Wilfred J. "Jasper" Holmes (April 4, 1900 – January 7, 1986) was a US Naval officer, one of the Station HYPO staff, who had the idea of faking a water supply failure on Midway Island in 1942. He suggested using an unencrypted emergency warning, in the hope of provoking a Japanese response, thus establishing whether Midway was a target.
Wilfred J. Holmes
|Born||April 4, 1900|
Stockport, Columbia, New York
|Died||January 7, 1986 (aged 85)|
|Occupation||US Naval Officer|
|Known for||naval intelligence analysis|
|Spouse(s)||Isabelle West Holmes|
|Children||John Eric Holmes|
Born in Stockport, New York, Holmes was the son of Johan Erik Jonasson Holmes, a Finnish immigrant who worked as a fireman in a paper mill, and Esther F. Holmes. Wilfred Holmes graduated from the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, 1922, and had a master's degree in engineering from Columbia University. He served as a line officer in the Navy, in submarines. He wrote submarine adventure stories for the Saturday Evening Post and technical articles under the pen name Alec Hudson. He retired from the Navy in 1936 because of arthritis of the spine, and joined the faculty of the University of Hawaii.
In 1941 Captain Holmes was recalled to duty and assigned to Station HYPO, which was breaking Japanese codes, especially their naval cipher JN-25. By May 1942 US Naval Intelligence knew that the Japanese were planning an attack at a spot they called AF, but did not know what AF signified. Navy cryptanalyst Joseph Rochefort thought AF was Midway Island. Holmes had the idea of faking a water supply failure on Midway. He suggested using an unencrypted emergency warning, in the hope of provoking a Japanese response, thus establishing whether AF was Midway. Holmes' ruse worked and led to the Japanese defeat at the Battle of Midway. Holmes was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
Holmes became chairman of the department of engineering and mathematics at the University of Hawaii after the war, then Dean of Engineering, Dean of Administration, and Vice President, retiring from the University in 1965. Holmes Hall is named in his honor. He was author of books on submarine warfare and naval intelligence.
Holmes died January 7, 1986 and is buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu.
- US Federal Census, 1900
- University of Hawaii biography of Wilfred Holmes
- Jasper Holmes in “Maritime Texas”
- Michael Smith. The Emperor's Codes: The Breaking of Japan's Secret Ciphers. Arcade Publishing. June 11, 2001 p138.
- Holmes Hall
- Holmes, Wilfred J. Undersea Victory: The Influence of Submarine Operations on the War in the Pacific. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966.
- Holmes, Wilfred J. Double-Edged Secrets: U. S. Naval Intelligence Operations in the Pacific during World War II. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1979.