From: Stratford, Connecticut
ORIGINAL: Colonel Mustard
Late to the game, but...What if the Japanese had not turned around and gone home after Samar?
What if Halsey hadn't taken the bait....what if he had actually formed and detached TF 34....the world wonders!
That last phrase -- the world wonders -- has a story all its own.
"The words, intended to be without meaning, were added to hinder Japanese attempts at cryptanalysis, but were mistakenly included in the decoded message given to Halsey and interpreted by him as a harsh and sarcastic rebuke ...
"When Nimitz, at CINCPAC headquarters in Hawaii, saw Kinkaid's plea for help he sent a message to Halsey, simply asking for the current location of Task Force 34, which due to a previous misunderstanding, was unclear:
"Where is, repeat, where is Task Force Thirty Four?
"With the addition of metadata including routing and classification information, as well as the padding at the head and tail, the entire plaintext message to be encoded and transmitted to Halsey was:
"TURKEY TROTS TO WATER GG FROM CINCPAC ACTION COM THIRD FLEET INFO COMINCH CTF SEVENTY-SEVEN X WHERE IS RPT WHERE IS TASK FORCE THIRTY FOUR RR THE WORLD WONDERS
"U.S. Navy procedure called for the padding to be added to the start and end of the message, which were vulnerable to cryptanalysis due to the use of common phrases and words (such as 'Yours sincerely') in those sections. The words chosen for padding should have been obviously irrelevant to the actual message, however Nimitz's enciphering clerk used a phrase that '[just] popped into my head'.
"While decrypting and transcribing the message, Halsey's radio officer properly removed the leading phrase, but the trailing phrase looked appropriate and he seems to have thought it was intended and so left it in before passing it on to Halsey, who read it as:
"Where is, repeat, where is Task Force Thirty Four? The world wonders.
"The structure tagging (the 'RR's) should have made clear that the phrase was in fact padding. In all the ships and stations that received the message, only New Jersey's communicators failed to delete both padding phrases.
"The message (and its trailing padding) became famous, and created some ill feeling, since it appeared to be a harsh criticism by Nimitz of Halsey's decision to pursue the decoy carriers and leave the landings uncovered ... Recognizing his failure, Halsey sulked in inactivity for a full hour while Taffy 3 was fighting for its life – falsely claiming to be refueling his ships – before eventually turning around with his two fastest battleships, three light cruisers and eight destroyers and heading back to Samar, too late to have any impact on the battle.
"The padding phrase may have been inspired by both a sense of history and a knowledge of poetry. The day the message was sent was the 90th anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Battle of Balaclava. A famous poem about the charge was written by Tennyson, and contains the stanza:
"Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder'd"
Stratford, Connecticut, U.S.A.
"The Angel of Okinawa"
Home of the Chance-Vought Corsair, F4U
The best fighter-bomber of World War II