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Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.


Category: Military Holidays

Edited by Gerald Boerner




Commentary will be added shortly. GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 2977 Words ]


Quotations Related to GETTYSBURG:


“My dead and wounded were nearly as great in number as those still on duty.”
— William C. Oates

“Up, men, and to your posts! Don’t forget today that you are from Old Virginia!”
— George E. Pickett

“It ain’t so hard to get to that ridge – The hell of it is to stay there.”
— Confederate soldier

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by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 In this final installment of our examination of the events leading up to and actuated on D-Day, we look at the forces facing each other on the Normandy Beaches in Northern France, along the English Channel. This was the culmination of a great deal of planning and preparation. The Allies were ready; the Germans were ready. All that was needed was the the signal to “GO!”

That signal was given late in the evening of June 5th. the command was given to commence. Throughout that day and the days that followed, the battle was in the balance. Finally, the Allies broke through the coastal defenses and progressed to the Seine. The march to Berlin had begun.  GLB

[ This is Part 6 of 6 ]


“We know how far we still have to go, We know it is a long and difficult way. But we also know how much a united Europe and an America true to its values can achieve together.”
— Nicolas Sarkozy

“So the men we are celebrating today and commemorating those dead are the people who not only liberated Europe but made possible the freedoms we all enjoy today.”
— Gordon Brown

“There is an unbroken line from the Normandy landings to the fall of Berlin to the end of the Second World War and then to creation of a post-war society.”
— Gordon Brown

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by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today, June 5th, was originally the day scheduled for the invasion of “Fortress Europe.” However, the weather and roughness of the channel waters forced it to be postponed. Both the Allies and the Nazi forces new that there was a narrow window in which an invasion could take place because of the tides, moonlight, and other factors. So the waiting game continued.

The Allied Forces has been assembled in the south of England where they trained hard for the beach assault. The supplies were stockpiled, the men were ready (and sometimes even in their landing craft), and the moon was right. Central planning under Gen. Eisenhower and his staff had covered the logistics and strategies to be followed. All was ready, except for the weather!

But the Allies had the advantage. British weather ships were patrolling in the North Atlantic in the vicinity of Iceland. The German floating weather stations (disguised as fishing boats) had been cleared from the same area previously. Thus, the Allies had advanced warning of the storms forming while the Germans did not. How ironic that knowledge of weather made the difference in scheduling the invasion.

One might want to give the TV weather men and women a whole lot more respect in light of the above. In any case, the “GO!” order was withheld on this day and awaited Gen. Eisenhower’s decision for the following days. More on that tomorrow.  GLB

[ This is Part 5 of 6 ]


“I was born in the Second World War during the Nazi invasion of my country.”
— Antonio Tabucchi

“When you have a foreign invasion – in this case by the Indonesian army – writers, intellectuals, newspapers and magazines are the first targets of repression.”
— Antonio Tabucchi

“Therefore coercion of the non-invasive, when justifiable at all, is to be justified on the ground that it secures, not a minimum of ‘ invasion, but a minimum of pain.”
— Benjamin Tucker

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by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 The Allies had a secret weapon during World War II: the codebreakers of Bletchley Park. This country estate, outside of London, housed the Government Code and Cypher School where codebreakers were working on reading Nazi communication that used the Enigma Machine. These codebreakers, led by mathematician Alan Turing, were able to “crack” the code for the various military units in the Wehrmacht, especially the five-rotor submarine codes.

These codebreakers were essential for several reasons. In the first place, they let the Allies win the “Battle of the Atlantic” against the submarine “wolf-packs”. This allowed Britain to maintain supplies of essential goods before the U.S. entered the war. In the second place, they allowed the Allied high-command to know how troops were being deployed just before D-Day. Finally, the codebreakers built early computers, including the Bombes and the Colossus, that facilitated their codebreaking and prompted the development of computer technology that blossomed after the war.

Were it not for these “geeks” and “propeller heads”, we might well be under the rule of Germania today.  GLB

[ This is Part 4 of 6 ]


“Ronald Reagan used to alarm his Soviet counterparts by saying that surely they’d both unite against an invasion from Mars.”
— Christopher Hitchens

“The responsibility of commanding the invasion fell to me, and the task was assigned to my Army Group.”
— Gerd von Rundstedt

“Poverty is relative, and the lack of food and of the necessities of life is not necessarily a hardship. Spiritual and social ostracism, the invasion of your privacy, are what constitute the pain of poverty.”
— Alice Foote MacDougall

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by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 As the Allied Forces were preparing for the invasion of the European continent, the Nazi’s were likewise preparing to defend the continent from such an invasion. Field Marshall Rommel was placed in charge of inspecting the German installations in northern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. He determined that they were inadequate and he set about improving the Atlantic Wall.

The major controversy faced by the Nazi high command was were the invasion would take place. The closest point between England and France was at the Pas de Calais, but the beaches of Normandy were also in close proximity to England. This caused the backup forces to be split in their deployment between the two areas.

Additional barriers to landing gliders, landing on the beaches, mounting the cliffs, and other potential points of access to the area behind the Normandy beaches were mined, fitted with obstacles, and otherwise made “unfriendly.” This was a game of cat and mouse that the two sides played. The real test of each side’s strategies and defenses would soon be put to the test.  GLB

[ This is Part 2 of 6 ]


“Each new generation is a fresh invasion of savages.”
— Hervey Allen

“Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.”
— Thomas Sowell

“For a war correspondent to miss an invasion is like refusing a date with Lana Turner.”
— Robert Capa

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by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today we begin a series of postings that will lead up to this the Western world’s celebration of D-Day, the day on which the Allied forces finally made their assault on Fortress Europe which was under Nazi control. We will look at an overview of the preparations for that eventful day.

On that day in 1944, the Allies (Britain, the Free French, and the United States) had been stockpiling supplies, assembling and training troops, and making other preparations (Mulberry harbors) for the landing and supply-line to support the troops after their landing. Furthermore, a number of deceptions were put into place, such as Patton’s fathom 3rd Army, were being carried out to direct the attention of the Nazi leadership away from the Normandy coast.

On the Nazi side, preparations were also being made. Under Field Marshall Rommel, an Atlantic wall had been created to protect the European continent from just this type of invasion. The cliffs overlooking the Normandy Beaches were well fortified. The troops were trained, the alert was on, and the Germans introduced their own types of deceptions.

The build-up was there on both sides. The stage was set for the big event. So, on we go…  GLB

[ This is Part 1 of 6 ]


“An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.”
— Victor Hugo

“Being a Brady comes with it’s pleasures and its baggage. I’m not one given to a lack of privacy and invasion.”
— Christopher Knight

“And, of course, it must be asked: is it proper to transact with the Turks for the most reassured of Greek possessions when Greece is under Turkish invasion and subjugation?”
— Melina Mercouri

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by Gerald Boerner


“Everybody’s hair and eyebrows would be snow-white with sand.”
— Mary Adachi, Internee

“Every time we had a hot war going on in Asia, it was difficult for Asian Americans here.”
— George Takei, Internee

“I spent my boyhood behind the barbed wire fences of American internment camps and that part of my life is something that I wanted to share with more people.”
— George Takei, Internee

“Down in our hearts we cried and cursed this government every time when we showered with sand. We slept in the dust; we breathed the dust; we ate the dust.”
— Joseph Kurihara, Internee

“But when we came out of camp, that’s when I first realized that being in camp, that being Japanese-American, was something shameful.”
— George Takei, Internee

“Between the barracks there was trellis with morning glories, forming a tunnel of flowers. One block in particular was a showplace. Any outside visitors were taken there.”
— Sada Murayama, Internee

“The country-what I have had the strength enough to see is beautiful. The mountains to the North West are rugged, beautiful and stony, but oh so treacherous looking.”
— Helen Aihara, Internee

“And it seems to me important for a country, for a nation to certainly know about its glorious achievements but also to know where its ideals failed, in order to keep that from happening again.”
— George Takei, Internee

“All ten [internment camp] sites can only be called godforsaken. They were in places where nobody lived before and no one has lived since.”
— Roger Daniels, authority on the Japanese Interment

“Now that the war is going on many Japanese men, women and girls are out of jobs and a lot of my friends are in condertration [concentration] camp. If I go there I hope that I will have a teacher just like you. And rather more I hope the war will strighten [straighten] out very soon so that I would be able to attend Washington school.”
— Letter from a junior high student to her teacher

“Be prepared for the Relocation Center, which is a pioneer community. So bring clothes suited to pioneer life and in keeping with the climate or climates likely to be involved. Bring warm clothing even if you are going to a southern area, because the temperatures may range from freezing in winter to 115 degrees during some periods of the summer.”
— from a War Relocation Authority pamphlet


Today we are attending to one of the aftermath effects of the Pearl Harbor attack that is not among America’s Proudest Moments: The Imprisonment of Japanese-American citizens because of their ethnic heritage. The were removed from their communities, sent to the desert, and punished for their genetics. For a first-hand photographic account of their plight, see Ansel Adams, Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese Americans (1893343057)


Pearl Harbor: The Interment of the Japanese-Americans

Manzanar_Flag Japanese American internment was the forcible relocation and internment by the United States government in 1942 of approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese residing in the United States to camps called "War Relocation Camps," in the wake of Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The internment of Japanese Americans was applied unequally throughout the United States. Japanese Americans residing on the West Coast of the United States were all interned, whereas in Hawaii, where more than 150,000 Japanese Americans composed nearly a third of that territory’s population, only 1,200 to 1,800 Japanese Americans were interned. Of those interned, 62 percent were United States citizens.

Japanese_American_Internment_Mochida_Family_Awaiting_Evacuation_1942President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized the internment with Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, which allowed local military commanders to designate "military areas" as "exclusion zones," from which "any or all persons may be excluded." This power was used to declare that all people of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the entire Pacific coast, including all of California and most of Oregon and Washington, except for those in internment camps. In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the exclusion orders, while noting that the provisions that singled out people of Japanese ancestry were a separate issue outside the scope of the proceedings.

In 1988, Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed legislation which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government. The legislation stated that government actions were based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership". Over $1.6 billion in reparations were later disbursed by the U.S. government to Japanese Americans who had either suffered internment or were heirs of those who had suffered internment.

Historical context

In the first half of the 20th century, California experienced a wave of anti-Japanese prejudice, in part because of the concentration there of new immigrants. This was distinct from the Japanese American experience in the broader United States. Over 90% of Japanese immigrants to the USA settled in California, where labor and farm competition fed into general anti-Japanese sentiment. In 1905, California’s anti-miscegenation law outlawed marriages between Caucasians and "Mongolians" (an umbrella term which, at the time, was used in reference to the Japanese, among other ethnicities of East Asian ancestry). In October 1906, the San Francisco Board of Education separated the Japanese students from the Caucasian students. It ordered ninety-three Japanese students in the district to a segregated school in Chinatown. Twenty-five of the students were American citizens. That anti-Japanese sentiment was maintained beyond this period is evidenced by the 1924 "Oriental Exclusion Law," which blocked Japanese immigrants from attaining citizenship.

Tokio_Kid_Say Anti-Japanese sentiment in the
U.S. peaked during World War II.
The government subsidized the
production of propaganda posters
using exaggerated stereotypes.

In the years 1939–1941, the FBI compiled the Custodial Detention Index ("CDI") on citizens, enemy aliens and foreign nationals, in the interest of national security. On June 28, 1940, the Alien Registration Act was passed. Among many other loyalty regulations, Section 31 required the registration and fingerprinting of all aliens above the age of 14, and Section 35 required aliens to report any change of address within 5 days. In the subsequent months, nearly five million foreign nationals registered at post offices around the country.

About 127,000 Japanese Americans lived on the West Coast of the continental United States at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. About 80,000 were nisei (Japanese born in the United States and holding American citizenship) and sansei (the sons or daughters of nisei). The rest were issei (immigrants born in Japan who were ineligible for U.S. citizenship).

After Pearl Harbor

The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 led some to suspect that Imperial Japan was preparing a full-scale attack on the West Coast of the United States. Japan’s rapid military conquest of a large portion of Asia and the Pacific between 1936 and 1942 made its military forces seem unstoppable to some Americans.

Japanese American Grocer 1942  A Japanese American unfurled
this banner the day after the
Pearl Harbor attack. This Dorothea
Lange photograph was taken in
March 1942, just prior to
the man’s internment.

Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Command, sought approval to conduct search and seizure operations aimed at preventing alien Japanese from making radio transmissions to Japanese ships. The Justice Department declined, however, stating that there was no probable cause to support DeWitt’s assertion, as the FBI concluded that there was no security threat. On January 2, the Joint Immigration Committee of the California Legislature sent a manifesto to California newspapers which attacked "the ethnic Japanese," whom it alleged were "totally unassimilable." This manifesto further argued that all people of Japanese heritage were loyal subjects of the Emperor of Japan; Japanese language schools, furthermore, according to the manifesto, were bastions of racism which advanced doctrines of Japanese racial superiority.

The manifesto was backed by the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West and the California Department of the American Legion, which in January demanded that all Japanese with dual citizenship be placed in concentration camps. Internment was not limited to those who had been to Japan, but included a small number of German and Italian enemy aliens. By February, Earl Warren, the Attorney General of California, had begun his efforts to persuade the federal government to remove all people of Japanese heritage from the West Coast.

Japanese Americans Children Pledging Allegiance 1942  Children at the Weill public
school in San Francisco pledge
allegiance to the American flag in
April 1942, prior to the internment
of Japanese Americans.

Civilian and military officials had concerns about the loyalty of the ethnic Japanese, although these concerns seemed to stem more from racial prejudice than actual risk. Major Karl Bendetsen and Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt each questioned Japanese American loyalty. DeWitt, who administered the internment program, repeatedly told newspapers that "A Jap’s a Jap" and testified to Congress,

Civilian and military officials had concerns about the loyalty of the ethnic Japanese, although these concerns seemed to stem more from racial prejudice than actual risk. Major Karl Bendetsen and Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt each questioned Japanese American loyalty. DeWitt, who administered the internment program, repeatedly told newspapers that "A Jap’s a Jap" and testified to Congress,

I don’t want any of them [persons of Japanese ancestry] here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty… It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty… But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map.

Those that were as little as 1/16th Japanese could be placed in internment camps. There is some evidence supporting the argument that the measures were racially motivated, rather than a military necessity. For example, orphaned infants with "one drop of Japanese blood" (as explained in a letter by one official) were included in the program.

Japanese Relocation Newspapers 1942 San Francisco Examiner,
February 1942,
newspaper headlines.

Upon the bombing of Pearl Harbor and pursuant to the Alien Enemies Act, Presidential Proclamations 2525, 2526 and 2527 were issued designating Japanese, German and Italian nationals as enemy aliens. Information from the CDI was used to locate and incarcerate foreign nationals from Japan, Germany and Italy (although Germany or Italy did not declare war on the U.S. until December 11).

Presidential Proclamation 2537 was issued on January 14, 1942, requiring aliens to report any change of address, employment or name to the FBI. Enemy aliens were not allowed to enter restricted areas. Violators of these regulations were subject to "arrest, detention and internment for the duration of the war."

Executive Order 9066 and related actions

Posted_Japanese_American_Exclusion_Order Executive Order 9066, signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, allowed authorized military commanders to designate "military areas" at their discretion, "from which any or all persons may be excluded." These "exclusion zones," unlike the "alien enemy" roundups, were applicable to anyone that an authorized military commander might choose, whether citizen or non-citizen. Eventually such zones would include parts of both the East and West Coasts, totaling about 1/3 of the country by area. Unlike the subsequent detainment and internment programs that would come to be applied to large numbers of Japanese Americans, detentions and restrictions directly under this Individual Exclusion Program were placed primarily on individuals of German or Italian ancestry, including American citizens.

  • March 2, 1942: General John L. DeWitt issued Public Proclamation No. 1, declaring that "such person or classes of persons as the situation may require" would, at some later point, be subject to exclusion orders from "Military Area No. 1" (essentially, the entire Pacific coast to about 100 miles (160.9 km) inland), and requiring anyone who had "enemy" ancestry to file a Change of Residence Notice if they planned to move. A second exclusion zone was designated several months later, which included the areas chosen by most of the Japanese Americans who had managed to leave the first zone.
  • March 11, 1942: Executive Order 9095 created the Office of the Alien Property Custodian, and gave it discretionary, plenary authority over all alien property interests. Many assets were frozen, creating immediate financial difficulty for the affected aliens, preventing most from moving out of the exclusion zones.
  • March 24, 1942: Public Proclamation No. 3 declares an 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew for "all enemy aliens and all persons of Japanese ancestry" within the military areas.
  • March 24, 1942: General DeWitt began to issue Civilian Exclusion Orders for specific areas within "Military Area No. 1."
  • March 27, 1942: General DeWitt’s Proclamation No. 4 prohibited all those of Japanese ancestry from leaving "Military Area No. 1" for "any purpose until and to the extent that a future proclamation or order of this headquarters shall so permit or direct."
  • May 3, 1942: General DeWitt issued Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34, ordering all people of Japanese ancestry, whether citizens or non-citizens, who were still living in "Military Area No. 1" to report to assembly centers, where they would live until being moved to permanent "Relocation Centers."

These edicts included persons of part-Japanese ancestry as well. Anyone with at least one-eighth Japanese ancestry was eligible. Korean-Americans, considered to have Japanese nationality (since Korea was occupied by Japan during World War II), were also included.

Non-military advocates for exclusion, removal, and detention

Internment was popular among many white farmers who resented the Japanese American farmers. "White American farmers admitted that their self-interest required removal of the Japanese." These individuals saw internment as a convenient means of uprooting their Japanese American competitors. Austin E. Anson, managing secretary of the Salinas Vegetable Grower-Shipper Association, told the Saturday Evening Post in 1942:

"We’re charged with wanting to get rid of the Japs for selfish reasons. We do. It’s a question of whether the white man lives on the Pacific Coast or the brown men… If all the Japs were removed tomorrow, we had never miss them in two weeks, because the white farmers can take over and produce everything the Jap grows. And we do not want them back when the war ends, either."

The Roberts Commission Report, prepared at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s request, has been cited as an example of the fear and prejudice informing the thinking behind the internment program. The Report sought to link Japanese Americans with espionage activity, and to associate them with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Columnist Henry McLemore reflected growing public sentiment fueled by this report:

"I am for the immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to a point deep in the interior. I don’t mean a nice part of the interior either. Herd ’em up, pack ’em off and give ’em the inside room in the badlands. Personally, I hate the Japanese. And that goes for all of them."

Rebuttals of charges of espionage, disloyalty and anti-American activity

Critics of the internment argue that the military justification was unfounded, citing the absence of any subsequent convictions of Japanese Americans for espionage or sabotage.

Architects of the internment, including DeWitt and Army Major Karl Bendetsen, cited the complete lack of sabotage as "a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken" (Memorandum to Secretary of War, 13 FEB 1942).

Critics of the internment also note that it seems unlikely that Japanese Americans in Japan had any choice other than to be conscripted into the Japanese army, given (1) that it was near-impossible for them to return to the U.S. from Japan, and (2) that the United States had already classified all people of Japanese ancestry as "enemy aliens."

An additional reason to question the necessity of internment was an official report by Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Ringle, a naval intelligence officer tasked with evaluating the loyalty of the Japanese American population. LCDR Ringle estimated in a February 1942 report to his superiors that "more than 90% of the Nisei (second generation) and 75% of the original immigrants were completely loyal to the United States." A 1941 report prepared on President Roosevelt’s orders by Curtis B. Munson, special representative of the State Department, concluded that most Japanese nationals and "90 to 98%" of Japanese American citizens were loyal. He wrote: "There is no Japanese ‘problem’ on the Coast… There is far more danger from Communists and people of the Bridges type on the Coast than there is from Japanese."

FBI director J. Edgar Hoover also opposed the internment of Japanese Americans. Refuting General DeWitt’s reports of disloyalty on the part of Japanese Americans, Hoover sent a memo to Attorney General Francis Biddle in which he wrote about Japanese American disloyalty, "Every complaint in this regard has been investigated, but in no case has any information been obtained which would substantiate the allegation." Hoover was not privy to MAGIC intercepts, although he was sometimes sent sanitized synopses.

General DeWitt and Colonel Bendetsen kept this information out of Final Report: Japanese Evacuation from the West Coast – 1942, which was written in April 1943 — a time when DeWitt was fighting against an order that Nisei soldiers (members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service) were to be considered "loyal" and permitted into the Exclusion Zones while on leave. DeWitt and Bendetsen initially issued 10 copies of the report, then hastily recalled them to rewrite passages which showed racist bases for the exclusion. Among other justifications, the report stated flatly that, because of their race, it was impossible to determine the loyalty of Japanese Americans. The original version was so offensive — even in the atmosphere of the wartime 1940s — that Bendetsen ordered all copies to be destroyed. Not a single piece of paper was to be left giving any evidence that an earlier version had existed.

Camp Facilities

While this event is most commonly called the internment of Japanese Americans, in fact there were several different types of camps involved. The best known facilities were the Assembly Centers run by the Wartime Civil Control Administration (WCCA), and the Relocation Centers run by the War Relocation Authority (WRA), which are generally (but unofficially) referred to as "internment camps." The Department of Justice (DOJ) operated camps officially called Internment Camps, which were used to detain those suspected of actual crimes or "enemy sympathies." German American internment and Italian American internment camps also existed, sometimes sharing facilities with the Japanese Americans. The WCCA and WRA facilities were the largest and the most public. The WCCA Assembly Centers were temporary facilities that were first set up in horse racing tracks, fairgrounds and other large public meeting places to assemble and organize internees before they were transported to WRA Relocation Centers by truck, bus or train. The WRA Relocation Centers were camps that housed persons removed from the exclusion zone after March 1942, or until they were able to relocate elsewhere in America outside the exclusion zone.

There were three types of camps. Civilian Assembly Centers were temporary camps, frequently located at horse tracks, where the Nissei were sent as they were removed from their communities. Eventually, most were sent to Relocation Centers, also known as internment camps. Detention camps housed Nikkei considered to be disruptive or of special interest to the government.


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Japanese Interment Camps that can be found at…

by Gerald Boerner


“Special training was given in cross country flying, night flying and navigation.”
— Gen. Doolittle’s Report on Japanese Raid

“Inasmuch as it was planned, in the interest of security, to maintain radio silence throughout the flight and weight was of the essence, the 230 lb. Liaison radio set was removed.”
— Gen. Doolittle’s Report on Japanese Raid

“We anticipated that some difficulty might be experienced due to our targets being camouflaged. Little or no effective camouflage was observed in the Tokyo area.”
— Gen. Doolittle’s Report on Japanese Raid

“Twenty-four airplanes were prepared for the mission. Preparation consisted of installing additional tankage and removing certain unnecessary equipment. Three additional gasoline tanks were installed.”
— Gen. Doolittle’s Report on Japanese Raid

“Each airplane will carry its normal compliment of five crew members; pilot, co-pilot, bombardier-navigator, radio operator and gunner-mechanic. one crew member will be a competent meteorologist and one an experienced navigator. All navigators will be trained in celestial navigation.”
— Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation

“The Doolittle Tokyo Raid was perhaps the most famous exploit of the B-25 Mitchell. It was carried out in an attempt to shore up morale on the home front during the early months of 1942, which was sagging as a result of suffering defeat after defeat in the Pacific. It was also the turning point of the war in the Pacific. Prior to the Doolittle Raid we had only known defeat. After the Doolittle Raid we knew only victory.”
North Texas Vets web site

“All pilots were given selected objectives consisting of steel works, oil refineries, oil tank farms, ammunition dumps, dock yards, munitions plants, airplane factories. They were also secondary targets in case it was impossible to reach the primary target. In almost every case, primary targets were bombed. the damage done far exceeded out most optimistic expectations. A high degree of damage resulted from the highly inflammable nature of Japanese construction.”
— Gen. Doolittle’s Report on Japanese Raid

“The method contemplated is to bring carrier borne bombers to within 400 or 500 miles (all distances mentioned will be in statue miles) of the coast of Japan, preferably to the south-southeast. They will then take off from the carrier deck and proceed directly to selected objectives. These objectives will be military and industrial targets in the Tokyo-Yokahama, Nagoya and Osaka-Kobi areas. Simultaneous bombings of these areas is contemplated with the bombers coming in up waterways from the southeast and, after dropping their bombs, returning in the same direction. After clearing the Japanese outside coastline a sufficient distance a general westerly course will be set for one or more of the following airports in China: C…chow, Chuchow (Lishui), Yushan and or Chien. C …chow is about seventy miles inland and two hundred twenty miles to the south south west of Shanghai.”
— Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation


Pearl Harbor: The Doolittle Raid on Tokyo

Army_B-25_Doolittle_Raid The Doolittle Raid, 18 April 1942, was the first air raid by the United States to strike a Japanese home island (Honshū) during World War II. It demonstrated that Japan itself was vulnerable to Allied air attack and provided an expedient means for U.S. retaliation for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James "Jimmy" Doolittle. Doolittle would later recount in his autobiography that the raid was intended to cause the Japanese to doubt their leadership and to raise American morale:

The Japanese had been told they were invulnerable. An attack on the Japanese homeland would cause confusion in the minds of the Japanese people and sow doubt about the reliability of their leaders.
There was a second, equally important, psychological reason for this attack…Americans badly needed a morale boost.[1]

B-25 on Hornet DeckSixteen B-25B Mitchell bombers were launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet deep within enemy waters. The plan called for them to hit military targets in Japan, and land in China. All of the aircraft were lost and 11 crewmen were either killed or captured. One of these B-25s landed in Soviet territory where its crew remained interned for more than a year. The entire crews of 13 of the 16 aircraft, and all but one of a 14th, returned to the United States or to Allied control. The raid caused little material damage to Japan, but succeeded in its goal of helping American morale. It also caused Japan to withdraw a carrier group from the Indian Ocean to defend their homeland and contributed to Japan’s decision to attack Midway.


The raid had its start in a desire by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, expressed to Joint Chiefs of Staff in a meeting at the White House on 21 December, 1941, that Japan be bombed as soon as possible to boost public morale after the disaster at Pearl Harbor.

The concept for the attack came from Navy Captain Francis Low, Assistant Chief of Staff for Anti-submarine Warfare, who reported to Admiral Ernest J. King on 10 January 1942, that he thought that twin-engined Army bombers could be successfully launched from an aircraft carrier after observing several at a naval airfield in Norfolk, Virginia, where the runway was painted with the outline of a carrier deck for landing practice. It was subsequently planned and led by Doolittle, a famous civilian aviator and aeronautical engineer before the war.

DoolittleRaidDisplayAtAFMuseum NMUSAF Doolittle Raid exhibit

Requirements for the aircraft for a cruising range of 2,400 miles (3,900 km) with a 2,000 pound (900 kg) bomb load resulted in the selection of the North American B-25B Mitchell to carry out the mission. The B-26 Marauder, B-18 Bolo, and B-23 Dragon were also considered, but the B-26 had questionable takeoff characteristics from a carrier deck, and the B-23’s wingspan was nearly 50% greater than the B-25’s, reducing the number that could be taken aboard a carrier and posing risks to the ship’s island. The B-18, one of the final two types considered by Doolittle, was rejected for the same reason.

Subsequent tests with B-25s indicated they could fulfill the mission’s requirements. Doolittle’s first report on the plan suggested that the bombers might land in Vladivostok, shortening the flight by 600 miles (1,000 km), on the basis of turning over the B-25s as Lend-Lease. However, negotiations with the Soviet Union (which was not at war with Japan) for permission were fruitless.


When planning indicated that the B-25 was the aircraft best meeting all specifications of the mission, two were loaded aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet at Norfolk, Virginia, and subsequently flown off the deck without difficulty on 3 February 1942. The raid was immediately approved and the 17th Bomb Group (Medium) chosen to provide the pool of crews from which volunteers would be recruited. The 17th BG had been the first group to receive B-25s, with all four of its squadrons equipped with the bomber by September 1941. The 17th not only was the first medium bomb group of the Army Air Corps, but in the spring of 1942, also had the most experienced B-25 crews. Its first assignment following the entry of the United States into the war was to the U.S. Eighth Air Force.

Doolittle_LtCol_i02457 Lt. Col. Doolittle wires a
Japanese medal to a bomb,
for "return" to its originators.

The 17th BG, then flying antisubmarine patrols from Pendleton, Oregon, was immediately moved cross-country to Lexington County Army Air Base, Columbia, South Carolina, ostensibly to fly similar patrols off the east coast of the United States, but in actuality to prepare for the mission against Japan. The group officially transferred to Columbia effective 9 February, where its combat crews were offered the opportunity to volunteer for an "extremely hazardous" but unspecified mission. On 17 February the group was detached from the Eighth Air Force.

Initial planning called for 20 aircraft to fly the mission, and 24 of the group’s B-25B Mitchell bombers were diverted to the Mid-Continent Airlines modification center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Modifications included:

  • Removal of the lower gun turret
  • Installation of de-icers and anti-icers
  • Steel blast plates mounted on the fuselage around the upper turret
  • Removal of the liaison radio set (a weight impediment)
  • Installation of three additional fuel tanks and support mounts in the bomb bay, crawl way and lower turret area to increase fuel capacity from 646 to 1,141 U.S. gallons (2,445 to 4,319 litres)
  • Mock gun barrels installed in the tail cone, and
  • Replacement of their Norden bombsight with a makeshift aiming sight, devised by pilot Capt. C. Ross Greening and called the "Mark Twain".

Two bombers also had cameras mounted to record the results of bombing.

Doolittle_Raider,_Plane_1The 24 crews selected picked up the modified bombers in Minneapolis and flew them to Eglin Field, Florida, beginning 1 March 1942. There the crews received intensive training for three weeks in simulated carrier deck takeoffs, low-level and night flying, low-altitude bombing, and over-water navigation. Navy Lt. Henry Miller supervised their takeoff training and accompanied the crews to the launch. For his efforts, Lt. Miller is considered an honorary member of the Raider group. Lt. Col Doolittle stated in his after action report that an operational level of training was reached despite several days when flying was not possible because of rain and fog. One aircraft was heavily damaged in a takeoff accident and another taken off the mission because of a nose wheel shimmy that could not be repaired quickly enough.

On 25 March, the remaining 22 B-25s took off from Eglin for McClellan Field, California. They arrived on 27 March for final modifications at the Sacramento Air Depot. A total of 16 B-25s were subsequently flown to Alameda, California, on 31 March. Fifteen raiders would be the mission force and a 16th aircraft, by last minute agreement with the Navy, would be squeezed onto the deck to be flown off shortly after departure from San Francisco to provide feedback to the Army pilots about takeoff characteristics. (The 16th bomber was made part of the mission force instead.)

The Raid

On 1 April, the 16 modified bombers, their five-man crews and Army maintenance personnel, totaling 71 officers and 130 enlisted men, were loaded onto USS Hornet at Alameda. Each aircraft carried four specially-constructed 500-pound (225 kg) bombs. Three of these were high-explosive munitions, and one was a bundle of incendiaries. The incendiaries were long tubes, wrapped together in order to be carried in the bomb bay, but designed to separate and scatter over a wide area after release. Five bombs had Japanese "friendship" medals wired to them — medals awarded by the Japanese government to U.S. servicemen before the war. To decrease weight (and thus increase range), the bombers’ armament was reduced. Each bomber launched with two .50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in an upper turret and a .30-caliber (7.62 mm) machine gun in the nose. The simulated gun barrels mounted in the tail cones, intended to discourage Japanese air attacks from behind, were cited afterward by Doolittle as being particularly effective. The aircraft were clustered closely and tied down on the Hornet’s flight deck in the order of their expected launch.

B-25 on Hornet Deck  B-25Bs on USS Hornet
en route to Japan

The Hornet and Task Force 18 left the port of Alameda at 10:00 on 2 April and a few days later rendezvoused with Task Force 16, commanded by Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.: the carrier USS Enterprise and her escort of cruisers and destroyers in the mid-Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii. The Enterprise‘s fighters and scout planes would provide protection for the entire task force in the event of a Japanese air attack, since the Hornet‘s fighters were stowed below decks to allow the B-25s to use the flight deck. The combined force, two carriers, three heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, eight destroyers, and two fleet oilers, then proceeded in radio silence. On the afternoon of 17 April, the slow oilers refueled the task force, then withdrew with the destroyers to the east, while the carriers and cruisers dashed west at 20 knots towards their intended launch point in enemy-controlled waters east of Japan.

Doolittle Raid Crews  Orders in hand, Navy Capt.
Marc A. Mitscher, skipper of the
USS Hornet chats with
Lt. Col. James Doolittle.

At 07:38 on the morning of 18 April, while the task force was still about 650 miles (1,050 km) from Japan, it was sighted by Japanese picket boat No. 23 Nitto Maru which radioed an attack warning to Japan. Although the boat was fatally damaged by gunfire from the cruiser USS Nashville, Doolittle and Hornet skipper Captain Marc Mitscher decided to launch the B-25s immediately—10 hours early and 170 miles (270 km) farther from Japan than planned. After respotting to allow for engine start and run-ups, Doolittle’s aircraft had 467 ft (142 metres) of takeoff distance. Despite the fact that none of the B-25 pilots, including Doolittle, had ever taken off from a carrier before, all 16 aircraft launched safely between 08:20 and 09:19. (The 16th B-25 had been included only as a reserve, intended to fly along as an observation and photographic platform, but when the mission was compromised, Doolittle made a command decision to utilize the reserve aircraft.) This was the only time that United States Army Air Forces bombers were launched from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier on a combat mission.


Compared to the devastating B-29 Superfortress attacks against Japan later in the war, the Doolittle raid did little material damage. Eight primary and five secondary targets were struck, and the Japanese reported that the two planes whose crews were captured had also struck their targets. At least one bomb from the plane of Lt. Edgar E. McElroy struck the Japanese aircraft carrier Ryūhō. Nevertheless, when the news of the raid was released, American morale soared. Stinging from the attack on Pearl Harbor and Japan’s subsequent territorial gains, it was important for the American public to know that a successful military response had been undertaken.

DoolittleRaiders_China_h97502 The raid also had a strategic impact, though it was not understood at the time, in that it caused the Japanese to recall some fighting units back to the home islands for defense. The Fast Carrier Task Force, consisting of six carriers under Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, had inflicted serious losses on the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean Raid; after the Doolittle Raid, Nagumo’s task force was recalled to Japan, relieving the pressure on the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean. The Japanese Navy also bore a special responsibility for the fact that an American carrier task force had approached the Japanese Home Islands in a manner similar to that on Pearl Harbor, and then escaped unpunished. The fact that land-based bombers carried out the attack served to confuse Japanese war planners about the source of the attack. This confusion and an assumption that Japan was vulnerable to air attack strengthened Admiral Yamamoto’s resolve to seize Midway Island, resulting in the decisive Battle of Midway.

"It was hoped that the damage done would be both material and psychological. Material damage was to be the destruction of specific targets with ensuing confusion and retardation of production. The psychological results, it was hoped, would be the recalling of combat equipment from other theaters for home defense thus effecting relief in those theaters, the development of a fear complex in Japan, improved relationships with our Allies, and a favorable reaction on the American people." 
— Gen. James H. Doolittle, 9 July 1942


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

The Doolittle Raid that can be found at…

by Gerald Boerner


“Our man in Tokyo is worth every cent we pay him.”
— Staff Officer at CINCPAC

“Our citizens can now rejoice that a momentous victory is in the making. Perhaps we will be forgiven if we claim we are about midway to our objective.”
— Admiral Chester Nimitz

“The good news was that Enterprise and the newly arrived Yorktown had attacked the Marshall and Gilbert islands. Those attacks had a great effect on morale.”
— Jack Adams

“We began intercepting Japanese radio transmissions, which indicated the two forces were very close to each other. We found out later that we were moving in opposite directions and passed each other by 32 miles.”
— Jack Adams

“…The atmosphere was very impersonal… Admiral Nimitz [would ask] me a question, and I would look over there and I would see four stars, and I would answer his question to the very best of my ability… he has the responsibility; along with this responsibility is this horrible thing of making a decision, which people not familiar with military operations never seem to understand. This is an awesome power to give somebody… he had bought what we had told him, very fortunately for this country.”
— Captain Joseph J. Rochefort, USN

“The first enemy carrier planes to attack were 15 torpedo bombers. When first spotted by our screening ships and combat air patrol, they were still not visible from the carriers, but they soon appeared as tiny dark specks in the blue sky, a little above the horizon, on Akagi’s starboard bow. The distant wings flashed in the sun. Occasionally one of the specks burst into a spark of flame and trailed black smoke as it fell into the water. Our fighters were on the job, and the enemy again seemed to be without fighter protection.”
— The Battle of Midway, “Five Minutes” that changed the World


Pearl Harbor: America Rebounds at Midway

Less than six months after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, four U.S. aircraft carriers surprised the Japanese force set to attack Midway Island. They destroyed the cream of the Japanese carrier resources. This prevented the Japanese military from isolating the U.S. forces in the Pacific. GLB

Midway_Mikuma The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated an Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) attack against Midway Atoll, inflicting irreparable damage on the Japanese.

The Japanese operation, like the earlier attack on Pearl Harbor, aimed to eliminate the United States as a strategic power in the Pacific, thereby giving Japan a free hand in establishing its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. It was hoped another demoralizing defeat would force the U.S. to negotiate an end to the Pacific War on conditions favorable to Japan.

The Japanese plan was to lure the United States’ few remaining carriers into a trap. The Japanese also intended to occupy Midway Atoll as part of an overall plan to extend their defensive perimeter in response to the Doolittle Raid. This operation was considered preparatory for further attacks against Fiji and Samoa.

Tojo Image The plan was handicapped by faulty Japanese assumptions of American reaction and poor initial dispositions. Most significantly, American codebreakers were able to determine the date and location of the attack, enabling the forewarned U.S. Navy to set up an ambush of its own. Four Japanese aircraft carriers and a heavy cruiser were sunk in exchange for one American aircraft carrier and a destroyer. The heavy losses in carriers and aircrews permanently weakened the Imperial Japanese Navy. Japan’s shipbuilding and pilot training programs were unable to keep pace in replacing even her own losses, while the U.S. steadily increased output in both areas.

Japan had been highly successful in swiftly securing its initial war goals, including the conquest of the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) with its vital resources. As such, preliminary planning for a second phase of operations commenced as early as January 1942. However, because of strategic differences between the Imperial Army and Imperial Navy, as well as infighting between the Navy’s GHQ and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s Combined Fleet, the formulation of effective strategy was hampered, and the follow-up strategy was not finalized until April 1942. Admiral Yamamoto succeeded in winning a bureaucratic struggle, placing his operational concept—further operations in the Central Pacific—ahead of other contending plans. These included operations either directly or indirectly aimed at Australia and into the Indian Ocean. In the end, Yamamoto’s thinly-veiled threat to resign unless he got his way carried his agenda forward.

Midway_Atoll Midway Atoll, several months
before the battle. Eastern Island
(with the airfield) is in the
foreground, and the larger
Sand Island is in the
background to the west.

Yamamoto’s primary strategic concern was the elimination of America’s remaining carrier forces, which he perceived as the principal obstacle to the overall Pacific campaign. This concern was acutely heightened by the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo (18 April 1942) by USAAF B-25s launched from USS Hornet. The raid, while militarily insignificant, was a severe psychological shock to the Japanese and showed the existence of a gap in the defenses around the Japanese home islands. Sinking America’s aircraft carriers and seizing Midway, the only strategic islands besides Hawaii in the eastern Pacific, was seen as the only means of nullifying this threat. Yamamoto reasoned an operation against the main carrier base at Pearl Harbor would induce the U.S. to fight.

However, given the strength of American land-based air power on Hawaii, he judged the powerful American base could not be attacked directly. Instead, he selected Midway, at the extreme northwest end of the Hawaiian Island chain, some 1,300 miles (2,100 km) from Oahu. Midway was not especially important in the larger scheme of Japan’s intentions, but the Japanese felt the Americans would consider Midway a vital outpost of Pearl Harbor and would therefore strongly defend it. The U.S. did consider Midway vital; after the battle, establishment of a U.S. submarine base on Midway allowed submarines operating from Pearl Harbor to refuel and reprovision, extending their radius of operations by 1,200 miles (1,900 km). An airstrip on Midway served as a forward staging point for bomber attacks on Wake Island.

Yamamoto’s plan

Isoroku_Yamamoto Typical of Japanese naval planning during World War II, Yamamoto’s battle plan was exceedingly complex. Additionally, his design was predicated on optimistic intelligence suggesting USS Enterprise and USS Hornet, forming Task Force 16, were the only carriers available to the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the time. USS Lexington had been sunk and USS Yorktown severely damaged (and believed by the Japanese to have been sunk) at the Battle of the Coral Sea just a month earlier. The Japanese were also aware that USS Saratoga was undergoing repairs on the West Coast after suffering torpedo damage from a submarine.

However, more important was Yamamoto’s belief the Americans had been demoralized by their frequent defeats during the preceding six months. Yamamoto felt deception would be required to lure the U.S. fleet into a fatally compromised situation. To this end, he dispersed his forces so that their full extent (particularly his battleships) would be unlikely to be discovered by the Americans prior to battle. Critically, Yamamoto’s supporting battleships and cruisers would trail Vice-Admiral Nagumo Chūichi’s carrier striking force by several hundred miles. Japan’s heavy surface forces were intended to destroy whatever part of the U.S. fleet might come to Midway’s relief, once Nagumo’s carriers had weakened them sufficiently for a daylight gun duel; this was typical of the battle doctrine of most major navies.

American reinforcements

Adm_Chester_Nimitz To do battle with an enemy force anticipated to muster four or five carriers, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas) needed every available U.S. flight deck. He already had Vice Admiral William Halsey’s two-carrier (Enterprise and Hornet) task force at hand, though Halsey was stricken with psoriasis and had to be replaced by Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance (Halsey’s escort commander). Nimitz also hurriedly called back Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher’s task force, including the carrier Yorktown (which had been severely damaged at the Battle of the Coral Sea), from the South West Pacific Area. He reached Pearl Harbor just in time to provision and sail.

Despite estimates that Yorktown would require several months of repairs at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, her elevators were intact, and her flight deck largely so. The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard worked around the clock and in 72 hours, she was restored to a battle-ready state, judged good enough for two or three weeks of operations, as Nimitz required. Her flight deck was patched, whole sections of internal frames cut out and replaced, and several new squadrons were drawn from Saratoga; they did not, however, get time to train. Nimitz disregarded established procedure in getting his third and last available carrier ready for battle. Just three days after putting into dry dock at Pearl Harbor, Yorktown was again under way. Repairs continued even as she sortied, with work crews from the repair ship USS Vestal, herself damaged in the attack on Pearl Harbor six months earlier, still aboard.

Yorktown_Pearl_Harbor_May_1942 USS Yorktown at Pearl Harbor
days before the battle.

On Midway Island, the USAAF stationed four squadrons of B-17 Flying Fortresses, along with several B-26 Marauders. The Marine Corps had nineteen SBD Dauntless dive bombers, seven F4F-3 Wildcats, seventeen Vought SBU-3 Vindicators, twenty-one Brewster F2A-3s, and six Grumman TBF-1 Avenger torpedo bombers, the latter a detachment of VT-8 from Hornet.

Japanese shortcomings

Meanwhile, as a result of her participation in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Japanese carrier Zuikaku was in port in Kure, awaiting a replacement air group. That there were none immediately available was a failure of the IJN crew training program, which already showed signs of being unable to replace losses. Instructors from the Yokosuka Air Corps were employed in an effort to make up the shortfall. The heavily damaged Shōkaku had suffered three bomb hits at Coral Sea, and required months of repair in drydock. Despite the likely availability of sufficient aircraft between the two ships to re-equip Zuikaku with a composite air group, the Japanese made no serious attempt to get her into the forthcoming battle. Consequently, Admiral Nagumo would only have four fleet carriers: Kaga and Akagi forming Carrier Division 1; Hiryū and Sōryū as Carrier Division 2. At least part of this was a product of fatigue; Japanese carriers had been constantly on operations since 7 December, 1941, including raids on Darwin and Colombo.

AkagiDeckApril42 Akagi, the flagship of the Japanese
carrier striking force which attacked
Pearl Harbor, as well as Darwin,
Rabaul, and Colombo, in April
1942 prior to the battle.

The main Japanese strike aircraft to be used were the Aichi D3A1 dive bomber and the Nakajima B5N2, which was capable of being used either as a torpedo bomber or as a level attack bomber. The main carrier fighter was the fast and highly maneuverable Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero. However, the carriers of the Kido Butai were suffering from a shortage of frontline aircraft. For various reasons, production of the D3A had been drastically reduced, while that of the B5N had been stopped completely. As a consequence, there were none available to replace losses. This also meant that many of the aircraft being used during the June 1942 operations had been operational since late November 1941; although well maintained, they were almost worn out and had become increasingly unreliable. These factors meant that all carriers had less than their normal aircraft complement and few spare aircraft.

Allied code-breaking

Admiral Nimitz had one priceless asset: cryptanalysts had broken the JN-25 code. Commander Joseph J. Rochefort and his team at HYPO were able to confirm Midway as the target of the impending Japanese strike, to determine the date of the attack as either 4 or 5 June, and to provide Nimitz with a complete IJN order of battle. Japan’s efforts to introduce a new codebook had been delayed, giving HYPO several crucial days; while it was blacked out shortly before the attack began, the important breaks had already been made.

Wahiawa_Station HYPO 2 As a result, the Americans entered the battle with a very good picture of where, when, and in what strength the Japanese would appear. Nimitz was aware, for example, that the vast Japanese numerical superiority had been divided into no less than four task forces, and the escort for the Carrier Striking Force was limited to just a few fast ships. For this reason, they knew the anti-aircraft guns protecting the carriers would be limited. Nimitz thus calculated his three carrier decks, plus Midway Island, to Yamamoto’s four, gave the U.S. rough parity (especially since American carrier air groups were larger than Japanese ones). The Japanese, by contrast, remained almost totally unaware of their opponent’s true strength and dispositions even after the battle began.

Midway Memorial


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Battle of Midway that can be found at…

by Gerald Boerner


“For every advance that the Japanese have made since they started their frenzied career of conquest, they have had to pay a very heavy toll in warships, in transports, in planes, and in men. They are feeling the effects of those losses.
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“A brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war.”
— Admiral Yamamoto

“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
— Admiral Yamamoto

“We won a great tactical victory at Pearl Harbor and thereby lost the war.”
— Admiral Hara Tadaichi

“We, as a nation, cannot wait for the Pearl Harbor of the information age. We must increase our vigilance to tackle this problem before we are hit with a surprise attack.”
— Fred Thompson

“We’re in greater danger today than we were the day after Pearl Harbor. Our military is absolutely incapable of defending this country.”
— Ronald Reagan

“That bloodless dismissal made the human tragedy and physical mayhem on the Gulf Coast seem like a bureaucratic mistake, … It was similar to saying the Pearl Harbor attack should not have been investigated and nobody disciplined for failures until World War II was won.”
— Robert Novac

“By the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, public opinion polls showed that over 80 percent of the American public was opposed to entering another European war. It took the dramatic event of the attack on Pearl Harbor to shift public opinion overwhelmingly to suppor our entry into the war. The public was unaware of the evidence that we now have that Roosevelt provoked the attack on Pearl Harbor and actually withheld information from the military commanders stationed there, which if furnished to them, would have probably prevented the attack.”
— John Denson, in A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson and Roosevelt


Pearl Harbor: The Aftermath of the Attack

Pennsylvania-cassin-downes In the wake of the attack, 16 Medals of Honor, 51 Navy Crosses, 53 Silver Crosses, four Navy and Marine Corps Medals, one Distinguished Flying Cross, four Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Service Medal, and three Bronze Stars were awarded to the American servicemen who distinguished themselves in combat at Pearl Harbor.

In Europe, Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy subsequently declared war on the United States immediately after they began operations against a fellow Axis member, with Hitler stating in a delivered speech:

The fact that the Japanese Government, which has been negotiating for years with this man [Franklin D. Roosevelt], has at last become tired of being mocked by him in such an unworthy way, fills us all, the German people, and all other decent people in the world, with deep satisfaction … Germany and Italy have been finally compelled, in view of this, and in loyalty to the Tripartite Pact, to carry on the struggle against the U.S.A. and England jointly and side by side with Japan for the defense and thus for the maintenance of the liberty and independence of their nations and empires … As a consequence of the further extension of President Roosevelt’s policy, which is aimed at unrestricted world domination and dictatorship, the U.S.A. together with England have not hesitated from using any means to dispute the rights of the German, Italian and Japanese nations to the basis of their natural existence … Not only because we are the ally of Japan, but also because Germany and Italy have enough insight and strength to comprehend that, in these historic times, the existence or non-existence of the nations, is being decided perhaps forever.

Though the attack inflicted large-scale destruction on US vessels and aircraft, it did not affect Pearl Harbor’s fuel storage, maintenance, submarine, and intelligence facilities.

Prince of Wales Battleship The attack was an initial shock to all the Allies in the Pacific Theater. Further losses compounded the alarming setback. Three days later, the Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk off the coast of Malaya, causing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill later to recollect "In all the war I never received a more direct shock. As I turned and twisted in bed the full horror of the news sank in upon me. There were no British or American capital ships in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific except the American survivors of Pearl Harbor who were hastening back to California. Over this vast expanse of waters Japan was supreme and we everywhere were weak and naked".

Uss_enterprise_cv6 Fortunately for the United States, the American aircraft carriers were untouched by the Japanese attack, otherwise the Pacific Fleet’s ability to conduct offensive operations would have been crippled for a year or so (given no diversions from the Atlantic Fleet). As it was, the elimination of the battleships left the U.S. Navy with no choice but rely on its aircraft carriers and submarines — the very weapons with which the U.S. Navy halted and eventually reversed the Japanese advance. Five of the eight battleships were repaired and returned to service, but their slow speed limited their deployment, serving mainly in shore bombardment roles. A major flaw of Japanese strategic thinking was a belief the ultimate Pacific battle would be fought by battleships, in keeping with the doctrine of Captain Alfred Mahan. As a result, Yamamoto (and his successors) hoarded battleships for a "decisive battle" that never happened.

Ultimately, targets not on Genda’s list, such as the submarine base and the old headquarters building, proved more important than any battleship. It was submarines that immobilized the Imperial Japanese Navy’s heavy ships and brought Japan’s economy to a standstill by crippling the transportation of oil and raw materials. Also, the basement of the Old Administration Building was the home of the cryptanalytic unit which contributed significantly to the Midway ambush and the Submarine Force’s success.

One further consequence of the attacks on Pearl Harbor was that Japanese American residents and citizens were relocated to Japanese American internment camps. Within hours of the attack, hundreds of Japanese American leaders were rounded up and brought to high-security camps. Later, over 110,000 Japanese Americans, including United States citizens, were removed from their homes and transferred to internment camps.

Strategic implications

AkagiDeckApril42Admiral Hara Tadaichi summed up the Japanese result by saying, "We won a great tactical victory at Pearl Harbor and thereby lost the war." While the attack accomplished its intended objective, it turned out to be largely unnecessary. Unbeknownst to Yamamoto, who conceived the original plan, the U.S. Navy had decided as far back as 1935 to abandon ‘charging’ across the Pacific towards the Philippines in response to an outbreak of war (in keeping with the evolution of Plan Orange). The U.S. instead adopted "Plan Dog" in 1940, which emphasized keeping the IJN out of the eastern Pacific and away from the shipping lanes to Australia while the U.S. concentrated on defeating Nazi Germany. Robert Leckie observed Roosevelt wisely suppressed some details of the disaster rather than risk a panic, only publishing them after the American counterattack had begun at Guadalcanal in August 1942.

The Pacific War

Pacific Island Hoping Map The Pacific War was the part of World War II—and preceding conflicts—that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in the Far East. The war began as a conflict between the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China on July 7, 1937, but by December 1941, became part of the greater World War II, and lasted until August 14, 1945. The Pacific War saw the Allied powers against the Empire of Japan, the latter aided by Thailand and to lesser extent by its Axis allies Germany and Italy. The most decisive actions took place after the Empire of Japan attacked various countries, most notably the bombing of Pearl Harbor in the United States’ Territory of Hawaii. The Pacific War culminated in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, resulting in Victory over Japan Day and the end of World War II on August 15, 1945. The Surrender of Japan occurred aboard the battleship USS Missouri on September 2, 1945.


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Pearl Harbor Attack that can be found at…

War in the Pacific that can be found at…