Hull, Putnam ’37 telegrams reflect Earhart truth

“Two very strange telegrams,” is the way Bill Prymak described these compelling missives in the opening pages of Volume 1 of his Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters.  I don’t know how Prymak procured these provocative documents, or even if they were ever made public before they appeared in the AES Newsletters.  I’ve never seen them anywhere else, but maybe someone can shed more light.  In his brief note at the bottom of the page, Prymak wrote: 

July 30, 1937 from [U.S. Secretary of State] Cordell Hull to American Embassy London, and [second] telegram from [George Palmer] Putnam to Marvin McIntyre, personal secretary to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  We are digging to find out what is so ‘hurtful and internationally embarrassing to all concerned.’  Putnam evidently knew something that had to be kept from the American public; could be that he knew AE did survive July 2nd.”

Here’s the first telegram, from Cordell Hull to the American Embassy in London.  At the time, the U.S. Ambassador to Britain was Robert Worth Bingham, whose name has never been associated with the Earhart story, to my knowledge.

In the telegram (above) Hull flatly states that “evidence that to many sources seems positive indicates that Amelia Earhart (Mrs. Putnam) was on land the two nights following her disappearance.”  What “evidence” is Hull referencing in his July 30, 1937 telegram, written less than two weeks after the official Navy and Coast Guard reports failed to list a single instance of any such evidence?  (See also Truth at Last, pages 38-57.)  To this day, these reports are cited as the official U.S. government position on the Earhart matter.

Otherwise, Hull is asking the British government, which owns the Gilbert Islands, to continue a thorough search in those Islandsand thatMr. Putnam would be glad to defray the expense involved.”  Hull then reports that Putnam is offering an $8,000 reward for “any evidence leading to a solution of her disappearance whether in the nature of wreckage or more positive indication of what happened.”

Cordell Hull graces the cover of the Oct. 2, 1939 issue of Life magazine.  Hull remains the longest-serving U.S. secretary of state ever, holding the position for 11 years (1933–1944) in the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during most of World War II.  Hull received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 for his role in establishing the United Nations, and was referred to by President Roosevelt as the “Father of the United Nations.”  What did Hull know about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart that the history books don’t tell us?

Can anyone tell us why this statement from the eminent Secretary of State under Franklin D. Roosevelt, the longest serving SecDef (11 years) in U.S. history, has never been mentioned by the U.S. media in over 83 years of its dishonest coverage of the Earhart disappearance?  Or has it?

Nearly a month later, Amelia Earhart’s husband, George Palmer Putnam, writes to Marvin McIntyre, FDR’s secretary, to complain that after three weekshe has been unable to secure reply or cooperation British [sic] on small specific search financed by me.  Putnam asks McIntyre for help in “getting action at least information” on his request to Britain, adding that he is “anxious [to] head off threatened story by newspaper which knows situation some likely hurtful all concerned and internationally embarrassing.

To summarize: These two telegrams sent soon after Amelia Earhart’s disappearance contain statements that strongly suggest that Secretary of State Cordell Hull and G.P. Putnam are in possession of facts that directly contradict the official U.S. story.  Prymak’s AES Newsletters don’t offer anything further from Hull or Putnam along this thread, so we’re left to speculate just what Hull and Putnam were talking about. 

What do you think?

28 responses

  1. David Billings | Reply

    Mike,
    1st Telegram:
    I read that as a $2000 reward, possibly put up by GPP, which today might be worth US$200,000 ! I’ll keep that in mind!

    As to any search of The Gilberts, it is a big ask for anyone to carry out a search in a remote region of the globe. it might hasve been more to the point to ask permission for a contracted team from the U.S. to do the search under the accompanied auspices of the British Colonial Office.

    The reasoning for the search may have been that word may have reached Hull from Eugene Vidal or GPP concerning Vidal’s knowledge of Earhart’s intention to carry out the Contingency Plan and turn around on her reciprocal and head for The Gilberts on not finding Howland.

    2nd Telegram:
    Basically, I read that as GPP trying to exert some pressure “on The British Government” by getting the White House to do the work on the British for the British inaction on “his” request for a search of The Gilberts. He is saying that a newspaper knows of his request and the inaction which “might embarass” the British Government that they failed to carry out a search at GPP’s expense which would have bankrupted him anyway. In other words a little bit of bluster by GPP who was known for his ‘wheeling and dealing’. He would have been much better suited to apply that a U.S. contractor get permission to do the search guided by GPP. Such a search of all the islands could have taken a couple of years, would he have paid for that ? Sounds to me that he wanted the ‘Insurance Policy’ of the U.S. Government behind him…..

    David.

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    1. David,
      Your, analysis is spot on!
      The $2000 Putnam said he would put up actually was offered by a wealthy friend from San Francisco. Putnam was always about bluster and too cheap to put up his own money – which he had little of anyway.

      Les Kinney

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      1. I’ve often wondered just how much GP missed Amelia. Was their marriage just a marriage of convenience? It seems it was.

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      2. Putnam didn’t miss Amelia that much. His grieving lasted three months. Then he arranged a voyage to the Galapagos aboard a small charted boat and invited a very pretty Hollywood stunt woman to join him.

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      3. William H. Trail

        Les,

        I agree with your assessment of Putnam. Based upon what I’ve read about him, Putnam was a selfish, and shameless promoter who regarded Amelia Earhart as little more than a source of income, and someone to be seen with. I believe if he was truly concerned at all about finding Amelia, it was only in terms of producing a book on her experience, and putting her out on a lecture tour.

        All best,

        William

        Liked by 1 person

    2. David, is there any local lore about an Australian pilot named Sidney Cotton in the years immediately preceding WWII?

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      1. William H. Trail

        CDA,

        Two sources of info on Sidney Cotton are “Aviator Extraordinary The Sidney Cotton Story” as told to Ralph Barker (1969) and “The Last Plane Out of Berlin” by Jeffrey Watson (2002).

        All best,

        William

        Like

      2. Thanks, William.

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  2. It would be very interesting indeed to know what evidence they had that AE was on land for two days following her disappearance. For example, does this support the fact that there were post-loss radios messages that the U.S. government believed did originate from her? The telegram to Cordell Hull would seem to suggest that this was the case.

    As to the second telegram, what the internationally embarrassing story might be is tricky, perhaps it was a lack of co-operation between Britain and the U.S. Then again, perhaps it suggests that AE and FN we’re on some sort of secret mission and their capture might spark an international incident.

    As with the Morgenthau transcript, the truth appears to be known but never committed to any papers that have seen the light of day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is yet another statement that references a potentially embarrassing situation-what in the world could this mean? It does seem obvious that she was on some kind of mission related to the government, and that obviously the outcome of that flight was not what was anticipated. If so, I wonder if Fred was in on what was really happening? Did she completely disobey direct orders from Roosevelt?

    In Mike’s book, he mentions something to the effect when advised of her situation, “the bitch….” Or perhaps she never had any intention of following whatever those orders were, thinking “this is my flight, I’ll do whatever the hell I want.” Obviously, the answers lie hidden in government files somewhere. I wonder if there may have been a deathbed confession somewhere along the way that was never reported?

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  4. I’m thinking the Deep State was alive and well, even back then!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. William H. Trail | Reply

      Sandy,

      It has been around since the founding of our nation. It caused General Washington no end of irritation and discomfort. There was even a cabal that attempted to replace Washington with Horatio Gates.

      All best,

      William

      Like

  5. Your point well taken, William!!

    Like

  6. David Atchason | Reply

    I seem to remember a few years ago that the accepted wisdom was that GPP with the help of AE cooked up this stunt to make some money, but somehow AE and FN screwed up and got themslves lost while honestly trying to sight Howland I. If they got lost they were heading to the Gilberts which probably made some sense at the time.

    In reality, this was a government (FDR) idea and probably completely government funded, from the “gift” of her plane to all the other logistics which the two of them together didn’t have a prayer of affording. I even doubt that their “wealthy friends” cared to contribute, they were simply straw men. The expensive search for the two of them was just part of the facade. Still, I have no idea what they were supposed to be accomplishing and no idea if they were supposed to land on Mili.

    Last night on TV I watched “Alaska Triangle” show where planes simply completely disappear forever. I tend to believe that these disappearances sometimes have causes that could be called paranormal or caused by atmospheric irregularities and/or “vortexes” which the public is shielded from by the authorities. I concede that this does not seem to be AE’s case, but if it were, our government certainly would never admit this possibility. Sometimes, if you read or watch enough of these stories. there are strange radio messages from planes that had long since run out of fuel. I’m not into radio messages but I have seen cases of dead people making phone calls, you can go on Youtube and watch many of these stories. Presumably AE’s messages were real.

    I don’t know where I am going with this, but at the end of the program there was a preview of a show that will demonstrate why the U.S. was caught “off guard” when The Japs attacked Pearl Harbor. It has to do with a failure of the FBI to catch those darn pesky Jap spies and that’s why we were completely shocked by the sneak attck. I think anybody my age who has studied this subject knows that was not the case, but maybe our naive youth will be persuaded of this and will then believe that the USA as always was completely innocent of any motives but the purest and we are constantly treatened by evil enemies. Did we ever have any enemies that were not evil empires? Of course not.

    All Best,

    Dave

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  7. imho, AE and FN were recruited by British intelligence, without the approval of FDR or the State Department. What info the Brits were seeking, possibly on Japanese incursions in the Gilberts, is not known. But engaging in such an arrangement with the British would have infuriated Roosevelt. Isn’t there a report that AE tried to have a letter sent secretly from her jail cell to a British administrator?

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    1. I’d be very interested to read such a report. Where did you get this information from?

      Like

  8. David Atchason | Reply

    Maybe 4 or 5 years ago I obtained a book purporting to show the British connection to AE’s flight. It may have proposed there was a connection between her and some British warship in the area at the time. What the role of the ship was, to search for her or listen to her radio transmissions, I just don’t remeber. The book did not bring me an Aha! moment, its theme was that there was a strong British connection that was somehow important. I may still have the book stored in a box of books somewhere, I don’t think I threw it out though I may have been tempted to.

    If she followed a straight course she should have flown right over the Gilberts, but I don’t recall hearing about a sighting of her plane, though didn’t somone hear a plane flying over at the timr which would have been unusual?

    After studying my Pacific map, a thought occurred to me. Suppose Fred had difficulty that day with clouds, unexpected winds, etc. and wound up seriously off course so that flying 157/337 degree course up and down, he finally realized that they must be way to the North of Howland, so they decided to fly due West so they could ditch near some island and save themselves. Even if they knew they were flying toward the Marshalls they decided to save themselves even if it meant landing in Japanese territory. Maybe there was a radio message from AE saying they were going to do that which was not reported on the Itasca log and off they went to Mili. Of course Morganthau and FDR were angry. They decided to just abandon her, which they did. Itwould not look good if the public learned that. I know, tat part about my book is not very helpful, or maybe somebody else remembers it.

    All Best,

    Dave

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    1. Was the book by any chance by A. Donahue. It is entirely possible that there was some British involvement since they were flying over British overseas territory and had to obtain permission in advance to do so. Whether they were spying for British intelligence is another matter but I suspect that their flight was being monitored by the British.

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      1. I have Donahue’s book in front of me, and it’s quite long on speculation and short on fact. It borders on incoherence and is simply bad. Among his crackpot ideas was that another male and female flier were involved in a simultaneous overflight in the Marshall Islands area. From the Conclusion of Donahue’s tome verbatim:

        The British Connection

        “Evidence dating back to 1944-45 depicts the prewar landing of an airplane carrying a white couple (woman aviator and male companion) who ditched their aircraft in the ocean off Mili Atoll in the southeast Marshall Islands. The testimony of numerous Marshallese natives had remained essentially constant to this day. The Japanese captured the fliers and interned them in the jail at Jaluit Island. Descriptions of the fliers and their airplane clearly shows [sic] that the white woman aviator was not Earhart, the male companion was not Noonan and the airplane was not a Lockheed Electra.

        . . . What the foregoing evidence indicates is the two different airplanes conducted Marshall Islands overflight missions.”

        Donahue provides zero evidence for this claim, which is clearly nonsense. Fred Goerner relegated it to his famous “lunatic fringe” and Bill Prymak was equally vehement that this book, “The Earhart Disappearance: The British Connection,” was pure garbage. I agree completely.

        Mike

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      2. What precisely was the connection Donahue was suggesting? For Goerner and Prymak to give it short shrift it must have been pretty far fetched.

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      3. Absolutely, will get to it later tonight, for whatever it’s worth. What else do I have to do on Saturday night, anyway?

        Mike

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      4. I’d appreciate that Mike, thanks.

        Best wishes

        Chris

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      5. Chris,

        J.A. Donahue truly had a febrile imagination and seemed to lack all respect for honest research. He did nobody a favor by publishing this book, not even himself, as its sales were quite poor. More excerpts below from the conclusion of “The British Connection,” where these Brit connections were seemingly everywhere as far as Donahue was concerned, ubiquitous as snot. The WordPress format won’t let me scan and insert a PDF here, so I’m typing these fragments and am not keen to do so. The boldface areas are from the book.

        “THE ODYSSEY

        The key to the Earhart disappearance is connected to Hull Atoll and the British resident manager of the island’s copra enterprise. Captain John William Jones, RNR, arrived at Hull on 21 May 1937 as a civilian employee of Burns-Philip (South Seas) Company Ltd. . . . Captain Jones died at Apia in 1965. However, his daughters have testified that he was an intelligence agent for both the British and the U.S. Navy at Tutuila during his tenure at Hull Island.

        . . . An evaluation of the itinerary and activity of the three British ships known to be in the equatorial region of the Central Pacific established the extent of the British involvement in the July 1937 overflights of the Marshall Islands.

        British warships H.M.S. Achilles and Wellington (attached to New Zealand Navy) were both nearby the Phoenix Islands and uncharacteristically monitoring the aviation radio frequencies. The Achilles radio intercept from the Earhart airplane hours after the flight ended is well known. H.M.S. Wellington fully refueled from Achilles in Pago Pago harbor and was standing by just south of the Phoenix group in case assistance was needed in that area

        It was the British freighter M.V. Moorby which played the key role of transport for the British airplane to the West Coast for transshipment to Hawaii. . . . The precedents from the Capt. Charles T. Ulm trans-Pacific flightplan of 1934 are clearly evident. An Airspeed Envoy was modified with long range tanks, and radio navigation homing equipment and aerial cameras were installed. After assembly in Oahu, the airplane was flown 100 miles south to British Fanning Island where a 6,000 foot tidal flat airstrip had been prepared and aviation fuel stored. At the designated time the Envoy departed Fanning for the 1,200 mile trip westward to home on Moorby and to photograph Canton Island (Phoenix Group). The British aircraft ran into trouble and was forced to ditch in the southern Marshalls.

        The identity of the British female aviator is unknown but Beryl Markham is the prime suspect. Either Markam was repatriated or a substitute established for her to cover her disappearance.

        The evidence of the presence of a second airplane over the Marshalls on 2 July goes a long way toward explaining much of the conflict experienced during the past half century with the details of the Earhart disappearance. Also, the switch of the alternate landing places for the Earhart airplane from Canton Island to Hull Island in the Phoenix group indicated that the British airplane got the better airfield but failed to reach it due to mechanical problems forcing them down. After the wheels up landing at Hull, the American fliers were dependent upon outside help for rescue.

        . . . THE BRITISH CONNECTION

        Evidence dating back to 1944-45 depicts the prewar landing of an airplane carrying a white couple (woman aviator and male companion) who ditched their aircraft in the ocean off Mili Atoll in the southeast Marshall Islands. The testimony of numerous Marshallese natives had remained essentially constant to this day. The Japanese captured the fliers and interned them in the jail at Jaluit Island. Descriptions of the fliers and their airplane clearly shows [sic] that the white woman aviator was not Earhart, the male companion was not Noonan and the airplane was not a Lockheed Electra.

        With the Earhart flight termination below the equator at Hull Island, a second overflight by another airplane is indicated which ended above the equator in the pre-World War II same time frame.

        What the foregoing evidence indicates is the two different airplanes conducted Marshall Islands overflight missions. Further evidence suggests a simultaneous overflight from the southeast (Earhart) and from the east (a British civilian airplane). The British are the logical suspect as they had both strategic and economic interests in their revealed during the war during the war trials after the end of WW II [sic!]. If the U.S. government alone held the secret of her demise, it would have been revealed by now, probably after the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act in 1967.” (End of excerpts from Donahue book.)

        I think this gives you an idea about this book’s incoherence. No real evidence is ever provided for any of Donahue’s claims. An enemy of the truth once called Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, an “encyclopedia of speculation,” but The British Connection is perhaps the best example of that within the entire collection of bad Earhart disappearance books.

        If you really need to see more of it, you can get a good used copy from Amazon for as little as $10. So few copies sold that a new one is advertised at $496.59! This book’s overwhelming incoherence and false claims are enough to choke a horse, and it’s not a small book. Its Amazon ranking is over 4 million, which means myself and few others bought it, and not a single review has been posted on Amazon for this 1987 “treasure.” I think we’ve spent enough time on this fish wrapper.

        Mike

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      6. Many thanks for this Mike and for taking the time to respond.

        As you say, it’s full of speculation and very short on supporting factual evidence.

        Best wishes

        Chris

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      7. William H. Trail

        Chris,

        On top of being “long on speculation, short on fact, and simply bad,” as Mike so aptly and succinctly put it, the premise of J.A. Donahue’s “The Earhart Disappearance-The British Connection” is betrayed by it’s lack of simplicity. Eschewed by the writers of breathless thrillers, Simplicity is one of the Principles of War. It is a key requirement for any successful Military or Intelligence operation. In the real world, operations that are as complicated as a Swiss watch and have more moving parts than a helicopter do not work.

        All best,

        William

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      8. Donahue does seem short in fact about much of what he says. That said, it does seem reasonable that British intelligence would monitor the flight. The question of whether they were under orders from British intelligence is debatable, but as to the question of whether the British would keep tabs in them overflying British Territory, I can absolutely believe that. British intelligence during WWII was very advanced and thanks to Bletchley Park we had decrypted Enigma. Would we monitor Earhart’s flight? Absolutely we would.

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  9. David Atchason | Reply

    Yes, that’s the book. Maybe someday I’ll find it.No great loss if I don’t.

    Like

  10. I cannot find the reference that, as I recall, has AE attempting to smuggle a letter from her jail cell to a British commissioner in the islands. This idea may have come from something that appeared in this site. From the Morgenthau transcript it seems clear that AE did something, or failed to do something, or both, that infuriated the FDR administration and that supposedly, if released to the public, would ruin AE’s reputation forever. To me, a link to British intelligence would qualify. Obviously, there could have been other things, such as….? We may never know.

    Like

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