Editor’s note: The following account was written in 1944.
The Battle of Midway (3-8 June 1942) was fought as a sea-battle rather than an amphibious operation because of information furnished by the Communications Intelligence Organization in April and May, 1942.
Commander J.J. Rochefort was in command of the Mid-Pacific C.I. net with headquarters at Pearl Harbor, and is entitled to the principal credit (but not the sole credit) for furnishing CincPac timely and accurate knowledge of the Japanese plans and intentions.
The Japanese thrust at Australia had been turned back by the Battle of Coral Sea (4-7 May 1942). This battle, incidentally, had been brought about by C.I., and but for faulty communications it would have been an even greater victory for the U.S. Navy. (Admiral Nimitz’s staff communications officer [Commander M.E. Curts] broadcast vital enemy information in a cryptographic system not held by
Admiral Fletcher. The latter did not dare risk breaking radio silence to request re-encipherment in a system he held and thus was not able to read this particular message until after the battle had been fought. Incidentally, this was Boner #3 for Curts in a space of 7 months.)
At this time, our C.I. unit at Pearl Harbor knew of other concentrations of Jap warships and transports by means of radio direction finding, callsign identification, traffic analysis, and decryption of naval messages. The locations and compositions of these forces were very accurately determined (checked by later events) as well as the probable intention of seizing advanced bases in Allied territory. The question was where would the Japs strike, north, south, or west, and when? Early in May it was learned (by translations of decrypted messages) that the main effort would be directed at Midway and the Hawaiian Islands, assisted by a feint or subsidiary attack against Dutch Harbor and the Aleutians. The scheduled date of attack (for purposes of planning) was about 10 June 1942, although the exact designation of “D-Day” had not been made. This information was furnished both CincPac and Cominch. The Japanese knew that three U.S. Carriers plus their screening cruisers and destroyers were operating in South Pacific Waters. The Japs apparently hoped to get through to their objectives without opposition.
On 14 May 1942, the Hawaiian Decrypting Unit decoded and translated a Japanese Naval message (intercepted locally) setting “D-Day” (for the Midway-Dutch Harbor “blitz”) as 4 June 1942, a week earlier than previously estimated. This put CincPac in a predicament. There was not time to bring the battleships out from San Francisco, even if screening vessels had been available. The damaged YORKTOWN (CV-5) was returning to Pearl Harbor and due 27 May, but the extent of her damage and the time required to make her battle worthy was not known. The ENTERPRISE (CV-6) and HORNET (CV-8) – with their screening forces – would have to be recalled from the South Pacific at top speed, to refuel and be on station in time to head off the Japs. If this date or the destination were in error, the approaches to Australia and New Zealand would be left unguarded. To make matters worse, Rochefort (or Wright) had to confess that the code group translated as “3 June” (or “June”) was not too well established, although there was no “second choice” for this code group.
Admiral Nimitz referred the matter to the Navy Department and asked its opinion in the matter.
The reply came back that there was nothing to substantiate 3 June, and the original date held. (The writer has never seen the original messages and does not know the exact dates or reference numbers of these messages. He is relying on his recollection of stories told by two people a year ago.) The gist of the Departments’ reply was that the people in the Hawaiian Decrypting Unit were “all wet.” It is not known whether CincPac’s message and the reply were referred to higher authority or were handled by officers in OP-20-G (Commander John R. Redman and Commander J.N. Wenger) on their own responsibility. Admiral Nimitz then called in Rochefort (or Rochefort and Dyer, or Rochefort and Wright) and asked for comment on the Department’s answer. Rochefort replied:
“We still stick to our first estimate, 3 June. The value of the code-group is not too well established as ‘June 3’ but it is the only value we have ever gotten. Also, there has been evidence from other sources of an advance in the date. If we get ready for this attack on June 3 and it does not come off, we may look silly but there will be time for our ships to refuel and get back on station. If we are not prepared and the Japs strike, it will be a case of Pearl Harbor all over again – and the Navy will have no excuse.”
Admiral Nimitz decided in favor of the Rochefort-Dyer-Wright team as opposed to the Redman-Wenger combination. The rest is a matter of history. Task Force 16 was recalled from the South Pacific, refueled at Pearl Harbor and sailed for Midway on 28 May. The YORKTOWN’s repairs were completed on 30 May, and Task Group 17 rendezvoused with TF 16 at sea on 2 June. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps aircraft were flown to Midway up to and beyond the capacity of the Naval Air Station to accommodate. And the first that the Japs knew that they had anything more to face than the local defense aircraft normally based on Midway was when our carrier planes hit them with full force.
Meanwhile, there were tense moments back at Pearl Harbor. Rochefort, Dyer, and Wright had stuck their necks out a mile. So had Admiral Nimitz, for that matter. Every day they checked for new evidence confirming their prediction. Each aged ten years on 2 June, according to their stories. And when the first contact report came in from a PBY plane at 0900 on 3 June 1942, they were able to relax for the first time in ten days. Rochefort’s estimate was verified, Admiral Nimitz’s judgment was vindicated, and the country was saved. The following verification of the above claims is quoted from Cominch Secret Information Bulletin no. 1, page S-30:
“As a result of a remarkable intelligence work, the tactical situation was in our favor; it is not believed that the enemy knew the whereabouts of our carriers until after radio silence was broken.”
Due credit for this “remarkable intelligence work” should be given to Parke and Ford, and to the unknown cryptanalysts at Singapore, Corregidor, Pearl Harbor, and Washington, who were performing the drudgery of “key additive recovery” and code solution long before the United States entered the war, so that in April and May, 1942, the system was better than 80% readable. And we must thank the Japs for making that particular code effective in November, 1940, rather that in November, 1941.
Admiral Nimitz knows the full story – as related up to this point. Admiral Halsey, Admiral Spruance, Vice Admiral Fletcher, Vice Admiral Kincaid, and other flag officers present on that occasion probably do too.
In addition, the messages in question are on file in Pearl Harbor, while further details can be given by Rochefort, Dyer, Huckins, Wright, Holtwick, Williams, Fullinwider, and others on duty in the Hawaiian Decrypting Unit during May and June, 1942. What these people do not know is the dirty work that went on in the Navy Department afterwards.
The Navy Department Decrypting Unit had been assisting Pearl Harbor in the solution of the Jap Naval Operations code for about a year, and had handled [the] solution single-handed before this “project” was assigned to Pearl Harbor in 1941. The British C.I. unit in Singapore had been evacuated to Ceylon and then withdrawn to East Africa, so that it was temporarily in a state of “suspended animation” so far as its cryptanalytical efforts were concerned. The Asiatic C.I. Unit had been evacuated (by submarine) from Corregidor to Australia during March, April, and early May, 1942; there they joined the enthusiastic but inexperienced Australian C.I. Unit at Canberra and were just getting on their feet again when Midway was fought. So the whole burden of communications intelligence (in the Pacific) fell on Pearl Harbor and Washington. It is true that the Navy Department was turning out more “key recoveries” and “code values” than Pearl Harbor. (They had more personnel to assign to this project.) However, Pearl Harbor was always several days ahead in its information because it was adjacent to the Intercept Station, and in this instance made a correct evaluation of available evidence while the Navy Department busted cold!
Neither John Redman nor Wenger were inclined to share credit with anyone else, let alone admit a blunder, so they proceeded to bluff their way through. They told the Director of Naval Communications (Captain Joseph R. Redman) that they had spotted the change of date, that Pearl Harbor had missed the boat on this occasion, and that without the warning from Washington, Midway and parts of the Hawaiian Islands would have been captured! It is presumed that Captain Redman told this to Vice Admiral Horne, to Vice Admiral Willson, and to Admiral King. This could be verified by questioning those Admirals, if they still remember the incident.
The exposure of the above mentioned fraud did not come until October, 1943, when Commander J.S. Holtwick was ordered to the Navy Department for a short period of temporary duty prior to going to Chungking for liaison duty with the Chinese Government. Holtwick called on the D.N.C (Rear Admiral Joseph R. Redman) to pay his respects. In the course of conversation, Admiral Redman casually remarked that Pearl Harbor had missed the boat at the Battle of Midway but the Navy Department had saved the day. This took Holtwick’s breath away, but he managed to say that Admiral Nimitz thought the reverse was true. Admiral Redman then said that the Commander in Chief must have been misinformed, to which Holtwick replied:
“Admiral Nimitz read the official dispatches and drew his own conclusions. Also, he has just given me a letter of commendation for my part in the work.”
(incidentally, Admiral Nimitz gave similar letters of commendation to Dyer, Wright, Rochefort, and others.)
Holtwick told the foregoing story to the writer a few days after his interview with Admiral Redman. He was still “boiling mad.” He stated he was going to tell the truth about the Midway tip-off to everyone concerned, at the very earliest opportunity. It is believed that Holtwick went to China via Hawaii and that the people in the Hawaiian Decrypting Unit know it. So do Wright and Fullinwider, who are now in Washington. Rochefort (in the South Pacific) does not know it unless some one sent it by mail.
Confirmation of the foregoing account can be obtained from:
1. The messages from CincPac and OpNav (or Cominch) dated about 20 May, 1942. (Copies are onfile at Pearl Harbor and should be on file in OP-20-G.
2. “The History of OP-20-G” prepared by Lieut. (jg) J.N. Connorton, USNR, (This has been prepared in monthly installments, is in the custody of the D.N.C., and has never been seen by the writer.
3. Testimony of Admiral King, Vice Admiral Willson, Vice Admiral Horne, Rear Admiral Redman, and Lieut.(jg) Connorton.
4. Testimony of Admiral Nimitz, Holtwick, Rochefort, Dyer, Huckins, Wright, Williams, Fullinwider, and Parke.
This, however, has put us ahead of the rest of the story, chronologically.
On 7 June 1942, while the Battle of Midway was still in its closing stages, the following “scoop” appeared in the Chicago Tribune (Sunday Edition):
“JAP FLEET SMASHED BY U.S. 2 CARRIERS SUNK AT MIDWAY”
“NAVY HAD WORD OF JAP PLAN TO STRIKE AT SEA”
“KNEW DUTCH HARBOR WAS A FEINT”
Washington, D.C., 7 June. “The strength of the Japanese forces which the American Navy is battling somewhere west of Midway Island in what is believed to be the greatest naval battle of the war, was well known in American naval circles several days before the battle began, reliable sources in the Naval
Intelligence disclosed here tonight.”
“The Navy learned of the gathering of the powerful Japanese units soon after they put forth from their bases, it was said. Although their purpose was not specifically known, the information in the hands of the Navy Department was so definite that a feint at some American base, to be accompanied by a serious effort to invade and occupy another base, was predicted. Guesses were even made that Dutch Harbor and Midway Island might be targets.”
“The Advance information enabled the American Navy to make full use of air attacks on the approaching Japanese ships, turning the struggle into an air battle along the modern lines of naval warfare so often predicted in Tribune editorials. It was know that the Japanese fleet, the most powerful yet used in the war, was broken into three sections: first a striking force; next a support force; and finally an occupation fleet.”
“PEARL HARBOR WAS TO BE NEXT’
“It was apparent to Admiral Chester N. Nimitz’s strategists in Hawaii that the feint would probably be made by the supporting force, the real blow struck by the striking fleet, with the occupation forces standing by to land troops as soon as defenses were broken down.”
“Had the attack on Midway been successful, Pearl Harbor and the Hawaiian Islands would have been the next point of attack naval authorities feel sure.”
“The various forces were made up as follows, according to information here: The Striking Force: four aircraft carriers, the Akaga, and Kaga of 26,900 tons each, and the Hinya and Sonyu of 10,000 tons each, 2 battleships of the Kinishima class, 29,300 tons with 14 in. guns; 2 cruisers of the Tone class, new 8,500 ton 6.1 in. gunships; 12 destroyers.”
“THE SUPPORT FORCES LISTED”
“The support force: Four aircraft carriers of the Ryuzyo class 7,100 tons; 2 Kinishima class battleships; 4 new 8,500 ton cruisers of the Mogami class, including the Mogami, Mikuma, Tuzuya, and Kumano with 15 guns of 6.1 in. caliber; 1 light cruiser; 10 destroyers”
“The Occupation Force: Four cruisers, the Chakas, Myoko,Chitone, and Choda, all believed of 8,500 tons with main batteries of 6.1 in. guns; 2 armored transports of the Kunikisima Maru class, converted liners; 4 to 6 troop ships; 8 to 12 supply vessels; 12 destroyers; 10 submarines.”
“Well informed as it was the Navy was on the alert for the first movement of this force. When it moved all American outposts were warned.”
“DUTCH HARBOR A FEINT”
“American naval dispositions were made in preparation for the various feasible attacks the Japs were believed to be planning”
“Up to this time the Japanese had not committed themselves to any action. They were still in position to turn their real threat against either Dutch Harbor or Midway. By last Tuesday, the Americans were able to conclude that a feint was to be made at Dutch Harbor.”
“Meanwhile, preparations among all available American forces in the vicinity of Midway were being rushed in the hope of striking a telling blow against the Japs. The wisdom of this course became apparent on Wednesday when the feint was made in the form of an air raid on Dutch Harbor. The same day the fleets in the Midway Area commenced their now historic battle.”
The same story also appeared in the Washington Times-Herald, the New York Daily News, and four Western and mid-Western newspapers associated with the Chicago Tribune. The story was quickly hushed by Naval Censorship (or by the Navy Department Office of Public Relations), and no other paper published it. What is more important, the original seven newspapers dropped the story cold, voluntarily, once it had been officially called to their attention. There was a good chance that the Japanese would not notice it or would take it as idle speculation. (Even the characters in the comic strips were stealing Jap codes and solving Jap ciphers.) The Japs continued to use the code (with its associated ciphers) in the blissful ignorance of what had happened. The future looked rosy; if only people could be restrained from “spilling the beans.”
The next leak came a month later, on 5 July 1942, to be exact, when Walter Winchell said in his broadcast:
“When the history of these times is written it will be revealed that twice the fate of the civilized world was changed by intercepted and decoded messages. I cannot enlarge on that as it is military information.”
Winchell threw the gossip brigade another juicy morsel two days later in his column, “On Broadway” in the New York Daily Mirror:
“The story all over Washington and Newspaper Row here concerns Col R. R.. McCormick’s paper in Chicago…It again tossed safety out of the windows and allegedly printed the lowdown on why we won at Midway, claiming that the U.S. Navy decoded the Japs’ secret messages, etc…True or not, we dunno…Official Washington was so incensed at the publisher’s persistent disregard for military secrecy it decided to teach him a lesson…. What one man saved him? His deadliest enemy in Chicago, publisher Frank Knox.”
But again the Japanese muffed it and kept right on using the same code. If someone could only have clamped the lid down tight!
The Chicago Tribune story had stirred up a fine case of jitters in the Navy Department Decrypting Unit, and both Commander Redman and Commander Wenger went around the section muttering that “something ought to be done about it.” The Winchell broadcast moved them to do that “something”: the next morning Commander Redman submitted the following memorandum, which is copied verbatim:
July 6, 1942
Memorandum for Admiral King
Subject: Security of Radio Intelligence Activities.
- Walter Winchell’s broadcast last night, 5 July 1942, included the following item:
“When the history of these times is written it will be revealed that twice the fate of the civilized world was changed by intercepted and decoded messages. I cannot enlarge on that as it is military information.”
- The probable effect of this statement is problematical, but the two occasions may conceivable by interpreted by the enemy to be the Coral Sea and Midway actions, and result in a change of current systems. Such statements are considered to be extremely prejudicial to our interests.
John R. Redman,
In connection with this disclosure, see CINCPAC 311221 of May 1942. (OP-20GA 8/21/42)
(Note: CINCPAC 311221 of May, 1942 is not available to the writer, and the nature of its contents is not known. It should be particularly noted that the director of Naval Intelligence (Rear Admiral T.S. Wilkinson, USN), who was supposed to be responsible for “Security”, was not even furnished a copy of this memorandum.)
The Redman memorandum was followed up by verbal agitation that is not a matter of record. The D.N.C (Captain Joseph R. Redman) succeeded in getting the Chief of Staff (Vice Admiral Russell Willson) all stirred up, and the latter finally persuaded the Secretary of the Navy to reverse his previous stand on the subject. Secret investigation by the Navy Department revealed that the story came from a Chicago Tribune reporter (Stanley Johnson) who had been on the USS LEXINGTON during the Battle of Coral Sea and had been rescued when the LEXINGTON was sunk. Stanley Johnson was returned to the United States via transport on 2 June 1942 and wrote the story, in Chicago, on 6 June 1942, from Admiral Nimitz’s fragmentary bulletins plus secret information unlawfully divulged to him while aboard the LEXINGTON. One rumor said it was her captain, another tale said the communications officer, a third story said that he was in the Coding Room reading the messages when the LEXINGTON was torpedoed. All accounts agree on one central fact – when Stanley Johnson was fished out of the water he had in his pocket a verbatim copy of a secret radio message, the Intelligence Bulletin that gave the exact composition of the Jap naval force that was assembling for the assault on Midway Island. The Managing Editor of the Tribune came to the Navy Department to testify on July 9th: Stanley Johnson told his story on 13 July. Johnson gave a different story to the press which would have taken the curse off the entire incident if the Navy Department had only had the wit to accept it.
But the Redmans were out for blood, or personal publicity, and would not be stopped. By this time, McCollum got wind of the affair and pointed out to the D.N.I. the harm that would result if this information ever reached Tokyo. Admiral Wilkinson appealed to Captain Redman and to Admiral Willson, but in vain. By that time they were determined to railroad it through.
The J.A.G (Judge Advocate General), which had investigated the case, advised Mr. Knox informally that there were grounds for legal action. The J.A.G. Office, however, did not presume to offer advice on the advisability of such a step or question the policy established by higher authority. Finally, on 29 July 1942, the Secretary of the Navy wrote a personal letter (copy on file in the J.A.G. Office) to the Attorney General of the United States requesting the prosecution of Stanley Johnson (the reporter) and the Chicago Tribune under the Espionage Act of 1917.
The Grand Jury in Chicago heard the testimony of seven officers attached to the LEXINGTON, also took the testimony of Stanley Johnson and Mr. J. Maloney (Managing Editor of the Chicago Tribune), and failed to return an indictment. In other words, the Chicago Tribune beat the case with ease. The information had been given openly to a press representative without any pledge of or caution of secrecy. The story had been published in good faith and had been stopped immediately when so requested by the Navy Department. If this were secret information that should have been kept from the Japs, why hadn’t the Navy treated it as secret in the first place?
The publicity attending the Grand Jury Investigation, headlines, radio broadcasts, accusations and denials, was all the Japs needed. The story “broke” on 8 August 1942 and in 6 days the Jap Operations Code was superseded by a new one. And at this critical stage of the war the U.S. Navy found itself out in the cold again, just as it had been in 1940 and early 1941. Our crucial battles in the Solomons were conducted without the aid of enemy information that had been available up to this moment, and that would have been available for 10 months longer, because the Marines on Guadalcanal captured a copy of the code about August 10th.
Verification of the foregoing account may be obtained from:
The abstracts; J.A.G. Office files; The Chicago Tribune for the dates in question; Vice Admiral Russell Willson, Chief of Staff in June and July, 1942; Rear Admiral T. S. Wilkinson, Director of Naval Intelligence (DNI) 15 Oct 1941, 19 July 1942; Read Admiral H.C. Train, DNI 20 July 1942 to 21 September 1943; Captain E.M. Zacharias, Assistant DNI 20 June 1942, 21 September 1943; Captain A. H. McCollum, Chief of Far Eastern Section of Office of Naval Intelligence (OP-16-F2); Mr. H.J. McGrath, J.A.G, Navy Department; Mr. Stanley Johnson, the Chicago Tribune.
In retrospect, the Stanley Johnson story was only half as bad as the Walter Winchell leak. Johnson only referred to one battle, Winchell mentioned two. Both stories came as a result of betrayal of trust by naval officers:
Johnson’s – by someone on the LEXINGTON, who, incidentally, was never punished.
Winchell’s – by someone in the Navy Department, who, also was never punished. And Winchell’s Daily Mirror article indicated that “all Washington and Newspaper Row” were buzzing with the story. It is not known why charges were preferred against Stanley Johnson and not Walter Winchell too.
Secretary Knox is in no way to blame, although it is unfortunate that he permitted his professional advisors to persuade him to act against his ownbetter judgment. Vice Admiral Willson had no axe to grind and his motives are not questioned; he must bear the responsibility, however, for letting himself be stampeded by the Redmans and for making a bad decision when the director of Naval Intelligence appealed to him. Admiral King and Vice Admiral Horne knew what was going on but took no further part in the prosecution, either to promote it or to oppose it. With regard to the other three officers who were intimately involved, it is difficult to find extenuating circumstances for their actions or their motives. And finally, as in the “Eve of Pearl Harbor,” Rear Admiral Wilkinson and Commander McCollum came out with clean hands but definitely on the losing side.
Representative Holland, speaking from the House (Congressional Record for 31 August 1942), stated in part: “Three days after the Tribune story was published, the Japs changed their code.”
Mr. Holland was misinformed. The Japs did change their code, but it was not three days after the Tribune story was published; it was six days after the Navy Department released to the press the story of the coming Grand Jury Investigation.
It is not known just when Rochefort and the rest of the Hawaiian Decrypting Unit first heard of the Stanley Johnson story and the Walter Winchell leaks. It is believed that Rochefort’s recommendation was joined to McCollum’s , but this is not certain. Pearl Harbor knew, however, on 8 August 1942, that the Navy Department had completely upset the applecart and realized that their work would be more difficult and less productive from that time on. But when the news finally reached them that “20-G” had been the instigator of this most undesirable publicity, they were filled with a burning resentment that is still smoldering, 18 months later.
The following chronology sets forth the salient facts concerning the Japanese Naval Operations Codes (JN-25 series) and the Chicago Tribune episode:
During the autumn of 1942, there were several changes of duty among the principals mention in this paper after six months or more of comparative stability. The picture, in a nutshell, is given below:
The Hawaiian C.I. Unit was wholly unprepared for Goggins’ arrival, the first news of any shake-up being Goggins’ arrival in person. Neither CincPac nor Com 14 had any advance notice, either official or unofficial. There is a half remembered story of Goggins’ being denied admission until he had established his identity and the purpose of his business. Goggins had had radio engineering training and duty in the Radio Division of the Bureau of Engineering. He had been Executive Officer of the MARBLEHEAD (CL-12), severely burned in her bombing by the Japs, and hospitalized for several months. He had had seven weeks of temporary duty in “20-G.” Rochefort had had 3½ years of Communication Intelligence duty and 8 years of other Intelligence duty including a 3-year tour of duty in Japan. But Goggins was a friend of John Redman and was given Rochefort’s billet, presumably with the blessing of Admiral King and Admiral Horne.
Rochefort accepted the situation with as good grace as he could muster, and took over the duty as chief of the Translation Section, recently vacated by Lieutenant Commander T.B. Britley who had gone to sea to be in the running for selection. Rochefort is amiable, agreeable, even tempered, and patient, but there is a limit to what he will stand. Goggins went out there with a chip on his shoulder, badly misinformed by John Redman and Wenger, conscious of his ignorance and inexperience in this highly technical work, and knowing deep in his heart that the part he was playing was not in line with the Navy’s traditional code of honor. Trouble was inevitable, but Rochefort was not the aggressor. Just what brought on the explosion cannot be recalled. It could have been any, or all, of the following:
- The Midway tip-off.
- The Chicago Tribune publicity.
- The “Japanese Picture” in “Black Magic in Communications”.
- Goggins started to make some ill-advised change that Rochefort properly recommended against.
The next thing that happened (and the first thing that anyone in Washington knew of it), Captain
John Redman sent to Commander Wenger a secret message stating that Rochefort was uncooperative and recommending that Rochefort’s transfer be requested.
Then the real dirt came to light. Before John Redman left Washington he and Wenger arranged a private cipher system between themselves that no one else knew of. Redman’s message to Wenger was sent over Navy radio in this private cipher. Neither CincPac nor Com14 were cognizant of the message. Wenger took the message to Captain E. E. Stone (commanding OP-20-G since Oct. 5th), but Stone washed his hands of it. He was not a party to the private cipher and had been ignorant of its existence up till that moment. Furthermore, the message was not addressed to him. Wenger could do as he saw fit, but he (Stone) would not touch it. (Lieutenant P.R. White, USNR, attached to 20-G but absent on temporary duty until June, 1944, might be able to verify the private cipher and the two personal messages.)
A day or so later, while Wenger was still trying to figure out what to do, a second personal message came from John Redman in the private cipher: “Get rid of Rochefort at all costs.”
(The occasion for this message was that Rochefort had gone to the Chief of Staff, Pacific Fleet, to find out where he stood and to request transfer if his work had not been satisfactory.) Captain Stone then ordered Wenger to report the matter to the DNC (Captain C.F. Holden).
Holden took immediate action. First he ordered Wenger to destroy his copy of the private cipher thus putting a stop to further messages. Then he reported the matter to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations (Vice Admiral Horne), gave him the two messages, and left the responsibility with him. Admiral Horne gave his decision very soon, and without consulting Com14, CincPac, or the DNI. It is not known whether Admiral King was consulted or if the recommendation of any other officer was requested. In this connection, it is necessary to remember all the lies and misinformation about Rochefort (previously described in this paper) which had been spread by the Redmans and Wenger and given to Admiral Horne. The Vice Chief of Naval Operations decided that Rochefort should go and made the necessary arrangements with the Bureau of Personnel. Rochefort was detached exactly seven days after Goggins arrived at Pearl Harbor.
Admiral Nimitz was furious for the way in which John Redman had gone over his head as well as for the dirty deal given to Rochefort. It is reported that he would not speak to Redman for two weeks. John Redman, on his part, did some extra fancy lying and finally wormed his way back into the Admiral’s good graces. Com14 agreed that he should have been consulted (Rochefort was officially attached to the 14th District) but was not inclined to stir up trouble over it. The Director of Naval Intelligence felt that it was a personal insult (because Rochefort was a language officer on ONI’s slate), but he had so little influence in the Navy Department that he was powerless.
Rochefort came to Washington in June, 1943, for temporary duty in the Bureau of Yards and Docks in connection with fitting out the 100,000 ton floating dry dock which is now under his command. While there he told his story to Admiral J.M. Reeves and to this writer. Admiral Reeves was for taking the matter up with Admiral King but Rochefort requested him not to. The Redmans were firmly intrenched in Naval Communications, Naval Intelligence had no influence, and so long as these conditions endured he did not desire to be connected with either. Rochefort informed the writer that he had told all he knew about the Redmans and Wenger and their dirty work (described in this paper) to Admiral Nimitz and to Admiral Reeves, and that he was going to tell it to Admiral Halsey at the first opportunity.
The following names are submitted as “character witnesses” for Rochefort:
Admiral J.M. Reeves
Admiral C.C. Bloch
Admiral C.W. Nimitz
Admiral W.F. Halsey
Vice Admiral W.A. Glassford
Rear Admiral W.W. Smith
Rear Admiral C.N. McMorris
In closing, the writer desires to offer three remarks:
I. These incidents did not occur in Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy but in the Navy of the United States of America.
II.Commander Rochefort’s reward for his part in the victory at Midway was to be repeatedly passed over for selection to Captain. (Officers four years junior to Rochefort are now temporary Captains.)
III. Rochefort has a remarkable memory and will make a wonderful witness.
– Thanks to Robert Payne, Editor of the NCVA CRYPTOLOG for providing this historical account of events behind the scene.
Source: Echoes of Our Past NCVA