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  • Dowsing for Submarines September 17, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback

    Beachcombing, in his hoarding way, has been storing up references to the military use of dowsing over the past months: indeed, he has already posted on the question of British dowsing for machine guns in the Second World War and hopes to come soon to the fraught question of dowsing for land mines this fall.

    But what about dowsing for submarines? Beachcombing is confused. Does the dowser just get a rowing boat or a passing destroyer and drift? In fact, it seems that things are much easier than this. The experienced quester needs only a map and a pendulum or finder of some description.

    Enter, from the left stage, Verne Cameron (1896-1970), a legendary dowser: Cameron was the inventor of the Aurameter or Water Compass that is still dowsing in dowsing circles.

    In his long career Cameron was also contacted by the US navy. The letter, dated 18 March 1959, from Vice Admiral Maurice E. Curtis has thankfully been preserved for posterity and for those citizens who enjoy getting antsy about how their tax dollars are spent.

    (Nielsen 51) I am advised you believe you may be able to tell the location of all submarines in the world’s waters – and their nationalities [Beachcombing loves this bit] – by a technique which is called ‘Map Dowsing’. It has been suggested you be given an opportunity to confirm your ability on the subject of submarine detection and location at a naval establishment close to you.

    Please be assured I should welcome a demonstration by you at a place of your choice on the West Coast.

    If you will communicate with me about your itinerary for the next month or so and your choice of a place where you can demonstrate this ability I shall be pleased to arrange for a test.

    This certainly sounds authentic: the pinched military tone and then the way in which poor Cameron is held up for examination like a dead and mutilated mouse in a pair of fireside tongs. However, Beachcombing has not found any trace of this Vice Admiral Maurice in an admittedly superficial search.

    Story has it – and here again Beachcombing has no good source to offer his readers – that Cameron amazed the audience by identifying every single US submarine on a world map. He then went on to identify every single Soviet submarine. He was susequently sent home and heard nothing else from the navy, discovering later in his life that he could not leave the US – he wanted to go and dowse in South Africa – as he had been deemed a security risk.

    There are several fist size holes in this story. Beachcombing cannot credit that, in 1959, in the deadliest phase in the Cold War, anyone who could identify every US submarine on a map of the world would have been allowed to leave the room with a pulse, never mind return home and be left in peace with their Water Compass. As to finding every Russian submarine on the map, how did the US brass even know where ‘all’ these submarines were?

    These kinds of military-civilian tests, do though, provide fertile grounds for misunderstanding, especially if Mr Cameron was told something non-committal and polite along the lines of ‘Well, Mr Cameron these are certainly interesting results, we might well be in touch.’ If this had occurred in Beachcombing’s own biography he could certainly have turned that into finding every American and every Soviet submarine on the map in the space of, say, two years. And that is even before the story was told at second hand…

    As to Verne’s failed trip to South Africa Beachcombing would be curious to know (i) if Cameron travelled anywhere else abroad and (ii) whether there was any other reason to limit Cameron’s travel rights (politics etc…).

    This story clearly needs more documentation or should be gently and humanely put down: any volunteers? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com