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Re: Currents (et al.)

June 16 2015 at 8:01 PM
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Nelson  (no login)

Response to Currents


I haven’t the remotest idea where Augustina lies on the sea bottom or the identity of the IJN warship committing the atrocity on the merchant crew of this tanker. I would, however, like to touch upon three of the points already made, to wit:

1. For currentsman Kevin: It would appear from the accounts provided that Augustina remained afloat for a (relatively) long time, and of course the longer the time afloat the greater the potential drifting distance. But is it possible from the current pattern in the Java Sea that Augustina underwent retrograde movement? Which is to ask, could she have floated distance S in one direction, then been shifted in the opposite direction—more or less back toward the point of intercept—finally sinking at, say, distance 0.6 S from the point where the crew abandoned and the seacocks were opened? Which MAY mean she lies closer to that point of intercept than her time afloat would imply (and, yeah, the time afloat is utterly unknown). Would such be possible, given the current pattern in that area?

2. For Nuyt: Methinks we’re all aware of the inexplicable warship misidentification made by the sailors and soldiers of all the belligerent nations, perhaps most woefully by the crews of bomber aircraft at high altitude. Nonetheless, I’m going to disagree with your supposition (made yesterday) that the culprit of the atrocity was an IJN minesweeper or similar sized vessel. The repetitive pattern both north and south of Java was that of DDs—usually in pairs, but sometimes singly—sent ahead or on the flanks of the Japanese task forces, keeping an eye out for juicy prey like Augustina. No other warships followed the one that intercepted the tanker, so the warship in question was acting at least semi-independently, and what other IJN fleet warship class did so at that time and place? Visually, little question, particularly by an experienced ship’s officer, in identifying a DD approaching with a bone in her teeth. Okay, one could argue a small light cruiser, but most CLs had DDs in close cooperation, so to restate, no other warship joined up with the culprit in the time elapsed. I think the culprit was a destroyer, but would like to read your take after a rethink.

3. I for one don’t get these senseless naval atrocities, especially on relatively harmless merchant crews, so early in the war, i.e., before things got truly nasty (the IJA of course was a whole ‘nother animal). There were other atrocities at this time in the Java Sea, mostly by IJN submariners. The Japanese had experienced not a few wars since the late 19th century, so should have been professionals at it by then, not excluding its proper conduct. Particularly atrocious was the retaliation against those who had caused Japanese casualties (as in, you go looking for war, expect a bloody nose or two or three, and conduct yourself accordingly). To this day, Japan still has much to answer for, not least of all the admission of such to its own people.

The declaration of tommy guns in the hands of the Japanese seamen raises eyebrows, because neither the IJA nor IJN regularly issued submachine guns. Members of the Special Naval Landing Forces did have 7.63mm and 8mm Bergmann-pattern SMGs, but their being regularly part of ships’ armories must remain in question. A variety of LMGs, mostly air-cooled in 7.7mm, could be found among the shipboard armament, as well as HMGs. The account of a bloodthirsty sailor leaping into a lifeboat holding a tommy gun must arouse attention, because I wouldn’t want to leap into a boat of any size holding something as large as an LMG (splash). Thus his doing so is either apocryphal or he likely had an SMG of some sort.


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  • follow-up - Nelson on Jun 16, 2015, 11:06 PM
  • Minesweepers - nuyt on Jun 17, 2015, 3:16 PM
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