Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The List 4992

The List 4992 TGB

To All,

I hope that your week has been going well.



This day in Naval History May 9, 2019


While off the Isle of Pines (now named Isla de la Juventud) near the south coast of Cuba, the screw gunboat Wyandotte captures the slaver William, which carries 570 Africans.


Lt. Cmdr. Richard E. Byrd and Chief Aviation Pilot Floyd Bennett report reaching the North Pole in their heavier-than-air-flight aircraft. Both receive the Medal of Honor for this event.


USS Wasp (CV 7) launches 47 RAF Spitfires, British carrier Eagle accompanies Wasp and launches 17 additional Spitfires.


German submarine U 249 surrenders to PB4Y-1 Liberator from (FAW 7) off the Scilly Islands, England, becoming the first to do so after hostilities ceased in Europe.


USS Ashland (LSD 48) is commissioned in New Orleans, La. Following the ceremony, the dock landing ship sails for its homeport at Little Creek, Va.


A South Korean fishing vessel collides with the port side, amid ship of USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) while the guided-missile cruiser is conducting routine operations in international waters. No one is injured in 
the incident.

Thanks to CHINFO

Executive Summary:

Today's national headlines include North Korea launching another projectile today and additional information on the students and security guard who stopped two gunmen at a Denver high school. Speaking to Defense News, Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer said there is now a "red line" when it comes to ships operating with lapsed certifications in the Pacific Fleet. "It's incumbent upon me that before I put my ships out on operations, that they are fully trained and certified to do that mission," Sawyer said. "If a ship was being tasked to do something and it wasn't fully trained and certified, it just wouldn't even get that far." Addressing an audience at Sea-Air-Space 2019, Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said that increasing the Navy's readiness requires a close partnership with the industrial base reports Seapower Magazine. Additionally, Stars and Stripes reports that USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) joined vessels from the Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and Republic of Philippines Navy on a weeklong sail through the South China Sea.

Today in History May 9


Christopher Columbus leaves Spain on his final trip to the New World.


The first newspaper cartoon in America appears.


U.S. troops under William Henry Harrison take Fort Meigs from British and Canadian troops.


Union General John Sedgwick is shot and killed by a Confederate sharpshooter during fighting at Spotsylvania. His last words are: "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist--"


Threatened by the advancing French army, the Austrian army retreats across the River Sesia in Italy.


German and French forces fight the Battle of Artois.


Explorers Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett make the first flight over the North Pole.


Fascist Italy captures the city of Addis Abba, Ethiopia and annexes the country.


The German submarine U-110 is captured at sea along with its Enigma machine by the Royal Navy.


King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy abdicates his throne and is replaced by Umberto I.


A laser beam is successfully bounced off the moon for the first time.


The House Judiciary Committee begins formal hearings on Nixon impeachment.


Thanks to Dr Rich

Some great aviation stories from WW-II …

Boyington came to Pax River a couple of times when I was there to speak to the TPS students … each time, after he left, one of the instructors would come up and say "there's more to the story … take it all w. a grain of salt" …

Thanks to Shadow

Dear Folks,

Was having my Monday Morning "Bubba Breakfast" at Amelia Island this morning; when Mike Collins mentioned something he'd just read about a Navy Captain, Intel Officer, who happened to be on a Navy Submarine on a secret mission that was attacked and forced to surface by a Japanese Destroyer near the Philippines. As the ship's Captain ordered everyone to abandon ship and scuttle the boat… the Intel Captain looked up and said… "I can't, I know too much and if they break me, many will die" or words to that effect. He said he would stay and go down with the ship. As the Skipper closed the hatch on the tower… he looks down and sees the Captain, sitting down and staring at a picture of his wife and kids. I believe he was later awarded the Medal of Honor. He knew of the "Enigma" machine and that we'd broken the Japanese codes and were reading the German codes as well… this man had sacrificed his life to prevent his being tortured to the point of breaking. Incredible story.

The reason I bring this up is, as Naval Aviators… we... on occasion were exposed to incredible human beings, who triumphed over overwhelming odds and adversity… to accomplish and do things almost beyond belief. Their stories were both inspiring, motivating and sometimes even told in a humorous fashion… and sometimes so lugubrious and painful they... brought us to tears.

I have often told people that the greatest gift aviation has given to me… was not all the neat airplanes I got to fly along the way… but the extraordinary people that I was able to meet instead. They cover the spectrum. From fellow pilots…to mechanics, maintainers… genius and brilliant designers and engineers… artists, photographers, historians… all the way down to good ole boy shade tree doers.

I've always wanted to write a series of stories about men and women I've met along the way who shared their lives with me… who inspired me, who counseled me… who made my life fuller and more importantly educated me and brought perspective to life. There were so many… most of them I met through aviation. A lot of them are well known public figures… most of them are men and women most have never heard of. The proverbial... "Ordinary men and women who had done extraordinary things". I'd like to share a few with you over the next few weeks. Y'all don't have to read them… I'll headline each one with the word "People" stop when you see that and you can delete it and move on…. But if they move you and you have questions' I'll try my best to answer them.

Gonna start with a guy hardly anybody ever heard of. I met him when I was assigned to the A-4 training squadron at MCAS Yuma. His name was Fred Turnbull. Fred was our squadron Tech Rep for Douglas Aircraft… our personal A-4 expert. But oh Lord… he was so much more. He was a retired Navy Captain who retired as the Commander of the Navy's Aircraft Overhaul and Repair Facility at Alameda. He was also a WW II Fighter Pilot… flying the F6F Hellcat. I met him because I was almost always working in the Maintenance Department as my collateral duty, besides being a pilot. My office in VMA-102 was shared with Fred. For some reason, he took me under his wing and shared more knowledge with me than I could ever have imagined in a very short period of time. Within weeks, it was like a graduate course level of NAMTRADET classes. I could go on, but I'm gonna shift to one of those extraordinary events in Fred's life.

While Strafing a Japanese airfield on Formosa, Fred's Hellcat took a devastating hit from Japanese ground fire. As he struggled to make it offshore, his plane caught on fire and he was forced to bail out. He had made it past the beach, but prevailing winds blew his parachute back and he came down just a few yards from the water on the sand. He was immediately accosted by a Japanese Army foot patrol and they proceeded to use Fred's body for bayonet practice. He was stabbed deeply, multiple times. Finally, as Fred passed out, they left him for dead, right where he'd come down on the beach. Fred had no idea how long he lay there, slowly bleeding to death.

In my life… I have often used the phrase "Divine Intervention"… my simple way of acknowledging the "Big Guy" up above, as an explanation for some event that defies any other adequate or suitable description in my mind. Laying there… on his last breaths… Fred was about to experience one of those events that fit that description in my mind… He was happened upon by a second Japanese patrol.

Fred was barely lucid by this time and knew this group intended to finish what the first patrol had started… but then something strange happened. Instead of piercing his body again with bayonets… he was carefully lifted and the next memory he had was waking up in a Japanese Field Hospital. Hovering near his bed was a young Japanese Officer. He had been the patrol leader that had rescued him from certain death. As Fred became fully conscious, the young officer leaned over and told him in acceptable English… that he was a Christian… had studied in Nebraska and had ordered that he be treated for his wounds and would stay nearby to make sure he was treated well until he recovered. He kept his word and dropped by every day to check on Fred; even acted as an interpreter for the doctors treating Fred's wounds to facilitate his treatment.

As Fred approached full recovery… the young officer came by one day and informed Fred that he, along with other POW's were going to be placed aboard a ship and moved to mainland Japan. He wished Fred well and that was the last he saw of him. The next day, Fred was placed on a Japanese cargo ship along with over a hundred other prisoners from various nations. As they left the harbor and went into the open sea… it wasn't long before they started hearing a strange noise. If you've never been in a small boat as a Navy ship leaves a harbor with its'' active sonar on… you might not believe it, but you can both hear and feel the sonar waves as they pass through the water. What Fred and the others were hearing, was an American submarine "pinging" their ship in preparation to launch a torpedo! Knowledge of what was happening spread through the prisoners in seconds… they were in the hold of the ship and almost in a panic! Finally someone found a metal object of some type and leaned against the hull and started tapping morse code on the metal hull of the ship… "POWs on board… don't shoot"! He repeated it over and over. Now Fred said he doesn't know if the sub understood, but what he does know, was they were never fired on… while an escort ship was. Maybe the "Big Guy" was looking out for them?

When they arrived in Japan, they were interned in a POW camp. This was in the last years of the war… conditions were harsh and both the prisoners and guards were suffering from malnutrition. Only the Japanese Officers seemed to eat well. Beatings were common and often. Once a day they received a small bowl of soup with scraps of vegetables and some unknown meat in it and a slice of bread. Dysentery was rampant. The Japanese policy was… if you were not in line to eat… you didn't eat. Many of the prisoners were so weak, they could not walk. Some of the men would secrete small morsels in their cheeks like chipmunks and would go back to their quarters to give it to those too weak to walk. It got to be a critical situation and a camp meeting was held by the POW's to try to figure out what to do? By know, Fred was back in fairly good condition. The fields around the POW camp were mostly small "truck farms" with Vegetables and rice primarily. Now the notion that any American POW could successfully escape and evade in Japan was virtually impossible. After all, their white skin set them apart like a sore thumb. It would be suicidal. The POW's and the Japanese were well aware of it and Fred said security was somewhat lax because of it. At the camp meeting it was decided to let Fred and two others, attempt to escape at night… go out in the fields and pull vegetables and then sneak back in the camp. Each man knew if they were discovered, it would mean an instant execution. They did it anyway… one at a time… they would go out, pick what they could and return under the cover of darkness. Many lives were saved by their bold efforts.

Then it was discovered Fred had one other talent that caused him to be removed from the food gatherers. Fred was one of only three men whom I've known, that possessed what I call, a photographic memory. When this was discovered by the other POW's, the camp leaders decided Fred was to be fed the names of every POW in the camp… and those who had died. He was also told the conditions of their death and when. Every night, he had to recite all the names and facts… it became a nightly ritual.

I should note something here… when the war ended and the camp was liberated… Fred was not allowed to return to America with his fellow POW's… instead he was retained in order to testify at the War Crimes Trials, that were held in Japan after the war. He was a walking encyclopedia of what went on in his camp and others that fellow POW's were transferred from. He spent days and days, if not weeks, being interrogated by various intelligence officers. One such debriefing led to one of the more humorous events Fred was involved in. A day came when two new Officers came in and they were different than the others who'd questioned him daily. Fred said these two seemed to be uptight and not overtly friendly as all the other debriefers were. The reason was, they wanted to know who among the POW's had told the Japanese about the new Grumman F7F "Tigercat" Fighter to the Japanese? They had been investigating this disclosure and had nailed it down that the information was passed at Fred's camp… they had a traitor in their midst!

Fred was gobsmacked! He knew immediately what they were talking about… but he doubted they would ever believe his story… after all, the truth was indeed, stranger than fiction. Here's what had happened.

There came a time when Fred and the other Navy pilot POW's were called to interrogation by the Japanese Camp Commander. What he wanted to know was the facts and specs about Grumman's new carrier based fighter designated the F7F? The truth was, not a one of them had a clue that the airplane even existed? They had been deployed in the Pacific prior to being captured and had never heard of it… to a man, they all said they knew nothing about it. After the first round of interrogations, the Commander decided to beat the information out of them. The beatings were brutal… some almost died as a result. One night, after a particularly brutal beating, one of the prisoners said… "It was so bad… if I knew what it was, I would have told them". That statement led to a decision by Camp Leaders to come up with something to stop the beatings in order to save lives.

What they decided to do was to conjure up an airplane that was so preposterous… that while plausible to a layman… no way such a carrier based aircraft could exist. This is what they came up with to tell the Japanese in order to stop the beatings…

1.) It was a twin engine fighter (everybody knew the Navy didn't have any twin engine fighters).

2.) It had tricycle landing gear (nobody had ever heard of a carrier based plane that had tricycle landing gear)

3.) It would have two P&W 2800 engines.

4.) It would be huge… over 50 feet long and a similar wingspan. (How ridiculous)

5,) it would weigh over 20,000 pounds (Again, ridiculous)

6.) It was fast… over 400 knots (Are you kidding me)

They went on and on… but in the end… this fantasy... this preposterous… lie. Turned out to be a nearly concise description of what the F7F really was! A POW lie… was thought to be a major intelligence breach. Fred said they 'didn't' believe him at first and suspected he may have been the source? But when they contacted other camp leaders back in the states, they confirmed the story. Yes, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

BTW… I told Corkey Meyer the story years ago and we contacted Fred, who once again confirmed it. Corkey said it was one of the neatest stories he'd ever been told… and since Corkey was a top test pilot for Grumman in those days… he got a great laugh out of it. Who'd a thunk it?

As I got to know Fred better, we became friends and I eagerly looked forward to picking his brain. I'm a firm believer in learning from others… especially those who had so much more life experience than I had. One day, two of VMA-214's taxied by and I just casually mentioned that 214 was Boyington's old squadron. Fred looked at me and said… "Boyington… one of the world's true great assholes". I looked at him in surprise and before I could say anything, Fred said, "You Marines know the legend, I knew the miserable bastard that he really is. He was in our POW camp". Holy shit I thought; there's got to be a story behind that comment and I couldn't wait to hear it. I looked at Fred and said… "I'm all ears". Fred said, "Why don't you and Wendy come over for dinner Saturday night and I'll tell you all about it then". I nodded in agreement and looked forward to what Fred had to say. It wasn't pretty.

Boyington arrived after Fred had already been there a while… and from the start it was obvious that even the Japanese looked on him as some kind of celebrity POW. Boyiington had been shipped in from some other camp… while thin, he was not emaciated like Fred and the others in his camp. Boyington was aloof and not very talkative when he first arrived. Fred said that wasn't too un-normal… others had been quiet when they first arrived also. But almost immediately they were surprised when Boyington was assigned to work in the Japanese "Officer's Kitchen". No other POW had ever worked there. A nice elderly lady was the Chief cook and one thing became very apparent… while all the other POW's were starving to death… Greg Boyington was gaining weight!

Now this was at the time when Fred (before his memory was discovered) and others had actually risked their lives to escape at night and steal vegetables from nearby fields to try and keep those too weak to walk, alive. As it became obvious that Boyington was getting extra rations while working in the kitchen… the Camp seniors had a meeting to decide what to do about it. It was decided to confront Boyington and encourage him to try to steal some food for the very weak since he obviously had special access; some meat here, rice or vegetables there… anything to help the starving. When approached… Boyington flat out refused! Too risky… he had a good deal and wasn't going to do anything to screw it up. Over time, he was approached by many to please help… each time he refused. While Boyington was being hailed as a hero in the United States… he was being shunned by his fellow POW's, with utter contempt. There were other instances that made things even worse. By the time they were released Fred said Boyington probably had just one friend left in the whole camp and he was no jewel himself. Bird's of a feather.

I had no reason to doubt anything Fred said. And there came a time when something happened that erased any doubt I may have had. Harry Gann called down and invited Fred and I to go to the Reno Air Races with him. Since neither of us had been to one, we decided to meet Harry in Reno and attend the event. Fred and I drove up from Yuma and Harry drove up from Orange County. We all stayed at Bally's. Harry had acquired ramp passes for us and we set out early in order to take as many pictures as possible before the big crowd arrived. We'd been there a couple of hours… taken a bunch of pictures until the crowd swelled so much it was too difficult to get a good picture in the pits… so we decided to do a walk around. In less than five minutes, we came near the fence line separating the pits form the general public, when I saw Fred stop dead in his tracks… and he was looking right at one, Gregory (Pappy) Boyington! Holy chit! I grabbed Harry's elbow and he stopped too. Boyington was sitting at a table selling autographed copies of "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep". Fred only hesitated for a few seconds and then started for Boyington's table… Harry and I followed somewhat behind. Fred walked right up to Boyington… when Boyington saw him he had a surprised look on his face… it was obvious he recognized Fred. He quietly said, "Hello Fred… how have you been"? From where I was standing I could see Fred's neck turning red… he was almost shaking. He looked down and said (never forget this)… "You're here signing books and all these idiots think you're a hero. But I know the truth, you're one of the most despicable human beings I've even known"! Boyington never said a another word… he sheepishly slid back in his chair and turned and walked into the RV parked behind him. Fred then muttered something and turned and walked away also. Harry and I caught up to him and he turned and said, "I'm sorry guys, but I hate that son of a bitch more than anyone else in this world".

Later that night he told Harry and me other reasons he felt the way he did… and I think I finally understood the length, depth and breadth of his hatred. But that day wasn't the end of it.

Over a decade later… Harry Gann was retiring from McDonnell-Douglas. The Blue Angels were to honor Harry with a special presentation for his years of service to both McD and The Blue Angels as well. Harry invited Fred and myself as guests of honor to the presentation at "Trader's" after the Blues final show of the season in Pensacola. Fred was really there to represent the company… I was there as a friend. The presentation was actually anti-climatic and after it was over, we went back to our hotel. It had been a long day and we all went right away to our rooms for a well needed rest. I was just getting undressed when my hotel phone rang… it was Fred. "Meet me in the hotel bar ASAP… Harry is already on his way down". With that, he hung up!

I really didn't want to go… I was tired… and I knew Harry was tired as well. But if he was going, I'd get dressed and go down too. When I got there… Harry and Fred were sitting at the corner of the bar. I walked up and then Fred stood and announced… "My friends, I have called you here to make a toast… my life is complete, I outlived the son of a bitch"! He then points to the TV behind the bar that was silent… it was on CNN and the crawl that rolled across the screen said the following; "World War Two Marine Hero Gregory "Pappy" Boyington dies". It went on to say he was a Medal of Honor winner and leader of the famed Black Sheep Squadron. Fred then handed us each a glass and we toasted. Not much else was said about Boyington that night… we all retired to our rooms for the journey home the next day. It was the last time I saw Fred. We talked over the years… but never got to see each other again.

Fred Turnbull… Naval Aviator… Real American Hero… I was blessed to know him.


There are a lot of items like this one that come up in discussions on Boyington. Aside from his conduct as a POW another is his amount of Kills. There are many who testify that they are inflated coming from the Flying Tigers.


Thanks to NHHC and Admiral Cox and his H-Grams

75th Anniversary of World War II
"Black May"—The Tide of the Battle of the Atlantic Turns

On 9 June 2018, at the age of 105, Reinhard Hardegan, the last-known surviving German U-boat commander passed away. Kapitän-Leutnant Hardegan commanded the first German U-boat to reach American waters after Pearl Harbor and commenced attacks on 15 January 1942, achieving significant success thanks to U.S. unpreparedness (and the lights of U.S. cities that silhouetted his targets) and resulting in what became known as the "Second Happy Time" for the U-boats and months of extremely heavy Allied shipping losses in the western Atlantic. (Of note, at the age of 100, Hardegan had a great quote in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Now I sink putts. Not ships!"—Washington Post obituary, 19 June 2018.)

However, on 24 May 1943— in what the Germans referred to as Schwarzer Mai ("Black May")—Grossadmiral Karl Dönitz issued a general recall message as U-boat losses in the Atlantic reached unsustainable levels without inflicting sufficient losses on Allied shipping. "Black May" is generally considered the turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic, and it happened with surprising rapidity given the brutal see-saw convoy battles that characterized the first months on 1943 and saw very heavy losses on both sides. In May 1943, 43 U-boats were lost to all causes, equaling 25 percent of the operational force. Losses included Dönitz's son, aboard U-954, in an attack against convoy SC-130, in which five U-boats were lost without sinking any of the Allied ships. March 1943 had actually been the peak of the Atlantic convoy battles, with the Allies losing 120 ships and Germany losing 12 U-boats (15 in some sources). In May, the Allies lost 58 ships, while the German losses were three times greater than the worst month since the war began.

The Germans never really recovered after "Black May," although they were pursuing advanced technologies that had the potential to turn the tide back in their favor, but were unable to bring those on line in sufficient quantity before the war would end. There would still be hard-fought battles and losses on both sides in the Atlantic, but U.S. and Allied hunter-killer task groups would be on the offensive for the rest of the war. As important as the Battle of Midway was, a strong case can be made that the Battle of the Atlantic was even more important. Although not won in a single day as Midway was, had the Battle of the Atlantic, which stretched over the course of the entire war, been lost, Europe would likely be speaking German (or possibly Russian) and our world would be a very different place. For more about the turning of the tide in the Battle of the Atlantic, in particular the critical roles of intelligence, and advanced technologies, please see attachment H-019-4.

H-019-4: "Black May"—The Tide Turns in the Battle of the Atlantic

German U-boat U-118 attacked and sunk 12 June 1943 by aircraft from USS Bogue (ACV-9) (80-G-68694).

H-Gram 019, Attachment 4
Samuel J. Cox, Director NHHC
June 2018

There were many factors that caused the sudden turn of fortune in the Allies' favor during May 1943, and to say that any one of them was the decisive factor would not be accurate. However, to briefly re-cap the Battle of the Atlantic prior to May 1943, the battle had see-sawed throughout the course of the war to that point. In the months after the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, German U-boats had great success (the "First Happy Time"), but an insufficient number of submarines at the start of the war was a major factor in Great Britain's ability to survive the first year of the conflict despite heavy losses of both merchant ships and warships. However, effective use of convoys, improved ASW sensors, weapons, and tactics enabled the British to decrease their losses and make the U-boats pay a higher price. Nevertheless, the period 1940 to 1941 was very desperate for the British as the island nation faced acute shortages of just about everything, including fuel oil and food, which at times reached critical levels.

When the United States entered the war after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Germany immediately (unlike in World War I) sent U-boats to attack shipping right off the U.S. east coast. With the United States unprepared for the onslaught of "Operation Drumbeat," the result was unprecedented carnage at sea. For the U-boats, the first months of 1942 were the "Second Happy Time." For the Allies, they were a near-disaster that cost more lives, and many more ships, than Pearl Harbor. As the United States got its act together along the eastern seaboard in the late spring of 1942, the Germans shifted their operations to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, with initial great success. In the summer of 1942, Arctic convoy PQ-17 was also a disaster in which most of the ships carrying critical supplies to Russia were lost. (Although it is true that the amount of war material produced by the Soviet Union by itself dwarfed that provided to the Soviet Union by the United States and United Kingdom, the material that did get through—at great cost—came at a critical time when the Soviet Union was hanging on by a thread. Had it not been for the Allied supplies, the Soviet Union might not have survived long enough to build the hordes of tanks that eventually took the war to Berlin.)

Throughout late 1942 and early 1943, convoys fought their way across the Atlantic, and although U-boat losses increased, they were still manageable and the submarines were still inflicting serious losses on the convoys. However, increasingly capable and longer-range Allied air cover made operating in certain areas extremely dangerous for the U-boats, and the mid-Atlantic gap, where convoys were most vulnerable because they had no air cover, was getting smaller and smaller. The peak of pitched Atlantic convoy battles occurred in March 1943, when U-boats sank 567,000 tons of Allied shipping. (Note that statistics in the Battle of the Atlantic should be taken with a grain of salt, because many different sources use different frames of reference for how they count things.) Nevertheless, a lot of Allied shipping went to the bottom in March 1943, and the rate of loss would make a build-up for an early Allied invasion of Europe very problematic. In the space of one ten-day period in March, 40 Allied merchant ships would be sunk by U-boats in the Atlantic.

One key factor in the Battle of the Atlantic was the continuing war for intelligence by both sides, and, as in the battles at sea, it was very much a back-and-forth affair, sometimes without either side knowing it. One reason for the Germans' success was that their naval radio intelligence and code-breaking organization, "B-Dienst," was very good, and, from 1941 into most of 1943, the Germans were breaking and reading the British convoy codes fast enough to take operational action (although, like the Allies, the Germans were very careful in how they used code-breaking intelligence so as to not give away the fact that they were doing it). In fact, the British had no idea the Germans were reading their convoy-routing traffic. The British finally changed their convoy-routing code in June 1943 at the urging of the U.S. Navy cryptologic organization, OP20G.

The British had good initial success against the German Enigma encoding machine (which was an extraordinary electro-mechanical device that was close to impervious to being broken, even if a machine was captured). Nevertheless, the British had caught some early breaks with captured code books and development of "cribs" resulting from rare but periodic German communications security lapses that enabled the British to read a fair amount of Enigma code traffic at a useful pace, which they shared with the U.S. However, in February 1942, the German navy added a fourth rotor to their Enigma machines, which resulted in an astronomical (literally) increase in possible numeric combinations, making it impossible to break except by developing electro-mechanical devices even more sophisticated (and costly) than the Enigma machines. The new naval Enigmasystem was known as "Triton" by the Germans, and "M4 Shark" by the British. Partly as a result of the loss of ability to read Enigma traffic, convoy losses in the Atlantic in the latter half of 1942 were three times that of the same period in 1941.

The counter to the Enigma were massive machines, known as "bombes," which were a marvel of technology at the time, because they required extremely high quality control for components, which were in constant high-speed motion in order to brute-force their way through many millions of possible combinations. Even then, the machines, even when operating in large numbers, could not do it themselves. Code-breaking art by skilled cryptanalysts was still required to give the machines a chance of success. Nevertheless, with the advent of the four-rotor Enigma in the German navy, Britain's best source of Intelligence mostly dried up. (The German army and air force kept using the three-rotor device, so the Allies had much greater success breaking their communications.) The British could still read a German weather signals code and gain some intelligence about U-boat operations, but on 10 March 1943, the Germans switched to a new set of weather codes, and the British lost even that tenuous hold, which was one key factor in the high convoy loss rates in the latter half of March 1943.

Meanwhile, while the British were having serious production difficulties developing and building bombes (and enough of them) to work the four-rotor Enigma, the U.S. Navy had embarked on a hugely expensive crash program to do the same thing. In fact the U.S. bombe effort was given the same resource priority as the Manhattan Project (atom bomb development) and the technological challenges were arguably as great. The bombes were developed at the U.S. Naval Computing Machine Laboratory on the National Cash Register (NCR) compound in Dayton, Ohio. Cost overruns in the program were in the millions (in 1942 dollars). The first two "Desch" bombes, known as Adam and Eve, followed by Cain and Abel, were all prone to serious technical difficulties. For many months it appeared as if the Navy was pouring huge sums of money and resources (advanced materials) down a rat hole, all to the frustration of U.S. Navy cryptologist, who for the first year of the war were highly dependent on British intelligence.

Of note, the type of code-breaking employed against the Japanese was completely different than that employed against the Germans. The Japanese used old-fashioned paper-and-pencil code systems and didn't have Enigmamachines or an equivalent (except for the diplomatic "Purple" code) in any kind of scale operation. However, success against the Japanese contributed nothing to success against the Germans. Nevertheless, by the spring of 1943, the United States had overcome most of the technical challenges of the bombes, and was starting to build them in large numbers (hundreds would be required to perform the necessary calculations). The Navy also enlisted a small army of several hundred women (WAVES) to mind the hundreds of bombes that were put in operation in a commandeered women's college on Nebraska Avenue in Washington, DC (in what for many years after the war was the headquarters of Naval Security Group). This duty was not without danger, as the bombes were prone to throwing metal components at high velocity. In theory, the WAVES did not know the true purpose of the machines they were minding, other than that it was a extremely important top secret program to which they were sworn to a lifetime of secrecy (and the WAVES kept their oath until the end). Although the U.S. Navy bombes didn't play a significant role in "Black May," by the end of June 1943 they were having significant effects and results. For the duration of the war, the U.S. Navy code-breaking effort emerged into the lead against the Germans. (More on this in a future H-gram.)

Like the British, the Germans didn't think their codes were vulnerable either. As a result, the Germans were prolific communicators, which created vulnerability through techniques of traffic analysis and radio direction finding even during periods when the Allies could not read the contents of the messages. Grossadmiral Karl Dönitz, who had moved from commander of the German submarine force to supreme commander of the German navy (after Grossadmiral Erich Raeder had been relieved when Hitler became unenthused about the performance of the German surface navy), was in frequent communications with German U-boats, providing locations and routing of Allied convoys, and forming wolf packs of multiple submarines to attack the convoys. The Allies were trying just as hard to route the convoys away from where the wolf packs were forming, and the failure to do so in late March 1943 was a factor in the high convoy losses.

Led by the British, the Allies embarked on a crash program for high frequency radio-direction finding (HFDF) on both ships and aircraft, with such considerable and rapid success that the Germans did not really grasp their vulnerability to the technology. The Germans ascribed the sudden appearance of Allied anti-submarine ships and aircraft in unexpected places to a wide variety of other factors, particularly airborne radar and a belief that the British had developed an infrared (IR) sensor (abetted by false reports deliberately planted by the British as deception), which led the Germans to invest considerable resources in special paint for their submarines to imitate the optical properties of sea water, as well as a crash German program to develop IR sensors of their own, with some limited progress before the war ended.

For all the importance of intelligence in the overall Battle of the Atlantic, during the turning point in May, Allied ntelligence capability against the U-boats was at the weakest point of the entire war. Fortunately several other factors and technologies came to fruition at the same time, resulting in a radical shift of fortune.

The first factor was Allied air power, with significantly greater numbers of longer-range aircraft operating from increasing numbers of bases around the Atlantic, as well as from a growing number of small escort carriers, such as the USS Bogue (CVE-9), which played a significant role in operations against German submarines in May 1943. The modified, very long-range B-24 Liberator bombers closed the mid-Atlantic gap, and the escort carriers could provide near continues air cover to the convoy.

The U-boats were acutely vulnerable to aircraft attack, and the Germans even developed "flak" U-boats, designed with a heavy defensive anti-aircraft armament intended to duke it out on the surface with aircraft. The Allies received a rude shock (due to surprise) during the first encounter with a flak U-boat, before they quickly adapted and it became readily apparent that this was not one of the Germans' better ideas. The British, in particular, also resumed air attacks (after early heavy losses) against U-boats returning to their bases in occupied France on the Bay of Biscay. The last few miles of a U-boat patrol quickly become the most dangerous, and many were lost almost within sight of the safety of their massively reinforced U-boat pens. Increasingly equipped with airborne radar, ASW aircraft became significantly more dangerous and could attack at night when the U-boats preferred to surface to recharge their batteries. The preferred tactic by wolf packs was also a night surface attack; taking away the U-boats' sanctuary in the darkness had a major adverse effect on U-boat success and survival.

Another factor was sheer numbers. The anti-submarine production effort was given top priority (and U.S. Navy commanders felt the resulting shortages first-hand during the brutal battles around Guadalcanal in late 1942) but, by 1943, Allied (primarily U.S.) shipyards were cranking out more of everything: ships, aircraft, weapons, sensors. Even during the worst of the U-boat attacks, Allied ship building was keeping pace with losses (sometimes barely) while German shipyards were also keeping pace with their submarine losses. By May 1943, those curves had changed radically. U.S. shipyards were producing many more ships than the Germans could sink, and the Germans were losing more submarines that their shipyards could replace—hence, Dönitz's recall order on 24 May 1943. The Germans didn't make a concerted effort to resume submarine operations in the Atlantic until the fall of 1943, and from then on they were almost constantly on the defensive.

Rapidly improving Allied technology, and the tactics to use it effectively, coupled with advances in scientific operational analysis, also reached a key inflection point in May 1943. The new U.S. Navy short- range communications system, "Talk-Between Ships" (TBS), developed just before the start of the war, represented a significant advance over the CW 936 radio-telephones that had proved very effective when first introduced in World War I. New weapons technology included better sonar, the advent of sonobouys, and FIDO, which was termed the Mark 24 mine, but was actually a U.S. air-dropped passive acoustic homing ASW torpedo, introduced in March 1943.

Another weapons technology was the proliferation of the British-designed forward-throwing ASW Hedgehog depth bomb aboard both British and U.S. ships. (In the Pacific, in May 1944, USS England (DE-635) sank six Japanese submarines in as many days using Hedgehog). With the Hedgehog, the attacking surface ship did not have to first steam over the contact and drop depth charges in her wake, thus allowing the submarine much less time to take evasive maneuvers. Quickly recognizing the deadly threat posed by the Hedgehog (one in five Hedgehog attacks resulted in a kill, compared to one out of 80 for conventional depth charges), the Germans introduced the Falke ("Falcon") acoustic homing torpedo in mid-1943, which was in turn countered by the Allied Foxer noisemaking decoy. The Germans also developed the Wanze ("Tick") radar-warning device to try to counter increasingly deadly attacks by Allied aircraft equipped with microwave anti–surface vessel (ASV) radar. The Allies countered with radars at a frequency Wanze could not detect. In early May 1943, this 10-centimeter radar aboard aircraft detected all 26 attempts by U-boats to attack convoy ONS 5, which were driven off.

Greatly improved Allied tactics were primarily a function of hard-won lessons learned and experience. Commanders and crews had simply gotten better than they were earlier in the war. Scientific analysis was also used to refine tactics. With more assets, independent support groups could be placed at strategic points along the convoy routes, where they could more rapidly reinforce a convoy's organic escorts in the event the convoy came under wolf-pack attack. The German wolf-pack tactics (later used with great effect by U.S. submarines against the Japanese) and Allied support group tactics are arguably early examples of "swarm" tactics.

Allied operational capability had so improved by mid-1943 that it would have actually made more sense to draw the U-boats to the convoy rather than using Ultra (broken Enigma traffic) to avoid them, under the theory that the more U-boats that attacked, the more that could be sunk. Nevertheless, U.S. and British commanders balked at the idea of using convoys as "bait," instead choosing to employ hunter-killer task groups, often driven by intelligence on U-boat locations. Although use of the hunter-killer groups was raised to a fine art, they were resource-intensive and less efficient than letting the U-boats come to the target, but much better for the morale of those on the troopships.

Another major development in May 1943 was the creation of the U.S. Tenth Fleet on 20 May. CNO/COMINCH Admiral King directed that the responsibilities of technological development, scientific operational analysis, ASW doctrine, and training be combined in one command, along with significant intelligence capability. Although the Tenth Fleet did not have its own forces, it would serve as the central command responsible for protecting convoys and hunting down U-boats. Despite being stood up too late to effect the convoy battles in early 1943 or the turning of the tide, Tenth Fleet would have significant effect on the remainder of the Battle of the Atlantic, and would serve as a forerunner of the operational intelligence (OPINTEL) concept that served the U.S. Navy throughout the Cold War, integrating all types of intelligence into a very close operational cycle.

(Sources include The Secret in Building 26: The Untold Story of America's Ultra War Against the U-boat EnigmaCodes, by Jim DeBrosse and Colin Burke, 2004, "Turning Point in the Atlantic" by Commander In H. Ha, USN, in the April 2018 issue of Naval History magazine, and Information at Sea: Shipboard Command and Control in the U.S. Navy from Mobile Bay to Okinawa by Timothy S. Wolters, 2013, as well as a host of U-boat books in my personal library.)


Thanks to Robert

Subject: Interesting Photos



Thanks to Mike

Tech Support For Love

Dear Tech Support,

'Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slowdown in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0. In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as: Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such as: NBA 5.0, NFL 3.0 and Golf Clubs 4.1. Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and House cleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system. Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail. What can I do?

Dear Desperate,

"First keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while Husband 1.0 is an Operating System. Please enter command: <Ithoughtyoulovedme.html> and try to download Tears 6.2, and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update. If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.

However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1. Please note that Beer 6.1 is a very bad program that will download the Farting and Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do, DO NOT, under any circumstances, install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.)

In addition, please, do not attempt to re-install the Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend: Cooking 3.0 and Hot Lingerie 7.7.

Good Luck!

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