Shortly after release of The Search for the Japanese Fleet, I received a wonderful letter from Larry Brockman, nephew of William Brockman, captain of Nautilus. He began with:
“I want to thank you on behalf of the entire Brockman family for the wonderful tribute to my uncle. I have often hoped that something would be written about Uncle Bill’s Nautilus Days, and your book is the fulfillment of that hope and so much more.”
The letter went on to tell more about his uncle and memories of his service. Included was this passage about the controversy surrounding which ship Nautilus attacked:
“In 1976, I … drove up to Boca Raton to see Uncle Bill. We had a nice long chat. It seems that he was all steamed over a book writer who had interviewed him about the Midway encounter. He described in great detail how they argued about which carrier he had attacked, and whether or not the torpedoes had sunk the carrier. After raving about the encounter with the writer, Uncle Bill told me that he really didn’t care what the guy said or did because he was certain that he was right. I asked him how he could be so sure. He got up, went to a closet, and pulled out the life preserver. I took a photo of him with the preserver, which I have attached to this note. Then he said to me, ‘When it was safe, I surfaced and fished this out of the water. And there were hundreds more just like it all around me’.”
In my book, I report that the ship that Nauticos found, based on the position of the Nautilus attack, was clearly identified to be Kaga. Brockman was equally certain he attacked Sōryū . How do we resolve this contradiction? See next week’s blog post for a possible explanation.
William Brockman departed on eternal patrol from Boca Raton, Florida, January 2, 1979, at the age of seventy-four.