"They worked their way from Mexico City to Acacoyagua in Chiapas state and into the small village of Acapetahua six kilometers away, then, with the help of a sleeper agent long passing as a local, slipped out into estuaries leading toward the Pacific. Part way down they came upon what they had been told existed, a rudimentary yet seemingly effective Japanese operated facility used as submarine base, hidden and hewed out of the side of the jungle apparently designed as a resupply and refuelling depot."
ROCHELLE HUDSON: Ingenue, Actress, Spy
The secret submarine base alluded to in the above quote was reportedly a World War II Japanese submarine refuelling and resupply depot hidden in the estuaries on the Pacific side of Mexico in the state of Chiapas, so far south it was only about 60 miles north of the Guatemalan border. The existence of the secret base, which originally never had a name and never very high up on the spectrum of things, is now called by some as La Palma, the same name, mostly for simplicity reasons, I use. Name or not it still remains virtually unknown. The first time my Uncle mentioned the base, even though in those days it still wasn't named and still a secret, without realizing it, I already knew about it.
The existence of the base came up some years ago in general conversation when my uncle began telling me about a movie star he met while traveling in Mexico at the beginning of World War II. In the circles my uncle traveled in he was always meeting people of note, famous authors, famous scientists, famous artists, famous industrialists. Sometimes he mentioned them, sometimes he didn't. Sometimes I was with him, sometimes I wasn't. However, for the most part, movie stars were never very far up on his list. In all the years I knew him I remember him extolling just one movie star at any length, an actress named June Lang. Lang was at one time, a rising Hollywood star whose acting career basically came to a halt in the mid 1940s and never recovered after marrying a known gangland heavyweight named Johnny Roselli. She would come up now and again in conversation because when I was ten years old or so traveling with my uncle, a woman traveling incognito and thought to be Lang, along with a daring ex World War II P-47 fighter pilot, all ended up crammed together inside a small over-wing plane careening out of a rock-strewn remote dirt airstrip south of Reno, Nevada in the middle of the night under some rather extenuating circumstances.(see)
As for the other movie star, the one in Mexico, I knew there would have to be a ton of extenuating circumstances about her the second he brought her up or he would never have mentioned her. And there was. Besides being a movie star she was a spy. My uncle told me when they met the first time he was on his way through Mexico to catch up with his friend, the famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, who he had worked with when both were artists in the WPA. Rivera had asked my uncle to come see him after having missed each other under invite a few years before. It was during his excursion into Mexico that he met the movie star, Rochelle Hudson and who in turn, brought to light the existence of the secret base.
My uncle had noticed Hudson, an extremely striking woman among the crowd at the railroad station prior to departure --- not just because she was striking and thereof had attracted his passing attention per se', but also too mainly, because of who she was talking to. Even though the station was on the Mexican side of the border my uncle recognized the man as a Texas Ranger, at least a onetime Texas Ranger he had a run in with some fifteen years or more before.
That run-in occurred in the mid 1920s while my uncle was traveling by train with a friend of his, the soon to become famous western author Louis L'Amour. They just happened to be traveling by train together to New Mexico from New Orleans after having been to the Mardi Gras. When the train stopped in Sanderson, Texas, a half a dozen heavily armed Texas Rangers along with two U.S. Marshalls got on board and started going through each of the passenger cars looking for someone. They made six men, all with beards, of which my uncle was one, get off the train. They took all six into the station and questioned them one by one. Apparently not finding who they were looking for they told everybody they were free to go. All well and good except that in the meantime the train left, stranding him and the other five men in the middle of nowhere. Not only that, the Rangers had made them get off the train without allowing them to take anything with them including their luggage --- and it was the dead of winter and freezing outside. He followed the Rangers out just as they were getting into a couple of cars and asked what were they supposed to do now. One of the Rangers stuck a rifle in his face and told him it was not their problem unless he wanted to make it their problem. My uncle just backed away and the cars drove off. The man with the rifle was the same man Hudson had been talking to.
Later on in his journey to see Rivera my uncle, who was traveling several classes lower than Hudson, was afforded the chance to talk with her after being invited to join she and her husband in their first class compartment. When my uncle asked about the conversation between she and the Texas Ranger, Hudson denied having such a conversation. With that my uncle let it drop. However, years later, after the war, when the two of them were to cross paths again she not only admitted to having talked with the Ranger in the station that day, but to having received something from him critical to America's national interest.
Hudson told my uncle that during the war and a few years before she had been working for the Naval Intelligence Service. She and her then husband, Harold Thompson, a U.S. Naval officer passing himself off as a civilian, were in Mexico posing as a vacationing couple, all the while gathering information on possible German or Japanese fifth column activity there.
The two of them were on their way to Mexico City when she talked to the Texas Ranger in the station, actually a former Texas Ranger, by the name of Rufus Van Zandt. Van Zandt was an undercover Special Services intelligence officer during the war, using long established credentials as a guide for hunters and fishermen in Mexico as a cover. He, like Hudson and her husband, was assigned by the U.S. government to keep his eyes and ears open for Japanese or German activity south of the border. News began filtering down through his network of informers, especially from those that ran sportfishers or fishing boats, that Japanese submarines were being spotted in the Pacific off the coast of Baja and some had even holed up and possibly taken on fuel in Magdalena Bay.
Hard evidence of just such an event fell into Van Zandt's hands during a raid he was on in Baja a month or so before and arrangements were made to pass it on to Hudson at the train station and then through her husband on to the Naval attache' at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. The information indicated that Japanese officers had apparently gone ashore to make some sort of contact with operatives and a few low ranking shore-launch crew members without Mexican currency unwittingly traded items with local establishments for goods and services.
According to my uncle, Rochelle and her husband's trip to Mexico City was to confirm rumors that the Germans were operating clandestine wireless radio stations in Ixtapalapa and possibly the mountains of Chiapas. In the process of following up on those rumors they heard additional buzz regarding what seemed to be a lot of Japanese related activity along the coast of Chiapas. They worked their way from Mexico City to Acacoyagua in Chiapas state possibly by train or other methods. From there, using all their couple on vacation skills they went into the small village of Acapetahua about four miles away. With the help of a sleeper agent in Acapetahua, long passing as a local, they continued another 12 miles, picking up the estuaries somewhere around the town of La Palma. There, using a small boat, they slipped out into waters leading toward the Pacific. Part way down they came upon what they had been told existed, a rudimentary yet seemingly effective Japanese operated facility used as submarine base, hidden and hewed out of the side of the jungle apparently designed as a resupply and refuelling depot. They secretly observed the base from the opposite side of the estuary for about a week and, even though it was clear there were drums possibly for diesel fuel and activity both day and night with generators and lights, no submarines arrived or departed during the time of their surveillance.
The sleeper agent told Hudson he had observed submarines close-up on at least two occasions being attended to at the base, most likely taking on fuel, water and provisions. He said diesel fuel was obtained in small quanities, from roughly 200 to 500 gallon increments over a long period of time from all over the general area by a number of people so as to not raise suspicion, then stored in steel drums at the base. The dock was recent in construction built specifically to handle the submarines and done so mainly by hand without any heavy machinery. A good part of the docking area was made from cement mixed with sand and shells with wood portions obtained from nearby indigenous materials. Initially the pier structure and ramps were questionable and unable to hold more than a few barrels of fuel at a time because of the 400-plus pound weight of the drums when full. Since the subs held six or seven hundred barrels of fuel the whole refueling process from gathering to distribution was a slow and tedious process and highly labor intensive, taking days to refuel by hand. Later the dock was strengthened to hold more barrels and refueling went from hand pumps to electricity and gravity feed. After the submarines entered the estuary they were guided by manned dugouts tethered on both sides of the bow, sometimes following in the wake of a possible ruse de guerre that appeared to be a fairly large fishing boat. For departure the subs slowly backed down the estuary with manned dugouts tied to both sides of the stern to a point in the channel where it got wide enough to turn around and head out to sea.
The two submarines observed by the sleeper agent were probably the I-9 and I-10, the only two known submarines to have possibly been in the area at the time for the agent to have reported it to Hudson. The I-10 was sent to the U.S. Pacific west coast by the Imperial Japanese Navy on December 14, 1941 and assigned to patrol off San Diego, California, an operational area that was the farthest south of all the submarines dispatched by the IJN. It returned to Kwajalein on December 19, 1941 for unknown reasons.
The I-9 arrived off the Oregon coast December 19, 1941 only to be ordered to Panama the next day. On route it was held up just off Mexico to join three other subs for a potential attack on a trio of U.S. battleships reported to be steaming up the west coast toward San Pedro and due to arrive there on December 25, 1941. The report proved false and the I-9 continued on, officially recorded as being at least as far south as Guadalupe Island located 150 miles off the coast of Baja California and 220 miles south of San Diego, sometime around December 22nd.
It must be remembered, IF the two submarines observed by the sleeper agent were in fact the 1-9 and or the I-10, both boats were huge aircraft equiped trans-oceanic boats with crews of over 100. Egress in or out of the estuaries would not be easy, so the selection of the base itself to remain hidden but still accomodate the I-type subs at 373 feet in length and drawing 20 feet in depth while floating on the surface would not have been easy either.
The I-25, another huge trans-oceanic submarine similar to the I-9 and I-10 was operating off the coast of Oregon nearly a year after the departure of the I-9 and I-10, at least as early as September of 1942 and not departing Pacific west coast waters for Japan until October 24, 1942. In the meantime, on the 9th of September she was involved in an aircraft bombing attack on the U.S. mainland in Oregon along with a second one on September 29th. Sometime during the 20-day span between the two aerial attacks by the I-25 she must have embarked on an extremely top secret mission that involved putting a two-man midget submarine into the waters around the Channel Islands off southern California, a midget sub that, according to World War II Comes To Redondo, ended up being bombed and riding up into the surf off Redondo Beach, California during the early weeks of October. It is thought the I-25 continued south to the secret base before returning north to Oregon.
TWO-MAN JAPANESE- MIDGET SUBMARINE MOUNTED
ADJACENT TO THE MOTHER SHIP'S CONNING TOWER
(please click image)
Not all vessels that came into contact with the base were submarines. At least one was the infamous German surface raider Michel, reputed to be Germany’s last operational warship active on the high seas. On March 2, 1943 after being docked for refit at Kobe, Japan, following one year in the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific around Australia, the Michel, carrying mounted cannons and other guns along with 24 torpedoes, an Arado Ar-196 floatplane and a LS-4 light speedboat with torpedo launch capabilities, headed back into the Indian Ocean then into Pacific. By August 29th the Michel was just off the coast of Chile when her lookouts sighted the silhouette of a United States navy vessel that turned out to be the 7,050-ton Omaha-class cruiser USS Trenton. Slipping away without detection, on September 10th just west of Easter Island the Michel spotted the 9,977-ton Texaco-owned Norwegian motor-tanker India. Just after midnight she sank her in a blazing inferno of burning oil leaving no survivors.
On or about September 15th, after sinking the India off Easter Island and knowing that heading back toward Japan there would be a total lack of blockade runners to resupply her, but most likely as well, under new orders, the Michel suddenly appeared anchored directly off the coast of the Chiapas estuary inlet that led to the submarine base. Her LS-4 speedboat was put into the water heading into the esturay, picking up a guide from one of the sandbars, eventually docking at the base. Throughout the night the speedboat along with a number of other small boats available at their disposal ferried fresh food, stores, water, and equipment back and forth between the ship and the submarine base, as well as no doubt replenishing the base supply with a few extra torpedoes.
Earlier in the day the Arado Ar-196 took off heading inland to points unknown. Later the plane returned with an unnamed high profile passenger that was taken on board under the cover of darkness and out of eyesight of most of the crew. If that person was German, Japanese or an American operative or other high ranking person being secretly slipped out of Mexico was never learned because on the morning of October 17, 1943 the Michel was hit with at least three torpedoes from the submarine USS Tarpon 100 miles off Japan's main island Honshu. The captain and a good portion of crewmen went down with the ship. Despite pleas from Berlin, the Japanese authority was either unwilling or unable to search vigorously for survivors. About 110 of the crew made it to land, but another 100 or so who made it off the ship perished when the Japanese were unable to locate them. Berlin's pleas for finding the survivors seems to indicate an extraordinary interest in someone specific. Japan's non-interest seems to indicate who the Germans were interested in was not of such high value to them and perhaps better off if not located --- and/or they already found who they were looking for among the survivors and were no longer interested.
One year later, on October 29, 1944 on a parallel farther south in the eastern Pacific than San Diego and 1000 miles east of Hawaii the American Liberty ship John A. Johnson, enroute from San Francisco and unescorted, was hit with two torpedoes launched from what was unknown to U.S. Naval authorities at the time, a Japanese submarine operating in the eastern Pacific that late into the war. The Johnson broke into two pieces and the submarine responsible for the hits, identified by survivors as the I-12, surfaced, lacing the two sections with shells until both sank below the surface.
Two weeks went by without another word on the submarine. Then on November 13, 1944, 100 miles WSW of Los Angeles off the coast of Baja, Mexico the Coast Guard cutter Rockford and a Navy minelayer the USS Ardent made sonar contact with a submarine. At 1:08 in the afternoon the Ardent unleashed an attack of 13 contact fuse Hedgehogs underwater mortar shells resulting in three explosions and a lot of debris floating to the surface. The ships were co-credited with sinking the I-12 in that it was the only known submarine operating that far into the eastern Pacific during that period of time.
For all practical purposes the claim by both ships for the kill remains unconfirmed as the sinking was not corroborated by Japanese documentation captured after the war --- the same Japanese documentation construed to be so accurate that everybody else uses it to confirm their kills. Japanese sources indicate that the I-12 was active through the end of December and given credit for the sinking of an Allied transport and a tanker in the mid-Pacific. Their records also indicate the I-12 continued to operate up until at least January 5, 1945 then listed as having been lost January 31, 1945 from unknown causes. Interestingly enough, the Japanese submarine I-38, although not known to be that far into the eastern Pacific shows up over and over on the records as being the sub sunk that same day and location by the Rockford and Ardent --- as for example as found in the Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee Report, which lists the I-38 as being the sub sunk on the same day, date, and location as given for the I-12. The same joint report lists the I-12 as having been sunk on May 30, 1945 by planes from the United States Navy carrier Anzio (CVE-57), AKA USS Coral Sea.
After the reported sinking of the I-12 100 miles WSW of Los Angeles off the coast of Mexico on November 13, 1944 it wasn't long before sightings of an I-type submarine operating in the eastern Pacific fitting the description and markings of the I-12 began filtering in. Then, in March of 1945, four months after the I-12s alleged sinking, the U.S. destroyer Willard Keith was returning from routine weekly training from San Francisco to San Clemente Island and back when it came into contact with an unidentified submarine off the California coast near the Farallon Islands not far from San Francisco. The following is what is written about that contact from the source so cited:
"Anderson was an 18-year old sailor on board the destroyer USS Willard Keith on that gray spring morning in March of 1945. He believes they sank a Japanese heavy submarine. 'It was 352 feet. It's two feet longer than our destroyer was,' Anderson says. 'Tonnage was about the same. It's a monster submarine.' But no record of the action was apparently kept, and it would have faded completely except for a reunion in 1993 of men who had been on board the Willard Keith. Bill and some of his shipmates determined to try to find the submarine in her watery grave somewhere off the coast between Half Moon Bay and San Francisco."
THE SINKING OF THE I-12
The question is, what was that lone Japanese submarine doing in the eastern Pacific that late into the war in the first place? That is, why would Japan expend the material, time, expense and manpower to place the sub, which was an A-2 type, and the only one of it's type ever built, clear across the Pacific? At the beginning of the war they dispatched nine or more submarines all at the sametime to prowl up and down the California Pacific coast, now only one --- then a basically one-off A-2. True it was a huge trans-oceanic aircraft equiped sub like the earlier models only using less powerful engines with the purpose being to extend even farther it's already extra long range. What was it's mission? What was the need of the extra long range, especially at the cost of reducing speed?
On August 20, 1944 and August 23, 1944, two months before the I-12 torpedoed the John A. Johnson, and a half a world away a pair of German submarines, the U-195 and U-219 respectively, left the pens in occupied France chartered for Japan. Part way into their travels new orders redirected them to the German submarine pens in Jakarta, Indonesia for unknown reasons. The top secret cargo carried by the two transport U-boats were the parts of 12 dismantled V-2 rockets intended for the Japanese military along with uranium oxide requested for Japan's atomic bomb project.
From the above dates and here on down keep your eye on the dates and how and what unfolded. Before the uranium oxide for Japan's atomic bomb project ever reached Japan the German's themselves had it has been reported set off it's own nuclear device. On October 12, 1944, nine months before the New Mexico U.S. nuclear device was set off, Nazi Germany detonated a nuclear bomb on the island of Rugen in the Baltic Sea, the first in a series of three tests. See:
1944 GERMAN ATOMIC BOMB
Seemingly unrelated, thousands of miles away and two weeks later, on September 9, 1944, the U-181 departed the Penang submarine pens, home of the Monsun U-boat Group, arriving the next day at the Japanese run Seletar Naval Base, Singapore and dry-docked. The U-181, an honorable fighting wolf pack sub was gutted and turned into a transport not unlike the U-195 and U-219. Eighty tons of mercury was removed and four of the six torpedo tubes were expanded into additional cargo space among other things.
On October 19, 1944, after returning to Penang, the U-181 departed for Norway said to be carrying 120-tons of tin in ingots, 100-tons of raw rubber in bales, 20-tons of molybdenum, a ton of quinine and a whole lot of opium onboard. Two weeks later, on November 2nd, only a day or two into the Indian Ocean, the U-181 spotted the unescorted American tanker Fort Lee, at the time carrying 93,000 barrels of fuel destined for U.S. Navy operating in and around Australian waters. She let loose with her only two torpedoes sending the tanker to the bottom.
Then, according to records, on November 5, 6, and 7 the U-181 lingered in the Indian Ocean basically in the same spot for three days without really going anywhere, as if waiting for something. On November 14-15 she rendezvoused with the U-195 and U-219. Both boats, which had been traveling almost connected at the hips since leaving France, apparently continued on to the sub pens after the rendezvous --- except for one thing. Where previously they had been traveling almost side-by-side the whole of their trip, or at least one in front of the other and both should have left the U-181 at the exact same time, the U-219 pulled into base on December 11, 1944 with the U-195 not arriving until a full 17 days later on December 28th.
After that same triple-boat rendezvous, although a boring set of daily zombie-like records stamped out verbatim would seem to indicate otherwise, the U-181 basically disappeared for two unaccounted months. Then on January 6, 1945, after having never gone to Norway the U-181 suddenly showed up back at the Monsun submarine base out of nowhere, and except for needed ballast, no cargo. The skipper claims because of the weight-viscosity of the bearing lubricant supplied by the Japanese was so light the bearings on the two MAN diesel engines were damaged during the half-day high speed chase to get in front of the Fort Lee. They had to take the best bearings from both engines and put them in one, returning to base on only one engine rather than continue to Norway. His account of the bearings being damaged and the reason behind the damage was seconded by a fellow U-181 officer, Lieutenant Dietrich Hille, in his book A U-Boat Far From Home. The thing is, all the boats in and out of the Japanese run faciltiy were being provided with the same light weight viscosity bearing oil, yet interestingly enough, the U-181 is the only one that reported such major damage. Besides, the reported mission of the U-181 was to deliver post haste strategic and must needed materials for the war effort, not carouse all over the Indian Ocean chasing down itinerant cargo ships, especially when having only two torpedoes at their disposal.
So said, two weeks travel time out from the base to the spot where the Fort Lee was sunk, then taking three full months back over the same route to return? Quite the story. Why not request a proverbial tug of some type or repair or repair parts, after all, the cargo she supposedly carried was considered important enough for the cause in Europe to send her there in the first place? All the parts they needed could have been dropped from a plane at a very low altitude in some sort of a floatation device or rubber dingy. Of course there were much bigger things in play. Even though the facts are there, the unfolding of events are veiled. While it is true the bearings did go out as Hille says the reason for such is much different than either he or the skipper lays out. It had nothing to do with chasing down the Fort Lee inturn causing bearing damage for not being able to make it to Norway. The U-181s mission was to meet the the U-195 and U-219 in the remote open waters of the Indian Ocean and transfer to her care a highly top secret cargo for a highly top secret mission.
After transference of the cargo to the U-181 she made a run NOT for Norway, but the Pacific with the U-195 traveling right along side for a week or more to ensure the transfer was viable --- and the reason why the arrival time for U-195 was so far behind that of the U-219.
Although the light weight viscosity of the oil may have had some influence adversely impacting the U-181s engines, in the end it was the actual transportation of the cargo itself over the distance covered that was eventually responsible for the damage to the bearings. In 1943 the Germans came up with a project they gave the name Prufstand XII. Prufstand XII involved using a U-boat to tow a V-2 missile across the Atlantic in a watertight container called a Laffarenz Container after it's inventor, then setting the container up vertically for launch by flooding it. According to reports the intended targets were New York and/or possibly Washington DC. Due to a number of presumed high priority mitigating circumstances the as planned sub-launched missile project was put on the back burner until 1944. In the meantime a one-off, off the record plan intergrating many aspects of Prufstand XII pushed forward. A hybrid of sorts, being rather than a towed underwater launch container, a self-propelled one. Although, for all practical purposes the self-propelled container was in its own right a modified submarine, in that it was designed for a specific onetime target the vessel had a very limited range. So too, in that the specific target was on the west coast of the U.S., getting within range of the target necessitated a great deal of logistics.
The V-2 hauling U-195 and 219 transfered the major item of their quote cargo, unquote, over to the U-181 in the Indian Ocean with the U-181 then taking it toward the Pacific. There, at a point undisclosed the U-181 was met by the infamous long-range ghost-like Japanese submarine I-12. The I-12 took over eventually ending up at the La Palma Secret Base sometime around mid-December, 1944. After a minor shakedown and testing in and around the secret base and just off shore by German crew members, the cargo was taken a 1000 miles north by the powerful trans-oceanic I-12 to the mouth of the Sea of Cortez that lies between the Baja Peninsula and mainland Mexico, then another 1000 miles north to Isla Ángel de la Guarda, also called Archangel Island, off Bahia de los Angeles --- or one of the other smaller islands nearby and hidden in a cove. After leaving her cargo the I-12 returned to Pacific waters eventually it would seem, meeting her fate off the Farallon Islands three months later in March of 1945.
So, what was the mysterious cargo the Axis Powers had been so cryptic about that was brought from Europe requiring not only a trip half way around the world but the transference on the high seas at least twice as well as involving the cooperation of four different submarines and two different countries?
Near the end of December, 1944, in the dead-cold freezing of winter, a number of German POWs, most of them from U-boat crews and held in the Papago Park prisoner of war camp in Arizona, made a daring escape for freedom through a 178 foot long hand dug tunnel that ended beyond the fences of the prison compound. Some of the 25 escapees at the official count, 60 at the unofficial count, made it as far south as Mexico, some as far north as Searchlight, Nevada. In any case it wasn't long before the official missing were rounded up --- with some even going as far as turning themselves in.
The peculiar thing was, after they had gathered up all of the prisoners they were willing to admit missing, camp officials discovered they actually had six additional prisoners that were never listed on their rolls. After isolating and separating out the six and began interrogating them one by one, a most remarkable story began to unfold.
During interrogation camp-officials were amazed to find out that like most of the other internees at the POW camp the extra prisoners were U-boat crew members, long veterans of the Kriegsmarine and to a man all had served at one time under one of the camp's most infamous prisoners, U-boat commander Captain Jurgen Wattenberg. Of the six additional internees, five were enlisted men and one was an officer. Months before all six had been left just offshore in a small motorized inflatable boat in the Gulf of Mexico south of Vera Cruz near the Mexican city of Coatzacoalcos after having disembarked from a U-boat in the middle of the night. They then traveled up a rather large river where, after some back and forth signaling, the six of them boarded a ship of nearly ocean going size and taken miles inland. After some distance they were transfered to a truck and taken to the Pacific west coast to a place they were told was called Chiapas. There they got into several small boats, only this time they went down stream through a number of narrow waterways ending up at a Japanese run encampment hewed out, but still well hidden, along one of the meandering jungle covered estuaries that eventually flowed into the Pacific. A few days later a huge Japanese submarine with over a 100 crew members was slowly guided into the channel and moored some distance away from the makeshift dock. Towed behind the Japanese sub was another sub apparently German in origin, small, maybe 100 feet long or a little longer with the fore deck several feet higher from the bow to the conning tower than the aft deck from the the tower to the stern. So too, the higher fore deck had no mounted cannon nor did she carry torpedoes or have launch tubes.
After formalities, the German officer and a couple of men went out to the smaller sub and unsealed the hatch. Soon the crew was able to get the smaller sub tied up alongside the dock and various operational equipment running. Dive planes were tested along with the single three-bladed prop, single rudder, periscope and other functional equipment. When the officer felt it was time they pulled the sub away from the dock and went up and down the estuary a few times. After a day or two it went on its own power out into the Pacific being followed closely by a trawler. A couple of dives were performed along with some underwater maneuvers. Everything worked perfectly. Then one evening just at sunset both subs went out into the Pacific and the crews reattached the tow line and headed north.
The Japanese sub left the German sub in a cove on one of the northern islands along the inside of Baja Peninsula then returned south. Then after a short duration of time the German sub entered the mouth of the Colorado River under it's own power and made it's way to a point on the river called the Laguna Diversion Dam, 12 miles north of the city of Yuma, a point it could go no farther. There two things were to happen. One, the sub was to be dismantled into five sections and trucked north. Which it was. Secondly, they were to be joined by eight additional crew members, escapees from the POW camp, of which one was supposed to be Wattenberg. Only three new crew members showed up. Wattenberg never did. Running out of time and trying to stay on schedule the disassembled sub was trucked north without him. It was then reassembled and put back in the river miles upstream.
Hundreds of miles later the submarine got hung up on a sandbar and rocks somewhere thought to be east and south of Nelson, Nevada, between El Dorado Canyon and an area now flooded by Lake Mojave. Apparently damaged and unable to free itself without additional men and equipment, and with no commander, the crew simply abandoned her and dispersed into the surrounding desert, eventually to be caught by authorities after mostly being turned in by locals.
According to the information gathered by the interrogators the mission was to travel up the Colorado River and destroy Hoover Dam using advanced German technology called Vergeltungswaffen, translated into English: retaliatory weapon, reprisal weapon, sometimes vengence weapon, of which the submarine was, being virtually a self-propelled short-range mobile rocket launch pad. The interrogation team immediately dispatched a retrieval team to search down the grounded sub. By the time they arrived the sub was long gone having already been recovered by the Army Air Corps and trucked westward across the desert to Muroc Dry Lake. The Army dismissed all efforts on the part of the POW investigating team to have access to the submarine saying it was classified.
Sometime in the early mid 1950s or so when I was 14 or 15 years old, without realizing any connection between the La Palma Secret Base, which was unknown to all but a very few at the time, and the submarine found along the edges of the Colorado River, I came into contact with a onetime member of the Papago Park Prisoner of War Camp Interrogation Team. He was a Chief Petty Officer and former submariner who just happened to end up being stationed at China Lake Naval Ordnance Test Station when all of the submarine on the Colorado stuff was going down. The Navy had caught wind of the grounded submarine almost at the same time as the Army Air Corps. It was just that the Army beat them to the prize. The Navy argued since it was a submarine it should fall under their jurisdiction. The Army insisted it was really not much more than a mobile rocket launch pad, and, since it was V-2 related it should be theirs --- even though, as it was described later by the captured crew it seemed closer to a large-diameter short-range high impact Rheintochter R1 Variant, with detachable wooden stabilizer fins and driven by a solid propellent engine generating 165,000 pounds of thrust that accelerated the missile to Mach 1 within the first 1,000 ft of travel rather than being exclusive liquid fueled V-2 related --- the Army still said tough, it was in their possession and they expected to keep it. Through it all the POW camp officials, albeit Army, were left out in the cold, except for one thing, they had the actual crew that was trained to operate whatever it was, which meant they had at their fingertips intimate knowledge of the ins-and-outs and workings of the sub. That's where the Chief Petty Officer came in. As a former submariner he had been assigned to a quickly put together Navy team sent out from close by (for the Navy) China Lake to recover the craft. Although they arrived too late to actually be in charge, he was ordered to consult with the Army team on how to remove, float, and transport the semi-damaged vessel. The POW folk, especially the spit-and-polish camp provost marshal Captain Cecil Parshall, felt they were being looked down on as not really being military enough by their Army brethern and didn't like how the fly boys had treated them. Since the Navy sort of ended up losers in it all too, the POW folk, ordered by higher ups to cooperate after the Army whined about it, thinking they would have an ally, simply aced out the Air Corps personnel and brought in the Navy, asking the Chief, who had been on the scene as well, to join their interrogation team. Which he did.
When I first met the Chief I was visiting my Stepmother, or actually my ex-stepmother by then, on her ranch come-bar-come-dancehall for the summer. Her place was not far from Muroc Dry Lake, or as it is better known, Edwards Air Force Base, located in the Mojave Desert around a 120 miles north of Los Angeles, California. In those days, although it was out in the middle of nowhere, it was still one of the closest establishments of its type to the base, sporting all the amenities almost any G.I. would like: bar, swimming pool, dance hall, live western bands, rodeos and boxing matches on the weekends, at least two dozen one-armed-bandit slot machines in a secret hidden room, a smattering of rental bungalows, and an ever present bevy of willing hostesses. So said, while some of her customers were local farmers, ranchers, and ranch hands, most of the clientele were servicemen drawn from Edwards and China Lake
On Fridays and Saturdays there were all night long wide open goings-on in the bar and dance hall, especially during the summer, and the next mornings would almost always find a bunch of GIs laying around nurturing hangovers. Invariably on those mornings there would be a number of Navy guys from China Lake sobering up over coffee and having a little breakfast and few tables down along the edge of the dance hall would be an equal bunch if not more of Air Force guys doing the samething. One day I overheard there was a Japanese battleship out in the middle of the dry lake that the Air Force used for bombing practice. I asked the Navy guys about it and with that a Chief Petty Officer, a former submariner stationed at China Lake, told me it was a mock-up, that it looked like a battleship but was actually modeled after a Japanese Atago-class heavy cruiser and made of wood and chicken wire. Then he told me there had been at onetime a real genuine submarine out on the dry lake. He said for years the Air Force had kept it under tight security hidden away from prying eyes in a hanger, with everybody thinking it was a UFO. Then he said, "One day they hauled it out into the dry lake and bombed the living shit out of it until nothing was left but a bunch of tiny pieces of tangled metal." He told me the submarine was a German U-boat. It had been towed behind another sub to an island in the Sea of Cortez, arriving sometime late in the year 1944 and hiding in a cove until it received a "go" signal. When the sub left the island it headed on it's own power up the mouth of the Colorado River with a skeleton crew. For more see:
GERMAN SUBMARINE ATTACK ON HOOVER DAM
It is not known with any amount of certainty if the trans-oceanic Japanese sub towing the German undersea craft was the LAST submarine utilizing the facilities at the secret base or not. Strong rumors backed by a wide ranging series of facts suggest a German U-boat, thought possibly to be the U-196 under the auspices of the Gruppe Monsun, visited the base around the sametime as the Japanese sub. If that visit was before or after the Japanese sub is not known. Also not known is if the Japanese submarine was specifically the I-12 or not, although history would make it difficult being any other vessel. I remember a lot about the description of the Japanese sub and the sub-like vessel it towed as told to me by the Chief, who inturn had garnered the information through being a member of the interrogation team. I recall he said the Japanese sub carried an airplane. I also remember him saying that the sub had five American flags on the bow representing kills and a white six inch horizontal stripe running around the afterdeck, but I don't remember him saying anything about a number painted on the conning tower or any place else specifically designating it as the I-12.
Unlike the shadow-like I-12 however, the German U-boat said to have shown up at the secret base was known to have a number: U-196. The U-196 was a heavily armed long range Type IXD2 submarine and part of the Monsun Gruppe 33rd Flotilla operating clear across the Pacific out of Penang, Malaysia --- a long, long way from Mexico --- arriving, by the way, after having been reported missing in the Sunda Straits south of Java. When the U-196 arrived at the secret base, without their knowledge, it had apparently gone rogue or possibly commandeered, because at the time it was carrying high ranking Germans officials fleeing the Third Reich along with a hold full of stolen Nazi gold. For more see:
THE STRANGE ODYSSEY OF THE GERMAN U-BOAT U-196
MY PERSONAL VISIT TO THE SECRET BASE
When I initially began investigating various aspects of the secret base I had not specifically traveled to Chiapas to see for myself what others had told me regarding it's existence. Since hard information on the base from traditional sources is rare I contacted three very good friends that have traveled in Chiapas for a number of reasons. Two have explored the area extensively having even flown over the estuaries in question a number of times at a very low level by helicopter in connection with some sort of coffee exporting deal they were working on. The third, who I do not think would ever get in a helicopter, had accessed the estuaries by local small boats many times. She is a former Peace Corps volunteer who I have known for years, the two of us having served together in the Caribbean. An anthropology teacher at a major institute of higher education in Texas, in recent years she has been aiming her interests more toward efforts in Peru. However, right after the Peace Corps she gained extensive experience in Chiapas, and over the years continued to maintain very close ties to the people both inland and along the coast.
In that my Peace Corps friend spoke fluent Spanish and had not only traveled to the area many times but lived there as well, in 2003 she I met at her home in Austin and from there the two of us traveled together to Mexico City, then on to Chiapas and the La Palma estuaries.
Up until the time I first contacted her if she had any knowledge of a secret World War II submarine base in the Chiapas estuaries or anyplace else she generally wasn't spreading it around. In that what we were doing was directly related to the secret base, for the first time she related to me that there were and still are firm rumors and stories amongst the older locals and passed down to some of the younger locals, of Japanese submarines having been seen in the estuaries during the war. She also said, Japanese submarines or not, at least the existence of the base, if you knew where to look, was easily proved.
Not long after our arrival, using her connections we were soon hooked up with an estuary fisherman and guide she knew. After a couple of beers and polite passage of time in conversation, we were on our way. The estuaries, which to me, after getting in the boat, all looked the same no matter which direction we were going or how many times we turned. Amazingly enough though, one of the turns soon gave way to what we were looking for. Out of nowhere, right before my eyes, despite weathering, periodic flooding, and excessive jungle-like plant overgrowth, there were, if you knew what you were looking for, substantial remains of the base that could easily and clearly be seen and identified as such. After getting out of the boat and exploring the general area, along with the help of the fisherman-guide pointing out some less obvious things I missed or misinterpreted as non-noteworthy, the nearly 60 year old site and what remained and their use, as well as the estuary access of the one time secret submarine base, began to make sense.
After walking the remnant remains of the base for sometime in the heat and humidity of the day I got back in the small boat and crossed over the estuary to the side directly opposite of the site positioning myself along the edge in the undergrowth in an effort to visualize what it must have been like for Rochelle Hudson all those years ago when she positioned herself at possible great risk to herself and life for a week hidden along the same edge of the estuary I was on when the base was fully operable. Although she stated no submarines arrived or departed during the time of her surveillance I am sure there were armed men in and about the base and any discovery of her whereabouts just across the estuary most likely would not have ended favorably.
HURRICANE STAN AND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE BASE
However, that was then, this is now. I have been told, since my visit, what I explored and saw is no longer the case. In October 2005 the super-powerful leftovers of Hurricane Stan that originally struck the Yucatan came across the mountains and wreaked havoc on the region completely wiping out and erasing any and all remains of any consequence related to the existence of the base. The following is how Wikipedia describes the damage and aftermath of Stan on the whole of the Chiapas area, which included a devastating impact on the La Palma estuary:
"As the system progressed inland towards the Sierra Madre del Sur to the west of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas were affected with torrential rains. Areas of Chiapas near the Guatemalan border were hit hard, particularly the coastal border town of Tapachula. In Tapachula the river overflowed its banks and caused tremendous damage (including the destruction of all the bridges leading in and out of the town), meaning that it was only accessible through the air. The state government reported that 33 rivers broke their banks and that an indeterminate number of homes, upwards of 20 bridges, and other infrastructure were smashed in the storm's wake."
TRACK OF HURRICAN STAN OCTOBER 2005
WHY THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ADDICTION WITH SUBMARINES?
Over and over people want to know why this almost borderline psychological addiction with all this submarine stuff--- why page after page on submarines? Basically there are two reasons. First, my uncle being shot and left to die out in the middle of the desert by Japanese operatives as found in Reason One below, and second, me as a young boy coming into the crosshairs of Axis submarines in the Indian Ocean as found in Reason Two, also below:
In 1943, not less than a year after World War II started, my uncle, who was so predominant in my early childhood and upbringing, but before I was on the scene, inadvertently stumbled across some rather alarming Axis-induced fifth column like activities in the desert southwest, more specifically that German U-boats were in the Sea of Cortez, and was shot point blank by foreign operatives and left to die because of it. In 1970 he repeated to me how the events unfolded:
My uncle, who I cite often in my works, was not only a fairly well established artist he was also as well, what I call a biosearcher. Prior to his death in 1989, as a biosearcher, he had more than a half dozen plant species named after him following years of trekking, searching, and discovering previously unknown and unnamed plants all over mostly remote and hidden areas and sections of the desert southwest. In 1943 he was biosearching alone in the then largely uninhabited mountainous and desert-like terrain in the central section of New Mexico between the New Mexico and Arizona border on the west and the north-to-south flowing Rio Grande on the east.
In the process of his biosearching he came across two men, and unusually so, both Asian. One of men was flat on his back all but unconscious and visibly quite ill after apparently having been bitten by a rattlesnake with the bite being left untreated. My uncle, after using the healing properties of indigenous plants he gathered up, soon found the man up and around. One of the men who had a rudimentary use of English told my uncle they were Japanese, were testing soil samples for radioactivity, and had been left off in Mexico by a submarine. By then my uncle was wanting to beat a hasty retreat but before he could one of the men shot him. They took his truck and although they left him to bleed out he survived. In 1985 a book titled The Japanese Secret War authored by Robert K. Wilcox was published. In the book, completely independent of anything my uncle told me, Wilcox, in his own research, writes about the two Japanese spies doing soil testing in Arizona and New Mexico and the U-boat they arrived in, of which I in turn write about as found in the source so cited:
"Wilcox's book, that for the first time brought to the public's attention Japanese agents having been in the desert southwest during World War II specifically tasked with testing soil samples for radiation, was published in 1985. It was in 1970, fifteen years before Wilcox's book was published that my uncle told me about his 1943 encounter with Japanese spies soil testing deep into state of New Mexico and the fact that according to their own testimony, they had initially been brought to Mexico via German U-boat from Europe."
THE JAPANESE SECRET WAR
The second reason starts within a few months of the first, more specifically on the morning of Friday March 10, 1944. On that date I was a young boy traveling in India under the auspices of a foster couple and staying at the ashram of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Totally unrelated and unbeknownst to me or anybody involved with me or the parties I was with, on that same date as well, the British motor merchant MV Tulagi, loaded with a cargo of flour and 380 bags of mail sailed from Australia for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) under control and orders of the British Admiralty. Proceeding down the New South Wales Coast, and, via the Bass Strait she rounded Cape Leuwin and on into the Indian Ocean. Seventeen days later, on March 27, 1944, with a full complement of 54 on board she was torpedoed by the German Submarine U-532 of the First Monsun Group operating out of Penang, Malaysia. She sank in 20 seconds. Of the 54 crew members only 15 survived, taking to two lifeboats. Following the torpedo attack and after 58 days adrift the seven members of ONE of the rafts finally came across a group of small islands. Just before midnight they landed on Bijoutier, a tiny island of the Alphonse Group belonging to the Outer Islands of the Seychelles. The eight members of the second raft, separated halfway into their drift from the first, basically disappeared and have never been officially accounted for. Some time after the sinking of the MV Tulgai found me in the Indian Ocean as a passenger on a lone, unescorted ship in those very same submarine infested waters on a return trip bound for England and then the U.S. During the months I was gone the woman of the couple I was with had written three letters to my father which years later eventually fell into my hands, of which the following quote refers to her comments found in her last letter:
"TheLiverpool Letter, except for several long incoherent paragraphs about picking up a live survivor or two or none at all amongst several dead in a life raft sometime before arriving or after leaving Cape Town, South Africa, circulated mostly around the logistics of bringing me home."
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: And The Last American Darshan
The letter so mentioned in the quote was written by the woman of a couple that took me, as a young boy, to India. In the letter she indicated that a liferaft was encountered in some fashion by the ship we were on during our return trip to England. How she worded it wasn't totally clear and could be deciphered, at least in how I read it, in a number of ways. It was clear in what she said that there was a liferaft, but IF the liferaft was encountered before or after Cape Town or IF there were or were not survivors was muddled. She didn't elaborate one way or the other or attempt to clarify the event because anything regarding the liferaft had nothing at all to do to do with the point she was trying to get across in the letter. I do not remember anything about a voyage home or anything to do with any life rafts.
However, backtracking through all the events, in all my research, taking into consideration time, place, ships attacked and sunk, survivors and non survivors, etc., only one ship fits the bill, the aforementioned British motor merchant MV Tulagi. Now, I have no idea how many times the ship I was on came into the periscope crosshairs of German U-boats, if any. However, the whole route of travel from India, around Africa and into the Atlantic on to England was crawling with submarines, every one seeking an easy, vulnerable target. Looking back it must have been pure luck, fate or karma, but in any case throughout the years I have come to appreciate the results and established in me a strong interest in how the actions and selected non-interaction of submarines and their operations, Japanese or German thereof, have impacted the outcome of my life.
THE BRITISH MOTOR MERCHANT TULAGI
MY MERCHANT MARINE FRIEND
JAPANESE INVASION OF INDIA
DURING WORLD WAR II
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
"Eventually, according to Van Zandt, he participated in a raid by Yaqui Indians on a clandestine Japanese submarine refueling point on the Pacific side of Baja, Calif. He said a submarine and two trawlers were sunk and a fair number of Japanese were killed."(source)
An attack on a Japanese submarine, or possibly two, by Van Zandt's rather unconventional Yaqui Indian black ops group might not sound like much in the overall scheme of things. However, the I-9 had been dispatched to Panama by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The question would be why? Instead, apparently thanks to Van Zandt, it ended up in it's home port of Kwajalein having never reached Panama. The I-9 pulled into Magdalena Bay for some reason. Van Zandt called the bay a "refuelling point." He also said there were two of what he called "trawlers" which could have been tenders. However, the I-9 should have had plenty of fuel. If refuelling was a necessity it most likely would have been scheduled or done at the farther south and closer to Panama La Palma base in Chiapas. Since all of the submarines were sent to the U.S. Pacific west coast for possible strikes and to disrupt shipping they were supplied with all the necessary ordinance and equipment to do so. There is a good chance, in that the I-9 was redirected toward Panama the day after it arrived in it's area of operation near the Oregon coast, that she stopped at Magdalena Bay to take on something, and, whatever was to be accomplished by the results of those efforts was basically stopped in it's tracks by Van Zandt's raid.
When I was first told by my uncle circa 1968-70 or so of Rochelle Hudson's involvement in things espionage I was not aware it was not common knowledge, especially so regarding the alleged Japanese submarine base in Chiapas. If it was common knowledge there sure is not much formal accessible evidence about either her involvement or about the base. Recently however, it has been brought to my attention there is what is considered a very good book on the subject, published in 2001, titled LA PALMA: Secret Base by Arthur Leif Gehrke. Gehrke calls his book a historical novel, insinuating to the reader in a side glance that although it is a novel it is based on historical facts --- and he even says as much quite clearly at the beginning of the book.
Gehrke is the author of at least four books all published during the first decade of the 2000s. All are related in some fashion to the southern Pacific coast of Mexico and take place almost directly after or stemming from World War II. The brief bio that accompanies his books states he was born in Mexico City on November 27, 1929. His father was English and his mother Mexican. He completed his primary grades in Mexico and high school in Canada. His bio goes on to say he is retired living in southern Mexico with his wife Dora.
I have read all four of Gehrke's books, mainly to get a better handle on him. He seems seeped in the area and culture along the southern Mexican Pacific coast. In that he was born in 1929 that would make him 14 or 15 around the time of the Japanese base, a perfect age to be exploring up and down the estuaries for no other reason than to have done it. There is a good chance he came across the facility himself and, if not, he would, later as an adult have enough established credibility to garner information from locals without infringing on sensibilities.
OVER THE ESTUARIES WEST TOWARD THE PACIFIC OCEAN PRIOR TO HURRICANE STAN
EAST OVER THE ESTUARIES TOWARD LA PALMA. ENTRANCE JUST OFF PHOTO, RIGHT
It could be that the submarines said to have shown up in the estuaries and confirmed to have done so by the sleeper agent were not the I-9, I-10 or the I-25. They may not have even been Japanese but actually German U-boats. Two U-boats were reported from a highly regarded source as being in the Sea of Cortez in 1942. The sleeper agent did not specify a specific date when the two subs were observed in the estuaries nor to my knowledge were any submarine identification numbers or markings passed down from any reliable source, so 1942 is as viable as any other related or relevant date.
Faced with the threat of an attack on the Pacific west coast of the United States during World War II by the Japanese, including Baja California being used as a potential backdoor or a staging area, in a cooperative effort with the U.S., Mexico mobilized troops and units of the Mexican Army, most notably the First Air Regiment of the Mexican Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Mexicana (FAM)) to establish bases of operations in Baja in order to patrol and protect their shores.
On March 20, 1942, around the same time two German submarines were reported in the Sea of Cortez, during a routine patrol a pilot for the Mexican Air Force, Lieutenant Leopoldo Meza, flying under the banner of the First Regiment, came across a submarine just along the surface 30 miles east off the coast of Sinaloa, Mexico. Meza strafed the submarine with nearly a full belt of machine gun fire. However, circling back around for a second pass, the sub, apparently remaining operable enough within reason, was somehow able to escape, disappearing underwater without a trace.
Reports on the attack always list it as happening 30 miles off the coast of Sinaloa, then follow that up with brackets saying (Pacific Ocean). Meza's plane was said to be operating out of Baja California, most likely the southern portion somewhere north or inland from La Paz. Sinaloa is a Mexican state on the mainland of Mexico of which the northern half faces the Baja Peninsula and the Sea of Cortez while the southern half faces directly into the Pacific Ocean. What I take from Meza's report is that the sub he attacked was still in Pacific waters, that is, south of or having not yet entered the Sea of Cortez. I only speculate that the sub was either coming or going to or from the Sea of Cortez because the distance between Baja and the mainland state of Sinaloa is at a minimum of 130 miles wide. Thirty miles off the coast of Sinaloa doesn't give you very many places to go or come from if the gulf wasn't part of it.
So said, 30 miles off the coast of Sinaloa in Pacific waters, coming or going into or out of the Sea of Cortez, puts the submarine, U-boat or not, around 1000 miles north of the La Palma secret base. Unlike the number of maintenance or support options available to U-boats operating along the east coast of the U.S. and the Caribbean, options for any on the west coast of Mexico in the Pacific would be strictly limited. There is absolutely no way any German U-boat in the Pacific operating along the Mexican west coast, Baja, or the Sea of Cortez would not have accessed or needed the full operational capabilities of either the secret base at Chiapas or Magdalena Bay at one time or the other.
Over and over I have been questioned about what I call a highly regarded source related to German U-boats being in the Sea of Cortez during World War II as mentioned in the opening paragraph at the top of this footnote. The questioning is not always to find out if my source is actually valid or credible, but to undermine my source as being not likely thus undermining the strength or validity of what I have presented.
The information stems from two sources. First, a man named Anthony C. Acevedo. Acevedo was a highly decorated U.S. Army medic that had been captured in World War II by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge and held in a POW camp until the end of the war. Although Acevedo was born in the United States (July 31, 1924, San Bernardino, California) his mother and father were both born in Mexico. In 1937, at age 13, his father and stepmother (his mother died when he was a year-and-a-half years old) were deported to Mexico and he and his three brothers and two sisters followed. The family moved to Durango where his father, an architectural engineer, became the director of Public Works. Because his father was a civil engineer he was commissioned by the Mexican Government to construct landing strips for U.S. and Mexican forces during the war, the same landing strips Meza was flying out of. His father was also involved in a PT boat project in the Gulf of California putting Acevedo, as a young boy right in the middle of everything. At age 17 Acevedo returned to the U.S. to study medicine. In that he was still a U.S. citizen, in August of 1942, just one week after he turned 18, he was drafted. When he returned from the war, making record of his life, Acevedo reported the following as found in the source so cited:
"Two friends and myself discovered that two of my father’s employees were spying for German U-Boats docked in the Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico. One of my friends had studied Morse code and had detected the messages while we swam next to a building where the code was coming from. When my father made the discovery he had them immediately arrested."(source)
AND NOW THIS:
In conjunction with reports of Meza's attack it is often stated by others, that is, other than Meza and who themselves weren't there, that the possibility exists what he strafed that day in the water off Sinaloa was not a submarine, but was in fact instead a whale. Blue whales found in the Baja and Pacific waters seldom if ever reach 100 feet in length while whale sharks, inhabiting the same general area, are stretching it at 40 feet. Except for the 110 foot special mission sub in 1944 that was towed from the La Palma secret base to Isla Ángel de la Guarda, also called Archangel Island, off Bahia de los Angeles in the Sea of Cortez, most German U-boats of the era ranged between 200 to 250 feet in length. The Japanese I-Type submarines deployed up and down the U.S. and Mexican Pacific west coast during the same period were at a minimum 340 to nearly 380 feet long. Hard to believe, considering the typical U-boat was at least twice the size of the largest whale and the I-Type Japanese submarine was three times plus the length, that either could be misconstrued to be a whale.
F6F NAVY HELLCAT
NAZI SUBS, AND THE BAJA MEXICO CRASH SITE
Higher ups and those responsible for daily reports required to track the various U-boats under their auspices, because of the secrecy surrounding the U-181 and U-195, were totally out of the loop as to what is going on OR they knew and specifically presented a benign picture, so as you read them --- if like now you know both sides of the story --- the reports start to become unclear. On December 5th, for example the following shows up:
Since there is no definite knowledge regarding position of 181 receiving conditions cannot therefore be assessed. Messages will be transmitted on both Africa Bands I and III.
Then, two days later on December 7th:
There is anxiety for U-195. She should have met U-181 but so far has not done so.
On and off throughout the daily reports that follow, until the U-195 shows up and U-181 returns to base, they are pretty much as incomprehensionable as the report makers, who have to show some effort in keeping track of boats under their care while trying to make sense of things from the information they have.
Although I don't get into it in the main text above, there is some rather substantial information regarding the life raft itself the woman reported seeing that I have, except in another footnote somewhere, really not delved into.
While it is true the woman was far from clear regarding any survivors alive or dead or none at all in the letter she wrote to my dad, she did mention the raft itself --- slightly. Because of what she mentioned didn't really add up relative to anything I knew or was familiar with at the time I pretty much passed on it. The thing is, her description of what she said she saw and what I sluffed off, turned out to be closer to reality than not. She said what other passengers were claiming to be a life raft, to her, from the distance she saw it, it looked more like a bunch of barrels stuffed together in huge wooden orange crate than anything else. When I read the letter and tried to picture what she was talking about, the first thing that popped into my mind was a couple of model wooden trains I put together and painted from two kits when I was a kid.
One model was a train called the Dewitt Clinton and the other was the William Galloway, both early steam locomotives and both, to carry water, had little wooden barrels stacked into gondola cars behind the coal car. The rafts on the Tulagi, as pictured below and of which I only learned of many years after reading the woman's letter, were open 6 x 8 x 3 feet with forty-four gallon drums as flotation devices housed in open wooden frame. The rafts could be operated from either side and 10 persons could easily fit into each raft. If you compare the two graphics below you might get an idea why the wooden models from my childhood popped into my head.
It's another time and era now, but, while I may have somehow slipped through the gauntlet by not personally coming under the brunt of well aimed topedoes even though I could have, two people in my life were not so lucky. Although both were civilians, they were merchant seamen and both died serving their country from the results of submarine attacks. One influenced my life directly, the other indirectly. Although serving on separate ships both came under attack while the convoy they were assigned to was just in the process of forming up. The person who indirectly influenced my life died on the scene, the other years later from injuries incurred during the attack.
On May 4, 1942, the U.S. freighter Delisle was torpedoed by the German submarine U-564 approximately 15 miles off the Jupiter Inlet, Florida. Two crewman were killed, of which one was a fireman/wiper by the name of James Rose. The remainder of the crew safely abandoned ship. As the ship was able to stay partially afloat the crew returned the following day and she was towed to Miami, repaired and put back in service. Richard Rose, the brother of James Rose, sought and gained a deep level of spiritual attainment after being imapacted by the death of his brother. In the process of seeking that attainment Richard Rose became an advocate pro-advocate of a man by the name of Alfred Pulyan. Alfred Pulyan, who I studied under, was an American Zen Master without the Zen nor the Buddhism who presented through his teaching what he simply called Transmission, a personalized version of Direct Transmission of which Richard Rose inturn embraced.
Two days after the death of James Rose, near midnight Wednesday, May 6, 1942 the American steam tanker S.S. Halsey was hit by two torpedoes from U-333 somewhat less than four miles east of Jupiter Inlet. Regarding the attack, U-Boat.net in Notes on Loss writes:
"The torpedoes struck close together on the port side at the #2 and #3 main tanks. The explosion ripped a hole in the side 60 feet long. The master stopped the engines and headed toward the shore. No distress signal was sent, because the radio antenna had been destroyed. The entire crew of eight officers and 24 men abandoned ship in two lifeboats 15 minutes after the attack, the other two boats had been destroyed by the explosions. The men were nearly asphyxiated by the naphtha fumes before they could clear the ship. After one hour, the U-boat came alongside the lifeboats and offered assistance, but it was declined."(source)
One of the sailors onboard the S.S. Halsey that night was the man I call My Merchant Marine Friend. In order to save himself he had no choice but to jump overboard, landing in an area with oil and naphtha burning along the surface of the water, the fire scorching his skin as he plunged through and returned for air. The following, telling of the event, is found at the source so cited:
"(He) was found weeks, possibly months after his ship had been torpedoed somewhere in the Atlantic strapped with heavy ropes to a piece of debris floating all alone in the middle of the ocean, and except for being unconscious and heavily scared from the burn marks, which had seemingly healed, he was in pretty good shape. Everybody said it was a miracle, that his burns must had healed by the salt water. How he had made it in the open ocean without food or water nobody knew. Most people speculated he had been picked up by a U-boat and ejected at a convenient time so he would be found, although no record has ever shown up to substantiate such an event, nor did he recall ever being on a submarine, German or otherwise."(source)
An otherwise nondescript sailor that would have gone otherwise unnoticed and was also caught up in a torpedo attack against his ship and wounded, who played a big role in things of historical proportions later on was a World War II Gunner's Mate named Ralph Multer. See:
RALPH A. MULTER
GUNNER'S MATE 3rd CLASS, U.S. NAVY
RHEINTOCHTER R 1
In the main text, speaking of an alleged rocket being transported by a submarine, I write:
"(As) it was described later by the captured crew it seemed closer to a large-diameter short-range high impact Rheintochter R1 Variant, with detachable wooden stabilizer fins and driven by a solid propellent engine generating 165,000 pounds of thrust that accelerated the missile to Mach 1 within the first 1,000 feet of travel rather than being exclusive liquid fueled V-2 related."
People start jumping up and down saying how would it have been known that the rocket, especially so by regular crewmen or anybody else for that fact, that the missile was specifically a Rheintochter R I --- as most of the German rocketry stuff, beyond buzz bombs and V-2s, didn't come to light until well after the war.
Since such a German attempt against Hoover Dam has never been revealed officially or admitted to by any authority, high level or otherwise, it follows of course the same would be true regarding the release of the type or name designation of any sort of a missile it may or may not have transported. At the time of the interrogation circa early-mid 1945, although there had to be specialized members of the crew that were trained in how to set-up, prepare, operate, and launch the missile, and thus then known the name, there was never specifics passed on to me that the suspected weapon being transported by the submarine was in fact a Rheintochter R I.
The fact that I report the missile as being a Rheintochter R I is based on research, pure and simple, primarily extrapolated from one comment told to me by the Chief Petty Officer. Now, while it is true I was only a 14 or 15 year old at the time --- which makes the Chief's comments a lot of years ago --- I remember his comment like it was yesterday, remembered clearly for the same reason most people would remember it. The Chief said during interrogation former crew members stated that the rocket had wooden fins. Wooden fins! Give me a break. As a kid I was raised on Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon and during that same period I was witness to the flyover of the giant object of an unknown nature that crossed through the Los Angeles night sky associated with what has since come to be called the Battle of Los Angeles or the UFO Over L.A., and never once did I ever hear of an operational rocket or space related vehicle of any type that had anything close to having wooden fins. When the Chief said the rocket had wooden fins I NEVER forgot it. From there the rest was easy because the Germans just did not build many rockets with wooden fins other than the Rheintochter R I. Once I pinpointed the rocket, finding out it's specifications was just a matter of minor legwork.
The interesting part of the whole thing is that the Rheintochter R I currently on display at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which had been on display previouly in the National Air and Space Museum from 1976 to the early 1980s --- after which it was completely restored to its original condition and paint scheme for exhibit at the Udvar-Hazy Center, had been acquired by the Smithsonian from the U.S. Navy in 1969. Now, if it was the same one the Army got their hands on when they hauled the submarine to Muroc Dry Lake and was unwilling to part with at first, but somehow later maybe made to do so, is not known. It is just interesting that the Navy had a Rheintochter R I, a missile never officially known to be associated with sea-borne, water, or Navy type stuff, yet still fell into their hands in such a manner that in 1969 they could donate it to the Smithsonian.
RHEINTOCHTER R 1
RHEINTOCHTER R 1 PHOTO GALLERY
SURFACE TO AIR RHEINTOCHTER R 1 MISSILE
The source for the quote from Acevedo as presented in Footnote  is found in the segment below, taken from the context of the full page cited further down. The contents of the page so cited comes from a secret journal Acevedo kept while a German prisoner of war during World War II, of which a PDF version (except for a few missing pages) is also linked below.
A few days later, in the morning, we heard the sound of barrack door chains rattle. Three SS troopers walked in with their machine guns pointing in all directions, behind them a Gestapo Field Marshall walked in wearing a long leather black coat, tall boots and a monocle over his eye. It was just like in the movies; he looked all around studying each of us while he smoked a cigarette with holder at the other end. Finally he motioned towards me pointing with his finger. The German guards pushed me to follow him. I was the only one singled out. We entered a room furnished with only two chairs and a table. He sat on one side and I at the other, then immediately began to interrogate me. He said, "You medics know what’s going on behind the lines!" I told him I knew nothing and said all I know is my name, rank and serial number. He just laughed at my answers and said, "No, no ,no.....you know something!". I repeated I knew nothing of what was going on, "I’m only a medic". He countered with, "Oh yes you do! I’ve heard this story many times. You know something. Look, I know all about you." To my amazement he proceeded to tell me that I was born in San Bernardino, California and lived in Pasadena, California, with my cousins; that my parents moved us to Durango, Mexico; knew that my father was a civil engineer and had been commissioned by the Mexican Government to construct airplane landing strips for U.S. forces and was also involved in a PT boat project with an associate out of Texas; and knew of two employees that worked for my father. He added, "Isn’t that the truth?". I said, "I don’t know. How do you know?". "Look, I’m not dumb!", he responded and spoke in both English and Spanish, fluently. At this point I felt pinned but maintained my composure as best I could. He continued, "You left Mexico when you were 17 to return to the U.S. to study medicine. You decided to enter the Army. That we know. I also know that your father had his two employees arrested"
Two friends and myself discovered that two of my father’s employees were spying for German U-Boats docked in the Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico. One of my friends had studied Morse code and had detected the messages while we swam next to a building where the code was coming from. When my father made the discovery he had them immediately arrested.
As the field Marshall continued his interrogation, he told me he also knew of a Schweader family and a sailor cousin of theirs who deserted from the Graf Spee German battleship which fought the battle of Montevideo. He made it to Durango and subsequently sold my father a rifle. The family was part of a colony of German families living in Mexico.
ACEVEDO: A WARTIME LOG, BAD ORB IX-B