The Charlotte News

Thursday, June 18, 1942


Site Ed. Note: Today, for reasons best left between us and our wandering muse, we came across the reason for some of the islands in the Pacific, Howland, Johnston, and Midway, for instance, having come originally under the jurisdiction of the United States—bird guano.

In 1856, during the latter days of the term of Franklin Pierce as President, 42 USC 1411 et seq., was passed by the Congress and signed into law by the President. Dubbed the Guano Islands Act, it allowed United States citizens to lay claim on behalf of the United States to any uninhabited, otherwise unclaimed island which had commercially significant deposits of guano within its territory, the guano being useful in the manufacture of fertilizers and its saltpeter for use in gunpowder.

In 1890, Justice Gray delivered an opinion of the United States Supreme Court in Jones v. U.S., 137 US 202, upholding, under a private commercial claim previously made pursuant to the Guano Islands Act, United States sovereignty and hence criminal jurisdiction in a murder case occurring on Navassa Island in the Caribbean.

This case just goes to show that, no matter where in the world you might be, you do not get away with murder or other similar untoward acts. The birds, if no one else, are always watchful. And the law will find a way to be dispositive even if needful of a little guano to establish its authority.

Have you some change for a trunk call to stop a revolution or forestall Armageddon?

Try the Coke machine. Or, maybe, that’s Pepsi.

"Severe Defeat" tells of the heavy toll to Allied shipping in the Atlantic, both naval and merchant, which the U-boats had taken thus far since December 7. It points out that for all the thunder and fire produced by RAF raids on France and Germany, the silent stealth of the Nazi untersea boot of the Kriegsmarine was more effective militarily. The duty was hazardous: about 60% of the U-boats were lost and 65% of the 40,000 German men who went to sea in them never came back.

U-boats accounted for an estimated 1,300 of 2,200 British merchant ships lost in the war, costing 23,000 merchant mariners their lives. The estimate of total Allied ships lost to U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic is 2,740 out of the total 5,150 Allied ships sunk or lost in storms or other non-combat related causes, a total of 13.5 million tons. Of these, about one-third of all the losses, 1,664, occurred in 1942, with 42%, 1,160, of those sunk by U-boat in the Atlantic occurring during that harsh and fateful first year of American involvement. U-boats sank 175 American naval vessels in the Battle of the Atlantic. The U.S. Coast Guard official tally of American merchant mariners killed during the war in all theaters is 5,662; other compilers have estimated that as many as 8,500 died. Most were in the Atlantic. Of the losses in 1942, June proved the worst month, estimated to have cost 624 American merchant mariners their lives.

Out of the panoply of varying facts and figures on the losses occasioned by U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic, two relative facts are consistent: the loss of lives and shipping, naval and merchant, for British and American shipping, but especially American shipping, was significantly higher in 1942 than in any other year of the war, and higher in June, 1942 than in any other single month of the war.

Just as the U.S. Navy was switching from destroyers and battlewagons to the carrier, having learned of its singular effectiveness in the recent battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, as pointed out in "New Day", so, too, had Hitler focused his concentration away from battleships instead onto the shark attack capable of being delivered by the submariner.

So, it was the U-boat in the Atlantic which for the time was king, while in the Pacific, the airplane reigned supreme, and for its vast distances between outposts on the sea, among them those Guano Islands, the carrier was the necessary means to get the pilots within striking distance of their targets, ultimately within Japan itself.

Dorothy Thompson speculates on the purpose of the raid by Japan on the Aleutians, wondering aloud whether it was for the purpose of invading Alaska, preventing the U.S. from using the islands for counter-offensive operations on Japan, or as preparatory to invasion of Siberia. She finds the first choice non-sensical, admits of the possibility of the second choice, and while recognizing the Japanese reluctance to draw a battle line with respect to Russia with its hands already so full in the southwest Pacific, she takes this choice as the one most likely for the avenues of attack on Australia and India being for the time cut off.

There was, however, a fourth choice, the selection of which appears the more likely, benefitting from full hindsight. That the attack was merely transitory in nature, to reconnoiter and prepare for the potential of a counter-strike in retaliation for the attack on Midway, appears the most probable reason for this feint which had no follow-up operation. But no one knew that obviously on June 18, 1942.

Here, incidentally, is a photograph of the Essex under sail to Rotterdam on December 29, 1961, with its crew forming in Dutch "Merry Christmas".

Being a naval photograph, we do not know the answer to a relevant inquiry as to whether it was released to the press in 1961 and thus became subject to the public’s often wayward individual and collective imaginations, for good or ill. That is, as to the latter possibilities, considering Hawthorne and Salem.

The Essex also provided surreptitious air support in the Bay of Pigs operation on April 19, 1961, the last day of the raid, in the form of six B-26’s with their markings covered. The object was to provide one hour of air cover between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. for the invading brigade’s 16 B-26’s flying to Cuba from Nicaragua. President Kennedy, however, forbade the Navy jets from seeking ground targets or engaging in air combat. Nine of the brigade’s B-26’s were shot down. The six Navy jets were ineffective because the CIA and the Pentagon did not account for a time zone difference between Nicaragua and Cuba; thus the Essex jets, like Jubal Early, were late.

The failed air support was maintained as secret. But a newspaper report surfaced in late February 1963 to the effect that the United States had provided unmarked air support for the invasion with B-26’s, air support costing the lives of four American airmen. The report was true. Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois wanted to investigate; Senator John Stennis, Democrat of Mississippi, did not, calling it "spilled milk".

There was a reason why the President did not want the Navy jets to engage in combative behavior or to have it known that the United States was officially providing air support for an effort to stage a counter-coup to overthrow the Castro government in Cuba: the President did not wish to risk starting World War III with ICBM's heading for Washington over the pole from Soviet territory--as the limited failed mission, with only token official air support, nearly did so redound to precipitate El Fin del Mundo a year and a half later. To have done so would not have been a very effective or wise strategy, as it would have given the Soviets excuse to invade West Berlin, in which case nuclear exchange would have resulted, Señor--El Estupido del infierno por Tryptich Bosch. ¿'Ey? ¿Hagale comprende, El Estupido? Yeah, hablamos con usted. Hay nadie más aquí. ¿'Ey? ¿Qué le dice? ¿Cuya madre? ¡Usted mamá! Enrósquele.

¡Fume en su tubo y puso eso en!

Feliz Navidad.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links-Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i>--</i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.