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  • Anybody know if this is a true story?

    Three mistakes by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor




    Really interesting, and I never knew this little bit of history:



    Tour boats ferry people out to the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii every thirty minutes. We just missed a ferry and had to wait thirty minutes. I went into a small gift shop to kill time. In the gift shop, I purchased a small book entitled, "Reflections on Pearl Harbor" by Admiral Chester Nimitz.

    Sunday, December 7th, 1941--Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the phone. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet.

    Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat--you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war. On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters every where you looked.

    As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, "Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?" Admiral Nimitz's reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, "The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?"

    Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, "What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?" Nimitz explained:

    Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk--we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

    Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

    Mistake number three: every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That's why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make or God was taking care of America.

    I've never forgotten what I read in that little book. It is still an inspiration as I reflect upon it. In jest, I might suggest that because Admiral Nimitz was a Texan, born and raised in Fredricksburg, Texas --he was a born optimist. But anyway you look at it--Admiral Nimitz was able to see a silver lining in a situation and circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism.

    President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job. We desperately needed a leader that could see silver linings in the midst of the clouds of dejection, despair and defeat.


    There is a reason that our national motto is, IN GOD WE TRUST.

  • #2
    That was good, if true.

    He might also have mentioned the aircraft carriers which were out at sea and not harmed.


    Philip
    "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."— Bertrand Russell

    Comment


    • #3
      Those things were correct. The only attack on a drydock was because there was a Battleship and two destroyers in it (Pennsylvania, Cassin, Downes). The bomb hit the Cassin and damaged all three ships. I would have added a fourth mistake, none of the three Aircraft Carriers were there.

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Brumbear View Post
        Three mistakes by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor

        Tour boats ferry people out to the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii every thirty minutes. We just missed a ferry and had to wait thirty minutes. I went into a small gift shop to kill time. In the gift shop, I purchased a small book entitled, "Reflections on Pearl Harbor" by Admiral Chester Nimitz.

        Sunday, December 7th, 1941--Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the phone. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet.

        Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat--you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war. On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters every where you looked.

        As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, "Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?" Admiral Nimitz's reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, "The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?"

        Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, "What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?" Nimitz explained:

        Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk--we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

        Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

        Mistake number three: every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That's why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make or God was taking care of America.


        .
        They sound mostly like loose quotes with a whole lot of wiggle room in between. FDR didn't call Nimitz on the night of 7 December. With all of the communications problems between Washington and Oahu, FDR was still trying to find out what happened at Pearl Harbor for the next couple days before he relieved CINCUS Admiral Kimnel. He sent Navy Secretary Frank Knox to Hawaii by plane to acertain the damage to the Pacific Fleet.

        Nimitz cut his teeth, many years before, as a young submarine officer and IIRC, he took over command of the Pacific Fleet after taking a submarine voyage to Pearl Harbor, not a plane flight. Nimitz wisely kept Admiral Kimmel's personal operative staff as his own upon arriving, because they had the best of knowledge of the overall situation and were familiar with Japanese naval operations and feints before the 7 December.

        Nine out of ten seamen aboard the warships were not ashore on 7 December, many of the officers perhaps, but not the ordinary sailors. Most naval personel who went ashore that Saturday were given only "Cinderella Liberty" and had to be back aboard their ships by midnight. Only the married officers and men were allowed to stay ashore.

        Regarding the oils storage farms. Incendiary bullets would have little effect upon those oil tanks. Common bunker fuel of the day has the consistancy of liquid ashphalt and nothing short of a concentrated and sustained inferno will cause them to burn.

        The bit about the drydocks also leaves me scratching my head. With all of the thousands of engineers, skilled labor and all of the workshops and forges engaged in trying to make PH into a modern US Naval Base of Operations, I can't see how they would fail to remanufacture dry dock gates to replace those damaged or destroyed during the Japanese attack.
        "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

        Comment


        • #5
          I agree JB, while these were "mistakes", the real question is were they deliberate omissions from the attack plan?

          Knocking out the fuel storage sites and the drydocks seems simple. However they would have required deliberate planning (i.e. specific weapons) and concerted attacks. This would have been at the expense of hitting the fleet in harbour, when it would never be easier to hit.

          The story itself sounds like post event rationalization and humanizing tale. If this was Nimitz' view and speach at the time, surely he would have also shared it with his senior staff? Is it so recorded?
          Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

          Comment


          • #6
            Agree with JB's post. The big mistake of the IJN was not launching the second strike. IIRC it would have targeted things like the fuel storage facilities.

            Of course they could not have known that the threat of American carriers counter attacking them was misplaced at the time of the event.

            The "they shouldn't have attacked on a Sunday" seems a bit fanciful to me.

            Regards,
            Dennis
            If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

            Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
              The bit about the drydocks also leaves me scratching my head. With all of the thousands of engineers, skilled labor and all of the workshops and forges engaged in trying to make PH into a modern US Naval Base of Operations, I can't see how they would fail to remanufacture dry dock gates to replace those damaged or destroyed during the Japanese attack.
              When fighting the USA, one generally has to accept that whatever you destroy will be rebuild in the shortest amount of time possible. Everyone remember, the Japanese were banking EVERYTHING on a short war with the US, hoping that the sudden onslaught would crumble America's will to fight and make her give up the war despite having the material resources to keep on fighting. In the light of this, the mistakes were not mistakes at all, Japan had to destroy short-term fighting capabilities (especially ships) and hope that this would make America quit, destroying dry-docks and fuel storages was pointless because either the United States had given up by the time these would have been needed, or not and would win anyway.
              Reaction to the 2016 Munich shootings:
              Europe: "We are shocked and support you in these harsh times, we stand by you."
              USA: "We will check people from Germany extra-hard and it is your own damn fault for being so stupid."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Acheron View Post
                When fighting the USA, one generally has to accept that whatever you destroy will be rebuild in the shortest amount of time possible. Everyone remember, the Japanese were banking EVERYTHING on a short war with the US, hoping that the sudden onslaught would crumble America's will to fight and make her give up the war despite having the material resources to keep on fighting. In the light of this, the mistakes were not mistakes at all, Japan had to destroy short-term fighting capabilities (especially ships) and hope that this would make America quit, destroying dry-docks and fuel storages was pointless because either the United States had given up by the time these would have been needed, or not and would win anyway.
                I can't accept the logic in the last part of your (my bold) post. Why would you not strike any facility that would allow an enemy to either or both recover or counter attack more quickly?

                Based on what you are saying the Japanese should have agreed to surrender when they did not destroy the American carriers in the Pacific in the attack on Pearl. Given the additional Japanese strikes in the Pacific that was obviously not their thinking either.

                Regards,
                Dennis
                If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

                Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Adding to D1J1's comments. If the tank farms had been destroyed, were would the US Fleet refuel? Closes place was the US West Coast. With out the tank farms the Fleet would have been forced to retire from Hawaiian waters leaving the islands open to invasion. That is assuming that there was enough fuel to get them to the US Mainland. With out fuel any ship is just a big piece of steel. In my less than humble opinion. The tank farms should have been the number one target.
                  "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                  Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                  you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Aircraft carriers at this point were still not seen by all naval planners as capital ships. Many still saw them in their original role as scouts for the fleet.

                    This is is why the USN originally classified them with the cruisers (and is the original reason for the "C" in their USN type designation). Thus many senior officers in the IJN did not see the failure to catch the carriers at Pearl as a major downfall of the results of the strike.

                    The major thrust of the Pacific campain was to be in the western part of the ocean. The Japanese foresaw fighting the USN and it's allies in an area where fuel supplies were plentiful. The strike on Pearl was designed to eliminate the USN's striking arm and thus give the IJN a significant advantage in the Jutland style battle that would decide the war. Destroying, or even just bottoming, the battle line was thus the priority.

                    The Japanese needed and planned for a quick war. To the credit of the USN, especially in the battles around Guadalcanal, they held on and bled the Japanese to gain the time necessary for the industrial might of the US to provide the weapons required to turn the tide.
                    Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yup!

                      Loss of the tank farms would have forced the entire Pacific Fleet back to the west coast bases from which to operate.

                      Even though surprise attack on Pearl Harbor could properly be called a Tactical victory for Japan - it accomplished most of what it sought to accomplish - it ended up a Strategic defeat for Japan in its result.


                      On the Plains of Hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to rest-and resting... died. Adlai E. Stevenson

                      ACG History Today

                      BoRG

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Had the Japanese got the war they wanted, the failure to strike the fuel dump was not a major fault in the result in the raid. Given that they only had so many resources to put into the strikes, it was important to eliminate the USN's battle line.

                        However, as so often in war, they didn't get what they planned for. In the war they got, not eliminating the fuel dump came back to haunt them. For example, would the quick turn around of the ships after the Coral Sea battle have been possible had there been no significant fuel supply at Pearl?

                        I do find it hard to believe that Nimitz percieved all this within a short time after the raid and shared it with the coxn of his boat (and apparently no one else).
                        Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by D1J1 View Post
                          I can't accept the logic in the last part of your (my bold) post. Why would you not strike any facility that would allow an enemy to either or both recover or counter attack more quickly?
                          Because in this case, if the enemy does recover and does decide to counter attack, you are finished anyway. The entire Japanese plan hinged on the USA not having the will to fight. When it turned out that they did have, the game was up, without the Americans quitting, they could inevitably grind the Japanese into defeat. Attacking long-term assets of the USA could barely slow that process down, again, it was either Japan wins because the United States throws the towel out of shock over the opening assaults, or Japan does not win.

                          [/QUOTE]Based on what you are saying the Japanese should have agreed to surrender when they did not destroy the American carriers in the Pacific in the attack on Pearl. Given the additional Japanese strikes in the Pacific that was obviously not their thinking either.

                          Regards,
                          Dennis[/QUOTE]
                          No Japan should have quit when the reaction to Pearl Harbor was not "buhuhuhuhu, we are hurt, let's get away from all these nasty Asians" but rather "VENGEANCE! BLOOD! KILL! DESTROY!" Impossible of course for a nation to surrender when it seems to go so well, but once the US was determined to see Japan down, they were destined to go down.

                          Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
                          Adding to D1J1's comments. If the tank farms had been destroyed, were would the US Fleet refuel? Closes place was the US West Coast. With out the tank farms the Fleet would have been forced to retire from Hawaiian waters leaving the islands open to invasion. That is assuming that there was enough fuel to get them to the US Mainland. With out fuel any ship is just a big piece of steel. In my less than humble opinion. The tank farms should have been the number one target.
                          An inconvenience for a while, but how long would it haven taken the United States to rebuild and restore their fuel storages on Hawaii? I doubt it would have taken very long, in the meantime, with so many vessels sunk, the fuel demand would be curtailed anyway.
                          Reaction to the 2016 Munich shootings:
                          Europe: "We are shocked and support you in these harsh times, we stand by you."
                          USA: "We will check people from Germany extra-hard and it is your own damn fault for being so stupid."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Acheron View Post
                            Because in this case, if the enemy does recover and does decide to counter attack, you are finished anyway. The entire Japanese plan hinged on the USA not having the will to fight. When it turned out that they did have, the game was up, without the Americans quitting, they could inevitably grind the Japanese into defeat. Attacking long-term assets of the USA could barely slow that process down, again, it was either Japan wins because the United States throws the towel out of shock over the opening assaults, or Japan does not win.
                            Based on what you are saying the Japanese should have agreed to surrender when they did not destroy the American carriers in the Pacific in the attack on Pearl. Given the additional Japanese strikes in the Pacific that was obviously not their thinking either.[/QUOTE]

                            Originally posted by Acheron View Post
                            No Japan should have quit when the reaction to Pearl Harbor was not "buhuhuhuhu, we are hurt, let's get away from all these nasty Asians" but rather "VENGEANCE! BLOOD! KILL! DESTROY!" Impossible of course for a nation to surrender when it seems to go so well, but once the US was determined to see Japan down, they were destined to go down.

                            An inconvenience for a while, but how long would it haven taken the United States to rebuild and restore their fuel storages on Hawaii? I doubt it would have taken very long, in the meantime, with so many vessels sunk, the fuel demand would be curtailed anyway.
                            You seem to be trying to say that Japan was surprised by the US reaction. All of your premise seems based on that. In fact nothing could be further from the truth!

                            The architect of the attack plan, Yamamoto, was against the strike from the beginning. But when ordered to plan it did his duty as a soldier.

                            Yamamoto told them that at best they could look for a year of victory and then they could only hope to hold on to what they conquered. He certainly did not indicate anything at all like the short war you are saying was their thinking.

                            The had the knowledge that the US would not simply run away crying and opted for the war anyway.

                            Regards,
                            Dennis
                            If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

                            Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Next time somebody is in the Nimitz Museum and National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas ask the curator or somebody on the paid staff

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