Friday, November 23, 2012

Nov

23

1942

Navajo code talkers join the Guadalcanal battlefield

Cpl. Henry Bahe Jr. (left) and Pfc. George H. Kirk, Navajo code talkers,  operating a portable radio on the island Bougainville, in December 1943

There was no room for error in a maneuver like that. The old Shackle communications system took so long to encode and decode, and it was so frequently inaccurate, that using it for the transmission of on-the-fly target coordinates was a perilous proposition. Frequently, in the midst of battle, instead of using the Shackle code, the Marines had transmitted in English. They knew the transmissions were probably being monitored by the japanese, so they salted the messages liberally with profanity, hoping to confuse the enemy.