Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rear Admiral Showers on SpyCast

The International Spy Museum just published a new podcast interview with Rear Admiral 'Mac' Showers. He served 31 years in the US Navy and 12 years in the CIA. During the Second World War he served as CINCPAC intelligence analyst on deciphered Japanese messages, encrypted with JN-25, the main Japanese naval code. Showers worked for Admiral Nimitz in a team of codebreakers, linguists and analysts. Nimitz asked them: "tell me today what the Japanese are doing tomorrow". They did, and made important contributions to the American victory in the Pacific.

Showers explains in the interview the first important achievement of the codebreakers, with the Japanese attack on Port Moresby in March 1942. Deciphered messages enabled the US Navy to counter the offensive in what is known as the Battle of the Coral Sea. However, the most important contribution of the codebreakers to the war in the Pacific is without a doubt the deciphering of the plans for the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. The Japanese fleet was heading towards the Midway Atoll with a total of 126 ships, including 4 aircraft carriers. Intelligence from the codebreakers provided the US Navy an important tactical advantage and although completely outnumbered (they only had 3 aircraft carriers and 32 ships) they decisively defeated the Japanese Imperial Navy in a surprise attack.

Admiral Showers also talks about how a single deciphered message lead to the downing of Admiral Yamamoto's airplane. Yamamoto, chief in command of the combined Japanese fleet, made an inspection tour in the South Pacific. The message revealed all flight details about when and where Yamamoto would be, including arrival and departure times and locations. Yamamoto was killed on 18 April 1943 when his G4M bomber, escorted by seven Zeros, was shot down by Airforce P-38's near Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.

This is a unique 30 minutes interview with one of the few surviving veterans of the intelligence battle in the Second World War. You can listen to it on Spycast but it might be more practical to download the 26 Mb file from the Spycast feed. Just right-click the April 14, 2009 mp3 file and select "Save Target As...". More about Donald 'Mac' Showers on Navy TV and on NSA's Hall of Honor.

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