Tag Archives: Pacific War World War Ii

Japanese Submarine attacked oilfield near Santa Barbara, CA

On February 23, 1942, just 69 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese long range submarine, I-17 class, attacked the Barnsdall-Rio Grande Oil Field at Ellwood, California, which is just twelve miles north of Santa Barbara. Their attack consisted of firing shells from 5.5 inch deck guns for approximately twenty minutes. They targeted various oil wells along the coastline, including the Bankline Oil Company Refinery. One shell hit a derrick, causing some damage, but, fortunately, no loss of life. Three shells landed near the refinery but inflicted no damage. The other shells failed to hit their targets as the submarine moved slowly, paralleling the coast.

How did this attack unfold? At 7:58 PM local time, the Fourth Interceptor Command ordered all radio stations in Southern California off the air. Simultaneously, air-raid sirens were sounded in Santa Barbara. Within  a few moments, the coastline was blacked out from Carpinteria to Goleta, California, an area of almost twenty-five miles.

Eyewitness reports of the Japanese submarine began coming into the Ventura County Sherriff’s office. The first report came from San Marcos Pass, northwest of Santa Barbara, after hearing the first cannon shot. The observer used field glasses to sight the submarine, which they estimated was located about one mile off shore. The final call came in at approximately 8:30 PM; a minister observed the submarine exiting the Santa Barbara Channel. This same minister also reported he witnessed flashing signal lights by someone on shore. Later, four Japanese and one Italian were arrested. However, there were additional Japanese collaborators. For two hours after the Japanese raid, yellow flares were shot over Ventura County to signal the Japanese submarine. None of these individuals were ever caught.

The extent of the damage from the raid was minimal. Some shells landed short of the extensive oil installation; some exploded and blew holes in the machinery. Fortunately, their shells just missed several high-octane gasoline tanks.

Interestingly enough, the Japanese submarine remained in the area for another month, traveling up and down along the shipping coastline between Cape Mendocino and San Francisco, attacking various targets. The submarine sunk or damaged oil freighters, shelled shore installations in California, Oregon and Washington; it even launched miniature aircraft to start forest fires with incendiary bombs in Oregon forests. At the end of March, they returned to their home base at Yokosuka, Japan.

The Japanese considered reaching the American mainland a great victory. It was celebrated by the Japanese government and navy, who even printed special commemorative postcards so the event could be circulated around the world. This was the first attack by a foreign power on the continental United States since the War of 1812.

How did the United States react to this raid and the attack on Pearl Harbor? General Jimmy Doolittle B-25 bombing raided Tokyo on April 23, 1942. (Insert blog link) The attack was a success and a great boost to American morale.

Do you wonder how the Japanese knew where to attack and operate relatively undetected? The submarine was piloted by Captain Kozo Nishino, a former Japanese tanker captain who often dined as a guest of Bankline Oil company when his ship was anchored offshore prior to World War II.

Were you ever taught this in school?

Japan Surrenders to End World War II

On Sunday, September 2, 1945, the Japanese Government formally surrendered on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri. The United States was represented by General Douglas MacArthur, while the Japanese government was represented by Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, and their military was represented by General Yoshijiro Umezu.

Over the final months of World War II, President Truman decided to follow Roosevelt’s plan for reclaiming the defeated Axis Powers, which included sending General Douglas MacArthur to Japan to oversee all developments. This was a difficult decision for Truman, because he had a deep personal dislike for MacArthur. However, Truman believed MacArthur’s selection to be the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers (SCAP) of Japan would be widely accepted in the US, due to his popularity. Therefore, with MacArthur in place, he took a hands-off approach regarding decisions in Japan. The real story was that Truman had as much as he could handle with Europe and the Soviet Union. This action was paramount, as one of Truman’s most important accomplishments was keeping the Soviet Communists out of Japan, which was an everlasting benefit to Japan and the world.Silhouette fedora

At the Potsdam Conference, a declaration was signed by President Truman, British Prime Minister Churchill and Chinese President Chiang, below are some of the key points that Japan had to accept:

  • “The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.
  • “There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.
  • “Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan’s war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.
  • “The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.
  • “We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.
  • “Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from control of, raw materials shall be permitted. Eventual Japanese, participation in world trade relations shall be permitted.
  • “The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.
  • “We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all.”

This quotation come from the Potsdam Conference Declaration and is referenced from the website  http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/war.term/093_03.html

These terms were acknowledged as accepted by the Emperor on behalf of the Japanese Government on August 14, 1945.

On August 30, MacArthur had arrived in Tokyo to begin to set up his occupation staff. MacArthur believed he was an not expert on Japan, so one of the first appointments MacArthur made was Frank Schuler, due to his long-standing knowledge of Japan. Schuler had worked in the U.S. Embassy before World War II, and then during the war, he served as a spy in the country. He probably had as much working knowledge of the Japanese as anyone on MacArthur’s staff. However, MacArthur relied heavily upon the advice of his Chief of Intelligence, Major General Charles A. Willoughby, who helped design the occupation plan, with the centerpiece of keeping the emperor in place.

Also on MacArthur’s team were Lieutenant General Robert Eichelberger and Brigadier General Courtney Whitney. Whitney was a lawyer and prepared most of the documentation for MacArthur to execute. Eichelberger was to be in charge of the Eighth Army and supervise the non-political occupation of Japan. MacArthur did not allow the Army’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to be involved in his operation; Willoughby was a one-man intelligence team. Although he was knowledgeable of the military conflict, he was not very well connected, thus he could not provide valuable intelligence. An example of this poor intelligence, MacArthur believed that Hirohito was so removed from society that he never used a telephone or delivered a public speech. It is my opinion that MacArthur never wanted the involvement of the Army’s OSS, and this was due to infiltration of communists within the highest levels of the OSS organization, and MacArthur—a control freak—could not control these individuals.MacArthur and Hirohito

The historic meeting between Hirohito and MacArthur came on the morning of September 27. Hirohito was dressed in striped trousers and a morning coat when he reluctantly entered reception room at the refurbished American Embassy. He handed his top hat to an aide and entered General Douglas MacArthur’s office. It was agreed that he should act submissive and humble. Accepting responsibility for the war, he offered to abdicate or do whatever else was necessary, which he did. Yet MacArthur informed him that the United States wanted him to stay in power. If ever a picture was worth a thousand words, it was the image of General MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito standing side by side during their historic first meeting. In it, a casually dressed MacArthur towers over the stiff, formally attired emperor. For millions of Japanese, it brought home in an entirely new way the notion that they had lost the war. Just that day, Hirohito had spent almost three hours discussing his own presentation to MacArthur. MacArthur quickly became very popular with the Japanese people, because the emperor answered to him. Clearly, that picture contributed to the situation.

At the point of surrender, it was up to the Emperor Hirohito and his advisers to keep as much of their Empire as possible, including its political and economic structure. Hirohito believed that, up until the surrender of Germany, they could negotiate to keep the Philippines. On the day, Japan officially surrendered to the United States, the Diet, the Japanese governing body, unofficially ordered that $10 billion US dollars in goods, including banknotes, must be given to key diplomats and elites (essentially their Zabatsu families), to hide from the United States’ occupying force. Paramount to all of their efforts was protection of the emperor’s family and keeping the war-crime prosecution to a minimum. Concurrently, Secretary of War Stimson, Japanese Ambassador Grew, General MacArthur, and General Marshall had to design a plan to keep the emperor, in order to enable the rapid evolution of the Japanese people and their economy. However, they agreed it must be done in such a way as to give Hirohito concern for his future. It is important to note that the United States position was counter to that of their Allies (the British and Australians), who believe that all Japanese who were responsible for the war, including Hirohito, should be punished. One of MacArthur’s main objectives was a peaceful occupation, as they had real concerns about the safety of the US occupying force.WP_20150308_001

On September 3, 1945, a historical event not readily discussed occurred when Yamashita surrendered in the mountains north of Baguio, Luzon, Philippines, under orders from the Japanese government. General Major A.S. “Jack” Kenworthy of the military police made the official arrest of Yamashita, furnished the security and an escort for him as he went down from Baguio to New Bilibid Prison. While this seems like a mere afterthought on the surface, there is much hidden in the surrender of the last full Japanese army unit. In the time period between the dropping of the two atomic bombs and the official surrender, the Japanese Golden Lily team had substantial amounts of gold still to be buried in the Philippines. It was up to Yamashita to continue his guerilla activity as long as possible, so that the gold could be buried. It’s important to note that the final burial was achieved just before the Japanese government advised Yamashita he could surrender.

This year, on the seventieth anniversary of such a monumental event, the news cycle was complete quiet. Why is that? Do you believe, as I do, that these largely unknown historic truths about the Japanese surrender should be discussed openly, even taught in our universities as part of our world’s history? Ask a friend if they’re aware of these facts. If not, I encourage you to share this essay with them. Don’t let our history be lost, like the stolen war gold still hidden somewhere in the mountains of the Philippines.

The Seventieth Anniversary of the Atomic Bomb

August 6, 2015, is the seventieth anniversary of the dropping of the first atom bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, which occurred per the order of United States President Harry S. Truman. Japan refused to surrender, so a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. World War II ended with that second bomb.

What you’ve just read is what we were taught in school and what we saw on television. The truth, however, is far from being that simple, and the decision-making process was much more stressful than the public was led to believe.Silhouette fedora

Over the past three years, I have been researching for my forthcoming novel about the Soviets spying on the Atomic Bomb Project at Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico. I’ve discovered that few people in the world know the whole story behind the use of the atomic bombs and the behind-the-scenes activities. Today, seventy years later, the United States remains the only country in the history of the world to use atomic weapons. I venture to say that those people believing the use weapons of mass destruction was wrong, would quickly change their minds, if they knew the whole truth.

In advance of the release of my fact-based novel (which by definition is fictional), I’d like to share with you a few snippets of absolute truth that will shed a brief ray of light on the jarring decision making process.

Truman wanted to drop the atomic bomb on a purely military target; however, few valuable targets remained as a result of the fire-bombing campaign. The fire-bomb raids inflicted heavier casualties than either of either atomic bombs, but it created the psychological effect of a single weapon of such explosive force.

The wheels on this locomotion of destruction began five months earlier in April of 1945. On the morning of April 12th, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made one last effort to smooth out his delicate relationship with Stalin, but that afternoon, Roosevelt died, and Vice President Harry S. Truman became President. Up to that point, Truman had rarely seen Roosevelt and was not fully briefed on the War, or on the pending problems with the Soviet Union, or—more importantly—on the Manhattan Project. Truman thus required full briefing as rapidly as possible.

April also brought the invasion of Okinawa, an island on Japan’s doorstep. After two months of bloody land fighting, the stage was set for invasion of Japan’s main islands.

Hirohito believed that the US would ultimately invade mainland Japan, in order to finish off his country. Hirohito planned to detonate two dirty bombs over MacArthur’s mainland invasion fleet; therefore, he prepared a defense plan that would inflict terrible loss on the US army. At this point, he believed the US would negotiate a conditional surrender of Japan.

Japan had purchased uranium from Germany, which was being shipped in a German submarine that left Norway for Japan on April 15, 1945. When Germany surrendered on May 14th, the submarine turned and went to New Hampshire, where it surrendered all of its raw materials and data. Japan believed that, if they had surrendered first, they might have had a better political position for conditional submission. But now the US was ready to finish off Japan and would take nothing less than unconditional surrender. Despite the destruction of most of Japan’s war industry, on June 9, Japanese Premier Suzuki announced that Japan would fight to the very end, rather than accept unconditional surrender.

At the Potsdam Conference, principal allies the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain met to discuss, among other things, ending the war. The chief representatives were President Truman, Premier Stalin, former Prime Minister Churchill, and newly elected Prime Minister Clement Attlee. While there, they formulated the invasion plan for Japan. Part of the invading army would include US Troops, plus Russian and Chinese troops. Naturally, this terrified the Japanese, who feared the ruthlessness of the the Russians and the Chinese, whom they had treated horrifically.

Truman was still at the Potsdam Conference when he received results of the atomic bomb test. He talked at length about the bomb with Churchill and General Eisenhower. Truman did not particular trust nor like Stalin and only mentioned that he had a new weapon that was very destructive. Stalin acted uninterested and replied that he hoped it would finish off the Japanese. My research shows that Stalin was already aware of process by his spies in New York and Los Alamos of the results of the test.

On August 8, Japan tried to persuade the Soviets to mediate surrender negotiations. Soviet Diplomat Molotov canceled the meeting with the Japanese. Because of this, President Truman believed he must move fast, with the likelihood of the Soviets entering the Pacific War to spread Communism. Thus, Hoover decided to drop the second bomb.

August 9th, Stalin announced that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan. Simultaneously, the Soviet forces invaded Manchuria and North Korea. That same night, Hirohito met with key staff members to discuss viable options. The morning of August 10, a diplomatic note was sent to Sweden and Switzerland, declaring Japanese surrender under one condition: Hirohito must remain in power.

What was unknown to but a select few US personnel was that the next atomic bomb would not be ready until about August 21st. Secretary of State George Marshall and General Leslie Groves believed two bombs would move the Japanese to surrender. On August 13, Major General John Hull telephoned an officer at The Manhattan Project on behalf of General Marshall, saying that the chief of staff wanted all future bombs reserved for tactical use in Operation Olympic, the invasion of Japan. The Manhattan Project officer estimated that seven bombs would be ready. Seven!

At noon on August 14, in Washington, DC, President Truman met with the Duke of Windsor and British Ambassador John Balfour and told them that the latest Japanese message indicated no acceptance of the surrender terms. He had no alternative but to order the dropping of an atomic bomb on Tokyo. Fortunately, at 4:05 p.m. local time, he learned that the Japanese had indeed surrendered.

On August 14, Emperor Hirohito announced to the people of Japan that they had accepted the Allies’ unconditional surrender. He was afraid that soon the US would use this new weapon on Tokyo. Later in the day, Hirohito contemplated two choices; the first his ritual suicide, and the second to resign in total humiliation.

President Truman saved many US soldier’s lives, as well as the lives of many Japanese. Some believe that he also prevented expansion of Communism into Asia, as well.

Atomic scientists then believed that the ground would be safe to walk on one hour after detonation of the a-bomb. Of course, we now know this is far from the truth, and that the far-reaching fallout of those mushroom clouds exists still today, as evidenced in the abnormally high cancer rate of those exposed to atomic radiation.

I never expected to discover these shocking—even harrowing—facts when I began researching this history that I believed I knew rather well. Digging deep to uncover little-known truths is a writer’s job, however, even when writing fiction. Did it surprise you, as it did me, to learn these facts? Or were you taught these events unadulterated? In light of this information, has your opinion of the incidents changed, and if so, how?WP_20150308_001

I’m interested your opinions! Please share with me in the comment section below any thoughts you may have. Who knows? Something you say, or a question you ask, might influence my forthcoming novel. If so, I’ll be sure to thank you in my acknowledgments!

 

 

Video Presentation of Musashi from the M/Y Octopus Exploration Vessel

Last week, on March 13, 2015, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s team produced a video from their M/Y Octopus exploration vessel over the debris field of the battleship Musashi. The video showed the ship had broken apart into two sections, while the debris field was 800 meters long and 500 meters wide. One of their key discoveries was it had the Japanese Emperor’s chrysanthemum seal, which was a sixteen-petal flower. I must say, I watched this film with great enthusiasm, considering that I spent years of research on this topic for my novel series. http://musashi.paulallen.com/

chyrsanthemum

As Allen’s team was videoing the debris field, one of the experts made a comment that astounded me: there are no blueprints, drawings,or other pictorial descriptions of the Musashi still in existence. The experts were identifying items on the Sibuyan Sea floor using drawings from the Musashi’s sister ship, the Yamato, which had a slightly different design. The commentators were able to identify almost all of the various features of this ship, even after it has lain on the ocean for seventy-one years. What they couldn’t immediately identify, these experts were able to surmise after brief conversations—an unbelievable and fantastic discovery!

As I mentioned last week, the Musashi was one of the two largest and most-powerful battleships ever built. The Musashi was sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which was fought between October 23 and October 26, 1944. By the time the Musashi and its sister ship, the Yamato, were launched into the Pacific War, they were already obsolete.

In last week’s blog, I speculated that gold might be found in the hull of the ship. While the ROV (the Octopus vessel’s mini-sub) didn’t go inside the Musashi, I now believe it is highly unlikely that there is any gold on the ship . . . if ever there was. Considering the gigantic battleship broke into two sections separated by this debris field, there didn’t appear to be any evidence of gold.

The ROV was steered remotely from the surface both manually and with a computer to lock it in to help stabilize the video quality. What is phenomenal about that is the ROV was operating in over 4000 feet of water.

The video was of the highest quality; all-digital, high-resolution, with incredible zooming capability. The lighting requirements to make the targets show up were also of the highest quality. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was consulted for a company designing and testing downhole cameras for oil and gas wells that would work under high pressure and high temperature. It was a very expensive, tedious project. Here the design would call for high pressure, but operate in very cold temperatures. The process and testing they must have gone through to get to this level of sophistication must have been significant.Silhouette fedora

At the end of the video presentation, all the ship’s crew stood in a moment of silence honoring the men who had served on the battleship Masashi. This was a class act, especially considering the Musashi was once considered an enemy vessel.

Discovery of the Japanese Battleship Musashi in Leyte Gulf

In this week’s news, there was an announcement that a group of innovated explorers, including Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, discovered the World War II sunken Japanese Battleship Mchyrsanthemumusashi.

Big congratulations are due the innovative team that spent eight years hunting for this sunken battleship in over 4000 feet of water. One of the key markers on this discovery was the Japanese Emperor’s chrysanthemum seal, which is a sixteen-petal flower. Each petal had a special meaning to the Japanese Emperor Hirohito. According to Kazushige Todaka, a Japanese Historian, the chrysanthemum seal was unique to only three warships built by the Japanese during World War II.

The Musashi was one of the two largest, most powerful, battleships ever built. By the time the Musashi and its sister ship, the Yamato, were launched into the Pacific War, they were already obsolete. The Pacific War had quickly evolved into battles between planes launched from aircraft carriers not in sight of one another. In reality, these battleships only represented larger targets for the United States and Australian Fleets to attack. It should be noted that the third ship in this class was a converted aircraft carrier, and not specifically built as a battleship.

These explorers used the M/Y Octopus exploration vessel, in conjunction with historical research provided by four countries, to make this discovery. Additionally, they used some undisclosed “advanced technology” to survey the seabed of the floor of the Sibuyan Sea, which was also a critical factor in this exciting find.

The battleship Musashi was sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which was fought between October 23 and October 26, 1944. It was the largest naval battle of World War II. This proved to be the final blow to the Japanese Navy, thus to the country of Japan’s war effort. The Battle of Leyte Gulf ensured American maritime supremacy in the last months of World War II. The previous destruction of Japanese naval air power in forced the Imperial Navy to prepare for a decisive battle using only surface ships.

To set the stage for this sea battle, on October 20, the US and Australian armies began landing 130,000 troops on Leyte Island. The Japanese plan called for their carriers to decoy Admiral William F. Halsey’s Third Fleet away from the Philippines, allowing Japanese warships to converge on and destroy the American ships supplying the landing for US and Australian armies.

There is one other very significant cost of the loss of the naval battle at Leyte Gulf: it was the fatal blow to the Golden Lily Group. Up until the US and Australian forces landed at Leyte Island, the Japanese were still bringing in vast amounts of gold and treasures into the Philippines. This was the reason the Japanese threw the remainder of their Navy into this battle, to keep these islands and sea lanes in their possession. As late as August 1944, Hirohito and the advisors still believed that, despite the fact that they were clearly losing the War, they could inflict so much damage to the United States troops that they could negotiate a conditional surrender, possibly retaining the Philippines.

Recently when the production company World Media Rights, filmed the Myth Hunter’s documentary “Yamashita’s Gold”, in which I was privileged to be included as one of the expert commentators, they left out some of the tangential facts regarding the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The Golden Lily Group still had tunnels to be engineered, dug and mapped using the Kungi language, in which they buried stolen war gold. These tunnels were subsequently booby trapped and re-buried.Silhouette fedora

The Golden Lily Group had to accelerate their operation at all levels, plus hold the advancing US and Australian armies at bay. Up until the landing of the US and Australian troops, the Japanese were able to methodically bury the gold, currency, and treasures, but as the US and Australian armies begin to retake the Philippine Islands, the Japanese could no longer be as thorough.

It would not come as a surprise to me, giving my years of research on this subject, if a large amount of gold is discovered on this sunken battleship. Why else would you spend eight years and so much money looking for an old sunken battleship?

I’d love to know your thoughts on this fascinating subject. Please continue to subscribe or return to my blog site, as I will continue to provide commentary on this dramatic recovery. Again, I congratulate Mr. Allen and his team for their significant historical find.

 

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/national/us-billionaire-says-wwii-japanese-ship-found-in-philippines/ar-BBicZXJ

 

http://yahoonewsdigest-intl.tumblr.com/post/112687484242/you-found-my-battleship-paul-allens-unlikely-hit

 

The Day that shouldn’t have Lived in Infamy – December 7, 1941

What is the saying? “Let the truth set you free.” Well, December 7, 1941 should not have played out the way it did, and let me tell you why!

On December 8, President Roosevelt made a speech before Congress that broadcasted over the radio all across the United States, calling the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor a surprise attack and “a dastardly deed,” and the American Public bought it hook, line and sinker. They went from being against the war, as a whole, to being all in, and in a big way.

But here are the real facts.Silhouette fedora

We all know that the Japanese wanted a war against the United States and attacked Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7th. Last year, I wrote a remembrance of this date and the 2,403 sailors and soldiers who died that day as a result of 353 Japanese war planes bombing an “expecting” Pearl Harbor, starting at 7:48 AM Hawaiian time. But now I want to tell you that it didn’t have to happen. Our government set this up to happen for a reason. Let me provide the facts behind that fateful day, and I will let you decide for yourselves.

The United States and Japan had been at odds for more than a year. Behind the scenes, President Roosevelt had been looking for a way to get into World War II, but two things stood in the way. First was the election of 1940, when President Roosevelt campaigned much like one of his heroes, President Wilson, who kept us out of war. Roosevelt had to play to the anti-war crowd to keep his base happy. The anti-war crowd had many Hollywood celebrities and national heroes, including aviator Charles Lindbergh. Once the election was over, Roosevelt went back to work behind the scenes to overcome his second dilemma, the fact that most of the US had no interest in European war, and the American public—for the most part—couldn’t care less about what Japan was doing in Southeast Asia. Roosevelt had to get the public on his side to enter this war.

As early as January 1941, a Peruvian Minister told an American embassy official in Japan that the Japanese were planning an attack on Pearl Harbor. The US embassy in Japan telegrammed this information to the US State Department. Secretary of State Cordell Hull passed the message on to Army Intelligence and the Office of Naval Intelligence. On January 27, the Office of Naval Intelligence advised Kimmel that it “placed no credence” in the rumors that Japan was planning to attack Pearl Harbor. The view of US military intelligence, and of Admiral Kimmel, was that the major threat to the fleet at Pearl Harbor was from local saboteurs—not—from a Japanese military force.

Japan’s next move occurred on March 1941, when they sent a new Consul General, trained spy Takeo Yoshikawa, to Hawaii. Yoshikawa was responsible for gathering information about the movements of American ships. The Office of Naval Intelligence had broken Japanese codes, so the US knew the Japanese had spies in the United States and were aware of many of their plans.

The Roosevelt Administration made their next calculated move: Roosevelt knew the Japanese were willing to do anything to secure crude oil, and when their Axis partner Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Japanese believed the Soviets would not attack them. As a result, Japan became more brazen in their activity, and in June of 1941,the United States and its Allies placed an embargo on crude oil going to Japan. Since Japan has no crude oil production, they had to rely solely on outsiders to provide it, so this move was really, shall we say, “poking the tiger”. Japan had to find a way to get crude oil to keep their war machine running. They were determined to acquire it, one way or another.

Despite continued peace negotiations between the United States and Japan, the rhetoric was also amped up between the two, predominately over Japan’s aggression against China and others. On Thanksgiving morning, November 27, Roosevelt met with Hull to be fully briefed regarding the Japanese situation and a review of the negotiations with the Japanese. He decided that a war warning should be issued to Panama, San Diego, Honolulu, and Manila. Later that day, Secretary of War Stimson advised of a large Japanese Naval Force sailing from Shanghai. Stimson suggested to Roosevelt that the War Department cable should be sent to Panama, San Diego, Honolulu, and Manila to prepare for war, and Roosevelt agreed. The message to General MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Pacific Forces, spoke of negotiations with the Japanese appearing to be “terminated to all practical purposes”. It stated:

HOSTILE ACTION POSSIBLE AT ANY MOMENT . . . IF HOSTILITIES CANNOT, REPEAT CANNOT, BE AVOIDED, THE UNITED STATES DESIRES THAT JAPAN COMMIT THE FIRST OVERT ACT. THIS POLICY SHOULD NOT, REPEAT NOT, BE CONSTRUED AS RESTRICTING YOU TO A COURSE OF ACTION THAT MIGHT JEOPARDIZE YOUR DEFENSE.

MacArthur asked for clarification and reported that defense forces were ready. The next day, General “Hap” Arnold, the military commander in Washington, sent orders to MacArthur and to Pearl Harbor to take all necessary steps “to protect your personnel against subversive propaganda, protect all activities against espionage, and protect against sabotage of your equipment, property and establishments.” To this end, aircraft were to be moved together, wing tip to wing tip. Stimson warned of a possible amphibious assault on Manila, or the Thai or Kra Peninsula in Malaya, or maybe even Borneo.

As the Japanese fleet moved into attack position for the Hawaiian Islands, they had to break radio silence briefly, and this enabled US radio direction finders to locate the attack force. Also, both the British Intelligence Code Breakers and the Dutch knew that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor.

Upon receipt of the war warning in Honolulu, Admiral Kimmel and Lieutenant General Short, planned for the “surprise attack” by moving the United States Navy aircraft carriers out of Pearl Harbor and sent them to the high seas where the Japanese couldn’t find them. Pacific Commander Rear Admiral William F. Halsey then decided to place the most valuable of the remaining ships on the inside of the docks, while the least valuable were put on the outside, in case of a “surprise attack” on the harbor by the Japanese.

On December 6, President Roosevelt composed a last-minute plea for peace to the Emperor. On the same day, a Liaison Conference in Tokyo approved the decision to have Nomura deliver Japan’s final note at 1300 hours the next day, thirty minutes before the scheduled launching of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Thirteen of the fourteen parts of the message were in American hands that night. Unidentified aircraft, presumably Japanese, were observed over Luzon, where by this time, a full air alert was in effect. The troops had already moved into defensive positions along the beaches.

In Tokyo on the evening of December 6, the Navy General Staff sat anxiously awaiting correspondence. They were stunned when the Japanese spy in Honolulu sent the final report stating that Pearl Harbor was full of battleships, but not a single aircraft carrier! This put the Naval Staff into a last minute panic; they believed that there were six carriers in the Pacific. Where were the aircraft carriers? Were they waiting to ambush Admiral Nagumo? When Admiral Yamamoto was advised, he contemplated having Nagumo send out search planes, but was afraid of tipping the location of the attack force. When Admiral Yamamoto decided to notify Admiral Nagumo, he advised him that there were no carriers in Pearl Harbor, and Yamamoto left the final decision to Nagumo. As mad as Nagumo was, he felt he had no choice but to proceed and at least try to sink the battleships.

In Washington, DC, on the morning of December 7, Japanese Ambassador Nomura called Secretary Hull to request a meeting promptly at 1:00 PM local time in Washington, DC. Although the Naval Intelligence code breakers thought otherwise, both Roosevelt and Hull believed that the message from Hirohito/Japan contained the worst—a declaration of war. At that point, Roosevelt elected not to pick up the phone, though he could call any major installation in the Pacific. He and the other advisors ignored their hard intelligence and believed, based on what they knew, that Japan was going to attack Malaysia. Roosevelt knew that all of the US Pacific Stations were at “third alert”, meaning they were expecting sabotage only.

So the Japanese didn’t get the honor of announcing their war plans before the “surprise attack” all as desired by Roosevelt. Now he could call it a dastardly surprise attack and rally the American Public, who never knew the whole story! The government withheld information from the public so it could manipulate them. Wow, what a surprise!

As a final test to your knowledge of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, do you know who fired the first shot?Silhouette fedora

Okay, time’s up… the United States did. The USS Ward sunk a mini-spy sub that had moved into place to assist the war planes with their surprise attack at 6:45 AM.As you can now see, that was one full hour before the first Japanese planes flew over Pearl Harbor.