Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas on the Thai-Burma Death Railway 1943

Christmas Eve, 1943. Carol Singing, Dysentery Ward. 
Ching_Kai POW Camp, Thai-Burma Railway.

Watercolour on board.
 Copyright Status: artist estate

The above watercolor of POWs singing Christmas carols is by John George Mennie who joined Britain's Royal Artillery in 1940 and was posted in September 1941 to Singapore. He was captured when Singapore surrendered to the Japanese forces in February 1942 and was a prisoner of war untill August 1945. He was held at Changi Singapore 1942, Kanu 1943; Chungtai and Tamawau 1944, and Pratchi Thailand 1945. He was a slave laborer working on the Thail-Burma Death Railway.

Over fifty pieces of his POW work are archived in the Imperial War Museum in London. Recently, a collection of his work surfaced in the shoebox of a friend and former POW. These were featured on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow

Friday, December 23, 2011

Anniversary of the Fall of Wake Island

Wake Island (1942)
Within hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Mitsubishi G3M medium bombers descended upon Wake Island. The “Island” was actually a strategically located group of islets under American administration in the central Pacific. Civil workers were constructing a U.S. Navy and Pam Am managed a hotel and a dock for its trans-Pacific flying boat. The next day a small armada of Japanese ships proceeded to shell the island and a landing was attempted.

For the next 16 days, until December 23, the small Marine garrison with the help of unprepared civilians stationed at Wake held off the Japanese invaders.

Often referred to as the Alamo of the Pacific, the battle is legend among the Marines. It was the only time during the Pacific War that a Japanese amphibious assault was repelled. The Wake Island Marines that December also offered the first sustained resistance to the Japanese juggernaut that had swept through the Pacific after Pearl Harbor. The battle was a rare example of success in the War's early months.

Throughout 1941, the U.S. Navy was constructing a base on Wake Island with civilian contractors from the Boise, Idaho firm of Morrison-Knudsen. Unfortunately, it was incomplete when the Japanese attacked in December. The first permanent military garrison, just under 400 men from the 1st Marine Defense Battalion, had arrived on August 19 commanded by Major James P.S. Devereux. The airfield was ready to take aircraft by December, and on December 4th, 12 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats from Marine Fighting Squadron VMF-211 arrived on Wake.

Marine Command Post
Naval Commander W.S. Cunningham had 449 Marines (including pilots), 68 U.S. Navy personnel, five Army Air Force Communications experts, 1,221 civilian workers from the Morrison-Knudsen Company, and 45 Chamorro men who worked for Pam Am to resist any Japanese attack. With the exception of the Marines, all were without arms or field equipment. Commander Cunningham had only reported for duty on November 28, 1941 as Officer in Charge, All Naval Activities, Wake Island.

The Japanese invasion force led by Rear Admiral Kajioka Sadamichi consisted of the light cruiser Yubari (flagship), six destroyers--Mutsuki, Kisaragi, Yayoi, Mochizuki, Oite, and Hayate--along with Patrol Boat No. 32 and Patrol Boat No. 33 (two ex-destroyers, each reconfigured in 1941 to launch a landing craft over a stern ramp) and two armed merchantmen, Kongo Maru and Kinryu Maru. To provide additional gunfire support the light cruisers Tatsuta and Tenryu joined the force. 

In the initial attack seven of the 12 Wildcat fighters were destroyed on the ground. However, the stationary naval battery was successful in sinking two Japanese destroyers (Hayate and Kisaragi) and damaging several other ships including the flagship Yubari. The remaining Wildcat fighters and the Marine’s beach defenses drove off the landing attempt.

Although the small U.S. force on the island repulsed the initial landing attempt, they were in serious need of additional supplies and support—which would never come. However, the Japanese would and did. On December 23rd, Rear Admiral Abe Koki's two fleet destroyers (Hiryu and Soryu) supported by heavy cruisers and destroyers (on the way back from Pearl Harbor) attacked. This second assault on Wake was successful.

American casualties numbered 52 military personnel (Navy and Marine) and approximately 70 civilians killed (including 10 Chamorros). Japanese losses exceeded 800 dead, with some estimates ranging as high as 1,000. Wake's defenders sank two Japanese destroyers and one submarine, and shot down 24 Japanese aircraft.

The Japanese took 368 Marine, 60 Navy, 5 Army, and 1,104 civilian personnel (including 35 Chamorros) prisoner after the surrender of Wake. Seventeen of the military prisoners died during their captivity, including 2 Marines and 3 sailors who were beheaded and thrown overboard from the Nitta Maru, en route from Yokohama to the POW camp near Shanghai. In Shanghai, two Chamorros were murdered. One hundred-eighty of the civilian prisoners died during their captivity, including 98 murdered on Wake in October of 1943. [It is difficult to confirm these numbers and I welcome documented corrections.]

Those Wake Island Defenders who were not sent to prisons in China became slave laborers throughout the Empire. Twice during his captivity in China, Commander Cunningham attempted to escape only to be recaptured. Major Devereux ended up in Hokkaido at the Hakodate #4, Nishi-Ashibetsu POW camp where after the war ended he was treated to a farewell dinner by nervous officials of the Mitsui Mining Company at the local Mitsui Company Clubhouse (See Here).

Soto Dam After 2010 Memorial
 Rededication Ceremony
Others, including all the Chamorros were at Sendai #11 Kamikita near Misawa. They were slave laborers for Nippon Kogyo (Nippon Mining, today’s JX Nippon Mining & Metals) working in an open pit iron mine. Of the civilian contractors, 265 were sent to build the Soto Dam at Sasebo where 53 died. The U.S. Navy holds an annual memorial to these men as the dam is near the Sasebo Naval Base. Former U.S. Navy journalist Phil Eakins successfully researched the names of the fallen and succeeded in 2010 to have a bronze plaque dedicated to them at the memorial.

Many started their stay in Japan at Tokyo 5D Kawasaki as slave laborers for Nihon Kokan (NKK Steel which is today’s JFE Holdings) stripping boats at a Mitsui dockyard (See POW Merchant Seaman David Wilson's memoir). And many ended up in the infamous Naoetsu in Niigata where Louis Zamperini immortalized by Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken was continually and capriciously tortured. POWs were slave laborers for Shinetsu Chemical and Nippon Stainless.

Battle of Wake Island Memorial
Dedication December 7, 2011
Earlier this month, on December 7th, a monument to the Wake Island Defenders was dedicated in Boise, Idaho’s Veterans Memorial Park. It was the inspiration of Eagle Scout candidate Noah Barnes whose great-grandfather was one of the Morrison-Knudsen contractors who died building the Soto Dam. It was not until 1981 that the civilian workers on Wake were granted military veterans status under the U.S. Air Force. The Chamorros were granted military veterans status in 1982 under the U.S. Navy.

A new documentary on the Battle of Wake Island is in the works. The heroism and spirit of Wake will not be forgotten.

Major Devereux returned to home (video of Devereux returning to Washington) and soon ran for Congress where he represented Maryland's Second District for most of the 1950s. The District's current congressman, Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) is not yet a co-sponsor of H. Res. 333, which honors the Wake Island defenders who became POWs of Japan.

Boise, Idaho's Congressman Raúl Labrador (R-ID) is also not yet a co-sponsor of H. Res. 333. Veterans are not listed among Mr. Labrador's "Featured Issues" on his congressional website. No effort was made by Congress to honor the 70th anniversary of the Wake Island defense.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A War Story

The above documentary, A War Story, is based on the diaries of Canadian doctor Ben Wheeler during his internment in the notorious Kinkaseki Japanese POW camp on Formosa (Taiwan). This docudrama was one of the first major projects of his daughter the noted Canadian filmaker Anne Wheeler. The film is comprised of newsreel footage, interviews and dramatic re-enactments.

His story and the story of Kinkaseki's horrors takes on special significance this month as Japan has recently offered an apology to the Canadians who were POWs of Imperial Japan. Copper mining at Kinkaseki was a classic example of death through work. The POWs were subjected to deliberate and systematic mistreatment at the hands of their captors. It is unfortunate and odd that Japan's Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba did not himself deliver the apology to the Canadian former POWs, as he had done just weeks before to the American and Australian POWs. Their suffering was no less.

Most Canadians became POWs with the fall of Hong Kong on Christmas Day, 1941. On that one day, 1,689 Canadians were captured by the Japanese. It is thought that 1,405 survived the hellships and camps in Hong Kong and Japan

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Salinas California's National Guard

M3 Stuart Tank Captured in 1942
December 13th was the 375th anniversary of the National Guard. The Massachusetts Bay Company in 1636 established militias of citizen-soldiers that could and would be called upon to fight when needed. These community units evolved into today's National Guard.

Three federalized National Guard units were the first to see action in World War II. They participated in the heroic defense of Bataan in the Philippines before finally surrendering to the Japanese in April 1942.

The 40th Tank Company (later Company C, 194th Tank Battalion) of Salinas, California was one of these National Guard units. Approximately 105 Salinas men (rosters vary) were sent to the Philippines in September 1941 as part of two U.S. Army light tank battalions to reinforce General Douglas MacArthur's forces defending the Philippine Islands. The men from Salinas, armed with antiquated weapons and under-trained, had the distinction of being the first U.S. Armored Force deployed overseas in what was soon to become the Pacific front in World War II.

When the war broke out on December 7, 1941 (December 8th in the Philippines), the company fought on Luzon. It was the last U.S. element to pull back to the Bataan Peninsula. Although outnumbered and without effective anti-personnel and anti-tank ammunition, Company C and other former National Guard Companies slowed the rate of the Japanese advance and delayed the ultimate loss of the Philippines. Their official After-Action Report is available by clicking here.

When American and Filipino forces surrendered on April 9, 1941, the survivors of the Battle for Bataan were forced to participate in the infamous Bataan Death March. Conservative estimates believe that 6,000-10,000 Filipino and 600-1000 U.S. soldiers died on the 65-mile forced march.  Three Presidential unit citations were awarded to the 40th Tank Company for outstanding performance in combat operations.

Burton Anderson in his illustrated history of the Salinas National Guard (1995) reports that of the 105 men he notes in his research as belonging to Company C only 47 returned home alive. Fifty-eight men died: most of whom died in their first months of captivity at Camp O'Donnell (4) and Cabanatuan (33). These men died of all manner of tropical diseases, abuse, and malnutrition.

Among the deaths, one man died on the Bataan Death March and two escaped to become guerrillas. They were, however, later captured and executed. Ten men died on Hellships to Japan (Arisan-maru: 6, Oryoku-maru: 1, Enoura-maru: 2, Brazil-maru: 1). (N.B.: We researched only the names that Mr. Anderson attached to his research. There are other lists, but it would take a professional military historian many months to untangle the inconsistencies.)

POW Memorial at Kinkaseki Dedicated November 2011
Eight men were taken to POW camps in Mukden, China (today's Shenyang) where one perished. Two where shipped to Formosa where one was a slave laborer in heavy construction at the Taihoku POW Camp and the other mined copper at the notorious Kinkaseki Mine Camp. Only 10 American POWs are documented as to having slaved been assigned to do slave labor in this mine, reportedly only toward the end of the war and at the closing of the mine. Researchers believe that more than 1,100 POWs were held at the Kinkaseki camp between 1942 and 1945.

Cave-ins, injury, disease, malnutrition, and executions made Kinkaseki one of the worst of Japan's POW camps. Fewer than 100 of the Allied prisoners held at Kinkaseki are believed to have survived to war's end. The mine was owned by Nippon Mining Company, today's JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corp. of JX Holdings. You can access the Hong Kong War Crimes trial documents of military officers responsible for the atrocities at Kinkaseki HERE.

Thirty-eight men were shipped to Japan on Hellships to become slave laborers at 13 different companies at 18 camps on Japan's main islands. Two men died in the POW camps. Below we identify the best we can, with the resources available, the camps and companies where the men of Salinas were held in Japan.

Sendai 6-B: Hanawa (Osarizawa)
POWs: 3 survived
Labor: Copper mining
Company: Mitsubishi Goushi Company [三菱合資会社]
Company Today: Mitsubishi Materials (Mitsubishi Material Kabushiki Kaisha, 三菱マテリアル株式会社)

Sendai 7-B: Hanaoka
POWs: 2 survived
Labor: Copper mining
Company: Fujita-gumi Construction Company
Company Today: Dowa Holdings Co., Ltd. (DOWA Holdings Kabushiki Kaisha, DOWA ホールディングス株式会社)

Tokyo 1-B: Kawasaki
POWs: 1 survived
Labor: Slave labor in Kawasaki shipyard
Company: Nippon Tsuun
Company Today: Nippon Express Company, Limited (Nippon Tsuun Kabushikigaisha, 日本通運株式会社)

Tokyo 5-B: Niigata
POWs: 1 survived 
Labor: Stevedore, foodstuffs and coal, labor at a foundry
Company: Niigata Kairiku Unso
Company Today: Rinko Corporation (Kabushikigaisha Rinko Corporation, 株式会社リンコーコーポレーション) *Niigata Kairiku Unso Merged to Rinko Corporation in 1960

Tokyo 16-B: Kanose
POWs: 2 survived 
Labor: Slave labor in a carbide mill, manufacture of carbon rods
Company: Showa Denko
Company Today: Showa Denko K.K. (Showa Denko Kabushikigaisha, 昭和電工株式会社)


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Palawan Massacre December 14, 1944

Palawan Grave 1945
In May 1945, Acting Secretary of State and former US Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew protested to the Japanese government “the brutal massacre of one hundred fifty prisoners of war at Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines Islands, by the personnel of Ogawa [Toru Ogawa, a company commander in the 131st Airfield Battalion] Tai Construction Corps.”

He angrily charged, ”Such barbaric behavior on the part of the Japanese armed forces is an offense to all civilized people.” His reprimand barely captures the awfulness of the Palawan Massacre in the Philippines on December 14, 1944.

So graphically horrific was the Palawan Massacre that it is the opening scene for movie The Great Raid. Japanese troops are shown drenching American POWs with gasoline and then setting them afire in air raid dugouts. As the men inside burned, the Japanese threw in hand grenades and gunned down or bayoneted any man trying to escape from the burning shelters.

Nevertheless, a lucky few did escape. Their descriptions of the Palawan Massacre confirmed intercepted Japanese cables that contained orders to kill all surviving POWs before American troops advanced. The orders stated:
(a) Whether they are destroyed individually or in groups or however it is done, with mass bombing, poisonous smoke, poisons, drowning, decapitation, or what, dispose of them as the situation dictates.
(b) In any case it is the aim not to allow the escape of a single one, to annihilate them all, and not to leave any traces.
At Palawan, the commanding officers did what they could to obey the order. Though the exact numbers of murdered POWs and survivors may never be known, the best estimates are that 139 men were killed and 11 men survived. Lorna Nielson Murray, the daughter of a Palawan Massacre survivor, has compiled a roster of the victims and survivors, along with the names of 8 men whose status is unclear. This year (2011), POW researcher Jim Erickson has refined the roster of those on Palawan.

News of the Massacre prompted the U.S. to hastily organize a series of rescue missions in 1945 to liberate both military and civilian prisoners held by the Japanese on the Philippines. The Great Raid of Cabanatuan POW camp was one of them. An elite squad of American Rangers and Filipino guerillas (Alamo Scouts and members of the 6th Ranger Battalion) cooperated with local Filipinos to liberate 489 POWs and 33 civilians. (492 Americans, 23 British, three Dutch, two Norwegians, one Canadian, and one Filipino).

Previously, in 1943, reports of the desperate, sub-human conditions at Japan’s POW camps had prompted the U.S. and other Allied Nations to secretly transfer millions of dollars to a Swiss bank account for Japan to care for the POWs. Tokyo, however, ignored the agreement and used the interest in the account to buy Swiss cannons. Strangely, the Japanese count the return of these Allied funds as part of their reparations for prisoners of war.

Many from the 59th U.S. Army Coast Artillery who helped defend Corregidor died on Palawan. Others were from the 4th Marines who also fought on Corregidor. One was a member of the Janesville 99 and had survived the Bataan Death March. They were all part of 300 POWs brought to Palawan in late 1942 to build an airfield. The POWs suffered years of disease, hunger, and emotional and physical abuse at the hands of their captors before their murder.

Shortly before he died in 2004, Palawan survivor Marine Corporal Glen McDole released a book called Last Man Out recounting his experiences as a POW and his escape from the Palawan Massacre. This first-hand account provides a stunning narrative about the horrors and abuses suffered by POWs at the hands of the Japanese, as well as his eye-witness account of the massacre itself. An oral history by Mr. McDole is HERE.

He describes watching in hiding five or six Japanese soldiers torture with their bayonets a wounded American:
I could see the bayonets draw blood when they poked him. Another Jap came up with some gasoline and a torch, and I heard the American beg them to shoot him and not to burn him. The Jap threw some gasoline on his foot and lit it, and the other Japs laughed and poked him with their bayonets. Then they did the same thing to his other foot and to his hand. When the man collapsed, the Japs then threw the whole bucket of gasoline over him, and he burst into flames.
In 2009, a monument to the victims and survivors of the massacre was erected in Palawan, listing the names of the U.S. POWs and recounting their tragic story. The top of the monument is a sculpture of an emaciated American man in chains rising from a fire, symbolizing the oppression of the POWs and the miraculous escape of the 11 survivors.

On March 23, 1949, Toru Ogawa, a company commander in the 131st Airfield Battalion who was charged with abusing 300 POWs and causing the death of 138 prisoners by ordering subordinates to massacre them by surprise assault and treacherous violence, and killing them by various methods, received his sentence of two years' hard labor, reduced by 9 1/2 months for time served.

Palawan was eventually liberated by U.S. forces in March 1945, where the Americans found evidence of the massacre, including the burned dugouts, charred remains, and mangled skeletons. In 1952, the remains of 123 of the victims were moved to a mass grave at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery near St. Louis, Missouri.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Canadian Prisoners of War Receive Apology from Japanese Government

Dr. Lester Tenney's courage in November 2008 to bring to the attention of the Japanese Ambassador to the US Ichiro Fujisaki the pain and humiliation felt by American as well as all prisonors of war of Japan was historic.  His efforts have brought about apologies and visitation programs for POWs not only for Americans, but also for Australians and now Canadians.

Japanese Foreign Ministers have twice this year delivered apologies to delegations of Australian POWs. The first visited Japan in March and the second in late November. The latter delegation included the first woman POW on an official delegation, 96-year old Nurse Lorna Johnston.

Below is the Press Release issued by Canada's Ministry of Veterans Affairs announcing Japan's first apology to the POWs of Canada. Unlike for the American and Australian POWs, the apology was not delivered by Japan's Foreign Minister in front of the press. Instead, it was presented in private by Japan's Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Toshiyuki Kato. Further, the trip was paid for by the Canada's Ministry of Veteran's Affairs and not the Government of Japan.

The apology wording was the same as the one given to the American and Australian POWs, which is a slight rewording of the 1995 general war apology by Prime Minister Murayama--the only official government apology for the war. The critical phrase "damage and suffering" is a direct quote from the San Francisco Peace Treaty.

Hong Kong Memorial Wall, Ottawa, Canada
The Canadians were involved the defense of Hong Kong in 1941. Approximately 290 Canadian soldiers were killed in battle and, while in captivity, approximately 264 more died as POWs, for a total death toll of 554. In addition, almost 500 Canadians were wounded. Of the 1,975 Canadians who went to Hong Kong, more than 1,050 were either killed or wounded. This was a casualty rate of more than 50%, arguably one of the highest casualty rates of any Canadian theater of action in the Second World War.

Still missing are the apologies from the Japanese companies that purchased these American, Canadian, and Australian POWs to labor in the factories, mines, and on their docks. As one Canadian POW noted, the apology is "most important to the Japanese" as he hopes "this apology will open up the Japanese secrecy over their treatment of (POWs) during World War 2 in 14 of their captured nations." He added: "I don't think they can go on and be a healthy culture by hiding this terrible past of theirs."

December 8, 2011
Canadian Prisoners of War Receive Apology from Japanese Government

Ottawa — The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today recognized the heartfelt apology from the Government of Japan to former Canadian prisoners of war (POWs) for their suffering during the Second World War. The apology was delivered earlier today in Tokyo by Mr. Toshiyuki KATO, Japan’s Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs.

“It is my honour to join Canadian prisoners of war in acknowledging the apology by the Japanese Government for the treatment and suffering of prisoners of war under Japanese control during the Second World War,” said Minister Blaney. “This important gesture is a crucial step in ongoing reconciliation and a significant milestone in the lives of all prisoners of war. It acknowledges their suffering while honouring their sacrifices and courage.”

“The terrible pain and heavy burden of the Second World War have given way to a mutually beneficial, respectful relationship between Canada and Japan as mature democracies—a legacy of all who served in the Pacific campaigns,” said Minister Baird. “Today’s apology will help in healing as our two great countries move forward.”

On Christmas Day 1941, unable to fight any longer, the Allies had no choice but to surrender. During 17 and a half days of fighting, 290 Canadians were killed and 493 were wounded while trying to defend Hong Kong.

Those who survived the heavy fighting were imprisoned in prisoner of war camps in Hong Kong and Japan until Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945. For nearly four years, the Canadians were subjected to deliberate and systematic mistreatment at the hands of their captors.

The prisoners of war were forced into backbreaking labour in construction sites, mines, shipyards and foundries, and were frequently beaten and starved. Another 267 men died in the camps before the survivors were liberated. Many of those who returned to Canada suffered serious disabilities as a result of their experiences in Hong Kong, and many died prematurely.

Minister Blaney led a delegation of Canadian Veterans of the Battle of Hong Kong to Japan for the apology and a commemorative ceremony, and visited the graves of Canadian soldiers at the British Commonwealth Cemetery – Yokohama.

For more information on Canada’s contribution in Hong Kong, visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Remembering Pearl Harbor

     In the wake of the bombing of our harbor and the crippling of our Pacific Fleet, there were those who declared the United States had been reduced to a third-class power. But rather than break the spirit of our Nation, the attack brought Americans together and fortified our resolve. Patriots across our country answered the call to defend our way of life at home and abroad. They crossed oceans and stormed beaches, freeing millions from the grip of tyranny and proving that our military is the greatest force for liberty and security the world has ever known. On the home front, dedicated civilians supported the war effort by repairing wrecked battleships, working in factories, and joining civilian defense organizations to help with salvage programs and plant Victory gardens. At this time of great strife, we reminded the world there is no challenge we cannot meet; there is no challenge we cannot overcome.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (excerpt)

For Americans, December 7, 1941 will forever be ‘a date which will live in infamy.’ Our entire nation mobilized to assist the ensuing war effort. From war bonds to building our fighter aircraft, the country was united and the ‘greatest generation’ defeated forces of evil and successfully defended freedom and democracy.

Our American forbearers were brave and strong in the face of adversity. But the larger lesson of Pearl Harbor is that we need to remain steadfast and forthright in our defense of liberty and human rights. Brutal regimes and lawless nations should not be coddled or appeased.

JAPANESE DIPLOMACY AND MILITARY MANEUVERING PRIOR TO THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR. 12/5, 12:30-1:45, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Sigur Center, GWU. Speaker: Takeo Iguchi, Former Ambassador; Professor Emeritus, Shobi-Gakuen University.

THE CAPTAIN ELLIS ZACHARIAS AND PEARL HARBOR ATTACK. 11:00am, Washington, DC. Sponsor: National Archives. Speaker: David Pfeiffer, archivist; discusses the intelligence officer featured in his article “Sage Prophet or Loose Cannon?” published in Prologue magazine. (The lecture will be repeated at the National Archives at College Park, MD.

FREEDOM BETRAYED: HERBERT HOOVER'S SECRET HISTORY OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR AND ITS AFTERMATH. 12/6, Noon-1:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Heritage Foundation. Speakers: George Nash, author, historian, book offers a revisionist reexamination of the war and its Cold War aftermath and a sweeping indictment of the “lost statesmanship” of Franklin Roosevelt.

PEARL HARBOR CHRISTMAS: A WORLD AT WAR, DECEMBER 1941. 12/7, Noon-3:00pm, Washington, DC. Author and historian Stanley Weintraub will present his latest work– an exploration of the wartime strategies that were developed in Washington while the rest of America attempted to celebrate the holiday season. Each chapter, written in pristine detail, coincides with the last ten days of 1941 and the first day of the New Year. Following the presentation, Weintraub will be available for a Q&A and book signing. 

1:00pm - Guests are invited for a subsequent wreath laying ceremony with the U.S. Navy Band and Ceremonial Guard on the Memorial’s outdoor plaza.

2:00pm - In addition, the Navy Memorial welcomes local veteran survivors and witnesses of the attack for a panel discussion led by noted historian Paul Stillwell, author of Air Raid: Pearl Harbor! Recollections of a Day of Infamy. Panel members will include former U.S. Navy Memorial President and CEO Rear Admiral Edward K. Walker USN (Ret), who witnessed the battle as the young son of a submarine officer stationed at Pearl Harbor.

PACIFIC GIBRALTAR: US-JAPANESE RIVALRY OVER THE ANNEXATION OF HAWAII 1885-1889. 12/7, Noon-1:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: National Archive. Speakers: William Michael Morgan, author, discusses his book Pacific Gibraltar and the results of the Japan–U.S. crisis of 1897, when the Japanese sent warships to Honolulu to oppose the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands by the United States during the Spanish-American War. As Japan began pushing for voting rights for its nationals living and working on the islands, tensions rose between the two countries. A book signing will follow the program.

IN THE LAST GOOD WAR: THE FACES AND VOICES OF WORLD WAR II. 12/7, Noon–1:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: National Portrait Gallery. Speaker: Thomas Sanders combines imagery and narrative to tell the story of the courageous men and women who accomplished extraordinary feats in defense of freedom. This book provides a unique window into American history and the lasting legacy of World War II veterans.

PEARL HARBOR CHRISTMAS.12/7, 6:00–7:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: National Portrait Gallery. Speaker: Stanley Weintraub marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor with a talk in the exhibition, followed by a signing of his new book Pearl Harbor Christmas.

“It Is No Joke—It Is a Real War”: HOW AMERICANS FIRST LEARNED OF PEARL HARBOR. 12/7, 7:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: National Archives. Speaker: Marvin Kalb, journalist. uses film, audio, and photographic records from the National Archives and the Newseum to discuss how the media informed Americans of the 1941 attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Fighting for MacArthur, the Navy and Marine Corps' Desperate Defense of the Philippines. 12/15, Noon-1:00pm, Naval War College Museum, Newport, Rhode Island. Author, John Gordon discusses his new book, which is the only single-volume work to offer a full account of Navy and Marine Corps actions in the Philippines during World War II. This book provides a unique source of information on the early part of the war. It is filled with never-before-published details about the fighting based on a rich collection of American and newly discovered Japanese sources, and it includes a revealing discussion of the buildup of tensions between Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the Navy that continued for the remainder of the war.