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  #1  
Old 14 Jul 12, 00:22
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Did HORNET's strike group mutiny at Midway?

Just after 6 AM on the morning of 4 June 1942, a search plane reported the location of 2 Japanese carriers in company with two battleships near Midway island.

By 8 AM US carriers ENTERPRISE and HORNET had put pretty much everything that could fly into the air.

Why did most of those from ENTERPRISE find the enemy while most from HORNET find nothing? What really happened to USS HORNET's fighter and strike groups during the "flight to nowhere"?

The received story

HORNET's after action report written by the ship's CO, Capt (soon to be RAdm) Mitscher describes:

"... The objective, enemy carriers, was calculated to be 155 miles distant, bearing 239° T[rue] from this Task Force ..."

The report details the planes allocated to the strike force.

"... report continues: “They were unable to locate the enemy and landed on board at 1727.” Mitscher explains this by noting “about one hour after the planes had departed the enemy reversed his course and started his retirement.” ... As a result of that turn, Mitscher writes, the American pilots failed to spot the enemy and eventually returned to the carrier—those who could.

Controversy:

You will note that the course implied as the flight path for the strike is generally south-west, where indeed the enemy was located. However, most pilots involved in the strike recall setting out almost due west.

In fact, they allegedly recall the leader of the torpedo squadron breaking silence to argue with the flight leader that they were going the wrong way. He was told "You fly on us!"

Eventually, Waldron, the torpedo squadron flight leader radioed, "“Well, the hell with you. I know where they are and I’m going to them.” He then altered course and took his squadron on one of the most famous doomed missions in history.

So what?

Leading others in disobeying orders is mutiny.

There are no after action reports from HORNET's individual squadons. In the case of the torpedo squadron, there was only one survivor who never filed an official report. The lack of others is a bit odd.

When speaking of Waldron, Mitscher's report states, "... a highly aggressive officer, leading a well-trained squadron, found his target and attacked. . . . This squadron is deserving of the highest honors for finding the enemy, pressing home its attack, without fighter protection and without diverting dive bomber attacks to draw the enemy fire.”

But did Waldron find his target by disobeying orders? Did Mitscher fudge an official report to cover up potential mutinous behaviour? Are there still new things to learn about a battle fought 70 years ago?

Much more detail here: http://www.usni.org/magazines/navalh...mystery-midway
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  #2  
Old 14 Jul 12, 10:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadkiller View Post
Just after 6 AM on the morning of 4 June 1942, a search plane reported the location of 2 Japanese carriers in company with two battleships near Midway island.

By 8 AM US carriers ENTERPRISE and HORNET had put pretty much everything that could fly into the air.

Why did most of those from ENTERPRISE find the enemy while most from HORNET find nothing? What really happened to USS HORNET's fighter and strike groups during the "flight to nowhere"?

The received story

HORNET's after action report written by the ship's CO, Capt (soon to be RAdm) Mitscher describes:

"... The objective, enemy carriers, was calculated to be 155 miles distant, bearing 239° T[rue] from this Task Force ..."

The report details the planes allocated to the strike force.

"... report continues: “They were unable to locate the enemy and landed on board at 1727.” Mitscher explains this by noting “about one hour after the planes had departed the enemy reversed his course and started his retirement.” ... As a result of that turn, Mitscher writes, the American pilots failed to spot the enemy and eventually returned to the carrier—those who could.

Controversy:

You will note that the course implied as the flight path for the strike is generally south-west, where indeed the enemy was located. However, most pilots involved in the strike recall setting out almost due west.

In fact, they allegedly recall the leader of the torpedo squadron breaking silence to argue with the flight leader that they were going the wrong way. He was told "You fly on us!"

Eventually, Waldron, the torpedo squadron flight leader radioed, "“Well, the hell with you. I know where they are and I’m going to them.” He then altered course and took his squadron on one of the most famous doomed missions in history.

So what?

Leading others in disobeying orders is mutiny.

There are no after action reports from HORNET's individual squadons. In the case of the torpedo squadron, there was only one survivor who never filed an official report. The lack of others is a bit odd.

When speaking of Waldron, Mitscher's report states, "... a highly aggressive officer, leading a well-trained squadron, found his target and attacked. . . . This squadron is deserving of the highest honors for finding the enemy, pressing home its attack, without fighter protection and without diverting dive bomber attacks to draw the enemy fire.”

But did Waldron find his target by disobeying orders? Did Mitscher fudge an official report to cover up potential mutinous behaviour? Are there still new things to learn about a battle fought 70 years ago?

Much more detail here: http://www.usni.org/magazines/navalh...mystery-midway
I read the attachment with great interest. It has a well rounded approach and some valid reasoning into boot. As far as the official account of battle and Mitscher's eventual report v. what actually might have been the case
I personally think that now after 7 plus decades, we should be able to re-assess the battle without the prejudices of the day. Maybe if we look with kind understanding on the events more information could come forward to complete the historic picture.

Ed.
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Old 14 Jul 12, 10:46
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It's been a while since I read Miracle at Midway; but my recollection is that it was somewhat of a miracle that the Enterprise and Yorktown's SBD's managed to find the IJN fleet. And IIRC, the SBD squadrons were not aware of the fate of the TBD's until they had returned to their carriers.

I think it was just a lack of luck and experience.
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Old 14 Jul 12, 11:01
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Quote:
But did Waldron find his target by disobeying orders?
An officer correcting a known mistake in order to engage the enemy as intended cannot possibly be either in mutiny or disobeying orders. One man survived from Torpedo Eight. Had this man been Waldron, there could have been court marshalls.
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Old 14 Jul 12, 20:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn239 View Post
An officer correcting a known mistake in order to engage the enemy as intended cannot possibly be either in mutiny or disobeying orders. One man survived from Torpedo Eight. Had this man been Waldron, there could have been court marshalls.
What is the phrase, "No captain can do very wrong by placing his ship alongside that of the enemy?"

I agree with Glenn.

Waldron disobeyed orders and paid the ultimate price, along with all, save one, of his squadron. However, their sacrifice led, in large part, to victory. Had he done everything exactly as he did but his actions led to defeat instead, I think the defeat would have a primary scapegoat.
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Old 15 Jul 12, 00:57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn239 View Post
An officer correcting a known mistake in order to engage the enemy as intended cannot possibly be either in mutiny or disobeying orders. One man survived from Torpedo Eight. Had this man been Waldron, there could have been court marshalls.
Read the article. It contends:

The USN had located two carriers. The ENTERPRISE strike was to hit them. Mitscher believed there were two more carriers following about 80 - 100 miles behind (west). Therefore he ordered HORNET's strike leader to take his group there.

There was no "known mistake", the strike leader was following a direct order and his subordinates disobeyed.

Of course, Mitscher was wrong, and his aircraft were on a "flight to nowhere". But Waldron led his men to a slaughter and became a hero for it. Would history recall him that way if there had been two carriers where Mitscher thought they would be?
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Old 15 Jul 12, 09:41
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Ummm, a mutiny by definition is some, as it is known "combination against authority," that is a conspiracy, a cabal, or what have you. An officer defying his orders and going off on his own is not a mutiny, he is "failing to follow a direct order" to wit sometimes is added "of a specific nature" or words to that effect. Unfortunately, "mutiny" like other words, such as "hero" are tossed about with great abandon, thus deprived of their true and specific meanings.
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Old 15 Jul 12, 10:00
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadkiller View Post
Read the article. It contends:

The USN had located two carriers. The ENTERPRISE strike was to hit them. Mitscher believed there were two more carriers following about 80 - 100 miles behind (west). Therefore he ordered HORNET's strike leader to take his group there.

There was no "known mistake", the strike leader was following a direct order and his subordinates disobeyed.

Of course, Mitscher was wrong, and his aircraft were on a "flight to nowhere". But Waldron led his men to a slaughter and became a hero for it. Would history recall him that way if there had been two carriers where Mitscher thought they would be?
Excellent point, and a very critical part of the article that must be understood to get the correct interpretation of the actions of those involved. Waldron's elevated status may also be due to the marked dearth of heroes on the American side to that point.

There seems to be some parallels between him and the Custer legend at the Little Big Horn. The actions of both may have led to "glorious" but wholly unnecessary deaths of their commands.

Regards,
Dennis
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Old 15 Jul 12, 10:06
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Doctor View Post
It's been a while since I read Miracle at Midway; but my recollection is that it was somewhat of a miracle that the Enterprise and Yorktown's SBD's managed to find the IJN fleet. And IIRC, the SBD squadrons were not aware of the fate of the TBD's until they had returned to their carriers.

I think it was just a lack of luck and experience.
There was some luck with the Enterprises bomber group spotting the trailing destroyer. Their out bound course had taken them to where the Japanese fleet had been a hour or so earlier & at least gave them a chance to search for a few miniutes. The Yorktowns bomber and torpedo squadrons flew almost directly to the the enemy, approaching from nearly the opposite direction as the Enterprises group, the NE. I dont have the exact courses the varios groups flew, but IIRC most were near 279 degrees.

Why the Hornets strike group received a different course, and exactly why Waldron thought it incorrect has been examined by a few historians, to no clear conclusion. The best I have seen is there had been a lot of turnover in the Hornets command and staff & their current training/experince was not what it could have been.
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Old 15 Jul 12, 10:20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RLeonard View Post
Ummm, a mutiny by definition is some, as it is known "combination against authority," that is a conspiracy, a cabal, or what have you. An officer defying his orders and going off on his own is not a mutiny, he is "failing to follow a direct order" to wit sometimes is added "of a specific nature" or words to that effect. Unfortunately, "mutiny" like other words, such as "hero" are tossed about with great abandon, thus deprived of their true and specific meanings.
We really need the definition for mutiny as written by the USN in 1942 (anyone?). But from what I understand (i.e. Wiki) the USN currently defines it as:

(a) Any person subject to this code (chapter) who— (1) with intent to usurp or override lawful military authority, refuses, in concert with any other person, to obey orders or otherwise do his duty or creates any violence or disturbance is guilty of mutiny; (2) with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of lawful civil authority, creates, in concert with any other person, revolt, violence, or other disturbance against that authority is guilty of sedition; (3) fails to do his utmost to prevent and suppress a mutiny or sedition being committed in his presence, or fails to take all reasonable means to inform his superior commissioned officer or commanding officer of a mutiny or sedition which he knows or has reason to believe is taking place, is guilty of a failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition. (b) A person who is found guilty of attempted mutiny, mutiny, sedition, or failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.

Waldron did not go "off on his own", he ordered his group to disobey a direct order and they did. In other words, they refused in concert with others to obey orders. They did so without a full appreciation of the orders given to their direct superior and certainly without the situation as viewed by their Commander (yes, he also happened to be wrong ...).
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Old 15 Jul 12, 10:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
... Why the Hornets strike group received a different course, and exactly why Waldron thought it incorrect has been examined by a few historians, to no clear conclusion. The best I have seen is there had been a lot of turnover in the Hornets command and staff & their current training/experince was not what it could have been.
Good day Carl:

According to the article "Mitscher and the Mystery of Midway", published in the United States Naval Institute's Navy History Magazine, June 2012 (http://www.usni.org/magazines/navalh...mystery-midway ) the route of HORNET's aircraft on their "flight to nowhere" was different than that implied in the ship's after action report.

The aircraft initially set out on a westerly course in an attempt to find the 2 fleet carriers still unreported, but known to be with the Japanese fleet. Mitscher beleived they were 80 - 100 miles further west than the group (2) already located at the time his aircraft were launched.

The confusion that follows HORNET's group after that stems from aircraft apparently abandoning the mission they were assigned and trying to join the strike with ENTERPRISE and YORKTOWN. Further obfuscation follows when Mitscher writes HORNET's AAR a week later with full knowledge of what happened. Thus he tried to gloss over the actions of some very brave men.

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Old 15 Jul 12, 10:49
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"Rocks and Shoals" the Articles for the Government of the United States Navy, 1930 in effect during WW2 clearly separates the two issues in the enumerations of Article 4, paragraphs 1 and 2.

Also a careful read will show that Waldron did the exact opposite of some of the offenses listed below, that is, he did what was expected of him as a commander and a leader. See paragraphs 13, 14,17, 18, & 19. If Waldron were actually in violation of an article in Rocks and Shoals, (and I believe firmly, in case you have not guessed, that under the circumstances he was not) it would be paragraph 15, not paragraph 1 or 2. The writing of the article is pretty specific, use of terms like "mutiny" in a US Navy 1942 context simply do not apply.


Article 4

The punishment of death, or such other punishment as a court martial may adjudge, may be inflicted on any person in the naval service --

1. Who makes, or attempts to make, or unites with any mutiny or mutinous assembly, or, being witness to or present at any mutiny does not do his utmost to suppress it; or, knowing of any mutinous assembly or of any intended mutiny, does not immediately communicate his knowledge to his superior or commanding officer;
2. Or disobeys the lawful orders of his superior officers;
3. Or strikes or assaults, or attempts or threatens to strike or assault, his superior officer while in the execution of the duties of his office;
4. Or gives any intelligence to, or holds or entertains any intercourse with, an enemy or rebel, without leave from the President, the Secretary of the Navy, the commander in chief of the fleet, the commander of the squadron, or, in case of a vessel acting singly, from his commanding officer;
5. Or receives any message or letter from an enemy or rebel, or, being aware of the unlawful reception of such message or letter, fails to take the earliest opportunity to inform his superior or commanding officer thereof;
6. Or, in time of war, deserts or entices others to desert;
7. Or, in time of war, deserts or betrays his trust, or entices or aids others to desert or betray their trust;
8. Or, sleeps upon his watch;
9. Or leaves his station before being regularly relieved;
10. Or intentionally or willfully suffers any vessel of the Navy to be stranded, or run upon rocks or shoals, or improperly hazarded or maliciously or willfully injures any vessel of the Navy, or any part of her tackle, armament, or equipment, whereby the safety the vessel is hazarded or the lives of the crew exposed to danger.
11. Or unlawfully sets on fire, or otherwise unlawfully destroys any public property not at the time in possession of an enemy, pirate or rebel;
12. Or strikes or attempts to strike the flag to an enemy or rebel without proper authority, or, when engaged in battle, treacherously yields or pusillanimously cries for quarter;
13. Or, in time of battle, displays cowardice, negligence, or disaffection, or withdraws from or keeps out of danger to which he should expose himself;
14. Or, in time of battle, deserts his duty or station, or entices others to do so;
15. Or does not properly observe the orders of his commanding officer, and use his utmost exertions to carry them into execution when ordered to prepare for or join in, or when actually engaged in, battle, or while in sight of an enemy;
16. Or, being in command of a fleet, squadron, or vessel acting singly, neglects, when an engagement is probable, or when an armed vessel of an enemy or rebel is in sight, to prepare and clear his ship or ships for action;
17. Or does not, upon signal for battle, use his utmost exertions to join in battle;
18. Or fails to encourage in his own person, his inferior officers and men to fight courageously;
19. Or does not do his utmost to overtake and capture or destroy any vessel which it is his duty to encounter;
20. Or does not afford all practicable relief and assistance to vessels belonging to the United States or their allies when engaged in battle.


The word "Mutiny" only appears three times (four if you want to count "mutinous") in Rock & Shoals 1930 edition, all in paragraph 1 of Article 4 as above.

R
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Old 15 Jul 12, 11:03
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RLeonard View Post
...

2. Or disobeys the lawful orders of his superior officers;
...
9. Or leaves his station before being regularly relieved;
...
14. Or, in time of battle, deserts his duty or station, or entices others to do so;
...
19. Or does not do his utmost to overtake and capture or destroy any vessel which it is his duty to encounter;
...
R
Hmmmm, If the situation from the original article is correct, then Waldron and his men certainly did #2 and 9 and a case could be made for 14.

Point 19 requires an understanding that the ships being attacked by ENTERPRISE and YORKTOWN were not to be the target of HORNET's aircraft. Mitscher was looking for an enemy believed to be further west.

Of course, history has mitigated Waldron's actions by point 17:
17. Or does not, upon signal for battle, use his utmost exertions to join in battle;
This he most certainly did NOT do. He did indeed do his utmost to join the battle. That just wasn't what he'd been ordered to do.
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Old 15 Jul 12, 20:03
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There is a book about VT8 called dawn like thunder (or close to that).
According to this book, the Hornets CAG, Cmdr RING, was an incompetant who led the Hornets air group out to action without any idea of the location of the Japanese fleet.
Ring launched with four sqaudrons....only 1 recovered and that still had its bombs.
According to this book, Ring didn't even know how to drop his bombs and had to be shown by an ensign how the bomb release on the Dauntless worked.
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Old 15 Jul 12, 20:42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadkiller View Post
Of course, history has mitigated Waldron's actions by point 17:
17. Or does not, upon signal for battle, use his utmost exertions to join in battle;
This he most certainly did NOT do. He did indeed do his utmost to join the battle. That just wasn't what he'd been ordered to do.
Art, respectfully I most hardily disagree. As I'm not nearly as articulate as most of the contributors have been, I'll present my arguments as points.

1) Waldron was ordered to lead his squadron as a part of the Hornet strike group. When he unilaterally decided to remove his squadron from the formation he: 1) reduced the integrity and capability of the Hornet's group to the point that, had they met the two missing Japanese carriers, the effectiveness of their attack would have been depleted by half and: 2) forced his squadron of obsolete torpedo bombers unsupported by American fighters and bombers to attack two Japanese carriers with their supporting ships and air groups; in essence contributing to the complete loss of the squadron and aircrew (less Ensign Gay).

2) History does not mitigate Waldron's actions. (Actions can only be judged by the conditions known at the time.) And what action are you asking to be mitigated? The complete destruction of his command?

3) Mitscher may have been wrong in his estimation of where the second part of the enemy fleet was but that had absolutely nothing to do with what Waldron's part in the battle plan was. Following the orders of his superior.

4) Waldron's 'laying alongside the enemy' in contrary to his orders was wrong. It was more than wrong, it was stupid and reckless.

In essence, history does not prove Waldron to have been correct. In my opinion, anyway.

Cheers,
Dan.

Lt Comdr Waldron is circled.
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So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.

Aldous Huxley: Ends and Means (1937)
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