The Winds Message broadcast was forwarded by teletype (TWX) from Cheltenham to the Navy Department (Op-20-GY) shortly before 9:00 a.m. on December 4, 1941. Kramer distinctly recalls that the Winds Message was shown to him by the GY Watch Officer after 8:30 a.m. on that date.
It was my recollection, as stated in previous testimony, that I had first seen the Winds Message a little after eight a.m. on December 4, 1941. The Winds Message broadcast was about 200 words long, with the code words prescribed in Tokyo Circular 2353 appearing in the middle of the message, whereas we had expected to find the code words of Tokyo Circular 2354 in a Morse broadcast. All three “code words” were used, but the expression meaning “North Wind Cloudy” was in the negative form.
When I first saw the Winds Message, it had already been translated by Lieutenant Commander Kramer, in charge of the Translation Section of the Navy Department Communications Intelligence Unit. Kramer had underscored all three “code phrases” on the original incoming teletype sheet. Below the printed message was written in pencil or colored crayon in Kramer’s handwriting, the following free translations:
“War with England (including NEI, etc.)
War with the U.S.
Peace with Russia.”
I am not sure of the order; but it was the same as in the broadcast and I think England appeared first. I think Kramer used “U.S.” rather than “United States.” It is possible that the words “No war,” instead of “Peace,” were used to describe Japan’s intentions with regards to Russia.
“This is it!” said Kramer as he handed me the Winds Message. This was the broadcast we had strained every nerve to intercept. This was the feather in our cap. This was the tip-off which would prevent the U.S. Pacific Fleet being surprised at Pearl Harbor the way the Russians had been surprised at Port Arthur. [The editor cannot help commenting on this statement: Neither Capt. Safford, nor anyone else in the United States could possibly have had this particular reaction to this message. War with Japan was widely anticipated by this time (“War warning” messages had been sent to the Pacific commands the previous week), but the target of any Japanese attack on the U.S. was almost universally expected to be the Philippines. I will refrain from commenting on what this patently untrue interpretation suggests about Capt. Safford’s agenda or the veracity of the rest of his statement. –pwc] This was what the Navy Communication Intelligence had been preparing for since its establishment in 1924–War with Japan!
I immediately sent the original of the Winds Message up to the Director of Naval Communications (Read Admiral Noyes) by one of the officers serving under me and told him to deliver this paper to Admiral Noyes in person, to track him down and not take “no” for an answer, and, if he could not find him in a reasonable time to let me know. I did not explain the nature or significance of the Winds Message to this officer. In a few minutes I received a report to the effect that the message had been delivered.
It is my recollection that Kramer and I knew at the time that Admiral Noyes had telephoned the substance of the Winds Message to the War Department, to the “Magic” distribution list in the Navy Department, and to the Naval Aide to the President. For that reason, no immediate distribution of the smooth translation of the Winds Message was made in the Navy Department. The six or seven copies for the Army were rushed over to the War Department as rapidly as possible: here the Navy’s responsibility ended. The individual smooth translations for authorized Navy Department officials and the White House were distributed at noon on December 4, 1941 in accordance with standard operating procedure. I have no reason for believing that the Army failed to make a prompt distribution of its translations of the Winds Message.
I am thoroughly satisfied in my own mind that Admiral Noyes telephoned to everyone on his list without delay: I cannot bring myself to imagine otherwise. There is some question as to whether the Admiral was understood, but this only shows the unreliability of telephone messages. Any misunderstanding of what Admiral Noyes said was of negligible effect because written translations of the Winds Message were distributed within
2 or 3 hours of his telephone calls. In fact it was not until 1944 that any suggestion or criticism was offered that any official on the “Magic” distribution list — Navy, Army, State Department, or White House — had not been notified that the Winds Message had been received or that the Winds Message had been translated in any terms other than War and Peace.
My final verification of the fact that the Winds Message translation was typed and distributed lies in the fact that about December 15, 1941, I saw a copy of it in the special folder of messages which were being assembled for Admiral Noyes to present to the Roberts Commission. I checked these over with Kramer for completeness as well as for the elimination of irrelevant material. Kramer told me in 1944 that he had shown Assistant Secretary Forrestal a special set of Pre-Pearl Harbor messages about December 10, 1941, when Secretary Knox was making his personal investigation at Pearl Harbor, and that he discussed those messages with Mr. Forrestal for about two hours. This set of messages was apparently the basis and possibly the identical file that was given Admiral Noyes and shown to the Roberts Commission via Admiral Wilkinson. This was the last time I saw the Winds Message. I believe that the translation of the Winds Message was given the JD-1 Serial number of 7001, because this number is missing and unaccounted for, and comes within the range of messages translated on December 3 and 4, 1941.
The distribution of the Winds Message was the responsibility of Naval Intelligence and not Naval Communications. I had no responsibility in the matter after forwarding the original message to Admiral Noyes and after checking Kramer’s “folder” to see that the messages were presented in a logical and understandable order.
27 August 2022 at 03:41
We must all remember that in 1941 and until February 1942, then Commander Safford was head of communications security for the entire United States Navy.
His winds execute statement and the testimony he gave to the Hart Inquiry, the Navy Court of Inquiry, the Army Pearl Harbor Board, and the Hewitt Inquiry during the war, and his February 1946 JCC testimony after the war is loaded with carefully fabricated contradictions. The net result is that taken all together, Safford’s testimony makes him appear to have been less than mentally competent. (This man sacrificed his own good name in carrying out his task of making it appear that senior officers in the Navy Department had failed, either accidentally or deliberately, to keep Admirals Kimmel and Bloch informed of the imminence of hostilities between Japan and the United States. LFS gave his all to keep Pearl Harbor’s greatest secret secret.)
I do not wish to denigrate Laurance Frye Safford. I believe he was one of the truly outstanding officers in the history of the United States Navy. Yet I believe he made his winds execute story sound as far out as he could possibly make it. People who were disposed to believe him would believe LFS no matter what he said. Those who wanted to deny the existence of a pre-7 Dec. 1941 Japanese execute for war with the United States could easily do so. All they had to do was cite Safford’s ever-changing testimony and that of various others who claimed they never heard of the receipt of a winds execute message (or any other Japanese execute for war).
As far as “pwc’s” editorial comment is concerned, one needs to read U.S. war plans, WPL-46 and WPPac-46 among others including various Pacific Fleet Confidential letters and other collateral information to understand why officers with access to intelligence and war plans believed in 1941 that “the first act” of the Japanese Government in a war against the United States would be the delivery of a hit-and-run raid against the Pacific Fleet in Hawaiian waters.
I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Pearl Harbor was expected to happen by high authorities in Washington, D.C., Hawaii, and the Philippines prior to 7 December 1941. Starting immediately after the fact there was a massive cover-up by our Government. I’ll debate this matter anytime, anywhere with anyone who wishes to argue with me about it.
I further believe that Captain Safford worked his tail end off altering documents and covering up things in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. I consider it quite likely that someone high up made a major mistake in assigning the officer who played a significant role in breaking into Japanese codes and ciphers before the fact altering documents after the fact.
If I had one wish as relates to Pearl Harbor and Pacific War history that wish would be for Laurance Frye Safford to receive a posthumous promotion to flag rank and also for the United States to name a ship after L.F. Safford. I know of no naval officer, alive or dead, more worthy of these two awards.
Andrew “Andy” McKane, P. O. Box 166, Maunaloa, Hawaii 96770, 26 August 2022.