The Hawaiian Defenses
After Pearl Harbor

When General Marshall and his principal subordinates met in Washington on the morning of 8 December 1941, their greatest immediate concern was to discover ways and means of putting the Hawaiian garrison back on its feet. They agreed that the Hawaiian Air Force must be reconstituted as soon as possible, and General Marshall directed the Army Air Forces to give highest priority to the movement of enough planes to Hawaii to build up Army air strength there to one full group of heavy bombardment and two full groups of pursuit. Hawaii's own most urgent plea was for "all possible heavy bombardment fully equipped," and fortunately this was the easiest of its requirements to meet quickly. War had interrupted the prepared flow of heavy bombers to the Philippines, and it was a simple matter for the Army Air Forces to continue it to Hawaii. By 21 December enough B-17's had been flown out from California to bring the heavy bomber force on Oahu to a full-group strength of forty-three planes. To get other army reinforcements to Hawaii in similar quick order was a much more vexing problem.1

The Navy, which at once ordered the transfer of three battleships and an aircraft carrier from the Atlantic Fleet to the Pacific, was insistent that the Army send everything it could to bolster the defenses of Hawaii. On the other hand, the Navy did not want any ships to leave the west coast without escort, and Army reinforcements for Hawaii that had sailed just before the Japanese attacked were turned back to San Francisco. As of 9 December, the Army and Navy were agreed on a move that would have reinforced Hawaii from another direction, by the return of a sizable Philippine-bound convoy to Honolulu. But President Roosevelt overruled the services, and


the convoy was therefore ordered to proceed to Australia. Help for Hawaii would have to come from the mainland.2

For the first few days after Pearl Harbor both the War and the Navy Departments thought that the Japanese might have strong naval forces including carriers between Hawaii and the west coast, and the Navy objected to any ship movements from- California until the situation east of Hawaii was clarified. The general underestimation of Japanese strength in the Pearl Harbor attack underlay this thinking, the Navy assuming that the Japanese had other carriers free for an attack on the Pacific coast. In turn, apprehensions of attacks on the American continent helped to modify the Army's initial position of giving first priority to Hawaii. More vital still than Pearl Harbor, from the Army's point of view, were the west coast bomber factories and the Panama Canal; and by 12 December the Army position was "to take all possible steps short of jeopardizing the security of the Continental United States and the Panama Canal to reinforce the defenses of Oahu." 3

Another reason for the Army's more cautious stand may be found in doubts expressed by Secretary Stimson and others about the reliability of Pearl Harbor as the major Pacific naval base.4  Naval officers on the spot shared these doubts.5  They took their ships out of Pearl Harbor as fast as they could after the attack, and kept them at sea. As late as 20 January 1942 Secretary Stimson noted his agreement with Mr. Justice Roberts (just back from Hawaii) that Pearl Harbor was "no longer a safe advance base for the Navy under the conditions of modern air and sea warfare." 6  But three weeks earlier Admiral William S. Pye, the acting fleet commander, had struck a more realistic chord when he testified before the Roberts Commission: "I do not believe that there is any other base in this area, and if we intend to conduct war in this area this base must be held and used." 7

By the time of Admiral Pye's testimony the Navy knew that President Roosevelt was determined to push limited offensive operations against Japan, and such operations could only be pushed from Hawaii. During December


the Navy of necessity recast its Pacific war plans, making the sure control of the Oahu-Midway line the task of first priority for the Pacific Fleet, and giving second priority to that of holding the line from Hawaii to Samoa. The necessary corollary of the new strategy outlined for the Pacific Fleet was a much surer defense of Oahu by the United States Army.8

The Impact of War

In Hawaii, under the impetus of attack and the ensuing excitement, the Army had moved quickly on 7 December 1941 to control almost every facet of public and private life. One of its first steps was to round up all still and motion pictures made of the attack itself, except those taken by the Navy. By 10:30 a.m., in co-operation with the Navy, the Army G-2 organization had begun to apply a tight censorship to prevent the transmission from Hawaii of any unauthorized information about the attack or about the condition of Oahu's defense forces after it was over. A few minutes later, as Governor Joseph B. Poindexter was announcing over the radio that he had ordered Hawaii's emergency M-day act in effect, the Army shut him off because it thought Japanese attackers were using radio beams to guide their navigation. During the morning General Short also undertook to evacuate all civilian dependents from Hickam, Fort Kamehameha, and other damaged military installations, and his G-2 staff began a quick roundup of "enemy agents and suspicious characters." By 10 December the Army had interned 482 Japanese, Germans, and Italians, 43 of them American citizens.9

The establishment of full martial law under the Army commander as military governor made this internment and the other actions taken not only possible but unchallengeable. Since the summer of 1940 the Army had planned for military rule of the Territory of Hawaii if it was seriously threatened by invasion, and in March 1941 General Short had earnestly advocated a legal foundation that would empower the President to authorize martial law in an emergency.10  The Hawaiian legislature sought to forestall Congressional action in Washington by passing its own M-day act on 3 October 1941. The Governor's action in declaring this act in force at 10:00 a.m. on 7 December did not satisfy General Short, who was more than ever concerned about the dangers of sabotage and espionage among the large population of Japanese


descent on Oahu, particularly if Japanese forces followed up the air attack with an invasion as the general thought they might do on the following morning. Therefore, he called on Governor Poindexter and discussed with him the need for martial law. After the general left the Governor telephoned President Roosevelt, who approved its establishment. During the afternoon the Governor signed proclamations (prepared by the Army's Judge Advocate months before) authorizing the commanding general of the Hawaiian Department to exercise all of the Governor's normal powers, suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus until further notice, and conferring full judicial as well as executive power on the Army in the person of its commanding general. The President formally approved these actions on 9 December. General Short announced them in effect at 3:45 p.m. on the 7th, and gave actual charge of government under martial law to the Hawaiian Department's Judge Advocate General, Lt. Col. Thomas H. Green.11

Under its new authority the Army ordered a complete blackout beginning at 6:00 p.m. On 7 December and continuing every night until further notice, and for the first few weeks it barred all private cars from the highways and maintained a strict curfew after the same hour. At 6:04 p.m. on 7 December the police radio broadcast: "From now on nobody allowed out of their homes." 12  Before the day was over the Army had issued orders closing all saloons and prohibiting the sale of liquor; suspending civil courts and instituting provost courts in their place; closing all schools for an indefinite period; suspending all food sales to permit a complete inventory of island food stocks; and rationing gasoline. By and large, at the outset, civilians accepted these and other measures with understanding and good spirit. Later, both Hawaiians and agencies of the federal government other than the War and Navy Departments registered a good many complaints about the continuation of martial law; but the Army kept a tight control of civilians and civilian affairs until after the Battle of Midway in June 1942 erased any threat of invasion.13  Beginning in July 1942 the powers of government were gradually restored to civilian authority, but the suspension


of habeas corpus and some degree of martial law continued in effect until 24 October 1944.14

The institution and maintenance of martial law in Hawaii clearly had as a major if not central purpose the control of the large minority of the population that was of Japanese descent, American citizens as well as aliens. Immediately after the enemy attack there were a host of rumors and reports of sabotage and other subversive activity by residents of Oahu. The most careful investigation by the Army and other federal agencies failed to find any support for these allegations. Before the attack there had been espionage, that is, an extensive collection of military information, by the Japanese consular staff, and espionage of sorts by one other person, a German national named Otto Kuehn. On the other hand, it is highly unlikely that anyone on the consular staff knew of the impending attack. During and after the Pearl Harbor raid, and for the remainder of the war period, no sabotage, espionage, or any other sort of subversive activity is known to have occurred in Hawaii. But there were many who credited this record to the close controls that martial law allowed, and the services were especially anxious to keep it in effect after the early drive for a mass evacuation of Japanese residents from Oahu petered out.15

The inventory of food ordered by the Army on 7 December reflected a long-standing concern with the problem of feeding Oahu's civilian population in an emergency. With the island's agriculture devoted almost exclusively to pineapples and sugar, most foodstuffs had to be imported from the mainland. The Army's prewar plans and tentative moves toward encouraging the production of other foods on an experimental and educational scale, and toward stocking seed, had been ineffective. Another plan for stocking nonperishable foods for emergency use received the blessing of the War Department but no appropriations from Congress.16  When war came Oahu had about a normal supply of food on hand for its 250,000 civilians, and no means of increasing local production significantly. The inventory disclosed a 37-day supply of most staples, but serious shortages of potatoes, rice, and onions. To maintain this supply and feed Army forces would require prompt shipment and a continuing flow of about 32,000 tons of food a month from


the mainland. In addition, General Short asked the War Department to arrange for a six-month emergency reserve of 48,000 tons of food, and he placed orders with the division engineer in San Francisco for 40,000 tons of seed, insecticides, fertilizer, and farm implements in order to boost local food production.17

Filling these orders on the mainland was no problem, but in the first few weeks after the attack the presence of Japanese submarines and a critical shortage of shipping made the food outlook an alarming one. Congress hastily approved a revolving fund of $35,000,000 to finance shipments, and the first emergency cargo of food began to load in San Francisco on 20 December. By mid-February 1942 the food situation was sufficiently in hand to permit the War Department to turn over responsibility for supplying civilian needs to the Department of Agriculture, and by June there was an ample supply of food on hand. The effort to stimulate the production of food crops locally met with indifferent success, partly because the federal government decided that maximum production of sugar and pineapples was more important to the war effort.18

Immediately after the Japanese attack, the Army requested authority to evacuate the families of servicemen to the mainland at government expense, and this evacuation was broadened to include other civilian women and children who wanted to go as well as tourists stranded in Hawaii when the war started. Although the primary consideration for evacuation was the exposed position of Oahu, it also alleviated the housing shortage and left fewer mouths to feed. By 1 March 1942 some 10,000 had left, and 20,000 more followed before the end of the year. An incidental but very significant result of this evacuation was that it helped block the proposed mass evacuation of residents of Japanese descent to the mainland.19

Under martial law the Army could and did impose a strict censorship on all information media in Hawaii and to all civilian letters and messages sent from Hawaii after 7 December. The latter measure prevented the enemy from finding out about the weaknesses as well as the strengths of island defenses. On 8 December the War Department authorized censorship of all communications to and from personnel under military control outside the United States, and the Hawaiian Department was in a position to take full


advantage of this authority. In addition to postal censorship, radio stations came under Army control on 8 December, and English language newspapers were censored beginning on 9 December. Three days later the Army suspended the publication of foreign language newspapers and of "weekly labor and communistic papers and other uncertain publications." 20  Although the Army gave up its direct control of civilian censorship to the federal Office of Censorship in February 1942, thereafter throughout the war the Army and Navy continued to exert a much closer indirect control of information than existed on the mainland.21

As soon as the air attack was over, the Hawaiian Department plunged into a reconstruction and new construction effort of unprecedented scale and pace. General Short and his District Engineer, Lt. Col. Theodore Wyman, Jr., took full advantage of a War Department authorization of 9 December to incur obligations for any purpose to meet urgent requirements.22  On 10 December the general reported that his engineer officer had "all the contractors in town working" and doing "marvelous work." The repair and expansion of air fields had top priority, and to get the work done quickly the district engineer commandeered civilian stocks of construction material and equipment, absorbed the quartermaster construction organization, ordered building equipment from the mainland in such quantities that it could not be delivered for many months to come, and (by 23 December) employed a civilian working force of 20,000 men.23  Unfortunately for Colonel Wyman, in numerous instances he neglected to maintain the "record of over obligations so incurred" which the authorization of 9 December had required. However effective he was in getting the repair job done and new construction under way, his failure to keep accounts and his high-handed tactics led to his relief in March and the consolidation of all Army construction activity under the department engineer.24

The principal immediate change in Hawaii's defense structure came about on 17 December 1941, when the top Army and Navy commanders


were replaced and all Army forces in the Hawaiian area were put under command of the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet. President Roosevelt ordered the replacements after he read Secretary Knox's report on what had happened. General Short's successor was Lt. Gen. Delos C. Emmons, an Air Corps officer, and he reached Hawaii in time to take over the Army command on 17 December. Admiral Kimmel's replacement was to be Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, but for the two weeks before he took over on 31 December unity of command was exercised by the acting fleet commander, Admiral Pye. General Emmons and Admiral Pye got together immediately, and five days after his arrival the general could report to General Marshall: "Unity of command here is essential, is working well, and will so continue." 25

Although subsequently much criticism arose over the lack of a united command and over effective interservice co-operation in Hawaii before Pearl Harbor, the establishment of unity of command there was immediately inspired by similar action directed by the President on 12 December for the Panama Coastal Frontier. In any event General Marshall had long believed that Hawaii should be under Navy command, whenever the major portion of the Pacific Fleet was present or was using Pearl Harbor as its major base; and on 16 December he took the initiative in proposing to Admiral Stark that all Army forces in the Hawaiian Coastal Frontier be put under naval command, and with no strings attached.26  In practice, this meant that henceforth during the war the Army kept responsibility for the administration and discipline of its forces in the Hawaiian area, but the Navy commanded their operations except (after the first month) those associated with military government. The organization worked out by the Navy put all defense forces specifically allocated to the coastal frontier (the major islands and adjacent sea areas within a 20-mile limit) under Army command, and all defense forces allotted to the Hawaiian Sea Frontier (extending outward from the islands for 500 miles) under Navy command. Under this arrangement Army pursuit aviation and the other elements of the interceptor system remained under Army control, but Army heavy bombardment planes were put under the Navy's sea frontier command. From the Army's viewpoint, this division of command over Army air units was a step in the wrong direction; but the efforts of the Hawaiian Air Force (Seventh Air Force from March 1942 onward) to recover operational control of its heavy bombers were unsuccessful. Except for the heavy bomber units, the


actual control of Army forces in Hawaii continued to be exercised by the Hawaiian Department and successor commands, under missions assigned by the Navy. There would undoubtedly have been a closer- integration of command if the local Army and Navy commanders had complied with a Washington order of 19 December 1941 to establish a joint command post; but it took them a year to agree on its location, and after another year spent in construction they agreed that a joint command post was no longer needed. The separate Army and Navy command headquarters continued to coordinate their work through liaison officers, as they had done before Pearl Harbor, albeit more effectively. Nothing like a unified force evolved in Hawaii, and indeed for the first few months there was much rivalry and friction between the services. But at the top General Emmons and Admiral Nimitz worked in close accord from the beginning, and by May 1942, when the enemy again threatened in force, the Hawaiian defense forces were fairly joined if not united.27  

The most obvious joint enterprise of the Army and Navy in the period immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack was the conduct of long-range reconnaissance. The improvised and unsuccessful attempts of 7 December to locate the Japanese Striking Force were succeeded as rapidly as possible by an organized daily search under the command of the Navy's Patrol Wing Two using as many Army and Navy planes as could be made available, to a distance of 700 nautical miles in all directions. To make this patrol possible the Navy transferred three squadrons of reconnaissance craft from the Atlantic as quickly as it could. The Navy's reconnaissance plan that became effective during December called for a daily search by 46 planes, but in practice only 37 were normally used-12 B-17's and 25 Navy PBY's. The Army managed to hold back 18 of its heavy bombers as a striking force ready for action on 30-minute notice. The reconnaissance, though far superior to anything attempted before Pearl Harbor, was admittedly a good deal less than perfect- low visibility in the patrolled lanes could cut its effectiveness to near zero, and about one-fifth of the circle surrounding the islands had to be left virtually unpatrolled each day. To make the patrol fully effective would not only require a good many more planes but also radar to eliminate the hazards of visual observation.28


The Japanese were still around during December 1941, but not on carriers. They kept a group of about nine submarines in the vicinity of Hawaii until mid January, to do what damage they could. As commerce destroyers Japanese submarines in Hawaiian waters proved as ineffective as they did on the west coast.29  Another reason for their remaining was to find out just how much damage had been done to the American Navy in Pearl Harbor. Fliers returning to the carriers on 7 December had reported as best they could on what they had seen and photographed through flame and smoke, but the Japanese wanted a better picture. To get one, a plane launched from submarine 1-7 flew over Pearl Harbor at dawn on 18 December. The next day a Japanese Navy communiqué announced that 8 battleships, 4 cruisers, and 2 destroyers had been sunk or heavily damaged, and lesser damage had been done to another battleship and 4 more cruisers. The communiqué also claimed 450 planes destroyed on the ground and 14 shot down-a claim more closely related to enemy prewar overestimates of Hawaiian air strength than to the damage actually done, bad as it was.30  Apparently neither the 18 December flight nor a similar one during the night of 6-7 January was detected.31

Before December was over Japanese submarines had brought war home to the outer islands, though in almost innocuous fashion. Just before dusk on 15 December a submarine lobbed about ten shells into the harbor area of Kahului on Maui, and three that hit a pineapple cannery caused about $700 worth of damage. During the night of 30-31 December, submarines engaged in similar and nearly simultaneous shellings of Hilo on Hawaii, Nawiliwili on Kauai, and again on Kahului. At the last-named point Army coast artillery guns returned the fire. Damage at all three points was slight, and no one was hurt. The principal result of these shellings was to stir up the war consciousness of all the Hawaiian Islands.32

The Question of Japanese Evacuation

Simultaneously with planning for a mass evacuation of Japanese residents from the west coast of the United States, Army authorities in Hawaii and Washington proposed a similar mass evacuation from Hawaii, as a


measure of defense. In Hawaii a prewar allocation of responsibility for controlling enemy aliens in the event of war, the establishment of martial law, and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus gave the Army almost plenary authority over both citizens and aliens. There were, therefore, no legal barriers to prevent the Army from handling the large Japanese minority in the islands as it wished, but there were other factors-among them the Hawaiian climate of racial tolerance, the fact that most of the pressure for mass evacuation came from outside the Army, and the vital position of the Japanese in the civilian labor force-which operated as powerful checks on proposals to move a large part of the Japanese population from Oahu to another island or the mainland.33

In prewar preparations for dealing with the Japanese problem, the military services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had used two tactics in Hawaii. As in the continental United States, they had compiled lists of individual aliens who they assumed might be disloyal in wartime. They had also launched a campaign in the summer of 1941 to assure the Japanese population that if it remained loyal to the United States in a war with Japan it would be accorded fair treatment. On 21 December General Emmons publicly renewed this pledge-after careful investigation had disclosed that there had been no sabotage and (with one exception) no other hostile act committed by either alien or citizen Japanese either during or after the Pearl Harbor Attack.34

When General Emmons made this pledge he of course did not know that two days before it had been decided at a Cabinet meeting in Washington that all Japanese aliens in the Hawaiian Islands were to be interned by the Army on other islands than Oahu.35  Thereafter the most ardent official advocate of restrictive action of this sort was Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. Specifically at his request, the War Department on 10 January 1942 asked the Hawaiian commander whether it would be practicable to move the Japanese population from Oahu to some other island. General Emmons


answered that such a move would be highly dangerous and impractical. It would require a large amount of additional construction and building materials at a time when construction and shipping facilities were already taxed to their utmost; it would require many additional troops to guard the island at a time when the Hawaiian garrison had less than half the troops needed for missions already assigned; and it would gravely disrupt the economy of Oahu which, General Emmons estimated, had a Japanese population of 118,000 (20,000 aliens and 98,000 citizens) that provided the bulk of the island's skilled labor. Although General Emmons expressed little faith in the loyalty of the majority of the Japanese population in the event of an invasion, he believed the Japanese indispensable unless they could be replaced by an equivalent labor force from the mainland. The general strongly recommended that, if the War Department decided that any or all of the Japanese had to be evacuated, they be moved to the continental United States.36

The report of the Roberts Commission and the mounting west coast agitation against the Japanese led to another Cabinet discussion on 30 January about the "dangerous" Hawaiian Japanese and about the many Army troops of Japanese descent still in service in Hawaii. After the meeting Secretary Stimson told General Marshall of his concern over the situation, and the Chief of Staff instructed the War Plans Division to look into the matter and make recommendations.37  When General Emmons was again asked for his views, he recommended as "desirable" the evacuation to the mainland of as many Japanese aliens and citizens as possible at the earliest practicable date but stated that he did not want to evacuate more than a few hundred internees until after some 20,000 Caucasian women and children had been transported to the mainland. He also assured the War Department that "if an assault were made on Oahu before transfer of sufficient number of Nipponese, we have ready plans to immobilize the Japanese." 38  In response to further questioning, the Hawaiian commander stated that, while all Japanese against whom there were specific grounds for suspicion were already in custody, in order to make certain that no Japanese of potential disloyalty remained in Hawaii it would probably be necessary to evacuate 100,000 of


them.39  On the same day that he made this estimate, General Emmons was somewhat startled to receive a War Department order directing him to suspend all Japanese civilians employed by the Army. He again pointed out that the bulk of skilled labor on Oahu was of Japanese descent and could not possibly be replaced by civilians or soldiers already there. "The Japanese question," he added, was both "delicate and dangerous" and it "should be handled by those in direct contact with the situation." The War Department promptly canceled its order, but proceeded with its evacuation planning.40

On 14 February the War Plans Division prepared a recommendation that the Hawaiian commander "be authorized to evacuate all enemy aliens and all citizens of Japanese extraction selected by him with their families, subject to the availability of shipping and facilities for their internment or surveillance on the mainland," and subject to the prior evacuation of 20,000 "women and children other than Japanese" as General Emmons had requested.41  While this recommendation was still being circulated among Army staff agencies for comment, the Navy took the Hawaiian Japanese question before both the newly constituted joint Chiefs of Staff and President Roosevelt. The President responded to Secretary Knox as follows:

Like you, I have long felt that most of the Japanese should be removed from Oahu to one of the other Islands. This involves much planning, much temporary construction and careful supervision of them when they get to the new location.
I do not worry about the constitutional question-first, because of my recent order [Executive Order 9066] and, second, because Hawaii is under martial law. The whole matter is one of immediate and present war emergency.
I think you and Stimson can agree and then go ahead and do it as a military project.42

The War Plans Division, hurriedly revising its study to take into account the President's declared position, held with General Emmons that a concentration of the Oahu Japanese on one of the outlying islands was wholly impracticable and concluded by reiterating the recommendation it had made in preliminary form a fortnight earlier. Both General Marshall and Secretary Stimson approved the War Plans proposal, which contemplated the eventual transfer of about 100,000 Japanese aliens and citizens from Hawaii to the mainland for internment or resettlement, and Secretary Stimson carried a


brief of the Army's plan to a Cabinet meeting on 27 February.43  Mr. Stimson recorded the Cabinet discussions as follows:

Removal of Japs from Oahu. Knox brought this up and urged vigorously the remedy of the situation out there. I told them that the Army concurred in this but that for the reasons given in Marshall's memorandum [that is, the latest War Plans recommendation] it would probably be necessary to send them to the United States. The President was staggered by this and was rather plainly in favor of placing them on the Island of Malikou [Molokai] in a big cantonment guarded by the Army. This was the plan urged by Knox. I pointed out the difficulties of this so far as I could. The matter was left unsettled.44

After considering the conflicting views of the Army on the one hand and of President Roosevelt and Secretary Knox on the other, the joint Chiefs of Staff decided that the concentration of the Hawaiian Japanese on an island such as Molokai was impracticable, and they unanimously recommended a large-scale evacuation of Japanese aliens and citizens to the mainland, to begin with "the most dangerous group" of 20,000 persons as soon as possible.45  As presented by Admiral Stark to the President, the recommendation read: "That such Japanese (either U.S. citizens or aliens) as are considered by appropriate authority in the Hawaiian Islands to constitute a source of danger be transported to the U.S. mainland and placed under guard in concentration camps." 46  The President approved this recommendation on 13 March 1942, "on the basis of an explanation made to him which pointed out that evacuation would necessarily be a slow process and that what was intended, first, was to get rid of about 20,000 potentially dangerous Japanese." 47

The principal obstacle to the execution of this recommendation was the growing disinclination of Army officials to carry it out. On 27 March, after the Hawaiian commander had been formally notified about the evacuation plan that the President had approved and after a visit of Assistant Secretary of War McCloy to Hawaii, General Emmons made a "present estimate" of 1,550 as the number of dangerous Japanese aliens and citizens that should be evacuated and interned on the mainland, although he added that future circumstances might make it "advisable to raise this estimate to much larger figures." 48  During his trip Mr. McCloy had learned that Army and Navy offi-


cials in Hawaii were opposed to any large-scale evacuation to the mainland or to one of the outlying islands. The Army and Navy preferred, he reported, "to treat the Japanese in Hawaii as citizens of an occupied foreign country." 49  The Assistant Secretary agreed that the outlying island scheme was completely impracticable. He believed a mass evacuation to the mainland almost as impracticable, because of the lack of shipping, the necessity of replacing the Japanese labor force, the difficulty of providing enough suitable facilities for relocating the Japanese on the mainland, and "the political repercussions on the West Coast and in the United States generally to the introduction of 150,000 more Japanese." Dispatches in Honolulu newspapers published on 27 and 28 March quoted Mr. McCloy as stating that a mass evacuation of the Japanese from Hawaii was impractical and was not contemplated. By the beginning of April 1942, both Mr. McCloy and the Army's Operations Division appear to have assumed that the evacuation would be confined to the 1,550 "dangerous" Japanese specified in General Emmons' latest recommendation.50

This might very well have been the answer to the question of Hawaiian evacuation if it had not been for the continued concern of the Secretary of the Navy and the President for the security of Oahu. On 20 April Mr. Knox renewed his plea for "taking all of the Japs out of Oahu and putting them in a concentration camp on some other island"; and the President himself continued to favor the same solution.51  In a conference of the War and Navy Secretaries and their military advisers on 28 April, all present-except Mr. Knox-agreed that it was impracticable to move the Oahu Japanese to another island, and that instead General Emmons should be authorized to evacuate ten or fifteen thousand adult male Japanese to the mainland. This idea had been suggested much earlier by Admiral Bloch, the commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District, who attended the meeting, and who was as strongly opposed as General Emmons to the outlying island proposal.52  President Roosevelt, nevertheless, continued during May to favor a general Japanese evacuation from Oahu to one of the smaller Hawaiian islands and in consequence Mr. McCloy advised General Emmons that he had better work


out some alternative evacuation plan, perhaps similar to that proposed by Admiral Bloch, in order to satisfy the President and Mr. Knox.53

Before the Hawaiian commander came up with a new general evacuation plan, he carried out one type of evacuation that he had proposed much earlier. For more than a year the task of guarding the islands had been shared by the 298th and 299th Infantry Regiments, Hawaiian National Guard units that had been called into federal service in 1940. By late 1941 many of their enlisted men and some of their officers were of Japanese ancestry. When sufficient replacements from the mainland finally arrived in May, the Hawaiian Department withdrew the Japanese troops from the 298th and 299th Regiments, organized them into a provisional battalion, and on 5 June shipped them to the mainland. This group of 29 officers and 1,277 enlisted men thereafter became the tooth Infantry Battalion, which eventually landed on the Salerno beachhead in Italy on 22 September 1943.54

As for Japanese civilians, General Emmons on 20 June proposed a voluntary movement to the mainland of the families of internees and of individuals of low income who were more of a drain than a benefit to the Hawaiian economy and war effort. The War Department thereupon arranged with the War Relocation Authority to provide relocation facilities for 15,000 Hawaiian Japanese. The Hawaiian Department, which by 1 July considered the position and conduct of the bulk of the Japanese population "highly satisfactory," wanted to evacuate "as soon as practicable" only 5,000, not 15,000; but the figure of 15,000 was used in a new joint Chiefs of Staff and Presidential directive of 17 July.55

In view of the previously approved policy of evacuating military, dependents and other non-Japanese civilians first, General Emmons was not able to present a program for Japanese evacuation in accordance with his new directive until early October. His plan then was substantially the one he had proposed in, June except that evacuation would be compulsory rather than voluntary; it proposed to remove initially about 3,000 people who would


Photo: JAPANESE CHILDREN DRILLING In American service caps, Hawaii,

JAPANESE CHILDREN DRILLING In American service caps, Hawaii.

otherwise remain a drain on Hawaii's war resources, rather than "dangerous" Japanese as contemplated in the approved policy. Although the War Department continued its planning and arranging for an eventual reception of 15,000 Japanese, Army officials in Washington realized that a movement of that size was now unlikely.56  Secretary Knox and the President continued to be dissatisfied with the Army's slow progress toward evacuation,57  but the War Department decided that it ought to adhere in practice to the latest plan of General Emmons.


In accordance with this plan about 1,000 Hawaiian Japanese-most of them citizens-were moved to the mainland between November 1942 and March 1943. By the latter month everyone had agreed that this movement should cease, and on 2 April 1943 the War Department instructed General Emmons to suspend evacuation to the mainland until and unless the number of his internees exceeded the capacity of the Hawaiian Department's own facilities for internment, which never happened.58  Before the evacuation ended a total of 1,875 Hawaiian residents of Japanese ancestry had been removed to internment and relocation camps in the continental United States.59  When it ended an Army spokesman informed the Honolulu press: "The shipping situation and the labor shortage make it a matter of military necessity to keep most of the people of Japanese blood on the island." 60


The initial military reinforcement of Hawaii following the Pearl Harbor attack was guided by a lengthy list submitted by General Short on 8 December 1941, of the troops and equipment most urgently needed for the defense of Oahu and by several supplementary lists sent by him during the next few days. By 12 December the War Department had arranged to ship from San Francisco some 7,000 men, more than 100 crated pursuit ships, 3,000,000 rounds of the scarce caliber .50 ammunition, more than 8,000 aircraft bombs of assorted sizes, and a variety of other munitions. On the evening of 13 December the Army had 2 fast transports loaded and ready to go, but the Navy refused to let them leave without escort. They finally sailed with 3 slower ships on the 16th, and reached Honolulu five days later-but only a fortnight after the Pearl Harbor attack. A second and larger convoy of ii ships departed from San Francisco on 27 December and arrived in Hawaiian waters on 7 and 8 January 1942. Together these convoys brought about 15,000 more troops to Oahu, and the unit reinforcements included two regiments of infantry, one regiment each of field artillery and coast artillery, and light tank, signal, and railway artillery battalions. With their arrival the strength of the Hawaiian Department was increased to about 58,500 officers and enlisted men, and it now had most of the heavy bombardment and pursuit strength allotted a month earlier. Despite a continued serious shortage of


antiaircraft weapons, the second week of January found Oahu generally well secured against invasion.61

Two arguments won the approval of the War Department during December of a much larger reinforcement of Hawaii. The Navy contended that the sure defense of the Hawaiian area depended primarily on Army air power and that the security and effectiveness of that air power required its dispersion among the major islands of the Hawaiian group. Secondly, while the immediate reinforcement of December 1941 might ensure against a direct attempt by the enemy to invade Oahu, the Japanese had the naval strength to cover an invasion of one or more of the almost undefended outer islands. From bases on these islands the enemy could attack and possibly starve out Oahu. These arguments led to an inquiry to General Short about his plans for garrisoning the other islands of the Hawaiian group. As of mid-December, ail he planned to do was to distribute another National Guard infantry regiment among them and add to their defenses a few more second-class weapons (the best being kept for Oahu).62

When General Emmons assumed command he asked for nearly 50,000 additional troops, including two infantry square divisions, to garrison the outer islands. He also Wanted fillers to bring Oahu's units up to war strength as soon as possible-the combined strength of the 24th and 25th Divisions then being no more than 15,000 men. And he wanted to build up the Hawaiian Air Force to a strength of 200 heavy bombardment planes and 325 pursuit ships. On 23 December General Marshall orally approved the immediate dispatch of one square division, two more antiaircraft regiments, and 10,000 additional service troops to Hawaii, and by the end of the month the War Department had established an eventual strength of 100,000 ground and 16,000 air troops for the Hawaiian Department, exclusive of its distant appendages.63  Other more critical needs in the Pacific delayed the movement of the bulk of the approved troop reinforcements, and Army strength in Hawaii actually declined during early 1942. But with the arrival of the 27th Infantry Division in March and April and its deployment with supporting forces among the outer islands, the invasion threat to them really ended, and it ended before the enemy again approached the Hawaiian area in force.


Two factors inspired a more formal review and assessment of Hawaiian defense needs by the Washington high command during February and March. One was the reiterated request of General Emmons, strongly backed by Admiral Nimitz, for a much higher heavy bomber strength than Washington had allotted. The Navy wanted as many Army heavy bombers as possible stationed in the Hawaiian Islands in order to free the fleet for limited offensive action to the southwestward, and it also wanted to be able to draw on a reservoir of Army bombers to support its offensives. General Emmons wanted enough heavy bombers to maintain a striking force equipped to deal effectively with an enemy attack by six carriers, this force to be over and above the number of heavies needed for continued Army participation in long-range reconnaissance. The other factor was the open distrust of a large segment of the Hawaiian population of Japanese descent, which, as already related, had led to demands in Washington that the Army cleanse the Hawaiian Department of its soldiers of Japanese descent and take other actions to put the Japanese population under close control.64

These fresh demands led General Marshall to submit the question of the strength of Army forces to be established and maintained in Hawaii to the joint Chiefs of Staffs. As this was being done General Emmons was further disturbed by the detachment in early February of twelve of his heavy bombers for duty in the southern Pacific-and thereafter until late in May his bomber command remained at no more than one-third its allotted strength in heavies.65  In Washington the Chief of Naval Operations supported General Marshall's contention that the forces already allocated to the Hawaiian Department would be strong enough, when delivered, to ensure retention of the main islands, prevent serious damage by a Japanese raid, and give freedom of action to the Pacific Fleet. As a seemingly necessary corollary to this assurance, the joint Chiefs had simultaneously recommended to the President that the bulk of the Japanese population of the Hawaiian Islands be evacuated to the United States mainland.66  On 13 March the President approved these recommendations, although, as already indicated, the Army was rapidly losing interest in a mass evacuation of the Japanese. On the other hand, his approval of the planned strengths of Hawaiian ground and air forces constituted the


strongest kind of backing for completing the Army reinforcement that had been projected.

The garrison of the Hawaiian Department as approved by the joint Chiefs and the President was to consist of 74,000 ground troops on Oahu, 13,000 on Hawaii, and 12,800 distributed among five other islands. With small additions during March, the authorized strength of the department became at the beginning of April 106,000 ground and 16,000 air troops, including replacements for all soldiers of Japanese descent; and the department reached these strengths before the end of June 1942. The Army air units to be retained in the islands for local defense were to contain 96 heavy and 24 medium and light bombers and 225 pursuit planes, and the Navy was obligated to keep 67 patrol planes on hand for long-range and local reconnaissance. Because Army officials in Washington were wary of Navy claims on heavy bombers that might be present in Hawaii, it took the impetus of a new and grave Japanese threat to get the planned increment of them out to the islands; and their number was quickly reduced after the Japanese challenge had been met.67

After December 1941 the movement of Army reinforcements and supplies to Hawaii had a lower priority than shipments to Australia and the new island bases being developed along the way to it. Only the slower ships were used on the Hawaiian run to carry supplies for the Army and the local civilian population, and for several months a shortage of them led to a pile-up of supplies in San Francisco. In contrast, the Navy got its supplies to Hawaii during the first months of the war with little or no difficulty.68  The War Department had arranged for requisitions for military and civilian supplies submitted by the Hawaiian Department to be filled by the Army's San Francisco Port of Embarkation, in accordance with priorities established by General Emmons. By April this system was working smoothly, and the backlog of Army supplies awaiting shipment in San Francisco had been substantially reduced. After March General Emmons was more concerned about the continued shortage of civilian labor in Hawaii, including dock workers, than about the shipping shortage. In any event his early exasperation over shipping difficulties had already dissolved when the War Production Board in Washington circulated a colorful but not very well informed report on the situation. For the record, in a note to Admiral Nimitz, General Emmons cate-


gorically denied most of the charges contained in this report, and he assured both the admiral and the War Department that he was well satisfied with the way his supply problems were being solved.69

When Assistant Secretary of War McCloy visited Oahu in mid-March he found its Army defenses generally strong and well laid out. He was particularly impressed by the intensive improvement of Army airfields since the Pearl Harbor attack. But he noted that the Army clearly lacked enough bombers to constitute an effective striking force against enemy carriers and that the long-range reconnaissance patrol was far from being air tight. In Mr. McCloy's judgment the Pearl Harbor-Honolulu area still presented a "terribly congested" and "most vulnerable" target.70

The Japanese made a very ineffectual swipe at this target during the early morning of 4 March 1942. Two Japanese flying boats starting from Jaluit Island in the Marshalls had refueled in a rendezvous with three submarines at French Frigate Shoals and then flown on to Oahu, about 500 miles to the southeast. Army radar spotted them 90 miles off Kauai; and the Interceptor Command sent up four pursuit planes to find them, but without success because of their high altitude and a heavy overcast. One Japanese plane merely skirted the west coast of Oahu. The other followed the north coast to Kaneohe, then turned south and at 2:15 a.m. dropped four 500-pound bombs which landed in woods on the slopes of Mount Tantalus, about 2 miles from downtown Honolulu. They caused no casualties, and no damage other than a few broken window panes. Because of the high altitude of the planes and the overcast, antiaircraft guns did not fire, and no general air raid alarm was sounded. Both planes returned to their starting point safely; but as a "night reconnaissance" of Pearl Harbor the flight was a failure, and a second "K Operation," as the Japanese called the feat, scheduled for 7 March, was canceled. Hawaiian authorities deduced that the Japanese planes must have staged through French Frigate Shoals, and the Navy thereupon took steps to deny them to enemy submarines.71


A tight blackout had helped Army defenders pass the test of an isolated enemy air operation, but how well they were now prepared to defend Oahu against a large-scale carrier-based attack remained an unanswered question. The elements of the interceptor system were functioning day and night, and as efficiently as they could with the equipment at hand. American planes in Hawaii still lacked equipment for their ready identification as friendly, and the bulk of the pursuit planes, though modern P-40's, still could probably not have climbed rapidly enough after radar warning to fend off a high-level bombing attack. The antiaircraft situation was much better than at the time of Pearl Harbor, but antiaircraft guns could only make a heavy air raid more costly to the enemy, not stop it. The dispersal, bunkering, and camouflaging of Army aircraft made them relatively immune to heavy loss, but the naval base and Honolulu could not be hidden. As earlier, the Army was best prepared to fight off an invasion of Oahu. Combat troops were dug in in battle positions all over the island, and a Washington inspection at the end of April found the morale of the troops "excellent," and that "all understood that this is a real war." 72


A month later real war again approached the Hawaiian Islands in the shape of a formidable Japanese fleet bent on capturing Midway and drawing out the Pacific Fleet for a decisive engagement. The Japanese were executing the second step of the "second phase" operations projected in their Combined Fleet's operational order of 5 November 1941-the order that had set in motion the Pearl Harbor attack and the conquest of the Philippines, southeast Asia, and Indonesia. Winning their first round of victories in only half the calculated time, the Japanese in mid-January had begun planning what to do next. The first proposal, advanced by the chief of staff of the Combined Fleet, was for an invasion of the main Hawaiian Islands, but by early February caution had modified it into a plan for occupying strategic points in the outer Aleutians, Midway Island, and points on the Hawaii-Australia line of communication. The Midway operation in particular was expected to force a fleet engagement, and, if victorious, the Japanese would then have undisputed control of the central and western Pacific.73


By 16 April 1942 the Japanese high command had agreed that the Midway-Aleutian occupations should take place early in June and that the main body of the Combined Fleet would cover the Midway operation and be in a position for the anticipated fleet action. The spearhead of the Japanese Fleet was to be a striking force built around four fast carriers. Continuing arguments for delay in order to make more adequate preparations for the new offensive were silenced by the Halsey-Doolittle air raid on Japan on 18 April. A Combined Fleet order of 5 May set the new offensive in motion, and the striking force began to move out of its home waters on 26 May. The invasion of Midway was to take place on 7 June.74

The Japanese reckoned that their fleet could reach the vicinity of Midway without being discovered, that they could capture Midway before the Pacific Fleet would swing into action, and that they would then have to deal with only two (though possibly three) American carriers. One of the Pacific Fleet's four carriers was tied up in San Diego until 1 June, but the Navy managed to rush the other three from the southern Pacific to Pearl Harbor and to repair the wounds that one of them had sustained in the Battle of the Coral Sea (7-8 May) in time for it to join in the coming battle. Undetected by the Japanese, the American carriers and their escorts left Pearl Harbor on 30 and 31 May to take up a waiting position on the flank of the approaching Japanese armada. To check on American fleet positions and movements, the enemy had sent out submarines and made preparations to reconnoiter Pearl Harbor by air. For the latter purpose the Japanese tried to execute a new "K Operation" similar to the one carried out three months earlier. It was frustrated when Japanese submarines found French Frigate Shoals occupied and actively patrolled by the United States Navy. Reconnaissance of mid-Pacific waters by submarine also failed, so that as the Japanese Fleet approached Midway it had no knowledge of where the units of the Pacific Fleet were.

The Americans, on the other hand, knew well in advance almost precisely what the Japanese were up to, thanks to their prewar breaking of the communications code used by the Japanese Navy. This knowledge and the fortunes of battle tipped the scales in the Battle of Midway, the most decisive engagement of the Pacific war.

The United States had expected that Japan would retaliate as soon as it could after the air raid on Japan, and at first the Army was most apprehensive


of a carrier-based air attack on the continental west coast.75  This apprehension lingered even after intercepts clearly indicated Midway and the Aleutians as the Japanese targets. The intercepts had become sufficiently meaningful by 14 May to warrant the declaration of a state of fleet-opposed invasion for the Hawaiian area by General Marshall and Admiral King, in accordance with the plan they had agreed upon the preceding month.76  By 16 May the commanders in Hawaii knew that Midway and the Aleutians were the probable Japanese objectives, and by 21 May they had deduced that the attack on Midway would begin on or about 3 June.77

Beginning on 18 May General Emmons kept the Army air command in Hawaii on the alert for a possible carrier attack on Oahu. Some of the B-17's on reconnaissance duty were replaced by old B-18 mediums, and a striking force of heavy bombers was kept loaded with 500- and 600-pound bombs and ready to fly. By 30 May flights from the mainland had increased heavy bomber strength from 30 to 56 planes, and 12 of them took off that day to operate from Midway. Other Army planes followed, to make a force of 17 B-17's and 4 B-26 medium bombers participating in the Midway battle. By 10 June 60 B-17 planes had reached Oahu from the West Coast, and during and after the battle the Army continued to maintain a striking force of heavy and medium bombers. But the destruction of the four enemy carriers on 4 and 5 June not only decided the issue at sea but ended the threat of another Pearl Harbor attack, at least for the time being. The best of the heavy bombers moved on in July to the South Pacific for more active operations.78

After the Japanese lost their carriers they abandoned the invasion of Midway and, without air cover, they also avoided any further fleet engagement and turned homeward. The only fruit of their great offensive was the occupation of Attu and Kiska in the Aleutians. 79 Midway redressed the disparity of naval strength that Japan had temporarily enjoyed and made impracticable any more major offensives beyond the original perimeter of enemy conquest.


With Midway, the threat that Japan might try to invade Oahu or one of the other main Hawaiian Islands was dissipated, and, although Japan retained a capability of making a carrier strike, the likelihood of one became increasingly remote. The strength of the Hawaiian Department in officers and men continued to grow after June 1942, but more and more, Hawaii became an advance training base and staging area for Army ground and air units that would do battle in the farther reaches of the Pacific. The Pacific focus of defense now shifted to the north.


page created 30 May 2002


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