Roundtable Forum
Our 18th Year
September 2015

In this issue.

Fletcher/Biard conflict
The Conquering Tide
VT-8's Mk.13 Torpedoes
Colonel Alfred Booth, USMC (Ret)
Commander Doug Davis
Japanese Surrender - Priceless!
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

September 2nd, 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender.  The Battle of Midway played a very big part in determining that final outcome.  Fought at a time when the Japanese Navy was at it's peak and won by US Navy and Marine airmen no less skilled and dedicated than their counterparts.  Many books, articles, and stories have been written over the years examining the battle.  More than a few over the years have claimed the victory was won because of luck.  To a certain degree that may be true.  However to repeat a quote by Ernest Hemingway "You make your own luck."  On the morning of June 4th many men did just that.

Ed Fox sends us a video of the Japanese surrender.  While I'm not sure when this film was shown to the public it's now on YouTube so hopefully many have seen it now.  There was a color film taken during the ceremony that was restored in 2010 and also released to the public.  Both are interesting.

We also have more on the Fletcher/Biard conflict, a new book by Ian Toll that is the second part of his three part look at the Pacific war, an interesting question on the field modifications to the MK13 torpedoes and more.

Hope you enjoy.

Fletcher/Biard conflict

From Dr. Stephen D. Regan, Ed.D.

The Biard/Fletcher issue seems to survive in spite of the literature over the last 20 years. John Lundstrom's reply in the last Roundtable is very accurate and polite. I too discussed Frank Jack Fletcher's perspective with Tex Biard and with one of Fletcher's staff members. Tex Biard burned my phone line for over an hour ranting and raving against Fletcher that matched exactly what I expected. He called me but he refused to allow me to see his manuscript, utterly avoided responding to questions, and cared nothing about an actual discussion. Fletcher's surviving staff told me that Biard was almost intolerable, insufferably secretive, and blatantly odd to the point that no one on Fletcher's staff had any confidence in his intelligence analysis whatsoever, least of all the admiral himself.

In my biography of Frank Jack Fletcher, In Bitter Tempest, I discussed the Biard/Fletcher situation; however Lundstrom did a much better job than I. As a former member of the cryptological community I understand Biard's personality and abilities. Just being "right" is meaningless if you can't convince anyone that you are. Biard seems to be a brilliant nerd who lacked the personal skills to exude confidence and to build an effective communications link between himself and his superiors (in this case, Fletcher and his staff). He simply was the wrong person in the wrong job at the wrong time. Bluntly, because of his personal inabilities Tex Biard utterly and totally failed at his job.

Dr. Stephen D. Regan, Ed.D.
Author In Bitter Tempest: the biography of Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher.

New Book by Ian Toll - The Conquering Tide

Editors Note:  While not specifically dealing with the Battle of Midway The Conquering Tide covers the American offensive across the Pacific Islands starting with the invasion of Guadalcanal made possible in no small way to the destruction of the 4 japanese carriers at Midway.  The second book in a trilogy (Pacific Crucible being the first) covers the hard fought island campaign that ultimately led to the victory in the Pacific War.

The book should be available in bookstores on September 21st.

Were Torpedo 8's Torpedos fitted with a plywood field-modification that "boxed" the traditional Mk.13 fins?

From John Mollison:

I am an aviation artist, writer and host of “Old Guys and Their Airplanes.”  Recently, I was given a commission to do Lt.Cmdr. John Waldron’s TBD from Torpedo 8.  My question is whether the Torpedoes were fitted with a plywood field-modification that “boxed” the traditional Mk.13 fins?  Any information will be helpful... When I’m finished, my work will be hung in some rather credible places and I simply must eliminate all errors possible.

Editor's Note: I am looking for a definitive answer here but if anyone has one please send me a note and I'll pass it along.  I can't recall reading any account that mentioned whether they had the modification or not.  I know later in the war the torpedo was fitted with both a fin guard and nose modification to stabilize the torpedo when dropped.

From Al Kernan:

The plywood boxes designed to stabilize the torpedo when dropped were made on board ship and added some time in the spring of 1942 to all drops. They were on board at Midway on June 4.

Alvin Kernan,
AOM3/c on Enterprise at time.

Colonel Alfred Booth, USMC (Ret)

From Bill Vickrey:

Attached is a copy of Colonel Booth’s obituary which was published in the current issue of SHIPMATE. Colonel Booth (then a Captain) was CO of Battery G, Sixth Defense Battalion on Midway during the Battle.

I had some correspondence with Colonel Booth in the early 90’s.

I am now in touch with only one Ground Marine who was on Midway on 04 June 1942. Colonel (then a Pfc) John Miniclear, USMC (Ret) was in Battery G on 04 June 1942 and was in the tower with Commander John Ford during The Battle of Midway.


Colonel Booth’s Obituary

Commander Doug Davis

From Bill Vickrey:

The attached article appeared in the ST LOUIS POST DISPATCH on 14 June 1942. Doug and I could not find a copier big enough not to cut off a bit of the story.

Doug was the PPC of one of the four PBY’s who made a torpedo run in the IJN invasion fleet after Jack Reid had located them.

Doug was the most decorated PBY pilot I ran across with a Navy Cross, a Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and a Purple Heart and – I suspect – several Air Medals along with a Presidential Unit Citation, a Navy Unit Citation, an Army Presidential Unit Citation and an Air Force Commendation Medal.

Doug got his Wings of Gold on 27 September 1940 and had 1,500 flight hours at the beginning of June, 1942. He flew over 150 hours in June, 1942.

Doug died on October 28, 2002 with Captain Stanford E. Linzey, USN (ChC) (Ret) officiating at his funeral. I say this only to mention that Stan Linzey was a Musician 1/c aboard YORKTOWN at Midway. He later became a minister, went back in to the Navy in the Chaplin Corps and retired as a Captain. I met Stan at a couple of YORKTOWN reunions and found him to be a great guy to be around and a good source of history.


Doug Davis Article

Japanese Surrender - Priceless v.clip.....

From Ed Fox:

This film is believed to have never been seen before, only shots of the surrender were known. If you are a history buff you will enjoy this. General McArthur's voice is a rarity in these old film clips. Japanese Surrender- Amazing Footage. This is a 'must see' for the WWII history buff or anyone interested in history. This is an actual film made of the surrender ceremony of the Japanese to McArthur in Tokyo Bay in September 1945. Actual voice of the General. Never been shown to the general public before. We always saw the "stills" but never the film itself.

Click Here: Japanese Sign Final Surrender YouTube

Midway - Iwo - Korea

Editors Note:  There was a color film of the surrender filmed by by Commander George F. Kosco.  It was kept by him till his passing in 1985 when it was sent to a Naval archive for safe keeping.  In 2010, his son had the film restored.   It was released to Military organizations and other groups later that year.

Color Footage of the Japanese Surrender