Pearl Harbor: Tora! Tora! Tora!
Posted on 10th February 2021
Relations between the United States and Japan had been strained ever since the latter’s invasion of mainland China in July 1937, and would become even more so following its occupation of French Indo-China in September, 1940.
Japanese aggression spawned from decades of militarism was all part of a bold strategic plan to make themselves the pre-eminent power in south-east Asia, an expansion of the Japanese Empire for which they would coin the euphemism – The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Promulgated as a Japanese initiative to encourage the peoples’ of Asia to throw off the yolk of colonial rule it was in truth little more than a cynical land grab and the replacement of one Imperial master for another. Japanese intentions were clear then, and little attempt was made to either conceal or disguise them.
As early as February 1933, it had left the League of Nations following widespread condemnation of its occupation of Manchuria and in December 1937, in what became known as the ‘Rape of Nanking’ upwards of 200,000 Chinese men, women, and children were shot, bayoneted, bludgeoned, beheaded, burned to death, and buried alive in an atrocity so vast in its scale and magnitude that even the Nazi Government in Berlin felt obliged to voice its concern. Few could any longer deny or excuse Japanese militarism and its ruthlessness in pursuit of its ambitions.
On 27 September 1940, they confirmed where their geo-political future lay with the signing of the Tri-Partite Pact, a military alliance with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
In the United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who had pledged in his re-election campaign the previous autumn not to send American boys to fight in foreign wars had under pressure from the increasingly powerful ‘America First’ movement adopted a softer approach to the fascist regimes of Europe than he would have liked but Japanese militarism in south-east Asia and the Pacific where it directly threatened American interests was another matter. Here he could be tough, and he would be tough.
The American attitude toward Japanese behaviour in China had been one of revulsion and its reaction to its further expansion into the urban and industrialised areas of French Indo-China was to end the trade in scrap metal and close off the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping. With 93% of its copper and 74% of its iron ore imported from the United States this alone had serious implications but when early in 1941, Japan moved substantial military forces into southern Indo-China where they would be in a position to directly threaten the colonial possessions of Great Britain and the Netherlands, and bullied Thailand into a de-facto military alliance, President Roosevelt was swift to act. On 26 July 1941, he ordered the seizure of all Japanese assets in the United States and implemented a trade, and more significantly, an oil embargo. In an instant Japan had lost 75% of its imported goods and 88% of its oil. Indeed, it only had three years of oil reserves and that only if they ceased fighting and withdrew from China; with no prospect of enduring a humiliation so great the oil would run out in eighteen months.
For a country that had few natural resources of its own access to world markets was not only essential to sustained prosperity but also to maintain their vast military machine and keep it operational in the field.
Despite a campaign of unbroken military success the war in China was not going well, with a land-mass so vast there was little prospect of luring an out-matched and reluctant Chinese Army to fight, or into a trap which might result in one climactic and decisive battle.
Without the means to ever occupy a country so large and unwieldy which despite the pre-eminence of Chiang-Kai-Shek was still run by War Lords and had no effective central Government or functioning bureaucracy, the conflict became a meat-grinder of incessant low-level fighting, small-scale encounters, and hit-and-run guerrilla tactics that were a constant bleed on Japanese manpower and resources – an exercise in futility from which honour would not permit them to disengage. Indeed, the Kwantung Army was to act almost independent of Government interference, and as from late 1941 onwards Japan fought for its very survival in the Pacific and elsewhere the war in China continued much as before, to no great purpose, and at very great cost to both sides.
They had simply bitten-off more than they could chew but it meant that the continued procurement of the materials of war, oil, rubber, iron ore etc were essential not just for the future but in the here and now. If they could not trade for these commodities then they would have to get them by other means, and the resource rich Dutch East Indies and British held Malaya stood like red rags to an increasingly aggressive and agitated Japanese bull.
Before any invasion of these territories could be undertaken however, they would have to neutralise the threat posed by the United States Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Once this had been achieved a series of lighting and almost simultaneous amphibious landings could and would take place on Malaya, Burma, Hong Kong, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, and other places of strategic importance. Having conquered vast areas of territory numerous Islands throughout the South and Central Pacific would be occupied and fortified to form a formidable defensive ring around their expanded Empire.
It was an audacious strategy but other than the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor the only substantial military force that stood in the way of their plans was the British Army stationed at Singapore on the Malay Peninsula, and this was to prove a paper tiger.
But the flaw in their strategy lay not with its implementation or its intended aims but the presumptions upon which it was based. For the Japanese raised on the discipline and self-imposed rigours of the Bushido Code, America appeared decadent and weak, and its people limp and flaccid. It was a place of pimps and prostitutes, gangsters and greedy capitalists – they knew this, they had seen the movies. Any decisive show of force and the spirit of the American people to resist would be broken. Racial stereotypes aside, the Japanese High Command also believed, just as had happened 23 years before, that the United States would be drawn in to the European War and with its resources stretched would be forced into accepting any defeat inflicted at Pearl Harbor however humiliating, as a fait accompli – that a devastating display of Japanese arms and the challenge faced overcoming it would be enough to force the Americans to sue for peace.
It was view that in hindsight appears not so much naive as positively deluded.
The architect of the attack upon Pearl Harbor would be the 56 year old Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto who perhaps had a firmer grip on reality than many of his compatriots. He didn’t doubt that the Americans would respond to any attack made upon them but believed that the destruction of the Fleet at Pearl Harbor would provide a six month opportunity of conquest that would leave Japan in a position of strength from which to negotiate a future settlement in its favour.
Born into a respected but impoverished Samurai family he had joined the Imperial Japanese Navy as a young man and had fought at the Battle of Tsu-Shima, the decisive naval engagement that had effectively decided the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, a conflict which had begun with a surprise Japanese attack upon the Russian naval base at Port Arthur, from which though only a partial success many valuable lessons had been drawn.
In 1919, Yamamoto had travelled to the United States to study at Harvard University and was later to be appointed Military Attache to the Japanese Embassy in Washington. Always inquisitive and eager to learn, Yamamoto took the opportunity of his extended stay in America to journey extensively around the country becoming not only fluent in its language but acquainted with the customs, mores, and character of its people discerning, as he would later ponder, the resolve in the American psyche to respond to any slight or wrong.
He had also witnessed for himself the latent might and power of his adopted country and had come to believe that in any future war with the United States victory would have to be swift and decisive for once the decision had been made to fight and the juggernaut began to move it would prove relentless and unstoppable.
Even though he was a Samurai devoted to the person of the Emperor who believed there was no greater honour than to die in battle and was a military man to his core, he was no war monger. He had opposed the Japanese invasion of both Manchuria and China and had not been in favour of signing the Tri-Partite Pact.
His seeming reluctance to wield the sword regardless of the consequences meant that he was never entirely trusted, and certainly not by the army. Indeed, the mistrust and inter-service rivalry established at this time was to prove an impediment to Japanese military operations throughout the war. Nonetheless the strategic decision to attack Pearl Harbor was Yamamoto’’s and we should be in no doubt that he was committed to it and working with a small staff and alongside the veteran pilot Minoru Genda ,who had long been arguing that the aeroplane would prove the deciding factor in any future naval engagement and would plan the air operation, Yamamoto laboured tirelessly to perfect the plan upon which he believed the entire outcome of the war would hinge, and its success would depend upon timing, co-ordination and most of all secrecy.
The shallow waters at Pearl Harbor, just 35 feet at their deepest, posed a problem however for a torpedo normally required a depth of at least 60 feet to operate, and so a new torpedo had to be specifically developed. The vulnerability of planes flying so low as to deliver torpedoes at close range was also the cause for concern but the British air attack upon the Italian Fleet at Taranto in November 1940, carried out by slow and obsolete Fairy Swordfish bi-planes had shown it could be successfully done and at little cost.
Genda trained his pilots in the techniques of torpedo attack and low-level aerial bombardment day-after-day at Kagoshima Bay the closest facsimile Japan had to Pearl Harbor, but their ultimate destination remained a closely guarded secret.
The Task Force of 31 vessels, 6 Aircraft Carriers, and 8 Oil Tankers protected by warships and submarines, would be commanded by Vice- Admiral Chuichi Naguma, a man of limited imagination but stoical resolve who though cautious by nature could be expected to carry out his orders to the letter. Admired for his navigational skills it was felt he could be relied upon to cope with the demands of complete radio silence and of keeping the Fleet intact in the storm tossed seas of the more northerly route to Hawaii where the dense cloud cover and poor visibility, despite being an impediment to coordination would at least assist in ensuring the Task Force remained undetected.
As Yamamoto continued to go over the finer points of his ‘Plan Z’, a Japanese delegation was sent to Washington to negotiate a settlement of the differences between the two countries and a lifting of the trade embargo informing the American Government that the Japanese Military would make no further advances into China and had no territorial ambitions in South-East Asia beyond what could reasonably be considered their sphere of influence.
On 27 November, Secretary of State Cordell Hull rejected the Japanese proposals renewing instead the American demand that they withdraw their forces from China with immediate effect. This, the Japanese Government under Prime Minister Hideki Tojo steadfastly refused to do and though negotiations were to continue they were carried out with scant sincerity on either side. In the meantime, Nagumo’s Task Force had already sailed for Hawaii.
On the same day as Secretary of State Hull informed the Japanese Embassy of his decision regarding their proposals a warning that war was imminent was wired to Admiral Husband E Kimmel and General Walter Short commanding American naval and land forces at Pearl Harbor.
Husband E Kimmel was an experienced and respected Flag Officer but one who had never previously seen combat, even so he was aware of the vulnerability of Pearl Harbor and had voiced his concerns but communications with Washington were often sketchy and the information he received vague and unspecified. Both he and General Short believed that war with Japan was indeed imminent but where they might strike remained unknown, the Pacific was a vast area and they had received no definitive information that Pearl Harbor was a likely target.
Indeed, General Short feared more the prospect of sabotage from agents among Hawaii’s large Japanese population than he did attack or invasion and had ordered that American planes should be parked side-by-side to protect against it – a fateful decision that would guarantee their destruction on the day of the attack.
On 2 December, Admiral Nagumo received the instruction “Climb Mount Niitaka” the code to proceed with the attack.
As befitted the Samurai code of honour he lived by, Yamamoto did not intend to strike at Pearl Harbor without or before a formal declaration of war and instructions had been issued to the Japanese Ambassador in Washington to present it to the United States Government thirty minutes before the attack was due to begin but the message, received in fourteen parts was either delayed in decoding, copying, or deliberately, and wasn’t relayed to the Americans until an hour after the first wave of bombers had already begun their assault. It was to be a surprise attack after all, and in the most ignoble sense of the term.
Approaching the Island of Oahu from the north by the early hours of 7 December 1941, the Japanese Carrier Force lay just 220 miles from its intended target.
The tension aboard the Aircraft Carriers was palpable a mixture of apprehension, anxiety, nervousness, and no little excitement for many of the air-crew had never experienced combat before, young boys of eighteen and nineteen who were soon to become men – warriors in the Samurai tradition – and as Senior Commanders went over the plan of attack one more time and Squadron Leaders relayed instructions to their pilots, men huddled together in small groups to down a last cup a ceremonial Saki, or visit the Shinto Shrine to renew their devotion to the Emperor, honour their ancestors, and pray for success.
Delayed for thirty minutes because of problems stabilising the Carriers sufficiently in the heavy seas the first wave of 183 assault aircraft finally began to take off at 06.20 and to the resounding cheer of Banzai! Banzai! From the crews who lined the decks.
The initially dispiriting news that the American Aircraft Carriers, the main target of the attack were at sea and their location unknown had by now been forgotten and did little to dampen the sense of elation.
As dawn broke upon Pearl Harbor there was no sense of anything untoward on what appeared a typical sleepy Hawaiian Sunday morning; washing was hung out to dry, some men slept in, others prepared for Church Service – Admiral Kimmel and General Short were playing golf.
At 06.37 the USS Ward acting on reports that a periscope had been spotted outside the harbour perimeter dropped depth charges later reporting that it had sunk a suspected submarine – the news received caused little alarm.
The Ward had in fact destroyed one of five midget submarines that had been sent by the Japanese in advance of the aerial assault to remain outside the harbour defences and prevent enemy ships escaping to the open sea.
The USS Monaghan would sink a further submarine once the attack was underway and Kazuo Sakamaki would become the first Japanese prisoner-of-war when he was captured after abandoning his sinking vessel. Indeed, he was still being interrogated as the first bombs began to drop.
At 07.00 at Opana Radar Station positioned on the northern tip of Oahu George Elliott and Joseph Lockhart who were on duty that morning could see a large formation of planes approaching the Island and radioed their report to Headquarters where Lt Kermit Tyler believing it to be a flight of B.17 Bombers expected later that day told them to ignore it.
The last opportunity to get at least some warning of the impending attack had been lost.
Aboard the ships in Battleship Row the men lined the decks for the raising of the colours and musicians tuned up for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner with the calm of the day broken only by the drone of engines as men looked skywards to see through the glinting sunlight planes approaching, some barely skimming the water, and in numbers they had never before seen.
The First Japanese Wave was split into three groups, one would target Battleship Row while the other two bombed and strafed the airfields at Ford Island, Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, Barber’s Point, and Kaneohe where General Short’s earlier decision to park his planes in close proximity to one another now came home to roost as afforded little protection they were sitting targets.
Chaos ensued as planes were shot up and ripped apart, hangars set ablaze, ammunition ignited, and severed pipelines spilled gasoline fuel onto the runways threatening a conflagration. At Kaneohe Airfield as the attack came in John William Finn, a navy man familiar with gunnery retrieved a machine gun from those less experienced than he and placed it on a tripod in an area of open ground where he could get a better view of the Japanese planes. By doing so he exposed himself to grave danger yet despite being wounded repeatedly and riddled with shrapnel he continued to fire for more than two hours. He was to be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, one of the 15 men whose courage was to be so recognised that Sunday morning, only 5 of whom were to survive the day.
With the threat of any aerial opposition effectively neutralised the Japanese planes were described as swarming above and between the ships on Battleship Row unimpeded like bees around a honey pot; some pilots were said to be smiling, others even waved as they dropped their bombs and torpedoes.
As American sailors rushed to their battle stations and battened down the hatches those manning the guns found the ammunition had been locked away as was normal procedure for a ship in port, and so had nothing to fight back with. Many not waiting for orders broke into the arms stores and retrieved what ammunition they could but with the attack already under way and machine gun fire raking the decks there was little opportunity to put up any effective resistance.
The deafening noise, the chaos, the confusion, the sky darkened by smoke as if shrouded in a dense fog provided an aspect of carnage unimaginable only moments earlier as ships anchored and tethered to moorings as if awaiting execution shook and trembled under the weight of aerial bombardment.
The first ship hit at approximately 07.53 was the apt Utah, a disarmed vessel intended to be used for target practice. She was quickly followed by the light- cruiser Helena struck by a torpedo the concussive blast of which capsized the minelayer Oglala moored alongside. Another torpedo then struck the USS Raleigh before two destroyers in dry dock under repair, the Cassin and the Downes were hit repeatedly and gutted by fire.
But this was all peripheral for pilots whose blood was up and wanting to strike the main target the pride of the Pacific Fleet moored at Battleship Row. The USS California hit by two bombs began to settle in the water and was abandoned, perhaps a little prematurely; the USS West Virginia despite being struck by 9 torpedoes and two bombs fought on and wasn’t abandoned until she began to sink and the threat of an internal explosion appeared imminent; the USS Oklahoma struck repeatedly by torpedoes including twice below the waterline capsized and sank trapping more than 400 men inside.
At approximately 08.06 the USS Arizona which had already been peppered with bombs all but one of which had missed was struck a second time by one dropped from 10,000 feet which crashed through five decks before exploding and igniting the magazine sending fire and smoke 500 feet into the air. As a fireball swept through the ship men desperately scrambled for the ladders in any direction but there was little time for those not killed or mortally wounded in the initial blast to navigate the darkness, fumes, choking smoke and twisted metal. The Arizona sank in just nine minutes taking 1,177 men with her including numerous brothers who had served together and now died together.
The USS Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee were all hit whilst the USS Nevada managing to break its moorings tried to make for open sea but despite the heroic efforts of its crew hit by 6 bombs and a torpedo it was forced to beach.
Rescue efforts began even as the bombs were falling but were hampered by the smoke and a sea ablaze from spilled gasoline with many sailors escaping overboard only to choke to death on the oil or be horribly burned.
Looking on from his headquarters at the destruction around him and the smoke rising from Battleship Row, an anguished Admiral Kimmel helpless to intervene was in despair. When a bullet passed through a nearby window brushing his shoulder he was heard to remark that it would have been more merciful had it killed him. In an act of self-immolation he was later to rip the insignia of rank from his uniform – his career was over.
With their ammunition spent and short of fuel by 08.30 many of the Japanese planes had departed, but there was to be little respite.
At 08.55 a Second Wave of 171 Japanese planes arrived over Hawaii to complete the task of the First but by this time the Americans were better prepared and with the anti-aircraft batteries fully operational a heavy toll was taken of the low-flying Japanese fighter-bombers. Also, eight American fighters had managed to take to the sky and though hopelessly outnumbered were to account for at least six of the enemy. Indeed, of the Japanese planes lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor almost two-thirds would be from the Second Wave.
It was at the height of the second attack that the expected flight of B.17 Bombers that had so fatefully distracted Lt Tyler at last arrived but stripped of any armaments having been on a training mission there was little they could do but land where they could, most would be destroyed after doing so.
Returning to the Task Force in triumph Mitsuo Fuchida aware that many of the port installations and other potential targets had not yet been destroyed demanded Nagumo permit him to lead a Third Wave. He also insisted that he be allowed to locate the absent American Aircraft Carriers. Nagumo, aware the element of surprise had been lost and that casualties were mounting refused; as far as he was concerned it was mission accomplished, the United States Pacific Fleet had been destroyed, and he would return his Task Force intact.
As the defenders of Pearl Harbor readied themselves for further Japanese assaults that never came frantic fire-fighting and rescue operations continued despite the threat posed by exploding munitions and the rumours of booby-traps and saboteurs.
Medical teams struggled to cope with the sheer volume of casualties and in particular the number of burns victims for which they lacked both the facilities and the expertise.
In the meantime, General Short tried to organise some kind of defence against the anticipated land invasion that must now surely follow.
As the dust began to settle and the smoke clear the scale of the devastation became evident:
4 Battleships had been sunk along with 4 damaged, 2 severely so.
3 Cruisers severely damaged
3 Destroyers wrecked
1 Minelayer sunk
1 Auxiliary sunk and 2 damaged.
Of the 402 planes based at the various Airfields across the Island 188 were destroyed on the ground and 189 damaged.
7 United States planes had also been shot down by friendly fire.
2, 335 military personnel had been killed and 1,140 wounded.
68 civilians had also been killed and 35 wounded many as a result of misdirected ground fire.
A total of 2,403 killed and 1,175 wounded.
Japanese casualties by contrast had been relatively light:
29 Aircraft lost
4 Midget Submarines sunk
1 Midget Submarine beached
64 men killed
1 man captured.
The clean-up operation at Pearl Harbor was to continue for some time as were the attempts to free those men still entombed in the hulls of their sunken vessels.
Tapping could be heard coming from inside the upturned Oklahoma and rescue workers laboured tirelessly to locate where the noises were coming from and cut a way through the more than two feet of steel armour plate to reach them, but only 32 of the more than 400 men believed still trapped inside could be saved.
The rapped out pleas for rescue continued to be heard for many days and it has been estimated that the last of the doomed men may not have died until as late as 23 December.
But for all the death and devastation that had occurred the major port facilities such as the power station, the naval repair yards, oil and ammunition storage depots had not been destroyed and Pearl Harbor did not cease to function as the home of the United States Pacific Fleet and with the exception of the Arizona and Utah all of the ships sunk and damaged would be salvaged and be back in service before the end of the war.
As such the attack upon Pearl Harbor may have been a great battlefield triumph for the Japanese Empire and a national humiliation for the United States it would prove a strategic failure long-term, though this was far from evident in the months immediately following.
Admiral Yamamoto’s assessment that the elimination of the United States Pacific Fleet would pave the way for Japanese conquest was proved correct and with an ease and rapidity that astonished both victor and vanquished alike as in just six months Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore, Burma, the Dutch East-Indies, the Philippines and Borneo all fell.
With both Australia and Ceylon bombed and threatened with invasion and numerous islands taken to form a defensive chain around the sacred soil of Japan itself it was the high-watermark of their success. But Yamamoto’s concerns regarding American resolve were also to be fully justified and the tide of the war would soon change.
In Washington the day of the attack was one of confusion and disbelief, if not at the thought of Japanese aggression then of its scale and daring. That America was now at war was beyond doubt but no such declaration had yet been made and President Roosevelt worked through the night on the address he was due to make to both Houses of Congress the following day.
As the events at Pearl Harbor unfolded and were made public the sense of shock was palpable and it would fall to the President to find the words of explanation, reassurance, and guidance.
Yet it would be a speech that would last barely nine minutes, but then at a time of war words take on a meaning beyond the parameters of their usual understanding and as Abraham Lincoln had discovered at Gettysburg the previous century it is not how much you say but what you say, that matters. Those who are compelled by events to make sacrifices for ideals in defence of shared experience and the common good require not just the of meaning of the cause for which they fight but the comfort of solidarity through its times of trauma. This responsibility would fall to a man who had experienced trauma both in his own life as a victim of polio and as a President who had led America during the period of the worst economic recession in history.
Despite his paralysis, wearing leg braces and supported by his son James, President Roosevelt entered the Chamber of the House of Representatives on his feet and walked to the podium. It was not the moment to display weakness either moral or physical:
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan . . . No matter how long it will take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. . . With confidence in our armed forces – with the un-bounding determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”
The speech was broadcast live to the nation with 81% of American homes tuning in and support for the President was overwhelming even from the isolationist America First Movement which soon after disbanded.
Within an hour of the delivery of his speech Congress had declared war on Japan with only Jeanette Rankin, the Representative from Montana, a life-long pacifist, voting against.
Japan’s attack upon Pearl Harbor did not help end Roosevelt’s dilemma regarding the conflict raging in Europe, the war against fascism and in defence of democracy that he had long believed needed to be fought. This dilemma was in the end resolved for him when on 11 December, in a speech to the Reichstag Adolf Hitler declared war upon America even though there was no requirement for him to do so according to the terms of the Tri-Partite Pact.
Indeed, in the World War in which America was now involved only 25% of its manpower and resources would be committed to its conflict with Japan.
On 18 April 1942, 16 B.25 Bombers commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel James Doolittle taking off from the very Aircraft Carriers that had been missed at Pearl Harbor dropped their bombs over Tokyo and other Japanese cities. They did only minimal damage but the Doolittle Raid and the failure of the Japanese to protect the Home Islands and the person of the Emperor was to their High Command every bit as humiliating as Pearl Harbor had been to the United States.
Aware that the task remained incomplete in June 1942, Yamamoto tried once more to destroy the American Aircraft Carriers by attacking the Island of Midway and luring them into a carefully prepared trap. It was to end in disaster. Forewarned by American cryptographers who had broken the Japanese codes and a clever ruse that tricked them into revealing their intentions it was their Carrier Force that was to be destroyed, a blow from which they never recovered.
Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto was killed on 18 April 1943 while on a tour of inspection when his plane was intercepted and shot down by American fighters.
Vice-Admiral Chuichi Nagumo committed ritual suicide on 6 July 1944, following the fall of Saipan.
Captain Mitsuo Fuchida survived the war dying in 1976.
Admiral Husband E Kimmel was relieved f his command ten days after the Pearl Harbor debacle and returned to the United States where accused of dereliction of duty he was to defend his actions before the Roberts Commission formed to establish the facts of the Pearl Harbor attack. He was subsequently demoted and retired from active service.
General Walter Short likewise accused of dereliction of duty also testified before the Roberts Commission but was later to demand a formal court-martial, his request was denied. Similarly demoted, he also soon after retired from active service.
Of the 31 Japanese ships that participated in the raid on Pearl Harbor all were to be sunk or destroyed before the war’s end.
In the wake of the triumphalism that pervaded the upper-echelons of the Japanese High Command following the victory at Pearl Harbor in a quote attributed to him Admiral Yamamoto urged caution: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
It was an expression of his worst nightmare.
He was right.
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