By lex, on February 15th, 2011
I first touched on Australian shore in the fall of 1987, on the way home from my first deployment. My commanding officer at the time pulled the nuggets aside and informed us that we were about to experience something that would be almost unique to our term of service: Foreign gratitude.
Unlike the French, he said with a dismissive snarl, or almost any other place that American servicemen have shed blood to protect, the Australians still remember that in 1942, all that stood between them and the warm embrace of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was the US Navy. People will invite you into their homes, feed you from their tables and treat you with respect for the things your forefathers did. You’d better treat them with respect as well.
I found his predictions to be true, though whether the elder generation really remembered World War II that way, or whether it was due to the characteristically generous spirit of the Australian people is beyond the scope of this post. But I will say this, because I’ve said it before: Happy as I am to be an American, if I got kicked out I know right where I would go.
Or which continent-sized island, anyway. Between Perth and Hobart there are some coins to toss, and I’ve never even been to Sydney, although my number one son informs me that it’s quite possible to fall in love there, if you’re not careful. Which I’ve already got one of those, so never mind.
Anyway, that’s rather a long lead in to this request that came sailing in over the email transom:
On 3 March 1942 9 Zeros and a reconnaissance plane made the very long transit from Timor and attacked Broome in Western Australia destroying 22 aircraft including 15 flying boats moored in the harbour and killing 88 personnel. The wiki story is here. Not mentioned in this account is that LT John Lamade, USN and his aircrewman RM2C Tubbs in the USS Houston’s Curtiss SOC Seagull were also at Broome during the attack. They had been disembarked from USS Houston on 16 February. USS Houston with HMAS Perth were subsequently sunk by the Japanese navy on 28 February in the battle of Sunda Strait with the loss of most of their crews. Houston’s story is here and here. The Houston’s crew list at this site has the fate of both Lamade and Tubbs as “unknown.”
The point of this story is that Lamade and Tubb’s aircraft was the only aircraft to make it out of Broome on that day. Given the odds, I reckon that was a good job. The next mention of Jack Lamade is here when he is commander of CAG-7 on USS Hancock at Leyte (I am presuming this is the same Lamade). The citation for his Navy Cross is here. So Jack went on to achieve great distinction.
I believe that Jack may have been CO of NAS North Island during the 50’s but I cannot verify that data.
Why bother you with this? Well, because I have always wondered what happened to Jack Lamade? How did he get back to the US? How did he achieve his subsequent advancement? What happened to him and Tubbs. The “unknown” in the record of USS Houston doesn’t do them justice. I would like to complete his record because on several counts it seems to be a heroic one.
I am a (mainly small ship) naval aviator myself, now retired. So I feel some affiliation with Jack. He is a connection with “The Galloping Ghost”- Houston, a ship which is held in sacred memory with our own lost ships and naval heroes here in Oz. But most of his story is missing. I have written to the Hancock Assn and all Lamades in your west coast phone books. No joy. So I humbly come to you (as a last resort) because you are the acknowledged primary unofficial commentator of USN aviation and someone who seems to appreciate the importance of history. Can you direct me to someone who can help me fill in the gaps? It would be nice to sort this out in your centennial year.
Even if you are unable to help I will have achieved something by bringing to your esteemed attention Lamade and Tubbs in the context of the other heroes of Houston/Perth, Broome, Hancock and CAG-7. Lest we forget.
Well, I don’t know much about primary unofficial commentator status, but I do know this: I’ve got one of the smartest and best-connected audiences in the blogosphere, and if someone can’t point us in the right direction I’d be fairly surprised.