt

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Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« on: March 10, 2014, 02:12:39 AM »

Ok, I've tagged something into the 1938 photograph post, that is relevant to something in that thread, but also relevant to an old TIGHAR mystery.  Just what did Lambrecht see that he considered to be signs of recent habitation.

There were ruins from the Arundel coconut plantings.  There had been a shipwreck, but none of these were 'recent'.  Unfortunately I dropped out of TIGHAR a few times through illness and relinquished a short membership for the same reason.  But the habitation thing has always fascinated me.  When I was reading about the 1938 photos I realised that TIGHAR often mentioned Maude's party visiting about 3 months after Earhart went missing.  However, I hadn't noticed there didn;t seem to be any reference to the visit about 4 months before Earhart went missing, by a party from aboard H.M.S. LEITH.

In February 1937 a Union Jack flag was apparently planted (the report says 'hoisted') at Gardner Island near where the NZ Survey party would camp in 1938.

Although the visitors only stayed a few hours ashore, it is possible there may have been something still visible where the flag was planted.  It is also possible, that if Earhart and Noonan had got ashore near the Norwich City, and found a sign and what was left of a flag, or even just the flag pole, they might have used that place for something regularly, even if they slept elsewhere.

I have a feeling If I was wrecked somewhere like that, a fairly new official sign (The British used to date these things), along with a flag pole, would make me think this was a place to expect rescue some time.

So if it was Earhart and Noonan, they had obviously not survived the three months until Maude arrived.

An old part of the puzzle for sure, but one more little piece in the puzzle.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2014, 02:52:35 AM by Ross Devitt »
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JNev

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Re: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2014, 08:53:08 AM »

Ok, I've tagged something into the 1938 photograph post, that is relevant to something in that thread, but also relevant to an old TIGHAR mystery.  Just what did Lambrecht see that he considered to be signs of recent habitation.

There were ruins from the Arundel coconut plantings.  There had been a shipwreck, but none of these were 'recent'.  Unfortunately I dropped out of TIGHAR a few times through illness and relinquished a short membership for the same reason.  But the habitation thing has always fascinated me.  When I was reading about the 1938 photos I realised that TIGHAR often mentioned Maude's party visiting about 3 months after Earhart went missing.  However, I hadn't noticed there didn;t seem to be any reference to the visit about 4 months before Earhart went missing, by a party from aboard H.M.S. LEITH.

In February 1937 a Union Jack flag was apparently planted (the report says 'hoisted') at Gardner Island near where the NZ Survey party would camp in 1938.

Although the visitors only stayed a few hours ashore, it is possible there may have been something still visible where the flag was planted.  It is also possible, that if Earhart and Noonan had got ashore near the Norwich City, and found a sign and what was left of a flag, or even just the flag pole, they might have used that place for something regularly, even if they slept elsewhere.

I have a feeling If I was wrecked somewhere like that, a fairly new official sign (The British used to date these things), along with a flag pole, would make me think this was a place to expect rescue some time.

So if it was Earhart and Noonan, they had obviously not survived the three months until Maude arrived.

An old part of the puzzle for sure, but one more little piece in the puzzle.

I've long puzzled over just what Lambrecht may have seen and have to concede that as to "markers of some kind" we'll never really know for sure.  Lambrecht was clear about old structures seen on at least one other island, and Goerner seems convinced that the Leith's efforts may have left 'markers' that Lambrecht could have seen.

One does suppose remnants of HMS Leith's visit could have been it, or a contributing item - an improvised staff with a rag of a months-old Union Jack flying?  Perhaps... but we don't seem to have much information on that ship's visits to these islands, or how vigorously her crew made His Majesty's presence known.  The American-British exchanges over sovereignty are colorful and suggest less-than rigid enthusiasm for the effort of going about to claim lands there - perhaps it was just enough shore visit to plant a puny 'marker of some kind' after all, but not necessarily something that would perish in a few months.

As an aside, since Goerner figures into this information to some degree (having passed along first-hand impressions of what Lambrecht had to say) it is interesting what Goerner adds this letter (linked above) regarding his and Hooven's own latter-day impressions of where the Electra went to ground: "on or about five small reefs which lie to the north and west of Gardner and McKean" - and further that "Lambrecht, Short and Fox" all agreed that rain squalls during the 1937 search must have obscured these reefs (hence not examined or known, only suspected).  Goerner speaks of these reefs as now well-documented, but they are news to me and don't clearly figure into the Colorado's accounting that I can see.  Colorado did clearly have concerns about sailing in areas where uncharted reefs could be a problem as I have read Friedell's report.
- Jeff Neville

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Monty Fowler

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Re: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2014, 09:42:40 AM »

When is a pile of rocks a marker and when is it just ... a pile of rocks? I think it all depends on who's doing the piling.

LTM,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 CER
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JNev

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Re: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2014, 10:48:25 AM »

...pile of rocks, you say... who'd of guessed Earhart's disappearance would come to so much wonderment of rocks - terrestrial or submarine...
- Jeff Neville

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Ross Devitt

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Re: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2014, 04:33:35 PM »

Quote
but we don't seem to have much information on that ship's visits to these islands, or how vigorously her crew made His Majesty's presence known.

Actually we have a hell of a lot, and in considerable detail..

From the 1936 visits by HMAS "Leith" we have a 5 page typed report by the captain, Oliver Bevir.  It is notes on the islands, vegetation, wild life, fresh water etc. 
This voyage was in amongst some documents marked 'SECRET" and "Cypher Telegram", which seem to be mostly discussions about establishing sovereignty before the yanks pulled another Howland/baker/Jervis stunt.
There is also a secret telegram from July 23 1936 with reference to "Question of actual occupation of Phoenix Islands or of some of them has now been raised and may become urgently necessary for strategic reasons."


From the February 1937 landings:

We have a 16 page official report on the Leith's voyage with dates and times and detailed descriptions of the islands visited and of what they did there.  Including leaving a sign and flag at each island.

We have 6 pages of NOTES as an ORIGINAL document (that is, the OP document in a typewriter - Not a carbon copy) possibly typed aboard Leith.  It is called 'Notes on various islands of the phoenix group visited in H.M.A.S. "LEITH", February 1837.  This document is a list of islands in order they were visited describing details of each island.  Item 1. is Canton island and starts off.

1. Canton or mary Island.
Largest island of the Group, being approcimately 8 1/2 miles long by 3 1/2 miles wide. 
Then it goes on about anchorage and landing etc.  Vegetation previous occupation, animal and bird life, remains of wreck and settlement. and includes things like  "Flag planted close to the clump of coconut trees on the south side of the boat-passage abd notice board nailed to one of the trees."

My mention of the stuff on Gardner does not say that there was a pile of stones on Gardner, just that there was on at least one other island, so that was one method they used. 
The notes don't have dates and times etc.  Just notes about each island one after the other.

We also have a 16 page official report on the Leith's voyage with dates and times and detailed descriptions of the islands visited and of what they did there.  Including leaving a sign and flag at each island.   It is dated 28th May 1937 written by the person in charge of the expedition, and very detailed.  It starts off with his transfer from HMCS "Nimanoa" to HMAS "Leith" at Christmas Island for the voyage and details some communication problems that almost forced a return. 

On reaching Canton it begins.
Canton or Mary Island was sighted in the morning of the 12th February and after coasting along the entire length of the eastern and northern littoral we dropped anchor on the western side of the island soon after noon.  A landing arty left the ship almost immediately afterwards in the ship's skiff (equipped with outboard motor) but, owing to the outward race of the tide in the boat passage..   
It goes on from there and like all the other island information it is fascinating.  For example I wasn't aware the British Navy was using outboards (probably a Seagull, because it took over an hour to motor through the boat passage) in 1937.

They had interesting adventures on some islands including shark fishing, capsizing in the heavy surf etc.  Some of the descriptions read like a TIGHAR expedition to Niku!  It is really quite entertaining.
This is a carbon copy of a typed document.

OK !!!   Ths is an update.
I was reading some correspondence from between 1936 and 1937 and discovered that the person in charge on the HMAS Leith visit, and who wrote the 'NOTES and "Report" was The RESIDENT COMMISSIONER, J. C. Barley, although the correspondence refers to "His Excellency the High Commissioner, His Honour J.C. Barley, Secretary, Western Pacific High Commission.".  I'm still trying to reconcile this apparent difference in titles.



From the October landings
We have a 30 page report by H. E. Maude who was in charge of that visit, printed by the Government Printer in Suva.
This goes into great detail on the islands and the planning for the PISS.
Th' WOMBAT
« Last Edit: March 10, 2014, 06:01:35 PM by Ross Devitt »
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2014, 06:34:14 PM »

Ross - can you provide links?  I was unsuccessful searching for the reports you mentioned.
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Ross Devitt

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Re: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2014, 07:35:09 PM »

John, I collected a heap of stuff and it is all bundled in together.  That is one of them.  I'm pretty sure it was Adelaide that held most of them, and almost certain the ones I'm quoting are from there.  If I'm right, a search of their collection will show you.
At one time I hunted down everything I could find including the entire Purdue collection from the USA, before it was catalogued and put online in searchable form.  So I have odd scraps from a few Aussie Universities and libraries that I'm clearing off old hard drives. 
Which is why I'm back on TIGHAR forum after so many years.   I was finding references to stuff in TIGHAR that didn;t match what I recalled from my collection of junk, so I thought I would see if it interested anyone this far on.  So much has changed in the last dozen or so years.  And so much had been going on before I discovered Ric and the TIGHAR team.

Ok, THANKS to Jeff, who pointed me to the stash.  This contains a heap of the stuff I acquired and would have been the basis for the stuff I'm posting here.  It makes interesting reading if you enjoy the history of Niku.

http://digital.library.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/handle/2440/5/simple-search?query=phoenix+islands&sort_by=0&order=DESC&rpp=10&etal=0&start=0


Cheers,

Th' WOMBAT
« Last Edit: March 10, 2014, 08:23:24 PM by Ross Devitt »
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JNev

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Re: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2014, 06:00:15 PM »

John, I collected a heap of stuff and it is all bundled in together.  That is one of them.  I'm pretty sure it was Adelaide that held most of them, and almost certain the ones I'm quoting are from there.  If I'm right, a search of their collection will show you.
At one time I hunted down everything I could find including the entire Purdue collection from the USA, before it was catalogued and put online in searchable form.  So I have odd scraps from a few Aussie Universities and libraries that I'm clearing off old hard drives. 
Which is why I'm back on TIGHAR forum after so many years.   I was finding references to stuff in TIGHAR that didn;t match what I recalled from my collection of junk, so I thought I would see if it interested anyone this far on.  So much has changed in the last dozen or so years.  And so much had been going on before I discovered Ric and the TIGHAR team.

Ok, THANKS to Jeff, who pointed me to the stash.  This contains a heap of the stuff I acquired and would have been the basis for the stuff I'm posting here.  It makes interesting reading if you enjoy the history of Niku.

http://digital.library.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/handle/2440/5/simple-search?query=phoenix+islands&sort_by=0&order=DESC&rpp=10&etal=0&start=0


Cheers,

Th' WOMBAT

Nice work, Ross - thanks.
- Jeff Neville

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John Ousterhout

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Re: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2014, 08:38:36 PM »

Thanks Ross, and Jeff, (and welcome back Ross).  Hokey smokes, what a treasure trove of interesting information!
I have this mental image of flying over Gardner island, seeing a decrepit flagpole and some old abandoned buildings, but no shiny Lockheed and therefore no Amelia,  therefore flying on.  Accompanying that image is one from the "ground": someone trying to find relief from the sun suddenly hearing an aircraft fly over head, running West to the beach, and seeing nothing!  The aircraft clearly flew away towards the East, so the next thought was to relocate to the eastern shore of the island and hope they'd come back, since that's obviously where "help" must be located. 
Maybe the next "Niku" expedition should approach from the East, for luck?
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Ross Devitt

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Re: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2014, 02:13:21 AM »

I remember perhaps around 2000 or something like that, we had discussions about the 'castaway' possibly hearing the search planes.   A few of us who are pilots and are familiar with big Pratt and Whitney radial engines and similar types pointed out that one of those can fly almost directly over you at less than 1,000 feet and you often won;t hear it, even doing the zoomy thing Lambrecht described.

All it takes is a little breeze and the person on the ground to be doing something else a few hundred yards away.  When I'm not on my yacht, I'm under the circuit for my local airport and have planes flying over really close all day and part of the night.  I rarely hear them and even the helicopters are only audible for a short time.  We have a couple of beasts with those Pratt and Whitneys and a few times when I have actually been looking for them I miss them.

I, and quite a few other TIGHAR pilots have been involved in search and rescue and can tell you it is very unlikely Lambrecht and his friends would have seen Earhart and Noonan even if they had been dancing naked on the beach and waving a flag.  Most of the time we can;t even see wreckage in realtively open ground.

 On one of the early Niku expeditions, Ric acquired a helicopter and did a low level circuit of Niku.  In a couple of places he pointed out people, but if you've watched the video, you'll see exactly what I mean.  And that was looking from a helicopter, probably flying a little slower and lower than Lambrecht's planes.

So even guessing what he might have seen is a long shot.  I think we were all under the impression that after the Arundel company stopped working the island, nobody had been there since the Norwich City wreck, then the October visit by Maude, so any signs of 'recent' habitation had to be Earhart and Freddy.

I suppose by showing there was someone there a few months before Earhart might have landed is just another teaser.  But what Lambrecht saw has intrigued us for years and this might be part of that puzzle.

I'm glad it is providing some amusement  :)   It was a fun find.    To me it also suggests that if Earhart did make it to the island, she and Fred knew exactly where they were, because there was a sign, on the beach, almost opposite the Norwich City welcoming them to Gardner Island.

Which means there should have been a message left in the vicinity, because that is the logical thing to do.  Unless of course they didn't grab any log books, maps and writing materials before the plane was washed away.  The mystery deepens.  The plot, like a four day old soup, thickens...

Th' WOMBAT
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2014, 02:30:48 AM »

Hi Ross,

of course Garl L P would differ on the search and rescue/noise argument in the most logical and fullsome manor but he dosn't post on this forum anymore  >:(

I've got a recolection of a photo of 'a marker' left either by the Leith of a later expedition but just can't find it.  Anyone think of the picture or have I just got Forum fatigue?



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Ross Devitt

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Re: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2014, 04:03:23 AM »

Check the 1938 New Zealand expedition photos.  There were two signs/markers when they were there.  There are photos of the camp site and a N.C. Lifeboat and I seem to recall seeing something that looked like a sign from an angle, but not the front of it.
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Greg Daspit

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Re: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2014, 08:41:45 PM »


Which means there should have been a message left in the vicinity, because that is the logical thing to do.


I think that is logical too. Of course we can't know what they would have done. Maybe a message was left and it blew away. Also see thread about a possible SOS on the Norwich City
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manjeet aujla

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Re: Lambrecht Report - Signs of recent habitation
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2014, 09:47:06 PM »

This sounds very reasonable ... AE/possiblyFN see the flag etc., close to Ncity and the plane, camp there for the next few days till the plane goes underwater, possibly setting up some more  visuals.  And what Lambrect saw were these signs of 'habitation' (yes this is theorizing). I had not known of this previous visit, but it does fit in with the 'markers' he saw. Soooo.... where does that get us.

The thing which interests me then is ... would AE/FN want to leave something behind at this site, after the plane is gone and they/she are going to move to the 7-site? Something that would not be swept away by wind/waves? The logical thing would be bury something there, as they a) may not be able to carry much away, b) any subsequent searchers would look here first, and may never even find them at the 7site.  So, at this point they would bury something at this location, at least telling the world that they were there.

I am sure this has been discussed here before, and tighar may even have done some searching, but this avenue of search sounds like it would be worth exploring...esp if the hi-res photos of the island being examined can be used to pinpoint this 'flag' location, which if luck has it , is the same as camp zero. This spot would be more likely to have something buried than the 7site ... all imho.

 'Course if tighar spots the plane in the next expedition (lets hope), the hundreds of tourists then descending on the island can be asked to to do a bit of 'treasure hunting' for buried artifacts!
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