Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Discussion about wrecks and losses as well as historic sites in the Pacific.

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Tom Maxwell
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:26 pm

Recent updates : almost everyone has seen the Jaluit dock photo. Declared debunked by most, I believe the photo is significant and I plan to discuss details with later posts.

The research vessel Falkore operated by the Schimdt Oceangraphic Institute (SOI) apparently bypassed an opportunity to SCUBA the Orona lagoon on the current deep coral survey of the Phoenix Islands. I lobbied to have them search at the designated position of Amelia's plane. They are apparently going to deep dive the NW slope of Nikumaroro. Live video from the ship ROV. At the TIGHAR web site forum, a scientist on board the ship is in contact with the TIGHAR group. Another test of the Nikumaroro theory?

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:40 pm

One of the things I see on the Jaluit dock photo is what I believe is Amelia's suitcase. Her design choice is shown in the 1936 advertising image along side the Electra. The question as to why the supposed "Amelia" figure is not wearing the checkered shirt she wore on leaving Lae is easily answered; she changed into another shirt from the suitcase. The blouse is her familiar design of 3/4 length sleeve and extended lenght to ensure no exposure no matter how far forward a lady leaned. The details of the case on the dock are not exactly as shown in the promo image; the very slender line on either side of the middle stripped region can't be seen for lack of resolution. The color is dark, not light. That might be a different color scheme case or the result of 22,000 miles of dusty and muddy travel. Oily water would do that to. I think it's the smaller of the three cases shown.<br/>
<br/>
The "Fred" figure is leaning heavily against the power pole. While the initial impression might be that the man is standing on both feet, the shadow at the bottom of the right thigh indicates that the leg is extended upward and out. "Fred" grasps a pole with his right hand and the pole extends down where a dressing tie around the lower thigh secures the leg to the pole. Further down another tie at the ankle secures and immobilizes the lower leg. The confusing white canopy of the tiny craft behind "Fred" makes this difficult to see clearly.<br/>
<br/>
The slight man wearing the white bandanna is, I believe, Bilimon Amaron. Bilimon stated decades ago that he helped the Japanese doctor- the short man with sunglasses looking directly into the camera- fix Fred Noonan's leg. A prominent Marshallese businessman Robert Reimer stated decades ago that the dock was not completed until 1936. The so-called debunk source, a 1935 travelogue from the Japanese national library, is the only copy and is simply annotated 1935 by the librarian. No copyright date is imbedded in the photos or text. False debunk evidence has been "discovered" by Japanese apologists in the past when events of 1937 are being investigated.

The Mashallese elders stand at the right. Marshallese typically go bareheaded but European and American tourists would not be out in the tropical sun without hats or in the case of the fair skinned lady, a parasol. These two light skinned persons are not tourists or casual travelers. The Marshallese elders were "witnesses" to the rescue of the flyers. The two taller Japanese men behind "Fred" and the "doctor" are most likely officers of the Kempetiea secret police posing as the fishermen who rescued the flyers at Mili Atoll. The fake "spy" plane is at the rear of the Koshu Mare and may have been purposely crashed at Mili to back up the spy hoax scenario. If the shiny object at the stern of the ship is a plane it does nor appear to be twin tailed.

The 2 elders look on directly at "Fred''s" leg. Decades later, one of the stamps issued by the Marshall Islands government to commemorate the event shows the man on a cane with a dressing around the right leg. The elders in this scene, along with Billimon, were the source for the oral history that contributed to the design of the stamps.
<br/>
<br/>Image<br>Image

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by RSwank » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:00 pm

Just a couple of points.

On this thread at post 457 there is an image of another page from the book, which shows the Printed Date as October 5, 1935 and the Published Date as October 10, 1935. The Librarian's stamp with a date of October 25, 1935 is on another page. So the Librarian stamp date is not the only 1935 date in the book.

https://ww2aircraft.net/forum/threads/e ... 97/page-23


The luggage in the Earhart picture seems to have a dark "edging" which does not seem to be present in the dock photo.

Tom Maxwell
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Wed Nov 01, 2017 4:18 pm

If the travelogue reference by the debunk blogger is indeed a book, then additional copies should be found in libraries or private collection(s). The National Geographic article about the travelogue says the title translates to The Ocean "Lifeline": The Condition of our South Seas". The NG article goes on to say quote:

However, new evidence indicates that the photograph was published in a 1935 Japanese-language travelogue about the islands of the South Pacific. As a Japanese military history blogger Kota Yamano noted in a July 9 post, he found the book after searching the National Diet Library, Japan's national library, using the term "Jaluit Atoll," the location featured in the photograph.

unquote

The article goes on to relate how the blogger found the book very quickly. While the blogger is described as a military history blogger, how did the blogger know to search the Japanese national library exclusive of the world wide web. Did he know in advance that a photo that appeared in the US ONI archives might also be in the Japanese national archive? Hmmm.

Here is a link to a research paper that studied the tourist travel in/to Palau from modern times to recent history when Palau was a Japanese colony.http://lib.dtc.ac.th/ebook/Tourism/Japa ... ulture.pdf. There is a discussion about several books (at about page 180) and the titles include books whose titles end with "...the South Seas". No discussion about travelogues. Not very meaningful but I find it interesting that a research paper about the history of Palau tourism does not include some mention of travelogue publications.

The allied forces did not occupy the main islands of Japan until 6 months after the hostilities ended. War criminals melted back into Japanese society and many took up positions in government. This gave plenty of time for Japanese war records to be destroyed or altered. That would include anything the criminals suspected might be in Allied hands. These documents or photos required adroit camouflage. I just can't trust Japanese history when it comes to questions for the time period 1930-1946.

Another aspect of the Jaluit dock photo is the tiny canopied craft sitting on the dock directly behind "Fred" and the "doctor". This might be a water taxi designed to carry passengers from large ships to the dock. The six mariners aboard the vessel to the left are intent upon the activity on the dock. There are no stairs from the water to the dock and no davits for lifting small craft onto the dock. I speculate that the men have just lifted the small craft up with it's passengers onto the dock using a sling combination of the vessel main mast and the dock power pole; the fishing vessel main sail boom is secured to the dock to keep the small fishing vessel from moving during the lift.

The suitcase could be a model with a reverse color scheme than that of the promo image.

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by RSwank » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:05 pm

Are you aware of any photos that show the dock? I note that there is a claim that this dock was built after 1935, but when I look at the original photo :

https://www.archives.gov/files/news/Ame ... ghting.pdf

the pilings along the left side of the dock appear to be quite weathered, not at all of any recent construction. It would be useful to have more period photos for comparison.

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:56 pm

I've been unable to find any Jabor dock photos on line of the period immediately previous to 1935-37. The only on-line photos I have found are from the early 1900's. I have attached a 1903 photo. There is also a 1904 photo that shows basically the same thing: mostly wooden construction and a light rail track down the middle of the dock; this image the light car wheels are seen upon the track and the cars laden with something- sacks of copra or bulk coconut? coal? The important element in both of these old photos is the presence of lifting davits for small boats or cargo.

The 1905 hurricane may have destroyed this dock. The question is when did a replacement dock get built? Robert Reimer, a German/Marshallese business man, stated to Bill Prymak, noted AE mystery investigator, that the dock was built in 1936. That was several decades ago, prior to any knowledge of the AE dock picture. Reimer provided logistics and Marshallese labor for the project and didn't use the term "replacement". Reimer remembers 1936; in that year the last of his construction contracts with the Japanese as they began to provide their own labor and materials, putting his Marshallese labor out of work.

Obviously the 1935-37 dock was built in the more modern age of auto/truck transportation; i.e., no light rail required. But what I think is important is the absence of davits for lifting small boats. This indicates dock is very new construction (1936) and davits have not yet been installed. I think the old pilings along the left side are simply old pilings that had some purpose in the new construction and were left in place.

Image

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by RSwank » Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:48 am

I would think there have to be some photos somewhere, unfortunately they may not be on-line.

There is an interesting description of a visit by some Japanese princes to Jaluit in July 1935 in the September issue of the Pacific Islands Monthly. Article starts on page 25.

http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-311665641/vie ... -311677397

The one photo is of no help as it does not show the dock. From the description, the two cruisers anchored in the lagoon and then everyone was transported to and from the dock. I have to believe there are some photos or even newsreels showing the dock. The trip by the princes went on for several months and included stops in Australia and Hawaii. Many local papers of the time covered it.

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:59 pm

Thanks RS, that is a great piece of research. While no pictures of the dock are shown, the article description of events tells the tale. I am confident that this article absolutely proves the dock in the AE Jaluit photo is 1937. There are two important excerpts from the article that clinches the argument;
first:

Image
and second:
Image

The first describes how the Royal party "dashed" to the "wharf" in the launch. Not to the beach. And soon after paraded down the wharf. This shows that indeed the Royal party's launch was lifted to the wharf and secured by the davits. Davits are important items in sea transport allowing a degree of dignity in embarking, absent the gymnastic balancing act often required of small boats. We don't see any davits in the AE Jaluit photo indicating recent construction with davits not yet installed.

The second excerpt relates that yes the 1935 wharf is indeed the old wharf from the German era. Apparently, the storm of 1905 did not completely destroy the old wharf and the wharf was simply refurbished. The royal visit and ensuing evaluation of the wharf was the impetus for the Japanese beginning construction in 1936 of the dock described by Reimer and others on the scene at the time.

This is a significant clue in the AE mystery.

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by RSwank » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:02 am

Tom, I will play Devil's Advocate here.

When I look at the full picture of the supposed AE on the dock, I think I see a scalloped canopy, probably on a small boat, just to the left of the people on the dock. The boat would appear to be right up next to the dock/wharf. I think there is possible a ladder or stairs there, which allow the people being transported to climb up on the dock. I agree there are no davits visible.
I don't think a "lifeboat" with a canopy could be easily lifted by davits as the canopy would interfere. I think the canopied boat is used to transport people to and from the dock from ships anchored further out in the lagoon.

I think the pilings along the left side of the dock are possible the remains of the 1904 dock destroyed in the typhoon, or are the well weathered remains of the "complete" replacement dock constructed after the typhoon. I think the original pre-typhoon dock had the rail tracks, but the replacement dock either never had the tracks or they were removed prior to 1935.

So I would argue that the "Dock" in the AE photo is the same dock the Japanese Princes landed on in July, 1935.

I think there have to be many photos of that dock, maybe just not on-line.

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by RSwank » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:19 pm

Tom,

I ran across another article in the Pacific Islands Monthly, this one from April, 1936. The article starts on page 36. Nice description of the town.

https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-311753908/vi ... 7/mode/1up

What I find interesting is that the author describes some the "new" construction that has occurred and he does not mention a new dock, but rather new stores and houses, roads, etc.

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:45 pm

That article in the April issue of the paper is dated Feb 10 so it is very early in the year 1936. Not surprising that the new dock is not mentioned. Robert Reimer stated that the dock was constructed in 1936. I am searching the PIM for more news about the dock remembering that as 1936 progressed the news blackout about anything of military significance tightened in the mandated region.

Stairs are possible; unseen in the photo on the outer side either inclined stairs or a simple vertical ladder. But it can't be determined; it can't be seen in the photo. While merchant ships with a deck above the dock level can use gangplank or on board lifting cranes for cargo, the smaller craft (like the boat at the left in the photo) would have a difficult time load and unloading cargo if the boat didn't have a onboard boom crane. I just don't think that manual lift of bulk material would have gone on for such a long time without implementing davits

I still think the scalloped canopy seen in the photo is part of the tiny craft seen on the dock in the photo." Bilimon" stands with his right foot behind it and the tall Kempetai "fisherman" also stands behind it.

But attempting to prove the authenticity of the photo by finding evidence in the photo is inferior to the eye witness statements of multiple citizens of the Marshall Islands on the scene over a extended period of time. If the Japanese library had the photo in 1987 when the Marshallese published the stamps depicting this event, why didn't they then question the stamps and the Marshallese Government with a statement-...Your stamp is wrong..that never happened. Your elder witnesses are mistaken and remembering a photo they may have seen in a 1935 travelogue published in Palau...and here it is....


No one did that until the actual photo was revealed decades later.

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by RSwank » Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:55 pm

Here is the entire book in which the "AE" photo was found.

http://dl.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/1223 ... ;__lang=en

You can go through it page by page. (Slide your cursor along the left or right edge to get the arrow "next page" to appear. It appears they had the book online since 2011.

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:29 pm

There is another feature of the photo that deserves investigation and that is the change in the horizon line that appears behind the men on the dock. Some observers thought perhaps it was evidence of a photo splice or some other digital (photoshop) combining of two images. Later it was explained that the change in the horizon line was caused by the presence of land to the left and the end of the islet behind the man's head (not seen in the photo) and dropping to sea level. If that's true, it brings up the question of earth curvature; the land must not be so far away as to make the trees disappear over the horizon.

A 1978 environmental impact statement involved with the rehabilitation of the existing dock (dockside 15'-20' depth) has a drawing that points out the azimuth of the dock as about 55º from north; the back azimuth 235º line when extended across the lagoon encounters land at about 5 miles distant. That same report makes note of the existence of the "Sydney" dock, the old dock from the German era about 3/4 mile south of the existing dock. The 1978 report refers to the old dock as "derelict". Google Earth pinpoints the remnants of the dock (dockside 40'-50" depth) and is sufficient to draw the azimuth line across the lagoon; the line intercepts the land of one of the islets (string of pearls that make up the atoll) at a distance of 14 miles. An earth curvature on-line calculator indicates that even the tallest coconut trees would be below the horizon if the photographer ( camera) was at 12.5' elevation.

I'm trying to get the links and GE screen shots prepared. If true, it would mean the photo could not have been taken from the old German dock. The royal visit is described by the PIM article as using the German dock.

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by RSwank » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:57 pm

Book page 17 (page 22 of the booklet below) shows where the various piers were located in the early 40s.

http://dl.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/9884470


You can find Warf 1 and Warf 2 on Google Earth or Google maps today. The Main pier (German dock) has been reconstructed and lengthened and is not today as it appears in the map. Some old maps seem to refer to it as the coal dock, as I believe coal was transported out the ships. That was probably one use for the old "railroad" on the dock, to move coal.

The Japanese visit in 1935 was the training cruise for the 62nd Naval Cadet Class. There may be in existence some class book of photos which might show the visit.

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by RSwank » Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:14 pm

There are two photos on fold3.com of Jabor, Jaluit Atoll taken during WWII.
Fold3.com photos are free to view and use (registration may be required).

This first photo, taken November 1943 shows the harbor before bombing. North is toward the lower right side of the photo. So the lagoon is toward the top. There are three structures (wharfs/dock) jutting into the lagoon.

https://www.fold3.com/image/55677016

This second photo is taken after a bombing raid on 14 May 1944. The orientation is similar to the first photo.

https://www.fold3.com/image/55677038


If we identify the “docks” from left to right in the photos, the first on the left is a large rectangular structure, called Wharf 2 in the booklet mentioned in the previous post.

In the middle is a long narrow dock that actually branches into two parts, “Main Dock” in the booklet.
Last on the right is another rectangular structure with a small projection on its top right, (called Wharf 1 in the booklet).

The Wharf structures can be found today in Jabor, Jaluit Atoll. The middle structure has been completely rebuilt but is in the same location. I suspect that the wharfs were built by the Japanese, maybe in the late 1930s.
They may have added to the “original” dock in the center also.


The upper right corner of Wharf 2 is located at 5.919657 N, 169.642614 E.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/5%C2% ... 69.6426137

The top left side corner of Wharf 1 is located at 5.921066 N, 169.641433 E.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/5%C2% ... 69.6414334


The center dock has been completely rebuilt and extended. Its location now is here: 5.920370 N, 169.641465 E.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/5%C2% ... 69.6414652


I think center dock in the WWII photo is the dock shown in the “AE” photo. It may have changed some between 1935 and 1943, so it is not clear, for example that in 1935 it “branched” as is seen in the WWII recon photos. The current structure looks nothing like the 1930s to 1940s dock. I do think that the dock today was probably located in the same place as the “original” pre-1904 Main Dock.

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