In Part 1 of this series, we were able to demonstrate that any claim of L. Ron Hubbard’s having been a spy in Java were demonstrably false. Like much of the myths around Hubbard’s life, his Java claims were really unnecessary in the grand scheme of things; it’s as though his many legitimate accomplishments were never enough, and when it came to anything remotely connected to the military or intelligence matters, gold plating his exploits was a must. The record shows that he volunteered to serve his country in a time of war, was deployed to combat theatre, and once there, could have made a contribution. Yet this reality wasn’t enough for Hubbard, and he would go on to exaggerate and lie about his Pacific service for many more years. In Part 2 of this series, I’ll be looking at his time in Australia as reflected in the record and then compare the record, historical context and other data points to Hubbard’s recollections.
As with Part 1, in addition to my own research, I will be also drawing on the work of Chris Owen, Jon Atack, and Jeffrey Augustine, as well as records drawn from the Scientology Myths website and other sources.
An Erratum: I inadvertently stated in Part 1 of this series that the USS Polk was part of the Pensacola convoy; she was not. She sailed on December 19th, 1941 from San Francisco, 20 days after the Pensacola convoy’s departure on November 29th from Pearl Harbor. The Polk’s original destination was Hawaii and not the Philippines as was the case with the Pensacola convoy. However, both convoys were rerouted to Brisbane as a result of Japanese action in the Java sea.
Hubbard Takes Brisbane
A synopsis of Hubbard’s duty stations from Dec. 1941 to Feb. 1942 shows that he spent a total of a little less than 3 months on duty in the Southwest Pacific. Outside of one month in Australia, the remainder of his time “in theater” was spent in transit. Upon his arrival in Brisbane on January 11, 1942, from what the record shows, he appears to have been shuttled among several Army and Navy commands, with little, if any assigned responsibilities or specific billet, until he’s sent home rather ignominiously on or around February 14, 1942. In all fairness to Hubbard, the command indecision as to assigning him an appropriate role or duty station was not unique, given the somewhat ad hoc nature of US force structure and command and control in Brisbane in January of 1942.
Australia had been at war since September 3, 1939, a result of the British Empire and Dominions having declared war on Germany as a result of her invasion of Poland. Australian and other Commonwealth troops had been fighting and dying in the Middle East and in Europe for over two years before the Americans arrived in December of 1941. With the majority of her army deployed abroad, Australia was dependent on lightly manned and often inadequate static coastal defenses, a weakened air force, and a navy that, as part of an American, British and Dutch fleet, (ABDA), was desperately trying to stem the Japanese onslaught to her west, primarily throughout the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). The Pensacola convoy was the vanguard of the American build-up in Australia in late 1941, a build-up that would reach over 850,000 troops by war’s end. In addition to delivering vital infantry and aviation reinforcements that would eventually go onto Java, the convoy also delivered the initial command components that would shortly become Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area (HQSWPA), on March 30th, 1942, and led by Supreme Allied Commander SWPA General Douglas MacArthur. Thus Brisbane became the US Army’s first home in Australia on December 23, 1941, with its first physical headquarters being Lennon’s Hotel.
Part of this initial headquarters group included a key player in Hubbard’s Brisbane adventures, Colonel Alexander L.P. Johnson, US Army Engineer Corps, who was tasked as the command’s S-4 (staff supply officer). As part of a region-wide command realignment in preparation for the creation of HQ-SWPA, on the 1st of January, 1942, then ABDACOM (American, British, Dutch, Australian Command), and now, deputy commander of US forces in Australia, Lt. Gen. George H. Brett, transferred the Headquarters, United States Forces in Australia (USFIA) from Brisbane to Melbourne. In late February of ‘42, ABDACOM was dissolved, and Brett then become Commander, US Forces in Australia. He was given the key mandate of streamlining the distribution of men and material throughout Australia, as men and material were languishing on Australian docks from both labor and logistical issues; essential to this streamlining was the creation of 7 “Base Sections”across Australia that would serve as logistics hubs.
On 5 January, Brisbane was designated Base Section No. 3 (BS-3) for the purposes of the US Army. Johnson was the first base commander. Base Sections fulfilled the administrative and support functions for both units stationed in their respective region, and in concert with other Base Sections, pooled resources to support units throughout a given theater of operations. A complete listing of BS-3’s functions can be found here. You’ll note in 1943 their intelligence requirements were being met by two officers, given that as BS-3’s role was primarily that of support, the need for intelligence was more one of classification and storage of sensitive materials, such as maps, radio gear and the like, rather than intelligence gathering per se. More’s the point that nowhere in the directory of services is there any listing for anything remotely naval, let alone a naval intelligence officer, coordinator, liaison, or anything similar.
Hubbard “Joins” the Army
As previously noted, Hubbard, the USS Polk and her sister ships all arrive in Brisbane on January 11 of 1942. Built by their Australian hosts, Camp Ascot, located at Brisbane’s Eagle Farm racecourse, was the first permanent US Army camp in Australia for troops delivered by the Pensecola and subsequent convoys. Doomben racecourse would also quickly be appropriated as the influx of Americans swamped available billeting areas, as were other areas in and around the northern cities of Rockhampton and Townsville. Here’s a picture of some of Camp Ascot’s billeting, as seen from the racecourse stands:
All of this billeting fell under the rubric of BS-3, as did all the associated supply, logistics, and personnel responsibilities. So how does Hubbard come to serve under an Army Colonel, an engineer and supply officer at that?
Hubbard’s time in Australia is marked by the usual half-truths, misrepresentations, buffoonery and gold-plating of his time in service, as well as some unexplainable circumstances. For instance, his record lacks any proof of being assigned to a specific command or billet once he reports ashore in Brisbane; there are scattered endorsements as to his presence in Brisbane, such as proof of his arrival and subsequent transfer of organizational responsibility from the Twelfth Naval District (San Francisco) to the Sixteenth (Philippines-Asiatic Fleet). There’s also a rather lengthy correspondence regarding his stiffing a Brisbane tailor for uniform costs, as well as various memorandums and orders facilitating his eventual banishment stateside. As we’ll soon see, the only actual documentation reflecting Hubbard having done anything, involves his lengthy rebuttal regarding charges he was negligent in handling classified ship movement information and the movement itself, as well as his somewhat fanciful report to the officer of the deck on the USS New Orleans as to the presence of alleged axis spies in Brisbane. Lastly, above and beyond what the record shows, we have his claims from a 1963 interview, of having assumed some form of theatre command upon his arrival, supposedly due to a lack of established in-county authority; his leadership of an Australian AA (anti-aircraft) gun unit, as well as the mystery of his actual responsibilites under the auspices of Col. Johnson.
What the Record Shows
Let’s first look at what we can verify. There’s no formal set of orders showing Hubbard being detached from his parent Naval command in Melbourne, nor for that matter, from Cdr. L.D. Causey, the Naval Attache who was his direct supervisor, that then reassigns him to the Army’s BS-3 Command under Col. Johnson. Causey (“The Causey memo”) in fact excoriates Hubbard for:
“assuming unauthorized authority and attempting to perform duties for which he has no qualifications he became the source of much trouble. This, however, was made possible by the representative of the U.S. Army at Brisbane.”
Given what we know of the BS-3 organizational structure, Hubbard more than likely blabbed his way into a job, rather than Col. Johnson offering him a specific billet. This is in keeping with Hubbard’s sense of self-aggrandizement, as well as the relatively chaotic days of early 1942. Hubbard’s fitness reports demonstrate that he was competent under close supervision, and it may be that Johnson used him as an informal liaison between Naval supply units in Melbourne and Army ships that were beginning to regularly call in Brisbane. The Scientology Myths website claims that there is official proof that Johnson wrote a positive evaluation for Hubbard upon his detachment from BS-3, stating that he was “an intelligent, resourceful and dependable officer.” It should be noted however, that a positive fitness evaluation was almost a given in this timeframe, especially when it came to inter-service postings. The pre-war US military was extremely insular and hide-bound in its customs and courtesies, a practice that often times obviated the reality of one’s poor performance or a unit’s unreadiness. Short of being caught in a lewd act with a subordinate, a positive endorsement among the officer fraternity was almost a given. In fact, as a result of the officer corps’ poor combat performance in the early days of the war, the entire military performance evaluation system would undergo numerous revisions throughout the war years.
As to Hubbard’s temporary duty with BS-3, there’s no record of Hubbard being guilty of “unauthorized absence” (UA), the naval version of absent without leave, so someone must have known of his whereabouts, suggesting that a proof of any formal reassignment is missing from the available documentation. Additionally, while there’s a formal endorsement showing his having been affiliated with BS-3, it lists no dates of service, though Col. Johnson supposedly wrote a positive fitness evaluation for Hubbard. The provenance of this document is also in question; Chris Owen goes on to explain this uncertainty, as well as alluding to the command frustrations with Hubbard in general:
“Scientology has distributed a document purportedly written by US Army Colonel Alexander L. P. Johnson to the Commander of the Base Force, Darwin, Australia, dated February 13, 1942. The document describes Hubbard as ‘an intelligent, resourceful and dependable officer’ and recommends that an earlier request (whatever that might have been) be granted. What connection could Hubbard have had with the US Army or its outpost at Darwin? The most likely answer is that the connection was the equipment brought to Australia by the Pensacola convoy and his own ship President Polk. (In the event none of the equipment unloaded at Brisbane and Darwin ever reached the Philippines). Col L. Fletcher Prouty, a former US Air Force officer retained by Scientology as an ‘expert witness’, refers in a November 1985 letter to records which
link [Hubbard] directly with the operation of the Navy’s long-range reconnaissance and patrol aircraft, the old PBY, and operations off the coast of [Australia]. In these recorded activities LRH was working under the command of the senior US Army officer in Brisbane and in coordination with the Royal Australian Air Force.
(Source: L. Fletcher Prouty letter to CBS 60 Minutes, November 21, 1985)
Hubbard seems to have somewhat exceeded his brief by taking orders from the senior US Army officer in Brisbane, presumably the Col Johnson quoted above. This evidently caused some tension. In Hubbard’s report of February 5 he quotes Commander L. D. Causey, the US Naval Attaché to Australia, as saying
I have sent a message to the CinC Asiatic as of this morning stating that I wish you to be removed from Brisbane, stating that you are making a nuisance of yourself. You have never been under my orders and I consider you as having nothing to do with me. If you wish to serve with Johnson, that is up to you.
(Source: Hubbard report, February 5, 1985)”
Owen surmises that Hubbard’s relationship with BS-3 may have been related to supplies brought ashore by the Pensacola convoy and the Polk. However, this wouldn’t be consistent with contemporary operational doctrine at the time, especially given the contentious relationship between Navy and Army logisticians. The Polk sailed under the auspices of the War Shipping Administration, (WSA), which allocated hulls to commercial, Army, or Navy use, as a means to fairly allocate scarce shipping resources. The WSA would also go on to manage the Liberty ship program, as well as coordinating tonnage allocations with allies such as Great Britain. The Polk was an Army hull, and Col. Johnson and his immediate superiors in Army supply would have been tasked with remediating any problems concerning her cargo or onward deployment.
While we may posit that Hubbard may have had some informal role here, adding a formalized naval “facilitator” layer, especially when that facilitator has no practical logistics or liaison experience, would have simply further complicated an already tenuous supply situation. Of further interest is the fact that as a logistics organization, Army Tables of Organization & Equipment (TOE) at the time show that Quartermaster (supply) units similar in function to Base Sections, wouldn’t formalize their intelligence arms until 1943; Quartermaster intelligence was primarily directed at technical intelligence (TechInt); TechInt is the analysis of enemy weapons and equipment, rather than intelligence involving tactics, techniques and procedures. Even if Hubbard had been able to stay in theatre and had maintained his BS-3 connections, it’s doubtful that as an unschooled, non-technical intelligence specialist, he would have been able to carve-out any productive role for himself within the Army hierarchy.
Hubbard and the PBYs
Moving on, L. Fletcher Prouty, a distinguished former Air Force Colonel and JFK’s head of Special Operations, and later, paid Scientology shill and conspiracy theorist, makes an interesting claim as to records linking Hubbard
“…directly with the operation of the Navy’s long-range reconnaissance and patrol aircraft, the old PBY, and operations off the coast of [Australia]. In these recorded activities LRH was working under the command of the senior US Army officer in Brisbane and in coordination with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).”
Negating this claim is quite simple, though one wonders who indeed “recorded these activities.” There were only two PBY-equipped Patrol Wings in Australia during WWII: Patrol Wing 10 (PATWING 10) and Fleet Air Wing 17 (FAW-17). PATWING 10 was located in Darwin in 1941 and FAW-17 in Brisbane, starting early in 1943. PBY attrition at the hands of the Japanese was significant in the early years of the war, especially as many of the early model PBYs were not amphibious, and were moored, rather than parked ashore, making them easy strafing targets. They were a slow, lumbering patrol craft and were easy prey for Japanese fighters; you can see from the photo below that “Cats” weren’t the most aesthetic of aircraft:
Out of some 24 deployed in or near Darwin, the last 4 would be destroyed in the Japanese attack on Darwin and its environs on February 19th, 1942; of the original 18 purchased by the RAAF in 1940, only 10 remained scattered throughout Western Australia, Java, New Guinea, and other Australian areas of operations. Such losses beg the question of 1) what would there be left for Hubbard to coordinate; and 2) why would the US Army get involved in the deployment concerns of naval aviation?
It makes no sense, especially as Hubbard, being a “black shoe” sailor, as compared to a “brown shoe” naval aviator, would have no clout with anyone remotely connected with patrol wing deployment and aircraft use, and more so, such strategic questions would have been resolved at the squadron level or Pearl Harbor, not locally by a LT. (jg) in Australia. Lastly, when deployed away from a parent command, US Navy aircraft squadrons enjoy a degree of command autonomy, certainly no more so then when the command and control situation was as fluid as it was in the early days of the Pacific war; there was nothing that the US Army nor certainly Hubbard could have brought to the table that would have better utilized those scarce patrol resources.
The Japanese devastated the US Army Air Corps (USAAC) deployed in and around Australia, due to a combination of poor training, obsolescent aircraft and a false sense of Western tactical and cultural superiority. The USAAC had more than its own share of problems to have been concerning itself with the deployment of a handful of navy patrol aircraft. As for the rest of the above quote, we’ll look at Hubbard’s disciplinary problems later in this post.
Hubbard Fakes Command
In continuing with this myth of Hubbard as strategic facilitator, let’s take a look at this rather rich quote of Hubbard’s from a 1963 interview he held with Australian journalists at St. Hill Manor:
“My acquaintance … goes back to being the only anti-aircraft battery in Australia in 1941-42. I was up at Brisbane. There was me and a Thompson sub-machine gun …. I was a mail officer and I was replaced,I think, by a Captain, a couple of commanders . . . and about 15 junior officers …. They replaced me. I came home.”
So we can assume that his “acquaintance” alludes to his time in Australia, given his audience. We know Hubbard arrived in Australia in January of 1942, and by that time, Australia had been at war for 3 years; not only had she invested in coastal defense (the effectiveness of which would be vigorously debated long after the war), her domestic anti-aircraft capabilities were less than optimal for the time, due to the army having deployed abroad with the majority of the guns then in inventory. However, they were certainly more numerous than just the one battery Hubbard supposedly helped man. Here’s a picture of a typical Australian 3 inch anti-aircraft gun installation:
Australian artillery historian David Horner states, “there were a number of anti-aircraft batteries that were subsequently involved in dealing with the threat of Japanese air raids against northern Australia during 1942 and 1943, shooting down 29 enemy aircraft, probably destroying another 27 aircraft and damaging 32 between January 1942 and the end of 1943.” Before then, success was sporadic, given that skills such as gun handling, reloading, and enemy aircraft recognition were not uniform across the AA defense establishment. Most gunners were reservists or seconded from units that had been recuperating from European service. That said,
“…by late-1942 an extensive anti-aircraft defence organisation had been developed, with anti-aircraft batteries in place around all the major cities as well as the key towns in northern Australia. A total of two Heavy Anti-Aircraft (HAA) regiments, 32 static HAA batteries, 11 Light Anti-Aircraft (LAA) regiments, 16 independent LAA batteries, three anti-aircraft training regiments and one anti-aircraft training battery were formed. These units were equipped with a range of weapon systems including 3.7 inch anti-aircraft guns and 40 mm Bofors guns. In addition six US Army anti-aircraft battalions were stationed in Australia, operating in Fremantle, Darwin, Townsville, and Brisbane.”
Then there’s his intriguing claim as to being armed with a M-1928A1 Thompson submachine gun, as well as his statement that he “was a mail officer”! What happened to the highly successful covert operator from Java, or the brilliant intelligence officer in Brisbane? Mail officer indeed… Arnie Lerma’s lermanet.com has the only documents I can find that support his use, or more accurately, his loss of a Thompson. The document shows that somewhere along the line, Hubbard was able to finagle a Thompson from HQ, Coast Artillery, Australian Military Forces Brisbane. The communiqué in question is dated June 28th, 1943, and is addressed to Hubbard while he was skipper of the USS PC-815 (a subject we’ll return to in a future post). It reflects the classic “gotcha” culture of supply in the military in that some poor Australian armorer came up short during an inspection, and found a chit signed by Hubbard, and from there, the long arm of Australian Military officialdom finally caught-up with now Lt. Hubbard. Interestingly, the US Navy bought 500 Thompsons before the Army adopted a different version with a reduced cyclic rate. Original Thompsons, the “Chicago Piano” of prohibition days, could fire up to 1,200 rounds per minute, a previously unheard of rate of fire at the time. This is a photo of the Thompson model Hubbard “misplaced”:
While a great close-in offensive and defensive weapon, its maximum effective range of 50 yards hardly makes it useful as an anti-aircraft weapon (though I’m sure even Hubbard realized this, but as usual, his twisted syntax makes you wonder). The 1928A1 version of the Thompson had gone into mass production in the US prior to Pearl Harbor, using only two manufacturing plants, the output of which went primarily to lend-lease customers such as China, Britain and her dominions. Used primarily by commandos and assault troops until late 1942, it would always be a limited issue weapon; it stands to reason that Hubbard would have had to have obtained his Thompson from an Allied army, given how scarce they would have been as an issue weapon in a US Army or Navy armory at the time. However, as his stiffing that local tailor demonstrates, Hubbard had a predilection for illicit acquisition, and given the cost of a Thompson at the time, roughly $1,350 at today’s prices, it’s no wonder the Australians were still chasing him, a year after he’d left Brisbane; makes you wonder if it was worth the cachet at the time.
The Irreplaceable Hubbard as Spy Catcher
The last part of the quote in question can be interpreted a couple of ways:
I was replaced,I think, by a Captain, a couple of commanders . . . and about 15 junior officers …. They replaced me. I came home.
First off, we can take Hubbard to mean that given the dire anti-aircraft situation in Brisbane, and by extension, all of Queensland, and more importantly at his particular battery, that he was so competent that it took 18 officers (naval officers at that) to replace him. One would hope at least a couple of these folks had training in the deployment and use of land-based anti-aircraft weaponry. Yet there’s this beauty from his 1959 Melbourne Congress Lectures:
“Before the Yanks came I was Senior Officer Present of northern Australia, not because I had any rank, but because there wasn’t anybody else there. The – perhaps you’re aware of the status of a Senior Officer Present, naval status. It’s the flag ashore. Senior Officer Present ashore commands all Senior Officer Presents afloat. Now it’s one of these interesting things.”
Never mind that senior US Navy ranks were present aboard warships in the harbors of Sydney and Perth since before the war; closer to home, we have Brisbane-based naval attache L.D. Causey, who was a Commander thus considerably outranking Hubbard, as well as having been ashore before Hubbard’s arrival. So where does he come up with this whopper? Is he implying that when he was relieved as “SOP”, it took the same quantity of officers to run things ashore in Brisbane? Or does this sum apply to the replacement pool that was necessary to replace him as a “Naval Observer” when he was finally thrown out of Australia? The rest of the quote can be found here, but suffice to say, the remainder is as ludicrous as the snippet above.
Returning to the record, we see that having attached himself to BS-3, Hubbard is tasked with managing some ship movements along with safeguarding the associated classified message traffic and ultimately makes a hash of things. What’s odd about the whole affair is that Hubbard writes a report addressed to Col. Johnson, rather than his immediate superior Cdr. Causey, wherein he attempts to vaguely explain his recollection of events. He even goes so far as to quote Causey’s frustration with Hubbard:
“I have sent a message to the CinC Asiatic as of this morning stating that I wish you to be removed from Brisbane, stating that you are making a nuisance of yourself. You have never been under my orders and I consider you as having nothing to do with me. If you wish to serve with Johnson, that is up to you.”
In reading through the document, Hubbard, as is typical, takes no responsibility for his actions and instead, reinforces how “polite” and “patient” he was in having to wait on senior officers in Melbourne so he can explain his actions. He refers to Base Section 3’s “G-2” which is the intelligence function in an Army command, yet isn’t this the very billet he himself is supposedly filling as “US Naval Intelligence Officer, Staff”? The report is riddled with inconsistencies and vague recollections and the reader has to wonder why he inserted himself into what was clearly an Army transportation and ship allocation problem. It’s clear he had no clue as to the process he was involved with, and given the heartache between services he created, I’m sure was the last straw for Cdr. Causey.
Another interesting mystery lies in the War Diary of the USS New Orleans (CA-32). A ship’s War Diary is the daily record of a ship’s activity in a combat zone, as compared to the ship’s log or the officer of the day’s log. It lists all the minutiae and events that comprise the daily life of a combat vessel at sea during wartime. The diary shows she docks in Brisbane on March 5th; on Sunday, March 8th, there’s an entry that states:
“NOTE: The following were reported by Lt. (jg) Hubbard U.S.N.R., Naval Observer, to be secret agents of Japan or Germany, operating in and around Brisbane: John Leahy, age appx. 29, black mustache, wears horn rimmed glasses; Mrs. Lyell, age appx. 39, heavy features, striking black eyes; Mr. Woodfield, age appx. 40, suave English gentleman; Miss Stephanie Wilkins, age appx. 34, long nose, striking appearance; Dr. Kinston and brother, ages appx. 44 or 45, Germans.”
Communications between Cdr. Causey in Melbourne and the 12th Naval District reflect that Causey had provided orders to Hubbard on February 11, 1942 to report to the Commanding Officer, USS Chaumont for passage to the United States. Chaumont called on Darwin on the the 5th of January 1942 after a brief initial stop in Brisbane as part of the Pensacola Convoy. Chaumont returned to Brisbane at the end of January, then sailed to Sydney, Australia; Wellington, New Zealand, and Balboa, Canal Zone, before returning to San Francisco on 29 March 1942. What’s not clear is the exact day she left towards the end of January; however no record that I could locate indicates that she sailed in March.
Therefore, if Hubbard was in transit back to the United States on the Chaumont, why the lag time in the USS New Orleans’ War Diary entry? I think it stems from the general humoring of Hubbard that marked the majority of his time in Australia. The descriptions he provided appear to have been pulled from one of his dimestore adventures; I’m sure the absurdity of it all was not lost on the officer of the day who made the entry. It was more than likely a case of better safe than sorry, rather than documenting any serious allegation that a significant Kikan-Abwehr spy ring was running amok on the docks of Brisbane.
Australia’s policy of interning enemy aliens, starting in 1941, did much to stem Japanese and German intelligence gathering. Indeed, much of Japan’s intelligence activities against Australia occured pre-war, and involved intelligence gathering from open sources such as commerce, trade shows, military and cultural exchanges, as well as mass-media publications, trade journals, and academic information. The record shows that Japan had been gathering intelligence information on Australia as early as 1860, which was further supplemented by a series of Japanese military missions during the 1930s that completed Japan’s extensive penetration of Australia up until the start of the war. Ironically, the only Japanese spies captured by the Australians were caught early in the war, and were ethnic Japanese, and in no way resembled the characters of Hubbard’s fevered imagination.
The Germans were far more successful, operating an extensive espionage network out of Adelaide, as well as engaging in a variety of fifth-column activity, such as anonymously celebrating Australian war casualties. However, what’s clear from even a cursory examination of the record is that Hubbard’s laughable espionage report is yet one more work of fiction, given that Brisbane was never a hotbed of espionage in the first place. Besides, how did he get close enough to Mrs. Lyell to know she had “striking black eyes,” or was near enough to Mr. Woodfield to ascertain just how suave an Englishman he really was? Even more fundamentally, how’d he get anyone’s name in the first place?
Hubbard’s Australian idyll ended in disaster. The record shows numerous referrals to Causey’s litany of Hubbard’s ills in subsequent orders involving new duty stations and change of status reports; it follows him in endorsements all the way stateside like a bad rash. In next week’s post we’ll examine the controversies surrounding his departure, specifically his claims regarding having been flown home on Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox’s personal China Clipper, as well as the beginnings of his inflated medical claims, and the beginnings of his service at sea.