Pearl Harbor 65th anniversary.

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
Its hard to believe it will be 65 years since that fatefull day.

As a service to all the members here, I will be posting some "what happened today 65 years ago" material. Its more or less, just a reminder of the intense political and military maneuvering that was occuring in the Pacific.

Today, Oct 29th 1941:
The Japanese ambassador in Washington, D.C., WAKASUGI
Kaname, sends the following message to the Foreign Office inTokyo: "U.S.-Japanese relations are now fast approaching a critical crossroad. In view of the fact that the times are indeed grave, I am waiving formality and, though it may seem very presumptuous of me, am reporting to you my views on the general attitude of the United States after coming in contact with its representatives on several occasions." The last paragraph of the message is, "The United States has expressed its interest incontinuing with the talks after she has been advised of the attitude and policy of the newly formed Cabinet of Japan. I urge, therefore, that the new Cabinet establish its basic policy as speedily as possible, sothat we may lay our cards on the table for them to see. I sincerely believe that would be to our best interests."

The Intelligence Branch of the War Department issues a
memorandum based on "information received from the Orient" stating: "Mr. HIROTA, a presiding officer at directors' meeting of the Black Dragon Society,told of an order issued by War Minister TOJO (now premier) "to complete full preparation to meet any emergency with United States in the Pacific. All guns to be mounted in the islands of the Pacific under Japanese mandate. The full preparation to be completed in November." HIROTA and others are said to have stated: "War with United States would best begin in December or in February." "Very soon," they say, "the Cabinet will be changed. The new Cabinet would likely start war within sixty days."
Today, Oct 31 1941:
The Japanese High Command approves the plan submitted by
Admiral YAMAMOTO Isoroku, Commander-in- Chief, Combined Fleet, calling for an
aerial attack on the USN fleet at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Territory of
Hawaii. YAMAMOTO has threatened to resign if his plan is not

The USN destroyer USS Reuben James (DD-245), while
escorting 42-ship convoy HX-156 (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, to
the U.K.), is torpedoed and sunk at 0525 hours by German submarine U-552
about 660 nautical miles (1 222 kilometers) west of Galway, County Galway,
Eire, in position 51.59N, 27.05W. Her magazine explodes, and she sinks
quickly and 115 crewmen are lost. No merchantmen in HX-156 are
attacked. Despite the heavy oil slick in the vicinity and the need to
investigate sound contacts, destroyer Niblack (DD-424) rescues 36 men (one of
whom dies of wounds on 2 November); Hilary P. Jones (DD-427) picks up
ten. The loss of USS Reuben James, the first U.S. naval vessel to be lost
to enemy action in World War II
, proves a temporary detriment to Navy
recruiting efforts. Since this ship has essentially the same silohetter as
the 50 destroyers loaned to the British, the U-boat commander
believes it is a Royal Navy ship. It is only when they heard the attack ann
ounced by a US radio station a few days later that he realised their target had been a USN ship.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Joseph C. Grew warns the U.S. that
Japan might "resort with dangerous and dramatic suddenness to
measures which might make inevitable war with the United States."
He also states that ". . . underestimating Japan's obvious preparations to
implement a program in the event the alternative peace program fails,
would be short-sighted. Similarly it would be short-sighted for American
policy to be based upon the belief that Japanese preparations are no more than
saber rattling, merely intended to give moral support to the high pressure
diplomacy of Japan."

Army Intelligence prepares Intelligence Bulletin 148
for General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff U.S. Army, stating that
"recent developments in the international situation, and particularly in
the Pacific, indicate the possibility of a Japanese invasion of Yunnan
Province in an attempt to cut China's life-line, the Burma Road."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt places the U.S. Coast Guard
under the jurisdiction of Department of the Navy for the duration of the
national emergency.

The War Department reluctantly opens a secret language school
under the Fourth Army at Crissey Field, the Presidio of San
Francisco, with four Nisei instructors and 60 students, 58 of which are Nisei. This
was the first class of the Military Intelligence Language School.
Military Intelligence Service (MIS). (Gene Hansen)
JAPAN: Japanese Foreign Minister TOGO Shigenori sends the following
message to the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C.: "The Government
has for a number of days since the forming of the new Cabinet been
holding meetings with the Imperial headquarters. We have carefully
considered a fundamental policy for improving relations between Japan and
America, but we expect to reach a final decision in a meeting on the morning
of the 5th and will let you know the result at once. This will be our
Government's last effort to improve diplomatic relations. The situation is
very grave. When we resume negotiations, the situation makes it urgent
that we reach a decision at once. This is at present only for your
information. When we take up these negotiations once more, we trust
you will handle everything with the greatest of care."

UNITED STATES: Army Intelligence prepares the following estimate
regarding the situation in the Far East:
- 1. After four years of war in China, Japan is militarily
over-extended on the mainland of Asia, economically weak, and
psychologically aware of the fact that her economic structure is crumbling.
- 2. For obvious reasons both Germany and China would like to
embroil the United State in a large scale war with Japan. While
Japan is reluctant to go to war with us, her political and economic
situations demand action. She has the following alternatives:
- a. Attack Siberia to neutralize the threat on her flank and rear.
- b. Occupy Thailand as a base from which to launch an
offensive against Burma or Malaya.
- c. Contain or isolate the Philippine Islands and Hong Kong
and seize the Netherlands East Indies.
- d. Launch a direct attack on Singapore.
- e. Make a determined effort to bring the war in China to a
close by cutting China's last supply route, the Burma Road.
- f. Bide her time while disposing her forces from north
to such in such a way that she will be able to seize the opportunity
for successful aggression in whatever direction it presents itself.
- 3. A Japanese attack on Siberia is unlikely as long as
Russian resistance in Europe continues, and as long as the Siberian forces
are not materially reduced in strength. Action under b above might, and
under c or d above would certainly bring Japan into armed conflict
with ABD powers - a situation which Japan, at present, wishes to avoid.
- 4. A drive from Indo-China into Yunnan would probably not
involve Japan with any Third Power. Although an extremely difficult
operation for the Japanese, requiring elaborate preparation on their part, a
successful drive into Yunnan and across the Burma Road, even if it
did not cause China's early capitulation would nevertheless, be a terrific
blow at her chances of holding out. It would not however, have the effect
of immediately releasing any considerable Japanese force for use
elsewhere, since long-drawn out mopping up operations would probably
be necessary.
- 5. Because of the ruggedness of the terrain in southern
Yunnan, and the almost complete lack of communications, the Chinese, if
determined, could put up a very strong resistance even with the
means now at their disposal. Such a defense would further deplete Japan's meager
resources and immobilize her remaining reserves. (For a description
of the terrain see Tab A.)
- 6. Japan's most probable line of action, therefore, will be
to continue her efforts to secure a relaxation of American economic
pressure while completing her plans and arranging her forces for an
advance in the direction which will be most fruitful of quick results.
JAMAICA: The British aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable is
accidentally damaged when she runs aground off Kingston while
training in the British West Indies. This carrier is scheduled to join the
battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse as the
British Far East Fleet but she must be repaired and misses the
movement with these two ships.

What a stoke of luck for the Brits......

JAPAN: U.S. Ambassador to Japan Joseph C. Grew warns the U.S. that
Japan might "resort with dangerous and dramatic suddenness to
measures which might make inevitable war with the United States." He
says, ". . . underestimating Japan's obvious preparations to implement a program
in the event the alternative peace program fails, would be short-
sighted. Similarly it would be short-sighted for American policy to be based
upon the belief that Japanese preparations are no more than saber
rattling, merely intended to give moral support to the high pressure diplomacy
of Japan."
The Combined Japanese Fleet receives Top-Secret Order No. 1: In
34 days time, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, is to be bombed, along
with Malaya, the Netherlands East Indies, and the Philippine slands.

PACIFIC OCEAN: The evacuation of women and children from the U.S.
Pacific islands of Guam, Midway and Wake begins.
PHILIPPINE ISLANDS: General Douglas MacArthur, commander of US Army Forces Far East, receives a letter from General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, indicating that the Congress would " .... give us everything we asked for." However, the tanks, guns and men requested would not be arriving until April 1942.

April 1942........ those troops and weapons would have been diverted to Australia or one of several islands in the Pacific that needed to be defended, like Samoa, Fiji or New Caledonia.
JAPAN: The U.S. and Japanese governments have been holding
discussions about the deteriorating relations between the two countries and how they could be resolved. The discussions have not been very successful. Today, the Japanese Foreign Ministry sends the following message to their embassy in Washington, D.C. (Of utmost secrecy). Because of various circumstances, it is absolutely necessary that all arrangements for the signing of this agreement be completed by the 25th of this month. Irealize that this is a difficult order, but under the circumstances it is an unavoidable one. Please understand this thoroughly and tackle the problem of saving the Japanese-U. S relations from falling into a chaotic condition. Do so with great determination and with unstinted effort, I beg of you. This information is to be kept strictly to yourself only
HAWAIIAN ISLANDS: The following Communications Intelligence Summary
is sent from Commander Edwin Layton to Admiral Husband E. Kimmel,
Commander in Chief United States Fleet: "General.-Volume of intercepted traffic
larger than usual. Due to the use of the general call "All Major Force
Flags" on the UTU for delivery to all Combined Fleet units, affiliation
of unidentified calls with forces to which attached is very difficult.
Use of large number of alternate calls for major fleet forces, many of
which have not yet been definitely identified or associated with known
calls, renders the picture more confusing. Appearance of the prefix
"JITSU" (authenticator for bona fide traffic) in several messages
indicates that a communication drill is being held but without
indication as to what units are participating and therefore much of the traffic is
suspected of being "drill." Jaluit Radio is handling traffic direct with
Yokosuka Radio probably due to congestion of Mandate circuits from
the Marshalls caused by heavy concentrations in that area.
Air.-Continued high traffic level for all classes of air activities, mainly centered in the Taiwan area, but also with all air activities in the Mandates included in headings of messages. Dispatches originated by Fourth Fleet Command included Air Forces, Base Forces, AirStations, and all types of Mandate activities in long headings.
Fleet.-Fourth Fleet Command remains in Truk area. There are indications that portions of the First Fleet may be moving to the Takao area but identifications are not sufficiently certain to confirm this. Greatest effort is being made to increase the number of
identified calls to facilitate analysis of the traffic but Orange changes in
methods of handling fleet traffic renders this more difficult than
had been hoped."

JAPAN: The Combined Fleet Operations Order No. 2 states, "This order
was issued by Commander-in- Chief, Combined Fleet, after he had
received verbal notification from Chief, Naval General Staff, that 8 December
had been tentatively selected as "Y" Day."

UNITED STATES: Secretary of State Cordell Hull warns the Cabinet
that relations with Japan are extremely critical.
LTG Lewis Brereton, Air Force USAFFE (later, FEAF)
Commander, dispatched by MacArthur on a three-week, 11,500-mile jaunt to Rabaul, Port Moresby, Townsville, and Melbourne, to comply with Marshall's directive of 30 SEP 41 regarding use of airfields in British Empire areas.
JAPAN: A message from the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo to the Japanese
Ambassador in Washington, D.C., includes the following: "Judging
from the tone of these talks, the United States is apparently still assuming
that they are of a preliminary nature. We pleaded with the U. S.
Ambassador (to Japan) again on the 12th to try and see the seriousness of the situation. Will you, too, do everything in your power to make them
realize this in accordance with the lines contained in my various
instructions on this subject."

UNITED STATES: The Congress amends the Neutrality Act of 1935 to
allow American merchant ships access to war zones, thereby putting U.S.
vessels in the line of fire; in the Senate, the vote was 50-37 in favor and
in the House of Representatives, the vote was 212 to 194 in favor.
Congress passed the Neutrality Act in August 1935, forbidding the
sale of munitions by U.S. firms to any and all belligerents in any future
The original 1935 act was made even more restrictive in May 1937,
forbidding not only arms and loans to warring nations, but giving
the president of the United States the authority to forbid Americans
from traveling on ships of any warring nation, to forbid any U.S. ship
from carrying U.S. goods, even nonmilitary, to a belligerent, and to demand that a belligerent nation pay for U.S. nonmilitary goods before shipment, a
"cash and carry" plan. The first amendment to the act came in
September 1939; President Roosevelt, never happy with the extreme nature of theact, fought with Congress to revise it, allowing for the sale of
munitions to those nations under siege by Germany. After heated
debate in a special session, Congress finally passed legislation permitting such
sales. Addressing the prospect of direct U.S. intervention in the
war, President Roosevelt proclaimed, also in September 1939, that U.S.
territorial waters were a neutral zone, and any hostile power that used those
waters for the prosecution of the war would be considered "unfriendly"
and "offensive." When the USN destroyer USS Reuben James (DD-245) is
sunk by a German submarine in October 1941, the Neutrality Act is
destined for the dustbin of history. By November, not only will
merchant ships be allowed to arm themselves for self-defense, but they will also be allowed to enter European territorial waters.
Good job syscom. I have always found Pearl Harbor (and few others) one of the most interesting battles in WW2.

Well done and keep it going.
HONG KONG: The converted passenger liner SS Awatea, escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMCS Prince Robert (F 56), arrives here this evening, carrying two battalions consisting of 96 officers (plus two Auxiliary Services supervisors) and 1,877 Canadian troops under
Brigadier John Lawson, Commanding Officer West Brigade. The units are The Royal Rifles of Canada and The Winnipeg Grenadiers. The Canadians will boost the garrison in Hong Kong, but, as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
himself has pointed out, two semi-trained battalions are unlikely to deter Japan from war, but will merely increase the numbers of prisoners the Japanese can take. The Canadians seem only too aware of this. "Oh God, another Dunkirk," Signalman William Allister said when he heard
where he was going. "No fella," another voice added, "at Dunkirk they had somewhere to go." The 212 vehicles assigned to the force are aboard the freighter SS Don Jose but these vehicles will never reach Hong Kong. The Don Jose had only just reached Manila, Philippine Islands when
the war with Japan begins, and the U.S. forces are given approval to use the Canadian equipment in the defense of the Philippines.

IRAQ: Iraq breaks diplomatic relations with Vichy France.

JAPAN: Two units of the Japanese Navy's Advance Group, Pearl Harbor Strike Force, depart Yokosuka today. The 2nd Submarine Unit consists of seven submarines two of which are carrying "Glen" seaplanes (Kugisho E14Y1, Navy Type 0 Small Reconnaissance Seaplanes). All seven arrive on
station off Hawaii on 6 December; one, with a "Glen", is stationed about 26 nautical miles (48 kilometers) north of Oahu; three are station between Kauai and Oahu, and three, one with a "Glen", are stationed between Oahu and Molokai. One submarine of the Support Group, HIJMS I-10,
also departs. On 7 December, HIJMS I-10 is underway between the Fiji and Samoa Islands.
JAPAN: Foreign Minister TOGO Shigenori says an amicable conclusion of Japan's negotiations with the United States was by no means impossible ". . . if the Government of the United States are, on the one hand, as genuinely solicitous for world peace as are the Imperial Government, and
on the other understand Japan's natural requirements and her position in East Asia and consider the situation as it exists there in the light of realities," but Japan would face any threat to its empire or compromise of its prestige with firm resolve. ". . . there is naturally a limit to our conciliatory attitude."

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew warns the United States of the inability of the Embassy to warn of Japanese attack stating, "I take into account the probability of the Japanese exploiting every possible tactical advantage, such as surprise and initiative."

UNITED STATES: Japanese special envoy to the U.S. KURUSU Saburo and Ambassador Admiral NOMURA Kichisaburo confer with Secretary of State Cordell Hull and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. KURUSU tells the
President that Germany has not requested Japan to fight.
UNITED STATES: Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Admiral NOMURA Kichisaburo sends the following message to Tokyo: "On the evening of the 17th, both of us (NOMURA and special envoy KURUSU) went to call on a certain
cabinet member and this is what he told us: "The President is very desirous of an understanding between Japan and the United States. In his latest speech he showed that he entertained no ill will towards Japan. I would call that to your attention. Now the great majority of the cabinet
members, with two exceptions, in principle approve of a Japanese American understanding. If Japan would now do something real, such as evacuating French Indo-China, showing her peaceful intentions, the way would be open for us to furnish you with oil and it would probably lead to
the re-establishment of normal trade relations. The Secretary of State cannot bring public opinion in line so long as you do not take some real and definite steps to reassure the Americans."

JAPAN: The Japanese Imperial Diet (legislature) secretly approves a "resolution of hostility" against the United States.

Five mother submarines, HIJMS I-16, I-18, I-20, I-22 and I-24, each with a midget sub lashed to the deck, depart Kure Naval Base for Pearl Harbor. The submarines arrive off Oahu, Hawaiian Islands, on 6 December.

NOMURA and KURUSU meet with Secretary of State Cordell Hull at 1030 hours and then sends the following in a message to Tokyo: "In our conversations of today, as a practical means of alleviating the ever worsening front with which we are faced and to quiet the fearful situation,
as well as, to bring about a return to the situation existing before the application of the freezing legislation, we suggested the evacuation of Japanese troops stationed in the southern part of French Indo-China. During this meeting, Hull brought up the question of the Tripartite
Pact between Germany, Italy and Japan, and KURUSU said "". . . he could not say that Japan would abrogate the Tripartite Pact . . . he desires to emphasize that Japan would not be a cat's-paw for Germany, that Japan's purpose in entering into the Tripartite alliance was to use
it for Japan's own purposes, that Japan entered the Tripartite Pact because Japan felt isolated."
INDIAN OCEAN: The Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney (D 48) engages in a battle with the German auxiliary cruiser HK Kormoron about 409 nautical miles (758 kilometers) northwest of Perth, Western Australia, Australia, in position 26.32.34S, 111.00E. The official version is: At about 1600 hours local, the German auxiliary cruiser HK Kormoran, ship 41 also known to the British as Raider G, sights the HMAS Sydney and turns away. HMAS Sydney follows, approaches to within 1,500 yards (1 372
meters) and requests Kormoran to identify herself, which she does as the Dutch freighter SS Straat Malakka. Whenasked for her secret call sign Kormoran drops her camouflage, hoists the German ensign and opens fire which apparently knocks out Sydney's fire control system and forward turrets, and probably killed her captain and many others on the bridge. The battle lasts from approximately 1730 to 1825 hours Both ships are crippled and on fire. HMAS Sydney steams slowly south-southeast, still ablaze, and is never seen again; all 645 crewmen are lost. German survivors later say that they saw a glow on the southern horizon followed by a bright flash around 2400 hours; this could possibly be caused by the cruiser's magazines exploding. HK Kormoran drifts for
approximately five hours before being scuttled by her crew with explosive charges; 85 crewmen are lost but 315 make it to Australia where they are held as POWs. This is a controversial subject in Australia with some
believing the government is covering up the sinking. The truth and fate of HMAS Sydney will probably never be known.

JAPAN: The Japanese Foreign Ministry sends the following message to their embassy in Washington, D.C.: "When our diplomatic relations are becoming dangerous, we will add the following at the beginning and end of our general intelligence broadcasts: (1) If it is Japan-U. S.relations,
"HIGASHI;" (2) Japan-Russia relations, "KITA;" (3) Japan-British relations, (including Thai, Malaya and N. E. I.); "NISHI." The above will be repeated five times and included at beginning and end. Relay to Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, San Francisco."

One submarine of the Support Group, Advance Group, Pearl Harbor Strike Force, HIJMS I-26, departs Yokosuka. On 7 December, HIJMS I- 26 is underway between the Hawaiian Islands and California.
JAPAN: Foreign Minister TOGO Shigenori sends a message to the Japanese ambassador in Ankara, Turkey, that includes the following: "Insofar as Japanese-American negotiations are concerned, in proceeding upon
these negotiations for the adjustment of diplomatic relations on a just basis, conferences have been in progress since the 7th. However, there is great disparity between their opinions and our own. In the light of the trend of past negotiations there is considerable doubt as to whether
a settlement of the negotiations will be reached. Insofar as we are concerned we have lent our maximum efforts in order to bring about a settlement of the negotiations. However, the situation not permitting any further conciliation by us, an optimistic view for the future is not
permitted. In the event that negotiations are broken off, we expect that the situation in which Japan will find herself will be extremely critical. The above is for your information alone."
All communications are cut to Etorofu Island, Kurile Islands. Tankan Bay is the assembly point for the Japanese naval vessels that will attack Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii.

PHILIPPINE ISLANDS: Admiral Thomas C. Hart, commander of the Asiatic Fleet, orders the destroyer tender USS Black Hawk (AD-9) and the destroyers USS Alden (DD-211), Edsall (DD-219), John D. Edwards (DD-
216) and Whipple (DD-217) dispatched to Balikpapan, Borneo, the Netherlands East Indies.

UNITED STATES: The Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., NOMURA Kichisaburo presents the following draft proposal to U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull: "(1) Both the Governments of Japan and the United States undertake not to make any armed advancement into any of the regions
in the South-eastern Asia and the Southern Pacific area excepting the part of French Indo-China where the Japanese troops are stationed at present. (2) The Japanese Government undertakes to withdraw its troops now
stationed in French Indo-China upon either the restoration of peace between Japan and China or the establishment of an equitable peace in the Pacific area. In the meantime the Government of Japan declares that it is prepared to remove its troops now stationed in the southern part of French
Indo-China to the northern part of the said territory upon the conclusion of the present arrangement which shall later be embodied in the final agreement. (3) The Government of Japan and the United States shall cooperate with a view to securing the acquisition of those goods and commodities which the two countries need in Netherlands East Indies.
(4) The Governments of Japan and the United States mutually undertake to restore their commercial relations to those prevailing prior to the freezing of the assets. The Government of the United States shall supply Japan a required quantity of oil. (5) The Government of the United
States undertakes to refrain from such measures and actions as will be prejudicial to the endeavors for the restoration of general peace between Japan and China."

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