The War in the Pacific: From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay

By Harry A. Gailey | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
The Japanese Tidal Wave

THE SHOCK OF the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, combined with the misinformation concerning the location of Nagumo's task force, minimized any effective counteraction against the Japanese until it was too late. The defensive mode adopted by U.S. army and navy commanders immediately after the strike was replaced on 9 December by a hastily planned offensive action directed at protecting Wake Island. Earlier in the year Admiral Kimmel, in one of his dispatches to Washington, maintained that the defense of Wake was of great importance because it would force the Japanese to deploy a part of their fleet and this could lead to a decisive naval action. Although his fleet was badly damaged, Kimmel, who had been informed of the first Japanese attacks on Wake, was still convinced that the island could be defended and that, at the very least, the enemy fleet committed to the invasion could be brought to action.

Kimmel planned to employ three task forces to relieve Wake, each to be organized around a carrier. Vice Admiral Wilson E. Brown would lead Task Force (TF) 11 with the Lexington and three cruisers to strike at Jaluit in the Marshall Islands in order to pin down enemy naval forces believed to be there. Kimmel assigned the major role, delivering reinforcements to Wake's beleaguered defenders to TF 14, built around the carrier Saratoga. Although

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