About 26 minutes into the hour-long film, the action turns to Truk, and soon gun-camera images of air, land, and sea attacks fill the screen. As the viewer’s plane swoops down, guns blazing, on a seaplane base crowded with enemy aircraft, the narrator (Naval Reserve Lieutenant/actor Robert Taylor) comments, “There’s something really grand, something historic about diving in here on this place, which Japan has been building and guarding jealously from all but Japanese eyes for 20 years.”
Rems notes that one of the up-close, on-the-ground witnesses to the attack was captured Marine aviator Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington. In his memoir, Baa, Baa Black Sheep (Putnam’s, 1958), Boyington claimed that when he watches The Fighting Lady “there is just enough ham in me to want to point out ‘where I am.’ But the pit in which I am trying to seek cover shows up much better than I do.” Produced by the Navy, the film received the Academy Award for best documentary feature of 1944, the same year With the Marines at Tarawa earned the Oscar for best documentary short. The Fighting Lady is public domain and can be downloaded at https://archive.org/details/FightingLady or viewed at YouTube.
While 17 February marks the 70th anniversary of Operation Hailstone, it’s also the sesquicentennial of history’s first successful submarine attack. In “One-Way Mission of the H. L. Hunley ,” Brian Hicks recounts the career of the innovative but ill-fated Confederate submarine Hunley . As he explains in his sidebar, an answer to the $64,000 Hunley question—why she sank after torpedoing the Union sloop Housatonic —may be in the offing in 2014.