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)


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



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).


Japan Unveils Largest Warship Since WWII

I came across a really cool article about Japan unveiling the largest warship in their fleet since World War Two.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s helicopter destroyer DDH183 Izumo, the largest surface combatant of the Japanese navy, is seen before its launching ceremony in Yokohama, south of Tokyo August 6, 2013.

Japan has unveiled its biggest warship since World War II, a huge flat-top helicopter carrier.

The ship has raised eyebrows in China and elsewhere because it bears a strong resemblance to a conventional aircraft carrier. The Izumo, which has a flight deck that is nearly 250 metres (820ft feet) long, is designed to carry up to 14 helicopters. Japanese officials say it will be used in national defence – particularly in anti-submarine warfare and border-area surveillance missions.

Read More

[Source: Sky News. Image courtesy of Sky News.]

HMS Hunter, Sunk During First Battle of Narvik 10 April 1940, Found in One Thousand Feet of Water – Part 13

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21Part 22Part 23Part 24Part 25Part 26Part 27Part 28Part 29

Kriegsmarine Zerstörer Z-2 Georg Thiele. Her pennant number was 13, while the Z-2 means she was the second destroyer of the new series of German Zerstörers built. It’s confusing.

Judging from her bow wave and prop wash the ship looks to be proceeding about twenty knots. Her design speed was thirty-six knots but in an emergency I’m sure they could make thirty-eight or a bit more depending on various factors such as the last time the ship was dry-docked and the bottom of the hull scraped. Marine growth on the hull could reduce the speed of a warship in the World War Two era by two or four knots or more and increase fuel consumption.

YOKOSUKA, Japan (Oct. 19, 2009) The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) is in dry dock at Fleet Activities Yokosuka during a scheduled dry-dock selective restricted availability. John S. McCain is one of seven ships assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 and is permanently forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Bryan Reckard/Released) John McCain was a highly successful US Navy carrier task force commander in World War Two. He was the father of US Senator John McCain. I am not related to them. Curiously, his widow and the mother of US Senator McCain, lives a block from me because we vote in the same precinct.

Obviously, dry-docks in World War Two were used extensively for the repair of enemy damage done to warships and merchant ships. Ships which were hit by torpedoes but did not sink had pretty big holes in them and had to be dry-docked to be repair. Additionally, a torpedo would often blow the bow section off a ship forward of the collision bulkhead and while the ship looked like it had been cut by a knife 1/3 the way from the bow, the ship would often be towed to a dry dock and a new bow section constructed. While this was time consuming, it did not take nearly as long as building a ship.

[Source: Narvik: Battles in the Fjords by Peter Dickens. Images courtesy of NRK and the US Navy Website.]

The Continuing Mystery of U-234 (Part 2 of 2)

Who Were the Twelve Passengers Aboard?

As I mentioned in my post about U-234 last week, it was almost suicide to go aboard a German U-Boat in the last months of the war if it were going anywhere outside of German controlled waters and even then it wasn’t safe because of constant Allied anti-submarine patrols. And while the U-Boat men did not know it – and would not know till the story of the “Ultra Secret” broke in 1974 – the Allies were reading all top secret German radio messages and knew exactly where each U-boat was.

So what was the ostensible reason each passenger was aboard?

Two were Japanese. Germany and Japan were allies, although they repeatedly failed to bridge the cultural gap between the two societies. Italy was part of the alliance as well and these three countries were known as the Axis Powers. (Other smaller European countries joined over time as well).

The first Japanese passenger was Lieutenant Commander Tomonaga Hideo of the Imperial Japanese Navy, a naval aviator and submarine design specialist. He had been in Germany for two years and had been studying advanced German submarine design. He had made the hazardous trip to Germany via submarine in 1943 – the first part of the trip aboard Japanese submarine I-29, which took him to a rendezvous with German submarine U-180 off Mozambique which took him onward to its home port of Bordeaux in German occupied France.

I-29 was a Japanese type B-1 submarine. This model is of special interest because each B-1 submarine carried a seaplane in a hanger forward of the conning tower. The seaplane was launched by catapult.

The second Japanese passenger was Lieutenant Commander Shoji Genzo, an aircraft specialist who had been studying German swept wing jet fighters. One such fighter, an ME 262, had been disassembled in Germany, packed in special crates, and loaded aboard the submarine. When the U-Boat kommandant, Kptlt Fehler, announced he was obeying the last orders of U-Bootwaffe command and surrendering to the Allies, the the two Japanese officers committed suicide by taking an overdose of the barbiturate, Luminal.

This took thirty-six hours to kill the two Japanese officers, which much annoyed the Germans according to the interrogation report of the U.S. Navy. The Germans buried the two Japanese officers at sea before surrendering.

My next post will cover the German passengers.