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Author Topic: Jones's Eclipse Story Proves Bogus  (Read 8189 times)

Diego Vásquez

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Jones's Eclipse Story Proves Bogus
« on: August 27, 2012, 12:33:05 AM »

Part I of II.

     TIGHAR has long espoused the story that Hull Island overseer John William Jones perpetrated a grandiose hoax against his Tokelauan laborers during the June 8, 1937, total solar eclipse by threatening to black out the sun at midday if they didn’t get to work.  The tale alleges that when the solar eclipse inevitably occurred, the laborers rushed his radio shack and either “all tried to get in at once to beg him to restore the sun, and in the melee, vital radio equipment was smashed” (Finding Amelia, p. 210, 2006) or “Convinced that the radio was the means by which Jones had wrought this terrible evil, the laborers smashed the thing to smithereens” (12/14/2002 Forum post by Ric).   As corroboration of Jones’s tall tale, Finding Amelia offered records from the HMS Leith that showed that the Leith delivered a wireless transmitter to Jones on Hull in late August of 1937, implying that this delivery confirmed that Jones’s previous radio must have been broken as he claimed.  The eclipse story was important, because if Jones’s transmitter was smashed on June 8 and not replaced until late August, he couldn’t have made any hoax Earhart transmissions in July.  Recently-uncovered, highly-credible, contemporaneous documentation now convincingly shows Jones’s eclipse story to be false.  Don’t worry though fellow Tigharians, Jones still almost certainly couldn’t have been a hoax transmitter in July any more than he could have transmitted during the eclipse in June.  The reason?  He didn’t have a transmitter during either event.

     New Evidence.  An article that I recently found in the June 22, 1937, issue of The Evening Post (Wellington, NZ), datelined Apia, June 21, reported on the just-received news of the wreck of the Makoa at Hull Island.  The Makoa was the ship that brought Jones and his Tokelauan laborers to Hull on May 22, 1937, to start a coconut plantation for the Burns, Philp Company.  The article states that “the Makoa has been overdue for approximately three weeks,” and that the Burns, Philp Co asked the ship Monowai to go to Hull to find out what happened to the Makoa.  It was reported that the Monowai left Suva on Friday, June 18, bound for Hull.  The article went on to state that, “Today [June 21] the following message was received from the master of the Monowai: ‘The Makoa is a total wreck at Hull Island.  No lives are lost.’”  The article went on to mention that the Burns, Philp Company had then made arrangements with the Niagara, which would be passing Hull Island tomorrow [June 23] to pick up the crew and bring them to Suva.

     The July 10, 1937, Auckland Star reported more details.  “Later when the Monowai saw a smoke signal and came close [upon its arrival at Hull on approximately June 21], the captain [of the wrecked Makoa] went out to her and reported the wreck and asked her to wireless explaining the position [emphasis added].  As a result, the Niagara was diverted and picked up the officers and crew and brought them to Suva.”  The article then detailed the back and forth transmissions between the Monowai and a base station in which questions were asked and answered about the wreck of the Makoa.   

     So the key dates are:
May 22:      Makoa brings Jones et al to Hull Island and begins offloading.
May 25:      Makoa wrecks on reef at Hull.
June 8:    Solar eclipse.
June 18:  Burns, Philp has received no word about status of Makoa, which is three weeks overdue, and sends out the Monowai to find out
               what happened.
June 21:  Monowai arrives at Hull.  Makoa crew reports their May 25 wreck to the Monowai and asks Monowai to radio in the news. 
July 2:      AE goes missing.
Aug 30:   HMS Leith arrives on Hull with a wireless transmitter and installs it.

     It was clear from both articles (and several others from around the same time) that until June 21, nobody outside of Hull Island had heard any news about the wreck of the Makoa. The inference should be obvious and is well supported by the historical record:  Jones’s failure to radio anything about the wreck of the Makoa at any time between the occurrence of the wreck on May 25 and the June 8 eclipse very strongly suggests that he did not have a working transmitter during that time.  No working transmitter means he couldn’t have been transmitting the eclipse event on June 8, as he claimed to Bevington, and that the islanders therefore didn’t break his radio at that time.  Unless Jones somehow got an unknown radio after the Monowai arrived on Jun 21 but before the Leith arrived on August 30 to deliver his documented transmitter, Jones couldn’t have made any hoax Earhart transmissions in July. 

     Epilogue.  The news that Jones’s story was bogus ends up not making much difference to the Niku hypothesis, although it does more credibly eliminate one otherwise-possible source of hoax transmissions.  In Part II, which I hope to post in the near future, I will discuss what initially led me to notice Jones’s fabrication, describe how my research developed, raise some questions regarding TIGHAR’s handling of evidence pertaining to Jones’s eclipse story, and identify lessons learned and avenues for further research.   Until then, I remain,

     Almost Certainly,

     Diego V.



p.s.  For those interested in survival issues that may relate somewhat to the seven site, the June 28 article also mentioned that a journalist from Los Angeles, William Kadison, who happened to be aboard the Niagara, spent some time with the crew of the Makoa after they were rescued.  Kadison reported that the Makoa crew had to “endure many hardships.  Coconut milk was used for drink, as no water was available, and for food the crew were largely dependent upon fish and birds.  Some variety in the menu was afforded by the capture of several large turtles.”

I want to believe.

Diego V.
 
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C.W. Herndon

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Re: Jones's Eclipse Story Proves Bogus
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2012, 03:39:36 AM »

Good research Diego. Keep up the good work.
Woody (former 3316R)
"the watcher"
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Jones's Eclipse Story Proves Bogus
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2012, 11:02:35 AM »

The inference should be obvious and is well supported by the historical record:  Jones’s failure to radio anything about the wreck of the Makoa at any time between the occurrence of the wreck on May 25 and the June 8 eclipse very strongly suggests that he did not have a working transmitter during that time.  No working transmitter means he couldn’t have been transmitting the eclipse event on June 8, as he claimed to Bevington, and that the islanders therefore didn’t break his radio at that time.

Good research.  Flawed conclusion.  Your research does suggest that Jone's transmitter was not working on June 8 but that doesn't make Jones' story bogus. As Bevington tells the story, use of the radio was not part of Jones's threat to block out the sun. According to Bevington (not first hand from Jones) when the eclipse  began, "They rushed to the shack where the Kaben was reporting the eclipse on the radio, all tried to get in at once to beg him to restore the sun, and in the melee, vital radio equipment was smashed and the station put out of action."  The bit about Jones reporting the eclipse could easily be Bevington's embellishment.  The story comes from his memoir "The Things We Do For England - If Only England Knew" which contains some other anecdotes that are at odds with contemporary records. It was my privilege to correspond and spend time with Eric in his later years. He loved a good story. We talked about some of the discrepancies between the historical record and his book.  He freely admitted that he wrote from memory but he didn't make stuff up. 
« Last Edit: August 27, 2012, 12:22:30 PM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Diego Vásquez

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Re: Jones's Eclipse Story Proves Bogus
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2012, 01:42:41 AM »

Good research. 

Thank you, coming from you I am humbled.  I am trying to stay above the fray and concentrate mostly on quietly doing some of my own research on a few micro areas rather than engaging in a lot of the harshness I’ve been seeing lately on the Forum.


Quote
Your research does suggest that Jone's transmitter was not working on June 8 but that doesn't make Jones' story bogus.

Ah yes.  While I was writing the post, I had at the top of my paper as my working title “Jones’s Eclipse Story Proves False.”  At the last minute I changed the word “False” to “Bogus,” mostly in an attempt to punch it up a little to sell more copies (my previous posts didn’t seem to be getting much attention).  Such are the perils one faces when he or she lowers his or her research standards in an attempt to sell the story to the masses.  I incorrectly assumed that the falsity of the eclipse story was due to Jones’s bravado.  Although I was aware of the historical flaws you referred to in “The Things We Do for England,” I had for some reason not considered that the radio element of the eclipse story may have been inadvertently introduced by Bevington.  I may have maligned poor old Jonesy by assuming that it was he who had told a false story, whereas you correctly point out that it could just as easily have been an unintentional error by Bevington in the retelling.  This shows the value of peer review.  I consider all of my posts here to be nothing more than rough drafts and invite and appreciate sincere comments from my colleagues.


Quote
Flawed conclusion. 

Yes, possibly, insofar as to who may have put the falsity in the eclipse story.  But at any rate, I think we can both agree on the more relevant conclusions that I drew from the data: that Jones almost certainly didn’t have a transmitter at the time of the eclipse incident and, more importantly but somewhat less conclusively, probably didn’t have one at all until late August, which would preclude him from having been an Earhart hoaxer.  I'm still workiing on Part II, in which I'll incorporate some of the information you provided in your reply above.


Diego V.
I want to believe.

Diego V.
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Jones's Eclipse Story Proves Bogus
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2012, 04:50:10 AM »

Diego, your research is a meaningful contribution to the project.  I look forward to part two. 
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