John Stuart Doyle, WWII Cryptologist.
October 20 1915 – June 9, 2003
John Stuart Doyle was one of the Navy’s key code breakers during World War II. He was on the team that deciphered a message pinpointing the location of a plane carrying Japan’s supreme commander, Adm. Yamamoto, enabling U.S. planes to shoot it down over the Pacific. He was one of the team of five cryptanalysts that deciphered messages leading to U.S. victory in the Battle of the Philippine Seas. Singlehandedly, he cracked a message that led directly to the sinking of more than 30 Japanese ships in Rabaul Harbor.
However, his code-breaking careers almost did not happen. The Navy had wanted nothing to do with him because he was blind in one eye. But his friend and mentor, B.C. “Doc E.” Ehrenreich, for whom he had worked at a Jewish summer camp in northern Wisconsin, pulled strings to get him into the civilian branch of the Navy’s cryptographic group (OP-20G) in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Doyle still wanted to be a Navy officer. He went to the Pentagon, managed to speak to the admiral in charge of Navy personnel and talked his way into a commission. Soon he was in Pearl Harbor, in uniform.
He stayed in the Navy until 1953, joined an advertising agency, taught marketing at Northwestern University and earned a law degree from DePaul University when he was 66.
Mr. Doyle died Monday at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park. He was 87.
A lifelong South Sider, he attended Visitation Grammar School, Quigley North Preparatory Seminary and spent one year at St. Mary of the Lake at Mundelein. Then, he said, he discovered girls and transferred to DePaul, earned a bachelor’s degree and went to Chicago Teachers College for a master’s degree in education.
When he became a cryptanalyst, he was sent to Washington, where he knew no one. His mother told him to call an old friend stationed there. The friend was shipping out that day but said, “I know three nice girls. I’ll give you their phone number.”
“Mine was the first one. He never did call the other two,” said his wife of 59 years, the former Marie Haug of New Hampshire, who was working in an Army office.
They married in 1944, and a week later Mr. Doyle was shipped off to Pearl Harbor. Wartime restrictions barred his wife from joining him. He learned there was a teacher shortage in Hawaii. So, using her maiden name, his wife arrived in March 1945 to teach on a sugar plantation. Hotels wouldn’t let them in because her papers didn’t show whe was married.
After the war, Mr. Doyle established a special cryptographical unit for the Navy in Chicago. He left the service in 1953 to join the Foote Cone and Belding ad agency. He worked multiple jobs, teaching at night for 14 years at Northwestern, to support their eight children.
After he earned his law degree from DePaul, he worked for the Illinois Department of Employment Security and did some private legal work.
Mr. Doyle had a fine Irish tenor voice and loved to sing. He was a member for years of the Lake Shore Club chorus.
He passed along his passion for cryptoanalysis to his family. One son is a researcher and inventor of cryptographic technology, another runs a data security company, and a grandson is serving in the Navy cryptographic group (Naval Security Group).
In addition to his wife, Mr. Doyle is survived by four sons, John, Geoffrey, Michael and Paul; two daughters, Susan Marie Doyle-Miller and Deborahanne Reimer; a brother, James, 19 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Source: Chicago Sun Times, Thursday, June 12, 2003
20 October 2022 at 20:01
I’d like to know more about the Navy career of John Stuart Doyle! This story does not say when he started working as a civilian cryptanalyst (prior to being commissioned in the Navy). Provided this information is accurate, Mr. Doyle was serving in the Navy on or before 18 April 1943, the date Admiral Yamamoto’s aircraft was shot down.
When was Doyle assigned to the ComInt unit at Pearl Harbor? Did John Stuart Doyle leave behind an oral history?
I’m definitely interesting in finding out more about the late John Stuart Doyle!
Thank you for bringing J.S. Doyle to the attention of your readers, Mario!
Andy McKane, P.O. Box 166, Maunaloa, Hawaii 96770
21 December 2022 at 22:18
I definitely remember his singing al the time. Unfortunately I don’t believe he left much writing about his accomplishments. There are some voice recordings of his stories but I’m not sure that they pertain to the war. I could ask, though. I am his granddaughter. I just happened across this article while googling him. I’d like to read a book about him, too.
21 December 2022 at 23:11
Here is a story that was published in Oahu about John Stuart Doyle and his wife, Marie…and their romance in Hawaii. This is the story I remember that did get told over and over and over again. He was crazy about her, and she meant more to him than his work, so that is what he told more stories about.
21 December 2022 at 23:12
Oops I forgot the link. Here it is.