Roundtable Forum
Our 19th Year
July 2016

In this issue.

PBY Sighting reports on 4 June
PBY Reports Discrepancies
Aircraft carried on Galley Deck
Captain Richard E. Fleming, USMC
Battle of Midway Commemoration
Commander Robert Campbell
BOM Aircraft Order of Battle
Announcements and Questions
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

July we have a number of items.  Mr. Tynan went through many of the books written on the Battle of Midway noting the differences between different authors on what exactly was transmitted by Howard Ady on the morning of June 4th.  While I don't think there is or was any real mystery it is interesting to note what some authors had on the sighting reports.  Some of this can be attributed to the year the book was written.  Early on much of this was classified so only some info was available.  For instance Morrison had access to many documents that others could not see for years.  So if he wrote about it in his 15 volume history that was the only source.  I also think there were several different sources, the original transmission, what was picked up by the carriers, and finally what Midway had sent by cable to Pearl reporting the sighting of the Japanese fleet.

We also have a note on Captain Richard Fleming and Commander Robert Cambell who is doing well at 99.  He flew with Leslie in Bombing 3 and participated in the attack on Soryu.

Hope everyone is having a great summer.  Enjoy.

Decisions of PBY Sighting reports on 4 June

From Tim Tynan:

Your excellent roundtable site came to my attention recently. I've been working my way through all it's information. Like many I read Lord, Prange and Fuchida when they came out years ago. My fascination with Midway was really sparked by Parshall and I've been at it ever since.

I'm working on a presentation for a class covering the decision making process of Admirals Nagumo and Fletcher at critical moments on 4 June. The purpose is to show students what the they knew and the factors which influenced their decisions.

Your assistance would be greatly appreciated in answering a few questions. Specifically I'm trying to clarify some issues on the initial US spotting reports. I've attached a Word document with the source material and questions for your consideration. My resources are mostly secondary.

Forgive me if my questions have been asked before. I'm still working through past issues of the newsletter. I know I'm asking a great deal and appreciate any time you can spare whenever its convenient for you.

Any time you could spare would be a helpful.

I ordered "No Right to Win" the other day and look forward to some great reading. I've worked my through 5 years of newsletters so far. Some very interesting information and a few surprises. By the way, may I join the Roundtable?

Thank you very much,
Tim Tynan

Extracts from the sources:

Battle of Midway: 4-7 June 1942, Online Action Reports: Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, Serial 01849 of 28 June 1942
At 0545 the most important contact of the battle was made. A PBY reported many planes heading for Midway 150 miles distant on bearing 320; 7 minutes later another PBY sighted 2 of the enemy carriers and many other ships on the same bearing, distant 180 miles, coming in at 25 knots on course 135.

Naval Air Station Midway War Diary

pages 29 - 31

[There are no sightings of the Japanese prior to 0545]
0545 - 3V58 [Chase] reported in PLAIN ENGLISH “Many planes heading Midway IMI Midway, bearing 320, distance 150”

0552 – 4V48 [Ady] reported 2 carriers and main body ships, carriers in front, course 135, speed 25.

0637 – 4V58 reports “Am returning to Pearl Harbor unless otherwise directed.”

0915 – 4V58 attacked by single engine seaplane.

0945 – 4V58 reports bearing 357, distance 210

1220 – 4V58 reports running into fog.

[There is no mention of 3V58 after 0545. There is no mention if 4V58 received additional instructions after its 0637 report.]

Symonds, “The Battle of Midway”

Chapter 11, p. 225
At 5:34 …a report from Lieutenant Howard P. Ady … The first words of his report … “Enemy Carrier bearing 320 (degrees), distance 180 (miles).

…Before any of them could man their planes, however, another PBY pilot, Lieutenant William A. Chase called in to report: “Many planes headed Midway.
Chapter 11, p. 228
Ady’s 5:34 sighting report did not reach the American carriers until 6:03, when it was relayed from Pearl Harbor.

But before Fletcher gave Spruance the go order, two factors stayed his hand. The first was that Ady’s report indicated the presence of only two carriers.
[There is no mention of a second report from Ady after 5:34. Fletcher couldn’t know there were two carriers from the 0534 report. Did Symonds simply omit the 0552 report?]

Parshall, “Shattered Sword”

Chapter 7, p. 134
… Lt Howard P Ady’s PBY had detected Nagumo’s carriers at around 0530 and broadcast as much at 0534. [cites Prange] Shortly thereafter, another PBY, flown by Lt William A Chase, sighted Japanese aircraft inbound and radioed in plain at 0544 “Many planes heading Midway.” Chase subsequently sighted the Japanese fleet as well, transmitting at 0552 “Two carriers and battleships bearing 320 distance 180 course 135 speed 25.” Crucially, Chase only reported seeing two Japanese flattops.[cites Prange]
[Parshall states Ady detected the carriers at 0534 but doesn’t mention how many carriers he reported. Yet in the last sentence he states Chase saw two carriers.]

Prange, “Miracle at Midway”

Chapter 21 p.190
… a report at 0520 from Catalina Number 4V58 of sighting an unidentified plane. … the pilot of that particular aircraft, Lieutenant Howard P. Ady, and his co-pilot Lieutenant (j.g.) Maurice “Snuffy” Smith. … had probably spotted one of the Japanese search planes.

Ten minutes later[0530], Midway received another radio from Ady, this time reporting a “carrier bearing 320, distance 180”

At 0545 … Lieutenant (j.g.) William A. Chase (Flight 3V58) was scouting in a sector adjacent to Ady’s when his observer, Ensign W. C. Corbell, sighted two groups of forty-five planes … Chase dispatched the word in plain Engllish: “Many planes heading Midway bearing 320 degrees, distance 150.
[In the last paragraph of the page Prange talks about how Ady saw Kido Butai through a break in the clouds. Yet his next sentence states:]
… At 0552 Chase reported his sighting. "Two carriers and main body ships, carriers in front, course 135, speed 35"
Chronology Appendix p. 440
0520 Ady reports unidentified aircraft
0530 Ady reports an enemy carrier.
0545 Chase reports “Many planes heading Midway...”
0552 Ady reports “Two carriers and main body ships…”
0534 Enterprise receives report of a carrier 0553 Enterprise receives “many planes” report 0600 Enterprise receives word of “two enemy carriers…”
[Prange’s text and timeline don’t agree on who sent the 0552 spotting report.]

My Questions:

1. Who made the 0552 report of “two carriers?” Was it Chase or Ady? (see question 2)
Sighting reports from all 4 sources above:

0520: Ady reports sighting unidentified plane. [Prange is the only one who mentions this report.]

0530-0534: Ady reports” one enemy carrier…” [Prange & Symonds agrees on this. Pashall only states Ady detected the carriers with no mention of how many were reported. His source was Prange. The message was relayed by Pearl Harbor and reached Fletcher around 0600-0603]

0543-0545: Chase reports “Many planes headed Midway.” [Everyone agrees on this]

0552: “Two carriers…” spotting report [The AAR doesn’t say who sent it, Prange contradicts himself, Parshall says Chase, Symonds doesn’t mention this report but implies Ady.]
2. Could both Chase and Ady have reported their sighting within a few moments of each other? None of the sources agree on the text of the report.
• The AAR says: “sighted 2 of the enemy carriers and many other ships on the same bearing, distant 180 miles, coming in at 25 knots on course 135”
• Parshall says: “Two carriers and battleships bearing 320 distance 180 course 135 speed 25.”
• Prange says: “Two carriers and main body ships, carriers in front, course 135, speed 35”

3. What happened to Ady and Chase after the sighting reports? They completely disappear from the AAR and all three books after the initial sighting reports. There are no additional reports on Kido Butai from either plane after 0552. Shouldn’t they have stayed in contact with Kido Butai and sent amplifying reports?

Based on the NAS Midway War Diary Aldy remained in the vicinity of Kido Butai from 0552 to at least 0637, a period of 45 min. There are no additional messages from Ady until 0637 when he says he is returning to Pearl Harbor. What was he doing? Two hours and 38 min. later, at 0915, Ady is attacked by a single engine seaplane. Perhaps this was one of Kido Butai’s scout planes.

Chase’s 3V58 isn’t mentioned in the diary

There is no mention of further reports from them after 0552.

4. Why was Fletcher getting spotting reports relayed through Pearl Harbor? Wasn’t Yorktown monitoring the frequency used by the PBYs? Was Pearl Harbor simply relaying the reports as a backup measure? I understand radio technology was vastly different in the 40s.
• Symonds says Ady’s 0534 report was received at 0603. That is a 29 min. delay. This seems unreasonable and must be an error.
• Prange’s chronology shows Ady’s 0530 report received at 0534, a 4 min. delay, and the 0552 report received at 0600, an 8 min. delay. The doubling of the delay time from 4 to 8 min. isn’t addressed.

Editors Note:  Mr. Tynam you certainly have done your research.  First I have added you to the RoundTable email list.  Second let me answer the questions as best I can.  Certainly there are members on the RoundTable with more complete or more accurate information.  Hope they can chime in.

1. Who made the 0552 report of “two carriers?” Was it Chase or Ady? (see question 2)

Ady. Chase was in the adjacent sector and so would not have altered course to be able to see the Japanese fleet. Nor would that be doctrine. He had an assigned sector and had to stay on course. Ady's reports were as follows:

0534 “Enemy Carriers”
0540 “ED 180 sight 320”
0552 “Two carriers and main body of ships, carriers in front, course 135, speed 25”

Ady actually overflew the Japanese fleet after the 5:34 report, circled back around and through a break in the clouds (remember the Japanese fleet was under cloud cover at this time) sighted two of the Japanese Carriers.

2. Could both Chase and Ady have reported their sighting within a few moments of each other?

Yes. Ady reports sighting Japanese ships at 5:34 and Chase reports Many planes at 5:45. Chase never did see the Japanese fleet as he was too far away on a different course. This is the only report he sent concerning the Japanese fleet, or more accurately their attack planes heading towards Midway.

3. What happened to Ady and Chase after the sighting reports? They completely disappear from the AAR and all three books after the initial sighting reports.

Both Ady and Chase and all the other PBY's were ordered to return to Pearl Harbor after completing their assigned sectors. It was felt at the time that the Japanese attack on Midway would make it too dangerous to try to return to Midway. So they turned Southeast and headed to Pearl, or more accurately The French Frigate Shoals. They first had to stop and get refueled along the way at one of the shoals that made up the island chain between Pearl and Midway. The French Frigate Shoals were a perfect spot where the US had sent a tender for just such a purpose. Ironically this prevented the Japanese from using it as a base to refuel the flying boat from a submarine to recon Pearl before the battle to insure the US carriers were still in port. A happy coincidence as it turned out. Here is a story from a member on his experiances during the battle. Worth the read to gain some perspective on what actually happened to the PBY's.

There are no additional reports on Kido Butai from either plane after 0552. Shouldn’t they have stayed in contact with Kido Butai and sent amplifying reports?

No. This was not their job. They needed to complete their search sectors so after Ady reported the Japanese fleet, circled back around to get a better look, he continued to search his assigned sector. This was early in the war and specific doctrine of staying with a contact did not become standard till later in the war. There was a signal that was to be transmitted to the pilots if contact was made but as you see in the article above, not all got the message.

4. Why was Fletcher getting spotting reports relayed through Pearl Harbor? Wasn’t Yorktown monitoring the frequency used by the PBYs? Was Pearl Harbor simply relaying the reports as a backup measure? I understand radio technology was vastly different in the 40s.

To put it in one of the Admirals at the time, the reports were 'maddening'. The carriers were both monitoring the PBY's channels but didn't have a reference on where their search sectors necessarily were, but they could figure them out. Pearl Harbor was relaying the messages but they were picked up earlier by the carriers themselves. But if you look at the messages Ady sent out the first one does not give any info other than a sighting report. The second gives distance and bearing while the 3rd gives course and speed. The second two were only useful if used together. The first barely useful other than a report that the carriers were where they were expected to be, somewhere northwest of Midway.

 As a side note Howard Ady was one of the founding members of The Midway RoundTable. I suppose he was officially member number one. Fred Price who met him by chance and struck up a conversation at I believe an airport started to exchange emails with Howard Ady. Soon several other veterans who were probably known by Ady and contacted started to join in the conversations. Soon dozens of veterans were all chatting about their expericances. Thus The Midway RoundTable was formed. This was early to mid 1990's and sadly many of the emails have since been lost to time. I have a CD of early email exchanges but only date them back to about 1997 or so when Fred Price decided the RoundTable emails should be preserved. They are spotty and hard to follow but I'm putting them together.

In 2004 Ron Russell who took over the duties around 2000 or so started to publish them on a web site he created. I have kept the archive from 2004 when he started this and am going to add the earlier emails to the web pages as I get time. A project to say the least. At any rate Ady pretty much confirmed what happened as I've laid it out. Hope this helps. Be glad to clarify any other questions you might have. And we may see some comments from our members on the discussions pages in the coming month.

PBY Reports Discrepancies

From Tim Tynan:

Thank you very much. I appreciate your posting the questions in the roundtable. I found the previous discussions in the 2010 newsletters.

I'm still a little mystified about the 0552 two carrier spotting reports (question 2). Mostly because the three sources don't agree on the messages content. Some differences are expected between multiple sources. However, the content is significantly different. Granted this could be faulty memory. The texts go from 2 carriers...; to 2 carriers and battleship...; to 2 carriers, main body, carriers in front... That much difference made me wonder if both Ady and Chase could have seen Kido Butai and submitted reports close to each other. While they were on different search legs, shouldn't they have been roughly the same distance from Midway at 0552? Its only 7 minutes after Chase's planes report that Ady's sends the 2 carriers report.

Of course I could just be overanalyzing this issue. Again I appreciate you patience and help.


Editors Note: The contact messages from the PBY's were not sent by voice, despite what is shown in Movies, but rather by the radio operator using the wireless in Morse Code. Also this allowed the messages to be encoded.  Plus you had better range with a wireless. Remember in the Battle of Coral Sea when the contact report that caused Fletcher to launch his full complement of aircraft to the West when in reality the Japanese carriers were behind him and to the East was due to an operator on the search plane sending two carriers and four heavy cruisers when in reality he meant two cruisers and four destroyers. This was due to an improper arrangement of Nielson's code contact pad. Fortunately the strike did find Shoho just a little way off so the strike actually was not totally wasted.

It is improbable but possible the operator writing down the radio message simply wrote it down slightly different. I believe Ady's messages were encoded so maybe a similar error in decoding is also possible.  When Midway sent the PBY contact report to Pearl via cable in plain English a little after 6 it was not the exact messages Ady's radio operator sent.  It appears that the operator combined both the 5:40 message and the 5:52 message into one message.  That makes perfect sense and explains the contradictory content fairly well.  Not sure why 'main body' and 'battleships' were used interchangably but perhaps it can be explained because decoding the message may not have been exact. 

The message Pearl received from Midway via cable or the original message recorded at Midway is not really a huge difference although the descrepancy between authors on whether Chase or Ady sent the report at 552 is somewhat problematic.  I have never had any proof that Chase ever saw the Japanese fleet so I think Ady made all three reports.  I could be wrong and if so anyone that has better information please chime in.  However, as you point out, if you read Prange's book it is clear at the start of his paragraph he is clearly referring to Ady and then later switches to Chase for the 5:52 report without mentioning how Chase got there.  If Chase also spotted the Japanese carriers then he was off course by a ways.  Not an error a crew of a search plane is likely to commit.

Aircraft carried on Galley Deck

From Alvin Kernan:

Spare planes were stored under the flight deck in areas where there was no gallery deck, but which might be called the gallery deck.  I saw this on both Enterprise, CV6, and Hornet, CV8. The spares, usually fighters, were lowered to the hangar deck when needed.  Hope this is helpful.

Alvin Kernan

Editor's Note.  Thank you Mr. Kernan.  Always good to have a person who was there set us straight.

Captain Richard E. Fleming, USMC
From Lu Yu:

It seems that most recent books give the account that Fleming’s plane crashed into sea, not Mikuma. These include the most detailed and well sources account given in Shattered Sword by Mark Horan.

The only exception is Isom’s Midway Inquest. But he simply cited Morison’s book without any further insight.


Editors Note:  Yes I have also seen that recent books state the plane actually crashed into the sea rather than the Mikuma but who can tell for sure at this point so I included the statement as written without comment. There is a lot of controversy on what happened and eye witness accounts contradict each other. His metal of honor citation does not mention his crash into Mikuma but rather into the sea. Also the picture showing the wreckage of the Mikuma with what appears to be the wreckage of a plane on the turret is more than likely Mikuma's own seaplanes. When the two cruisers collided Mogami jettisoned all her torpedoes and seaplanes while Mikuma did not. The lack of judgement on Mikuma's captain likely caused Mikuma's loss and indirectly lead to the idea that the wreckage on the aft turret is Flemmings Vindicator when it is more likely one of Mikuma's own seaplanes.  However there are other opinions.  Here is a  link that might be of some interest.   Also click on the link on the upper left hand side column called Richard E. Flemming Kamakaze Myth.  Here the surviving pictures taken of Mikuma after the attacks on the 6th of June.

The Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma dead in the water and burning, following attacks by U.S. Navy Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless planes from the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Hornet (CV-8), 6 June 1942.

The Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma afire and dead in the water on 6 June 1942, as seen from a U.S. Navy Douglas SBD-3 dive bomber, probably from USS Hornet (CV-8) during the day's third attack by planes from Hornet and USS Enterprise (CV-6). A destroyer (either Asashio or Arashio) is nearby, attempting to remove Mikuma´s crew.

Midway Museum hosts Battle of Midway commemoration

From Francine Kraus:

Commander Robert Campbell

From Larry Wahl:

Good afternoon Barrett,

Your great articles about aviation and the one on the Dauntless has prompted me to contact you. By way of introduction I am a retired Navy Commander, Naval Aviator and currently a Butte County Supervisor(Commissioner)here in Chico, California. I flew the SH-3A and A-7E in Vietnam and the AV-8A with the Marine Corps as well as the AV-8S with the Spanish Navy.

I have had the good fortune of becoming good friends with another retired Commander, Robert Campbell, through the Military Officers Association of America (M.O.A.A) who turns 99 August 18. He flew the Dauntless in the Battle of Midway and received the Navy Cross. I have seen the citation and his DD-214 and can confirm those facts. Robert Campbell and his wife Elizabeth have been very forthcoming with stories about his flying during WWII and are a real pleasure to know.

My specific reason for contacting you is to ask if you know of other Battle of Midway pilots who are still with us. I have not been able to find out if there are any other pilots who are living. It seems Bob Campbell may be the last or certainly one of the last. We are planning to tell his story and honor him at our annual Veterans Day community program coming up this November 11.

Any information you may have in this regard would be of tremendous help. If you could pass on any information or contacts I would greatly appreciate it.

Many thanks and I look forward to hearing from you and perhaps speaking with you.

Larry Wahl
From Barrett Tillman:

Hi Larry, thank you for taking time to contact me.

I see that Cdr. Campbell flew in VB-3/CV-5 with Max Leslie, whom I knew fairly well. I was unaware that Campbell's still living but it's certainly welcome news that I'm sharing with the  moderator of the Battle of Midway Internet RoundTable.

Earlier this year the "last known" Midway SBD pilot was Norman "Dusty/Jack" Kleiss of Enterprise. When he died many of the news reports referred to him in that regard. It's almost impossible to know for certain how many vets remain from a particular event but I recall when I was secretary of the fighter aces assn. we buried the "last" WW I ace--and 2 years later got an obit for another.


Editors Note:  Here is a link to information on Commander Robert Campell.

BOM Aircraft Order of Battle

From Zsolt Szalanczi:

Mark Horan compiled a kind of order of battle list which contained detailed data for USN/USMC/USAAF aircrafts on Midway and for USN aircrafts on the USN ships on 04-07 June 1942, not only the types, pilot and AOM names, but also side numbers and most importantly the Serials/BuAer numbers. As far as I remember, he posted this to the BOMRT well some time ago, (probably even before we changed to weekly and later to monthy newsletters). I tried to search the BOMRT database with Google, but I cannot find this list anymore. A part of this data was definitely published in the "Glorious Page..." but not for all aircrafts. Do you have this list by any chance or can you easily track it down when it was posted or can you maybe ask Mark Horan if this is still available somewhere

Thank you!
(used to be "The Eastern Flank of the BOMRT")

Editors Note:  I have looked for this list in the archives as well as all the information gathered from the old web site.  Still a number of things I need to get organized and added to this one but could not locate the list or file anywhere.  Mr. Horan may still have the list and and if it is okay to publish I can repost it.  Otherwise if it is copyright material we may have to do without.

Announcements and Questions

Gay's Blades

From Don Witt:

My name is Don Witt and my wife and I reside in Az. Her father, Richard Crane, was a Navy photographer on the U.S.S. Roosevelt 42 after the war. He took many photos and I have negatives of all kinds now in my possession. There is some artwork that is about "Gay's Blades", a group possibly started after the battle or war by Ensign Gay and others. Have you ever heard of this group or anything about it being started? I have included 3 of his photos.
Don Witt

Editors Note:  I have not heard of this group. I do remember reading or hearing that he was involved with or had started a group of some kind but am not recalling any particulars on it and the name does not sound familiar. Maybe someone on the RoundTable will have more. Photos are really nice. Haven't seen those before.  After Midway George Gay was with Torpedo 11 based on Guadalcanal and later in the war he became a flight instructor.  So if he did form or was part of any group it was most likely after that.  I'll look for more info on Gay's Blades but I can't find any reference so far.

Bill Smith

From Karen Brown:

My husband's father was a pilot in the battle of Midway. I would like to find out more about his role there. How would you recommend I proceed? Thank you for any help you can give.

Editors Note:  I get these questions on occasion, as I'm sure Mr. Russell did, and can usually find the pilot in question or determine they were either not at the Battle or maybe stationed on Midway before or after the Battle.  This particular pilot, since Smith is a rather common name is eluding me.  If anyone has info on him let me know so I can forward it on to Karen Brown.