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Re: Tommy Hart and his subs

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  • donkehnjr
    Hi Gerald and Lou: I read both of your posts with interest and appreciation. I also have some differences of opinion with certain aspects of them. I ll try to
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 2 8:31 PM
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      Hi Gerald and Lou:

      I read both of your posts with interest and appreciation. I also
      have some differences of opinion with certain aspects of them. I'll
      try to enumerate these:

      1.) re Hart's familiarity with submarines--It is more than a little
      misleading to imagine that because he had some background with subs
      he could somehow control their missions, reports, intelligence-
      gathering, etc. ALL from Shanghai or Manila. The subs at his
      disposal in late 1941 were NOT all fleet subs by any means, and a
      good number were barely operational if that. Also, and this is
      important to bear in mind, ADM Hart immediately and sadly realized
      the very poor condition both in materiel and preparedness of the
      Asiatic Fleet. His diary makes explicit references to these
      problems, and he understood only too well how short time was
      becoming. His observations on the quality of some [not all]
      personnel in the AF at that period are not optimistic. And the
      notion that he could magically vector his boats out to N. Pacific
      waters off Japan where they could report IJN movements "with ease"
      strikes me as far-fetched. [And yes, his "command" was quite
      restricted in several regards. There were very real frictions
      between Hart and US diplomats whom he considered far too
      accomodating in their dealings with the Japanese, but you must
      remember we were NOT in any position militarily to challenge the
      Japanese, and this Hart understood. But he was instructed to keep a
      low profile and not draw attention to himself, etc. As it was he
      spent a fair amount of time trying to smoothe ruffled feathers over
      this or that trivial 'incident' between the bellicose Japanese and

      2.) No one in the Pacific Fleet (or the Asiatic), regardless of
      intelligence coups--which were not code-breaking or deciphering so
      much as traffic analysis-- thought the Japanese capable of
      assembling a large task force and steaming across the north-central
      Pacific undetected to strike Pearl Harbor. The famous "war warning"
      sent by Betty Stark on Nov 27,1941 [with language crafted by R.
      Kelly Turner, wasn't it?] mentions possible attacks against the Kra
      peninsula,the Philippines or possibly Borneo, but nothing of PH or
      the Canal, IIRC. Kimmel's outburst with Edwin Layton was a
      momentary expression of his frustration with inadequate precise
      intel. That wasn't Layton's fault, however. In the past the IJN
      had similarly stopped sending call-sign signals when their carriers
      were in port for overhaul, replenishment, etc. Most of the other
      experts (wrongly) guessed that was the case again in early Dec 1941.

      3.) The notion that Ernie King or Kelly Turner would somehow have
      been better leaders at that point in time seems strange to me...With
      what? The Asiatic Fleet was a sacrificial goat, and it suffered the
      fate of such. (That's what the word "tragedy" means anyway.)Turner
      was as responsible as anyone for the PH debacle, but true to form he
      violently blamed others. See Layton's AND I WAS THERE...since the
      title refers to a physical altercation Layton got into with a
      liquored-up Turner over the same matters (i.e., scapegoating Kimmel
      & Short.)

      4.) That FDR somehow wanted us in the war. His own words on Dec 7
      repudiate that idea: "If I'd known...I could have babied them on
      for a while longer...," he said speaking of the Japanese. I would
      hope we don't confuse FDR's motives with, say, those of Winston
      Churchill. FDR also expressed a clear and unequivocal desire that
      we NOT be the ones to start hostilities.

      5.) Not sure what to make of the 'King controlling subs in the
      Caribbean' remarks. What exactly is this supposed to have
      achieved? Once war broke out German subs had a field day up and
      down the East Coast and into the Gulf of Mexico, didn't they?

      6.) Any presumption that the antiquated, out-gunned, and under-
      supplied Asiatic Fleet was going to stand its ground against the
      Imperial Navy is hard to defend. The Navy's War Plans, although
      muddled in some regards by MacArthur's outlandish proposals, were to
      move south in a delaying action from the Philippines to the Malay
      Barrier and beyond, and to fight--at best--on the margins of the NEI
      as raiding forces until the mighty US Fleet could steam across the
      Pacific from PH and retake the Mandated Islands, and the
      Philippines, or deal Japan's Navy a crushing defeat along the way.

      The fighting men of the Asiatic fleet were second-to-none, but
      their weapons were old and weary, and at that time, facing a large,
      modern, superbly-equipped and trained foe, luck and valor only
      lasted so long. As one surviving officer later noted of the NEI
      Campaign, "A damaged ship was a lost ship."

      Just a few reactions, but respectfully and with enjoyment,

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