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Admiral Kimmel, Husband E.

Husband Kimmel, naval commander at Pearl Harbor in 1941, was born in Henderson, Kentucky, in 1882.He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1904. He replaced Admiral James O. Richardson (Richardson, James O.) as Commander in Chief, Pacific (CinCPAC) in February 1941, Richardson having criticized US policy in respect of the navy's deployment at Pearl Harbor. Kimmel shared Richardson's opposition to the transfer of ships such as Idaho to the Atlantic Fleet but made less of an issue of it. He made his dislike of the command arrangements in Hawaii known, but did little to overcome the divide between army and navy, actually rejecting a proposal to house both commands in one center. He saw the navy's role as being offensive, taking the war, should it come to that, to the Japanese and he gave small consideration to the defense of his force at Pearl Harbor. It was, technically, a matter for the army. Kimmel's lack of awareness of the danger from the Japanese stemmed partly from the divisions in American intelligence and espionage. The diplomatic codes had been broken and it was from diplomatic messages that the strongest indications of aggression came. Indeed, the Japanese consulate in Honolulu was conducting espionage which Kimmel's own Communications Intelligence Unit could have intercepted, but it was concentrating on the Japanese naval code JN-25 instead. On 27 November the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral H. R. Stark cabled Kimmel with a war warning indicating the Philippines and other remote places as Japan's target, and ordering Kimmel to make defensive preparations. He sent Enterprise to take aircraft to reinforce Wake Island and Lexington on a similar mission to Midway and conferred with Lieutenant-General Walter C. Short (Short, Walter C.). Once the attack began on 7 December there was little he could do and he was relieved of his post a few days later. An enquiry found him guilty of errors of judgement and he never got the court martial he felt would clear his name. He died on 14 May 1968.

See also: Enterprise; espionage; Idaho; JN-25; Knox, Frank; Layton, Edwin T.; Lexington; Pearl Harbor; Richardson, James O.; Short, Walter C.

You can find out more about Admiral Husband E. Kimmel in the following Osprey book:

CAMPAIGN 62 Pearl Harbor 1941