Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Day That Will Live in Infamy?

 

infamy

This is from the first typed draft of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s address to Congress on December 8, 1941.* The day before, Imperial Japan had launched a devastating massive air raid with the aim of crippling the US Pacific Fleet. It failed in its objective only because the lower status ships, the carriers, were out on maneuvers while the American national security establishment’s consensus opinion highest status ships (battleships) were floating at anchor.

In a single morning, the expert consensus was shown to be disastrously wrong, and in the sinking of these actually obsolete platforms, the Navy was left with no choice but to turn to admirals who would fight a carrier-centric war. We won. Notice that the wording in the speech was most strengthened by FDR’s change from “world history” to “infamy.”

Consider the opening section of FDR’s address, pointing entirely at Imperial Japan:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.1

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

Now, think about the catastrophic level of failure by the very well paid leaders of our naval establishment, in alignment with the members of Congress and the major ship and armaments executives who had kept our Navy in the 19th Century while telling themselves and the public that they were buying and building only the best for “our boys.” Yes, there was also a carrier force with planes and pilots, but not in the place of prominence that honest naval exercises would have already compelled.

Indeed, if our naval “experts” had paid attention to what was actually happening in the world, as their Japanese counterparts did, they would have understood a fleet at anchor, without an incredibly robust and 24/7 alert air defense in-depth, was nothing more than a fat target for air attack. The British, with only 20 Swordfish biplanes, sunk the Italian fleet at anchor in Taranto Harbor.

The torpedo aircraft then had to launch their torpedoes from a steady height of 150 feet while travelling at 90 knots in order to cope with the relatively shallow water. This should have made them sitting ducks for the Anti-Aircraft guns of the Battleships and Cruisers that they were attacking, and heavy casualties were anticipated. In fact only two aircraft were shot down, the crew from one of them surviving as prisoners. Three battleships were hit by torpedoes, one was sunk and the two others seriously damaged.

[…]

The attack established beyond doubt the potential of aerial launched torpedoes, even in relatively shallow harbour waters. It was closely studied by other navies around the world, not least in Japan. Pearl Harbour was just over a year away.

FDR, and even the Republicans in Congress, focused on turning this disaster around on the sea, not in the polls.

As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding 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 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

We should attention to the last sentence. Every video clip I could find falsely proclaimed the president “declares war.” He did nothing of the sort. Certainly, the Commander in Chief was acting within his constitutional powers as he directed the Army and Navy “that all measures be taken for our defense.” He went to Congress and asked them to exercise a power exclusive to Congress: “declare … a state of war.”

The Congress shall have Power…

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

—Article I, Section 8, Constitution of the United States

Does December 7, 1941, still live in infamy? My father made a habit of calling a dear friend for decades on the occasion of his friend’s birthday: December 7. The call, in the days of landlines and before caller ID, would always start:

RING, RING

Harold: “Hello?”

Dad: “Harold, this is a day that will live in infamy!”

The two old friends have much the same sense of humor, I gathered over the years, so you just know that the call was expected and the inside joke welcomed as part of their thing.

Many of the details of the events on and around December 7, 1941, were not immediately apparent. Indeed, it would take until some time after the war to put together declassified data from both sides to get even a nearly complete picture of what happened in the air that morning. Tora, Tora, Tora! gives us a fictional comic relief moment with a student pilot and his instructor finding themselves in the middle of a Japanese formation, the instructor taking over and successfully diving the biplane away to safety. This was close to the truth, as far as it went, but there were actually six civilian small planes in the air during the Pearl Harbor attack:

Six civilian aircraft were airborne during the Pearl Harbor attack. Three were students with their instructors, and three were rented by sightseeing pilots and passengers. All but one came under attack by Japanese aircraft. Two planes were shot down, and those three airmen are still missing.

Moreover, there were actually 19 US Army Air Corps pursuit (fighter) pilots who got into the air, and a handful of Naval aviators who were scouting ahead as the aircraft carrier Lexington steamed towards Hawaii. All of these American pilots attacked, dogfighting during the Pearl Harbor air raid:

While Major Landon and his B-17s were mixing it up with Japanese aircraft over Hickam Field, 18 U.S. Navy Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers in nine flights of two aircraft each approached Oahu’s west coast. The aircraft from Scouting and Bombing Squadrons Six had launched from the carrier Enterprise at 6:18 that morning en route to Ewa and Ford Island. Their mission was to scout ahead of the Enterprise on a 90-degree sector search from 045 degrees to 135 degrees for 150 miles, then practice navigation by homing in on radio station KGU’s signal. Between 8:15 and 8:30 am, they flew directly into the gunsights of marauding Zeros from the carrier Soryu.

[…]

Although the SBD Dauntless was no dogfighter, it did have some teeth. It sported two .50-caliber machine guns in its nose cowling and a .30-caliber machine gun manned by the radioman/gunner in the rear cockpit.

These nine pairs of Navy dive bombers knew they were overmatched, but attacked, with mixed results. While the standard story of the Army Air Force was one of complete disaster, blamed on the Army general who decided the only real threat was from the Hawaiian population of Japanese ancestry, detailed records, correlated long after the fact, showed a slightly different story:

The 19 Army Air Force pursuit pilots who got airborne during the attack downed 11 Japanese aircraft, claimed five probables, and damaged at least two others. The Japanese confirmed losing 29 aircraft over Oahu and were forced to jettison an additional 19 aircraft from their carriers because of extensive battle damage. On December 11 the Honolulu Star Bulletin published an article attributed to General Short declaring that Army fliers downed 20 Japanese aircraft during the attack.

[…]

Many historians accept as a matter of faith that early in the war the Mitsubishi Zero maintained a high victory ratio against mediocre American fighters like the P-40 Warhawk. The statistics in general and Pearl Harbor in particular suggest a different conclusion. Although George Whiteman and Sam Bishop both fell prey to the vaunted Zero, they were on takeoff leg and in no position to bring their guns to bear. Lieutenant Gordon Sterling was the only pursuit pilot actually brought down in air-to-air combat with a Zero, whereas the American pilots flying supposedly inferior equipment downed at least four Zeros and two probables, thereby punching the first holes in the Zero’s aura of invincibility.

There is much talk of forgetfulness, as the young men and women of World War II pass from this world. With the loss of their voice and vote, December 7, 1941, may remain a date that lives in infamy, only with the arrow of causation and moral guilt flipped. This will not be due to an outside force, an Imperial Japanese occupation administration of our land. Rather, an internal force of leftists rewrote our history as they became victors in their long march through the institutions.

Perhaps the infamy of December 7, 1941, is a double infamy, first of foreign surprise attack and domestic defense establishment ineptitude and second of the false recasting of what happened in service of an intended new socialist tyranny.


Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding 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 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

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There are 15 comments.

  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    This post is part of December’s theme: “Memories.” Claim your own 15 minutes of fame, or infamy: sign up soon, before the days are all taken!

    • #1
    • December 7, 2019, at 12:40 AM PST
    • Like
  2. JoelB Member

    One thing that stands out about WWII to me is how eager those who lived through it were to put it behind them. The conflict, for America, was short as wars go, but fierce. All Americans were touched by it to some extent and they pulled together to get it done. Then they were glad to return to something of a normal life. Now it seems as if we are in constant limited conflicts for unclear reasons that never seem to be resolved.

    • #2
    • December 7, 2019, at 1:03 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  3. Richard Easton Member

    Good post. Tora, Tora, Tora depicts the case where Cornelia Fort took over control of the plane from her student. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelia_Fort

    • #3
    • December 7, 2019, at 2:52 AM PST
    • Like
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Zeroes lacked armor and self-sealing gas tanks. This made them lighter and more maneuverable, but more susceptible to battle damage. Their advantage in maneuverability was overcome by a change in tactics gained by recovering a damaged Zero in the Aleutians a few months later. The plane was repaired and test flown. Straight-up dog-fighting gave way to remaining at speed and using power dives and good old American horsepower to gain separation. The Zero had a hard time using its ailerons at speeds above 200 knots. They weren’t as good as diving as most American planes due to a floater-type carburetor that caused the engine to stall out when pulling negative Gs (nosing forward). They turned more easily to the left than they did to the right. So, go fast, break right, dive away and come back shooting. 

    • #4
    • December 7, 2019, at 3:34 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  5. Kozak Member
    Kozak Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Clifford A. Brown: Indeed, if our naval “experts” had paid attention to what was actually happening in the world, as their Japanese counterparts did, they would have understood a fleet at anchor, without an incredibly robust and 24/7 alert air defense in depth, was nothing more than a fat target for air attack. The British, with only 20 Swordfish biplanes, sunk the Italian fleet at anchor in Taranto Harbor.

    So one small quibble. Pearl was thought to be safe from torpedo attack because it was so shallow. Normally torpedoes could not successfully attack there because they would bottom out. The Japanese added wooden “fins” to the torpedoes which enabled them to shallow the dive and allow the attack.

    But yeah in general a massive failure of imagination on the part of the US military most of which ( Billy Mitchell excepted) never dreamed the Japanese would dare to strike at Hawaii so far from Japan….

    • #5
    • December 7, 2019, at 5:32 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  6. Kozak Member
    Kozak Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My wife and I happened to end up in Hawaii, Oahu in fact on vacation the week of the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. We just happened to be at the Arizona Memorial and museum on Dec 6th when the survivors were there with their families. I got to hear some of the stories the vets were telling their grandkids. One in particular stood out, it was a sailor on the Arizona who was going ashore with his friend. His friend forgot something and returned to the ship to get it, and within minutes the attack started. He never saw his friend again.

    The most touching moment was when each veteran was escorted to a ceremony by a current active duty navy sailor. Those old vets all stood ramrod straight and every bit the sailor as they were escorted in.

    • #6
    • December 7, 2019, at 5:43 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  7. Kozak Member
    Kozak Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Zeroes lacked armor and self-sealing gas tanks. This made them lighter and more maneuverable, but more susceptible to battle damage. Their advantage in maneuverability was overcome by a change in tactics gained by recovering a damaged Zero in the Aleutians a few months later. The plane was repaired and test flown. Straight-up dog-fighting gave way to remaining at speed and using power dives and good old American horsepower to gain separation. The Zero had a hard time using its ailerons at speeds above 200 knots. They weren’t as good as diving as most American planes due to a floater-type carburetor that caused the engine to stall out when pulling negative Gs (nosing forward). They turned more easily to the left than they did to the right. So, go fast, break right, dive away and come back shooting.

    Yeah, US pilots developed the “Thatch Weave” where pairs would weave back in forth to try and provide mutual support.

     

    FYI the new “Midway” movie ,while not a great movie ( the dialogue is awful), does a great job of recapping events from Pearl up to the battle of Midway and from a technical historical point is pretty accurate. The only major quibble I had was they didn’t make it clear that the Japanese thought they had sunk several US carriers, when in fact they hit the Yorktown several times and because of the amazing job of battle damage repair thought it was a second carrier.

    • #7
    • December 7, 2019, at 5:49 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Indeed, if our naval “experts” had paid attention to what was actually happening in the world, as their Japanese counterparts did, they would have understood a fleet at anchor, without an incredibly robust and 24/7 alert air defense in depth, was nothing more than a fat target for air attack. The British, with only 20 Swordfish biplanes, sunk the Italian fleet at anchor in Taranto Harbor.

    So one small quibble. Pearl was thought to be safe from torpedo attack because it was so shallow. Normally torpedoes could not successfully attack there because they would bottom out. The Japanese added wooden “fins” to the torpedoes which enabled them to shallow the dive and allow the attack.

    But yeah in general a massive failure of imagination on the part of the US military most of which ( Billy Mitchell excepted) never dreamed the Japanese would dare to strike at Hawaii so far from Japan.

    Apparently, the British also had to overcome a shallow harbor problem, making adjustments to their torpedos’ fins to avoid bottoming out. And then there was the minor matter of dive bombers given stationary or near stationary targets, where the harbor would prevent radical maneuvering by ships under attack.

    • #8
    • December 7, 2019, at 7:23 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. The Reticulator Member

    I’ll take this opportunity to bring up an item that is puzzling to Mrs R and me.

    A friend of ours, who died a few months ago at an advanced age, used to lament the fact that people no longer paid much attention to December 7th. (She and Mrs R would see each other quite often before she could no longer care for herself and went to live with a daughter.) She would tell how she and her husband-to-be were in Chicago on December 7, 1941. He was in uniform (I’m scratching my head, trying to remember which branch of the military service, but it’s not coming to me) and she said he and anyone else in uniform who was out on the streets got a lot of verbal abuse that day.

    That doesn’t quite comport with the story we’ve all learned about how Pearl Harbor brought the nation together. But I heard her tell this myself, long ago, and Mrs R heard it several times. Maybe we and all the others who heard it were too confused to know what to ask her for an explanation , but we don’t understand what this was all about. Why would people on the streets of Chicago have been harassing members of the military on that day? Has anyone else ever heard of this?

    I don’t remember what rank her husband retired at, but the two spent quite a few years in Europe after the war, at various places where he was stationed. I suppose that means he was Army and not Navy. I tend to think of Navy in connection with the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Chicago, where one of my mother’s cousins met his future wife prior to his service on a destroyer in the Pacific.

    • #9
    • December 7, 2019, at 7:33 AM PST
    • 1 like
  10. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    Our public discourse has declined so much. No one today would use the vocabulary chosen by FDR. When was the last time someone used the word “dastardly?”

    • #10
    • December 7, 2019, at 7:34 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I don’t remember what rank her husband retired at, but the two spent quite a few years in Europe after the war, at various places where he was stationed. I suppose that means he was Army and not Navy. I tend to think of Navy in connection with the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Chicago, where one of my mother’s cousins met his future wife prior to his service on a destroyer in the Pacific.

    Fort Sheridan in Chicago returned to its status as a regional induction center in 1941 before Pearl Harbor.

    • #11
    • December 7, 2019, at 9:14 AM PST
    • 1 like
  12. MarciN Member

    Clifford A. Brown: Now, think about the catastrophic level of failure by the very well paid leaders of our naval establishment, in alignment with the members of Congress and the major ship and armaments executives who had kept our Navy in the 19th Century while telling themselves and the public that they were buying and building only the best for “our boys.”

    That’s interesting given that FDR was the assistant secretary of the Navy from 1913 to 1919:

    Following his defeat in the Senate primary, Roosevelt refocused on the Navy Department. World War I broke out in July 1914, with the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire seeking to defeat the Allied Powers of Britain, France, and Russia. Though he remained publicly supportive of Wilson, Roosevelt sympathized with the Preparedness Movement, whose leaders strongly favored the Allied Powers and called for a military build-up. The Wilson administration initiated an expansion of the Navy after the sinking of the RMS Lusitania by a German submarine, and Roosevelt helped establish the U.S. Navy Reserve and the Council of National Defense. In April 1917, after Germany declared it would engage in unrestricted submarine warfare and attacked several U.S. ships, Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war. Congress approved the declaration of war on Germany on April 6.

    Roosevelt requested that he be allowed to serve as a naval officer, but Wilson insisted that he continue to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. For the next year, Roosevelt remained in Washington to coordinate the mobilization, supply, and deployment of naval vessels and personnel. In the first six months after the United States entered the war, the Navy expanded fourfold.

    I wonder why he neglected the Navy so spectacularly during his presidency.

    • #12
    • December 7, 2019, at 9:33 PM PST
    • Like
  13. The Reticulator Member

    Clifford A. Brown: Perhaps the infamy of December 7, 1941, is a double infamy, first of foreign surprise attack and domestic defense establishment ineptitude and second of the false recasting of what happened in service of an intended new socialist tyranny.

    Are you planning to write more about this second part?

    I’m currently “reading” Lynne Olson Page’s Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour. It was recommended by someone on Ricochet. As usual, I don’t remember who.

    I didn’t think it got off to a good start, on account of reeking of journalism. The author, is in fact, a former journalist. But it’s turning out to be a good book with a lot of new information for me.

    I was raised on a steady diet of complaints about how Roosevelt sold out eastern Europe at Yalta, etc. as well as half-believed suspicions (aka wacko conspiracy theories) about his role in America’s unpreparedness at Pearl Harbor. But his behavior with respect to the European war comes off as worse than I had ever guessed, even after having been raised on a steady diet of anti-FDRism. Of course, the story in the book is told from the European side of the Atlantic. But there is a lot in the book that does not fit the standard narratives I’ve heard from the media/educational establishments over the years. For example, in addition to his negligence of important issues, he had some really crazy ideas about what to do with Germany after the war. And also about how the United Nations that he was promoting should be run.

     

    • #13
    • December 7, 2019, at 10:08 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. James Madison Member

    Dear Cliff,

    Well done. Though I have been too busy to post in a while, I read many things you write while I am sitting in airports and cars,… its food for the sole – when I am alone and travelling. I really enjoyed this. And I forwarded it to several friends.

    Most people focus on the attack. It was a sneak attack. But the sneakiness reached back months. The Japanese knew they were going to attack long before the planes launched. It was baked into the authoritarian cake.

    Finally, I might add, the shock shook us to our knees. Most were dumbfounded, and then angry. But, the outcome of the war was never in doubt. We would decimate Japan’s fleet (large) carriers at Midway only a few months later, and manage to hold on a few months after that at Guadalcanal. Yes, there were near disasters and the loss of Yorktown and Lexington. And of course, Hitler was rolling across Europe. But, had the US been left alone to fight the Axis combined, we would have succeeded. This controversial statement is based upon our economic power – the American economy was somewhat isolated and integrated, able to move sufficient food, energy, and raw materials over land if necessary. At the very top of our government, we knew America was protected by a moat (more formidable than the English Channel, could dominate our neighbors (if it came to that), and erect walls around Canada and Mexico. They guessed that within 12 months planes, tanks and other materiel would roll off assembly lines at unprecedented levels. They knew about 10 million men of military age mostly remained unemployed or underemployed and these could be trained to fight. Pentagon planners had already developed an economic mobilization plan – including how to keep tires on vehicles, copper, steel, and aluminum flowing, and internal lines of communications secure, …, and new, modern weapons systems were already on the drawing boards or in start up production.

    On December 7, 1941,, in the backwaters of Turtle Creek along the Monongahela River, my father the budding engineer and later to be a radar technician developing miniature radar systems to fit inside the noses of fighter aircraft for the navy, was working in his first job building massive battleship gun turrets for Westinghouse Electric. They would place the guts of these massive gun turret machines on barges, sail them down the “Mon”, the Ohio, and the Mississippi, to be pushed and pulled through the Gulf and east coast to our Philadelphia and New York ship yards and installed on the Iowa class battleships.

    Pearl Harbor, like 9/11, humbled, humiliated and angered a nation. It mourned. Then it got down to business.

    Thank you.

    • #14
    • December 8, 2019, at 4:11 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  15. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Now, think about the catastrophic level of failure by the very well paid leaders of our naval establishment, in alignment with the members of Congress and the major ship and armaments executives who had kept our Navy in the 19th Century while telling themselves and the public that they were buying and building only the best for “our boys.”

    That’s interesting given that FDR was the assistant secretary of the Navy from 1913 to 1919:

    Following his defeat in the Senate primary, Roosevelt refocused on the Navy Department. World War I broke out in July 1914, with the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire seeking to defeat the Allied Powers of Britain, France, and Russia. Though he remained publicly supportive of Wilson, Roosevelt sympathized with the Preparedness Movement, whose leaders strongly favored the Allied Powers and called for a military build-up. The Wilson administration initiated an expansion of the Navy after the sinking of the RMS Lusitania by a German submarine, and Roosevelt helped establish the U.S. Navy Reserve and the Council of National Defense. In April 1917, after Germany declared it would engage in unrestricted submarine warfare and attacked several U.S. ships, Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war. Congress approved the declaration of war on Germany on April 6.

    Roosevelt requested that he be allowed to serve as a naval officer, but Wilson insisted that he continue to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. For the next year, Roosevelt remained in Washington to coordinate the mobilization, supply, and deployment of naval vessels and personnel. In the first six months after the United States entered the war, the Navy expanded fourfold.

    I wonder why he neglected the Navy so spectacularly during his presidency.

    Well, there was a Depression going on, and the effectiveness of aircraft carriers and naval aviation was a very new thing. There was tremendous development in aviation between the wars. It is difficult to adapt to such technological change, and to get the funding to prepare.

    Congress had authorized a huge naval expansion in July 1940, right after the fall of France — according to Wikipedia, this included 18 carriers and 7 battleships (though I think that most of the battleships were never built). There had been prior, smaller expansions in 1936 and 1938.

    Prior to the fall of France, the three main victorious allies of WWI — the US, Britain, and France — had a very large naval preponderance. This shifted rapidly with the loss of the French navy and the need for the British to both contain the Italian fleet and fight the German U-boats.

     

     

    • #15
    • December 11, 2019, at 10:12 AM PST
    • 3 likes