This message was received in the State Department at 9:19 a.m., on December 4, 1941 (Washington time). Copies were forwarded to the War and Navy Departments by the State Department Liaison Officer, Mr. Orme Wilson. They were given a wide circulation in the Navy Department.

My own evaluation of the foregoing, on December 4, 1941, was about as follows:

                (A)          The Basic Japanese War Plan was divided into 3 categories or provided for 3 contingencies, any or all of which might be followed, namely:

(1) War with the United States

(2) War with Russia

(3) War with England including the invasion of Thailand and the capture of Malaya and the Duth East Indies.    

                (B)          The Winds Message gave us the answer in all 3 cases: Affirmative for the 1st and 3rd categories, and Negative for the 2nd.

                (C)          The Winds Message was probably a “Signal of Execute” of some sort

The “Signal of Execute” theory received strong confirmation from a secret message received from the Philippines in the early afternoon of December 4, 1941. This message informed us that the Japanese Navy had introduced a new cipher system for its so-called “Operations Code” at 0600 GCT that date. This time was 7 1/2 hours before the Winds Message was broadcast. I might add that there was only one J-A-P European broadcast per day, so the times coincided as closely as possible. I would like to add


also that my subordinates on Corregidor spotted and reported this change only nine hours after it was made. The message may be identified as Commandant 16th Naval District Priority 041502 dated December 4, 1941, and was addressed to Naval Operations and the Commandant 14th Naval District but not to the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. So far as I know, this message has not been introduced as evidence before any previous investigation of the Pearl Harbor disaster. In fact, this is the first time it has ever been mentioned except to Admiral Hart. The unusual hour and unusual date at which the Japanese Navy changed its “Operations Code,” combined with the Winds Message and other collateral information available in the Navy Department, made this message highly significant as the probable “Signal of Execute” to the Japanese Navy. Up till now the Winds Message has had to bear a double burden in my testimony.

As I have previously testified, we expected that if the Japanese did suddenly attack the United States this attack would come on a week-end or national holiday. In fact, a warning message to this effect had been sent out in April, 1941 (page 1 of Exhibit No. 37). The War Department over-emphasized the imminence of War as forecast by the “November 29, deadline” and predicted that the Japanese would strike during the week-end of November 29-30, 1941. The Navy Department estimated the situation more accurately — the Japanese armada which had been concentrating for the Southern invasion was too far from any conceivable objective to give serious consideration to this date. Also the covering Naval forces were not yet deployed and other signs indicated that the U.S. Army estimate was a bit premature.


The next week-end, December 6-7, 1941, was just the reverse. The Winds Message and the change of the Naval Operations Code came in the middle of the week: 2 days to Saturday and 3 days to Sunday. It was unthinkable that the Japanese would surrender their hopes of surprise by delaying until the week-end of December 13-14, 1941. This was not crystal gazing or “intuition” — it was just the plain, common sense acceptance of a self-evident proposition. Colonel Sadtler saw it, and so did Captain Joseph R. Redman, U.S.N. — according to Colonel Sadtler’s testimony in 1944, before the Army Board of Investigation. The Japanese were going to start the war on Saturday December 6, 1941, or Sunday, December 7, 1941. The War and Navy Departments had been given 72 hours’ advance notification of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese themselves.



Notes: Although Captain Safford is highly regarded as the “father” of US Navy communications intelligence, his statement is extremely controversial and does not represent the opinion of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

For further information on the “Winds” code messages, see: Dept. of Defense. The “Magic” Background of Pearl Harbor. vol.5. (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1978): pp.51-54, “Part D-Special Studies, The ‘Winds’ Code.” The text accompanying “Part-D” includes the following remarks: “It will be apparent from the foregoing that American intelligence agencies throughout the world were maintaining a constant watch in order to intercept a ‘Winds’ code message which would indicate that Japan was breaking off relations with the United States. However, the Federal Communications Commission has no record of intercepting a message other than those mentioned above which indicate, after the attack on Pearl Harbor had already begun, that Japan would break off relations with England. Furthermore, there is no document in American Communication Intelligence files which indicates receipt of any ‘Winds’ code message announcing the severance of relations between Japan and the United States. The preliminary ‘Winds’ code messages pointed only to the breaking of relations with Great Britain, Russia, or the United States, and gave no hint as to the possibility of an attack upon Pearl Harbor. In the light of all other evidence available concerning Japan’s intentions to go to war, it is apparent that even if the ‘Winds’ messages had never existed, United States’ authorities would have been just as well informed of Japan’s intentions to go to war.“