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Category: Military Holidays
by Gerald Boerner

  

“Civilization is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbor.”
— Arnold J. Toynbee

“Every nation has to either be with us, or against us. Those who harbor terrorists, or who finance them, are going to pay a price.”
— Hillary Clinton

“As costly as it was in the lives of our men and women in uniform, in military assets, and in esteem and pride, Pearl Harbor was a watershed moment for America.”
— Joe Baca

“But in 1941, on December 8th, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, my mother bought a radio and we listened to the war news. We’d not had a radio up to that time. I was born in 1934, so I was seven years of age.”
— Sam Donaldson

“Today, the US spends less on defense as a percentage of our economy than we did at any time since he Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For the world’s only superpower, that is an invitation to very serious trouble.”
— Steve Forbes

“We managed to get underway, and I don’t know to this day why we didn’t get struck or take a torpedo, but we didn’t. We got outside of the exit of the harbor and we started dropping depth charges.”
— Barney Ross

“The surprise was complete. The attacking planes came in two waves; the first hit its target at 7:53 AM, the second at 8:55. By 9:55 it was all over. By 1:00 PM the carriers that launched the planes from 274 miles off the coast of Oahu were heading back to Japan.”
— Eyewitness to History

“When reflecting upon it today, that the Pearl Harbor attack should have succeeded in achieving surprise seems a blessing from Heaven. It was clear that a great American fleet had been concentrated in Pearl Harbor, and we supposed that the state of alert would be very high.”
— Hideki Tojo

  

Pearl Harbor: The Japanese Attack

USS_West_Virginia;014824 On November 26, 1941, a Japanese task force (the Striking Force) of six aircraft carriers departed northern Japan en route to a position to northwest of Hawaii, intending to launch its aircraft to attack Pearl Harbor. In all, 408 aircraft were intended to be used: 360 for the two attack waves, 48 on defensive combat air patrol (CAP), including nine fighters from the first wave.

The first wave was to be the primary attack, while the second wave was to finish whatever tasks remained. The first wave contained the bulk of the weapons to attack capital ships, mainly specially adapted Type 91 aerial torpedoes which were designed with an anti-roll mechanism and a rudder extension that let them operate in shallow water. The aircrews were ordered to select the highest value targets (battleships and aircraft carriers) or, if either were not present, any other high value ships (cruisers and destroyers). Dive bombers were to attack ground targets. Fighters were ordered to strafe and destroy as many parked aircraft as possible to ensure they did not get into the air to counterattack the bombers, especially in the first wave. When the fighters’ fuel got low they were to refuel at the aircraft carriers and return to combat. Fighters were to serve CAP duties where needed, especially over US airfields.

SB2U-3_VMSB-231_Ewa_7Dec1941 A destroyed Vindicator at Ewa field,
the victim of one of the smaller
attacks on the approach to
Pearl Harbor

Before the attack commenced, two reconnaissance aircraft launched from cruisers were sent to scout over Oahu and report on enemy fleet composition and location. Another four scout planes patrolled the area between the Kido Butai and Niihau, in order to prevent the task force from being caught by a surprise counterattack.

First wave

The first attack wave of 183 planes was launched north of Oahu, commanded by Captain Mitsuo Fuchida. Six planes failed to launch due to technical difficulties. It included:

  • 1st Group (targets: battleships and aircraft carriers)
    • 50 Nakajima B5N bombers armed with 800 kg (1760 lb) armor piercing bombs, organized in four sections
    • 40 B5N bombers armed with Type 91 torpedoes, also in four sections
  • 2nd Group — (targets: Ford Island and Wheeler Field)
    • 54 Aichi D3A dive bombers armed with 550 lb (249 kg) general purpose bombs
  • 3rd Group — (targets: aircraft at Ford Island, Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, Barber’s Point, Kaneohe)
    • 45 Mitsubishi A6M fighters for air control and strafing

As the first wave approached Oahu a U.S. Army SCR-270 radar at Opana Point near the island’s northern tip (a post not yet operational, having been in training mode for months) detected them and called in a warning. Although the operators reported a target echo larger than anything they had ever seen, an untrained officer at the new and only partially activated Intercept Center, Lieutenant Kermit A. Tyler, presumed the scheduled arrival of six B-17 bombers was the source. The direction from which the aircraft were coming was close (only a few degrees separated the two inbound courses), while the operators had never seen a formation as large on radar; they neglected to tell Tyler of its size, while Tyler, for security reasons, could not tell them the B-17s were due (even though it was widely known).

Second wave composition

The second wave consisted of 171 planes: 54 B5Ns, 81 D3As, and 36 A6Ms, commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki. Four planes failed to launch because of technical difficulties. This wave and its targets comprised:

  • 1st Group — 54 B5Ns armed with 550 lb (249 kg) and 132 lb (60 kg) general purpose bombs
    • 27 B5Ns — aircraft and hangars on Kaneohe, Ford Island, and Barbers Point
    • 27 B5Ns — hangars and aircraft on Hickam Field
  • 2nd Group (targets: aircraft carriers and cruisers)
    • 81 D3As armed with 550 lb (249 kg) general purpose bombs, in four sections
  • 3rd Group — (targets: aircraft at Ford Island, Hickham Field, Wheeler Field, Barber’s Point, Kaneohe)
    • 36 A6Ms for defense and strafing

The second wave was divided into three groups. One was tasked to attack Kāneʻohe, the rest Pearl Harbor proper. The separate sections arrived at the attack point almost simultaneously, from several directions.

Possible third wave

Several Japanese junior officers, including Mitsuo Fuchida and Minoru Genda, the chief architect of the attack, urged Nagumo to carry out a third strike in order to destroy as much of Pearl Harbor’s fuel and torpedo storage, maintenance, and dry dock facilities as possible. Military historians have suggested the destruction of these would have hampered the U.S. Pacific Fleet far more seriously than loss of its battleships. If they had been wiped out, "serious [American] operations in the Pacific would have been postponed for more than a year"; according to American Admiral Chester Nimitz, later Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, "it would have prolonged the war another two years." Nagumo, however, decided to withdraw for several reasons:

  • American anti-aircraft performance had improved considerably during the second strike, and two thirds of Japan’s losses were incurred during the second wave. Nagumo felt if he launched a third strike, he would be risking three quarters of the Combined Fleet’s strength to wipe out the remaining targets (which included the facilities) while suffering higher aircraft losses.
  • The location of the American carriers remained unknown. In addition, the Admiral was concerned his force was now within range of American land-based bombers. Nagumo was uncertain whether the U.S. had enough surviving planes remaining on Hawaii to launch an attack against his carriers.
  • A third wave would have required substantial preparation and turnaround time, and would have meant returning planes would have had to land at night. At the time, only the Royal Navy had developed night carrier techniques, so this was a substantial risk.
  • The task force’s fuel situation did not permit him to remain in waters north of Pearl Harbor much longer, since he was at the very limits of logistical support. To do so risked running unacceptably low on fuel, perhaps even having to abandon destroyers en route home.
  • He believed the second strike had essentially satisfied the main objective of his mission — the neutralization of the Pacific Fleet — and did not wish to risk further losses. Moreover, it was Japanese Navy practice to prefer the conservation of strength over the total destruction of the enemy.

At a conference aboard Yamato the following morning, Yamamoto initially supported Nagumo. In retrospect, sparing the vital dockyards, maintenance shops, and oil depots meant the U.S. could respond relatively quickly to Japanese activities in the Pacific. Yamamoto later regretted Nagumo’s decision to withdraw and categorically stated it had been a great mistake not to order a third strike.

Aftermath

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.

Pennsylvania-cassin-downes USS Pennsylvania, behind the
wreckage of the USS Downes
and USS Cassin

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".

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.

Manzanar sign 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.

  

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Pearl Harbor Attack that can be found at…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_Harbor_Attack

by Gerald Boerner

  

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt, President

“America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country.”
— George W. Bush

“From the unprovoked attack at Pearl Harbor grew a steadfast resolve that has made America a defender of freedom around the world, and our mission continues as our men and women in uniform serve at home and in distant lands”
— White House News Release

“Reunions including World War II and Pearl Harbor survivors have dwindled in recent years due to the increased age and ill health of veterans. The 2006 reunion at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was the last major gathering of Pearl Harbor survivors.”
— White House News Release

“Chief Finn was wounded, and then wounded again, and again, and again. Still he remained behind his gun, firing back at the incoming airplanes. He was frustrated at what was happening around him–and ANGRY!”
— Home of Heroes Web Site

“With Pearl Harbor, Japan had shown that they were a force
to be reckoned with, but many of the ships the Japanese
destroyed were obsolete and their gamble that a terrible
defeat would make the U.S. back down was wrong.”
— Quote a Day Web Site

“The 1941 Japanese attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, an event commemorated each year on December 7, marked the beginning of direct U.S. intervention into World War II. It was the largest domestic attack on U.S. citizens until the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, killing more than 2,400 Americans.”
— White House News Release

“Today at Pearl Harbor, veterans are gathering to pay tribute to the young men they remember who never escaped the sunken ships. And over the years, some Pearl Harbor veterans have made a last request. They ask that their ashes be brought down and placed inside the USS Arizona. After the long lives given them, they wanted to rest besides the best men they ever knew. Such loyalty and love remain the greatest strength of the United States Navy.”
— George W. Bush, Pearl Harbor Day 2001

“We’ve seen their kind before. The terrorists are the heirs to fascism. They have the same wield of power, the same disdain for the individual, the same mad global ambitions. And they will be dealt with in just the same way. Like all fascists, the terrorists can not be appeased. They must be defeated. This struggle will not end in a truce or a treaty. It will end in victory for the United States, our friends and for the cause of freedom.”
— George W. Bush, Pearl Harbor Day 2001

“When the first wave of Japanese planes descended on Pearl Harbor the 8 A.M. muster and flag raising ceremonies were well underway on most of the big battleships neatly lined up on the southeast side of Ford Island. With Zeroes weeping in from three directions, chaos erupted all around. As the first torpedo was striking the USS Utah on the northeast side of Ford Island, torpedo bombers were releasing their lethal charges against the Navy’s big battleships on ‘Battleship Row’.”
— Home of Heroes Web Site

The Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor

pearl-harbor-attackThe attack on Pearl Harbor (or Hawaii Operation, Operation Z, as it was called by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters) was an unannounced military strike conducted by the Japanese navy against the United States’ naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941 (Hawaiian time, December 8 by Japan Standard Time), which resulted in the United States becoming militarily involved in World War II. It was intended as a preventive action to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from influencing the war the Empire of Japan was planning to wage in Southeast Asia against Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States. The attack consisted of two aerial attack waves totaling 353 aircraft, launched from six Japanese aircraft carriers.

The attack sank four U.S. Navy battleships (two of which were raised and returned to service later in the war) and damaged four more. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and one minelayer, destroyed 188 aircraft, and caused personnel losses of 2,402 killed and 1,282 wounded. The power station, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and h eadquarters building (also home of the intelligence section) were not hit. Japanese losses were minimal, with 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 65 servicemen killed or wounded. One Japanese sailor was captured.

Pearl_Harbor_looking_southwest-Oct41 Pearl Harbor on October 30, 1941

The attack was a major engagement of World War II. It took place before a formal declaration of war by Japan and before the last part of a 14-part message had been delivered to the State Department in Washington, D.C. The Japanese Embassy in Washington had been instructed to deliver it immediately prior to the scheduled time of the attack in Hawaii. The attack, and especially the surprise nature of it, were both factors in changing U.S. public opinion from an isolationist position to support for direct participation in the war. Germany’s prompt declaration of war, unforced by any treaty commitment to Japan, quickly brought the United States into the European Theater as well. Despite numerous historical precedents of unannounced military action, the lack of any formal declaration prior to the attack led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim “December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy”.

Approach and attack

On November 26, 1941, a Japanese task force (the Striking Force) of six aircraft carriers departed northern Japan en route to a position to northwest of Hawaii, intending to launch its aircraft to attack Pearl Harbor. In all, 408 aircraft were intended to be used: 360 for the two attack waves, 48 on defensive combat air patrol (CAP), including nine fighters from the first wave.

Pearl Harbor Carrier Chart Route followed by the Japanese
fleet to Pearl Harbor and back

The first wave was to be the primary attack, while the second wave was to finish whatever tasks remained. The first wave contained the bulk of the weapons to attack capital ships, mainly specially adapted Type 91 aerial torpedoes which were designed with an anti-roll mechanism and a rudder extension that let them operate in shallow water. The aircrews were ordered to select the highest value targets (battleships and aircraft carriers) or, if either were not present, any other high value ships (cruisers and destroyers). Dive bombers were to attack ground targets. Fighters were ordered to strafe and destroy as many parked aircraft as possible to ensure they did not get into the air to counterattack the bombers, especially in the first wave. When the fighters’ fuel got low they were to refuel at the aircraft carriers and return to combat. Fighters were to serve CAP duties where needed, especially over US airfields.

Before the attack commenced, two reconnaissance aircraft launched from cruisers were sent to scout over Oahu and report on enemy fleet composition and location. Another four scout planes patrolled the area between the Kido Butai and Niihau, in order to prevent the task force from being caught by a surprise counterattack.

Japanese declaration of war

While the attack ultimately took place before a formal declaration of war by Japan, Admiral Yamamoto originally stipulated the attack should not commence until thirty minutes after Japan had informed the United States he considered the peace negotiations at an end. In this way, the Japanese tried both to uphold the conventions of war as well as achieving surprise. Despite these intentions, the attack had already begun when the 5,000-word notification was delivered. Tokyo transmitted the message to the Japanese embassy (in two blocks), which ultimately took too long transcribing the message to deliver it in time, while U.S. code breakers had already deciphered and translated most of it hours before the Japanese embassy was scheduled to deliver it. While sometimes described as a declaration of war, “this dispatch neither declared war nor severed diplomatic relations”. The declaration of war was printed in the front page of Japan’s newspapers in the evening edition on December 8.

Salvage

After a systematic search for survivors, formal salvage operations began. Captain Homer N. Wallin, Material Officer for Commander, Battle Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, was immediately retained to lead salvage operations.

NH64486_Wallin_aboard_BB-44 Captain Homer N. Wallin (center)
supervises salvage operations
aboard
USS California,
early 1942

Around Pearl Harbor, divers from the Navy (shore and tenders), the Naval Shipyard, and civilian contractors (Pacific Bridge and others) began work on the ships which could be refloated. They patched holes, cleared debris, and pumped water out of ships. Navy divers worked inside the damaged ships. Within six months, five battleships and two cruisers were patched or refloated so they could be sent to shipyards in Pearl and on the mainland for extensive repair.

USS Arizona_PearlHarbor_2Intensive salvage operations continued for another year, a total of some 20,000 hours under water. Oklahoma, while successfully raised, was never repaired. Arizona and the target ship Utah were too heavily damaged for salvage, though much of their armament and equipment was removed and put to use aboard other vessels. Today, the two hulks remain where they were sunk, with Arizona becoming a war memorial.

Other Events on this Day
  • In 1787…
    Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
  • In 1805…
    Lewis and Clark camp near the mouth of the Columbia River at a site that becomes Fort Clatsop, their winter quarters.
  • In 1917…
    During World War I, the United States declares war on Austria-Hungary.
  • In 1941…
    Japanese warplanes attack the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.
  • In 1963…
    An instant replay is shown on U.S. TV for the first time after a touchdown during an Army-Navy football game, prompting the announcer to scream, “This is a videotape! They did not score again! They did not score again!”

Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Pearl Harbor Day that can be found at…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_Harbor_Day

by Gerald Boerner

  

“The blow was heavier than he had hoped it would necessarily be. … But the risks paid off; even the loss was worth the price.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Reaction to the severity of the attack

“… just prior to World War II, [the US] had some 700 people engaged in the effort and [was], in fact, obviously having some successes.”
— on the problem of retaining cryptographers

“If by these means Japan could be led to commit an overt act of war, so much the better," of the eight ‘plans’ (of the actions to be taken)…
— Memos from the Defense Department

“…[t]hese theories tend to founder on the logic of the situation. Had Roosevelt and other members of his administration known of the attack in advance, they would have been foolish to sacrifice one of the major instruments needed to win the war just to get the United States into it.”
— Mark Parillo, in his essay The United States in the Pacific

“Ten days before the attack on Pearl Harbor entered in his diary the famous and much-argued statement – that he had met with President Roosevelt to discuss the evidence of impending hostilities with Japan, and the question was ‘how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.’ ”
— Henry L. Stimson, United States Secretary of War

“…if Japan be defeated and Germany remain undefeated, decision will still not have been reached…. War between the United States and Japan should be avoided…”
— Stark, CNO, and Marshall, Army Chief of Staff

“Any strength that we might send to the Far East would…reduce the force of our blows against Germany…”
— Stark’s Plan Dog

“… Japan was provoked into attacking the Americans at Pearl Harbor. It is a travesty of history ever to say that America was forced into the war. Everyone knows where American sympathies were. It is incorrect to say that America was truly neutral even before America came into the war on an all-out basis.”
— Oliver Lyttelton, the British Minister of War Production

  

Pearl Harbor: Conspiracy Theories about the Japanese Attack

USS Arizona_PearlHarbor_2 The attack on Pearl Harbor (or Hawaii Operation, Operation Z, as it was called by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters) was an unannounced military strike conducted by the Japanese navy against the United States’ naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941 (Hawaiian time, December 8 by Japan Standard Time), later resulting in the United States becoming militarily involved in World War II. It was intended as a preventive action to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from influencing the war the Empire of Japan was planning to wage in Southeast Asia against Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States. The attack consisted of two aerial attack waves totaling 353 aircraft, launched from six Japanese aircraft carriers.

The Debate

The Pearl Harbor advance-knowledge debate is a dispute over what, if any, advance knowledge American officials had of Japan’s December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Ever since the Japanese attack there has been debate as to how and why the United States had been caught off guard and how much and when American officials knew of Japanese plans for an attack.

Japanese_attack_on_Pearl_Harbor,_Hawaii

American warships burning
out of control following
the attack

Several writers, including journalist Robert Stinnett and former United States Navy Rear Admiral Robert A. Theobald, have argued that various parties high in the U.S. and British governments knew of the attack in advance and may even have let it happen or encouraged it in order to force America into war via the "back door." Evidence supporting this view is taken from quotations and source documents from the time and the release of newer materials.

Examination of information released since the War has revealed there was intelligence information available to U.S. and other nations’ officials. Rather than attribute the lack of preparedness at the base to failure-to-process, some have argued that the U.S. must have had some degree of advanced knowledge of the attack.

Assertions that Japanese codes had already been broken

U.S. signals intelligence in 1941 was both impressively advanced and uneven. In the past, the U.S. MI-8 cryptographic operation in New York City had been shut down by Henry Stimson (Hoover’s newly appointed Secretary of State), citing "ethical considerations", which inspired its now broke former director, Herbert Yardley, to write a book, The American Black Chamber, about its successes in breaking other nations’ crypto traffic. Most countries responded promptly by changing (and generally improving) their ciphers and codes, forcing other nations to start over in reading their signals. The Japanese were no exception.

Nevertheless, U.S. cryptanalytic work continued after Stimson’s action in two separate efforts: the Army’s Signal Intelligence Service (SIS) and the Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) crypto group, OP-20-G. Cryptanalytic work was kept secret to such an extent, however, commands such as the 14th Naval District at Pearl Harbor were prohibited from working on codebreaking by Admiral Kelly Turner as a consequence of the bureaucratic infighting in Washington.

By late 1941, those organizations had broken several Japanese ciphers, such as J19 and PA-K2, called Tsu and Oite respectively by the Japanese. The highest security diplomatic code, dubbed PURPLE by the U.S., had been broken, but American cryptanalysts had made little progress against the IJN’s current Naval Code D (called JN-25 by the U.S. after March 1942)

In addition, there was a perennial shortage of manpower, thanks to penury on one hand and the perception of intelligence as a low-value career path on the other. Translators were over-worked, cryptanalysts in short supply, staff generally stressed. Furthermore, there were difficulties retaining good intelligence officers and trained linguists; most did not remain on the job for the extended periods necessary to become truly professional. For career reasons, nearly all wanted to return to more standard assignments. However, concerning the manning levels, "… just prior to World War II, [the US] had some 700 people engaged in the effort and [was], in fact, obviously having some successes." Of these, 85% were tasked to decryption and 50% to translation efforts against IJN codes. The nature and degree of these successes has led to great confusion among non-specialists. Furthermore, OP-20-GY "analysts relied as much on summary reports as on the actual intercepted messages."

The U.S. was also given decrypted messages by Dutch (NEI) intelligence, who like the others in the British-Dutch-U.S. agreement to share the cryptographic load, shared information with allies. The U.S. refused to do likewise. This was, at least in part, due to fears of compromise; sharing even between Navy and Army was restricted.

In any case, the eventual flow of intercepted and decrypted information was tightly and capriciously controlled to the point at times even President Roosevelt did not receive information from code-breaking activities. (This was in part due to fears of compromise as a result of poor security, after a memo dealing with MAGIC was tossed in the wastebasket of Brigadier General Edwin M. (Pa) Watson, the President’s military aide. Also see the Harris article  for more detail and a broader perspective.)

PURPLE… The break into PURPLE was a considerable cryptographic triumph, and proved quite useful later in the War. It was the highest security Japanese Foreign Office system, but prior to Pearl Harbor carried little information about Japanese plans; the military, who were essentially determining foreign policy for Japan, distrusted the Foreign Office and left it "out of the loop". Unfortunately for the U.S., the two U.S. crypto groups generally competed rather than cooperated, and distribution of intelligence from the military to U.S. civilian policy-level officials was poorly done (eg, capriciously selected for distribution) by both the Army and Navy who handled the traffic on alternate days, and furthermore in a way preventing any of its recipients from developing a larger sense of the meaning of the decrypts. Along with the obsession with security, there was little or no analysis done for recipients. Decrypts were typically provided raw, completely without context, and without much taking into account the needs of the recipients. As well, recipients were not permitted to retain them, or notes made from them, again for security reasons.

Most unfortunately, to date not all PURPLE messages have been released. This was noted as long ago as the Joint Congressional Hearings during the "Magic" testimony. This known fact is often missed, as well as other curious items, for example, the Hearing’s questions regarding the missing 25 pages from the Roberts Commission report. Blanket or un-qualified statements on what decoded "Magic" messages revealed are, therefore, premature.

JN-25… The JN-25 superencrypted code is one of the most debated portions of Pearl Harbor lore. JN-25 is the U.S. Navy’s final term for the cryptosystem the Imperial Japanese Navy sometimes referred to as Naval Code D. Other names used for it include five-numeral, 5Num, five-digit, five-figure, AN (JN-25 Able), and AN-1 (JN-25 Baker), and so on. It was an example of the then state of the art in crypto systems and was quite different than modern forms of message encryption in being a code (e.g., battleship = 63982) and further being superenciphered with an additive cypher, taken from a large book. So, for example, 63982 + 12345 = 75227 (using modulo arithmetic, non-carrying addition and non-borrowing subtraction, also called Fibonacci or "Chinese" addition), giving the actually transmitted group (75227); on receipt the additive was subtracted (75227 – 12345 = 63982 (modulo arithmetic again)) and the code group looked up in the current JN-25 code book.

The worth of the additive step is that the next time anyone mentioned ‘battleship’, a different additive would be used. It was based upon the Japanese syllabary (kana), due to the difficulties in using kanji in telegraphy and the fact that electric teletype printers were more or less easily converted (e.g., more characters in the syllabary) to kana from the Roman alphabet.

Superenciphered codes of this sort were widely used and were the state of the art in practical cryptography of the time. JN-25 was very similar in principle to the British "Naval Cypher No. 3", known to have been broken by Germany during WWII.

Once it was realized what sort of cryptosystem JN-25 was, the cryptanalytic approach was known. Stinnett, in fact, notes the existence of a USN handbook for attacks on such a system, produced by OP-20-G. Even so, breaking it was not easy in actual practice. It took much effort and time, not least in accumulating sufficient depth in intercepted messages prior to the outbreak of hostilities when IJN radio traffic increased abruptly and substantially; prior to December 7, 1941 IJN radio traffic was limited, since the IJN played only a minor role in the war against China and therefore was only rarely required to send radio messages in their highest level crypto system. (As well, interception of IJN traffic off China would have been at best spotty.) Rather oddly however, the official history of GYP-1 shows nearly 45,000 IJN messages intercepted during the period from 1 June 1941 until 4 December 1941. Thus, most Japanese encrypted broadcast military radio traffic was Army traffic associated with the land operations in China.

Breaking a superencrypted cipher like JN-25 was a three-step process: (a) determining the "indicator" method to establish the starting point within the additive cipher, (b) stripping away the superencryption to expose the bare code, and then (c) breaking the code itself. When JN-25 was first detected and recognized, such intercepted messages as were interceptable were collected (at assorted intercept stations around the Pacific by the Navy) in an attempt to accumulate sufficient depth to attempt to strip away the superencryption. Success at doing so was termed by the cryptographers a ‘break’ into the system. Such a break did not produce a cleartext version of the intercepted message. Only after breaking the underlying code (another difficult process) would the message be available, and even then its meaning — in an intelligence sense — might be less than fully clear.

Detection of Japanese Transmissions

There are claims that as the Kido Butai (the Striking Force), steamed toward Hawaii, radio signals were detected that alerted U.S. intelligence to the imminent attack. For instance, the Matson liner SS Lurline, heading from San Francisco to Hawaii on its regular route, is said to have heard and plotted via "relative bearings" unusual radio traffic, in a telegraphic code very different from International Morse which persisted for several days, and came from signal source(s) moving in an easterly direction, not shore stations – presumably the approaching Japanese fleet.

There are numerous Morse Code standards including those for Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, and Greek. To the experienced radio operator, each has a unique and identifiable pattern. For example, kana, International Morse, and "Continental" Morse all have a specific rhythmic sound to the "dit" and "dah" combinations. This is how Lurline”s radiomen, Leslie Grogan, a U.S. Navy reserve officer in naval communications, and with decades of maritime service in the Pacific identified the mooted signal source as Japanese and not, say, Russian.

There are several problems with this analysis. Surviving officers from the Japanese ships state there was no radio traffic to have been overheard by anyone: their radio operators had been left in Japan to send fake traffic, and all radio transmitters aboard the ships (even those in the airplanes) were physically disabled to prevent any inadvertent or unauthorized broadcast.

The Kido Butai was constantly receiving intelligence and diplomatic updates. Regardless of whether or not the Fleet broke radio silence and transmitted, there was a great deal of radio traffic picked up by its antennas. In that time period, it was not unknown for a radio antenna to reflect the energy of an incoming signal back to the ionosphere, where ionospheric skip could result in its reception hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Note that the Fleet, considered as a whole, contained a large array of such possible reflectors. Thus it is conceivable that the Kido Butai did not break radio silence but was detected anyway.

Such detection would not have helped the Americans track the Japanese fleet. A direction finder from that time period reported compass direction without reference to distance. To locate the source, a plotter needed two such detections taken from two separate stations to triangulate and find the target. If the target was moving, the detections must be close to one another in time. To plot the Fleet’s course with certainty, at least four such detections must have been made in proper time-pairs, and the information analyzed in light of further information received by other means. This complex set of requirements did not occur; if the Kido Butai was detected, it was not tracked.

Statements by High-Ranking Officials

One perspective is given by Vice Admiral Frank E. Beatty, who at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack was an aide to the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and was very close to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inner circle, with perspicuous remarks as:

"Prior to December 7, it was evident even to me… that we were pushing Japan into a corner. I believed that it was the desire of President Roosevelt, and Prime Minister Churchill that we get into the war, as they felt the Allies could not win without us and all our efforts to cause the Germans to declare war on us failed; the conditions we imposed upon Japan — to get out of China, for example — were so severe that we knew that nation could not accept them. We were forcing her so severely that we could have known that she would react toward the United States. All her preparations in a military way — and we knew their over-all import — pointed that way."

Another "eye witness viewpoint" akin to Beatty’s is provided by Roosevelt’s administrative assistant at the time of Pearl Harbor, Jonathan Daniels; it is the telling comment about FDR’s reaction to the attack – "The blow was heavier than he had hoped it would necessarily be. … But the risks paid off; even the loss was worth the price. …"

"Ten days before the attack on Pearl Harbor", Henry L. Stimson, United States Secretary of War at the time "entered in his diary the famous and much-argued statement – that he had met with President Roosevelt to discuss the evidence of impending hostilities with Japan, and the question was ‘how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.’"

Robert Stinnett’s Day of Deceit suggests a memorandum prepared by Office of Naval Intelligence Lieutenant Commander Arthur McCollum was central to U.S. policy in the immediate pre-war period. The memo suggests only a direct attack on U.S. interests would sway the American public (or Congress) to favor direct involvement in the European war, specifically in support of the British. An attack by Japan would not, could not, do that, as history would prove. Although the memo was passed to Captains Walter Anderson and Dudley Knox, two of Roosevelt’s military advisors, on October 7, 1940, there is no evidence available to suggest Roosevelt ever saw it, nor any he did not.

Moreover, although Anderson and Knox offered eight specific plans to aggrieve the Japanese Empire and added, "If by these means Japan could be led to commit an overt act of war, so much the better," of the eight "plans" (actions to be taken) offered in the memo only one was ever implemented in any fashion, and there is considerable doubt the memo was the inspiration. Nonetheless, in Day of Deceit Stinnett claims all action items were implemented. Yet there were numerous instances of members of the Roosevelt Administration insisting on not provoking Japan. Mark Parillo, in his essay The United States in the Pacific, wrote, "[t]hese theories tend to founder on the logic of the situation. Had Roosevelt and other members of his administration known of the attack in advance, they would have been foolish to sacrifice one of the major instruments needed to win the war just to get the United States into it."

Furthermore, on 5 November 1941, in a joint memo, Stark, CNO, and Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, warned, "if Japan be defeated and Germany remain undefeated, decision will still not have been reached…. War between the United States and Japan should be avoided…." Additionally, in a 21 November 1941 memo, Brigadier Leonard T. Gerow, head of Army War Plans, stated, "one of our present major objectives [is] the avoidance of war with Japan…[and to] insure continuance of material assistance to the British." He concluded, "[I]t is of grave importance to our war effort in Europe…" Furthermore, Churchill himself, in a 15 May 1940 telegram, said he hoped a U.S. commitment to aid Britain would "quiet" Japan, following with a 4 October message requesting a USN courtesy visit to Singapore aimed at "preventing the spreading of the war" And Stark’s own Plan Dog expressly stated, "Any strength that we might send to the Far East would…reduce the force of our blows against Germany…" Roosevelt could scarcely have been ignorant of Stark’s views, and war with Japan was clearly contrary to Roosevelt’s express wish to aid Britain and with Churchill’s to "quiet" Japan.

One quote is often used to add legitimacy to the notion the British Government knew in advance the attack was coming. Oliver Lyttelton, the British Minister of War Production, said, "… Japan was provoked into attacking the Americans at Pearl Harbor. It is a travesty of history ever to say that America was forced into the war. Everyone knows where American sympathies were. It is incorrect to say that America was truly neutral even before America came into the war on an all-out basis." How this demonstrates anything with regard to Japan is unclear. Rather, it refers to other aid to Britain. Lend-Lease, enacted in March 1941, informally declared the end of American neutrality in favor of the Allies by agreeing to supply Allied nations with war materials. The signing of the bill into existence, because the materials would be used to combat the Axis powers, made the United States a de facto hostile and opened her to future attack. In addition, Roosevelt authorized a so-called Neutrality Patrol, which would protect the merchantmen of one hostile nation, Britain, from attack by another, Germany. Furthermore, Roosevelt ordered U.S. destroyers to report U-boats, then later authorized them to "shoot on sight". None of these is the act of a disinterested neutral, while all are unquestionably of assistance to Britain.

  

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Advanced Knowledge Debate (Pearl Harbor) that can be found at…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_Harbor_advance-knowledge_debate

 

by Gerald Boerner

  

"I couldn’t help but overhear, probably because I was eavesdropping"
— Anonomous

"the vast majority of security failures occur at the level of implementation detail"
— Ross Anderson, 1993.

“It’s an engrossing look at the way the flow of information shapes history–as well as a rare glimpse into the soul of the hardcore geek”
— Lev Grossman

"As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."
— Christopher Dawson, The Judgment of Nations, 1942

“Cryptography is like literacy in the Dark Ages. Infini tely potent, for good and ill… yet basically an intellectual construct, an idea, which by its nature will resist efforts to restrict it to bureaucrats and others who deem only themselves worthy of such Privilege.
— Vin McLellan, in “A Thinking Man’s Creed for Crypto”

  

Pearl Harbor: The U.S. Reads Japanese Communication Codes

Japanese_Codebook The vulnerability of Japanese naval codes and ciphers was crucial to the conduct of World War II, and had an important influence on foreign relations between Japan and the west in the years leading up to the war as well. Every Japanese code was eventually broken, and the intelligence gathered made possible such operations as the victorious ambush at Midway and the shooting down of Isoroku Yamamoto in Operation Vengeance.

The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) used many codes and ciphers. All of these cryptosystems were known differently by different organizations; the names listed below are those given by Western cryptanalytic operations.

Japanese Codes before World War II

The Japanese did not place so much emphasis on codes & cipher systems as their language was totally different to most European languages & so thought to be unlearnable .

Japanese is usually written as a mixture of Chinese characters Kanji & 2 alphabets hiragana & katakana. It is written in Chinese pollysyllabic characters written from the top right hand corner going down in columns progressing to the left.

Japanese_Code Book Red In World War Two Japan made extensive use of code books. The Japanese Naval code book known to the Allies as JN25 started before the war but was enhanced during the war. First broken in the late 30’s by U.S.& U.K. it used a system of digits from an additive key book. This was added to a group of digits obtained from looking up a word or phrase to be encoded. The resultant addition added was transmitted. The recipient looked up the additive table and subtracted the additive group to arrive at a word or phrase. Codebreakers had to recreate the additive table as well as the code book.

Red code… This was a code book system used in World War I and after. It was so called because the American copies made of it were bound in red covers. It should not be confused with the RED cipher used by the diplomatic corps.

This code consisted of two books. The first contained the code itself; the second contained an additive cipher which was applied to the codes before transmission, with the starting point for the latter being embedded in the transmitted message. A copy of the code book was obtained in a "black bag" operation on the luggage of a Japanese naval attache in 1923; after three years of work Agnes Driscoll was able to break the additive portion of the code.

Blue code… This was another code book system which succeeded the Red code.

In order to prevail, Nimitz had to have some sense of Japan’s intentions. The task of obtaining the critical information required to turn the tide in the Pacific fell to OP-20–G, the Navy radio intelligence organization tasked with providing communications intelligence on the Japanese Navy. Established in the early 1920s by Laurence F. Safford, the " Father of Navy Cryptology," OP-20 –G was key to Nimitz’s planning. In addition to his earlier cryptologic efforts, Safford had played a major role in placing Commander Joseph Rochefort in command of Station Hypo, the Navy’s codebreaking organization at Pearl Harbor. Over a period of 18 years, OP-20-G had developed a highly skilled group of officers and enlisted men.

Station HYPO, Hawaii

Station HYPO, also known as Fleet Radio Unit Pacific (FRUPAC) was the United States Navy signals monitoring and cryptographic intelligence unit in Hawaii during World War II. It was one of two major Allied signals intelligence units, called Fleet Radio Units in the Pacific theaters, along with FRUMEL in Melbourne, Australia. The station took its initial name from the phonetic code at the time for "H", as in "Hawaii". The precise importance and role of HYPO has been the subject of considerable controversy, reflecting internal tensions amongst US Navy cryptographic stations.

Wahiawa_Station HYPO 1 HYPO was under the control of the OP-20-G Naval Intelligence section in Washington. It was located, prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor of December 7, 1941, and for sometime afterwards, in the basement of the Old Administration Building at Pearl Harbor. Later on, a new building was constructed for the station, though it had been reorganized and renamed by then.

For an interview of a U.S. Navy codebreaker assigned
to the Station HYPO in Hawaii, Click HERE…

Cryptanalytic problems facing the United States in the Pacific prior to World War II were largely those related to Japan. An early decision by OP-20-G in Washington divided responsibilities for them among CAST at Cavite and then Corregidor, in the Philippines, HYPO in Hawaii, and OP-20-G itself in Washington. Other Navy crypto stations, including Guam, Puget Sound, Bainbridge Island were tasked and staffed for signals interception and traffic analysis.

Wahiawa_Station HYPO 2 The US Army’s SIS broke into the highest level Japanese diplomatic cypher (called PURPLE by the US) well before the attack on Pearl Harbor. PURPLE produced little of military value, as the Japanese Foreign Ministry was thought by the ultra-nationalists to be unreliable. Furthermore, decrypts from PURPLE, eventually called MAGIC, were poorly distributed and used in Washington. SIS was able to build several PURPLE machine equivalents. One was sent to CAST, but as HYPO‘s assigned responsibility did not include PURPLE traffic, no PURPLE machine was ever sent there. The absence of such a machine on site in Hawaii has long been seen by conspiracy theorists as a reason for US unpreparedness in Hawaii, and/or to be evidence of a conspiracy by high level officials to deprive Pearl Harbor of intelligence known to Washington. However, no uncontroverted hard evidence for any such conspiracy exists.

Japanese naval signals in 1941 & early 1942

HYPO was assigned responsibility for work on Japanese Navy systems, and after an agreement with Australia, the United Kingdom and Netherlands to share the effort, worked with crypto groups based at Melbourne, Hong Kong and Batavia. Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the amount of available IJN traffic was low, and little progress had been made on the most important Japanese Navy system, called JN-25 by U.S. analysts. JN-25 was used by th IJN for high level operations: movement and planning commands, for instance. It was a superencrypted code, eventually a two-book system, and was about the state-of-the-art at the time. Cryptanalytic progress was slow. Most references cite about 10% of messages partially (or sometimes completely) decrypted prior to 1 Dec 41, at which time a new edition of the system went into effect sending the cryptanalysts back to the beginning.

Rochefort_WWII_naval_intel LCDR Joseph J. Rochefort led
and handpicked many of the
key codebreakers at HYPO.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, there was considerably more JN-25 traffic as the Japanese Navy operational tempo increased and geographically expanded, which helped progress against it. Hong Kong’s contribution stopped until the crypto station there could be relocated (to Ceylon and eventually Kenya), but HYPO and the Dutch at Batavia, in conjunction with CAST and OP-20-G made steady progress. HYPO in particular made significant contributions. Its people, including its commander, Joseph Rochefort, thought a forthcoming Japanese attack early in 1942 was intended for the central Pacific, while opinion at OP-20-G, backed by CAST, favored the North Pacific, perhaps in the Aleutians.

In early 1942, in response to the Japanese advances in the Philippines (which threatened CAST), the possibility of an invasion of Hawaii, and the increasing demand for intelligence, another signals intelligence center, known as NEGAT was formed in Washington, using elements of OP-20-G. In the words of NSA historian Frederick D. Parker:

By the middle of March 1942, two viable naval radio intelligence centers existed in the Pacific: one in Melbourne, Australia [FRUMEL], and one, HYPO, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii… The center on Corregidor (CAST) was no longer affiliated with a fleet command, and its collection and processing capabilities were rapidly disintegrating as a result of evacuations of personnel to Australia and destruction of its facilities by bombing and gunfire.

One of HYPO‘s personnel was responsible for the ruse which identified a call sign used in the Japanese traffic related to new offensive operation being planned. This involved a false claim of a fresh water shortage on Midway, broadcast in clear, which succeeded in evoking an encrypted Japanese response, noting that AF was reporting water troubles. Since AF was the apparent focus of the upcoming operation, it was clear that Midway would be the primary target.

As mid-1942 approached, HYPO was under high pressure, and there are tales of 36-hour stints, of Rochefort working in his bathrobe and appearing for briefings late and disheveled besides. This effort climaxed in the last week of May with the decryption of enough JN-25 traffic to understand the Japanese attack plan at Midway in some, but not complete, detail. This allowed Admiral Nimitz to gamble on the ambush which resulted in the Battle of Midway, the loss of four Japanese carriers and many naval aviators, and what is generally agreed to have been the turning point of the Pacific War.

The Question

[Note: The following material is from a web site that discusses the history of Pearl Harbor that discusses Station HYPO; the following is interesting but may be controversial… More on that tomorrow!]

All four of the code systems used by Admiral Yamamoto had been broken in the fall of 1941 and were used by Station Hypo located at Pearl Harbor. The message intercepted at Station H on November 24th was translated and forwarded directly to Washington DC by Station Hypo, bypassing the local Hawaiian commanders. Washington DC did not relay the translated message back to Kimmell and Short, but instead sent an immediate order to Admiral Kimmell to terminate Exercise 191, a fleet preparedness exercise operating northwest of Hawaii directly in the path of the oncoming Japanese Striking fleet. Kimmell was ordered back to Pearl Harbor.

On November 25th, Winston Churchill sent an urgent message to President Roosevelt. Of all the messages sent between Churchill and Roosevelt, only the message of November 25th remains classified on the grounds of "National Security". On November 28th, USS Enterprise was ordered out of Pearl Harbor in company with 11 of the Unites States’ newest warships, ostensibly to deliver aircraft to Wake Island. On December 5th, USS Lexington was ordered out of Pearl Harbor in company with 8 of the Unites States’ newest warships, ostensibly to deliver aircraft to Midway Island. When the Japanese attack hit Pearl Harbor, the targets they found were older relics from a bygone age; the 21 modern ships of the Pacific fleet, including the two carriers, were safely out of harm’s way.

   

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Japanese Naval Codes that can be found at…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_naval_codes

Station HYPO that can be found at…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Station_Hypo

Events Leading to Pearl Harbor Attack that can be found at…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Events_leading_to_the_attack_on_Pearl_Harbor

Also see…

Japanese Codebreaking at Blechley Park…
http://www.mkheritage.co.uk/bpt/JapCDSCH1.html

by Gerald Boerner

  

“Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.”
— Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“Our military thought that they couldn’t get to Pearl Harbor, that it was too long a journey from Japan to get there, and they proved us wrong.”
— Jerry Bruckheimer

“Pearl Harbor caused our Nation to wholeheartedly commit to winning World War II, changing the course of our Nation’s history and the world’s future.”
— Joe Baca

“There are no contests in the Art of Peace. A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing. Defeat means to defeat the mind of contention that we harbor within.”
— Morihei Ueshiba

“The parallels between 9/11 and Pearl Harbor are striking. In each instance there were warning signs before the attack, and in each instance our government failed to connect the dots.”
— Diane Watson

“My husband is from Hawaii and his father who was also born in Hawaii was a teenager when Pearl Harbor happened, right before church and he ran up and got on the roof of his grandfather’s house and watched the planes go over.”
— Sigourney Weaver

“Japanese naval officers in dress whites are frequent guests at Pearl Harbor’s officers’ mess and are very polite. They always were. Except, of course, for that little interval there between 1941 and 1945.”
— William Manchester

“When reflecting upon it today, that the Pearl Harbor attack should have succeeded in achieving surprise seems a blessing from Heaven. It was clear that a great American fleet had been concentrated in Pearl Harbor, and we supposed that the state of alert would be very high.”
— Hideki Tojo

  

Pearl Harbor: U.S. Preparation for the War

Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor_Japanese_planes_view U.S. civil and military intelligence had, amongst them, good information suggesting additional Japanese aggression throughout the summer and fall before the attack. At the time, no reports specifically indicated an attack against Pearl Harbor. Public press reports during summer and fall, including Hawaiian newspapers, contained extensive reports on the growing tension in the Pacific. Late in November, all Pacific commands, including both the Navy and Army in Hawaii, were separately and explicitly warned war with Japan was expected in the very near future, and it was preferred that Japan make the first hostile act as they were apparently preparing to do. It was felt that war would most probably start with attacks in the Far East: the Philippines, Indochina, Thailand, or the Russian Far East.

Walter_Short Lieutenant General Walter C. Short, commanding general of the
Army post at Pearl Harbor

The warnings were not specific to any area, noting only that war with Japan was expected in the near future and all commands should act accordingly. Had any of these warnings produced an active alert status in Hawaii, the attack might have been resisted more effectively, and perhaps resulted in less death and damage. On the other hand, recall of men on shore leave to the ships in harbor might have led to still more being casualties from bombs and torpedoes, or trapped in capsized ships by shut watertight doors (as the attack alert status would have required), or killed (in their obsolete aircraft) by more experienced Japanese aviators. When the attack actually arrived, Pearl Harbor was effectively unprepared: anti-aircraft weapons not manned, most ammunition locked down, anti-submarine measures not implemented (e.g., no torpedo nets in the harbor), combat air patrol not flying, available scouting aircraft not in the air at first light, Air Corps aircraft parked wingtip to wingtip to reduce sabotage risks (not ready to fly at a moment’s warning), and so on.

By 1941, U.S. signals intelligence, through the Army’s Signal Intelligence Service and the Office of Naval Intelligence’s OP-20-G, had intercepted and decrypted considerable Japanese diplomatic and naval cipher traffic, though nothing actually carrying significant information about Japanese military plans in 1940-41. Decryption and distribution of this intelligence, including such decrypts as were available, was capricious and sporadic, some of which can be accounted for by lack of resources and manpower. At best, the information available to decision makers in Washington was fragmentary, contradictory, or poorly distributed, and was almost entirely raw, without supporting analysis. It was thus, incompletely understood. Nothing in it pointed directly to an attack at Pearl Harbor, and a lack of awareness of Imperial Navy capabilities led to a widespread underlying belief Pearl Harbor was not a possible attack target. Only one message from the Hawaiian Japanese consulate (sent on 6 December), in a low level consular cipher, included mention of an attack at Pearl; it was not decrypted until 8 December.

Brig Gen William L Mitchell Jr. In 1924, General William L. Mitchell produced a 324-page report warning that future wars (including with Japan) would include a new role for aircraft against existing ships and facilities. He even discussed the possibility of an air attack on Pearl Harbor, but his warnings were ignored. Navy Secretary Knox had also appreciated the possibility of an attack at Pearl in a written analysis shortly after taking office. American commanders had been warned that tests had demonstrated shallow-water aerial torpedo attacks were possible, but no one in charge in Hawaii fully appreciated this. And a war game surprise attack against Pearl Harbor in 1932 had been judged a success and to have caused considerable damage.

Nevertheless, because it was believed Pearl Harbor had natural defenses against torpedo attack (e.g., the shallow water), the Navy did not deploy torpedo nets or baffles, which were judged to inconvenience ordinary operations. And as a result of limited numbers of long-range aircraft (including Army Air Corps bombers), reconnaissance patrols were not being made as often or as far out as required for adequate coverage against possible surprise attack; they improved considerably, with far fewer remaining planes, after the attack. The Navy had 33 PBYs in the islands, but only three on patrol at the time of the attack. Hawaii was low on the priority list for the B-17s finally becoming available for the Pacific, largely because General MacArthur in the Philippines was successfully demanding as many as could be made available to the Pacific (where they were intended as a deterrent). The British, who had contracted for them, even agreed to accept fewer to facilitate this buildup. At the time of the attack, Army and Navy were both on training status rather than operational alert.

There was also confusion about the Army’s readiness status as General Short had changed local alert level designations without clearly informing Washington. Most of the Army’s mobile anti-aircraft guns were secured, with ammunition locked down in armories. To avoid upsetting property owners, and in keeping with Washington’s admonition not to alarm civil populations (e.g., in the late November war warning messages from the Navy and War Departments), guns were not dispersed around Pearl Harbor (i.e., on private property). Additionally, aircraft were parked on airfields to lessen the risk of sabotage, not in anticipation of air attack, in keeping with Short’s interpretation of the war warnings.

chester_nimitz Chester Nimitz said later, "It was God’s mercy that our fleet was in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.". Nimitz believed if Kimmel had discovered the Japanese approach, he would have sortied to meet them. With the American carriers absent and Kimmel’s battleships at a severe disadvantage to the Japanese carriers, the likely result would have been the sinking of the American battleships at sea in deep water, where they would have been lost forever with tremendous casualties (as many as twenty thousand dead), instead of in Pearl Harbor, where the crews could easily be rescued, and six battleships ultimately raised.

Breaking off negotiations

Part of the Japanese plan for the attack included breaking off negotiations with the United States 30 minutes before the attack began. Diplomats from the Japanese Embassy in Washington, including the Japanese Ambassador, Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura, and special representative Saburo Kurusu, had been conducting extended talks with the State Department regarding the U.S. reactions to the Japanese move into Việt Nam in the summer.

In the days before the attack, a long 14-part message was sent to the Embassy from the Foreign Office in Tokyo (encrypted with the Type 97 cryptographic machine, in a cipher named PURPLE by U.S. cryptanalysts), with instructions to deliver it to Secretary of State Cordell Hull at 1 p.m. Washington time. The last part arrived late Saturday night (Washington time) but due to decryption and typing delays, and to Tokyo’s failure to stress the crucial necessity of the timing, her Embassy personnel did not deliver the message breaking off negotiations to Secretary Hull until several hours after the attack.

The United States had decrypted the 14th part well before the Japanese Embassy managed to, and long before the Embassy managed a fair typed copy. The final part, with its instruction for the time of delivery, had been decoded that night, but was not acted upon until the next morning; according to Clausen, who also denied the claim by Bratton that General Marshall couldn’t be found (as he was out for a morning horseback ride).

Gen George Marshall Photo It prompted General George Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, to send that morning’s warning message, with assurances that it would be received by all recipients by 1 pm Washington time. There were delays in the message sent to Hawaii because of trouble with the Army’s long distance communication system, a decision not to use the Navy’s parallel facilities despite an offer to permit it, and various troubles during its travels over commercial cable facilities (somehow its "urgent" marking was misplaced, adding additional hours to its travel time). It was actually delivered to General Walter Short, by a young Japanese-American cycle messenger, several hours after the attack had ended.

There were Japanese records, admitted into evidence during Congressional hearings on the attack after the War, that established that the Japanese government had not even written a declaration of war until hearing news of the successful attack. The two-line declaration of war was finally delivered to U.S. Ambassador Grew in Tokyo about 10 hours after the attack was over. He was allowed to transmit it to the United States where it was received late Monday afternoon (Washington time).

  

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Pearl Harbor Day that can be found at…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_Harbor_Day

Events Leading to Pearl Harbor Attack that can be found at…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Events_leading_to_the_attack_on_Pearl_Harbor

by Gerald Boerner

  

“Gentlemen, we have just kicked a rabid dog.”
— Isoroku Yamamoto

“I can run wild for six months … after that, I have no expectation of success…”
— Isoroku Yamamoto

“The fate of the Empire rests on this enterprise every man must devote himself totally to the task in hand.”
— Isoroku Yamamoto

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

“A gigantic fleet… has massed in Pearl Harbor. This fleet will be utterly crushed with one blow at the very beginning of hostilities…Heaven will bear witness to the righteousness of our struggle.”
— Rear Admiral Ito

“Anytime you look at the history of Japanese Americans and you look at all the things that have impacted our lives, there is nothing that comes anywhere close to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. That’s the watermark of our whole existence.”
— John Tateishi, president of the Japanese American Citizens League

“A military man can scarcely pride himself on having ‘smitten a sleeping enemy’; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack.”
— Isoroku Yamamoto

  

Note:
This is the second of a seven-part series on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1941. December 7th became the “date that will live in infamy” in the minds of all Americans. We hope that you will enjoy and learn from these postings… GLB

  

Pearl Harbor: The Japanese Preparation for War

On February 3, 1940, Yamamoto briefed Captain Kanji Ogawa of Naval Intelligence on the potential attack plan, asking him to start intelligence gathering on Pearl Harbor. Ogawa already had spies in Hawaii, including Japanese Consular officials with an intelligence remit, and he arranged for help from a German already living in Hawaii who was an Abwehr agent. None had been providing much militarily useful information. He planned to add 29-year-old Ensign Takeo Yoshikawa. By the spring of 1941, Yamamoto officially requested additional Hawaiian intelligence, and Yoshikawa boarded the liner Nitta-maru at Yokohama. He had grown his hair longer than military length, and assumed the cover name Tadashi Morimura.

Yoshikawa Ensign Takeo Yoshikawa,
a spy in Pearl Harbor
for Imperial Japan.

Yoshikawa began gathering intelligence in earnest by taking auto trips around the main islands, and toured Oahu in a small plane, posing as a tourist. He visited Pearl Harbor frequently, sketching the harbor and location of ships from the crest of a hill. Once, he gained access to Hickam Field in a taxi, memorizing the number of visible planes, pilots, hangars, barracks and soldiers. He was also able to discover that Sunday was the day of the week on which the largest number of ships were likely to be in harbor, that PBY patrol planes went out every morning and evening, and that there was an antisubmarine net in the mouth of the harbor. Information was returned to Japan in coded form in Consular communications, and by direct delivery to intelligence officers aboard Japanese ships calling at Hawaii by consulate staff.

In June 1941, German and Italian consulates were closed, and there were suggestions Japan’s should be closed, as well. They were not, because they continued to provide valuable information (via MAGIC) and neither President Roosevelt nor Secretary Hull wanted trouble in the Pacific. Had they been closed, however, it is possible Naval General Staff, which had opposed the attack from the outset, would have called it off, since up-to-date information on the location of the Pacific Fleet, on which Yamamoto’s plan depended, was no longer available

Planning

Expecting war, and seeing an opportunity in the forward basing of the US Pacific Fleet at Hawaii, the Japanese began planning in early 1941 for an attack on Pearl Harbor. For the next several months, planning, and organizing a simultaneous attack on Pearl Harbor and invasion of British and Dutch colonies to the South occupied much of the Japanese Navy’s time and attention. The Pearl Harbor attack planning arose out of the Japanese expectation the U.S. would be inevitably drawn into the war after a Japanese attack against Malaya and Singapore.

Isoroku_Yamamoto  Commander-in-Chief of the
Combined Fleet Fleet
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

The intent of a preemptive strike on Pearl Harbor was to neutralize American naval power in the Pacific, thus removing it from influencing operations against American, British, and Dutch colonies to the south. Successful attacks on colonies were judged to depend on successfully dealing with the American Pacific Fleet. Planning had long anticipated that a battle between the two Fleets would happen in Japanese home waters after the US Fleet traveled across the Pacific, under attack by submarines and other forces all the way. The US Fleet would be defeated in a climactic battle, just as had the Russian Fleet in 1905. A surprise attack posed a twofold difficulty compared to long standing expectations. First, the US Pacific Fleet was a formidable force, and would not be easy to defeat or to surprise. Second, for aerial attack, Pearl Harbor’s shallow waters made using conventional air-dropped torpedoes ineffective. On the other hand, Hawaii’s isolation meant a successful surprise attack could not be blocked or quickly countered by forces from the continental U.S.

Several Japanese naval officers had been impressed by the British Operation Judgement, in which 21 obsolete Fairey Swordfish disabled half the Regia Marina. Admiral Yamamoto even dispatched a delegation to Italy, which concluded a larger and better-supported version of Cunningham’s strike could force the U.S. Pacific Fleet to retreat to bases in California, thus giving Japan the time necessary to establish a "barrier" defense to protect Japanese control of the Dutch East Indies. The delegation returned to Japan with information about the shallow-running torpedoes Cunningham’s engineers had devised.

Japanese strategists were undoubtedly influenced by Admiral Togo’s surprise attack on the Russian Pacific Fleet at Port Arthur in 1905, and may have been influenced by U.S. Admiral Harry Yarnell’s performance in the 1932 joint Army-Navy exercises, which simulated an invasion of Hawaii. Yarnell, as commander of the attacking force, placed his carriers northwest of Oahu and simulated an air attack. The exercise’s umpires noted Yarnell’s aircraft were able to inflict serious "damage" on the defenders, who for 24 hours after the attack were unable to locate his force.

Yamamoto’s emphasis on destroying the American battleships was in keeping with the Mahanian doctrine shared by all major navies during this period, including the U.S. Navy and Royal Navy.

In a letter dated January 7, 1941 Yamamoto finally delivered a rough outline of his plan to Koshiro Oikawa, then Navy Minister, from whom he also requested to be made Commander in Chief of the air fleet to attack Pearl Harbor.

Minoru_Genda Planner Commander Minoru Genda
stressed surprise would be critical

A few weeks later, in yet another letter, this time directed at Takijiro Onishi—chief of staff of the Eleventh Air Fleet—Yamamoto requested Onishi study the technical feasibility of an attack against the American base. After consulting first with Kosei Maeda, an expert on aerial torpedo warfare, and being told the harbor’s shallow waters rendered such an attack almost impossible, Onsihi summoned Commander Minoru Genda. After studying the original proposal put forth by Yamamoto, Genda agreed: "the plan is difficult but not impossible". During the following weeks, Genda expanded Yamamoto’s original plan, highlighting the importance of it being carried out early in the morning and in total secrecy, employing an aircraft carrier force and several different types of bombing.

Japanese military planners, including Yamamoto, initially gave some thought to trying to seize the Hawaiian Islands, which would provide Japan with a strategic base in the central Pacific and deny American forces any bases beyond the coast of North America. Although this proposal gained some support, it was soon dismissed for several reasons.

  • Japan’s ground forces were already fully committed not only to the Second Sino-Japanese War but also for offensives in Southeast Asia that were planned to occur immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack.
  • The Japanese Imperial Army (JIA), which preferred to focus on targets to the south (including a plan to seize part or all of Australia), refused to supply any troops.
  • Several senior officers of the Combined Fleet, most notably Fleet Admiral Osami Nagano (永野修身), felt that an invasion of Hawaii was too risky.

With an invasion ruled out, it was agreed that a massive carrier-based airstrike to cripple the American Pacific Fleet would be sufficient, even though Hawaii, with its strategic location in the Central Pacific, would continue to serve as a critical base from which the United States could extent its military power into Eastern Asia. Once again, the confidence of Japanese leaders that the conflict would be over quickly and that the United States would accept Japanese control of Asia rather than fight a long bloody war overrode this concern.

Japanese Aircraft CarrierBy April 1941, the Pearl Harbor plan became known as Operation Z, after the famous Z signal given by Admiral Tōgō at Tsushima. Over the summer, pilots trained in earnest near Kagoshima City on the Japanese island of Kyūshū. Genda had chosen it because its geography and infrastructure presented most of the same problems bombers would face at Pearl Harbor. In training, each crew flew over the 5000-foot (1500 m) mountain behind Kagoshima, dove down into the city, dodging buildings and smokestacks before dropping to an altitude of 25 feet (7 m) at the piers. Bombardiers released torpedoes at a breakwater some 300 yards (270 m) away.

Yet even skimming the water did not solve the problem of torpedoes bottoming in the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor. Japanese weapons engineers created and tested modifications allowing successful shallow water drops. The effort resulted in a heavily modified version of the Type 91 torpedo which inflicted most of the ship damage during the attack. Japanese weapons technicians also produced special armor-piercing bombs by fitting fins and release shackles to 14 and 16 inch (356 and 406 mm) naval shells. These were able to penetrate the lightly armored decks of the old battleships.

  

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Pearl Harbor Day that can be found at…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_Harbor_Day

Events Leading to Pearl Harbor Attack that can be found at…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Events_leading_to_the_attack_on_Pearl_Harbor

by Gerald Boerner

  

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

“After Barbarossa and Pearl Harbor, the war tide slowly turned against the Axis.”
— Alexander Dubcek

“As costly as it was in the lives of our men and women in uniform, in military assets, and in esteem and pride, Pearl Harbor was a watershed moment for America.”
— Joe Baca

“But in 1941, on December 8th, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, my mother bought a radio and we listened to the war news. We’d not had a radio up to that time. I was born in 1934, so I was seven years of age.”
— Sam Donaldson

“Japanese naval officers in dress whites are frequent guests at Pearl Harbor’s officers’ mess and are very polite. They always were. Except, of course, for that little interval there between 1941 and 1945.”
— William Manchester

  

Note:
This is the first of a seven-part series on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1941. December 7th became the “date that will live in infamy” in the minds of all Americans. We hope that you will enjoy and learn from these postings… GLB

  

Pearl Harbor: Background of the Conflict

Jap_Zero_leaves_Akagi-Pearl_Harbor A series of historical events leading to the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred that contributed to the actual attack. War between Japan and the United States had been a possibility that each nation’s military forces planned for since the 1920s, though real tension did not begin until the 1931 invasion of Manchuria by Japan. Over the next decade, Japan expanded slowly into China, leading to all out war between the two in 1937. In 1940 Japan invaded French Indochina in an effort to embargo all imports into China, including war supplies purchased from the U.S. This move prompted the United States to embargo all oil exports, leading the Imperial Japanese Navy to estimate that it had less than two years of bunker oil remaining and to support the existing plans to seize oil resources in the Dutch East Indies. Planning had been underway for some time on an attack on the "Southern Resource Area" to add it to the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere that Japan envisioned in the Pacific.

The Philippine islands, at that time an American territory, were also a Japanese target. The Japanese military concluded that an invasion of the Philippines would provoke an American military response. Rather than seize and fortify the islands, and wait for the inevitable US counterattack, Japan’s military leaders instead decided on the pre-emptive Pearl Harbor attack, which would negate the American forces needed for the liberation and reconquest of the islands.

Planning for an attack on Pearl Harbor had begun in very early 1941, by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. He finally won assent from the Naval High Command by, among other things, threatening to resign. The attack was approved in the summer at an Imperial Conference and again at a second Conference in the fall. Over the next year, pilots were trained, and ships prepared for its execution. Authority for the attack was granted at the second Imperial Conference if a diplomatic result satisfactory to Japan was not reached. The order to attack was issued at the beginning of December.

Background to conflict

Tensions among Japan, on one hand, and the prominent Western countries (the United States, France, Britain, and the Netherlands), on the other, increased significantly at the beginning of the increasingly militaristic Showa era, as Japanese nationalists and military leaders exerted increasing influence over government policy, adopting creation of a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere as part of Japan’s alleged "divine right" to unify Asia under Emperor Showa’s rule, threatening already-established American, French, British, and Dutch colonies in Asia.

Hirohito_wartime Emperor Shōwa

Over the course of the 1930s, Japan’s increasingly expansionist policies brought her into renewed conflict with her neighbors, Russia and China (Japan had fought the First Sino-Japanese War with China in 1894-95 and the Russo-Japanese War with Russia in 1904-05; Japan’s imperialist ambitions had a hand in precipitating both conflicts). In March 1933, Japan withdrew from the League of Nations in response to international condemnation of its conquest of Manchuria and subsequent establishment of the Manchukuo puppet government. On January 15, 1936, Japan withdrew from the Second London Naval Disarmament Conference because the United States and Great Britain refused to grant the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) parity with their navies. A second full-scale war between Japan and China began with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in July 1937, and Japanese atrocities during the war, such as the Rape of Nanking, served to further complicate relations with the rest of the world, particularly the U.S.

The 1937 Japanese attack on China was condemned by the U.S. and by several members of the League of Nations, particularly Britain, France, Australia, and the Netherlands. These states had economic and territorial interests, or formal colonies, in East and Southeast Asia, and had become increasingly alarmed at Japan’s military power and willingness to use it, which they saw as threats to their control in Asia. In July 1939, the U.S. terminated its 1911 commercial treaty with the Japanese. These efforts, however, failed to deter Japan from continuing the war in China or from signing the Tripartite Pact in 1940 with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, officially forming the Axis Powers.

On October 8, 1940, Admiral James O. Richardson, commander of the Pacific Fleet, had a confrontation with President Roosevelt. Richardson repeated what he had said in his letter to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Harold R. Stark and his memo to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox – that Pearl Harbor was the wrong place for his ships. Roosevelt said he thought that having the fleet in Hawaii was a "restraining influence" on Japan. Richardson asked the president whether the United States was going to war. "He replied," in Richardson’s account, "that if the Japanese attacked Thailand, or the Kra Peninsula, or the Dutch East Indies we would not enter the war, that if they even attacked the Philippines he doubted whether we would enter the war." But the Japanese couldn’t always avoid making mistakes, the president said. "Sooner or later they would make a mistake and we would enter the war."

Japanese Military Buildup

Tojo Image The Tripartite Pact, war with China, increasing militarization, and Japan’s withdrawal from the League of Nations eventually led the U.S. to embargo scrap metal and gasoline shipments to Japan and to constrain its foreign policy actions and close the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping. In 1940, Japan moved into northern Indochina. The U.S. responded by freezing Japan’s assets in the U.S. and embargoing all oil exports to Japan. Oil was Japan’s most crucial imported resource; more than 80 percent of Japan’s oil imports at the time came from the United States To secure oil supplies, and other resources, Japanese planners had long been looking south, especially the Dutch East Indies. The Navy was certain any attempt to seize this region would bring the U.S. into the war and was reluctant to agree with other factions’ plans for invasion. The complete US oil embargo changed to the Naval view to support of expansion toward support for an invasion of the Dutch East Indies and seizure of its oil fields. In August 1941, Japanese Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe proposed a summit with President Roosevelt to discuss differences. Roosevelt replied Japan must leave China before a summit meeting could be held.

In July 1941, the IJN headquarters informed Hirohito that its reserve bunker oil would be exhausted within two years if a new source was not found. On September 6, 1941, at the second Imperial Conference concerning attacks on the Western colonies in Asia and Hawaii, Japanese leaders met to consider the attack plans prepared by Imperial General Headquarters, one day after the emperor had reprimanded General Hajime Sugiyama, the Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) General Staff, about the lack of success in China, and the speculated low chances of victory against the United States, British Empire, and their allies.

Prime Minister Konoe argued for more negotiations and possible concessions to avert war. However, military leaders like Sugiyama, Minister of War General Hideki Tojo, and Chief of the IJN General Staff Admiral Osami Nagano asserted that time had run out and that additional negotiations would be pointless. They urged swift military actions against all American and European colonies in Southeast Asia and Hawaii. Tojo opined yielding to the American demand to withdraw troops would wipe out all the fruits of the Second Sino-Japanese War, depress Army morale, endanger Manchukuo, and jeopardize control of Korea; hence, doing nothing was the same as defeat and a loss of face.

Actions of the United States

Franklin D RooseveltFollowing Japanese expansion into French Indochina after the fall of France, the U.S. ceased oil exports to Japan in the Summer of 1941, in part because of new American restrictions on domestic oil consumption. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had earlier moved the Pacific Fleet to Hawaii and ordered a military buildup in the Philippines in the hope of discouraging Japanese aggression in the Far East. As the Japanese high command was (mistakenly) certain any attack on the United Kingdom’s Southeast Asian colonies would bring the U.S. into the war, a devastating preventive strike appeared to be the only way for Japan to avoid U.S. naval interference. An invasion of the Philippines was also considered to be necessary by Japanese war plans, while for the U.S., reconquest of the islands had been a given of War Plan Orange in the interwar years.

War between Japan and the United States had been a possibility each nation had been aware of (and developed contingency plans for) since the 1920s, though tensions did not begin to grow seriously until Japan’s 1931 invasion of Manchuria. Over the next decade, Japan continued to expand into China, leading to all out war in 1937. In 1940, Japan invaded French Indochina in both an effort to control supplies reaching China, and as a first step to improve her access to resources in Southeast Asia. This move prompted an American embargo on oil exports to Japan, which in turn caused the Japanese to initiate their planned takeover of oil production in the Dutch East Indies. Furthermore, the transfer of the U.S. Pacific Fleet from its previous base in San Diego to its new base in Pearl Harbor was seen by the Japanese military as the U.S. readying itself for a potential conflict between the two countries.

  

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Pearl Harbor Day that can be found at…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_Harbor_Day

Events Leading to Pearl Harbor Attack that can be found at…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Events_leading_to_the_attack_on_Pearl_Harbor

(Originally posted on Tuesday, June 2, 2009)

by Gerald Boerner

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917 – 1963)

image “Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain.”
— John F. Kennedy, 35th president of US 1961-1963

“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all — except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.”
— John F. Kennedy, from the Saturday Review (29 October 1960)

Our 35th president had a well-known service record in the Pacific (PT-109) and knew the price paid for liberty. But he was a learned man, irrespective of his personal entanglements. He was learning from his mistakes, and could have proven a great as well as a charismatic leader if he had not been assassinated in Dallas on that fateful day in November, 1963. Not all war heros make good leaders. What makes the difference? I think that learning has a lot to do with it.

War should teach us lessons about what we should fight for and what we should learn to adapt to. We have a great object lesson when we look at the aftermath of the first and second world wars. After the first WW, the British and the French were focused upon retaining and extending their colonial empires. In addition, they were intent on punishing Germany, their traditional enemy, for the war. What did this yield us? World wide economic chaos and exteme instability in the conquered Germany. And, above all else, the seends of the second WW!

After the second WW, the United States was more powerful and, by virtue of leadership, the atomic bomb, and lessons learned from the first WW, to was able to create a environment in which the conquered (Germany and Japan) were rebuilt and became members of the world community. Yes, there was retaliation against the leaders who imposed the atrocities and inhumanity upon their neighbors. But we did not try to demonize the county itself; in fact, in Japan, we were wise enough to keep the Emporer in place so that the order of the Japanese culture was not destroyed. I would like to think that we LEARNED our lesson from the first WW.

These lessons were also applied when the communist stranglehold on eastern Europe was broken in 1989 as symbolized by the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. When we were in Berlin in 2005, it was sobering to see the remnants of the wall and think about what it had stood for.The US along with the European community have tried to apply the same lessons learned bron the first half of the 20th century to the new eastern European states.

“For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us, recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state, our success or failure, in whatever office we hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions: First, were we truly men of courage… Second, were we truly men of judgment… Third, were we truly men of integrity… Finally were we truly men of dedication?”
— John F. Kennedy, from a speech to the Massachusetts State Legislature (January 9, 1961)

Let’s hope that we will continue to exercise wisdom like this when future battles are fought and won. Without learning, without understanding the lessons of history, we will be bound to repeat the mistakes and to suffer the consequences of these mistakes…

[Biographical information is from the Wikipedia article on John F. Kennedy that can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Kennedy ]

 

(Originally posted on Monday, June 1, 2009)

by Gerald Boerner

Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965)

image A love for tradition has never weakened a nation, indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril.
— Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister

“A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.”
— Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister

As we approach the 65th anniversary of D-Day, that fateful day on the beaches of Normandy, France, we need to remember the sacrifice of our many brave men that day. Sir Winston Churchill was constantly encouraging the British people to ‘hang tough’ even during the Blitz and the Battle of the Atlantic. That tiny island stood as one of the lone hold-outs against the Nazi terror.

“Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter.”
— Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister

Normandy marked a turning point. But the victory was bought at a high price and a high body count. I look back in thanks that my uncle, Bob, survived his landing. Brave and strong of heart were the soldiers, but no less so those civilians who endured the many trials of the wartime experience. Our allies in the British Isles, the peoples of France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and those strong people in the Philippines and other Asian countries that were occupied by the Axis forces stood the best they could. We supported the efforts of the British before we formally entered the war and enabled that land to stand against the ravages of of the Axis powers.

We lost many soldiers and mariners in that fight. D-Day stands as one of the key days of triumph. We stood strong with our allies and took that small sliver of beach in a bloody battle. It was not the decisive blow that the atomic bomb would later deliver to Japan, but it was a dramatic statement of our commitment to freedom and our way of life. Let us not forget, lest that we must experience it again, perhaps on our own soil.

Again, let us praise those brave men, their families and all who lived through that day. And let us honor those who fell during that great battle. After all, we live in the "home of the brave, and the land of the free…"

[Biographical information is from the Wikipedia article on Winston Churchill that can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_Churchill ]

(Originally posted on Sunday, May 31, 2009)

by Gerald Boerner

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890 – 1969)

image Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…
— Dwight D. Eisenhower
(34th president of US (1953-1961)

An interesting comparisons of the attitude towards books, especially those proposing views different from yours, is found between Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, Allied Commander-in-Chief during World War II, and Adolf Hitler, leader of the Third Reich. Eisenhower seems to encourage the open examination of ideas, while Hitler demanded the destruction of any book that did not coincide with the narrow ideology of the Nazi regime. (The photo below shows the spot on the Babelplatz in Berlin where some of the most famous book burnings took place.)

image Babelplatz, Berlin, Germany:
The scene of many of the Nazi book burnings during WW-II

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower, Leader of World War II European Operations and President of the United States

Books, magazines, and newspapers undergo extensive editing and fact-checking, in general. Web pages, videos (YouTube) and blogs, however, generally do not undergo such scrutiny, except as an afterthought. We must learn to be discriminate users of web-based information, since we cannot necessarily trust it. Such is the difference between the Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia.com; they both may have good information, but while the latter is more up-to-date, the former is generally more accurate. Therefore, be wise in your sources…

Anyone have a good book?

“From behind the Iron Curtain, there are signs that tyranny is in trouble and reminders that its structure is as brittle as its surface is hard.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States

[Biographical information is from the Wikipedia article on Dwight Eisenhower that can be found at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwight_Eisenhower ]