Archive for December, 2008

Typhoon LouiseAs veteran Jim Joyce of Quincy Massachusetts tells his grandchildren, the enemy in World War II wasn’t always the Germans and Japanese. The weather played a key role in the planning, success, and failure of military operations. According to the Department of the Navy, Typhoon Louise, which hit Okinawa without warning on October 9th, 1945, could have doomed the Allies planned invasion of the Japanese mainland:

“Winds of 80 knots (92 miles per hour) and 30-35 foot waves battered the ships and craft in the bay and tore into the quonset huts and buildings ashore. A total of 12 ships and craft were sunk, 222 grounded, and 32 severely damaged. [for listing of vessels] Personnel casualties were 36 killed, 47 missing, and 100 seriously injured. Almost all the food, medical supplies and other stores were destroyed, over 80% of all housing and buildings knocked down, and all the military installations on the island were temporarily out of action. Over 60 planes were damaged as well, though most were repairable. Although new supplies had been brought to the island by this time, and emergency mess halls and sleeping quarters built for all hands, the scale of the damage was still very large. If the war had not ended on 2 September, this damage, especially the grounding and damage to 107 amphibious craft (including the wrecking of four tank landing ships, two medium landing ships, a gunboat, and two infantry landing craft) would likely have seriously impacted the planned invasion of Japan (Operation Olympic).” —Naval Historical Center

Granddaughter of WWII Seabee Jim Joyce18 year old Jim Joyce, who was a SeaBee in the US Navy had never seen or even imagined a storm like Typhoon Louise. “It was a terrifying night,” he recalls. “The storm lasted 12 hours. The winds were so strong they lifted the Quonset huts off their moorings. We were on land at the time. We didn’t realize until the next morning that all the small craft had run aground.”

It’s not just libraries and history buffs who are interested in World War II. Jim Joyce received this card from his granddaughter after she interviewed him for a Veteran’s Day school project. If only Meghan could have seen the smile on Jim’s face when he showed us her thank you note:

For more about weather and war, check out this article in Military Officer; and for more information on how weather forecasts are treated as military intelligence, don’t miss the fascinating history of the Weather Bureau Record of War Administration.


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