The War Illustrated, No 244, Vol. 10, October 25th 1946

in real Stories o f the War lie told I m facts about Pearl Harbour s the preparatory signal for the gy A.D. DIVINE D.S./VI. m o rc concerned with delivering a success- ceremony of“ C olours ”was being*''*^ atta c|c t|lan escapjng ancj wonId hoisted at 8 a.m .on the Sunday Author o r j,c willing to accept considerable losses. ‘Dun kirk e’•D stro ye rs’ War ’It outworked in detail the probable points from which the attack would be launched. morning o f December 7,1941, Japanese dive-bombers broke through the scattered cloud above the main base o f the American Pacific Fleet a t Pearl H arbour, on Oahu Island, Hawaii, to begin one o f the greatest acts o f treachery in the history o f war. Five seconds later a telegraph boy fell off his bicycle on the road between Honolulu and Fort Shafter with,in his pocket, a warning telegram that might have made just that fractional difference between disaster and victory. Between these two things lies a chain o f circumstance and mishap, o f pre­vision and ill-judgement, probably unparal­leled in modern history. The report o f the Joint Congressional Committee on the investigation o f the Pearl H arbour attack, which has recently been made available, enables for the first time the full story o f Pearl H arbour to be told. Starting points are always interesting. There are several for Pearl H arbour. My own, for choice, would bethe morning early in January o f 1941 when Admiral Isoroku Yam am oto, Comm andcr-in-C hief o f the com­bined Japanese Navy, ordered Admiral Onishi, Chief o f Staff o f the Eleventh Air Fleet, to prepare plans for an attack on Pearl H arbour. Admiral Yam am oto stated then, “If we have war with the United States we will have no hope o f winning unless the United States Fleet in Hawaiian waters can be destroyed.” Jap Top Secret Operation Order In the latter part of August matters moved a considerable step further when all Japanese Fleet commanders and key staff members were ordered to Tokyo for war games prior to the formulation of final operation plans against Pearl H arbour. On September 13 the outline of basic operation orders was issued, and by November 5 the detailed plans were complete and promulgated. On Nov­ ember 7 Admiral Yam am oto issued atop secret operation order which contained the words, “First preparations for war. Y-day will be December 8 ”(December 7, Honolulu time). On November 14 units o f the Pearl H arbour attack force began to assemble in H itokappu Bay in the Kurile Islands. At 9 a.m. on November 26 the Fleet left H itokappu Bay under absolute wireless silence, while the Japanese ambassadors talked and talked with a suave tortuousness in Washington. On December 2 Admiral Yam am oto sent from his flagship, the Yam ato, the message“ N iita Kayam a N oborc,” which, translated, means “Climb Mount N iitaka,” the code phrase which stood for “proceed with attack.” It is interesting to examine the state o f the American Service mind during this period. For dates there we must go back as far as January 24,1941, when the Secretary o f the Navy addressed a communication to the Secretary of War (with copies to the Corn- m ander-in-C hief o f the Pacific Fleet and the Commandant of the Fourteenth Naval Dis­trict) stating, amongst other things, “If war eventuates with Japan, it is believed easily possible that hostilities would be initiated by a surprise attack upon the Fleet or the Naval Base at Pearl H arbour.” The communica­tion ordered the taking o fall necessary steps to prepare for, and to guard against, such a possibility. Those steps were taken. From the end o f January there was a progressive increase in the preparations for the attack, in the training o f the forces for the attack, and in the assembly of materiel to enable such an attack to beheld. The most amazing feature o f the whole American side o f the preliminary period is beyond all question what is known theMas artin-Bcllinger report. Admiral Bellinger, Commander o f the Naval Base Defence Air Force, and General Martin, commanding the Hawaiian Air Force, prepared a joint esti­mate covering army and navy air inaction the event of a sudden attack. Recognizing that relations were strained, the report said that Japan in the past “has never preceded hostile actions by a declaration of war.” From that it went onto say that a fast raiding force might arrive in Hawaiian waters without prior warning from Intelligence. 'T' iiat attack, it suggested, would take place A at dawn from one or more carriers which would probably approach inside o f 300 miles. It might be preceded by a surprise submarine attack, and a single submarine might well indicate the presence of an enemy surface force. In further discussion General Martin estimated that the Japanese could probably employ a maximum o f six carriers against Pearl H arbour that the enemy would be TheM artin-Bcllinger report is a master­ piece o f clear thinking and proper apprecia­tion o f the mind o f the enemy. In almost every single particular it was justified on the day o f the attack. On the basis o f the report, exercises were carried out and all preparations for the defence o f the area were made. On November 27, following along succession of messages, signals and letters giving the course o f negotiations with Japan and events in general— which included a warning that the Axis powers moved for choice on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays—a dispatch was sent to Admiral Kimmel which began with the words, “This dispatch is to be con­sidered a war warning.” Organization ‘Magic ’at Work It is not possible hereto examine in detail the flow o f events in Washington. American information to responsible officers, and in some degree American policy, was condi­tioned by the existence o f a crypto-analytic organization which was able to “break ”all Japanese codes in use, and which kept avery small group o f responsible officers, politicians and the President, informed o fall messages sent by Japanese diplomatic and consular officials, and a good deal o f the material transmitted to the Fleet. The organization was known as “Magic.” Through Magic it was learnt on November 16 that, after various hesitations, the deadlirc time for negotiations was set for November 29. From then on the hints at an operation, secret, vital, urgent, were numerous. The American system for the checking o f units o f the Japanese Fleet had lost touch with the First and Second Japanese Aircraft carrier Divisions. The tension mounted intolerably as days and then hours went by. By Saturday, December 6, it was almost at fever-heat in Washington, and on that day the first o f a series o f vital.m essages began. This, known as the “Pilot message,” in­formed the ambassadors that a message of fourteen points, outlining the Japanese case, was arriving. At this stage o f the proceed­ings it seemed possible that this was a virtual ultimatum .The first thirteen points, which came as one message, in a measure confirmed this. President Roosevelt, on reading them, said, “This means war !”The “Pilot AS VIEWED FROM AN ENEMY AIRCRAFT—Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbour on Dec. 7,1941, when "dive bombers broke through the scattered cloud to begin one of the greatest acts of treachery in the history of war.” As the bombs dropped, columns of rosewater high above some of the 86 U.S. warships moored off Ford Island in the harbour. The military dictators of Japan committed this act, said President Roosevelt in a broadcast, “under the very shadow of the flag of peacc borne by their special envoys in our midst.” PAGE 4 1 &Photo, Neic York Times Photos
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