3-014 To War Plans Division, December 12, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 12, 1941

Subject: World War II

To War Plans Division

December 12, 1941 Washington, D.C.

Information Indicates definitely pres. Of Jap. Force, including carrier, in area between latitudes of S. F. [San Francisco] and Cape Mendocino

Attack a possibility: 9 11 Am. Wash. time1

Dictated, with additional details, to Col. Barnett2 Hqs. 4th Army at 1012 a.m. by me personally.3

G. C. M.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Record of the War Plans Division (WPD), 4622, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Handwritten memorandum signed.

1. The navy had reported that an army patrol plane had sighted a Japanese aircraft carrier four hundred miles west of Mendocino, California, and that a raid was expected on facilities around Puget Sound, Washington, or on the Mare Island Navy Yard north of San Francisco. (War Plans Division to Commanding General Western Defense Command [signed Marshall], Radio No. 53, December 12, 1941, NA/RG 407 [AG, 381 (11-27-41) General].)

2. Colonel James W. Barnett was Fourth Army chief of staff.

3. False alarms such as this were common in the weeks immediately following the Pearl Harbor attack. Secretary Stimson recorded a scare on December 8 in his diary: “At ten o’clock [P.M.] I was called up by [Assistant Secretary of War John J.] McCloy who was staying at the Department, saying that an enemy fleet was thought to be approaching San Francisco. I thanked him for telling me but suggested that I didn’t know anything that I could do to prevent it. A few minutes later but before I had gotten asleep he called me up again and said that the later news showed that it was a false alarm and showed that the planes detected were our own big bombers coming back from convoy duty.” (Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 36: 90].)

Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 16-17.

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