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

Great Stories of the War Retold message,” however, also stated that the document was not to be presented until a time fixed by Tokyo. The fourteenth para­graph arrived without containing any actual declaration o f war, and the tension concen­trated on the hour o f delivery. There were mishaps this night in Washington. The army chiefs were at a dinner party. Admiral Stark was at the opera. But these things were o f small im portance—the time was not yet fixed. At 4.37 a.m .(Washington time) on December 7 a message was picked up by a naval monitoring station which was de­crypted and available in the Navy Depart­ment at 7 a.m .(It is important hereto remember the. indifference times— 7 a.m .in Washington would be 1.30 a.m .in Honolulu.) And here begins the first o f the final fantastic series o f mishaps. There was no Japanese interpreter on duty in the Navy Department at that hour and it had to be sent to the army for translation. This was not available until approximately nine o'clock. Chain of Tragic Misadventures It was not seen by a responsible officer until Captain Kramer o f the Translation Division returned to his office at 10.30. It was delivered by him to the Chief o f Naval Operations and within ten minutes to Secretary Hull, and ten minutes later to the White House. The message stated that the fourteen points were to be delivered to the Secretary o f State by the Japanese ambas­sadors at precisely one o'clock. In the course of the deliveries someone said that 1 a.m .Washington was “about dawn at Honolulu.” This was the Navy Department side. Within the Army Department the message was delivered rather earlier, but General George Marshall, the Chief o f Staff, was riding in the country and could not be con­tacted for some hours. A t 11.30 he eventu­ally saw the fourteen-part memorandum and finally the “One o'clock message.” He immediately assumed that there was a definite significance attached to this lime and wrote at once the draft o f a warning message to the Philippines, Hawaii, Panam a and the Western Defence Commands. So impressed was he with the urgency o f the situation that he asked how long it would take to dispatch the message. He was informed that it would be in the hands o f the recipients within thirty minutes. But The army was out o f touch by radio with Honolulu, owing to atmospheric conditions. Owing to the general lack o f co-operation between the Services, which manifested itself at many points in the Hawaiian affair, the army was not prepared to use the more powerful naval transmitters. It therefore decided to send the message by comm erical means. There was teletype connexion be­tween Washington and Western Union in San Francisco, and the army was informed that San Francisco was in touch with H ono­ lulu. San Francisco had the message by 12.17 p.m .Perhaps it would be easier hereto switch to Hawaiian time, for in Pearl H arbour the last o f the grains o f sand were outrunning 12.17 p.m. would be almost a quarter to seven in the morning at Hawaii. It took three-quarters o fan hour to get the message to Honolulu from San Francisco (7.33 a.m .Hawaiian time). Normally there was a teleprinter between the office in Honolulu and the military head­quarters at Fort Shafter, but this was early on a Sunday morning and the teleprinters were not in operation. The message was given to a telegraph boy and, as has been said, he fell off his bicycle as the first bombs fell. For, even theMas artin-Bellinger report had prophesied, the Japanese Fleet had come into the point o f the compass that the experts had expected, to the distance they had prognosticated and in the strength they had estimated. Even the submarine attack had taken place “according to plan .”And in a whirl o f dive-bom bers and torpedo planes, high-level bombing and ground strafing, the American Pacific Fleet was destroyed in 50 minutes and with it the air defence o f the island and, for all practical purposes, the possibility o f immediate retaliation.‘ C 'our battleships were sunk, one heavily*- dam aged, three others damaged. Two cruisers were heavily damaged and one damaged, four destroyers, a repair ship, a minelayer, a seaplane tender and an auxiliary ship were all out o faction 188 planes had been destroyed, and the U.S. forces lost 2,280 killed and more than 1,000 wounded. The Japanese lost five midget submarines, no ships, 29 aircraft and less than 100 men. How had these things happened ?In its findings the Committee states that the Hawaiian commanders had failed to dis­charge their responsibilities in the light of warnings and information, had failed to co­ordinate and integrate their facilities for defence, to effect proper liaison between the Services, to maintain effective reconnaissance and to employ the facilities, materiel and personnel at their command. But considering all the evidence, it had decided that “errors made by the Hawaiian commands were errors o f judgem ent and not derelictions o f duty .”Broadly speaking, these errors o f judge­ m ent can be putdown to one thing. Despite theM artin-Bcllingcr estimate and the con­sequent thinking and planning in connexion with the defence o f Hawaii, despite the “disappearance” of the Japanese carriers and the belief that a surprise attack o f some sort was imminent, Admiral Rimmel and General Short, naval and military commander respectively, were convinced that the attack would be either against the Philippines or southward towards the K ra Peninsula and Malaya. They believed that the greatest danger Hawaii had to face was that of sabotage from Japanese sympathizers amongst H ono lulu’s large Japanese population. To that basic error can be added the accumulation c f small errors that were due to the lack o f co-operation between the U.S. Army and the Navy that showed itself in war for the first time on this grim December morning. The Japanese in their planning had allowed for the loss o fat least two carriers and a number o f surface vessels. That they lost nothing was primarily due to precisely this circumstance o f non-co-operation. Speculation about Pearl H arbour has been endless and will so continue, but to my mind there are two channels that are more than ordinarily filled with fascination. How would the Pacific war have developed if the Pearl H arbour attack had been followed immediately with a landing to exploit the temporar>r destruction o f American sea power and the establishment o f Japanese air domina­tion in the Hawaiian region? I found few people in the Pacific who did not think that such an attack should have succeeded. How would the Pacific war have been fought with America shorn o f Pearl H arbour ?U.S. Fleet Inferior to the Jap My. second channel o f speculation is as to what would have happened if Pearl H arbour had not been attacked. In the opinion of the Admirals the American Elect in the Pacific in December was inferior to the Japanese Fleet to a degree that precluded all possibility o f major hostile operations. But if the Japanese had contented themselves with attacking the Philippines, and if General M acA rthur had, by his defence, sufficiently inflamed American public opinion, is there not a possibility that political expediency might have forced the over-ruling o f the Service chiefs and sent the Fleet with rein­forcements for Bataan ?What would have happened then ?It maybe that Japan, with the apparent victory of Pearl H arbour, the victory that more than any other thing served to unite the imm easur­ able force o f the American nation in war, denied herself the possibility o f defeating the American Fleet at sea, where it could not have been salved, and destroying an army o f reinforcement. A sea battle with odds utterly in favour o f Japan in the deep waters off' the Philippines might have changed the whole outcome o f the Pacific war. AT THE HEIGHT OF THE ATTACK by the Japanese on Pearl Harbour sticks of bombs straddled the stricken warships, and oil storage tanks ashore burned furiously. In a whirl of dive-bombers and torpedo-carrying aircraft, high-level bombing and ground strafing, the American Pacific Fleet was destroyed in 50 minutes. American planes to the total of 188 had been destroyed and the U.S. forces lost 2,280 killed and more than I.00S wounded. The Japanese lost no ships, 29 aircraft and less than 100 men, PAGE 420 Photo, Ncio Vo/A Times Photos
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