So Where Was He Really?
In general, I’m going to use smaller images of the relevant documents that I have extracted from the PDFs, but you can click to enlarge them.
The first document we’re going to look at can be found in – 02 Service documents January 1943 – December 1944 on p. 97, where L. Ron Hubbard puts in a request to go to Navy School at Princeton on 9 September 1944. He is offering reasons that he should be considered and there are a couple of interesting items to note –
(C) Experienced by employment or association with our governments in Guam, M.I. (Dept. of Education, Dept. of Public Works), the Philippines (Dept. of Education) and Puerto Rico (Bureau of Mines).
(d) lists Spanish.
Page 98 shows an Axton T. Jones – that’s the Commander of the USS Algol – endorsing Hubbard’s request the same day.
Page 99 shows that on 15 September, 1944 he was selected by a special selection Board of officers for assignment to subject instruction at the Princeton Naval School of Military Government.
Captain Frederick G. Richards was just arriving to Princeton to take command of the Naval School there –
Page 102 are orders for him to report to Princeton – dated 18 September, 1944 but specifically telling him he has a delreport (delayed report) of November 1, 1944.
That is another indicator he’s about to be doing something else, because as you are about to see, he leaves the USS Algol over a month before that “report date”.
Hubbard starts taking a number of actions at this point in time though.
Page 107 shows that on 28 September, 1944 he requested to change his classification (lower I believe) from Deck-Volunteer (Special) to Deck-Volunteer (General). It was approved, but the notification of it was not done until 29 December, 1944 (see page 112, note the rank code “4”)
Why would he do this?
Hold that thought…
Page 103 shows Hubbard filling out a next of kin form on 28 September, 1944. It is very important that you note that Hubbard does that every time he changes assignments in some way, as his records that Margaret Lake obtained show him doing on numerous occasions.
This is commensurate with his being detached from the USS Algol and going to his new assignment at the Princeton Navy School – perfectly normal.
Page 105 clearly documents that Hubbard filled out a new next of kin form again on November 3, 1944.
HE ONLY DOES THAT WHEN HE IS GOING ON A NEW ASSIGNMENT.
It is signed by and notarized on page 106 by Lt. Kenneth B. Platt USNR (U.S. Naval Reserve – wartime intelligence organization).
Perhaps this is part of why he changed his classification – wanting to appear to be or on the record as “less important”?
Page 108 shows us that not only was he definitely officially detached from the USS Algol on 28 September but yet he didn’t report to Princeton until over a month later on 31 October!
Everybody look at the dates here.
That is a huge gap in time.
Military officers on active duty in the middle of a dang WAR didn’t just get to disappear for no reason, not even for a few days, let alone over a month. They would have been court-martialed and all sorts of nasty stuff.
Hubbard clearly went somewhere. Somewhere he had permission to go. Somewhere so important and secret, it isn’t even recorded in his official record as to what the hell he was actually doing.
That’s only the first huge gap though.
Page 109 shows us that he shows up FOR ONE DAY at Princeton (31 October).
And then gets signed out by the head of the Naval School, Frederick G. Richards, in a Report of Authorized Delay for another 23 days from 3 November to 25 November!
Another 3 weeks off doing something else.
Something so secret, there still isn’t any record of it showing.
What is now clearly proven by these documents though, is that he was NOT there at Princeton “studying” during the time period of “28 September to 27 January” like all his summary records portray it. An example can be found in 06 efficiency Records October 1941 – April 1945 on page 31.
Before anyone tries to say “Oh, he must have been moving his family” or some such thing?
Let me point you to page 32 of 03 service documents January 1945 – December 1986 which shows he moved his family well ahead of this – which shows a plan – from Portland Oregon to New York between 13 and 18 August, 1944 and submitted a recompensation request for having driven 3110 miles.
He didn’t need over a month from when he was detached and when he showed up to Princeton (for one day) plus another three weeks after that, for anything as mundane as “moving”. So, you can just forget that idea as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t wash.
Now here’s something on page 30 of 08 Medical Record September 1941 – September 1949 that shows he did finally show up to do his schooling there on 23 November, 1944 when he got his annual physical there at Princeton.
Which, again, proves he wasn’t there before then, and it nicely lines up with this “delayed report” that we looked at already. By the way, the exam notes that he has no disqualifying physical defects and is fit for duty.
Hubbard at Princeton (second from left)
Skipping ahead a bit to a document dated February 10, 1945 found on page 31 of 06 efficiency Records October 1941 – April 1945 we see the commander of the School, Capt. Richards, writing an absolutely glowing recommendation of Hubbard.
“This officer has completed the course in Military Government at Princeton University standing about midway in the class of three hundred. He is forceful, resourceful, alert and well poised. He has a very good personal and above average military character. He is well fitted for promotion and is so recommended.
Richards gives him especially high marks in moral courage and loyalty, which is interesting.
Now, if he was supposedly finished studying on January 27, 1945 and yet he only showed up to do that study around November 24 or so, please keep in mind that this was a 90 day or three month course at Princeton. Hubbard only was there barely 60 days, so how come he finished at all?
Not to mention, there’s another little gap here, of two weeks between the time he supposedly finished the course and when Richards writes his recommendation on February 10 – and Hubbard’s Fitness Report dated 9 April, 1945 shows that he had been assigned on 14 February, 1945 to the “Civil Affairs Staging Area – under instruction awaiting assignment.”
Note: Hubbard had requested to be assigned to Navigator Auxiliaries/Hydrographic Office at the Pacific West Coast, and there is a comment saying:
This officer was specially trained for military government at Naval Training School (Military Government) Princeton University […] and at Naval Civil Affairs Staging Area.
Now, what do we have all the “experts” saying he was doing? Let’s have a look.
It doesn’t look like he was secretly on the Algol or something because the dates don’t really line up.
21 July 1944, Lt. Comdr. Axton T. Jones U.S.N.R. in full command.
She departed Oakland, Ca. on 4 October bound for the Western Pacific.Steaming via Eniwetok Atoll., she arrived at Saipan in the Marianas late in Oct . After loading her cargo in Saipan, Algol got underway for New Guinea on 31 October. The attack cargo ship put Into Hollandia on 6 November and remained there two days before pushing on to Noumea, New Caledonia, where she stopped between 24 November and 17 Dec. [as part of Operation Downfall]
Lawrence Wright in Going Clear doesn’t even notice these discrepancies in Hubbard’s records, just plows on with the party line and has Hubbard “arriving” at Princeton in September and joining Heinlein’s think tank.
A book called Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 by William H. Patterson, Jr. has as its Reference #56 on page 563:
Russell Miller’s Bare-Faced Messiah says that Hubbard joined the Kamikaze think tank on October 4, 1944.
First of all, that author was collapsing the departure of the Algol as being when Hubbard joined the think tank. What Russell Miller wrote in Bare-Faced Messiah was:
On 4 October, the USS Algol sailed for Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands, from where she would take part in the invasion of Luzon in the Philippines and the landings on Okinawa, earning two battle stars.
Her erstwhile Navigating Officer, meanwhile, was on a four-month course in ‘Military Government‘ at the Naval Training School, Princeton, prompting him to claim ever after that he finished his education at the venerable Ivy League university of the same name.
While he was at Princeton, Ron was invited to join a group of science-fiction writers who met every weekend at Robert Heinlein’s apartment in Philadelphia to discuss possible ways of countering the Kamikaze menace in the Pacific. They were semi-official, brainstorming sessions that Heinlein had been asked to organize by the Navy, in the faint hope of coming up with a defence against young Japanese pilots on suicide missions. ‘I had been ordered to round up science fiction writers for this crash project,’ Heinlein recalled, ‘the wildest brains I could find.’
He references Foreword to Godbody by Theodore Sturgeon, 1986
Hubbard was not taking his course at Princeton on October 4, nor was he joining Heinlein’s think tank then. He was GONE.
Now here’s something that is actually on point. Author Stephen Dedman in May the Armed Forces Be with You writes:
On Saturday 2 December, Jack Williamson, then a Sergeant in the US Army, hosted a dinner in Philadelphia for fellow science-fiction writers and their wives. He was to be sent overseas in a couple of days and this was his farewell party. Among those present were the Heinleins, the de Camps, the Asimovs and L. Ron Hubbard. ‘The star of the evening’, Isaac Asimov recalled, ‘was Ron Hubbard. Heinlein, de Camp and I were each prima donna-ish and each liked to hog the conversation – ordinarily. On this occasion, however, we all sat as quietly as pussycats and listened to Hubbard. He told tales with perfect aplomb and in complete paragraphs.' Asimov, op. cit.
The date fits. Hubbard was just arrived back from where-ever he was on 23 November, 1944 and had a physical at Princeton.
The host was less impressed. ‘Hubbard was just back from the Aleutians then,’ said Williamson, ‘hinting of desperate action aboard a Navy destroyer, adventures he couldn’t say much about because of military security.
‘I recall his eyes, the wary, light-blue eyes that I somehow associate with the gunmen of the old West, watching me sharply as he talked as if to see how much I believed. Not much.' Williamson, op. cit.
Hubbard wasn’t back from the Aleutians, there wasn’t really anything going on there in either October or November 1944 (Hubbard’s two missing chunks of time) as far as I could find in researching it.
Note: November 4, 2017 correction/update. I did find some evidence to suggest that Hubbard may have been telling the truth about that. Please see my new post L. Ron Hubbard Robert Heinlein and the Kamikaze Group Think Tank – Not so Nothing After All.
But, the checking of whether Williamson believed him makes perfect sense. Hubbard was floating an explanation for where he had been. But seriously, he would know better than to reveal any actual secret mission details to someone at a dang dinner party. In war time, that is treason. He could have been shot for that. But, it is also true that just saying he was back from the Aleutians isn’t really giving anything away either.
And besides, Heinlein said:
I never worried about security because there was always one member of naval intelligence invariably present.  Robert A. Heinlein “Agape and Eros: The Art of Theodore Sturgeon” Foreword to Godbody by Stugeon p. 9
Of course, that included Hubbard, so that’s sort of humorous.
In 1944, Heinlein recruited Hubbard, Sturgeon and others for a project: “Op-Nav-23, a brainstorming job on antikamikaze measures.”  The Bradbury Chronicles by Sam Weller, p. 12
I had been ordered to round up science fiction writers for this crash project-the wildest brains I could find, so Ted was a welcome recruit. Some of the others were George O. Smith, John W. Campbell Jr., Murray Leinster, L. Ron Hubbard, Sprague de Camp, and Fletcher Pratt…
But do note it does not say WHEN.
Most authors seem to want to spend more time on researching Hubbard’s bedroom shenanigans, than actually doing anything resembling real research of his actual WWII activities. Like Tony Ortega, who cackles away at Hubbard’s “threesome” and sexual affairs on more than one occasion, and this no-name author who usually wastes no opportunity to try and portray Hubbard in much the same way (a joke, a con man etc.) but on occasion has an interesting tidbit.
Like this one – (to keep the context correct, you will need to ignore the usual amount of hyperbole this author employs)
In 1944 Heinlein and Hubbard (now an officer in the US navy), met in Philadelphia during a unsuccessful brainstorming session that Heinlein had organised with fellow science-fiction writers. The aim was to originate new ideas to combat the Kamikaze threat that inflicting such terrible casualties on the US Navy.
While other attendees were very suspicious of the wild stories Hubbard told about himself (which included descriptions of the many and varied war wounds that he had not, in fact received) Heinlein took Hubbard seriously. Perhaps he projected on to Hubbard the fighting role that he so earnestly desired for himself.
Soon after this meeting, Heinlein was assigned a ‘crash priority’ project to develop ‘radomes’ – non-metallic enclosures that would serve not only to protect radar installations in aircraft, but also make them more aerodynamic. This was an extremely sensitive mission, at a time when RADAR was a top-secret force multiplier of the utmost importance.
My guess is Heinlein had a similar clearance level to Hubbard, and probably knew Hubbard was actually truly on secret missions on more than one occasion.
However, there may be more to say about that, especially considering Heinlein’s connection to another Institute that happened to be at Princeton – the Institute for Advanced Study.
Where they invented the first computer – and also worked on the nuclear bomb!
In 1930, Veblen helped to organize the Institute for Advanced Study [IAS] in Princeton in part as an escape destination for European mathematicians and physicists. Veblen resigned his Princeton professorship in 1932 to become one of the two original faculty (with Einstein) at the IAS where he stayed until he was made emeritus in 1950.
Von Neumann joined the IAS in 1933. He was the youngest of the original six Professors of Mathematics in the IAS, a position he retained for the remainder of his life.
A luxurious new building, Fine Hall (now Jones Hall) housed both the Mathematics faculty as well as the IAS and closely linked them all with mathematical physicists in the attached Palmer physics laboratory. This prestigious academic community from about 1933-1939 was unlike any other in America before or since that time and made Princeton, by consensus of mathematicians, the Göttingen of the 20th century.
The IAS was funded in 1930 by Louis Bamberger, the founder of Bamberger’s department stores.
So the big question is – where was Hubbard during the missing two months when he was NOT a Princeton?
Maybe his rather tedious story Ai Pedrito about a “look alike” Hubbard who was a Nazi down in South America takes on a whole different meaning? …or maybe not.
In any case, this missing two months when he wasn’t at Princeton forms the the second documented example of that Hubbard’s war records have been altered. The first was that I proved Hubbard took a secret intelligence course outside of the U.S. in 1941 ( War History – L. Ron Hubbard on Secret Intelligence Course Outside the U.S. in 1941 )
So Where Was He Really?
Since he wasn’t at Princeton until late November…
I guess we’ll have to see what we can find, eh?