In late 1940, Lieutenant Commander Edwin T. Layton assumed duty as Fleet Intelligence Officer, United States Fleet.
Although Admiral Kimmel referred to Layton as “an idiot” in his testimony to the Roberts Commission,* Layton remained as Fleet intelligence officer under Admiral Chester W. Nimitz for the duration of World War II. Layton later became “the first special-duty intelligence officer to make flag rank.”(19)
In 1985, “And I Was There”: Pearl Harbor and Midway – Breaking the Secrets was published. This book was written by Rear Admiral Layton, Captain Roger Pineau, USNR (Ret.), and John Costello. The late Bruce Lee edited “And I Was There.” Together with Henry C. Clausen, Bruce Lee wrote Pearl Harbor: Final Judgement in 1992. According to this latter book, “…Layton did not tell the truth in his book, just as he did not tell me the truth back in 1945 [in his affidavit for the Clausen Investigation].” (20)
“Mr. Chairman. I would like to call Admiral Rochefort.” Senator Barkley: “Admiral Rochefort, come forward, please.” With this introduction Captain Joseph John Rochefort, United States Navy began his testimony to the JCC on 15 February 1946. Rochefort’s reputation had preceded him.
Lieutenant Commander Rochefort was detached from the staff of Commander Scouting Force in mid-1941 to begin his new assignment as officer in charge of the Communications Intelligence Unit of the Fourteenth Naval District. Advancement to the rank of commander went with Rochefort’s new position. (21)
Long after World War II ended, Rochefort’s communications intelligence unit (ComInt Unit or CIU) is best remembered for its code breaking success against the Japanese Navy’s fleet operational code prior to the Battle of Midway. Rochefort’s unit contributed what Fleet Admiral Nimitz later described as “a priceless advantage” in gaining the American victory at Midway.
In December 1941, 186 personnel were under Rochefort’s command. Thirty of these men were officers (mostly cryptanalysts and linguists). One hundred and fifty-six enlisted men were radio intercept operators and direction finder specialists, 72 of whom were stationed on Oahu, with the remaining 84 stationed at outlying bases in the central and north Pacific. (22) In late 1941, a total of 738 personnel were assigned to the Navy’s three ComInt units and to the various intercept stations.**
Prior to accepting assignment to CIU, Pearl Harbor, Rochefort was given his “pick of the personnel.” According to Rochefort’s oral history, his people “were the pick of the crop.” (23)
* Kimmel to Roberts Commission, 29 Dec. 1941, PHA22, pp. 416-417. Representative John W. Murphy summed up Kimmel’s calling Layton “an idiot” during Kimmel’s JCC testimony on 18 Jan. 1946, see PHA06, p. 2741. To make a long story short, Admiral Kimmel testified he ordered Layton to deliver a paraphrase of the Navy Department’s war warning message (OPNAV 272337, Nov. 1941) to General Short. After paraphrasing the dispatch, Layton was told by Rear Admiral Bloch’s chief of staff, Captain John B. Earle, that he, Earle, was going to Fort Shafter, and that he would deliver the message to General Short. It is further claimed that Earle then gave the message to Lieutenant Harold S. Burr. When Burr arrived at Fort Shafter, General Short was not in his office, so Burr later claimed he left it with someone else—whose identity he could not recall. General Short testified to the Roberts Commission that he never knew of the Navy’s war warning message. It wasn’t until going before the Army Pearl Harbor Board that Short could recall seeing it, where he claimed the Navy sent “war warnings” at various other times in 1941.
** These units were Station NEGAT in the Navy Department (with 448 personnel assigned); Station HYPO on Oahu (with 186 personnel assigned); and Station CAST in the Philippines (with 78 personnel assigned).
The officer in charge of the Navy’s communications intelligence organization (OP-20-G), Laurance F. Safford, testified to the JCC in February 1946: “I would say that the best we had, as far as experience and all-around skill was up at Pearl Harbor.”(24) The Navy’s best intelligence and communications intelligence specialists were serving duty on Oahu in 1941.
By Mr. Andy McKane
9 December 2018 at 12:59
Of course, the decision by the Army communications folks in California to send the December 6th warning message by Western Union because they’re comms with Hawaii were down allowed everyone at Pearl Harbor to think that nothing was going to happen.
while you can’t predict history, and there is no reason to assume the Army or Navy would have taken extra precautions on the 7th, I’ve always wondered if the knowledge that “something was up” might have changed some of the reactions of people on watch early on the 7th.
Something I think about as an old Cryppie.