PEARL HARBOR, T. H., December 2, 1941.

DEAR BETTY: We had your despatches in regard to reinforcing the outlying islands with Army pursuit planes and Army personnel. With regard to the use of Army pursuits on the island bases, some time ago we investigated the feasibility of putting some kind of fighters on the outlying islands and decided at the time that our best chance of quickly reinforcing the islands and to make the minimum demands upon the supplies in the island that we could send a minimum number of ground crews to Wake and Midway in order when the time came, to be in a position to fly off the Marine planes from a carrier or to send them direct from Pearl to Midway in the case of the SBD's. At the time your despatch in regard to Army pursuits was received we had the WRIGHT at Wake discharging the Marine ground crews and she arrives at Midway tomorrow, December 3, to discharge Marine ground crews there.

Halsey, in the ENTERPRISE, with three heavy cruisers and a squadron of destroyers, will fly off 12 Marine fighting planes for Wake tomorrow morning after which he returns to Pearl. We have been covering his advance by 2 VP squadrons operating from Johnston, Midway and Wake. Upon the completion of the movement we now plan to return one VP squadron to Pearl and leave the other one at Midway awaiting further developments. I will hold the Marine SBD's at Pearl awaiting further developments as they can fly under their own power from Pearl to Midway.

During all the period that I have been in command the question of the development of supply and defense of these outlying bases has been a very difficult one. We cannot expect to supply Wake quickly and expeditiously until we have a space to put a ship alongside for loading and unloading. The Commandant of the District has been and is exerting every effort to obtain this objective. As you know, ships have been delayed in unloading at Wake for as long as 28 days, due to bad weather, and it is not unusual for a ship to take as much as 7 or 8 days. This, in the face of any opposition, presents an impossible situation. Present facil-


ities at Wake must be improved, particularly as to storage of fuel oil, aviation gas, food and ammunition. This work should not stop and the 1,000 defense workers at Wake are essential to keep this work moving as rapidly as material can be supplied. A recent estimate by Bloch sets the time for the completion of the ship channel to about the first of May. I hope, and so does he, that this date can be anticipated. At the present time we cannot support more personnel on Wake than we now have there. As you will remember, we put six 5" guns and twelve 3" [2] anti-aircraft guns, together with a number of machine guns on the island, well knowing that we did not have sufficient Marine personnel to man them. However, I think good progress has been made in organizing the defense workers to assist in the manning of the battery at Wake. In case the present situation should ease, we can readily withdraw the Marine fighters from Wake in order to decrease the demands upon the facilities there and also in order to keep up the training of the pilots of these planes.

The situation at Midway is somewhat better than at Wake. You will note from our report of the defenses submitted today that we have shipped three of the four 7" guns to Midway. Also we have shipped, or are shortly shipping, four of the 3"-50 anti-aircraft guns to Midway. These, in addition to the batteries already installed there, which comprise six 5"-51's and twelve 3" antiaircraft. You will also note from our official letter submitted today that the defenses of Johnston and Palmyra, while not what we would like to have, are nevertheless not entirely inadequate.

Your despatches in regard to the use of Army personnel and the organizations of Army defense forces to be used in outlying islands is being given earnest consideration. I know you appreciate the difficulties of mixing Army, Marine Corps and Navy personnel in a small island base. I believe you will subscribe to the principle that all these outlying bases must be under Navy command and the forces there must be subject to the orders of the Commander-in-Chief without any qualification whatsoever. I anticipate some difficulties along this line when Army personnel is injected into the picture unless a very clear directive is issued jointly by the War and Navy Department. On inquiry and conference with the Army I find that the Army in Hawaii has no guns, either surface or antiaircraft, available for outlying bases. They can supply some .30 caliber machine guns and rifles. I have frequently called to your attention the inadequacy of the Army anti-aircraft defense in the Pearl Harbor area with particular reference to the shortage of antiaircraft guns. So far, very little has been done to improve this situation. With nothing but .30 caliber machine guns and rifles the replacement of Marines by Army at outlying bases now will result in an increased number of Marines in Oahu with no suitable equipment as Army would require all of the Marine equipment now in the islands. The Marines in the outlying islands are trained, acclimated and efficient beyond standards immediately obtainable by the Army even if they took over the present Marine equipment. We cannot appreciably increase the number of military personnel in the outlying islands unless we remove the defense workers. We cannot afford to remove the defense workers if we expect ever to reach a satisfactory condition in the islands. Essential items include, as I have previously stated [3] provision to berth a ship at Wake, completion of air fields at Palmyra and Johnston and completion of fuel, gasoline, food and ammunition housing at all bases. I am proposing in official correspondence that:- (2) the Army organize 3 defense battalions of approximately 800 men each, that steps be taken in Washington to supply them with guns, both surface and antiaircraft; supply them with 37mm or 50 caliber machine guns, to make up a well balanced defense battalion; that prior to the time the equipment of these organizations is supplied that they drill with the five inch guns of the Fourth Defense Battalion now at Pearl as long as the equipment is available here. If it is decided to supply these battalions with some other caliber of guns, that sufficient number of guns of the type to be used be shipped to Oahu to be utilized for training purposes, (b) that these Army defense battalions be held in readiness to (1) furnish replacement to presently occupied islands (2) to relieve battalions in presently occupied islands (3) to garrison islands to be occupied.

The Marine garrisons now at Midway, Johnston and Palmyra should be retained there for the present. They will not be withdrawn until arms and equipment for the Army defense battalions have been received and the Army trained. At this time a decision can be made according to the situation then existing.

That the Army organize three 12-plane pursuant squadrons and keep them in an expeditionary status; maintain the ground crews organized and ready to man them; maintain the planes ready to be transported by carrier when ordered.


The Army has orders to defend Canton and Christmas. We are turning over to them two five-inch 51 guns for use at Canton. These they will man with Army personnel and supplement with some obsolete anti-aircraft guns and machine guns. The expedition is now due to leave here on December ninth.

The Army is also sending some obsolete guns and a garrison to Christmas. I will let you know more definitely what they send when I find out exactly.

I feel that we cannot determine the defenses of Canton and Christmas until we find out how much personnel can be maintained there. Meanwhile the Army is sending some forces there.


In view of the foregoing I am unable to understand the reason for the despatches from the War and Navy Department directing us to utilize the Army in the defense of the outlying bases, as we can hope for no relief from this quarter until they have been supplied with suitable equipment.

I feel the wiser course is to continue to organize Marine defense battalions and supply them with the necessary equipment. I believe we can train Marine defense battalions just as rapidly as the Army can do so and probably as rapidly as the equipment can be supplied. If there is any prospect of the immediate supply of considerable quantities of suitable equipment I can see some reason for injecting the Army into the picture.

I think it would be well for you to read the despatch sent by the War Department to the Commanding General on this subject. It differs considerably from the one you sent to us in that the War Department says they will take over the defense of some outlying bases from the Navy in accordance with an agreement to be reached by the Commanding General and myself. Your despatch left me with the conviction that the Army was to reinforce the Naval and Marine forces one the outlying bases in case of necessity. I feel that this should be clarified.

We have one transport in commission which, due to a delay in the sailing of the WHARTON we are now obliged to use for one trip to transport essential Naval personnel from the West Coast to the Fleet. The other transports, to a total of six, are in various stages of completion. The Marines at San Diego are in urgent need of transport training and will not be ready to come to Hawaii until some time in February. I can see very little chance for any overseas expedition even on a small scale until that date. Eventually this war will require a much greater number of transports and supply ships in the Pacific. We are working on an estimate of the requirements. This estimate, in addition to some thirty or forty transports and an equal number of supply ships must also include a thirty to fifty percent increase in the fighting strength of the Fleet before we can occupy the Marshall's and Caroline's is an advance across the Pacific.

With these considerations in mind I am at loss to understand the considerations which injected the Army into the picture.

My kindest regards and best wishes, always.

Most sincerely yours,


P. S. The Commanding General of the Hawaiian Air Detachment made the statement in conference that his pursuit planes could not operate farther than 15 miles from land. If this be the case, I can see very little use for Army pursuit planes in an outlying island. This, added to the inability of this type plane to land on a carrier, makes them practically useless for an overseas expedition of any kind. Except for the four-engined Army bombers, we must depend upon Navy and Marine Corps planes to support any overseas expedition and to man outlying bases. This is and has been one of my reasons for urging the supply of all types of carrier planes.

P. S. You will note that I have issued orders to the Pacific Fleet to depth bomb all submarine contacts in the Oahu operating area.

H. E. K.

Admiral H. R. STARK,
U. S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations

Navy Department.
Washington, D. C.

P. S. From correspondence which General Short has furnished me I note that the Army is engaged in developing air fields in Fiji and New Caledonia. This will involve questions of supply and protection both of shipping and the fields themselves. The Australians I understand are loath to assume the protection of the field in New Caledonia. The Navy is bound to be involved in these affairs. I fear we may become so much concerned with defensive roles that we may


become unable to take the offensive. Too much diversion of effort for defense will leave us an inadequate force with which to take the offensive.

With regard to the escort of convoys by using a single cruiser to escort not to exceed 8 ships, we endeavor to limit the number of cruisers so occupied at one time to four. We now find that routing via Torres Strait to Manila, we are going to have seven cruisers continuously occupied with convoy duty. This without any consideration for such protection as may eventually be required from San Francisco to Oahu. I realize of course that the demands for trans-Pacific escorts may decrease if it becomes impossible to route ships to Manila but it will still be necessary to supply the Asiatic Fleet and our allies in the Far East.


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