Alert Message from Chief of Naval Operations

Nov. 24, 1941

FROM: Chief of Naval Operations

ACTION: CinCAF, CinCPAC, Com 11, Com 12, Com 13, Com 15

INFO: Spenavo London Cinclant


Chances of favorable outcome of negotiations with Japan very doubtful. This situation coupled with statements of Japanese Government and movements their naval and military forces indicate in our opinion that a surprise aggressive movement in any direction including attack on Philippines or Guam is a possibility. Chief of Staff has seen this dispatch concurs and requests action adees [addressees] to inform senior Army officers their areas. Utmost secrecy necessary in order not to complicate an already tense situation or precipitate Japanese action. Guam will be informed separately.

Copy to WPD, War Dept. and Op-12 but no other distribution.

War Warning Message from Chief of Naval Operations

Nov. 27, 1941

FROM: Chief of Naval Operations


INFO: Cinclant, Spenavo


This dispatch is to be considered a war warning. Negotiations with Japan looking toward stabilization of conditions in the Pacific have ceased and an aggressive move by Japan is expected within the next few days. The number and equipment of Japanese troops and the organization of naval task forces indicates an amphibious expedition against either the Philippines, Thai or Kra Peninsula or possibly Borneo. Execute an appropriate defensive deployment preparatory to carrying out the tasks assigned in WPL 46. Inform district and Army authorities. A similar warning is being sent by War Department.

Spenavo inform British. Continental districts Guam, Samoa directed take appropriate measures against sabotage.

Copy to WPD, War Dept.

Army Alert Sent by Chief of Naval Operations:

Nov. 28, 1941

FROM: Chief of Naval Operations

ACTION: Com Pnncf, Com Psncf

INFO: Cincpac Com Pncf


Refer to my 272338. Army has sent following to commander western defense command.

Negotiations with Japan appear to be terminated to all practical purposes with only the barest possibilities that the Japanese Government might come back and offer to continue. Japanese future action unpredictable but hostile action possible at any moment. If hostilities cannot repeat not be avoided the United States desires that Japan commit the first overt act. This policy should not repeat not be construed as restricting you to a course of action that might jeopardize your defense. Prior to hostile Japanese action you are directed to undertake such reconnaissance and other measures as you deem necessary but these measure should be carried out so as not repeat not to alarm civil population or disclose intent. Report measures taken. A separate message in being sent to G-2, Ninth Corps Area re subversive activities in the United States. Should hostilities occur you will carry out the tasks assigned in Rainbow five so far as they pertain to Japan. Limit dissemination of this highly secret information to minimum essential officers. Unquote. WPL 52 is not applicable to Pacific area and will not be placed in effect in that area except as now in force in southeast Pacific sub area and Panama naval coastal frontier. Undertake no offensive action until Japan has committed an overt act. Be prepared to carry out tasks assigned in WPL-46, so far as they apply to Japan in case hostilities occur.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation