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.

Secretary of State Hillary

I hereby announce the end of  my patience with the Obama Administration. 

Nov 29, 2008

Pearl Harbor -- Tora Notes

It's fair to wonder where this stuff is coming from. Aside from the general memory of an amateur student of the matter, the reliance so far is primarily on "Infamy" by John Toland and "I Was There" by Edwin T. Layton.

An historical coincidence: The days of the week /dates this year  correspond to those of 1941.

All dates are western hemisphere. Add one to get eastern. (It's a lot easier to think of the International  Date Line as the Sunday-Monday line; Sunday here, Monday there. It saves a lot of mental wrestling with the old gain-a-day or lose-a-day explanations.)

The Last Peaceful Weekend

Official Washington at the Limo Level was quieter on Saturday, Nov. 29, 1941. The President was away after a meeting with Hull, Stimson, Admiral Harold R. Stark, and Army Chief George C. Marshall. The Friday conference was to float his idea of a note to Emperor Hirohito, urging  conciliation. War Secretary Stimson  opposed it. He wanted to strike at the Japanese fleet in the South China Sea. The others preferred an ultimatum saying America would fight if the southern fleet passed a certain line.

 In Toland's words, " Roosevelt didn't feel like arguing. He agreed.  He was impatient to take his sinus problem to Warm Springs...". 

It was a vacationy time in the Capitol. Marshall had just returned from Florida and was trying  to get back up to speed on what had been  happening with  this Japan thing.

Not so at Station Hypo,  Admiral's Kimmel's   code-breaking shop at Pearl Harbor where fleet intelligence officer Ed Layton and  chief cryptanalyst Joe Rochefort were hustling  to answer a pertinent question from scanty evidence. They  knew where a few of the Jap carriers were. Where were the others?"  Layton and Rochefort spent the weekend in the office.

Around 43 degrees north,  Admiral Nagumo nodded appreciatively at seeing the meteorologists' early  weekend reports. Odds suggested better weather  for midweek when his Kido Butai would arrive at its final refueling station.