What We Knew
FROM "THE REAL INFAMY OF PEARL HARBOR"PERCY L. GREAVES, JR.
Before presenting the testimony relating to December 7th, it would be helpful to review the information available to Generals Marshall, Gerow and Miles as well as Secretary of War Stimson before they left their respective offices on December 6th. There was a mounting accumulation of facts and events that could not help but create an increasingly apprehensive atmosphere which called for an ever higher degree of alertness for possible Japanese action. There were a myriad of such developments, but only the highlights will be mentioned.
On November 5, 1941, Marshall and Stark signed a joint memorandum for Roosevelt in which they concluded that
several contingencies. These included a Japanese movement
It also included the movement of Japanese forces across a specified line previously described. Because of their desire for more time to build up forces in the Far East, their final recommendation was:
That same day a MAGIC message told them that:
if Japanese-U.S. relations are to be saved
A week later they read in MAGIC that:
This was further confirmed three days later when a November 15th Tokyo message closed:
A November 16 message was read on November 17, stating:
Final Deadline Set
On November 19, a MAGIC message informed them that if the U.S.-Japan diplomatic negotiations failed:
The Japanese Ambassadors in Washington sought instructions from Tokyo as to reducing Japanese personnel in the United States.
On November 22nd, the Ambassadors' plea to Tokyo for more time was answered:
Two days later, on the 24th, our top Washington officials read a Japanese intercept stating that:
This is a day (14 hours) earlier than Washington time. On Tuesday, November 25, the War Cabinet, including Marshall and Stimson, met at the White House. Stimson's diary notes the President:
Our military and naval advisors had warned us that we could not safely allow the Japanese to move against British Malaysia or the Dutch East Indies without attempting to prevent it.
A number of Japan's intercepts were translated and circulated on November 26th. Perhaps the most informative was one sent on November 14, from Tokyo to Hong Kong and eleven other Chinese cities. It read in part:
On November 26, our officials read another highly interesting intercept sent the day before, probably the 24th U.S. time, from Japanese forces poised at Hanoi to Tokyo:
State Department Surrenders
On November 26th, that same day, Roosevelt summoned Hull to the White House and, without consulting his military and naval advisors, authorized Hull to hand the Japanese Ambassadors an ultimatum to Japan that it was known Japan could not accept.
On November 27, Hull told Stimson:
Stimson then checked with Roosevelt, consulted with Knox, Stark and Hull, before preparing with Gerow a message "we shall send to MacArthur" over Marshall's signature. A similar message was incidentally sent to Hawaii.
It was also the date of a joint Marshall-Stark memorandum to FDR, the Commander in Chief that stated:
Marshall and Stark again asked for more time until more men and materiel reached the Philippines. However, they stood by their agreements with the British and Dutch, while asking that a joint British-American warning be sent to Japan if she should advance into Thailand.
November 28 brought alarming indications that Japan was getting ready for action. A telephone conversation the day before between the Tokyo Foreign Office and one of the Japanese Ambassadors was taped, translated and decoded. It told us that "a crisis does appear imminent." That same day, FDR and his War Cabinet also read a Tokyo cable to Japan's Washington Ambassadors. This cable revealed Japan's highly negative reaction to our ultimatum of the 26th.
The reports from the Philippines about the Japanese expeditionary force moving south were so alarming to Stimson on November 28th that he personally took them to FDR in the White House. 25,000 Japanese troops were going to land somewhere. Later that day, there was a meeting of the War Cabinet at the White House. Stimson's diary reports:
War Not a Dream
On Saturday, November 29th, Hull met with the British Ambassador. He informed him that he had told our Army and Navy officials that the diplomatic phase "was virtually over." Then "speaking in great confidence" he said
On Monday, December 1st, the recipients of MAGIC read a Tokyo to Berlin message that stated:
That same day we read Tokyo's instructions for her embassies in London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Manila to destroy their code machines while Washington was informed on how to destroy theirs by chemical means.
On Tuesday, December 2nd, these matters were all discussed at the White House, including proposed FDR messages to Congress and the Japanese Emperor. Stimson met with Marshall, Miles and Gerow concerning their attempts to speed up supplies to the Philippines. Stimson cancelled an out-of-town engagement "in order to stay in Washington over the week end."
Japan's Moves Known
On Wednesday, December 3rd, our War Cabinet read Tokyo's instructions to her Washington Ambassadors to destroy one of their two "Purple" machines and certain other codes. As a result, G-2's Bratton sent a man to observe the Japanese Embassy and confirm the fact that papers were being burned. As Bratton later testified, this "meant that time was running out and the approach of the crisis."
On Thursday, December 4th, we ordered our representatives in Tokyo, Bangkok, Peiping, Tientsin and Shanghai to destroy our top code system. Guam was told to "destroy all secret and confidential publications and other classified matter" with minor exceptions which they should "Be prepared to destroy instantly in event of emergency." The "Winds Execute" message, about which there has been so much controversy, was received. This indicated Japan's break with the United States and Great Britain, but not Russia.
On Friday, December 5th, our War Cabinet read a December 1 Tokyo order to her London Embassy to dispose of its code machine and to report back when that was done.
Saturday, December 6, produced more evidence that Japan was on the move. On that date we first read a circular MAGIC message of December 2, in which Japan ordered her diplomatic representatives abroad to start "the burning of all their telegraphic codes." That order had been issued to all Japanese officials in North America and the South Seas, as well as those in British and Netherlands territories. Our War Cabinet also read a Japanese December 3rd Rome to Tokyo message reporting on a meeting of Japan's Ambassador with Mussolini in which Mussolini was asked if Japan declared "war on the United States and Great Britain ... would Italy do likewise immediately? Mussolini replied: 'Of course'." That same Saturday morning the members of our War Cabinet read a Japanese December 5th Washington to Tokyo message stating, "We have completed destruction of codes" except for the one "Purple" machine needed for receiving the expected reply to the United States ultimatum of November 26.
Still more alarming were the reports from both Admiral Hart in the Philippines and the British, via London, that large Japanese convoys had been seen moving south. Even more alerting was the report that at least one of these convoys had crossed the line which Marshall and Stark had on November 27 told Roosevelt was "a threat to Burma and Singapore.,, In that case the
The End Approaches
Our War Cabinet members also read Tokyo's orders for the departure from the United States of certain important Japanese nationals. Then, on Saturday afternoon, December 6, the intercepted Pilot message informed those privy to MAGIC that the long awaited Japanese reply to our ultimatum would soon be on its way from Tokyo, to be held for delivery at a specified time. As we had learned on November 22, that specified time would undoubtedly be when "things are automatically going to happen."
The 14 part reply began coming in that Saturday afternoon, December 6th. At the White House, a young Navy Lieutenant was detailed to remain after hours to deliver to Roosevelt material "of such importance that the President expected to receive it." The Lieutenant was told that "during the evening Captain Kramer would bring up some "magic" material and that I was to take it and give it immediately to the President." Meanwhile, the President was busy redrafting a face saving message which went off to the Japanese Emperor at 9 p.m., with an announcement to the press.
At the War Department, the urgency that Saturday afternoon was such that several Army cryptographers were summoned from their homes to expedite the decoding of the anxiously awaited Japanese reply. To keep him informed of important developments, Marshall had Colonels on duty around the clock at his office and orderlies at his residence up to 10 p.m. or, when he was out, until he returned. His office, home and bedside had secure telephones passing through the White House switchboard. Yet, according to Marshall's original testimony before the JCC, he wanted the world to believe that he, like Stark, was unaware of all this quickening of developments crying out for his attention and action.
The first time Stark and Marshall testified, each, in turn, implied that he was following his usual Sunday morning activities and weekend routine. As Marshall stated it, "the probability is" that he was at home on Saturday evening and that he took his habitual horseback ride on Sunday morning. Stark had no memory whatsoever as to where he was that Saturday night. As regards the time of his arrival at his Navy Department office on Sunday, December 7, 1941, Stark's first reply was:
The memory of a member of Stark's December 6 theater party forced Stark to revise his earlier testimony that he did not know his whereabouts that Saturday evening or recall the fact that Roosevelt had asked him to phone late that night. Stark thus learned there was a "special reason for getting up early" that Sunday morning. Testimonies of subordinates placed him in his office as early as 9 a.m. or a few minutes later. Unfortunately, no witness enlightened the JCC as to the actual whereabouts of Marshall during many of these crucial hours.