Events Leading up to War
Jan 1—Ambassador Grew notates in his diary Japan is on the warpath.
Jan 4—Warner Brothers cartoon “Elmer’s Pet Rabbit” is released with Buggs Bunny’s name on the title.
Jan 6—FDR delivers his Four Freedoms Speech in the State of the Union Address (freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.)
Jan 8—FDR creates Office of Production Management (OPM).
Jan 15—First U.S. troops embark for Newfoundland. Sizable group of conscientious objectors called for non-military duty.
Jan 19—Ensign Laurance MacKallor with a top secret cipher machine hops a train and goes cross-country to Los Angeles to board the USS “Sepulga.”
Jan 20—Lend-Lease plan introduced by Pres. Roosevelt known as “Bill No. 1776”— an effort to promote the defenses of the U.S.; bill gives sweeping powers to the President.
Jan 22—British forces capture port of Tobruk, Libya.
Jan 23—Charles Lindbergh addresses Congress, recommending that the U.S. negotiate a neutrality pact with Adolf Hitler.
Jan 24—Four code-breakers Maj. Abraham Sinkow, Capt. Leo Rosin, Lt. Robert Weeks, and Ensign Prescott Currier, with replicas of Purple machines (one eventually sent to Singapore) and code books, board the British battleship “King George V” in absolute secrecy in a rainstorm in Chesapeake Bay and sail for the UK.
Jan 26—Ensign MacKallor boards the “Sepulga” in San Pedro, California and sets sail for the Far East. By the end of next month, an exchange was conducted in Singapore between Britain's Far East Combined Bureau and C, via Lieut. Jefferson Dennis, both tackling 5-Num; the British were far advanced in codebreaking with more information without using the IBM punch card sorters the Americans were utilizing.
Feb 4—USO is chartered.
Feb 6—Benghazi captured; Italian armies in N. Africa surrender to Australians; war begins to escalate in North and central Africa. “The Emergency Cargo-Ship Act” appropriates $313,500,000 to the Maritime Commission to provide as rapidly as possible cargo ships essential to the commerce and defense of the U.S.
Feb 8—U.S. Navy Liuet. Commander Arthur McCollum sends an Office of Naval Intelligence report outlining that Japanese agents plan to change from propaganda activities to espionage activities in America.
Feb 10—Sen. Wheeler, leading isolationist, reports army is buying 1,500,000 caskets.
Feb 11—Italian convoy lands 5000 colonial refugees in Naples, from war-torn Libya. General Erwin Rommel arrives in Tripoli.
Feb 14—First units of the Afrika Korps disembark at Tripoli.
Feb 17—Lend-Lease Bill passed by U.S. House 260-165.
Feb 19—The U.S. passes a defense bill authorizing the spending of $245,228,500 in expansion of naval bases at Guam, Tutuila (Samoa), Pearl Harbor, Midway, Wake, and all the bases in Alaska and the Canal Zone. Luftwaffe begins a three-night bombing run over Swansea, South Wales, inflicting about 400 casualties and 230 deaths.
Feb 24—OPM invokes the first mandatory industry-wide priorities, affecting aluminum and machine tools.
Feb 25—Pres. Roosevelt proclaims aircraft pilot trainers, beryllium and graphite electrodes under the export licensing system.
Feb 26—Philippine Airlines formally incorporated, making it Asia's oldest and first carrier, still to this day, operating under its current name.
Mar 1—Bulgarian government agrees to support Germany and joins the Tripartite Pact. The first FM radio station in America goes on the air: W47NV, Nashville, Tennessee.
Mar 5—In a super top secret memo--the Assistant Dir. of Naval Communications authorizes memo to be removed from USN files and replaced with a dummy--from Adm. Thomas Hart to Adm. Harold Stark who is informed Radio Tokyo transmission intercept and exchange between U.S. and the British in Singapore has proceeded pertaining to 5-Num (version 6, additive ver 6) and are awaiting arrival of “Sepulga”; Adm. Hart uses the term Five Numeral System and never calls it JN-25, however, in August it was changed again via new additive. The Panamanian governmment grants the U.S. the right to extend American air defenses beyond the limits of the Canal Zone.
Mar 10—Entire U.S. Army exceeds 1,000,000 men. “Mothers’ Crusade Against Bill 1776” stage sit-down strike before the door of Sen. Carter Glass of Virginia.
Mar 11—Congress passes the Lend-Lease Bill.
Mar 13—Port of Clydebank, Scotland, falls to tremendous bombardment; the destruction forces 35,000 out of 47,000 people homeless.
Mar 15—First flight initiated by Philippine Airlines, between Manila and Baguio.
Mar 22—Grand Coulee Dam begins operating, two years ahead of schedule.
Mar 24—Allies loose 480 soldiers in shark-infested waters off Africa as transport “Britannia” is sunk.
Mar 25—Germany extends blockade (war zone) of England to within 3 miles of Greenland. USS “Sepulga” arrives in Manila Bay. Yugoslavia joins Axis Pact.
Mar 27—Takeo Yoshikawa, Japanese spy, arrives in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Mar 29—Sea Battle of Cape Matapan British Royal Navy sink five Italian warships in Mediterranean.
April 1941 highlights continue
Apr 1—Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador take possession of German and Italian merchantmen anchored within their ports.
Apr 2-3—Revolt erupts in Iraq, pro-Axis Raschid Ali el Gailani assumes power.
Apr 6—Nazis invade Yugoslavia and Greece.
Apr 9—Greenland and the U.S. sign an agreement protecting Greenland.
Apr 11—Office of Price Administration (OPA), is created with the maintenance of relative price stability and protection of the consumer. By the end of the month, Yugoslavia and Greece fall to Nazis.
Apr 12—U.S. troops land in Greenland. Hitler sends German troops into Belgrade.
Apr 13—Japan and Soviet Union sign a non-aggression treaty. It is a 5-yr pact between Imperial Japan and the USSR.
Apr 16—British annihilate German convoy near the island of Kerkennah, of 3000 German troops transported, some 1700 perish. London comes under intense German bombers raid at night, with nearly 900 tonnes of high explosives. Lend-Lease goods are on their way to China.
Apr 17—Yugoslavia falls; allies loose 330,000 troops.
Apr 18—Alexandros Koryzis Prime Minister of Greece commits suicide.
Apr 20—Gallop Poll reports 79% oppose sending part of the Army to Europe, a 69% opposes sending any of the Air Corps.
Apr 22—Station C decrypts new message that all ten aircraft carriers of Japan are placed under a new fleet command.
Apr 23—America First Committee holds its first mass rally in N.Y. City; Charles Lindberg is a keynote speaker.
Apr 27—Swastika Flag waves over Athens; allied resistance is shattered. With the fall of Greece allies loose another 22,000 troops.
Apr 29—Fever sweeps Iraq. Iraqi and British relations break; war commences.
May—From Vichy Syria trainloads of ammo and artillery move to Iraq.
May 1—U.S. Army troops and special secret radio station technicians arrive in Newfoundland. First Defense Savings Bonds go on sale helping to pay for the increased defense program. Imperial Japanese Navy introduces Yobidashi Fugo HY00 8, a brand new radio code system that is believed impervious to decoding. “Citizen Kane” premieres in N.Y. City. Cheerios breakfast cereal debuts.
May 4—The American Red Cross announces that no vessel carrying only Red Cross supplies has been sunk.
May 5—Station C acquires 52 negatives of the Imperial Navy’s 5-Num. Emperor Haile Selassie returns to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
May 6—Bob Hope performs his first USO show at March Air Field, California.
May 9—Allies secretly secure an Enigma machine after capture of U-boat 110.
May 10—London is pounded by Luftwaffe. Rudolf Hess parachutes into Scotland claiming it is a peace mission.
May 11—Station C decodes HY00 8 and locates the “Akagi” in Sasebo.
May 14—RAF begins systematic raids on Syrian airfields.
May 15—First (secret) flight of RAF jet, Gloster E.28/39.
May 17—Icelandic Parliamment declared its independence from Denmark and established itself as a separate state (in 1944 it became a republic.)
May 19—British decipher secret code that Crete will be invaded in 24 hours; RAF aircraft on Crete relocated to Egypt.
May 20—Crete falls to largest German paratroop assault (22,750 troops) and sea-borne invasion; last usage of German paratroops in WW II.
May 21—Hitler notifies F.D.R. to withdraw diplomatic representatives from Paris by June 10. S.S. “Robin Moore” is sunk in the S. Atlantic by U-69, about 960 miles off Brazil.
May 23—German Stukas sink cruisers HMS “Gloucester” and HMS “Fiji”.
May 24—In the North Atlantic, newly completed British 41,000 battleship HMS “Hood” is sunk by the “Bismarck,” only 3 survive from a crew of nearly 1,500.
May 26—London falls to very heavy bombing.
May 27—Pres. Roosevelt proclaims a state of emergency. Pocket battleship “Bismarck” Germany’s largest battleship (41,676 tons) is sunk by British Fleet in the Atlantic after a 1,750 mile chase; only 117 Germans survive from a crew of 2,200.
May 29—U.S. Army Air Corps forms Ferrying Command to fly newly manufactured airplanes to Great Britain.
May 31—Nazi paratroops conquer Crete.
Highlights of world war some 78 years ago
June highlights continue
June 1—Luftwaffe sinks British cruiser “Calcutta” in the Mediterranean.
June 3—Britain and Iraq at peace; British Empire troops hold all Iraqi keypoints for the duration of the war.
June 4—British seize Mosul, oil rich region of Iraq.
June 8—Free French and British forces commence campaign in Vichy Syria.
June 12—Weyerhaeuser (Clemons) tree growing farms begins in the U.S.
June 14—German and Italian assets are frozen in the United States. (The freezing of assets also specified Albania, Andorra, Austria, Czecho-Slovakia, [now called Czech and Slovak Federative Republic] Liechtenstein, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, and Sweden. Under prior orders, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Latvia, Estonia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Hungary, Greece, and Yugoslavia had some freezing control.) Soviet credits frozen in the U.S.
June 15—Naval lieutenant Robert Weeks, 5-Num specialist, arrives in Newport, Rhode Island, and boards the cruiser “Augusta.”
June 16—German consular, tourist agencies and propaganda offices in the U.S. ordered closed by the 10th of July.
June 18—Joe Louis ko’s Billy Conn in heavyweight boxing championship in New York, and defends title for 18th time. Nazi Germany and Turkey sign a non-aggression pact.
June 19—The German Reich closes U.S. consulates and American Express offices.
June 20—The “Alien Visa Act” permits consular officials and the Secretary of State to deny visas to aliens who in State Department opinion seek to enter the U.S. for the purpose of engaging in activities detrimental to public safety. (Vichy) Beirut/Damascus RR and road closed. U.S. Army Air Corps officially changed to U.S. Army Air Forces, under Gen. H. H. Arnold. Oil shipments to foreign nations cease, except nations in South America and United Kingdom.
June 22—Operation Barbarossa, war escalates in eastern Europe as Germany invades Russia.
June 24—U.S. releases Soviet Credits.
June 25—The U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board zones air space, and designates air space above 17,000 feet for military operations. British cruiser “Nigeria” and 3 destroyers capture German spy-weather ship “Lauenberg” in N. Atlantic plus a secret Enigma code machine intact.
June 28—“Defense Public Works Act” authorizes appropriation of $150,000,000 for the acquisition and equipment of public works made necessary by the defense program. Office of Scientific Research and Development is created, for scientific and related research activities. Organized under OSRD, the Committee of Medical Research had its directive to “initiate and support scientific research on medical problems affecting the national defense”.
June 29—A great roundup of German spies on U.S. soil is conducted.
June 30—Minsk, Soviet Union, encircled; 20 Soviet divisions have disintegrated; 290,000 Soviets fall as prisoners.
July 7—Japan calls up more than 1,000,000 Army conscripts and recalls its merchants from the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. Marines occupy Iceland; Hitler would have converted Iceland into an ideal U-boat base. U.S. Army occupies Greenland.
July 9—George T. Armstrong is hanged in Wandsworth, England, as the first Britain executed for treason in the war.
July 12—Japan lands 50,000 men in Cochim, China.
July 14—Fighting ceases in Syria.
July 18—First RAF aircraft equipped with radar.
July 19—Following a midnight BBC broadcast that calls for the slogan “V for Victory” the “V” becomes symbolized worldwide
July 22—Japan imposes radio and cable censorship.
July 24—Japanese troops occupy southern Indo-China. U.S. denounces Japanese occupation of Indo-China.
July 25—By Executive Order signed by F.D.R. today, Japan’s assets in the U.S. are frozen; about $138 million. All British citizens expelled from Vichy France.
July 26—Japan freezes U.S. assets; about $110 million. U.S. notices Japanese merchant fleet put under military control. German troops are unstoppable in the Soviet Union.
July 28—Entire Japanese merchant fleet put under military control. Vichy government agrees to build German aircraft in France.
July 29—Holland freezes Japan’s assets.
July 30—“The government of the U.S.S.R. recognize the German treaties of 1939 as to territorial changes in Poland as having lost their validity” announces Commissar of Foreign Affairs. Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, created to further the national defense and to strengthen relations among the countries of the Western Hemisphere.
July 31—A bomb hits USS “Tutuila” near Chunking, mainland China; Japan apologizes accident. A DC-4 (C-54) flies from Makati City (Manila) to Oakland, California on first Asian airline to cross Pacific, with stops in Guam, Wake I, Johnston Atoll and Honolulu.
Aug 1—U.S. exports of crude oil and aviation fuel to Japan ceases. The additive to 5-Num is changed again.
Aug 3—Gas curfew is imposed in 17 Eastern States, closing filling stations from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. U.S. government makes major shift in policy by promising to send aid to USSR under Lend-Lease.
Aug 6—Japan announces concession to U.S. if its assets are unfrozen.
Aug 12—Atlantic Charter is secretly signed on board cruiser “Augusta.”
Aug 14—F.D.R. and Churchill issue 8-point declaration of peace aims, entitled “The Atlantic Charter.”
Aug 16—Codename Hollywood, 5th Columnist Nakauchi reports to Tokyo on merchants “St Claire” and “Fitzsimmons” which took on oil at El Segundo, California, departure times and destination; translated Aug 22.
Aug 18—Fire on Brooklyn pier destroys the freighter “Panuco”; 31 die.
Aug 21—First allied convoy to Russia: 7 freighters leave Reykjavik, Iceland, for Archangel in northern Soviet Union. Japanese secret agent in Honolulu Takeo Yoshikawa sends first grid-map of the defenses of Pearl Harbor. To this date, the grid-map remains classified and Top Secret. August-November passenger car production in the U.S. ordered cut 26.6 percent.
Aug 24—British Prime Minister Winston Churchill pledges military aid to the U.S. if the U.S. became involved in a war with the Japanese.
Aug 25—Persia (Iran) invaded by Soviet Union and Britain, and the largest oil refinery in the world is taken, within a month all clashes cease.
Aug 27—Japan issues protest against ships sailing to Vladivostok as violating Japanese waters.
Aug 28—Japan proposes a face-to-face meeting with Pres. Roosevelt, expressing a peaceful meeting between Konoye and Roosevelt.
Aug 31—The Great Gildersleeve debuts on NBC Radio.
Sep 3—Japanese leaders secretly agree that if a suitable diplomatic solution would not be ready by mid-October, war is probable. Pres. Roosevelt through secret diplomatic channels agreed to collaborate with the Japanese government in supporting four principles; see book A Toast For You and Me, America's Participation, Sacrifice and Victory, vol 1.
Sep 4—U.S. destroyer “Greer” torpedoed; the first U.S. warship fired upon by a German sub. U.S. government states the first cargo of aviation gas has reached Vladivostok, U.S.S.R., aboard “L.P. St. Claire.”
Sep 5—“Steel Seafarer,” flying the American flag, is bombed and sunk in the Gulf of Suez; 0 dead.
Sep 6—The Japanese government decides to continue negotiations with America but secret preparations for war are to be completed by Oct 10.
Sep 8—Germany admits attack on “Greer.” The siege of Leningrad begins.
Sep 11—Pres. Roosevelt issues “shoot-on-sight” orders to Navy. U.S. protection expanded to protect all merchant ships. U.S. freighter “Montana” of Panamanian registry is torpedoed and sunk off Iceland; entire crew rescued. Charles Lindbergh's speech to the America First Committee in Des Moines, Iowa.
Sep 12—U.S. Coast Guard “Northland” commanded by Carl C. von Paulsen finds a German meteorological arctic ship at Cape Hold With Hope, Greenland, and captures it.
Sep 13—U.S. Navy given official green light to shoot any Axis in U.S. patrol area of North Atlantic.
Sep 16—U.S. Navy extends Atlantic convoy protection.
Sep 19—Kiev, Soviet Union, falls; 600,000 Soviet troops captured.
Sep 20—“The Revenue Act of 1941" imposes new or heavier taxes designed to raise as additional $3,553,400,000 annually to pay part of the cost of the nation’s national defense and lend-lease programs.
Sep 23—German bombers sink the Soviet battleship “Marat” (23,600 tons).
Sep 24—An espionage surveillance of the Japanese Consulate in Honolulu nets a Mackay interception (not MAGIC translation) in J-19 code showing request by Tokyo for a report outlining aircraft-navy information in Hawaii. An espionage surveillance of a Japanese-American named Nakauchi nets a MAGIC translation showing he had forward to Tokyo a two-part report outlining aircraft production information in So. California, intercepted September 16.
Sep 27—U.S. launches 14 merchant ships in Liberty Fleet Day celebration.
Sep 28—Ted Williams ends the 1941 baseball season with a .400 batting avg, the last player to accomplish this feat.
Sep 29—A detailed grid-map of the defenses and ships of Pearl Harbor is sent to Tokyo from secret agent Takeo Yoshikawa in Honolulu, via the J-19 code; aka "Bomb Plot."
Oct 1—Inter-Island Airways renamed Hawaiian Airlines.
Oct 6—The Yankees clinch the World Series over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Oct 10—Bomb plot decoded requesting to divide the defenses and ships of Pearl Harbor into 5 areas and report on ship locations.
Oct 11—U.S. Naval patrol deposes of German-Norwegian radio station on Greenland.
Oct 16—Hideki Tojo is new Prime Minister of Japan; a warhawk. With hush-hush permission, Army Air Force lands eleven specialists on uninhabited Baffenland, Eastern Arctic.
Oct 17—U.S. destroyer "Kearney" torpedoed 350 miles s.w. of Iceland by U-568; 11 dead, 24 wounded.
Oct 21—U.S. authorizes load on ninety million dollars to the U.S.S.R.
Oct 23—Gasoline restriction comes to a close after the British agree to return 25 tankers.
Oct 30—U.S. oil tanker "Salinas" is attacked by a U-boat and rescued by U.S. destroyers in N. Atlantic.
Oct 31—U.S.S. "Reuben James" is sunk in North Atlantic off Iceland with a loss of 115 men.
Nov 1 1941—Japanese naval code is profoundly changed, HY009 a new Imperial Fleet signal system instituted.
Nov 5—Secret Tokyo radio traffic increases like crazy. Ship call signs replaced with a more difficult branch of detection. Admiral Osami Nagano, Chief of the Japanese Naval Staff to CinC Combined Fleet issues the following secret message: 1. In view of the fact that it is feared war has become unavoidable with the United States, Great Britain and the Netherlands, and for the self preservation and future existence of the Empire, the various preparations for war operations will be completed by the first part of December. 2. The CinC Combined Fleet will effect the required preparations for war operations in accordance with Imperial Headquarters Order #1. 3. The CinC of the China Area Fleet will continue operations against China and at the same time effect required preparations for war operations.
Nov 6—Tojo reaffirms the determination of Japan to establish a “new order in Greater East Asia.” U.S. reaffirms the Declaration of Panama by capturing the German blockade-runner “Odenwald” disguised as a U.S. freighter off the Brazilian coast.
Nov 7—German bombers sink the Soviet hospital ship “Armenia.” First large-scale RAF bombing of target Berlin with some 160 bombers; little damage at a cost of 20 plus.
Nov 14—British aircraft carrier “Ark Royal” reported sunk in the Mediterranean.
Nov 15—Gen. George Marshall holds a top secret press meeting in his office for 7 correspondents from Time, Newsweek, Associated Press, United Press, International News Service, the New York Times, and New York Herald Tribune, letting it be known that the U.S. had broken Japanese codes. He predicted that the U.S. was on the brink of war, and expects everyone to be on the watch “the first 10 days of Dec” of 1941. No single target is named. It wasn’t made public.
Nov 15—Station H intercepts “Akagi” 4963 kilocycle transmission.
Nov 17—Congress votes to amend U.S. Neutrality Act; forbade merchants from being armed; forbade U.S. ships from transporting cash-carry munitions. American intelligence in Hawaii was receiving Purple again after being excluded practically for 3 months due to a leak. Japanese carriers “Hiryu” and “Soryu” depart bay of Saeki Wan, Kyushu. U. S. intelligence correctly ascertains Japanese carriers at either Kyushu or Kure or Sasebo. British commandos led by Maj. Geoffrey Keyes raid Rommel's Afrika Korps headquarters in an attempt to kill or capture the Desert Fox--Rommel is miles away inspecting the troops at the front.
Nov 19—“Defense Highway Act” appropriates $150,000,000 for the construction and improvements of access roads to military and naval reservations, defense industries and sources for raw materials. Two cruisers fight to the death off western Australia: Germany’s “Kormoran” and Australia’s “Sydney.”
Nov 20-Dec7—Japanese representatives begin new talks to defuse the growing crisis in the Far East.
Nov 21—Sixteen B-24s depart Bolling Field, Washington D.C. for the British at Cairo. Great fleet exercise conducted by U.S. warships in Hawaiian waters, including 120 aircraft.
Nov 22—Secret Japanese code deciphered by MAGIC: After the 29th, things will automatically begin to happen. (November 28th, U.S. time.) There was no sign in the intercepted Purple messages from the Japanese Foreign Office that an attack on Pearl Harbor was planned or in progress.
Nov 24—The entire sea exercise off Hawaii is called off, around 3:30 pm based upon a warning from Washington DC Rear-Admiral Ingersoll. At 8:48 pm, Radioman Second Class Jack Kage monitored a radio alert from Yamamoto’s fleet. It was deciphered to be some kind of radio silence order for “the main force and its attached forces” with no specifications. According to the book Pearl Harbor by Vice-Adm. Homer K Wallin, Adm. Yamamoto issued instructions to “advance into Hawaiian waters” on this date.
Nov 25—The last day for official diplomatic negotiations with America is re-extended to Nov 27, and more negotiations take place between Nomura, Kurusu and Sec. of State Hull in the hope of peace, meaning America had to back down. British battleship “Barham” sunk by U-331 in the Mediterranean; 868 men are drowned. Yamamoto’s carrier fleet (Nov 26 in Tokyo) led by the flagship “Akagi” secretly sails from Japan’s bleak northern port of Hitokappu Bay. Ahead of them are thirty fleet-type submarines. Decoded by the British (decoded by the Dutch Nov 17): “Task Force will move out of Hitokappu Bay on the morning of Nov 26 (Tokyo time) and advance to the standing-by position on the afternoon of 4 Dec … complete refueling,” issued by Yamamoto. (Pearl Harbor Hearings, Congressional Hearings, 1946 Congressional Report, vol 1 pg 180, transcript p437-38). Movement is detected by US intelligence in Dutch Harbor and Station H; Adm. Kimmel is notified; destination appears to be the Marshalls and SE Asia. But, there is no mention of carriers. A priority dispatch, known as Presidential monographs, in a leather pouch with gold letters “For THE PRESIDENT” is sent to Roosevelt who is having dinner with Princess Martha of Norway. The U.S. Navy orders all U.S. trans-Pacific shipping to take southerly routes (Pearl Harbor Hearings, 1946 Congressional Report, vol 12 pg 317.)
Nov 26—Station H and Chief Radioman Robert Fox, traffic chief for Station King at Dutch Harbor, intercept Akagi 4963 kilocycle transmission; destination unknown. Sec. of State Hull issues a diplomatic modus vivendi to Japan; Japan had to withdraw from China and Indochina. Pres. Franklin Roosevelt signs a bill establishing 4th Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. Sgt. Delmer E. Park, of Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. Army observer with the British in Libya is killed in a German tank attack.
Nov 27—Japan again rejects the U.S. demand for their withdrawal from China. Entire Pacific fleet and U.S. Army placed on war alert: “This dispatch is to be considered a war warning” began a new dispatch from Washington DC to 15 Army and 4 Navy commands--from Manila to Panama to London and all points in between--including “an aggressive move by Japan is expected within the next few days.” All American troops and bases put on red alert. Admiral Kimmel dispatches aircraft carrier “Enterprise” to Midway to deliver Marine air units, sailing at full speed all the way. Vicious fighting is waged in North Africa between British and Axis. New Zealand Brig. General James Hargest is taken prisoner by the Italians.
Nov 28—Tokyo Naval Radio sends a message in 5-Num to warships of Adm. Nagumo's Pearl Harbor strike force of a ferocious winter storm in their path. Sec. of State Hull secretly issues another warning to U.S. military of possible attack by Japan, but the United States must not make the first move. No single target is named. Nazi SS units are within 20 miles of the Kremlin; the temperature drops to minus 32˚c. U.S.S.R. merchant vessel “Uritski” departs San Francisco for Petropavlosk. FDR departs on his special railroad car, the Ferdinand Magellan, from Union Station for Warm Springs, Georgia.
Nov 29—President Roosevelt attends a special (delayed) Thanksgiving dinner with patients of the Polio Institute. Passenger steamship “Lurline” departs San Francisco bound for Long Beach and Honolulu. Germany secretly reaffirms to Japan to join her in war against the U.S.
Nov 30—Station H intercepts a specific movement report by an oil tanker, “Shiriya,” that it is proceeding 30-00 N, 14-20 E and will proceed along the 30-degree north latitude at 7 knots. Driven off course by typhoon-like storm, unknown to the world, Adm. Nagumo orders his flagship “Akagi” to break radio silence and beam radio signals on 4960 kilocycles at very low power to round up his ships scattered all over the sea, but a rare demonstration of the power of the Sun aids U.S. intercept stations who pick up radio chatter from the “Akagi.” The Sun?
Yes, the low power transmissions which were supposed to go only about 100 miles were fanned out due to solar hitting the ionosphere and carried all over the Pacific basin, as far as the West Coast. Far-north weather reports from Baffenland start guiding Lend-Lease pilots across the “North Atlantic highway in the sky” route.
December Events Leading up to War
Dec 1---F.D.R. is given four Purple intercepts, one from Nov. 28: “In a few days, US-Japan negotiations will be defacto ruptured. Do not wish you to give the impression that negotiations are broken off.” Japanese call signs are changed again. [First time a change of Japanese code occurred within a month; over 20,000 call signs, including 5-Num were changed.] One of two governing houses of Japan, the Cabinet, secretly presents to Emperor Hirohito the final decision to open hostilities against the U.S., Great Britain and Holland (Dec 2 in Tokyo) Japan publicly rejects the Hull proposals (see vol 1). Four Japanese carriers are detected by main fleet intelligence officer of the Pacific Adm. E. Layton to be near Formosa (Taiwan) and in the Mandates. Station C has about 75 counterintelligence experts. Station H about 140. Station N in Washington DC about 300. Pago Pago, Samoa, Midway, Dutch Harbor (Alaska) has some 33 RDF specialists. A Purple dispatch is sent to Japanese attaches in Berlin warning Hitler and Ribbentrop that war may break between Anglo-Saxon nations and Japan “quicker than anyone dreams” however, negotiations in Washington DC are continuing. Station H averages about 42 messages/hour 24 hrs.
Dec 2---Climb Mt. Niitaka 1208 intercepted at Station C and Station H at 1:30 am, but it is unclear if Kimmel read this later. 2nd straight day, Leslie Grogan assistant radio operator on board the SS “Lurline” makes a log of bearings of strange wireless signals from northern Pacific, and broadcasts from shore stations in Japan beaming toward the Northeast Pacific. Some German units are about 12 miles from the Kremlin.
Dec 3---Japanese Foreign Ministry orders their Honolulu spies to destroy their code systems, extended to listening posts in North America except the embassy in Washington DC so that final instructions could be received. Station V on Pago Pago, 1500 miles east of Australia, picks up message of sub I-10 missing a scout plane. Station H intercepts 6 messages from Radio Tokyo to Japanese units in South China/Formosa area. The SS “Lurline” docks in Honolulu and Grogan presents a transcript of his broadcasts and RDF findings to naval Lieut. Commander George Pease; Pease died in a 1945 airplane crash. Note: the “Lurline” episode is built from Grogan's account, the only inconclusive facts in this chronology. According to public records, Roosevelt receives a final monograph, the last one before the attack.
Dec 4---According to Captain Duane Whitlock, who was posted at Station C, they had on this date succeeded in identifying Japan's new top-secret call signs of admirals Yamamoto and Nagumo and sent via TESTM, a super secret U.S. Navy code system, to Station H; only stations C, H and N had the ability to decode TESTM. Station C as of midnight discovers to their horror 5-Num version 8 was placed in effect; not even 3000 code groups had been assigned of the 50,000 values. From this date on, it is claimed F.D.R. is cut off from direct TESTM dispatches. As of this date, Nazi Germany has lost 85,000 troops on the Russian Front; it is so cold, mechanical vehicles on both sides cannot even move. American carrier “Lexington” steams from Hawaii with a shipment of aircraft for Midway.
Dec 5---Captain Homer Kisner at Station H delivers 10 messages to Joseph Rochefort about Yamamoto. [Those 10 are still hidden to historians.] Kisner claims the intercepts were from Radio Tokyo and Radio Ominato in north Japan along the frequency 12,330 kilocycles and 32 kilocycles, the former bounces off the ionosphere for long range and the latter is more a close ground-wave frequency; ideal for subs. Most Japanese shipping is in home port. Moscow-Radio announces counterattack around Moscow with Siberian reserves, Nazis retreat some 11 miles. After an unusual diversion to Astoria, Oregon, the “Uritski” resumes her journey east.
Dec 6---U.S. military forces trace Japanese troop convoys in South China seas. Pres. Roosevelt makes an appeal to Emperor Hirohito to intervene in Japanese foreign-policy making and avoid a war with the U.S. Secret Agent Yoshikawa sends secret coded message via RCA teletype in PA code on the defenses of Hawaii & Panama; intercepted in San Francisco by Station Two, but the diplomatic message was not translated until after Dec 7 by NEGAT. Broadcasts from Yamamoto to fleet units via newly deciphered call signs of Yamamoto are delivered to Kimmel personally by Rochefort in the morning. They were sent from Station C contradicting the popular belief traffic from Yamamoto was observing radio silence. Noon Hawaii time, Rochefort so exhausted by decoding work, takes the rest of the weekend off; so does everybody else at HYPO, except 2. A secret report from radio translators Station H, Maynard Albertson, Radio Second Class, and Jesse Randle, Radio Third Class, are given to their boss Captain Homer L. Kisner who shortly after noon leaves his special analysis atop a stack of 900 intercepts, HYPO office of Rochefort. By 10 p.m., the 13 parts of Tojo's war plans were decrypt by the Army and Navy. That night Lieut. Cdr. Alvin Kramer of the Navy’s Cryptographic Department drives around Washington DC showing the message to various top commanders presuming the Japanese intend to break off negotiations completely. When the secret documents were sent to the President, he exclaimed to Harry Hopkins, “This means war.” But Part 14 still missing. No destination is announced. Gen. George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, and Rear Adm. Richmond K. Turner, Chief of War Plans, cannot be reached. That night no message was intercepted. Radio station KGMB is ordered to stay on the air after midnight to guide in a flight of 12 B-17 Flying Fortresses due in from the West Coast. A Purple dispatch is sent to Japanese attaches in Bangkok that “X Day” would be December the 8 Tokyo time, December 7 Hawaii time and was intercepted by Station C, however, it would not be translated until two days later.
Dec 7---At 5 mins past midnight Pacific time, Part 14 is sent via telegraph, known as Message 380 in history. At 1:37 a.m. Message 381 is picked up by telegraph. Message 381: VERY IMPORTANT. WILL THE
AMBASSADOR PLEASE SUBMIT TO THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT (IF POSSIBLE THE SECRETARY OF STATE) OUR REPLY TO THE UNITED STATES AT 1:OO PM ON THE 7TH YOUR TIME. It also stipulated to burn all codes. Both are dispatched secretly by teleprinter to Washington DC. At NEGAT, a Purple machine decrypted the message. It was then passed to SIS for translation. Army Colonel Rufus S. Bratton and Navy Lieut. Cdr. Kramer independently inspected the decrypts. It spelled out to deliver the message no later than 1 p.m. DC time and to destroy their cipher machines. As Bratton stated later, that “stunned me into frenzied activity because of its implications”, which were that the suspected Japanese attack would occur very soon after 1 p.m. local time. Both Bratton and Kramer tried to alert their superiors. 11 a.m. F.D.R read final 15th part; Sec. Knox read it at 11:15 a.m.; Chief of Staff Gen. Marshall not until 11:25 a.m. who was handed both the 14-part message and the subsequent deadline message. All Army Pacific commands were to be alerted. Bratton took Marshall's warning message, encoded it, and delivered it to the War Department Message Center; it was sent to Pearl Harbor as a Western Union Telegram and due to poor atmospheric conditions, Hawaii did not receive it on time. Japan attacks Pearl Harbor International LINK to Dec 7 with over 300 aircraft and 5 mini-subs.
The attack was filmed in b & w from the air by Japanese airmen. Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki became the first Japanese Prisoner of War after escaping from his mini-sub.
Kept secret for decades from the general public, except for a magazine ad which I found, the attack was shot in color by motion picture cameramen in 8 and 16mm film by 6 different people; 4 were in the U.S. Navy, one rare film for the archives
is from navyman CWO4 Clyde Daughtry (in duotone)
Dec 8---Bangkok, capital of Thailand, occupied by Japan. Britain declares war on Japan. Congress declares war on Japan. Below is the declaration of war by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Mon. Dec 8. (press)
Drums of war. The vision of peace, sadly, is no more. The first months of the war were jittery. A world that struggled in chaos, with a global population of 2.29 billion.
Dec 9---Flying Fortress bombs a Japanese battleship; pilot, Capt. Colin Kelly declared the first hero; in reality the B-17 missed.
Dec 10---Japanese landings on the Philippines announced. Guam captured. British retreat from Tobruk. British evacuate Kowloon, mainland China. British battleship “Prince of Wales” (38,000 tons) and cruiser “Repulse” (32,000 tons) are sunk off Malaya by Japanese dive bombers. SS “Lurline” returns to San Francisco, and the official radio log of the “Lurline” is confiscated by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is never returned to Matson Shipping Lines, owner of the “Lurline.” [Radio log has since disappeared.] In FBI custody are 1,291 Japanese (367 in Hawaii), 857 Germans, and 147 Italians suspected to be disloyal. Japanese-American citizens educated in Japan, the Kibei, remain free.
Dec 11---Germany and Italy declare war on the United States. The U.S. declares war on Germany and Italy. Seven U.S. long-range PBY Catalina scout planes are shot down over the Philippines. Japanese invade Burma. U.S. garrison in Peking, China, (now called Beijing) are taken prisoner. The freighter SS “Lahinai” ventures too close to a Japanese sub on patrol and is sunk 700 miles northeast of Hawaii.
Dec 12---San Francisco blacked-out for 2 hours and 40 minutes. The U.S. declares war on Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania. Seventh (and last convoy of 1941) Allied Convoy reaches port of Archangel; a total of 800 fighters, 1400 vehicles, 750 tanks and over 100,000 tons of supplies and aid have been transported to the Soviet Union since midsummer.
Dec 13---Thailand Field Marshal Phibun Songkhram concludes a secret pact with the Japanese to help invade Burma.
Dec 14---Captured pilot on Niihau is killed after recovering a pistol with aid from a disloyal American-born Japanese couple named Yoshio and Irene Harada, Yoshio later committed suicide.
Dec 15---Approaches to Chesapeake Bay announced screened by mines. Bill of Rights Day. British loose “Galatea” in Mediterranean.
Dec 16---Japanese invade British Borneo.
Dec 17---Not far from Honolulu, SS “Manini” is sunk by a Japanese sub.
Dec 18---Japanese troops aided by Fifth Column invade Hong Kong Island with minimal opposition. Office of Defense Transportation created “to assure maximum utilization of the domestic transportation facilities of the nation for the successful prosecution of the war.” SS “Prusa” is sunk by Japanese sub near the big island Hawaii.
Dec 19---Office of Censorship, national agency that caused to be censored, communications between the United States and foreign countries, is created. Official communique acknowledges 7th Chinese Army cannot relief allies surrounded at Hong Kong. Twenty hospital staff at Salesian Mission are brutally tortured and executed in Shaukiwan, Hong Kong; two eyewitnesses survive to testify at post-war crime trials. MacArthur declares the island capital Manila an open city.
Dec 20---SS “Emidio” fired upon north of San Francisco by a Japanese submarine, it did not sink but a few days later ran aground off Crescent City, California. Oil tanker “Agwiworld” was shelled by a sub about 20 miles off Monterey Bay and 75 miles south of San Francisco, California.
Dec 21---British escort carrier “Audacity” is sunk in the Atlantic, but after it is able to sink four attacking German U-boats.
Dec 22---Boston and Portland screened by mines.
Dec 23---Japanese troops land on Borneo. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are removed from Washington DC and taken to Ft Knox for safety. Rangoon (now called Yangon) is bombed by air. Wake Island falls. Less than 12 fighter aircraft hold on at Manila. Oil tanker “Montebello” never made it to Vancouver as she is sunk by Japanese sub I-21.
Dec 24---Last 2 remaining American destroyers evacuate Manila. Imperial Japanese massacre doctors and wounded soldiers in St. Stephen’s College Emergency Hospital in Hong Kong.
Dec 25---British in Hong Kong surrender, allies loose 12,000 troops including 1,689 Canadians. Secret convoy, “Orizaba,” “Mount Vernon,” “West Point,” “Dickman,” “Leonard Wood” and “Wakefield” transporting British troops to Far East arrives in Mombasa, Kenya. Japanese sub torpedoes freighter “Absoroka” near San Pedro, California; damaged she is towed to Fort MacArthur.
Dec 27---Prime Minister of Australia passes word in a published article in Melbourne Herald that Australia looks to the U.S. for help.
Dec 28---Famous phrase in American popular culture, “Sighted Sub, Sank same.”
Dec 31---The first U-boat “periscope” is sighted off Maine. Leningrad, 395 miles from Moscow, holds on after three months of siege.