Key Personnel Assignments in Hawaii

On 15 November 1940, Captain Ellis M. Zacharias assumed command of the USS Salt Lake City (CA-25). Prior to taking this assignment Zacharias was District Intelligence Officer, Eleventh Naval District.
Zacharias has been described as “the most accomplished and experienced intelligence expert in the U.S. Navy.”(12) Zacharias and his wife sailed to Oahu aboard SS Lurline. Another passenger aboard Lurline at this time was Senator Owen Brewster of Maine.*

On 14 January 1941, Rear Admiral Walter S. Anderson was detached from duty as Director, Office and Naval Intelligence (DNI).** He was ordered to report to Pearl Harbor where he assumed duty as Commander Battleships Battle Force. A Bulletin of Tactical Information titled Measures to Decrease the Effectiveness of Enemy Air Attacks was published by ComBatFor in 1941. (13)

In February 1941, Captain Charles M. (“Savvy”) Cooke assumed command of the USS Pennsylvania. A letter of 13 January 1941 from the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold R. Stark to the prospective Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel explains the reason for Captain Cooke’s transfer: “[I] am sending him to the Fleet Flagship because of his intimate knowledge and personal handiwork in all that we have done in War Plans and in all that we have been thinking.”(14)

Captain Irving H. Mayfield assumed duty as District Intelligence Officer (DIO), Fourteenth Naval District in Honolulu on 15 March 1941. While writers often refer to the fact that there were four Directors, Office of Naval Intelligence in 1941, what these writers don’t say is that Captain Mayfield, a 1907 graduate of the Naval Academy, was senior to three of the four officers who served as DNI in 1941. Captain Jules James (USNA 1908), the then assistant director of naval intelligence, relieved Rear Admiral Anderson on 15 January 1941.*** On 28 February 1941 James was detached from duty in ONI. He then assumed duty as Commandant, U.S. Naval Operating Base Bermuda. Captain Alan G. Kirk (USNA 1909) became Director, Office of Naval Intelligence on 1March 1941. He served as DNI until being relieved by his Naval Academy classmate, Captain Theodore S. Wilkinson, on 15 October 1941. (15) (Kirk was Naval Attache in London from 1939 to February 1941. Promoted to Rear Admiral in the fall of 1941, Kirk briefly commanded a destroyer division in the Atlantic. In March 1942 he returned as Naval attache to Great Britain.)

Captain Mayfield, as District Intelligence Officer in Hawaii, was senior to the Director, Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C. This implies the importance the Navy placed on intelligence in Hawaii in 1941. As of 16 December 1941, there were 104 personnel attached to the District Intelligence Office, 14th Naval District in Hawaii.****

An “unusual character” on assignment to both the District Intelligence Office and to Fleet Intelligence in 1941 was thirty-nine year old Lieutenant Commander Cecil H. Coggins, (MC), USN.*****An obstetrician by training, Commander Coggins was a highly skilled intelligence officer with “unbounded energy and enthusiasm.” Coggins and Lieutenant William B. Stephenson, (USNR), maintained a list of between 240-300 Japanese consular agents residing in the Hawaiian Islands who were “believed to pose a threat.” On the morning of 7 December 1941 the District Intelligence Office together with personnel from the G-2 Section of the Hawaiian Department, the FBI, and the Honolulu Police Department began arresting “pre-identified suspects in Hawaii.” (16)

In June 1940 a Japanese consular agent “whose residence overlooked Lahaina Roads” off Maui made a report to the vice consul in Honolulu on the movement of the United States Fleet into Lahaina anchorage and a follow-up report when the Fleet departed Lahaina Roads. This was known to the District Intelligence Office in Honolulu “from a most reliable informant.” (Read Magic). (17)

The decision not to prosecute non-registered Japanese consular agents in Hawaii was made by the Commanding General, Hawaiian Department and approved by the Secretary of War in July and August 1941. (18) Prosecution of Japanese consular agents would have jeopardized the intelligence sources that led to their arrest.

* Together with Homer Ferguson of Michigan, Brewster was one of the two senators who signed the JCC’s minority report on Pearl Harbor.

* As Director, Office of Naval Intelligence (DNI), Anderson frequently consulted with President Roosevelt. He also attended weekly conferences with his counterparts from the Military Intelligence Division (G-2) of the Army, and J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI. Anderson was DNI from 11 June 1939 to 14 January 1941.

** The sinister aspect usually relates to claims that “Terrible” Turner insisted on control of analysis and dissemination of estimates from the Office of Naval Intelligence. No document has ever been produced to indicate the Director of War Plans Division, “one of history’s ablest military leaders” according to a former director, Naval History Division, was given control of the flow of intelligence in late 1940 and throughout 1941. See endnote 15 for additional material on this.

*** JCC testimony of Vice Admiral Theodore S. Wilkinson, 19 December 1945, PHA04, p. 1864. Senator Scott W. Lucas of Illinois wanted Captain Mayfield to testify before the JCC on Pearl Harbor, see PHA09, pp. 4464-4465. Despite this request, Mayfield was not called to testify before the Joint Congressional Committee.

***** Coggins assisted Lt. Stephenson in Counter-Espionage (Section B7J) in the Fourteenth Naval District (see Stephenson’s Hart Inquiry testimony, PHA26, pp. 349-362). He also assisted the Pacific Fleet’s intelligence officer, Lieutenant Commander Edwin T. Layton. Coggins had collateral duty as the CinCPac staff Health, Recreation, and Morale Officer. Coggins believed there was “overwhelming evidence that the vast majority of Japanese-Americans living in Hawaii” were loyal to the American Government. S.E. Maffeo.

By Mr. Andy McKane