Topic: Rumors - Part 7
started by: Ken Hackler
Posted by Ken Hackler on Dec. 28 2002,12:12Yet another rumor …
Burl Burlingame's book "Advance Force Pearl Harbor" is one of the worst books ever written about the attack. It is a collection of rumor and speculation that supports Burlingame's own beliefs.
Burlingame was recently interviewed by Oliver North for the television series "War Stories with Oliver North." The show aired December 8, 2002, and the topic was the midget submarine portion of the Pearl Harbor attack. Burlingame made a number of comments that I would address except for the fact that it is not worth the breath to do so. However, North did plug Burlingame's book, which was recently rescued from its well-deserved obscurity by the U.S. Naval Institute Press. Unfortunately, a new group of unsuspecting readers may now be subjected to his half-truths and misrepresentations, and may well believe it to be true.
For example, page 291 of Burlingame's book contains the following short passage:
"It didn't take much to rattle nerves. On Friday the 12th, the same day that Rochefort's analysis concluded that enemy submarines must still be around Pearl Harbor, and as the harbor settled into a routine of ship salvage and clean-up, Radioman First Class Aubrey E. Cox reported for duty. He was posted to the Magnetic Survey Group, one of the few sailors working at Fort Kamehameha, near the entrance of Pearl Harbor.
Cox's specialty was the Angus-Esterline Fluxmaster, which was, for its day, a wonder. It monitored slight variations in the Earth's magnetic field along a given track, like the entrance to Pearl Harbor through the anti-submarine nets. If a big ship went by, a needle made a big jump on a continuously feeding paper tape. The smaller the ship, the smaller the jiggle.
Cox was watching the tape just after 8 a.m. that day when a ship went by, and accordingly, marked its passage on the tape. Another ship followed, and did the same. But, halfway between the two tracings, was a smaller, but clearly identifiable, magnetic tracing.
He had seen nothing go by, at least on the surface. Cox called over a captain, who looked at the tape, and then looked out the window. He saw only two ships. He said not to worry about it, and walked away."
It continues on the following page, adding the submarine scare of a week or so following the attack to the story, but not following the facts. Burlingame was following the conglomeration of rumor told by whomever he got the story from.
There are a number of things about this story that need to be looked at more closely.
First, I have been unable to find ANY man named Aubrey E. Cox in any Navy unit at Pearl Harbor. However, there was an Aubrey E. Price, and he was a Radioman Second Class (RM2). According to the USS Vireo Action Report for the December 7 attack, Cox was assigned to Vireo, which was at the Coal Docks on the morning of December 7, 1941. I interviewed the Executive Officer of the Vireo, retired Navy Captain Elliot Steinman, on March 9, 2001. He stated that Cox was never reassigned to work at another Navy facility during the time Vireo was at Pearl. Cox was promoted to Radioman First Class (RM1) sometime after Pearl Harbor, and was later killed in action near Guadalcanal.
< VIREO Pearl Harbor Action Report >
It seems to be an almost astronomical coincidence that there would be two Navy radiomen stationed in Pearl Harbor at that time with the name Aubrey E. anything.
Is it me or does something smell fishy?
Next, there is the 14th Naval District Harbor Control Post Watch Officer's Log for the month of December 1941 (as contained in the Roberts Commission, Exhibit 47, Navy Packet 2). This document is not yet available online. The log contains the following entries for December 12, 1941:
0605 THORNTON underway. Out at 0655.
0617 BOGGS underway. Out at 0700.
0640 Plane forced down - in need of assistance.
0650 THORNTON to rescue.
0706 DALE underway - out at 0745.
0823 (Intercepted) Ship bearing 122. Distance 142 miles is enemy sub.
0826 One PBY 0830 P.H. going out Pos. 122 142 miles.
0830 One naval aux. Leaving Honolulu Harbor escorted by two destroyers for P.H. "Jupiter"
0842 CROSSBILL entered.
0843 ASH cleared.
There are other entries within a few hours that morning of other ships entering or leaving Pearl Harbor, including the USS Keosanqua at 1027. She was towing degaussing gear, which is electrical equipment used by the Navy to nullify the magnetic field around the steel hulls of ships.
Notice that in the time frame mentioned by Burlingame's rumor, several ships did leave Pearl Harbor, but not exactly in the right time frame. USS Thornton and Boggs both left before 8 a.m., as did USS Dale. Also notice that a submarine was reported in that same time period, 142 miles away.
So what do we have? We have a story about a man on watch five days after the attack, who says that he saw something on a paper trace around 0800 in the morning. We have ships in the channel at about that time, and we have a submarine reoprt at about that time. The man, by the way, is probably not who Burlingame claims based on the name.
Here's what I think -
Someone at the Harbor Control Post told a war story years later, and in the process embellished it quite a bit. He incorporated possible glitches to sensors with a submarine report, and also included parts of the Opana Radar Station story. In that story (which IS true), two young soldiers were operating a radar station for practice and experience, when they saw a large blip on the radar's paper trace (also included in the Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings). They reported it to a senior officer, who told them to "forget it."
I emailed Burl Burlingame about this last year, and he responded that he did not create the story, but rather, copied it from another civilian publication (which he could not identify without digging through his notes again).
The bottom line is that Burlingame says he was not the originator of this war story, but he did pass it along in his book without bothering to check it out. Hardly what one can consider responsible journalism.
Finally, there is Burlingame's speculation on page 432 of his book, that this was possibly the fifth midget submarine that might have "sprinted into the harbor later that week."
I'd like Burl Burlingame to explain to me how this midget could possibly have remained afloat in Hawaiian waters for a week following the attack with every plane and ship in the Oahu area searching madly for any Japanese vessel?
The midget submarines had sufficient internal volume to provide about 7 hours of air for two men. In addition, they had air tanks and CO2 scrubbers that gave an extra 5 or 6 hours of underwater time on the first day only (they would have been expended without any way to replenish them after that).
The midget submarines had a battery charge that might conceivably have been saved for five days by shutting everything down and not running any equipment, but where was this imaginary midget during those five days? They did not have enough air to remain submerged for more than 8 hours after the first day, so they could not remain underwater for the entire day. Where did they hide while the sun was up?
Sorry folks, this is yet another example of Burlingame's penchant for rumor and sensationalism, and it has no basis in fact.