Friday, November 27, 2009

The phrase "Remember Pearl Harbor" became a rallying cry for US Marines as we unloaded our weapons with the bullets hitting the target of the Japanese soldiers bodies.

Did the Japanese really make a surprise and secret attack on Pearl Harbor or did the United States officials fall asleep? Did we not have enough intelligent for the US Navy to have their fleet of ships spread out over the ocean? You be the judge.

Sequence of Events
December 5, 1941
A political storm erupts in the United States when the Washington Times-Herald, New York Daily News, and the Chicago Tribune publish details of plans for mobilization for total war against German and Japan. It was later discovered that the plans were leaked by a Captain in the War Plans Division (Ed. Note: probably a Republican). The Captain passed the plan to Senator Burton Wheeler (anti-FDR D-Montana), who in turn gave the report to the article's author Chesley Manly. The Germans gleefully turned the intelligence bonanza over to General Jodl, Hitler's operations chief, to make necessary adjustments to their plans. The official word to reporters from the Whitehouse was "Your right to print the news is, I think, unchallenged and unquestioned. It depends entirely on the decision of the publisher and editor whether publication is patriotic or treasonable." (Editor's Note - Compare this to the reaction from our current administration when a comedian made a joke.)

With temperatures hovering at -15F, Zhukov unleashes his counterattack at Moscow. Konev's Kalinin front opens the offensive against the Germans, attacking the northern edge of the Klin bulge. The fighting is very serious and resistance is stiff. Some headway is made and casualties on both sides are high.

US Navy officials order all stations in Tokyo, Bangkok, Peking, Tiensin, Shanghai, Guam and Wake to destroy all codebooks and secret files.

Hitler calls an end to the winter offensive against Moscow and orders some "limited" withdrawals.

Rommel orders the evacuation of the eastern part of the Tobruk perimeter in order to attack the British forces at Bir El Gobi. The attack fails to dislodge the British defenders.

December 6, 1941
As a last attempt to prevent the outbreak of hostilities, President Roosevelt sends a personal message to Emperor Hirohito of Japan. The note states, "Developments are occurring in the Pacific area which threaten to deprive each of our nations and all humanity of the beneficial influence of the long peace between our two countries. . . . During the past few weeks it has become clear to the world that Japanese military, naval, and air forces have been sent to Southern Indo­china in such large numbers as to create a reasonable doubt on the part of other nations that this continuing concentration in Indochina is not defensive in its character. . . the people of the Philippines, of the hundreds of Islands of the East Indies, of Malaya, and of Thailand itself are asking themselves whether these forces of Japan are preparing or intending to make attack in one or more of these many directions. . . . It is clear that a continuance of such a situation is unthinkable."

Nagumo's fleet turned southeast. The crew of his flagship, the Akagi, hoist the battle flag used by Admiral Togo at the Battle of Tsushima in 1905, when the Russians were decisively defeated.

Zhukov extends the counter-attack at Moscow, ordering the right flank of the West Front to attack 3rd and 4th Panzer Armies in the Klin area. The attacks are making progress as the Germans, battered and exhausted give ground.

President Roosevelt authorizes the Manhattan Engineering District. The secret U.S. project to build an atomic bomb, later to be called the Manhattan Project, is put under the direction of the Office of Scientific Research and Development.

Britain declares war on Finland, Hungary, and Rumania denouncing the aggression by these countries against Russia.

Working on a Saturday afternoon, Dorothy Edgers translated a secret diplomatic message from Tokyo to diplomats in Honolulu. The message requested continuous and detailed information on ship movements, berthing position, and torpedo netting at Pearl Harbor. Alarmed, Mrs. Edgers checked other similar messages waiting to be translated. All had similar request. At 3:00 pm she brought this information to the attention of her boss, Lt. Commander Alvin Kramer, USN. After making a few minor corrections to the translation, he told her "We'll get back to this on Monday." In less than 24 hours, the reason for the messages would be obvious, even to Kramer.

Saturday, December 6 - Washington D.C. - U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt makes a final appeal to the Emperor of Japan for peace. There is no reply. Late this same day, the U.S. code-breaking service begins intercepting a 14-part Japanese message and deciphers the first 13 parts, passing them on to the President and Secretary of State. The Americans believe a Japanese attack is imminent, most likely somewhere in Southeast Asia.

Sunday, December 7 - Washington D.C. - The last part of the Japanese message, stating that diplomatic relations with the U.S. are to be broken off, reaches Washington in the morning and is decoded at approximately 9 a.m. About an hour later, another Japanese message is intercepted. It instructs the Japanese embassy to deliver the main message to the Americans at 1 p.m. The Americans realize this time corresponds with early morning time in Pearl Harbor, which is several hours behind. The U.S. War Department then sends out an alert but uses a commercial telegraph because radio contact with Hawaii is temporarily broken. Delays prevent the alert from arriving at headquarters in Oahu until noontime (Hawaii time) four hours after the attack has already begun.

Sunday, December 7 - Islands of Hawaii, near Oahu - The Japanese attack force under the command of Admiral Nagumo, consisting of six carriers with 423 planes, is about to attack. At 6 a.m., the first attack wave of 183 Japanese planes takes off from the carriers located 230 miles north of Oahu and heads for the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor - At 7:02 a.m., two Army operators at Oahu's northern shore radar station detect the Japanese air attack approaching and contact a junior officer who disregards their reports, thinking they are American B-17 planes which are expected in from the U.S. west coast.

Near Oahu - At 7:15 a.m., a second attack wave of 167 planes takes off from the Japanese carriers and heads for Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor is not on a state on high alert. Senior commanders have concluded, based on available intelligence, there is no reason to believe an attack is imminent. Aircraft are therefore left parked wingtip to wingtip on airfields, anti-aircraft guns are unmanned with many ammunition boxes kept locked in accordance with peacetime regulations. There are also no torpedo nets protecting the fleet anchorage. And since it is Sunday morning, many officers and crewmen are leisurely ashore.

At 7:53 a.m., the first Japanese assault wave, with 51 'Val' dive bombers, 40 'Kate' torpedo bombers, 50 high level bombers and 43 'Zero' fighters, commences the attack with flight commander, Mitsuo Fuchida, sounding the battle cry: "Tora! Tora! Tora!" (Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!).

The Americans are taken completely by surprise. The first attack wave targets airfields and battleships. The second wave targets other ships and shipyard facilities. The air raid lasts until 9:45 a.m. Eight battleships are damaged, with five sunk. Three light cruisers, three destroyers and three smaller vessels are lost along with 188 aircraft. The Japanese lose 27 planes and five midget submarines which attempted to penetrate the inner harbor and launch torpedoes.

Escaping damage from the attack are the prime targets, the three U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga, which were not in the port. Also escaping damage are the base fuel tanks.

The casualty list includes 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians killed, with 1,178 wounded. Included are 1,104 men aboard the Battleship USS Arizona killed after a 1,760-pound air bomb penetrated into the forward magazine causing catastrophic explosions.

In Washington, various delays prevent the Japanese diplomats from presenting their war message to Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, until 2:30 p.m. (Washington time) just as the first reports of the air raid at Pearl Harbor are being read by Hull.

News of the "sneak attack" is broadcast to the American public via radio bulletins, with many popular Sunday afternoon entertainment programs being interrupted. The news sends a shockwave across the nation and results in a tremendous influx of young volunteers into the U.S. armed forces. The attack also unites the nation behind the President and effectively ends isolationist sentiment in the country.

Monday, December 8 - The United States and Britain declare war on Japan with President Roosevelt calling December 7, "a date which will live in infamy..."

Thursday, December 11 - Germany and Italy declare war on the United States. The European and Southeast Asian wars have now become a global conflict with the Axis powers; Japan, Germany and Italy, united against America, Britain, France, and their Allies.

Wednesday, December 17 - Admiral Chester W. Nimitz becomes the new commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Both senior commanders at Pearl Harbor; Navy Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, and Army Lt. General Walter C. Short, were relieved of their duties following the attack. Subsequent investigations will fault the men for failing to adopt adequate defense measures.