Jump to content

Why all the fuss over Pearl Harbour?


nomadpete
 Share

Recommended Posts

I get annoyed about the frequent media referral to Japans very well planned and successful operations at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, in WW2.

FFor sure, it was a humiliation of the USA's forces. And probably due largely to the arrogance and poor preparation by the USA.

But the media never include any reference to the fact that the Japanese invaded the Malay peninsula the night before, and were almost defeated by Allies who had paid attention to warning signs before the attack.

From Wiki....."

 

"Malaysia's northeast coast, was, in 1941, the Royal Air Force's (RAF) and Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) base of operations in Northern Malaya. There was an airstrip at Kota Bharu and two more at Gong Kedak and Machang. Japanese losses were significant because of sporadic Australian air attacks,[12] Indian coastal defences, and artillery fire"

 

If you ever see a book called 'Hudsons over Malaya' , grab it as it is a good read of the battle, and the attempts of allies to walk the length of the Malay peninsula to escape the invading forces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by nomadpete
post posting spellcheck
  • Like 1
  • Informative 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Britain lost Malaya and Singapore because of their racist attitude towards the Japanese. Britain's military did not think that the Japanese military was good enough. But Japan had been fighting in Manchuria and China since 1931 - even longer than Germany had to rearm and train in the Spanish Civil War.

 

The Manchurian Crisis had a significant negative effect on the moral strength and influence of the League of Nations. As critics had predicted, the League was powerless if a strong nation decided to pursue an aggressive policy against other countries, allowing a country such as Japan to commit blatant aggression without serious consequences. Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were also aware of this, and ultimately both followed Japan's example in aggression against their neighbours: in the case of Italy, against Abyssinia; and Germany, against Czechoslovakia and Poland.

 

Several factors resulted in the loss of Malaya. First and foremost was the pitifully poor military ability of the British Commander. When Japanese forces invaded Malaya on 8 December 1941, Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Malaya in charge of Malaya Command, with a force of 88,600 faced the 70,000 strong Twenty Fifth Army of the Imperial Japanese Army under the command of General Tomoyuki Yamashita. Secondly, in relation to air operations, the British had kept their best aircraft in Britain to combat Germany. A lot of the aircraft on hand were tending to be reaching the end of their technological life. 

 

Prior to the commencement of hostilities the Allies in Malaya and Singapore had four fighter squadrons: 21 and 453 RAAF, 243 RAF, and 488 RNZAF. They were equipped with the Brewster Buffalo B-399E, a plane that aviation historian Dan Ford characterized as pathetic. Its engine had fuel starvation problems and poor supercharger performance at higher altitudes. Manoeuvrability was poor and the engine tended to overheat in the tropical climate, spraying oil over the windscreen. In service, some effort was made to improve performance by removing the armour plate, armoured windshields, radios, gun camera, and all other unnecessary equipment, and by replacing the .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns with .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns. The fuselage tanks were filled with a minimum of fuel and run on high-octane aviation petrol where available.

 

The remaining offensive aircraft consisted of four RAF squadrons of Bristol Blenheim I and IV light bombers (27, 34, 60, 62 Squadrons), two RAAF squadrons (1 and 8) of Lockheed Hudsons, and two RAF squadrons of Vickers Vildebeest torpedo bombers (36 and 100). The Vildebeests were considered obsolete for the European theatre of operations. No 36 Squadron had some Fairey Albacore biplanes. There were also two PBY Catalina flying boats of No. 205 Squadron RAF and three Catalinas from the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force at Singapore.

 

The Japanese 22nd Air Flotilla included the 22nd (Genzan), Bihoro, and Kanoya Air Groups (or Kōkūtai). They were equipped with 33 Type 96 Mitsubishi G3M1 Nell bombers. The Air Flotilla also had 25 Type 96 Mitsubishi A5M4 Claude fighters available.

220px-Mitsubishi_A5M.svg.png

 

As for the British Navy, which was supposed to base the Pacific fleet at Singapore, most of those ships were fighting U-Boats in the Atlantic.

  • Like 1
  • Informative 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, spacesailor said:

Pearl Harbour,  was attacked without that Declaration of war. Against a peaceful country.

Malay was a battle in an ongoing war.

On December 7, 1941, two hours after the Japanese attack on American military installations at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Japan declared war on the United States and Great Britain. The attack on Pearl Harbour began at 7:55 am local time which was 2:55 am on the 8/12/81 in Tokyo and 5:55 pm on 7/12/41 in London. Japan launched this operation with landings on the north-eastern coast of Malaya, at Kota Bharu, at 1.45 am on 8 December 1941; occurring 40 minutes earlier than the raids on Pearl Harbour. This was the first major Japanese attack of the Second World War.

 

So Japan attacked without a Declaration of War against the British Empire.

  • Like 1
  • Informative 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Malay campaign consisted of many heroic battles by retreating Commonwealth forces in a very difficult terrain with heavy tolls and atrocities by advancing Japanese forces including the Parit Sulong Massacre and the Alexandra Hospital Massacre. The fall of Singapore was a disaster, surrendering to a smaller force. I can only imagine the disappointment felt by those who fought only to lay down their arms and endure years of suffering. Also resulting in the subsequent murder of many thousands of Chinese during the Sook Ching Operation

Wiki has a good account and is a good read, jump off into sub headings for more information.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malayan_campaign 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Singapore

  • Agree 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My argument is that the US are forever touting the Pearl Harbour disaster without mention of the major invasion in Malaya which did happen (slightly) before Pearl Harbour. And although it was a humiliating trouncing, Pearl Harbour was not even an invasion.

 

Nor do they mention that there was some intelligence that was carelessly ignored, nor do they admit their serious strategic errors that made the Jap's work a lot easier than it might have been.

 

Eg, inadequate watchkeeping, ineffective communication when alarm first raised, large numbers of aircraft left closely lined up, same for shipping.

By comparison, although the forces in Malaya were hampered by English chain of command and very outdated equipment, they had some fortification in place and responded fiercely.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, nomadpete said:

Would you say that the invasion of Malay was what drew Australia into the war with Japan?

Yes and no. What drew Australia in was Japan's Declaration of War on Britain, and being part of the British Empire we were included in. 

 

What about the French in Indo-China? The Japanese invasion of French Indochina was a short undeclared military confrontation between Japan and France in northern French Indochina. Fighting lasted from 22 to 26 September 1940. The main objective of the Japanese was to prevent China from importing arms and fuel through French Indochina along the Kunming–Hai Phong Railway, from the Indochinese port of Haiphong, through the capital of Hanoi to the Chinese city of Kunming in Yunnan.

  • Informative 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am a victim of simplistic history teaching. Clearly there was a lot more to WW2 than I was taught. 

It seems that there was a lot more 'cut and thrust' political strategy going on.

Japan didn't invade Pearl Harbour (no reason to), but did invade Malay peninsula with a major landing force backed by battleships. Was Pearl Harbour only intended as a (surprisingly effective) diversion? They clearly hoped to destroy USA's aircraft carriers, to prevent interferance with their invasion, but we are told their plan changed when they discovered that said carriers were out of harbour when they arrived.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Japs knew they would lose a LONG war with the US and said so at the time, because of the US ability to produce war Material in great quantity. It's hard to work out just where Pearl Harbour fitted in. Maybe strike a severe blow because they had the opportunity to effectively do so. Nev

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Following on with that thought, can I connect the Malay landing by Japan with a competition fot territory, between Japan and China?

The Asians play the long game. Sometimes for the benefit of unborn generations (Aus politicians should take note).

China is now 'reclaiming' all territories that it thinks it once had claim to. Japan has been in its sights for generations. For that perspective, China could claim Korea, Viet Nam, Malaya, Japan, etc, all in due course.

 

Back when Japan started its imperial expansion, were they motivated by a desire to pre emtively protect themselves from China (a larger more populous country) growing into its present self?

  • Like 1
  • Agree 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

47 minutes ago, nomadpete said:

They clearly hoped to destroy USA's aircraft carriers,

The aim was to destroy as much of the US Pacific Fleet as possible so that it could not interfere with Japan's activities in SE-Asia, where the resources were. Even the idea of invading Australia was not in their plans. All they wanted to do militarily in P-NG and the Solomon Islands was to protect their flank and to limit the use of Australia as a staging point for such actions by the USA . It was the USA's luck that the carriers were at sea that morning. Obviously the Japanese clearly grasped that the old fashioned style of sea warfare using large ships that could only use guns in relatively close range was not going to stand up to the modern use of ship-borne aircraft which could operate far away from their support vessel and then return, keeping the support vessel out of Harm's way. As well they used the U-boat experience of the stealth of submarines.

 

47 minutes ago, nomadpete said:

Clearly there was a lot more to WW2 than I was taught.

Pete, over the years I have been participating in the discussion here, I have chased up a lot of information in the course of preparing replies or starting contributions. The overriding thing I have found in general from that research is that what we have been given during our schooling is the mere highest tip of the historical iceberg. You could say that if 90% of an iceberg is below the surface, then we have only been exposed to the top 5% of that visible remaining 10%.

 

WWI didn't start with the assassination of the Arch Duke. The whole of Europe has been a war zone since the first Homo sapiens met Homo neanderthalensis. The European part of WWII was, in part, the continuation of WWI's imperial war with political ideology added to the pot. China and Japan have been at it for centuries - remember the Divine Wind (kamikaze) of 1281? The USA had been on good terms with Japan after WWI, but Japan's invasion of Manchuria in 1931 got up the USA's nose and the USA placed trade embargoes, mainly in relation to oil supply. So Japan had to look elsewhere for raw materials, and since they were in the control of the British and Dutch, war with Britain was a certainty. The Dutch were ruled out because they were in German control in much the same way as the French in Indo-China.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

56 minutes ago, old man emu said:

The aim was to destroy as much of the US Pacific Fleet as possible so that it could not interfere with Japan's activities in SE-Asia, where the resources were.

 

A brilliant plan that might have worked if the Japanese possessed better information about the American carriers. (Their information was surprisingly poor, given there were thousands of ethnic Japanese living in Hawaii.)

 

56 minutes ago, old man emu said:

Japan's invasion of Manchuria in 1931 got up the USA's nose and the USA placed trade embargoes, mainly in relation to oil supply. So Japan had to look elsewhere for raw materials, and since they were in the control of the British and Dutch, war with Britain was a certainty…

…Which the US administration must have realised; Just like during the previous Great War, Rooseveldt and his mate Churchill needed a clear enemy act to convince Congress to enter the war.

 

1 hour ago, facthunter said:

The Japs knew they would lose a LONG war with the US and said so at the time, because of the US ability to produce war Material in great quantity…

Japan started the Pacific war with a much more powerful navy, but four years later the US had one hundred aircraft carriers!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

4 minutes ago, Old Koreelah said:

Japan started the Pacific war with a much more powerful navy, but four years later the US had one hundred aircraft carriers!

On that point alone, consider China's present 56 conventional subs and 9? Nuclear powered subs (and growing fast). And all the rest of their fast growing, up to date military equipment. They sure learnt the lesson of having fast manufacturing capability before a fight starts.

 

OME, I too have enjoyed this forum since it started and acknowledge your thorough research on many topics. You have gone down many a rabbit hole in search of facts. Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A little-known fact that seriously affected the outcome of WW2, was when the U.S. Congress initiated machinery trade embargoes on Japan starting in 1936, based on America's increasing disapproval of Japans military expansionism and invasion of China, starting with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931.

What eventually proved to be one of the most crucial embargo decisions, was the decision to ban the export of motorised road graders to S.E. Asia and Oceania in 1936. Caterpillar motor graders were the most advanced road graders of the era, and the U.S. military realised they would possibly be a very useful item in enemy hands, if they were available to the Japanese after more military conquests. So the export of motor graders from the U.S. to SE Asian and Oceania ceased completely in 1936.

 

This led to great dismay within Australia, as we were considered part of the region where the Japanese could eventually acquire motor graders, with great benefit to their military forces - particularly the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service.

The dismay was not only registered by the Australian Military, there was also great dismay amongst Councils and Road Boards (and a few contractors) in Australia.

 

So, Waugh & Josephson, the Caterpillar agents for NSW, made strong representations to Caterpillar, complaining that not only were Caterpillar and W&J missing out on numbers of important and profitable motor grader sales - the Councils and Road Boards and other Govt Depts were being seriously hampered with no supplies of new road graders, as regards development work on local infrastructure, which was likely to be important in the case of a possible forthcoming War.

 

So, Caterpillar and W&J (who just happened to own a very large industrial manufacturing and repair facility), worked out a deal to circumvent the embargo to a reasonable extent, whereby W&J would manufacture Caterpillar motor graders in Australia, under licence to Caterpillar. This was a world-first for Caterpillar, licensing another manufacturer outside their own manufacturing facilities, to build Caterpillar equipment.

Caterpillar and W&J agreed that the motor graders manufactured by W&J would not be exported from Australia, and would only be sold to Australian clients, the Australian military, and Govt Depts and local Govt authorities. 

 

Due to their complexity and the need for cutting edge equipment and processes, the grader engines and transmissions for W&J graders were fully constructed by Caterpillar, and shipped in, ready to fit to the grader frames.

Every other component of the motor grader was constructed by W&J and other local suppliers such as foundries, and the finished product was fully assembled by W&J, and sold as a Caterpillar product.

But Caterpillar were obviously still harbouring reservations about the final quality of the W&J motor grader, and as a result, the Cat motor graders, which were called "The Caterpillar Auto Patrol" from the Cat factories, were renamed "The Caterpillar Motor Patrol", when produced by W&J.

 

However, Caterpillar had little to fear, the W&J Caterpillar motor graders were every bit as good as the genuine article, and sales were brisk. Around about 150 W&J motor graders were produced from 1936 to 1939 - then when War was declared, the Govt insisted that W&J had to up production of the motor graders, as they had immediately gained a position as a critical item of War equipment.

 

Accordingly, W&J boosted Caterpillar motor grader production and not only supplied the Australian military with new Caterpillar motor graders, they also supplied the graders directly to the U.S. military forces in the S.W. Pacific area - in particular, the U.S. Seventh Fleet, which was based in Australia from 1942, and which military group controlled a large part of the military logistics involved in the island-hopping towards Japan.

 

The graders were absolutely critical items of machinery that could produce new usable airfields right after landings, within as little as 3 days, when used in conjunction with other Caterpillar equipment such as bulldozers and earthmoving scoops.

The Americans were particularly pleased that they had access to new Caterpillar graders from Australia, and within Australia, as they set about building the 300 new airfields they constructed in Australia during WW2.

The ability to lay their hands on this new roadmaking and airfield construction equipment, without long delays in shipping from America, was what impressed them. Also, the availability of new Cat graders locally, freed up scarce shipping room.

 

Best of all, the Americans embargo move was very successful, and the Japanese - who not only didn't understand the abilities of Caterpillar construction equipment - couldn't acquire any, anyway, even if they did understand the machines abilities!

The Japanese considered that employing local and forced labour to build airfields was adequate - but this process was so far behind American mechanisation, the Japanese could never compete with Allied road-making and airfield construction groups efforts, which saw Allied airfields installed so fast, the Japanese couldn't keep up with them. And the Caterpillars could repair damaged runways in 1/10th the time of manual labour repairs.

 

W&J ended up manufacturing approximately 600 new Caterpillar motor graders between 1936 and 1945 - the vast majority of which machines went straight to work on Allied roads and airfields, both here and in PNG and in the Pacific Islands.

 

Edited by onetrack
  • Informative 3
  • Winner 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I bet that if you could find the information, those road graders that were supplied to the US forces offset the debt Australia had for Lend Lease stuff. What the USA got from Australia, apart from land and marine facilities was food. We tend to think that the Lend Lease program involved a one-way movement of everything out of the USA to its various recipients, but the deal involved payment in kind and in coin as well.

 

(From https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha-history-and-archives/gi-roundtable-series/pamphlets/em-13-how-shall-lend-lease-accounts-be-settled-(1945)/how-much-help-do-we-get-via-reverse-lend-lease )

Reverse lend-lease in the Pacific

In the war against Japan, the Australians and New Zealanders have supplied hundreds ,of millions of dollars of reverse lend-lease aid to the United States. Up to June 30, 1944 Australia provided our forces with over a million and a quarter pounds of food, as well as blankets, socks, shoes, and other articles of GI clothing. She has built barracks, airfields, hospitals, and recreational centers and furnished landing craft, motor transport, telephone and telegraph facilities, and numerous other services. Altogether, to June 30, 1944, Australia had spent about 550 million dollars on reverse lend-lease aid.

New Zealand, which has a population of only 1,650,000, and much slenderer resources than Australia (population 7,000,000), has made available to our military personnel almost 580,000,000 pounds of food, as well as camps, warehouses, hospitals, small ships, and other equipment. New Zealand’s total expenditures on reverse lend-lease aid to the United States amounted to more than 131 million dollars on June 30, 1944.

All in all, we received from Australia and New Zealand during the summer of 1944 reverse lend-lease supplies at a greater rate (in dollar value) than the lend-lease goods we sent them.

Had it been necessary to ship from America the goods furnished by Australia and New Zealand under reverse lend-lease, hundreds of thousands of tons of shipping space would have been required. Such shipments would have hindered the transport of munitions and other materiel to the Pacific war theater.

  • Like 2
  • Informative 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lend Lease and reciprocal aid were deeply intertwined - but surprisingly, only Lend Lease was really formally laid out. Reciprocal aid was expected, but it was not a written agreement. Basically, each nation provided what it had available for U.S. Forces. There was some ill-feeling against the Americans from numerous Australians when 3 new hospitals in Australia were reserved exclusively for Americans. However, overall, the relationship was satisfactory.

The whole setup was exceedingly complex, and interpretation of agreements was often governed by individuals in high places in American operations - with those interpretations frequently varying from one individual to another.

 

The overview is that Australia received approximately 2 to 3 times in Lend Lease aid, than she gave back in reciprocal aid. 1945 was a difficult year for Australia, in that drought and a lack of farm labour, seriously reduced agricultural production in that year. Australia had been providing around 90% of U.S. Forces food in 1942, 1943 and 1994 - but in 1945, that figure fell to 50%. Another factor was the American forces reducing in number in Australia in 1945 as the main action moved more to the North, and the Islands of Japan.

 

The entire complex arrangement is detailed in the article linked to, below. I find it interesting that Australia only received around 3.3% of Lend Lease production - the major beneficiaries were the U.K. and Russia (with 62% and 24% respectively).

 

https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/awm-media/collection/RCDIG1070660/document/5519943.PDF

 

Lend Lease came in for much criticism within America - and it appears that misinformation is not exclusively the domain of the social media age - it was still present in quantity during WW2, as OME's link shows (see the heading, "What criticisms have been made against Lend Lease?").

 

The greatest benefit to Australia was the vast amount of Lend Lease equipment left behind here that was not destroyed. Extended negotiations to purchase this War Surplus eventually saw the Americans agree to sell it for about 5% of its original cost.

The Disposals Commission then took great advantage of pent-up demand, and their auctions and tender sales not only realised a vast sum of money for the Australian Govt - but these sales also released a lot of desperately-needed equipment and stores for post-War reconstruction and development. However, a lot pure military equipment brought very low prices, with some Stuart tanks being sold for only £10 to £15.

 

Edited by onetrack
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Getting back to the title of this thread, the simple answer to the "fuss" is what America does best - self promotion. If you have the influence through owning the tools of Mass Media, then you get to yell out loudest. The movie industry poured out heaps of war movies between 1940 and 45 to maintain public support for the war effort. Britain did the same.

 

In Australia, our miniscule motion picture industry did the same. South West Pacific is a 1943 propaganda short Australian film directed by Ken G. Hall which focuses on Australia as the main Allied base in the South West Pacific area. A series of everyday Australians involved in the war effort talk about their contributions to it, with actors depicting them simply to produce a professional product. Then there was  Forty Thousand Horsemen (1940), a film directed by Charles Chauvel that focused on the Battle of Beersheba in 1917. Then there was The Rats of Tobruk is a 1944 film, also directed by Charles Chauvel. Finally Damian Parer's documentary Australia's first Oscar-winning film, Kokoda Front Line!, Australia's first Oscar-winning film.

  • Like 1
  • Agree 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the main thing that turns a lot of people from the Allied Nations off, is the onslaught of American movies, that, without fail, show America as the hero, coming to the Allies defence - and singlehandedly conquering the Axis Forces.

 

The true story is that America sat on the fence and basically waited, until it saw which way the wind was blowing, before it moved. A very large number of Americans did not want to get involved in WW2 when the conflict was restricted to Europe and the U.K. There were simply too many Americans with recent German ancestry.

The Americans were quite happy to sell armaments and vehicles and equipment to Germany, right up until late 1941 - on a cash basis, of course.

 

Many a Middle East veteran told me how angry they got, when they were struggling with old, outdated and dilapidated Australian and British equipment and vehicles in 1941 - and after capturing the occasional German position or party - finding that the Germans were driving new Chevy 4WD & 6WD trucks, and new Chevy cars!

 

But when the Japanese attacked America, it was a whole lot different story, then. It was often remarked how a collective sigh of relief went through the Commonwealth Allies when the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor - because the Commonwealth Allies knew then, that America would no longer sit on the fence.


And of course, we mustn't forget Americas deal with Britain, to give them 50 antique rustbuckets of destroyers, in exchange for rent-free 99 year leases on numerous very strategic locations, that were all crucial for American mainland protection.

What a dream deal for America! The British Navy was dismayed at the condition of the WW1 destroyers, which were essentially useless because they had been mothballed for so long, they needed tens of millions spent on them to bring them up to a serviceable condition.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destroyers-for-bases_deal

  • Like 2
  • Agree 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the unique American movie “Reds”, Warren Beatty’s character has just returned from a tour of WWI battlefields and Russia and is invited to speak at a dinner party. He is asked what the war in Europe is all about.

He looks around the room at the rich industrialists and utters a single work in reply:

 

“Profits”.

 

  • Sad 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...