Pages Menu

Categories Menu

Posted on Sep 22, 2004 in Stuff We Like

Pearl Harbor – An Alternate History

By Wayne Cassell

By late November, 1941, much had been improved but defenses were still inadequate. The following chart compares recommended/required equipment versus available equipment at the time.

The following map shows the significant military installations on Oahu. These installations included Pearl Harbor, Hickam and Wheeler Fields plus other airfields, Schofield Barracks, and the mobile radar sites including Opana Point. This was the situation in late November, 1941 when the first war warning messages were received from Washington.


Map of Oahu Major Defense Installations, November 1941

Map of Oahu Major Defense Installations, November 1941

November 27th, 1941, War Warning

At 1430 [2:30 P.M.] on November 27th, Colonel Tige Phillips, General Short’s Chief of Staff, brought War Department Message No. 472 to General Short. This message, signed by General Marshall, read as follows:

Negotiations with Japan appear to be terminated to all practical purposes with only the barest possibilities that the Japanese Government might come back and offer to continue. Japanese future action unpredictable but hostile action possible at any moment. If hostilities cannot, repeat cannot, be avoided the United States desires that Japan commit the first overt act. This policy should not, repeat not, be construed as restricting you to a course of action that might jeopardize your defense. Prior to hostile Japanese action you are directed to undertake such reconnaissance and other measures as you deem necessary but these measure should be carried out so as not, repeat not, to alarm civil population or disclose intent. Report measures taken. Should hostilities occur you will carry out the tasks assigned in Rainbow Five [the Army’s basic war plan] so far as they pertain to Japan. Limit dissemination of this highly secret information to minimum essential officers (Prange 402).

Upon receiving this message, General Short convened a meeting with his staff to discuss the implications. This meeting included:

“Well gentleman, how should we respond to this message?” asked General Short. “It says hostile action may be possible at any time. But it doesn’t mention anyplace specific. Do we have any intelligence regarding possible targets Colonel Fielder?”

“No, Sir, not at this time,” replied Fielder.[continued on next page]

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11


  1. I strongly disagree.

    While I am no historian I do believe that if the citizens knew Pearl Harbor were prepared for a sneak attack they would be less incline to believe in FDR’s push to join the war and likely protested harder knowing Pearl Harbor did it’s damn best.

  2. What a total ass! He should’ve kept it (Our US Navy) in San Diego far out of reach of any possible attack and closer to back up from air support that’s always there!

    It doesn’t take a pair of geniuses to figure out that putting our navy in one spot in the middle of the Pacific far from outside help is a dangerous path at best. If not from WW2 a different event would’ve done it later such as Korea maybe.

    At least in San Diego the fuel carriers of the Japanese had no chance of penetrating that far without worry of fuel loss and since it’s in mainland would be much closer to resistance if San Diego were attacked for whatever reason our US Air force would be right there!.

    It would be pure suicidal to Japan both it’s people and economy (whatever was left of it) to attempt a sneak attack on San Diego.

  3. BTW: Did you know weather forecasting other then basic temps of yesterday’s high and low and precip was banned due to war measures?