This case has so many strange things about it that it is puzzling to say the least. Strange enough on so many levels that it certainly deserves some special attention.
The Strange Case Of Pete Ellis
Lieutenant Colonel Pete Ellis predicted the attack on Pearl Harbor 20 years before it happened. Then he disappeared, never to be seen again.
In mid-July 1920, Ellis was stationed at Marine Corps headquarters in Washington. He didn’t make many friends, staying locked in his office behind a “No Admittance” sign. The guards on late-night duty recorded that the lights in the office were always on until late in the night. If anyone asked what he was doing, Ellis simply muttered something about a “special project.”
After almost a year, Ellis produced his “special project”—a 30,000-word document detailing a surprise attack on the US and the war that would ensue between Japan and the United States.
Ellis listed the various Pacific islands that Japan would infiltrate and attack, including Hawaii, the Philippines, Midway, Guam, and Wake. His counter-plan involved the US seizing the Marshall and Caroline islands as bases for a retaliatory strike into the Philippines. Ellis also listed the Mariana and Bonin Islands as necessary staging points for an attack on Japan itself.
Ellis even managed to predict the importance of airplanes to a Pacific war—and anticipated the development of the torpedo bomber, which would later be used to devastating effect in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
After a brief period of ill health, Ellis applied for 90 days of leave, saying that he wanted to visit Europe. Oddly, his request was immediately approved by the Secretary of the Navy himself. Even more oddly, Ellis called at the office of the Commandant of the Marine Corps before leaving. The Commandant’s secretary noticed that Ellis slipped him a sealed envelope before making a quick exit.
Ellis apparently never arrived in Europe. After 90 days, his leave was mysteriously renewed indefinitely. A year passed before anyone heard from him again. A close friend received strange cablegrams sent from hospitals in Australia and the Philippines. In Japan, a man identifying himself as Ellis received treatment for nephritis and alcohol poisoning.
On October 4, 1922, Ellis disappeared from his hospital bed in Yokohama, Japan. Several months later, reports emerged of an American named Ellis, who had died on the island of Koror, in what is now Palau. The reports also noted that the Japanese didn’t want foreigners in the region, and that they had been trying to prevent him from reaching certain restricted areas.
A pharmacist named Lawrence Zembsch was tasked with collecting Ellis’ ashes from Koror. When he returned to Yokohama, Zembsch was found to be almost catatonic—doctors found evidence that he had been heavily drugged. After two weeks in hospital, he had recovered to the point where he could be questioned. Tragically, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 struck that very day, collapsing the hospital and killing Zembsch.
The answers to the mystery may well have died with him. No one knows how Ellis perished, or why Zembsch was in such a state when he returned from Koror. Many believe the Japanese authorities killed Ellis when they found out who he was. However, others argue that Ellis had been showing signs of alcoholism. An acquaintance from Koror seemed quite certain that he had died of drink. To this day, the story behind Pete Ellis’s strange life and stranger death remains a mystery.
Isn't ironic that someone like this man could just disappear without a trace? One might think he had a little help in fading away, ya know?
Coffee out on the patio this morning.