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Started by Geribaldi on Dec 7, 2021 3:17:21 PM
80th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

What a "balls up" that was. Massive intelligence failure and a very dumb and unnecessary blunder by the Japanese.

Wouldn't the Japanese have been far better off leaving us alone? WW II would have unfolded very differently had they not attacked us 80 years ago today.

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Geribaldi - 07 Dec 2021 15:49:36 (#1 of 30)

I have often wondered how and if the US would have gotten into the war in both the Pacific and Europe had the Japanese not attacked us at Pearl Harbor.

Atticus - 07 Dec 2021 15:53:14 (#2 of 30)

But surely war was inevitable in the short term unless the US and Europeans were prepared to continue to grant access to the raw materials required to supply their economy and war machine.

Even if we did the Empire would probably have clashed with the other powers eventually.

Geribaldi - 07 Dec 2021 16:02:18 (#3 of 30)

Probably true. I do think FDR wanted us in the war at that point. However, I don't believe, as many believe, he knew about ahead of time.

I also think US intelligence at the time was abysmal.

brooklyn - 07 Dec 2021 16:48:43 (#4 of 30)

the US and Japan were negotiating hard in the weeks before Pearl Harbor. Japan offered some troop withdrawals in Indochina, but wanted normal trade, unfreezing of Japanese assets, and a free hand in china. in late November the Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, rejected those terms out of hand. he told the Japanese envoys that their military must leave China (south of Manchuria) and that they could not support any political force in China except Chiang's.

the Japanese cabinet met in the presence of the emperor a few days later on December 1st and voted to go to war.

which is to say, war was coming, Pearl Harbor or no Pearl Harbor. the US was telling Japan it could not move south. the Japanese believed they had to.

virgil5 - 07 Dec 2021 18:15:06 (#5 of 30)

I was hitch hiking with my gf up the Alcan Highway in the early 70s, and we were settling in at a rest stop towards the end of the day, when a 1956 Buick Road Master pulled in with a small family of five. They had all their possessions tied on the top of the car.

The father claimed they were from Texas, and seeking to take advantage of the Alaska Homestead Act of the time, which allowed people to use land left over from mining operations for a few years to try homesteading.

He also claimed to have worked at a fort in Texas where he saw papers in a safe there indicating FDR sold all his stock in the Singer Sewing Machine Company Hawaii just before the attack, losing nothing.

Just a coincidence. You'd have to be really dense at the time to not see an attack coming sooner or later.

FredDee - 07 Dec 2021 18:27:56 (#6 of 30)

yes it was a balls-up but the recovery was rapid and effectively the winner was known as soon as the Battle of Midway was won.

Speaking of which, there was a new movie about Midway a couple of years ago which was about how the Americans used signal intelligence to figure out the Japanese were going to attack Midway and made sure they had enough firepower to effectively sink Japan's aircraft carrier capability.

Which they did. After that you didn't need a weatherman to know which way the wind was blowing.

solomongursky - 07 Dec 2021 18:34:52 (#7 of 30)

Media distribution in 1941:

https://twitter.com/BeschlossDC/status/14682747897
22865676

xDiggy - 07 Dec 2021 18:37:43 (#8 of 30)

Speaking of which, there was a new movie about Midway a couple of years ago

I've only seen youtube clips of this and it looked like it was CGI-tastic rubbish. Why do we need another Midway film when the 1976 version is so good?

Arjuna - 07 Dec 2021 18:52:20 (#9 of 30)

I have often wondered how and if the US would have gotten into the war in both the Pacific and Europe had the Japanese not attacked us at Pearl Harbor

They were already in it. US troops were occupying Iceland.

Geribaldi - 07 Dec 2021 18:55:09 (#10 of 30)

Diggy - I agree, the CGI was a bit weak at times, but if you enjoyed the 1976 version, I think the latest one is worth a watch.

The best description I have ever read of Midway is Herman Wouk's in "War and Remembrance", he points out that the "coordinated attack" at Midway was 100% dumb luck and a lot of bravery, particularly by the torpedo planes that went in without escort and got slaughtered.

He also points out that Spruance did not get along well with Halsey's staff who wanted to fight on, but Spruance refused and withdrew after four Japanese carriers were taken out.

Arjuna - 07 Dec 2021 18:59:40 (#11 of 30)

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, my Grandad was on his way to Egypt via the Cape of Good Hope on one of these American ships. Churchill had requested US help ferrying British troops around the globe and Roosevelt had supplied it.

https://www.britain-at-war.org.uk/ww2/alberts_war/html/winston_s_specials
.htm

Atticus - 07 Dec 2021 19:00:29 (#12 of 30)

Kudos to the US for being able to take the field at Midway but their air assault was a farce and won via sheer good luck.

Still a win is a win.

Geribaldi - 07 Dec 2021 20:03:36 (#13 of 30)

Arjuna - "When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, my Grandad was on his way to Egypt via the Cape of Good Hope on one of these American ships."

Where was he coming from?

Arjuna - 07 Dec 2021 20:07:20 (#14 of 30)

British ships took them from Liverpool to Halifax then they switched to American ones.

Atticus - 07 Dec 2021 20:13:46 (#15 of 30)

That's quite a trek.

xDiggy - 07 Dec 2021 21:30:35 (#16 of 30)

He also points out that Spruance did not get along well with Halsey's staff who wanted to fight on, but Spruance refused and withdrew after four Japanese carriers were taken out

Fair enough I would think. What was he supposed to do, risk Enterprise and Hornet in exchange for some destroyers?

FredDee - 08 Dec 2021 15:34:01 (#17 of 30)

Why do we need another Midway film when the 1976 version is so good?

In the meanwhile one of the codebreakers wrote a book on how exactly they got and and used the Japanese codes.

Geribaldi - 08 Dec 2021 19:17:01 (#18 of 30)

xDiggy - "Fair enough I would think. What was he supposed to do, risk Enterprise and Hornet in exchange for some destroyers?"

There were still other Japanese carriers to target. I think what I read is that Halsey's staff urged Spruance to go after them, but Spruance felt all objectives had been met and withdrew. I believe it was revealed after the war that Yamamato was hoping for another attack to strike back at the remaining U.S. carriers. Some historians speculate that had Halsey been in charge, he would have carried on with the attack.

Geribaldi - 08 Dec 2021 19:17:40 (#19 of 30)

FredDee - "In the meanwhile one of the codebreakers wrote a book on how exactly they got and and used the Japanese codes."

Do you know the title?

FredDee - 09 Dec 2021 18:44:25 (#20 of 30)

The book in question is :

And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway Breaking the Secrets

by Edwin T. Layton

Catch is it is now out of print as explained here ( yes, due to the movie ) :

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/3129122-and-i-was-there

Different version of the same story is here ( and more easily available ) :

Joe Rochefort's War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway

( Sky Movies shows that movie almost daily. I had to download it to look up the book title. )

Just to be clear : it was Rochefort who broke the codes.

Layton wrote the book about him and them.

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