Another example of high command interference in
official records is by General Kenney. The mission report of the daylight
bombing attack on Rabaul on 5 January 1943 did not claim much damage
to shipping, but there is a typed note on the bottom to the effect
that, 'by order of General Kenney' a list of ships sunk and damaged
was inserted. This was to back the citation of the award of the CMOH
to General Walker.
The amendment to the mission report is at the bottom
of the page, with the beginning: 'By order of General Kenney...' and
a list of ships sunk or hit, which clearly is in contradiction of
the mission report itself. The copy I saw was in the Australian War
Memorial collection of ' Allied Air forces Attack and Reconnaissance
Reports', which are in hard-covered volumes by month, in daily chronological
sequence. Presumably other copies of these reports will be available
in US archives, perhaps the MacArthur Memorial collection, but probably
at the US Archives at College Park, MD.
Taking a pace back and looking at the wider scene,
North Africa was the scene of hard fighting and Rommel had dealt some
hard blows to the recently landed Allied forces in Tunisia; after enormous
battles Guadalcanal was still not decided; MacArthur and Kenney needed
some 'good news' from the SWPA. The 'bad news' they were covering over
was that the Allied air effort was failing to halt frequent Japanese
convoy runs to and from New Guinea, due to a combination of bad weather
and failure of the peacetime bombing techniques, and also that US infantry
was not successful in action against the Japanese, due to a combination
of bad leadership and peacetime training techniques.
Colin Kelly's CMOH was a year in the past. Ira Eaker flew on the first
US heavy bomber raid into Occupied Europe, but Germany itself had not
been attacked by US bombers in daylight. A daylight raid on Rabaul
led by a general officer was newsworthy, and it was possible that the
officer would be found and rescued.
Kenney continually had to find
ways to keep his air force in the public arena, to counter the overwhelming
presence of the ETO forces, and CMOH was only one of his tactics
- not to denigrate the achievements of any of those medal recipients;
far from it. Kenney used his fighter aces to keep the 5thAF in the
public eye, and as long as they shot down Japanese they would be
given special attention. This is why some were attached to 5thAF HQ
and could fly on missions they chose, with any squadron they chose.
At command level, Kenney always had to nurture three
relationships - one with MacArthur and one with Hap Arnold, along with
one to the pr presence in the SWPA and USA. When officers up to general
rank were being relieved in all theaters, in January 1943 even Kenney
was not yet secure, so the best use had to be made of Ken Walker's
actions on a combat mission to the biggest enemy base in the region.
It's one of the harder parts of military service, especially so at
Ken Walker was a foundation member of the daylight
bombing clan, presumably still determined to demonstrate to Kenney
that it would still work (in the ETO they lost hundreds of airplanes
trying to 'make it work'), so, on reflection, I think this is why
he altered the timings, to give the bombardiers a better chance, and,
as a senior officer and proponent of daylight precision bombing,
went on the mission, to lead and direct over the target, and then return
with a success to present to Kenney. Unfortunately, the x-factor
was the accuracy of the puny machine guns in the JAAF fighters.
cannot find the Attack and Reconnaissance reports in any of the US
archives, please get back to me and I'll ask someone in Canberra
to go to AWM and look for the file. I've sort of lost touch with AWM over the years and with those registered as researchers, but can revitalize
the link if needed.