Roundtable Forum
Our 18th Year
August 2015

In this issue.

Tex Biard and Jack Fletcher
Proper US Navy hull numbers
Another Midway exhibit
Battle of Midway Diorama
Clyde H. Stamps of VMSB-241
USS Yorktown Film of Damage
BOM on TCM September 15
Announcements and Questions
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

August 15, 1945 marked the end of World War II when the Japanese surrendered.  Although the official surrender did not take place until September 2nd, 1945 the war was over in August.  The Battle of Midway was instrumental in shortening the war by destroying Japan's offensive power while at the same time keeping our own intact.  Had the results been different or even reversed it is only speculation on how the course of the war might have progressed.  It is doubtful with the industrial capacity of the United States and the launching of the Essex class carriers that Japan could have withstood the assault even if all 4 carriers lost at Midway had survived.  But it might have made the long road back somewhat longer and the Guadalcanal landings in August would not in all likelihood have happened.

The end of the war was not written about much in history books as authors gave passing paragraphs or sentences to their works.  However there were still stories being played out.  Nancy Canavan Heslop gives us and end of war letter from 'Des' and some articles and newspaper clippings of 'Pappy' Boyington coming home from the war. 

This month we have comments from John Lundstrom on Fletcher and Biard, another Midway exhibit, a very nicely done Midway Diorama,  more on Clyde Stamps, and apparent film of the damaged Yorktown at Midway.

Tex Biard and Jack Fletcher
The first link in the September Email is incorrect.  Click here to go to the September article.
From John Lundstrom:

I would respectfully suggest that readers of the roundtable interested in the relationship between Fletcher and Biard might consider looking at my book "Black Shoe Carrier Admiral: Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, Midway and Guadalcanal" (Annapolis, 2006) for an in-depth analysis. I knew both Tex Biard and E. T. Layton. I corresponded extensively with Adm. Layton from 1973-77, and he provided me both his recollections and expert commentary first for my M.A. thesis and for the manuscript of "The First South Pacific Campaign" which arose out of it. I also knew Roger Pineau and John Costello. I helped them in connection with the unfinished Layton memoir "And I Was There" and met with them at Roger's home in the summer of 1984 for an extensive discussion of the section on the Battle of the Coral Sea which they wrote only after Layton's untimely death in 1983.

Everything on the Coral Sea and Midway in the Layton memoir was actually written by Costello with Pineau's help after Layton's death. Their discussion on Biard in the book is based entirely on Biard's unpublished memoir which he furnished them & which I read. It was published in 1989 by the journal Cryptolog. Regarding Biard's material on the Coral Sea, Layton himself said to Pineau and Costello on 11 May 1983 (interview in Layton papers, 96, at the Naval War College): "I would't want to quote any of this," and "That's Biard's problem. I think he's pretty inclined to think that he is always right. I may suffer from the same disease." (See "Black Shoe Carrier Admiral," 565, n31.)

I have some pretty strong opinions regarding Tex and his loyalty to his commander. In my Fletcher book I try to analyze in detail and fairly in light of the original documents everything charge he made against Fletcher. I hope the reader will do the same and come to his own conclusions based on the evidence.

The submarine incident to which Mr. Martell refers occurred on 2 May 1942 in the Coral Sea at the onset of the battle. A Yorktown SBD sighted a surfaced sub 23 miles north of TF-17. Three TBDs attacked it with depth charges as it crash-dived and thought they sank it. Baird said his radio operators heard no contact report from the sub. The sub was the I-21 which never reported the contact, thinking the attackers were land-based planes. On 5 May, Adm. Fitch flew over from the Lexington to be briefed by Fletcher. He told Fletcher that his radio intercept team on the Lex (led by a lt.cdr. senior to Biard) DID hear a sighting report from that sub, which led Fletcher later to write that the sub very likely spotted TF-17. In fact, Biard was right. The I-21 never sent a contact report, but Fletcher did not know that.

The second incident Mr. Martell noted occurred on 7 May. It's too complex to go into here (see my Fletcher book, 162-71, and notes on pp. 552-56), but the evidence in my opinion goes against Biard's assertions of Fletcher's incompetence. The messages Biard picked up were not Zuikaku's "homing signal," but a message sent by the CO of MO Striking Force announcing a course change.

As for the editor's note, Biard and his radio team were only on board the Yorktown to intercept Japanese radio messages sent in the clear or in simple cyphers, as well as monitor different enemy stations as to call signs etc. Biard was not part of the secret intelligence network in which Nimitz shared Ultra with his top commanders.

As for Fletcher's opinion of Biard, when on 27 May 1942 at Pearl when he learned of the upcoming battle for Midway from Nimitz he fully expected to take Biard along with him. However, Biard had already, without telling Fletcher, arranged for his own detachment back to Hypo. In the limited time before he sailed on 30 May, Fletcher had to scramble to get a replacement radio intelligence team for the Yorktown. So if Fletcher had any "ill-feelings"toward Biard, his behavior before Midway might have had something to do with it.

Best wishes,
John Lundstrom

Proper format for US Navy ship hull numbers

From David Gillis:

Just a note to remind all that US Navy ship hull numbers do NOT include a "tack" or "hyphen" between the ship type and the number. Unfortunately, some reputable publishing houses have insisted on including a "tack" even while acknowledging it is incorrect. One such organization is the Naval Institute, amazingly. While they have acknowledged to me it is incorrect, they lamely claim their printing process requires it! The Naval Writing Guide is the proper source for correct style in Naval writing, and it has been clear in from that source for many years that there is no "tack" in hull numbers. While it is speculation, I suspect the error became widespread with the birth of carrier aviation. Of course, Naval and Marine aircraft squadrons DO have a tack in their short name, such as HMM-164, which I served with in Vietnam. Similarly, MAG-16 has a "tack". Given the role of Naval aviation aboard Navy carriers, one can see how aviators might assume the same style was correct for Navy hull numbers. Later in my Naval career, as Senior Medical Officer aboard USS John C. Stennis CVN 74, I was dismayed to find napkins and other items embossed with the hull number, including a "tack". I did manage to persuade the company assembling the Cruise Book to omit a tack. In conversations with ship model companies, I was told the "tack" has been so pervasively added that it is too big a task to correct now. I find that a rather inadequate stance, even if true. The longer it goes uncorrected, the larger the job of setting it right. Hopefully the BOM site can help swing the tide by making members who contribute aware of this situation and we can, albeit slowly, correct this problem and return proper dignity to our ships and publications when they include reference to a hull number. Thank you for your consideration of this, and congratulation for your able stewardship of this most excellent web site.

David Gillis CDR (MC) USNR (retired)

Another Midway exhibit

From James S. Leffler, Jr:

Hello, I’m not sure if it has previously been mentioned but I noticed you had two very interesting locations that had special areas dedicated to the Battle of Midway and some of the planes , and I would like to add the display at the USS YORKTOWN CV-10 in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. They have a good size section of the hangar displays dedicated to Midway, including model dioramas of Task Force 16 and 17, a wall honoring Torpedo Squadron 8 and the other heroes that served, many other features and there are three US Navy aircraft type that were at the Battle. There is a replica F4F-3, in Butch O’Hare’s markings ( I know, he was not at Midway) an SBD , I believe –5, which honors two of the crew lost at Coral Sea trying to fly anti torpedo plane patrol, and also an Avenger. In addition, there are displays of 20mm, 1.1inch AA guns as well as 40mm Bofors mounts. All this on the namesake of CV 5 , lost at Midway. In my opinion, this is a must visit location for anyone who is interested in the Battle and even the entire struggle in the Pacific. We go back almost every year, there’s something about it, just a very special place. Thanks, hope you enjoy it. As always, my respect and Thank You to those that served during that time.

Thank You.
James S. Leffler, Jr
A1C, U.S. Air Force

Battle of Midway Diorama

From Bjørn Jacobsen:

My Midway Diorama is now finished and I have published it on my website.

You can see it here of midway.html

Editors Note: Very good diorama of a portion of the Battle of Midway.  I have included some pictures of the diorama below but check out his page to see the whole project.  Really nice work.  Thanks very much for sharing.  Also check out his other diorama's on his web page here

Clyde H. Stamps of VMSB-241

From Bill Vickrey:

Concerning last months article on Clyde H. Stamps uniform I have a bit of information about Lieutenant Colonel Clyde Stamps, USMC (Ret).

I am one of the six founders of the Midway Round Table and have had contact with at least 1,000 men who were ashore, aloft or afloat at The Battle of Midway including most of the Naval Aviators (Marine Pilots are also “Naval Aviators”) who were alive some 20-25 years ago when I did most of my Battle of Midway research. I am the retired CEO of a group of insurance companies and traveled extensively in my job. This enabled me to visit many of these men in person. I also attended many squadron and ship reunions which enabled me to get acquainted with many men. I was privileged to speak at several reunions and was on the mailing list of many reunion groups. My intent was to write a book about the Men of Midway – not the Battle per se. In 1992 I spent a week on Midway Island as a part of a historical expedition.

I do have a little bit of first hand information about Colonel Stamps who died on 02 June 1997 at age 80.

Stamps got his wings as a Naval Aviation Pilot in 1941. Even though I have a listing of what was purported to be all the officer Naval Aviators from the beginning - when Theodore G. Ellyson became Naval Aviator #1 - well into World War II I do not find Stamps on that list. It may be that he was not commissioned until late in the war or he could have gone back to being a “ground” Marine – but, at any rate, I have no record of him getting his Naval Aviator’s (Officer) wings.

I had some limited mail contact with him back in 1994 but he did not share much information. I asked all the pilots for copies of their log books for June, 1942. Stamps gave me a copy of his log book for January, 1942 with notations from his June log and a copy of what I have is attached.

I am also attaching a copy of his Navy Cross citation along with a copy of his Midway Action Report.

I am not sure where I got his signature but I typed the body of the report and copied his signature. Somewhere I have a copy of his report with his signature but my Midway library is not organized so that I cannot locate it just now.

If he flew later in the war I am surprised that he got no individual combat decoration aside from the Navy Cross. It may be that he did but did not share that information with me. Generally an Air Medal was awarded for five combat missions. Many of the VMSB-241 pilots went on to fly from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.

This is the best I can do.

Bill Vickrey

Stamps Action Report PDF

Stamps Log Book PDF

Stamps Navy Cross Citation PDF

Film of USS Yorktown Damage at Midway

From Stephen Topper

While looking thru the Archives after viewing the Enterprize clip from your last email, I found this clip # 80279 at the 4:10 mark it appears to be film taken on the deck of the Yorktown at Midway?? 

Notes say: 16315 PROD: USS YORKTOWN (MOVIETONE) SUBJ: HITS ON FLIGHT DECK 100"1) CU Damage caused by direct hit on the flight deck of the Yorktown2) CU 1-1.3) MCU Dead personnel lying around the deck near 1.1 gun mount

I seem to remember that there was film taken on the ship but it was considered lost after the sinking and had not been seen since..........

Could this be it? Looks like a fire or smoke from the stack, bomb hole in the deck and dead Personnell next to the 1.1 gun mount would match the Yorktown

Editors Note:  I am not sure how lost the film ever was.  I do recall reading in a book or two about the Navy photographer jumping overboard and losing the film he had taken during the battle but I'm not sure this is the film from that photographer.  Maybe someone else with more info on the lost film could chime in or perhaps let us know the origin of this film.

John Ford's Battle of Midway on TCM September 15

From Ron Russell:

The Turner Classic Movies channel (TCM) has scheduled the John Ford BOM movie in prime time on Tuesday, September 15th, at 10:00 pm EDT. While we’ve all seen it many times, it might be worth setting the recorder for this one. The reason is that TCM’s hosts frequently provide background commentary before and after their featured films--not that we’ll learn anything new, but the perspective of someone not focused on the battle to the extent we are can occasionally be quite interesting.

Announcements and Questions

Oswald Gaynier Poster

From Greg Gaynier:

My Uncle Oswald died at Midway. I have a poster on display at a museum in Monroe, Michigan. It is my uncle's hometown. Here is a pic of the poster. Thanks for the great website!

End of War Letter from Des

From Nancy Canavan Heslop:

I don't know if it is appropriate for the Midway Roundtable or not, but I thought I might share some end of the war moments from my father's pen. Des Canavan wrote wonderful letters. Throughout my life there was nothing more special than a "Letter From Des".

"Dearest One: August 11, 1945

Great day in the morning!Looks like we’ve come a long way since Dec.7th, doesn’t it honey? What a lot of hell cut loose around here last night. It was premature but at the same time looks like it’s in the bag.

You can see now why it’s been so difficult for me to be an active correspondent. We are right in the middle of this thing and I do mean middle-–just call me Pierre. Things I won’t be able to tell until I get home.

I broke out 130 cases of beer and turned the men and officers loose on it to celebrate the occasion and mommy it was a celebration. It still isn’t over yet but I’ve cut off the supply because we’ve still got a big job to do. I’m going to take my outfit up to see [Frank] Tharin and company. [Wake Island Marines held POWs] Probably take them for a ride. Isn’t it wonderful?...

If you don’t hear from me for several days, in fact weeks, don’t worry or fret. Also I’ll like to discourage you from thinking I’ll be home day after tomorrow, because the marines will have a tremendous job to do out here and actually I expect we’ll spend our normal tour of duty out here anyway. Gee, I’m so excited I don’t know what I’m saying.. I love you so much … save a little spot in your heart for me. I needs it.

Love and kisses to baby…Bye now


Let me know if there is a positive reaction. I get goose bumps reading 70 year old mail, but maybe not everyone does...

Sincere best regards,
Nancy Canavan Heslop

Editiors Note: Thanks for the letter. May not be perfect for the RoundTable but the men in the battle still had a big job to do for the rest of the war and so anything they did later in the war is pertinent to one degree or another.

As a side note my father wrote a story for us kids, well he wrote a lot of stories for us kids, about the day he came home from the war called 'Coming Home'. The events may not be in history books or even well known for the for most of the population but for the men who fought the war it was one very small part but nonetheless just as important to them as any other event they went through. The same event probably played out in hundreds of ships making home port after the war but never recorded as worthy of publication in any memoirs that I've ever read. Much the same as letters written home during the war. Very few make it into books. But that doesn't mean they aren't significant. May be worthy of a book now that I think of it.

Thanks for sharing.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments... I would like to read your father's story. "Coming Home" is a perfect title. The significance of the simple word "home" stands alone after such a life changing experience as war.

"Welcome Home Pappy" party back in Seattle, Sept. 17, 1945

From Nancy Canavan Heslop:

In a few days time, the official 70th anniversary of the end of WWII will be upon us. My father was on Guam, awaiting orders to go evacuate POWs from Japan and China. But there were a few snags... Though the Japanese government had capitulated, as long as they could keep their emperor, the Japanese had never formally surrendered in China.

The first week of September, POW's from Japan's Ofuna Prison were reunited with fellow Marines on Guam. Men like Bill Harris and Greg "Pappy" Boyington were repatriated through Guam. Bill Harris even had the opportunity to stand next to his father, Field Harris, on the deck of the USS Missouri and watch the formal signing.

When I was a little girl, I found a stack of 8" x10" glossies showing Japanese gentlemen in morning coats and top hats humbled before MacArthur and Nimitz. I couldn't help but wonder, "Who are these people?" And "Why did my parents have these pictures all mixed in with images of friends and family".

In early September 1945, Greg Boyington stayed with my father for two days and nights. Des was amazed and grateful that his old friend from school lived through an impossible captivity. Then Boyington went back to the states for a hero's welcome. Folks back in Seattle were ready to celebrate. My mother greeted him at Boeing Field on September 17, 1945. In two more days, my mother would turn 30... And my father would be making history as he was the pilot for the military Japanese Surrender party into North China. He wrote wonderful letters about his adventures in North China. Even to sitting in on a heated meeting with a representative from the Communist leader Mao... a man named Chou En Lai. Negotiations for a structured peace were to be dictated by the Allies. It would be of short duration. Wishing you only the best as we celebrate 70 years of peace with the Japanese and Chinese...

-Nancy Canavan Heslop

Pictures of Mother & Rats/ Seattle Post-Intellegencer & Daily Times, now Hearst...dated September 18, 1945.