Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
A Nonny Moose

Pearl Harbour Day - December 7, 1941

36 posts in this topic Last Reply

Recommended Posts

Tomorrow is the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Let us all take a moment to remember the perfidy of politicians and the terrible errors in communications that cost so many lives.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Original Poster
  • I don't get the point about separated forces.

    Anyway, let's all remember the thousands that were lost, mostly due to command thinking left over from WW I.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    I don't get the point about separated forces.

    Well, Hawai had a perfectly good radar and air defense system. Only it was undermanned because neither army nor navy had anyone to spare. While it is the specific job of an Air Force to man such systems.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    Wars are a horrible loss of life. All those who have died must be commemorated. It must have been horrible to witness such an event, my grandmother was seven, and she watched the planes fly towards the harbor, and could hear the explosions and gunfire from her house

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    With regards to American hegemony, there are historians who will argue that the height of American power was actually immediately following WWI.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    With regards to American hegemony, there are historians who will argue that the height of American power was actually immediately following WWI.

    Wouldn't it be after WWII? The US was the only military power left (the soviets were hurting) and they were the only one with nukes. Not much could have opposed the US at this point if they wanted to take over the world.

    Also regarding WWI, today is the anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, the second largest non-nuclear detonation in history (next to the Soviet N1 moon rocket launch failure).

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    Wouldn't it be after WWII? The US was the only military power left (the soviets were hurting) and they were the only one with nukes. Not much could have opposed the US at this point if they wanted to take over the world.

    The belief centers around the fact that after WWI, the US had no clear rival to its position of dominant world power. After WWII, the US was technically at the strongest point it had ever been in its history, but it had a new rival, namely the Soviet Union. Among some historians, there is a belief that the Cold War had very little to do with competing ideologies of "Communism" versus "Americanism." Rather, it was nothing more than the inevitable result of two superpowers vying for the position of the dominant world power.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    Even after WWI the US didnt have a hegemony. There was still the British Empire, which was at that time still the largest empire in the world, there was still France and its colonies and there was the Japanese empire which was also definitely a strong power. And following the Wall Street crash and great depression, it was the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany that managed to rebuild their economies the quickest. And at its height, Nazi Germany was certainly a force to be reckoned with, even for the US.

    If you want to talk US hegemony, its more likely during the 90's, directly after the fall of the Soviet Union. No rivals, no other powerful states, China was still nowhere close where it is today and Europe was already a shadow of its former self. And that hegemony lasted until the next Pearl Harbor of its time: 9/11.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
  • Original Poster
  • I don't get the point about separated forces.

    Well, Hawaii had a perfectly good radar and air defence system. Only it was undermanned because neither army nor navy had anyone to spare. While it is the specific job of an Air Force to man such systems.

    I think if you look closely at the matter you'll find the radar installation was new, experimental and untrusted. This has nothing to do with the existence or not of the new air capability of the US Army-Air Force.

    The biggest problem at Pearl Harbour was the faith that the harbour was untouchable, the Islands were unreachable, and that they were protected by the Pacific Ocean. General Short, the Army commander at the time was clearly a horse-soldier left over from WW I and had no idea what to do with aircraft.

    Admiral Kimmel, the base commander, got to carry the can, but I don't think he deserved all the blame. He too was a good old boy who loved his capital ships and lined them up pretty because they had nothing else to do. The only people who might have warned them were at sea on the aircraft carriers, new and not entirely trusted. It was a good thing they were not lined up in battleship row as well.

    On top of everything else, a warning call from Washington could not get through, probably due to sabotage on the phone system, and the follow up wire was not delivered until after the attack. In today's modern communications systems this is unthinkable, but in 1941 it was rather standard operating procedure. We've come a long way in that regard. In those days, everything, even the telephone, was manual.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    I don't get the point about separated forces.

    Well, Hawaii had a perfectly good radar and air defence system. Only it was undermanned because neither army nor navy had anyone to spare. While it is the specific job of an Air Force to man such systems.

    I think if you look closely at the matter you'll find the radar installation was new, experimental and untrusted. This has nothing to do with the existence or not of the new air capability of the US Army-Air Force.

    They copied it from the Brits whose air defense system had been thoroughly tested during the German Blitz.

    The biggest problem at Pearl Harbour was the faith that the harbour was untouchable, the Islands were unreachable, and that they were protected by the Pacific Ocean. General Short, the Army commander at the time was clearly a horse-soldier left over from WW I and had no idea what to do with aircraft.

    All the more reason for having an independent Air Force. At least then you are sure that you got commanders who do have an idea on how to use airplanes.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
  • Original Poster
  • Well, I really think that's out to lunch. The Brits were well aware of the strength of air power and the danger to ships at sea. The Battle of Britain wasn't really over at the time time of Pearl Harbour. Remember we are talking December 1941. The "phony war" was barely over, and the Brits were licking their wounds from the Dunkirk disaster.

    General Short was so worried about sabotage that he had all the aircraft lined up along the runways so they could be watched instead of in the bunkers where they should have been. Sitting ducks. The Brits never left their machines in plain sight except when they were in process of a scramble or had just landed and hadn't been gotten under cover.

    The US War Department had just decided not to listen to Billy Bishop, and you see where that got them.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    Well, I really think that's out to lunch. The Brits were well aware of the strength of air power and the danger to ships at sea. The Battle of Britain wasn't really over at the time time of Pearl Harbour. Remember we are talking December 1941. The "phony war" was barely over, and the Brits were licking their wounds from the Dunkirk disaster.

    I believe the phony war refers to the period between the end of the Polish campaign and the start of the invasion of France. So by December 1941 the phony war had been over for almost 1,5 year. The Battle of Britain was also pretty much over with Hitler focusing most of his forces in the east in support of Operation Barbarossa. Aside from that, the British air defense system at that time was the best air defense system in the world. There were also one of the few nations with a separate air force, which in aside from bombing had air defense as one of its primary objectives.

    General Short was so worried about sabotage that he had all the aircraft lined up along the runways so they could be watched instead of in the bunkers where they should have been. Sitting ducks. The Brits never left their machines in plain sight except when they were in process of a scramble or had just landed and hadn't been gotten under cover.

    If they had a working air defense system those planes would have been up in the air before the Japanese could hit them. And the major reason the US did not have an air defense system was because neither the navy nor the army had people to spare to actually man the air defense systems at the time. Which is logical when you think about it. When your primary focus lays on either ground troops or big battle ships whose primary role is either to control land or sea, air defense in the form of manning radar stations is not exactly at the top of your priority list.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
  • Original Poster
  • And the major reason the US did not have an have an air defence system was because neither the navy nor the army had people to spare to actually man the air defence systems at the time. Which is logical when you think about it. When your primary focus lays on either ground troops or big battle ships whose primary role is either to control land or sea, air defence in the form of manning radar stations is not exactly at the top of your priority list.

    It wasn't a matter of not having personnel, but simply disbelief. There was only one radar installation, and it wasn't manned regularly because it was experimental and on trial. In fact, it was manned, and did report the incoming aircraft but it was pooh-poohed by the local commander, who should have tried listening harder to his guys instead of making the assumption he did about an expected flight of bombers from the west coast. The vector was all wrong, but as with most junior officers on Sunday, he wanted to get on to something else. Hawaii was considered a plum assignment with nothing much to do, militarily.

    As for an air defence system, they didn't have any. The didn't think they needed one since there were "out of reach". Typical US Military doctrine for the time. A great deal of the blame goes to Cordell Hull who was Secretary of State and being a sweet old boy with the Japanese instead of sending out an alert.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    It wasn't a matter of not having personnel, but simply disbelief. There was only one radar installation, and it wasn't manned regularly because it was experimental and on trial. In fact, it was manned, and did report the incoming aircraft but it was pooh-poohed by the local commander, who should have tried listening harder to his guys instead of making the assumption he did about an expected flight of bombers from the west coast. The vector was all wrong, but as with most junior officers on Sunday, he wanted to get on to something else. Hawaii was considered a plum assignment with nothing much to do, militarily.

    As for an air defence system, they didn't have any. The didn't think they needed one since there were "out of reach". Typical US Military doctrine for the time. A great deal of the blame goes to Cordell Hull who was Secretary of State and being a sweet old boy with the Japanese instead of sending out an alert.

    Again is why Im saying its good to have a separate Air Force. They wouldnt make the mistakes this commander made and they would have made sure that there was some kind of Air defense system in place, as thats one of the two reasons you have an Air Force to begin with :)

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
  • Original Poster
  • It wasn't a matter of not having personnel, but simply disbelief. There was only one radar installation, and it wasn't manned regularly because it was experimental and on trial. In fact, it was manned, and did report the incoming aircraft but it was pooh-poohed by the local commander, who should have tried listening harder to his guys instead of making the assumption he did about an expected flight of bombers from the west coast. The vector was all wrong, but as with most junior officers on Sunday, he wanted to get on to something else. Hawaii was considered a plum assignment with nothing much to do, militarily.

    As for an air defence system, they didn't have any. The didn't think they needed one since there were "out of reach". Typical US Military doctrine for the time. A great deal of the blame goes to Cordell Hull who was Secretary of State and being a sweet old boy with the Japanese instead of sending out an alert.

    Again is why Im saying its good to have a separate Air Force. They wouldn’t make the mistakes this commander made and they would have made sure that there was some kind of Air defence system in place, as that’s one of the two reasons you have an Air Force to begin with :)

    There is no point in persistently ignoring the message. Military aircraft were a new deal. Introduced in WW I mostly as observation kites and toys for "heroes" like the Red Baron. Nobody in the US at the time were really knowledgeable. The Americans had been isolationists for a decade or two, and were not paying much attention to "Mr. Churchill's war". The details of the Battle of Britain were unimportant to the people at Pearl Harbour simply because they could not imagine being attacked.

    The Americans kept their air force embedded in the army for a long time. The USAF was founded in 1947. The RAF, on the other hand, was founded in April 1918 and they constitute the oldest separate air force. Is there a Dutch Air Force? If so, when was it founded?

    Recently we had a combined force, which was done for bureaucratic reasons, and it really didn't work out. We have now separated our forces into the three arms again to the great relief of the members of the services. Think how ridiculous it was considering the difference in the titles of rank. In the army a Captain isn't much, but in the navy a Captain is a field officer, equivalent to an army Colonel. In the army, the next substantive rank after Captain is Major. The step up for a navy Captain is into the Admiralty after a trial period, perhaps, as a Commodore (Captain in charge of a flotilla with other Captains under him). While the combined forces existed it wasn't unusual to see a Major in command of a small ship. Phooey.


      Edited by A Nonny Moose  

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    It wasn't a matter of not having personnel, but simply disbelief. There was only one radar installation, and it wasn't manned regularly because it was experimental and on trial. In fact, it was manned, and did report the incoming aircraft but it was pooh-poohed by the local commander, who should have tried listening harder to his guys instead of making the assumption he did about an expected flight of bombers from the west coast. The vector was all wrong, but as with most junior officers on Sunday, he wanted to get on to something else. Hawaii was considered a plum assignment with nothing much to do, militarily.

    As for an air defence system, they didn't have any. The didn't think they needed one since there were "out of reach". Typical US Military doctrine for the time. A great deal of the blame goes to Cordell Hull who was Secretary of State and being a sweet old boy with the Japanese instead of sending out an alert.

    Again is why Im saying its good to have a separate Air Force. They wouldn’t make the mistakes this commander made and they would have made sure that there was some kind of Air defence system in place, as that’s one of the two reasons you have an Air Force to begin with :)

    There is no point in persistently ignoring the message. Military aircraft were a new deal. Introduced in WW I mostly as observation kites and toys for "heroes" like the Red Baron. Nobody in the US at the time were really knowledgeable. The Americans had been isolationists for a decade or two, and were not paying much attention to "Mr. Churchill's war". The details of the Battle of Britain were unimportant to the people at Pearl Harbour simply because they could not imagine being attacked.

    The Americans kept their air force embedded in the army for a long time. The USAF was founded in 1947. The RAF, on the other hand, was founded in April 1918 and they constitute the oldest separate air force. Is there a Dutch Air Force? If so, when was it founded?

    What? The Brits were fighting a major war, and you think the US would just look the other way? Oh no, they were supplying the British empire with loads of material and they were most certainly very interested in what was happening in Europe. The US army certainly paid attention. And ever since WW1 the US has been working on its own Air Force doctrine. People like Mitchell were certainly influential, and the whole idea of tactical bombing was pretty much invented in the US. It was just that the Air Force was never a separate branch until 1947. Anyways, the B-17 didnt came out of nowhere. It was designed and approved before the Second World War even broke out. More proof that the US military wasnt just ignoring what was happening in the rest of the world. And sure, I do not dispute that the US believed that they were out of reach, Im just saying that if a separate Air Force army branch existed, with one of its main tasks being air defense, then likely the base at Pearl Harbor would have had a better working air defense system or indeed, an air defense system to begin with. That is why I said that its a good thing to have a separate Air Force.

    And apparently the Dutch Air Force was founded in 1913, starting out with 4 pilots. Although it no longer exists as a separate army branch today.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    I just remembered the loss of a love one I thought I had gotten over long, long ago and know I realize that for some, the loss of life of a loved one can still impact them, possibly all their lives. Time can only fully heal all wounds if no one has personal memories (as opposed to being taught about it) of the loss. There are still people around who remember some aspect of pearl harbor and WWII and I pray for them. War is a terrible waste of life. I think the Japanese would have been better off if they remained neutral.

    --Ocram

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
  • Original Poster
  • @Ocram: One really had to live in those times. The world was a belligerent place. WW I was supposed to be the "war to end all wars" but the truce from 1918 to 1939 turned out to be just that. The punitive issues with the Treaty of Versailles pretty much guaranteed a continuation. What wasn't expected was the rise of national socialism and fascism. Several family friends never came back from "over there", and I was probably too young to fully understand. I was 8 years old when the war ended in 1945, and just young enough to have missed the 'gone to Korea' syndrome.

    While pockets to stupidity remain, let us truly hope that the actuality of world conflict is now a thing of earlier centuries.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    EDIT, better opening sentences: Japan in the 1930s WAS NOT the Japan we know today, very similar to what I imagine the differences would be between modern and Nazi Germany. Japan had been an Allied nation in WWI, but they were absolutely not anyone's allies in the days leading up to WWII in the Pacific.

    Japan had been embroiled in a war with China for several years prior to opening the Pacific theater of WWII with Pearl Harbor. They really were not all that neutral to begin with, and operated with a massive chip on their shoulder versus the Western powers. After WWI a treaty was signed to limit the sizes of the "winners'" navies, and they were supposed to have a smaller one than Britain and the US at a 5:5:3 ratio. This is on top of having clawed their way into being an industrial/imperial power in the wake of the unequal treaties forced up on them in the late 1800s, so they felt they were constantly being insulted by the West. The militant fervor that gripped the nation in the 1930s is remarkable in that they actually thought there was a chance that they could win a multi-front war against both us and China and the British Imperial holdings of the time, although it is also said that Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was not thrilled with the idea of starting a war with the US and our vastly superior resources.

    An interesting thing about living in Japan: every August, they make a big deal about the nuclear bombs, there are TV specials and interviews and debates, and at the time of the two bombings, there is a moment of silence to mark it. However, NO ONE in this country will have an open, honest debate about it within the context of WWII, so the way everybody tends to talk about it is through the lenses of how it is now between the US and Japan. There is no mention of Pearl Harbor at all, and history is taught in such a way as to make it as boring as they possibly can, so entire generations of Japanese people have grown up not really knowing the rich culture and drama and, yes, tragedy upon which their society is built. I really hate that part of being here.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    EDIT, better opening sentences: Japan in the 1930s WAS NOT the Japan we know today, very similar to what I imagine the differences would be between modern and Nazi Germany. Japan had been an Allied nation in WWI, but they were absolutely not anyone's allies in the days leading up to WWII in the Pacific.

    Japan had been embroiled in a war with China for several years prior to opening the Pacific theater of WWII with Pearl Harbor. They really were not all that neutral to begin with, and operated with a massive chip on their shoulder versus the Western powers. After WWI a treaty was signed to limit the sizes of the "winners'" navies, and they were supposed to have a smaller one than Britain and the US at a 5:5:3 ratio. This is on top of having clawed their way into being an industrial/imperial power in the wake of the unequal treaties forced up on them in the late 1800s, so they felt they were constantly being insulted by the West. The militant fervor that gripped the nation in the 1930s is remarkable in that they actually thought there was a chance that they could win a multi-front war against both us and China and the British Imperial holdings of the time, although it is also said that Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was not thrilled with the idea of starting a war with the US and our vastly superior resources.

    An interesting thing about living in Japan: every August, they make a big deal about the nuclear bombs, there are TV specials and interviews and debates, and at the time of the two bombings, there is a moment of silence to mark it. However, NO ONE in this country will have an open, honest debate about it within the context of WWII, so the way everybody tends to talk about it is through the lenses of how it is now between the US and Japan. There is no mention of Pearl Harbor at all, and history is taught in such a way as to make it as boring as they possibly can, so entire generations of Japanese people have grown up not really knowing the rich culture and drama and, yes, tragedy upon which their society is built. I really hate that part of being here.

    I have always heard there are a lot of Japanese visitors to the Pearl Harbor sites.

    +I have always found it interesting that Nagasaki was founded by the Portuguese.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
  • Original Poster
  • Apparently, given the history in the 19th century, Japan fell easily into the hands of the militarists. I don't know whether the Emperor (Hirohito) at that time was complicit or captive by it. Japan would quite happily been an isolated country if they could have avoided the various trade-based empires that put such pressure on them. Unfortunately, to support their population, they needed to trade which exposed them to the rather overweening western powers. It was an evil time for them.

    And speaking of overweening pride, I suppose that saving face is still a priority for the Japanese.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    I guess the positive side of Pearl Harbor would be that the ships were lost while in port, and the scraps could be salvaged relatively easily. With the poor anti-air defence aboard the ships, the damage would have been a lot worse if the ships were at sea when the bombers came. It also meant that the US had to acquire new and better ships to fight the war with. Who knows how well the fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor would have performed.

    Also, the Japanese should be remembering this day just as much as the Americans do. While it might be the greatest attack on American soil by enemy forces since the early 1800s, the attack on Pearl Harbor was peanuts compared to what happened to most Japanese cities a few years later. Almost a hundred times as many people died in the atomic bombings alone, none of them American. The US had it relatively mild in comparison to most other countries.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    I guess the positive side of Pearl Harbor would be that the ships were lost while in port, and the scraps could be salvaged relatively easily. With the poor anti-air defence aboard the ships, the damage would have been a lot worse if the ships were at sea when the bombers came. It also meant that the US had to acquire new and better ships to fight the war with. Who knows how well the fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor would have performed.

    The main purpose of the attack on Pearl Harbor were the US carriers. However the carriers were already out at sea, yet the Japanese still decided to bomb their docks in case their intelligence was false. This resulted in conflicting flight paths over Pearl Harbor, diminishing the effectiveness of the attack. And while it came as a great shock to the US, the damage could have been worse. Two ships sunk and a number badly damaged could have turned into more ships sunk and more ships damaged if the flight paths hadnt been conflicting.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    I remember visiting the bookstore Kinokuniya with an aim to find a Japanese publication about their World War II air forces for a military aircraft enthusiast friend of mine. The English-language section of the store was up-front full of Western-authored and Western-published books about Nagasaki, MacArthur, kamikaze, and other such general topics familiar to Western readers. There were even some nice photo galleries of Asian cities in the Art Deco colonial era. However, in the Japanese-language sections of the store, I simply could not find anything, even though I know several of the pilots who had participated in the Pearl Harbnor attack had written their own books and autobiographies on the topic. Along with the expected castle guides, I could find developmental studies of Tokyo though the Edo period and up to Meiji and Taisho, but not for early Showa. There were vast sections on monetary policy of the Bank of Japan in the 1980s or corporate dynamics of the modern keiretsu system, and even larger sections for romance novels featuring the dutiful geisha or homemaker pining over her stoic naval pilot lover, but no actual histories of the war. Be sure, there were plenty of histories of samurai shogunates or the civil wars of the Bakumatsu period and even the Russo-Japanese War, but nothing for the 1930s-1940s. More bemusing were the many displays for Japanese readers devoted to learning English with President Obama, featuring the American president's speeches translated and broken down into kanji and kana English pronounciation guides. I suppose the bookstore has to market to the purchasing trends of its targeted patrons, so it was interesting to see what was available and what was not, though it might have been interesting to trollingly ask the clerks on the manga floor if, beneath the copious stacks of shoujo, josei, and shounen-ai manga, they carried any Japanese editions of Iris Chang's "The Rape of Nanking."

    After diligent searching, in the end the best I could find were scale modelling magazines, which were boastfully full of lovingly detailed plastic model warplanes and capital ships of the His Imperial Majesty's Imperial Navy, all portrayed with the highest of Imperial pride. Admittedly, Japanese scale modelling magazines themselves are beautiful publications of exceedingly high quality, and so I picked that up for my friend. I do kinda wish I had also grabbed the katakana "Learning English with Obama."

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an Account  

    Sign up to join our friendly community. It's easy!  

    Register a New Account

    Sign In  

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now

    Sign in to follow this  

    • Recently Browsing   0 members

      No registered users viewing this page.

    ×

    Help Keep Simtropolis Online, Open & Free!

    stexcollection-header.png

    Would you be able to help us catch up after a bit of a shortfall?

    We had a small shortfall last month. Your donation today would help us catch up for this month.

    Make a Donation, Get a Gift!

    We need to continue to raise enough money each month to pay for expenses which includes hardware, bandwidth, software licenses, support licenses and other necessary 3rd party costs.

    By way of a "Thank You" gift, we'd like to send you our STEX Collector's DVD. It's some of the best buildings, lots, maps and mods collected for you over the years. Check out the STEX Collections for more info.

    Each donation helps keep Simtropolis online, open and free!

    Thank you for reading and enjoy the site!

    More About STEX Collections