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Commander Roy 0. Stratton, SC, U. S. Navy (Retired) .—Exception has been taken to the statement by me in the closing paragraph of my article regarding Germany’s Secret Naval Supply Service that another Carl Biehl, the name of the agent cited as being in charge of the Galveston district in 1935, may be residing in Galveston today. This exception is based on the fact that a Carl Biehl does live in Galveston and is a Prominent steamship agent representing a number of foreign shipping companies of various nationalities. In fact he is the son of the man originally selected to represent the German Navy as its Galveston agent. Carl Biehl, Jr., served in the U. S. Army in World War II as a Lieutenant Colonel and took Part in the Normandy landing.
In a report made by Lt. Otto Schulz to the German Naval Staff in October, 1933, that officer stated, among other things: “It is emphatically stated that no agent (Etappen- dienst) is expected to act against the country ■n which he resides and that in no circumstance will he be involved in illegal activity in time of peace.”
It must therefore not be interpreted from the wording of the article that it was inferred )hat Carl Biehl, Sr., committed any act inimical to the interests of the United States. As stated in the article, he died before the outbreak of World War II. Nor should the wording be construed as an insinuation that the integrity of Carl Biehl, Jr., is any other than the highest or that he might be disloyal to or commit any act against the United States.
How the Panay was Sunk
(See page 587, June, 1953, Proceedings)
(Editor’s Note: The author of this comment has had five tours of duty in the Far East since 1931 and is currently serving as U. S. Naval Attach^ at Taipei, Formosa.)
Captain H. T. Jarrell, U. S. Navy (Retired).—Commander Okumiya’s detailed account of the December 12, 1937, attack on the U. S. gunboat Panay (in which attack Okumiya took part) goes a long way towards exonerating the Japanese Navy for its part in this deliberate attack, but the article falls far short of acquitting the Japanese Army. The author states that, following the attack upon the Panay, he felt “ . . . the whole affair would have been more readily resolved (by the U. S. and Japanese governments) had not the Japanese Army been involved.” I will go even further to say that the incident would never have occurred had not the Japanese Army created it, either intentionally or through gross and wanton negligence.
The Japanese war in China from the Japanese viewpoint was purely an Army show. Commander Okumiya emphatically states that there was no authority by which the Army could issue orders to the Navy, and I cannot debate this point. I do know, however, that on December 12, 1937, the Japanese Navy planes that attacked the Panay and the three U. S. Merchant vessels were operating against targets designated by the Japanese Army. At the time of this attack I was aide, flag lieutenant, and communications officer on the staff of the Commander, Yangtze Patrol. Shortly after the Panay incident I had access to a complete file of exchanges of communications between Admiral Harry Yarnell, U. S. Navy, and
Vice-Admiral Hasegawa, Imperial Japanese Navy, on the subject. It was clearly evident that the naval aircraft had been instructed by the Japanese Army command to attack “any and all ships” in the Yangtze above Nanking. Knowing that the Panay and three U. S. merchant ships were in this area, the Japanese Navy requested a verification and repeat of these instructions and received this from the Army before attacking the American ships.
By early December, five months had gone by since the Marco Polo Bridge incident of July 7, which was the beginning of open hostilities between the Chinese and Japanese. The original Japanese aim was control of North China, but during these five months of fighting the war had spread southward as far as Shanghai and from there was moving inland. The Japanese Army found itself faced with a more difficult problem than they had anticipated and one which was still gaining momentum. They very much wanted to bring the “incident” to a successful conclusion.
During these months of fighting the Chinese government had received little support from other nations except the moral backing of the United States. The American Ambassador, in late November, was the only high-ranking foreign representative in the Chinese capital. The British Ambassador, while motoring from Nanking to Shanghai, had been wounded in a strafing attack by Japanese aircraft, and he had returned to England without being replaced. All other top-rank foreign diplomats in China were residing in the International Settlement in Shanghai, “sitting on the fence,” and giving no encouragement to the Chinese government. The fall of the capital city, Nanking, was imminent. If concurrent with this the Japanese could insult the only foreign supporter of the Chinese government, and get away with it, perhaps the Chinese would come to terms, which was what the Japanese wanted. From the record of events connected with the sinking of the Panay it seems that this attack was deliberate on the part of the Japanese Army and that, if we had proved to be a weaker friend of China’s than we turned out to be, Chiang Kai-shek might have capitulated.
On November 25, 1937 (which happened to be Thanksgiving Day), Ambassador Nelson T. Johnson and the majority of his Embassy Staff embarked in the gunboats Luzon and Tuluila for passage from Nanking to Hankow where the Embassy was being reestablished. A skeleton American staff remained at the Nanking Embassy, and the Panay was left at Nanking as “station ship.”
On December 11 the remaining American Embassy personnel went aboard the Panay, and the gunboat moved several miles up river from Nanking in order to avoid becoming involved in the fighting that was going on in the area of the doomed capital. Three American merchant ships (two Standard Oil vessels and one Yangtze Rapids Steam Navigation Company ship) accompanied the Panay. The Japanese senior naval commander (in Shanghai) Vice-Admiral Hasegawa, was informed of this anticipated movement and again notified when the vessels had arrived at their new anchorage. This was routine procedure, and the Japanese were always notified of scheduled as well as actual ship operations, even if the movement only involved a shifting of berth. At the time she was attacked Panay was anchored off Gross Island, 24 miles upstream from Nanking, not four miles as Commander Okumiya’s article implies.
On the morning of December 12 a Japanese Army officer came on board the Panay at her new anchorage for the purpose of definitely identifying the vessel. The American gunboats on the Yangtze river were distinctive in design and in coloring. The white gunboats with two buff smokestacks were unlike any other vessels on the Yangtze. In addition to the ensign flying from Panay’s stern the ship’s forecastle and fantail awnings were covered with large American flags. The visibility at noon that day was excellent. Smoke from the fires of Nanking, burning 24 miles away, was plainly visible. Ironically for the Japanese, who are such ardent photographers, three professional newsreel photographers happened to be aboard the Panay when the ship was attacked. They made a picture record of the incident until they ran out of film. These pictures showed the gunboat’s gunners shielding their eyes against
the bright sunlight as they tried to follow the attacking planes as they came in. The Japanese aircraft were also identifiable in the pictures. Although the pilots in the bombing planes may not have recognized their targets as being American ships, the same cannot be said for those who planned and ordered the attack.
Shortly after noon on December 12 Panay’s radio suddenly went off the air while transmitting a routine message to the Luzon. Although radio conditions in the Yangtze valley are unpredictable, it was unusual for a transmitting station to suddenly and completely die out. Attempts were made to obtain information about the Panay through the British (who had a gunboat in the same general area as Panay) and through the Japanese headquarters at Shanghai. Twenty- one hours passed before any word was received regarding the fate of the ship, and this came from the Panay’s survivors themselves who had found their way to Ho Hsien, a small Chinese village on the north bank of the Yangtze, and had put through a telephone call to the American Embassy at Hankow. At this very time, according to Commander Okumiya’s article, he and the other pilots who had taken part in the attack Were on board the Japanese Flagship Izumo in Shanghai being reprimanded for their part in the incident! If the Japanese attack on the Panay was anything but premeditated, they were surprisingly slow in admitting their mistake.
Notable Naval Books
(See page 95, January, 1954, Proceedings)
(Editor’s Note: The author of this comment is the editor of the bi-annual Flottes de Combat, sometimes referred to as the “French Janes.”)
Henri Le Masson, Paris, France.—I would like to propose that your annual review of “notable naval books” be re-titled to indicate that only books in English are being mentioned, for I note that with very few exceptions, all of the volumes referred to are in that language. To list only a few notable naval books which appeared last year in French, there were: Jacques Mordal’s Marine Indo- °hine, an excellent record of the naval side of the Indo-China war; Captain Brossard’s Dinassaut, which concerns the role of naval commandos in Indo-China; Rear Admiral Lepotier’s Raids sur mcr: St. Nazaire and Dieppe, and the same author’s Cap sur la Corse, an account of the liberation of Corsica; Rear Admiral Decoux’s Sillages dans les mers du sud, a book of memoirs; Vice Admiral Godfroy’s L’aventure de la force X, es- cadre Francaise de la Mediterranee Orienlale (1940-44), an indispensable book about Anglo-French difficulties during that period; Admiral Darlan’s son Alain’s Admiral Dar- lan parle; Captain Maurice Guierre’s L’epo- pee du Surcouf et le Commandant Louis Blai- son, an interesting record of the submarine Surcouf, in 1939 the world’s largest; Commander Claude Farrere’s L’Amiral Courbet, vainqueur des mers de Chine, an account of Courbet who, as commander of France’s Far Eastern squadron in 1884-85, twice defeated the Chinese naval forces.
I have mentioned only books published in French, but there are, of course, many valuable naval books written in other foreign languages. I believe that Proceedings readers would appreciate knowing that not all notable naval books are published in English.
The Fleet Survey Ship
(See page 869, August, page 1366, December, 1953, and page 336, March, 1954, Proceedings)
Captain M. W. Graybill, U. S. Navy.— I read with great interest Commander Gibson’s article which expresses the need for the proper type of survey ship and equipment that those of us who were required to make war-time surveys have desired for many years. Although the U. S. Navy has been making International Surveys for many years, they have never, to my knowledge, built, from the keel up, a ship intended for hydrographic survey purposes. We have continually used converted, outmoded vessels which were lacking, in many respects, in size, equipment, speed, armament, etc., which were necessary to properly carry out their mission and support the fleet as desired. A great portion of the survey work in World War II was, of necessity, carried out in forward areas subject to momentary enemy air attack, bombing and strafings being frequent, and the survey ships did not have the satisfaction of possessing armament with which to fight back. Some of them had no printing presses, no spaces to install one, nor proper survey launches to carry on hydrography in open seaways and had to beg and borrow equipment and in many cases were step-children, in that since they were not a combat element of the fleet, usually not under a tactical command, and had no one higher up to turn to who could quickly get them items they urgently needed, so it was simply a case of making the best of what they had and improvising.
The Survey ships, not being of any standard design, lacked spare parts and equipment and had difficulty in getting and effecting repairs. For example, the Oceanographer, formerly J. P. Morgan’s Corsair, built in 1897 as a luxury yacht, was frequently in need of repairs hard to obtain in the South Pacific, but made many very useful charts, until the anchor windlasses were finally worn out, and she returned to the U. S. and was scrapped in 1944.
The U.S.S. Maury is the type of ship which can carry all the equipment necessary for a fleet survey ship and can carry out its mission.
Mahan’s Doctrine Today
(See page 1185, November, 1953, Proceedings)
Rear Admiral Bern Anderson, U. S. Navy (Ret.).—I subscribe heartily to Captain Hayes’ thoughtful article and plea that we should start reading Mahan again, but with a word of caution. Nearly everyone that has tried to build on the foundation that Mahan laid has failed to recognize the significance of the full title of his first work, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783. The dates are the key. The book is actually a history of the Royal Navy from the date of the restoration of Charles II to the British throne to the end of that world war known to us, from one segment of it, as the American Revolution. From his study of that period in history Mahan developed the doctrine in the first part of the book that Captain Hayes recommends as first reading. It does outline his doctrine of “Sea Power,” but it should be remembered that the doctrine is derived from the experience of two centuries of sail in which the ships themselves and their propulsion went through relatively little change. That most of the doctrine still has application through the advent of steam propulsion, steel ships, the airplane, and the electronic and atomic era attests to the general validity of the doctrine.
The difficulty arises from trying to adapt a doctrine based on and derived from experience in sail to conditions resulting from all of those developments, changes that have themselves revolutionized the world’s economy and outlook on international affairs. I doubt if it can be done successfully, at least without introducing a great deal of flexibility into Mahan’s Sea Power. What is needed is a fresh approach to the whole subject in which the impact of modern developments are given their due weight. The result will not be an adaptation of Sea Power, in Mahan’s sense, but a new body of doctrine in which Sea Power will find a place as an historic stepping stone to the new. And Mahan’s studies will definitely influence it.
The political geographers, of whom MacKinder was one of the first, founded their branch of that science about the turn of the twentieth century. Some of them are prone to say, when discussing Mahan’s work, that he “forgot” to consider some important factor. Not so! What they overlook is that Mahan was writing of and dealing with one aspect of a definite period in history while they are dealing with a quite different one. What was valid for the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries will not be entirely applicable to the twentieth, yet it had a definite influence in shaping the course of affairs for the modern world.
The influence of Mahan’s studies on naval thought has a parallel, principally in the German Army, in the work of von Clausewitz. His work, like Mahan’s, was the result of deep study of military history. Heavy reading it is, and it is doubtful if many German army officers of the twentieth century have studied his writings thoroughly, yet their thinking certainly has been influenced by von Clausewitz’s doctrines much as our own has been influenced by Mahan. His was a doctrine or philosophy that needs to be studied as a whole in order to understand it fully. One can no more lift one thought from his work, such as “War is a continuation of policy by other means,” as expressive of von Clausewitz’s doctrine than he can say that “geographical position” is the essence of Mahan’s “Sea Power.”
One of Mahan’s works that I would add to Captain Hayes’ list is Naval Strategy (1910). Much of it. is dated, but it contains an excellent history of the naval phases of the Russo-Japanese War and a discussion of that peculiarly Russian doctrine of the “fortress fleet.” Over-simplified, the doctrine is that the function of the fleet is to protect and support the base, rather than vice versa. That it is still timely is illustrated by Admiral Isakov’s The Red Fleet in the Second World War. That thin book is scarcely history, being made up largely of extracts from Orders of the Day, Stalin’s sayings, and Pravda’s version of what happened. It makes many unverified claims of successes and victories over the enemy. Yet, reading through the dialectic, the part played by the fleet in the defense of Leningrad was one of its proudest accomplishments. In the Black Sea, when the Germans took the Crimea, the Black Sea Fleet retired from Sevastopol to Bakum, in the southeastern corner of the Black Sea. From there it operated against German sea communications in the western part of that sea, but the success of its forces was hampered by the great distances they had to cover, nearly 600 miles from their base! In sum, the Red Fleet’s record in the Second World War was a modern example of the application of the doctrine of the “fortress fleet.” It illustrates the persistence of the doctrine with the Russians, regardless of the political changes that have occurred.
Mark of Distinction?
(See page 1130, October, 1953, Proceedings)
Commander C. H. Amme, Jr.—This may come as a surprise to you, but there are many readers who turn first to your department ponderously entitled, “Discussions, Comments, Notes.” For there, they sometimes find the Man with a Gripe, and sometimes his gripe strikes a responsive chord. Such a man is Lieutenant Braunschneider as revealed by his contribution entitled “Mark of Distinction?”
His complaint about the lack of respect and lack of proper emphasis on the position of the sea-going member of the Navy is all too true. I agree whole heartedly that the proper remedy is in giving the sea-going Navy the distinction that rightfully is its heritage.
But this is not a new complaint. May I quote a Master Mariner of the eighteenth century, one William Nichelson, who, putting all his “f’s” where we now put our “s’s,” said:
“I muft beg leave to obferve, that there is a fort of doctrine which I hope will never gain credit in the fervice, and which cannot be too much difcounteranced or reprobated, which is, that it is poffible to be a good Officer without being a good Seaman, which I pofitively deny, it being a flat contradiction of reafon and common fenfe; I believe it to be generally favored by thofe Officers who come too late into the fervice to be initiated into a feaman’s duty. To fay that it is poffible for a man to be a good Officer without being a Seaman, is an affertion that no man who calls himfelf an Officer can maintain, and which every feaman will call abfurd. It may with equal truth be faid, that an officer may at once be a good farmer, when to his coft he could foon find, that being ignorant in the myftery and labour of hufbandry, he would be deceived by every perfon he employed, as that Officer will moft affuredly be, and with a rifque to his reputation, who has not a knowledge of a feaman, and who is obliged to truft to his boatswain, should his fhip be difabled either in bad weather or in battle.”
There is no doubt that the line (spelt with a small “1”) has lost much prestige in being used as a general catch-all for specialists, LDO’s and EDO’s who themselves would prefer to have a distinguishing mark to indicate their profession of which they are justly proud. (I purposely omit the WAVES in this category, for their distinguishing mark is intrinsic.) On the other hand, there are many young officers of no particular specialty or qualification who have never been to sea. Certainly, these detract from the distinction of a line officer more than the others.
Two hundred years ago, it was said of the Sea Line (spelt with capitals) that “there is no way of life where a youth can more effectively ferve his country than in that Line.” Something should be done so that this can be said today.