|Top Secret Report of Army Pearl Harbor Board [October 20, 1944].
From Pearl Harbor Attack, Part 39, pp. 221-30.
Memo: To The Secretary of War:
The following is a brief discussion of the evidence and documents in the
possession of the Army Pearl Harbor Board, which for reasons of security
should not be incorporated in the General Report. The Secretary of War
is entirely familiar with this type of evidence and the Board is sure
concurs in its decision to treat it separately and as Top Secret.
1. General. Information from informers and other means as to the
activities of our potential enemy and their intentions in the
negotiations between the United States and Japan was in possession of
the State, War and Navy Departments in November and December of 1941.
Such agencies had a reasonably complete disclosure of the Japanese plans
and intentions, and were in a position to know what were the Japanese
potential moves that were scheduled by them against the United States.
Therefore, Washington was in possession of essential facts as to the
This information showed clearly that war was inevitable and late in
November absolutely imminent. It clearly demonstrated the necessity for
resorting to every trading act possible to defer the ultimate day of
breach of relations to give the Army and Navy time to prepare for the
eventualities of war.
The messages actually sent to Hawaii by either the Army or Navy gave
only a small fraction of this information. No direction was given the
Hawaiian Department based upon this information except the "Do-Don't"
message of November 27, 1941. It would have been possible to have sent
safely information, ample for the purpose of orienting the commanders in
Hawaii, or positive directives could have been formulated to put the
Department on Alert Number 3.
This was not done.
Under the circumstances, where information has a vital bearing upon
actions to be taken by field commanders, and this information cannot be
disclosed by the War Department to its field commanders, it is incumbent
upon the War Department then to assume the responsibility for specific
directions to the theater commanders. This is an exception to the
admirable policy of the War Department of decentralized and complete
responsibility upon the competent field commanders.
Short got neither form of assistance from the War Department. The
disaster of Pearl Harbor would have been eliminated to the extent that
its defenses were available on December 7 if alerted in time. The
difference between alerting those defenses in time by a directive from
the War Department based upon this information and the failure to alert
them is a difference for which the War Department is responsible, wholly
aside from Short's responsibility in not himself having selected the
The War Department had the information. All they had to do was either to
give it to Short or give him directions based upon it.
The details of this information follow:
2. Story of the Information as to the Japanese Actions and Intentions
from September to December 1941.
The record shows almost daily information as to the Japanese plans and
intentions during this period.
1. For instance, on November 24, it was learned that November 29 had
been fixed (Tokyo time) as the government date for Japanese offensive
2. On November 26 there was received specific evidence of the Japanese'
intentions to wage offensive war against Great Britain and the United
States. War Department G-2 advised the Chief of Staff on November 26
that the Office of Naval Intelligence reported the concentration of
units of the Japanese fleet at an unknown port ready for offensive
3. On December 1 definite information came from three independent
sources that Japan was going to attack Great Britain and the United
States, but would maintain peace with Russia.
As Colonel Bratton summed it up:
"The picture that lay before all of our policy making and planning
officials, from the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War down to the
Chief of the War Plans Division, they all had the same picture; and it
was a picture that was being painted over a period of weeks if not
The culmination of this complete revelation of the Japanese intentions
as to war and the attack came on December 3 with information that
Japanese were destroying their codes and code machines. This was
construed by G-2 as meaning immediate war. All the information that the
War Department G-2 had was presented in one form or another to the
policy making and planning agencies of the government. These officials
included Secretary of State, Secretary of War, Chief of Staff, and Chief
of the War Plans Division. In most instances, copies of our
intelligence, in whatever form it was presented, were sent to the Office
of Naval Intelligence, to keep them abreast of our trend of thought.
Colonel Bratton on occasions had gone to the Chief of the War Plans
Division and to the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, and stood by while
they read the contents of these folders, in case they wished to question
him about any of it. Colonel Bratton testifies:
"I had an arrangement with Colonel Smith, Secretary to the General
Staff, how he could get me on the telephone at any time in case the
Chief of Staff wished to be briefed on any of them."
4. When the information on December 3 came as to the Japanese destroying
their codes and code machines, which was construed as certain war,
Colonel Bratton took the information to General Miles and General Gerow
and talked at length with both of them. General Gerow opposed sending
out any further warning to the overseas command. General Miles felt he
could not go over General Gerow's decision. Colonel Bratton then went to
see Commander McCullom of the Navy, Head of the Far Eastern Section in
ONI, and he concurred in Bratton's judgment that further warning should
be sent out because this action of the Japanese meant war almost
immediately. Colonel Bratton then returned after making arrangements
with McCullom and persuaded General Miles to send a message to G-2,
Hawaiian Department, instructing him to go to Commander Rochefort,
Office of Naval Intelligence, with the Fleet to have him secure from
Rochefort the same information which General Gerow would not permit to
be sent directly in a war warning message.
All of this important information which was supplied to higher authority
in the War Department, Navy Department, and State Department did not go
out to the field, with the possible exception of the general statements
in occasional messages which are shown in the Board's report. Only the
higher-ups in Washington secured this information. G-2 was prevented as
a matter of policy from giving out intelligence information of this sort
to G-2 in overseas departments. The Navy also objected to any of this
type of intelligence being sent by the Army without its authority.
The War Plans Division refused to act upon the recommendations of G-2.
Intelligence Bulletins were distributed giving this information. When G-
2 recommended, for instance, the occupation of the outer Aleutians ahead
of the Japanese, the War Plans Division took no action upon the estimate
and recommendation, with the result that we later had to fight two
costly campaigns to regain Attu and Kiska.
Captain Safford of the Communications Security Division in Naval
Operations, testified as to the type of information that was coming into
the Navy during November and December.
Tokyo informed Nomura on the 22nd of November that the 25th was the last
date they could permit him negotiations. On November 26th specific
information received from the Navy indicated that Japan intended to wage
offensive war against the United States. Nomura on the 26th said he
thought he had failed the Emperor and that his humiliation was complete,
evidently referring to the ultimatum delivered to him by the Secretary
Colonel Sadtler testified as to the information that was coming in as to
Japanese intentions in the fall of 1941, saying:
"The information began to assume rather serious proportions regarding
the tense and strained relations between the two countries, and the
number of messages about warnings of conditions that obtain in case of
hostilities really reached a climax around the middle of November, to
such an extent that we were of the opinion that there might be a
declaration of war between Japan and the United States on Sunday,
November 30. This, as you all know, proved to be a "dud," and on Monday,
December 1, if I recall the date correctly, messages that morning began
coming in from Tokyo telling the Consuls to destroy their codes and to
reply to Tokyo with one code word when they had so complied with their
The Japanese Embassy in Washington was advised to destroy their codes on
3. The "Winds" Message.
Colonel Sadtler said that about November 20, a message was intercepted
by the Federal Communications Commission, to the effect that the
Japanese were notifying nationals of possible war with the United
States. The "winds" message was indicated in these instructions, which
would indicate whether the war would be with the United States, Russia,
or Great Britain, or any combination of them. The Federal Communications
Commission was asked to listen for such information.
On the morning of December 5, 1941, Admiral Noyes, Chief of Naval
Communications, called Colonel Sadtler at 9:30 saying, "Sadtler, the
message is in!" He did not know whether the particular message was the
one that meant war with the United States, but it meant war with either
the United States, Russia, or Great Britain. He immediately advised
General Miles and Colonel Bratton.
Sadtler was instructed to go back to Admiral Noyes to get the precise
wording used, but Admiral Noyes said that he was too busy with a
conference and he would have to attend to it later. Colonel Sadtler
protested that that would be too late. He reported back to General
Miles. He then went to see General Gerow, Head of the War Plans
Division, and suggested a message be sent to Hawaii. General Gerow said,
"No, that they had plenty of information in Hawaii." He then went to the
Secretary of the General Staff, Colonel Smith, and made the same
suggestion. When Smith learned that G-2 and the War Plans Division had
been talked to, he declined to discuss it further. It was about the 5th
or 6th of December that Tokyo notified the Japanese Embassy at
Washington to destroy their remaining codes. It was on December 5 that
Sadtler discussed this matter with General Gerow and Colonel Smith,
because as Sadtler said, "I was sure war was coming, and coming very
Colonel Bratton arranged on behalf of G-2 for monitoring of Japanese
weather broadcasts with the Federal Communications Commission. These
arrangements were made through Colonel Sadtler. Colonel Bratton
testified that no information reached him as to the break in relations
shown by the "winds" message prior to the Pearl Harbor disaster,
December 7, 1941, and he does not believe anybody else in G-2 received
any such information.
He conferred with Kramer and McCullom of the Navy. The message sent to
him by the Federal Communications Commission was not the message he was
looking for. Later he learned from the Navy about their monitoring
efforts in Hawaii and the Far East, and the fact that they would
probably secure the "winds" message sooner than he would in Washington.
That is the reason why he sent the message of December 5, to Fielder, G-
2, in Hawaii, to make contact with Commander Rochefort, to secure orally
information of this sort. A copy of this message has been produced in
the record showing that it was sent. Colonel Bratton and Colonel Sadtler
testified to the fact that their records showed that it was sent. But
Colonel Fielder said he got no such message. The Navy now admits having
received this "winds" activating message about December 6, but the War
Department files show no copy of such message.
From the naval point of view Captain Safford recites the story of the
"winds" message saying that Japan announced about the 26th of November
1941 that she would state her intentions in regard to war with Russia,
England, the Dutch, and the United States, by the "winds" message. On
November 28, 1941, the "winds" code was given. On December 3, 1941, the
Naval Attache at Batavia gave another version of the "winds" code. All
three of these messages indicated the probability of the breaking off of
relations and offensive warfare by Japan against the United States or
the other nations mentioned.
On December 4, 1941, information was received through the Navy
Department which was sent to Captain Safford which contained the
Japanese "winds" message, "War with England, War with America, Peace
This original message has now disappeared from the Navy files and cannot
be found. It was in existence just after Pearl Harbor and was collected
with other messages for submission to the Roberts Commission. Copies
were in existence in various places but they have all disappeared.
Captain Safford testified [before the Army Board]:
"General RUSSELL. Have you helped or been active at all in this search
which has been made in the Naval Department to discover this original
"Captain SAFFORD. I have. As a last resort I requested copies of the
message repeatedly from 20G, and on the last occasion I asked the
officer in charge, who was Captain Stone, to stir his people up a little
harder and see if they couldn't make one more search and discover it.
And when Captain Stone discovered it couldn't be found, he called for
required written statements [from] anybody who might have any notice of
that; and though the written statements disclosed a lot of destruction
of other messages and things not messages, but the intercepts; not the
translations nothing ever came to light on that message, either the
carbon copy of the original incoming message, which should have been
filed with the work sheet, or of the translation. And one copy of the
translation should have been filed under the JD number, which I think is
7001, because that number is missing and unaccounted for, and that falls
very close to the proper date. It actually comes in with the 3rd, but
things sometimes got a little bit out as far as putting those numbers on
was concerned. And the other should be filed under the date and with the
translation. We had a double file.
"The last time I saw that message after the attack on Pearl Harbor about
the 15th of December, Admiral Noyes called for the assembling of all
important messages into one file, to show as evidence to the Roberts
Commission; and Kramer assembled them, and I checked them over for
completeness and to see that we strained out the unimportant ones; and
that "Winds" translation, the "Winds execute," was included in those. I
do not recall whether that ever came back or not. So far as I know, it
may even be with the original papers of the Roberts Commission. It never
came back that I know of, and we have never seen it since, and that is
the last I have seen of it.
"We also asked the people in the Army on several occasions if they could
run it down and give us a copy. We were trying to find out the exact
date of it and the exact wording of the message, to run this thing down
and not make the thing a question depending upon my memory or the memory
of Kramer or the memory of Murray, who do distinctly recall it."
* * * * * * * * *
"General RUSSELL. Well, now, let us talk cases.
"Captain SAFFORD. Yes sir.
"General RUSSELL. I want to know if over there in 20G you had a place
where you had 20G files of messages, and then over here some other place
you had a JD file which was separate and distinct from the one I have
"Captain SAFFORD. Yes, sir.
"General RUSSELL. But you had messages over there in the JD file?
"Captain SAFFORD. We had. Yes, sir; that is correct.
"General RUSSELL. And they were the same as the ones in the 20G file?
"Captain SAFFORD. Yes, sir, but they were in a different order.
"General RUSSELL. All right. Now, this message of December 4th, when it
went to the JD file, was given the number, according to your testimony,
"Captain SAFFORD. It probably was.
"General RUSSELL. You don't know that?
"Captain SAFFORD. Not to know; only circumstantial evidence.
"General RUSSELL. Well, is JD 7000 in that file now?
"Captain SAFFORD. JD 7000 is there, and 7002.
"General RUSSELL. But 7001 just isn't there?
"Captain SAFFORD. The whole file for the month of December 1941 is
present or accounted for except 7001.
"General RUSSELL. Now let us talk about 20G, which is some other place
in this office. Is this December 4th message the only one that is out of
"Captain SAFFORD. That is the only one that we looked for that we
couldn't find. It is possible that there will be others missing which we
haven't looked for, but we couldn't find that serial number. We looked
all through the month to make certain. That is the only one that is
missing or unaccounted for."
The radio station logs, showing the reception of the message, have been
destroyed, within the last year. Captain Safford testified that this
message, and everything else they got from November 12 on, was sent to
the White House by the Navy. It was a circulated copy that circulated to
the White House and to the Admirals of the Navy.
It is this message which the Army witnesses testified was never received
by the Army. It was a clear indication to the United States as early as
December 4. The vital nature of this message can be realized.
4. Account of the Delivery of the Long 14 Part Message; the Short
The first 13 parts of the long reply of the Japanese finally terminating
the relationships with the United States began to come in in translated
form from the Navy on the afternoons of December 6, and the 13 parts
were completed between 7:00 and 9:00 the evening of December 6. Colonel
Bratton, Chief of the Far Eastern Section of the Intelligence Branch of
War Department G-2; was the designated representative for receiving and
distributing to the Army and to the Secretary of State copies of
messages of this character received from the Navy. The Navy undertook to
deliver to the President and to its own organization copies of similar
Colonel Bratton delivered a copy of the first 13 parts between 9:00 and
10:30 p.m., December 6, as follows:
To Colonel Smith (now Lt. Gen. Smith) Secretary of the General Staff in
a locked bag to which General Marshall had the key. He told General
Smith that the bag so delivered to him contained very important papers
and General Marshall should be told at once so that he could unlock the
bag and see the contents.
To General Miles by handing the message to him, by discussing the
message with General Miles in his office and reading it in his presence.
He stated that General Miles did nothing about it as far as he knows.
This record shows no action by General Miles.
Thereafter he delivered a copy to Colonel Gailey, General Gerow's
executive in the War Plans Division.
He then took a copy and delivered it to the watch officer of the State
Department for the Secretary of State and did so between 10:00 and 10:30
Therefore, Colonel Bratton had completed his distribution by 10:30, had
urged Colonel Smith, Secretary to General Staff, to communicate with
General Marshall at once, and had discussed the matter with General
Miles after reading the message. This record shows no action on the part
of General Smith and none by General Miles. Apparently the Chief of
Staff was not advised of the situation until the following morning.
In the meantime, as the testimony of Captain Safford shows, the
following action was taken with the distribution of the same 13 parts of
the message by the Navy which clearly indicates its importance.
Captain Safford testifies that the first 13 parts came in on the
afternoon of December 6 and were translated to English and delivered to
the Army to Major Doud by 9 o'clock Saturday night, December 6. This
portion of the message was distributed as follows: Commander Kramer
consulted with the Director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral Wilkinson,
and was directed to go to the White House to deliver a copy. He then
delivered a copy to Admiral Wilkinson at his house. As the President was
engaged, Kramer gave a copy to the White House Aide, Admiral Beardall.
When Kramer reached Admiral Wilkinson's house he also gave a copy to
Admiral Turner, Director of War Plans. He delivered the final copy by
midnight to Admiral Ingersoll, who read it and initialed it. Admiral
Wilkinson phoned Admiral Stark, as did also Admiral Turner. Admiral
Stark ordered Kramer to be at his office at 9:00 Sunday morning. Kramer
came back to the Navy Department about 1 a.m. to see if part 14 had come
in, but it had not.
When part 14 did come in it was ready for delivery to the Army in
English by 7:15 a.m., December 7.
The net result was that no one took any action based upon the first 13
parts until the 14th part came in and the Army took no action on that
until between 11:30 and 12:00 on the morning of December 7, or about 13
hours after the first 13 parts came in which clearly indicated the
rupture of relations with the Japanese.
Nothing more was done with this clear warning in the first 13 parts of
the long message until the following events occurred.
Colonel Bratton received from a naval officer courier between 8:30 and
9:00 a.m. on the Sunday morning of December 7, the English translation
of the 14th part of the long message and the short message of the
Japanese directing the Ambassador to deliver the long message at 1 p.m.
on December 7 and to destroy their codes. Colonel Bratton immediately
called General Marshall's quarters at 9:00 a.m. General Marshall was out
horseback riding and he asked that he be sent for. General Marshall
called him back between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. General Marshall came into
his office at 11:25 a.m., of which there is a contemporaneous written
record maintained by Colonel Bratton. In the meantime, Colonel Bratton
called his Chief, General Miles, and reported what he had done. Neither
General Miles nor General Gerow were in their office on Sunday morning.
General Miles arrived at the same time as General Marshall at 11:25 a.m.
The Chief of Staff prepared a message to General Short and called
Admiral Stark, who said he was not sending any further warning but asked
General Marshall to inform the Navy in Hawaii through Short.
The answer to the following question on the record has not been supplied
"Why were not the first 13 parts, which were considered important enough
by the Navy to be delivered to the President and every one of the
important Admirals of the Navy, delivered by the War Department officers
to the Chief of Staff, and his attention called to it so that he could
have taken some sort of action upon it?"
The only possible answer lies in the testimony that Colonel Smith,
Secretary to the General Staff was told about 9 p.m. December 6 that
there was an important document and that General Marshall should see it
right away. There is no proof that Colonel Smith did so act except that
from General Marshall, which shows that he was not advised of this
situation until the following morning when he received a message from
Colonel Bratton between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m., December 7.
The record shows that subordinate officers who were entrusted with this
information were so impressed with it that they strongly recommended
that definite action be taken.
Now let us turn to the fateful period between November 27 and December
6, 1941. In this period numerous pieces of information came to our
State, War and Navy Departments in all of their top ranks indicating
precisely the intentions of the Japanese including the probable exact
hour and date of the attack.
When subordinate officers were prevented from sending this information
to the Hawaiian Department, by arrangement with their opposite numbers
in the Office of Naval Intelligence, upon learning that the Navy had
this information in Hawaii, an apparently innocuous telegram was
dispatched by G-2 to Colonel Fielder, G-2 in Hawaii, telling him to see
his opposite number in the Office of Naval Intelligence, Commander
Rochefort, to secure information from him of importance.
The story of the message of November 27 takes on a whole new aspect when
the facts are really known as to the background of knowledge in the War
Department of Japanese intentions. At the time the Chief of Staff
drafted the message of the 27th on the 26th, he knew everything that the
Japanese had been proposing between themselves for a long period of time
prior to that day, and knew their intentions with respect to the
prospects of war. The message of the 27th which he drafted in rough and
which was apparently submitted to the Joint Board of the Army and Navy,
therefore could have been cast in the clearest sort of language and
direction to the Hawaiian Department.
It was no surprise that the Japanese would reject the Ten points on
November 26; that course of events had been well pictured by complete
information of the conversations between the Japanese Government and its
representatives available to the Government of the United States.
To clinch this extraordinary situation we but have to look at the record
to see that the contents of the 13 parts of the Japanese final reply
were completely known in detail to the War Department, completely
translated and available in plain English, by not later than between 7
and 9 o'clock on the evening of December 6 or approximately [3:30 P.M.]
Honolulu time. This information was taken by the Officer in Charge of
the Far Eastern Section of G-2 of the War Department personally in a
locked bag to Colonel Bedell Smith, now Lt. Gen. Smith and Chief of
Staff to General Eisenhower, who was then Secretary to the General
Staff, and he was told that the message was of the most vital importance
to General Marshall. It was delivered also to G-2 General Miles, with
whom it was discussed and to the Executive, Colonel Gailey, of the War
Plans Division, each of whom was advised of the vital importance of this
information that showed that the hour had struck, and that war was at
hand. Before 10:30 o'clock that night, this same officer personally
delivered the same information to the Secretary of State's duty officer.
General Marshall was in Washington on December 6. This information, as
vital and important as it was, was not communicated to him on that date
by either Smith or Gerow, so far as this record shows. When the final
part 14 came in on the morning of December 7 and with it the short
message directing the long message be delivered to the Secretary of
State at 1 p.m., December 7, 1941 it was then that this same officer,
Colonel Bratton of G-2, took the initiative and went direct to General
Marshall, calling him at his quarters at Fort Myer and sending an
orderly to find him, where he was out horseback riding. When he finally
did reach him on the phone, General Marshall said he was coming to the
War Department. He met him at about 11:25 a.m., after which time the
message of December 7 was formulated by General Marshall in his own
handwriting. It failed to reach its destination due to sending it by
commercial Western Union RCA. It arrived several hours after the attack.
This brings us to the "winds" message. The "winds" message was one that
was to be inserted in the Japanese news and weather broadcasts and
repeated with a definite pattern of words, so as to indicate that war
would take place either with Great Britain, Russia, or the United
States, or all three.
The Federal Communications Commission was asked to be on the outlook for
these key words through their monitoring stations. Such information was
picked up by a monitoring station. This information was received and
translated on December 3, 1941, and the contents distributed to the same
high authority. The Navy received during the evening of December 3,
1941, this message, which when translated said, "War with the United
States, War with Britain, including the NEI, except peace with Russia."
Captain Safford said he first saw the "winds" message himself about 8
a.m., on Thursday, December 4, 1941. It had been received the previous
evening, according to handwriting on it by Commander Kramer, who had
been notified by the duty officer, Lt. (jg) Brotherhood, USNR, who was
the watch officer on the receipt of this message.
It was based upon the receipt of the message that Captain Safford
prepared five messages between 1200 and 1600 December 4, ordering the
destruction of cryptographic systems and secret and confidential papers
on the Asiatic stations. Captain McCullom of the Navy drafted a long
message to be sent to all outlying fleet and naval stations. This was
disapproved by higher naval authority. This message was confirmation to
Naval Intelligence and Navy Department Communications Intelligence Units
that war was definitely set.
This "winds execute" message has now disappeared from the Navy files and
cannot be found despite the extensive search for it. It was last seen by
Commander Safford about December 14, 1941, when he collected the papers
together with Commander Kramer and turned them over to the Director of
Naval Communication for use as evidence before the Roberts Commission.
There, therefore, can be no question that between the dates of December
4 and December 6, the imminence of war on the following Saturday and
Sunday, December 6 and 7, was clear-cut and definite.
Up to the morning of December 7, 1941, everything that the Japanese were
planning to do was known to the United States except the final message
instructing the Japanese Embassy to present the 14th part together with
the preceding 13 parts of the long message at one o'clock on December 7,
or the very hour and minute when bombs were falling on Pearl Harbor.
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Larry W. Jewell