The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor elicited surprise, shock and horror that led Americans into the war with a burning desire for vengeance. Some historians have suggested that Imperial Japan, failing to anticipate the intensity of this emotion, assumed that the USA would not want to shed more blood in a distant Pacific war and would negotiate a treaty.
John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (June 1922-December 1941), born to missionaries in China, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in WWII. He died in a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire in 1941. High Flight Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there, I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long delirious burning blue I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace Where never lark, or even eagle flew. And while with silent lifting mind I've trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand and touched the face of God. - John Magee
On the Eastern Front
For the ordinary German soldier, the horrific war on the Eastern Front was unlike its more "civilized" counterpart in the Western campaign. The seeds of anti-semitism, long present among "Aryan" Germans, were germinated and vastly amplified by Nazi propaganda, laws and ultimately direct battlefield orders such as this "Watch-word for the day" issued on November 21, 1941: German soldier, always consider where Jews still live... Jewish civilians and partisans do not belong in prisoner of war camps, they are to be shot...For Bolshevik subhumans, there is no mercy, not for women and children either. When (regular army) Wehrmacht troops were ordered to assist the murderous Einsatzgruppen death squads that followed on the heels of their battlefield advances, the scattered protests by Wehrmacht commanders who feared damage to troop morale by unbridled carnage were ignored and the officers disciplined. Hitler himself rebuked one such protest, commenting "...one cannot win a war with Salvation Army tactics." On the Eastern Front, German soldiers were exhorted to exterminate the barbaric people (inspired by demonic Jewish-Bolshevik forces) who threatened the very existence of the Fatherland. What was the response of the average German soldier when ordered to kill civilians, including women and children ? In retrospect, it seems mixed: A German soldier's letter 1943 German soldier's guilt-filled diaries An SS officer's diary A German soldier's view of the Russians Although German news reports never mentioned these atrocities, and the general public was somewhat in the dark initially, increasing letters and photographs sent home from the Eastern Front made it unlikely that most German civilians were completely ignorant of the genocide being carried out by their sons far from home. With exhortations from their commanders, it appears that many German soldiers on the Eastern Front began acting on their own initiative, killing Jews and shooting Russian prisoners. However, after perusing examples of their diaries and letters home, my impression is that the average German soldier on the Eastern Front was initially shocked, but soon became inured to much of the atrocity. A common attitude may have been: given the serious threat by these barbarians, it was unfortunately necessary to exterminate them. To protest was not only futile, but dangerous - the prospect of a noble death in battle was better than court-martial or execution.
Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair
Adolf Hitler spent over half of WWII (~800 days) in Der Wolfsschanze (wolf’s lair), his bunker in Ketrzyn, Poland (East Prussia). Hitler's nickname Wolf was used in titles of Nazi headquarters throughout occupied Europe - e.g. Wolfsschlucht I and II in Belgium and Werwolf in Ukraine. Although often translated in English as "lair," Schanze in German alludes to a "sconce" or "redoubt." Within >80 buildings (including massive bunkers for Hitler and high-ranking German Officials like Hermann Göring and Martin Bormann) many decisions such as the construction of death camps and the fate of European nations were made in the Wolfsschanze.
Imperial Japan WWII
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uc3BoUM1hJs via Japanese World War II Tribute - YouTube. This video pastiche from America's enemy in the mirror Imperial Japan, presents a melancholic view of a fallen empire and its valiant soldiers. Both eerie and fascinating, the clips and dramatic musical score reach the ultimate finale of sacrifice - the kamikaze. A postscript honors the accord between Imperial Japan and the Axis powers.
Although this blog focuses on Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany and the USA, it is important to keep in mind the cataclysmic struggle between the Third Reich and the USSR. And who can not be moved by these overwhelming statistics? Estimated total WWII deaths = 48,231,700 Total Soviet losses by demographic balance (1941–45) Population in June 1941 196,700,000 Births during war 12,300,000 Death by natural causes during war of those alive before war (11,900,000) War related deaths of those alive before war (25,300,000) War related deaths of those born during war (1,300,0000) Total population Jan. 1, 1946 170,500,000 Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties_of_the_Soviet_Union#Total_population_losses This interesting post from History.com proposes 8 important items to recall: 1. Joseph Stalin disregarded early warnings of the German attack. 2. Most people believed Germany would quickly crush the Soviet Union. 3. Extreme weather conditions played a crucial role in the Soviet victory. 4. Russian women served in front line combat roles. 5. Stalin ordered Soviet forces to fight to the last man. 6. It included the largest tank battle in military history. 7. Both sides engaged in large-scale atrocities and war crimes. 8. The last German POWs weren’t released from the Soviet Union until 1956.
Japan Bombs “Open City” Manila
JAPANESE BOMBS FIRE OPEN CITY OF MANILA; CIVILIAN TOLL HEAVY New York Times December 28, 1941 Manila’s populace clambered yesterday for the return of United States Army after more than three hours of destructive bombing by the Japanese, who ignored the American proclamation declaring it an open city. Secretary of State Hull termed the attack, which caused extensive fires, a consistent example of Japanese methods of cruelty practiced elsewhere.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=w9QLn7gM-hY#t=0 Bing Crosby performed Irving Berlin's melancholy White Christmas for the first time on his weekly NBC radio program, The Kraft Music Hall. It went on to become the top-selling single of all time until being surpassed by Elton John's Candle in the Wind in 1997. Crosby's October 1942 recording of White Christmas was played frequently on commercial and Armed Forces Radio and became the #1 pop hit. The song returned to the Hit Parade pop chart in every subsequent Christmas season for the next 20 years. Jody Rosen, author of the book White Christmas:The Story of an American Song, noted on an NPR interview: "It's very melancholy....And I think this really makes it stand out amongst kind of chirpy seasonal standards [like] 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' or 'Let It Snow.'....I think that's one of the reasons why people keep responding to it, because our feelings over the holiday season are ambivalent."
Christmas Eve – Winston Churchill
On Christmas Eve 1941 Winston Churchill spoke from the White House: "This is a strange Christmas Eve. Almost the whole world is locked in deadly struggle, and, with the most terrible weapons which science can devise, the nations advance upon each other. Ill would it be for us this Christmastide if we were not sure that no greed for the land or wealth of any other people, no vulgar ambition, no morbid lust for material gain at the expense of others, had led us to the field. Here, in the midst of war, raging and roaring over all the lands and seas, creeping nearer to our hearts and homes, here, amid all the tumult, we have tonight the peace of the spirit in each cottage home and in every generous heart. Therefore we may cast aside for this night at least the cares and dangers which beset us, and make for the children an evening of happiness in a world of storm. Here, then, for one night only, each home throughout the English-speaking world should be a brightly-lighted island of happiness and peace..."
Goebbels on Christmas Eve
Excerpts from the Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels' Christmas Eve radio speech in 1941: There are few presents under the Christmas tree this year. .. We have sent our Christmas candles to the Eastern Front, where our soldiers need them more than we do Instead of giving outward gifts to our family, friends, and community, today we will express our love to one another and our faith in all that holds us together The war has become a school that has increased the love all of us have for the homeland We must thank those who defend us, our sons, fathers, and brothers...The great task demands the same sacrifice from us! Germans abroad often live in an entirely foreign, sometimes hostile, world... For us, speaking German is a matter of course, but they are spat on for it They will not experience the shame of 1918, when the German people’s collapse struck them like a numbing blow The whole nation is worthy of the great era in which we live Victory will not be given to us; we have to earn it. Everyone must do his part. Even on this Christmas Eve that must be the focus of our thoughts We thank the Almighty for the proud victories that he again has given us. We will continue fighting until total victory is ours In thinking of the Führer, who on this evening, too, is everywhere where Germans gather, we are reminded of the Fatherland. It will be larger, more beautiful, more prosperous after the war is over. It will be a proud and free homeland for us all. We want to thank the Führer for that Earlier we sang of peace on earth in our songs. Now the time has come to fight for it. Peace through victory! That is our slogan
Christmas in the Third Reich
Worshiping a Jewish messiah at Christmas time was problematic for Nazi Aryan ideology. Yuletide celebration with emphasis on the observance of the Germanic pre-Christian Winter Solstice was the official government line. Unofficially, most Christians and churches in the Third Reich continued traditional Christmas celebrations.
Japan Invades Borneo
In 1941, Borneo was divided between the Dutch East Indies and British protectorates (North Borneo, Sarawak and Brunei) and crown colonies (Labuan). Although Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands in 1940, the Royal Netherlands Navy and East Indies Army fought on under the joint American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM). On December 16, 1941 Japan invaded the north coast of Borneo. The island, on the main sea route between Java, Sumatra, Malaya and Celebes, was rich in the petroleum sorely needed for Japan's war effort. Meeting little resistance, Japanese forces swiftly captured the oilfields and a refinery in Sarawak region and Brunei. After securing the oilfields, the main Japanese forces moved forward to capture the island.
Hitler Assumes Command of the Army
"...These tasks require that the army and home front be brought to the highest degree of performance in one common effort by all. However, the army is the main pillar in the fight of the armed forces. I have, therefore, resolved today, under these circumstances, to take over myself the leading of the army in my capacity as Supreme Commander of the German armed forces. Soldiers, I know war from four years of the gigantic struggle in the West from 1914 to 1918. I lived through the horrors of nearly all the great battles as a common soldier. Twice I was wounded, and I was threatened with becoming blind. Therefore, nothing that is tormenting and troubling you is unknown to me. However, after four years of war I did not doubt for a single second the resurrection of my people. After fifteen years of work I have achieved, as a common German soldier and merely with my fanatical will power, the unity of the German nation and have freed it from the death sentence of Versailles. My soldiers! You will understand, therefore, that my heart belongs entirely to you, that my will and my work unswervingly are serving the greatness of my and your nation, and that my mind and determination know nothing but annihilation of the enemy-that is to say, victorious termination of the war. Whatever I can do for you, my soldiers of the army and Elite Guard, shall be done. What you can and will do for me, I know. You will follow me loyally and obediently until the Reich and our German people are definitely safe. God Almighty will not deny victory to His bravest soldiers." Führer's Headquarters, December 19, 1941.
Kato Morphs from Japanese to Filipino
Like the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet Britt Reid had a partner of different ethnicity in his fight against crime. The 1936 radio program The Green Hornet described Britt Reid's sidekick Kato as Japanese. After the 1939 Japanese invasion of China, Kato was identified only as a faithful valet. Then in the movie serials released in early 1940, he became Korean. By 1941, Kato was referred to as Filipino.
During the summer of 1941, young American pilots under the command of Captain Claire L. Chennault ("retired" from the United States Army Air Corps) secretly trained in the jungles of Southeast Asia in preparation for an air war with Japan. On December 20, 1942, the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) composed of 112 Army, Navy and Marine pilots, was activated as part of the Chinese Air Force. Named Fei Hu by the Chinese for the snarling Tiger Sharks teeth painted on the on noses of their P-40s, they became known worldwide as the Flying Tigers. The Flying Tigers' successes against Imperial Japanese aircraft in the otherwise dismal initial phase of the war spurred American morale. Although postwar record review showed lower total kills, the Flying Tigers were credited with the destruction of ~300 enemy aircraft, while losing only 14 American pilots. The AVG was replaced in July 1942 by the 23rd Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Corps. The 23rd was later absorbed into the 14th U.S. Army Air Corps with General Chennault as commander.
Japanese Submarines Off West Coast
From December 18 - 24, 1941, nine Japanese submarines positioned along the American West Coast attacked eight merchant ships. Two ships were sunk, two damaged and six seamen were killed. A plan for all nine submarines to shell selected U.S. coastal cities on Christmas Eve was canceled at the last minute. Unlike the subsequent German U-Boat campaign off the East Coast, this was the only time during the entire war that more than one Japanese submarine at a time appeared off the West Coast. On December 24, 1941 a B-25, flying in poor visibility out of McChord Army Air Field, reported an attack against a Japanese submarine off the mouth of the Columbia River. Further investigation failed to verify the report. Early anti-submarine warfare efforts by the USAAF were hampered by lack of experience, training and equipment. Targets perceived as submarines were often derelict vessels, trees or whales. Here is an excellent reference on Imperial Japanese submarines. My historical fiction novel Enemy in the Mirror: Love and Fury in the Pacific War follows the exploits of a junior officer on the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine イ-25
American Liberty Ships
2,710 American cargo ships, popularly named liberty ships were built from 1941-1945. Of simple pre-fabricated design, relatively inexpensive and rapidly-produced, they became a symbol of American wartime industrial output. To counteract initial public disdain regarding the ships' quality, President Roosevelt referred to Patrick Henry's famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech of 1775 at the launching of the SS Patrick Henry in September 1941. While the first ships took 230 days to build, the average eventually dropped to 42 days. In 1943, three Liberty ships were completed daily. The record was set by the SS Robert E. Peary which was launched 4 days and 15½ hours after the keel was laid.
Day of Infamy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EyjicU83-Zs This film produced shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor probably reflects the bellicose, revengeful attitude of most Americans after Imperial Japan's surprise attack. REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR! - The powerful emotion evoked served to unite many Americans who had been previously divided over any participation in another global war. It is likely that the Japanese underestimated this potential response when they planned a strike to cripple the American Pacific fleet and hoped that the USA would agree to a peace proposal that allowed them to keep their newly-acquired territories.
Breaking the Enigma Code
The operator of the German Enigma machine (invented by a Dutchman in 1919 and adapted by Germany for military use) typed a message that was scrambled by three to five rotors that displayed different letters of the alphabet. With exact knowledge of the transmitter's rotor settings, the receiver could reconstitute the original text. Throughout the war, the Enigma machine became more complicated, as Germans introduced various quirks and new electronic circuits. Germany considered the continually changing code produced by the typewriter-like Enigma machine to be virtually unbreakable. But, unbeknownst to Germany, British cryptologists at Bletchley Park first broke the code during the German invasion of Poland in 1939. In July 1941 the Enigma code used in ground-to-air operations on the Eastern front was also deciphered and the messages were shared with Russia. In 1941, U-boat attacks on ship convoys in the North Atlantic posed the greatest threat to the Allied war effort. On December 8, 1941 the more complex Enigma code used by the German Abwehr (secret service) was successfully broken allowing the interception of messages pertaining to the control and location of submarines in the Atlantic, information about bombing raids, troop movements, and the location of military supply ships. In February 1942 Germany introduced a new fourth wheel into their Naval Enigma machine. During the year it took Bletchley Park to break the new code, Allied losses in the Atlantic sharply increased. It was not until until August 1943 that German Naval Enigma was reliably decoded again.
Chatanooga Choo Choo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzHIn5S-RbY Glenn Miller's big-band/swing song Chattanooga Choo Choo was the #1 American hit in December 1941. The 78-rpm recording of the song on RCA Victor's Bluebird label became the first certified gold disc on February 10, 1942 with for sales of 1,200,000. In December 1944, traveling to entertain U.S. troops in France in bad weather, Glenn Miller's airplane disappeared over the English Channel.
Hong Kong Falls
On Christmas Day 1941 ("Black Christmas") the Governor General of Hong Kong surrendered to the Japanese. In the 18-day battle, the British suffered 11,848 casualties and Japan suffered 2,754. Following the surrender, Imperial Japanese troops committed many atrocities against both men and women including bayonetting patients in hospital beds, forcing victims to dig their own graves before being murdered and rape.
Wake Island Lost
In the 15-day siege of Wake Island, U.S. losses included: 47 Marines killed with two MIA , three U.S. Navy personnel and at least ten U.S. civilians killed, ten Chamorro civilians killed, and twelve civilians wounded. Japanese losses were estimated 700 - 900 killed with at least 300 more wounded. Two Japanese destroyers at least 28 land-based and carrier aircraft were shot down or damaged during two attacks on the island. The Japanese captured all men remaining on the island most of whom were civilian contractors. Rather than assault the island, the U.S. Navy established a submarine blockade and bombed the island periodically until the end of the war in 1945. In October 1943, U.S. naval aircraft from Yorktown raided Wake. Two days later, fearing an imminent invasion, Rear Admiral Shigematsu Sakaibara ordered the execution of the 98 captured American civilian forced laborers remaining on the island. One of the prisoners escaped the massacre and carved: 98 US PW 5-10-43 on a large coral rock near where the victims had been hastily buried in a mass grave. The unknown American was recaptured and beheaded.
In December 1941 Karl Jäger, SS-Standartenführer of Einsatzkommando 3, chronicled a Nazi killing unit's activities from July to November 1941. The Jäger Report meticulously documents the murder of 137,346 people. The vast majority were Jews, but communists, criminals, gypsies and others deemed undesirable were included in over 100 executions in 71 different locations.
Allied Powers of WWII On January 1, 1942, 26 countries signed the Declaration by United Nations, which set forth the war aims of the Allied powers. Australia Belgium Canada China Costa Rica Cuba Czechoslovakia Dominican Republic Great Britain Greece Guatemala Haiti Honduras India Luxembourg Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Norway Panama Poland Salvador South Africa Soviet Union United States Yugoslavia Subsequent wartime signers were: the Philippines, Mexico, Ethiopia, Iraq, Free French, and Free Danes.
After the Pearl Harbor attack, the American press began voluntary censorship. On December 8, 1941, the First War Powers Act granted broad powers of wartime executive authority, including censorship. Executive Order 8985 then established the Office of Censorship and conferred absolute discretion on its director. In January 1942, the Code of Wartime Practices listed subjects that contained potential information of value to the enemy that should not be published or broadcast in the United States without government authorization. Radio stations were ordered to discontinue programs with audience participation because of the risk that an enemy agent might use the microphone. While newspapers could print temperature tables and regular bureau forecasts, radio stations were ordered to use only specially-approved bureau forecasts to prevent enemy submarines from learning of current conditions. The code also specifically restricted information on movements of the President.
Repulse & Prince of Wales Sunk
The British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by land-based Japanese bombers north of Singapore, off the east coast of Malaya on December 10, 1941. The sinking of these proud ships struck a serious blow to Allied morale. More importantly, the Pearl Harbor attack and this Malayan engagement demonstrated that even heavily-armed ships that were not protected by air cover were quite vulnerable to air attack. Thereafter the Allies placed heavy emphasis on aircraft carriers over battleships.
Japan Captures Gilbert Islands
On the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan invaded the Gilbert Islands, occupying them by December 10, 1941. One of these islands would become infamous. In the November 1943 Battle of Tarawa, the ~12,000 man U.S. Marine 2nd Division suffered 894 killed and 2188 wounded, while 4,690 of 4,836 Japanese and Korean defenders of the island were killed.
Japan Invades Malaysia
On December 8, 1941, Lieutenant General Tomoyuki Yamashita led his 25th Army into British Malaya from Indochina. Against larger British forces, Yamashita utilized skills learned in earlier campaigns to repeatedly flank and drive back the enemy, earning the nickname of the "Tiger of Malaya."
Japan Attacks Hong Kong
On December 8, 1941 the Japanese 21st, 23rd and the 38th Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant General Takashi Sakai, attacked heavily outnumbered British, Canadian, Indian and Volunteer Defense Forces in Hong Kong. After initial resistance, the defenders were soon pushed into an untenable position.
Japan Invades Thailand
Uncertain if Thailand would allow Japanese troops free passage through its territory, Japan invaded the country on December 8, 1941. An alliance between Thailand and Japan was formally signed on December 21, 1941. On January 25, 1942, the Thai government declared war on the United States and the United Kingdom.
Why Wasn’t Wake Island Reinforced?
Wake Island is an atoll consisting of three islands with a lagoon, annexed by the United States as a result of victory over Spain in May 1898. After the first Japanese attack of December 8, 1941, a relief convoy (Task Force 14) was dispatched from Hawaii 2300 miles away. On December 23 the Japanese launched a massive attack against Wake's limited defenses. Realizing the island was almost certainly lost, and reluctant to lose any more capital ships in a futile engagement, Admiral Pye, acting commander of the Pacific fleet recalled the convoy.
Japan Invades Guam
In December 1941 Guam was defended by small U.S. Naval and Marine units as well as the Insular Force Guard. Beginning on December 8, 1941, Japanese aircraft repeatedly attacked American defenses on Guam. On December 10, about 400 Japanese troops of the 5th Defense Force from Saipan landed on on the island. An additional 5500 men of the Japanese South Seas Detached Force made separate landings in the north, southwest and eastern shores of the island. Japanese troops quickly advanced and defeated vastly outnumbered defenders. After token post -invasion resistance, the U.S. Marines surrendered. U.S. Marine losses were 5 killed and 13 wounded (including the prior Japanese air assault of the island, the Marines' losses were 13 dead and 37 wounded). The U.S. Navy lost 8 killed, The Guam Insular Force Guards lost 4 killed and 22 wounded. One Japanese naval soldier was killed and 6 wounded. About 274 officers and men of the US Navy , 153 officers and men of the US Marine Corps and 134 US civilians (nurses, priests, businessmen, etc.) were sent to Japan as prisoners of war.
Japan Attacks Wake Island
On 8 December, 1941, just hours after the Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese Mitsubishi G3M3 bombers from bases on the Marshall Islands attacked Wake Island and destroyed eight of the twelve U.S. Marine Corps F4F-3 Wildcat fighters on the ground. Four airborne Wildcats, were unable to see the attacking Japanese bombers due to poor visibility. However, the following day the Wildcats downed two Japanese bombers. All of the garrison’s defensive emplacements were intact after the raid, which primarily targeted the naval aircraft. Of 55 Marine aviation personnel, 23 were killed and 11 were wounded. At this point, the nation began to hold its breath as daily news reports described the valiant Marines holding out against superior numbers of Japanese forces __________ December 11, Nineteen Forty One by Gary Lemon The marines on Wake Island knew their time had come. In the morning darkness, we looked out to sea. There's lights on the horizon....What can this be? "It's the Japs ! The Japs are here! " Cries a voice that's unseen. My God! Don't they know? We're the U. S. Marines! The bugle sounds a 'Call to Arms', We grab our guns and await the storm. At break of dawn many ships appear, Their guns are blazing and drawing near. Our world becomes a living hell, As Wake is hit with shell after shell. The Major orders, "Men, hold your fire!" "What are we waiting for?" the gunners inquire. From the CP we finally hear...... "All batteries commence firing ... Let them know we're here! " Our cannons discharge a deadly load, We watch in awe as three ships explode. The Japs are stunned by this deadly display, They waste no time in sailing away. This was a battle we had to win, But we know for certain...... They'll be back again
Japanese Air Attacks on the Philippines
It is difficult to understand General MacArthur's failure to place American military forces in the Philippines on a proper war footing immediately after hearing news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Nine hours after he knew of the Pearl Harbor attack, many American aircraft remained on the ground, vulnerable to attack. The result was the effective elimination of American air power in the Western Pacific, withdrawal of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet from Philippine waters and extreme compromise of the defense of the Philippines against a subsequent invasion by Japanese troops.
1st Around-the-World Commercial Flight
The Pacific Clipper, a Boeing 314 flying boat, was preparing to land in New Zealand when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. They backtracked to New Caledonia, then Australia. From there, they flew on to the Dutch East Indies, Ceylon, Pakistan, Sudan, Belgian Congo, Brazil and Trinidad, finally reaching New York City in the first around-the-world flight by a commercial airliner . Total distance = 50,694 KM. Total flight time = 209 hours. After this flight, the Pacific Clipper was assigned to the U.S. Navy for the rest of World War II.
Japanese View of Pearl Harbor
Remember December 8! On this day the history of the world was changed. The Anglo-Saxon powers On this day we’re driven back on East Asian land and sea, It was their Japan that drove them back, A tiny country in the Eastern Sea, Nippon, the Land of the Gods Ruled over by a living God. - Nagai Kafū (1879-1959) ____________________ Kafū Nagai (永井 荷風, December 3, 1879 - April 30, 1959) was the pen name of author, playwright, essayist, and diarist Nagai Sōkichi (永井 壮吉). He wrote of life in early 20th-century Tokyo among geishas, prostitutes, cabaret dancers, and other denizens of the city's lively entertainment districts.
The Night of Pearl Harbor
I was born on February 21, 1942. This poem echoes the thoughts I've often had. ______________________________________ December 7, 1941 - Pearl Harbor by Sharon Auberle I imagine my mother that night, listening to the radio, Glenn Miller’s String of Pearls, Edward R. Murrow wishing the world good night and good luck then breaking news... the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My mother’s hands are folded on the mound that is me, that pulsating cord connecting us. I wonder if I know her fear, feel the tightening, the terror, the anger, suppressed because of the child in her belly. She feels me moving beneath her dress, and thinks of Japanese mothers and their babies soon to be born, as I will be born three months later. I have not yet lived long enough to see world peace. So many never have the chance.
U.S. Warns of Imminent Japanese Attack
On November 27, 1941, the U.S. government warned the British government and American military commanders of an imminent war with Japan. American intelligence concluded that a Japanese offensive against the Philippines or South East Asia was most likely. Was there intelligence that more specifically suggested Pearl Harbor was the likely target? Doubtful, but debatable.
November 2- Japanese ambassador Admiral Nomura and special envoy Saburo Kurusu propose that the U.S. unfreeze Japanese credits, reopen trade relations, assist Japan in the exploitation of resources in the Dutch East Indies, halt American military build-up in the Western Pacific and end support for China. November 26 - Secretary of State Cordell Hull calls for Japanese evacuation of French Indo-China and China, official recognition of the Nationalist Chinese government and a multi-lateral non-aggression pact before establishment of a liberal trade policy between Japan and the USA. Special Envoy Kurusu states that this proposal effectively ends the talks, but requests two more weeks to study the offer. November 29 - Secretary Hull informs the British ambassador to the U.S. that the talks have virtually collapsed. December 1 - The Japanese government publicly rejects the Hull proposals.
American Ambassador’s Warning
On November 17 , 1941 American Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew cabled Secretary Hull and Under Secretary Welles as follows: "In emphasizing need for guarding against sudden military or naval actions by Japan in areas not at present involved in the China conflict, I am taking into account as a probability that the Japanese would exploit all available tactical advantages, including those of initiative and surprise..."
War Clouds Over America
"A great deal is heard these days about the “morale” of the average man. Some ardent interventionists point to the apparent lack of enthusiasm about the war and cry that something must be done to get people excited. Isolationists advertise poll results which show that only one out of every five persons wants to go into the war now, and accuse Administration leaders of dragging the great majority down a path it does not want to follow." Hadley Cantril, Director Office of Public Opinion Research New York Times November 16, 1941 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=_sGdux3zETQ
Allies Out of East Asia
On October 18th, 1941 His Majesty the Emperor visited a provisional festival at Yasukuni Shrine and offered prayers for those who died in the war. At 10:15 a.m., when the prayers were offered, all the people offered a silent prayer throughout the country. At 10:20 a.m. His Majesty the Emperor TOKYO - Going beyond cautious and flexible formulas employed by both Premier Hideki Tojo and Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo, to the effect that Japan’s policies aim at a successful conclusion of the “China incident” and the establishment of “a greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere,” Finance Minister Okinori Kaya declared yesterday it was also Japan’s aim to “force Britain and the United States to retreat from East Asia.” New York Times November 11, 1941
In the months leading up to American involvement in WWII, strained relations with Mexico were under repair. In November 1941 Mexican President Avila Camacho and FDR reached an agreement in which Mexico agreed to settle American agrarian claims in return for U.S. support of the Mexican peso, purchase of Mexican silver above the world market price, and credit to Mexico for highway construction.
U.S. Arms Merchant Ships
Prior to the U.S. entry into WWII, the U.S. Neutrality Act of 1936 prohibited the arming of American merchant ships carrying war supplies to the Allies. With increasing attacks by German aircraft and submarines in war zones, Congress amended the act in November 1941 to allow arming of U.S. merchant ships.
USS Reuben James Sunk
The American convoy destroyer U.S.S. Reuben James was torpedoed and sunk off Iceland with the loss of 115 of 160 crewmen on October 31, 1941. Although other U.S. ships had been torpedoed, the Reuben James was the first one sunk by Germany. The folk singer Woody Guthrie wrote his now famous song immediately after the incident: The Sinking of the Reuben James - words & music by Woody Guthrie Have you heard of a ship called the good Reuben James Manned by hard fighting men both of honor and fame? She flew the Stars and Stripes of the land of the free But tonight she's in her grave at the bottom of the sea. Tell me what were their names, tell me what were their names, Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James? What were their names, tell me, what were their names? Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James Well, a hundred men went down in that dark watery grave When that good ship went down only forty-four were saved. 'Twas the last day of October we saved the forty-four From the cold ocean waters and the cold icy shore. It was there in the dark of that uncertain night That we watched for the U-boats and waited for a fight. Then a whine and a rock and a great explosion roared And they laid the Reuben James on that cold ocean floor. Now tonight there are lights in our country so bright In the farms and in the cities they're telling of the fight. And now our mighty battleships will steam the bounding main And remember the name of that good Reuben James.
Japan Captures Soviet Spy
Richard Sorge, a German communist, was a WWII Soviet spy who posed as a journalist in China and Japan. In October 1941, the Kempeitai (Japanese secret military police) arrested him on suspicion of working for the German Abwehr (German military intelligence). Under torture, he confessed that he was actually an agent of the Soviet GRU (Soviet foreign military intelligence). Although the Japanese repeatedly offered to trade Sorge for one of their own captured spies, the Soviets denied he was one of their agents and he was hanged in November 1944. In 1964 the USSR acknowledged that Sorge had been a Soviet spy. Later it was learned that Stalin had failed to heed Sorge's warning regarding the impending June 1941 German invasion of the USSR (Operation Barbarossa).
In October 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt privately proposed to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that the countries pool their resources and research facilities to develop an atomic bomb. In 1939, physicists Leó Szilárd and Eugene Wigner drafted a letter to FDR warning of the potential development of "extremely powerful bombs of a new type". The letter, co-signed by Albert Einstein, urged the USA to stockpile uranium ore and accelerate the research of Enrico Fermi and others into nuclear chain reactions. On June 28 1941, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8807, which created the Office of Scientific Research and Development. The office was empowered to engage in large engineering projects in addition to research. In Britain, Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peierls at the University of Birmingham had made a breakthrough investigating the critical mass of uranium-235 in June 1939. Their March 1940 memorandum initiated the British atomic bomb project. On October 9, 1941, FDR approved the U.S. atomic program and appointed a Top Policy Group with the Army in charge of the project. In October FDR sent a message to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, suggesting that they collaborate on atomic matters.
German Jews Must Wear Yellow Stars
Nazi mandated Star of David; Wikimedia Commons In September 1941, all Jews over the age of six in the Third Reich and the ethnically Czech Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia were required to wear the Star of David with Jude (Jew in German) inscribed in faux Hebrew letters. This requirement was subsequently introduced in other German-occupied areas. Although the Nazis reinstated it, this practice was not new. Since medieval times, in both Christian and Muslim countries, persons not of the dominant religion were often required to wear badges, hats, bells or other items of clothing that distinguished them from the majority group.
Tojo Becomes Prime Minister
General Hideki Tojo, who as Minister of War had promoted military expansion in Asia, became Prime Minister of Japan in October 1941. A leader of the militarist faction, he had the support of many people in the general public who admired the military and held many civilian politicians in disdain.
U.S. Destroyer Attacks U-Boat
On September 4, 1941, after the U- 652's torpedo missed, the USS Greer retaliated with an unsuccessful depth charge attack against the U-Boat. This first overt act of war was interpreted differently by Germany and the USA. The USS Greer, built in WWI, was similar in appearance to fifty old destroyers given to the Royal Navy by the U.S. in 1940. The Germans also claimed that the U-Boat believed bombs dropped by a British airplane were depth charges from the destroyer. On September 11, 1941, FDR gave U.S. Navy patrols permission to "shoot on sight" when encountering German submarines.
War Hawk in Imperial Japan’s Cabinet
A November 1941 document written by Lt. Gen. Teiichi Suzuki, the Imperial Japanese cabinet member in charge of allocating resources for the army, navy and civilians, concluded that Japan, which was already at war in China, would be able to still wage war against the United States, Britain and the Netherlands. Some estimates described in the report (apparently padded) allowed Suzuki to convince undecided leaders that Japan could secure the logistical supplies needed to wage this war.
Charles Lindbergh – America First
In 1941, Charles Lindbergh was the America First Committee's leading spokesman against American involvement in the European conflict. He maintained that FDR, along with British and Jewish interests were leading America into war. Lindbergh resigned his commission in the Army Air Corps after Roosevelt publicly denounced him.
Imperial Japanese Family
On February 4, 1918, Hirohito became engaged to Princess Nagako, daughter of Prince Kuniyoshi Kuninomiya. The imperial wedding finally took place on January 26, 1924. The imperial couple later had five daughters, the first born in December 1926, and two sons, the first born in December 1933. Shigeko, Princess Teru Sachiko, Princess Hisa Kazuko, Princess Taka Atsuko, Princess Yori Akihito, Prince Tsugu (The Crown Prince) Masahito, Prince Yoshi (The Prince Hitachi) Takako, Princess Suga Read more: http://www.notablebiographies.com/He-Ho/Hirohito.html#b#ixzz2bQZeIwBd
In August 1941, Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt met on a ship off Newfoundland and agreed on a plan for large-scale assistance to the USSR. They also drafted the Atlantic Charter which stated the ideal goals of the war: no territorial aggrandizement no territorial changes made against the wishes of the people restoration of self-government to those deprived of it free access to raw materials reduction of trade restrictions global cooperation to secure better economic and social conditions for all freedom from fear and want freedom of the seas abandonment of the use of force, as well as disarmament of aggressor nations.
U.S. Warns Japanese
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Kichisaburō Nomura In August 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt warned Admiral Nomura, the Japanese ambassador to the United States, that the U.S. would be forced to take immediate action to safeguard American rights and interests in the Far East if the Japanese took new military actions in the region.
The development of television was truly an international endeavor. In 1926, Kenjiro Takayanagi demonstrated the first working example of a fully electronic television receiver. Although the American public was introduced to TV at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, the onset of WWII delayed large scale manufacture until the war’s end. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=gV0Ralac0w4&t=4
American River Gunboat Tutuila Bombed by Japanese
On July 30, 1941 the stern superstructure of the American river gunboat Tutuila (PR-4) was damaged by Japanese bombers in an air raid on the Chinese capital of Chunking. No casualties were reported.The gunboat was anchored across the Yangtze river from the capital. The Japanese subsequently apologized. Read news report
Japanese Assets in the USA Frozen
Viewing the Japanese move into southern Indochina, as an overt and flagrant act of aggression, FDR issued an executive order on July 26,1941 that froze all Japanese assets in the United States. The order, which placed all import and export transactions with Japanese interests under U.S. government control, resulted in the virtual cessation of trade between the United States and Japan.
V for Victory
Following a BBC broadcast in January 1941 that suggested the use of a V for victoire (French: “victory”) and vrijheid (Dutch: "freedom") sign during German occupation, Vs appeared on walls throughout Belgium, the Netherlands, and northern France. Throughout the war in the subsequent "V for Victory" campaign, the three dot and a dash Morse code signal for V (•••－) , whose rhythm corresponded to the opening bars of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, was used by the BBC as its call-sign in broadcasts to occupied Europe. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=3Lm4pwnTeRo&t=11
Japan Stays Out of German-Soviet War
Shortly after concluding a neutrality pact with the USSR, Japan's Foreign Minister, Matsuoka Yosuke had ignored German hints about their upcoming Barbarosa offensive. In a meeting with his cabinet, he proposed that Japan now join the Germans in their attack on the Soviets. After a week of deliberation with the Army, Navy and Foreign Ministries, the Japanese leadership decided not to intervene and concentrate on the occupation of Southern Indochina to establish a "Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere."
Germany Invades the Soviet Union
Using the codename Operation Barbarossa, Axis forces totaling 3 million men from Germany, Italy, Romania, Hungary and Finland launched a surprise attack against the USSR along a 2000 mile front on June 22, 1942. Although Britain and the United States were wary of Stalin, Britain began providing the USSR with intelligence on German activity and intensified the bombing of major German cities. Soon, both Britain and the USA shipped many aircraft, tanks, food and medical supplies to the USSR.
SS Robin Moor Sunk by U-boat
After allowing the passengers and crew to disembark to lifeboats, the German submarine U-69 sank the SS Robin Moor on May 21, 1941. The U-69 left some bread and butter for the survivors and explained that the ship had been sunk because she was carrying supplies to Germany's enemy. FDR's response: "In brief, we must take the sinking of the Robin Moor as a warning to the United States not to resist the Nazi movement of world conquest. It is a warning that the United States may use the high seas of the world only with Nazi consent. Were we to yield on this we would inevitably submit to world domination at the hands of the present leaders of the German Reich. We are not yielding and we do not propose to yield."—Franklin D. Roosevelt ”
Treaty of Tokyo
From 1940-1941, Vichy France and Thailand fought to control certain areas of French Indochina that had once belonged to Thailand. On May 9, with Japanese mediation, a peace treaty was signed in Tokyo that forced Vichy France to relinquish disputed border territories. Although ostensibly a Thai victory, Imperial Japan was able to expand their influence in both Thailand and Indochina.
USA Begins Trans-Atlantic Escorts
As an ostensibly neutral USA increased military Lend Lease aid to Great Britain, Germany viewed the U.S. action as hostile. The establishment of a Pan-American Security Zone extending over much of the Atlantic Ocean, provided American escorts to British and neutral merchant ships. Although American escorts generally did not attack the U-boats they encountered, they informed British convoys of their location.
U.S. Occupies Greenland and Iceland
When Germany occupied Denmark in April 1940, ties were cut with Iceland which pursued a strict course of neutrality. However, in May 1940 British forces took de facto control of the country. American forces relieved the British a year later and remained there for the duration of the war. With Germany threatening their colony of Greenland, the Danish envoy in Washington acting independently, requested the protection of the United States in May 1941. For the remainder of WWII the United States maintained extensive air and sea facilities in Greenland, as well as radio beacons, radio stations, weather stations, ports, depots, artillery posts, and search-and-rescue stations.
Take the A Train
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=cb2w2m1JmCY "Take the 'A' Train" written by Billy Strayhorn was the signature tune of the Duke Ellington orchestra. First recorded in January 1941, the title refers to a subway service in NYC that ran from Brooklyn to Harlem on an express track.
Diverging from a non-interventionist policy begun after WWI, in March 1941 the U.S. Congress enacted Public Law 77-11, the Lend-Lease Act. Formally titled : An Act to Further Promote the Defense of the United States, the law authorized a program that supplied the United Kingdom, USSR, Republic of China, Free France and other Allied nations with war materiel.
ABC – 1 Staff Agreement
A series of secret meetings between representatives of the USA, Canada and Great Britain (ABC) took place in Washington D.C. during the winter of 1941. These meetings, regarding deployment plans for British, Canadian and American forces if the USA entered the war, culminated in the March 1941 ABC-1Staff Agreement.
Japan Proposes “Commercial Understanding” with U.S.
In February 1941, a Japanese proposal for a "commercial understanding" with the United States, asserting Japanese dominance over the Dutch East Indies was flatly rejected by FDR. The U.S. State Department warned Japan that the U.S. had guaranteed the freedom of the Dutch East Indies (provider of 97% raw rubber to the USA) and any movement south of China would be a provocation.
Admiral Kimmel Appointed U.S. Navy Pacific Commander
In February 1941 Admiral Husband E. Kimmel assumed command of the Pacific fleet that had recently been moved from San Diego to Pearl Harbor. In a message to the Chief of Naval Operations he stated: "I feel that a surprise attack (submarine, air, or combined) on Pearl Harbor is a possibility, and we are taking immediate practical steps to minimize the damage inflicted and to ensure that the attacking force will pay."
In response to a request from FDR, the Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), National Catholic Community Service, National Travelers Aid Association and the National Jewish Welfare Board formed the United Service Organizations in February 1941 to provide morale and recreation services to U.S. uniformed military personnel.
Greater East Asian Sphere of Common Prosperity
"It is my firm belief that the establishment of a sphere of common prosperity throughout Greater East Asia is not only Japan's policy, but indeed a historical necessity in the event of world history." - Japan's Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka at the opening of the Thai-French Indo-China border dispute conference The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (大東亞共榮圈) was a concept proposed by Imperial Japan in the 1930s for occupied Asian populations, The Japanese proposal promoted cultural and economic unity of Northeast Asians, Southeast Asians, and Oceanians and urged the creation of a self-sufficient bloc of Asian nations led by Japan and free of Western powers. .
This Is Not Our Fight – Charles Lindbergh
In January 1941 America First advocate Charles Lindbergh testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs against the Lend-Lease Bill. Instead, he proposed the creation of a neutrality pact with Germany. After President Roosevelt criticized his views on neutrality as appeasing and defeatist, Lindbergh resigned his commission in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
Hitler Meets Japanese Foreign Minister
From 1934-1939, as the Imperial Japanese military attaché in Berlin, Colonel Hiroshi Ōshima, who spoke excellent German, became well acquainted with Adolf Hitler and his foreign policy advisor Joachim von Ribbentrop. Returning to Berlin in February 1941 as Ambassador, Ōshima reportedly discussed with von Ribbentrop the possibility of a joint German-Japanese initiative for war against the British Empire and the United States.
Japan Controls French Indo-China
In January 1941 Vichy French defeated the Thai Navy in the battle of Koh Chang. A truce in the Franco-Thai War was arranged by the Imperial Japan Japanese government that also confirmed Japan's military occupation of French Indo-China and access to Indo-Chinese rice, rubber, coal, and minerals.
The Four Freedoms
In his State of the Union Address on January 6, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt presented his reasons for American involvement in the European war, continued aid to Great Britain and increased American war industry production. The United States, FDR said, was fighting for the universal freedoms that all people possessed. freedom of speech and expression-- everywhere in the world freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world.
Extremely popular from 1939 to his disappearance on an Army transport airplane to Paris in 1944, Glenn Miller's hits included: Moonlight Serenade, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Over the Rainbow, Tuxedo Junction, Pennsylvania 6-5000, When You Wish Upon a Star, Fools Rush in, American Patrol, A String of Pearls, Moonlight Cocktail, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, That Old Black Magic. How many of these tunes do you know? Glenn Miller Songs A American Patrol Annie's Cousin Fannie At Last B Boom Shot Bugle Call Rag C Caribbean Clipper Chattanooga Choo Choo Community Swing Conchita Marquita Lolita Pepita Rosita Juanita Lopez Crosstown (Glenn Miller song) D Dese Dem Dose Doin' the Jive Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (with Anyone Else but Me) E Elmer's Tune Every Day's a Holiday (song) H Harlem Chapel Chimes Have Ya Got Any Gum, Chum? Here We Go Again (Glenn Miller song) Hotel Pennsylvania I I Dreamt I Dwelt in Harlem I Know Why (And So Do You) I Sustain the Wings I Swung the Election I'm Headin' for California Imagination (1940 song) In the Mood Introduction to a Waltz It Happened in Sun Valley It Must Be Jelly ('Cause Jam Don't Shake like That) J Jersey Bounce Jukebox Saturday Night K (I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo L Little Brown Jug (song) M Moon Dreams Moonlight Becomes You (song) Moonlight Cocktail Moonlight Serenade My Reverie N The Nearness of You P Pennsylvania 6-5000 (song) R Room 1411 S Serenade in Blue Skylark (song) Sold American Solo Hop Sometime (Glenn Miller song) A String of Pearls (song) Sunrise Serenade T The Technical Training Command That Old Black Magic Tomorrow's Another Day (song) Tuxedo Junction W When Icky Morgan Plays the Organ The Woodpecker Song
Japanese Field Service Code
Japanese field service code adopted by the Imperial War Department January 1941 "The battlefield is where the Imperial Army, acting under the Imperial command, displays its true character, conquering wherever it attacks, winning whenever it engages in combat, in order to spread Kodo (The Imperial Way) whereby the Japanese people, achieving a unity of mind, with Emperor as Master and serving Him with loyalty and devotion, endeavor to establish a highly moral nation through whose moral influence they hope to contribute to the peace and welfare of the world far and wide so that the enemy may look up in awe to the august virtues of His Majesty. Those who march to the battlefield, therefore, should exalt throughout the world the glories of the Empire by fully realizing what the country stands for and firmly upholding the moral tenets of the Imperial Army..."
Ambassador Grew Warns of Pearl Harbor Attack
Ambassador Joseph Grew; Wikimedia Commons Posted to Tokyo in 1932, U.S. Ambassador Joseph Grew immersed himself in Japanese culture, and remained well-accepted there even as relations between the two countries deteriorated. In January 1941, Ambassador Grew reported to the State Department that many sources (including a Japanese one) warned of Japanese military plans for a surprise mass attack at Pearl Harbor in case of "trouble" with the United States.
December 7, 1941
Today is what FDR called "a date which will live in infamy." But was the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor a complete surprise? Returning to the mid-1930s, we shall continue to review the attitudes and events on both sides of the Pacific that led up to this brazen attack.