by Stewart Beattie

 November 2002

It may be an irony, but having a birth date that reminds me each year of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, I'm motivated to keenly read much about the Pacific theatre of WW-II.  Annually these events come into focus for me, even more so perhaps, than the average Australian of my generation.

With the Narvik debacle fresh in English minds, by May 1940 a "cash-strapped" Britain at war, ended up with Mr Churchill as PM, who some described as a "drunken bum," and "war monger".  America had an opportunistic Roosevelt.  With emissary Harry Hopkins, agent "19", one of, "the most important … Soviet wartime agents in the US", they expediently divided up the globe, including the British Empire — sold-off in something akin to a 'fire-sale';  they lead millions of ordinary people into an expanded WW-II.

Now Britain has a prattler in Tony Blair, while Americans suffer "King George" the younger — lap-dog to Ariel Sharon — maneuvering us all into uncertain "peace with security", while concurrently destroying all the inalienable rights our forefathers reclaimed 787 years ago in England in 1215.

By July of 1941, the Churchill / Roosevelt oil embargo ensured Japan would quickly suffocate economically.  Like Iraq today, Japan then had two options; subservience to the coalitions' new order, or war.

To do justice to any revision of history of the Pacific War, it is important to check out crucial incidents that lead up to the most decisive battle for Australians in the Pacific — the Battle of the Coral Sea — and consider, "Did Japan plan to invade Australia?"

Few realise though, the first shots in the Pacific war were not fired at Pearl Harbor, but in fact at Kota Bharu in Malaya at 2200 (10.00 p.m.) local time, 7 December (0410 Hawaii time), when a British battery fired on 3 Japanese transports off the coast, and then shortly after an Australian squadron of Hudson bombers strafed and bombed these same ships.

In an AAP article (Wagga's Daily Advertiser Sept.11, 2002, @ p.8), Dr Peter Stanley of the Australian War Memorial was reported as saying,"…the raids on Darwin … were designed to protect Japanese interests in the Dutch East Indies," and their "… midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour did not mean Japan intended to invade Australia," it was no more than Japan's naval strategy in the Pacific.  This finding is in error.

On 11 November 1940, the German raider, Atlantis lay in wait off Nicobar Islands (east of Sri Lanka) for a quarry.  The Blue Funnel steamer Automedon appeared and after confused formalities, a "ferocious attack" ensued which lead to Automedon being boarded and the safe blown.

The Admiralty Courier’s secret document cargo, sealed in special lead weighted canvas bags ended up in Japan, and these documents revealed the whole of Churchill’s Far-East wartime strategies, including his firm assessment that Singapore was “indefensible”.

In spite of this debacle, the Advisory War Council in 1940 sent 17,000 young Australians (the 8th Div.) all abysmally equipped for jungle warfare, virtually straight into the Japanese 'death camps' of Malaya, when Britain's Lt.-Gen. Percival capitulated in Singapore on 15 February 1942.

Field Artillery gunners were sent to Singapore without their 25-pounders, re-equipped with mortars. …at home 2/5th Field Artillery gunners in 1941 were still practicing on 'chalk-drawn guns' on the quadrangle of their barracks!

By June of 1939, Britain and Australia had 'full control' of the Japanese naval cipher JN.25.  On 19 November 1941, Lt. Com. Nave RAN, decrypted a message in the Japanese consular code TSU, explaining that should hostilities be initiated, involving a “Japanese-American crisis,” a subsequent “execute” message would read "Higashi no kaze ame" — “East wind rain”.  This 'execute' message-decrypt was intercepted at Park Orchards near Melbourne on Thursday, 4 December 1941.

Australia foreknew of the impending attack against America which occurred 3 days later.  Blind Freddie would even have pointed toward Pearl Harbor.  And note, two carriers USS Enterprise (and Lexington?) slipped out of Pearl Harbor on 28 November, fortuitously dodging the Japanese bombs, that rained-down 9 days later....

Official Coral Sea Battle maps published since the late 1960's and even currently posted on the Internet at The Battle For Australia Site are not corroborated by the facts as I have found them.  Have these maps for all these years been published to deliberately mislead Australians about the Coral Sea Battle?

Our code-breaking ability ensured the Allies knew a lot about the two Japanese Strike Groups which left Rabaul about 28 April 1942, and proceeded on a South Easterly course.  In the First Strike Group were the two matching heavy fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku (of 29,800t) and their 125 aircraft.  They were screened by 3 heavy cruisers, 6 destroyers, and an oiler.

The second group was the Japanese 'Invasion Force', of 7 transports, 5 destroyers, the light carrier Shoho (9,500t.), with its 21 aircraft, a sea-plane carrier, gunboats and a squadron of submarines: more than 32 ships in all.

The Allies main Strike Group consisted of the carriers USS Yorktown and Lexington, with approximately 116 aircraft in all.  This Group was screened by 8 American cruisers, two light cruisers 10 destroyers, and was shadowed by the tanker Neosho with its escort destroyer USS Sim.

But it is the second Allied Attack Group which requires the reader's closer scrutiny here.  Under the command of Rear-Admiral J. G. Crace aboard the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia accompanied by, HMAS Hobart, the light cruiser USS Chicago and 3 American destroyers, Perkins, Farragut and Walke.  A total of 6 ships and a combined Allied total of 30 ships in two groups.  Importantly, the Allies second Attack Group had no fighter cover whatsoever from the First Strike Group.

Yes, Crace's Group had no fighter cover and only uncertain land-based RAAF, and US Army bombers.  His Group first had to survive an attack by 11 land-based Japanese high level bombers at 1150 on 7 May, then US Army land-based bombers tried to sink their own navy's destroyers, even reporting successes!  Of significance to our revision though is this fact:  no enemy aircraft from any of the 3 enemy carriers attacked this vulnerable Attack Group, as they were out of range of the Japanese carrier-based aircraft.

In spite of this second Strike Group's vulnerability to attack from carrier-based aircraft, establishment historians obviously believe the Allies' overall Commander, deliberately stationed Crace's 6 warships in the "hornets' nest", beside the south-western mouth of the Jombard Passage through which cipher-intercepts supposedly told the Allies one or both Groups of 32 Japanese warships covered by 146 aircraft, reconnaissance sea-planes and a squadron of submarines was about to proceed?  This "strategy" doesn't wash.

This is an unavoidable anomaly in logic, held by the official line.  Remember, at this time the Allies' main Strike Group was between 800-1200 nautical miles to the south of Crace, and positioned in the opposite direction to that which the Japanese were expected to proceed, according to the 'Moresby invasion theory'.

On 6 May at 1030, American B-17's from Cloncurry drew first blood, bombing the carrier Shoho part of the trailing Japanese Invasion Group.  It suffered light damage.  Importantly this Invasion Group was then positioned hundreds of miles past the "turn-point" for entry into the Jombard passage, which would lead them to Port Moresby.

I would emphasise that Crace's Group was supposedly patrolling this area 'near the Louisiade Archipelago' or some 200 miles from the southern reaches of the Jombard Passage.  But I suggest, that the Crace's Attack Group was hundreds of miles further to the south of this supposed patrol station.

On 7 May, the carrier Shoho was again attacked, this time by planes off the Lexington and in that determined attack, Shoho took hits from 13 bombs and no less than 7 torpedoes and sank within 5 minutes, some 580 nautical miles east of Grace's Group, roughly at the latitude of Ingham and was the northern-most sinking of either side's ships in the entire battle.

Earlier that morning and possibly 900-1100 miles to the South, the American oiler Neosho, was attacked by torpedo-bombers off the Japanese Strike Group many hundreds of miles South Southwest of the trailing Invasion Group.  The tanker was plastered amidships and it sank immediately.  Her escort destroyer USS Sim was struck by 3 x 500 pound bombs.  She split apart and sank, "stern first within minutes" at a position, I believe to be 1610-15' E longitude, 260-05' S latitude, which is surprisingly close to the Brisbane latitude!

May 7 was the deciding day of the battle, and the hand of our Almighty God played a crucial role that day upon the Coral Sea, in frustrating the Japanese and some quislings in Australia.

Several points need to made here.  The Allied ships were equipped with radar the Japanese were not.  All American pilots operating off carriers were equipped and trained in night flying.  The Japanese pilots were not so equipped or trained.

Shokaku and Zuikaku launched a total of 27 aircraft against the allies First Strike Group at 1630 (i.e. 4.30 pm local time), after reconnaissance aircraft had earlier spotted the American "flat-tops".

As the Japanese aircraft approached the American warships, they encountered strong head-winds and heavy cloud of a fast moving cold front which moved in from the WSW, forcing them to climb over the weather.  The Allies' First Attack Group was enveloped by heavy squalls and poor visibility, with their ship's radar blind.  So they were unaware of the Japanese, flying right on over them, just as the Japanese pilots, likewise, were blind to the prizes that lay below.

Certain they would find the American carriers, the Japanese pilots pressed on right to the extent of their fuel range, but still nothing.  Following normal protocols, they jettisoned their bombs and torpedoes, made a 180 degree turn, to retrace their outward leg, flying straight towards the American Strike Group, clear of the weather system's front, and now bathed in the light of a setting autumn sun.

Twenty Hellcat and Wildcat fighters were launched against the enemy aircraft.  They accounted for 8 Kate torpedo-bombers and one Val dive-bomber for the loss of two Hellcats.  Now, in the gathering gloom of an autumn evening, the Japanese pilots became confused to such an extent, some joined the queues attempting to land on the American carriers.  As few as 7 Japanese aircraft were recovered by their carriers in the darkness.

One Japanese commander resorted to turning on his carrier's searchlights into the clouds to guide his lost pilots home, searchlight flashes incidentally, that are claimed to have been witnessed by a grazier north of Yepoon on that evening.

May 8 saw the climax of the battle reached.  Each side was desperate for a decisive outcome.  An American Dauntless bomber delivered a 500lb bomb right on the flight deck carrier Shokaku which set the ship ablaze.  It was badly damaged.  Zuikaku was also attacked and badly damaged which saw both carriers forced to retire immediately to Japan.

Then came the American's turn.  From the Japanese carriers, Val torpedo-bombers and Kate dive-bombers attacked Yorktown and while able to avoid a single torpedo attack, she took a direct hit from one 800lb bomb which caused heavy damage.  However the crew were able to correct her list and she continued to operate.

At 1127, two Val torpedo-bombers made a well executed simultaneous bow-on attack against Lexington, with their fast running “Long Lance” torpedoes scoring two hits which caused heavy damage, and two 800 pound bombs, added to the Lexington's woes.

At 1247 the first of a series of huge and violent explosions ripped through the carrier, when petrol fumes exploded, and fires raged out of control.  Later a tremendous explosion sealed her fate.  The order to abandon ship was sounded at 1700, and very late in the evening the carrier was sunk deliberately by torpedoes.

Lexington had made way and drifted about a hundred miles South from where she was attacked and now lies in 2400 fathoms of water at the coordinates, 1570 02' E longitude, 230 06' S latitude, or some 483 nautical miles East-South-East of Yeppoon.

It would be helpful to this history revision, if Dr Stanley would publish details of time and coordinates of the following ships' positions at time of attack of the Japanese carriers Shoho, Shokaku and Zuikaku, and US ships, Neosho, Sim, Lexington and Yorktown, as well as the positions of, Shoho, USS Sim, Neosho, and Lexington when they sank.

Returning now to the second Strike Group under command of Rear-Admiral J. G. Crace.  The records show Crace's Squadron was quite, "vulnerable as they had no air cover," and when darkness settled over them on 8 May, Crace guided his still fully operational Attack Group, Southwest and straight to a safe anchorage beside Cid Island in the Whitsunday Group.

The point I want to make here is this: if one extends a line North East from Cid Island, it in no ways intersects the patrol area one could describe as, "just south of the Louisiade Archipelago" … 200 miles from the southern reaches of the Jombard Passage.  This second Strike Group must have been stationed much further to the Southeast than the area claimed.

If the Japanese had been heading for Moresby and if the Allies were determined to attack and defeat their endeavour, then this withdrawal to Cid Island bears no logic.  The Allies knew Shoho along with its aircraft were eliminated, they must have known both remaining carriers had been forced to withdraw also.  So why didn't Crace press home all his advantages?

MacArthur had yet to dispense with military protocols, which saw him ignore his supreme commander, relinquish his command to Wainright and flee the Philippines for Australia.  MacArthur was never ordered to Australia in spite of stories to the contrary.

MacArthur subsequently received promotion when he decamped, while at the first opportunity, Blamey banished to 3rd Corp HQ in Perth, Lt.-Gen. Gordon Bennett who'd escaped after Singapore fell, to bring vital information for our Military.  However before MacArthur's arrival, America had begun serious collaboration with the Advisory War Council here.

Regressing for a moment, and early on 19 February 1942, the Pacific War came to Australian soil.  The same Japanese carrier-born Strike Force that devastated Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on 7 December 1941, launched 188 aircraft to bomb and strafe the port-town of Darwin, severely damaging many dwellings and public buildings.  In the harbour they sank 4 American transports, a British tanker, 4 Australian ships, and the destroyer USS Peary as well as damaging many other installations.

Around midday a second air raid was carried out by 54 land-based Japanese aircraft from Kendari, and casualties mounted to the official figures of 238 people killed, and 250 injured.  However, I have learned from a son who's mother, served as an Army nurse in Darwin's bombed-out Hospital.  She angrily disputed the official casualty figures of these raids being adamant that between 2,500 – 3,000 people actually died there!

That same day (19 Feb.) John Curtin – who's problem with alcohol was common knowledge – was hospitalised in St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, officially suffering from “gastritis”.  Anyhow, Curtin's absence assured caretaker PM, Frank Forde of little opposition in obtaining approval from the Advisory War Council of the unconstitutional Mackay-Sturdy, Brisbane Line strategy.  In the event of Japan's "mythical" invasion, this plan surrendered all but the Eastern seaboard – Brisbane to Melbourne – and the population residing beyond that line, into enemy hands.

In that same uncertain month of 1942, and before Blamey or MacArthur had arrived in Australia, at Tocumwal on the Victoria / New South Wales border, Macintyre Field was commenced.  By April, 2,700 workmen had completed the airfield and 7,000 Americans and their aircraft arrived, just in the nick of time it would seem; 4 weeks before the Coral Sea Battle.

With the Coral Sea Battle concluded and the Japanese invasion force broken up, the Brisbane Line was now a dodo.  The American airmen moved north en masse, many to Rockhampton (now safe from the invasion landing) along with 70,000 American troops from Adelaide in June and July.

The 2/5th Field Regiment, recalled from the Middle East was disembarked at Adelaide, rested, and on 9 April 1942 they mobilised and entrained north to Tenterfield in NSW.  Tenterfield coincidentally, was a very strategic position in the Brisbane Line defences.

Other than the brigades deployed in Darwin, and the 39th and 53rd Bat. shipped to Port Moresby on 3 Jan 1942, no significant troop movements were undertaken, north and outside of the Brisbane Line, until well after the Coral Sea Battle was concluded 8 May 1942.

Although a frank investigation of one incident would put this whole matter to rest:  investigate thoroughly the credible report of a ‘mass grave site’ on Long Island, north of Yepoon, were remains of some 200 massacred Japanese commandos lie.  If Dr Stanley is fair-dinkum, then surely he could arrange to have the site excavated by an expert Australian team of forensic people and include Ron Gallagher, author of the book entitled The Long Island Massacre.  From Roman times through the 1940s and onto the present, history exhibits conspiracies having occurred frequently.  But now, it's my experience the practice of exposing such recent events is viewed as politically incorrect. - end.

Bibliography:  1. Charles Bateson, The War With Japan, 1968, Ure Smith P/L Aust;   2. Peter Brune, Those Ragged Bloody Heroes,  1991, Allen & Unwin;  3. Frank Legg, The Gordon Bennett Story, 1965, Angus & Robertson Aust;  4. Baker & Knight, Milne Bay 1942, 4th Ed., 2000;  5. James Rusbridger & Eric Nave, Betrayal at Pearl Harbor, 1991, Summit Books, NY;  6. War-time personal dairy of Admiral Paul Wenneker, wartime German naval attaché Tokyo, trns. by Dr John Chapman, The Price of Admiralty, 1984, pub. London, Saltire Press;  7. Report by Samuel Harper, Blue Funnel Line Archives, Liverpool.  8. Stewart K. Beattie, The Odd Good Year, 1999, self Pub;  9. Ron Gallagher, The Long Island Massacre, 2000, Epic Publications;  9-10. David Irving, Churchill's War, Vol-I,  1987 Veritas Pub. Aust., & Vol-II,  Focal Point London;  11. John W. O'Brien, Guns & Gunners, 1950  12. Herb Romerstein & Eric Breindel, Venona Secrets, and various Internet URL's of official American and Australian history of the Pacific theatre of WW-II.

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