One of the minor mysteries of World War II is why President Franklin Roosevelt not only ordered General Douglas MacArthur to abandon his troops in the Philippines, but went out of his way to cover up the $500,000 payment from Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon to MacArthur.
MacArthur Given $500,000
By Jim Warren and
KnightRidder; Copyright (c) 1980 Lexington Herald
January 29, 1980
The Secret Payment
The best place for a man as difficult, politically powerful and utterly troublesome as General MacArthur is as far away from Washington, DC as possible. What is farther away than the inside of an Imperial Japanese prison cell in Manchuria? Yet President Roosevelt went out of his way to give the order to General MacArthur to run to Australia.
The general answer from historians like Ian Toll and Geoffrey Perret is that MacArthur became an immensely popular heroic figure during the fall of the Philippines. And that fact combined with the fallout from Pearl Harbor made MacArthur’s loss a political danger to the Roosevelt Administration. This deus ex machina explanation has always been very unsatisfying to me as it’s just assumed with no underlying “why did that happen.”
It turns out there is in fact an easy explanation which the likes of Toll and Perret missed because there has never been a book-length biography of MacArthur’s chief signal officer, General Spencer Ball Akin, who was MacArthur’s “Bataan Gang Radio Man.”
It turns out that between the beginning of the war and MacArthur’s evacuation from Corregidor, then-Colonel Akin’s radio program, “The Voice of Freedom,” was broadcast to the world, three times daily. The Corregidor based broadcast facilities could and did reach San Francisco, California. These radio programs were then picked up by the Hearst papers on the West Coast and later by the American radio broadcast networks. These messages also reached Australia, when the radio atmospherics were good, either directly or rebroadcast from America.
In the utter desert of good war news in the first months of WW2, then-Colonel Akin’s stirring propaganda broadcasts of American and Filipino resistance to the Japanese onslaught — when compared to the fall of Hong Kong, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, plus the German Operation Drumbeat U-boat attacks off the US East Coast — was drunken down in the English speaking world like artesian spring water.
It was this turn of events shaping the publics of America and Australia that made General MacArthur’s loss to the Japanese a danger to President Roosevelt’s power as a wartime leader, thus forcing his hand to save the general he would have liked to do without.
While MacArthur’s quietest and most spectacularly talented member of his “Bataan Gang,**” General Spencer Ball Akin, went on to become Chief Signal Officer of the US Army from 1947 – 1951. Akin never got the wider public recognition his wartime accomplishments warranted…but that was pretty much as both Generals Akin and MacArthur preferred it.
** The “Bataan Gang” refers to the 18 military personnel including General Douglas MacArthur, who were rescued from Corregidor by four PT Boats in March 1942 and eventually traveled to Australia by B-17 Flying Fortresses and then by train to Melbourne, Australia.
63 thoughts on “General MacArthur’s Bataan Gang Radio Man”
The other aspect of that period is not mentioned but involved Commander Bill Bulkeley who also evacuated Manuel Quezon who was suspected of Japanese sympathies.
While waiting for another plane, MacArthur would have one more request for his “buckaroo.” He tasked Bulkeley with evacuating Philippine President Manuel Quezon from his location on the island of Negros. Quezon, sick from tuberculous, was tired of his homeland being fought over by the Americans and Japanese, and entertained the thought of going neutral so both warring factions would leave. MacArthur did not want that to happen. So Bulkeley was told to fetch him “by any means necessary.”
Quezon at first resisted the notion of leaving the Philippines. In George W. Smith’s 2005 book “MacArthur’s Escape: John ‘Wild Man’ Bulkeley and the Rescue of an American Hero,” there is a passage that might explain Quezon’s reluctance in following the “reincarnated pirate” who stood before him on March 18.
“The skipper wore no uniform, only an old oilskin. His boots were mud-caked, and his unruly black beard and longish hair tied around his head with a bandanna gave him a menacing appearance. Embellishing that sinister look, Bulkeley strode around with a tommy gun, two pearl-handled pistols strapped to his waist, and a nasty-looking knife tucked ominously in his belt.”
Eventually, Quezon agreed to leave, so Bulkeley whisked the Philippine president, his family and staff back to the safety of Mindanao.
“By any means necessary” meant just that, at gunpoint if necessary,.
Do you think Roosevelt was so cynical as to weigh saving MacArthur from the Japanese vs his political trouble? To me this is in the same category as those who think Roosevelt knew exactly when the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor, and kept our ships there to get us into the war.
One wonders how the Pacific war would have changed had MacArthur been staving in a Japanese prison like Wainright.
And I’m not exactly a fan of Franklin Roosevelt.
Consider how FDR treated Lindbergh and the other isolationists.
Trent – good point – Lindbergh wanted to help with the aviation effort and the best thing he could get was to manage a Ford plant making – IIRC – B-24s. Lindbergh was a constant thorn in Roosevelt’s side.
But would Roosevelt let him rot as a POW? (open question; I don’t have the answer)
FDR was the President who interned ten of thousands of Japanese -American citizens.
Of course he was that ruthless.
Do you think the “deplatforming” of Infowars among others is anything new?
The systematic removal of isolationists from civil society occurred between September 1939 and December 1941 as all the major media and academic voices were “deplatformed” from newspapers, book publishing and radio.
This did not happen to Lindbergh because he was too broadly popular a public figure. Hence FDR’s wartime persecution.
Lindbergh would have made General easily in the USAAF from his piloting and technical skills and had a major post war career in politics.
And FDR damned well knew it.
IMO. Lindbergh’s presence in the USAAF training establishment in 1941-1943 would have saved over 10,000 live in the strategic bombing campaign in Europe.
If FOR was willing and did sacrifice US service’s lives for the sake of keeping Lindbergh out of the war and post-war politics.
Why do you think he would be less ruthless with MacArthur?
Grrrr….I hate my tablet’s spell check.
FDR not FOR!!!!
The systematic removal of isolationists from civil society occurred between September 1939 and December 1941 as all the major media and academic voices were “deplatformed” from newspapers, book publishing and radio.
Col McCormick was not disturbed nor was Westbrook Pegler. The Chicago Tribune published the Rainbow 5 Plan and the fact that we had broken the Japanese Naval code.
Frank Knox, a Republican newspaper publisher, was made Navy Secretary.
Roosevelt knew that Japan would attack but it was assumed that it would be that Philippines or Java. It was Pearl Harbor that he did not anticipate, although Marshall sent a “War Warning” in late November, about the 26th. Short and Kimmel were just incompetent.
The hysteria in California was not begun by Roosevelt but by the Army general there and by Earl Warren who was AG of California. Roosevelt went along, There was a real invasion scare. Britain had a similar hysteria with Germans living there, most of whom were Jews that had fled Hitler.
McArthur was also paralyzed on December 8 for reasons that have never been explained. The USAAF was never dispersed or given missions to fly. I read “Queens Die Proudly” as a kid. Swoosie Kurtz went to college with me.
I’ve read that Lindy flew missions in P-38s with the AAF, and figured out how to improve fuel usage to extend their range.
See the 1940ish deplatforming of media and academic figures John T. Flynn, Henry Elmer Barnes and Charles A. Beard by FDR at the link —
What you think is history of that era ain’t necessarily so.
I mentioned that in one of my previous posts here —
The last comment was mine.
Trent, I am not disagreeing, just pointing out a few examples where FDR did not win out in spite of considerable effort.
Unz is on my reading list but, like Pat Buchanan, I often disagree but find his thoughts useful as foils.
For example, I read Pat’s ” Unnecessary Wars,” in which he blames Grey and Churchill for WWI. I even bought a biography of Grey who is a very interesting man with a poignant life story. Churchill was NOT a cause but I do think the Boer War was a serious factor. Churchill, like many Liberals, was opposed to the Boer War although it made him famous.
Unz has a thread of anti-Semitism in his blog which is annoying but probably more related to his posters.
Conrad Black has written a very good biography of Roosevelt but I think he is a little too generous to him. I agree that The Great Depression would probably not have occurred if he had not been elected. Hoover was no better, sort of a 1928 Romney. Coolidge, whose life I went to some trouble to study, might well have ended the panic by 1932. The death of his son probably resulted in an inflection in our history just as the laryngeal cancer of Emperor Frederick changed German and world history, Medical history is a bit of a hobby and I don’t want to overdo it but those two events were big ones.
The names you list are mostly unfamiliar to me even though I remember the day Roosevelt died. I do remember the Tribune as I lived in Chicago.
I’m willing to believe that FDR, or more likely Marshal, was preserving an effective commander. They had a surprisingly good batting average picking theater commanders. This, notwithstanding that the fall of the Philippines didn’t exactly cover MacArthur with glory. Keeping him as far as possible from the U.S. probably helped as well.
I’ve come to consider the Japanese internment a shameful policy that forestalled more shameful episodes. I don’t know if Michelle Malkin’s contention that there were tens of thousands of agents among the interred is correct but I’m reasonably certain that there were enough to cause an ugly backlash with the victims mostly those least likely to be involved. While practically there were far too many ethnically German and Italian citizens if there had been an impulse to confine them, racism was probably the main difference.
FDR never seemed to let ethical qualms deter him from whatever he saw as expedient.
FDR and Lincoln presided over the three worst periods of American history and are almost universally revered. Lincoln more than FDR even though he came far closer to losing the Civil War than FDR did WWII. LBJ and both Bush’s presided over purely discretionary wars,surely revered isn’t the word I would use. Truman came pretty close to losing Korea but seems to have retained respect if not reverence. Wilson, who kept us out of WWI so long, who would otherwise be one of the Presidents that would be hard to bring to mind like Pierce, is somewhere on the chart but seems to be moving down on the esteem axis.
So far we’ve managed to come out OK in the end more from luck than design.
I don’t know if Michelle Malkin’s contention that there were tens of thousands of agents among the interred is correct but I’m reasonably certain that there were enough to cause an ugly backlash with the victims mostly those least likely to be involved. While practically there were far too many ethnically German and Italian citizens if there had been an impulse to confine them, racism was probably the main difference.
The Niihau Incident probably had significant effect on the hysteria in California, along with the shelling by two Japanese submarines.
Japanese Americans fought in alliance with the Japanese pilot. That had to create some concern.
There was some confinement of German and Italian civilians. I think the anti-German reaction was probably less than in WWI.
The Japanese government or more properly the Emperor made claim on the loyalty of all Japanese, regardless of other citizenship or actual place of birth. He was God after all. The extent that he would have received it is anyone’s guess. There was a network of organizations promoting ties to the homeland that were sponsored by the government. This was short circuited by internment.
As far as I know, the only German and Italian internees were enemy aliens that were swapped for Americans in similar circumstances in Europe. The Japanese never allowed repatriation for non combatants and treated those in their custody atrociously.
Instances of German and Italian espionage were usually dealt with quietly. According to Wikipedia, the German American Bund barely survived until the outbreak of WWII when what was left was suppressed, while the Italian Fascist League of North America didn’t make it past 1930.
It was possible to interre 120,000 Japanese, it wouldn’t have been possible for a much larger number of German and Italian heritage citizens. How many generations back would they have drawn the line? As you point out, most of the issues had been worked out, one way or another, during WWI.
Mike K said —
>>McArthur was also paralyzed on December 8 for reasons that have never been explained. The USAAF was never dispersed or given missions to fly.
Mike, I wrote about “MacArthur’s Pearl Harbor” almost 3 years ago here:
MacArthur’s Pearl Harbor, December 8th 1941 – Plus 75 Years
Posted by Trent Telenko on December 8th, 2016
Pretty much everything you have seen or read about MacArthur “Freezing” on December 8th is utter horse s**t put out by General Arnold’s Bomber General clique.
I closed that piece with this section:
The B-17 force was sold as a high value “force in being” to the American high command and General Marshall in particular, such that it made the force’s commitment without a clear high-value target — like the expected Japanese invasion convoy — a non-starter, given a lack of clear targets on Formosa.
The B-17s were billed a strategic force in being not to be committed lightly. MacArthur didn’t commit them lightly and got his head handed to him.
In 20-20 hindsight, the best option after skipping on the dawn launch of Dec 8th would have been to disperse the B-17s and many P-40s to Mindanao for a try on Dec 9th.
But had MacArthur dropped his B-17s on Formosa Dec 8th, swarms of vengeful A6M Zeros would have clawed them out of the sky on their return trip to Clark field — which they could have done, as they were both faster than B-17s and had the range to trail them all the way to Clark Field — MacArthur would have been dinged for committing them before he knew what he was up against.
Sometimes everything you do is wrong, including nothing.
Such was the case for MacArthur on Dec 8th 1941.
There was no way that the FEAF could survive in range of Japanese air power on Formosa in 1941, and it didn’t.
Nothing MacArthur did, or didn’t do, would have changed that outcome.
The only thing that would be different, had MacArthur said Yes to a B-17 raid on Formosa hours sooner, was the place where those B-17s would have died.
I don’t argue that a mission to Formosa would have been successful but the B 17s waited hours lined up as targets. The same applied to the P 40s at Iba.
It took two to two and a half hours to refuel, load bombs, and prepare an attack,
thus FEAF’s aircraft were on the ground at about 1220 when the Japanese air
forces, delayed by fog on Formosa for roughly five hours, reached Clark.
In “Queens Die Proudly,” which Frank Kurtz never denied, the B 17s NEVER took to the air.
He is long gone but his daughter might be alive and able to answer if her father denied the account in the book.
She is 74. Maybe somebody should ask her.
There was an outbreak of anti-German feeling in the US — but it happened in 1917-19, not 1941-42.
There were some German-Americans interned in WWII
Not many but some.
A total of 11,507 people of German ancestry were interned during the war, comprising 36.1% of the total internments under the US Justice Department’s Enemy Alien Control Program. By contrast, an estimated 110,000–120,000 Japanese-Americans were forcibly relocated from the West Coast and incarcerated in internment camps run by the US War Department’s War Relocation Authority.
By the outbreak of World War II, the Nazi party’s foreign countries organization (NSDAP/AO) sought to organize German citizens abroad, and managed to enroll between 3% and 9% of the German nationals in the Americas. Though it was disappointed by this low participation, by promoting public activities of uniformed members, the NSDAP/AO gained a perception of being more influential than it was in fact. Inaccurate and fearful United States media reports contributed to a public perception of high feeling for the Nazis among German nationals in the Americas.
Mike, thanks for the Niihau link. Another time I find that some historical event I thought I knew about needs correction….
Trent, same/same for your posts.
I lived in Hawaii for many years and never heard of the Niihau incident.
There’s actually an indie movie out right now about it:
Safe to say it will get zero attention in the media. (Yikes, pun not intended…)
1) MacArthur had been Chief-of-Staff of the US Army as late as October 1935. FDR is the one who encouraged MacArthur to go to the Philippines and become head of the Philippine Army. Further, FDR – and Stimson/Marshall – were responsible for recalling MacArthur to duty in August 1941. And promising him the supplies and men necessary to hold the Islands. To have left him to die in the Philippines would’ve been a betrayal of the highest order.
2) FDR did not cover up the payment to MacArthur (Actually 6 other US officers got Payments, and Ike was offered a payment). MacArthur’s orders/contract in taking over the Filipino Army in 1935, SPECIFICALLY stated he was allowed to take $$$ gifts for service from the Philippine Government. These gifts were standard in pre-war Asia.
3) MacArthur had large numbers of fans in Congress from his days as Chief of Staff. Again, it was only a little over 6 years from MacArthur being on Bataan, and MacArthur being Chief of Staff.
“Frank Knox, a Republican newspaper publisher, was made Navy Secretary.”
Frank Knox was an Internationalist and a Warkhawk of the highest order. He was a great personal friend of Harold Ickes who constantly attacked Hearst, Lindbergh, and the other isolationists of being “nazis”. Ickes in fact, is the one who convinced FDR to appoint Knox. The only problem Knox had with FDR was his domestic spending. Otherwise Knox was a liberal.
After Pearl Harbor, Knox led the investigation of the attack which made Short and Kimmell scapegoats and covered up Marshall/Stimson/FDR role in leaving Pearl Harbor with inadequate defenses.
Would people stop virtue signalling about the Japanese Interment? Germans and Italians got interred. Most of the adults interred were NOT American Citizens. And enemy aliens got interred in every country in WW 2. Was it the right move? No.
What should have happened is we should have followed the practice done in Hawaii. Declared Martial law on the West Coast until the danger of invasion passed. And during Martial Law, identified those Japanese that were deep security risks and interred them. Once the threat was past, martial law would have been lifted.
But AG Biddle and the lawyers wouldn’t go along with Martial law. Somehow they thought the “Constitutional” way was to intern all the Japanese on the west coast. Which in retrospect is nuts.
But this seems to be a topic that EVERYONE wants to talk about it. And BTW, did you know Slavery was really, really bad?
well it was overbroad, as are all liberal projects, even hoover didn’t think it a smart move, and he had an internment index in case of war with Russia,
made Short and Kimmell scapegoats and covered up Marshall/Stimson/FDR role in leaving Pearl Harbor with inadequate defenses.
Short and Kimmel were clearly incompetent. “Inadequate defenses” sounds like an excuse. What defenses ? The radar picked the attack and was ignored. The military was all in peacetime mode. And they had a war warning two weeks before.
Short and Kimmel were clearly incompetent. “Inadequate defenses” sounds like an excuse. What defenses ? The radar picked the attack and was ignored. The military was all in peacetime mode. And they had a war warning two weeks before.
Given the complacency inherent in the American military pre-Pearl Harbor, even if Short and Kimmel had not been in charge there, the results would have been the same. NO ONE in the Army or Navy imagined the Japanese would actually attack that far from home. Intelligence on the Japanese fleet was woefully inadequate, hell, the whole American intelligence apparatus was decrepit and pitifully small.
The results would have been the same.
Given the complacency inherent in the American military pre-Pearl Harbor, even if Short and Kimmel had not been in charge there, the results would have been the same
Almost the only exception was Halsey and he was described as “having a bee up his a**,” but Halsey later got into trouble with his free ranging enthusiasm. Leyte Gulf and the typhoon he took his fleet into were expensive mistakes of enthusiasm.
I’d have to agree about Halsey……..
What is more amazing about him is the unlikely friendship he developed with MacArthur.
Short and Kimmel were clearly incompetent. “Inadequate defenses” sounds like an excuse. What defenses ? The radar picked the attack and was ignored.
Exactly. What defenses? Kimmel and Short had been asking the War and Navy Department for Large Radar installations, more P-40’s, PBY’s, AAA guns, and barrage balloons. And got a small mobile radar set that was still in “training mode”. There was no linkage between the Army fighters and the Radar unit.
In any case, the Japanese NEVER EXPECTED to surprise the US at Pearl Harbor. They were confident that they could achieve temporary air supremacy, and with acceptable losses, and destroy the Pacific Fleet.
Even had the radar warning gone through and all 75 operational P-40s been scrambled, the japanese would’ve engaged them and the japanese dive bombers would’ve destroyed the air fields – which were NOT bomb-proofed in any way. The second strike wave with bombers and torpedo planes would’ve taken care of the BB’s. I repeat – the Japanese EXPECTED to meet air opposition and had planned to destroy the fleet no matter what. They had 360 planes on 6 A/C to our 75 P-40 fighters.
And while I understand why Short was attacked, I’ve never understood what Kimmel’s great failure was at Pearl Harbor. He was given a cryptic, last minute, “war warning” by the CNO. Nothing in it, indicated Pearl Harbor was a target or warned him that an attack was imminent. And he wasn’t in charge of the Pearl Harbor/Oahu air defenses, General SHort was.
So, Kimmel’s great failure was what? To not understand that the Japanese would do something, no one else thought they would do? He alone was supposed to divine that PH would be attacked on December 7th, get through undetected and have his BB’s manned and ready?
Admiral Spruance also became a big friend of MacArthur and did the SWPA naval commander Admiral Kincaid. As for Nimitz, the two clashed, but Nimitz never criticized publicly, and the two were not enemies.
As opposed to Admiral King, who constantly attacked MacArthur, so much so, that Marshall told him during one meeting that he would not tolerate anymore of it.
How many people know that MacArthur big brother, Arthur MacArthur was a Naval Officer and was on his way to the top, when he died of illness in the mid 1920s?
And he wasn’t in charge of the Pearl Harbor/Oahu air defenses, General SHort was.
That was an argument between them, especially after the attack. The war warning was actually two weeks before the attack and, while there was little additional equipment that could arrive, it would have been a good idea to have more of an alert. The BB sunk in Pearl was probably better then sunk at sea as most were back in service by Leyte. Equipment for Wake was in crates on the dock and could have been shipped before 12/7.
I used to have a book by Kimmel’s son defending him but I was not convinced. They thought Halsey was a nut going on war status before the attack.
The relative lack of competence in General Short and Adm. Kimmel was directly FDR’s doing.
He fired the hyper-competent Admiral James Otto Richardson for telling him three times that the Fleet at Pearl Harbor was a sitting duck for Japanese attack. And after Richardson’s firing, no one really competent in US Military high command wanted the job, including Admiral Nimitz.
The following column is from a Texas history columnist from a local paper near Houston Texas
Texas Admiral Warned FDR About Pearl Harbor
By Bartee Haile, Texas History columnist Published 7:29 pm CST, Friday, January 6, 2017
“…Richardson reached the top in January 1940, when his temporary rank of admiral was made permanent with a promotion to Commander in Chief, United States Fleet. No sooner had he taken charge than President Roosevelt ordered him to move the Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor from its longtime base in San Diego.
If the Navy had an “in-house” expert on the Japanese military, it was Joe Richardson. While a student at the War College in 1934, he had written a thesis explaining “Pearl Harbor was the logical first point of attack for the Japanese High Command, wedded as it was to the theory of undeclared and surprise warfare.”
But the people who would have benefited the most from reading his paper never did. As Richardson pointed out in his autobiography, finished in 1958 but withheld from publication until 1973, “In 1940, the policy-making branch of the Government in foreign affairs – the President and the Secretary of State – thought that stationing the Fleet in Hawaii would restrain the Japanese. They did not ask their senior military advisers whether it would accomplish such an end. They imposed their decision upon them.”
Early in October 1940, Admiral Richardson made the long trip from Honolulu to Washington, D.C., to present his viewpoint in person to the president. Although visibly annoyed by the criticism, Roosevelt politely heard him out before making clear his own opinion that war with Japan would not happen anytime soon.
Richardson realized he was putting his career on the line by requesting a second face-to-face with Roosevelt five days into the New Year. The plain-spoken Texan said, “Mr. President, I feel that I must tell you that the senior officers of the Navy do not have the trust and confidence in the civilian leadership of this country that is essential for the successful prosecution of a war in the Pacific.”
That was the last straw for FDR. He immediately relieved Admiral Richardson of his command and offered it to Chester Nimitz, a fellow Texan three years behind him at the Naval Academy. Nimitz wisely turned down the promotion without getting on Roosevelt’s bad side.
Richardson was demoted to the permanent rank of rear admiral and placed on desk duty until his official retirement in October 1942. His four decades in the Navy ended five years later with his release from active duty.
Even though Richardson feared the Japanese might launch a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, he was just as shocked as everyone else that it came by aircraft carrier and the severity of the blow sustained by the Pacific Fleet. Never in his worst nightmare had he imagined the sinking of four of eight battleships and the loss of 2,403 American lives.
Richardson was still in uniform, when Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal “sent for me and told me he was not satisfied with the report of the Naval Court of Inquiry on Pearl Harbor” and “would have another investigation made.
“He then stated that he would like to have me undertake the investigation for him. I said, ‘Mr. Secretary, I am sorry but I am not available for such (an) assignment because I am prejudiced and I believe that no prejudiced officer should undertake the inquiry.'”
Forrestal asked him what he meant. Richardson responded, “I am prejudiced because I believe that any fair and complete investigation will result in placing a part of the blame for the success of the attack upon the president.”
Secretary Forrestal dropped the matter like a hot potato, and Joe Richardson had no role in any Pearl Harbor inquiry. He spent his remaining years in quiet seclusion in the nation’s capital before dying in 1974 at the age of 94.”
I’ve written a couple of columns on Pearl Harbor here on Chicagoboyz,
Pearl Harbor Plus 71…a Matter of Minutes
Posted by Trent Telenko on December 7th, 2012
Pearl Harbor, December 7th 1941 — Plus 75 Years
Posted by Trent Telenko on December 7th, 2016
There are at least two other major chances of making Pearl Harbor’s outcome different that missed/were left out of the Pearl Harbor investigations.
The US Navy has a liaison officer with the British Fleet at Taranto. It was suggested that he be sent to Pearl Harbor afterwards to help with the defenses. This ran into a stone wall of bureaucracy and he was in _Iceland_ the day Pearl Harbor was struck.
Such was the fall out of FDR’s firing of Adm Richardson.
The second last day chance was a Australian Radar physicist was returning from England via Washington DC and Hawaii and was in Pearl Harbor for a few days right before the attack.
He was given a “It’s classified” cold shoulder by General Short’s staff.
Regards the thread of inadequate defenses of Pearl Harbor, “ECHOES OVER THE PACIFIC — An overview of Allied Air Warning Radar in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to the Philippines Campaign” by Ed Simmonds and Norm Smith has these passages regards Pearl Harbor:
Page 18 —
The following is summarised from Radar in WWII by Henry E Guerlac and an article ‘The
Air Warning Service and The Signal Company, Aircraft Warning, Hawaii’ by Stephen L
The strategic importance of Oahu was recognised in late 1939 and the Air Warning Service
(AWS) was to provide warning of approaching enemy aircraft using the newly developed
Extensive negotiations were needed as the sites, for the three SCR271s received in Hawaii on
3 June 1941, were located on land owned by either the Department of Interior National Parks
Service or the Territory of Hawaii. In addition access roads, power supply, water supply,
buildings et cetera had to be constructed – which occasioned even further delay. The net
result was that none of the SCR271s had been installed by 7 December 1941 !
Six mobile SCR270Bs arrived in Hawaii on 1 August 1941 and were shortly thereafter put
into operation because very little site preparation was required. Extensive testing of the sets
was carried out in the next few months on installations at Kaaawa, Kawailoa, Waianae and
Koko Head, Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter.
On 27 September 1941 the SCR270Bs were tested in an exercise which, in retrospect,
resembled to a remarkable degree the actual attack of 7 December. The exercise began at
0430 hours. Attacking planes were detected by the equipment at Waianae and Koko Head as
they assembled near the carrier from which they had taken off 85 miles away. When they had
assembled, the planes headed for Hawaii. The ‘enemy’ were clearly seen on the cathode ray
tube and fighter aircraft were notified within about six minutes. They took off and intercepted
the incoming bombers at about 25 miles from Pearl Harbour.
Under the control of the Signal Corps, Air Warning, Hawaii, the Schofield training SCR270B
was moved to the site at Opana about two weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbour. The
construction of a temporary Combat Information Centre (CIC) was in progress and training
of the personnel at the centre was under way with reporting coming from six mobiles
SCR270Bs. Ironically the program was to hand the CIC over to the Air Corps when the
installation had been completed and the personnel had been properly trained – scheduled for
about two weeks after Pearl Harbour.
And from page 38 —
A training period for operators of the SCR270Bs and the Combat Information Centre was
scheduled for Sunday morning, between 0400 and 0700 hours, on 7 December 1941. There
were two operators at the Opana site, George Elliot a recent transferee from the Air Corps,
and Joseph Lockard.23 Because the supply truck did not arrive on time Lockard decided to
give Elliott some more training on the SCR270B.
At 0702 hours a huge echo, almost due north of Opana at a range of 137 miles, appeared on
the screen. Lockard immediately checked the equipment to ensure that it was functioning
properly since it was a maximum size or saturation echo. Having established that it was
indeed moving and needed to be reported, efforts were made to report it to the plotters at the
Information Centre but these proved to be fruitless as the Centre had closed down.
Eventually, on another phone, a Lt Kermit A Tyler was spoken to and he told Lockard not to
worry even though it was a huge echo and travelling towards Oahu – mention was later made
about a flight of B17s being expected.
Plotting continued until 0740 hours when the supply truck finally arrived at which time the
aircraft had disappeared in the Permanent Echoes (PEs) at a range of 20 miles. These PEs
were the result of back radiation from the antenna as the mountains were behind the radar set.
The unit was closed down, the men boarded the truck and proceeded towards Kawailoa for
breakfast meeting another truck travelling at high speed towards the SCR270B. On reaching
the camp they learned that Pearl Harbour had been attacked by the Japanese thereupon they
realised that they had plotted the enemy approaching Hawaii for more than half an hour.
In his reminiscences Lockard summed up the situation:
The incident at Opana is one of those ‘what if’ footnotes in history… What if
the attacking planes had left their carriers 15 minutes earlier?
To sum up, Hawaii has three SCR-271 fixed site radars and six SCR-270 mobile radars on Dec 7th 1941 with only the mobile radars being operational due to 1940’s version of environmental concerns/NIMBY.
On 27 September 1941 the six SCR-270 mobile radars and the combat information center controlling them exercised against a scenario near-identical to the actual attack and intercepted the incoming raid 25 miles away from Pearl Harbor’s facilities.
The CIC and its associated radios and radars were due to be fully turned over to the USAAF about 21 Dec 1941.
This was a very classic case of too little, too late.
the Taranto connection reminded me of this;
People have been puzzled why the Japanese didn’t launch a 3rd Strike. The reason is quite simple, they didn’t have to. They’d accomplished their objective, the sinking/disabling of the US Pacific Battle fleet.
Had they encountered more American fighters on the 1st and 2nd strikes, they would’ve launched a 3rd strike. They were determined to sink/disable as many American BB’s as they could. So, yes if the Radar warning had gotten through.. we’d have been better prepared. But the end result would’ve been the same.
>>People have been puzzled why the Japanese didn’t launch a 3rd Strike. The reason is quite simple, they didn’t have to.
Had American air defenses been awake for the IJN first strike it is doubtful the Japanese would have gotten a magazine hit on USS Arizona as the primary purpose of ADA prevent air power from achieving it’s mission, AKA thick flak reduces bomber accuracy.
Had the USN battle line’s full air defense firepower been alive for the first strike, it would have been far less accurate.
“Had American air defenses been awake for the IJN first strike it is doubtful the Japanese would have gotten a magazine hit on USS Arizona as the primary purpose of ADA prevent air power from achieving it’s mission, AKA thick flak reduces bomber accuracy.”
We had 55 P-40 fighters ready to go on Dec 7th. After the first two strikes we had 25. The Japanese had 360 airplanes.
The Magazine hit on the USS Arizona was luck. But then those things happen.
In retrospect, its a good think the US fleet wasn’t warned since Kimmel’s plan was put out to Sea and go after the Japanese fleet. Leaving aside the USS Arizona, our BB losses in men were relatively light because the ships sunk in the Harbor. Had we lost a couple BB’s at sea, we might have lost a lot more men. Certainly, “getting under way” didn’t help the USS Nevada, which got hit with 1 torpedo and multiple bomb hits and had to be beached.
The skill level differences between the USAAF P-40 pilots and the handful of remaining USMC F4F-3 pilots of VMF-211 at Ewa versus the IJN Zero pilots was such that the 1st Strike and 2nd strikes would get through. (See: https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/USMC-C-Pearl.html)
The issue of damage inflected by alert American air defenses are two fold.
1. Organized and radar directed fighter opposition would have disrupted IJN tightly coordinated aerial attacks.
2. The low level torpedo attack and medium level horizontal bomb attacks on the USN Battle line would have faced a fully alert USN anti-aircraft batteries.
Even a .50 caliber HMG is deadly to a Kate torpedo bomber at the altitudes they were flying over Pearl Harbor.
And real America fighter opposition hitting Japanese formations 25 miles away from would Pearl Harbor would have meant that the tightly coordinated IJN high/low attack, meant to split AA fire, would not have been.
I’m not saying the IJN would have failed to put most of the torpedoes they historically did into the American battle line.
I am saying that a lot fewer of the irreplaceable IJN air crew that did it would get back to their carriers with all sorts of down stream effects at the battles of Coral Sea, Midway and Santa Cruz.
Regards this —
>>FDR did not cover up the payment to MacArthur (Actually 6 other US officers got Payments, and Ike was offered a payment). MacArthur’s orders/contract in taking over the Filipino Army in 1935, SPECIFICALLY stated he was allowed to take $$$ gifts for service from the Philippine Government. These gifts were standard in pre-war Asia.
The only place in the American historical record this payment was found was in General Sutherland’s declassified personal papers in _1980_.
Considering the level of duplication in American Presidential and War Department records of major events in WW2…this qualifies as a “cover up.”
Then principal error was ignoring Taranto. The sinking of the Royal Oak in Scapa Flow, should have taught the Navy that harbors are not always safe.
Torpedo nets would have saved most of the BBs. That was only one of the multiple mental errors that came together that day,
Regards this —
>>MacArthur had been Chief-of-Staff of the US Army as late as October 1935. FDR is the one who encouraged MacArthur to go to the Philippines and become head of the Philippine Army. Further, FDR – and Stimson/Marshall – were responsible for recalling MacArthur to duty in August 1941. And promising him the supplies and men necessary to hold the Islands. To have left him to die in the Philippines would’ve been a betrayal of the highest order
There was a whole lot of military power politics that happened after MacArthur’s term as chief of staff from Nov 1930 to 1935 that was involved here.
First, the US Navy was against War Plan Orange’s “Philippines Direct” fleet movement from the 1920’s but played along with the War Department for budget reasons via making the assumption that all the intervening Japanese air bases in the Central Pacific would get slimed with persistent blister agents — AKA Mustard Gas — to suppress Japanese airpower from striking the American fleet logistical train through the 1933 War Plan Orange exercises.
FDR’s first appointed USN Chief of Staff after he was elected was as anti-Gas as FDR himself. (And FDR was as irrationally anti-lethal Gas as Hitler was.) This Admiral unilaterally disarmed the Navy of all its lethal gas weapons and disarmed the USMC via removing the 4.2 inch chemical mortar for their arsenal.
FDR would have done the same to the US Army but for MacArthur resistance as Army CoS and more importantly rural congressmen in the South and Mid-West who had been made supporters of the US Army Chemical Warfare service via the CWS’s support and creation of chemical crop dusting for agriculture. Even then FDR would have pushed for unilateral Chemical disarmament, but his Administration was repeatedly ‘ambushed by reality’ in terms of the Italian’s gassing of the Ethiopians and later the Japanese gassing of the Chinese in the 1930’s.
In all of this, it is unclear whether MacArthur understood all the implications for War Plan Orange’s “Philippines Direct” fleet movement assumptions given the FDR Administration’s “No First Use” policy adopted after the it’s failed Chemical disarmament attempts.
He was after all in the budget fight of his life trying to keep the US Army alive in the middle of the Great Depression.
What is clear is that most of the _US Army_ as an institution in 1935 thought anything in the Philippines would be lost to the Japanese in the first six months of war with Japan.
See the following from the following 2012 post H-War academic e-mail list:
From: William D. O’Neil
Subject: Re: REPLY: General MacArthur’s Command During The Opening Stages Of The War In Philippines
Date: May 15, 2012 1:40:26 AM EDT
To: H-NET Military History Discussion List
Regarding the question of the possibility of holding the Philippines long enough for it to be relieved, those who had looked critically at what was truly involved gave up on it long before 1941. These eventually included virtually all of the Navy’s planners, but also a substantial number of clear-sighted Army officers, as Brian McAllister Linn has shown. 
Many were reluctant to speak too frankly in the face of official policy, but one who was not was Stanley D. Embick (1877-1957), one of the interwar Army’s brightest lights and holder of a series of very important and influential posts. Embick recommended forcefully that the United States should withdraw all forces from the Philippines and pull back to the Alaska-Hawaii-Panama triangle. 
One reason why this was not carried out was surely the political costs, both domestic and international. The issue was not pressing until 1941, so there would have been immediate serious costs without immediate gains. And who could say with certainty how the strategic situation might evolve before it did become pressing? Indeed, in the event it did evolve in ways that no one had come close to foreseeing in the 1930s.
Late in 1935, while Embick was Assistant Chief of Staff for plans of the War Dept., he issued an analysis urging a withdrawal policy. It was forwarded to President Roosevelt with a favorable endorsement by the Chief of Staff, Douglas MacArthur.  Soon, however, MacArthur retired from the Army and went to the Philippines, where he became a strong and even strident advocate of the position that the Philippines could and must be defended.
There are various interpretations of this volte-face. His position in the Philippines after all depended on it, and the position brought him a high salary and an enormous bonus.  Carol Petillo has argued that it also brought him deep psychological rewards.  R. B. Meixsel sees evidence that MacArthur saw the American position in the Philippines as occupying a central place in the nation’s strategic interests. 
We cannot know which if any of these factors played a role, nor in what proportion. Modern understanding of how humans reach and hold such decisions makes it clear that even MacArthur could not have accounted fully for his choice. It also makes clear that even if MacArthur had not been totally sincere in believing in his capacity to defend the Philippines at the beginning of his time there he very likely came quickly to convince himself.
In any event, he was disastrously wrong, and in clinging to his illusions for too long he made a bad situation worse, His forces were entirely defeated, and they contributed a good less to the overall American and Allied strategic balance than they might well have, given more effective command. His predecessor, Grunert, appears to have appreciated, as MacArthur failed to, that defeat was all but inevitable and that his task as an outpost commander was to make the enemy pay as dearly as possible for it.
Why did MacArthur cling for so long to this fateful illusion? Again, we had no way of really knowing. It seems to me, however, that the “betrayals” that he complained of repeatedly (largely though his coterie) may give some clue: he did not receive enough material resources of the kinds he needed and he was “abandoned” by the Navy. These suggest that MacArthur imagined that he could bluff the Roosevelt Administration into reversing its “Germany first” strategy and that this would result in receiving massive reinforcements both ashore and at sea. Of course regardless of the policy, this was altogether unrealistic in terms of actual American material resources and naval capabilities in 1941, but there is not much to suggest the he had any particularly well-informed view of these matters.
Of course it is quite possible that this is quite wrong and that he may, for instance, simply have been delusional. But I have yet to hear an explanation that better fits the evidence.
Falls Church, VA
 Brian McAlister Linn, Guardians of Empire: The U.S. Army and the Pacific, 1902-1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997).
 Ronald Schaffer, “General Stanley D. Embick: Military Dissenter,” Military Affairs 37, No. 3 (Oct 1973): 89-95.
 Schaffer, “General Stanley D. Embick,” p. 91.
 Carol M. Petillo, “Douglas MacArthur and Manuel Quezon: A Note on an Imperial Bond,” Pacific Historical Review 48, No. 1 (Feb 1979): 107-17.
 Carol M. Petillo, Douglas MacArthur: The Philippine Years (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981).
 Richard Bruce Meixsel, “Manuel L. Quezon, Douglas MacArthur, and the Significance of the Military Mission to the Philippine Commonwealth,” Pacific Historical Review 70, No. 2 (May 2001): 255-92.
While O’Neil was unaware of the chemical warfare annexes of War Plan Orange’s “Philippines Direct” fleet movement. O’Neil’s was very much on-point about political costs to the FDR Administration of abandoning the Philippines.
This political cost was very much on CoS of the Army MacArthur’s mind in that General MacArthur was proposing the removal of the Philippines US Army garrison as a cost cutting move demanded by the FDR Administration of the War Department…which the FDR Administration’s foreign policy of deterring Japan in the Pacific simply could not afford to make.
This is a typical military budget move seen decades after in the Defense Department with things like the USAF proposing the cutting the A-10 and the US Navy proposing the removal of a carrier.
That is, MacArthur didn’t have to believe the defense of the Philippines was impossible to make this cost cutting proposal in 1935 because he knew the FDR Administration would not take it. CoS MacArthur was playing a political game to maximize the War Department budget.
It was this same FDR policy of Japanese deterrence that was used by CoS Marshall and Arnold as an excuse to build up the pre-war B-17 fleet via plans for re-enforcing the Philippines.
FDR wanted to give away every single warplane American was producing in 1940-1941 as a part of his foreign policy because American forces were not engaged in combat.
This was driving General’s Marshall and Arnold crazy because you cannot build an air force without airplanes to fly and train maintenance people on, and particularly to create a large force of heavy bombers. The only pre-war mission FDR would allow the War Department to keep it’s B-17 production for was the Japanese deterrence mission. So that is why Marshall and Arnold came out four square for re-enforcing the Philippines.
It is also very clear that neither Marshall nor Arnold ever really intended to send all the planned B-17’s to the Philippines.
The reason I say this is logistics. Clark field didn’t have the logistical support infrastructure for a Wing of B-17’s. It barely had the bomb storage for the one under-strength Group of B-17’s it got. Nor was the War Department investing a Philippines B-17 Depot with the necessary spare parts and bombs. In addition, the long range radio beacon navigation network in the Pacific necessary to support the long range movement of large numbers of B-17’s from Hawaii to the Philippines was never set up.
Essentially Marshall and Arnold intended to stop with one Group of B-17’s at Clark field — it’s logistical limit — and keep the remainder of the first B-17 Wing in Hawaii and the West Coast for training the people who would be the cadre to grow the later 8th and 15th Air Forces.
This is supported by the fact that the “Pensacola convoy” rushing to the Philippines in Nov-Dec 1941 didn’t have _anything_ B-17 related. It had P-40 Warhawk pursuit planes and A-24 Dauntless dive bombers (SBD-2 in USN Service).
It was the diversion of the “Pensacola convoy” to Australia and the defense of the Dutch East Indies after Pearl Harbor, plus the failure of any further B-17’s to show up in the Philippines, that had MacArthur howling about betrayal.
This is one of the best examples of how General Marshall manipulated General MacArthur and used him as a budget tool in WW2.
In his book “The Second World Wars”, Victor Davis Hanson argues that the eventual outcome of the Second World War(s) was inevitable. Germany, Italy, & Japan simply did not have the men and manufacturing capacity to prevail against the very much greater combined manpower & manufacturing capacity of Russia, USA, and the then still-extensive British Empire.
It does appear that FDR was talking out of both sides of his mouth before Pearl Harbor — talking to the American people about staying out of direct involvement in the wars of declining European empires, while doing everything he could to provoke Japan or Germany to strike the first blow against the US. If it had not been Pearl Harbor, it would have been something else — and FDR would have had his war.
There are many interesting ‘what ifs’ about WWII. What if Germany had gone realpolitik after Pearl Harbor and declined to declare war on the US? What if Japan had launched major invasions into Russian Siberia instead of attacking the US? But VDH is probably correct — the ultimate outcome would still have been the defeat of the Axis powers.
The sad part which we live with today is that the philosophy of fascism got defeated in WWII, but has prevailed in the subsequent peace. An objective analysis of Europe, Russia, China, and the US today is that capitalism and communism exist in name only. Most of the world has effectively converged on a near-fascist style of governance, where private property is allowed and some individual liberties are permitted, but all subject to intrusive control by politicians.
>> That was only one of the multiple mental errors that came together that day
A combination of barrage balloons, torpedo nets and smoke generators would have been sufficient to stop most of the damage done to the battle line.
FDR’s firing of Admiral James Otto Richardson precluded this, as physical location of the US Navy liaison officer with the British Fleet at Taranto in Iceland on December 7th 1941 made clear.
BTW,This is where I found out about the planned use of mustard gas in War Plan Orange:
“Carrying the War to the Enemy, American Operational Art to 1945” by Dr. Michael R. Matheny
Carrying the War to the Enemy: American Operational Art to 1945 (Campaigns and Commanders Series) Paperback – April 1, 2011 by Michael R. Matheny
the ultimate outcome would still have been the defeat of the Axis powers.
I’m not so sure. If Halifax had become PM in 1940, as was even likely as the King did not like Churchill and the Tory majority really disliked him, there would probably have been an armistice. Would Hitler have then invaded the Soviet Union ? Maybe divided up Poland with Stalin.
If he had invaded, the timing might have been better. The Balkans and Greece delay, caused by Mussolini, might not have occurred.
Declaring war on us was a near fatal mistake as FDR might have had trouble getting Congress to go first.
Without Lend Lease, which began with Britain, the Soviets would have gone under. If Britain had made peace with Hitler under Halifax, I am not at all sure Hitler would have lost,
His biggest problem was economic. The prewar economic recovery in Germany was all Keynesian with military spending.
Mike — You are probably not that far from VD Hanson’s conclusion. If the British Empire had stayed out of the war (or stood down in the absence of US support) and the European theater had become basically Germany versus Russia, that would have been a rather different war. Maybe it would have ended like Napoleon versus Russia, maybe not. It was the overwhelming weight of USSR + USA + British Empire which ensured Germany’s defeat.
This brings us back to President Hoover’s contention that the big mistake in WWII was the UK’s pointless declaration of “Phony War” on Germany (but not the USSR) following the combined Germany/USSR invasion of Poland in 1939. Hoover argued at the time that Western Europeans should sit on their hands, and wait to pick up the pieces after the inevitable German-USSR conflict. Hoover blamed FDR for encouraging the UK to declare war — which then strategically meant Germany had to deal with an enemy on its Western front before it could focus on the USSR to the East. Thinking about the rest of FDR’s duplicitous conduct prior to WWII, there may be some merit in Hoover’s charge.
the big mistake in WWII was the UK’s pointless declaration of “Phony War” on Germany </I.
Yes, this is an argument that Pat Buchanan makes in his book about Unnecessary wars.
He blames Churchill but I disagree on that. I do agree that it was a near fatal mistake for Chamberlain to declare war in 1939. There was nothing they could do to help Poland and they should have stayed out,
Buchanan makes a similar argument for WWI but that is more complicated,. The Kaiser built his High Seas Fleet as a challenge to the British Navy,.
I think Britain would have done better to stay neutral but they had a centuries old commitment to Belgium.
Mike K said –>
>>The prewar economic recovery in Germany was all Keynesian with military spending.
The Germans had a classic case of an autarkic national economy with Keynsian economic overheat, due to their Government spending programs. It powered it’s war economy on foreign loot. The “economic clock” nearly ran out on the Nazi Germans a number of times.
The take over of the Rhineland gave Hitler the political and institutional support in Germany to take over Austria.
The body and foreign exchange finances of Austria made the Czech take over possible.
The Czech take over’s body and foreign exchange finances made the conquests of Poland and France possible.
It was all plainly visible at the time.
Churchill was cast into the political wilderness for saying the politically incorrect, but as transparent as the emperor’s new suit reality, that Germany was rearming for war.
The German war economy going from one percent GDP in 1933 to 30% GDP in 1939, while cutting of non-war related imports, was also plainly visible even to bad intelligence agencies.
France could have fired a rifle single shot and the German Army would have bugged out of the Rhineland take over. The will for even a minor show of force among the Western elites was missing. That is why in the end they lost so much.
The Germans had to take Czechoslovakia in 1938 the way Japan had to fight in Dec 1941 due to the American oil embargo.
It was only the loot from Czechoslovakia that powered the German economy through the war with France. Point in fact, a number of the tanks the Germans used to conquer both Poland and France were Czech built vehicles designated PzKpfw 35(t) and Pz 38T tanks by the Germans.
The 1938 failure of will in the West by British PM Chamberlain is what destroyed the British empire more than anything else.
The Germans would have beaten the Western allies air forces all hollow in a 1938 fight — they had the ME-109 in numbers and the British had not deployed the Spitfire — then both their German Army and air force would have run out of fuel, and the German economy would have collapsed, as the fighting lasted more than a few weeks.
The Germans in 1938 were almost completely out of foreign currency reserves to buy fuel from the Romanians
The Adam Tooze book:
“The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy.”
…makes clear that Germany was doomed from the start since they simply couldn’t produce enough war materials to win the war.
Even with the addition of France, the Netherlands, Austria, Czech and Belgium they couldn’t compete. They were the world’s fifth largest economy taking on economy’s #1-thru-#4.
A German chance to “win” would have been a quick kill in Russia.
The Germans were literally incapable of getting one.
Tooze asserts that this was the main reason the Germans went in to Russia – the fact that Hitler had no other option but to do it now or never for the same economic overheat reasons the saw Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and France fall.
I agree with most of that, Trent, but the fatal mistake was for Hitler to declare war on us.
Just as Japan’s fatal mistake was Pearl Harbor. I wonder if Yamamoto really advised that ?
Without Pearl Harbor would Roosevelt have been able to mobilize our war economy ? And without Hitler’s declaration, could he have diverted American rage from Japan?
he clearly told the high command, the control junta, that it was ill advised, I believe it is even cited in cryptonimicon, or perhaps ian toll’s December 7th, that’s where I learned of his status as the moderate navy minister,
Soon, however, MacArthur retired from the Army and went to the Philippines, where he became a strong and even strident advocate of the position that the Philippines could and must be defended.
MacArthur had very little influence with FDR after his run-in with him in April 1937, the two had an argument when MacArthur visited Washington with the Filipino President and MacArthur had to practically bully FDR into seeing him. FDR got his revenge by forcing MacArthur into Retirement in December 1937. After that time, MacArthur was not an active US General and had zero influence over the American Policy on the Philippines.
Stimson/Marshall/FDR made the decision in July 1941 to base 250 B-17s in the Philippines and recalled MacArthur to take charge of the Army units there. They didn’t rely on MacArthur’s word that the Philippines were “defensible”. They knew all about the weaknesses of the Filipino Army and knew the ability of the US Navy to arrive in 6 months.
MacArthur thought the Filipino’s could do the job, assuming he received the necessary support – which he didn’t get. Plus, MacArthur was optimistic “Can do” General. A flaw in some situations, a plus in others. But he was NOT the decision maker in whether to defend the Philippines in August 1941.
From May 1940 to November 1941 General Grunert commanded the Philippine Department, directing the U.S. Army supervision and control over the Philippine defense force. He was constantly in touch with Marshall giving his opinions on the status of the Filipino Army, the need to mobilize it, and the need for additional supplies and equipment.
He was the man people were listening to about the Philippines – until MacArthur was recalled on July 31st 1941.
It looks like General Grunert got side lined in WW2 by General Marshall.
As the commanding officer of the 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts) in 1936-1938 and the commander of 5th Brigade at Vancouver Barracks, Washington he should have been put in a Division or Corps combat command in WW2.
Yet, nothing doing. He was placed in mandatory retirement in 1943.
He was placed in mandatory retirement in 1943.
Marshall had a “little black book” that he had kept all through Infantry school at Benning.
If you were in that book as a guy man, you got promoted. Mark Clark was the only real mistake Marshall made.
Lots of officers got sidelined or retired from that book.
Eisenhower sent some home before D Day and a few after. Lloyd Freydendall was the worst.
Small in stature, loud and rough in speech, he was outspoken in his opinions and critical of superiors and subordinates alike. He was inclined to jump to conclusions which were not always well founded. Fredendall rarely left his command post for personal visits and reconnaissance, yet he was impatient with the recommendations of subordinates more familiar with the terrain and other conditions than he.
During the advance into Tunisia, Fredendall used an engineer company of the 19th Engineer Regiment to build a large, dug-in corps headquarters bunker 70 miles (110 km) behind the front in a place called Speedy Valley (nine miles southeast of Tébessa). Blasted and drilled out of solid rock, the bunker (actually two U-shaped complexes running 160 feet (49 m) into the hillside) took three weeks to construct. An anti-aircraft battalion was emplaced to protect the headquarters. Fredendall also ordered a bulletproof Cadillac similar to Eisenhower’s, and regularly phoned Oran to find out why it was not being delivered faster. Then-Brigadier General Omar Bradley called the headquarters “an embarrassment to every American soldier,
Not exactly a warrior. Marshall missed that one, too.
Roger hillsman father headed thr military academy in the phillipines, it didnt give him much insight.
“Eisenhower sent some home before D Day and a few after. Lloyd Freydendall was the worst.”
Picking Generals to command Divisions and Corps in Combat was a tough Job in WW2. You had a limited pool of candidates and its difficult to know who was going to do well, and who isn’t. In the case of Fredendall, Ike was giving him super-high ratings until Kasserine, and then decided he was no good. He sent Harmon out to look things over and decide whether it was Orlando Ward or Fredendall who was the weak link and Harmon said Fredendall who was no good – so he was out. Later Patton, decided Ward was weak link and ordered him to “personally lead” an infantry attack. Ward was WIA, and never got another command.
Anyhoo, Lucas and Dawley were “Marshall men” and neither worked out. But Simpson, Hodges, and Devers, were more or less forced on Ike by Marshall, and all did well. So, I don’t know how to rate Marshall as “picker of men”. He picked some winners but he picked some losers too. We won the war, of course, but we would have done that no matter who was in charge.
General Almond is another Marshall favorite who did not work out as a division commander in Italy in WW2.
He later became a Corps commander in Korea under MacArthur and was used by both MacArthur and his replacement Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgway as a “tool of influence” with as Sec of State and later Sec of Defense Marshall.
Almond figures a lot in the WEB Griffin novels about Korea. Butterworth (Griffin) served with Almond and in his novels his personal experiences are often a large part of his story. Apparently, he and Almond became friends later and that might have affected his description.
“General Almond is another Marshall favorite who did not work out as a division commander in Italy in WW2.”
Almond certainly didn’t impress anyone in Italy. However, its difficult to see how any General could’ve succeeded with the 92nd Division. The racist policy of having white officers and black enlisted men ( which was actually the War Departments & Marshall’s policy) was unworkable and led to low morale and poor fighting efficiency. The 92nd Division experience showed Segregated Infantry Divisions didn’t work, and its one reason why the Army supported Integration after WW 2.
In Korea, Ridgeway and MacArthur liked Almond. He had that “can-do” aggressive attitude that Commanding Generals loved. The problem is guys like that can get you trouble unless you get a tight leash on them. As for the Marines, they always seem to dislike having Army Commanders over them. On Saipan and Okinawa they felt the Army was too cautious and slow. In Korea, the Army was too aggressive.
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