Tuesday, January 22, 2019

November 3, 1941: Japan Prepares to Attack

Monday 3 November 1941

General Wavell in Singapore, 3 November 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"General Sir Archibald Wavell, C-in-C Far East, and Major General F K Simmons, GOC Singapore Fortress, inspecting soldiers of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders, Singapore, 3 November 1941." © IWM (FE 375).
Japanese Government: The leaders of the Japanese government, including Emperor Hirohito and top military commanders, attend a conference to discuss relations with the United States on 3 November 1941. With negotiations having broken down, the discussion is oriented toward how and where to attack, not whether to attack. The outcome of the conference is Top Secret Order No. 1, which directs that in 34 days time, the military forces of Imperial Japan are to attack the United States Fleet in Hawaii, the Philippines, Malaya, and the Dutch East Indies.

General Wavell in Singapore, 3 November 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"A Matilda tank of 6th Armoured Division is put through its paces for members of a visiting delegation of journalists from the West Indies, Eastern Command, 3 November 1941." © IWM (H 15281).
The Japanese plan calls for the Japanese Combined Fleet to occupy Rabaul, Bismarck Islands, which is an Australian naval base per League of Nations mandate, and use it as a Japanese forward base. Admiral Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet, formally presents his operational plan for the attack on the United States fleet base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Chief of the Japanese Naval General Staff Admiral Osami Nagano approves the plan.

General Wavell in Singapore, 3 November 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"HMS BARLOW, one of the Ships that controls the opening and closing of the Hoxa Gate, the main entrance to Scapa from the sea. The Boom can be seen running away to the background." 3 November 1941 © IWM (A 6383).
After the conference with the Emperor, Admiral Chūichi Nagumo, commander-in-chief of the First Air Fleet which comprises the Imperial Japanese Navy's main aircraft carrier force, goes to aircraft carrier Akagi and holds his own conference. He summons his main commanders and informs them of the decision to attack the United States and Great Britain bases, including US protectorate the Philippines, and other targets. This is the first that many commanders learn of the attack plan. Many of Nagumo's subordinates privately grumble that Nagumo, who is frail and elderly, is not the right man to lead the leading Japanese naval forces during such a crucial period.

General Wavell in Singapore, 3 November 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
HMS Kent at anchor at Scapa Flow, 3 November 1941. © IWM (A 6381).
United States Government: US Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew, who of course is unaware of the secret Japanese conference, sends a lengthy secret telegram today to Secretary of State Cordell Hull. He warns that "the view that war probably would be averted... is an uncertain and dangerous hypothesis upon which to base considered United States policy and measures." He notes that "In Japan political thought ranges from the medieval to liberal ideas and public opinion is thus a variable quantity." He concludes:
[I]t would be shortsighted for American policy to be based upon the belief that Japanese preparations are no more than saber rattling, merely intended to give moral support to the high-pressure diplomacy of Japan. Japan may resort with dangerous and dramatic suddenness to measures which might make inevitable war with the United States.
Grew does not know it, but before he even sends this telegram, Japan already has committed to such a dangerous and dramatic path, which Grew further notes would be a "suicidal struggle with the United States."

General Wavell in Singapore, 3 November 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A Schützenpanzer (Sd.Kfz. 250) and Sturmgeschütz III in Russia, November 1941.
Eastern Front: It is getting very cold in Russia, as General Heinz Guderian pointedly notes in his diary. Despite this, the ground in most places is still too muddy to enable regular truck even panzer traffic. At the juncture of Army Group's Center and South, German forces occupy Kursk - an event which would be much more celebrated in July 1943 than now, when it is little noticed. Guderian's own forces at Tula south of Moscow mount another effort to take the city by attacking a stadium and cemetery on the city's southern outskirts. The Soviet defenders, including a rare deployment of NKVD detachments sent by Lavrentiy Beria, repel the attack. This continues a lengthening stalemate south of Moscow as both sides bring forward reinforcements.

General Wavell in Singapore, 3 November 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"U.S.A.'s West Point," Life magazine, 3 November 1941.

November 1941

November 1, 1941: Finns Attack Toward Murmansk Railway
November 2, 1941: Manstein Isolates Sevastopol
November 3, 1941: Japan Prepares to Attack
November 4, 1941: German Advances in the South
November 5, 1941: Last Peace Effort By Japan
November 6, 1941: Stalin Casts Blame in an Unexpected Direction
November 7, 1941: Stalin's Big Parade
November 8, 1941: Germans Take Tikhvin
November 9, 1941: Duisburg Convoy Destruction
November 10, 1941: Manstein Attacks Sevastopol
November 11, 1941: Finland's Double Game Erupts
November 12, 1941: T-34 Tanks Take Charge
November 13, 1941: German Orsha Conference
November 14, 1941: German Supply Network Breaking Down
November 15, 1941: Operation Typhoon Resumes
November 16, 1941: Manstein Captures Kerch
November 17, 1941: Finland Halts Operations
November 18, 1941: British Operation Crusader
November 19, 1941: Sydney vs. Kormoran Duel
November 20, 1941: The US Rejects Final Japanese Demand
November 21, 1941: Germans Take Rostov
November 22, 1941: Kleist in Trouble at Rostov
November 23, 1941: Germans Take Klin, Huge Battle in North Africa
November 24, 1941: Rommel Counterattacks
November 25, 1941: HMS Barham Sunk
November 26, 1941: Japanese Fleet Sails
November 27, 1941: British Relieve Tobruk
November 28, 1941: Rostov Evacuated, German Closest Approach to Moscow
November 29, 1941: Hitler Furious About Retreat
November 30, 1941: Japan Sets the Date for its Attack


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