Skip to comments.World War II + 70 Years Forum Continuing Discussion Thread
Posted on 10/31/2010 8:21:03 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Discussions that extend beyond the day at hand.
Other cool stuff that hasnt occurred to Homer yet
Not intended to:
Replace the discussion on the daily threads.
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Right-o. Ike and Bradley dissed him because he wouldn’t follow orders, or at least bitched about them, worked around them, undermined them, etc, and didn’t give a hoot in hell about allies.
Interesting that Stalin and Hitler had such respect. They would probably have had him shot. Still, Patton’s success was largely do to his “blitzkrieg” tactics, so he might have been more congenial with the Prussians in the Wehrmacht.
But what about that photo of Robert Mitchum -- Pug Henry claiming to be some officer named "Wainwright"?
More like Errol Flynn, don’t you think, old chap?
Ugh! Don't remind me of the worst casting job in television history. Mitchum and Polly Bergen were at least twenty years too old to work as Pug and Rhoda.
It might be interestign to review the list of US generalofficers who were relieved of their commands in the early days of WW II, starting with Kasserine Pass.
You might find some earlier than that. The early days around Guadalcanal was not the U.S. Navy's finest hour. For individual ship C.O.'s. I don't know about admirals.
He was replaced in mid-October, 1942 by Vice Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, and spent the rest of the war in minor commands.
LLoyd Fredenhall. Probably as despised by his subordinates as by thye enemy. Was having combat engineers blast out an HQ some 65 miles behind the lines when Kasserine broke. Had NO concept of armored warfare. Wasn’t sacked. Just reassigned to a stateside command.
Kasserine was one of the reasons Ike didn’t make my list. A critical sector in his command [Ike was ALWAYS concerned with being the on the ground commander], he never visited the area before the attack, and never appreciated the danger it [and Fredenhall] posed. He did the same thing with the Ardennes in ‘44.
Interesting factoid re Ike: Marshall wanted to be SACEUR, but FDR wanted him right by his side, wouldn’t let him go, that’s why Ike got the job..
On 16 July 1945, in the barren desert of Southern New Mexico called the Jornada del Muerto the world was changed forever. At 5:29 in the morning the work of physicists, chemists, and engineers paid a dividend of unparalleled proportion when the full force of the atom was released in the first ever detonation of an atomic bomb. The Making of the Atomic Bomb is an examination of the events leading up to this breakthrough as well as a look at the new world after the creation of this weapon and its use in combat over Japan.
Richard Rhodes does an excellent job in capturing the effort that went into the creation of the first atomic weapons. He begins his examination with a look at the previous generation of weapons that were the main terror in the beginning of the 20th century. The use of gas as well as the first attempts at strategic bombing during the First World War are described in detail by Rhodes in order to establish the increasing destructiveness of warfare over the last 100 years. From there he enters the developments in physics that led to the belief that an even more devastating weapon was possible. He examines some of the scientists thoughts on pursuing such a weapon and the varying opinions on why it should or should not be done. Niels Bohr felt that a weapon of such destruction would make war too terrible to be a consideration much in the same mold that Alfred Nobel thought when he invented TNT. Leo Szilard believed that if the western democracies did not pursue the new weapon that the Germans would become the only nation possessing it, giving Hitler an irresistible upper hand in Europe and the world. Edward Teller believed not only in beating the Germans to the bomb, but that research must continue to stand against what he believed was the next greatest threat, the Soviets. Whatever their motivations, men from all over the world found their way to the United States and began a project of mass proportion to develop this new weapon. Rhodes account of this project covers in great detail many of the difficulties that these men were faced with in making the bomb. These problems included the political issues, such as the efforts in getting the U.S. government to realize the urgency of this project, to the difficulties of separating the materials needed to actually making the working weapon. He also captures the misgivings of some of those involved in the development of such a destructive device.
This book is very well researched. Rhodes cites sources from all over the world and along with the use of official histories and declassified documentation; he also uses direct interviews with some of the surviving members of the project to help add the degree of detail needed for such a comprehensive work. Though sources are not directly annotated in the text, the notes at the end of the book make it very clear to the reader where the details related in the text have come from. He presents a very detailed account of the events leading to the atomic bomb, but presents it in such a fashion that it is very easy to read and understand. It does not require a degree in physics in understand the technical details that are presented as they are given in simple language with ample explanation. The one failing of this book lies in a somewhat one sided emphasis on the moral issues surrounding the bomb. While it goes without saying that the physical and psychological effects of the use of atomic weapons are a major issue when examining its history, this book does not take much of a look at some of the other consequences had this development not occurred. For example, Rhodes dedicates sixteen pages on just the reactions of individuals to the horrors they saw on the ground after the dropping of Little Boy on Hiroshima. At the same time spends only one paragraph on the estimated casualties that could have occurred had Operation OLYMPIC, the planned invasion of Japans southernmost main island of Kyushu, taken place. In fact this brief mention fails to cover the fact that OLYMPIC was only part of an entire plan for the invasion of Japan proper, named operation DOWNFALL, and that the estimated number of Japanese civilians that would be killed would likely have been in the millions. A more extensive look at the other side of the issue would give the reader a better understanding as to why the decision to use the weapon was made and give them the information to better form their own opinion on the moral right and wrong of the event.
Overall this book is probably the most comprehensive single work on the development of the atomic bomb and anyone how is interested in learning of this piece of history would be remiss if they did not read this book.
"We ought not to flatter ourselves by imagining that we are irreplaceable, but at the same time it cannot be denied that two or three hundred by-elections would be a quite needless complication of our affairs at this particular time." Winston Churchill, 17 September 1940.
While Winston Churchill makes a valid point in that politicians are not irreplaceable, it may be said that this axiom could not be applied to Winston himself. War in Europe was raging when Winston took over the reins of Prime Minister. His first action as the new PM was to preside over the defense of Western Europe upon which Hitler had on that very day decided to begin his assault. Britain would hold the distinction during the Second World War as being the one power that stood against the Nazis from the beginning right to the end and was active in the war longer than any other of the belligerents. A key to this longevity was the bulldog that refused to give in to Hitler, Winston Churchill. It is possible that if Churchill had not been Prime Minister at the time of the fall of France that Britain too would have sued for peace. But Churchills leadership was not always completely sound, nor was his position always completely secure. In Winstons War, Max Hastings looks at these critical years from the perspective of Winston Churchill and the trials that the man faced not only against the Nazi juggernaut, but also with his own generals and allies.
Hastings look at Winston Churchill is of a more critical nature than one would expect from a western historian. While Hastings points out from the start his admiration for the man he does not try to gloss over the mistakes made by the British leader. Certainly the successes are captured in detail. The miraculous rescue of men at not only Dunkirk but again from the French coast as France succumbed to the Nazis are covered in great detail as is Churchills personal triumphs in persuading his partner in arms Franklin D. Roosevelt to conduct war on Europes soft underbelly. But Max Hastings also takes a look as some of Churchills biggest blunders. He examines the campaign for the Dodecanese, considered Churchills second Gallipoli, in detail even showing the American generals absolute refusal to support the campaign. Hastings also looks at many other schemes of equal daring or perhaps foolishness that while pursued by Churchill, never even made it to the drawing board.
Many do not realize just how close Churchill was from getting run out of office in 1942 with every attempt by the British Army to take on the Wehrmacht having ending in defeat. The unification of the British people that we remember from the Battle of Britain did not last throughout the entire war and by 1942 Churchills leadership was definitely being questioned. Hastings looks at just how near Churchill was to the end as well as taking a very critical stance of the British military men who orchestrated disaster after disaster. As success finally began to come to the Allies, Churchills position began to become more secure, but at the same time his role in global events became minor.
This books looks at Churchills struggle to maintain some semblance of the power that was the British Empire as he came to terms with the fact that in the end Britain was not to become one of the superpowers that would define the post war world.
Many of the players are quoted often in the book with Winston taking the majority of the lines. These quotes range to very familiar ones like the one at the opening of this review, to more obscure yet Churchillian quips like this one said by Winston in frustration over the actions of French Premier Paul Reynauds mistress:
"That woman...will undo everything during the night that I do during the day. But of course she can furnish him with facilities that I cannot afford him. I can reason with him, but I cannot sleep with him.
This book is well researched using notes at the end of the book to tie lines in the book with the proper source material. This method leaves notation out of the text itself and requires the reader to search the notes to see if a questioned phrase has been referenced. The source material itself is wide ranged. Hastings not only cites a large number of other authors works to put together this book, but he also uses many diary entries as well as press clippings from the time. There are many instances where Hastings has found commentary from the general populous either from editorials or from private diaries and used them in this work. This gives this look at Winston Churchill a different flair in comparison to many other works on the man. The view of the common man or woman as they too are experiencing the ups and downs of the war with their leader is represented. Some are thankful of Winston and lean on him tremendously while others see him as a doddering old fool that should be run out of Whitehall. Hastings presents both views and the idle fears and concerns as well. This provides a more complete picture of not only Churchill, but also to the sense of the British public during these times as well.
For someone who is not familiar with the Second World War or Winston Churchill, this would not be the book to introduce you to the events or man. Hastings, understanding that there is extensive reading out there on Churchill, is taking a deeper look at the man in this work. If you are someone who already has general knowledge of the history of the Second World War then this book will give you a new perspective on one of its most colorful leaders during the fight. For those who want to know more about Churchill, be prepared to see the man who kept the British hanging on against the Nazis aggression through a more objective and human eye than what the common history provides.
The gentleman managed to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps at age 16½ in February 1942. A letter he mailed home, postmarked July 27, 1944, has a return address of:
Bat. B., 12th Anti-aircraft Bn.,
c/o Fleet Post Office, San Francisco.
A preliminary search turned up the sites linked below. The first has information about the different Marine Defense Battalions, which became Anti-Aircraft Battalions in 1944. The 12th Battalion is among them. The second mentions a member of the 12th who served on Peleliu. My friends father also was on Peleliu.
Any additional information would be appreciated.
Before the summer of 1944, the Anti-Aircraft Battalions were designated Defense Battalions. The 12th Defense Battalion served with the 1st Marine Division on Cape Gloucester before becoming the 12th Anti-Aircraft Battalion and serving on Peleliu.
great book on midway:
all over ray spruance greatness
Check out “Midway Inquest”. Caused me to re-think a great deal of what i knew about Midway.
Your friend should try this site:
It looks interesting but it says the general public is not admitted.
Thanks for all your efforts in illuminating the ‘big picture’ of generals, admirals and the like. I was an infantry grunt landing in Marseille in December 1944. It was pretty cold, we stayed in pup tents where each guy had a shelter half and both combined to make a tent. The ground was still soft enough for the pegs. Going North we were in Patton’s Third Army for a while but were shifted to the Seventh as the Battle of the Bulge progressed. We ended up guarding Strassbourg with the French before the Nazis pushed up back.
My grunt’s eye did not see any newspapers or hear radio for some time so we were not sure how things were going elsewhere. Reading about happenings in the Pacific concurrently is quite interesting and I again thank you.
The best place to start is here:
Veterans or next-of-kin of deceased veterans can use the online order form at vetrecs.archives.gov (or use the SF-180) to request military records.
I used this to find out about where and when my father served. Great service and fast results even though it is from the government. :-)
You can do it all online and they will email you when the information is in the mail so you can have the paperwork.
Once he has this information he can search dates better and places, types of jobs, etc.
The biggest roadblock I hit when looking into my own Father's war record was being informed, when I requested a copy of his service record, that it and millions of others stored in a St. Louis archive were destroyed by a fire some time in the 1970's. That should never have happened.
From this article it looks like it was the 12th Defense Bn and redesignated in June of 44 to the 12th Anti-aircraft Bn.
My father’s were there as well in the fire but at least the archives have some information restored. It’s worth the effort to have them send you what they do have.
"We were assigned where we were needed. There was no schedule because there was no schedule." - Sergeant Jack Blackwell of C Company of the 514th Quartermaster Truck Regiment
When the American army landed on the beaches of Normandy, they brought with them something that no other army had attempted before. They brought a complete commitment to the use of a fully motorized army. With this motorized army came a fully motorized logistics system to support it. The difficulties of supporting the multiple allied armies became apparent very early on in the campaign. Supporting the units in and around the beachhead using only the limited access of supplies at the beaches was tedious at best. When the armies broke out after operation COBRA, the problem only became extreme. Supplies were reaching the beaches and piling up near the Mulberry piers. But getting them to the front lines was an entirely different dilemma. A large part of the solution was the use of the trucking companies that had been landed on the beaches. These trucking companies were organized and administered in a fashion that created one-way designated roads for the supply truck going to and from the forward supply depots. The Red Ball Express was born. Though the Red Ball is well known in the lore of World War II history, not much is known about the make up and action of the express itself. David P. Colley seeks to change that in his book The Road to Victory: The Untold Story of World War IIs Red Ball Express, which is a rare examination of the trucking companies that were involved in the events that make the Red Ball possible.
Colleys look at the Red Ball Express is a very complete accounting of the events that surrounded the units involved. He goes into detail as to the events leading up to its inception and implementation as well as some of the initial problems that came with this attempt to supply entire armies almost completely by truck. The process of operating this supply line took a tremendous toll on both its men and equipment. This book examines the hardships and breakdowns from the ground level as it recounts many of these issues from the accounts of the men actually involved it the operation.
Colley also looks at the problems with the Red Ball from the point of view of the commanders who were in charge of moving the supplies as well as the ones who were to receive them. The rivalry between the two armies which the Red Ball provided for is evident especially in the accounts of when one would get supplies over the other. Colley examines some of the chicanery that came with the competing for these scarce supplies as shown in his reports of one army stealing supplies from the Red Ball that were slated for the other. General Patton was party to this thievery as indicated in this books report of a letter the general sent to his wife stating that it was sad to say a colored truck company did steal some [gas] for me by careful accident".
The more fascinating aspects of this book are in the details of the men making the Red Ball work. They remember a task which had them running the vehicles to destruction and the men to exhaustion. Many of these men in the trucking companies were black and with that came the issues of racism by other army personnel towards them. Colley takes the time to give notice to the racial problems that also came with the black trucking regiments but not at the expense of the entire story. His central theme is the logistical effort put forth by the Red Ball Express and his focus on the race issues involved are mostly designed to illustrate their own place in the difficulties of the overall project. He also takes note of those who really appreciated the effort of these black trucking companies and demonstrates that even in a time of a segregated army; there was still a degree of respect allotted to these companies.
This book is very well researched. For the macro historical facts Colley uses existing books and unit histories to piece together the story line of the Red Ball. But for the detailed stories and real meat of this book he relied on many interviews with men who were directly involved in the implementation of the Express. In all he utilized over 30 interviews with these men, most of them conducted by the author himself. The most harrowing, dramatic, and sometime funny stories all can be traced to these interviews that Colley took the time to make. The source material is formatted in an end note format which allows the reader to reference to statements in the book with notes in the back mater. This allows those who are not interested in where every piece of information came from to not be distracted by notation on every page.
If you are interested in the finer details of World War II, I recommend this book. It really pieces together the scope of the logistical problems that faced the Allied armies in France and what was attempted to try and remedy these problems. This book looks at a neglected aspect of warfare logistics. This less glamorous component of warfare, while not the stuff for the next blockbuster movie, was still of vital importance to the conduct of war. This book provides a peek into just one aspect of the tremendous logistical effort that equipped the American soldier in their march across Western Europe.
At 3:15 a.m. on June 22, 1941 the skies opened up with the thunderous boom of artillery fire. After months of preparation, the German invasion of the Soviet Union had begun. Though Hitler wouldnt know it at the time, this was the most fatal mistake he would make in the entire war. The decision to invade the Soviet Union would eventually lead to Germany fighting a two and even three front war as Britain held out and America joined the fray. The Soviet colossus did not crumble as had every other adversary the Wehrmacht had faced and by the end of the year it was clear that they would be in a long and probably losing battle with the inexhaustible mass of Russia.
Contemporary histories often portray operation BARBAROSSA as the triumphant 1st phase of Germanys attack on the Soviet Union that had brought the large country to the brink of collapse. They also tend to credit the Russian winter as the event that finally brought the German armies to a stop and in turn saved the Soviet empire. The reality couldnt be farther from the truth. David Stahels book, Operation Barbarossa and Germanys Defeat in the East is a study of the problems that really had doomed operation BARBAROSSA from succeeding before the invasion even began. Set before the start of the invasion and only tracking events to the end of August that year, David Stahel demonstrates to the reader how the problems that faced the Wehrmacht were insurmountable in light of the resources they had available and the leadership they had to command it. By August, long before the first rains or freezes of autumn, the German army was already at the end of its strength and was truly in dire straights.
David Stahel focuses on two major aspects that led to the German defeat in the east. These points of focus are not only vitally important to understanding the situation for Germany in operation BARBAROSSA, but they are also aspects that are usually ignored by common histories. The first of these issues is with the leadership driving the armies themselves. Much has been made of bad decisions made by Hitler during the course of the Second World War, but more often than not, the German generals who followed his orders are portrayed as brilliant strategist, with their only failings being the burden of trying to follow impossible orders from their Führer. Stahel goes beyond the erratic whims of Adolf Hitler to show the flaws within the leadership of the Germany armed forces as well. From Franz Halders manipulations of orders to try and force a move on Moscow (contrary to Hitlers wishes) to Guderians over extension of his lines and even Paulus inability to show the flaws in the invasion plans in his pre-invasion war games, the flaws in the German command are shown for the fallacies that they really possessed. David Stahel explains to his readers the infighting, uncertainty, and just poor judgment that plagued the generals of Germany.
The second aspect focused on by Stahel is the logistical nightmare that was operation BARBAROSSA. He shows that even before the invasion began there were already critical shortages on vital supplies including seemingly trivial things like tires for the support vehicles. Once the invasion had begun, problems with supplies only continued to get worse. Stahel demonstrates that not only was the well know problem with the different rail gauges a problem for logistical support of the armies, but it was impossible to make up the difference with the other support means at the Wehrmachts disposal. The supply vehicles that would be needed to provide the supplies to the front were too few and to fragile to do the job. The horses that made up a large portion of the supply system as well as for the transport of men and artillery were simply not conditioned for the harsher Soviet conditions and suffered from a very high rate of attrition. Before the autumn rains got equipment stuck, the sandy roads clogged engines, and choked men. As Stahel shows in his analysis of logistical support, not only were many of these divisions not getting new equipment and tanks to replace their losses, they also were not receiving the parts they needed to recondition the repairable fighting vehicles they had. In this Stahel shows how the vaunted blitzkrieg was ground to a halt well before the Russian winter began freezing troops and engines.
The research for this book is extremely detailed. Stahel uses detailed footnotes at the end of each page to not only reference his source material, but to expand on the reference or recommend other sources of information for the particular piece of information. In short, this book has nearly as much back matter as it has writing. For this reason, the book reads much like what it likely is. It reads as if it is a doctoral dissertation that is designed to be readily defendable. For the reader of popular histories this book may not have the trappings to keep up their interest. Its attention to detail comes at the expense of leaving out some of the more interesting side notes that you would see in a general history book and some portions of it are a bit dry. However, for those who are really in search of understanding the detail of what went wrong with the German invasion of the Soviet Union, this book will deliver in spades. Another author and expert on the Eastern Front, David Glantz has referred to this book as the state of the art on the subject of operation BARBAROSSA and this author would have to agree completely. If you want to understand operation BARBAROSSA and those first critical months of the war in the east, this is the book to get.
I can only agree with your rave review of the book after having read it twice and having a few sleepless nights because I was unable to put it down.
I wonder if you've read another book by Rhodes called Masters of Death -The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust? It examines the whole story of the formation of the different Einsatzgruppen their mass killings behind the Russian front which were so enormous that even today the number of their victims can only be guessed at. I highly recommend it after having recently read it in pdf format.
I am sorry to say I have not read either of the books. Perhaps the author of our review has read the one about the Einsatzgrupen.
On December 7th, at 7:40 a.m. Hawaii Time, Mitsuo Fuchida fired a single black dragon from a signal pistol he carried in his aircraft. This was a signal to the other planes in his formation that they were to commence the attack on Pearl Harbor under the configuration of having achieved surprise. Nine minutes later Fuchida ordered his radioman to send a single message back to the fleet, To, to, to, to signaling that they had achieved surprise on the American forces below. The story from there is one very well known to just about anyone. The Japanese commenced on a devastating attack on the U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor that sank or damaged every battleship in the harbor along with several other vessels. The action catapulted the United States into war with Japan to which Germany obliged their ally by declaring war on America a few days later. The final major player in the Second World War was now an official combatant in a conflict that would shape the world for generations to come.
Before the fires on the ships at Pearl Harbor were even put out questions began to fly as to how it was possible for the Japanese to successfully attack the U.S. Fleet. Investigations were launched into the events leading up to the attack beginning with the Roberts Commission, which was formed by executive order on December 18th, 1941. Throughout the war and even after its conclusion investigations continued to try and piece together what went wrong in the American chain of command and who should be held accountable for the failure of that day. Among those investigations, Henry C. Clausen was appointed as a special investigator by Secretary of War Henry Stimson in 1945 to follow up on the recently completed Army Board hearings.
In Clausens book, Pearl Harbor: Final Judgement, Clausen goes into the details that made up his investigation into the Pearl Harbor attack. Unlike other investigations which consisted of a board that required witnesses to travel to Washington to testify, Clausen handled his work as a special investigator by travelling to the locations where many of the key players were currently stationed. Since at the time of his investigation, the war in both Europe and Japan were still in progress, this led him to many different locales including ones that put him very near where active combat was still underway. Since Clausen carried with him key MAGIC decrypts to show some of those he would interview, he was forced to wear a bomb pouch so that in the event that he might get captured he would be able to destroy the documents to avoid their capture. To Clausens dismay, the pouch was also designed to destroy him with the documents had he ever needed to activate it.
This book is an interesting look into the process of discovery in one of the investigations into the Pearl Harbor attack. In it the author takes the reader on the journey that he took and the processes he used to get his testimony that would eventually end up in the Clausen Report, Volume 35 of the Pearl Harbor hearings. Since he was trying to clear up problems with the Army Board he was often faced with interviewing people who were believed to have perjured themselves in the previous hearings. Many of these men had been evasive during the Army Board hearings in order to protect the secret that the U.S. had broken the Japanese diplomatic codes and had made their prior statements with the thought of protecting MAGIC. It was only when they were shown by Clausen that he was cleared for MAGIC by producing the decrypts he carried with him that these people began to change their story. At the end of the book he takes the time to list the fourteen people that he feels are most responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor along with an explanation as to how he has come to that conclusion. Additionally, he takes the time to point out the issues with the intelligence system in general which proved to be a major contributor to Pearl Harbors failure to defend itself.
There is not much in the way of notation in the body of this book for understandable reasons. This book is after all a first hand account of the Clausen investigation as told by the man himself. However, in places where Clausen or his co-author Bruce Lee, make reference to items that are not first hand accounts they are notated as a footnote on the page where they are mentioned. Additionally, Clausen provides over 150 pages of documentation that he has felt to be of vital interest on the events leading up to the attack. This appendix is full on interesting information that includes the documents that Clausen took with him on his investigation as well as many key exchanges between Washington and Hawaii. It also has many of the MAGIC decrypts including ones that would have been very telling but unfortunately were not translated until after the attack.
For those interested in learning more on the events leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack I would recommend this book. It should be noted that as with any first person account there will naturally be a degree of bias towards the individual as is human nature. However, this book is very detailed on the process and the singular appendix of documentation alone makes it a very good resource for determining what factors played a roll in the failure at Pearl Harbor.
MORITURI VOS SALUTAMUS Gladiators hail to Caesar, We who are about to die salute you.
When one thinks of Rabaul during World War II, they often think of the Japanese fortress that dominated the north end of the island of New Britain. Fewer people realize that before the beginning of Japans expansion into the South Pacific, Rabaul was part of Australias Northern Barrier of defensive works. However, it would be a misnomer to say that Rabaul and the other defensive Australian positions were a force to be reckoned with. Manning the island of New Britain were approximately 1400 men of the 2/22nd Battalion designated Lark Force. This small force would face off against a Japanese landing force of over 5,000 troops supported by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo and his 1st Air Fleet. Needless to say the fate of the men of the 2/22nd was sealed long before the first Japanese soldier set foot on the beach. These men on New Britain would all be locked in a desperate struggle for survival as the Japanese crushed their defensive positions. Most of them would not live to see the end of the war and many of those who did would carry the scars from their ordeal on this jungle island.
Bruce Gamble examines the plight of Lark Force and its supporting units in his book Darkest Hour: The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul, Australias Worst Military Disaster of World War II. The stories that he relates are almost always tragic in nature. He begins by showing just how woefully inadequate the defenses of the island were. Gamble describes the two shore batteries that were all that protected Rabaul from invasion, both of them on the same hill one on top of the other. He describes the islands air defenses that consisted of only two 3-inch anti-aircraft guns and one of the two had a crack in its breachblock. From air support consisting of too few and obsolete aircraft, to the two pounder anti-tank guns only supplied with solid steel shot, Gamble paints a picture of peril for these men as the Japanese approached them.
But the author is only getting started when describing the fighting condition of the 2/22nd. Once the Japanese landed and quickly overran the Australian defensive positions, the men of the 2/22nd were in a constant struggle just to survive. Gamble describes some of the atrocities committed by the Japanese as they took control of the island including the massacre of 160 Australians who surrendered on the Tol Plantation. Others escaped into the jungle only to be ravaged by malaria, beri beri, and the ever-present threat of starvation. In the end only 385 soldiers from New Britain and its neighboring defensive post on New Ireland would escape the Japanese and make it back to Australia. The rest would find themselves back in their old barracks at Rabaul which had been converted into a P.O.W. camp. But in the end most of these men would never see home again due to the cruelest twists of fate. Bruce Gamble makes mention of the worse tragedy to confront the men of the 2/22nd in his introduction and then revisits it in greater detail towards the end of his book. He describes the incident where the U.S. submarine Sturgeon sunk an unmarked maru while patrolling the South Pacific waters. Unbeknownst to them, on board that maru were over 1,000 prisoners from Rabaul being transferred to the island of Hainan. All of the enlisted men from the 2/22nd who had not escaped capture were aboard that ship.
This book is superbly written and very detailed as it recounts the individual events and stories that took place in the first months of 1942 on New Britain. Its focus on some of the individuals involved and following their story to their escape, or more often to their demise is gripping and heart wrenching. Bruce Gamble has done an excellent job in telling the story of Rabaul. The biggest fault with the book would have to be its citation. Gamble made the decision to print the book with only an abbreviated citation. This means that as far as looking at the source material he used in this book, there is often no entry for some of the data he has put out there. The author does point out, however, that there is a complete bibliography that can be provided separately from the book if desired. This makes this book difficult to use from an academic standpoint. It is clear by the use of the abbreviated citation, that the author is more focused on the entertainment value of the book than he is its academic relevance and for this reason, I would not recommend using this book as a scholarly resource unless you go through the trouble to obtain the full bibliography.
For the casual reader of history, I highly recommend this book. It will provide the reader with a unique aspect of the Second World War. This is one of those rare books that take the time to examine one of the lesser known aspects of the war. While there are many books that look at the major events of the conflict, there are too few out there that are like this one that take a minor story of the war and presents it in a way that is informative and interesting. This book is very hard to put down.
I know you posted the info back in December, but thanks for the info on requesting records.
I got documents of my Dad’s service in WWII - but not organized.
It is always difficult for the common man to wrap their mind around the Holocaust. The thought of a government creating a national policy of destroying a singular sect of their own citizenry is almost inconceivable. Yet there are many examples of such genocidal policies throughout history. The Nazis policy of extermination of the Jews is the most prolific and well known of such government policies. However, the transition of the Nazis policy of exclusion to eventual extermination is not a clear one. There is no set list of orders that show clearly when Hitler and Himmler made the decision to embark on a quest of Jewish extermination. This has led to many studies that try and determine when the Final Solution, as it will be known, was decided upon.
One marker towards the Final Solution was a conference held in a lush section of Berlin on the shores of Lake Wannsee. This meeting was conducted by Heinrich Himmlers right hand man, Reinhard Heydrich. In this meeting he calls together not only members of the SS, but others from the civilian government side to coordinate details as to what the fate of Jews under German rule as well as those outside German borders. This conference, which will be called the Wannsee Conference, was held on January 20th, 1942. Clearly, this conference cannot be considered the beginning of a policy of mass murder since large scale killings had already begun long before this actual meeting. However, a look at this conference may show the effort to solidify national policy on Jewish extermination as well as put any dissenters to the policy on notice to fall in line.
In Mark Rosemans book, The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration, another look at the significance of this conference is taken. Roseman takes an analytical approach to exploring the purpose of this conference from not only the players involved in the conference itself, but in general policy that would occur as a result of the conference. The author is quick to point out the fact that just knowing about this meeting at all is an exception instance in history. The Nazis went to great lengths to destroy as much of the evidence to the Holocaust as their position in the war became more desperate. Of course the scope of the Holocaust was so large that this was a largely impossible task and as a result much evidence was left behind. A copy of the minutes from the Wannsee Conference was one of these items that slipped through the cracks. Initially there were only 30 copies of this document made for a very limited distribution list. Of those 30, only one survived to be found by Allied prosecutors just as the Nuremberg Trials were underway.
An important aspect of Rosemans evaluation of the Wannsee Conference is in his evaluation of the individuals who were involved in the conference itself. From an overall perspective this could be broken into two groups; Hitlers government secretaries, and SS hierarchy. However, Roseman shows the importance of one section of the participants that almost places them in their own category. Representatives from the Generalgouvernement present at the meeting, including Hans Franks right hand man Josef Bühler had a particularly strong investment in the issue of the Jewish question. Roseman points to Franks desire to make the Generalgouvernement into a jewel of the German occupied areas. This desire would include ridding the land of the 2 million plus Jews that were already there or shipped to the region as a result of other efforts to relocate the Jews. As the policy of evacuation was discussed, which really was just a euphemism for extermination since there really was no set plan as to where to evacuate these Jews to, Bühler was quick to volunteer the Jews in the Generalgouvernement to be among the first evacuated pointing out the proximity of these Jews would make them easier to transport to wherever they were to be sent in the east.
Another primary issue of the Wannsee Conference that the author takes time to look at in detail is the fate of the Mischlinge. These were individuals who were only part Jewish, being either half-Jew (first degree Mischlinge), or a lesser percentage (second degree Mischlinge). These individuals were discussed in terms of who would be treated as full Jews and evacuated and who would be sent to the so-called old-age ghetto in Thereseinstadt. Roseman points out that this policy was only a temporary salvation since most of the occupants of Thereseinstadt would eventually end up in Auschwitz. However, he also shows the degree of detail in which this very grey area in the Nazi policy was addressed with the conference itself showing a clear shift against the Mischlinge in question.
This book is truly designed for the academic reader and not the casual history fan. The source material used for Rosemans work is extensive and mostly consisting of original Nazi documentation. Because of this, the individual who is seeking out his sources will find that the vast majority of them are in the German language. Included in Rosemans sources is the Wannsee Protocol itself, which he attaches in total at the end of his book to allow the reader to go over the primary source, used by the author and capture the context in which he refers to it. If you are a casual reader, this book may not be for you. It is an analysis of a single meeting held by the Nazis and is not designed to be gripping reading. However, for those who are just interested in obtaining a better understanding of the Nazi mindset that led to a national policy of murder, this book will provide a very revealing look at this progression. The Wannsee Conference shows an official jump from oppression to slaughter and Roseman does an extremely good job at analyzing the nuances of this progression.
"Today begins the last great decisive battle of the year. In it we will destroy the enemy and, in so doing, England, the instigator of this whole war... We are thus lifting from Germany and Europe the danger that has hovered over the continent ever since the times of the Huns and later the Mongol invasion" - Adolf Hitler
At 3:15 am the peaceful night in Eastern Europe was shattered by artillery fire. In what Hitler had perceived as the realization of his original dream outlined in Mein Kampf, Operation BARBAROSSA began with the ferociousness that would typify the struggle in the East. The Soviets, despite numerous warnings were caught unaware and the Germans drove hard and deep into Soviet territory at breakneck speeds. In the initial months of this battle, it appeared that nothing would slow down the German divisions. To many observers, the Soviet Union was on its way to becoming the next of a long list of states conquered by the Nazis.
The reality that surrounded the battle was quite different. In David Glantz book, Before Stalingrad: Barbarossa Hitlers Invasion of Russia 1941, he evaluates the situation on the ground during Operation BARBAROSSA in stunning detail. In this book, Glantz doesnt just look at the war in the east from a singular perspective, but tries to examine the progression of the battle from both sides of the field. This book provides a rare, but detailed examination of the Soviet point of view as they desperately tried to stem the tide against the better prepared German forces.
At the beginning of hostilities with Germany, the Soviets, on paper, were a formidable foe. Possessing an enormous Army and Air Force, it would seem that they would be able to readily stand up to the German blitzkrieg and the deadly Luftwaffe. The critical flaw in the Red Army was the same one that plagued them during the Winter War against Finland the previous year. The Stalin purges had rendered the Red Army a dragon with no head. Glantz demonstrates these failings in the Soviet leadership as he details the rash decisions by the Soviets all along the chain of command. The failings of the Soviets were on many levels and the author touches on many of them. From the upper echelon, the newly formed Stavka was constantly ordering counterattacks by forces that had already been decimated and in some cases, already completely destroyed. Operationally, commanders in the field found themselves trying to coordinate counterstrokes only be defeated by breakdowns in communications between the forces and sometimes even between the headquarters to the divisions itself. Glantz goes into detail on these missteps and the desperate situation the units were placed in as a result. He also goes over the steps that allowed the Red Army to stop the Nazi flood and even successfully counterattack as 1941 came to an end.
A strong aspect of this book is that it is extremely well organized. The first chapters go over the German invasion and the Russian response to it. This is followed by a north to south look at the three major objectives for the Wehrmachts Army Groups: Leningrad, Smolensk, and Kiev. This organization is maintained to the containment of BARBAROSSA by December. There is a lot of information packed into each page of this book making it of immense educational value to the reader. In fact, if there is any failing in this book at all is that sometimes it is information overload. When there are so many different army divisions getting thrown about in every page, it is possible to lose track of what is where and even what side they are associated with unless you are paying close attention. This however, is a minor issue that is more than overcome by the sheer value of knowledge in the book.
As can be expected, a book that is this detailed in information is extremely well researched. The forty-five pages of notes this book lists contains everything from entries from German field generals like Gotthardt Heinrici and Heinz Guderian, to documentation obtained from the Russian Archives in Moscow. Glantz also provides a bibliography with over one hundred different sources and two appendixes containing translated texts of Russian and German directives as well as a list of the opposing armys organization throughout the year. The crowning addition to this book though is several pages of detailed maps showing the progression of the Wehrmacht into Soviet territory. In reading this book these maps are a great resource to get the reader situated to the region being discussed in the test and get perspective of the location of the units engaged in battle. Overall this is a very desirable book to read on the eastern front. David Glantz has shown himself to be an authority on war between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and this book does not disappoint at all.
Part I, December 18, 1941
The shake-up last night in military and naval high commands in the Pacific, following hard upon the tragedy at Pearl Harbor, should do much to ease the public doubts that the attack on Pearl Harbor engendered.
The relief of Admiral Husband E. Kimmel as Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, and of Lieut. Gen. Walter C. Short, commanding the Hawaiian Department, is undoubtedly preliminary to a more complete investigation of the circumstances of the attack upon Pearl Harbor, which is to be made by a board of inquiry appointed by the President.
The findings of the is board cannot be pre-determined, nor should individuals be prejudiced. Yet it is clear that the effect of giving fleet command to a new admiral and of placing an Army Air Corps officer Lieut. Gen. Delos C. Emmons - in command of both ground and air forces in the Armys Hawaiian Department, an unprecedented move, should be extremely beneficial. The new fleet commander, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, is young for such senior flag rank 58; and General Emmonss appointment plainly shows that Washington understands the importance of air power in Pacific strategy.
The shake-up will undoubtedly be quickly followed by a thorough inquiry, conducted by the Presidents board, of the entire disaster. The board, headed by Owen J. Roberts, associate justice of the Supreme Court, could scarcely have been better picked. The prominence, knowledge and judicial fair-mindedness of its members should insure a thorough and speedy investigation, and , above all, its finding should prevent any repetition of the Pearl Harbor tragedy.
It is this phase of the investigation that is important. Recrimination and the search for a goat should and will play no part in it. The first and primary job now is to repair the damages of the surprise attack; reinforce and strengthen our forces and pay back the score to the Japanese with interest. Yet if more men or methods need to be changed to insure the success of our counter-strokes they must be changed, and it is this aspect of the investigation that is of such mounting importance to the future course of this war.
For upon no one except fleet commanders at sea does there rest the same awful burden of responsibility. Planes can be wiped out by ones, twos, scores or even hundreds and replaced; divisions can be decimated and reorganized, but wars are usually fought largely with the fleets with which they were started, for fighting ships particularly the great ships of the line cannot be quickly built. Winston Churchill, writing of an earlier war and of another commander (in his book, The World Crisis), epitomized this frightening burden when he commented:
His [Jellicoes] responsibilities were on a different scale from all others. It might fall to him as to no other man sovereign , statesman, admiral or general to issue orders which in the space of two or three hours might nakedly decide who won the war. * * * Jellicoe was the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon.
The Japanese recognized the terrific implications that destruction of the Pacific Fleet would have upon the entire course of the war; that explains the determined ferocity of their surprise assault upon Hawaii. Tactically, the enemy succeeded; they smashed many of our ships and planes, but strategically they failed, for the bulk of the Pacific Feet is still in being, still a potential menace to Japan and her hopes of empire.
The fleet commanders present job is difficult; he must try to counter the Japanese operations, without, however, unduly risking his fleet against superior forces until such time as it has been reinforced or has received the heavy support of powerful land-based aviation.
This is a considerable, though by no means an insuperable, problem one that is probably eased by two factors: the certainty that damaged ships will soon be repaired and that reinforcements are on the way; the likelihood that only Japanese light forces and raiders not the main Japanese fleet are operating in mid-Pacific.
But the responsibilities for national safety imposed upon our fleet commanders and military leaders in the Pacific and our island outposts are so heavy that the shake-up of last night and an investigation such as that now started of the Pearl Harbor attack are essential to our future success. The trip of Secretary of the Navy Knox to Hawaii, his candid report, his statement that the United States services were not on the alert against the surprise air attack on Hawaii, and the immediate appointment by the President of the five-man board of inquiry are all reassuring evidences of the governments determination that the same factors that contributed to the Japanese success at Hawaii surprise, over-confidence amounting to a complacent sense of security and a lack of military alertness will not again operate against us.
Part II, December 19, 1941
As the war in the Pacific spreads across the vast leagues of the worlds greatest ocean, the board appointed by the President to investigate the Pearl Harbor tragedy will soon commence its sittings at the scene where so many Americans died in the first act of a war for survival.
In answering the question, What happened at Hawaii? the investigating board will undoubtedly find that there are many aspects of the Hawaiian attack that require clearing up.
First and most obvious is an inquiry as to whether or not the War and Navy Departments in Washington and the military and naval leaders in Hawaii were kept properly informed of the serious nature of the negotiations with Japan and, if they were, whether or not the warning was properly evaluated. The fact that a large part of the fleet an unusually large part considering the routine that the fleet had been following prior to hostilities happened to be in Pearl Harbor on the fatal Sunday, Dec. 7, may also require some explanation, because it is apparent that if international tension is serious, the place for the fleet is at sea.
Second, the intelligence services of the Army and Navy and counter-espionage services of the government seem to have failed to collate and correctly evaluate the Japanese military strength; to obtain any warning of the impending Japanese attack, preparations for which must have been started weeks before Dec. 7, a date that will live in infamy, or to counter Japanese fifth columnist and espionage activities in Hawaii.
Third, there is considerable mystery as to how the Japanese carriers and planes reached the Island of Oahu undetected until the bombs started to fall. There are many aspects to this phase of the problem and some possible explanations, but, to understand the relationship of the army and Navy in Hawaii and their joint responsibilities, it is essential that the function of Pearl Harbor be understood.
Pearl Harbor is the raison detre of all other military installations in the Hawaiian Islands. It was supposed to provide a secure base for the fleet, with repair and docking facilities, oil tanks, a naval air base, a submarine base and all the other appurtenances common to a great fleet base. The Army airfields, land garrisons, coast defense, anti-aircraft guns, etc., were there primarily for one purpose and one alone to protect the Navys base at Pearl Harbor, to make it secure against attack. A later and increasingly important function of the Army land garrisons is to protect the bases of air power at Hawaii with ground anti-aircraft defenses and against landing attacks.
The primary responsibility for defending a fleet base like Pearl Harbor, therefore, rests with the Army, not the Navy. The very essence of a naval base is security; it exists, not to be defended by the fleet, but to service the fleet, to provide it a safe haven when ships and men return from the sea weary from the vigil never-ending.
There has been too much public criticism of gallant and able officers and men of the Navy because many of them were sleeping late on the fatal Sunday, or were ashore playing golf or enjoying rest and recreation from the grind at sea; there has been too much criticism because ships were dismantled and being repaired beside docks, unable to get up steam. Yet this is what men and ships were in Pearl Harbor for; this is what a naval base means; if the ships and men cannot rest in a reasonable degree of security in a naval base, than the base is not worth having.
The primary job of the Pacific Fleet is not, therefore, the defense of Pearl Harbor; its job is to use Pearl Harbor as a mid-ocean point dappui from which to manoeuvre against the enemy navy. Nevertheless, the Navy shared with the Army certain responsibilities for the safety of the fleet in Pearl Harbor; indeed, the primary responsibility for the safety of a fleet (as distinct from the security of a naval base) can never be delegated to any other than its commander.
The Navys responsibilities in this regard consisted chiefly of distant scouting duties, in the air and on the sea, of anti-submarine patrol and of close-in defense by patrol craft, nets, mines, etc., of the immediate sea entrances to Pearl Harbor.
The Army was charged with close-in air reconnaissance in which it cooperated with the Navys inshore patrol; it was responsible for coast defense and manned all the land batteries, fixed and mobile, on Oahu; it was primarily responsible for anti-aircraft guns, etc.; it manned and operated all the fighter planes intended for the defense of Oahu against air attack; it manned the land-based bombers intended to assist the Fleet in repelling surface attack.
In other words, distant sea and air scouting far from Hawaii was primarily the responsibility of the Navy; the close-in immediate defense of Pearl Harbor and Oahu was primarily the responsibility of the Army.
Part III, December 20, 1941
As the Japanese continued their desperate bid for empire yesterday the pertinence of the inquiry into what happened at Hawaii was again emphasized.
For Japanese air power, operated from carriers and from land bases, again played major roles in yesterdays actions, and it was Japanese air and sea power, nicely synchronized, that achieved tragically large results at Pearl Harbor.
One of the questions that the board investigating the Pearl Harbor tragedy must determine is how Japanese aircraft carriers, presumably accompanied by protective cruisers and destroyers and by a mother ship for Japans two-man submarines approached to within a few hundred miles of the island of Oahu unobserved.
Normally in times of tension both the Army and the Navy, who were jointly responsible for the safety of the fleet while in Pearl Harbor, maintained far-flung and close-in scouting and reconnaissance lines, and the tasks of both services were lightened by the string of island outposts 100 to 1000 miles distant, many of them with airfields or patrol plane anchorages which almost surround Pearl Harbor. Only to the north of Oahu, the island on which Pearl Harbor is located is there open water, but our Aleutian bases and our base on Midway (it is 1,613 nautical miles from Midway to Dutch Harbor) permitted overlapping aerial patrol of this area.
The Navys screen of air and surface ships all intended to get information of enemy movements should have started hundreds, indeed thousands, of miles from Oahu. Ordinarily in time of war or tension submarines maintain a periscope watch outside the principal naval ports of the enemy or potential enemy in order to radio back warnings of enemy ship movements.
Hundreds of miles eastward of the submarines there should have been and probably were aerial patrols maintained from outlying islands like Midway and Wake by our Navys long-range flying boats. Supplemented by patrol planes based on Midway and flying almost continuously from dawn to dusk, covering sectors around Hawaii in a 360-degree circle, these planes if they were operating as they normally are might have been expected to pick up some trace of the enemy approach the day before or even several days before the attack occurred.
The same thing might normally be expected of the surface scouts, which usually operate in long patrol lines at approximately twice-visibility distance away from each other. It should be impossible for an enemy to pass this surface scouting line at night, for the line moves ahead at moderate speed during the daytime, but at night to prevent any enemy from slipping between its ships the entire line reverses its course and during the hours of darkness steam back toward its base at a the maximum speed of the enemy, resuming the search the next morning.
How, then did the enemy elude these far-flung scouting lines if the Navy was operating as it had done month after month in the past? Two possible explanations have been advanced. A cold front was approaching the Hawaiian Islands from the open ocean to the north and northwest on the fatal Sunday The Japanese carriers may have had the luck to fall in with the cold fronts fog and rain and low visibility and ride it in to within striking distance of the islands.
The carriers may then have used their high speed to seek temporary clear weather in which to launch their planes and may then have steamed back into the moving area of storm until the raid was finished. This trick has been successfully employed in manoeuvres; it might have been used by the Japanese.
Another suggested explanation might lie in the Japanese carriers themselves. The Japanese are known to have converted a number of merchantmen into auxiliary carriers; it is conceivable that some of these carriers might have been disguised with removable superstructures to look like merchantmen.
But even if the Japanese eluded the far-flung scouts of the Navy in some such manner, there is still no easy explanation of how they eluded the Armys close-in aerial reconnaissance patrol or the Navys inshore surface patrol.
Part IV, December 21, 1941
As operations in the Western Pacific continued yesterday over widespread areas, the importance to our war effort of determining and analyzing what happened at Hawaii was again underscored.
The Presidential board that is now investigating the tragedy must attempt to determine how and why Japanese forces were able to make a surprise attack upon the fortress island of Oahu after apparently penetrating far-flung naval scouting lines and close-in reconnaissance by Army planes.
One would have anticipated that, even if all other informational methods had failed, the Armys infallible radio detectors on the fortress island of Oahu would have picked up the Japanese planes soon after they took off from the decks of the carriers and long before they reached the island. Here, there is one coincidence which is perhaps to striking to be accidental and which may illustrate the effective nature of that Fifth Column work in Hawaii that Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox mentioned.
Some of our own bombers Boeing Flying Fortresses flying from the West Coast to Hawaii, were scheduled to come into Oahu for a landing at just about the time the Japanese raiders attacked. The radio detector operators may well have been warned of the impending approach of our planes and may have mistaken the Japanese bombers for our own.
But the most inexplicable part of the Hawaiian attack is not that it was made, for bombing raids cannot be stopped altogether and some bombers will always get through, but that it accomplished what it did. The great loss of ships, planes and lives was largely due not to the fact that the surprise attack was accomplished but that we were not prepared for attack at all. The following mistakes seem to have been made:
1. Our fighting services, particularly the Navy, definitely under-estimated Japan and were over-confident to the point of complacency, an attitude that was only a reflection of the national psychology. In manoeuvres and war studies we had frequently reckoned with the possibility of a Japanese attack upon Midway and had deemed as quite practical carrier-based air attacks upon Japan similar to the one launched by the Japanese upon Pearl Harbor. We had always contemplated the possibility, indeed the probability, that war with Japan would start by a surprise attack without benefit of declaration, and we had Port Arthur, in the Russo-Japanese war, as a foreboding precedent. Yet we apparently felt so secure behind the barriers of distance that such an attack upon Oahu was scarcely considered
2. There was no unity of command in Hawaii. The admiral commanding the Pacific Fleet had headquarters both afloat and ashore, but his responsibility was the fleet. The admiral commanding the Fourteenth Naval District (Hawaii) had headquarters at Pearl Harbor, but his responsibility was Pearl Harbor and naval installations ashore in the Hawaiian Islands. The Armys air field and fortifications were under command of the general commanding the Hawaiian Department. The board investigating the Pearl Harbor tragedy will undoubtedly endeavor to ascertain whether there was adequate coordination or liaison between these commanders.
3. The Navy concentrated too many ships in Pearl Harbor at a time of tension.
4. Apparently the ships in port were not protected by torpedo nets.
5. Apparently much of our gasoline and oil storage in the islands was not underground, or at least was not sufficiently protected.
6. Our Army and Navy planes on Oahu were jammed together in small areas the Armys principally at Hickam and Wheeler fields; the Navys principally at Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor.
But full study of these and many other factors will undoubtedly be made by the competent investigating board headed by Associate Justice Owen J. Roberts.
What is most important is to assimilate the major lessons of Hawaii.
First, we made the same mistake that Britain and France made at the start of this war: we thought we could maintain the political status quo in the Far East (one of the objectives of our foreign policy) against an aggressive nation with what was essentially a defensive strategical concept and with inadequate force.
Second, nationally and militarily, we were overconfident to the point of complacency.
Third, there were probably too many different independent, or semi-autonomous, commanders with divided and overlapping responsibilities at Hawaii. The major lesson in modern war is the absolute necessity for complete coordination of all effort.
We must not make the same mistakes again.
The exact same statement could be made today and be just as correct.
It will be interesting to contrast the Pearl Harbor Commission with the 9/11 Commission of 60 years later.
It is this phase of the investigation that is important. Recrimination and the search for a goat should and will play no part in it. The first and primary job now is to repair the damages of the surprise attack; reinforce and strengthen our forces and pay back the score to the Japanese with interest.
The difference between America in 1941 and America in 2011 is stark. It doesn't appear that too many Americans or political leaders were apologizing to Japan in 1941, or claiming America secretly destroyed its own military base in Hawaii and then framed Japan.
I have little doubt that both the Pearl Harbor Commission and the 9/11 Commission were political ass-covering operations, but I also have little doubt that the Pearl Harbor Commission was more serious and independent. Remember what a disgraceful laughingstock the 9/11 Commission was? How the rats made sure to appoint operatives who could cover for the Clinton administration's criminal negligence? The rats actually had the nerve to appoint Jamie Gorelick, the archiect of the CIA/FBI "wall" memo, and the woman who most clearly had the blood of 3,000 American citizens on her hands!
It will be interesting to follow the progress of the Pearl Harbor Commission. I agree that Justice Owen J. Roberts looked like a good choice to lead that Commission.
As always, thanks for the pings. You are doing truly great work on this project.
There were nine official Pearl Harbor Investigations during the 1940s, plus at least one more in the 1990s, iirc.
In addition, dozens of authors have done their own Pearl Harbor investigations, attempting to tease out of existing data support for their favorite theories.
The results of all these investigations have not been 100% satisfactory to anyone -- those looking for data to support their conspiracy theories find no "smoking guns", while those wishing to prove President Roosevelt's inner circle "innocent" of all conspiracy charges have plenty that can't be 100% dismissed.
The relevant question here is: why weren't Kimmel and Short better warned?
The trip of Secretary of the Navy Knox to Hawaii, his candid report, his statement that the United States services were not on the alert against the surprise air attack on Hawaii, and the immediate appointment by the President of the five-man board of inquiry are all reassuring evidences of the governments determination that the same factors that contributed to the Japanese success at Hawaii surprise, over-confidence amounting to a complacent sense of security and a lack of military alertness will not again operate against us.
Second, the intelligence services of the Army and Navy and counter-espionage services of the government seem to have failed to collate and correctly evaluate the Japanese military strength; to obtain any warning of the impending Japanese attack, preparations for which must have been started weeks before Dec. 7, a date that will live in infamy, or to counter Japanese fifth columnist and espionage activities in Hawaii.
It looks to me like there were plenty of shortcomings. Just as with the terror attacks of 9/11, America was simply not vigilant enough, and we should have done better. The similarities between the TWO dates that will live in infamy are striking. The relevant question today is: Are we NOW vigilant enough?
Hanson Weightman Baldwin (March 22, 1903 - November 13, 1991) was the long-time military editor of the New York Times. He won a Pulitzer Prize for "for his coverage of the early days of World War II". He authored or edited numerous books on military topics.
Hanson Baldwin was the son of Oliver Perry and Caroline (Sutton) Baldwin. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland on March 22, 1903.
He attended the Boys' Latin School of Maryland in Baltimore and graduated from the naval academy in 1924. After three years of naval service he began his newspaper career in 1927 as a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He joined the New York Times in 1928 and wrote for them for the next forty years. In 1937 he became the paper's military analyst. That year, he spent four months in Europe reporting on the military preparedness for what was viewed as the coming war. One of his first major stories in 1938 was of the interception of the ocean liner Rex by U.S. B-17 Flying Fortresses, in which he personally participated.
During World War II he wrote from the South Pacific, North Africa and Europe. His dispatches from Guadalcanal and the Western Pacific won him the Pullitzer Prize in 1943. In 1959 he broke the news of high-altitude atomic bomb test by the United States, known as Project Argus. Besides working for The Times, he lectured and wrote regularly for magazines, scholarly quarterlies and for professional military publications.
Thanks for retrieving the biographical info on Baldwin. I didn’t know he will be heading for the different combat zones as things develop, although it makes sense that he would. After all, he went to Louisiana last September for the war games. I also never would have guessed the W. stands for Weightman.
Thanks for the post from Baldwin. I must say, he is spot on with many of his observations. He correctly identified the Japanese success as an Army failure, since they were responsible for defense of the islands. He also knew of the Japanese “hiding” behind the weather front. He criticized the Americans for lack of preparation for the attack and lack of clear delineation of authority in the Hawaiian Islands. And he knows full well the value of land-based aviation in dominating the surrounding seas.
In reading this article, I get the feeling that Baldwin has some very well-placed sources in the US defense establishment. What he has written cannot entirely come from the information that has been made public.
One undisputed reason for the Second Amendment is: our Founders well understood the price of freedom is constant vigilance, and preparation.
Of course they knew nothing about air attacks or suicide bombers, but they did know that citizens had to be ready for just about anything.
At the same time they were hugely concerned with individual liberties, so in no way, shape or form would they countenance a police state in peace-time.
And official peace-time is what we had on December 6, 2001.
The problem today is... I want to say "faux war", but that term is totally unfair to those brave Americans who risk their lives for us.
A more accurate term might be "low level kinetic actions", but using such language should be a jail-able offense. ;-)
We are really talking about military actions at the same levels of intensity as, for example, Indian wars in the time of Custer at Little Big Horn.
These were important events, but in no way comparable to the national effort required for, say, the Civil War or First World War.
So here's my point: how many personal liberties did Americans sacrifice in those days, compared to the liberties we have freely given up today?
Or to put it another way: when did the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave first become the Land of Class Warfare, Home of Unlimited Entitlements?
And how much of that can be blamed on the current war, versus how much would have happened anyway?
I don't know, but don't like what I see now.
Somebody who understands the original concept of our Free Republic needs to take a close look at our current Big Government, and cut it back down to some more reasonable size.
So, necessary vigilance is one thing, unnecessary government is something else entirely.
Today in Fort Myers, FL, by chance, I had the pleasure of meeting one of Americas Greatest Generation.
An elderly gentleman climbed into the Buick dealers courtesy van behind me after I was picked up and he was introduced by the driver as Jim Sibert.
Making light conversation, he said In 42 I was flying out of Page Field. (Local Fort Myers air field)
With the Navy?
No, big four-engined bombers with the Army Air Corp.
Yes. We were staging them to prepare to take them to the theater of operations.
Did you fly by way of Greenland? How did you get there?
San Juan, Trinidad and the Recife, Brazil. From there we flew across the South Atlantic to Accra (Ghana).
Were you trying to get to England?
Oh No, we were supposed to be heading towards Japan! But we were diverted to Egypt
Now, my mental wheels were spinning! Egypt? B-24s? Ploesti?
I said Didnt they fly the Ploesti raid with B-24s?
That was my first combat mission!
They didnt give you much fighter cover on that mission.
None. They told us it was going to be a surprise attack, but when we got there, they were ready for us and opened fire. I flew 32 missions and we had NO fighter cover for any of them."
By now we were at the Buick dealer. I told him that it was an honor to meet him and thanked him for his service. He must be about 92 years old.
When I got home I went on the web and searched James Sibert Ploesti".
It turns out there were two James W. Sibert flying B-24 Liberators during WWII. One of them was killed in a freak accicent testing the planes in Alaska during cold weather conditions and included in the exchange below is the information on eventual Squadron Commander, Major James W. Sibert, who piloted the B-24 Liberator named "Queen B" on the Ploesti Raid.
Dog Driver: : [Dog_Driver] First Raid on Ploesti (HALPRO) - 09/09/2004
"I just came across a website that includes a "virtual" B-24 museum. In it, they list a group of 15 B-24s that made the first raid on the European continent on 11 June 1942 when they flew from Fayid, Egypt to Ploesti, Romania. The pilot of the "Queen Bee" was a man by the name of Lt. James Sibert. One of the crewmen who died in the crash I am investigating was also named Lt. James Sibert. Does anyone out there now anything about his first raid on Ploesti and in particular have any information regarding Lt. Sibert? I would like to find out if he may have rotated back to the states and gone to work at Wright AAF Base in Dayton, Ohio as a propeller specialist. As always, thanks for your help!!!"
Re: [Dog_Driver] First Raid on Ploesti (HALPRO) - 09/09/2004 06:42:12 AM
"The 1/Lt. James W. Sibert that piloted Queen B on the HALPRO Ploesti mission remained with the group as it became the 376th Bomb Group. He became 514th Squadron Commander by the Spring of '43, and was promoted to Major. It appears he rotated home in April '43. His rank would preclude him being the Lt. Sibert you seek. The website you referenced lists the 23 HALPRO a/c and their originally assigned pilots. The asterisks denoting those flying the first Ploesti mission are not entirely accurate, as some pilots flew different a/c on this mission due to maintenance concerns. Sibert and Queen B are not indicated as flying, but they did make the mission."
Doing a little more web searching before hitting the send key I just found out what Jim Sibert did after his 32 WWII combat missions. Sibert was an FBI agent until 1972...and was one of the two agents who witnessed the JFK autopsy.
In the interview at the link Sibert says he doesn't buy the single bullet theory and doesn't dismiss the idea that there might have been a conspiracy!
Mr. Sibert is one of what must be a very small handful of living veterans of the Ploesti raids. What a career. He not only had a front row seat for history during his interesting times, he also made some.
Part I April 9, 1942
The ominous roar of flying squadrons in the skies of Europe and Asia Heralded the commencement of the Spring offensives yesterday as air power weapon of destiny started 1942s decisive struggle for the domination of the world.
The air raids over Western Europe, the fighting in the skies of Libya and the Japanese carrier-based raids on India are plainly a preface to all-out campaigns in which land power and sea power will be joined with air power in the conflict.
The plane, which already has revolutionized war and altered the whole meaning of our civilization, will undoubtedly continue to play a major role in 1942s battles. For the plane-tank team on land has spearheaded the Nazi advance across Europe just as the plane-ship team at sea has spearheaded the Japanese drive into the southwestern Pacific. The successful British attack at Taranto, the Battle of Cape Matapan, the destruction of the Bismarck, the Battle of France, the conquest of Crete, our losses at Pearl Harbor, the sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse have all shown what should have been obvious that the plane is an indispensable instrument of modern global power. It is a truth that we have learned late and slowly but we are learning it well.
It must be emphasized, however, that the plane cannot today be a soloist in the symphony of battle. There is far more to air power than planes, and air power alone has not won any of the major campaigns of this war; land power and sea power and air power closely allied and coordinated have been the combat team that have provided military victory.
What the plane can do in war has been illustrated in part by the headlines of this war; what it is capable of doing must be judged in part by those achievements, in part by its present combat capacity and technical characteristics. Just as this capacity and these characteristics have been often grossly underestimated in the past, partly because of the conservatism of the general staff mind, so this capacity and these characteristics are frequently overestimated today. What the plane can do tomorrow no man can say with certainty, though what the plane can do today and in the foreseeable future say within the next two to five years - is possible to estimate from an actual technical study of the characteristics of modern planes.
Such a study brings the role of the plane in war within proper perspective. It eliminates immediately grandiose claims for the plane made by ardent extremists; it pushes far into the realm of future wars if indeed such a scheme is ever practical what has been seriously suggested by one man as a means of winning this war; the transoceanic bombardment of Japan from bases in Alaska and the Aleutians. Such a study illustrates as nothing else can do that today armies and navies without planes are gone goslings; but planes without armies and navies are also futile. Indeed, the danger of basing a war-winning strategy on one without the other is in no way better epitomized than by paraphrasing the remarks of a British committee that once studied the question of air attack upon capital ships:
The advocates of the extreme air [or land or sea] view would wish this country to maintain no armies or navies [or air fleets] other powers still continuing to maintain them. If their theories turn out well founded, we have wasted money; if ill founded, we would, in putting them to the test, have lost the war.
Part II April 11, 1942
The importance of the plane in modern war was again emphasized by yesterdays news that another proud ship bearing the White Ensign was sunk by Japanese carrier-based planes in the Indian Ocean.
But despite these and similar successes for air power over sea and over land the plane is not a self-sufficient weapon; it has limitations. What it can do today and what it may be expected to do in the immediate tomorrows has been brilliantly explained recently by Edward Warner, former assistant secretary of the Navy for aeronautics, now vice chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, writing in the January issue of Foreign Affairs. He said: The modern plane, and the plane of our immediate tomorrows, will find great difficulty in achieving speeds higher than 450 miles per hour. Actually, there is no fixed barrier beyond which speed cannot increase. However, resistance mounts so much in these high speed brackets that we may consider it at least four times as difficult to increase the speed of an airplane from 500 miles an hour to 550 miles an hour as it was to make the increase from 350 to 400. Today, only a relatively few of the worlds fastest fighters make 400 miles an hour.
The bomber, Mr. Warner finds, obviously also has strict limitations in performance. If a bomber flies at 200 miles an hour at 20,000 feet altitude, a fully loaded 40,000-pound plane carrying about 10 per cent of its total weight, or 4,000 pounds, of bombs should be able to raid targets at a maximum distance of about 1,500 miles away and return to its base.
This distance 1,500 miles represents about the maximum practical for raiding today; raids have been made, and will be made, at distances greater than this, but such raids are generally militarily inefficient and uneconomical since the bomb load that can be carried decreases rapidly with increased distance flown. Indeed, the lessons of the war have shown that raids against target more than 500 miles away have generally been unprofitable or of limited effect. Continuous and large-scale bombing raids are generally the only kind that militarily matter, and heavy and continuous bombing day after day, night after night against targets much in excess of 500 miles distance are not yet practical
The special pleaders for air power who have urged that a single type of plane such as the heavy bomber or the long-range fighter - would win the war, find no encouragement in Mr. Warners article.
The airplane that accepts the handicap of carrying bombs will always be at a disadvantage as against the machine that carries only offensive armament and the crew to operate it, he wrote. The airplane specialized for a single function will continue to maintain superiority in that function over the machine designed with some other objective, or with a multiplicity of objectives.
Air power quite clearly is more than a single type of plane; it is all types, plus thoroughly trained air crews and ground crews seven to fifteen men per plane; plus a great nexus of airfields and ground facilities; plus anti-aircraft guns and ground troops in considerable numbers to protect the airfields; plus surface transport for bombs and gasoline and other supplies; plus industrial facilities without end to provide planes, engines, and replacements; plus training fields for personnel.
Part III April 13, 1942
The influence of air power upon war was again demonstrated last week over Western Europe, in the Indian Ocean and in Burma.
The operations in the various theatres of action illustrate the three principal ways in which the plane can be used. Perhaps the most spectacular has been the use of the plane in conjunction with, or in support of, naval forces against naval forces of the enemy. Another principal use is in conjunction with, or support of, land forces against land forces of the enemy.
The third use, which some writers have called pure air warfare, typified by the British and Germans exchange of bombing raids is in independent missions, not against the enemys armed forces, but against enemy industrial centers, cities, railroads, and other facilities on the Home Front, against the ability and will of the enemy people to fight.
The role of the plane used in conjunction with land power is now rather clear. Air superiority, or at least air equality, is now a sine qua non for success in land fighting. There have been some few exceptions to this generalization, where terrain, the lop-sided superiority of one side in land forces, superior tank strength, or other special factors temporarily nullified as in the early days of the Burma and Bataan campaigns, and in periods of the last Libyan campaign the enemys air superiority.
The plane-tank team has spearheaded the German conquests in Europe and has revolutionized war; the plane, used as flying artillery and for vertical envelopment with parachute troops and air-borne infantry is indispensable to modern armies; indeed, used in this role, it is one of the two principal weapons of land warfare.
Used in pure air warfare, the plane has by no means as yet reached its ultimate evolution, nor have Douhets and Mitchells theories received their final test. Range, speed and power will all increase, and in future years and future wars the devastating attacks of the plane unless some defense is found against it, which is probable may in themselves force decisions without the assistance of land or sea units.
But that day is not yet. Today the technical limitations of the plane make most bombing raids at distances much in excess of 1,500 miles from base to target uneconomical and militarily inefficient; indeed, bombing raids at distances of much more than 500 miles from base to target only occasionally pay military dividends.
Continuous and heavy bombing assaults day after day, night after night are the only kind that can hope to win a decision in pure air warfare and no nation today has enough heavy, long-range bombers or other facilities to keep intensive raids of this type going over great distances. They will get them, the United States probably first. Bombing ranges will increase as the war continues and in time, perhaps in future wars, bombers will shuttle back and forth across the oceans as they now leap across the English Channel.
But we have to fight this war with the planes we now have and are building and with the best we can design, not with blueprints of the future. And the best are not good enough to win a war by themselves, although they are so good they will be a major factor, perhaps the preponderant factor (but not the only factor), in tipping the scales toward victory.
Part IV April 15, 1942
Wings over the sea have modified Mahans traditional concept of sea power. Sea power is now a three-dimensional element; it is idle to talk of control of the sea unless one also controls the air above it and the depths beneath the surface.
Air power shares with sea power the function of controlling ocean lines of communication. The two are indivisible elements of modern global power. Either is incomplete without the other.
The old argument that planes can sink ships is as much beside the point as it ever was. No proof of that statement was ever needed though, for the doubting Thomases the headlines have offered redundant proof. But sunken ships no matter how sunk no more invalidate the concept of the ship as a commerce carrier and man-of-war than wrecked planes invalidate the concept of the plane as a commerce carrier and aerial man-of-war.
Any ship ever built, no matter how strong, can be sunk by air attack if enough force can be concentrated against it. Planes and fleets of planes can be destroyed if enough force can be concentrated against them.
The air extremists have now dismissed navies and merchant navies as obsolescent, if not obsolete, just as the surface-ship conservatives in the past blocked the full development of naval air power. Neither is right. The plane is a commerce carrier and an aerial man-of-war; but, despite the predictions of a few air extremists, it probably will never totally replace certainly not within the foreseeable future the surface ship in either function.
The quantity of air freight carried will unquestionably increase in the future, but today and tomorrow and probably throughout our generation the red-leaded tramp and the humble, smoking freighter will continue to carry the great majority of the worlds bulk freight. Heavy machinery, heavy munitions, wheat, manganese, railroad rolling stock, crude rubber, oil, gasoline indeed, nearly all of the important international commodities except those items relatively light in weight and small in bulk will certainly continue to be carried by surface carriers.
In the same way it is certain that aerial men-of-war, at least for the duration of this war, will continue to supplement, but never to replace, surface men-of-war. Neither can exercise effective control of the sea without the other.
What form the surface man-of-war must take to meet the menace from the skies and to adjust itself to the new meaning of sea power is a different question It is already possible to discover part of the answer to that question in past events.
Today the capital ship, or principal ship of surface navies, may well be the aircraft carrier, in so far as its actual operational use or value is concerned, yet battleships the new ones just launched and the old ones that are the heritage of another war and another era of naval thought still possess primary strategical importance. For the battleship is the backbone of the fleet in being school of naval strategy; so long as any belligerent possesses a battleship fleet, it will hold in reserve a powerful potential threat to its enemies.
This is in no way better illustrated than by contemporary events. It was the battleship that was the target of the British at Matapan and Taranto. It was the battleship against which the Japanese concentrated the full force of their attack at Pearl Harbor. It was the loss of the Prince of Wales and Repulse that upset the balance of naval power in the Southwestern Pacific. It was the battleship against which the British concentrated such efforts and which the Germans strove so ardently to save when the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau escaped up-Channel.
It was the battleship against which great air power and great sea power were concentrated. It was the battleship Bismarck capital ship of the new sea power, not of an age that is gone that withstood, before sinking, a minimum of seven and a maximum of ten torpedo hits and scores of hits from 16-inch and 14-inch shells and smaller projectiles. And it is the battleship that the navies of our enemies are carefully conserving for possible use as their trump card in the war at sea.
Part V April 16 1942
As the bitter and unending struggle for control of the oceans the struggle that may decide this war continued during the week, there was slowly emerging from the crucible of conflict some faint outline of the new sea power.
It was an outline that was still blurred, for the technical lessons of this war are by no means ended and the weapons of defense particularly against air attack have not yet caught up with the weapons of offense.
But it is plain that the influence of air power upon war has greatly emphasized the importance of the aircraft carrier. It is the carrier, accompanied by fast cruisers and destroyers, and organized in a striking group or task force, that has been the major naval factor of the war in the Pacific. Today it is the carrier that is tactically the most important naval type. This is true, not only because of the plane launched from the carrier deck greatly extends the hitting range of navies, but because the carriers of our fleet and their protective light forces are faster than any of our battleships even including the new North Carolina and Washington and modern naval tactics demand speed that our battleships do not possess. It is true because for the time being, at least, the torpedo and the bomb, rather than the gun, are the principal naval weapons.
Yet when all this is said, the battleship even the old ones that compose the bulk of our own and Japans battleship fleet retains considerable strategic importance, though it is a potential importance and one that may never be realized in this war. Yet both the battleship and the carrier are in an evolutionary state. Naval design and naval tactics are in flux, violent flux; changes of greater import than any since the substitution of steam for sail are now in the making. The capital ship of tomorrow will certainly not be either the carrier of the battleship of today.
The battleship, if it is to survive even in vestigial form, must meet the menace of the torpedo to its unarmored underwater hull (the Bismarck class has come closer to doing this than any other, but the problem is not solved) and the carrier of yesterday and today is slowly becoming an armored ship with side belt and armored decks, and a thoroughly sub-divided, compartmentalized underwater hull. Thus, the two types battleship and carrier are in one sense merging to make the capital (principal) ship of tomorrow. The question still remaining for decision is whether the gun will regain its former ascendancy as a principal naval weapon, or whether the plane-carried weapons torpedo and bomb will retain their present ascendancy. The capital ship of tomorrow may well be the heavily armored carrier equipped with medium three-fourth-sized guns (six inch to eleven inch), though many designers believe that compromise types of this sort are always unsuccessful. The two types may therefore continue in separate and distinct evolution, with the new battleship a heavily armored ship of somewhat lesser gun power, but with far greater anti-aircraft protection, far greater speed, and far better protection than todays battleships, and with the new carrier larger, and more heavily protected.
Viewed against this perspective it seems clear that the proportion of carriers to other ships should be very greatly increased; the thirteen regular carriers we are building, plus the sixteen to thirty auxiliary carriers we are converting from merchant ships, should be many times increased. The construction time of carriers has been greatly decreased, and the giant battleships that we had planned do not now have comparable priority. It is questionable, moreover, whether battleships of such size and gun power are worth the cost and effort; it is more probable that the design of tomorrows battleship should be modified. But certain it is that that sea power that possesses in goodly number both the new carrier and the new battleship regardless of which is the capital ship of the new navy will win the struggle of the seas.
And certain it is that the surface ship is not only indispensable for control of the seas, but without it the United States can never develop in this war a decisive offensive
The war has shown the smashing tactical strength of air power, used independently or cooperatively. But the United States lies behind two oceans and we cannot hope in this war to develop a bombing offensive across those oceans. Defensively, against any forces coming across the seas to attack this country, American air power can be used to great strategic purpose. But today, given the limitations of the plane, air power can develop a decisive strategic offensive, particularly against Japan, only when used in conjunction with sea power. It is around the plane-ship team that we must build our hopes of controlling the seas and consequently our hopes of eventual victory.
That is interesting
Mr. Baldwin wrote this before the atomic bomb was delivered by a plane.
Curtis LeMay does not agree. Nor do I...
Colonel Tibbets, please pick up the white courtesy phone.
Baldwin is responding to the book “Victory Through Air Power” by Alexander de Seversky, a best seller in 1942.
See pages 10 and 11 of today's regular news thread.
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