Communication is essential during any war and World War II was no different. From battalion to battalion or ship to ship - everyone must stay in contact to know when and where to attack or when to fall back. If the enemy were to hear these tactical conversations, not only would the element of surprise be lost, but the enemy could also reposition and get the upper hand. Codes (encryptions) were essential to protect these conversations. Though codes were often used, they were also frequently broken.
In 1942, a man named Philip Johnston was convinced a code based on the Navajo language would be unbreakable by the enemy. The son of a Protestant missionary, Philip Johnston spent much of his childhood on the Navajo reservation. He grew up with Navajo children, learning their language and their customs.
As an adult, Johnston became an engineer for the city of Los Angeles but also spent a considerable amount of his time lecturing about the Navajos. Then one day, Johnston was reading the newspaper when he noticed a story about an armored division in Louisiana that was attempting to come up with a way to code military communications using Native American personnel.
The presentation covers the following:
Communication is Essential
“Pilot Project” Set Up
Placed in Combat
Johnson Trains Recruits
Captain Stilwell’s Suggestions
On the Battlefield
End of Presentation
This is one of several "companion" power point presentations that I offer on... World War II.