Nov 30, 2008

Quicker than anyone dreams

Sunday, November 30, 1941, adds a fresh dateline. In Berlin, Japanese Ambassador Hirashi Oshima receives a cable from Tokyo: "Say very secretly to (the Germans) that there is extreme danger that war may suddenly break out between the Anglo-Saxon nations and Japan through some clash of arms and add that the breaking out  may come quicker than anyone dreams." 

Transmitted in "Purple," the highest security Japanese diplomatic code (which we had been reading for a very long time),  it may have been read in high-level Washington even before it was by the ambassador.   No one in Washington thought it important enough to relay to Hawaii. 


Ed Layton and  Joe Rochefort took no Sunday ease on Oahu beaches. Intelligence chief Layton pored again and again  over information from across the Pacific. Jap carrier divisions 1 and 2 were still no where to be found.  Rochefort's and his cryptographers, still trying to make useful sense of the  Japanese naval code JN25, made no important breakthroughs and were forced to use the crudest form of SigInt (signals intelligence)  -- guessing based on what little of the code they had  broken, primarily radio direction finding  on the (almost) enemy ships whose call signs they knew.

Pearl Harbor code breakers had been forbidden by Washington to read Purple code. In the Philippines, MacArthur had the necessary machines and could read it at will. 


Still far to the north, but getting closer,  Communications Officer Kazuiyoshi  Koichi of the  Hiel was having an uncomfortable  time of it.  Kudo Butai meteorologists had it wrong yesterday, and Sunday's weather was miserable. Besides,  he was sleeping badly on his wooden box pillow full of vital radio parts from the battle cruiser's transmitters. From Yamamoto himself had come the order:  Strict radio silence until after curtain rise, one week from today.

No comments: