Sixty Years Ago ...
Reaction to the Attack on Pearl Harbor
by Jennifer King and Timothy Rollins
January 11, 2002
Reflections on World War II
A Special Note to Our Readers: When we did the Pearl Harbor piece last month, we realized that this year will see a lot of 60 year anniversaries of WWII events. Tim and I collaborated, and we decided to run a weekly column covering some of the memorable events as they occur throughout the year, remembering another time when our country was at war. - Jennifer and Tim
As the stunned nation reacted to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese swiftly executed their plan to create the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”, basically a Japanese empire in the Pacific. Within 24 hours of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese had launched attacks on Malaya, Hong Kong, the Philippine Islands, Wake Island and Guam. Japanese troops had invaded Malaya and Hong Kong. The Japanese had achieved almost total air superiority by demolishing U.S. aircraft at Clark Field in the Philippines, where the aircraft was parked - as in Pearl Harbor - wingtip to wingtip.
The month of December, 1941 would see the Japanese virtually victorious throughout the Pacific. The Japanese had conquered Guam, Wake Island and Hong Kong. Thailand, as well, had surrendered. The British warships Repulse and Prince of Wales had been sunk on December 10th which prompted Winston Churchill to say, “In all of the war I have never received a more direct shock. Over the vast expanse of waters (Indian and Pacific Oceans) Japan was supreme, and we everywhere weak and naked.” The Japanese controlled the Celebes Sea between the Philippines and the Netherlands East Indies, and had ground troops fighting to take control of Burma, Malaya and the Philippines.
The desperate Allies convened in Washington for the Arcadia Conference and hammered out an agreement to establish a unified central command called ABDACOM (American, British, Dutch and Australian Command). Their goals were to try and stem the tide of Japanese aggression in the eastern Pacific. The central commander was British General Sir Archibald Wavell, with Naval forces headed by Admiral Thomas C. Hart of the U.S. Navy, ground forces led by Dutch officer Lt. Gen. Heinter Poorten and air forces commanded by British Air Chief Marshall Sir Richard E.C. Pierse. ABDACOM had its work cut out for it in 1942. ***
© 2002 Jennifer King and Timothy Rollins
COPYRIGHT © 2002 BY THE AMERICAN PARTISAN. All writers retain rights to their work.