As a Navy lieutenant, Hubbard commanded at least three ships during the war, including one in the Atlantic - a converted fishing boat, the YP-422, refitted during several months in 1942-43 at the Boston Navy Yard, Navy records show.
In early Scientology biographies it was claimed that Hubbard fought German submarines in the Atlantic. And as recently as January, the Church of Scientology's official Internet site said Hubbard "saw action" in the North Atlantic during the war.
But, in an interview with the Herald, a sailor who served on Hubbard's ship contradicted that claim. "The YP-422 never saw combat," said former Navy fireman Eugene LaMere, 78, an upstate New York native who now lives in Maryland.
The YP-422 was refitted as a freighter armed with only a 3-inch gun and two .30-caliber machine guns, said LaMere, the first former crewman with direct knowledge of the ship's activities to publicly dispute Hubbard's claim to have seen combat as commander of the YP-422.
And Hubbard's claim of combat, or war wounds, is definitively ruled out by Navy records, according to published reports in Time and Forbes magazines, the Los Angeles Times, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and books by critics and defectors Jon Atack, Russell Miller and Bent Corydon.
Hubbard was relieved of his command of the YP-422 soon after it set out from the Neponset River on a 27-hour shakedown voyage in September 1942, the reports say.
"Lt. L.R. Hubbard . . . is not temperamentally fitted for independent command. It is therefore urgently requested that he be detached," the commandant of the Boston Navy Yard wrote in October 1942 to the vice chief of naval operations, the reports said.
According to a court affidavit written by his son, L. Ron Hubbard Jr., the elder Hubbard was "relieved of (military) duty on several occasions," including once in the Pacific in 1944 when he "apparently concealed a gasoline bomb on board the USS Algol in order to avoid combat."
The affidavit - obtained by the Herald - is on file in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with a 1991 suit filed by Scientology against the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI's Boston office. The church had sued under the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to government documents.
And there were other incidents that marred Hubbard's Navy career. He once ordered a depth-charge "battle" against nonexistent Japanese submarines off the Oregon coast, and he illegally fired on Mexican territory, according to published reports.
An admiral wrote in 1943 that Hubbard was "lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership and cooperation," and the U.S. naval attache to Australia wrote in 1942, "He is garrulous and tries to give impressions of his importance," the reports said.
The court affidavit by Hubbard's son also describes some of his father's postwar activities. Hubbard practiced Satanic sexual rituals in the late 1940s in southern California, and suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, the son said.
"Drug addiction, venereal disease and impotency, wife beating, bizarre 'black magic' occult practices, forgery, writing bad checks, and miscellaneous fraudulent activities including bigamy" preoccupied Hubbard after his Navy discharge, said Hubbard's oldest child - by the first of Hubbard's three wives - who was trying to gain control of his father's estate.
I don't remember hearing any of this when I went to the Dianetics Center in London.