Eugene C. Sims and the “Ghost of Amelia Earhart”

June 27, 2015

Kwajalein Atoll  is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). Comprising 97 islands and islets, it has a land area of 6.33 square miles and surrounds one of the largest lagoons in the world, with an area of  839 square miles. Some 13,500 Marshallese citizens live on the atoll, most of them on Ebeye Island.

The southernmost and largest island in the atoll is Kwajalein Island, with a population of about 1,000, mostly Americans with a small number of Marshall Islanders and other nationalities, all of whom require express permission from the U.S. Army to live there. Kwajalein Island houses the mission control center for the Ronald Reagan Missile Defense Test Site, commonly referred to as the Reagan Test Site, which primarily functions as a test facility for U.S. missile defense and space research programs.

Roi-Namur has several radar installations and a small residential community of unaccompanied U.S. personnel who deal with missions support and radar tracking. Japanese bunkers and buildings from World War II are in good condition and preserved. Roi and Namur were originally separate islets that were joined by a causeway built predominately by Korean conscripted laborers working under the Japanese military.

Kwajalein Island itself is only about 1.2 square miles! Check out the photo above – that’s the whole thing.Yeah, around 3.5 miles long and less than a mile wide with an average elevation of 8 feet. The land area of the entire atoll is just over 6 square miles. But these little coral islands surround one of the largest lagoons in the world – about 840 square miles. Kwajalein Island houses the mission control center for the Ronald Reagan Missile Defense Test Site, commonly referred to as the Reagan Test Site, which primarily functions as a test facility for U.S. missile defense and space research programs. Kwajalein is one of 11 islands in the atoll that is operated by the U.S. military under a long term lease with the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

A 1943 pre-invasion map of Kwajalein Atoll.  Note location of Roi-Namur in the northernmost part of the atoll, where several eyewitnesses including  .S. military personnel have attested to the presence of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan in July 1937. The land area of the entire atoll is just over 6 square miles. But these little coral islands surround one of the largest lagoons in the world – about 840 square miles.

This brief introduction to Kwajalein is simply meant to help focus readers who may not be familiar with this Marshalls Islands atoll, located in the north-central Pacific about 1,500  miles from Saipan, which is always directly related to Amelia Earhart, at least in this blog.

Now to the point: The Jan. 7, 2003 edition of The Kwajalein Hourglass, the weekly newsletter at the U.S. Army facility at Kwajalein, ran an article, “Did Amelia Earhart land on Kwajalein Atoll?” by Eugene C. Sims, who was stationed  there as a GI in 1945 and returned to work as a civilian from 1964 to ’71, and from 1983 to ’86.

Sims recalled his youth in Oakland, California during the 1930s, and how he grew to idolize Earhart after seeing her at the local airport. When Fred Goerner’s book was published in 1966, Sims was working on Kwajalein; after reading it, he was inspired to pursue his own Earhart investigation. “I was surprised to hear them speak so openly about the white-skinned lady and man that came to Kwajalein in 1937,” Sims wrote.

An unidentified Marshallese man told Sims that as a twelve-year-old in 1937, “a large Japanese ship came into the harbor” and he saw “a white lady and man on the deck,” a rare sight in those times. Sims wrote that because Goerner had been denied access to Kwajalein in the early 1960s, “Goerner was never to learn [the] concrete proof that Amelia was on Kwajalein and Roi-Namur in 1937.”

In a future post, we’ll look at the previously unknown eyewitnesses Sims and others presented in the pages of The Kwajalein Hourglass, but today is for something different.  As I’ve done before when it’s appropriate, I remind readers that I’m presenting this information for your own discernment, and am neither endorsing it or dismissing it.

This is the inside of the cell at Saipan's old Garapan prison that is said to have been occupied by Amelia Earhart. Former Marine and Saipan veteran Henry Duda took it during his visit to Saipan for the 50th anniversary of the historic 1944 Battle of Saipan.

The inside of the cell at Saipan’s old Garapan prison that is said to have been occupied by Amelia Earhart. Former Marine and Saipan veteran Henry Duda shot this photo while attending commemoration ceremonies for the 50th anniversary of the historic Battle of Saipan in 1994.

In 1972 Sims was transferred to Agana, Guam, to set up a new business for Global Associates. He and his wife Betty remained on Guam for over eight years, and during that time Sims continued to learn more about the fate of Amelia Earhart. As an engineer and manager of the new business, he traveled extensively throughout Micronesia, and made weekly trips to Saipan, where he made friends with many of the island’s indigenous families. Some of them had lived on Saipan in the 1930s, and the subject of Earhart was discussed many times.

I contacted Sims in 2006 after his work in the Hourglass came to my attention, and he was happy to talk and share his findings. He also sent me a copy of the Winter 2002 Kwajaletter, a sister publication of the Hourglass, which featured a fascinating story, “The Ghost of Amelia Earhart,” that Sims wrote from his home in Coos Bay, Oregon.  Following are the salient paragraphs of Sims’ article, along with the unique photo he shot on Saipan in 1973:

I found that few people wished to discuss the 1937 event of her disappearance or of her being brought to Saipan by the Japanese. My wife and I were shown various places on Saipan where Amelia allegedly had been seen. One man took me to a spot in the old cemetery where he claimed she was buried but the most interesting place we visited was the old Garapan prison used by the Japanese in the 1930s.

After the American forces recaptured Saipan in mid-1944, the old stone and steel-framed prison building was abandoned and left to decay. Cutting through the dense overgrown jungle and then stumbling over giant roots of tangatanga to gain access to the remnants of the old jail-like structure was a real effort.  Our guide showed us the jail cells where Amelia and Fred were supposedly held captive. I took many pictures.

Eugene Sims, of Coos Bay, Oregon, a veteran of three tours at the U.S. Army Facility Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, took this 1973 photo of the center cell he was told Amelia Earhart occupied at Garapan prison in 1937. It's not possible to determine whether this cell is the same as the one pictured above.  Although the scan of the glossy photo doesn't quite convey the strange quality of the figure he captured, something is there that doesn't appear to be natural.  As Eugene Sims wrote on the back of the photo he sent me in 2006, "See her ghost?"

Eugene Sims, of Coos Bay, Oregon, a veteran of three tours at the U.S. Army Facility Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, took this 1973 photo of the center cell he was told Amelia Earhart occupied at Garapan prison in 1937. It’s not possible to determine whether this cell is the same as the one pictured above. Although the scan of the glossy photo doesn’t quite convey the strange quality of the figure he captured, something is there that doesn’t appear to be natural. As Eugene Sims wrote on the back of the photo he sent me in 2006, “See her ghost?” (Photo courtesy Eugene Sims and may not be reproduced without permission.)

Several days later in Guam and after the photos had been developed, I was shocked to see one print of Amelia’s cell. In the rusted metal frame of the cell door stood a white ghostly figure! Was this some sort of photo misprint? I had the picture reprinted and again the ghostly outline was in evidence.  I considered the ghost to be a message from Amelia and put my collection of Amelia in my locked files. What good would it do to show the picture?

At first, I reasoned the information might make a whale of a story, but then I realized maybe the data would just become more controversy about the fate of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. At this time I have no intention of writing anything more on the subject. My files are closed, but I still look at that ghostly picture . . . and wonder. (End of Sims story.)

 Eugene C. Sims passed away in November 2013 at 86.

 


Navy nurse’s letter describes gruesome end for fliers

June 12, 2015

Mary Adams Patterson, of Bangor, Maine, was the only female veteran to provide Earhart-related information to Thomas E. Devine, after he closed his classic 1987 book, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, with a plea to all Saipan veterans who had their own experiences during the summer of 1944 that supported his own and indicated the presence and deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan in the years prior to the war. 

Patterson was Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Mary Adams, Navy Nurse Corps, assigned to the military hospital on Saipan in 1946, where she met Sister Maria Angelica Salaberria, M.M.B, known to all as Sister Angelica, a Spanish-born, multilingual Catholic nun who taught Japanese and English on Saipan from 1934 to 1949. 

Sister Angelica’s account is one of the most gruesome ever reported in describing the deaths the American fliers on Saipan. No other Saipanese or GI veterans of the Saipan invasion reported details as ghastly as these. This is not to endorse or dismiss Patterson’s account via Sister Angelica, but is presented simply for your information and entertainment, if reading such a horrific account of the wretched deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan can be considered entertaining. Following is Mary Patterson’s letter to Devine of March 14, 1993.

Lieutenant (junior grade) Mary Adams, Navy Nurse Corps, circa 1946.

Lieutenant (junior grade) Mary Adams, Navy Nurse Corps, circa 1946.

Dear Tom,

I am so sorry you worked so hard to find me. I moved to my daughter’s house for the winter. I am definitely going to try to get a copy of your book.

A Chamorro woman, whose name I have forgotten, told me a little bit about a white man and woman brought to Saipan by the Japanese. I passed what information given me to Sister Angelica, a Spanish missionary nun from the Basque Country. She added to it by saying that the Japanese jail in Chalan Kanoa village was only a short distance from the convent. A very limited number of Chamorros knew about the white prisoners.

This information was whispered to her as everyone feared the Japanese guards. A few days later the six Spanish nuns heard blood-curdling screams coming from the jail. They paced the floor and prayed. They were powerless to intervene. The screams ceased at 3 P.M. Tension ran high.

The next day a Japanese-trusted Chamorro man whispered to Sister Angelica, in promised secrecy, that the bodies were removed in the darkest part of the night and buried. The white people were questioned as spies and were tortured to death by first cutting the fingers off at the first joint, the second, third, at the wrist and so on. The feet were used also.

After time passed, Sister Angelica told me that the white man and woman were Americans and became known as Amelia Earhart and Noonan [sic]. Sister Angelica told me that she was informed secretly by her trusted Chamorro friend, that a plane was brought ashore at Tanapag harbor with the two white prisoners. The plane was taken to a guarded building with no windows a short distance away. The building was strictly secured and Japanese soldiers were there twenty-four hours a day. About two weeks later, in the middle of the night, the plane was put aboard a Japanese ship.

I have forgotten where the Navy engineering officers were excavating to construct the building as to the exact site but was not near Chalan Kanoa. It seems vaguely that it was near Tanapag. They told Captain Siess (MC) USN over drinks at the officers club at the hospital about the bodies. I was sitting at the same table. It was probably October 1945.

Capt. Siess told them that they did the right think in respectfully burying the two unknown skeletons near the building in an unmarked grave. No autopsies were necessary he said. No missing persons were reported. There were no facilities for forensic autopsies and it could open up a Pandora’s Box. 

I was at the time Lt. (j.g.) Mary Eileen Adams (NC) USNR and on active duty at that hospital. No one asked my advice and I knew better than to doubt Capt. Siess. Furthermore it sounded right at the time.

Lieutenant (junior grade) Mary E. Adams, USN, with Sister Angelica and an unidentified nun, at the gravesite of Sister Genoveva, who was killed during the Battle of Saipan, circa 1946. Sister Angelica, who was on Saipan in 1937, told Adams about an American white man and woman who “became known as Amelia Earhart and Noonan” who were “tortured to death” by the Japanese on Saipan in the prewar years (Courtesy Mary Patterson.)

Lieutenant (junior grade) Mary E. Adams, USN, with Sister Angelica and an unidentified nun, at the gravesite of Sister Genoveva, who was killed during the Battle of Saipan, circa 1946. Sister Angelica, who was on Saipan in 1937, told Adams about an American white man and woman who “became known as Amelia Earhart and Noonan” who were “tortured to death” by the Japanese on Saipan in the prewar years.  (Courtesy Mary Patterson.)

Sister Angelica . . . would presently be about 80 years old. I am enclosing a snapshot of me, Sister Angelica and another Spanish missionary nun whose name I have forgotten. when the Germans withdrew from Saipan following World War I, the natives contacted Tokyo for religious teachers. The Japanese contacted the Pope who sent a Spanish priest, four teaching nuns and two lay sisters to care for the convent.  The nuns went to Japan first to learn Japanese which Sister Angelica said was very easy because it was so similar to their own Basque.

One night in June 1944 the Japanese put the nuns in Japanese-American crossfire and they were kept moving along a jungle path. Bullets were flying everywhere, a soldier told them not to touch the electric fences that were strung for the advancing Americans. The night was inky black. Sister Genoveva was hit and mortally wounded according to Sister Angelica.

Then next morning they returned to get the body. A soldier told Sister Angelica that the deceased was buried in their funeral pyre for their killed soldiers. In the picture, I am at the death site where the wooden crosses were put. Those nuns in the picture spoke excellent English. The lay sisters could not. The remaining missionaries are not on Saipan now.

Forrest Sheldon … WWII Saipan sailor is also interested in Amelia Earhart. His friend worked for Polaroid and supposedly pushed a cart (to the back of the plant) marked A. Earhart trunk.

Sincerely, Mary Adams Patterson

The disposition of the Earhart Electra in Angelica’s account is unlikely, unless the plane was put on a ship to perform repairs, possibly in Tokyo, and later returned to the island for some unknown reason.  Devine and others reported that they saw Earhart’s plane in the air over Saipan in the summer of 1944, thus the damaged wing described by Bilimon Amaron and John Heine must have been repaired in the intervening years.

Time of agony: The War in the Pacific in Saipan, the personal account of Sister Maria Angelica Salaberria is Sister Angelica’s harrowing account of the terrors she, seven of her fellow nuns, and two Jesuit priests endured as they struggled for survival while the battle for Saipan raged around them, and is available at several online sites.

Unmentioned in her story was an encounter with a group of Marines during the conflict’s final days, an incident one of them, Anselmo Valverde, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, described in a 1995 letter to Devine. “As well as I can remember,” Valverde wrote, “it was when the Army was on our left flank and we were making sure there were no breaks in the line, that I met the nuns and about eight children who were on the way to the holding area. . . . When we assured them we were not the enemy, they said that a woman pilot was killed on the island by the Japanese. When and where, they did not say.

Nothing more is known of Forrest Sheldon or his friend with the strange claim about the “A. Earhart trunk.” I haven’t found an obituary for Patterson, who would be well into her 90s now. 

UPDATE: I’ve just be informed by a reader, Flyfan, that Mary Adams Patterson died at age 85 in 2008. As I told Mr. Fly, she was a great patriot and a fine lady. She was survived by six children and 12 grandchildren. More can be found at:

http://bangordailynews.com/2008/09/25/obituaries/mary-a-patterson-rn/

 


A visit with the “lunatic fringe” of the Earhart saga

May 25, 2015

For those who think I lack a sense of humor about the Earhart disappearance, the following is submitted for your entertainment and edification. By way of the July 1995 edition of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society Newsletter, this is a quaint little unattributed book review for Age of Heroes (Hastings House Publishers, 1993), by the legendary Henri Keyzer-Andre, that appeared in an otherwise undated April 1993 issue of the Naples (Fla.) Daily News.

In addition to its imaginative title, the cover of Age of Heroes is even more compelling, as its subtitle, “Incredible Adventures of a PAN AM Pilot and his Greatest Triumph, Unraveling the Mystery of Amelia Earhart,” promises readers the solution to our greatest aviation mystery. I had heard about this book a few times over the years, but just recently purchased it, brand new, for a few dollars on Amazon. Although I haven’t read it yet, I know the ending and am not recommending it to anyone interested in the Earhart case.

It doesn't get any more promising than this. Unfortunately, there's absolutely no substance underneath the stylish cover, and Keyzer-Andre reveals himself to be among the most gullible Westerners to ever visit Japan, as he fell prey to a whopper of a tale about the fate of Amelia Earhart, and dared to pass it to us as fact. This is precisely what Fred Goerner meant when he called a particular segment of Earhart authors "the lunatic fringe."

It doesn’t get any more promising than this. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no substance underneath the stylish cover, and Keyzer-Andre reveals himself to be among the most gullible Westerners to ever visit Japan, as he fell prey to a whopper of a tale about the fate of Amelia Earhart, and dared to pass it to us as fact. This is precisely what Fred Goerner meant when he called a particular segment of Earhart authors “the lunatic fringe.”

Keyzer-Andre said he met Amelia Earhart in 1928 when he was 21, and three years later, Fred Noonan, at Pan Am’s Dinner Key operation building, when Noonan was Pan Am’s instructor in celestial navigation and Keyzer-Andre was beginning his pilot training. That’s about as far as we can safely tread when it comes to most of the claims in this article,  and Keyzer-Andre’s bio might be much embellished as well, as far as I know. 

I’ve seen very little that’s more convoluted and clueless than this mess, which begins as what appears to be a review of Age of Heroes, but immediately leaves its author and begins quoting from a retired Air Force Colonel.  It’s no mystery why this review wasn’t bylined. Who would want to take credit for it? Without further ado, here’s “Whatever Happened to Amelia Earhart.”

BILL PRYMAK’s S NOTE: To illustrate the enormous range of thinking that goes through men’s minds, the following might be construed as the OUTER LIMITS we have had come across our desk.

“Whatever Happened to Amelia Earhart?”

PALM BEACHAmelia Earhart was executed by the Japanese, who then used the advanced technology from her plane to perfect their WW II Zero fighters, according to a flight engineer who worked on Earhart’s aircraft. Henri Keyzer-Andre, Palm Beach resident and longtime pilot, discussed one of the great mysteries of the 20th century as he explains it in his autobiography, “Age of Heroes.”

The story is similar to one that has been told for years by Naples resident and retired USAF Colonel James “Dusty” Rhoades.” He said he has known since 1959 that Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan were shot and killed by the Japanese in the South Pacific, but not for plane parts.

“It was an espionage mission,” Rhoades said of Earhart’s reported attempt to circumnavigate the globe. “We do spy on people. That’s the way to stay alive.”

Keyzer-Andre’s book says two lieutenants in the Japanese navy broke into Earhart’s radio frequency during the 1937 flight, and guided her into a trap on the island of Nonouti, where Japan had a base. Earhart and Noonan were killed and their bodies burned, to hide all traces. Keyzer-Andre said Earhart’s final words were, “Oh, mother”.

Rhoades, a 28-year veteran of military tours in Japan, Korea and China, said a Japanese general he befriended after WWlI told him a different story. Instead of being lured to Nonouti in the Gilbert Islands, Earhart crashed just to the northwest in the Marshall Islands after running out of fuel during a storm, and losing radio contact with a U.S. submarine tracking her mission.

Author Henri-Keyzer Andre, at age 86, in front of his wall of fame at his Palm Beach, Fla. home circa 1993. Keyzer-Andre may well have been a fine pilot in the early years of Pan American Airways, but an expert on the Earhart disappearance, he is not.

Author Henri-Keyzer Andre, at age 86, in front of his wall of fame at his Palm Beach, Fla. home circa 1993. Keyzer-Andre may have been a fine pilot in the early years of Pan American Airways, but an expert on the Earhart disappearance? Well, you decide, dear reader. 

The Japanese army captured and court-martialed the injured Earhart and Noonan, sentencing them to death tbr spying on the Japanese fortification of Pacific islands prior to the war, Rhoades said. The pair was brought before a firing squad, with Noonan standing tied to a post, and Earhart tied to a chair because she could not stand.

One day in 1959, while having lunch at a Japanese golf club, Rhoades said the Japanese general who told the story, Minouru Genda, introduced him to tile man who commanded the firing squad.

Rhoades said he does not know what became of Earhart’s plane after the crash, but does know it was equipped with a state-of-the-art engine built especially for the US Navy by Lockheed. But the plane was badly damaged, and the Japanese, who had spies in the US during the war, would not need to capture Earhart in order to learn about her plane.

“I was a good friend with Gen. Genda at the time,” Rhoades said. “I believed the things I heard because they had no reason to lie to me.” (End of review.)

Nothing is so firmly believed as that which is least known . . .

Bill Prymak’s closing comment is spot on, but these wise words originally came from the pen of Michel de Montaigne (Michel Eyquem, lord of the manor of Montaigne, Dordogne) (28 February 153313 September 1592) who was an influential French Renaissance writer, generally considered to be the inventor of the personal essay.


Did islanders canoe 500 miles with Earhart note?

May 7, 2015

Earhart lore is replete with strange stories that have never been factually confirmed and presented as legitimate evidence, yet remain believable and even compelling, because the scenarios they describe fit so well with what we know happened, based on the mountains of legitimate eyewitness accounts and other evidence that reveals the truth about Amelia and Fred Noonan’s sad ends on Saipan.

Today we reach into the “back of the rack,” as disk jockeys used to say when they played real music on radio, and dust off an obscure piece of Earhart arcana for your information and edification. Bill Prymak either liked this story so much that he presented it in two separate issues of his Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, July 1996 and June 1999, something he’d never done with any other stories, to my knowledge, or as he was preparing his June ’99 newsletter, he simply forgot that he’d run it three years earlier.

Please forgive the sometimes intrusive editor’s notes, but I feel it’s important that readers understand this story as well as possible, and because it’s being presented in its original form, some of the details and terminology need further explanation.  Nothing more is known of this story’s author, Jack Ralph.

Bill Prymak’s note: “Somebody very high in U.S. government went to a lot of trouble, via London, to have this leak squashed.”

“AMELIA EARHART’S LAST FLIGHT, A TRUE STORY” 

In August 1942, I received my Air Force wings and was assigned to a Consolidated B-24 Heavy Bombardment Air Group being assembled in preparation for overseas duty. In January of 1943 we were in place on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands and began operations against Japanese ground, air, and sea targets throughout the South Pacific.

 

A U.S. Army Air Forces B-24 Liberator bomber, flying over explosions on the Salamaua Peninsula, where the port is located.

A U.S. Army Air Forces B-24 Liberator bomber, flying over explosions on the Salamaua Peninsula, where the port is located. The campaign to take the Salamaua and Lae, New Guinea area, across the Solomon Sea in the general area of the Solomon Islands, began with the Australian attack on Japanese positions near Mubo, on April 22, 1943. The campaign ended with the fall of Lae on Sept. 16, 1943.

After several months of combat flying individual crews were allowed a rest leave in Auckland, New Zealand. These rests lasted about two weeks during which we enjoyed a return to the luxury of real civilization, along with good food, and recreational activities arranged by the city of Auckland and our own Red Cross. At a social center maintained by these two organizations for service personnel, my navigator, Lt. “Steve” Stevens met a lovely young lady and they dated a number of times before we had to return to duty in the Solomons, which then seemed like a different planet. This was about July of 1943.

Steve was a quiet, smart, completely honest, exemplary individual. He was acknowledged to be one of the best navigators in our unit. The art of navigation was critical to our survival. There were wartime blackouts on all radio navigation aids, and many hours aloft with no landmarks for checkpoints. We routinely had critical fuel problems with flights stretching our range to the maximum. At the time the B-24 was the only bomber in the world that could handle those missions. I mention this only to provide insight on Steve’s credibility and reputation.

On our way back to Guadalcanal Steve told me about his date with the young lady the night before. He had spent the evening with her and her Mother (sic). They told him about living on Nauru, a British protectorate island about 1,000 miles northeast of the Solomons. The girls’ father had been a high-ranking British official in charge of numerous British islands throughout the south Pacific. Immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the mother and daughter were evacuated to the safety of New Zealand. Nauru was soon taken by the Japanese and the father’s fate was unknown.

(Editor’s note: Nauru, officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia in the Central Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, 186 miles to the east. With over 10,000 residents in an 8.1 square mile area, Nauru is the smallest state in the South Pacific and third smallest state by population in the world, ahead of only the Vatican City and Monaco.

Settled by the Micronesians and Polynesians, Nauru was claimed as a colony by the German Empire in the late 19th century. After World War I, Nauru became a League of Nations Mandate administered by Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. During World War II, Nauru was occupied by Japanese troops, who were bypassed by the Allied advance across the Pacific. After the war ended, the country entered into trusteeship again. Nauru gained its independence in 1968. End of editor’s note.)

The two told Steve that the communications radios on Nauru were used by Amelia Earhart on her last flight as her path was quite near the island. The operators, along with all the others involved that night, could never figure out what went wrong.

(Editor’s note: When Steve’s two female hosts told him that radios on Nauru were “used by Amelia Earhart on her last flight,” they didn’t mean this literally, and could have been a bit more precise. At about 8:30 p.m. Lae time, the radio station at Nauru, which had been hearing her broadcasts for several hours,  heard Earhart say on 3105, “A ship in sight ahead.” The ship was Ontario, lying just a few miles north of the direct circle track to Howland.  Ontario had been sending Morse code Ns on the hour as requested in a July 1 update to Earhart’s June 27 message. The ship’s log contained no mention of seeing or hearing the Electra, and it was impossible for Earhart to communicate directly with Ontario and vice-versa.

These are not nurses, but uniformed female employees from the Westfield freezing works in Auckland, New Zealand, grouped outside the factory buildings during Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt's tour. Could the "lovely young lady" that Lt. Steve Steven met in Auckland have been among these young women?  This photo was taken on Sept. 2, 1943, about the same time Stevens and Jack Ralph, this story's author, were visiting Auckland on leave from their Army Air Corps Bombardment Group.

These are not nurses, but uniformed female employees from the Westfield freezing works in Auckland, New Zealand, grouped outside the factory buildings during Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt’s tour. Could the “lovely young lady” that Lt. Steve Stevens met in Auckland have been among these young women? This photo was taken on Sept. 2, 1943, about the same time Stevens and Jack Ralph, this story’s author, were visiting Auckland on leave from their Army Air Corps Bombardment Group.

About an hour after the “ship in sight” message, T.H. Cude, the Nauru director of police, claimed he heard Earhart’s signals on his new 12-tube radio receiver. “Between 10 and 11 p.m.,” Cude wrote in a 1969 letter, “I heard her calling Harold Barnes. She called several times and said she could see the lights of Nauru.  The time corresponds to the last, unintelligible signal reported by Radio Nauru on 3105, but Cude’s receiver was much better for receiving voice, according to Capt. Laurance Safford, author of Earhart’s Flight Into Yesterday: The Facts Without the Fiction, who said Earhart would have passed Nauru at a distance of 125 nautical miles.

The lights Earhart saw were floodlights strung out along the two 1,000-foot cableways on top of the island that allowed mining operations at night, and “the 5,000 candle-power fixed light should have been visible from an altitude of 10,000 feet, or at least the bloom of the light on the clouds overhead,” Safford wrote. “Once again half-way to Howland, Noonan was dead on course.” End of Editor’s note.)

Quite some time later (I recall that Steve mentioned a matter of months) some south sea island natives arrived at Nauru in an outrigger canoe. They were from the Marshall and Gilbert Islands and they had a handwritten scribbled note signed by Amelia Earhart. (Bear in mind that the natives cover vast distances in their canoes. On some of our B-24 sea search patrols we would encounter them hundreds of miles from any land. That ancient art of open ocean navigation passed on from father to son is now, according to the National Geographic, almost forgotten, and certainly not as skilled as in the past. Remember, we are going back almost 52 years with this story.)

(Editor’s note: The distance from Mili Atoll to Nauru is about 573 miles, and 498 miles from the Gilberts to Nauru.)

The note stated that she had gone down and been captured by the Japanese in the Marshall and Gilberts and she was hoping her note could be smuggled out by friendly natives. She and her navigator, “Newman” were held prisoners. Mother and daughter told Steve that the news was immediately reported to London.

But meanwhile, the local newspaper picked up the story and immediately went to press. As I recall Steve said the name of the paper was “The Pacific Inter-Island Express” or very near that. The paper was distributed throughout the protectorate islands. The two women had saved some of those papers and Steve personally read the account from one of the copies. (Editor’s note: Online searches found no trace of The Pacific Inter-Island Express or any publication remotely similar, but this doesn’t mean the newspaper didn’t exist.)

Within just a few days a message arrived from London classifying the story TOP SECRET. That set off a frantic search for all the papers that had been printed and sent to all the islands. It was done, since communications were slow and cumbersome then, and though the distances were great, the actual number of copies and readers was comparatively small. The security clamp was never rescinded and no further information on the subject ever reached Nauru despite requests for information.

A recent photo of Nauru. Note the landing strip at far right. Nauru International Airport serves as the main hub of the national carrier, Nauru Airlines, formerly known as Air Nauru. Flights originate in Brisbane, Australia, and are available from Nauru to Majuro, Nadi and Tarawa.  As of January 2015, the population of Nauru was estimated at 10,436.

A recent photo of Nauru. Note the landing strip at far right. Nauru International Airport serves as the main hub of the national carrier, Nauru Airlines, formerly known as Air Nauru. Flights originate in Brisbane, Australia, and are available from Nauru to Majuro, Nadi and Tarawa. As of January 2015, the population of Nauru was estimated at 10,436.

We decided that Steve should tell the story to our Bomb Group Intelligence Officer immediately upon our return to Guadalcanal and I’m sure Steve did so although I didn’t go with him. Nothing more was heard of it and we really didn’t expect that after the war the story would break. I did write the Pentagon after a few months of peace, and the reply tersely only said there was no record of such an incident.

Steve and I kept in touch. As time passed we concluded that the Allies were intent on making good and dependable friends of the Japanese and didn’t want to open old wounds with bad publicity. We wrote the whole thing off as diplomatic expediency and figured the story would forever be suppressed.

Picking up this cold trail now would involve tremendous research effort. The Freedom of Information Act would not be useful since the story would be in British archives. There may be no references to it in U.S. records. There is a fair chance the daughter is still alive and still under orders to suppress. As I write this, in 1994, I would presume she would be around 70-73 years old. Steve died some 10 years ago.

Considering the relationship now existing between Britain, the U.S. and Japan, I would bet there is no way the information will ever be divulged. There have been many stories and theories expounded over the years concerning Amelia’s disappearance. Many of them contain deductions that mesh very well with this story. I firmly believe this is what really happened.

 “Jack” Ralph

 


April 22, 2015

      ********SPECIAL MEDIA ANNOUNCEMENT********

Henrik Palmgren of Sweden’s Red Ice Radio recently interviewed me about Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, and its important message, which continues to be completely ignored by the mainstream and even alternative U.S media. Red Ice Radio’s theme is “Dispelling the Mythmakers,” which is especially poignant and appropriate in this case. To listen to the interview, click on The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart: FDR’s Cover-Up.”

Red Ice Photo.


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