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[383]

PROCEEDINGS OF THE HART INQUIRY
SATURDAY, MAY 6, 1944
THIRTY-SIXTH DAY
                                                        NAVY DEPARTMENT,
                                                        Washington, D. C. 

The examination met at 9: 30 a. m.

Present:

Admiral Thomas C. Hart, U. S. Navy, Retired, examining officer, and his counsel and assistant counsel.

Ship's Clerk Charles O. Lee, U. S. Naval Reserve, reporter.

The examining officer decided to postpone the reading of the record of proceedings of the thirty-fifth day of the examination until such time as it shall be reported ready, and in the meantime to proceed with the examination.

No witnesses not otherwise connected with the examination were present.

Captain L. F. Safford, U. S. Navy, who had previously testified, was called before the examining officer, informed that his oath previously taken was still binding, and stated that he had read over the testimony given by him on the thirty-second day of the examination, pronounced it correct, was duly warned, and withdrew.

A witness called by the examining officer entered and was informed of the subject matter of the examination as set forth in the preface to the testimony of Rear Admiral W. W. Smith, Record Page 32.

The witness was duly sworn.

Examined by the examining officer:

1. Q. What is your name, rank, and present station?

A. Charles Wellborn, Jr. Captain, United States Navy; present station the Bureau of Naval Personnel.

2. Q. What duties were you performing during the calendar year 1941?

A. During the calendar year 1941, I performed duty as Administrative Aide to the Chief of Naval Operations.

3. Q. In the performance of those duties, was your association and mental touch with Admiral Stark unusually close?

A. My association with Admiral Stark was rather close. I, of course, did not know all that was in his mind, but I believe that I was acquainted with many of his thoughts.

4. Q. Had he chosen you for the position in consequence of previous and close personal acquaintance?

A. Presumably so, sir. I had served with him previously in the Bureau of Ordnance and while he was at sea commanding the light cruisers of the United States Fleet.

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5. Q. Captain, the war plan which was current during the latter part of 1941 was known as WPL-46. Did your duties, during 1941, bring you into any particular contact with those charged with the preparations of that plan?

A. I frequently saw those charged with the operation of the plan but had no direct responsibility in connection with its preparation.

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6. Q. Do you recall hearing any discussions between the Chief, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, and officers of the War Plans Section concerning matters of major import surrounding the preparation of WPL-46?

A. I recall that such discussions were held.

7. Q. As an instance, do you recall any discussion or argument concerning the participation of potential allies in any hostilities in which we might engage in the Pacific Ocean?

A. Yes, sir. I recall participation of possible allies was discussed and there seemed to be general agreement that in a Pacific war participation of allies was almost a necessity, and that it might be expected. Allies counted upon were Britain, the Netherlands, and China. As I recall it, at that time, there was some doubt as to the participation of Russia and France.

8. Q. Do you recall any important discussions on the point as to the most probable location-that is in the Atlantic or Pacific-of the war for which the Navy was preparing?

A. The question of the probable location of hostilities was continually discussed.

9. Q. Did you hear much disagreement over the point as to which Ocean our major efforts of preparation should be directed?

A. There was discussion of that point. As I recall it, the general opinion appeared to be that the initial major effort must be in the Atlantic, while holding action was resorted to in the Pacific, since the war might quickly and irretrievably be lost in the Atlantic, whereas initial reverses in the Pacific might later be retrievable.

10. Q. Do you recall the names of any officers around Admiral Stark who disagreed with that idea, which, incidentally, is covered by a part of WPL-46?

A. My recollection is that this view was rather generally held, and do not remember hearing anyone in a position of importance expressing directly contrary views at that time.

11. Q. Incident to that particular point, do you recall hearing any disagreement as to the correctness of the step which was taken, as a part of WPL-46, toward transfer of a considerable portion of the Pacific Fleet to Atlantic waters, which occurred during the Spring of 1941?

A. My recollection on that point is that there were insufficient forces to meet the requirements in each Ocean. Those of officers primarily concerned with activities in the Pacific appeared to feel that no forces should be removed from the Pacific; those primarily concerned with Atlantic activities for the most part held the view that stronger forces were a necessity in the Atlantic.

12. Q. Confining the question to those whose ordinary duties did not confine their interests to one of the two Oceans, do you recall any disagreement?

A. I do not.

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13. Q. What do you remember of discussions and arguments concerning the defensive, and particularly the security aspect as affecting our naval forces in the Pacific?

A. Pearl Harbor was not considered a one hundred per cent secure base. Efforts were made to increase its security. Operations of the Fleet were so [386] controlled that normally only a part of the Fleet was in Pearl Harbor at any one time. I recall no specific discussions on this point, however.

14. Q. Captain, will you state what you recall concerning discussions, opinions expressed, and so forth, on the very broad point of our Administration's keeping its diplomatic steps in touch with naval readiness for war, and the reverse thereof?

A. My recollection is that there was a rather complete interchange of information between the Navy Department and the State Department. My recollection is that their opinions were not widely divergent.

15. Q. Can you recall any specific incident of the State Department's making a diplomatic move against the advice of the Navy Department?

A. No, sir, I can't.

16. Q. Our Government, in June or July of 1941, instituted steps which resulted in a freezing of Japanese credits within our country, which was also participated in by our potential allies. What do you recall of discussions within the Navy Department concerning the international situation which that action would bring forth?

A. I recall that there were discussions regarding how far the United States might go with such moves without provoking warlike action on the part of Japan against the United States.

17. Q. What do you recall, in the way of discussions heard concerning more direct actions instituted by our Government which resulted in the stopping of shipments of steel scrap, petroleum products, and so forth, to the Japanese Empire?

A. The overall result of such steps was discussed, both within the Navy Department and between the Navy Department and the State Department. Generally, I believe an effort was being made to take such steps as might prevent, or render more difficult, aggressive action on the part of Japan without provoking Japan to war with the United States.

18. Q. What do you recall in the way of differences of opinions as to the probabilities on that particular point which you have just mentioned?

A. I can't recall opinions of individuals, but I do recall that it was generally felt that the stoppage of crude oil would probably result in a warlike step on the part of Japan. The consensus of opinion, as I recall, was that the stoppage of shipments of aviation gasoline, the freezing of credits, and shutting off of steel scrap were probably moves which would not provoke war.

19. Q. Were the officers around Admiral Stark all in agreement concerning the effect of depriving Japan of crude oil?

A. As I recall it, they were not entirely in agreement, but I'm not able to recall the particular shading of views held by the individual officers.

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20. Q. In considering the matter, were aforementioned officers thinking mostly about shipments from this Continent or those from the N. E. I. oil fields?

A. I believe that shipments from both locations were considered in the overall thought given the problem.

21. Q. Do you recall that, following that state of mind which indicated full realization of the seriousness of the petroleum deprivation, the Navy Department particularly advised other Departments of the Government concerning our readiness to back up the action?

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A. I believe that the State Department at this time was generally familiar with the state of readiness of the War and Navy Departments and that this state was considered in reaching decisions regarding the stoppage of shipments of oil, aviation gasoline, and scrap, and the freezing of credits. Note was also taken of the fact that regardless of decisions on oil, gasoline, scrap, and credits, the strengthening of our military and naval forces and Japan's probable belief that this strengthening was a threat to Japan's accomplishment of her aims in the Far East might cause Japan to attack the United States before we became too strong.

22. Q. Captain, state what you recall of discussions here and opinions expressed incident to Mr. Kurusu's appearance in Washington as a so-called Assistant Japanese Ambassador.

A. There was general conjecture as to the meaning of his appearance. He obviously was familiar with the views of those who were gaining power in Japan and he was also familiar with the United States. As I recall it, it was generally felt that he was bringing the Japanese Ambassador authentic and up to date information regarding the views of the Japanese Cabinet.

23. Q. Do you recall if his appearance in Washington occasioned an easing or an increase of the general tension of officers of the most responsible mind in the Navy Department?

A. My recollection is that they did not feel that his appearance very greatly changed the tension of the situation; they believed that his appearance called definitely for very careful watching of the situation.

24. Q. Captain, please state any knowledge that you had, at any time in 1941, amounting to background of the Navy Departments negotiations with the War Department concerning the readiness of the Army to meet its commitments on Oahu.

A. The Navy Department, of course, desired Pearl Harbor to be sufficiently well defended to permit the repair and upkeep of ships and rehabilitation of crews with security and continually pressed the War Department to improve the defenses to permit this. The War Department felt that from the overall total of existing men and material, it could not assign to Hawaii all that the Navy Department desired. Particularly, the Navy Department desired better defenses against air attack, both as regards anti-aircraft artillery and fighter aircraft. It was the Navy Department's view that there was no more important commitment the Army might have than the defense of Pearl Harbor, and this view appeared to be not completely concurred in by the War Department.

25. Q. Captain, as the situation vis-a-vis Japan became tense in the latter part of November, state what you recall in the way of

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background discussions concerning the directive which went out concerning the use of Army troops and aircraft as garrisons of Midway, Wake, and so forth.

A. As I recall it, the Navy Department felt that the defense of the islands was an Army responsibility; that the small amount of Marine personnel and aviation available should be reserved for amphibious work. With this in mind, effort was made to reduce the overhead requirements of the Marine Corps. One method for this reduction was the relieving of Marine Corps units from static defensive duties. I believe that this was the background for the Navy's desire to have the Army take over the defense of Midway and Wake.

26. Q. Inasmuch as that directive was sent at nearly the same time as the [387] all important "war warning" dispatch, do you recall how it happened that the Department took the action at that particular time?

A. I do not recall any specific reason for that action having been taken at that time and also do not recall that it was connected in any way directly with the war warning.

27. Q. Did it happen that said directive concerning the substitution of Army for Marines was prepared and released by some officer who was not cognizant of the dangerous international situation?

A. I do not recall specifically, but I think it probable.

28. Q. Captain, what do you recall, as background, of discussions during 1941 concerning the advisability of continuing to base the Pacific Fleet in Hawaiian waters. My question particularly concerns the security aspect.

A. There was much consideration and discussion on the question of continuing to base the Fleet at Pearl Harbor. There was general realization that the Hawaiian Islands did not afford a completely secure location in which to base the Fleet. It was also felt that, unless Hawaii was actually used as a base and the necessary facilities and technique developed for handling the Fleet in this area, it might be impossible to base the Fleet there in time of war. I believe there was also a general belief that the Fleet based in Hawaii might deter Japan from aggressive action. The decision to keep the Fleet at Pearl Harbor involved consideration of all of these points.

29. Q. What do you recall of discussions or opinions expressed, say, during October-November, '41, concerning the probability of a direct Japanese attack on Oahu, particularly as regards a carrier raid?

A. I recall some discussion as to whether or not, in the event of aggressive action by Japan against the United States, the attack would be made against Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, the Netherlands East Indies, or to the Northward against Russia. Some months previous to this time, there had been discussion of a possible aircraft attack on Oahu, which resulted in a letter on this subject to the War Department. At this particular time, that is, October or November, 1941, I recall little discussion on the question of probability of a carrier attack against Oahu.

30. Q. Do you recall, during October and November, '41, an expression of opinion by any officer that a carrier raid on Pearl Harbor was to be particularly apprehended?

A. I do not recall that anyone felt that this particular type of attack was highly probable to the exclusion of attacks elsewhere, but there were individuals who felt that such an attack was probable.

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31. Q. Can you recall their names?

A. Yes, sir. Admiral Turner felt that attack on Oahu was quite probable. Other officers felt that such an attack was entirely possible but appeared to regard it as somewhat less probable than did Admiral Turner. I believe that Admirals Ingersoll and Stark were in this category.

32. Q. Captain, I show you two dispatches which are Exhibits 6 and 7 as a part of this record. The first of 16 October contains a directive concerning deployments and no documentary evidence indicates other communications to CinC, Pacific Fleet, along similar lines up to the date of 24 November. [388] As a background, please give what you remember of discussions pertinent to that point during that intervening period.

A. It is my recollection that during this period there was some personal correspondence between the Navy Department and the Commander-in-Chief, and that frequently officers moved between Hawaii and Washington and that through these media there may have been interchange of information and opinions regarding the degree of tension in the international situation between the dispatches of October 16 and November 24.

33. Q. I show you a dispatch, dated 27 November, which is Exhibit 8 in this record. Please state what you recall during the few weeks preceding this dispatch of discussions, conferences, and so forth, with officials of the State Department concerning the situation vis-a-vis Japan.

A. There was close liaison between the War, Navy, and State Departments at this time. The State Department kept the War and Navy Departments fully advised concerning developments of the discussions with the Japanese representatives and, in turn, the War and Navy Departments provided the State Department with complete information on all intelligence they obtained.

34. Q. What can you recall in the way of disagreements, between Navy and State Departments, in opinions or proposed actions during that period?

A. My recollection is that any divergences of opinion were fully discussed and that final decisions reached were generally concurred in by most of those concerned. Generally, there appeared to be no uncompromisable disagreement.

35. Q. Again referring to Exhibit 8; did you hear the conversations which were incident to eventual agreement over the phrasing of this dispatch?

A. I was present during discussion of the phrasing of one dispatch at about this time. I believe it was the message of the 27th of November.

36. Q. What do you recall of that conversation concerning the phrase which had to do with "war warning" and the other phrase concerning a deployment?

A. I recall there was some discussion as to whether or not the phrase "This is a war warning." was too strong. After discussion, it was agreed that it was not too strong and it was included in the final draft of the message. I do not recall discussion regarding the phrases concerning deployment.

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37. Q. Do you recall who proposed to water down the phrase about the war warning?

A. I do not recall definitely who proposed that.

38. Q. Do you recall hearing any officer proposing, subsequent to the dispatch of 27 November, to send the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, either further information indicating that his position was likely to be attacked or any more specific directive, concerning steps which he was to take, than he had already received?

A. I know of no specific proposal along this line. Although there was considerable discussion of such things during this period, I do not recall anyone actually drafting a dispatch and submitting it to the Chief of Naval Operations for release.

39 Q. Do you recall a discussion as regards ascertaining directly from CinCPac what measures he had taken incident to the Department's directive on 27 November?

A. I do not.

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40. Q. Do you recall hearing any discussion during the last days of November or early December of proposals to put war plans in effect wholly or in part?

A. I recall discussions as to the desirability of placing in effect, wholly or in part, certain war plans, but I do not recall a specific proposal that they should actually be placed in effect. In the dispatch of November 27, there was a directive which mentioned certain measures included in WPL-46.

41. Q. Reverting to my question concerning future directives to CinCPac subsequent to 27 November, and so forth, do you recall hearing any discussions as to the advisability of some very high Navy Department official proceeding to Pearl Harbor, by the most rapid transportation available, in order that there might be a direct meeting of minds?

A. I do not recall such a proposal at that time.

42. Q. Did Admiral Stark have available a method of telephonic communication to CinCPac through which he could talk things over with reasonable security?

A. He did not have any means of telephonic communication with the Commander-in-Chief Pacific, which was considered secure. Voice scramblers were installed in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, but the opinion of engineers familiar with this equipment was that it offered little security.

43. Q. Can you elaborate upon the latter part of that reply?

A. Upon the occasion of the installation of the voice scrambler, in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, the engineer who made the installation demonstrated his ability to translate from the scrambled language into plain English parts of conversations transmitted with the use of the scrambler.

44. Q. Sir, can you give a summary or chronology of events from Saturday noon, 6 December, '41, to the time of the attack, indicating, as accurately as you can remember, the times at which CNO received various reports that gave indications of proposed Japanese action?

A. Until sometime in the evening of December 6, probably about seven or eight o'clock, the Chief of Naval Operations was in his office and I recall no particular incidents relevant to the attack of the next

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day. I did not see him between about eight p. m., December 6, and the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

45. Q. Captain, did you know of information that had been received about two days before Pearl Harbor that the Japanese had used a certain code which has come to be known as the "Winds Message" indicating a definite intention to wage war on the United States in the immediate future?

A. I did not know of this.

46. Q. Do you remember anything in particular which occurred during the few weeks preceding 7 December, '41, which seemed to unnecessarily preoccupy Admiral Stark and Ingersoll so that their mental attitudes, as concerning the situation vis-a-vis Japan, were adversely affected?

A. I recall no particular preoccupations of either Admiral Stark or Admiral Ingersoll. There were, of course, the customary interruptions and matters requiring consideration, but I recall no important matter preoccupying either Admiral Ingersoll or Admiral Stark.

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The examining officer did not desire to further examine this witness.

The examining officer informed the witness that he was privileged to make any further statement covering anything relating to the subject matter of the examination which he thought should be a matter of record in connection therewith, which had not been fully brought out by the previous questioning.

The witness stated that he had nothing further to say.

The witness was duly warned and withdrew.

The examination then, at 12:04 p. m., was adjourned to await the call of the examining officer.


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