At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story Of Pearl Harbor; Revised Edition

Paperback | December 1, 1991

byGordon W. PrangeAfterword byDonald M. Goldstein, Katherine V. Dillon

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Revisit the definitive book on Pearl Harbor in advance of the 75th anniversary (December 7, 2016) of the "date which will live in infamy"

At 7:53 a.m., December 7, 1941, America's national consciousness and confidence were rocked as the first wave of Japanese warplanes took aim at the U.S. Naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. As intense and absorbing as a suspense novel, At Dawn We Slept is the unparalleled and exhaustive account of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is widely regarded as the definitive assessment of the events surrounding one of the most daring and brilliant naval operations of all time. Through extensive research and interviews with American and Japanese leaders, Gordon W. Prange has written a remarkable historical account of the assault that-sixty years later-America cannot forget.

"The reader is bound to feel its power....It is impossible to forget such an account." —The New York Times Book Review

"At Dawn We Slept is the definitive account of Pearl Harbor." —Chicago Sun-Times

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From Our Editors

The monumental history of Pearl Harbor that The New York Times called "impossible to forget"--now with a new chapter by Goldstein and Dillon. Based on 37 years of massive research and countless interviews, this is a landmark study written with the dramatic sweep of a martial epic. 16 pages of photographs

From the Publisher

Revisit the definitive book on Pearl Harbor in advance of the 75th anniversary (December 7, 2016) of the "date which will live in infamy"At 7:53 a.m., December 7, 1941, America's national consciousness and confidence were rocked as the first wave of Japanese warplanes took aim at the U.S. Naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. As inten...

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THE MONUMENTAL AND DEFINITIVE STUDY OF THE JAPANESE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBORAt 7:53 A.M., December 7, 1941, America's national consciousness and confidence were rocked as the first wave of Japanese warplanes targeted the U.S. Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. As intense and absorbing as a suspense novel, At Dawn We Slept is an unp...

Gordon W. Prange (1910-1980) served during World War II as an officer in the naval reserve and, during the occupation of Japan, served in the General Headquarters as a civilian. He was chief of General Douglas McArthur's G-2 Historical Section and director of the Military History Section. He taught history at the University of Maryland...

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December 7, 1941: The Day the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor
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Format:PaperbackDimensions:928 pages, 9.2 × 6.1 × 1.4 inPublished:December 1, 1991Publisher:Penguin Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0140157344

ISBN - 13:9780140157345

Appropriate for ages: 18 - 18

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Pearl Harbor was more than one of the most daring and brilliant naval operations of all time; it was one of the turning points in history. The event provides a milestone at which to pause and take historical inventory. But in so doing, one should not credit to the event an entire generation of the world’s developments. The temptation to do this is very real because those who lived through that period tend to divide their lives into two periods—before Pearl Harbor and after Pearl Harbor. It is also one of the greatest of all war stories. It combined so much, so suddenly, so unexpectedly, so spectacularly, in such brief and tragic compass. It embraced so much which in the perspective of the years still seems inexplicable and mysterious.But Pearl Harbor did not unfold with all the inevitability of a Greek tragedy. The operation was not an “act of God.” Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander in Chief of Japan’s Combined Fleet and the initiator of the plan, might well have abandoned it if training in shallow-water torpedo bombing had failed, if high-level bombing had proved unsuccessful, or if the United States had closed the Japanese consulate in Honolulu, thus cutting off his primary source of intelligence on the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Then, too, the Naval General Staff strongly opposed his dangerous enterprise and could have refused to sanction it. What is more, the Japanese government could have decided against war with the United States. The options on both sides of the Pacific were in human hands, not in the laps of the gods.Pearl Harbor resulted from a vast combination of interrelated, complicated, and strange historical factors: on the one hand, bountiful human errors of great variety, false assumptions, fallacious views, a vast store of intelligence badly handled; on the other, precise planning, tireless training, fanatical dedication, iron determination, technical know-how, tactical excellence, clever deception measures, intelligence well gathered and effectively disseminated, plain guts—and uncommon luck.One cannot point a finger at any one of these factors and say, “Ah, that did it!” any more than one can look at a building and say, “See that brick; it is the whole structure.” The story of Pearl Harbor has suffered altogether too long from oversimplification, from interpretation in terms of black and white, from failure to understand that it embodies all the colors of the spectrum in a wide variety of mixtures and gradations.The question of why Japan caught the United States napping on Oahu is exceedingly complicated and controversial. One must constantly keep in mind that nothing takes place in a vacuum. Events flow out of one another in an unending stream. History often hinges upon such elements as that fickle and cruel dictator the weather; the quirks of personality; an upset stomach; a prejudice; an accident or other unforeseen whim of fate. Therefore, it cannot be reduced to a scientific formula or factored like a mathematical problem.Countless silent, unseen forces are incessantly at work in history’s “majestic sweep,” “innumerable waves,” “slow rhythms,” “surging forces”—call them what you will—those small yet numerous incidents which are often little more than scratches on history’s slate, those elusive intangibles that alter men’s thinking and actions; all in their way so illogical, yet so relative and relevant, and virtually impossible to deal with adequately. How does one accurately separate cause from effect, fact from fiction, moment from momentum, or determine the influence of time, place, and circumstance on any given event? It is impossible for the historian to read the whole record of the past, which invariably is incomplete. And to write that record? Ah, that is where, to paraphrase Voltaire, history plays tricks on the dead. By his nature the historian must be selective, choosing this or that fact, event, circumstance, example, or quotation which he considers relevant to his subject.Thus, Gordon Prange laid no claim to omniscience. Nor did he wish to create the impression of finality. Indeed, it is extremely doubtful whether a completely satisfactory answer ever will be forthcoming. Anyone who claims to know and to present to his readers “The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor” is either a charlatan or a self-deluder.If Gordon Prange were alive, he would want to dedicate this book to his wife, Anne, his son, Winfred, his daughters, Polly and Nancy, and his grandson Robbie, all of whom bore long and patiently with his “magnificent obsession”; to all those Americans and Japanese who helped and encouraged him in so many ways and without whom this work would have been impossible; to all his students over the years, to whom he devoted so much of himself and who in return gave him their affectionate admiration; and to the dead and the survivors of Pearl Harbor in the hope that they did not suffer and die in vain.PART IPRELUDE CHAPTER 1“CANCER OF THE PACIFIC” Long before sunrise on New Year’s Day, 1941, Emperor Hirohito rose to begin the religious service at the court marking the 2,601st anniversary of the founding of the Japanese Empire.1 No doubt he prayed for his nation and for harmony in the world. For this mild, peaceable man himself had chosen the word Showa—“enlightened peace”—to characterize his reign.But in statements greeting the new year, Japanese leaders prophesied strife and turmoil. Veteran journalist Soho Tokutomi warned of storms ahead: “There is no denying that the seas are high in the Pacific. . . . The time has come for the Japanese to make up their minds to reject any who stand in the way of their country. . . .”2What true son of Nippon could doubt who stood in the way? Relations between the United States and Japan left tremendous room for improvement. Japan surged ahead under full sail on a voyage of expansion that dated back to 1895. Riding the winds of conquest, Japan invaded North China in 1937. Though it tried desperately to “solve” what it euphemistically termed the China Incident, it remained caught in a whirlpool that sucked down thousands upon thousands of its young men, tons upon tons of military equipment, and millions of yen. Still, nothing could stop its compulsive drive deeper and deeper into the heart of that tormented land. Thus, the unresolved China problem became the curse of Japan’s foreign policy.Japan turned southward in 1939. On February 10 it took over Hainan Island off the southern coast of China. In March of the same year Japan laid claim to the Spratlys—coral islands offering potential havens for planes and small naval craft, located on a beautiful navigational fix between Saigon and North Borneo, Manila, and Singapore.With the fall of France in 1940 Japan stationed troops in northern French Indochina, its key stepping-stone to further advancement southward. And dazzled by Hitler’s military exploits, it joined forces with Germany and Italy, signing the Tripartite Pact on September 27, 1940. By this treaty the three partners agreed to “assist one another with all political, economic and military means when one of the three Contracting Parties is attacked by a power at present not involved in the European War or in the Sino-Japanese conflict.”3 Inasmuch as no major nation remained uninvolved except the United States and the Soviet Union—and Germany had a nonaggression pact with the latter—the target of this treaty stood out with blinding clarity.By 1941, that fateful Year of the Snake,* Japan poised for further expansionist adventures into Southeast Asia—Malaya, the Philippines, and the Netherlands East Indies. The Japanese convinced themselves that necessity and self-protection demanded they take over the vast resources of these promised lands to break through real or imagined encirclement and beat off the challenge of any one or a combination of their international rivals—the United States, Great Britain, and Soviet Russia.Throughout the early years of Japan’s emergence, the United States cheered on the Japanese, whom they regarded in a measure as their protégés. But in time it became apparent that the “plucky Little Japs” were not only brave and clever but dangerous and a bit on the devious side. By New Year’s Day of 1941 knowledgeable people in both countries already believed that an open clash would be only a matter of time. Even Ambassador Joseph C. Grew, a friend of Japan, could find no silver lining. “It seems to me increasingly clear that we are bound to have a showdown some day, and the principal question at issue is whether it is to our advantage to have that showdown sooner or have it later,” he lamented in a “Dear Frank” letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 14, 1940.4Events in Europe inevitably colored the American attitude toward the Japanese, who labored under the self-imposed handicap of their alliance with Adolf Hitler, regarded by most Americans as little less than the Father of Evil. Japan’s strong-arm methods of persuading Vichy to permit Japanese troops to enter northern Indochina smacked of Benito Mussolini’s famous “dagger in the back” treatment of France. Now all signs pointed to the Netherlands East Indies as next on the list. The United States had to consider Japan in the context of its Axis alliance, for aid and concessions to Tokyo in effect meant aid and concessions to Berlin and Rome.In essence China was the touchstone of Japanese-American relations, yet China was only part of the so-called Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, a concept the very fluidity of which made the democracies uneasy. The Japanese never tired of expounding the principle in the loftiest phrases but fought shy of actually stating in geographical terms just what “Greater East Asia” covered. Presumably it would expand as Japan moved outward to include all that the traffic would bear.To the Japanese the fulfillment of this dream was imperative. “I am convinced that the firm establishment of a Mutual Prosperity Sphere in Greater East Asia is absolutely necessary to the continued existence of this country,” declared Japan’s premier, Prince Fumimaro Konoye, on January 24.5Japan had a long list of grievances against the United States, the foremost being the recognition of the Chiang Kai-shek regime and the nonrecognition of Manchukuo. The very presence in Asia of the United States, along with the European powers, was a constant irritation to Japanese pride. The press lost no occasion to assure such intruders that Japan would slam the Open Door in their faces. “Japan must remove all elements in East Asia which will interfere with its plans,” asserted the influential Yomiuri. “Britain, the United States, France and the Netherlands must be forced out of the Far East. Asia is the territory of the Asiatics. . . .”6On a number of scores the Japanese objected vociferously to American aid to Great Britain and to Anglo-American cooperation. In the first place, Britain was at war with Japan’s allies, Germany and Italy, so what helped the British hindered the Axis. In the second, Japan considered that Washington’s bolstering of London perpetuated the remnants of British colonialism and hence the obnoxious presence of European flags on Asian soil.Japanese anger also focused on the embargoes which the United States had slapped on American exports to Japan. By the end of 1940 Washington had cut it off from all vital war materials except petroleum. As far back as 1938 the United States had placed Japan under the so-called moral embargo. The termination on January 26, 1940, of the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation of 1911 removed the legal obstacle to actual restrictions. Beginning in July 1940, Washington placed all exports of aviation fuel and high-grade scrap iron and steel under federal license and control. In September 1940, after Japanese forces moved into northern Indochina, Roosevelt finally announced an embargo on scrap iron and steel to Japan. Thus, by the end of that year Japan had begun to experience a real pinch and a shadow of genuine fear mingled with its resentment of these discriminatory measures.Tokyo also had an old bone to pick with Washington—the immigration policy which excluded Japanese from American shores and refused United States citizenship to those Japanese residents not actually born there.Above all, Japan considered America’s huge naval expansion program aimed directly at it. Since the stationing of a large segment of the Fleet at Pearl Harbor in the spring of 1940, the United States Navy had stood athwart Japan’s path—a navy which Japanese admirals thought capable of menacing their nation’s very existence.Since Commodore Matthew Perry had opened Japan to the modern world, the two nations had enjoyed a unique history of friendship and mutually profitable trade. Yet now they stood face-to-face like two duelists at the salute. The Japanese had a name for this ugly situation: Taiheiyo-no-gan (“Cancer of the Pacific”).But the Japanese would try the hand of diplomacy before they unsheathed the sword. If they could keep the United States immobilized in the Pacific by peaceful means, they would prefer to do so. To negotiate their differences with Washington, in November 1940 Tokyo selected as ambassador Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura. Called out of retirement at sixty-four, Nomura had filled numerous important positions in his long, illustrious career in the Navy. During a tour as naval attaché in Washington he became friendly with the then Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. More important, Nomura felt at home in the United States and cherished his American friends. Seldom have two nations at official loggerheads been represented by two such men of mutual goodwill as Grew and Nomura—two physicians who would make every effort to help cure the “Cancer of the Pacific.”At six feet, Nomura loomed over most of his countrymen. On April 29, 1932, when he was attending a celebration in Shanghai, a Chinese terrorist had thrown a bomb into a group of Japanese dignitaries. The explosion robbed Nomura of his right eye and also crippled him, so that he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. In repose thoughtful, even a little anxious, his broad, good-natured face frequently beamed with jovial friendliness. All Japan knew him to be a man of sincerity, moderation, and liberality of thought, a sturdy opponent of the jingoists. He advocated peace and friendship with the United States; in American naval circles, consequently, he was both liked and respected.Until the last moment Japan’s fire-eating expansionists, along with the Germans in Tokyo, tried to block Nomura’s appointment. Indeed, he himself had not sought the post. Throughout the late summer and early fall of 1940 the admiral consistently refused the offer, despite the persistent pleas of Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka. Only when his moderate naval colleagues implored him to accept and help reach an agreement with the United States did he reluctantly consent. Not that he considered the prospects entirely hopeless, but he had to admit that conditions were “very bad,” and he feared that “the situation would probably get worse.”7During numerous talks with Prime Minister Konoye, War Minister Hideki Tojo, and others, Nomura cautioned them not to expect miracles of him; the question of war or peace was beyond his powers as a single representative of the Japanese government. In the postwar years, when Nomura tried to explain how he felt during those tense days in Washington in 1941, he quoted a Japanese proverb: “When a big house falls, one pillar cannot stop it.”8Little wonder that on January 1, 1941, the official Japan Times and Advertiser admitted that although Nomura’s appointment was widely approved, “the role he is to play at Washington is no enviable one. When it is certain that Japanese diplomacy will be governed first and foremost by Axis motives, relations with the United States are pregnant with no end of potential issues.”On January 20, 1941, just three days before sailing, Nomura spent about half an hour with Grew. The American ambassador certainly did not expect Nomura to reverse the tide. As he said in his diary, “The only potential usefulness I can see in Admiral Nomura’s appointment lies in the hope that he will honestly report to his Government what the American government and people are thinking, writing and saying.”9Grew kept a sharp, uneasy eye on the developments in Tokyo. Tall, dignified, with impeccable manners, he appeared to be the perfect senior career diplomat. A smooth thatch of snowy hair topped an intelligent, attractive face. Beneath heavy black brows the candid dark eyes opened to all possible contingencies yet looked out on mankind with good humor and common sense.After almost nine years on the job he ranked as doyen of Tokyo’s diplomatic colony. Limited in part by deafness, Grew never mastered the Japanese language, but his wife spoke it excellently. Alice Grew had a special link with Japan, being the granddaughter of Commodore Perry. Blessed with a sharp mind and mature judgment, Grew became a shrewd observer of the Japanese scene and called the shots exactly as he saw them, both in his reports to Washington and in his conferences with Japanese leaders.“With all our desire to keep America out of war and at peace with all nations, especially with Japan, it would be the height of folly to allow ourselves to be lulled into a feeling of false security,” Grew wrote on January 1, 1941, in his diary—that invaluable manuscript in which he not only recorded in detail the major diplomatic and political events of the day but also blew off steam when the pressure grew too great. Nevertheless, even when the Japanese most irritated him, his language was that of an affectionate father toward a beloved but exasperating son. “Japan, not we, is on the warpath . . .” he continued. “If those Americans who counsel appeasement could read even a few of the articles by leading Japanese in the current Japanese magazines wherein their real desires and intentions are given expression, our peace-minded fellow countrymen would realize the utter hopelessness of a policy of appeasement.” Grew added a grim note: “In the meantime let us keep our powder dry and be ready—for anything.”10Nomura was prepared to look on the bright side when he sailed from Yokohama on January 23, 1941, to take up his new post. But his departure did not strike much optimism from the Japanese press. The next day commentator Teiichi Muto wrote: “The new ambassador to the United States, in fact, may be likened to a sailor who ventures to cross an ocean of angry waves in a tiny boat.”11 And about two weeks later the strongly nationalist Kokumin added this gloomy touch: “We offer our respect and gratitude to Ambassador Nomura with the same attitude as to soldiers going to the front with the determination to die.”12Nomura had been at sea only four days when Matsuoka sounded off ominously in a speech in Tokyo: The Co-Prosperity Sphere in the Far East is based on the spirit of Hakko Ichiu, or the Eight Corners of the Universe under One Roof. . . . We must control the western Pacific. . . . We must request United States reconsideration, not only for the sake of Japan but for the world’s sake. And if this request is not heard, there is no hope for Japanese-American relations.13 When Admiral Koshiro Oikawa became navy minister on September 4, 1940, he acknowledged, “Heavy are the responsibilities of the Navy which must be fully prepared to meet any emergency arising from the current trend of world events.”14 Oikawa had been a full admiral since 1939 and was one of Japan’s most able and distinguished naval officers. A large, dignified man of robust health, he had a broadly pleasant but unreadable face flanked by enormous ears. A man of few words, he expressed opinions rather than convictions.He believed firmly in Japanese destiny and strongly supported the doctrine of southern expansion. He spoke of the war in China as a “sacred campaign.” He thought Japan might be “running some risk of picking Germany’s chestnuts out of the fire” because of the Tripartite Pact, but he believed that “America was so unlikely to go to war that the situation was fairly safe.”15 Even so, he preferred steady diplomatic and naval pressure to military action. Yet before the end of January 1941 Oikawa assured his countrymen that “the navy is prepared fully for the worst and . . . measures are being taken to cope with the United States naval expansion.”16By that time his head bulged with the weightiest of secrets. He knew a lot more than he was prepared to tell. Nor did he dare tell all he knew. CHAPTER 2“ON A MOONLIGHT NIGHT OR AT DAWN” An intensely serious man sat at his desk in his cabin aboard the 32,000-ton battleship Nagato as she swung at anchor at Hashirajima in Hiroshima Bay on January 7, 1941.1 One can picture this man as he placed a piece of paper before him, grasped his brush, and marshaled his thoughts. Then, when the spirit moved him, he wrote in quick, bold strokes one of the most historically revealing letters in the annals of the Imperial Japanese Navy.A photograph taken at the height of his powers portrays a man short even by Japanese standards (five feet three inches), with broad shoulders accentuated by massive epaulets and a thick chest crowded with orders and medals. But a strong, commanding face dominates and subdues the trappings. The angular jaw slants sharply to an emphatic chin. The lips are full, clean-cut, under a straight, prominent nose; the large, well-spaced eyes, their expression at once direct and veiled, harbor potential amusement or the quick threat of thunder. Short, pointed eyebrows lend an inquisitive look to the nettled brow. Gray hair in an uncompromising crew cut surmounts the whole. It is the face of a man of action and a visionary, reflecting willpower and drive as well as sensitivity.This man was Isoroku Yamamoto,* Commander in Chief of Japan’s Combined Fleet.On this particular morning of January 7, 1941, presumably Yamamoto showed none of his usual good nature and zest for living. If an evil spirit had set about bestowing on him the task he most dreaded, it would have come up with exactly the one he had imposed upon himself—that of initiating war against the United States by a surprise attack upon its Pacific Fleet.There is no more ironic fact in a situation loaded with ironies than this: Probably no man in Japan more earnestly wanted to avoid war with the United States than the one who planned the Pearl Harbor attack. Yamamoto clearly understood that Japan had no hope of ultimate victory over the United States. He knew that America vastly outstripped Japan in science, technology, and especially natural resources. Not only was the United States Fleet larger than the Japanese Navy, but America’s mass production system could replace battle losses much faster than Japan’s inferior economy. He had seen the industrial might of the United States firsthand when he studied at Harvard University and later, in the mid-twenties, when he served as naval attaché in Washington.Since his appointment as Commander in Chief in August 1939, Yamamoto had assiduously prepared Hirohito’s Navy for every possible contingency while still nourishing the hope that Japan and the United States would not come to blows. Yet by early autumn of 1940 he saw dangers ahead. The unhappy prospect of a German-Italian-Japanese alliance distressed him considerably, for he had long mistrusted the “machinations of Ribbentrop and Hitler,” as witness his letter to his naval academy classmate Vice Admiral Shigetaro Shimada on September 4, 1939. “I shudder as I think of the problem of Japan’s relations with Germany and Italy in the face of the tremendous changes now taking place in Europe.”2But the tide of pro-Axis feeling in Japan could not be stemmed. In late September 1940 he conferred with Konoye in Tokyo. According to the premier’s memoirs, Yamamoto informed him, “If I am told to fight regardless of the consequences, I shall run wild for the first six months or a year, but I have utterly no confidence for the second or third year. The Tripartite Pact has been concluded, and we cannot help it. Now that the situation has come to this pass, I hope you will endeavor to avoid a Japanese-American war.”3But Yamamoto did not have much faith in Japan’s political leaders. Writing with the utmost frankness to Shimada on December 10, 1940, he observed bitterly: . . . the present Government appears to be in complete confusion. Its action in showing surprise now at America’s economic pressure and fuming and complaining against it reminds me of the aimless action of a schoolboy which has no more consistent motive than the immediate need or whim of the moment. . . . It would be extremely dangerous for the Navy to make any move in the belief that such men as Prince Konoye and Foreign Minister Matsuoka can be relied upon. . . . Yamamoto also doubted whether Japanese-American difficulties could be negotiated. “Nomura has no confidence that he will succeed in his mission,” he continued, “and besides, it is expecting too much to adjust our relations with America through diplomacy at this late stage. . . .”4In spite of Yamamoto’s pessimistic outlook, his heavy correspondence during 1941 reveals that he still wished to avoid war with the United States if at all possible. Certainly he never uttered the widely reported statement which was to distort his true image both at home and abroad. What actually happened is this: On January 26, 1941, fearful of the drift toward war and disgusted by the jingoists in full cry, Yamamoto wrote a letter to Ryoichi Sasakawa, an ultranationalist, in which he stated: Should hostilities break out between Japan and the United States, it would not be enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House. I wonder if our politicians, among whom armchair arguments about war are being glibly bandied about in the name of state politics, have confidence as to the final outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.5 As originally written, and in its entirety, this paragraph has all the biting sarcasm of which Yamamoto was so thoroughly capable. He was warning the far right bluntly that the United States was not, as certain wishful thinkers believed, a hollow giant to fall and smash to pieces at the first blow. For Japan to conquer the Americans, it must land its forces on the Pacific coast, push across mountains, deserts and vast plains, fighting every inch of the way, and occupy Washington itself. But Japan’s nationalists deliberately distorted Yamamoto’s meaning. They published an altered version of the statement, with the last sentence deleted, thereby creating the impression that Yamamoto promised to dictate peace in the White House. Unfortunately, by the time this distortion reached the public Japan had already taken the plunge, so Yamamoto could not create dissension by contradicting it publicly.How then could a man who so clearly foresaw its consequences have engineered the stroke that precipitated the very war he wished to avoid? Alas, Japan had already committed itself to a course that left Yamamoto little alternative. Its mountainous terrain and volcanic soil barely supported a population which increased by leaps and bounds each year. Nor could its land supply all the raw materials necessary for its efficient, ambitious industries. Consequently, a compulsive drive toward expansion engulfed the Japanese. By 1941 Japan was looking southward to Malaya, the Philippines, and the Netherlands East Indies, areas bursting with the rich resources it craved. Such a move would have serious consequences. In his letter of December 10, 1940, Yamamoto told Shimada: The probability is great that the launching of our operation against the Netherlands Indies will lead to an early commencement of war with America, and since Britain and Holland will side with America, our operations against the Netherlands Indies are almost certain to develop into a war with America, Britain and Holland before those operations are half over. Consequently we should not launch out on the southern operation unless we are at least prepared to face such an eventuality and are, moreover, adequately equipped. . . . He added a sentence which must have struck ice into Shimada’s soul: “If . . . it is felt that war cannot be avoided, it would be best to decide on war with America from the beginning and to begin by taking the Philippines, thereby reducing the line of operations and assuring the sound execution of operations. . . .” He added, “The southern operations, unlike the operations in China, will determine the nation’s rise or fall, for they will lead to a war in which the nation’s very fate will be at stake. . . .”6Make no mistake about one thing: Yamamoto was a robust nationalist and Japanese to the marrow of his bones. He loved his Emperor and homeland, and his fighting heart followed the samurai tradition. Like many Japanese at the time, he believed his people to be a chosen race, selected by a far-seeing Providence to fulfill an ineluctable destiny. So, quite logically, Japan should play the dominant role in the Asian community of nations.But he was trapped between two fires. On the one hand lay the bleak prospect of a resources-poor Japan fighting not only the United States but China, the British Empire, the Netherlands Indies, and perhaps Soviet Russia as well; on the other pressed the hard necessity of doing his duty as Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet. The Southern Operation would depend largely on the Navy’s ability to transport the troops, hold the Allied warships at bay, and keep Japan’s sea-lanes open. For success to crown the campaign, the U.S. Pacific Fleet must be barred from southern waters, at least during the first critical months. How could this be done?Not, in Yamamoto’s opinion, by following the strictly defensive doctrine of the Great All-Out Battle in the western Pacific (Kantai Kessen) which he inherited. When he took over the Combined Fleet in August 1939, Japanese strategy went something like this: Let the enemy come to us; fight him on our own terms near the home islands, where the inner lines of communication and close supply give us a tremendous tactical and strategic advantage; use both land- and carrier-based planes to blast him from the skies; at the right moment lure him into the trap and annihilate him.Japanese admirals envisaged events proceeding along these lines: A powerful U.S. Fleet steamed confidently westward. According to the principles of Operation Attrition (Zengen Sakusen), Japanese submarines trailing the huge armada would whittle it down to size as the distance from its base widened with each advancing mile. Then, when the U.S. Fleet finally reached a position strategically favorable to Japan, the Armageddon of the seas would begin. Both sides would deploy their ships across the vast ocean in battle formation and slug it out to the last shell. Once the smoke and fire had cleared, a Japanese victory would emerge. One U.S. steel monster after another would limp forlornly homeward or, thrusting its bow upward as if in a dying salute to the sea, disappear forever.But in Yamamoto’s thinking, this concept did not fit the needs of Japan’s all-out thrust southward against numerous widely separated objectives several thousand miles from the homeland. He had to find a valid answer to the problem of clearing the Japanese flank of the U.S. Fleet and at the same time committing his major forces to the Southern Operation.Yamamoto’s training and experience conditioned his approach to the task confronting him. Though not a pilot, he had been closely associated with naval aviation for years and realized its immense potential as a new weapon of sea power. In December 1924 Yamamoto had been appointed executive officer of the Navy’s flight school at Kasumigaura (Japan’s Pensacola), some sixty miles northeast of Tokyo. Although he had never flown a plane in his life, under the spur of his dynamic drive, Kasumigaura became a base transformed, with a higher level of discipline, a stronger sense of mission, better physical fitness, more rigorous flight rules, and a genuine esprit de corps.When Yamamoto became commander of the First Carrier Division in the early thirties, he seized the opportunity to make the fleet air arm an efficient part of the Navy. He inspired trust and confidence, but he was a severe taskmaster and once more bore down on training with a passion.On December 2, 1936, Yamamoto was appointed director of the Aeronautical Department of the Navy Ministry. In that capacity he gave the naval air arm a long-needed thrust toward the future and established a momentum which carried it far into World War II.Yamamoto’s temperament also had much to do with the strategy he eventually conceived. Some of the maxims he loved to employ for self-guidance or to score a point reveal his turn of mind: “An efficient hawk hides his claws”; “A cornered rat will bite a cat”; “If you want the tiger’s cubs, you must go into the tiger’s lair.” A bold, original thinker and an inveterate gambler, he enjoyed nothing more than a competitive round of chess (shogi), poker, or bridge. Often Yamamoto would challenge anyone on hand to play poker all night with the specific understanding that whoever quit first would lose the hand. He had a genuine passion for testing men—their wits, nerves, endurance, and patience—because at the same time he tested himself. “In all games Yamamoto loved to take chances just as he did in naval strategy,” explained Captain Yasuji Watanabe, Yamamoto’s prime favorite among his staff officers. “He had a gambler’s heart.”7He fought valiantly for the improvement of the Imperial Navy. “The number of ships in the Combined Fleet should be doubled,” he told his friend Baron Kumao Harada, private secretary to the revered elder statesman, Prince Saionji, on November 24, 1940. He went on typically: The number of planes must be doubled also. If such a large fleet is organized, I will not be content to withdraw to the Inland Sea and such places and wait for an opportunity to strike out. This is even in the event that war should break out and Tokyo should be in flames by the action of the United States Air Forces. If huge fires break out in Tokyo and Tokyo is completely destroyed by fire three or four times; and if I must witness it while waiting for a strategically opportune time, I cannot remain still.8 The program Yamamoto instituted when he took over the Combined Fleet boiled down to two essential points: a heavy emphasis on air warfare and the advancement of the line for the Great All-Out Battle eastward from the Bonins and Marianas to the Carolines and Marshalls. The movement of the U.S. Fleet to Hawaii in 1940 was also a serious consideration for Yamamoto. Thus, he and his staff reached the conclusion that Japan could best achieve an early decisive engagement with the U.S. Navy by moving the scene of action to waters near the Hawaiian Islands. This would force the enemy out to do battle in the only way that a Japanese fleet of inferior strength could overcome its formidable opponent. Moreover, if war must come, Yamamoto had better force the issue before the rapid expansion of the U.S. Navy made any direct confrontation impossible.9As a small judo expert may toss a much larger opponent by catching him off-balance, so Japan had to seize the initiative. By knocking out the U.S. Fleet in one bold stroke, Yamamoto hoped to shift the strategic balance in the Pacific in Japan’s favor and protect its all-important southern flank in Southeast Asia. If Japan could move fast enough and hard enough in the breathing spell thus gained, it might conquer those vast regions, thus securing the resources it so urgently needed to carry on a protracted war. It might also consolidate its position to the point where a negotiated peace acknowledging the status quo might be possible.We do not know exactly when Yamamoto first thought of attacking Pearl Harbor. But reliable evidence on this point comes from Vice Admiral Shigeru Fukudome, a highly intelligent, level-headed officer who served as Yamamoto’s chief of staff from November 15, 1939, to April 10, 1941. Yamamoto often discussed naval strategy with Fukudome, whom he liked personally and considered a very able officer. To the best of Fukudome’s recollection, Yamamoto first spoke to him about his daring plan in either March or April 1940.10Fukudome was a man of medium height and build, with a sturdy chest and solid shoulders. His mouth was firm, with finely modeled lips, and his chin edged confidently forward. He usually wore a serious look, and his infrequent smiles were enigmatic. Ideas did not explode in his brain as they did in Yamamoto’s. They matured slowly, like the growth of a plant. Not one to launch. out first or to hold back and be last, Fukudome was a solid in-betweener. A fervid nationalist, he maintained a strong link with Japanese naval tradition and supported the doctrine of expansion southward. But he did not have the mentality, personality, or training to harbor the avant-garde perceptions of Yamamoto, and he did not set too much stock in the Pearl Harbor concept when the latter initially broached the subject.By the first half of 1940 Japan’s fleet air warfare training had achieved such progress that Yamamoto and Fukudome were convinced that “aerial torpedoing would play a predominant role in a decisive battle.” One day the two admirals were congratulating themselves over this when Yamamoto murmured to Fukudome as if to himself, “I wonder if an aerial attack can’t be made on Pearl Harbor?” Fukudome believed this idea to be no more than a passing notion which had strayed into his chief’s receptive mind. To Fukudome such an operation seemed impracticable. But it was no novelty to him, because the Naval General Staff had considered the notion of attacking Pearl Harbor over a period of years during its annual planning meetings and war games. Each time the suggestion came up, however, the staff members dropped it, deciding “it was impossible.” Fukudome believed that only submarines could strike at such a remote location from Japanese waters. His answer was: “It’s better to have a decisive battle once and for all with our entire fleet at sea near Hawaii; then we can launch an air attack there.”11In the late autumn of 1940 the Combined Fleet completed its annual maneuvers, which included some remarkably effective carrier-mounted air attacks. Toward the end of the year the annual reorganization and personnel reshuffle took place. At that time Yamamoto decided to continue the training program into the new year, with much more emphasis on aerial warfare tactics. When he chatted with Fukudome about this arrangement, he told him, “I want to have [Rear Admiral Takijiro] Onishi study a Pearl Harbor attack plan as a tentative step. After studying the result of his report, the problem may be included in the fleet training program, and I want to keep it top secret until that time.” Having had some months to become accustomed to the idea, Fukudome replied briefly, “I think that’s good.”12Although the plan never proceeded beyond the conceptual stage during 1940, Yamamoto had already envisioned a task force made up primarily of aircraft carriers, cruisers, and destroyers, to deliver an annihilating aerial strike against the U.S. Fleet in Pearl Harbor. But to carry the war to the very threshold of the enemy’s power, he must catch his foe unawares. Secrecy and surprise therefore formed the keystones of the entire plan. Yet Yamamoto still did not plan on attacking Pearl Harbor as such. He wanted to knock out Uncle Sam’s ships. And if the enemy fleet did not lie in the great Hawaiian anchorage when zero hour came, Yamamoto planned to seek it out and attack it “wherever it might be found in the Pacific.”13We have his own words for the approximate date when he finally decided on his bold venture. “The plan of launching a surprise attack against Pearl Harbor at the outset of war to give a fatal blow to the enemy fleet was decided in December of last year, when the fleet strategy was revised,” he wrote to his friend Admiral Sankichi Takahashi on December 19, 1941. The same day he repeated the identical message in a letter to Baron Harada.14 So the evidence seems conclusive.We might ask: Since when have field commanders promulgated their nation’s war plans? Indeed, Japanese naval planning lay supposedly in the hands of the Operations Section of the Naval General Staff, a gingery collection of up-and-coming, surprisingly young officers. And their designs were ruled on by the top brass—not by the Combined Fleet. The latter carried out the missions planned and approved in Tokyo. The Combined Fleet was not empowered to make a single operational move without official approval from the Naval General Staff.This arrangement held true unless the Combined Fleet’s Commander in Chief happened to be Isoroku Yamamoto. He felt about the ordinary guidelines as a confirmed bachelor feels about a wife—an excellent idea for other people. And such was the force of his personality and prestige that no one challenged him successfully. So it was that we find him outlining an operational concept to the navy minister instead of to the Chief of the Naval General Staff. He did so because he himself wished to command the Pearl Harbor striking force, and as navy minister Admiral Koshiro Oikawa controlled personnel appointments.Yamamoto also violated security by committing his explosive ideas to paper in personal letters. But he did not pursue his priceless correspondence for the benefit of posterity or for the official files. It was strictly between his friends and him. He never dictated these letters; he brushed out both drafts and final versions with his own hand. Even his chief of staff never saw them. He could pack a lot of meaning into a few words, writing in a style which virtually amounted to a code, with any number of shortcuts and historical allusions. Fortunately his correspondents were a small group of men with similar interests who knew exactly what he meant.15So, bearing in mind that this man was a law unto himself, let us return to that cold winter’s day of January 7, 1941. In his cabin Yamamoto sat composing a long letter to Oikawa.16 As he wrote, an observer might note that his left hand lacked the fore and middle fingers—lost in the Battle of Tsushima against the Russians in May 1905.The brush splashed forcefully across the paper. In view of the bleak international situation, wrote Yamamoto, the time had come for the Navy “to devote itself seriously to war preparations” because “a conflict with the United States and Great Britain is inevitable.” Yamamoto emphasized that the Japanese Navy should “fiercely attack and destroy the U.S. main fleet at the outset of the war, so that the morale of the U.S. Navy and her people” would “sink to the extent that it could not be recovered.” Strange that Yamamoto, who so surely judged America’s physical strength, should have so completely misunderstood its spirit!Gathering momentum, he insisted that “we should do our very best at the outset of the war with the United States . . . to decide the fate of the war on the very first day.” Next, Yamamoto outlined his two-part “operational plan”: “1. In case the majority of the enemy’s main force is at Pearl Harbor, attack it vigorously with our air force, and blockade the harbor. 2. If the enemy remains outside the harbor, apply the same method as above.”He also informed Oikawa what forces he had in mind and their assignments: the First and Second Carrier divisions, or the latter alone at a pinch, in order “to launch a forced or surprise attack with all their air strength, risking themselves on a moonlight night or at dawn”; one destroyer squadron “to rescue survivors of carriers sunk by enemy counterattack”; one submarine squadron “to attack the enemy fleeing in confusion after closing in on Pearl Harbor (or other anchorages) and, if possible, to attack them at the entrance of Pearl Harbor so that the entrance may be blocked by sunken ships.” And last: “several tankers . . . for refueling at sea.“In case the enemy main force comes out from Hawaii before our attack and keeps coming at us,” he continued, the Japanese attack group must “encounter it with all our decisive force to destroy it with one stroke.”Yamamoto acknowledged that success would not be easy, but he thought that the Japanese could be “favored by God’s blessing” if all those taking part were “firmly determined to devote themselves to their task even at the sacrifice of their lives.”Nor did Yamamoto lose sight of Japan’s principal objective. A “forestalling and surprise attack on enemy air forces in the Philippines and Singapore should definitely be made almost at the same time as the attacks against Hawaii.” If the U.S. main force at Pearl Harbor were destroyed, the enemy’s “untrained forces deploying in the southern regions would lose morale to such an extent that they could scarcely be of any use.”If the Japanese Navy feared that “such an operation against Hawaii is too risky” and remained in home waters awaiting the Americans, “we cannot rule out the possibility that the enemy would dare to launch an attack upon our homeland to burn down our capital and other cities.“If such a thing happens,” he continued, “our Navy will be subject to fierce attack by the public, even if we should be successful in the southern operation. . . .” In this case, Japanese national morale would be lost beyond recovery.Then Yamamoto made his personal appeal: “I sincerely desire to be appointed Commander in Chief of the air fleet to attack Pearl Harbor so that I may personally command that attack force.” Obviously he understood the dangers involved, for he urged Oikawa to “pass a favorable judgment on my request . . . so that I may be able to devote myself exclusively to my last duty to our country. . . .” CHAPTER 3“DIFFICULT BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE” Erect as a lance, wiry as a steel spring, Rear Admiral Takijiro Onishi, chief of staff of the Eleventh Air Fleet, was blessed with undaunted confidence, a forceful personality, and a husky physique. He never bluffed, and he walked tall—“the central figure in any environment.”1 He had a special genius for working out the details of tactical plans. Once he turned to a problem, he concentrated so intensely that he saw nothing except the task at hand.2 He drove himself harder than he did his officers and men. But he loved to play, too, and when in his cups—no rare event—“he was almost rude to Yamamoto.”3Yet within about a week of his communication to Oikawa, in January 1941, Yamamoto wrote a second missive on the subject of Pearl Harbor—a three-page letter to his close friend Onishi. As he brushed it out, Yamamoto took his aggressive idea from the amorphous to the concrete. He reviewed the major points of his communication to Oikawa. Japan must keep the U.S. Navy out of the western Pacific at least until the first stage of operations had been completed, a period of approximately six months. Yamamoto added that he wished to command the task force to Hawaii. Then he asked Onishi to begin a study of the proposal and to prepare a reply for him as soon as possible. Naturally the project must be kept top secret.4Yamamoto had selected an excellent officer to test his idea. Besides enjoying his trust and confidence, Onishi rated as one of Japan’s few genuine air admirals. Though primarily concerned at the time with land-based aviation, and a tactician rather than a strategist, he vigorously expounded carrier warfare. Ambassador Nomura, under whom Onishi once served in China, stated that Onishi was “one of the officers who consistently advocated expansion and improvement of the Japanese naval air arm.”5Onishi was no intellectual. In fact, he had flunked his entrance examination to the Naval Staff College and never attended that school for future admirals. Nor was he original or imaginative. But what he lacked of those qualities he made up in diligent application and sheer driving power. “Onishi was a very ardent person, the type who believed that nothing was impossible if one went forward with great spiritual determination,” said Rear Admiral Sadatoshi Tomioka, who in 1941 was chief of the Operations Section of the Naval General Staff.6 Just a few months under fifty when he entered the Pearl Harbor picture, Onishi had enough hard practical experience to deepen his knowledge, ripen his judgment, and give him a sound approach to aviation problems.Yamamoto followed up his letter to Onishi by discussing his concept with him in person. The two admirals most probably held their initial meeting on the afternoon of either January 26 or 27 in Yamamoto’s flag cabin in Nagato, by then anchored in Ariake Bay in southern Kyushu.7 No source can tell us exactly what they said during their conference. But to judge from the discussions these two officers subsequently held with a restricted group of colleagues, they devoted their attention to the technical aspects and to the feasibility of the Pearl Harbor attack, which Yamamoto later described as “so difficult and so dangerous that we must be prepared to risk complete annihilation.”8After this conference with Yamamoto, Onishi returned to his headquarters in Kanoya, inland on the eastern side of Kagoshima Bay in southern Kyushu, and went to work that same night. He was standing beside a table in his office, peering intently at a map of Pearl Harbor, when the door swung open to admit his senior staff officer, Commander Kosei Maeda, whom Onishi had summoned.Now in his early forties, Maeda well deserved his reputation as an expert on aerial torpedo warfare—the exact area in which Onishi needed advice. As Maeda approached his chief, the latter, his eyes still riveted on the map, remained deep in concentration. Then he looked up abruptly and fired: “If the warships of the U.S. Navy were moored around Ford Island, could a successful torpedo attack be launched against them?”The question caught Maeda completely off guard. A torpedo attack against Pearl Harbor! He knew that Onishi, a man of intense likes and dislikes, often lacked the breadth of mind to listen to an opposing point of view. Not knowing Onishi’s stand on the problem, he thought the question through carefully. Then, proceeding from the doubtful assumption that a Japanese task force could sail all that distance to Hawaii without interception, Maeda replied, “A torpedo attack against U.S. warships at Pearl Harbor, from the technical standpoint alone, would be virtually impossible. The water of the base is too shallow.”Onishi’s strong face hardened slightly, and his catlike eyes rebuked Maeda, for he did not like to hear the word “impossible.” But Maeda stuck by his convictions. “Unless a technical miracle can be achieved in torpedo bombing,” he declared firmly, “this type of attack would be altogether impractical.” Then he added, “Such a difficult operation might conceivably be possible if parachutes could be fastened to the torpedoes to keep them from sinking too deeply into the water and lodging in the soft mud below, or if they could be launched from a very low level.”But whoever heard of an aerial torpedo wafting to the attack by parachute? And the attempts of the Japanese Navy thus far to launch torpedoes at low altitudes had left much to be desired. How, too, could the torpedomen fire their missiles into the sides of closely moored ships in Pearl Harbor’s restricted air-maneuvering space?So the conversation turned to other types of bombing. Maeda stressed the advantages of high-altitude attack aimed at piercing the thick deck armor of U.S. vessels. Onishi, however, thought dive bombing would assure a greater degree of accuracy and thus produce more effective results. Both officers agreed that an aerial strike against ships in Pearl Harbor posed grave risks. As far as Maeda knew, these questions were purely hypothetical. Onishi did not tell him that Yamamoto had such a scheme in mind, and Maeda did not learn about the actual plan until later in the year.9After his colleague had left, Onishi continued to work on the problem. One thing was certain—for a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor to be even remotely possible, it must ride the wings of Japan’s naval air arm. To evaluate the basic idea, then breathe life into it, Onishi needed an honest and precise worker, a true flier with a sure grasp of air power’s capabilities, and, above all, a daring thinker whose originality bordered on genius. A tall order in anyone’s navy, but Onishi knew exactly where to fill it.Early in February 1941 he dispatched a message to the staff officer for air aboard the carrier Kaga, then in Ariake Bay. This note requested Commander Minoru Genda to “come to Kanoya at once about an urgent matter.” Thus, Onishi took a dynamic step which was to have a profound and lasting influence on Yamamoto’s project.Genda needed no second invitation, for Onishi was his hero and model as man, airman, and patriot. No one had influenced his thoughts on strategy and his outlook on life more strongly. Curiosity consumed Genda as he hastened to the headquarters of the Eleventh Air Fleet, where admiral and commander met in the office of the chief of staff. Close personal and professional bonds linked the two men, dating as far back as 1935.10 Despite Genda’s relatively junior rank (he had made commander only the previous November), Onishi knew that he had picked the right man for the job.In an atmosphere of the utmost secrecy, Onishi unfolded Yamamoto’s design, while Genda listened intently. Then he handed Genda Yamamoto’s letter and sat back to wait while his friend digested its contents. He watched the mobile, sensitive face kindle as Genda read carefully, thoughtfully, admiring, as he did so, “Yamamoto’s daring plan and brave spirit.” This time Onishi could expect no hesitancy in the reply, no fear lest the answer not please the hearer. For Genda called the shots as he saw them and was indifferent to audience reaction. When he finished the letter, he met Onishi’s challenging regard and said calmly, “The plan is difficult but not impossible.”11Onishi grunted his satisfaction. Then the two men got down to cases. “Yamamoto not only intends to cripple the U.S. Pacific Fleet severely at the beginning of hostilities; he counts heavily on smashing the morale of the American people by sinking as many battleships as possible,” Onishi explained. Most Americans—like most Japanese—still believed battleships to be the mightiest weapons of war. The sinking of one or, better yet, a number of these giant vessels would be considered a most appalling thing, akin to a disaster of, nature. Such destruction, Yamamoto reasoned, would paralyze the vaunted Yankee spirit.12Moreover, fantastic as it may sound, Yamamoto toyed with the idea of not recovering the planes aboard their carriers. Originally he had in mind a one-way strike delivered only by torpedo bombers. In fact, according to Onishi, if this method of assault did not prove feasible, Yamamoto thought that Japan should fly off their carrier decks 500 to 600 miles from Oahu—a distance well beyond their radius of action.13 The idea was in keeping with the concept of a one-way attack (katamichi kogeki), then under discussion among airmen of the Combined Fleet, and seemed to offer certain advantages: It would increase the striking range of the planes, move the carriers quickly out of the danger zone, and get them well on their way back home soon after launching the attack.14 In the meantime, the pilots would fly to the target, release their deadly cargo, turn back to sea in the direction of their carriers, and land in the water, where destroyers or submarines could fish them out.15Yamamoto also presumed, with rare naïveté, that in the face of this type of attack the American people might think the Japanese such a unique and fearless race that it would be useless to fight them. That Yamamoto—Harvard student, former attaché at Washington, associate of American naval officers—should have seriously entertained such an idea is a sharp indication of the mutual underestimation between Japanese and Americans at this time, even between those who should have known better.Genda torpedoed these notions on the spot. A one-way attack represented a defeatism utterly alien to his nature, and he had little of the usual Japanese preoccupation with death. When the ancestral spirits called, he would meet them gallantly, but he had no intention of bursting in on them uninvited or asking his men to do so. “To obtain the best results, all carriers must approach as close to Pearl Harbor as possible,” he emphasized. “Denuding them of planes and departing the scene of action minus their scoring punch would invite disaster in case the Americans launched a counterattack.” And Genda noted that Yamamoto’s plan would in no way allow for repeated attacks to make the action decisive. “To secure complete success, we must stay within effective bomber and fighter range of the target until we accomplish our mission,” he pointed out.16Yamamoto’s original design also struck Genda as too narrow. It lacked diversity because it called for only one type of attack. This entailed a severe tactical risk, for it put all the Japanese hopes on torpedo bombing—the most difficult type in naval air warfare. If the weather were bad, visibility poor, or the enemy alerted, the operation might well fail.“A one-way attack would have a bad psychological effect on the airmen if they knew their only means of survival would be the slim chance of being picked up at sea,” he added. “Ditching in enemy territory would be a needless waste of planes and highly trained airmen.”17 Genda scored his last point vigorously: “Our prime target should be U.S. carriers.”18After the two officers had conferred for the better part of two hours, Onishi made a few concluding remarks. “I think this is a good plan and should be carried out,” he told Genda. But “secrecy is the keynote and surprise the all-important factor,” he stressed. “Japan should employ every carrier capable of making the voyage to Hawaii.” Alert to the formidable challenge inherent in Yamamoto’s project, Genda agreed completely. At the end of their long discussion Onishi asked Genda to prepare a preliminary draft and report to him in about a week or ten days.19 He urged him to make the study in the utmost secrecy, “with special attention to the feasibility of the operation, method of execution, and the forces to be used.”20A photograph of Genda in his commanders uniform reveals a symmetrical face with regular, aristocratic features. Thick, level eyebrows, a straight nose, and a firm chin are dominated by piercing eyes, almost frightening in their intensity of expression. No one who ever looked into those eyes could forget them. At thirty-six Genda was impatient with mediocrity, at ease only with perfection. Behind his keen dark eyes lay a razor-sharp mind that cut straight to the heart of any problem. He radiated the poise and savoir-faire of a man who knows and loves his job. His slim figure sometimes suggested frailty, but in fact, his body was as tough as whalebone. A man of controlled discipline and unyielding honesty, he combined dashing adventurousness with mental probity, trigger thinking with cool restraint. Virtually every Japanese naval officer consulted for this study readily agreed that in 1941 Genda was the most brilliant airman in the Imperial Navy. “Genda stood head and shoulders above the majority of his colleagues in the field of naval aviation,” Tomioka confirmed. “He was without doubt ten years ahead of his time.”21Born to an ancient family in 1904, Genda seemed earmarked by fate as a part of his nation’s story. In November 1929 he won his wings, graduating at the head of his class. For the next six years he moved rapidly from one operational and staff air assignment to the other. Soon he became the ace fighter pilot and fighter pilot instructor of the Japanese Navy. Almost everyone in the fleet knew him. And almost everyone in Japan knew “Genda’s Flying Circus,” a group of daredevils who amazed audiences all across the country with their death-defying stunts.“Genda was sometimes too willing, too risky in his judgment when he should have been more careful,” said Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, who led the air attack against Pearl Harbor. “Genda was like a daring quarterback who would risk the game on one turn of pitch and toss. He was a man of brilliant ideas. Sometimes, however, his ideas were too flashy and needed a practical hand for their realization.”22When Genda was appointed to serve aboard the carrier Ryujo in 1933, Yamamoto was the division commander, and they became acquainted. During many shipboard discussions on air power Yamamoto’s would be one of the few voices raised in support of Genda. And those discussions could wax hot indeed. Standard naval air doctrine of the time cast the fighter plane in a purely defensive role, with the offensive thrust confined to the bomber. Genda challenged this theory vigorously. “What can a bomber accomplish unless it reaches its target?” He insisted that fighters should escort the bombers all the way to the objective, thus guarding them in flight and securing command of the air above the enemy’s ships and bases—not just remain behind, hovering over the carrier as a protective umbrella. When some of his colleagues scoffed, Yamamoto spoke up: “The idea of using aircraft for defensive purposes is wrong in itself. As Mr. Genda says, naturally they should be used for the offensive.”23In November 1934 Genda reported as an instructor to the Yokosuka Air Corps. There he expanded his ideas on the use of fighters and carriers in combat—theories which were to become known as Gendaism. At this time he asserted that a fighter must have two outstanding qualities for superior battle performance—maneuverability and speed, as later exemplified by the famous Japanese Zero.24At Yokosuka Genda met Onishi, then a captain and executive officer of the base. Their ideas in common, their admiration for Yamamoto, and their mutually attracting personalities soon made them warm friends.25 Significantly enough, during this tour of duty Genda first thought of attacking Pearl Harbor with carrier-based aircraft and discussed the possibility with Onishi.26 The fact that this venture leaped into Genda’s mind more than six years before the attack provides another index to his thinking. Such was Genda’s love of flying that he brushed aside any suggestion that he should enter the Naval Staff College, that needle’s eye for the camel of ambition. It was Onishi who changed his mind for him: “. . . if a man sticks only to riding in fighter planes as you insist on doing, he can never lead or direct aviation policy. I expect you to construct a highly efficient military system. To do that, even if it may seem silly, you must enter the Naval Staff College and build the background which will later place you in a position to do so.”27Some six months after Genda went to the Staff College, he began to entertain grave doubts about Japan’s naval establishment. He wrote a report advocating the complete reorganization of the Imperial Navy. War preparations should place major stress on the aerial forces and on bases, carriers, and submarines. A minimum of destroyers and cruisers should serve as auxiliary vessels. All battleships then being built should be converted to carriers, and the rest turned into scrap iron. What is more, all shore installations and factories should be reorganized to make these reforms possible.A Japanese Billy Mitchell, Genda was intolerant of those who did not share his ideas. In the highly competitive Naval Staff College some thought him mad.28 Despite his classmates’ opinion, he could not have been far out of his mind because he was graduated second in his class. From Tokyo he moved on to the Second Combined Air Corps in China, where he gained valuable combat experience.In November 1938 Genda went to London as assistant naval attaché. He remained at the post long enough to see World War II explode over Europe, France sink in ignominious defeat, and England battered by the first blows of Göring’s Luftwaffe. As the Germans blasted England’s cities and countryside but scarcely dented the armor plate of the Home Fleet, Genda began to worry about reaction in Japan. Would not the battleship school of thought gain confidence in its conservative theories by the failure of the Luftwaffe to sweep the seas of England’s ships? Later he wrote a report stating that failure to follow through after Dunkirk had cost Hitler the Battle of Britain. Needless to say, following on the heels of the Tripartite Pact, Genda’s report did not match the mood of the hour. “Mr. Genda’s story makes it sound like Britain is going to win”—which was unthinkable.29In November Genda joined the staff of the First Carrier Division and also received his promotion to commander. During the next several months he preoccupied himself with the use of carriers and their formation in battle—the second aspect of Gendaism. In maneuvers since 1935 the Navy had dispersed its carriers, using them primarily to provide defensive air cover for the other fleet units which delivered the main offensive thrust. The Navy also theorized that scattering the carriers would deny the enemy a mass target. But this meant that the Japanese would have considerable difficulty in gathering and organizing their planes for a simultaneous attack in great force on a given objective.30One evening Genda took time off to go to a movie. There on the screen he saw the U.S. Fleet at sea with four carriers sailing majestically in single column. Probably it was for a demonstration, thought Genda. But the seed had taken root in his subconscious. Several days later, as he jumped off a streetcar, the lightning struck. “Why should we have trouble in gathering planes in the air if we concentrate our carriers?”Having broken the mental deadlock, Genda sped to the next stage in his thinking: If the Japanese Navy massed “six or more carriers,” they could send up their aircraft in “two big attack waves,” each having “about 80 bombers and approximately 30 fighter planes for protection.” They could also pool their fighter strength, thus providing enough aircraft to protect the carriers and at the same time escort the bombers to their objective and control the air over the target. Genda further believed that the flattops could best defend themselves from block formation.31 Thus, in Gendaism we see the forerunner of the carrier task force.Genda despised the defensive psychology implicit in the standard doctrine of the Great All-Out Battle. He considered the pre-1941 naval maneuvers based on that blueprint “exercises in masturbation.” He contended that the Japanese Navy should go out to meet the enemy, strike first, and keep on striking until it destroyed him. To this end the Navy should build carriers, destroyers, and submarines—the tools of the offensive—not outdated mountains of steel like the 63,700-ton Yamato and Musashi, with their 18.1-inch guns, then under construction. “Such ships,” he said contemptuously at the time, “are the Chinese Wall of the Japanese Navy.”32 He insisted that for total victory Japan must have air superiority over every enemy base in the Pacific—and that would include Hawaii.33The day following his discussion with Onishi, Genda returned to Kaga, his mind bursting with ideas. In his off-duty time he began to develop them and to prepare a draft. The whole design with all its daring, risk, and challenge appealed to his creative imagination and excited him both intellectually and emotionally. Not once through all the problems and trials that lay ahead would Genda lose his enthusiasm for the plan. Although too realistic to minimize the difficulties inherent in such an attack, Genda backed the operation to the hilt and later fought for it with the same tenacity as Yamamoto himself. In one nostalgic postwar discussion Genda said, “The attack against Pearl Harbor was the summit of my career as a Navy officer.”34 Indeed, his work on the Hawaiian venture alone will seal his name in the history of the Imperial Navy. For about two weeks he labored in secret aboard Kaga. Then in late February he returned to Kanoya for a second conference with Onishi. The basic elements of Genda’s draft were:351. The attack must catch the enemy completely by surprise. This point followed the traditions of Japanese military history. If surprise could not be achieved, Genda thought they might as well drop the whole idea. For if the Americans expected the attack, the task force could sail into a well-laid trap. At best bombing would be ineffective, casualties among the attacking planes and crews exorbitantly high, and the danger of fatal damage to the carrier fleet prohibitive.2. The main objective of the attack should be U.S. carriers. In contrast with Yamamoto’s original idea, Genda visualized the primary target as the long-range striking arm of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. If Japan could sink America’s carriers and escape with the majority of its flattops undamaged, it would have a double advantage. With U.S. naval air power badly shattered and its own still capable of powerful offensive action, in time Japan could destroy other major units of the enemy fleet. Eventually the Imperial Navy could roam the Pacific with impunity. Of course, Genda wished to sink battleships, too, but carriers held first priority.3. Another priority target should be U.S. land-based planes on Oahu. Destruction of as many enemy aircraft as possible—preferably on the ground at the outset of the strike—would secure control of the air over the target. It would also preclude the enemy’s following the Japanese aircraft back to the carriers and bombing the task force.4. Every available carrier should participate in the operation. Instead of Yamamoto’s tentative suggestion of one or at the most two carrier divisions, Genda, like Onishi, wanted the greatest application of power—the military principle of mass. He wished to inflict maximum damage to the U.S. Fleet. The stronger the carrier force, the better chance the Japanese would have of a successful attack and the better they would be prepared to face unexpected developments at the scene of action.5. The attack should utilize all types of bombing—torpedo, dive, and high-level. Genda placed priority on torpedo bombing; like most Japanese airmen, he considered the aerial torpedo their highest-yield weapon. But he doubted that a successful torpedo attack could be launched in the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor. In fact, he considered it “practically out of the question.”36 Genda’s draft also reminded Onishi that there might be “antitorpedo obstructions” around U.S. warships. Should hard training and enemy countermeasures prove that torpedo bombing was not feasible, the Japanese should rely on dive bombing. This was his second preference because high-level bombing had not proved entirely satisfactory in China.376. Fighter planes should play an active part in the attack. A strong fighter escort should protect the bombers en route to and from Pearl Harbor. Once over the target, they would sweep the skies clear of enemy planes. During the attack other fighters should hover over the carrier fleet to ward off enemy counterstrokes.7. The attack should be made in daylight, preferably in the early morning. Neither the Imperial Navy nor the Army had precise instruments to assist in air strikes under cover of darkness. So Genda suggested that the air armada should take off from the carriers long before sunrise, timed to reach Pearl Harbor at dawn.8. Refueling at sea would be necessary. Most Japanese warships had a limited radius of action. Therefore, tankers had to accompany the task force. Inasmuch as refueling would constitute one of the most knotty problems of the entire operation, it must be studied thoroughly.9. All planning must be done in strict secrecy. Tight security was imperative to prevent the enemy from even guessing that the Japanese were preparing such a dangerous enterprise. Then, too, as Genda stressed, “The success of this attack depends on the outcome of the initial strike.” All the more reason why the operation must be a complete surprise.38Onishi took Genda’s draft without comment, and the two officers proceeded to discuss Yamamoto’s brainchild for about two hours. “I do not think battleships are necessary for the task force,” said Genda. “They would make it too large and increase the risk of discovery. I do not believe we will miss them in case of surface action. We can depend on our superiority in carriers. Besides, the addition of battleships will magnify the fuel problem.”39From the moment Genda began preparing his draft, he favored a full-scale execution of the enterprise. “We should follow up this attack on Hawaii with a landing,” he said. “If Hawaii is occupied, America will lose her largest and best advance base and, furthermore, our command of future operations will be very good.” Such a measure would make the attack decisive; America’s fighting forces on Hawaii would have to retire to the West Coast, and Japan would dominate the central Pacific. With the assumption that the aerial blow was successful, 10,000 to 15,000 well-equipped troops should suffice for the job.Although he was an aggressive officer, Onishi turned down Genda’s suggestion: “With our present strength, we are not able to take the offensive in both the eastern and southern areas. First, we must destroy the larger part of the American Fleet.”40 Further, an attack on Hawaii was incompatible with Yamamoto’s original project.But Genda never changed his opinion that Japan’s best move would have been destruction of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and its mid-ocean bastion. The Americans commanded the central Pacific and could launch striking forces against Japanese bases or fleet units because they held Oahu with its excellent naval base and its ring of Navy and Army installations. Without taking and holding Oahu, Japan could not hope to win the war. And Genda believed it should do so at the outset of the conflict while surprise and initiative still worked in its favor.If Genda had had the last word, therefore, the Pearl Harbor attack would have been Japan’s major military objective. Whereas Yamamoto conceived the potential strike as a knockdown blow—damage and temporary containment—Genda saw it as a knockout punch—annihilation of the enemy’s forces at one decisive stroke. Yamamoto espoused a limited strategy; Genda, the all-out.When Genda left, Onishi retained his draft. Using it as a basis, he prepared a more extensive report for presentation to Yamamoto. According to Genda, who studied this report carefully several times later in the year, Onishi’s document ran about ten pages in length and contained most of the points in Genda’s original draft plus certain additions and modifications.The admiral agreed that carriers should be the number one target, but he added cruisers as a close second, to unbalance the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Onishi originally was inclined to emphasize torpedo bombing, as did Genda, but the adverse reaction of his torpedo expert, Maeda, probably chilled his ardor considerably. He also feared that this technique, requiring a very close run in to the targets, would cost Japan heavily in pilots and planes. In contrast with the opinion he expressed to Maeda, Onishi now had second thoughts about dive bombing. The pilots would have to plunge down to a very low level, probably straight into withering antiaircraft and machine-gun fire. He knew that this type of bomb did not carry the momentum to penetrate the deck armor of capital ships. Thus, by the process of elimination, Onishi placed his priority on horizontal bombing. This would permit aircraft to remain at a safer altitude and still inflict severe damage with the velocity a high-level release would give a heavier missile.Onishi suggested that two merchant ships should precede the task force, one at an angle to port, the other to starboard. These vessels would serve as the eyes of the fleet and act as decoys. He preferred merchantmen to destroyers or submarines because if the enemy sighted the latter anywhere near Hawaii, he would undoubtedly investigate closely and thus discover the attack fleet. To increase security further, the route to Hawaii should be the one providing the best chance for surprise.41An analysis of Yamamoto’s letter, Genda’s draft, and Onishi’s additions establishes one cardinal point: The Japanese were after the U.S. Pacific Fleet and Oahu’s air power—not the military installations, the tank farms, the dry docks, the machine shops, or the submarine base. A clear recognition of this fact is essential to understanding the Pearl Harbor story.To the best of our knowledge, Onishi boarded Nagato on about March 10 to hand Yamamoto the expanded draft which represented a compromise between the air admiral’s ideas and those of the Navy’s most original thinker on air power. As the project matured, many of Onishi’s amendments fell by the wayside. The Pearl Harbor blueprint finally adopted and executed bore Genda’s hallmark so unmistakably that some of his colleagues referred to it as Genda’s plan.Contrary to legend, the Hawaiian venture was not a supersecret known only to Yamamoto and a few high-ranking admirals. The Japanese nurtured this myth during the war crimes trials in Tokyo. It is true, of course, that the Pearl Harbor plan was highly classified, closely guarded, and one of the outstanding secrets of World War II. But a considerable number of people—not only in the Japanese Navy but in the Army and, to a limited degree, in the government—knew about it before the task force left Japan. The planning of the air strike against Hawaii did not take place in a little watertight compartment within the Imperial Navy. It required the closest coordination of the Navy’s main branches—the Naval General Staff, the Navy Ministry, and the Combined Fleet. The Pearl Harbor venture was also closely coordinated with the vast Southern Operation, thus implicating many other officers.The task force which attacked Pearl Harbor could not have been assembled, outfitted, fueled, manned, and trained without many people’s knowing what was going on. The true miracle is that with so many involved, the Japanese kept the secret so well, enabling the attackers to reap the full, if temporary, benefits of two cardinal principles of war—offensive and surprise.Of course, a secret shared is no longer a secret. Yamamoto had tossed a pebble into the pool of history, and nothing could stop the ever-widening circles from spreading. While Genda worked over his draft, Yamamoto talked with one of Japan’s ablest and most experienced sea dogs—Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, commander of the Third Battleship Division. In his early fifties, Ozawa had spent most of his career at sea, where the brassy sun and invigorating air had kept him healthy, active, and alert. The clear mahogany skin pulled taut over high cheekbones, the deep-set eyes, and tall, dignified presence reminded one of a proud Apache chieftain. So, too, did his massive imperturbability. While not an air admiral in the strict sense of the term, Ozawa had commanded the First Carrier Division in 1940 and remained well versed in the theories of naval aviation.Ozawa boarded Nagato from time to time to chat with his good friend Yamamoto, as he did one day in February 1941. As so often happens between two gifted men in the same line of work, they started to talk shop.Yamamoto spoke seriously. . “The lesson which impressed me most deeply when I studied the Russo-Japanese War was the fact that our Navy launched a night assault against Port Arthur at the very beginning,” he told Ozawa. “I believe this was the most excellent strategical initiative ever envisaged during the war. But,” he added a trifle grimly, “it is regrettable that we were not thoroughgoing in carrying out the attack, with the result that we failed to achieve a satisfactory result.”Ozawa was a sophisticated officer, accustomed to catching ideas on the wing. And he knew Yamamoto would not dwell on the past unless it had some application to the present. “In view of the gradually increasing tension between America and Japan, this statement of Admiral Yamamoto’s was enough to make me understand what he meant,” Ozawa wrote later. “I thought his idea was to attack Pearl Harbor at the beginning of war when it came.” If he had any doubts, they were dissolved in April 1941, when Yamamoto actually consulted Ozawa about his Pearl Harbor project.42Yet Japan’s overall plan of war kept Yamamoto much too busy to give Pearl Harbor his undivided attention. Operations did not fall within Oikawa’s province as navy minister, a post which he left in mid-October 1941. Even Onishi moved from the central focus of the Pearl Harbor picture after April 1941 to help prepare the land-based Eleventh Air Fleet for its attack on the Philippines. Thus, of the early group privy to the operation, only Yamamoto, Fukudome, and Genda worked on it to its final execution. And of this trio, Fukudome never endorsed the scheme. Later he and Onishi ranged themselves with those opposed to the risky undertaking. This left only Yamamoto and Genda of the original group who backed the plan to the limit. Of the two, Genda possessed by far the greater technical knowledge, whereas Yamamoto carried the rank, position, enormous prestige, and driving force.But his enthusiastic endorsement of this bold design did not necessarily guarantee its adoption. In the first place, the idea had originated with the Combined Fleet, not in the Naval General Staff, the supreme source of planning and strategy in the Japanese Navy. The high brass in Tokyo had its own theories on how a naval war against the United States should be fought, and these did not include an attack on Pearl Harbor. Thus, in early 1941 Yamamoto’s project was merely an operational concept of the Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet, not an accepted war plan. In the second place, in February and March 1941 it was not certain that the United States and Japan would fight. The Japanese government, with the knowledge and consent of the Emperor, would have to make the final decision after long deliberation.Even if war became inevitable, and the Navy decided to accept the Pearl Harbor project, numerous problems pressed urgently for solution: pilot training, torpedo bombing, refueling at sea, organization of the task force, selection of personnel, types and number of ships, the route of approach, securing intelligence on the enemy, determination of strike day, deception tactics, coordination with the Southern Operation, and a host of others. So a realistic question demanded a realistic answer: In case of war, was Yamamoto’s plan feasible? CHAPTER 4“NO CREDENCE IN THESE RUMORS” How secret is secret in a country where years of censorship have trained an inquisitive, alert population in the discreet whisper and the fine art of putting two and two together? And how secret is secret when one’s ideas are no longer exclusively one’s own? There is a strong possibility that several members of the Operations Section of the Naval General Staff knew about Yamamoto’s Pearl Harbor project in January 1941.Take, for example, Commander Shigeshi Uchida, whose assignment in that section included operations against the United States. Uchida was a most intelligent and level-headed officer, an academy classmate of Genda’s who knew him well and held him in high esteem. With his thin face and air of modest self-assurance, he was friendly and approachable. He had spent two years as a language student in the United States, spoke English well, and was thoroughly acquainted with the customs and routines of the U.S. Fleet. Uchida joined the Operations Section in November 1940, worked closely with all its members, and kept a brief diary which buttressed his memory.“Already at the end of January and the beginning of February [1941] I was writing up my own plans of naval warfare against the United States—plans which included my own ideas concerning the operation against Pearl Harbor,” wrote Uchida. And he further testified that several other members of the Operations Section knew about Yamamoto’s design at this early date.1Of course, Uchida’s planning in the Naval General Staff need not necessarily have been connected with Yamamoto’s consultations with Oikawa and Onishi early in the new year. The idea of an attack on Pearl Harbor occasionally came up for discussion, and keeping it up to date would naturally have been part of Uchida’s duties as head of the American desk.In any case, somewhere along the line, the hint of a possible attack on Pearl Harbor came out. This rumor may have had nothing to do with either Yamamoto’s scheme or Uchida’s work. It may have been merely a coincidental upsurge of a swashbuckling notion which had intrigued Japanese fiction writers for years.Whatever the source, sometime near the end of January a rumor reached Ricardo Rivera-Schreiber, Peru’s veteran minister to Tokyo, one disturbing enough for him to go immediately to his friend Edward S. Crocker, first secretary of the United States Embassy. Rivera-Schreiber said that “he considered it a fantastic rumor, at the same time that it was sufficiently important to justify his passing it on. . . .” Crocker straightway relayed it to Ambassador Grew, whose credulity it strained to the utmost. Nevertheless, he had “full confidence” in Rivera-Schreiber. “I knew him very well, I had known him for years, and I was quite certain that he would not mislead me in anything that he might pass on to me,” Grew testified.2So, a mere twenty days after Yamamoto wrote his historic letter to Oikawa, on the advice of his naval attaché Grew composed a dispatch, one of the most remarkable ever to flash between an American ambassador and the State Department. He handed it over to his encoding staff, and at 1800* on January 27 they sent it off: My Peruvian Colleague told a member of my staff that he had heard from many sources including a Japanese source that the Japanese military forces planned, in the event of trouble with the United States, to attempt a surprise mass attack on Pearl Harbor using all of their military facilities. He added that although the project seemed fantastic the fact that he had heard it from many sources prompted him to pass on the information.3 But what steps did Grew or other American officials in Japan take to track the rumor to its “many sources” and try to determine whether the Japanese actually had such a plan under way? On the basis of information currently available, the answer appears to be “None.” Grew did not recall having asked Rivera-Schreiber the sources of the story. “After all,” he explained, “sometimes when an official, diplomatic official, received information of that kind or even a rumor report of that kind, it may put him in a rather difficult position to ask him to reveal the source.”4The rumor seems to have flared up and died down as suddenly as a lighted match. “I wouldn’t say the talk was widespread, but it came from various sources,” Grew testified. “I could not now recollect from what sources, because they were not important, but this telegram which I sent on January 27 was based practically entirely on the report which had been brought to me by my Peruvian colleague.” He remembered no more talk along these lines after that time.5 Very likely he believed that the best thing he could do was send the incredible item to Washington, where experts in the field could evaluate it in the context of other information available to them. Grew had no effective Intelligence setup for doing his own sleuthing.Japan kept close tabs on Lieutenant Colonel Harry I. T. Creswell and Lieutenant Commander Henri H. Smith-Hutton, respectively Grew’s military and naval attachés. Creswell, though neither brilliant nor imaginative, was an intelligent, hardworking officer. He had been a language student in Japan and liked the country and its people. But Creswell was a marked man.So was Smith-Hutton, a gifted, dedicated officer with an analytical brain. Like Creswell, he had been a language officer in Japan and developed a fluent command of Japanese. Those who knew him agree that he had an unrivaled knowledge of the Japanese Navy and its officers.6The Japanese Navy not only kept close watch on the two attachés but guarded their installations like a tigress her cubs, in striking contrast with the ease with which their agents found access to information about the American Navy during the same period in both the mainland United States and Hawaii.The United States made use of agents located in various ports in Japan and on the Asian continent, as well as the consular authorities.7 Nevertheless, Washington lacked a special spy ring in Japan working independently of its official representatives to provide a steady flow of military information and to ferret out startling rumors like the one of a possible attack on Pearl Harbor. Certainly that story indicates exceptionally quick work even for Dame Rumor, a lady who seldom tarries on the way. For the ink had barely dried on Yamamoto’s letter to Oikawa and Yamamoto had scarcely discussed his bold scheme with Onishi aboard Nagato when Grew sent the news of this astounding venture straight to the United States government.In Washington the ambassador’s communication wound through the State Department, then over to the Navy Department. In neither did the message stir much interest beyond a mild astonishment that an ambassador of Grew’s caliber could have taken such nonsense seriously. However, the Chief of Naval Operations’ daily staff conference decided to send it to the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. Captain Jules James, acting director of Naval Intelligence, received this assignment and passed it on to Commander Arthur H. McCollum, chief of the Far Eastern Section.8Born in 1898 in Nagasaki, Japan, of Southern Baptist missionary parents, McCollum was another expert on Japanese affairs. From 1928 to 1930 he was assistant naval attaché in Tokyo. He came to know Emperor Hirohito when the latter was prince regent, as well as his brother Prince Takamatsu and Admirals Nomura and Yamamoto and other naval officers.The early and mid-thirties found McCollum in Washington, where he headed the Far Eastern Section of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) from 1933 to 1935. Then followed special intelligence duties on the West Coast and a tour as fleet intelligence officer (1936–1938). In October 1939 McCollum returned to Washington once more as head of the Far Eastern Section of ONI. Bright, confident, and dynamic, he inspired the respect and trust of his colleagues and superiors. He had two officers under him—specialists in Japanese and Chinese affairs respectively—and also four civilians versed in the Oriental field.9Grew’s message did not alarm McCollum because the idea of a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was nothing new to him.10 For almost a decade the defense of Hawaii had been virtually a cliché of American naval war games. In particular the record of the joint Army-Navy maneuvers of January 1933 reads like a prophecy, except that the objective of the attacking force was to destroy the naval base and its supporting installations, not the Fleet, which was not yet stationed at Pearl Harbor. And the exercise was based upon foreknowledge of the enemy’s approach, hence provided no answer to how the defenders would react if the Japanese took them by surprise.11What is more, McCollum knew that for years Japanese writers of fact and fiction had intrigued their readers with stories of just such an assault. He had read his first such paperback in 1924.12 How could he imagine that Yamamoto had plucked the concept from the stony field of popular fiction and transplanted it into the fertile soil of fact, where he could nurture it to full fruition?On the basis in part of his personal background and knowledge of Japan, together with the most recent information available to him in ONI, McCollum prepared a message on January 31 for his chief’s signature. Captain James signed it “by direction”—meaning with the approval of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). On February 1 this went to Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, the newly assigned Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet. The message paraphrased Grew’s telegram, then drew its teeth by adding a second paragraph: “The Division of Naval Intelligence places no credence in these rumors. Furthermore, based on known data regarding the present disposition and employment of Japanese naval and army forces, no move against Pearl Harbor appears imminent or planned for in the forseeable sic future.”13By that term McCollum meant a projection of no more than a month. Within those limits his evaluation was correct. For Yamamoto’s plan would require almost nine months before the Naval General Staff accepted it as an integral part of Japan’s overall war strategy. Another reason why McCollum placed a low evaluation on the tip-off was that Grew’s message did not indicate any time limit within which the rumored attack might take place.14 But this was asking too much of any ambassador; it would have been a major coup for the best of undercover agents.ONI did not stand alone. Brigadier General Sherman Miles, assistant chief of staff for Intelligence (G-2), testified that the rumor received no more credence in the Army than it did in the Navy. In 1941 Miles was fifty-four years old, a tall, fine-looking man of wide military experience. None of it, however, had been in the Far East. He had served as G-3 of the Hawaiian Department from April 1929 to May 1932, during which time he supervised war plans and defense projects, prepared maneuvers and exercises of all kinds. He also served four years as head of the Plans and Projects Section of the War Plans Division in Washington, where he performed the same type of work for the three overseas departments—the Philippines, Panama, and Hawaii.15 Thus, Miles had an excellent overall view of the scope of military thinking in both Washington and Oahu.Asked why his office had discounted Grew’s warning, Miles replied at some length: One, because it was inconceivable that any source in the know would have communicated that to the Latin-American Ambassador, I believe the Peruvian; and, second, for a great many years we had known that a Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was always possible. It was inherent as a possibility in any war in which we became involved with Japan.. . . the great fortress of Oahu . . . was built solely for one purpose, the defense of that naval base against one sole enemy, Japan, the only enemy in the world that could put on a real attack against that naval base. . . . Further asked why he had brushed aside Grew’s message when it seemed to tie in with Pearl Harbor as “a likely point of attack and that the Japanese were likely to use surprise,” Miles answered, “I discounted that report . . . as being a bona fide piece of information that he got from a responsible Japanese source. I did not at any time discount the possibility of a Japanese surprise attack on Hawaii.”16Moreover, Captain Roscoe E. “Pinky” Schuirmann, one of whose duties was liaison with the State Department, testified that so far as he knew, the Navy did not discuss the matter with State because “the report was given a low evaluation . . . and appeared to be hearsay information which was not substantiated. . . .”17But however incredible the Navy thought Grew’s message, McCollum’s division did some detective work and about a month later determined that Rivera-Schreiber’s scoop had originated with his Japanese cook on about December 18, 1940—very near the time that Yamamoto himself established as the date he firmed up his decision. Postwar information indicated the source may have been the minister’s Japanese translator-secretary.18Whatever the origin of the rumor, this incident leaves a number of questions hanging fire. Miles testified that by far the most important source of information on the Japanese was the American Embassy in Tokyo.* “We had a very excellent Ambassador who had been there a number of years with a staff that had been there a good deal longer than that.”19 Yet, according to McCollum, Washington simply wondered why so experienced an ambassador should fall for such a tale.Most disturbing of all is the fact that active probing into the incident seems to have stopped when Rivera-Schreiber’s cook came into view as the primary source. Such menials, moving unnoticed through a great city, their ears open to the voice of the people, can be excellent intelligence sources, and the investigator ignores them at his peril.No doubt some American naval officers had too high an opinion of the good sense of their Japanese opposites to credit them with attempting such a gamble. “I did not think that such an attack would be made,” Commander Vincent Murphy, Kimmel’s assistant war plans officer, testified. I thought it would be utterly stupid for the Japanese to attack the United States at Pearl Harbor. . . . We could not have materially affected their control of the waters they wanted to control, whether or not the battleships were sunk at Pearl Harbor. In other words, I did not believe we could move the United States Fleet to the Western Pacific . . . until such time as the Pacific Fleet was materially reinforced.20 The Army took much the same attitude. Miles outlined it clearly: In estimating the situation . . . there are two principles that should be followed: One is never to lose sight of or ignore anything that the enemy may do which is within its capabilities whether you think it wise for him to do that or not.The second is to concede to your enemy the highest form of good sense and good judgment.. . . We did grant the Japanese the best of good sense. We did very much question whether they would attack Hawaii, because such an attack must result from two separate decisions on the part of the Japanese, one to make war against the United States, which we thought at that time in the long run would be suicidal . . . and, two, to attack a great fortress and fleet, risking certain ships that he could not replace, and knowing that the success in that attack must rest very largely on that surprise being successful; in other words, finding that fortress and that fleet unprepared to meet the attack.21 Actually, Miles gave a very fair outline of the arguments Yamamoto’s opponents put forth against the scheme. But the U.S. Army and Navy overlooked Yamamoto’s will, which, like a mountain torrent, tumbled everything out of its way. They also—with a few exceptions—failed to consider the possibility of an attack aimed solely at the U.S. Pacific Fleet.A further very significant link in the Pearl Harbor chain is the general underestimation of Japan by the United States in the years before World War II. Americans assured one another that Japan was virtually bankrupt, short of raw materials, and hopelessly bogged down in China. It lagged a hundred years behind the times, and in case of a major conflict, its wheel-barrow economy would shatter like a teacup hurled against a brick wall.What is more, Americans held the average Japanese in utter contempt. Behold him as seen through myopic American eyes in that age of innocence—a funny little creature with buck teeth, strutting arrogantly over the map of Asia, a silly grin on his inscrutable face, with horn-rimmed glasses covering slanted slits of eyes. He bows so deeply his chin almost touches his knees. “So solly, please!” This comic figure was a slow-brained, inefficient, literate but unthinking slave to routine, an unimaginative copycat who could never adjust to new situations. We took insidious delight in poking fun at the Japanese and their country in cartoons, magazines, and newspapers.“The Japanese are not going to risk a fight with a first-class nation. They are unprepared to do so and no one knows that better than they do,” declared Congressman Charles I. Faddis of Pennsylvania on February 19, 1941. “. . . They will not dare to get into a position where they must face the American Navy in open battle. Their Navy is not strong enough and their homeland is too vulnerable.”22Such was the general atmosphere in the United States when Grew’s message arrived in Washington—an atmosphere that was to exist throughout 1941, even though a certain awareness of danger simultaneously permeated the highest civilian and military echelons in the U.S. government. Yet another of the strange ironies in the Pearl Harbor story is that during this period Yamamoto was indeed thinking of attacking the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Hawaii. In fact, he may well have talked with Onishi aboard Nagato on the very day that Grew dispatched his message to Washington. The intriguing interplay between the Japanese and American military scenes in early 1941 is more than enough to make one believe in telepathy. CHAPTER 5“YOU HURT THE PRESIDENT’S FEELINGS” Hawaii greeted the new year, 1941, with a song in its heart and a prayer for peace on its lips. No doubt Admiral James O. Richardson, Commander in Chief of the United States Fleet, was pleased to see 1940 disappear into history. In many ways it had been a frustrating, unsatisfactory year for him. He had assumed command of the Fleet on January 6, 1940. In the early spring Navy Headquarters had dispatched him to Hawaii for maneuvers. His ships stood into Lahaina Roads off Maui on April 10. Before that, a small unit at Pearl Harbor composed of a carrier, heavy cruisers, and destroyers, called the Hawaiian Detachment, had been the only force of consequence in the area.The exercises over, Richardson expected to take his armada (minus the Hawaiian Detachment) back to its permanent base at San Pedro, California, on May 9. Instead, the Navy Department kept him and his fleet in Hawaiian waters because, in the words of Chief of Naval Operations Harold R. Stark, “of the deterrent effect which it is thought your presence may have on the Japs going into the East Indies.” If the Japanese did invade that territory, what would the United States do about it? “My answer to that is, I don’t know, and I think there is nobody on God’s green earth who can tell you,” Stark admitted.1Shortly after the Fleet, as Richardson said, “gradually drifted into staying” in Hawaii,2 the War Department reached the rather peculiar conclusion that the “recent Japanese-Russian agreement to compose their differences . . . was arrived at and so timed as to permit Japan” to attack Oahu, “following the departure of the U.S. Fleet from Hawaii.” So Washington sent to Major General Charles D. Herron, commanding general of the Hawaiian Department, a message reading in part, “Immediately alert complete defensive organization to deal with possible trans-Pacific raid. . . . Maintain alert until further orders. . . .”3Herron, who was to become a lieutenant general on July 31, 1940, believed in only one kind of alert—total. This he established at once and “within the hour”4 conferred with his opposite number, Rear Admiral Claude C. Bloch, commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District, and Vice Admiral Adolphus Andrews, commander of the Hawaiian Detachment. Andrews was the senior naval officer at Pearl Harbor, Richardson being located at Lahaina. As a result of their conference, they decided that the Navy would provide “morning and dusk reconnaissance patrols. . . .”5Richardson knew little about this exercise. The CNO had not alerted his officers in Hawaii because he was “not impressed . . . with any particular gravity at that time” and looked upon the alert “largely as an Army affair.”6Herron kept his forces on their toes throughout the summer; then the flap faded out as vaguely as it had begun.7 But it left its ghost behind to haunt the future. No ambiguity had clouded the War Department order, and Herron immediately took military action suited to the directive. The alert revealed a healthy state of cooperation between the Hawaiian Department and the Fourteenth Naval District. Nonetheless, in ordering this alert, the War Department erroneously assumed that the target for attack would be the shore installations and the islands themselves—not the ships of the Fleet. For this reason some Army and Navy planners believed that the Japanese would not move against Hawaii unless the Fleet were at sea. Yamamoto was far too clever to try anything of the kind. Why break the scabbard unless the sword lay sheathed within it?Since becoming CinCUS, Richardson had studiously avoided any fleet exercises which might be interpreted as offensive action against Japan. A strong believer in air patrols, he had kept his eagles soaring, but he never ordered a single simulated carrier attack on Pearl Harbor. “Although I felt there was absolutely no danger at that time of an attack by the Japanese fleet,” he later testified, “I feared that there was, at any time, a possibility that some fanatical, ill-advised officer in command of a submarine or a ship might attack.”8So Richardson did not object to retaining the Fleet in Hawaii because he feared the Japanese would come swooping in on him. He had other reasons, almost entirely logistical. Because of such facts, and because he believed that his ships “could be better prepared for war on a normal basis on the west coast,” Richardson earnestly desired to pull them back to the mainland.9So in July 1940 he traveled to Washington, among other reasons to urge the return of the Fleet to the West Coast. On July 8 he conferred with the President. He also talked with Dr. Stanley D. Hornbeck, adviser on political relations to the secretary of state. As their talk progressed, the admiral became convinced that “Dr. Hornbeck was exercising a greater influence over the disposition of the fleet than I was.” And he reflected: “. . . he is the strong man on the Far East and the cause of our staying in Hawaii where he will hold us as long as he can.”10Richardson took home with him a very definite idea that the Fleet was being “retained in the Hawaiian area solely to support diplomatic representations and as a deterrent to Japanese aggressive action,” but at the same time the United States had “no intention of embarking on actual hostilities against Japan.”11 He also left the capital “with the distinct impression that there was an opinion in Washington that Japan could be bluffed.”12But Japan could not be bluffed. It considered the colonial territories of France, Britain, and the Netherlands its legitimate area of expansion. If Japan could seize and hold this vast resource area in Southeast Asia, the political and strategic weights and balances in the Orient would shift in its favor. The whole El Dorado of the South might well fall into Japan’s lap like a ripe plum except for that black-hat villain Uncle Sam, hanging over the orchard gate with a shotgun—his powerful fleet at Hawaii. Regardless of how strong Richardson’s position was, nothing and no one could make Japan change the plotted course of its national policy by one degree.In Richardson’s opinion his command was not yet ready for war, and he believed that the Japanese knew too much about the Fleet to regard it as a deterrent. This view he expressed at a conference with Roosevelt in the White House on October 8, 1940. But the President answered in effect, “Despite what you believe, I know that the presence of the fleet in the Hawaiian area, has had, and is now having, a restraining influence on the actions of Japan.” The admiral persisted doggedly: “Mr. Roosevelt, I still do not believe it, and I know that our fleet is disadvantageously disposed for preparing for or initiating war operations.”13Direct contradiction of the President would have been controversial enough, but Richardson “very deliberately” dropped this bombshell on his Commander in Chief: “Mr. President, I feel that I must tell you that the senior officers of the Navy do not have the trust and confidence in the civilian leadership of this country that is essential for a successful prosecution of a war in the Pacific.” Although obviously shocked, Roosevelt answered mildly enough.14 Nevertheless, the admiral had pushed his luck far. As long as he confined himself strictly to naval factors, he stood on firm ground. But in debating the statesmanship involved, he invaded presidential territory and came perilously near to violating one of the most rigid of American taboos—interference in national policy making on the part of an officer of the armed forces.On October 10 Richardson met with Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, Stark, and other officers. Knox told them that Roosevelt, worried over possible Japanese reaction when Britain reopened the Burma Road on October 17, was thinking about cutting off Japanese trade with the Americas. To this end he suggested establishment of “a patrol of light ships in two lines extending from Hawaii westward to the Philippines, and from Samoa toward the Dutch East Indies.” Amazed at the proposal, Richardson protested vigorously that the Fleet was not prepared “to put such a plan into effect, nor for the war which would certainly result from such a course of action, and that we would certainly lose many of the ships.”After further discussion Knox, apparently “displeased at the general reaction” and that of Richardson in particular, said somewhat testily, “I am not a strategist; if you don’t like the President’s plan, draw up one of your own to accomplish the purpose.” Stark and Richardson with their respective war plans officers promptly did so. But Stark, with a weather eye on the Atlantic, decided to hold off the final word until he could talk it over with Roosevelt.15At Bremerton, Washington, on October 22, Richardson wrote an official memorandum to Stark in which he ruthlessly demolished the current war plans against Japan: O-1 Plan (Orange), WPUSF 44, and WPUSF 45 (War Plans United States Fleet). He added that he found himself in what might “suddenly become a critical situation, without an applicable directive. . . .” Unequivocally he announced, “The Commander in Chief must be better informed than he is now as to the Department’s plans and intentions if he is to perform his full duty.”16 This matter of keeping the CinCUS informed would become even more crucial in the critical year 1941.Richardson still expressed no concern over the Fleet’s safety while in Pearl Harbor, but others were not so sure. The British naval air attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto in southern Italy on November 12 had demonstrated the vulnerability of ships in an exposed anchorage. In less than an hour the British rendered half the Italian battle fleet hors de combat for about six months and shifted the balance of naval power in the Mediterranean.17This incident conjured up disturbing pictures in Stark’s mind. Even before the spectacular raid, he had shown increasing uneasiness over Pearl Harbor.18 Now he turned over his notes on “a better defense of the fleet at Hawaii” to his new chief of war plans, Captain Richmond Kelly Turner, a brilliant but corrosive man of enormous ego and ambition who was to become one of Stark’s chief advisers. In January 1941 the President was to give Turner a spot promotion to rear admiral so that he might carry sufficient clout in the American-British-Canadian (ABC) planning conversations.19From Turner’s labors emerged a letter for Stark’s signature which the CNO dispatched on November 22. “By far the most profitable object of a sudden attack in Hawaiian waters would be the Fleet units based in that area,” he wrote. And he inquired if it might not be desirable “to place torpedo nets within the harbor itself. . . .”20But Richardson brushed aside these well-founded fears. He thought torpedo nets within the harbor “neither necessary nor practicable. The area is too restricted and ships, at present, are not moored within torpedo range of the entrance.”21 Obviously Richardson thought of torpedoes as being launched from ships or submarines, not from aircraft. His postwar testimony confirms this: “I had not considered that it was likely that the fleet would be attacked by a carrier raid. . . .”22In the meantime, Stark had been at work upon a project of even greater scope and importance. This culminated in a memorandum for Knox, later famous as Plan Dog, which was to reorient U.S. planning and set the course of strategy in World War II. His main thesis was this: “. . . if Britain wins decisively against Germany we could win everywhere; but if she loses everywhere, we might possibly not win anywhere [Stark’s italics].” The CNO faced the sensitive question of direct American participation in the war: (D) Shall we direct our effort toward eventual strong offensive in the Atlantic as an ally of the British, and a defensive in the Pacific? Any strength that we might send to the Far East would, by just so much, reduce the force of our blows against Germany and Italy. About the least that we would do for an ally would be to send strong naval light forces and aircraft to Great Britain and the Mediterranean. Probably we could not stop with a purely naval effort. . . .23 Plan Dog was probably Stark’s most significant contribution as CNO and the high-water mark of a long career. By 1940, his fifty-ninth year, Stark’s hair had turned almost white, but his light blue eyes behind rimless glasses remained steady and clear, his skin flushed with health. He answered to the improbable nickname of Betty, which dated from plebe days at Annapolis when upper classmen would waylay the future CNO and make him declaim the words of Revolutionary hero John Stark: “We win today or Betty Stark will be a widow.”24* Stark lacked the ruthlessness of decision required of a hell-for-leather combat commander and tended to hedge too much, yet he had outstanding qualities as a staff officer. He was a precise, thorough thinker who sometimes worked until two or three in the morning—Sundays and holidays included.His career presents almost a textbook example of a naval officer on his way to the top: duty with destroyers, cruisers, battleships, and chief of the powerful Bureau of Ordnance. Stark was heading the Cruiser Division of the Battle Force when Roosevelt selected him as CNO over the heads of more than fifty of his seniors. He took office on August 1, 1939.A close professional associate of many years sized him up like this: “Stark was the right man in the right place at the right time to get a lot of things done that needed doing.”25 But a Cabinet member who worked closely with Stark thought the admiral “a timid and ineffective man to be in the post he holds” and “the weakest one of all” the President’s advisers.26Thus, from his vantage point atop the naval hierarchy Stark could figuratively see both oceans at once and had to consider the problems of the Pacific in a global context. He, too, could ring out the old year on no note of good cheer. On December 30, 1940, Bloch submitted a memorandum to the CNO through Richardson on the vital subject “Situation Concerning the Security of the Fleet and the Present Ability of the Local Defense Forces to Meet Surprise Attacks.” On the scores of thorough research and clear presentation, Stark had no cause for complaint about Bloch’s effort, but the contents could well give rise to uneasy speculation. Aircraft attacking the base at Pearl Harbor will undoubtedly be brought by carriers. Therefore, there are two ways of repelling attack. First, by locating and destroying the carrier prior to launching planes. Second, by driving off attacking bombers with anti-aircraft guns and fighters. The Navy component of the local defense forces has no planes for distant reconnaissance with which to locate enemy carriers and the only planes belonging to the local defense forces to attack carriers when located would be the Army bombers. The Army has in the Hawaiian area fifty-nine B-18 bombers . . . neither numbers nor types are satisfactory for the purpose intended. . . . For distant reconnaissance, requisition would have to be made on the forces afloat for such as could be spared by the Fleet. Bloch then turned to his second alternative: “To drive off bombing planes after they have been launched will require both fighting planes and anti-aircraft guns. The Army has in the Hawaiian area thirty-six pursuit planes, all of which are classified as obsolete. . . .”27What is more, Bloch did not anticipate any improvement in the future: “The Army is charged with the protection of the Pearl Harbor base by anti-aircraft guns. There are in Hawaii twenty-six 3-inch guns and forty-four mobile 3-in. guns. There are projected twenty-four more, to be delivered in 1941. . . . The Army plans to place the greater part of the 3-inch guns around Pearl Harbor. . . .”Bloch pointed out that in addition, “the Army has planned an aircraft warning service which will consist of eight Radar stations. Three of these stations are fixed and five are mobile. When completed at an indefinite time in the future, this warning net should be adequate.”28 But they would be no help if the Japanese swarmed down on Oahu within the next few months.Bloch dealt next with the naval situation. “The ideal defense against submarines would be conducted by patrol vessels and aircraft working in conjunction. The district has no aircraft for this purpose. . . .” He cited three destroyers equipped with listening gear recently assigned to him, and he went on: “A large number of patrol vessels will be required for anti-submarine work in the vicinity of Oahu and the other islands. At present, the district has none. . . . No anti-submarine nets are planned, nor are any considered desirable. Anti-torpedo nets are projected for the entrances of Honolulu and Pearl Harbor. They will probably be delivered about 1 March 1941. . . .”After a few comments about antimine defense, Bloch moved to the ever-present subject of sabotage. He evaluated the two oil-tank farms on Oahu as “reasonably secure” and “fairly secure” respectively.29 Secure against sabotage, yes, but a most inviting target for air attacks.Bloch went into great detail about the base pass system and related measures which the Fourteenth Naval District had instituted to protect Pearl Harbor from unauthorized people. He concluded by suggesting that the CNO consult the War Department to find out the Army’s plans. However, he himself did not want to become involved. “It is considered highly undesirable from my point of view that the War Department should in any way come to believe that there is a lack of agreement between the Army authorities and Navy authorities here, or that the officials of the Fourteenth Naval District are pressing the Navy Department to do something in regard to Army matters.”30 This paragraph contains ominous overtones. Where true friendship and cooperation existed, such overreaction would have been unnecessary.Richardson endorsed this memorandum to Stark on January 7. In general, he concurred with Bloch; indeed, the basic memorandum had been the result of a meeting between the two admirals and Herron. But Richardson’s endorsement softened the impact of Bloch’s alarming report, which had revealed that Oahu was in no position to defend either itself or the Fleet.As usual, “J.O.” thought in terms of here and now and of what effect the current situation would have on his ships and men. “As neither the increased antiaircraft batteries nor the augmented pursuit squadrons will be available for an extended period the defense of Fleet units within Pearl Harbor will have to be augmented by that portion of the Fleet which may be in Pearl Harbor in the event of attack by hostile aircraft. . . .” In short, the Fleet would have to protect itself. Richardson continued: “The improbability of such an attack under present conditions does not, in the opinion of the Commander in Chief, warrant interrupting entirely the training required by Fleet Air Units which would have to be largely curtailed if constant readiness of a fighter squadron were required.”31 He could not bring himself to accept the idea of Japanese bombers and fighters actually attacking his ships or their base. He still had no particular use for antitorpedo measures: There does not appear to be any practicable way of placing torpedo baffles or nets within the harbor to protect the ships moored therein against torpedo plane attack without greatly limiting the activities within the harbor. . . . Inasmuch as Pearl Harbor is the only operating base available to the Fleet in this area any passive defense measures that will further restrict the use of the base as such should be avoided. Considering this and the improbability of such an attack under present conditions and the unlikelihood of an enemy being able to advance carriers sufficiently near in wartime in the face of active Fleet operations, it is not considered necessary to lay such nets.32 A number of preconceived notions clung like barnacles to “J.O.’s” mind. He forgot that a bit of inconvenience and restriction in Pearl Harbor would be a cheap price to pay when the alternative might be total inability to use the base. He did not consider torpedo baffles around his ships necessary. Yet, as we shall see, during their planning of the attack the Japanese fretted incessantly over the probable presence of nets and made special efforts to find out whether the U.S. Navy would install them. They could not conceive that the Americans should have neglected this obvious precaution—one that could have saved the United States considerable damage to capital ships, not to mention casualties.Richardson was indulging in the exceedingly tricky game of trying to outguess the Japanese. He asked himself, in effect, Will they attack? rather than, Can they attack? And he continued to assume, despite the evidence of recent history, that in the unlikely event that the Japanese tried to strike Hawaii, they would do so after a declaration of war, which would give him time to deploy his ships.Nevertheless, Richardson urgently recommended that Washington beef up the Fourteenth Naval District to provide local defense forces “sufficient for full protection” and “independent of the presence or absence of ships of the U.S. Fleet.”33 Thus, despite the sharpness of Stark and his advisors in spotting after Taranto that the prime objective in Hawaii would be the ships, Richardson seemed less preoccupied with protecting them than with protecting Hawaii, as evidenced by his concern for adequate local forces independent of the Fleet.It is somewhat surprising that Richardson did not seize upon this sudden anxiety in Washington over the safety of his ships in Pearl Harbor and use it as another reason to return to San Pedro. He may have disdained to make use of an argument in which he did not believe, or he may have recognized that the subject was no longer open to discussion.By all normal procedures Richardson should have remained as CinCUS for at least another full year. In fact, before he left Washington in October, Stark and Rear Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, chief of the Bureau of Navigation (BuNav), which at the time handled personnel matters, informed him that they believed he would remain in command until he had completed two years’ service in that post.34 Consequently, “J.O.” and some of his officers were rocked back on their heels when at 1130 on Sunday, January 5, he received orders relieving him of command. “What happened?” asked Captain William Ward “Poco” Smith, skipper of the cruiser Brooklyn. “I don’t know,” replied Richardson flatly.35 Yet some of Richardson’s staff were not too surprised. Dundas P. Tucker, his radio officer, had noted that the admiral appeared worried and frustrated after his return from Washington and obviously had differed seriously with Roosevelt. “We all felt at the time that Richardson was not long for the job,” he recalled.36“J.O.’s” flag secretary, George C. Dyer, personally handed the admiral the dispatch ordering his relief and saw that it both surprised and shocked Richardson.37 Yet he must have known that he could scarcely expect to cross swords with the President without some resulting sparks, and the tone of Stark’s correspondence had cooled appreciably since that eventful October visit to the White House. It was in the cards that the Navy Department should have been shopping for a new Commander in Chief.The same Sunday found Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, commander of Cruisers, Battle Force, tramping around the local golf course with his chief of staff, Captain Walter DeLany. When the two officers returned to the dock, a member of Kimmel’s staff told him that he was to report to the Fleet flagship; a communication which he should read immediately had just come in. Kimmel and DeLany hurried to the officers’ landing at the navy yard and scrambled into the small boat which plied between the flagship and the dock. Aboard Pennsylvania, Kimmel read the dispatch which informed him that he would become Commander in Chief of the United States Fleet, effective on or about February 1. He was too realistic not to know that his superiors thought well of him; still the action “came as a complete surprise. . . .” In fact, he looked so stricken that for a moment DeLany thought his chief was going to faint.38Kimmel was exceedingly sensitive and easily hurt, and his first thought was for his old friend. “Hell, there was nothing wrong with Richardson,” he said later. “He was an excellent officer, absolutely topflight.”39 In agitation Kimmel hastened to Richardson’s quarters to assure the CinCUS that he saw no justification for his relief, that he knew nothing about it and had made no effort whatsoever to take over his job.40Back in Washington Turner was thoroughly digesting the Bloch memorandum with Richardson’s endorsement. On the basis of material in the Navy and War departments, as well as some of his own, he drafted a letter to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson for Knox’s signature “because it was an official communication of the greatest importance to the War Department. . . .” Stark approved the document and forwarded it to Knox, who signed and dispatched it dated January 24. Copies to CinCPAC and the Fourteenth Naval District reached Pearl Harbor on February 5.41 The letter proved to be one of the most historic Knox ever signed. It read in part: The security of the U.S. Pacific Fleet while in Pearl Harbor, and of the Pearl Harbor Naval Base itself, has been under renewed study by the Navy Department and forces afloat for the past several weeks. This reexamination has been, in part, prompted by the increased gravity of the situation with respect to Japan, and by reports from abroad of successful bombing and torpedo plane attacks on ships while in bases. 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 Harbor.In my opinion, the inherent possibilities of a major disaster to the fleet or naval base warrant taking every step, as rapidly as can be done, that will increase the joint readiness of the Army and Navy to withstand a raid of the character mentioned above. It listed the dangers “in their order of importance and probability,” of which “Air bombing attack” and “Air torpedo plane attack” ranked first and second respectively. The letter added, “Both types of air attack are possible. They may be carried out successively, simultaneously, or in combination with any of the other operations enumerated.”42Knox then listed proposed countermeasures, the first of which was “Location and engagement of enemy carriers and supporting vessels before air attack can be launched.” He pointed out that these measures were “largely functions of the Fleet but, quite possibly, might not be carried out in case of an air attack initiated without warning prior to a declaration of war.”43It is fascinating to note the gradual buildup of the eventual design. First, and for a long time, American thinking and maneuvers were predicated entirely in terms of a possible Japanese strike on Hawaii. Second, after the object lesson of Taranto, came the awareness in Washington that the prime target of such an attack would be the ships in harbor. Thirdly, Richardson’s endorsement of January 7 conceded the possibility—albeit unlikely—of an aerial strike at Pearl Harbor if Japan and the United States went to war. Now, as the fourth step, Knox’s prophetic letter pinpointed a carrier-borne bombing and/or torpedo force ripping into the Fleet “without warning prior to a declaration of war.” Turner and his War Plans Division certainly did a magnificent job of forecasting.Knox had two suggestions to make for Stimson’s consideration, in addition to those Bloch had outlined: barrage balloons and smoke screens. Then he summed up his proposals: (1) That the Army assign the highest priority to the increase of pursuit aircraft and anti-aircraft artillery, and the establishment of an air warning net in Hawaii.(2) That the Army gives sic consideration to the question of balloon barrages, the employment of smoke, and other special devices for improving the defense of Pearl Harbor.(3) That local joint plans be drawn for the effective coordination of naval and military aircraft operations, and ship and shore anti-aircraft gun fire, against surprise aircraft raids.(4) That the Army and Navy forces in Oahu agree on appropriate degrees of joint readiness for immediate action in defense against surprise aircraft raids against Pearl Harbor.(5) That joint exercises, designed to prepare Army and Navy forces in Oahu for defense against surprise aircraft raids, be held at least once weekly so long as the present uncertainty continues to exist. He ended by assuring Stimson, “Your concurrence in these proposals and the rapid implementing of the measures to be taken by the Army, which are of the highest importance to the security of the Fleet, will be met with the closest cooperation on the part of the Navy Department.”44The next day, obviously with no knowledge of Knox’s letter to Stimson of the twenty-fourth, Richardson and Kimmel collaborated on a memorandum for Richardson to send to Stark in connection with Plan Dog, which had emphasized that the United States’ major offensive effort would be in the Atlantic. Washington had made its choice not because the government downgraded the Pacific or because of defense-mindedness, but out of hard necessity. The United States could not give the same priority, the same effort, to both seas at once. Roosevelt’s two-ocean navy was still in the blueprint stage.Richardson outlined the Fleet’s assumptions of the situation for Plan Dog: (a) The United States is at war with Germany and Italy.(b) War with Japan is imminent.(c) Units of the Pacific Fleet may be detached to the Atlantic on short notice. . . .(e) Japan may attack without warning, and these attacks may take any form—even to attacks by Japanese ships flying German or Italian flags or by submarines. . . .(f) Japanese attacks may be expected against shipping, outlying possessions or naval units. Surprise raids on Pearl Harbor, or attempts to block the channel, are possible.(g) Local sabotage is possible. Under these assumptions, the Fleet would take on certain tasks, among them “full security measures for the protection of Fleet units, at sea or in port.”45 It would also assist in local defense of the naval district until suitable vessels became available to Bloch. The two admirals pointed out: Ideally, a Fleet Base should afford refuge and rest for personnel as well as opportunity for maintenance and upkeep of material installation. When Fleet planes, Fleet guns and Fleet personnel are required to be constantly ready for defense of its own base, the wear and tear on both men and material cannot but result in impaired readiness for active operations at sea.46 They recommended immediate correction of existing deficiencies, to “take priority over the needs of continental districts, the training program, and material aid to Great Britain.”47Such was the basic thinking in American naval circles concerning a possible Japanese attack against Pearl Harbor at the very time when Yamamoto was beginning to develop his adventurous project. How closely interwoven were the American and Japanese threads of the Pearl Harbor fabric! On January 7, Japanese time—a day or so before Richardson endorsed Bloch’s estimate—Yamamoto confided his daring plan in writing to Navy Minister Oikawa. Knox’s letter of January 24 probably followed closely Yamamoto’s letter about Pearl Harbor to Onishi. The Knox document preceded Yamamoto’s secret conference with Onishi aboard Nagato by approximately three days. Furthermore, it antedated Grew’s classic warning to the State Department by about the same period.Yet a strange ambivalence was at work. Stark’s concern over the Fleet as a result of the Taranto raid had initiated a chain of awareness which on January 24 culminated in Knox’s letter to Stimson. But eight days later the CNO dispatch went off to Kimmel quoting Grew’s famous warning, placing “no credence in these rumors,” and declaring that “no move against Pearl Harbor appears imminent or planned for in the forseeable sic future.”The memorandum which Richardson prepared with Kimmel represented his last major effort in Hawaii. In public he took his relief as CinCUS like the officer and gentleman he was.48 Nevertheless, it rankled. His self-respect demanded that he know what lay behind his summary dismissal. When he reported to Knox in Washington on March 24, he asked respectfully but firmly for an explanation. “In my experience in the Navy,” he said in effect, “I have never known of a flag officer being detached from command of the United States Fleet in the same manner that I was, and I feel that I owe it to myself to inquire why I was detached.” Knox told Richardson that the President would send for him and talk the matter over. (Incidentally, Roosevelt never did summon Richardson for the promised interview.) Knox then gave Richardson a hint: “The last time you were here you hurt the President’s feelings.”49Would the Pearl Harbor story have differed had Richardson remained at the helm? We have no evidence to indicate that such a change of cast would have affected the plot in any way. Richardson’s skepticism about a possible attack does not promise that he would have proved any more security-conscious than Kimmel. His rejection of torpedo nets proved a major error in judgment. But his decision rested on the technical opinion of ordnance experts that torpedoes could not be used effectively in Pearl Harbor. In Japan Onishi received the same evaluation from Maeda, and even the aggressive and imaginative Genda was most doubtful on this point.“J.O.” had served his country well and deserved a more courteous dismissal. But looking at the results, we must reflect that the admiral had an unusually alert guardian angel. Thanks to Roosevelt’s wounded sensibilities, Richardson slipped quietly out of the hot seat at Pearl Harbor into his role in the Navy’s tradition as beloved “J.O.,” standing forever in the sunlight of unshadowed memory. CHAPTER 6“THAT MUST HENCEFORTH BEAR RESPONSIBILITY” Stand in imagination on the quarterdeck of the battleship Pennsylvania in Pearl Harbor on a golden Saturday morning, February 1, 1941. Always spanking clean as befits a flagship, her brasswork flashed blindingly in the sun. Her crewmen lined up on the main deck, their dress uniforms dazzlingly white under the turquoise blue sky. A soft breeze occasionally ruffled a white collar here, a black tie there.The bosun’s pipe shrilled with clocklike regularity as one party of gold braid after another came up the accommodation ladder. No fewer than sixteen flag officers faced forward in a row. Captains of the numerous ships in Pearl Harbor and many staff officers crowded the remaining deck space.At last the band struck up “The Admiral’s March.” Then promptly, from the port companionway leading below, the chief dignitaries emerged. Richardson stood tall and straight “beneath the 14 inch guns of the after main turret,” his good-natured face solemn and intent. Kimmel, the new CinCUS, stiffly erect, gave this occasion equal respect, for he loved the Navy, its rituals and its daily tasks. And this morning, thirty-seven years after his graduation from Annapolis in 1904, marked the proudest hour of his life. He stood at the very pinnacle of his career—a full admiral and Commander in Chief of the United States Fleet.The ceremonies started at precisely 1005. “Officers and men of the fleet!” Richardson began in a deep, steady voice. “My regret in leaving you is tempered by the fact that I turn over this command to Admiral Kimmel, a friend of long standing, a forthright man, an officer of marked ability and a successor of whom I am proud. . . .”Now it was Kimmel’s turn. He slipped on a pair of horn-rimmed spectacles, rattled a sheet of paper, and read from it in clear, businesslike tones. He paid his respects to Richardson, then, in a voice conveying a strong whiff of bluegrass, promised his men and his nation: “I can say only this, that it shall be my personal motto—or guiding principle—to maintain the fleet at the highest level of efficiency and preparedness, and that whatever expansion is ordered, I will attempt to carry out to the best of my ability.”Mark Matthews of the Honolulu Advertiser, who watched the ceremony, wrote with sensitive perception in the next morning’s issue: “The crisp, blue-eyed Kentuckian had become now the sole, solitary, infinitely lonely figure that must henceforth bear responsibility for a million tons of fighting steel, the world’s greatest aggregation of warships—the security of his nation.”1A handsome man in his late fifties, Kimmel carried himself proudly. He stood five feet ten inches and weighed some 180 pounds of solid bone and muscle. This man of dark destiny had a fine head that tilted slightly over sturdy shoulders. His hair, still full and dark blond, was flecked with gray. Beneath a broad, level brow his clear, direct eyes reflected wisdom and experience. A well-shaped nose and strongly set mouth and chin completed a rather stern Germanic countenance. Virile, with a clean look that carried the tang of the sea, Kimmel seemed the living embodiment of “NAVY.”Husband Edward Kimmel was born on February 26, 1882, in Henderson, a small town in northwestern Kentucky not far from the Indiana border. True to family tradition, he had attempted to secure an appointment to West Point. Only when this fell through did he try for the U.S. Naval Academy, and this time he succeeded.He plunged into life at Annapolis as if to prove to the Military Academy that it had missed a good man, as indeed it had. His records as a midshipman show that he excelled in navigation, seamanship, ordnance, and languages. He rated the number two spot in efficiency, an indication of things to come. Throughout his naval career Kimmel’s insistence on order, routine, and efficiency reached almost frightening proportions. He managed to escape Annapolis without his unfortunate midshipman nickname of Hubby catching on. He was Kim to most of his friends. Stark called him Mustapha—a pun on Kemal Pasha.2Kimmel graduated thirteenth in his class of sixty-two, but nothing in the career upon which he embarked hinted that bad luck lurked in wait for him.3 On the contrary, every break seemed to come his way. On January 31, 1912, he married Dorothy Kinkaid, the daughter of an admiral. Her brother, Thomas C. Kinkaid, of the Annapolis class of 1908, also was destined for flag rank. The union was to produce three fine sons. When their father became Commander in Chief, the two eldest, Manning and Thomas, were both serving aboard the submarine S-38 in Philippines waters, and the third, Edward, was a junior at Princeton.After a well-balanced, highly successful career at sea and ashore, in 1933 Kimmel realized the dream of every “black-shoe” officer: the command of a battleship. As skipper of New York Kimmel was an exacting taskmaster. After a year aboard her, Kimmel joined the Battle Force as chief of staff to the commander, Battleships. Three things stand out in these formative years before Kimmel attained his flag: an excellent record in gunnery, important staff assignments, and a solid background with battleships.In due course Washington assigned Kimmel as the Navy Department’s budget officer. The position involved numerous contacts with Capitol Hill, where Kimmel’s combination of self-evident honesty and straightforward courtesy, softened with the charm he could exercise when he chose, stood him in good stead. He became known as an administration man in a mild way. In this connection we might note in passing that among the usual scattering of special details which fall to any presentable junior officer, Kimmel had briefly been aide to the then Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt during a Panama Canal celebration. While budget officer, Kimmel became a rear admiral—November 1937—and in July of the next year he went back to sea as commander of Cruiser Division Seven.One year later, in 1939, he stepped aboard Honolulu as commander, Cruisers, Battle Force. As such he demanded taut ships. Anchor chains rattled on the split second, speeds and courses at sea were exact, signals came across clearly and forcefully, drills went off briskly with precise formations and resolute maneuvers, or Kimmel knew the reason why. On the debit side of the ledger, his solid knowledge of naval history, tactics, and strategy was unfired by the spark of creative imagination. While an incongruous situation or good joke could bring forth his hearty laugh, he lacked a genuine sense of humor.He may have been an easier man to admire than to love, yet the atmosphere in his staff was tonic with unspoken loyalty. As he ate with his officers at mess, conversation circulated freely and generally centered on shop. When the evening shadows settled over his cruisers, Kimmel might play a hand or two of cards, but more often than not he retired to his cabin to study war plans or to lose himself in a book.By this time Kimmel’s file of fitness reports bulged with high ratings and predictions of great things to come, all expressing the pride and satisfaction of his superiors. Yet when Washington summoned him as Commander in Chief, Navy-wide reaction, from the admiral himself down the line, was one of surprise. Kimmel was relatively junior and not too well known.To a direct question from a member of the Roberts Commission*—one of several bodies appointed to investigate the Pearl Harbor disaster—on whether he had “made any efforts to get command of the fleet or used any influence” to do so, Kimmel replied firmly, “None whatever, sir . . . the only influence I used to become commander of the fleet was to do my job the best I could. . . .”4 Quite so! Despite all the postattack probings into why Kimmel had received the appointment over a goodly list of more senior admirals, it appears extremely probable that the Navy Department selected him for the simple reason that it considered him the best man for the job.Thus, command of the United States Fleet passed into the hands of one who had many points in common with his remarkable adversary, Yamamoto. Both were small-town boys. Each had graduated from his country’s naval academy in 1904—the year of the Japanese surprise attack on Port Arthur. Each was a bundle of driving energy; each had a strong will and fierce devotion to his profession. Each made his presence keenly felt wherever he went, and when either wanted his way, he could lean hard. Each gathered to himself a staff of exceptional capability, taking these men into his complete confidence and treating them like a family. Each encouraged individual initiative in his officers, disliked yes-men, and was always ready to hear both sides of a question. Each gave his staff intense loyalty and in return gained a devotion which withstood every pressure and bridged the years with a span of steel. Above all, each was a patriot and a sailor’s sailor down to the last drop of his blood.And each admiral had a summer-lightning temper. Yamamoto could, and did, stamp until his cabin shook, while Kimmel had been known to hurl the nearest book at the bulkhead.5 When he really got his dander up, he flung his hat on the deck and jumped on it. This happened so often at sea that one of the messboys kept an old sea cap or hat handy so that when Kimmel went into his act, he could stomp on an old hat instead of a new one. On such occasions their respective staffs would batten down the hatches until the storm blew over, as it did in a matter of minutes. These men thought none the worse of their admirals because they did not suffer fools gladly.6Kimmel realized the magnitude of his task, and he faced it soberly but fearlessly. Had he not studied, labored, and trained for just such responsibilities? Nevertheless, the naval setup which went into effect concurrently with his appointment was not calculated to reassure him. This reorganization divided the Navy into three fleets—Atlantic, Pacific, and Asiatic—a situation which had not existed since 1922. But times had changed, and the Atlantic and Pacific fleets no longer engaged in joint maneuvers, so the proud title of Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet had become largely honorary. Kimmel’s orders designated him concurrently as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CinCPAC), and he understood very well that this was his real job.On Tuesday, February 4, only a few days after Kimmel took over his new command, twenty-four bombers of the Eighteenth Bombardment Wing at Hickam Field thundered over the liner Matsonia near Diamond Head as she edged toward Honolulu Harbor. This aloha review was a special gesture of welcome to the new commander of the Hawaiian Department, Major General Walter C. Short, aboard the vessel. His predecessor, General Herron, stood on dock to greet the veteran infantry officer.7On the stroke of 0900 on February 7 Short’s car drove up to the sun-splashed parade ground of Fort Shafter. After brief ceremonies Herron formally tendered his colors and flag to Short. That noon, in another impressive ceremony at Fort Shafter, this time at Hawaiian Department Headquarters, Short received his promotion to lieutenant general. Smiling and happy at the general’s side, Mrs. Short pinned the insignia of his new rank on his shoulders;8 it was a question who was the more proud.Born in Fillmore, Illinois, on March 30, 1880, Short had graduated from the University of Illinois in 1902. In March of that year he received a direct commission effective February 2, 1902.9 For almost forty years he provided a case history of a typical regular infantry officer of his generation. He spent his early career in Texas, at the Presidio in San Francisco, in the Philippines, in Nebraska and Alaska. From February 1912 to March 1916 he was secretary, School of Musketry at Fort Sill, Oklahoma; then he accompanied the Sixteenth Infantry Regiment to Mexico with the punitive expedition under Pershing.During World War I he racked up a respectable record. As a captain he sailed for France in June 1917 and was “in the first group of officers sent to the British and French fronts” and helped organize the First Corps’ automatic weapons school. He soon joined the General Staff training section, directing instruction of machine-gun units. After the Armistice he was one of the hard-core group that remained overseas until July 1919. During that time he served as assistant chief of staff in charge of the Third Army’s training in Germany.He emerged from the war a colonel but, like other officers, reverted to his permanent rank. Promoted to major in 1920, he graduated from the School of the Line (later Command and General Staff School) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, that same year. Beginning in July 1921, he served a three-year hitch in Washington with the War Department General Staff, then entered the Army War College, which he graduated from in 1925. He spent the next three years in Puerto Rico, then returned to Leavenworth to serve as a staff member until September 1930. Next came four more years in Washington in the Bureau of Insular Affairs. Then he returned to the field for a number of command positions. By 1937 he wore the single star of a brigadier general. With the outbreak of war in Europe he received further command assignments, first at Fort Hamilton, then at Columbia, South Carolina. Finally, as the climax of his career, the Army called him to Hawaii.No such speculation arose over Short’s selection as over Kimmel’s. Herron was due for retirement, and not an eyebrow lifted when Short took over. In fact, he was not enthusiastic about going to Honolulu. When the Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall, broke the news to him, Short advised him that if this were the usual routine assignment, he would prefer a stateside job because of his father-in-law’s poor health. But Marshall informed Short that the appointment was important and that he must go to Hawaii.10Kimmel and Short immediately set up an excellent personal relationship. Soon they established a biweekly golf date for Sunday mornings. The two men must have been an intriguing sight as they sat together in their offices or strolled around the turf. If not technically professional opposites, they were certainly so in the civilian sense of the word. Whereas physically Kimmel’s appearance fairly shouted “Admiral, USN,” one doubts if a What’s My Line? panel would have labeled Short “Lieutenant General, USA.” His thin, sensitive face with its delicate-boned, spare, and nervy look of the thoroughbred could have peered out from beneath a powdered peruke with no incongruity. His slim, wiry figure of five feet ten inches, clad in neat, practical khakis, gave the impression that time had slipped a cog. Unusually large, deep-set, and luminous eyes watched from beneath lifted brows and a high, smooth forehead. The slightly bulbous nose was high-bridged; the ears were close-set. The slender, cleanly defined upper lip slanted a trifle downward at the corners past the rather full, almost sullen lower lip. He held his head high, and his whole appearance radiated the consciousness of authority and alert self-confidence.From Short’s own testimony and that of others the picture emerges of a capable and conscientious officer, neither brilliant nor overly aggressive, but polished, competent, honest, and determined to do a good job. His career had been top-heavy with training assignments. Such a background always implies the danger that the individual may come to mistake the shadow for the substance and regard training as an end in itself. Certainly Short was acutely alive to the necessity for training from the moment he set foot on Hawaiian soil.Yet the task of licking rookies into shape was not a mission. It was essentially a problem of command—one which Short shared with every other commander in 1941, when the small cadre of the regular military establishment was trying to absorb and make good use of the raw material funneled to it from the draft boards. When Short took over the Hawaiian Department, its basic mission was twofold: protection of the Pacific Fleet as it lay at its moorings in Pearl Harbor and coastal defense of the Hawaiian Islands. Later in the year the task of shuttling aircraft between the Philippines and the mainland would be added. Any one of these responsibilities could have taken all the limited forces at Short’s disposal. To have accomplished all three would have required enough men and matériel to sink the Islands.For all the reams of testimony, Short remains one of the most elusive of the major characters in the Pearl Harbor story. He wrote no book, as did Kimmel and several of the key Japanese participants. To the best of our knowledge he left no treasure trove of letters like Yamamoto’s; he kept no voluminous diary, as did Stimson and a number of Japanese. Nor did he let down his guard in personal, well-remembered conversations. He stands before the inquisitive historian in taut watchfulness, courteous, painstaking, and inscrutable, forever holding the citadel of his own personality. CHAPTER 7“OUR FIRST CONCERN IS TO PROTECT THE FLEET” The seventh of February, 1941, is one of the dates on which the separate threads of fate mingled briefly. While Mrs. Short was pinning on her husband’s third star at Fort Shafter, Kimmel flourished a vigorous, pen in his shipshape office aboard Pennsylvania. In Washington, Stimson and Marshall were at their respective desks, signing significant letters on the subject of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor.Henry L. Stimson joined Roosevelt’s Cabinet in June 1940, when the President decided that his official family needed an infusion of Republican blood. One can easily see why he turned to Stimson. They came from identical backgrounds and understood each other’s fundamentally aristocratic temperaments. Stimson had no political ax to grind, and his international views at this time coincided with Roosevelt’s in all essentials. Long an advocate of British-American friendship, he favored all possible aid to Britain and resistance to aggression on every front.A lawyer by profession, he had served in some capacity under no fewer than five Presidents. He had been Taft’s secretary of war, Coolidge’s high commissioner of the Philippines, and Hoover’s secretary of state. Naturally Stimson had his detractors. Some termed him high-hat, hard to get along with, possessed of a one-track mind, short-fuse temper, and open-mesh memory. All that was true to a degree. Yet even his worst enemies conceded Stimson’s moral and physical courage and devotion to duty.At seventy-three the oldest member of the Cabinet, Stimson remained physically fit and proud of it. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, he worked best behind the scenes. Equally free of personal ambition or dependence upon party patronage, Stimson responded again and again to his country’s summons. Yet he was basically a home and nature lover, relaxed and happy only at his own hearthside or out of doors. He adored his New York home, Highhold, and it was a real sacrifice for him to come to “this infernal hole they call Washington.”1The letter under Stimson’s hand that February 7 was addressed to his colleague Frank Knox, who had joined the Cabinet as secretary of the navy at the same time Stimson came on board. Knox, too, voted Republican and had been a Teddy Roosevelt man, but there the resemblance ended. Whereas Stimson had been born to wealth and position, Knox had earned his way up delivering newspapers and working his way through college by waiting on tables and doing other chores. He responded promptly to the call for volunteers in the Spanish-American War and went to Cuba as one of the Rough Riders. Later he enthusiastically followed Teddy into the Bull Moose party. In this he differed from Stimson, who, despite his affection for TR, remained loyal to Taft.Although overage, Knox volunteered as a private in World War I, saw action with the Seventy-eighth Division, and emerged wearing a major’s gold leaves. For some mysterious reason he was known thenceforth as Colonel. After the Armistice he returned to the newspaper field. In 1930 he took over the Chicago Daily News, and by 1936 he had attained sufficient national stature to rate the Republican Vice-Presidential nomination.Less intellectually endowed than Stimson, Knox had much more going for him as a personality. He shared TR’s outgoing delight in the business of living and throve on public contacts. What he knew about the Navy would not have taxed a slender notebook, but he realized his limitations and was eager to fill the gaps. Not that he had any illusions about who really ran the Navy, but he accepted the situation with complete good nature.Stimson’s missive replied to Knox’s memorandum of January. 24. Under the subject “Air Defense of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii,” Stimson expressed “complete concurrence as to the importance of this matter and the urgency of our making every possible preparation to meet such a hostile effort.” He declared definitely, “The Hawaiian Department is the best equipped of all our overseas departments, and continues to hold a high priority for the completion of its projected defenses because of the importance of giving full protection to the Fleet.”When it came down to details, however, the picture he painted was not too bright. He could promise “thirty-one P-37 pursuit planes assembled at San Diego for shipment to Hawaii within the next ten days” and informed Knox that the total Hawaiian antiaircraft project called for “ninety-eight 3-inch AA guns, one hundred and twenty 37 mm AA guns, and three hundred and eight caliber .50 AA machine guns.” But he gave no indication of just when all this matériel would come Short’s way.He further advised Knox that aircraft warning service equipment had been ordered and would be delivered to Hawaii in June. By that time arrangements for installation would have been made. Stimson then promised that he would direct Short to look into the barrage balloon and smoke screen situation; about neither did he offer encouragement, however. Barrage balloons would not be available before summer, and according to “qualified opinion,” the “atmosphere and geographic conditions in Oahu render the employment of smoke impracticable for large scale screening operations.”2A copy of this letter went to Short as well as to Kimmel and Bloch. It would be interesting to know Short’s immediate reaction to the statement that his was “the best equipped of all our overseas departments. . . .” Nor did Short need Stimson’s instructions to cooperate with the Navy; he had no intention of doing anything else. And he had at hand another letter dated February 7, 1941—this one from Marshall—stressing that very subject.General George C. Marshall became Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army at the age of fifty-nine only a few hours after Hitler’s legions slammed into Poland on September 1, 1939. This quiet, rangy six-footer with blue eyes and graying hair had a rugged face which bespoke a forceful character. Like all men of powerful personality, especially those in top positions, Marshall aroused strong feelings. He inspired either steadfast devotion or sharp aversion. Although he could be somewhat unapproachable, he was always open to reason, but once he made up his mind, the staff officer who continued to oppose him did so at his own risk.Marshall had met with Stark on February 6, and the Chief of Staff gave Short the benefit of their discussion. Marshall began with a brief character sketch of Kimmel as given him by Stark: He said Kimmel was very direct, even brusque and undiplomatic in his approach to problems; that he was at heart a very kindly man, though he appeared rather rough in his methods of doing business. I gather that he is entirely responsive to plain speaking on the part of the other fellow if there is frankness and logic in the presentation. Stark went so far as to say that he had, in the past, personally objected to Kimmel’s manner in dealing with officers, but that Kimmel was outstanding in his qualifications of command, and that this was the opinion of the entire Navy. Stark had also told Marshall of Kimmel’s complaints about “deficiencies of Army matériel for the protection of Pearl Harbor.” Marshall admitted to Short that, in general, the facts were as the admiral indicated. He added, however, “What Kimmel does not realize is that we are tragically lacking in this matériel throughout the Army, and that Hawaii is on a far better basis than any other command in the Army.”3Marshall then emphasized a most vital point: “The fullest protection for the Fleet is the rather than a [Marshall’s italics] major consideration for us . . . but the Navy itself makes demands on us for commands other than Hawaii, which makes it difficult for us to meet the requirements of Hawaii. . . .”4For all “the pressures on the Department,” Marshall emphasized that “we are keeping clearly in mind that our first concern is to protect the Fleet.” He continued: “My impression of the Hawaiian problem has been that if no serious harm is done us during the first six hours of known hostilities, thereafter the existing defenses would discourage an enemy against the hazard of an attack. . . .” How could Marshall foresee that the first six minutes of war would break the back of the Pacific Fleet? “The risk of sabotage and the risk involved in a surprise raid by Air and by submarine constitutes sic the real perils of the situation. Frankly, I do not see any landing threat in the Hawaiian Islands so long as we have air superiority.”5This fixation with sabotage both in Washington and in Hawaii was understandable. The Islands’ population included some 160,000 Japanese, about 37,500 of whom were foreign-born.6 The United States had seen to what good use Hitler had put the discontents and aspirations of minorities. Below the surface the Japanese on Hawaii presented an entirely different picture from the native European minorities, but Marshall and Short were soldiers, not sociologists. Once more Marshall iterated: Please keep clearly in mind in all of your negotiations that our mission is to protect the base and the Naval concentrations, and that purpose should be made clearly apparent to Admiral Kimmel. I accentuate this because I found . . . that old Army and Navy feuds, engendered from fights over appropriations . . . still persist in confusing issues of national defense. . . . Fortunately, and happily I might say, Stark and I are on the most intimate personal basis, and that relationship has enabled us to avoid many serious difficulties.7 Short hastened to reply on the nineteenth, assuring Marshall that he had found both Kimmel and Bloch—his opposite number—“most approachable and cooperative in every way” and that “our relations should be extremely cordial.” He listed the conditions he believed of great importance and the steps he wished to take to effect the necessary changes. Of these, “Cooperation with the Navy” ranked as number one, and he advised Marshall that to bring this about, joint committees of Army and Navy officers would meet and report on March 1.8Short also wrote that same day to The Adjutant General* concerning the dispersal and protection of fighters and bombers. “The concentration of these airplanes at Wheeler Field and at Hickam Field presents a very serious problem in their protection against hostile aviation,” he stressed. And he asked for bunker protection for “142 single engine pursuit ships and 121 double engine pursuit ships and for 25 two engine bombers and 70 four engine bombers” at a total cost of $1,565,600—reasonable enough considering the value of the aircraft.9 Nothing concrete came of these pleas. Of course, the War Department neither ignored Short nor put him in an impossible position deliberately. It had precisely the same problem as he on a larger scale—how to build a fortress with what was available, and quickly. Hawaii got what Washington could send, which was not enough.Short’s official correspondence and his testimony reveal a thorough awareness of the danger to Hawaii; they also display a sound understanding of the day-to-day aspects of his command. In fact, one cannot escape the impression that he was surer of himself in the precise field of detailed operations than in the larger area of mission. He took hold efficiently and made good use of what he had available. Yet he was strictly a soldier, and although his primary mission had been spelled out for him in the plainest possible terms, he never really understood the nature of his responsibility to the Pacific Fleet. In exceedingly revealing testimony, Short observed, speaking of a potential attack on Pearl Harbor: “If the fleet had been ordered away from the Hawaiian waters I would have been extremely apprehensive. . . . I definitely would have expected it if the fleet had not been there.”10 In his heart, Short regarded the presence of the Pacific Fleet as a protection for his Hawaiian Department, rather than vice versa. Nor did he realize that any Japanese attack would be aimed at the very ships he was charged with protecting.Short’s basic aim—to do his duty as best he could in the sphere to which God and the War Department had called him—paralleled Kimmel’s, but Short had very different ideas about how it should be accomplished. A firm believer in contacts, he set out to make himself agreeable. As Bloch, who knew Short well and liked him, reminisced, “Short was not too hard a worker. He was definitely not a busy beaver. He was the type who considered it his duty to know everyone in the area, to be good to them, and to swap lies with them from time to time.”11Indeed, Short’s savoir-faire may well have been an important factor in his appointment. The Hawaiian Department’s commander absolutely had to get along with the civilian authorities if he was to obtain the cooperation necessary for smooth coordination. A certain gap had always existed between civilian and military Hawaii, and Short made it his business to bridge it. This he did with excellent results.It is evident that defense of the Islands was the part of his mission which he understood best and in which he was most successful—at least to the degree to which he was called upon. We cannot know whether he could have held the archipelago against an all-out Japanese assault. It is a military axiom that any position can be taken by an attacking force which hits quickly enough, hits hard enough, and stays long enough. Geographically isolated, yet dependent on the mainland for food and fuel, Hawaii presented almost a classic case of vulnerability, and well Short knew it.The general did not immediately gather around him a cohesive staff. His officers went through so many changes throughout the year that not until about a month before the Pearl Harbor attack did they settle down to fairly permanent status. Herron had left behind a first-rate chief of staff, Colonel Philip Hayes. But Hayes was due for rotation, and his successor lacked his background, presence, and grasp of the job. “In December 1940, after a very successful series of maneuvers in the first division” Short requested the assignment of Lieutenant Colonel Walter C. Phillips, the First Division’s operations officer, to Hawaii as chief of staff.12With Marshall’s personal blessing, Phillips arrived in Hawaii on March 1. Phillips was well intentioned and exceedingly loyal to Short, but from all reports his raucous voice and blustering manner could rub people the wrong way. After training in various staff sections throughout the spring and summer, Phillips took over as chief of staff on November 1 and five days later became a full colonel. The Army Pearl Harbor Board remarked of his work: “Phillips was recognized by the staff as without force and far too weak for a position of such importance. Short’s selection of Phillips appears to have been a mistake. . . .” Mistake or not, Short stuck by his man, as his postwar testimony indicates: “Colonel Hayes was an excellent administrative man. He had had dealings with the Navy over considerable periods of time. Colonel Phillips was a far more competent man on field work and training.”13 SIMPLIFIED CHART OF HAWAIIAN DEPARTMENT AS OF DECEMBER 7, 1941 Lieutenant Colonel Russell C. Throckmorton served Short successively as G-3 (Operations) and G-1 (Personnel). He was a good officer, obliging and cooperative, a fine person, and a holdover from Herron, whom he admired greatly. Although not close to Short, he got along with the general and respected him.Lieutenant Colonel Kendall J. “Wooch” Fielder was intelligent and shrewd. Although he had never served under Short, they were good friends, and in July 1941 Fielder became his intelligence officer (G-2), replacing Lieutenant Colonel Morrill W. Marston. Although Fielder had no previous Intelligence background, he worked hard at his job and served the general faithfully.Major William E. Donegan was first Herron’s, then Short’s deputy assistant chief of staff, Operations (G-3). In July he was placed on the General Staff and he received his promotion to lieutenant colonel on September 15, 1941. On November 5, when Throckmorton became G-1, Donegan moved to the top slot in G-3, one of the most important posts on the staff. He was a man of honest opinions, loyal to his superiors and fellow officers.Lieutenant Colonel Marston, who had originally served under Herron and Short as G-2, became assistant G-4 (Supply) on July 21, 1941, when Fielder took over Intelligence. His colleagues knew this quiet, unassuming officer as one of the most conscientious and dutiful men on Oahu. Marston moved up the ladder to assistant chief of staff, G-4 on October 19, 1941.14While Short shook down his staff, the War Department continued to give considerable thought to defense of the Pacific Fleet. At a meeting of key brass held on the morning of February 25 Marshall raised the main issue. “In view of the Japanese situation the Navy is concerned with the security of the fleet in Hawaii. . . . They are in the situation where they must guard against a surprise or trick attack. It is necessary for the fleet to be in anchorage part of the time and they are particularly vulnerable at that time. I do not feel,” he added, “that it is a possibility or even a probability but they must guard against everything.”15Here again that old serpent dichotomy raised its snaky head. Marshall was aware of the danger to Hawaii and would do everything he could to provide protection to the outpost, yet deep down he did not believe the Japanese would attack. Then, on the very day (or exceedingly close to it) on which Genda submitted his draft plan to Onishi, Marshall continued: “We also have information regarding the possible use of torpedo planes. There is the possible sudden introduction of Japanese carrier-based planes of the Messerschmidt type. . . . The Navy viewpoint is that the whole fleet is involved and that the sea power of the United States might be jeopardized. . . .” With this conference fresh in his mind, on March 5 Marshall urged Short to send him an early review of “the situation in the Hawaiian Department with regard to defense from air attack” and stressed that the “establishment of a satisfactory system of coordinating all means available to this end is a matter of first priority.”16Before receiving the Chief of Staffs letter, Short had dispatched a missive on the sixth which reveals him as a clear-thinking, courageous man who no more hesitated to speak his mind than did Richardson or Kimmel, although he walked with a lighter tread: “One of the first projects which I investigated in the Department was the Aircraft Warning Service which I believe is vital to the defense of these islands.” He asked that permission be obtained “from the Secretary of the Interior to construct the Haleakala* installation without the necessity of submitting detailed plans for consideration by the National Park Service.” And he ended flatly: “Defense of these Islands and adequate warning for the United States Fleet is so depending upon the early completion of this Aircraft Warning Service that I believe all quibbling over details should be stopped at once. . . .”17From the vantage of hindsight, the War Department’s reply, dated March 15, gives one the sensation of having wandered into the Mad Hatter’s tea party: . . . The National Park Service officials are willing to give us the temporary use of their lands when other lands are not suitable for the purpose, but they will not waive the requirements as to the submission of preliminary building plans showing the architecture and general appearance. They are also very definitely opposed to permitting structures of any type to be erected at such places as will be open to view and materially alter the natural appearance of the reservation. . . .18 It was just as well for Short’s blood pressure that he did not wait to receive this letter before he responded to Marshall’s of March 5 on the air defense situation. In fact, Short replied to that letter on the fifteenth also. He began uncompromisingly: “The most serious situation with reference to an air attack is the vulnerability of both Army and Navy air fields to the attack.” This shows excellent perception because the Japanese planners knew that for maximum success they had to pin American air power to the ground before and during the strike on the ships. After spelling out his numerous shortages, the general emphasized: The coordination of Antiaircraft defense presents quite a different picture at Hawaii from that existing in most places on the mainland. The island is so small there there would not be the same degree of warning that would exist on the mainland. After the installation of our new detectors we shall have some warning from the different islands and almost continuous service in the most dangerous direction for approximately 75 miles. The pursuit aviation, however, will have to be prepared to take the air in the minimum amount of time. . . .19 One cannot help sympathizing with Short. On the one hand, he was constantly occupied with correspondence in the most serious tone to and from Washington concerning the air defense of Hawaii and the Fleet. On the other, he was being told, in official language, that all things considered, the view from the top of a mountain was much more important than the establishment of an efficient radar screen for the detection of an approaching enemy.This attitude was all the more disquieting because Pearl Harbor was the only place within thousands of miles where the U.S. Pacific Fleet could refuel, refit, and revictual. Shaped roughly like a shamrock, with its petals respectively the West, Middle, and East lochs, it was accessible only by the slender stem, a long channel so narrow that capital ships had to use it one at a time. No wonder Richardson called Pearl Harbor a “God-damn mousetrap.”20Kimmel knew of the disadvantages to the Fleet at Pearl Harbor as well as did Richardson, but he wasted no time flogging a dead horse. He shared the fighting man’s traditional belief that any decision was better than none, and he itched to get on with the job of preparing his forces. On that busy February 7 he wrote to Stark one of the first of a series of long, persistent but fruitless letters begging for personnel.21Nimitz received it for reply. His answer to Kimmel’s request for increased complements, contained in a lengthy missive of March 3, gives an interesting hint of the curious factors involved in naval decisions. Roosevelt had received from the families of sailors a number of complaints that the men were packed into their ships like sardines. For this reason, “The President now feels so strongly that we will make our ships unhappy by overcrowding that Stark and I will need every bit of assistance and assurance that you can give in order to obtain his consent to carrying more than the present 100% complement on board. . . .”22 Perhaps it is just as well that Kimmel’s immediate reaction to this did not go on record.Stark was having his own troubles with the President, who wished to send a naval detachment to the Philippines via the Phoenix, Gilbert, or Fiji islands as a warning gesture to Japan. Wanting no part of a two-front war, on February 11 Stark sent Roosevelt a memorandum in an attempt to squelch such presidential exuberance. “There is a chance that further moves against Japan will precipitate hostilities rather than prevent them. We want to give Japan no excuse for coming in in case we are forced into hostilities with Germany who we all consider our major problem.”23Here, in brief, was the bedrock of American naval policy at this time. Stark had no illusions about the Japanese tiger, but he was not about to poke it into action while Hitler’s killer sharks infested the Atlantic. Keep Great Britain above water—that was the prime objective.Without waiting for a reply to his request for personnel, on February 15 Kimmel issued to his command Pacific Fleet Confidential Letter 2 CL 41, concerned with possible attack on the Fleet. It outlined every conceivable contingency, with provisions to cover each insofar as his resources permitted.The second paragraph postulated that “no responsible foreign power will provoke war, under present existing conditions, by attack on the Fleet or Base, but that irresponsible and misguided nationals of such powers” might try it.24 The letter further assumed that “a declaration of war might be preceded by: (1) a surprise attack on ships in Pearl Harbor.(2) a surprise submarine attack on ships in operating area.(3) a combination of these two.”25 Thus, Kimmel shared the general belief that Japan would never deliberately initiate war with the United States. The idea was almost laughable—a mouse kicking a cat! But individuals were less predictable. And he knew from Japanese history that they might hit first and go through the formalities later.His orders on “defense against air attack” were clear and comprehensive. The Army, with Marine assistance, would man the antiaircraft shore guns. Furthermore, “any part of the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, plus all Fleet aviation shore-based on Oahu, will augment the local air defense.”26 Kimmel designated the commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District (Bloch) as naval base defense officer and spelled out his responsibilities, which included this caution: “It must be remembered too that a single submarine attack may indicate the presence of a considerable surface force probably composed of fast ships accompanied by a carrier. . . .”27 On the contrary, the Japanese plan would call for “fast ships” to accompany the carriers. Later, Japanese airmen would worry lest one of their own submarines should tip off the Americans to the forthcoming air attack.Kimmel’s Fleet Letter makes no mention of long-distance reconnaissance, the magic key to the protection of Oahu. This was an Army function at the time, although the Navy would soon take over the responsibility.On February 15 Stark dispatched to Kimmel a letter which could only have reinforced his belief that the principal danger to his ships when in port came from beneath the sea. Stark’s letter opened: 1. Consideration has been given to the installation of A/T baffles within Pearl Harbor for protection against torpedo plane attacks. It is considered that the relatively shallow depth of water limits the need for anti-torpedo nets in Pearl Harbor. In addition the congestion and the necessity for maneuvering room limit the practicability of the present style of baffles. . . .(a) A minimum depth of water of seventy-five feet may be assumed necessary to successfully drop torpedoes from planes. One hundred and fifty feet of water is desired. The maximum height planes at present experimentally drop torpedoes is 250 feet. Launching speeds are between 120 and 150 knots. Desirable height for dropping is sixty feet or less. About two hundred yards of torpedo run is necessary before the exploding device is armed, but this may be altered. . . . 28 Such assumptions could have drastic consequences. Sparked by the indefatigable Genda, the Japanese took nothing for granted. With a dynamic faith that what had to be accomplished could be, they planned, tested, and trained until they made hay of Stark’s figures.On the eighteenth Kimmel reemphasized his own concern over his ships’ safety, stressing to Stark, “I feel that a surprise attack (submarine, air, or combined) on Pearl Harbor is a possibility. We are taking immediate practical steps to minimize the damage inflicted and to ensure that the attacking force will pay. We need antisubmarine forces—DDs and patrol craft. . . .”29Kimmel did not write of preventing such an attack, only of making the attackers pay for it. But like Short and others, he thought that an attack would be more likely if his ships were not in Pearl Harbor. “I felt, as the situation developed, the Fleet might move away from Pearl Harbor, and in such a contingency the possibility of a quick raid on the installations at Pearl Harbor might be attempted,” he later testified.30Actually Kimmel had no direct responsibility for protection of his vessels when they moored in Pearl Harbor. He was “responsible” only insofar as the armed forces consider the commander answerable for everything under his jurisdiction. As the Navy Court of Inquiry* stated after its investigation of the Pearl Harbor attack, “The defense of a permanent naval base is the direct responsibility of the Army. The Navy is expected to assist with the means provided the naval district within whose limits the permanent naval base is located.”31The Pacific Fleet considered itself geared for the offensive. Once war had been declared, Kimmel’s vessels would race to the Mandates and range through the western Pacific to make Japan rue the day it had decided to try conclusions with the United States Navy. Once the war started, the Fleet’s own offensive operations would be the best possible defense of Pearl Harbor.Kimmel added a significant postscript to his letter of February 18: I have recently been told by an officer fresh from Washington that ONI [Office of Naval Intelligence] considers it is the function of Operations to furnish the Commander in Chief with information of a secret nature. I have heard also that Operations considers the responsibility for furnishing the same type of information to be that of ONI. I do not know that we have missed anything, but if there is any doubt as to whose responsibility it is to keep the Commander in Chief fully informed with pertinent reports on subjects that should be of interest to the Fleet, will you kindly fix that responsibility so that there will be no misunderstanding?32 Stark’s absence from Washington delayed his reply, but he answered on March 22 that “ONI is fully aware of its responsibility in keeping you adequately informed concerning foreign nations, activities of those nations and disloyal elements within the United States. . . .”33Richardson’s operating schedule had called for half the Fleet to be at sea and the other half in port in an alternating pattern. After about a month on the job Kimmel revised the scheme to allow for three task forces. He kept at least one at sea at all times, sometimes two, so that any one ship spent 40 percent of its time at sea and 60 percent in port. Although acutely aware that the unit plowing the waters might run into hostile submarines, he took this chance. As he later testified, “We had to accept it, because if you keep a fleet in port you might just as well disband them, quit: they are no good to you.”34Task Force One came under the command of Vice Admiral William Satterlee Pye, second in rank to Kimmel and thus expected to act as CinCPAC in Kimmel’s absence. Pye had the reputation of being a brilliant strategist; during a tour in the War Plans Division he had drafted the Navy’s basic war plan for the Pacific.Task Force Two fell to the redoubtable Vice Admiral William F. Halsey. Swashbuckling, crinkle-faced Bill Halsey had been an Annapolis classmate of Kimmel’s; by 1934, at the age of fifty-one, when already a captain and a grandfather, he had won his wings at Pensacola. He loved and understood naval aviation as few men of his age could do. Kimmel set great store by him.Task Force Three received as its commander Vice Admiral Wilson Brown, the “officer fresh from Washington” whom Kimmel had mentioned to Stark. Brown’s distinguished career included command of the New London submarine base and the battleship California. He had also been superintendent of the Naval Academy.This setup was operational. Pye’s official title was Commander, Battle Force, while Brown was Commander, Scouting Force. Halsey answered to Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force. Under them were a number of type commanders—rear admirals in charge of every major type of vessel.35Kimmel would have preferred to keep two task forces at sea at all times, but the critical fuel shortage prohibited this. The Pacific Fleet had only eleven tankers, a mere four of which were capable of fueling other ships at sea. Keeping in mind that a single destroyer steaming at full power would use up its entire fuel supply in thirty to forty hours, one gets some idea of the staggering needs of an entire fleet.36 Yet Hawaii produced no oil. Every teaspoonful had to be transported over 2,000 miles from the mainland. The entire oil supply had to be stored in plain sight aboveground, and one of the Fleet’s recurring nightmares was the possibility of the vast tank farm’s catching fire, either accidentally or by enemy action.Kimmel’s reorganization gave Bloch a second post: commander, Task Force Four. In this capacity he was base defense officer, responsible for the Hawaiian Sea Frontier, including the outlying islands of Johnston, Midway, Wake, and Palmyra. Technically Bloch had two bosses. As commandant, Fourteenth Naval District, he was under Stark; as a task force commander he came under Kimmel. Actually the channels did not cross because Bloch answered to Stark for administrative matters and to Kimmel in the operational field.37 SIMPLIFIED CHART OF U.S. PACIFIC FLEET AS OF DECEMBER 7, 1941 To assist him in carrying out his multitudinous duties, Kimmel handpicked a staff of unusually clever officers, many of whom he had known for years. For his chief of staff he took popular Captain William Ward “Poco” Smith from Brooklyn’s bridge. Smith stood slightly under six feet and kept in condition by playing golf like a pro. An unusually retentive memory reinforced his mental agility, and an irrepressible sense of humor leavened the whole. As a chief of staff he was a natural, fielding everything belted his way with dispatch. Sometimes he formed judgments quickly, shooting from the hip.In many ways the closest to Kimmel of all his official family was his assistant chief of staff and operations officer, Captain Walter S. DeLany. Down-to-earth and intelligent, DeLany had much in common with Kimmel, including a passion for hard work and professional integrity of a very high order. He did not hesitate to disagree with Kimmel when he thought the occasion demanded it.For war plans officer, Kimmel tapped Captain Charles E. “Soc” McMorris, whose angular, pockmarked features resembled a medieval woodcut. He was a delightful person who could put across his ideas without table thumping. For many Navy officers, Soc’s initials on a plan of action sufficed to guarantee it; others believed that at times he let his imagination and enthusiasm carry him out to sea.Kimmel kept several members of Richardson’s staff, including McMorris’s assistant, Commander Vincent Murphy, whom Richardson considered “the finest officer in the United States Navy.”38 Another holdover was sharp-minded Commander Arthur C. Davis, the Fleet aviation officer, a pilot and the only member of Kimmel’s official family who knew naval aviation from the deck up. Kimmel also retained Richardson’s intelligence officer, Lieutenant Commander Edwin T. Layton. Confident and alert, Layton had been assistant naval attaché in Japan from April 1937 to March 1939 and thus had firsthand knowledge of the Japanese scene and particularly the Imperial Navy. He also spoke the language fluently.With Richardson’s relief from duty, Commander Maurice “Germany” Curts hoped he could leave his job in Communications and return to the sea he loved. When Kimmel summoned him to the flagship and asked him, “Young man, would you like to be on my staff?” Curts countered this flattering query with a firm “Hell, no!” The prompt negative took Kimmel by surprise, and the blood surged up into the admiral’s face. “You’ve got to,” he answered quickly. “There’s no getting out of it.” Curts then muttered, “Oh, hell!” in tones of such disgusted resignation that everyone present, including Kimmel, burst out laughing. Thus, he drew Curts into the charmed circle.39These then were some of the representative officers on Kimmel’s staff, embodying a remarkable combination of mental power, professional knowledge, ability, and personality. They enjoyed excellent relationships among themselves, complemented one another, and shared a deep loyalty to their chief and to each other.No man can assume supreme command and remain exactly as before, but the changes his officers noted in Kimmel were of degree rather than kind. Always a hard worker, he now became almost obsessed with devotion to duty to a point which at least touched, if it did not cross, the boundary between dedication and fanaticism. He spent much time on details and exhibited undue concern over appearances.Kimmel left his wife on the mainland when he came to Hawaii. In answer to a question from Poco Smith as to why he had not brought her out, Kimmel replied, “Well, to tell you the truth, Smith, I feel that I could not do my job with my family present.”40 This lack of confidence in his ability to function in the normal double harness of home and work is difficult to understand because Mrs. Kimmel had spent her entire life in the Navy and well appreciated the claims of her husband’s position.Kimmel’s preoccupation with his work did not escape the notice of the Fleet medical officer, who suggested to several members of the CinCUS’s staff that they induce him to play as much golf as possible. Accordingly, DeLany and others lured Kimmel out on the green whenever they could. But he obviously begrudged the time away from his desk.41The admiral demanded much from his men and more from himself. He expected his people to produce and did not acknowledge good intentions as an acceptable substitute for concrete results. But no more conscientious, hardworking, patriotic, and honest man ever wore the Navy blue, and he well merited the loyalty which his officers gave him in abundance to the end of his life and beyond. CHAPTER 8“THE HOTBED OF ESPIONAGE” “It was a matter of common knowledge that the Japanese Consulate in Honolulu was the hotbed of espionage in Oahu,” said Herron. “The Consul General himself was always under suspicion no matter who his errand boys were.”1 In 1941 this consulate was one of the busiest in Japan’s diplomatic service. It also formed a key link in the long chain of Japanese Naval Intelligence.Japanese agents had long been active in Hawaii, and when Roosevelt based the Fleet in those waters in May 1940, the Japanese Foreign Office requested Consul General Kiichi Gunji to send regular reports on the size, disposition, and activities of the U.S. Navy in Hawaii. This request originated in the Naval General Staff, which, like its Army counterpart, enjoyed the closest possible relations with the Foreign Office and used its representatives abroad for espionage and other intelligence purposes. In turn, Gunji relied heavily on the Honolulu newspapers for his information on the U.S. Fleet. At that time the press consistently reported on the size, numbers, and movements of Richardson’s warships, conveniently citing exact names and times of arrival and departure.Gunji returned to Japan on September 11, 1940, and his deputy, Otojiro Okuda, took over as acting consul general. Alert, suave, and knowledgeable, Okuda was a seasoned careerist. Medium-sized, with strong features reflecting business and duty, he exuded a certain air of Oriental mystery.There is no direct evidence that Japan dispatched Okuda to Honolulu specifically to run its intelligence net in Hawaii. He had never served in the United States or any of its possessions. Nor had he any special background in naval lore.2 Nevertheless, evidence available to American Intelligence circles indicated that in the Japanese consulate at Honolulu the vice consul was ex officio in charge of espionage.3 Certainly, Gunji lost no time in giving Okuda the word. He explained that he had received instructions from the Navy through the Foreign Office to report on U.S. Fleet movements and ship locations. This information did not exactly amaze Okuda. But he did not like it; the responsibility imposed a risk, and it did not accord with normal consular duties and functions. Gunji assured Okuda that he would not find reporting on the U.S. Fleet difficult because the press covered all its movements.Okuda swung into his espionage quickly and efficiently. For a time, as Gunji had predicted, checking on Fleet movements presented no special problems. The local press reported them faithfully, and Okuda extracted the germane items, coded them, and sent them to Tokyo by commercial telegraph. What was public information in Hawaii became classified as soon as it reached the Foreign Ministry, which immediately relayed it to the Naval General Staff. There it all became grist for the intelligence mill.But Okuda was too thorough to depend only on newspapers. He sent his agents to check on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor and to verify press stories. Toward the end of 1940 he thought he noted a tapering off of such accounts.4 Perhaps he did, because the news leaks at Hawaii had caused reverberations as far as Manila. On December 15, 1940, Admiral Thomas C. Hart, Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet, wrote to Bloch “in the interest of stopping undesirable publicity about the movements of naval ships and forces.” He was considering asking the Navy Department for “a certain amount of general shutting down . . .” but stated frankly “that the news source that has been worrying me most is somewhere right around where you are.”5 In any case, Okuda decided that he had to turn to other means of information gathering. He hesitated to attempt recruitment of dependable agents from among the Japanese nationals living on Oahu, so he inventoried his staff.The only individual present with any qualifications for the task proved to by Kohichi Seki, the consulate’s treasurer, a frail, rather sickly looking man of thirty-nine. He had attended the Naval Academy at Eta Jima but had been honorably discharged because his health did not meet Navy standards. The Foreign Office secured for Seki’s use a copy of Jane’s Fighting Ships. After about two months of practice in learning the types of American vessels, Seki set forth to scout the U.S. Pacific Fleet.6He required no more than an hour to check on Pearl Harbor, which lay within seven miles of the consulate. So long as he stayed off the military reservation and avoided restricted areas, Seki broke no law. He made a practice of taking a taxi to the harbor area, watching directly from the taxi windows, then returning to the consulate to draft a report. Okuda reviewed these messages and passed them along to Sainon Tsukikawa, the secretary in charge of the code room. Like many men engaged in coding, Tsukikawa was completely wrapped up in his work; if he ever took the slightest interest in any other subject, his colleagues did not notice it.Throughout January 1941 messages raced off to Tokyo periodically. Sometime in that month Seki received help in his espionage activities when Okuda asked one Richard Masayuki Kotoshirodo to drive Seki to Pearl City and Aiea, overlooking Pearl Harbor from the north and east respectively.7 An engaging, sturdy young Nisei* of about twenty-five, Kotoshirodo had joined the consulate in 1935. Just as his name was part Japanese and part American, so he himself was a somewhat ambivalent individual. Like many of his background in Hawaii, he was a Japanese citizen by Japanese law and an American citizen by American law. Kotoshirodo’s wide teak-colored face, intelligent eyes, crew cut, and easy, companionable ways were a familiar part of the consular scene. Being a native of Hawaii, he could and did give valuable service to Seki as combined chauffeur and guide. Moreover, he was a clever young man, blessed with almost total recall and remarkable powers of observation.Tokyo took increasing interest in American military activities and buildup, as evidenced by a message dispatched to Washington on February 15, paragraphs one and two of which especially applied to Honolulu: The information we particularly desire with regard to intelligence involving U.S. and Canada are sic the following:1. Strengthening or supplementing of military preparations on the Pacific Coast and the Hawaii area; amount and type of stores and supplies; alterations to air ports (also carefully note the clipper traffic).2. Ship and plane movements (particularly of the large bombers and sea planes). . . . 8 Okuda required no prompting. By this time his reports had become regular and detailed, and Seki’s scouting had improved considerably. But the United States was quite security-conscious by now. On February 10 Knox pleaded for protection of military secrets. And he begged American citizens “not to disclose the movements of fleet personnel.” He could have saved his breath. The very day Short arrived in Hawaii—February 5, 1941—the new department commander had to take a back seat to a large headline splashed across the Honolulu Star-Bulletin: MAIN BODY OF FLEET TO SEA. What reasonable spy could ask for more? Evidently that thought occurred to Bloch, for on March 4 he protested to the Star-Bulletin about a similar story because “such information as published by your paper, if true, would furnish any real or potential enemy a valuable basis on which to predicate their operations.”9Seki did not rely solely on newspaper accounts. With typical Japanese thoroughness he kept on checking with his own eyes. On the twenty-seventh Okuda could tell his superiors, “Apparently the Fleet goes to sea for a week of training and stays in Pearl Harbor one week. Every Wednesday, those at sea and those in the harbor change places. This movement was noted on last Wednesday, the 26th. . . .”10Here began what would persist throughout the year—report after report accurately identifying the schedules and routines of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Schedules and routines! How beguiling they are, so easy to follow! What a comforting sense they give of security and predictability! For this reason, over many generations the men aware of the value of such intelligence have handed down a mighty commandment: Thou Shalt Not Establish a Habit Pattern. But by early December 1941 the American commanders had neglected this cardinal rule. The Japanese planners had to know where to put their finger on target ships; reliable U.S. patterns plus excellent reporting from the consulate enabled them to do just that.Honolulu’s new Japanese consul general, Nagao Kita, disembarked from Tatuta Maru on March 14; after being duly wined and dined, he paid courtesy calls on local dignitaries, including Short. Kita’s broad face, thick hair, bushy brows, and flat pug nose above a short, chubby body gave him the look of a prizefighter. He dressed well, played an enthusiastic, if average, game of golf, and was something of a social lion. His years on the Asian mainland had given him the Chinese gentleman’s gift of infinite leisure. He was flexible and adjusted to the needs and circumstances of the moment, always calm, detached, and alert. A widower whose only son attended school in Japan, he could devote his abundant energies exclusively to his job in Honolulu.11To assist him, his superiors sent him a young man whose name appeared as “Tadashi Morimura” on the passenger list of the liner Nitta Maru as she nosed into Pier 8 in Honolulu Harbor on March 27, 1941. Actually he was Takeo Yoshikawa, a trained intelligence agent. When Okuda draped a welcoming lei around Yoshikawa’s neck and shepherded his charge through customs, the Japanese Navy had slipped ashore its top secret spy as unobtrusively as any tourist. Okuda immediately took him to the consulate and ushered him into Kita’s office. Yoshikawa presented the consul general with a letter from Captain Bunjiro Yamaguchi of the Intelligence Section of the Naval General Staff. The letter enclosed six $100 bills for use in Yoshikawa’s mission.12Kita saw before him a slender man of medium height who looked much younger than his twenty-nine years. His rather long black hair waved back from a smooth forehead. Large startled-fawn eyes looked out from beneath mobile brows. The first joint of his left index finger was missing—just the sort of disfigurement that would make identification easy. Altogether he looked wildly unlike the popular conception of a spy. Moreover, he had no previous experience as a field agent.After a flurry of bows and assorted pleasantries Okuda escorted Yoshikawa from Kita’s office to meet the rest of the staff. These people would know him only as Tadashi Morimura. At first Kita, like Okuda, wondered whether this man could make a good spy.13 But Tokyo had not been mistaken. Yoshikawa was a walking encyclopedia of the United States Navy. A graduate of Eta Jima, he had appeared well on the way to advancement in his chosen career when a serious stomach ailment forced his retirement. He was moping unhappily when a Navy personnel officer told him that the service still held a place for him. However, he must forgo all hope of future advancement. This seemed to Yoshikawa a small price to pay for a return to his beloved Navy.14In the Intelligence Division of the Naval General Staff, Yoshikawa received simple but comprehensive instructions: He must improve his English and become an expert on the U.S. Pacific Fleet and the American bases at Guam, Manila, and Pearl Harbor. After four years of intensive study he took the Foreign Ministry’s English-language examinations, and a few weeks later he became a junior diplomat. Now he had the necessary cover for his true mission. In August 1940 his chief, Captain Masao Nishida, informed him that he was going to Honolulu as a diplomat and would report by diplomatic code on the daily status of the U.S. Fleet and its bases. Captain Bunjiro Yamaguchi gave him his final instructions just before he sailed, directing him to place major emphasis on Oahu.15For security reasons, Kita assigned Yoshikawa one of the cottages in the compound. Here he could work in seclusion and privacy. Shortly after he settled in, Kita briefed him thoroughly. He gave his agent a broad view of the situation on Oahu, then got down to particulars, stressing the need for caution.16Yoshikawa was given a desk in Okuda’s office adjoining Kita’s inner sanctum. Ostensibly his job involved processing dual-nationality Japanese. Yoshikawa’s co-workers—consular secretary Kyonosuke Yuge and his clerk, Takaichi Sakai—were swamped in papers and looked forward to more help. But Sakai soon noted that “Morimura” appeared to know nothing about this sort of work and for the first three or four weeks confined his efforts to aiding in routine matters. Thereafter he abandoned all pretense of helping, and the burden fell back on Yuge and Sakai.17Soon after his arrival Yoshikawa took several sight-seeing trips around Oahu, observing the terrain and keeping a sharp eye out for military installations and airfields.18 On his initial expedition and for many other drives around Pearl Harbor, Yoshikawa hired a taxi driver, John Yoshige Mikami. This man was in his sixties and looked it. Although poorly educated, he made a hobby of naval affairs and had acquired a broad, if somewhat superficial, knowledge of the subject. By 1941 he had made himself so useful as an errand boy that he was practically a member of the consular family. Yoshikawa soon came to rely upon Mikami and to use his taxi frequently.19 But Mikami had a low opinion of Yoshikawa. When the consular clerks speculated about their elusive co-worker, Mikami insisted that Yoshikawa “lacked the sharp eye and the smart gait of a Japanese military or naval officer.”20Yoshikawa also had at his frequent disposal Kotoshirodo’s 1937 Ford along with its owner, who became Yoshikawa’s trusted and valuable assistant. Within a week of his arrival the agent had visited the Pearl Harbor area.21 In these early days Okuda occasionally went along. But as the spy became more surefooted, Okuda eased out. This was probably all right with Yoshikawa because he never warmed to Okuda, who was not so “open-hearted” as Kita.22 When Yoshikawa first arrived, Seki went with him to observe ships in Pearl Harbor, and Kotoshirodo sometimes accompanied them. Yoshikawa coached Kotoshirodo to the point where, in addition to the trips the two men made together, Kotoshirodo could scout the Fleet by himself or with Mikami at Yoshikawa’s direction.23Kita gave Yoshikawa the title Chancellor in the consulate as a cover for his real activities. In due course the consul general introduced him to a Japanese-style teahouse called the Shuncho-ro. The place charmed Yoshikawa, for the proprietress came from his native prefecture in Japan and the geishas reminded him of home. More important, the teahouse, located in Alewa Heights, contained a second-floor room which commanded a view of Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field. Although too far removed for precise checking with the naked eye, the Shuncho-ro had a telescope which Yoshikawa used to advantage.24By the end of April 1941 Yoshikawa had acquired a number of espionage locations. From a point on Aiea Heights he had an excellent view of Pearl Harbor, while the best look at the submarine base called for a stop on Kamehameha Highway between Aiea and Makalapa. Occasionally he would take a jitney to Honolulu bound for any point beyond Pearl Harbor, get off at Aiea, and prowl about. The cane fields at Aiea gave the best view of all. Yoshikawa would dress in laborer’s garb and hide amid the cane. After using this site ten times, he broke off the habit, deciding that he had pushed his luck far enough or else had seen all he could see.25Mikami and Kotoshirodo often drove Yoshikawa to Pearl City, northwest of the naval base. On a pier at the end of the peninsula there Yoshikawa could clearly see Pearl Harbor and Ford Island and its airstrips. He observed that the battleships moored in pairs, so that the inshore ship was practically impervious to torpedo attack. Despite its value, Yoshikawa dared not risk visiting the pier more than twice or three times a week, and each time he did so, he wore a change of clothes.26In general, the western part of Pearl Harbor held little interest for Yoshikawa. However, he wanted to see the channel which Hickam Field blocked from view on the eastern side; he tried to reach the channel mouth by going west of Waipahu and then swinging south. This area near the West Loch was closely guarded, and Yoshikawa feared to risk moving close enough for a good view. Neither he nor the other consulate members knew for sure whether or not submarine nets guarded the entrance, but they went on that assumption. Spying on the submarines was difficult for Yoshikawa, and he never developed satisfactory notes on them.27With true Japanese meticulousness, Yoshikawa charted every bit of information he secured. In time a pattern emerged. As the year progressed, he observed that a large number of ships always were in port on Saturdays and Sundays. To check air patrols, he left the consulate very early and went to some vantage point. There he observed the number of planes, their general direction of flight, and times of departure and return. He knew this to be a primitive method, but it was the only one he could use. He dared not risk field glasses, which would have drawn attention to him. He recorded patrol flights carefully, but once the planes took off, they flew rapidly out of sight, so he could never be sure exactly where they went or if they changed direction. But one thing he soon discovered—north of Oahu the Americans conducted scarcely any patrols at all.28To anyone whose ideas of espionage derive from Hollywood and the works of Ian Fleming, Yoshikawa would seem a peculiar sort of spy. But neither Kita nor Okuda had the faintest intention of trying any spectacular coups which could backfire on them. So for the most part Yoshikawa’s duties were tame enough, if one discounts the ever-present fear of discovery: study—scout—evaluate—report—study—scout—evaluate—report—day after day.Yoshikawa assures us that he always worked alone, but the evidence does not support this. Obviously a highly efficient central team carried out the consulate’s espionage mission, ranging from Kita, the polished career diplomat, down to Mikami, the taxi driver. Yoshikawa, the star, often scouted alone, but he was ably seconded when necessary by his predecessor, Seki, and by Kotoshirodo with his detailed memory. And always in the background moved the courtly, sound, and shrewd Okuda. CHAPTER 9“IN RATHER A SPOT” When Robert L. Shivers stepped onto Hawaiian soil on August 23, 1939, this slight, soft-spoken man had already accumulated nineteen years of service in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.1 That very afternoon he set up his office in the Federal Building in downtown Honolulu. After a careful briefing by Herron on the Japanese situation in Hawaii, Shivers began a tour of the Islands, asking the haoles (Caucasians), especially businessmen, plantation owners, and managers, about the Japanese. He found the experience more baffling than enlightening. “I got just about as many different answers as the number of people that I talked to,” he observed ruefully.2By 1941 Shivers had a staff of about twenty-five, including clerical employees. His Honolulu field office was responsible for “all cases of subversive activity (including espionage) involving the general civilian population.” In cases of Japanese subjects, the FBI shared concurrent authority and responsibility with the Navy District Intelligence Office (DIO). The DIO consisted of a main office in Honolulu, three zone offices on outlying islands, and ten Intelligence units located within naval stations on Oahu, Maui, and Midway. This organization could investigate all counterespionage affairs in which the subjects were Navy personnel and employees and naval contractors’ employees, and it shared counterespionage responsibility with the FBI in cases of Japanese subjects.3On March 15, 1941, Captain Irving Mayfield was assigned as head of the DIO in his capacity as intelligence officer of the Fourteenth Naval District. Mayfield was “a very capable officer, forceful, intelligent and a fighter.”4 However, he by no means matched Shivers in experience, having served for only two weeks on temporary Intelligence duty in Washington and two years as naval attaché in Chile—not exactly the ideal background for the Navy’s counterintelligence officer in a spot like Hawaii. Mayfield established his office in the Alexander Young Hotel.5 There he had charge of about a dozen individuals in the main office, plus an agent on each of the principal islands, at Kaneohe, and at the naval munitions depot at Lualualei.6Mayfield doubted that Japanese espionage centered on the Japanese consulate on Oahu: . . . I felt that the consulate would perhaps be advised of the existence and would cooperate with the net, but that the consulate . . . itself was not the head of the net nor [sic] necessarily an important part of the net, as the consulate might expect to be closed in similar fashion to the German and Italian consulates, and that therefore they must have prepared a plan which could be carried on without any assistance from the consulate.7 The Japanese had indeed prepared such a plan, and they did use a few outside agents. But regardless of Mayfield’s opinion, the consulate was the center of Japanese espionage in Hawaii.Mayfield longed to lay his hands on the cablegrams which the consulate sent to Tokyo. He tried his luck with the commercial companies, but they refused to violate Section 605 of the Federal Communications Act of 1934, which explicitly prohibited wiretaps or interception of messages from and to foreign countries.8 One of Mayfield’s enlisted men, Theodore Emmanuel, did manage to tap a number of the consulate’s telephone lines, recording as many as fifty or sixty calls each day over an extended period.9 Of course, neither Kita nor anyone else in the consulate would discuss important classified matters over the telephone. The best Mayfield could hope for was some general idea about consular personnel and the names of their frequent contacts in the islands.The chief investigative officer for the Hawaiian Department was Lieutenant Colonel George W. Bicknell, an imposing man who stood a hefty six feet four inches. He had an attractive freckled face with twinkling eyes. He usually worked in civilian clothes. A Reserve officer, able, alert, and intelligence-minded, Bicknell had come to Hawaii in October 1940 as assistant to the G-2. Herron had a very high opinion of Bicknell and in his initial briefing of Short informed the new commander that he had planned to make Bicknell his G-2. But Short did not take the hint.10 Bicknell therefore remained as assistant G-2 and was known as the contact officer. Generally speaking, he was Mayfield’s counterpart.Bicknell’s main duties were to keep the department commander thoroughly informed of the civil population’s activities on the Islands. He also met and kept in touch with all visiting officials and businessmen returning from the Orient, in order “to obtain any information which they might have on the general situation in the Pacific area.” Then, too, he was responsible for the internal security of the Islands and for observations of “all counter-intelligence measures necessary. . . .”11 And he had investigative responsibility in counterespionage if the subjects were in or employed by the Army or had access to an Army reservation.12Bicknell worked out of the Federal Building, which also housed Shivers and his small band of FBI people. Every Tuesday Shivers, Bicknell, and Mayfield met to exchange information, and a cordial working relationship existed among their offices.13 Both the FBI and DIO kept a partial watch on activities at the Japanese consulate and the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) steamship line.14 But either of them could have done little to cut off Yoshikawa, Seki, or Kotoshirodo. A host nation usually bends over backward to let accredited diplomatic and consular personnel go their ways so long as they operate within the letter of the law. And Kita and Okuda were very careful to have their people carry on “legal espionage.”To the best of our knowledge, no one from the consulate ever entered a restricted military area unless at the invitation of the American authorities. There is no record that the Japanese ever stole or photographed classified information. They violated no law in pausing to look at the imposing spectacle of men-of-war moored in Pearl Harbor. In fact, the base was an open book by its very nature. And the individual services could do nothing about this. Pearl Harbor was too big, and in too open a position, to be hidden or camouflaged from either sea or land view. The only way to cut off observation would have been to make the entire island of Oahu a restricted military reservation—something no American government could tolerate. The very law the Americans swore to uphold and protect tripped them up. This law guaranteed the privacy of the airways, and the local companies very properly refused to give the FBI, Army Intelligence, or Navy Intelligence copies of the consulate’s messages—until early December 1941, when it was too little and too late.But irony of ironies, Washington was scooping up these and other Japanese diplomatic messages by the bucketful. The basic story is as follows: The Japanese used several diplomatic codes, the most secret of which was an exceedingly complicated cipher system known as Purple. Tokyo had a childlike faith in the complete infallibility of its diplomatic codes. It never credited the Americans with the ability to crack the Purple system.In fact, the Signal Intelligence Service (SIS) under the tireless direction of Lieutenant Colonel William F. Friedman, succeeded in doing so as early as August 1940, after eighteen to twenty months of the most intense labor.15 Rated “the world’s greatest cryptologist,” Friedman, though quiet and unassuming, possessed a drive and tenacity that refused to recognize the word “impossible.” The decrypting of Purple and its brother systems earned the name Magic. Friedman paid a high price for his magnificent gift to his country. In December 1940 he suffered a nervous collapse from overwork, and as 1941 opened, he was under treatment in Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington.16 The “individual genius . . . of Harry Larry Clark, one of the younger civilian cryptanalysts,” triggered the breakthrough. The Navy assisted throughout 1939 and 1940 by furnishing the intercepts and taking over all other Japanese diplomatic systems so that the Army could concentrate on Purple. “The Army provided the solution and wiring diagram; the Navy provided the funds and manufacturing facilities.”17From the summer of 1940 on, therefore, U.S. Intelligence had been reading Japan’s diplomatic messages. This meant that the U.S. government had full knowledge of virtually all the traffic which passed between the Foreign Office in Tokyo and its most important embassies and consulates abroad. So Washington knew Tokyo’s instructions to Nomura and his reports from the embassy. U.S. cryptanalysts were also reading lower-grade Japanese diplomatic ciphers, notably the so-called J codes, the current one being J-19. These were mainly in use between the Foreign Ministry and many consulates, including Honolulu. Thus, the United States also picked up the traffic between Tokyo and Honolulu about the U.S. Pacific Fleet.By the fall of 1941 American policy makers actually knew more than Nomura about his country’s intentions, for Tokyo was by no means candid with its ambassador. The United States Army, Navy, and State departments acknowledged the enormous worth of the Magic data and leaned heavily upon them for command decisions.But Magic was not a cure-all or an enchanted key to the mazes of all Japanese thinking. Its messages revealed only what the Foreign Office gave its own diplomats. And the Foreign Ministry itself was not omniscient. The Army and Navy dictated Japanese foreign policy, and they did not always clue in the foreign minister and his associates until matters had proceeded well along—sometimes too far. So Magic could not answer all the questions the United States wanted to ask.For instance, in 1941 U.S. Intelligence had not yet broken through the chain of Japanese naval codes. Generally speaking, military codes are more difficult to break than diplomatic, and in addition, the Japanese Navy prudently changed some of its codes several times during 1941. Hence Washington did not know of the orders Yamamoto sent to the ships of the Combined Fleet or the messages which the Naval General Staff radioed to the Pearl Harbor task force as it sailed across the northern Pacific to Hawaii.The main mission of the Communications Intelligence Unit of the Fourteenth Naval District at Pearl Harbor was to break down the “Japanese flag officers system.” From approximately 1926 to late 1940 this code and cipher had provided most of the U.S. Navy’s information about its Japanese counterpart. Unfortunately for the United States, on about December 1, 1940, the Japanese changed their flag officers’ code. Despite the best efforts of both the Washington and Pearl Harbor units, they had not succeeded in cracking the new version,18 although Commander Joseph J. Rochefort, who took over the Pearl Harbor Intelligence Unit on about May 15, 1941, was one of the highest qualified men in the business.Eight Purple decrypting machines existed in 1941. Washington had four—two each for the Army and Navy. The switches and “intricate rat’s-nest of wiring” seldom cooled off.19 In November 1941 “the diplomatic traffic . . . averaged about 26 messages a day.”20 To avoid duplication of effort, the services divided the messages by date of origin in Tokyo, the Navy taking the odd days, the Army the even.21In April 1941 a machine went to Cavite; it was transferred in August to Corregidor, where the Communications Intelligence Unit had been assigned the Purple, Red, and J codes. Stark approved sending this machine because the Philippines were “the best place to intercept Japanese traffic and receive information during that time. . . .” Any benefit to Admiral Hart “was a secondary consideration.”22 A copy of all of this unit’s diplomatic translations went daily to the Army locally. In addition, all Purple and some Red and J-19 “were immediately enciphered and sent to Washington.” These cryptologists also maintained liaison with their British opposites at Singapore and furnished Washington with anything of interest from that source.23London received two Purple machines in January 1941. By July of that year Pearl Harbor could have had one, “but only at the expense of Washington.” Then the question arose of a third for the British. The “best compromise” was to send the machine to London “and at the same time order parts of more machines.” So around “September or early October” London had its third apparatus, and a requisition for stepping switches for four more machines was “bogged down in the War Production Board. . . .” Thus, Hawaii did not receive a Purple machine.24 Whether Kimmel and Short would have derived much benefit from one is doubtful because the information of most concern to them came over the J system between Tokyo and Honolulu.In Washington the Army’s Signal Intelligence Service, headed by Lieutenant Colonel Rex W. Minckler and under the general supervision of Colonel Otis K. Sadtler, worked in the closest cooperation with the Navy’s Communications Security. The latter’s chief, Commander Laurence F. Safford, answered to Rear Admiral Leigh Noyes, director of Communications. One year younger than Friedman, his close co-worker, Safford, like Cassius, had a lean and hungry look. A quiet and gentle person, yet a dynamo of controlled energy, he pursued his goals with almost fanatical obstinacy. His long association with cryptology, combined with a native genius for the work, made him the Navy’s recognized authority in the field.Communications Security had a twofold mission: first, to furnish the United States with codes and ciphers; secondly, to supervise American communications security and intelligence on foreign nations, “particularly Japan—in fact, almost exclusively Japan.”25Magic decoding and translation lagged for a variety of reasons. Enough radio circuits and facilities did not exist to transmit all intercepts from station to the center at Washington by radio, so airmail was the usual route. If anything interfered with the normal airmail schedules, the data might go by train or ship. At this time only one air clipper a week plied between Hawaii and the mainland, and if the weather held it up, deliveries went by ship to the West Coast.26 Once the data reached Washington, they had to take their turn in seriously undermanned offices.Translation proved a real bottleneck. The two communications offices decoded but did not translate. In the Navy this function was under Commander McCollum’s wing. His assistant, Lieutenant Commander Alwin D. Kramer, knew Japanese well. Younger than Safford and Friedman by almost ten years, Kramer had studied Japanese in Japan for three years beginning in 1931.27 Able and precise-minded, he had at his disposal one officer, two yeomen, and six translators, only three of whom could be termed fully qualified.28 SIMPLIFIED CHART OF NAVY DEPARTMENT AS OF DECEMBER 7, 1941 Japanese is very difficult to translate into English. To make matters worse, the messages came in as phonetic syllables. One such sound could have a variety of unrelated meanings. Even translators highly qualified in Japanese needed “considerable experience in this particular field before they could be trusted to come through with a correct interpretation. . . .” Moreover, they worked with diplomatic material, where a shade of phraseology carries a vital significance. No wonder Kramer often put in brutal hours of overtime.29Much the same situation existed on the Army side. SIS received and decoded the messages. Then they were sent to Colonel Rufus S. Bratton, chief of the Far Eastern Section, a dedicated officer and West Pointer who played a vital role in Magic. He determined what to distribute for top-level consideration. He knew Japan, its language and its people, far better than his superiors, for he had been a language student there and attended the Imperial War College in 1932.All during 1941 Bratton believed that Japan would expand its Asian war and that eventually the United States would be sucked into the whirlpool. His intelligence training fortified his natural ability, so that he developed almost a sixth sense for spotting developments which others might not recognize. Once he decided that a course was right, Bratton would stick with it undaunted.30The Pearl Harbor inquiries did not bring out the exact number of translators available to Bratton, but it is doubtful if he had any more than Kramer. Inevitably, therefore, certain items received priority, while others piled up. The diplomatic exchanges between Washington and Tokyo received first choice. Nevertheless, Magic was usually translated the same day SIS passed it on. As Miles observed, “The astonishing thing . . . was not that these messages were delayed in the process of translation from Japanese to English, but that we were able to do it at all.”31Yet it is not enough for facts to be gathered and for these facts to be accurate. They must be timely, and they must be acted upon, either at the central agency or by dissemination to the most interested parties. Otherwise, their harvesting becomes a mere exercise in accumulation. Having brought off one of the most astonishing coups in the history of intelligence, the United States failed to take full advantage of it. The top brass in Washington reasoned this way: The shadow of a hint reaching Tokyo that the United States could read its diplomatic mail would trigger an immediate change in the entire chain of systems which would set American Intelligence back for months, perhaps years. Thus, as Stark testified, “anybody who was let in on that had to sign a paper never to disclose it, practically as long as he lived, or ever to talk about it.”32 SIMPLIFIED CHART OF WAR DEPARTMENT AS OF DECEMBER 7, 1941 Even in Washington, official distribution was so select that the GIs’ cynically amused expression “Destroy Before Reading” virtually applied. By an agreement of January 23, 1941, the Army confined its list to the secretary of war; the Chief of Staff; the chief of War Plans, ACS G-2; and sometimes Major General Edwin M. “Pa” Watson, Roosevelt’s military aide, who gave such dispatches to the President. The Navy permitted its equivalent dignitaries to see the messages. Of course, other War and Navy department personnel were involved ex officio.33 Secretary of State Cordell Hull and his undersecretary, Sumner Welles, received Magic, and from their testimony it is evident that a few others in State were at least familiar with the subject matter of the intercepts.34 Kramer, Bratton, and the latter’s assistant, Lieutenant Colonel C. Clyde Dusenbury, and sometimes Second Lieutenant J. Bayard Schindel acted as messenger boys. The couriers transported the items in locked briefcases to which the recipient had the key. The latter signed for the day’s batch, and the courier returned, either the same day or the next, to pick up the messages for immediate destruction along with the receipt.35Originally Military and Naval Intelligence had prepared summaries of the information or paraphrases of the messages for distribution. In November 1941, when American-Japanese relations were mounting to a climax, the President insisted on seeing the original messages “because he was afraid when they tried to condense them, someone would change the meaning.”36 Actually Intelligence had already largely discontinued summarizing. Kramer’s early screening had been intended to weed out the more important items from “material covering the whole world.” By mid-1941, however, the sheer volume of traffic kept him busy checking the many references to preceding messages contained in the body of the incoming intercepts. He would dig up these citations and attach them to the current document, then place the bundle in each day’s folder for distribution so that the reader had the complete picture. In the autumn the greater percentage of the traffic dealt with the Berlin-Tokyo circuit or the Japanese-American negotiations.37Poco Smith later testified: “To my mind there was no danger in transmitting messages from Washington to Pearl Harbor over our system. If not safe, then it was unsafe to send our own messages back and forth between Washington and Pearl Harbor. . . .”38 Evidently a certain amount of confusion existed at the Navy Headquarters as to just how much information Kimmel had available to him. Turner testified that he believed “at that time, and it was Admiral Stark’s belief, that all of these major diplomatic messages, at least in the Pacific, were being decrypted by both Admiral Hart and by Admiral Kimmel, and I did not know that Admiral Kimmel did not hold the code for those dispatches until I was so informed at the time of the Navy court of inquiry on Pearl Harbor.”39Perhaps the real idea behind Washington’s attitude lay in a cautious letter which McCollum sent to Layton on April 22, 1941, in reply to the latter’s request for diplomatic intelligence such as he had received in February concerning Japanese designs on Vichy: It does not seem to me to be very practical to build up an organization afloat which will merely duplicate the efforts of the Intelligence Division in the Department. I appreciate that all this leaves you in rather a spot as naturally people are interested in current developments. I believe, however, that a sharp line should be drawn and a distinction continuously emphasized between information that is of interest and information that is desirable to have on which to base action.In other words, while you and the Fleet may be highly interested in politics, there is nothing that you can do about it. Therefore, information of political significance, except as it affects immediate action by the Fleet, is merely a matter of interest to you and not a matter of utility.40 This exchange between McCollum and Layton did not touch on the traffic to and from the Japanese consulate in Honolulu. This used the J system until early December 1941, when they adopted the PA-K2 code. Even to the most inexperienced eye these intercepts gave every evidence of military espionage. Again, Washington had an answer: Information of this type poured out of Japanese consulates on the West Coast, the Philippines, Panama, indeed from all over the world, and there was nothing to distinguish the Honolulu messages as being different in essence from those originating in any other city.41 This explanation does not quite hold water. Granted, Communications and Intelligence both were inundated with items similar to those moving between Tokyo and Honolulu. But Honolulu was not just any other city. It was the home base of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the pivot of American Asian strategy in that vast sea. Therefore, anything even remotely hinting at undue Japanese interest in that location deserved priority handling and prompt transmission to the organization concerned.The Honolulu-Tokyo traffic, although dispatched in diplomatic code, did not deal exclusively with diplomatic matters. Often these messages contained strictly military information. The United States authorities knew very well that in Japan the military called the tune, so that the key to their probable moves would more likely rest in their military messages than in the high-level diplomatic channels.To complicate the situation further, the all-important function of estimating enemy intentions had recently been the subject of a struggle between Naval Intelligence and War Plans. Early in 1941 Turner came to Captain James’s office and requested that “ONI make no estimate of prospective enemy intentions for CNO but furnish information to War Plans who would make the required estimates.” James resisted this foray into his territory, informing Turner that “existing printed organization instructions of CNO required Intelligence to make these estimates.” For the time being that settled the matter.After Captain Alan C. Kirk replaced James, Turner tried again, and this time he succeeded in carrying the discussion to Stark. Kirk maintained that ONI was responsible for interpreting possible enemy intentions after evaluating information received from whatever source. Further, he felt that ONI “was comparable to G-2 in the War Department General Staff in these respects, and should likewise prepare that section of formal Estimate known as ‘Enemy Intentions.’” But “Terrible” Turner declared that his War Plans Division should prepare such a section of the Estimate, and should interpret and evaluate all information concerning possible hostile nations from whatever source received. Further, that the Office of Naval Intelligence was solely a collection agency and a distributing agency, and was not charged with sending out any information which would initiate any operations on the part of the fleet, or fleets, anywhere. Whatever Stark’s virtues, they did not include the backbone necessary to stand up to Turner. Predictably he took Turner’s position, and Kirk accepted the decision.42The net effect was to reduce Naval Intelligence to a collecting and distributing clearinghouse. Even more serious, Stark’s decision placed the responsibility for evaluating Japanese intentions in the hands of officers who did not know Japan, its language, or its armed forces, as did those in ONI.The intelligence hassle placed undue emphasis on the concept of estimating enemy intentions. Those engaged in this power struggle would have been better advised to devote that energy and time to estimating enemy capabilities. And whoever decided to withhold the Honolulu intercepts—or at least information based thereon—from Kimmel and Short must accept part of the blame for the Pearl Harbor tragedy. CHAPTER 10“THE MOST LIKELY AND DANGEROUS FORM OF ATTACK” When the Army transport Leonard Wood arrived in Honolulu on Saturday night, November 2, 1940, a tall gentleman walked down the gangplank. He had waving gray hair and thick brows shadowing pleasant eyes. His thin face with its oblong jaw, big nose, high forehead, and large ears looked more scholarly then military.Major General Frederick L. Martin won his wings at the age of thirty-nine, when he was already a major. He completed courses at the Air Tactical School at Langley Field, Virginia, and the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Then followed a series of command assignments. Further study brought him to the Army War College. After duty at Wright Field, Ohio, he took over command of the Third Bombardment Wing at Barksdale Field, Louisiana, in the spring of 1937 with the temporary rank of brigadier general. On October 1, 1940, he became a temporary major general, and concurrently received his orders to command the Hawaiian Air Force, activated on November 1. With his two stars, he could deal with Herron and later with Short, if not on terms of equality, at least within reaching distance. When he took over his new post, he ranked as the Air Corps’s senior pilot and technical observer and had logged 2,000 hours of flight time.1Martin was not in the best physical condition and appeared older than his fifty-eight years. He had earlier developed a severe, chronic ulcer condition, which required surgery and undermined his health. As a result, he had not touched an alcoholic drink in years. His assignment placed him in an ambiguous position. As commander of the Hawaiian Air Force he had direct access to Major General H. H. “Hap” Arnold, chief of the Army Air Corps, but he remained under the command of Short, a foot soldier to the soles of his boots. The situation could have been delicate, and indeed, Martin had received specific instructions from Arnold to end the undeclared civil war which had raged on Oahu between the Army, its Air Corps, and the Navy and for which it appears some of the blame rested with the airmen.2 SIMPLIFIED CHART OF HAWAIIAN AIR FORCE AS OF DECEMBER 7, 1941(UNDER OVERALL COMMAND OF GENERAL SHORT To understand the American commanders on Oahu in 1941, one must see them in the context of the problems which bedeviled them. So Martin came to Hawaii bearing an olive branch. He took his role very seriously and at times, in the interests of harmony, would abandon a point which his fellow airmen thought he should have followed up more vigorously. His eagerness to please, combined with his rather pedantic appearance and manner, caused some individuals privately to label him a “fuddy-duddy.” But the estimate did the man less than justice, for he was a hardworking, dutiful, and loyal officer, although a worrier who fretted constantly lest he not accomplish enough. With Martin’s appointment, interservice relations improved steadily throughout 1941.3On December 17, after about six weeks on the job, he wrote to Arnold: “These islands . . . have very few level areas suitable for the location of landing fields. Of the level areas in existence, the greater part of these are under cultivation in pineapples or sugar cane. . . . It is my purpose to provide an outlying field for each of the combat squadrons. . . .” Martin did not want his planes huddled together so that an enemy would have easy pickings if he swooped in on them. Presently he came to his major worry: “We have been satisfied in the past to supply our units in foreign possessions with obsolescent equipment until organizations in the States have been equipped with modern types. This to me is very faulty and could, in these times of uncertainty, be very detrimental to our scheme of national defense. . . .”4Martin’s naval counterpart was an extroverted Irishman, Rear Admiral Patrick N. L. Bellinger, who had arrived in Hawaii on October 30, 1940. He had a full thatch of dark hair parted on the left side, a rather long mouth, and direct, bright eyes. He had a most distinguished flying career with any number of Navy firsts on his record. Now at Pearl Harbor, he held no fewer than five positions and theoretically answered to five different superiors. These multiple responsibilities bothered him much less than they did a swarm of postattack investigators, and in fact, such assignments have never been rarities in the armed services.Bellinger was not a profound thinker, but he stood obstinately by his convictions and expressed them forcibly, constantly “beefing up” the letters which his brilliant operations and plans officer, Commander Charles Coe, prepared for his signature. But he had no ounce of bluster in him, and his invincibly sunny disposition made him a general favorite.5 Like Martin, he was running a poor man’s game and had no inhibitions about sounding off loud and clear even to the highest quarters about his troubles. On January 16, 1941, he wrote a strong letter to Stark: 1. I arrived here in October 30, 1940, with the point of view that the International situation was critical, especially in the Pacific, and I was impressed with the need for being ready today rather than tomorrow for any eventuality that might arise. After taking over command of Patrol Wing TWO and looking over the situation, I was surprised to find that here in the Hawaiian Islands, an important naval advanced post, we were operating on a shoestring and the more I looked the thinner the shoestring appeared to be.. . . As there are no plans to modernize the present patrol planes comprising Patrol Wing TWO, this evidently means that there is no intention to replace the present obsolescent type. . . . This, together with the many existing deficiencies, indicates to me that the Navy Department as a whole does not view the situation in the Pacific with alarm or else is not taking steps in keeping with their view. . . . SIMPLIFIED CHART OF 14TH NAVAL DISTRICT AS OF DECEMBER 7, 1941 As commandant, Fourteenth Naval District, Bloch was directly under the Navy Department. He was also commander, Hawaiian Naval Coastal Sea Frontier; commandant, Pearl Harbor Navy Yard. He was also an officer of the Fleet and under CinCPAC as commander, Naval Base Defense Forces, and commander, Task Force Four.As commander, Naval Base Defense Forces, Bloch had administrative control overRADM. P. N. L. BELLINGERBellinger held down four positions:1. Commander, Hawaiian Based Patrol Wing and Commander, Patrol Wing Two.2. Commander, Task Force Nine (Patrol Wings One and Two with attending surface craft).3. Liaison with commandant, Fourteenth Naval District.4. Commander, Naval Base Defense Air Force.He was responsible theoretically to the following superiors:1. Commander, Aircraft Scouting Force (type command for patrol wings), based at San Diego.2. Commander, Scouting Force, of which Patrol Wings One and Two were a part.3. CinCPAC when commanding Task Force Nine.4. Commanders of Task Forces One, Two, and Three for patrol planes assigned those forces.5. Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District in Bloch’s capacity as commander, Naval Base Defense Force, when Bellinger was performing duties as commander, Naval Base Defense Air Force. This was a heavy punch for a rear admiral to swing at the Chief of Naval Operations. Bellinger urgently recommended that “immediate steps be taken to furnish the personnel, material, facilities and equipment required. . . .” After he had laid it squarely on the line, his generous nature reasserted itself, and he added, “The tremendous and all consuming work of those in the Navy Department is fully appreciated and there is no intent to criticize or to shift responsibility.” He ended with a businesslike list of specific recommendations.6That Bellinger was not talking through his five hats when he spoke of the vital role of patrol planes we know from a remarkable document dated March 31, 1941. This project had its genesis when Kimmel summoned Bellinger to his office on about March 1 and directed him to report to Bloch at the Fourteenth Naval District and get together with Martin to work out a plan for joint action in the event of an attack on Oahu or fleet units in Hawaiian waters.7Bloch’s assignment consisted of overall responsibility for the great naval base, its vast maintenance shops, the precious, potentially dangerous farm of fuel tanks, harbor defenses, and security. It included innumerable housekeeping functions, such as housing, feeding, and clothing the men of the Fleet as well as of the shore installations. Bloch was also responsible for whatever naval elements could be made available for the defense of Pearl Harbor. He therefore had a very direct interest in the air protection of the installation and the ships.Of course, Martin and Bellinger did not sit down at a double desk, roll up their sleeves, and proceed to write their report alone. Some of their bright staff members did the spadework, but the two flag officers worked closely with them and accepted and signed the report. So they can claim a full measure of credit.In its final form this historic work became famous to all students of the Pacific war as the Martin-Bellinger Report. It speaks for itself clearly and crisply. Its “Summary of the Situation” observed, among other things: (c) A successful, sudden raid against our ships and Naval installations on Oahu might prevent effective offensive action by our forces in the Western Pacific for a long period. . . .(e) It appears possible that Orange submarines and/or an Orange fast raiding force might arrive in Hawaiian waters with no prior warning from our intelligence service. The document then considered the capability of Japan in terms of actual strength: “(a) Orange might send into this area one or more submarines and/or one or more fast raiding forces composed of carriers supported by fast cruisers.”8 One notes a striking difference from Kimmel’s Pacific Fleet letter of February 15. The two airmen, Martin and Bellinger, estimated that enemy carriers would be “supported by fast cruisers,” instead of vice versa. These experienced exponents of aerial warfare were thinking along the same lines as Genda. The report continued: “The aircraft at present available in Hawaii are inadequate to maintain, for any extended period, from bases on Oahu, a patrol extensive enough to insure that an air attack from an Orange carrier cannot arrive over Oahu as a complete surprise. . . .” Here in a nutshell was the dilemma of Oahu’s defenders—the need for a 360-degree arc of patrol without the planes necessary to accomplish such a mission.In the area of “Possible Enemy Action,” the authors virtually foretold the future: (a) A declaration of war might be preceded by:1. A surprise submarine attack on ships in the operating area.2. A surprise attack on Oahu including ships and installations in Pearl Harbor.3. A combination of these two.(b) It appears that the most likely and dangerous form of attack on Oahu would be an air attack. It is believed that at present such an attack would most likely be launched from one or more carriers which would probably approach inside of three hundred miles.(c) A single attack might or might not indicate the presence of more submarines or more planes awaiting to attack after defending aircraft have been drawn away by the original thrust.(d) Any single submarine attack might indicate the presence of a considerable undiscovered surface force probably composed of fast ships accompanied by a carrier.9 Someone let a discrepancy slip by with this observation or else did not appreciate the vital difference between “carriers supported by fast cruisers” and “fast ships accompanied by a carrier.” In fact, these estimates of enemy action somewhat echo the existing Pacific Fleet letter. (e) In a dawn air attack there is a high probability that it could be delivered as a complete surprise in spite of any patrols we might be using and that it might find us in a condition of readiness under which pursuit would be slow to start, also it might be successful as a diversion to draw attention away from a second attacking force. . . . Submarine attacks could be coordinated with any air attack. . . . 10 The possibility of such undersea craft prowling into the Hawaiian area was a nasty one. Actually Martin and Bellinger went somewhat ahead of Onishi and Genda’s original plan for a Pearl Harbor attack, which did not envisage the use of submarines.What then could Kimmel, Bloch, and Short do about a potential Japanese attack? Martin and Bellinger had this answer: (a) Run daily patrols as far as possible to seaward through 360 degrees to reduce the probabilities of surface or air surprise. This would be desirable but can only be effectively maintained with present personnel and material for a very short period and as a practicable measure cannot, therefore, be undertaken unless other intelligence indicates that a surface raid is probable within rather narrow time limits.11 Thus, into two short sentences Martin and Bellinger unknowingly compressed an awesome American tragedy.The two planners next went into thorough detail concerning “Action open to us,” but pointed out the painful fact that no actions could “be initiated by our forces until an attack is known to be imminent or has occurred. On the other hand, when an attack develops time will probably be vital and our actions must start with a minimum of delay.”12Martin and Bellinger could not have done a much better job of mind reading had they actually looked over the shoulders of Yamamoto, Onishi, Genda—and others. For in Japan the Pearl Harbor circle was widening even as Oahu’s planners labored over their report. The final document bore the date of March 31, 1941, approximately the same time that Yamamoto put his Combined Fleet staff to work on his design.Washington was pleased with the Martin-Bellinger Report. “We agreed thoroughly with it, approved it,” said Turner, “and it was very comforting and gratifying to see that officers in important commands out there had the same view of the situation as was held in the War and Navy Departments.”13The Martin-Bellinger Report stands as a workmanlike, almost inspired example of defensive planning, but along with the Joint Coastal Frontier Defense Plan of which it was an annex, it had a basic flaw. The findings of the Navy Court of Inquiry into the Pearl Harbor disaster summarized this clearly: The effectiveness of these plans depended entirely upon advance knowledge that an attack was to be expected within narrow limits of time and the plans were drawn with this as a premise. It was not possible for the Commander in Chief of the Fleet to make Fleet planes permanently available to the Naval Base Defense Officer, because of his own lack of planes, pilots, and crews and because of the demands of the Fleet in connection with Fleet operations at sea.14 Under paragraph 18 (1) of the basic plan Short transferred responsibility for long-range aerial reconnaissance to Bloch’s Fourteenth Naval District, retaining only scouting some twenty miles offshore.15 The wisdom of this switch is questionable because the Hawaiian Department was charged with the protection of the Fleet in harbor as well as with defense of the Islands, and long-range air scouting was a fundamental tool of this mission. But cold facts dictated the decision, for Short and Martin never had at any time more than a handful of the planes necessary for the required wide swing around Hawaii. Under the Short-Bloch agreement, when the latter’s aircraft were insufficient for the mission, the Hawaiian Air Force would make planes available “under the tactical control of the Naval commander directing the search operations.”16When Bloch accepted this solemn responsibility, he “had no patrol planes permanently assigned to his command. . . . The only Naval patrol planes in the Hawaiian area were the 69 planes of Patrol Wing Two and these were handicapped by shortage of relief pilots and crews.” Unfortunately, the aircraft of Patrol Wing Two never came to a total large enough for a meaningful search arc. More important, “The task assigned the Commander in Chief . . . was to prepare his Fleet for war. . . . The Fleet planes were being constantly employed in patrolling the operating area in which the Fleet’s preparations for war were being carried on.”17On April 1, exactly one day after the dating of the Martin-Bellinger Report, Naval Intelligence in Washington alerted the commandants of all naval districts—including the Fourteenth at Hawaii—as follows: Personnel of your Naval Intelligence Service should be advised that because of the fact that from past experience shows sic the Axis Powers often begin activities in a particular field on Saturdays and Sundays or on national holidays of the country concerned they should take steps on such days to see that proper watches and precautions are in effect.18 Another link in the chain of prediction! If Japan took the plunge, the defenders could expect it to be on a Saturday, Sunday, or national holiday.While military leaders on Oahu were busy developing plans to meet a possible Japanese attack, many Americans conceived of Hawaii as an impregnable fortress. A vast protective belt of water shielded Oahu on all sides. Some military experts considered the great area of “vacant sea” to the north the best and most likely avenue of approach for the enemy, but by the same token it provided an open highway of exposure and detection. The undeniable argument that Japan had a vast ocean in which to approach Oahu could be countered by the simple fact that Hawaii commanded all seaways in the central Pacific. Moreover, a screen of outlying bases into which the United States was pouring millions of defense dollars flanked Oahu. Midway lay 1,300 miles to the northwest; Wake about another 1,000 miles west and somewhat southward. Johnston Island, a white spear of land, barely crested the waves 700 miles to the southwest, with Palmyra 1,000 miles due south. Still other American and British possessions stretched beyond this defensive rim. Up in the Aleutians a new naval and air base at Dutch Harbor guarded the northern Pacific and flanked Japan’s shortest line of approach to the West Coast.U.S. naval strength was concentrated heavily at Pearl Harbor. Here, at any time the Fleet moved out in stately maneuver, one could see fighting craft of all descriptions—six to eight battleships; two or three aircraft carriers; numerous heavy and light cruisers; dozens of destroyers, submarines, minesweepers, and auxiliary craft. Oil storage tanks, dry docks, workshops, and many other shore installations made Pearl Harbor virtually an independent maintenance base. Here, in the “Navy behind the Navy,” the entire Fleet could dock, fuel, supply, and undergo repairs. From this great mid-Pacific pivotal point it could swing into action at a moment’s notice and strike hard at the enemy in any direction. Hawaii was proud of its guardian of the seas. “If there were ever men and a fleet ready for any emergency,” bragged the Honolulu Advertiser on February 1, 1941, “it’s Uncle Sam’s fighting ships.”The Army, too, bent every effort to make good the boast that Pearl Harbor was “the best defended naval base in the world.” In 1941 Oahu had a strong garrison of about 25,000 troops. Armed with all the tools of modern warfare, kept rugged and alert by constant field exercises, these soldiers were expertly trained in the defense of the island. And if the Japanese sideslipped the American outer defense posts or succeeded in fighting through the Pacific Fleet, the Hawaiian Air Force stood ready to help smash any attack. Bombers stationed at Hickam Field gave the Air Force potent scoring punch, and the latest fighter planes organized in effective squadrons at Wheeler Field assured mastery of the skies over Oahu. In case the enemy got too close or tried to land there, field guns stood ready. Well could Short say on April 7: “Here in Hawaii we all live in a citadel or gigantically fortified island.”19Little wonder that so many Americans extolled their mid-ocean bastion with glowing confidence and no doubt would have regarded the Martin-Bellinger Report, could they have seen it, as a worthy but academic school exercise having no relationship to the realities of geography or logistics. CHAPTER 11“HOW CAN AIR POWER BE USED MOST EFFECTIVELY?” In early April 1941 Yamamoto sat closeted in his cabin aboard Mutsu—Nagato was undergoing overhaul—with two of his key officers, Captain Kameto Kuroshima and Commander Yasuji Watanabe. Several weeks had gone by since Onishi first submitted his and Genda’s draft to Yamamoto, and Kuroshima and Watanabe already knew the general trends of Yamamoto’s thinking. Kuroshima, in particular, was no stranger to his ideas. Several times during 1940 Yamamoto had discussed with him the strategy Japan should follow in case of conflict with the United States. As the weaker nation Japan could not fight a defensive war; its only chance would be to seize the initiative and strike first.1Yamamoto had put his staff to studying the Pearl Harbor plan no later than January. About the middle of that month Kuroshima directed Commander Akira Sasaki, Yamamoto’s air officer, to examine three possible alternatives. The first assumed that the Americans would be strictly on guard. In that case the Japanese would approach within approximately 350 miles of the target and bomb only American carriers, with fighters guiding the bombers. The second called for penetration to some 200 miles and use of all the Japanese aircraft in the attack. The third was a one-way attack employing only bombers, with submarines hovering nearby to rescue the crews.2Sasaki realized, of course, that the plan would be risky and dangerous, but he believed if the worse came to the worst, it might be Japan’s only way out. An Eta Jima and Kasumigaura graduate, Sasaki had spent about two years in the United States as an assistant naval attaché, beginning in 1931. Before coming to Nagato, he had been staff officer for air of the China Area Fleet located at Shanghai.3Sometime in late March Fukudome had shown Kuroshima the Onishi-Genda draft, and Watanabe saw it a few moments later. Fukudome and Kuroshima agreed that if war with the United States seemed likely, they should submit the project to the Naval General Staff. But for the time being they should study it carefully aboard Nagato. Sasaki also saw the draft at that time. It was then that the document’s assessment of the difficulties in carrying out a torpedo strike apparently discouraged Yamamoto. He is reported to have remarked, “Since we cannot use a torpedo attack because of the shallowness of the water, we cannot expect to obtain the results we desire. Therefore, we probably have no choice but to give up the air attack operation.” But Yamamoto was not the type to abandon any venture until he had thoroughly explored all avenues. Thus, on this April day once more he broached the subject to Kuroshima and Watanabe.4Kuroshima had been with Yamamoto since the autumn of 1939. Primarily a gunnery officer, he had spent much time at sea, had graduated from the Naval Staff College, and had also taught there. Now he served as Yamamoto’s senior staff officer. Kuroshima’s actual duties consisted mainly of overall planning, and his position was somewhat like that of Kimmel’s Soc McMorris. However, the ranking member of a Japanese naval staff was called the senior staff officer. Kuroshima’s taut cheekbones and pale prophet’s face gave him such an ascetic appearance that his colleagues called him Ganji—the Japanese form of Gandhi.Although the Japan of his day set a premium on conformity, Kuroshima was eccentric to the point of weirdness. Even his name was unusual. Kameto means “tortoise man.” It suited Kuroshima well enough, for he liked to retreat into his shell when working on a problem. He would lock himself in his cabin, draw the shades, and sit in the dark with his head buried in his hands. When an idea struck him, he would turn on the light and begin to scribble frantically, shedding papers all over the floor and smoking heavily. He even ate his meals in his cabin, letting dirty dishes and glasses full of cigarette butts accumulate until his colleagues would protest and order the cabin cleaned up.5When Kuroshima emerged from these solitary sessions, he had the problem thought through to the smallest detail, at least to his own satisfaction, and could dictate a staff study word for word without consulting notes. Nevertheless, he sometimes lost his grip on reality and produced some far-out ideas. Yamamoto knew exactly how to sift a Kuroshima plan and toss out the chaff. When someone asked him why he kept such a strange officer on his staff, he replied, “Who else but me could use Kuroshima?” No man on the Combined Fleet staff would work harder on the Pearl Harbor plan or support it more enthusiastically than Kuroshima. In fact, Genda thought that the senior staff officer very likely knew of the plan even before he did. Sasaki, too, believed that in view of Yamamoto’s full confidence in his staff “it was almost inconceivable that he would consult anyone on the outside concerning such an important operation without first considering it with such members of his staff as Fukudome, chief of staff; Kuroshima, senior staff officer; and myself, staff officer for air.”6If Kuroshima had a crony, it was Watanabe. This solidly built man, almost six feet tall, exuded an atmosphere of expansive maleness and simple, earthly virtues. Indianlike cheekbones lent force to his oblong face with its expressive dark eyes and wide mouth full of large white teeth. His sunny optimism freshened Kuroshima’s dark melancholy. A head crammed with ideas, the strength to cut his way swiftly through a pile of work, and the discipline to follow up on his assignments made Watanabe the ideal staff officer.Yamamoto had a soft spot for Watanabe and treated him like a son. The two often played chess (shogi) or cards together. Indeed, Yamamoto considered their chess sessions almost in the line of duty, believing that the game cleared his head and kept him alert.7 Watanabe repaid his chief’s kindness with a full measure of devotion. Indeed, Yamamoto’s entire staff resembled that of Kimmel in its prickly allegiance, its exclusive, excluding pride.In entrusting Kuroshima and Watanabe with detailed work on the Pearl Harbor plan, Yamamoto embarked on his own initiative. In wartime the Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet had the responsibility and authority to draft an operational plan within the framework of any mission assigned to him from the High Command. In peacetime, however, he was not supposed to work on such a plan because of the security risk involved and also because the Naval General Staff preferred that he concentrate all his efforts on training. The Naval General Staff drafted the annual plan. In case of emergency, one of its officers brought the plan to Combined Fleet Headquarters.8But in view of the immense importance of the timing of the Pearl Harbor attack—it must start the war, not follow a declaration—Yamamoto could not wait for the mills of the naval gods to grind in Tokyo. Once war had been declared, he would have lost the imperative of surprise, the one basic element upon which his air strike depended.So within a few days Kuroshima divided Yamamoto’s staff into four preliminary study groups: (1) Operations and Supply; (2) Communications and Information; (3) Navigation and Meteorological Conditions; and (4) Air and Submarine Attack.9 Thus, the ring of knowledge expanded to include Lieutenant Commander Yushiro Wada, communications officer, and Commander Shigeru Nagata, navigation officer.Commander Takayasa Arima also joined the inner circle. Although one of the youngest members of Yamamoto’s official family, he carried weight by virtue of his assignment as submarine officer. The Japanese Navy took great pride in its submarines and expected much of them, having concentrated heavily in this area of sea warfare as a result of the posttreaty limitation on surface vessels. Arima had little submarine experience, being a torpedoman by training, but he was ready, willing, and able to learn. He had studied for two years in the United States—one at Johns Hopkins and another at Yale.When Kuroshima first spoke to Arima about Yamamoto’s plan, Arima felt clouds of pessimism drift across his mind. An air attack on Pearl Harbor? Impossible! he thought. But the idea grew on him. Soon he accepted the plan as “the only way to defend and secure the extended line of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.”10 In the months to come Arima would work tirelessly, maintaining close liaison with the Sixth Fleet (Submarines) and with the Naval General Staff.

Table of Contents

At Dawn We Slept - Gordon W. Prange with Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon Introduction
Part I: Prelude
1. "Cancer of the Pacific"
2. "On a Moonlight Night or at Dawn"
3. "Difficult But Not Impossible"
4. "No Credence in These Rumors"
5. "You Hurt the President's Feelings"
6. "That Must Henceforth Bear Responsibility"
7. "Our First Concern Is to Protect the Fleet"
8. "The Hotbed of Espionage"
9. "In Rather a Spot"
10. "The Most Likely and Dangerous Form of Attack"
11. "How Can Air Power Be Used Most Effectively?"
12. "The Real Power and Potentialities"
13. "With Guarded Approval"
14. "The Strongest Fortress in the World"
15. "Critical in the Atlantic"
16. "The Kiss of Death"
17. "Japan's Foreign Policy Will Not Be Changed"
18. "As If He Were Beyond Penalty"
19. "We Want Hustlers!"
20. "Plenty of Potential Dynamite"
21. "A Cunning Dragon Seemingly Asleep"
22. "Prophetic in Its Accuracy"
23. "Present Attitude and Plans"
24. "A Very Strong Fighting Spirit"
25. "Resolved to Go to War"
26. "Waves and Winds So Unsettled"
27. "A Serious Study"
28. "The War Games"
29. "Time Was Running Out"
30. "But What About the Pacific?"
31. "A Significant and Ominous Change"
32. "No Matter What the Cost"
33. "Now the Clouds Were Raised"
34. "The Power, the Purpose and the Plan"
35. "Pearl Harbor Will Be Attacked"
36. "We Should Be on Guard"
37. "As One with the Combined Fleet"
Part II: Action
38. "Other Kind of People"
39. "Based on Deception"
40. "In the Hands of God"
41. "Complete War Preparations"
42. "Ringing Bells and Banging Drums"
43. "I Swear to Be Successful"
44. "A Situation Full of Dynamite"
45. "Things Are Automatically Going to Happen"
46. "Wherever It Might Be Found"
47. "Cleave the Enemy in Two!"
48. "A Match for Anything Afloat"
49. "That Was the Monkey Wrench"
50. "To Be Considered a War Warning"
51. "Our Diplomats Will Have to Be Sacrificed"
52. "The Vacant Sea"
53. "Glory or Oblivion"
54. "Great Unease in All of Our Minds"
55. "Sure Indication of War"
56. "Another Straw in the Wind"
57. "On a Keg of Dynamite"
58. "This Means War"
59. "The Japs Are Planning Some Deviltry"
60. "An Awful Urgency"
61. "Tora! Tora! Tora!"
62. "Sound General Quarters"
63. "They Caught Them Asleep, by God!"
64. "Oh, How Powerful Is the Imperial Navy!"
65. "The Chance of a Lifetime"
Part III: Aftermath
66. "An Excitement Indeed"
67. "Our Flag Was Still There"
68. "Clouds Over Mountains"
69. "Not on the Alert"
70. "Dereliction of Duty"
71. "The Ashes of a Bitter Past"
72. "Something Ought to Be Done"
73. "Full and Fair Disclosure"
74. "We Have a Job to Do"
75. "Errors of Judgment"
76. "We Want the Truth"
77. "A Partisan Matter"
78. "The Evidence Piles Up"
79. "A Fighting Chance"
80. "Fixing the Blame"
81. "The Verdict of History"
Abbreviations Used in Text
Source Material
List of Major Personnel
The Pearl Harbor Investigations
Selected Bibliography
Revisionists Revisited

From Our Editors

The monumental history of Pearl Harbor that The New York Times called "impossible to forget"--now with a new chapter by Goldstein and Dillon. Based on 37 years of massive research and countless interviews, this is a landmark study written with the dramatic sweep of a martial epic. 16 pages of photographs

Editorial Reviews

Prange's exhaustive interviews of people on both sides enable him to tell the story in such personal terms that the reader is bound to feel its power....It is impossible to forget such an account. —The New York Times Book ReviewDiligent, thorough, and evenhanded...At Dawn We Slept is the definitive account of Pearl Harbor. —Chicago Sun-Times “Fast-paced and engrossing . . . if any book can be called ‘definitive,’ At Dawn We Slept deserves the accolade.”—Los Angeles Herald Examiner“It will be the single, essential work on the subject from now on.”—Houston Chronicle“An unparalleled historical achievement . . . the account reads with the intensity of a suspense novel.”—Milwaukee Journal“From first to last—responsible, intelligent, absorbing . . . the book is most outstanding.” —Kirkus Reviews