Saturday, June 25, 2005

Some Background

Walter Ashe is editor for the China Gunboatman's newsletter and served in the USS Asheville. One of the younger members is Kelly Geary whose grandfather was the CO of USS Edsall - Lost without a trace - No survivors. Edsall had just rescued survivors from the USS Langley when it ran afoul of an INJ cruiser. Records do exist from the IJN cruiser that confirm its loss to gunfire. More about the Edsall will be on this blog soon.


Don Kehn, Jr. said...

Hello all:

Although I've known V.Campbell for some time now, I am probably an "unknown quantity" to Asiatic/China Gunboatmen buffs & bloggers. I've been involved with the USS HOUSTON (CA30) Survivors Assoc./Next Generation group for almost 15 years, but my interest in CA30 (& indeed the Asiatic Fleet in general) goes back at least another 20 years before that...At some point many years ago I also became fascinated with the story of USS EDSALL, and have been very curious about the numerous strange versions of her loss. I was lucky enough to have met an ex-USN officer who worked on identifying a scrap of IJN film captured after WWII and used in the old 'Victory at Sea' TV series. His name was Donald R. Morris (USNA '48) & he lived and worked here in Houston as an op-ed columnist for the Houston Post newspaper. In 1952 he helped ID a tiny (94secs) fragment of IJN footage showing the destruction of a motionless four-piper destroyer by large-calibre naval guns. Altho' the Navy released info on this discovery at the time, few if any people had ever seen the actual film (It was of much too poor quality to have been used in 'Victory at Sea') However, the film does exist, and has been incorporated into a fine modern documentary released in 1995. For the past year (roughly) I have been working on a paper dealing with the EDSALL's last action, and the larger military & geo-political context in which the Asiatic Fleet's extraordinarily valiant last stand took place. This work includes both American and Japanese primary accounts, much of which has never before been available outside of Japan. It will also correct a number of misconceptions and errors.
It is a story of sacrifice,great courage, devotion to duty, official and unofficial neglect, disinformation, and cold-blooded murder unpunished and largely unexamined for over sixty years now. There is still far too much confusion & obscurity re EDSALL's sinking, and I hope to be able to shed some strong new light on this very dark, and little-known corner of the terrible Dutch East Indies campaign.
My paper [23,500 words] is just about complete, and although I have some connections to 'literary folks', no real prospects for publication yet. I do not have any illusions regarding the 'marketability' of this work, but hope nonetheless to see it reach those for whom it has been primarily written: the families, NOK, veterans of the old Asiatic Fleet. In general the responses of the two parties who have read my first drafts have been quite enthusiastic. I really believe it will appeal to any & all who are still devoted to remembering and honoring those young men, and the sacrifices they made so many years ago. Writing it seems to me the very least I could do...
Naturally I have received help from individuals with connections to EDSALL, as well as from IJN experts, and for their contributions I am most grateful.
Any serious suggestions regarding publication of my MS would be deeply appreciated. I am anxious to see that it gets to families who to this day know very little of what actually transpired that Sunday, March 1st,1942, south of Java.

Don Kehn, Jr.
Houston, TX

jbarthold said...

While I have no publication suggestions, I do hope Don'a work receives its due. My dad was on a surveyor ship in the Okinawa campaign..USS Dutton.converted minesweep..I am a former Marine from Vietnam era...high school history teacher with interests in old Asiatic Fleet....I might suggest tieing the heroic final fight of the Edsall with her sister ship the Pope that went through a similar trial of fire..the situations were similarly hopeless but both ships fought to the end...keep up the good work is appreciated