Japanese lied about Earhart search in Marshalls

Most observers of the true history of research into the disappearance of Amelia Earhart are familiar with the work of Vincent V. Loomis, the former U.S. Air Force C-47 pilot, who, with his wife, Georgette, made four investigative trips to the Marshall Islands in the late 1970s-early ’80s, finding and interviewing several extremely important witnesses, which led to the publication of his 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story.

Loomis most important findings came in 1981, when he went to Tokyo seeking confirmation of statements contained in a 1949 CIA inter-office memorandum he found in National Air and Space Museum files.  The G-2 intelligence document revealed the United States was extremely interested in the Earhart case, and in 1949 had asked Japan to provide any and all relevant information it possessed.  The unstated purpose of the American government’s renewed interest in the case may have been to discredit Amy Otis Earhart’s July 1949 statement to the Los Angeles Times that she believed the Japanese were involved in Amelia’s demise.  Attached to the memo were clippings of a July 25, 1949 United Press story, “Mother Tells Fate of Amelia Earhart,” reporting Mrs. Earhart’s statements to the Times, as well as an August 1949 story in Japan’s Nippon Times, “UP [United Press] Tracing of Story Famed Aviatrix Was Nabbed By Japanese Still Proving Futile.”

Vincent V. Loomis at Mili, 1979.  In four trips to the Marshall Islands, Loomis collected considerable witness testimony indicating the fliers’ presence there.  His 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, is among the most important of the Earhart disappearance books, in that it established the presence of Amelia and Fred Noonan at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands following their disappearance on July 2, 1937.  (Courtesy Clayton Loomis.)

The following article was written by Bill Prymak but came largely from the pages of Amelia Earhart: The Final Story,  It appeared in the July 1998 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters.  Following Prymak’s piece, I’ll have some additional comments.

JAPANESE CAUGHT RED-HANDED IN A LIE?
By Bill Prymak

Was or was not the KAMOI at Jaluit during the period July 2, 1937?  In a memo to James Golden dated 14 October 1976, Fred Goerner referred to documents that fuel the fire:  “Interesting point: The comments of the Japanese officers in 1949 are the exact opposite of the same officers in 1971.  In the enclosed documents, the officers maintained the KAMOI searched for AE in 1937.

In an article in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings in 1971, the same officers maintained that the KAMOI had nothing to do with the search in 1937; indeed, they claimed the KAMOI was in Japan at the time of AE’s disappearance.”  (Preceding boldface emphasis Prymak’s, remaining boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

Were the Japanese lying the first time, in 1949, or were they covering up on 1971?  You decide from the following:

Vincent Loomis, author of Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, describes how during a visit to Japan in 1981, he found a G-2 document on Amelia Earhart, dated Aug. 4, 1949:

This document appeared in Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, Vincent V. Loomis’ 1985 book that chronicles Loomis’ four trips to the Marshall Islands.  

After the war, U.S. Intelligence (G-2) was ordered to investigate the Earhart disappearance from the Japanese side, Vincent V. Loomis wrote in his introduction to the above document, which he labeled “Central Intelligence G-2 Memorandum — 1949.” 

“The resulting report, reproduced here for the first time, is remarkable in that the Japanese managed to convince  G-2 they had searched the Marshalls quite thoroughly when in fact they had not.  The 12th Squadron and the Kamoi were listened as having searched the area when, as found in their logs, they were in port in Japan.  The Koshu was also listed as part of the search, but as having found nothing.  

“The Japanese lied quite convincingly both in 1937 and in 1949, but their statements could not be proven as such until the ships movements were determined through research in Japan in 1981.”

Far from being uninterested in her loss, the U.S. government had pressed the Japanese for as much information as they could obtain.  American intelligence agents were unable to find any Japanese Navy records pertaining to Earhart, but interviews were carried out with Japanese personnel who had supposedly searched for the Electra after it was lost on the way to Howland.

According to the document, the Japanese Navy’s 12th Squadron, assigned to the Marshalls in 1937, was instructed by Tokyo, after a request from the US government, to send the Kamoi, a seaplane tender, and several large flying boats, using the sea to the south of Jaluit as a central search point.  Later the survey ship Koshu was ordered into the areaBoth ships were listed in Japanese news releases of the day as primary search vessels.  The Japanese testified that the Kamoi led the rescue effort, but no traces of Earhart were found.  The investigation was closed.

. . . Once settled into a marvelous hotel (nothing like my wooden barracks of 1945), I was interviewed by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper about my quest for Amelia Earhart.  Other journalists and a television station heard of my efforts, and before long I had a number of allies among these newspeople.  One reporter told me that he had tried to interview Japanese veterans who had served during the period of Earhart’s loss, but there was a loud silence on the subject.  The new generation of Japanese wanted to know the truth, many actively searching out contacts on my behalf.

The next day my Japanese interpreter, Ty Yoneyama, and I started to dig into the history of the Kamoi and the Koshu.  We found a recent book on naval ships by a Japanese civilian publisher, which listed the Kamoi docked in Japan by July 10, 1937.  Because Earhart had gone down on July 2, we suspected the Kamoi could not have taken part in the search as reported to American intelligence in 1949.  The Koshu was listed as a coal-burning ship of over 2000 tons, assigned to the Marshalls in July 1937.  My first thought was of Tomaki [Mayazo] loading coal aboard the ship he described to me.  Had it been the Koshu?

The Japanese navy’s 2,080-ton survey ship Koshu, was probably the ship that picked up Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan from their landfall near Mili’s Barre Island, and which carried the Earhart Electra its stern to Saipan, where it was discovered by American forces in June 1944.

Jyuichi Hirabayashi, a veteran who had served aboard the Kamoi from early 1936 through July 10, 1937, had responded to the ad we placed in several Japanese newspapers asking for Kamoi personnel.  After my arrival in Japan, we called him and he came to meet us with the ship’s log entries, numerous papers and an extensive collection of photos from his tour.  We quickly got down to business.

Hirabayashi confirmed that the Kamoi, contrary to the U.S. intelligence report, was nowhere near the Marshalls when the Electra went down.  The day Amelia was lost, the ship was docked in Saipan, leaving on July 4 for Ise Bay, Japan, where it docked on July 10.  All of this was shown to us from the Kamoi’s official records.

Clearly the Japanese had lied to the United States in 1949.  What were they trying to hide, and why had they gone to so much trouble to make the Kamoi appear as if it were on a search mission?

Hirabayashi then described the two types of seaplanes operated from the ship.  Both were craned onto the water and retrieved with canvas slings, a method that was short-lived in favor of lift points on the aircraft.  Bilimon Amaron had recalled seeing canvas slings around the silver aircraft on the fantail of the ship he boarded at Jaluit.  Though he was more intent on treating the wounded white man with blue eyes, Bilimon had not missed this important detail.  The Electra would have been recovered in the same way the Japanese picked up their seaplanes.

The names of the four ships in the Japanese Navy’s 12th Squadron were provided by Hirabayashi – Kinoshima for mine-laying, Kamoi for seaplanes, Yunagi and Asanagi, which were light cruisers.  Not only was the Kamoi not involved in the search, but the entire 12th Squadron, which was supposed to combing the seas south of Jaluit, was actually docked in the home islands.  The Koshu had not been a part of the squadron.

On July 2, 1937, the Koshu was anchored at Ponape. where it received orders to proceed to the Marshall Islands and searchfor Amelia Earhart.  By July 9, it was on its way, while the Kamoi and the remaining 12th Squadron boats steamed for Japan.

This undated photo of Bilimon Amaron appeared in Vincent V. Loomis’ 1985 classic, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, with the following caption: Japanese medical corpsman Bilimon Amaran [sic] was called to the ship in Jaluit harbor along with the health services commander in 1937 to treat a white man with blue eyes.  The American had sustained head and knee injuries in the crash of his aircraft, piloted by a while woman.  Their silver twin-engine aircraft was seen by Amaran on the fantail of the ship, missing one wing. (Courtesy Clayton Loomis.)

Only the Koshu, capable of retrieving small floatplanes, took part in what the Japanese promised was a search, but its log entries revealed no search effort.  With a specific mission to perform, it went straight to Jaluit and anchored there on July 13.  While loading coal, Tomaki had been told by the ship’s crew that the ship had arrived seven to ten days after the aircraft came down.  Though July 13 was eleven days after the crash, the time frame was very close.  The Koshu left for several days, and then returned to Jaluit.  At this point Bilimon Amaron would have boarded the vessel to treat Noonan.  After Bilimon and his commander left the ship, it sailed for Truk and Saipan on July 19, the date the Japanese government officially gave up its search for Earhart. Hirabayashi remembered the Kamoi having two ship’s doctors, while the Koshu had none.  It was quite clear why Bilimon and his superior had been called aboard to treat Noonan.

Thus the words of Vincent Loomis.  If the KAMOI and the rest of the 12th Squadron were in Marshallese waters, the cover-up by the Japanese suddenly becomes enormous, involving the forging of many Japanese Naval vessels’ official logs.

To strengthen the presence of KAMOI and the 12th Squadron in the Marshallese waters we have interviews by witnesses seeing this fleet described by Fred Goerner, Buddy Brennan, Captain [Alfred] Parker (who was in Jaluit in 1937), and other serious researchers.  Joe Gervais and I, during our trek to Jaluit in 1997, found two elderly ladies who had been on Jaluit in 1937, and they emphatically insisted that it was the KAMOI that brought the American lady pilot to Jaluit. Mr. Hatfield, in our 1991 interview at Jaluit, also insisted that (principally thru Mr. Lee, who had just died) it was the KAMOI!  

WHO SHOULD WE BELIEVE?  (End of Prymak article.)

Those paying attention to the foregoing could be forgiven for questioning Prymak’s intent after reading his closing paragraph, in which he inexplicably seems to argue for the presence of Kamoi and the 12th Squadron in the Marshalls after Loomis had all but proven that scenario was well-nigh impossible.  

There’s nothing in Buddy Brennan’s Witness to the Execution that qualifies for Prymak’s endorsement of witnesses that “strengthen the presence of KAMOI and the 12th Squadron in the Marshallese waters,” as he wrote in his close. 

We know about Captain Alfred Parker, English-speaking skipper of the Swedish Motorship Fijian, bound from San Francisco to New Guinea and other south sea ports in March 1937, from a 1993 letter from Fred Goerner to J. Gordon Vaeth.  “The FIJIAN exploded on March 25, 1937 near the Marshall Islands,” Goerner wrote [caps emphasis in original].  “It burned and sank after the explosion, but Parker and his crew members were rescued by the Japanese ship SJIKO MARU and taken to Jaluit in the Marshalls.  Parker and his crew were kept at Jaluit for 28 days, and were finally put aboard the Japanese ship KASAGI MARU and shipped to Yokohama, Japan, with stops at Kasai, Ponape, Truk and Saipan. . . . Parker testified to U.S. authorities that the Japanese seaplane carrier KAMOI had arrived at Jaluit mid-April, 1937, with three supporting destroyers.  The ships commenced bombing exercises, and one of the Kamoi’s planes crashed, and the two occupants were killed.  The dates Parker reported for the Kamoi‘s presence in the Marshalls do not establish her in the search area during July 1937 For more, see Truth at Last, pages 172-173.

The witnesses Prymak himself interviewed on 1991 and 1997 trips to the Marshalls  “two elderly ladies and Mr. Hatfield, are really all he has, which, frankly, are not much when compared to the other side of the discussion.  Their accounts are sketchy at best.  See “Conclusion of Bill Prymak’s “The Jaluit Report,posted Nov. 2, 2019 and Bill Prymak’s ’97 Marshalls witnesses, Conclusion of Feb. 28, 2020 for details.  What else can explain why Prymak would take the other side of the discussion, which hardly qualifies as an “argument” at all.  It’s quite possible that Prymak was just playing devil’s advocate, taking the other side in the Koshu debate, simply for the sake of argument.  If I’m wrong about that, someone will surely let me know. 

A few years after Loomis’ revelations, Japanese journalist Fukiko Aoki confirmed the Koshu’s movements in July 1937, though the agenda-driven Aoki would concede nothing else.  Looking at the navigation logs of the Koshu, she wrote,it is clear that on the 13th [of July] she entered port at Jaluit and 6 days later, on the 19th turned back toward Truk and Saipan.  Looking at all of this, even though the special assignment ship Koshu took part in the search, there is absolutely no evidence that she rescued the American woman pilot.

Vincent V. Loomis passed away in June 1996 at 75.

24 responses

  1. What a tangled mess! I guess it comes down to who do you believe? For me, it has to be the Koshu that picked them up. It’s the only one that makes sense and that is backed up by eyewitness testimony like Bilimon’s. I have no idea what caused these two American women to believe it was the Kamoi.

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  2. A good source document regarding the fate of Japanese ships during World War II was published in February 1947 by the Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee. It was titled:

    Japanese Naval and Merchant Shipping Losses During World War II By All Causes (NAVEXOS P-468)

    Regarding the ships mentioned in your article:

    Yunagi, was a Destroyer. 1,270 tons. Sunk 25 August 1944 by US Submarine. 18-40 North Lat. 120-46 East Long.

    Asanagi, was a Destroyer, 1270 tons. Sunk 22 May 1944 by US Submarine, 28-20 North Lat. 138-57 East Long.

    Kinoshima, Not listed in the book as spelled. However, I believe this was:
    Okinoshima, Minelayer of 4,400 tons. Sunk 11 May 1942 by US Submarine, 5-06 South Lat. 153-48 East Long.

    Kasagi Maru was a converted Salvage vessel of 3,140 tons. It was sunk 27 January 1944 by US Submarine, 33-31 North Lat. 139-36 East Long.

    Sjiko Maru – Not listed under this spelling, however there were two ships named Seiko Maru. A very large cargo ship and a small net tender. It is most likely that it was this smaller ship which initially rescued Captain Parker and his crew, and transported them to Jaluit:
    Seiko Maru, Converted Net Tender of 708 tons. It was sunk 3 April 1944 by US Submarine, 1-45 South Lat. 126-14 East Long.

    Kamoi, Sea Plane Tender of 17,000 tons. While on this assignment, during July 1937, she was assigned to search for downed American aviator Amelia Earhart. However, the order was cancelled before Kamoi could start searching. On 28 January 1944, Kamoi sustained heavy damage in an attack by US Submarine Bowfin off Makassar. During the resulting repairs at Singapore, her aviation facilities were removed. As such, she was reclassified as a special service ship (oiler) on 15 April 1944. Repairs were completed on 29 August. On 24 September, she was slightly damaged by US aircraft of Coron Bay. Three days later, she sustained heavy damage in an attack by a United States Navy submarine outside Manila Bay. At some unspecified point afterward, she went into repairs at Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, Repairs were completed on 31 December, at which point she joined the Hi-87 convoy from Moji to Singapore. On 16 January 1945, she was heavily damaged in an air raid on Hong Kong. She was separated from the convoy at this time. On 5 April 1945, with repairs still incomplete, she was once again damaged by air raid, later sinking in shallow water. Kamoi was decommissioned on 3 May 1947 and scrapped some time later.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_seaplane_tender_Kamoi

    Koshu, had an interesting history. Constructed in Germany as a cargo ship of 2,270 tons, she was acquired in 1915 and named Koshu by Japan when they moved to take over the Islands later known as the Mandates. The ship served as a survey/cargo ship in the islands until 1 April 1940 when she was dismantled.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C5%8Dsh%C5%AB_(survey_ship)

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    1. That Wikipedia article once stated that IJN Koshu was scrapped in 1946.

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  3. I agree with Dave. I can take the facts as presented here and try to develop a theory of what really happened to Amelia and Fred, but the facts are sometimes elusive. The Japanese records show ships movements, but they could have been forged, covered up, got lost, we just don’t know for 100% sure.

    I thought I read somewhere that boatloads of Jap records were captured and taken to USA where they got misplaced or destroyed somehow, what a surprise! I pointed out that the Koshu in this article and the Koshu Les Kinney showed in the famous photo had to be two very fifferent ships. But no wonder, there were apparently two or three Koshus, even one built in 1937. No one was interested in following this up or even pointing out where I was mistaken.

    So there is a slim chance the Akagi was actually in the area, the Kamoi and the 12th squadron was there, who knows for sure? It was in the best interest of the Japs and the US to cover up and confuse the whole AE issue from Day 1. We can’t trust either government’s account. When I have convinced myself that even up to today many MSM accounts of significant world events are colossal lies I don’t trust the AE accounts either. At least today with the Internet some alternative versions of events are sometimes allowed or perhaps inadvertantly presented so some of us can decide we are being lied to.

    Whatever was going on with Amelia may well “stagger your imagination” except we don’t know yet what that was. Something more important than a mere spy flight, it might call into question the rationale for the War or expose some very questionable motivations of the principal architects of policy in those days.

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    1. Quote: “I thought “I read somewhere that boatloads of Jap records were captured and taken to USA where they got misplaced or destroyed somehow, what a surprise! I pointed out that the Koshu in this article and the Koshu Les Kinney showed in the famous photo had to be two very different ships. But no wonder, there were apparently two or three Koshus, even one built in 1937. No one was interested in following this up or even pointing out where I was mistaken.” Unquote

      Many Japanese Records did come into US hands in the months following Japan’s surrender. These records probably were sent to various storage and archive locations in the US, and a lot of them ended up in the US Navy Historical Center at the Washington (DC) Navy Yard.

      In 1952, when Japan ratified their new constitution and were being allowed to self govern as a sovereign nation once again, they requested all their former records be returned.

      Most of these records had not been translated post war, and there was one Naval History archive worker who realized that much primary source history would soon be lost if the records were sent back without saving copies. It was this one man who initiated a massive microfilm copying effort of the records – and those microfilms are still archived at the Navy Historical Center. Usually only an “executive summary” and table of contents in English (often handwritten) are included with these records.

      Other US service branches might also have received and dealt with Japanese Records after World War II. I have seen a translated Japanese soldier’s diary taken on Guam which was in US Marine Corps archives.

      Regarding the name “Koshu”, there were other ships with that same name, but they were larger ships and usually the full name was “Koshu Maru” – which indicated that they were Japanese merchant (not IJN) ships.

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      1. The History Channel show had the correct ship, they just got the name wrong.

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      2. The ship in the famous picture Les Kinney claims is the Koshu. Meaning the repatriated German ship presumably from WW1 reparations. He must have sources that I never discovered. Then there is the ship on the commemoration stamp with the plane hanging off the stern. That looks like the 1909 Japanese built Koshu. When I looked it up there seems to have been a 1937 Koshu which I thought my be the ship in the background of the picture, Les says it isn’t.

        So now I’m up to 3 Koshus or Koshu Marus. Maybe the ship in the photo is an IJN ship, just plain Koshu, no Maru. But why the different versions of the salvage of her plane, that is, on deck, hanging from crane or on a barge. Which is it? Did the Koshu pick up AE & Fred off the “fishing boat” and then also retrieved her plane? The story is that the witnesses saw the plane loaded on a barge from the reef it was on. Then why the picture of a different ship with the plane hanging from a crane? Unless this was a Loomis invention. I guess this is all just quibbling about unimportant detail. Today I believe the picture is a genuine of AE and Fred. Tomorrow I may believe the opposite. I probably don’t need to read the reference books about Japanese ships. It won’t prove anything that I know of.

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      3. David– NR16020 or an aircraft which looked exactly like it was recovered at Barre Island by the crew of the one and only “survey ship’ IJN Koshu using a float, pontoon, or “barge.” It was then towed to Jabor Harbor. Bilimon Amaron saw it after it was hoisted up to the level of the main deck of the ship using the large derrick immediately aft of the main deckhouse. The commemorative stamp is best viewed as an artist’s impresssion, more figuratve than literal, illustrating Koshu as it departed Jabor most likely en route to Saipan with the aircraft aboard.

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      4. CDA-

        When I read your post, I thought, “Well that settles it,” The stamp artist must have just concocted a ship image from his imagination and put that on the stamp. But a little search revealed a curiosity. Evidently the image is probably of another Koshu Maru. Quite a while ago I was able to find this same ship by Google, but that entry is gone. It was a 1909 or 1911 cargo ship but renamed shortly to something else when bought by a new owner. It is not the same ship as the Koshu in the “picture”

        I measured features with a ruler and unless it was modified extensively it can’t be same ship. Maybe the stamp artist looked up the Japanese Kawasaki built Koshu and used that. The article is somewhat interesting. If the Japs tracked her plane flying through the Marshalls after overflying Truk they obviously would have thought her a spy because she was. https://lostclipper.com/2017/07/07/whats-not-yet-been-said-about-the-amelia-earhart-photo-discovery/
        Doesn’t prove anything one way or the other, I know.
        David

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      5. David– Rich Martini is confused about the ship but I believe he is correct about Amelia and Fred being treated as guests at Jabor. If you look at the couple in the center of the Jabor Harbor photo they appear to be wearing ceremonial garb. Looks to me like the arrival of IJN Koshu with Amelias’s plane was a big event for the locals.

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      6. CDA-

        Where can I find Martini’s comments? One thing I wanted to add to my last comment after rereading that link I sent is this: The article claims AE and Fred were picked up by a civilian ship, meaning, I suppose that it was the Koshu Maru, the freighter, not the IJN Koshu. What if the stamp artist knew this and that’s why he painted an illustration of the civilian Kosh Maru? Is there really any proof that the IJN picked her up on a naval ship?

        It seems to me that if a “Koshu” picked her up it must follow that it was the survey ship. But does it really? Mind you, as CDA posits, at first they were treated as guests. A civilian fishing boat picked them up originally, so why couldn’t a civilian ship transfer them and also pick up the plane?

        Then what difference would it make? For one thing, the picture, if it’s genuine, should show the Koshu Maru at the dock, not the IJN Koshu. Unless the Koshu was waiting there to transfer them somewhere. Maybe the Koshu Maru (civilian) lowered the plane back onto a barge to be transported to Saipan. Probably a bad idea to go any distance with the plane hanging from a derrick. I’m not a sailor, but I would guess that few ships in that time & area had the means to stow an aircraft on their deck. I’m not sure how the Kamoi stowed her seaplanes, but they would be smaller than the Electra I would think.

        I don’t know what point I am trying to make, if any, except to resolve why the stamp shows a different ship than the one at the dock in the picture.

        All Best,

        David

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      7. David– There was no other Koshu involved afaik. The crew of IJN Koshu retrieved the aircraft. Don’t know how Amelia and Fred got from Mili to Jaluit. The ship portrayed on the stamp definitely appears to be based on the same photo Mike included above. The photo is c. WWI. The Japanese reconfigured the ship in 1921. The large deck guns and gun platforms were removed but the stamp image shows a forward gun.

        The stamp shows no deck machinery aft the main deckhouse. Compare to Jabor Harbor photo. The aircraft in the stamp image is way out of scale and the crew of the ship would not have had the aircraft swinging high as shown on the stamp. Possibly too much “artistic license” but it fairly represents how NR16020 would have been transported to Saipan in a cartoonish sort of way.

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  4. Shortly after the “Lost Evidence” special on the History Channel I looked extensively on the www for the highest resoluton version of the infamous Jabor Harbor photo I could find. I then zoomed in as far as possible without the image becoming too pixelated. There were a number of interesting features of the ship.

    The most relevent for this discussion is that there was a very large length of canvas draped over the stern down onto the object on the so-called “barge.” That object allegedly being NR16020. I believe the photo captured the crew of Koshu preparing to hoist the aircraft aboard the ship using the canvas as an improvised sling and then stow it in the manner later described by Bilimon Amaron.

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    1. I know “that” photo got de-bunked here…but I really saw it as real and it was such a tantalizing glimpse into their ‘real fate’ vs. the ‘flyers plane disappeared never to be seen again’ MSM pedaled rubbish.

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  5. Greetings to All:

    It’s not surprising that the Japanese Foreign Ministry responded as they did regarding the U.S. request for documents pertaining to Amelia Earhart. There weren’t any documents left — at least none that mattered. And, it’s not outlandish or slanderous to suggest that General Douglas MacArthur’s own long-time G-2, MG Charles A. Willoughby, USA, was as much personally responsible for the destruction of incriminating Japanese records as the Japanese themselves. In his 19 August 1952 story, “Heidelberg to Madrid, The Story of General Willoughby” appearing in The Reporter (New York Journal), Journalist Frank Kluckhorn wrote in part:

    “The inadequacy of U.S. counterintelligence operations at the beginning of the occupation of Japan, although not primarily Willoughby’s responsibility, has been directly attributed to his influence. Before the occupation began, Willoughby told this reporter, “We are going into Japan in battle formation and most of counterintelligence won’t arrive in Japan for six weeks.” The “battle-formation” plan had been worked out because of the likelihood of last-ditch kamikaze attacks by young Japanese fanatics. But counterintelligence was not under Willoughby’s command, although he had often tried to get control of it, and for this reason, among others, it was generally believed that he had used his top-echelon influence to ensure that it received a low priority for transportation to Japan. As a result of this decision, the writer and others who were in Tokyo when the occupation began watched the Japanese Foreign Office, Radio Tokyo, and the military openly burning in the streets documents and records they did not want our authorities to see, with no counterintelligence men there to stop them.”

    U.S. Army Counterintelligence Officers and Special Agents should have been among the very first boots-on-the-ground in Japan to round up Japanese persons of intelligence value and to seize, secure, and safeguard any and all important documents and materials to prevent their destruction. It was a shameful, criminal waste that they were delayed in transport to mainland Japan.

    All best,

    William

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  6. Here’s a question for all of you Earhart aficionados. The Kamoi and Koshu are both mentioned in books as ships involved in the Earhart recovery by the Japanese. Aoki discusses in her book about the Captain of the Koshu going south but getting nervous about entering American waters and turning back on the 7th.. What American waters?! The Kamoi was in the Marshalls in March, as reported by Captain Parker of the Fijian in his report to the US government.

    I have the synopsis and the location of the report in the National Archives, but does anyone have the full report so I don’t have to go retrieve it in February? The Kamoi is noted in the book “Zero” as being available for service on July 7th, 1937, in Japan, heading for China in the last paragraph of these 2 pages.

    I do note that when Bilimon made his remarks about her plane being on the back of a ship suspended by a crane, he never mentioned any other aircraft, yet, if it was a seaplane tender, it should have had 8 floatplanes on board. My money is on another coastal survey ship like the Koshu. Either that or the Koshu did the recovery after their aborted search, which would make more sense to me.

    I have the supporting docs from Francillion’s book, I will email them to you.

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    1. Woody,

      I have a 2002 edition of “Zero” by Masatake Okumiya and Jiro Horikoshi with Martin Caidin. Unfortunately, the book has no index. Do you recall the page(s) where Kamoi is referenced? Many thanks.

      Agree about the survey ship Koshu (the former Michael Jebsen scuttled by the Germans at Tsingtao) recovering NR16020.

      All best,

      William

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    2. William H. Trail | Reply

      Greetings to All:

      Last night I scanned the entire 361 page book page-by-page. Thankfully, ship names are in italics which made scanning fairly easy. I found one singular reference to the IJN seaplane tender Kamoi on page 28 of “Zero” 2nd Ed (2002) in a passage that reads…. “There were also available the thirty scout and observation seaplanes of the coastal defense ship Izumo, the flagship of the Third Fleet (stationed at Shanghai); the seaplane tender Kamoi; and various cruisers.”

      Additional information about IJN Kamoi may be found at the link provided below.

      https://ww2db.com/ship_spec.php?ship_id=898

      All best,

      William

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      1. A good resource book for World War II ships is a special reprint edition by Janes Ships of the World which includes all the Japanese ships, photos, and line drawings compiled from their books published during the war.

        Janes also published a book titled All the Worlds Aircraft of World War II which was similar and came out at the same time.

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      2. Richard,

        Many thanks for the tip. Much appreciated. I’m well acquainted with Jane’s Information Group and their many outstanding publications. They’re a great resource. However, they can be a bit pricey.

        All best,

        William

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  7. The “American waters” could only have been the vicinity of U.S. island possessions such as in the Phoenix Islands where U.S. Navy units would have been expected to be searching. There was no need for the Japanese to even fake a search.

    The IJN had seaplane carriers and seaplane tenders. Kamoi had been downgraded from carrier to tender so it would not necessarily have had a complement of aircraft. The seaplane carriers had a full hangar deck like a fleet carrier. During WWII Kamoi was used to transport equipment and materials for constructing seaplane bases. Chances are that in July 1937 Kamoi was supporting the construction or initial operation of the major seaplane base at Emiej.

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    1. I am not certain what “American Waters” were being referenced, but certainly the waters around Guam and within 3 miles of its shores would have qualified as American.

      The Japanese showed no concern for violating this space in December 1941 when they invaded Guam.

      The IJN ship Kamoi was a seaplane tender with float planes attached to it in 1937. According to some records, she and her accompanying destroyers were stationed in or near Saipan in early July 1937. IF there was any order for her to search for Amelia, Fred and their aircraft, it was cancelled and the ship set sail for Japan on or around 7 July 1937 without doing any searching.

      It was not until early 1944 that all aviation facilities on Kamoi were removed and she was converted and reclassified as an Oiler.

      In regard to construction of shore based aviation facilities, Saipan and Truk airstrips on land and it is likely that similar construction was taking place on other islands in 1937. Also being constructed were seaplane ramps and facilities. Palau, Ponape, Saipan, and Truk all had such capabilities.

      There was a Pan Am seaplane base at US Guam (US), but no land based air strip in 1937.

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      1. Richard,

        The US Marine Corps had a seaplane unit on Guam from 1921 to 1931. Later, PAA established a seaplane station at Sumay, Guam in 1936. The Japanese constructed the first facilities to support land-based fixed-wing aviation there after the December 1941 invasion. These were the 4,500-ft strip on Orote Peninsula, and the 5,000-ft strip at Tiyan (2 1/2 miles east of Agana), which was not completed by the 1944 liberation of the island.

        Source: “World War II Pacific Island Guide A Geo-Military Study” (2002), by Gordon L. Rottman.

        All best,

        William

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      2. The Tiyan airstrip begun on Guam by the Japanese was turned into one of the B-29 fields used by the US to launch air raids on Japan. It eventually became the Naval Air Station (NAS) Guam, which shared the field with Guam International Airport in later years.

        The air field at Orote Point was the main Japanese land base for Japanese aircraft during World War II and was a main target during Operation Forger prior to the landings at Saipan, Guam, and Tinian. It is located on what is now the Naval Station, Guam, but has not been an active field for many years.

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