Real Suprise On Pearl Harbor Essay Research

Real Suprise On Pearl Harbor Essay, Research Paper

Real Suprise on Pearl HarborThe Americans had information that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor but did not take preparations to protect it. many people refer to the bombing of Pearl Harbor as a surprise attack. It was the American government’s fault and the American military’s fault that it was such a devastating “surprise” for the Americans. The Attack on Pearl Harbor is what gave the United States initiative to enter World War II. Some People believe the government and military kept the information to themselves so that they would have a ligit reason to enter the war. Others believe that the Americans did not react to the information because they did not know if it was true — if the Japanese were trying to throw the Americans off course.Pearl Harbor is the naval base and headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet, Honolulu County, southern Oahu Island, Hawaii, United States. It is a virtually landlocked bay connected to the Pacific Ocean by Pearl Harbor Entrance ( channel ). A naval station was established after 1908. In United States history the name recalls the Japanese air attack on December 7, 1941, that temporarily crippled the United States fleet and resulted in the United States entry into World War II. The attack climaxed a decade of worsening relations between the United States and an extremely militaristic Japan. Events like japan’s invasion of China in 1937 and its alliance with the Axis powers ( Germany and Italy ) in 1940 prompted the United States to respond by halting Japanese assets in the United States and declaring an embargo on petroleum shipments and other vital was materials to Japan. Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, the commander in chief of Japan’s Combined Fleet, had planned the attack against the United States with great care. the first Japanese dive bomber appeared over Pearl Harbor at 7:55 am ( local time). It was followed by a wave of nearly two hundred aircraft including torpedo planes, bombers, and fighters. One United States Army Private who noticed the planes on his radar was instructed to ignore them because a flight of B – 17’s from the United States was expected at that time. The anchored ships in the harbor made perfect targets for the Japanese bombers, and since it was Sunday morning they were not fully manned. Three United States battleships were sunk and one was capsized. A second wave of planes swept over Pearl Harbor about forty – five minutes later. Ten other ships were sunk, many others were severely damaged. and more than 140 aircraft were destroyed. Military casualties totaled more than 3,400, including more than 2,300 killed. The Japanese lost only twenty – nine planes and five midget submarines. The Pearl Harbor attack severely uninjured United States naval and air strike in the Pacific. However, the three aircraft carriers attached to the Pacific Fleet were not at Pearl Harbor at the time and escaped. Of the eight battleships, all but two were eventually repaired and returned to service, the Japanese also failed to destroy the important oil storage facilities on the island. The ” date which will live in infamy ” as United States President Franklin Roosevelt termed it, unified the United States public and destroyed the support for neutrality. On December 8 Congress declared war on Japan with only one dissenting vote. The amount of disaster and the unprepardness of the United States military provoke considerable criticism towards Admiral Husband Kimmel and Major General Walter Short, the Navy and Army commanders on Oahu, were relieved of duty, and official investigations were immediately begun. Some accused President Roosevelt of having invited the attack ( or at least done nothing to stop it ) in order to bring the United States into the war against the Axis powers. However, later investigations indicated that while United States officials had been aware that an attack by Japan was probable, they did not know of the time or place at which it would occur. In the last summer before the United States entered World War II, Americans believed that its navy was invincible. The fleet, the American people were told, would protect the country’s foreign interest against all other powers. Even the isolationists were proud of the fleet. They believed that a strong navy would protect American shores and would also make it unnecessary to have a large army. Without a large army, they thought. America could not be brought into the war. Americans felt confident that the fleet had been placed in worthy hands. Admiral Harold R. Stark was the chief of Naval Operations in Washington, Stark was at the very top of the navy hierarchy in 1941. He had held that position since August 1939. He answered only to the secretary of the navy, Frank Knox, for all aspects of American naval operations all over the world. He had a long distinguished career. President Roosevelt had personally selected him to head the navy. Admiral Husband E. Kimmel was commander in chief, United States Fleet, and commander in chief, United States naval Fleet. He was in charge of all operations of the Hawaiian Fleet, its repair, training, and readiness for war. He was also responsible for the safety of the fleet while it was a sea. Kimmel reported directly to Stark, his longtime friend. Like Stark, Admiral Kimmel had distinguished himself in service to his country. Those who served under him honored him. In 1941, there was every reason to believe that these two distinguished naval officers deserved the trust placed in them by their government and by the American people. Then on December 7, 1941 something went wrong. Pearl Harbor was attacked. Most of the ships under command of Stark and Kimmel were damaged or destroyed. American naval strength in the Pacific was dramatically weakened. Admiral Stark was in charge of all operations of the fleet. From Washington, he had to coordinate all functions of the navy as a peacetime force and also insure its readiness for war. He had a large and generally capable staff to assist him. Admiral Richmond ” Terrible ” Turner was one of Stark’s subordinates in charge of war planes. Because of his terrible personality, he seized responsibility as well for the interpretation and sharing of naval intelligence. He made decisions and gave advice on matters where he lacked competence. Turner believed that Japan would attack Russia, not the United States. He also believed that the officers at Pearl Harbor had access to the secret Japanese information that was available in Washington. Turner convinced Admiral Stark that this was true. Stark, loyal to his subordinates, may have been overly influenced by Turner’s strong and aggressive personality. In October Stark wrote to Kimmel that the situation had become ” grave “. He spoke of he possibility of war between Japan and Russia. Whenever revealed to Kimmel that Washington had gained access to secret Japanese information. When negotiations virtually ended Japan and United States, Stark did not inform Kimmel. Turner told Stark that Kimmel already knew. On Sunday morning, December 7 , Admiral Stark arrived at his office and read for himself the first thirteen parts of the Japanese message and then the fourteenth which dad just been decoded and translated. It indicated that all relations between Japan and the United States would be broken. Stark saw no need to instruct Kimmel in Hawaii to take any added precautions. Stark spoke late in the morning with General Marshall. That is when he agreed to be associated with a message being sent to all Pacific commanders regarding possible hostile Japanese actions. That message arrived too late to avert disaster.

Top government officials got their information from many sources. Worldwide newspapers and military magazines provided some. American citizens and government officials supplied other clues . Many bits of secret information hinted at Japan’s interest in Pearl Harbor. Joseph C. Grew was the American ambassador to Japan. He sent the American States Department a very early warning of Japanese intentions. He learned from a Peruvian diplomat, through a Japanese cook working in an embassy in Tokyo, that japan intended to attack the United Sates. This information was sent to Washington on January 27, 1941. After limited investigation, the American government dismissed the information as idle gossip. A British spy brought information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation ( FBI ) in Washington. The information, preserved in microdots, told of strong Japanese interest in the schedules of ships in Hawaii. FBI agents distrusted and disliked the agent who brought this information so they dismissed this warning as well. In addition to random pieces of information like these, the United States had its own very special source of secret information. Lieutenant Colonel William F. Friedman was a cryptographer working for the government. Friedman was intrigued by the prospect of breaking the Japanese diplomatic code. In August of 1940, after an intensive analysis lasting twenty months, he broke the code. Friedman knew the importance and urgency of his task. He worked at such a feverish pace to complete his assignment that he suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized in December 1940. He spent three months in Walter Reed Hospital recovering his strength. He had supplied the United States with a source of secret information unequal to anything known in history. The code system Friedman broke was called ” Purple “. It was produced on a machine similar to a complicated typewriter. On this machine, the keys changed their positions so that the code frequently changed. The information this machine supplied was called ” Magic “. Only once during the course of the war did the Japanese suspect that the diplomatic code had been broken. But Because the Japanese did not believe that the Americans were capable of such a task, they ignored their suspicion. Japan did not change its code. Keeping Friedmans work a secret was a major priority in Washington. After a message was discovered, decoded, and then translated, fourteen copies were made. Two were kept on file. The other twelve were placed in specially designed heavy leather cases, each with a padlock security system. They were hand delivered to recipients. After the messages were read they were replaced in the cases, returned to either the army or navy, and destroyed. Those who received magic included the president of the United States, the secretary of state, the chief of staff, the secretaries of the army and the navy and a handful of other top ranked army and navy officers. None of these people were permitted to discuss Magic. In the last months of 1941 the amount of Magic became enormous. No one could possibly view all the information at a single time. There was one question that should have been raised regarding Japan’s interest in the American battleships at Pearl Harbor. Certain decoded Japanese messages collectively have been called the ” bomb plot ” series. It did not refer to a scheme or conspiracy. It referred to the mapping, or plotting, of the sectors of the harbor. These messages were requests for the specific information. They contained questions regarding the location of battleships and their movements in and out of the harbor. A message on November 14, 1941, seemed to be especially urgent. It contained a request for two reports weekly. The messages were to be sent to Tokyo on different days of the week to avoid a pattern for detection. The messages were to contain information about all ships movements. Tokyo required the information because the United States and Japanese relations were getting wore. The Japanese consul General Nagao Kita, responded to these requests from Tokyo on a regular basis. Just as regularly, American cryptographers listening in on the exchanges recorded these coded ” conversations “. Information about Japanese interests in the plots was not given to Admiral Kimmel and General Short. Because those accused of incompetence after the attack on Pearl Harbor believed that the maximum security surrounding Magic was a factor, they believed that they were unjustly accused. For patriotic reasons, they kept silent until after the war. But then they argued that if they had known the secret information to their superiors, they would have acted differently. Fear that the Japanese would discover the American secret through some leak, they said, led to the withholding of vital security information which intern led to the successful attack on Pearl Harbor. After the war , Admiral Kimmel and General Short claimed that the messages from the ” Bomb plot ” series were deliberately withheld from the Hawaiian command. When they were free to discuss Magic, they testified before congressional committees that they should have had the information. Kimmel told one committee, ” I can say without reservation whatsoever that it would have changed my ideas completely and every one of my staff ” to have known of Japanese consular reports on the pattern of battleship arrivals in the harbor. Lieutenant Commander Charles C Hiles also believes that the information could have been useful, Hiles was an intelligence officer during the war. In 1966, he wrote to Harry Elmer Barnes that ” the first bomb plot message and the consulate’s reply told the whole story, any Intelligence Officer then and now, who could not figure this out should be taken out and hung ” (Bachrach 97). A 1946 congressional investigating committee stated in its majority report that ” Since they indicated a particular interest in the Pacific Fleet’s base, this intelligence should have been appreciated and supplied to the Hawaiian command for their assistance ” (Bachrah 97). One intelligence officer, Laurence Frye Safford, who had worked on breaking Purple along with Friedman, called the failure to send the information to Hawaii ” a deliberate act of treason on the part of Marshall and others ” (Bachrach 98). In the words of Gordon Prange, ” If Washington is to be condemned it is for failure to evaluate properly what information they did have ” (Bachrach 99). The worst disaster in the military annals of the United States had ushered us into World War II. The United States had played a very minor role in World War II up to 1941, when the attack shocked the country into action. President Roosevelt, Congress, and the American people were abruptly united in determination to take revenge on Japan. The United States government, its military leaders, and its commanders in Hawaii had had sufficient information to be adequately warned that an attack was possible, and had had time to be prepared to blunt the blow. The information was ignored; the preparations were inadequate.

Bachrach, Deborah. Pearl Harbor – Opposing Viewpoints.California : Greenhaven Press, Inc. 1989. Clausen, henry C. and Bruce Lee. Pearl Harbor – Final Judgement,New York : Crown Publishers, Inc., 1986. Dupuy, T.N. Colonel. “Who Blundered?” American Heritage.1962 ed. Griess, Thomas E. The second World War. New Jersey : AveryPublishing Group Inc.,1984. Prang, Gordon W. et al. Pearl Harbor – The Verdict of History. New York : McGraw – Hill Book Co., 1986


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