Pacific War, WW2
Hello From Australia,
I was interested with your description of Savo on the Net.
At the time of Savo. I was the Officer of the Watch in Canberra, you say we were hit by two torpedoes, we may have picked up one probably from Bagley, but certainly not two. I would be interested in your source of two torpedo hits.
That paragraph was taken from "United States Destroyer Operations in World War II" by Theodore Roscoe, published by U.S. Naval Institute Dec 1953". My copy is the authorized abridgment by Bantam War Books, 1979 (paperback). The pertinent references to Canberra include:
"A rain for shells fell on HMAS CANBERRA, and at the same time two torpedoes smashed into
her starboard side. In an instant she was swaddled in flames and listing to starboard, disabled.
. . .
"On CANBERRA's starboard bow, destroyer BAGLEY swung hard left to fire a starboard torpedo salvo at the enemy cruisers. So sudden was the attack that the torpedoes could not be readied for this salvo. BAGLEY continued to circle until the port torpedoes were brought to bear. The salvo was fired, but by that time the Jap cruisers were beyond range.
. . .
"About 0300 of that hectic morning of Aug 9 destroyer PATTERSON was ordered by CHICAGO's Captain H.D.Bode to go to the assistance of disabled CANBERRA. As PATTERSON jockeyed alongside the burning Australian cruiser, the latter's ammunition began to explode. And it was not until about 0400 that Walker and his destroyermen were able to aid the Australians in fighting the inferno.
. . .
"Destroyer BLUE came up at 0622 to aid CANBERRA, and she and PATTERSON took off the 680 Australian survivors, who were carried to the transport anchorage at Guadalcanal. About 0800, to prevent possible enemy capture, CANBERRA was torpedo-sunk by destroyer ELLET."
Why do you suspect BAGLEY (DD-386) fired the torpedo(s) when the Japanese fired sixty-one of their 24" torpedoes that night?
Another point, you say the Australian Pilot of the Hudson did not report his sighting of Mikawa, had tea on his return before debriefing. This is perpetuating the myth started by Morison in his history of US Naval operations.
This is a well published story approaching legend status as an ultimate example of indifference. The name is not important to history, but the act is. I would love to help correct history and will happily add a note or an entire new web page to correct injustice. The number of people surviving who can say, "I was there" is growing smaller each year. Can you send me more rounded information that will be of interest to our readers?
I have interviewed Stan Stutt the Hudson pilot plus his Navigator, and he did break radio silence to report his sighting, he did not take tea prior to his reporting to intelligence, in fact Stan Stutt does not even drink tea.
Why did you interview Stan Stutt? Are there any citations and references to records to show the true activities that readers can look up?
Post war records of Mikawa's actions confirm his radio; people had read and recorded Stutt's radio report of the finding.
Did this information become available after Morison's history? If we can document a reference, we can perhaps correct the popular misconception. You describe so many search planes in the area, how do we know which one's radio signal Mikawa intercepted?
May I respectfully suggest you amend your Savo story accordingly, and redress this slur on an Australian air crew from 1942?
If you can provide citable information, we will certain do our best.
In fact, I would suspect you have already approached the US Naval Institute about this.
Have they published a correction?
Mackenzie J Gregory
Oh my, I just found your great web site with John G. Sauvageau
You are a Lieutenant Commander, R.A.N. (retired) who has written on the subject. You don't need any help from me. You adequately repudiate the Hudson story. However, you do not explain why and how you know what each plane did, especially about Stutt. This will be of interest to readers and a certain level of documentation will be required to overcome the established story about the Hudson and tea. I will certainly revise my page and provide a link to your site. If you respond with amplification, I will include that, too. Our approaches to web page design are entirely different, so we will attract different audiences.
With greatest respect,
Jim Bauer 20Feb01
Thank you for your gracious response.
This is going to be a long E-Mail to you and I apologize in advance.
Here goes: Morison was published in 1951, Gill in his Vol 2 of the official history of the RAN in WW2. was probably the first to refute the story of the Hudson's role in sighting Mikawa's fleet.
Two later books published in Australia take up the Savo story.
At the time of Savo, Bruce Loxton was the Captain's Midshipman on Canberra's bridge, he was severely wounded and, I did not think he could survive, but he did, to complete a distinguished Naval career, and retire as a Commodore. His service included a spell as Naval Attaché in Washington D.C. and Director of Naval Intelligence in Australia.
- Warner, Denis and Peggy. "Disaster in the Pacific. New Light on the Battle of Savo Island". Allen & Unwin. Sydney 1992. [Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 1992.]
- Loxton, B. with Coulthard-Clark, C. "The Shame of Savo. Anatomy of a Naval Disaster". Allen & Unwin. St.Leonards. NSW. 1994.. [Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 1994.]
Bruce lives in Sydney, and I live in Melbourne, the two cities about 500 miles apart. As most of the RAN's records about Savo were housed in archives in Melbourne, I did a good deal of research for Bruce here in Melbourne.
As we wanted to learn about the Hudson's story first hand, and both the Hudson's pilot and navigator lived in Melbourne, Bruce flew to Melbourne, and we both interviewed former Sergeant Bill Stutt, the pilot, and Wilbur Courtis, the navigator over lunch. We discussed the aircraft's sighting of Mikawa, how they broke wireless silence to make an enemy report, and tried to raise their base at Fall River over a period of time but without success. Post war, it was discovered in RAAF records, in the signal log of ACH Townsville, that from 1032 to 1100, Fall River radio had closed because of an air raid alert.
Link to Hudson Aircraft Report
It was interesting to learn that at Stutt's briefing he was informed they might sight some US ships, but no mention was made about the WatchTower Operation, so, when they actually sighted the Japanese ships at 1025, on August 8 1942, they thought they were friendly. They were most surprised to discover that this sighting comprised 8 Japanese warships.
A Japanese floatplane was in the vicinity of the Japanese ships, and Stutt thought it was a Zero type fighter with floats that was out to attack him, and he quickly made off to the NW. On the way home they sighted two surfaced submarines, bombed them without success, then landed at Fall River at 1242, and were taken by a jeep for an immediate debriefing.
Flight Lieutenant Lloyd Milne had been in charge of the 5 Hudson's at Fall River, and had flown Hudson A16-157 that day, but did not sight Mikawa.
Another Hudson, A16-185, flown by Flying Officer Mervwn Williams had also sighted Mikawa at 1103, he also thought the force was friendly until Chokai opened fire, hitting this aircraft in three places with splinters. Williams withdrew, but unlike Stutt completed his mission, he did attempt to send an enemy report to Falls River, but was told to maintain radio silence. William's debriefing officer for some inexplicable reason failed to accept his enemy report of 2 heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and 1 small unknown type ( he had not sighted all 8 of Mikawa's ships.)
Although Williams had a blazing row with his debriefing officer, he did not convince him about the ships sighted, he gave up, noted his sighting in his log book as well as the damage to his aircraft.
Jim, the various times reported in different accounts of Savo need to be clarified.
The Japanese Fleet kept -9 time ( ie 9 hours ahead of GMT ) the Hudsons kept -10 time ( ie 10 hours ahead of GMT ) whilst at Guadalcanal, the Allied Force kept -11 time ( ie 11 hours ahead of GMT ). Thus the Hudson's first sighting of Mikawa at 1025, was 0925 for Mikawa, and, 1125 at Guadalcanal.
In Chokai, Stutt's enemy report had been intercepted. Lloyd Milne's wife Nancy had been trying to document the Hudson's sighting of Mikawa, and that the flagship had read and recorded Stutt's radio transmission. Her husband Lloyd had died, and in 1983 Nancy contacted Commander Sadao Seno a retired Japanese Naval Officer, ( he had worked with the Warners on their book: "Kamikaze. The Sacred Warriors 1944-45" )
Seno found in Chokai's action report a record of the interception of the Hudson's message. ( whilst no formal copy of Chokai's action report had survived post war, an Engineer officer had kept an illegal copy he had made, it was amongst papers he gave to the Japanese National Institute of Defense in 1963 )
The Institute has authenticated this copy, and Bruce Loxton received a letter from Captain Itonoga dated 8 August 1990, confirming this fact. At long last, Stutt and his crew had been vindicated.
Now to Bagley, and the possibility of Canberra picking up one of her torpedoes.
By our early maneuvers, I believe we evaded the Japanese torpedoes, all their attack came from our port side, I vividly recall being at my action station in the fore control above the bridge which I had recently left, looking out to port at the looming Japanese cruisers, no more than a few thousand yards away, with them firing at us, and remarking out loud. "My God this is bloody awful." We had listed quite heavily to starboard, consistent with water rushing in a hole on our starboard side as a result of a torpedo hit on that side of the ship. In "The Shame of Savo", Bruce Loxton, with track charts, using both Bagley's and Canberra's turning circles, the position of Bagley, on our starboard side, the timing of her firing her torpedoes etc, mounts a compelling argument for one of Bagley's torpedoes finding us.
I have not seen any response from the USA, or any other source that refutes his claim since his book came out in 1994.
I sincerely believe at this distance from the night in question, that from Loxton's work, Canberra was torpedoed on her starboard side amidships, at about 0147 on August 9 1942, and that Bagley had fired that torpedo.
Wow! I have gone on a long time Jim, again I apologize, if you have any more questions please fire them off to me.
It would be great if you put a link on your page to AHOY.
John Sauvageau, who has looked after my site since inception, is about to retire from such activities, and I will need to learn how to look after it myself. John is preparing a CD to help in that direction. I have now completed work on "Marauders of the Sea. Armed German Merchant Ships of WW1", this is to round out these ships in WW2 already on my site, so it will in due course complete this work. So! I will have much to keep me busy in the future.
It is great to meet you via the Web, please do keep in touch.
macden "each-sign" melbpc "period" org "another-period" au
AHOY Naval Reminiscences.
Click on - HMAS Canberra to read about the Battle of Savo Island, and page about - Hudson observations.
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