The Richards Memo: Was it legit or something else?

The so-called Richards Memo of Nov. 1, 1938 and retired Air Force Col. Rollin Reineck’s commentary on it appeared in the July 1998 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters I’ve always wondered why this document received so little attention.  Maybe I’m missing something.  Obviously, other researchers haven’t been enamored of it, and some must have found its credibility to be dubious, but Reineck was not one of them.  Here then, as close to the original piece as possible, is the Richard’s Memo and Reineck’s conclusions, presented for your information and entertainment.  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

FROM THE DESK OF . . . . . . . . . Rollin Reineck

The attached memorandum (following page), dated 1 November 1938, is very significant as it relates directly to the disappearance of Amelia Earhart in several ways.  This memo was written by Army Air Corps Colonel (before the days of the U.S. Air Force) H. H. C. Richards, who was assigned to the War Department as the Liaison Officer for the Australian Air Force.  Colonel Richards sent the memo to the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (G-2), War Department, who was probably an Army two-or-three star general.

The purpose of the memo was to clarify a letter that had been sent to the Information Division of the Liaison Office, alleging that Amelia Earhart had been shot down by the Japanese.

Colonel Richards says that this is definitely not the case, as it is known that Miss Earhart’s transmissions were heard by Army personnel (Army Air Corps Lt. Daniel A, Cooper and Army Signal Corps Lt. Henry Lau), who were stationed at Howland Island on 2 July 1937.  These officers reported that judging from the strength of the radio signals received, Earhart passed quite close to the island, some fifty miles or less.  Further, the Army personnel reported that Earhart stated she was turning north, and they continued to hear her at intervals.  Her signals became fainter each time received, until finally she stated she was out of gas.  That was the last they heard from her.

The little-known Richards Memo.  From page 64 of Rollin Reineck’s  2003 book, Amelia Earhart Survived, here is the caption: Copy of a memo sent from Colonel H.H.C. Richards, U.S. Army Air Corps Liaison Officer (Intelligence) to the Assistant Chief of War Department Intelligence (2 or 3 star general) dated 1 November 1938, which says, in part, Army people on Howland Island heard Earhart say she was turning north.

The significance of this memorandum is as follows:

1.  The memorandum was between high level, senior staff officers in the War Department about the fate of Amelia Earhart.

2.  The Army personnel (officers) on Howland Island could distinguish between the volume intensity of Earhart’s voice, and make reliable judgments as to her relative distance from Howland Island.

3.  It dispels the theory that Earhart ditched close to Howland Island.

4.  It enhances the theory that Amelia Earhart did land or ditched some distance north of Howland Island.

Editor’s [Bill Prymak] Comment: Why is top brass still pursuing this 14 months after she went down??  Is there more to this than meets the eye?  (End of AES July 1998 entry.)

          Rollin C. Reineck, circa 2003.

In Chapter 7, “Implement Plan B” of Reineck’s 2003 book, Amelia Earhart Survived, he begins by stating that he believed that Earhart had five to six hours of fuel remaining when her call was heard by the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca at 0843 Howland Island local time.  He goes on to discuss Earhart’s alleged statement to Gene Vidal, who claimed that Amelia told him that “if she could not locate Howland, when she was down to four hours of fuel remaining, she would turn back to the Gilbert Islands.  The author believes that Earhart remembered her secret conversations at March Field in Riverside, California, with  Bernard Baruch and General [Oscar] Westover that advised: when you still have sufficient fuel remaining and you haven’t yet found Howland Island, implement Plan B, the alternate plan.

Reineck continued:

She made no mention on her communications frequencies of 3105 and 6216 kilocycles (kcs henceforth)  of her intentions of what she was to do when she couldn’t find HowlandHowever, it is believed by this researcher that Earhart disregarded all orders and used her new high frequency discrete channel that had been activated in her transmitter for communications, to tell Howland Island that she was headed north.  It is believed that this high frequency channel was secretly installed, probably while she was in Miami, before her departure.  The crystal for the new high frequency was inserted in place of the vacant 500 kcs low frequency crystal.  The 500 kcs crystal became useless when Earhart eliminated her trailing wire antenna and decided not to use low (500 kcs) frequency, and use only high frequency for her communications and direction finding activity.

What was this “new high frequency discrete channel” that Reineck references, and why is no evidence of it in other researchers’ work?  He can’t be talking about the well-known 7500 kcs high-frequency direction finder that she reported receiving Itasca’s signals on but couldn’t find a minimum.”  Reineck writes that he believes “she used this frequency to tell personnel on Howland that she was turning north and she continued to communicate her progress until she ran out of fuel.”  Reineck went on:

These key messages  are not recorded in the radio logs of the Itasca or Howland Island, but were heard by Army personnel on Howland as reflected in a memo from Colonel H.H.C. Richards to the Chief of Intelligence at the War Department.  It was those short messages, heard by the Japanese, that not only helped the Japanese locate Earhart after she crashed at Mili Atoll, but told the Japanese that Earhart was turning north, probably for a specific purpose.  The Japanese knew at this time that Earhart was not just searching for an alternate landing site, but purposely headed for a specific site that was within the Imperial Islands of Japan.  Plan “B” had been compromised, because Earhart had disregarded all orders and broken radio silence. 

On Howland Island Adm. Richard Black supervised construction of the air strip for Amelia Earhart’s scheduled refueling stop, and later arranged for a special high frequency direction finder to be set up on Howland. Black was in the radio room of the USCG Itasca as he listened to Earhart’s last known radio transmission indicating that she was low on fuel and was searching for Howland.

Reineck cites the Richards Memo as the verification that Army personnel were on Howland, specifically Army Air Corps Lt. Daniel A, Cooper and Army Signal Corps Lt. Henry Lau, but he doesn’t mention Navy Radioman 2nd Class Frank Cipriani, who was also on Howland at that time, and who was sent there by Admiral Richard Black to man the high frequency direction finder that Black had set up there.  For more details on Reineck’s Plan Btheory, see pages 103-113 of Amelia Earhart Survived.

What are we to make of Reineck’s theory, specifically as it relates to the Richards Memo Has anyone ever seen statements from anyone on Howland that support his claims that they heard Earhart announcing that she was “turning north”?  I certainly have not, but the ever-imaginative Reineck weaves an interesting scenario, one in which many of his speculations seem to fit — and we know that Earhart did land at Mili.  But the Richards Memo has received scant attention from other researchers.  

What do you think?

27 responses

  1. Good Morning and Greetings to all!

    For anyone who’s curious….

    The post of Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Military Intelligence Division was established in the then-War Department on 16 August 1921.

    Colonel H.H.C. Richards’ memo would have been for Colonel E.R. Warner McCabe, who served as the 11th ACS, G-2, MID from 1 July 1937 to 29 February 1940. Col McCabe was preceded in his post by Col Francis H. Lincoln, who served as ASC, G-2 from 27 November 1935 to 29 June 1937.

    All best,

    William

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  2. It never seems to end in this case.. mystery upon mystery upon speculation and guess work. While the “mystery”(Mike I put that in quotes”) of where she landed and her final fate is known, other details are missing.. known only to some archivists in government files.

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  3. Today’s post comes as a small surprise to me as I have been mulling over this subject for some days. My only experience at picking up short wave radio messages comes from my youth in the 50s when I puchased a Hallicrafters SW radio receiver for $49.95 so I could and did listen to SW radio. That was a lot of money then, had to mow a lot of lawns to earn it, but I and my friend spent many an hour listening to that radio. It was super high tech for those days. Needless to say I never got into ham radio because that was too much effort, but it was my only experience at scanning for stray transmissions.

    So I don’t know how easy it was in the 30s to scan for military messages. But doesn’t this post say explicitly that AE was provided with a high frequency crystal so she had another frequency to send messages on besides 3105 and 6210 kc? Just as I surmised in my earlier speculations here? that her Itasca logged messages were just recordings for the benefit of the Japs? I think Randall Brink has her flying almost to Howland and then turning North to wind up on Mili? But why bother? Couldn’t the recorded messages heard by Itasca and on Howland simply be the recordings broadcast at higher power? Couldn’t a distant message be faked by someone simply turning down the power and messing with the electronics to make the message sound garbled ? I would bet that would be possible and easy.

    The more I read about AE, the more this sounds to me like a large expensive operation, Not simply handing Amelia a Kodak camera to take snapshots with. Reminds me of the Kennedy assassination, by now I understand that was promulgated at the highest levels of government and required At least 8 shooters, even foreign assassins, and it almost failed despite the volleys of gunfire probably only because of a Mafia connected (confessed) marksman shooting from the grassy knoll. But I digress.

    I especially noted the speculation in that/those exchanges between high level officials about “shot down by theJaps.” What in the world caused them to even comment about that? Did they suspect that maybe plan B was to overfly the mandates? In my mind I say,”You bet they did!.” Not only suspected, but Knew. So the cover up began quite early, it may have included the Firmosa fabrication although that came much later. Just in case anybody wanted to promote the very real possibility that she was shot down. Don’t ask me how or where this happended my imagination doesn’t cover that scenario, but it seems to me the most likely of explanations of why she ditched on Mili Atoll.

    As I speculated earlier Amelia was likely giving a play by play on her secret frequency which included her description of the JAp intercept and her location and her pleas for help which explains why no calls for help were heard on 3105 or 6210 which were only recordings. In reality, I bet she made many calls for help which were picked up by the US Navy. Who, in those days, could or would be scanning the whole radio spectrum for possible SOS from Amelia? Nobody would. So the Itasca steamed off to the North not because of some garbled message but because they knew exactly where she was all along.

    Was her flight a provocation? Did they think they think they could get away with a spy mission overflight of Mandates? We will certainly find out when President Biden makes the publication of the Earhart fies his first official act in office.

    BTW, I saw inmy Google news (propaganda) feed this morning that Ballard will make a new exploration of Nikumaroro with his new improved vessel of some sort and we should hear about his search in October on National Geo channel. Can this be really happening? I am on the edge of my seat in anticipation.

    All Best,

    David

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  4. As with so many facets of the Earhart story, theories tend to be heavily based on interpretation, speculation, and unsupported rumors. This idea that Amelia turned north and then faded out makes a good story, but does not seem to ring true in some aspects overall. Radio reception strength is affected by a number of different factors. Antenna aspect, receiver tuning, transmitter power, atmospherics, volume controls, etc all play a part.

    Radio frequency terminology can be confusing and it has changed in usage somewhat since 1937. The 1938 memorandums which refer to transmissions from Amelia in the “Low Frequency” range are incorrect as this frequency range was unavailable to either Amelia or the stations with which she was to communicate.

    Amelia’s radio could tune in the Medium Frequency and the High Frequency range. Further confusing the issue of frequencies is the terminology of Kilohertz/Kilocycles, Megahertz/Megacycles, Hectometers, Decameters, and Meters.

    The radio on board Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed 10E aircraft could RECEIVE frequencies in both the Medium Frequency (MF) and and High Frequency (HF) range. Her TRANSMIT capability, however, was limited in the lower frequencies by the length of her aircraft’s antenna. The Lockheed 10E had a long wire antenna which ran from an antenna mast above the cockpit to the tail of the aircraft and back. For lower frequency transmissions (like 500 kHz), a longer trailing antenna would have to be extended out the back of the aircraft – but this long trailing antenna was removed and left behind at some point, along with other equipment, to reduce weight and to allow for extra fuel tanks.

    Note that Amelia states in her messages concerning radio communications that she can receive radio messages on frequencies as low as 200 Kilocycles and that she asks for the planned Lae/Howland flight that Ontario broadcast on 400 Kilocycles. So clearly she could RECEIVE on those lower end frequencies, but she failed to say anything in response to Itasca’s 28 June 1937 message regarding their direction finder being able to locate her TRANSMISSIONS between 270 and 550 Kilocycles.

    The significant point is that she could NOT TRANSMIT on a frequency in the range that Itasca needed to get a bearing on her plane. The initial communications plan stated that Amelia would transmit on 500, 3105, and 6210 Kilocycles, but because she left her trailing antenna behind, this eliminated her ability to transmit on 500 Kilocycles – and this meant that the Itasca could NOT get a bearing on her. Amelia failed to recognize this problem or to address it in subsequent messages.

    Itasca stated that their transmitters were calibrated at 425 and 500 Kilocycles, which were both within the frequency range of the Lockheed 10E’s onboard direction finder receiving capability (200 – 1400 Kilocycles). For some reason, however, Amelia did not ask Itasca for transmissions in this range prior to, or during her flight.

    On 29 June 1937, Itasca stated that it would broadcast on 7.5 Megacycles (7500 Kilocycles) as requested by Amelia in her 26 June message. So clearly, Amelia’s radio had an operable range of between 200 Kilocycles and 7500 Kilocycles – and probably more above and below those frequencies.

    ——————————

    Some definitions:

    Medium frequency (MF) is the designation for radio frequencies in the range of 300 kilohertz (kHz) to 3000 kHz (3 megahertz). Kilohertz is also referred to as Kilocycles. The MF band is also known as the hectometer band as the wavelengths range from one to ten hectometers. Frequencies immediately below MF are denoted low frequency (LF), while the first band of higher frequencies is known as high frequency (HF). MF is mostly used for AM radio broadcasting, navigational radio beacons, maritime ship-to-shore communication, and transoceanic air traffic control.

    High frequency (HF) is the designation for the range of radio frequency electromagnetic waves between 3000 kilohertz (3 megahertz) and 30,000 kHz (30 megahertz). Megahertz is also called Megacycles. It is also known as the decameter band as its wavelengths range from one to ten decameters (ten to one hundred meters). The HF band is a major part of the shortwave band of frequencies, so communication at these frequencies is often called shortwave radio. Because radio waves in this band can be reflected back to Earth by the ionosphere layer in the atmosphere – a method known as “skip” or “skywave” propagation – these frequencies are suitable for long-distance communication across intercontinental distances and for mountainous terrains which prevent line-of-sight communications. The band is used by international shortwave broadcasting stations (2.31–25.82 MHz), aviation communication, government time stations, weather stations, amateur radio and citizens band services, among other uses.

    ————————————–

    In messages sent by Amelia Earhart to Coast Guard Headquarters, San Francisco, and to Itasca, she clearly stated that she wanted them to broadcast on several frequencies and that she would transmit on several which she specified. In her Communications Plan, she refers to various specific frequencies and uses the terms Kilocycles, Megacycles, and Meters. Here are some of her messages in this regard.

    6/25/37; Coast Guard division headquarters in San Francisco to Itasca
    … ALL COMMUNICATION FROM PLANE WILL BE ON 500, 3105 OR 6210 KILOCYCLES BY VOICE, POSITIONS BEING GIVEN AT FIFTEEN AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES PAST THE HOUR. ITASCA ADJUST TRANSMITTER FOR POSSIBLE USE 3105 KILOCYCLES FOR VOICE. DIRECTION FINDER ON PLANE COVERS RANGE OF ABOUT 200 TO 1400 KILCYCLES

    On 6/26 Earhart, in Bandoeng, Java sent:
    SUGGEST ONTARIO STANDBY ON 400 KCS TO TRANSMIT LETTER N FIVE MINUTES ON REQUEST WITH STATION CALL LETTER REPEATED TWICE END EVERY MINUTE. SWAN TRANSMIT VOICE 9 MEGACYCLES OR, IF I UNABLE RECEIVE, BE READY ON 900 KCS. ITASCA TRANSMIT LETTER A POSITION OWN CALL LETTERS AS ABOVE ON HALF HOUR 7.5 MEGACYCLES. POSITION SHIPS AND OUR LEAVING WILL DETERMINE BROADCAST TIMES SPECIFICALLY. IF FREQUENCIES MENTIONED UNSUITABLE NIGHT WORK INFORM ME LAE. I WILL GIVE LONG CALL BY VOICE 3105 KCS QUARTER AFTER HOUR POSSIBLE QUARTER TO. EARHART

    Coast Guard division headquarters in San Francisco to Itasca on 6/26/37
    FOLLOWING INFORMATION FROM EARHART THIS DATE –
    “HOMING DEVICE COVERS FROM 200 TO 1500 AND 2400 TO 48 KILOCYCLES. ANY FREQUENCIES NOT, REPEAT NOT, NEAR ENDS OF BANDS SUITABLE.” SUGGEST USING SUITABLE FREQUENCIES HAVING IN MIND UNCERTAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF HIGH FREQUENCIES. USE 333 KILOCYCLES OR FREQUENCY IN THAT VICINITY AND TRY 545 KILOCYCLES AFTER TESTS WITH STATIONS YOUR LOCALITY TO DETERMINE WHICH IS BEST. ADVISE IF IMPOSSIBLE TO PLACE TARE 10 TRANSMITTER ON 3105 KILOCYCLES. EARHART AT LAE VIA TUTUILA EXACT FREQUENCIES SELECTED AND ASSUME CONTINUOUS SIGNALS AFTER HER DIRECTION FINDER IN RANGE. SEE BROADCAST ON QUARTER AFTER AND QUARTER BEFORE HOUR ON 6210 AND 3105 KILOCYCLES.
    AM ADVISING EARHART THAT ITASCA WILL VOICE RADIO HER ON 3105 ON HOUR AND HALF HOUR AS SHE APPROACHES HOWLAND. REPAIRS MADE AND EARHART NOW AT SOURABAYA. EXPECTS LEAVE DAWN THIS DATE FOR PORT DARWIN AND NEXT DAY FOR LAE. ADVISE PRIORITY IF ADJUSTMENTS TARE TEN TRANSMITTER SATISFACTORY FOR USE ON 3105.

    Itasca to Coast Guard division headquarters in San Francisco on 6/26/37
    CONSIDER PRESENT RELATIONSHIP DIVISION-ITASCA COMMUNICATIONS UNSATISFACTORY AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS TO EARHART CONTACTS AND OTHER VITAL SCHEDULES. URGENTLY REQUEST ITASCA BE GIVEN COMPLETE COMMUNICATION INDEPENDANCE. ITASCA HAS RELIABLE COMMUNICATIONS WITH NAVY AND ROUTINE TRAFFIC CAN BE ROUTED VIA THAT SYSTEM.
    RECOMMEND DISCONTINUANCE ALL SAN FRANCISCO RADIO-ITASCA SCHEDULES UNTIL EARHART FLIGHT REACHES HAWAII

    6/28/37 from Itasca
    FOLLOWING FOR AMELIA EARHART PUTNAM LAE –
    ITASCA TRANSMITTERS CALIBRATED 7500 6210 3105 500 AND 425 KCS CW AND LAST THREE EITHER CW OR MCW. ITASCA DIRECTION FINDER FREQUENCY RANGE 550 TO 270 KCS.
    REQUEST WE BE ADVISED AS TO TIME OF DEPARTURE AND ZONE TIME TO BE USED ON RADIO SCHEDULES. ITASCA AT HOWLAND ISLAND DURING FLIGHT

    On 6/29, Earhart, in Lae, New Guinea, sent:
    COMMANDER USS ITASCA –
    PLAN MIDDAY TAKEOFF HERE. PLEASE HAVE METEOROLOGIST SEND FORECAST LAE HOWLAND SOON AS POSSIBLE. IF REACHES ME IN TIME WILL TRY LEAVE TODAY OTHERWISE JULY FIRST.
    REPORT IN ENGLISH NOT CODE ESPECIALLY WHILE FLYING. WILL BROADCAST HOURLY QUARTER PAST HOUR GCT. FURTHER INFORMATION LATER; EARHART

    On the same day Earhart also sent –
    BLACK ITASCA VIA TUTUILA; ACCOUNT LOCAL CONDITIONS PLAN START JULY FIRST TWENTY THREE THIRTY GCT IF WEATHER OK. WILL ITASCA TRY CONTACT LAE DIRECT ON TWENTYFIVE METRES LAE ON 46 METRES SO CAN GET FORECAST IN TIME? PARTICULARLY INTERESTED PROBABLE TYPE PERCENTAGE CLOUDS NEAR HOWLAND. NOW UNDERSTAND ITASCA VOICING 3105 ON HOUR AND HALF HOUR WITH LONG CONTINUOUS SIGNAL ON APPROACH.
    CONFIRM AND APPOINT TIME FOR OPERATOR HERE TO STAND WATCH FOR DIRECT CONTACT; EARHART

    Itasca replied:
    FOLLOWING FOR AMELIA EARHART PUTNAM –
    REFERENCE YOUR MESSAGE, HAVE NO AEROLOGIST ABOARD HAVE REQUESTED FORECAST FROM FLEET AIR BASE,PEARL HARBOR FOR HOWLAND TO LAE THOUGH DOUBTFUL IF OBTAINABLE. WILL FORWARD HONOLULU HOWLAND FORECAST AS INDICATED 6/29

    Itasca to Earhart
    FOR AMELIA EARHART PUTNAM –
    REQUEST ITASCA BE ADVISED CALL LETTERS OF STATION TO BE CONTACTED. WILL ATTEMPT TO CONTACT LAE 1430 2030 2200 GCT. ITASCA WILL TRANSMIT LETTER A WITH CALL LETTERS REPEATED TWICE END EVERY MINUTE ON HALF HOUR AND HOUR ON 7.5 MEGACYCLES. WILL BROADCAST VOICE ON 3105 KCS ON REQUEST OR START WHEN WITHIN RANGE. RECENT CLOUDS CIRRO STRATUS THREE TENTHS AND SOME STRATO CUMULUS. SURFACE WIND EAST 11 TO 19 AT 8000.

    6 a.m. 7/1, AE to Black
    ASK ONTARIO BROADCAST LETTER N FOR FIVE MINUTES TEN MINUTES AFTER HOUR GMT 400 KCS WITH OWN CALL LETTERS REPEATED TWICE END EVERY MINUTE. PLAN LEAVE BY TEN THIS MORNING NEW GUINEA TIME

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  5. Richard,

    I am very grateful for your clarification of the radio protocols Amelia was using. I agree with your opinion that what we do on this blog is speculate about the known details and try to draw some conclusions. But any of these accepted details seem to be not 100% certain and any one of them could possibly be just wrong.

    Whatever she was doing must have been so important that the disinfo campaign continues to this day and is expensive especially if we take into account the Ballard fiascos. Can you tell me what is your opinion, were Earhart’s radio troubles a calculated operation or was Earhart just sloppy and too lazy to make the effort to perfect her radio operations? Also, if she was transmitting messages to the Navy with her secret high frequency as the post seems to imply,would the Japs pick up these messages easily or would it be difficult for them if she kept her messages short? I don’t know what kind of scanners existed in those days if any.

    I especially wonder if whatever she was doing if discovered by the public would cast some doubt on the nobility of FDR’s plans and intentions? Or would demonstrate that she was merely a sacrificial pawn used to gain some small advantage over the Japs?

    All Best,
    David

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    1. David,

      The radio problems defy any possible easy explanations, and you’re really putting Richard on the spot with your questions. We’ll see if he’s willing to commit or admit to any solid opinions, as so far he’s simply repeating basic radio information that’s available to anyone seeking it, though even the basics are complex enough that we appreciate him laying them out as he has. But much more was involved.

      If you want real insight, I suggest you do a blog search on “Almon Gray” for starters, as Gray was far more orthodox in his views than Paul Rafford Jr., the other recognized radio expert in the AES, while at the same time creative in his thinking about what could have caused such a mess during the final hours. Do that before you go off again into Speculation Land, would be my best advice.

      Mike

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    2. David,
      Thank you for your comments. Your questions are good ones and food for thought.

      I certainly do not have any “inside” information regarding any secret mission that Amelia might have been given, but from my own experiences as a flyer and military officer, I tend to look at the story from a more straight forward view for starters. By that I mean that I try to look at the situation with the thoughts of “what would I do?” or “what would be the logical scenario?”

      My previous post was concerned with what radio frequencies and navigation options Amelia had at her disposal and how she chose to use them. I do not think that the scenario about a higher frequency “crystal” being traded for a lower frequency one occurred – for a couple of reasons. First, although Amelia had gotten rid of her long trailing antenna wire, and could no longer TRANSMIT on the lowest frequencies of her radio, she could still RECEIVE on those channels – and this was implied in her Communications Plan in which she specifically asked that Ontario transmit on 400 kilocycles. And she obviously had transmit/receive capability on a frequency as high as 7500 Kilocycles – again as per her Com Plan.

      The whole idea of communication signal deception is certainly a possibility when considered as part of a possible espionage mission. But if such was the case, how did that work out for her? To be believable, such a deception should have involved regular position reports indicating that the aircraft was on track and on schedule for Howland. Matched transmitters and recording playback equipment would have been located on ships or submarines along the intended route at various reporting points. Meanwhile, the aircraft would have been completely silent while overflying various targets and taking infrared photos of installations (it was night time). I do not think that infrared photography had progressed to such a point in 1937.

      None of that seems to have taken place. Amelia made numerous short transmissions in the clear (not secure or coded), but not in an organized or scheduled manner. In normal, over water flights, a plan for flight following is followed. Amelia had various reporting times and places to check in by radio, but was very lax in this discipline – not only on the Lae-Howland leg, but on prior legs of her trip as well.

      Regarding navigation; besides Celestial, a major tool available to Amelia and Fred was radio navigation. Leaving behind their trailing wire antenna meant that they could not transmit on a frequency that other stations (ship and shore) could get a cut on. If this was part of an attempt to deny the Japanese the ability to track them, why then did they make other transmissions on 3105, 6210, and 7500 Kilocycles?

      They DID have their own direction finding antenna on the airplane but it seems that they chose NOT to use it. As a device which receives homing transmissions from ship or shore and which does NOT transmit, it would have allowed them to locate their destination without making them detectable to the Japanese.

      One has to wonder why the Japanese would want to provoke an international incident by shooting down Amelia’s aircraft. They were just about to initiate a major invasion of China and a war with the US would not be advantageous to them in July 1937. That said, they were probably tracking Amelia’s flight with great interest – and may have feared or suspected that there was an espionage mission behind it. Certainly, once the plane was down in what they considered “their” domain, they would have been convinced of it.

      Personally, I do not think that they were on a photographic spy mission over the Mandated Islands. And I do not think that ditching on or near one of the islands was part of any grand scheme to get the US Navy to conduct a Search and Rescue mission for them (as a pretext to get near the islands).

      If any espionage was involved, it would have more likely been to obtain Signal Intelligence – that is they could have been taking ADF cuts on Japanese Radio stations or checking for signals from Radar Installations on the islands. This information could be obtained by flying near (but not over) the islands. But it does not seem like they were equipped or supported for such a mission.

      And it just does not make sense. If the US Navy wanted to conduct such a mission, they could have done it with their own aircraft operating in a covert manner – not on a round-the-world, well publicised flight.

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      1. If Amelia was asked to overfly Truk and take some simple snapshots of the layout there, she would have reached the area around 7 pm, with plenty of July light to take the photos. RIchard says “it was night time” but not dark by any means. This is not arguable, based on the capabilities of the Electra and the distances involved.

        Otherwise he makes several plausible points, all of which suggest a scenario in which Amelia decided to turn north at some point after failing to find Howland. It makes sense, of course, but we just can’t prove that it happened that way.

        Mike

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      2. Very good deductions Richard! I remember seeing the RDF Loop mounted just above the Cockpit and believe there was an HF wire antenna running just behind that running to the tail. ( Just wondering what she used as “Sense Antenna’ with the RDF? I believe Fred Noonan used RDF bearing’s a lot from the site in Roi Namour in Marshalls when he was a Navigator on the Pan Am Clippers.

        He should be able to copy at at least 5 wpm morse. The old DF Stations transmitted their Call sign in Morse ever minute or so. Also, I believe it was just around Sunrise when she transmitted her last heard (LOP -157-337) on 3106 Khz I believe. At that time and freq . She could be a few hundred miles north of Howland Island and Coast guard still hearing her with a Good Sig.
        (D layer absorption may have not set in yet)?

        Thanks
        Ed Williams

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  6. Regardless of the unknown specifics of Amelia’s last flight, it is very obvious from the “Richards Memo” that at least some people in Australia and the US believed that the Japs had shot down her plane. Colonel Richards’ memo was an argument in rebuttal to that story.

    The initial story by the unnamed source could have originated in a number of different ways, for any number of reasons. In fact, there is another separate story allegedly from a Japanese pilot, Lt. Fujie Firmosa who claimed to have shot down a twin engine “American Spy Plane”. However, as in many Earhart stories, there were some discrepancies which did not support all the alleged facts (see page 158 of Truth at Last).

    Questions seem to open the door to even more questions. From the very first newspaper stories about Amelia and Fred’s disappearance, speculation about them landing or ditching successfully were included with the reported facts of their flight.

    Although Colonel Richards states that he believed Amelia had turned north, away from Howland Island (after coming within 50 miles of it), no one on the ground actually knew where she was in relation to the island.

    In one of Amelia’s last radio transmissions, she stated that she believed she was close to Itasca/Howland but could not see it. She said that she was running “North and South” along a line of bearing. It is known that there were clouds and weather conditions north of Howland. So it is very possible and likely that she did at some point turn north away from Howland and toward the Marshals or Gilbert Islands.

    If the story of Japan shooting her down was “leaked” by the Japanese as a way of covering their subsequent actions of capturing and killing Amelia and Fred, it only served to draw more attention to the story.

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  7. Richard,
    Thank you for your thoughtful answers. As I never pursued an interest in ham radio I apologize for my ignorance in such subjects. I thought in those days,if you wanted to transmit on 3105 KC you generally would simply stick a 3105crystal in that slot. There may have been other methods, I believe, but those methods were in their infancy. So, since she removed the trailing antenna and could not use 500 KC, why not stick a 5000 KC crystal in 500 slot and use that for clandestine messages to the US Navy? It makes perfect sense to me.

    Of course perfect sense in the AE mystery is always skating on thin ice. Now if she was sending messages on her mystery frequency, how difficult would it be for the Japs to find her signals? Could they scan the whole band easily in those days? In these days? I simply do not know. How did the Japs know what frequency she was going to use anyway? (3105 and 6210). You do raise a very significant point, though I never thought of. While it’s true that she could make it to Truk by 7 PM for daylight photos , after that it would rapidly get darkand she would be flying over the Marshalls mostly in the dark. Well, halfway, anyway. Did she then linger over the Marshalls until daylight so she could make photos?

    I wouldn’t think so. If that were true, then flying over the Marshalls in the dark would probably be senseless. As best as I could learn she ditched on Mili around 1100 AM. It is possible to work out her possible routes and speed as I did one day, tedious work and it didn’t lead me to any startling conclusions for all that effort. Another excellent point you make, suppose the Japs did catch her flying over Mili vicinity. I think the Japs would certainly know it was her, after all, who else would it be?. In that case, I would think that the observers would have to consult with Tokyo before they did aything. Did the hotheads prevail and they shot her down? Maybe for the Japs it was a gamble worth taking, they probably surmised the Americans would not do anything, (they didn’t) and the Japs could handle it like the Panay and just say “So solly.” So I believe, yes,they could and did shoot her down.

    It does seem, from your comments that her radio work was sloppy all along, and it was not part of an organized scheme to fool everyone. Another excellent point you made is if her purpose was to overfly the Mandates and take photos and not get caught, why not use a Navy plane and pilot and over fly at more sensible hours like arrive at Truk at dawn and have the whole day to do the Marshalls while it was still daylight. (I think that could be done) although that would probably be seen as an “Act of War” where Amelia could at least claim she was merely lost. That probably didn’t work out too well for her, though. So, we are still going around in circles, I know, one door opens and another one shuts. If we could reason our way into the real answer, her mystery would have been solved decades ago.

    All Best,
    David

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David,

      The Japanese had 11 Radio-Direction-Finding (RDF) stations throughout the Marianas, Marshalls, and Truk. We know from history that Axis RDF was the bane of Allied clandestine radio operators during World War II. By necessity, radio transmissions by Allied agents in Axis Occupied territory were of short duration, encrypted, and antennas and radio sets had to be compact and lightweight so they could be easily and quickly moved around. It wasn’t until very late in the war in the ETO that such low-power narrow-beam directed radio transmissions, such as the Joan-Eleanor system, were put into operation to thwart Abwehr RDF efforts. To this day, the basic principle still holds that you keep off the radio as much as possible, and when you must talk you keep it brief. Old soldiers know that transmitting on the radio for longer than is absolutely necessary attracts hostile artillery fire.

      Now, as for AE, it is established fact that she knew very little Morse code. FN’s Morse proficiency was minimal. The radio-telegraphy key, which would have allowed FN to transmit in Morse, was left behind in Miami along with the long wire antenna. That said, any “clandestine messages to the Navy” would have been unencrypted and in the clear. That’s hardly “clandestine.”

      All best,

      William

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  8. Amelia Earhart’s Communication Plan and frequencies were discussed in radio messages sent back and forth among herself, Coast Guard Headquarters in San Francisco, Navy Headquarters in Hawaii, the Swan, the Ontario and the Itasca. I do not believe that these messages were classified in any way, and they would have been sent “in the clear” rather than through any kind of cryptographic equipment.

    If the Japanese were listening and copying the routine message traffic in the area, they could easily have obtained Amelia’s known/assigned frequencies. IF there was some other “Secret” frequency, I am sure that the Japanese radio stations throughout the Mandated Islands could have detected them – even if their scanner was only an operator dialing through the frequency channels in the same manner as one would tune an AM radio.

    The only “code” that Amelia mentions to in her Com Plan is a reference to wanting “no code” in the communications. By this she meant no Morse Code. She did, however, request that radio stations key either an “A” or an “N” for five minutes along with the station identifier letters (three letters in Morse Code) twice every one minute. This would be so that she could identify and possibly home in on their radio signal. All of Amelia’s known radio communications while airborne were by voice. Voice signals can be understood over a much shorter range than key set Morse code transmissions.

    A possible scenario not suggested before is that if the Japanese did know the frequencies and specifics of Amelia’s Communication Plan, they could have attempted to lure her into the Mandated Islands by deceptively transmitting on her homing frequencies which she set up in her 26 June 1937 message. But again, one would have to question why the Japanese would want to do this.

    The Imperial Japanese Army (IJN) often acted autonomously throughout World War II without consulting Tokyo. If they had captured “spies” in their area, they would have immediately begun interrogations before contacting Tokyo. Perhaps this was the case with Amelia and Fred. If so, by the time Tokyo was contacted, they may have been mistreated and a decision to keep the whole situation secret could have resulted – in an effort to keep Japan from “losing face” in the eyes of the world, and to prevent what would have become an unwanted international incident.

    A possible reason for high level US officials (the President and upper level Navy) knowing that Amelia and Fred had survived and been captured could be that we were routinely monitoring Japanese radio message traffic and may have broken their secret codes. If this were the case, for the US to announce that Amelia and Fred had been captured by the Japanese would tip off Japan that we had broken their codes.

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  9. Greetings to All:

    In all of the accounts from eyewitnesses who saw the Electra post-2 July 1937 — from Jororo and Lijon to Bilimon to Sergeant Thomas E. Devine, U.S. Army — none spoke of seeing any evidence of obvious “battle damage” such as could have been inflicted by Japanese anti-aircraft fire, or attacking Japanese aircraft. Had the Electra been subjected to hostile fire, the damage would have been significant and repairs to said damage would have been obvious to anybody.

    All best,

    William

    Like

  10. Is the Richards Army/Air Force memo legitimate? Yes. Is it accurate? No.

    Rollin Reineck writes a lot of half-truths. He never supplied sources for his material. Fred Goerner thought he was a basket case. I tend to agree.

    Here are some points to consider:
    In 1937, Richard Black was a civilian employee of the Department of the Interior stationed in Honolulu. He was not an admiral. He joined the Navy reserves in 1938 and was commissioned a Lieutenant J.G.

    Lieutenant Dan Cooper, Army/Air Corps was an observer aboard the Itasca. He did not have any authority.

    In 1938, at the time Army/Air Force Liaison Officer Richards wrote the memo, the Army had no involvement with the Earhart search. Other than Lt. Cooper, there were no authoritive Army personnel at Howland to call attention to the information suggested in Richards’s memo.

    There is not a shred of evidence of a secret high frequency crystal installed on Earhart’s radio other than the known crystals: 500, 3105, and 6210.

    Henry Lau was a civilian assigned to Howland Island at the time the young Hawaiian men of the Kamehameha School colonized Howland Island. He was not an Army/Air Force lieutenant. Among other duties, Lau was the “ham radio” operator for the colonists.

    Earhart’s voice transmissions were piped over the Itasca’s loudspeakers. No one ever heard her report she was turning “north.”

    Eugene Vidal did have a conversation with Earhart a few weeks before her departure. (They were very good friends) Earhart did casually mention to Vidal that if she got lost, she would head to the Gilberts and find a nice sandy beach to land.

    Frank Cipriani was a “Coastie,” not a Navy man. He was not sent to Howland Island by Richard Black to operate the directional finder (DF). The small breadbox DF was brought aboard the Itasca from Honolulu and given to Black by a young Navy officer from Pearl Harbor. He told Black it was experimental. Black said it was not a secret.

    Commander Thompson of the Itasca was upset. He grudgingly accepted the DF. Cipriani was tasked to operate this Navy “breadbasket” but had no idea how it worked. That is why no DF signals were received from Earhart at Howland Island. Cipriani lied and said the batteries taken from the Itasca’s gun turret had run down. That was not true according to Radio Officer Tommy O’Hare who later wrote that Cipriani had no clue how to operate the device.

    Earhart never met with Bernard Baruch and General Oscar Westover at March Field nor were there a discussion of “Plan B.” This was the product of Joe Gervais’ vivid imagination. Reineck and Gervais were pen pals.

    Earhart most likely met with Baruch in Los Angeles in early May 1937 but not at March Field. This meeting or meetings is/are fuzzy but most likely were innocent. Baruch met Earhart for the first time a few months earlier on a train. He later gave her $2500 for repairs of her damaged Electra.

    Reineck’s constant use of the words, “it is believed” only shows his ignorance. His book is not sourced. His belief that Earhart returned to the U.S. as Irene Bolam says it all.

    Les Kinney

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I know this is just quibbling, but Firmosa probably didn’t and wouldn’t have to shoot up her plane. Wouldn’t he have been using tracer bullets which being fired near the plane, wouldn’t Amelia have gotten the message real quick? Especially with appropriate hand gestures by Firmosa?

    It sounds like the Japs would scan for her secret frequency the same way it could be done now, just by turning the tuning dial. If she kept her messages very short and spoke some kind of code words, the Japs would have to think, “Yes that’s her on a 3rd frequency” but they would not know what to make of it and probably would not be able to get a position on her, either. I’m sure the IJN did not want her harmed, they would want to question her.

    David

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    1. David,

      In air combat, tracer rounds were typically loaded in a one-to-four ratio; that is to say, after every four rounds of ball ammunition, the next round loaded would be a tracer. This aided the pilot in deflection shooting, and in better seeing where his rounds were impacting.

      All best,

      William

      Like

    2. Dave, the Japanese had no bases in the Pacific to send planes up to intercept Earhart. Even if they did, they had no DF or radios in those planes to monitor Earhart and no way to communicate back to their bases if a base existed – which there weren’t.

      Think about it. The possibility of Japanese planes traveling hundreds of miles over a vast ocean and intercepting Earhart’s plane, would be like taking off in a a Cessna 182 from Chicago and intercepting her plane as she sped past Washington, D.C. – all without the benefit of radar and no way to make it back to their non-existent bases without running out of fuel.

      In other words, it didn’t happen.

      Les Kinney

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Les,

    I happen to like the shot down hypothesis. I doubt, but have no way of knowing, that the Japs sent up planes from anywhere to be on alert for, and to monitor or shadow her flight. In that, I agree with you. If they had no bases or flat tops in the area they couldn’t have. All they had, I believe, was some armed seaplanes which I think could have threatened her somehow, but I’m really not sure about that.

    So, if it were the case the Japs were defenseless, and the Americans knew or suspected that, why not just overfly the Mandates with American military planes, take loads of pictures, and no need for AE to do any spying or observing at all? Maybe the Japs would object to the overflights, but so what? Was FDR so petrified by the Japanese threat (of war?) that he wouldn’t do it? That never has stopped USA from doing that stuff that I know of.

    My other food for thought is this: From Richard’s posts about Truk overflight in the dark or daylight,it dawned on me that if she flew from Truk to Howland over the Marshalls she couldn’t have seen anything because it would have been dark nightime. So why would she wind up over Mili? THat means she could have flown there from Howland vicinity by turning North. . But why? If she couldn’t see Howland wouldn’t she have flown West towards the Gilberts? I mean we have to attribute to her some common sense. I wish this all led to some kind of conclusion, but it doesn’t.

    In the end I can only ponder the question, What was stopping the US from flying over the Mandates at will? Unless they were afraid there would be some armed opposition, maybe even anti-aircraft guns? I don’t think it was because it would appear “impolite.”

    All Best,

    David

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Following the end of World War I, the League of Nations was formed. The Marshalls, Marianas and Caroline Islands which had formerly “belonged to” Germany were mandated to Japan to administer. Japan took the opportunity to colonize some of these islands, while setting up rules and puppet governments in all the others. League of Nations rules forbade Japan from constructing any sort of military bases or facilities on the islands.

    Japan went along with the League of Nations mandates to an extent at first. They were careful to state that any building (even airfields) was done in an effort to further education and welfare of the islanders. Then in 1935, Japan withdrew from the League of Nations, and decided to keep the Mandated Islands for her own.

    It is good to consider the events and situation of the time. Today, the US Navy would immediately cross any arbitrary “line of death” and challenge any nation’s unreasonable and illegal claim of ownership of territory – especially in international waters. But in the 1930’s, the US Navy (as well as the US Army) was much smaller and not in the position of generally policing the world and provoking confrontation.

    In short, Japan felt they could get away with expanding their territory, because they COULD get away with it. The League of Nations was weak and ineffective.

    Here is what the Pacific Islands Handbook 1944 stated about the issue:

    (Quote) A “Closed” Territory

    (Note the term “Europeans” also means America, although the US did not join the League of Nations)

    After Japan withdrew from the League of Nations in 1935 and announced that in no circumstances would any other nation be allowed to control these islands, The Marshalls, Carolines, and Marianas became a “closed territory” so far as Europeans were concerned. A few Europeans were allowed to pass through the group, but they were not permitted to wander off the regular travel tracks.

    The fact that these islands reach so far out into the Central and Southwest Pacific, and might so conveniently be used as a jumping – off place for Japanese enterprise – either commercial or military – caused much interest concerning Japanese activities there; and the determination of the Japanese in keeping all European observers out of places in the territory where they might have satisfied themselves about what was being done gave rise naturally to the gravest suspicions. It is now known that Japan assembled, in these islands equipment and supplies to assist her deliberate policy of aggression.

    The Japanese themselves declared repeatedly in 1937 and 1938 that the islands were not fortified and that they had nothing to hide. “Then”, replied the Europeans, “why does this remain a closed territory?”

    The answer came on December 7, 1941. (Unquote)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I don’t mean to be tiresome by writing this, but. . .
    It is now known that Japan assembled, in these islands equipment and supplies to assist her deliberate policy of aggression.

    What does this mean? What equipment and supplies? Then the last paragraph, “islands not fortified.” The implication of the P.I. Handbook seems to be that the Japs were lying. Yet I have recently seen comments here by commentators with much more stature than me declare the Japs had NOTHING in the way of defenses that possibly could have interfered with Amelia’s flight. No airfields, no planes, no nothing.

    I’m not disputing that at all. But doesn’t that then imply that the JAps were right? Wasn’t one of the excuses for Anerican alarm leading eventually to the war was that statement “It is now known, etc. ” But that was not true at all on July 2, 1937? Then if Amelia was on a spy mission there was nothing to see. No fighter aircraft, no planes, no rudimentary airfields, no warships (Apparently that could be checked in the records that William referred me to.)

    My take is that if one of the excuses for American concern about Japanese intentions in 1937 was the “fortification” of the Mandates it wasn’t a valid one. So was Amelia’s flight a provocation to motivate the Japs to fortify their mandates so the Americans would be justified in their alarm over Jap intentions? Their “deliberate policy of aggression?” They didn’t seem to be aggressing much in 1937.

    All Best,
    David

    Liked by 2 people

    1. William H. Trail | Reply

      David,

      Sometimes we become so narrowly focused on the details and specifics of the last flight and disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan that we fail to see, and hence ignore, the greater strategic geo-political picture that sets their disappearance into it’s proper context.

      One could reasonably argue that WWII really began on 18 September 1931 with the Mukden Incident and Imperial Japan’s aggression vis-a-vis the invasion of northeast China (Manchuria). From that point until 1945, Japan would be heavily engaged in, and unable to satisfactorily extricate itself without loss of “face” from the quagmire it’s war in China became. This situation would heavily influence subsequent Japanese decisions and actions elsewhere. This is particularly true regarding Imperial Japan’s later (1941) decision to invade Southeast Asia. Please see the link provided below.

      https://www.thoughtco.com/world-war-ii-pacific-towards-war-2361459

      Japanese-American relations had been politely contentious at best since 8 July 1853, when Commodore Matthew Perry, USN sailed into Tokyo Bay with a small squadron of warships essentially kicked open Japan’s front door and basically coerced Japan, which was still a shogunate and had no navy at the time, to enter into trade with the United States and demanded a treaty permitting trade and the opening of Japanese ports to U.S. merchant ships. The relationship with the United States would deteriorate further with Japanese dissatisfaction with the peace brokered by President Theodore Roosevelt and the Treaty of Portsmouth, which settled the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. According to professor of modern Japanese history Dr. John J. Stephan at the University of Hawaii, the United States of America was named for the first time as a “hypothetical enemy” of Japan in 1907. The Imperial Navy’s General Staff would later complete it’s earliest plan for a Pacific War in 1909. In the following years, U.S.-Japanese relations would further deteriorate for numerous reasons, to include bans to Japanese immigration to the U.S. and it’s territories (including Hawaii) and restrictions on Japanese fleet tonnage imposed by the treaty resulting from Washington Naval Conference. Japan would eventually withdraw from the League of Nations and abrogate the naval treaty.

      Of course, there is lots, lots more. I invite you to take a look at the ill-fated 1923 mission of Lt.Col. Earl Hancock “Pete” Ellis, USMC, to the Caroline Islands to investigate rumors of Japanese build-up and fortification there, and the mysterious circumstances of his death on Palau.

      All best,

      William

      Liked by 1 person

    2. If she flew over the fortified island with row after row of hundreds of planes, she would have seen it. How could they let her go home with that information. The camera and film were buried in the canister. But she saw what she saw. And if she was spotted, they surely would have followed and shot her down to stop the relay of info. That is, if they were lying. They were not aggressive those years since it was early in the planning stages.
      Japanese and Nazi had alliances in place at that time. There were German MDs/military on Saipan also up to and during that time.

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      1. One of the rewards of writing my speculations here is discovering later where I was just wrong or when a new idea is much better than the old idea. To RWR&B I would say I doubt there was much to see in the Marshalls at the time but if she had flown to Truk first, or even just went to the Marshalls first she would have been flying in the dark mostly, which is hardly conducive to good spying, in fact it would have been pointless.

        I suppose she could have circled around until daylight and then flew over the Marshalls while recordings of her voice played near Howland I. but that sounds way too far fetched. As William has pointed out, the Japs were busy in China at the time, and keeping anything more than a token military force in the Marshalls would have been kind of dumb. I don’t know if there were Germans in the Marshalls at the time, since they were now allies of Japan (I think) maybe there were, but that doesn’t seem very important.

        If I were FDR, I kind of don’t think he lost any sleep over what was happening to the poor Chinese. I have read that the Delanos made their fanily fortune in China apparently drug dealing and I don’t know if the Japs were interfering with that scheme if it was still going on. But, as I said in an earlier post, I think FDR was happy that the JAps were bogged down in their China quagmire and had they not been they would have been a lot harder for the U.S. to defeat. So he sent the Flying Tigers there more as a gesture than any real decisive force.

        If Amelia had flown from the Howland I. area to Mili Atoll, she obviously would have not had any film or any canisters to bury and the Japs would not have suspected she was spying and I don’t think they would have held her, after all they let the crew of that shipwreck go home and that was early in 1937 I believe. But why she would fly that great distance to Mili if she was really lost when she could have flown West to the Gilberts, a much shorter distance away, doesn’t make sense to me either. After all, Fred had an octant, he would know they were flying away from Howland and he would have had to head somewhat NW to hit the Marshalls which they must have known was a bad move.

        I have just run out of ideas, I’m now looking for new inspirations. Maybe when VP Pence assumes the presidency he will reveal the Earhart files. I think he will, probably his very first act.

        All Best,
        David

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Whether or not Amelia was on a spy mission over the Mandated Islands is still debated. An argument FOR such an assignment would be that Japanese activities and intentions were regarded with “gravest suspicions” as stated in the 1944 publication. An overflight of the islands might show American military planners what (if any) military build up might have been taking place.

    Military build up could mean such things as stockpiling supplies that would be needed later, and also the dredging of lagoons and harbors to accommodate submarines and warships. The Japanese had detailed plans for the construction of bomb proof concrete bunkers, gun emplacements, command posts, radio stations, etc. These structures can be seen today and have been examined and cataloged by historical archaeologists. Certainly places like Saipan already had these in 1937, and these would have been structures and patterns that Intelligence Analysts would have been looking for in any overhead photos.

    Had they started building these fortifications in the Mandated Islands by 1937? Certainly a question that would have been asked and answers sought.

    But even if Amelia was simply on her stated flight plan and Round – the – World flight and got off track or lost over the Marshalls – the Japanese might well have considered it an intentional “spy” over flight. All eyewitness statements from Pacific Islanders indicate that the Japanese were constantly in fear of “spies” and intelligence leaks.

    As to the Japanese not aggressing much in 1937, I am sure the Chinese would disagree.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, a good point about the Japanese aggression in China. I wasn’t thinking of that . My first thought was that FDR and the Western Allies must have been alarmed at that. Maybe not so much. It certainly kept the Japs from fortifying the Mandates like they wanted to at least in 1937. The Japs never completely defeated China. But wouldn’t FDR want them to be bogged down in China so the US was more easily able to achieve victory over Japan in the Pacific?

      When I think of it, it’s remarkable the Japs got as far as they did, a small country with no resources against two much bigger countries with a wealth of resources. No wonder FDR would be confident of Japan’s eventual defeat. They had no realistic chance to win the war. It makes me wonder why FDR would think the Mandates important enough to risk an overflight by AE for spying purposes. My view is that there was virtually nothing to see at the time.

      The only trouble with my assertions besides demonstrating an appalling lack of historical knowledge on my part is that they don’t answer the question of what the heck she was really doing and why is it so important that what little truth we do know about her is subject to a never ending disinformation Campaign.
      All Best,

      David

      Liked by 2 people

      1. William H. Trail

        David,

        Not to put too fine of a point on things, but Herbert Hoover, not FDR, was president at the time of the Mukden Incident. Hoover would remain president for nearly another year and a half, until FDR’s inauguration on 4 March 1933. That said, the U.S. and the world were in the midst of the Great Depression and there really wasn’t a whole lot of anything effectual that could be done to check militaristic Japan’s brutal and naked aggression in China.

        All best,

        William

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