The Thousand Mile War..
Buy it. Read it. I had found references to how “difficult” a theater to operate in the Aleutians were in books like Fork Tailed Devil, but I never realized just how bad things were there until I read that one.
And, unless I am getting confused, (always possible, of course), it has the only account of the Battle of the Comandorski’s that I have ever been able to find. (More detailed than the one in “US Naval Operations in World War II”, at any rate.
It was a naval battle which could have ended very badly for the USN, but the very thing that marked the end of the line for the U.S. forces was what saved them.
The heavy cruisers had shot themselves dry of armor piercing projectiles, and switched to high capacity common shell. (Nobody was doing good shooting that day, apparently!), and the Japanese admiral, seeing the drastically enhanced shell splashes around his ship believed that he was being attacked by high level bombers, and that dive and torpedo bombers would not be far behind.
So he broke off the fight and ran for safer waters.
Another interesting book on Pearl Harbor and it’s immediate aftermath, “And I Was There”, Edwin P. Layton. Layton was on Admiral Kimmel’s Intelligence staff in the time leading up to 12/7/41, and (IIRC), remained in the same position under Nimitz. He gives a detailed account of the errors that allowed the attack to be successful, and how he believes they came about.
I believe his book to be partially based on his testimony before the court martial of Admiral Kimmel. Layton never believed that the blame should be laid directly on the shoulders of Kimmel, that some of it should also be laid on his superiors in Washington. He also makes the point that much of the evidence from the court martial, pointed to as “clear warnings that this was going to happen”, was so buried in other traffic that there was no way for Pearl to separate it from the rest. This includes the famous “War Warning” signal in early December.
As he points out, that was far from the first that Pearl had received over the course of previous year.
Although, as he does point out, Kimmel was the Officer in Charge, thus it was ultimately his responsibility. But Layton felt that Kimmel should have been charged on the grounds of an ineffective response, as opposed to being willfully unprepared.
(I loaned that book to my father just before he died, and I haven’t had the chance to re-read it since. Since he was a Marine at the time, (joined 1939, and was angling for orders to report to FMF Pacific at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack), dad had always had a deep interest in eyewitness accounts of the attack. He was reading it before he went into the hospital the last time. I never had a chance to ask him what he thought about it. That was sixteen years ago. I should make time to re-read a few of these books around here someday…)]]>