VIII. THE SITUATION PRIOR TO THE FREEZING OF JAPANESE ASSETS

 

During the five months of Admiral Kimmel's command which preceded the freezing of Japanese assets, Admiral Kimmel and Admiral Stark exchanged, in addition to official correspondence, "personal correspondence," which referred to official matters. This, Admiral Stark testified, was a "Navy custom," but these personal letters never changed official orders (pages 41‑2).

 

Admiral Smith said that Admiral Kimmel showed him every letter which he wrote to or received from the Chief of Naval Operations; that these were personal letters, but had to be considered as official documents. (p. 33)

Admiral McMorris said that he thought he had read every one of the "personal" letters between Admiral Kimmel and Admiral Stark. (p. 242)

 

The highlights of this correspondence concerned

(a) The inadequacy of the local defense forces at Hawaii and the necessity for reliance on the Fleet,

(b) Admiral Kimmel's view concerning the possibility of a surprise attack,

(c) Admiral Kimmel's desire for information as to developments,

(d) the international situation.

 

PROCEEDINGS OF HEWITT INQUIRY                                                                                405

 

A. THE INADEQUACY OF LOCAL DEFENSE FORCES AND NECESSITY FOR RELIANCE ON THE FLEET

 

Admiral Stark wrote to Admiral Kimmel on February 10, 1941 (Exhibit 29), and said, among other things, that he wished they could send Admiral Bloch more local defense forces but they simply did not have them. He said: "If more are needed I see no other immediate solution than for you to supply them. I am moving heaven and earth to speed a considerable program we have for small craft and patrol vessels for the district, but like everything else, it takes time and 'dollars cannot buy yesterday.' "

In a letter from Admiral Kimmel to Admiral Stark on February 18, 1941 (Exhibit 30), it was stated, among other things, that as many Army bombers and supplies as the Army could send to Oahu should be sent, together with Army aircraft guns; that active and immediate steps were being taken to coordinate Army and Navy effort as well as the ground crew defenses of Pearl Harbor; that Admiral Kimmel had a couple of interviews with General Short and found him fully alive to the situation and highly cooperative, and Admiral Kimmel recom­mended that Admiral Stark keep continuous pressure on this question of Army reinforcement of Oahu; that the detail of local defense forces for the Fourteenth Naval District would have to be made from the Fleet, which was a further strain on the Fleet's small craft. He adverted to the possibility of a surprise attack and then discussed a question of the "highest importance," the supply of modern type planes throughout the Fleet and the need for such planes.

Admiral Stark replied on March 22, 1941 (Exhibit 32) to Admiral Kimmel's letter of February 18, 1941, and, among other things, pointed out that the highest priority had been given to Naval planes including patrol planes.

On May 7, 1941 (Exhibit 41) and on May 20, 1941 Exhibit 42), there were letters from Admiral Bloch and Admiral Kimmel concerning the vessels and planes needed for defense, particularly against submarine attacks. Admiral Bloch's letter stated that he had ,no aircraft and complete reliance had to be placed ("exclusive of the Fleet") on Army planes. The letter of Admiral Kimmel referred to previous correspondence on the subject and discussed in some detail the additional vessels needed. A memorandum was sent by Admiral Kimmel discussing various matters of interest and various inadequacies of Pacific Fleet. In connection with aviation it was stated, among other things: "Modernized patrol planes are not yet available in quantity. There are none in the Hawaiian area and there is no early possibility for replacement of those of the older type now in the Hawaiian area."

The memorandum also stated that the defense of the fleet base at Pearl Harbor was a matter of considerable concern and that "we" should continue to bring pres­sure to bear on the Army to get more anti‑aircraft guns, airplanes, and radar equipment in Hawaii and to insure priority for this continental and expanding Army needs. The Naval forces available to the Commandant, it was said, were meager to the point of non‑existence.

Admiral Stark replied to Admiral Kimmel's letter dealing with the inadequacy of the local defense force of the Fourteenth Naval District on June 23, 1941 (Exhibit 43). He stated that he realized the necessity of increasing the strength of the Naval Local Defense Forces, but advised that "until the unsatisfactory situation pointed out by the Commander‑in‑Chief can be remedied, the light forces and aircraft of the Pacific Fleet will have to be employed in the local defense of the Hawaiian Naval Coastal Frontier."

 

Admiral DeLany discussed in general the forces available to CincPac and the organization thereof; the general nature of the tasks assigned in the war plans to the Fleet; methods of training the Fleet prior to the attack, which also involved, training with the Army in exercises. He said, among other things, "I think everybody realized that the defense of the island did depend on the Navy there because certainly the Army didn't have any ground forces, anti‑aircraft installations, radar, or anything else that would make Pearl Harbor a well‑defended operating base." (p. 75‑6)

 

B. ADMIRAL KIMMEL'S VIEW CONCERNING THE POSSIBILITY OF A SURPRISE ATTACK

 

In his letter of February 18, 1941, to Admiral Stark, concerning inadequacy of the local defense, Admiral Kimmel stated: "I feel that a surprise attack (sub­marine, air, or combined) on Pearl Harbor is a possibility. We are taking immediate practical steps to minimize the damage inflicted and to insure that the attacking force will pay. We need antisubmarine forces‑DDs and patrol craft. The two squadrons of patrol craft will help when they arrive."

 

406                               CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION PEARL HARBOR ATTACK

 

C. ADMIRAL KIMMEL'S DESIRE FOR INFORMATION AS TO DEVELOPMENTS

 

In a postscript to his letter of February 18th, Admiral Kimmel stated that he had been told by an officer fresh from Washington that ONI considered it the function of Operations to furnish the Commander‑in‑Chief with information of a secret nature, and that he had also heard that Operations considered that the responsibility for furnishing the same type of information was that of ONI. Admiral Kimmel said he did not know that he had missed anything but if there were any doubt as to whose responsibility it was to keep the Commander‑in­-Chief fully informed with pertinent reports on subjects that should be of interest to the Fleet, would Admiral Stark kindly fix that responsibility so that there would be no misunderstanding.

In his reply Admiral Stark stated that ONI was fully aware of its responsibility to keep Admiral Kimmel adequately informed concerning foreign nations, activities of these nations, and disloyal elements within the United States; and that information concerning the location of Japanese Merchant Vessels was for­warded by air mail weekly and if desired could be issued more frequently.

In a memorandum dated May 26, 1941, surveying conditions in the Pacific Fleet as to personnel, aviation, material, communications, operations, national policy, and information, Admiral Kimmel stated that it should be a cardinal principle that the Commander‑in‑Chief, Pacific Fleet, should be immediately informed of all important developments as they occurred and by the quickest secure means available.

 

D. INFORMATION SENT TO ADMIRAL KIMMEL CONCERNING THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION

 

On February 25, 1941 (Exhibit 31), Admiral Stark wrote to Admiral Kimmel, forwarding a copy of a memorandum for the President, dated February 11, 1941, discussing the possibility of sending a detachment to the Philippines via the Southern route. Also enclosed was a copy of another memorandum for the President, of February 5, 1941, consisting of an analysis of the situation in Indo­-China, which had been prepared by Admiral Stark. This stated Admiral Stark's views that Japan had some fear that the British and the United States would intervene if Japan moved into southern Indo‑China and Thailand; that the size of Japanese land forces in Formosa and Hainan was insufficient for occupying Indo‑China and Thailand, for attacking Singapore, and for keeping an expedi­tionary force ready to use against the Philippines, and so far as Admiral Stark could tell, an insufficient number of transports was assembled for a major move; and, that as Admiral Stark haw the situation, Japan desired to move against the British, the Dutch, and the United States in succession, and not to take on more than one at a time, and at present she desired not to go to war with the United States at all.

 

Admiral Newton discussed a trip which he had made around March, 1941, under secret orders, with a force consisting of cruisers and destroyers. He never learned the purpose of this trip. (p. 315)

 

Admiral Stark's observations on the international situation were also set forth in a letter of April 3, 1941 (Exhibit 73) to the Commander‑in‑Chief, Pacific Fleet, Asiatic Fleet, and Atlantic Fleet, which incidentally also discussed the prepara­tion of Navy Basic War Plan Rainbow No. 5. The basic idea of this plan, he said, was that the United States would draw forces from the Pacific Fleet to reenforce the Atlantic Fleet, that the British, if necessary, would transfer naval forces to the Far East to attempt to hold the Japanese north of the Malay Barrier, and that the U. S. Asiatic Fleet would be supported by offensive operation of the United States Pacific Fleet.

He then discussed the British proposals and the dangers facing Britain. He stated that the Japanese attitude would continue to have an extremely important bearing on the future of the war in the Atlantic; that for some time past, Japan had shown less and less inclination to attack the British, Dutch and ourselves in the Far East; and, he advised the addressees to watch this situation keenly. Unquestionably, he said, the presence of the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii had a stabiliz­ing effect in the Far East. The question, he said, was when and not whether we would enter the war. Admiral Stark's personal view was that we might be in the war against Germany and Italy within about two months, but that there was a reasonable possibility that Japan might remain out altogether. However, he added, we could not act on that possibility. In the meantime, he advised that as much time as available be devoted to training.

 

PROCEEDINGS OF HEWITT INQUIRY                                                                    407