October 18, 2019

Kaga Found!

The late Paul Allen's team has done it one more time... and this time, they did something I thought would never happen.

They found the Kaga.

In this sonar image, the stern is in the lower-right corner.  The Kaga's flight deck is gone, which comes as no surprise whatsoever.  Of the four Japanese carriers sunk at Midway, Kaga was the one that suffered the most grievous and swift fire damage.  Nearly all of her hangar deck personnel (aircraft mechanics and armorers) were killed by the fires caused when a 1000lb bomb punched through her flight deck to explode among fully fueled and mostly armed aircraft.  That particular explosion also ruptured her avgas lines, knocked out the generators powering the water pumps, damaged the fire mains, and destroyed a one-shot carbon-dioxide fire smothering device.

The ship is upright in the sea floor, though she's quite deep in the mud and silt.  Information is still sparse... the announcement was only made about five hours ago as I write this... but from what I've managed to piece together, they should still be able to locate where the Nauticos chunk would fit on the hull.

Undoubtedly the Nauticos find is what allowed Paul Allen's group to narrow down the search area. There's only a finite amount of distance the burning ship could have moved before she was scuttled, and the Nauticos report linked above gives a presumed maximum of about five hours, 30 minutes from the time the chunk was blown free to the time of scuttling.  So knowing the ship went roughly thataway for up to 5h30m gives you a search area.  Then it's just the tedious job of combing the ocean floor with sonar and ROV until you find something.

Like a piece of hull with a gun turret on the side.  Oh, and speaking of  finding something... one report I saw said they have a strong possibility for another ship location.  Could we have an Akagi or Soryu next?  Hiryu is probably quite a distance away from the others... if any of them is going to stay missing now, I'm guessing its her.

Holy crap, folks... I'm actually giddy about this.  Seriously: what a find!  Naval historians everywhere owe the late Paul Allen a debt of gratitude... pour a YooHoo out for your homie tonight!

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June 06, 2019

D-Day + 75 Years

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,

But he'll remember, with advantages,

What feats he did that day.
From this day to the ending of the world,
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother;  And gentlemen in England now a-bed ahall think themselves accurs'd they were not here and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

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June 04, 2019

Midway 2019

I'm going to go a little far afield from my usual Midway day posts, because I have some news to report.  You may or may not be aware of the upcoming Hollywood movie on the Battle of Midway, due to be released in November.

I've known about this for well over a year, thanks to my membership in the Battle of Midway Round Table.  The production company involved has been asking the BOMRT historical accuracy questions... "where was the radio set located in a Dauntless, and what color would it be," that sort of thing (note: I made that up).  Sadly, there's a NDA on the man running the Round Table, so he can't tell us much about the film.  He's assured us that they're pushing to make it look as realistic as possible.

Which is, of course, great!  If there's one Pacific War naval battle that deserves a good movie, it's Midway... and no, I don't count that '70s extrusion as "good".  But this movie isn't my news... no, my news is something a little more personal.

I've been hired as a historical consultant on the Battle of Midway!  A youtube history channel is going to be doing a series of videos on Midway, and I've been tabbed to do the historical legwork.  I can't reveal the channel name yet, mostly because I forgot to ask the Power That Be for permission and he's on a business trip, but its been around for a couple-three years, and has well over 500k subscribers.

The plan is that we'll be releasing these videos as we get closer to movie release date, and there's hope for an actual tie-in with the film... y'know, concentrate on the characters the movie is featuring, sponsorship, that sort of thing.  None of that is guaranteed... indeed, I gather only the first contacts have been made... but there is optimism.

All of which is to say, I'm really really excited about this.  It'll be a fun way to spend time, I'm getting paid for it, and anything that educates about the Battle of Midway is okay in my book!  More details will be made available as I get permission, so look forward to that... and lets hope that Midway gets the movie treatment it deserves!

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April 01, 2019

Builder's Trials

USS South Dakota, the US Navy's newest member of the Virginia-class, undergoes builder's trials.

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December 23, 2018

Bad Ideas In Mine Clearing #523

Bren carrier?  Check.
Naval mine on a rope?  Check.
Roundel confirming Polish troops?  Check.

Either this thing is already defused, or it's a primitive attempt at spaceflight.

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June 04, 2018

Midway 2018

For this, the 76th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, I had in mind the sixth of my "What If?" series, in this case what might have occurred if the Japanese submarine picket line had actually gotten into position on time, instead of just doing the submarine equivalent of sauntering, thus letting the US carriers sail without notice.  The catastrophic error that took mu/mee.nu down on Sunday put paid to that idea, alas. 

This left me scrambling for ideas, and to be honest I haven't come up with any.  So instead, here's the best (only?) song about the battle of Midway I've ever heard.
Footage is from two Japanese feature films, *The Admiral*, about Yamamoto, and *The Eternal Zero*.  I've actually seen *Eternal Zero*... unsubbed.  Honestly had a problem figuring out what was going on.  Looked fantastic though.

One bit of good news I recently discovered: a new Midway movie is in production, filming beginning in August. Fingers crossed, we'll finally see a **good** film about this rich topic, as opposed to that late '70s ball of dreck we've currently got.  I rewatched *Midway* two Saturdays ago... it was on SUNDANCE or some channel like that... and I kept saying "that's wrong", "that's wrong too", "that's a Hellcat", "why does that Japanese carrier have an angled flight deck?", and so on and so forth.  If anybody had been watching it with me, I'm not sure I would have lived through it... they'd beat me to death with my own cane just to shut me up.

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April 02, 2018

Name That Mystery Ship XXXIV Revealed!

There's no ship!  It's just a picture of the open ocean.

Ha ha april fools day.

Look, it was the best I could come up with, I'm sorry.

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April 01, 2018

Name That Mystery Ship XXXIV

Got a toughie for y'all today!

As usual, no image searching.  I can't stop you from doing it, but you'll have to live with it on your conscience forever.  You get one guess, and one guess only, so make it count.  Winners are determined by me, my decision is final, so don't push it, 'k?  The winner gets his or her very own blog post on a topic of their choosing (exceptions: pr0n, politics, and religion).  CTX, FDM, if either of you are still around, you're clear to guess!

Let's see how good you guys really are!

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March 05, 2018

CV-2 Found

Is there a bigger money sink than sunken warship hunting?  Think about it... you're looking for something relatively small in a very very big ocean when you have only the most general of ideas where to find your quarry, it likely traveled some distance after it went under the waves, making an uncertain search area even larger... oh, and it's at the bottom of an ocean.  A long, long way down.  It often takes years of searching and lots of tenuous funding to find a ship, a discovery that will excite some historians, ex-crew members, and maybe some media outlets looking for something interesting to report on when there's a slow news day.  

Which is why all of us historians of the Pacific War, amateur and pro alike, should stop for a moment and give thanks that Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and the 46th richest person in the world with a net worth of more than $21 billion, seems to be willing to burn his money to go sunken warship hunting.  Back in 2015 I mentioned his success in finding the Mushashi.  He's tallied a number of other finds since then, the USS Ward and USS Indianapolis primary among them.   Until today, when he nailed a big one indeed.

The USS Lexington (CV-2) was technically the US Navy's second full-sized aircraft carrier, with her sister ship USS Saratoga (CV-3) being completed a month before her. She was commissioned in December of 1927, and along with the Saratoga and the USS Langley, she helped codify the way the US Navy's way of operating aircraft carriers.  She served until May 8th, 1942, when she was sunk during the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Of course we don't have any pictures of the ship in its entirety... or even any of the hull as of yet... but it's still early days, those are assuredly coming.  They've already found seven TBD Devastators there on the bottom of the ocean, floated off or blown off the flight deck once the carrier went down.  Seven Devastators... and at least one Wildcat.

Considering how long this F4F-3 has been on the ocean bottom, it really isn't in that bad of condition.  More pics from the find can be found at Allen's website.  Awfully cool, this.  There will almost certainly be a video tour of the carrier soon, by the way... hopefully at some time where I can stay up and watch it!

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February 17, 2018

World Of Warships: I Admit My Error

Back in November of 2016, I wrote a little bit about the newest Tier VI ship in my collection, the American Cleveland-class light cruiser.  At the time, I said "it's a good ship, I just hate it."  There were a lot of reasons for that; I had enjoyed the ship just before it on the tech tree, the Omaha, immensely.  Most of my best games up to that point had been in the Omaha, and if there is a bigger change in playstyle from the older torpedo-cruiser to the newer ship, I have yet to find it.  The Cleveland's guns apparently has to lob shells into the stratosphere to get any sort of range with them, to the point that you can easily have two broadsides and maybe three (?) in the air at once.  This means that you have to perform quite a bit of witchcraft to hit anything at long range... like a battleship needs to do at 20km.  Problem is, you're a light cruiser firing 6" guns at 14km and you don't get a spotting aircraft.  

And while you're no delicate snowflake, maybe having the most armor of any cruiser at this tier not named Graf Spee, anything larger than a 20mm Oerlikion can penetrate you... I can't tell you how often I've been sailing along and then suddenly everything goes quiet and the hp bar gets very very red very very fast.  Yet, for all of that, I have a confession to make.

I was wrong about the Cleveland.  I very much enjoy playing it nowadays... there's a certain joy out of watching your shells disappear off the screen, only to reappear two minutes later and completely deluge a target you predicted would be at that very point, which was approximately 500 miles from where the target ship had been when you fired.  Or getting a lovely broadside shot on an Aoba and racking up 11 hits with six citadels and a 'Devastating Strike' award.  Nope, she requires some fortune-telling to play well, but it's rewarding as all hell if you can pull it off.

Oh, and if you haven't been playing the weekly 'scenarios', start doing so.  They're a blast and you get some nice rewards for 'em to boot.

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January 25, 2018

The Strangest Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Ever

I haven't played War Thunder much in the past year or so, a couple of matches here and there.  Doesn't mean I don't keep up with it, but actually play?  Nah.  But my favorite yootoob subscription is to the good folks over at Bo Time! Gaming, probably the most serious bunch of pilots and tankers to ever to strap on a pair of goggles.

Yes, I'm kidding.  Bo and the merry idiots of TBLF are the ones that brought us the WT Fail Montage series... basically, the videos that got me to play the game in the first place back in 2014 or so.  I love watching them play... they obviously enjoy each other's company, even if it is just virtual, and they're either quite good, or entertainingly bad.  They know when they're bad, too, and they don't much care.

Anyway.  It appears that there's something of a bug in War Thunder at the moment... if you manage to flip over a Churchill tank, this happens:
I expect the flying Churchills will be patched out of the game immediately if not sooner, but for one brief, shining moment, you will believe tanks can fly.

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December 07, 2017

The Forgotten Pearl Harbor Memorial

The whole world is familiar with what happened to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor that fateful day in December of 1941.  In remembrance of that tragic loss, a touching memorial was built over the sunken remains, and is a tourist attraction unlike any other perhaps in the world.  

In 1941, the USS Utah was no longer a glamorous ship.  Once a Dreadnought era Florida-class battleship, in 1931 she was converted to a radio-controlled target vessel (AG-16), both her main and secondary batteries removed, and her torpedo bulges shaved off the hull.  In 1935 she was given a the new assignment of anti-aircraft training.  To which end, she was given an ever-changing collection of AA guns, from .50cal machineguns all the way up to the famous 5"/38 dual-purpose gun.  It was in this duty that she was at Pearl Harbor on Dec 7th, 1941.

Moored in a position normally used for the US Navy's aircraft carriers, torpedo planes from the Japanese carrier Soryu closed in on her.  While the squadron leader waved the run off, correctly identifying the Utah as not worth attacking, six planes did not get the message and dropped on her.  Of these six torpedoes, two hit the seriously unprotected vessel which immediately began to list .  Some 12 minutes after the attack on her began, she rolled over onto her port side and settled to the bottom of the harbor.  Some years later, an attempt to salvage her was made, but was unsuccessful.  It was decided to leave the hulk where it lay.

A small memorial plaque was placed in 1950, and a larger memorial erected in 1972, seen to the right in this picture.  Only those with a military ID can visit, and like the Arizona Memorial, it is considered a war grave as the ship still holds the remains of 58 crewmen killed on Dec 7th, 1941.  She's not as well-remembered as the Arizona; she was neither as glamorous or her loss as dramatic.  She is still one of a perishingly few remaining touchpoints for the events of the day that began the Pacific War.  In many ways, she deserves better.

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December 02, 2017

Heh... "Devil Duck"

"Okay men, listen up."  

The Marines, gathered at the stern of the troop transport, directed their attention to the weatherbeaten sergeant.  Some distance away, the big guns of the Colorado threw 16" shells at a small piece of land in a very large ocean.

"All right.  Someone up the chain screwed the pooch.  There ain't no tide today, so the landing craft can't get over the reef."

Someone piped up with a lighthearted tone in his voice: "So we're going home, right?"

The sergeant rolled his eyes.  "Yeah, Jenkins, we're going home.  The war is over.  We won.  And it was all because of you."  The gathered group of men laughed, but there was an audible tightness to it.  "Nah, we ain't that lucky.  We're going in on the alligators."  A muted reaction from the men told what they thought of this... the LVTs might well be able to climb over the reef and carry them right to the beach, but on the other hand they had no armor and were slow in the water.  "Any questions?"

Silence.  "Awright, lets go."

The men burst out with the traditional "OORAH!" as they moved to the ship's rail... all but one of them.  That one Marine joined in with a loud, clear "QUACK!"

The target was Tarawa.  And Siwash was going to war.


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August 21, 2017

Yamato: Portrait Of The Battleship As A Young Boy

Here ya go, CXT.

No, I don't understand my title either.

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August 13, 2017

Name That Mystery Ship XXXIII

It's been seven months since the last Mystery Ship contest... which is better than a year, like the previous entry... so I think it's time once again!  Name this mystery ship:

As usual, no image searching.  I can't stop you from doing it, but you'll have to live with it on your conscience forever.  As is also usual, CTX and FDM are on the leash until I let 'em at it.  You get one guess, and one guess only, so make it count.  Winners are determined by me, my decision is final, so don't push it, 'k?  The winner gets his or her very own blog post on a topic of their choosing (exceptions: pr0n, politics, and religion).

This one might be easy, but we'll see.  Good luck!

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August 10, 2017

Good Pilots Just Land Planes

But the GREAT pilots land them with style!

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July 04, 2017

07/04 Over BB-55

Happy Independence Day, everybody!

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June 06, 2017

D-Day Stories By The Greatest Announcer Of All Time

Two years ago, when Vin Scully was still calling ballgames for the Dodgers, he decided to tell a few stories about the events of D-Day.  Being Vin Scully, the result was amazing.

Today is the 73rd Anniversary of that heroic, terrible day.  

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June 04, 2017

Midway 75 Years Later: Never Call Me A Hero

A few months ago, somebody named "Nick" showed up in the comment section of a post I wrote on the passing of "Dusty" Kleiss, the last of the Midway dive bomber pilots.  He was looking for information on the picture of Mr Kleiss I had used... where I got it, maybe where the hi-res version is located, that sort of thing.  As it turned out, I remembered where I found it and a little bit of research found that the hi-res version was available via the AP.  I took the time to send Nick the info in an e-mail and thought that would be the end of it.

As it turned out, I was wrong.  Nick was an editor at HarperCollins, and he had been looking for a good photo to use for a book that would be coming out about Mr Kleiss.  I expressed enthusiasm for such a project, and said that I'd be buying it as soon as it came out.  I also pointed him to the Battle of Midway Round Table, and pointed out that it would be of great interest to them as well... after all, Mr Kleiss had been a member himself!  Not long after that, Nick said "I'm sending you a copy of the book."  I'm certainly not going to turn that down!  I also pointed out that it won't make a difference to any review I write... though I really really hoped it'd be good.  The book showed up a couple-three weeks ago, ahead of the official release date, and I began to read through it.  So what do I think about Never Call Me A Hero by N Jack "Dusty" Kleiss (with Timothy and Laura Orr)?

It's delightful.  His service in the Pacific takes up a little over half of the book, more or less, with the remaining pages devoted to the rest of his life.  Kleiss was a habitual note-taker, and he apparently kept everything he could.  His logbooks and diaries of his time on USS Enterprise make up much of the basis for his recollections, copies of official reports and other primary source documents fill in the rest.  But clearly just as important, if not moreso, to Kleiss are the letters he wrote to his girlfriend (later wife) Jean and their relationship.  He was clearly a man deeply in love with his girl, a love which stayed with him even after she passed away in 2006, after more than 60 years of marriage.  We also get to read about what he did after he left the Enterprise, then after retiring from the US Navy in 1962, two topics about which the historical record had previously been essentially silent.

But the real reason we've come to Never Call Me A Hero is his role at the Battle of Midway.  After having read the book, I came away with a sense of both pride and sadness from "Dusty".  Pride in that, while he repeatedly says that he was "just doing his job," the job the US Navy had trained him for, he and his fellow pilots knew they had just been a part of something big.  It's also clear, though, that in many ways June 4th, 1942 was the worst day of his life.  Very shortly before the big attack, he had a talk with his best friend, Tom Eversole, about what was being loaded onto his plane: a Mk.13 torpedo.  Lt Eversole flew a TBD Devastator in VT-6, and after the earlier missions the Enterprise had been on, raids on the Marshall islands, Admiral Halsey had made it clear that as long as he was in command, not a single TBD would ever go to the flight deck carrying a torpedo.  Admirals Fletcher and Spruance had other ideas.  As their conversation came to an end, Kleiss went to his plane thinking his friend was going to die.  Worse, he believed that Eversole thought he was going to die, too.  Even worse, they both knew it would be for nothing: all Mk.13 torpedoes had a flawed trigger mechanism that prevented it from actually exploding when it hit a target.  That usually wasn't a big deal though, since the Mk.13 also tended to malfunction when dropped from a height into the water... kinda like the way a torpedo bomber releases a torpedo.

In a very real way, reading Never Call Me A Hero brought the Battle of Midway to life in a way my prior reading never did.  We all know the names, of course: Dick Best, Earl Gallaher, Wade McCluskey, and many others.  But that's pretty much all they are: names.  But to Dusty Kleiss, they were friends, bosses, someone he had lunch with the day before.  Pilots that he had known for a year or more, some that he just barely knew, even one that he disliked intensely.  More than anything else, that's the value of the book: it gives a human touch to the titanic events of June 4th thru 6th, 1942.  They call it the battle that changed the course of the war.  For Kleiss, it changed his life forever.  He tells us in a matter-of-fact way about the actual attack runs he performed on the Kaga, the Hiryu, and later the Mikuma, gives us some feeling about what it was like to swoop down on a target and plant a bomb dead center, but it feels... I'm not sure how to put it.  Almost detached, but with a huge amount of emotion just behind the facade.  It's a fascinating part of the book, not just the tale being told, but how it's being told as well.  We also get to see a part of the battle that I'm not entirely sure has been talked about before: what it was like afterwards.  Knowledge that they'd won a huge victory, bringing a measure of vengeance to the men and ships killed at Pearl Harbor just a few days under six months earlier... but also his reaction to returning from the first attack and seeing just four stunned men sitting in VT-6's ready room.  Realizing that his own squadron  had taken losses that would have been considered catastrophic a few days earlier, but now meant that VS-6 had more remaining crewmen than the others on the Enterprise.   The intense anger when The Powers That Be tried to send the dive bombers on a ridiculously long search/attack mission... with 1000lb bombs slung underneath, restricting the amount of fuel they could carry, and the resulting yelling match between the squadron leaders and the bridge staff.  Eventually, the satisfaction of a job done well. 

After Midway, Kleiss was reassigned, leaving the Enterprise and VS-6 for a training position on the mainland, teaching trainees how to be dive bomber pilots.  Once the war ended, he bounced around the Navy high command in technical billets.  For example, he was in charge of the team that designed (well, modified a British design) and installed the steam catapults on the new USS Enterprise (CVN-65).  After leaving the Navy, he became a high school physics teacher.  And he never talked about Midway.

Until Walter Lord began writing Incredible Victory, his outstanding book on the Battle of Midway... and the first to really use statements from the men who were there.  Marines in their slit trenches on the sandy atoll, riding out the Japanese attack.  Army B-17 crewmen, harassing the Japanese fleet from 25000 feet.  Navy backseat gunners.  Fighter pilots.  Dive bomber pilots.  Even after a six-page reply to Lord's written questions, Kleiss remained reluctant to speak about Midway.  Though it's never explicitly stated in the book, I suspect there was a bit of survivor's guilt involved.  He does wonder why he was allowed to live when his friends and comrades died around him.  On those occasions when family of his friends in VS-6 wrote him, asking for recollections of their father or grandfather, he always had trouble replying... because such-and-such died when his Dauntless caught fire and burned down just before crashing into the ocean.  Then, in 1992, something changed.  It was 50 years later, and he realized that he didn't just want to talk about those wonderful, awful days in June, he had to.  He began attending conferences and anniversaries as a guest of honor, mainly because it was a great way to reconnect with his old buddies from the Enterprise, but to share his role in the battle as well.  Finally towards the end of his life, his goal was to get his memoirs written and published before the 75th Anniversary of Midway.  N. Jack "Dusty" Kleiss didn't live to see his autobiography published, having passed away on April 23, 2016, but he knew it would be.

Never Call Me A Hero doesn't tell us anything about the events of Midway that we didn't already know.  What it does do is distill everything down to the level of one human caught in the middle of the greatest victory the US Navy has ever had.  It makes us connect with the man, the pilot, the dive bomber pilot, of the Enterprise in a way no other book has before or will again.  It's a fascinating story of a man in the middle of history, and who played a major supporting role in how the history resolved.  If you are a Midway historian, you will want to read this book.  If you like biographies, you'll want to read this book.  The book is not essential to understand the Battle of Midway, but you will come away with a better appreciation for the human side of war.  It wasn't just SBDs and A6M2s and Kates and Buffalos.  There were real people in those cockpits, people who lived and died due to their skill, or the skill of their enemies, or just the luck of the draw.  That's important to remember.  "Dusty" Kleiss never considered himself a hero... the men who never came back, they were the heroes, he said... but though he might have denied it, he was certainly a brave man who influenced the direction of the world on those three days in June, 1942.  It's a good story and well told.  It's a fitting memorial to the Last Dive Bomber, and to the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.

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February 19, 2017

A Dutchman's Story

Over at reddit, there's a certain community called "askhistorians", where history questions are given serious answers by professional historians or knowledgeable amateurs.  The most prolific and responsible responders become "flaired users", considered the go-to people on their particular specialties.  If a flaired user is answering a question in their specialty, there's a very good chance indeed that they know what they're talking about.  I'm lucky enough to have convinced people that I know what I'm talking about and earned my flair ("Pacific Theater - World War 2")  back during the unemployment time.

As I was taking it easy on my knee (doing nicely, thankyouverymuch!) Saturday afternoon, I wandered into askhistorians to see what was going on.  One of the questions was quite interesting: a young man's grandfather was held in a POW camp in Japan at the end of the war and claimed that he saw a nuclear explosion.  Where could he have been held, and how did he get there?  I didn't know, but I wanted to find out.  So I started digging into the intarwebbz with what little information I had:

1) Grandfather was Dutch, living in the East Indies.
2) We had his name.
3) He had to have been held near Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

It was unsurprising to me that there was information about Japan's POW camps on the 'web.  What did surprise me was that one of the best sites was from Japan itself.  And oh my, it had a list of every POW camp on Japanese soil, broken out by location of the administrative center.  And what do you know?  Both Hiroshima and Fukuoka, which is just north of Nagasaki, were admin centers for POW camp networks.  A quick perusal of nationalities held in the Hiroshima camps made it clear that Grandpa was likely held in a Fukuoka camp: at war's end, only 500 Dutch nationals were held near Hiroshima, while around 3700 were in the vicinity of Nagasaki.

So it was possible that Grandpa could have been in the vicinity of one of the bombs.  I was almost ready to call it a night, when I hit a gold mine of information.  This site was devoted to Allied POWS in Japanese hands, both in Japan and elsewhere.  And there, in the middle of a cluttered index page, was a jewel beyond compare: the POW rosters of each Fukuoka camp at the time they were liberated.  Better still, they were official records, pdf'd from the National Archives and Records Administration.  There were some 20 or so reports, one for each camp.

As is my wont on any sort of project like this, I started from the back... and after about ten or 15 minutes of searching, I opened the roster for Fukuoka Camp #23, which held mostly Dutch prisoners.  I quickly jumped to the correct initial and started looking.  And then, about two hours after I had read the original question, I found him.

To say I was excited would something of an understatement.  He really could have seen the bomb over Nagasaki!  I posted my findings, then started phase II of the search: trying to find where Camp 23 was located.  This took no time at all.  On another page of the site with Camp #23's roster were photographs of each camp, whatever was available.  For #23, there was only one... a remarkably sharp aerial shot.  And there at the top was the lat/long of where the pic was taken... a quick wrestle with Googlemaps, cursed be its name, got me to where I was looking.

The red star was the rough location of Fukuoka #23, some 54 miles from Nagasaki as the crow flies.  The only thing was that Mt Tara was directly between the two points, but as it turns out it's only just barely a mountain, measuring in at just over 1000m in height.  The Nagasaki bomb exploded around 500m over the city.

After all the searching, I pretty much had the answer.  Grandpa probably didn't see the flash of the detonation, but certainly could have seen the smoke cloud, and probably heard something of the explosion.  Satisfied, I finished updating my post and took a nap.

When I woke up this morning, it was to an inbox filled with comments, a notification that someone had given me a month of "reddit gold", and the revelation that my comment had been linked to by reddit's "best of" page... and one more thing.

Another reddit user found Grandpa's name in the lists for another Fukuoka camp, #14... which was less than two kilometers from Ground Zero.  It was totally destroyed by the blast, with seven POW deaths.  Despite this, Camp #14 stayed in operation until it was liberated in September.  I did some quick digging and found there was no discrepancy: the report the other user found was of all POWs to have held in the camp, not the list of who was there when it was liberated.  Clearly Grandpa had been moved to #23 at some time before the bomb dropped.  It did, however, allow me to partially answer the OTHER part of the poster's original question:  how did Grandpa get there?

It turned out that most of the Dutch POWs were brought to Fukuoka #14 in April 1943, on one of the lesser-known Hell Ships, the Hawaii Maru.  It only made two voyages in that role before being used as a troop transport instead.  While conditions were as bad in the ship as in any other Hell Ship, remarkably few prisoners died on board. 

I do believe the results of my research falls into the category of "a good day's work".  I'm stupidly pleased with myself, I am.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:42 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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