“AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR THIS IS NO DRILL.”

7 December 1941

Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor

“A date which will live in infamy”

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his speech to the Congress of the United States requesting a declaration of war against Japan.

“I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

(The source of this quote cannot be found but it is attributed to Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor)

LEST WE FORGET

The attack killed 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians

 

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Pearl Harbor under attack

Official US Navy photograph.

While attributed to many including film found in a Brownie camera in the footlocker of sailor long after the war this and the other photographs in set are official US Navy photos released into the public domain decades ago).

 

Churchill At War

 

 Photographs of Prime Minister Winston Churchill During World War Two

 

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04 Jul 1940, London, England, UK — Prime Minister Winston Churchill leaving a building. While long out of fashion, Churchill continued to use a walking stick which had been given him by Edward VII.

( Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS Courtesy PBS.org)

 

Winston Churchill

Churchill loved uniforms. He was made an honorary air commodore of 615 Squadron, RAF Fighter Command early in the war. In the photo above, he is wearing an RAF uniform of that rank. Churchill learned to fly before World War One so he earned his “wings” himself.

(photo courtesy of www.standard.co.uk)

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FDR and Churchill: Casablanca, Morocco January 1943. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill speak on the lawn of the President’s villa during a conference. (Photo Credit: Corbis, courtesy of history.com)

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comments Charles McCain: compare FDR’s appearance in this photo with the one above and you can see that his health had deteriorated markedly in just two years. He is thinner, eyes more sunken and appears exhausted and listless which he was.

World Leaders at the Yalta Conference: Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, American President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill seated together during the Yalta Conference, February 4-11, 1945. (Photo Credit: Corbis, courtesy of history.com)

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Winston Churchill with D-Day Veterans: July 22, 1944. In Caen, France Prime Minister Winston Churchill speaks to veterans of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. (Photo Credit: Corbis, courtesy of history.com)

Disaster: Convoy PQ 17 and Admiral of the Fleet Dudley Pound – Part 3

Part 1Part 2 Part 3

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A 50-foot (15m) high wave towers above the bridge of the cruiser HMS Sheffield. During this Arctic gale the wind reached speeds of 65 knots (120kph). Visibility was less than 180m. The heavy seas stripped the armoured roof off one of the ship’s turrets.

Unlike any other service chief in Great Britain at the time, such as Sir Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), the First Sea Lord was both the professional head of the Royal Navy and the commanding officer of the entire fleet. Pound could, and did, go over the heads of Admirals on the scene in their flagships and even over the head of the C-in-C, Home Fleet, the most powerful fleet in the Navy usually kept close to home to defend the British Isles. The commander of the Home Fleet was always an Admiral of the Fleet as well.

In September of 1943, Pound had a stroke in Washington, DC while accompanying Prime Minister Churchill to a meeting with President Roosevelt. Pound resigned the next day and died a month later in London.

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The Western Approaches Command control room as it was during operation.

[Images courtesy of the Imperial War Museum and the BBC.]

Re-Thinking the Battle of the Atlantic – Part 2

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At the Symbol Conference in Casablanca between January 14–24, 1943, with both Churchill and Roosevelt present, it was decided that the absolute first priority of the Allies was defeating the German U-Boats in the Battle of the Atlantic. But if it was the first priority, not many commanders seemed to pay any attention since they didn’t change allocations of men and material and ships and planes very quickly. All of this took time, I know. Immense forces were involved and just because a conference had been held and FDR and Churchill had agreed on something, it took the Allied military secretariat known as COSSAC, (Combined Chiefs of Staff), with its headquarters in Washington, to translate strategic decisions into specific orders for specific commands.

It wasn’t that the Allies lacked the equipment. It was prying it away from the different services and different commands. Sir Max Horton, Commander in Chief, Western Approaches, the largest operational command in the Royal Navy which was responsible for escorting North Atlantic convoys, repeatedly asked the Admiralty and the War Cabinet for some of the larger and newer destroyers assigned to the Home Fleet. Occasionally the fleet loaned him a few but not often. This could have changed with one order. Home Fleet had a lot of destroyers. And they spent a fair amount of time in port since Home Fleet was the last line of defense for Great Britain and it didn’t put to sea unless there was a specific reason, such as the breakout of the Bismarck. But Home Fleet didn’t like to let them go. This resulted in North Atlantic escorts often spending less than a day or two in port before being turned around and sent back out no matter if all their equipment was working or not. And usually it was not because of the storm damage caused to the ships in the Winter North Atlantic.

But it wasn’t just the Royal Navy which held back equipment from the U-Boat war. The US Navy had a large number of the specially built Very Long Range (VLR) four engine Liberator patrol bombers because of the extremely long distances planes had to fly in the Pacific Theater where the US Navy was primarily engaged. Yet statistics at that time showed that very few merchant ships were sunk in convoys with continuous air cover. But prying some of these VLR Liberators away from Ernie King finally took a direct order from Roosevelt at the Quadrant Conference in Quebec between August 17–24, 1943. Once these aircraft were made available, the “air gap” in the Atlantic was closed and German U-Boats no longer had any respite.

It is also worth noting that neither RAF Bomber Command under Arthur Harris or the USAAF Bomber under Hap Arnold, showed any interest in providing long range aircraft to either Western Approaches Command (although technically air units would actually be under 15 Group RAF Coastal Command) or US Navy 10th Fleet which was an administrative command coordinating all US anti-submarine efforts outside the Pacific theater.

There is no reason this did not happen excepting sheer inter-service rivalry and intense rivalry between commands in the same services. The very sad result of this squabbling was the needless deaths of thousands of men.