For your enjoyment, a recent video interview of Stephen Harding about his latest release, Dawn of Infamy!
I recently learned via a Facebook post that scavengers in the areas of the Java Sea between Indonesia and Sumatra have been illegally scavenging metals and other parts of World War 2 ships sunk during the Battle of the Java Sea on February 27th, 1942. These ships were all allied ships from the Dutch Navy, Australia, America and Great Britain. All had been declared war graves, thus illegal to desecrate or disturb. The Dutch ships had been discovered in 2002. A 75th anniversary memorial had been planned to lay plaques on the ships in 2017. When explorers returned to the wreck sites recently, the wrecks had all but disappeared.
As I’ve been told more than once it’s very important to keep wreck sites such as this secret when discovered. We see what has happened with the wreck of the Titanic, also a grave site. Over the years items have been recovered from the site and put on display in museums around the world. While the argument for using these items as educational tools and to encourage the memory of the event is compelling, it’s still more than a little disturbing when you learn many of these artifacts have been sold and profited from. Much like stealing from the families and loved ones of the men lost in this battle, it’s stealing and selling the memories and tarnishing the sacrifices made.
For more information I’m posting links to a few of the articles I’ve found on line. I doubt there is any way to know the pervasiveness of this practice. It’s difficult and expensive to monitor all the known wreck sites. Those yet to be discovered by reputable explorers and archaeologists could be in danger of disappearing before their history can be documented. Ships such as these in the Java Sea in shallower water are more prone because they are easier to locate. At least now the world is aware, and perhaps something can be done to keep it from happening to other wrecked ships and grave sites.
From the links below, there are others to follow to learn about the battle itself, and the subsequent engagements on February 28th and March 1st. This is another one of those stories that the world needs to know about. Too bad it had to happen with desecration of war graves.
Stories about the illegal salvage:
Battle of the Java Sea: https://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/alliesinadversity/japanese/java/
Later this month on the 22nd of November Da Capo Press will release the latest of Stephen Harding’s books, Dawn of Infamy. It’s no coincidence that its release is just prior to the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. The book covers an American cargo steamer, the Cynthia Olson. The ship was loaded with lumber on its way from Tacoma to Honolulu early on December 7th, 1941 when Japanese submarine I-26 took aim and fired on the ship approximately 300 miles west of the California coast. The timing of the attack was meant to coincide with the attack on Pearl Harbor. It’s reasoned that the Cynthia Olson was the first casualty of the Japanese attack on America. Steve does a wonderful job again of laying out the history of the ship, telling the story of her men and their fate.
Steve will be attending the 75th anniversary events on the USS ARIZONA on December 7th, and has a planned appearance on December 8th at the Barnes and Noble in Honolulu. Below you will see the text from his Facebook ad, and other dates and times for appearances in the D.C. area.
Congratulations Steve on another well done book! Can’t wait to see what comes next.
From the Stephen Harding Books Facebook page:
Stephen Harding's latest book, "Dawn of Infamy: A Sunken Ship, a Vanished Crew and the Final Mystery of Pearl Harbor," will be published by Da Capo Press on November 22. Called a "genuine treasure" by Booklist, the volume will also be the subject of author talks/signings in the following locations:
• Nov. 25, 1-3 pm: National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.
• Nov. 30, 7 pm: One More Page Books, Arlington, VA.
• Dec. 8, 7 pm: Barnes & Noble Books, Honolulu, Hawaii
• Dec. 17, 1-3 pm: National Air & Space Museum,
Welcome to the blog! I'm a life long Kentuckian with a degree in Anthropology, thus a nice background in research, thanks to some great profs at the University of Kentucky. Family and historical research are what float my boat, and this project has been the heart of it for a very long time now. I welcome input and ideas for blog entries, so if you have something to contribute I'll happily post it.