WW2 Army Chief of Staff Marshall, during and after the War

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by DogFather, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. DogFather

    DogFather New Member

    Apr 26, 2011
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    I have been doing some reading on what Marshall was doing leading up to the Pearl Harbor Attack.
    Before I go into that, I realize he helped rebuild Europe, which helped prevent ww3, from ever taking place. So he was a great statesmen, no doubt about that.

    However, he seemed to be a little slow, understanding how new technology and weapons could
    effect warfare and the United States. In April 1941, Marshall told FDR: "The Island of Oahu, due to its fortification, its garrison, and its physical characteristics, is believed to be the strongest fortress in the world"

    However, There were many problems and deficiencies with using Oahu and Pearl Harbor as a base for
    the US Pacific Battlefleet. Are own wargames and suggested a carrier attack was a possiblity.

    Adm James Richardson, took command of the fleet in 1939 and tried to explain this to FDR and others
    in Washington. About the many problems and dangers, of having a large numbers of ships based on an

    The island may have been difficult to invade, but it was hard to protect from an air attack, leaving the ships and planes vunerable to attack.

    Intel was also easy for Japanese agents to gather, on US Military operations, due to topography around Oahu being peculiarly well suited to observation.

    In other words, spys could look down on the naval activity in the port and aircraft operations at the Naval Air Station. This high ground also pervented observers, from seeing an approaching enemy air planes, until they were very close and ready to make a bombing or strafing run.

    As 1941 moved along, Marshall was reading all decoded Japanese diplomatic intercepts (code named Purple), these are the Magic messages, which more and more pointed to war with Japan.

    To his credit, on Nov 5th, he and US Navy chief Adm Stark co-authored a memo to FDR, not to give the Japanese an ultimtum, because this would mean war and the US Military was not ready. Joe Grew, US ambassador to Japan and Sec of State Hull, both told FDR and his admin that giving Japan an ultimtum would mean war and there was no doubt about it.

    FDR did this anyway, with the Pearl Harbor Attack coming a few days later. Besides the ultimatum, there was a mountain of other evidence war with Japan was coming. Such as Japan asking her Axis allies if
    if they would join the war.

    Along with how a war with the US Great Britain would be signaled by a code phrase in a radio weather report. Japan was telling her emassies around the world to burn their code books and destroy
    cipher machines. A lot of info on other US Military activity was also being sent, besides the info on Pearl Harbor naval movements and the berthing of ships in the harbor.

    War was coming soon, Marshall knew this and did not pass it on to Short, who was charged with
    protecting the fleet and air bases in Hawaii.

    From a military point of veiw, Hawaii should have been on full combat status. With all training
    stopped, guns loaded, planes kept ready and all defensive measures taken. Gen Short did not have the
    Magic messages and was not told anything about what was really going on.

    A somewhat cryptic war warning was sent, 27 Nov, 41. Short sent back the limited measures taken. No reply to Short suggesting this was inadequate, under the circumstances, was sent.

    I really don't think, Marshall, Short or anyone else, had any idea of how to handle the situation. With there being an internal and external threat, that could only be guessed at.

    Pearl Harbor and the naval and army air bases nearby, had the most valuable military equipment and facilities away from the US Mainland.

    There were also large numbers of enemy agents, operating in Hawaii at the
    time. They sent fake reports of enemy ship locations and tried to send
    US Navy vessels into a Japanese sub ambush, after the air raid took place.

    It was clearly a big military target the Japanese would like to take out, as it projected US Military power towards the SW Pacific and gave a supply base for military operations in that area. The SW Pacific was were Japan could get raw materials she needed for her war machine and economy.

    Despite all the info about war coming in, Marshall just seemed to go about normal activities, the morning of Sunday Dec 7th, 1941. Despite that FDR and his admin, were waiting for the reply, to the ultimtum,
    which was expected, to be a declaration of war. The reply was in 14 parts, the first 13 had come in Sat Dec 6th, and been distributed and read by everyone. Col Rufus S.Bratton, noticed a message, that the 14th part was to be delivered at exactly 1 PM, Washington DC time. He realized the significance of the time. He tried to find Marshall but could not.

    This was several hrs before the Pearl Harbor Attack began. Marshall failed here because he had not authorized someone to act on his behalf.

    Unfortunatly both Gen Marshall and Adm Stark were slow to catch on here.
    Others understood, the 1 PM message was a strong suggested military action, in the Pacific and 1 PM Washington DC time, was dawn in Hawaii.

    This intel clearly suggested the tactic of a dawn carrier based air attack on US bases in Hawaii.

    Marshall did send a message that got there too late and really did not explain very much anyway.

    Later on during all the hearings after the attack. Marshall lied and was very evasive when
    testifing, even under oath. My understanding is that he ordered others to do the same.
    He had the excuse he was protecting classified codebreaking, but he was also covering for himself.

    Even after the war ended, Marshall was still very evasive. When testifying before the JCC investigation
    into the Pearl Harbor disaster.

    Anyway, wouldn't that be an illegal order to order a subordinate to lye under oath?

    Henry Clausen's book, Pearl Harbor, Final
    Judgement, has some of this info on pg 193.

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