Sunday, October 5, 2014

Avoiding the censors at Ulithi

There was a lot of secrecy surrounding the U.S. Navy's forward operating base at Ulithi in the Western Carolines, and for good reason. By October 1944, it will grow into the hub for U.S. Navy operations in the Western Pacific, including key combat operations at Leyte and Okinawa. It will maintain that role for 8 months until the liberated Philippines replaces it as the new forward staging area. At its peak, during the staging for the invasion of Okinawa in May 1945, Ulithi will be home to 722 American and Allied ships.

In order to avoid betraying a ship's destination at Ulithi and other advanced bases by her mail cargo, numbers were assigned by Navy and Marine Corps. Mail going to Ulithi was designated "Navy 3011." And, for added security, return mail home was heavily censored.

Frank Dolan, Ulithi 1944
My dad, Frank Dolan, assigned to the USS Hector, always tried to write his family back home about where he was stationed and what he was up to. But the heightened secrecy about Ulithi meant that letters had to be cleverly written to avoid the censor's cut. When Dad wrote to his sister, Flora, he used a prearranged code. They had agreed that he would disguise his location in the second paragraph of his letters. He buried the name "Ulithi" in the first letter of each of the first 6 syllables: “Un-less I tell her I’m OK Mom will worry about me.” The message got through, although apparently in 1944, it was nearly impossible for the family in California to find a world map that included the location of the tiny atoll.

Source: Frank L. Dolan's personal remembrances

No comments:

Post a Comment