Jane Harris, Wife of Lanson

For three years, friends and family of Jane Harris had urged her to accept the inevitable: that her husband had gone down with his ship. She tuned them all out. Hospitalized for a burst appendix, she insisted that the doctors continue to sedate her because the hospital was the first real sleep she had had for years. Then, she insisted they keep her sedated, for three more weeks.

A U.S. newspaper had printed an article “describing how two unnamed USS Houston men had escaped from a Thai prison camp.” Then she received “a Navy Department telegram saying that her husband was safe in American hands.”

She told an interviewer, “I put two and two together with the telegram I got, and I said, well one of those has got to be Lans.”

Sentence of the Day: Christmas Eve, 2021

Gus Forman, imprisoned in Changi, Singapore, where he had served in isolation for three months of what he was told was a six-year sentence (for plotting to escape), suddenly saw the door to his cell open. Sunlight flooded in, blinding him. He was ushered out and reunited with two other survivors of the USS Houston: Capt. Ike Parker and Major Windy Rogers.

They cringed at each other’s stench.

Ship of Ghosts, p. 405

July 25, 1945

In July 1945, two USS Houston survivors, James Huffman and Lanson Harris, managed to escape from their prison camp. Aided by Thai villagers, they were led to a secret camp, hidden deep in the Thai jungle, run by a Major Eben Bartlett. Bartlett, it turned out, was part of OSS, a covert US operation that had established camps all over Southeast Asia. He was amazed when Huffman and Harris told him they were survivors of the USS Houston, and that approximately 300 survivors had been taken prisoner. They also had the names of all the men they knew who had died in captivity, about sixty-odd names.

On July 25, 1945, the world heard for the first time about the fate of the survivors from the sinking, over three years before. By then, Harold Rooks, the eldest son of the USS Houston’s captain, who had been a junior at Harvard when his father’s ship was sunk, had enlisted and was headed for the Pacific War as the plotting officer for the USS San Jacinto.

On July 29, Bartlett used a portable transmitter to begin transmitting the roster of names to his U.S. superiors. The roster of “lost names” filled his “outgoing Morse bandwidth for nearly a week. It was not until August 5 that Major Bartlett’s radioman hand-keyed the last of the dots and dashes representing the 301 names on the list. Two days later, he started sending a shorter list: the name of sixty three of the sixty-seven Houston men who had met their end as prisoners of war.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Flower of the Day (FOTD): Kangaroo Paw

It’s been at least a week since self was able to post a Flower of the Day (FOTD), so she was happy to find this Kangaroo Paw growing in front of the Mendocino Chocolate Company, on Main Street. It is common in gardens here in Mendocino:

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