Was the French Resistance a Myth?

The French Resistance is a term used to describe the loosely-connected French freedom fighters who conducted secret raids and sabotage attacks against the occupying Nazi forces during World War II. For many years, they’ve been celebrated for their heroic sacrifices and efforts to help the Allies defeat the Axis Powers. But not everyone believes this portrayal. Was the French Resistance nothing more than a myth?

Was the French Resistance just a Modern Myth?

In 1997, military historian Douglas Porch published The French Secret Services: A History of French Intelligence from the Drefus Affair to the Gulf War. His book blew a gigantic hole in the legend of the French Resistance and caused tremendous controversy in France. A review published by the San Francisco Chronicle in 1996 prior to the book’s publication sums up a few of its arguments as follows:

“Those few French who helped downed airmen often did so for the money. The standard reward for getting an escapee into Spain was about $50,000 in today’s money.”

“Contrary to the myth, the French Resistance didn’t rise up after D-Day, June 6, 1944, to attack Germans behind the front lines. Sabotage of the Nazi war machine was minimal.”

“Only about 5 percent of the French were even nominally members of the underground. Of these, scarcely any ever fired a shot in anger, dynamited a train or sent a clandestine radio message.”

How Large was the French Resistance?

I first learned about the heroics of the French Resistance many years ago. So I found the revelations in Porch’s book surprising to say the least. But as I read more on the subject, I learned that his statements weren’t that unique. In fact, many historians today believe that the movement was quite small and ineffective. That’s not to say that resistance fighters didn’t exist in France nor that some of them didn’t take great risks. But still, the image of the French Resistance propagated by popular media and even many text books appears far different than what actually occurred. As “Old Werther” wrote…

“for most of the war, the 30—50 German occupation divisions took no part in anti-resistance activities…the number of actual anti-resistance security forces in France (the Feldsicherheitsdienst) probably did not exceed 6,500 at any stage of the war. That in a country of over 40 million!”

According to Porch, the myth of the French Resistance originated with Charles de Gaulle. While serving as the leader of the Free French government and the French Communists, de Gaulle worked to create a certain image of the French citizenry in order to improve his own position with the Allies. But if Porch is right, then how do we explain President Dwight Eisenhower’s opinion?

“Throughout France, the Free French had been of inestimable value in the campaign. They were particularly active in Brittany, but on every portion of the front we secured help from them in a multitude of ways. Without their great assistance the liberation of France and the defeat of the enemy in Western Europe would have consumed a much longer time and meant greater losses to ourselves.” ~ President Dwight Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe

Porch claims that Eisenhower deliberately inflated the value of the French Resistance as a favor to de Gaulle. Apparently, he felt bad for how other wartime leaders treated de Gaulle and wanted to make amends.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The true value of the French Resistance remains a subject of some debate. However, it seems clear that its general worth has been greatly inflated over the years. As for whether the media or popular history will ever reflect that fact, well, we will have to wait and see.

A Cloak…of Invisibility?

Earlier this month, BAE Systems announced a revolutionary technology that could change the face of war…forever. Did the company’s scientists really figure out the secret to making an invisibility cloak?

A Real-Life Invisibility Cloak?

On September 5, BAE issued a remarkable press release entitled, BAE Systems Conjures up Invisibility Cloak. It declared that it had developed an “invisibility cloak” which would allow a vehicle to “blend into its surroundings.” In essence, the cloak is a series of sheets placed on the vehicle which have the ability to change temperature at a rapid clip. When used properly, they can literally make a tank or other vehicle invisible in the infra-red spectrum.

“Known as ‘Adaptiv’, the patented technology is based on sheets of hexagonal ‘pixels’ that can change temperature very rapidly. On-board cameras pick up the background scenery and display that infra-red image on the vehicle, allowing even a moving tank to match its surroundings. Alternatively, it can mimic another vehicle or display identification tags, reducing the risk of fratricide.”

Pretty amazing. At this time, the technology is only useful in the infra-red spectrum. However, this will undoubtedly change over the coming years.

“BAE Systems engineers have combined the pixels with other technologies, which provide camouflage in other parts of the electro-magnetic spectrum at the same time to provide all-round stealth, which will be developed further over the next few years.”

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Here’s a video of the invisibility cloak in action. If you’re pressed for time, start at 0:49 and wait 3 seconds.

Now you see it. Now you don’t.

U.S. Invasion Plans for…Canada?

In 1930, the United States formally approved “War Plan Red.” Although never put into action, the plan caused a major international rift when it was declassified in 1974. Did the United States really plan to go to war…with Great Britain?

War Plan Red: The Most Sensitive Document on Earth?

My how times have changed. Today Great Britain is viewed by American political leaders as its greatest ally. But back in 1930, opinions were decidedly different. Americans harbored suspicious feelings toward its former ruler. In addition, Great Britain was indebted to America to the tune of £9 billion thanks to the so-called “Great War.”

But those things paled in comparison to the brutal, long-term economic and political oil war that was being waged between wealthy interests from both countries. On one side stood the Rockerfellers and Standard Oil, which had previously held dual monopolies in international crude and export oil markets. On the other side, the Morgans and the Rothschilds stood alongside the newly-formed British Royal Dutch-Shell company. In many ways, the tensions between the two nations can be directly traced to this expanding “oil war.”

As such, the American military prepared War Plan Red – a document once considered the “most sensitive on earth.” Military officers thought that in the event of war, Great Britain would most likely stage attacks from the north. So, America proposed an invasion of British-controlled Canada.

How did War Plan Red Work?

According to the initial plan, one force would swarm the port city of Halifax, effectively cutting off British support. A second force would seize power plants near Niagara Falls. Then troops would invade Canada in a three-pronged approach while the Navy annexed the Great Lakes and blockaded Canadian ports. Massive bombing raids and chemical weapon deployment would accompany the attacks.

In February 1935, the plan was updated and “the U.S. Congress authorised $57 million to be allocated for the building of three secret airfields on the U.S. side of the Canadian border, with grassed-over landing strips to hide their real purpose.” Also, “America staged its largest-ever military maneuvers, moving troops to and installing munitions dumps at Fort Drum, half an hour away from the eastern Canadian border.”

It’s impossible to know what exactly would’ve happened in the event of war. But the world as we know it would probably look very different today.

“Using available blueprints for this war, modern-day military and naval experts now believe the most likely outcome of such a conflict would have been a massive naval battle in the North Atlantic with very few actual deaths, but ending with Britain handing Canada over to the U.S. in order to preserve our vital trade routes.” ~ David Gerrie, Daily Mail

Defense Scheme No. 1: Canada’s Version of War Plan Red?

By the way, don’t feel too bad for Canada here. It turns out Canada had its own version of War Plan Red, which it called “Defense Scheme No. 1.” Created in 1921, it detailed a preemptive invasion of America in the event of a possible war. The idea was to send “flying columns” to Seattle, Great Falls, Minneapolis, and Albany. The Canadian military hoped this would distract and delay the more powerful American military, thus providing ample time for British forces to arrive. This plan was ultimately discarded in 1928.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Interestingly enough, War Plan Red was just one of numerous contingency plans that are now known as the Rainbow Plans. For instance, War Plan Black was created before World War I to deal with a possible conflict with Germany. War Plan Orange considered how best to attack Japan. And most frightening, War Plan White was designed to suppress a domestic revolt.

As for War Plan Red, it became moot when World War II broke out and America threw its weight behind the Allies. But for a few short years, the economic ambitions and political power of the world’s largest oil industrialists nearly led to war. Such a war would’ve altered relations between the two countries…impacted the global balance of power…and changed the world forever.

The Lost Nuclear Sub?

On July 4, 1974, the Hughes Glomar Explorer, a deep-sea drillship vessel, dropped anchor in the Pacific Ocean. Its stated purpose was to mine the sea floor for manganese nodules. However, that was just a cover. Its real purpose was far more ambitious…nothing less than the salvage of a lost Soviet nuclear submarine known as K-129.

Disaster Strikes the K-129

Six years earlier, on March 8, 1968, the Soviet submarine K-129 sank in deep waters 1,560 nautical miles northwest of Oahu. 98 crewmen perished in the process. The loss wasn’t realized until the K-129 missed its second consecutive radio check-in during mid-March. About a week later, the Soviet Union launched a gigantic search and rescue effort to find the lost submarine.

The effort failed. However, it was noticed by U.S. intelligence who guessed the mission’s true nature. After checking archived acoustic records, the U.S. Navy discovered an unexplained event had occurred on March 8, 1968. After triangulating the signals, the Navy generated a search grid and initiated Operation Sand Dollar to find and photograph the Soviet sub. The U.S. submarine USS Halibut was sent to the vicinity and after just three weeks of searching, managed to locate the wreck at 16,500 feet below sea level.

The K-129 represented an exciting opportunity. It was believed to contain Soviet nuclear missile technology as well as cryptographic machines and a code book. As such, the United States decided to secretly recover the wreckage. Tasked with this responsibility, the CIA formulated Project Azorian in 1970.

Project Azorian & the Hughes Glomar Explorer: Salvage of the Lost Nuclear Submarine?

The CIA hired Global Marine Development to build a deepwater drillship vessel. The famous industrialist Howard Hughes lent his name to the project and claimed that the ship’s purpose was to mine for manganese nodules. On June 20, 1974, the newly-christened Hughes Glomar Explorer set sail from Long Beach, California. It was equipped with a large mechanical claw dubbed Clementine by the crew. The plan was simple, at least on paper. The claw would deploy to the ocean floor, wrap around part of the submarine, and then lift that part into the Hughes Glomar Explorer’s hold.

The salvage effort began on July 4, 1974 and lasted for over a month. Since the whole process took place underwater, it proved impossible for the Soviets to detect. The details of Project Azorian remain classified to this day so it’s uncertain what exactly was recovered from the wreckage. Officially, the operation was a failure (you can see one of the heavily redacted files here). Supposedly, Clementine broke down during the salvage, forcing the Hughes Glomar Explorer to abandon two-thirds of the K-129. But since the CIA is known for being extra secretive, many researchers have questioned the official account. Thus, there is speculation that Project Azorian was a major intelligence coup, leading to the capture of Soviet submarine technology, nuclear torpedoes, code books, and other items.

What caused the K-129 to Sink?

But how did the K-129 sink in the first place? The Soviet Navy believed that the sub simply sank too low and failed to handle the situation due to mechanical or crew failure. Other theories include the lead-acid batteries exploding while being recharged or an accidental missile detonation. A more controversial theory (and one privately believed by many Soviet officers) is that the sub sank after an accidental collision with the USS Swordfish.

But the most controversial theory by far was put forth by Kenneth Sewell in Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine’s Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S. Sewell postulated that the K-129 was captured by Soviet hard-liners. They planned to launch a nuclear missile on Pearl Harbor that would appear to have been fired by a Chinese submarine. The purpose was to bring about war between the U.S. and China. However, a fail safe device caused the missile to explode instead.

Sewell’s theory was bolstered by Dr. John Crane’s The Silent War: The Cold War Battle Beneath the Sea. According to Crane, the real purpose of Project Azorian was not to recover the submarine but to find out why it sank in a part of the sea where it shouldn’t have been in the first place.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Until the CIA releases more information, the true intent of K-129 as well as the strategic success of Project Azorian remain matters of speculation. However, from at least one vantage point, the Hughes Glomar Explorer had a tremendous impact. Prior to that time, the deepest successful salvage of a submarine was at 245 feet. At 16,500 feet, Project Azorian shattered that record and in the process set a new one that, as far as I know, continues to remain to this day.

Civil War Flying Machines?

During the Civil War, the Confederate States of America invented and deployed a number of secret weapons against Union forces. They created the the first steam-powered ironclad warship and built the H.L. Hunley, the first combat submarine to successfully sink an enemy vessel. But the strangest secret weapon of all was the one they didn’t create…just how close did the Confederacy come to building its own Air Force?

Civil War Planes?

On Dec. 17, 1903, the Wright brothers made what is often considered “the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight.” It wasn’t until the Italo-Turkish War in 1911 that aircraft were first used for military purposes. However, if one man had his way, both those achievements would’ve been reached decades earlier.

In 1863, R. Finley Hunt was a dentist by trade. But he exhibited an unusual “passion for flight.” During the Civil War, both sides used balloons to perform aerial reconnaissance. Hunt envisioned something more dramatic…nothing less than full-blown “Flying Machines” raining terror down on Union forces.

Hunt prepared “pencil drawings of wings, propellers, and a multi-cylinder steam engine” and contacted CSA President Jefferson Davis. But Confederate engineers doubted the feasibility of the project, especially the ability of a steam engine to keep the plane aloft. They also described another error as “so obvious on reflection that no discussion is required.” As far as I’ve been able to determine, the nature of this error remains unknown.

Hunt continued to seek an audience and even requested the temporary assistance of one N. Hays, who was apparently an accomplished armory machinist. However, Hays was too valuable to be spared and ultimately, the Confederacy passed on the project.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Hunt’s plans recently surfaced at a rare book dealer’s shop. They are being auctioned by RR Auction with a minimum bid of $1,000. Here’s the preview page for “Civil War Airplanes.”

After the war, Hunt traveled to Washington D.C. and received a patent for his invention. He proceeded to build a few working models of his Flying Machine. However, he was short on financing and his creation never got off the ground, so to speak.

“It’s incredible for someone who loves early aviation, because it poses the great question of ‘What if? What if planes had appeared above the wilderness when [Union general Ulysses S.] Grant began his campaign in the Shenandoah Valley?” ~ Bobby Livingston, RR Auction, Vice President of Sales and Marketing

I hope that whoever buys this piece of history uses the plans to reconstruct the Flying Machine. For all we know, Hunt was far ahead of his time. If it had worked and had been put into production, the Civil War might’ve ended in a far different manner than it did.

The Last Secrets of World War I?

On April 19, 2011, the Central Intelligence Agency declassified six secret documents from 1917 and 1918. These were America’s oldest classified documents and believed to be the last of their kind from World War I. So, what great secrets could possibly require nearly a century of security? Political intrigue? Government conspiracy? Something even worse?

Secret Documents…from World War I?

Not in the least bit. According to the official press release, the secret documents, which you can find here, “describe secret writing techniques.” Or, to put it more plainly, they describe how to create invisible ink as well as “a method for opening sealed letters without detection.”

Have you ever wanted to secretly open an envelope, World War I-style? Well, here’s your opportunity.

“Mix 5 drams copper acetol arsenate. 3 ounces acetone and add 1 pint amyl alcohol (fusil-oil). Heat in water bath — steam rising will dissolve the sealing material of its mucilage, wax or oil.”

Oh, but don’t forget this part.

“Do not inhale fumes.”

Why all the Secrecy over Outdated Secret Documents?

I have to admit that the secret documents provide some interesting insights into the national security concerns of the time. One paper exposes Germany’s secret formula for invisible ink. Another one provides 50 ways for U.S. postal inspectors to detect invisible ink.

“The rule is to suspect or examine every possible thing. The war between the spy or forger and the expert is continually bringing out new methods.” ~ Theodore Kytka, Handwriting Expert

Still, I can’t help but wonder why the CIA chose to keep this material classified for nearly a hundred years. Recipes for invisible ink are easy to find and anyways, would any spy dare to use such an outdated technique?

According to the CIA, the answer is apparently yes. In 1999, “the agency rejected a Freedom of Information Act request to release the six documents, asserting that doing so ‘could be expected to damage the national security.'” A similar request was rejected in 2002.So, what changed? Well, a CIA spokeswoman claimed that “in recent years, the chemistry of making secret ink and the lighting used to detect it has greatly improved.”

“These documents remained classified for nearly a century until recent advancements in technology made it possible to release them. When historical information is no longer sensitive, we take seriously our responsibility to share it with the American people.” ~ Leon E. Panetta, CIA Director

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

One of the secret documents revealed that America knew the secret to creating Germany’s invisible ink. I guess the German Empire will have to switch recipes going forward. Anyways, the CIA has long been considered one of the world’s most secretive organizations. From where I stand, the delayed release of these extremely outdated documents does nothing to change that reputation.

“Invisible ink was rendered obsolete by digital encryption long ago, not in the last few years. Director Panetta is attempting to rationalize the CIA’s irrational information policies, but there is no known basis for his claim.” ~ Steve Aftergood, The Federation for American Scientists

Well, I suppose we can be happy that these secret documents have finally been released. Now, we can move on to the next batch. What’s next on the list of oldest still-classified documents? Anyone?

President Lincoln’s Greatest Nemesis?

If you were to ask the typical American about President Abraham Lincoln’s greatest enemy, he or she would most likely answer with Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America. But recent scholarship suggests that Lincoln faced a far more hated enemy much closer to home…Judge Roger Taney, the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In 1861, Lincoln’s hatred of Taney nearly exploded into a Constitutional crisis of epic proportions.

Judge Roger Taney versus President Lincoln?

On May 25, 1861, a Confederate sympathizer named John Merryman was arrested and charged with treason. He petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus, a judicial order forcing the Union Army to appear before a judge and justify his imprisonment. Judge Roger Taney granted the writ.

But General George Cadwalader refused, stating that he was under no obligation to do so since President Lincoln had ordered the suspension of habeas corpus. This led to the famous Ex parte Merryman ruling, in which Judge Taney stated that only Congress had the power to suspend habeas corpus.

“And if the President of the United States may suspend the writ, then the Constitution of the United States has conferred upon him more regal and absolute power over the liberty of the citizen than the people of England have thought it safe to entrust to the Crown–a power which the Queen of England cannot exercise at this day, and which could not have been lawfully exercised by the sovereign even in the reign of Charles the First.” ~ Judge Taney, Ex parte Merryman

President Lincoln orders Roger Taney’s Arrest?

The judgment was an embarrassing repudiation to President Lincoln and Confederate sympathizers seized upon it as an example of Lincoln’s tyranny. In either May or June 1861, President Lincoln’s anger inspired him to call for the arrest of Judge Roger Taney.

“After due consideration the administration determined upon the arrest of the Chief Justice. A warrant or order was issued for his arrest. Then arose the question of service. Who should make the arrest and where should the imprisonment be? This was done by the President with instructions to use his own discretion about making the arrest unless he should receive further orders from him.” ~ Ward Hill Lamon

According to his own words, Ward Hill Lamon, who was a friend and bodyguard to President Lincoln as well as a United States Marshall, was given the warrant and ordered to arrest Roger Taney. Strangely though, the warrant was never served.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Nobody knows for sure why Lamon never followed through with the arrest. President Lincoln certainly wasn’t above arresting his political opponents, as the cases of Clement Vallandigham and Judge Merrick have shown. But we do know that the two men continued their bitter feud over Lincoln’s efforts to curtail civil liberties for several additional years.

I should point out that Lamon is the sole primary source for this story. Interestingly enough, most current Lincoln scholars consider it ridiculous. They dismiss Lamon as an alcoholic and point to the fact that he didn’t include the story in any of his published books (which, by the way, are highly treasured by these same scholars). Still, there is some corroborating evidence. Records indicate that Roger Taney himself as well as a colleague named Judge Curtis were aware of the near-imprisonment.

We may never know for certain how close President Lincoln came to arresting Judge Roger Taney. But we can all be thankful that he didn’t follow through on it. The ramifications might have been disastrous.

“It would have destroyed the separation of powers; destroyed the place of the Supreme Court in the Constitutional scheme of government. It would have made the executive power supreme, over all others, and put the President, the military, and the executive branch of government, in total control of American society. The Constitution would have been at an end.” ~ Charles Adams

Bioweapons…during the Revolutionary War?

In 1777, George Washington signed an order to vaccinate his troops for smallpox. While some historians consider this a response to a normal outbreak, others point to a more sinister cause…a biowarfare campaign waged by the British during the Revolutionary War.

Biological Warfare during the Revolutionary War?

According to Wikipedia, Biological warfare is defined as “the deliberate use of disease-causing biological agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or biological toxins, to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war.” Biowarfare has a long sordid past. Hittite texts from as far back as 1500-1200 BC report the use of plague victims to spread disease into enemy territory.

According to a recent article entitled, British used Bioweapon in US War of Independence, smallpox was a particularly brutal disease back in the 1700s. In 1776, “more than half of all people caught smallpox at some point, and a third of those died.” Since a proper vaccination was still twenty-two years away, smallpox itself was used to immunize people. By deliberately infecting people with a less deadly strain, doctors managed to reduce casualty rates to just 1-2%.

However, people who had recently received the vaccination were capable of spreading the more deadly strain to others, making them, in effect, human bioweapons. British troops used this method to spread smallpox among North American Indians back in the 1760s and among Boston rebels in 1775. A year later, they supposedly infected prostitutes with smallpox and sent them behind American lines, causing 5,000 casualties.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Clearly, General Washington had reason to fear smallpox outbreaks during the Revolutionary War. It stands to reason that his order to send troops to Philadelphia to receive the primitive vaccination was due, at least in part, to concerns over human bioweapons. Later, he even “set up special clinics to inoculate all new recruits.”

These days, many people glorify the past as a simpler and more noble time. However, Britain’s biowarfare campaign serves as a stark reminder that this just isn’t the case. The weapons were less effective during the Revolutionary War. But the desire to cause mass enemy casualties, both military and civilian, was just as strong as it is today.

Did the Nazi’s build America’s Atomic Bomb?

On May 14, 1945, the U-234 surrendered to the USS Sutton. Subsequently, members of the Sutton sailed the Nazi submarine to Portsmouth Naval Yard near Portsmouth, NH. Upon opening its holds, awe-struck officials quickly covered up and classified details of the U-234’s incredible cargo. But why? What was it carrying?

The Strange Voyage of the U-234

The Nazi’s built the U-234 as a minelaying submarine. Later, it was repurposed into a cargo carrier for long-range missions. As the European theater of World War II came to a close, the Nazi’s decided to send the U-234 to Japan with twelve passengers and two hundred and forty tons of cargo.

On April 15, 1945, the submarine launched from Kristiansand, Norway. On May 4, the U-234 received a partial transmission indicating that Adolf Hitler had died and that Admiral Karl Dönitz had assumed control of Germany. Six days later, the submarine received its last order from Admiral Dönitz. All submarines were to surface, hoist black flags, and surrender to Allied forces.

Believing that he and his crew would receive better treatment from the Americans, Captain Johann-Heinrich Fehler headed west. After learning about his decision, two Japanese passengers committed hari-kiri and were buried at sea.

The U-234’s Shocking Cargo

The surrender of the U-234 became a major news event. This was primarily due to the capture of high-level passengers including General Ulrich Kessler of the Luftwaffe, Kai Nieschling, Dr. Heinz Schlicke, and August Bringewalde. The reporters who fought to catch glimpses of the submarine had no idea that the U-234’s most valuable assets were stored in her cargo holds. So, what was this mysterious cargo?

  • Technical drawings
  • The Nazi’s newest electric torpedoes
  • One crated Me 262 (the world’s first jet-powered fighter)
  • One Henschel Hs 293 glide bomb
  • And last, but not least…five hundred and sixty kilograms of “uranium oxide.”

The exact nature of this “uranium oxide” is one of the greatest mysteries of history. A recently-discovered secret cable message stated that the “uranium oxide” was stored in gold-lined cylinders. Gold, thanks to its radioactive shielding properties, is often used for shipping highly-enriched, pure uranium. Also, one Nazi radio operator who watched these cylinders being loaded onto the U-234 noticed the two Japanese passengers labeling them as “U-235.” U-235 may refer to Uranium-235, the same material used to fuel Little Boy, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Was Nazi Uranium used to build America’s First Atomic Bomb?

Intriguingly, in December 1944, the chief metallurgist at the Los Alamos laboratory indicated that the Manhattan Project would only generate fifteen kilograms of U-235 by May 1945, far short of the 64 kilograms eventually used in the construction of Little Boy. Then, in March 1945, Senator James Byrnes sent a memo to President Roosevelt, indicating his worry that the Manhattan Project would fail. Finally, shortly after the surrender of the U-234, the output of U-235 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory abruptly doubled.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Is it possible that America lucked on a large cache of Nazi uranium, which enabled it to complete its own atomic bomb? It certainly seems possible. And if that’s the case, was the U-234 the only Nazi sub that fled Europe with enriched uranium in its holds? Or were there others…others that might’ve hidden their cargos or sank to the bottom of the ocean…others still waiting to be found?

Did the U.S. test a nuke…on its own citizens?

On July 17, 1944, the Port Chicago Pier exploded into a tremendous fireball. Hundreds died instantly, hundreds more were injured by the blast. Over sixty years later, it remains one of the deadliest disasters in U.S. history. The official explanation is that it was caused by an accidental munition detonation. However, not everyone is convinced. Some point to a far darker conclusion…that the blast was caused by an atomic bomb.

The Port Chicago Pier Explosion?

In 1944, Port Chicago Naval Magazine, now known as the Concord Naval Weapons Station, was a munitions depot in California. It was used to transport bombs, shells, torpedoes, and other explosives to units fighting against Japan. On July 13, the SS E.A. Bryan docked at Port Chicago’s lone pier. After four days of hard work, 40% of the ships’s holds were filled with 4,600 tons of explosives. Then, at 10:18 p.m., all hell broke loose.

An unusual noise described as a metallic sound and rending timbers, such as made by a falling boom, was heard coming from the direction of the pier immediately before the first flash.

A few seconds later, the SS E. A. Bryan exploded into a fireball that measured three miles in diameter. Seismographs determined that this second explosion was equivalent to a 3.4 earthquake on the Richter scale. Three hundred and twenty people died instantly.  Three hundred and ninety others suffered blast-related injuries. The majority of these deaths and injuries occurred to African-Americans. A month later, survivors led a work stoppage, which is now known as the so-called Port Chicago Mutiny.

Did an Atomic Bomb cause the Port Chicago Pier Explosion?

At the time, the explosion was determined to have similar effects to that of a small atomic bomb. But for several decades, no one questioned the official story. Thirty-four years later however, that changed.

In 1980, Peter Vogel discovered some old documents at a rummage sale. They had been stolen from the Los Alamos Laboratories by Paul Masters, a photo technician. Some of the papers discussed the predictions for Trinity, which would end up being the first recorded test of a nuclear weapon in history. These documents predicted a “ball of fire mushroom out at 18,000 (feet) in typical Port Chicago fashion.” Intrigued by the possibility that the Port Chicago disaster was caused by an atomic bomb, Vogel began to gather some of the evidence listed below.

  1. Size of Blast: The blast seemed greater than what could’ve been caused by the official story.
  2. Bright Lights: Descriptions of the explosion refer to “an enormous blinding incandescent” and a “brilliant white.”  Conventional explosives generally do not give off a white color unless mixed with magnesium (which apparently weren’t present at the Pier).
  3. A Strange Cloud: A Wilson condensation cloud appeared after the disaster, similar to an atomic bomb detonated in a vapor-filled atmosphere.
  4. Speed of the Explosion: The seismograph records indicated a rapid explosion that seemed similar in nature to that of an atomic bomb.

Why would the U.S. Government Drop an Atomic Bomb on American Soil?

But why would the U.S. government test a nuclear weapon on its own people? Vogel and others like him believed that the Port Chicago disaster was perpetrated to allow scientists to study the effects of a nuclear explosion on people. In this case, those people included primarily low-ranking, African-American military personnel.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Obviously, this is an explosive charge, so to speak.  So, was Vogel right?  Did a small atomic bomb cause the Port Chicago disaster? Supporting evidence is skimpy at best. Most damning, there are no records of radiation-based injuries amongst the survivors or clean-up crew. That being said, the size and reach of the explosion is somewhat difficult to explain.

Overall, it seems highly unlikely that an atomic bomb caused this explosion. If one hopes to prove otherwise, they will need substantial, hard evidence…far more substantial than that accumulated by Vogel. After all, if he was correct, Port Chicago wasn’t just the site of an atomic bomb test…it was also the site of mass murder.