In 1979, Wilmeth was just a figurative ship passing in the night, as far as student Eric Gilder was concerned. In fact, many people had fleeting interactions with Colonel James Dudley Wilmeth.
In 1963, one of those people was Marina Oswald, wife of Lee Harvey Oswald.
This was before the name Oswald shocked the world. That was after John F. Kennedy lost his life, allegedly due to a volley of rifle shots fired by a man with that eponymous surname.
But this is not about the culpability of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Neither is it a debate about fuzzy photographs of individuals standing on the steps of the Texas School Book Depository. Nor is it a debate as to who was on the sixth floor of that building, nor who was behind a grassy knoll wooden fence, or anywhere else for that matter.
It is about a period of time beginning in 1959 when many different events began to converge and entangle themselves into one storyline, even though the press and those reviewing past events have treated them as individual and unrelated news items. It was a series of events that began in 1959 that resulted in Colonel James Wilmeth seeking out Marina Oswald in 1963, a few days before her husband's name became infamous.
In 1959 Mervyn Hagger, the oldest member of 'The Trio' was working halfway down Berners Street in the West End of London. He had just left art college and he had been guided or rather pushed into interior design at one the most prestigious firms of its kind in the United Kingdom. But Hagger's real interest was in journalism centered upon broadcasting. At the top of Berners Street was one of the entities that was stifling independent radio broadcasting in the United Kingdom.
In 1959 British broadcasting was in part controlled via a back-door methodology built upon a rationing system which had been created in Mussolini's fascist Italy by the major record companies who were being manipulated from the United States. So Hagger's interest was directed towards investigative research trying to find the legal basis for this system of censorship, rather than merely accepting it 'as is' and then trying to work around it.
The year 1959 was the line in the sand which marked the beginning of many major and sequential events in this story, and the activities of Lee Harvey Oswald must certainly be considered as creating one of the most memorable events a few years later in Dallas, Texas. But back in 1959, Lee Harvey Oswald was considered to be a non-noteworthy former U.S. Marine who had served in Japan and then decided to study at Albert Schweitzer's college in Switzerland.
Or so he claimed.
At 3:15 p.m. Central Standard Time on September 19, 1959, Lee Harvey Oswald (or his 'double') boarded the freighter SS 'Marion Lykes' destined for France. He was one of four passengers that this cargo ship was transporting across the Atlantic Ocean from Army Base Berth 2 within the port city of New Orleans. The vessel departed the following day at 6:24 a.m.
On October 5, 1959, the ship docked at 9:00 a.m. Greenwich Meridian Time at La Pallice, La Rochelle on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. At 1 p.m. that same day, one of the four passengers disembarked.
The next day at 6:18 p.m. GMT, the SS 'Marion Lykes' departed La Pallice after clearing the lock and dropping the pilot.
On October 8, 1959, at 6:30 a.m. GMT, the vessel docked at Berth 3, Cotton Dock, Le Havre, facing the English Channel. At 12:06 p.m the same day, the remaining three passengers disembarked.
All of Oswald's fellow passengers were later interviewed by investigators attempting to discover what they had individually learned on that voyage about Lee Harvey Oswald.
One of those four passengers was George B. Church, Jr. who was accompanied on the voyage by his wife. On page 115 supra, the following information appears in the printed edition of the 'President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy':
"The following affidavit was executed by George B. Church, Jr., on June 27, 1964."
While the testimony in this Affidavit made by Lieutenant Colonel George B. Church, Jr., adds nothing of value to our knowledge about Lee Harvey Oswald and that voyage, it does add an interesting detail about one of his fellow passengers: he was a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army who had became a teacher. Unfortunately the complete testimony in his Affidavit reads like the words of Sergeant Schultz in the 1965 television series called 'Hogan's Heroes' when Schultz replied to questions by answering:
Perhaps it was just coincidence that Colonel Wilmeth of the U.S. Army was not the only member of that branch of the U.S. military who the Warren Commission questioned about the movements of Lee Harvey Oswald.
After Lee Harvey Oswald disembarked at 12:06 p.m. GMT on October 8, 1959, from the freighter SS 'Marion Lykes' at Le Havre, his U.S. Passport was stamped by French Customs. Oswald then made his way to where the French liner 'Liberté' was docked. French Customs at Le Havre again stamped his U.S. Passport when he boarded the ship. Both the entry and exit stamps are dated October 8. The French liner 'Liberté' was built in Germany before WWII and given the name 'Europa'. When WWII ended, this ship was taken by the French as war reparations, and renamed 'Liberté'.
While the precise details of Oswald's voyage from the USA to France are precise, that is because the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asked Lykes Brothers Steamship Company, Inc. of New Orleans for the information, and the company provided meticulous details. But there does not seem to be a corresponding record regarding Oswald's voyage on board the Liberté'.
We do know that Lee Harvey Oswald disembarked on October 9, because his U.S. Passport is stamped by a U.K. Immigration Officer at Southampton authorizing a visit of up to three months. Note that he boarded the Liberté' on October 8, 1959 for a voyage across the English Channel, and he disembarked at Southampton on October 9, 1959. But it is the next two stamps in Oswald's U.S. Passport that cause problems.
The first stamp is an oblong that is so feint as to be mostly unreadable. The part that can be discerned are two numerals "10". Next to this stamp is another stamp that is triangular in shape, and it is sharp in its imprint. It reads on the left flank of the triangle: "IMMIGRATION". On the right flank it reads: "OFFICER". On the base it reads: "LONDON AIRPORT". In the middle of the triangle reading downwards, it reads: "(144) - "EMBARKED" - "10 OCT 1959".
This last stamp raises several questions. The first one has to do with Oswald's arrival at Southampton on October 9, 1959, time unknown to us at the moment. The departure stamp is dated October 10, 1959, time unknown to us at the moment. So what happened to Lee Harvey Oswald after 12:06 p.m. GMT on October 8, 1959, when he disembarked from the freighter SS 'Marion Lykes' at Le Havre?
We know that he boarded the liner Liberté', but while we know that it was on the same day that he left the cargo ship, but we do not know the time of day that he boarded the liner. Nor do we know the time of day that he arrived at Southampton, England on October 9, 1959, or where he went, or what time of day he departed from "London Airport" on October 10, 1959.
We do know that when Oswald arrived at Southampton, he told U.K. Immigration that he had $700 with him and that he planned to stay a week as a tourist, after which he planned to cross back over the English Channel to attend a college in Switzerland. But there was a problem with his announced schedule. He arrived on the day after British citizens went to the polls for the United Kingdom General Election.
On the day of his arrival, excitement was high, and according to news reports, hotels were full because viewing parties were being held to watch the first BBC Television coverage of ballots being counted while famous political figures were being interviewed from all over the country. It was a unique event because there had never been an election program like it on British television. The count went on into the very early hours of the next day and television coverage paused at 04 a.m., only to resume at 8 a.m.
So where did Lee Harvey Oswald stay? He had not booked any accommodation in advance, and he told several people that he planned to make a reverse trip across the English Channel in order to make his way to Switzerland. But what he really did, and what really transpired, remains a mystery.
The question which then arises is where did he spend that night of October 9, because he did not depart until October 10 from 'London Airport'. Now add to these questions the missing details of the flight that he took to arrive in Helsinki, Finland. By now, with all of the investigations that have taken place into the movements of Lee Harvey Oswald, someone, somewhere should have stepped forward with the proof that he spent the night at a definitive location and that he departed from a specific airport on a specific flight. But no such report has surfaced.
On July 1, 1964, Richard Helms, CIA Deputy Director for Plans wrote and signed a letter with the subject line: "Lee Harvey Oswald's arrival time in Helsinki on 10 October 1959." Helms was responding to the "General Counsel of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy," and he wrote:
But if Oswald (or his 'double') did fly from England to Finland with the assistance of some officially unnamed person or persons, then this undermines the "lone gunman" story right from the word "go!" As is patently obvious due to the mountain of published books on this subject, there are many speculative theories as to who Lee Harvey Oswald was working for, and many of them are contradictory.
At least one unofficial investigator claims to have solved this riddle with details of a commercial flight plan that officials have been unable to find. This person reporting this information claims that he derived it from a second-hand source. Then he posted it on a Blog relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. But that information does not appear to have been verified because it has not made its way into any officially accepted record of what actually happened.
In fact, regardless of the several post-Warren Report official investigations, no real attempts have been made to resolve these mysteries of which there are many. Another enigma concerns Oswald's documented arrival in Finland when he checked into an expensive hotel.
Now a little geography is called for. Looking at a standard map, Helsinki, Finland is on the northern coastline of the Baltic Sea. Its eastern coastline is controlled by the Baltic States, and its west coast is controlled by Sweden. But, the Baltic Sea is almost an inland body of water that is fed by entry and exit to the North Sea, and that is via a 'choke-point' that is controlled by Demark and Sweden.
In 1959 the President of the United States of America was Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower who would remain in office until January 20, 1961 when he was succeeded by President John F. Kennedy. Just before he left office, President Eisenhower delivered a warning on January 17, 1961 about America's 'military-industrial complex' and its growing political influence over elected government and geopolitical affairs. In 1959, the temperature of the Cold War was constantly indicating that it might suddenly switch from 'cold' to a 'hot' nuclear World War III, because the USSR was continuing with a drum beat message that its nuclear weapons would soon annihilate the West.
In the United Kingdom, constant pressure from America's military-industrial complex caused the U.K. to give up its aspirations to create its 'Blue Streak' independent nuclear missile system, and so it bought a nuclear umbrella from the USA. By 1961 the U.S. Navy began to provide nuclear 'cover' from its own Polaris submarines that were serviced from a floating base which was towed over from Texas to Holy Loch in north west Scotland. By 1961 the Scandinavian chokehold separating the North Sea from the Baltic Sea was guarded by one of the Polaris submarines from the U.S. floating base in Holy Loch.
It is against this backdrop of escalating threats of nuclear war with the USSR, that the strange story of Lee Harvey Oswald's 1959 arrival in Finland played out. His story also became more enigmatic by the moment, because Oswald (or his 'double'), began to make it very clear that he was going to Russia, and not Switzerland. But to do that he would need a tourist visa to enter the USSR. That was usually a lengthy process, and there was only one place that could offer him a fast track visa. That was in Stockholm, capital city of the neighboring country of Sweden.
The geopolitical interactivity between the USA and Sweden which on the surface claimed to be neutral in the broadcast shouting match between the USA and the USSR, was in reality a sham. Sweden was a well armed nation carrying out an apparent political balancing act, when in reality, below the surface, its military geopolitical balancing act was tilted in the direction of the USA. Meanwhile the airwaves of the world were filled with a shouting match between the USA and the USSR.
One of the players advising the USA on its broadcasting activity was Gordon McLendon, a Texan from Dallas. Back on April 2, 1952, McLendon been the subject of a "covert security clearance" requested by the Chicago field office of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Most people knew McLendon as 'The Old Scotchman' (not 'Scotsman'), who had been the narrator of recreated sports games over his own radio network. He was also known for having adapted juke box repeat selections to create his own 'Top 40' radio stations, and then there was his reputation for making dreadfully scripted low budget films, which were then shown on the screens of the chain of theaters that he owned with his father. Gordon McLendon also had political aspirations, and while he failed to get elected, he had more success behind the scenes as an influencer of public opinion.
One of McLendon's closest friends was David Atlee Phillips from Fort Worth, Texas. Phillips was the doyen of CIA "dirty tricks", and just as McLendon had invented a sports theater of the mind with his re-created sports commentaries, Phillips had used this same technique to create a staged uprising in Guatemala to bring down its president. Phillips achieved his regime change by broadcasting from a 'pirate' transmitter the sounds of a rebel army moving in on the presidential palace. While Phillips' radio performances were a U.S. CIA success story, they really owed their achievements to the work of Sefton Delmer and his 'Aspidistra' 'black radio' transmissions aimed at Nazi Germany on behalf of Winston Churchills' WWII government.
By 1958, McLendon was advising 'Radio Free Europe'. He was also in Ireland attempting to obtain a license for a powerful radio station capable of covering not only the British Isles, but also of reaching deep into the continent of Western Europe. The U.S, interests that McLendon represented were political, but they were backed by 'washed' monetary streams emanating from the U.S. taxpayers via their government.
With fellow Texans Robert F. Thompson and Clint Murchison Jr., McLendon then began to formulate plans for a 'pirate' radio station to be based aboard ship. It would be anchored off the coast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea having Stockholm as its apparent commercial target. However, because the signal of this offshore station called 'Radio Nord' was omnidirectional, it was also an influencer of the younger population of the eastern Baltic States which were under the censored control of the USSR.
McLendon was a member of the U.S. Democratic Party which had the up and coming team of John and Robert Kennedy in its ranks. While John would eventually play the roll of 'Mister Innocent', his brother Bobby would be working with a faction of the CIA. This would include the person of Robert F. Thompson in Dallas.
At first, CIA attention was drawn to Swan Island in the Caribbean as a suitable audio rallying call for its overt war on Cuba using the 'Bay of Pigs' as its place of invasion in order to topple Fidel Castro from power. That is why'Radio Swan' later came to the attention of Eric Gilder as the subject for his thesis. It is also the reason why he was warned off from focusing upon 'Radio Swan' as a topic.
The subject of clandestine broadcasting threads throughout this entire storyline.
While the subject of offshore broadcasting appears on the surface to be about broadcasting more recorded music into the British Isles and other countries, it is really about broadcasting polemical messages in conjunction with military and commercial activity. It is also a story which threads from Dallas to Havana to London, and one which intertwines with the activity of Colonel Wilmeth and Marina Oswald in the days leading up to the assassination of President Kennedy.
Next: The mysterious Colonel Wilmeth ....