Your article on the sinking of Wilhelm Gustloff (MHM February/March 2022) raises an interesting point regarding the perception of submarine warfare.
Passenger liners were sunk during both World Wars by submarines. When the submarine involved was German, they were condemned for using underhand methods. For example, the sinking of the SS Athenia by U-30 in 1939. This was considered a war crime and, indeed, responsibility for the act was not admitted by the German government until 1946.
However, the author of your article states that the submarine captain involved in the sinking of Wilhelm Gustloff was not made a hero of the Soviet Union, as though this would have been the correct course of action. Although the ship was carrying military personnel, there were civilians on board too, as mentioned in the article. I imagine that not all of them would have been supporters of the Nazi regime and were just trying to escape Soviet retribution.
Furthermore, at this late stage of the war, I can’t imagine much was achieved by sinking this vessel. Therefore, I think it right and proper that the Soviet captain was not rewarded. A similar act committed by a U-boat would have been severely criticised.
Your article was interesting and highlighted an episode that is rarely mentioned. Your readers may be interested to know about a German film made concerning Wilhelm Gustloff. It was released under the title Crimson Ocean and is worth watching. Thank you for an excellent magazine, as always.
I just want to thank you for putting out such a great magazine. I enjoy every issue. I am a Vietnam-era veteran, and I am proud that I have so many veterans in my family.
Paul Dale Roberts
Elk Grove, California
I very much enjoy your magazine. In your December 2021/January 2022 edition, I especially enjoyed David Porter’s article on Japan and the attack on Pearl Harbor. As a retired US naval officer, I have read about it several times over the years. But the article brought out some new information for me, such as with regards to the Russian impact on American policy.
In two places, Porter talks of the Japanese attack on Naval Air Station (NAS) Barbers Point. That is not technically true. What they attacked in that area was Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Ewa Beach. Barbers Point would not be commissioned until April the following year. When I started flying out of Barbers in 1965, the take off towards Pearl would allow a view of some of the old Ewa runways in the brush.
In MHM December 2021/January 2022, there is an informative article by David Porter about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. However, there is a correction warranted about the number of US pilots who were able to intercept the Japanese planes.
Porter claims that eight American planes were able to take on the enemy but all were shot down. That claim would be news to the families of Kenneth Taylor and George Welch (pictured above), both of whom were able to shoot down Japanese aircraft. Taylor was credited with two hits and Welch with four. And both men survived the war.
The 25th Infantry Division’s Tropic Lightning Museum claims that 14 pilots went aloft and shot down ten Japanese aircraft. The actual numbers of pilots making it into the sky and planes shot down seems to be a moving target, no pun intended.