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MaliceA4Thought

Mountbatten and Pearl Harbour

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So I was recently reading a new Biography of this famous man and found some interesting info which meant I had to dig further.

These events rotate around Pearl Harbour in December 1941 and throw some interesting light into the lead up to that time.

During 1941 Mountbatten was the temporary commander of HMS Illustrious, the ship that launched the attack on Taranto in November 1940 where the Royal Navy damaged the Italian main battle fleet whilst in harbour using a torpedo attack where the torpedoes had been modified to run in the shallow harbour waters.

After Taranto, Illustrious was damaged in subsequent actions in the med and because the British Shipyards were all fully occupied, Illustrious was sent to Norfolk Virginia for repairs.

Whilst there, in September 1941, Mountbatten approached Adm. Harold Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, for permission to visit Pearl.  Stark agreed on the condition that Mountbatten do some lectures for the Naval Officers there on British tactics, engagements and learnings from their North Sea campaigns.  Mountbatten agreed as he had been asked by Churchill to do a review of US readiness whilst in Norfolk..

At the end of his lecture, he asked if there were any questions..  One junior officer asked Mountbatten where he thought that war would come to the US if that in fact happened.  Without hesitation, Mountbatten took up his lecture stick and placed it firmly on Pearl harbour.

After the howls of protest and laughter had died down, Mountbatten explained the reasoning..  He explained that the Japanese had a history of starting naval warfare by surprise attack..  as they had done previously in 1904 in the Russo-Japanese war at Port Aurthur, and that it was known that the Japanese had visited Taranto after the British attack to talk to the Italians about how the British attack had taken place.  He also told them that there was increased radio traffic being picked up by the UK with references to "the largest concentration of warships in the Pacific being at Pearl harbour".

This information was not well received and in an interview after his presentation, the base Admiral.. Kimmel took Mountbatten into his office and told him that his "posturing" was unwarrented and that his topic was and should have remained British actions in the North Sea.  Mountbatten responded by informing Kimmel that the state of readiness he had seen at pearl was "appaling" and that security was non-existant with letters home and phonecalls from sailors giving precise details of ship movements in the harbour.

Kimmel got rather upset at this point and ordered Mountbatten off the base and to never return whilst he was in charge there.

Mountbatten returned to Norfolk and had a 90 minute phone call with Admiral Stark.  He advised Stark of his concerns regarding preparedness and security at Pearl and also explained again the potential of surprise attacks and the damage that aircraft could do to ships in Harbour such as at Taranto and the British suspicions that Pearl was a target and making a list of recommendations.

Stark responded that Pearl Harbour was adequately protected and that the costs involved in following up on Mountbattens recommendatiuons would be prohibitative.

Mountbatten finally reported back to Churchill in person that he had grave concerns and that Britain should prepare for having to be mobilised in the Pacific as well as the Atlantic, because it was likely that based on what he had seen and heard in the US that if the British Intelligence was correct, that the USA was likely to loose a large proportion of it's capital surface fleet the day that war was declared by Japan which was seen as inevitable at that stage.

M

 

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Allow me to quote something from a post I wrote a while back ...

Quote

After all, being a proud seafaring nation and seeing your mighty fleet burn down in what you believed was a safe port is one hell of a motivator, am I right?

Source: link in my sig.

If anything, this whole story is a sober reminder of that age old saying, that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Do you have any sources you can link?

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It was fairly well known and even came out in his 1970s memoir documentaries shown on PBS in the 1970s.  I don't have it in my collection, but it recall he politely said he was 'shown the door.'

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Mountbatten,_1st_Earl_Mountbatten_of_Burma

Mountbatten_Short_and_Kimmel_in_Hawaii_1941.jpg

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On ‎8‎/‎28‎/‎2017 at 11:19 AM, Lert said:

Allow me to quote something from a post I wrote a while back ...

Source: link in my sig.

If anything, this whole story is a sober reminder of that age old saying, that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Do you have any sources you can link?

Very true Lert.

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Well, I sure hope somebody picked up that phone. Because Mountbatten [edited]ing called it!

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Lord Louie - a hero of mine.  Wish they'd re-run his series.

 

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Nations at peace (and intending to stay that way) tend to be terribly conservative in military doctrine.  I've heard several what-ifs about what Britain and France should have done at the outbreak of WWII, but the inescapable fact is that they were only prepared to fight in a WWI style.  The US was very good at not repeating the same mistake twice in WWII, but it had to make those mistakes first to light a fire under them to make the changes.

Edited by Sventex
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Aaaaaaah...."the business of war"...There are two things that the U.S. has excelled at that are actually, in effect, one. Business and War...The synergy of the two being "The Business of War". I suspect that this was not an original economic model invented by our country, but a refined one that the global industrial shareholders/investors and their portfolio managers honed to a science. It's all about "deconstruction and construction," where ultimately, the party's who benefit from both are the most financially successful . Conspiracy aside, you can go down a historical repetitious list of actions leading up to global wars or another more consistent, less smaller and less advertised scale of regional conflicts, that have kept the U.S. in business for 99% of it's history. Please don't misunderstand me. This is not an American business. This is a global business. The beneficiaries have no national loyalty. They play all sides, wherever they want to and when they want to. We are, but pawns in this very old business.

"Follow the Money!"

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On 8/28/2017 at 11:15 PM, MaliceA4Thought said:

 

Mountbatten returned to Norfolk and had a 90 minute phone call with Admiral Stark.  He advised Stark of his concerns regarding preparedness and security at Pearl and also explained again the potential of surprise attacks and the damage that aircraft could do to ships in Harbour such as at Taranto and the British suspicions that Pearl was a target and making a list of recommendations.

Stark responded that Pearl Harbour was adequately protected and that the costs involved in following up on Mountbattens recommendatiuons would be prohibitative.

 

Seem to recall reading somewhere Admiral King had a deep dislike of the British. What accounted for this and perhaps there was a wider or deeper tradition at work?

 

 

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5 hours ago, Gareon1970 said:

Seem to recall reading somewhere Admiral King had a deep dislike of the British. What accounted for this and perhaps there was a wider or deeper tradition at work?

Apparently, he developed his anglophobia during WWI, when he was in the staff of Vice Admiral Henry T. Mayo, CINCLANT of the time. Thus, he frequently visited the Royal Navy and occasionally acted as an observer aboard their ships.

Among the reasons for this I've heard (none of them have any concrete evidence, however, so take most, if not all of them, with a grain of very fine salt):

  • distaste of the aristocratic class, which was prevalent in the RN
  • argument with an unspecified group of RN officers during the aforementioned time period
  • belief that Britain and the US would go to war and thus use their navies against one another
  • disagreements regarding ASW warfare and British participation in the Pacific theater

Truth be told, I doubt we'll ever find a very concrete reason why he hated the British.

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