Friday, December 7, 2012

Pearl Harbor

December 7th is a day that will live in infamy. And one of the Japanese spies who helped plan the attack had connections to some of the people in old comedy fims.

On December 7th, 1941, Japanese carrier planes bombed Pearl Harbor.
 Aerial view of the attack.


The Destroyer USS Shaw explodes.
Death of the battleship Arizona.
The Japanese attack sank eight battleships, three cruisers, three destroyers, and a couple of other ships, and destroyed something like two hundred aircraft ( mainly on the ground before they could take off. ) Over two thousand men were killed. News accounts of the day said that more people had been killed than in many of the big air raids in Europe. It was a disaster. The US navy had largely been destroyed and could do little to stem the tide of Japanese invasion at the outset of the Pacific war.
The US became involved in the war in Europe as well as Japan's Axis partners declared war on the United States, and it would take several years to defeat them all. A revived US navy would play an important part in the war.

Remember this man? It is Charlie Chaplin. And the other man with him is a guy named Toriachi Kono. He was Chaplin's servant and those who were around Chaplin all knew him.

Kono ( second man from left ) with Laurel and Hardy.
In 1934, Paulette Goddard prevailed upon Charlie Chaplin to discharge Kono.
Paulette Goddard ( the blonde on the right ) had worked with Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd in SHOW BUSINESS.

Charlie Chaplin and Thelma Todd.
Thelma Todd didn't work with Chaplin, but she knew him, and his secretary Catherine Hunter was one of her best friends.
Another actor who is involved in this story is Al Blake, sometimes called "The king of the robots" because his muscular control enabled him to stand motionless for long periods of time. Al Blake had appeared in the movie SHOULDER ARMS with Charlie Chaplin in 1917.
In 1940, Al Blake happened to run into Kono, who recognized him from the old days. Kono had gone into another line of work after leaving Chaplin's employ. Kono expressed interest in another of Blake's employers, the US navy. Al Blake suspected something, but said nothing.
In 1941, "The king of the robots" happened to run into Kono again. This time he told him that he was thinking of going into the navy again. He pretended to go along with Kono's snooping, then went to Naval Intelligence. For some time Al Blake fed the Japanese false information, until the day came that the authorities decided to arrest Kono for espionage. Some of it at Pearl Harbor.
Nothing was ever done about it. The matter was simply dropped, hushed up like a great many other incidents over the years. Apparently the authorities were afraid the incident would provoke Japan. Not long afterwords, Pearl Harbor was bombed, and Kono would once again be taken into custody. But not for anything he'd done. The government simply decided to take him in along with many other Japanese people for the duration of the war in case they should decide to in some way to contribute to the hostilities.
And after the war, they were let go.
 I spoke to some veterans of the Pearl Harbor attack years ago. They told me a little about what had happened. One of the things that I remember was that they said that the old biplane aircraft had only recently been replaced by more modern types and that many of them were still there at the time. You see some of them in pictures taken after the attack.
Of course, there were some other guys that were there that didn't live to tell about it.

Aboard The Battleship Arizona:

Al Blake At Naval History Of Australia History Of Japanese Intelligence:

Al Blake menion in THE ENEMY WITHIN by Terry Crowdy:

Al Blake At The IMDB:

Japan History - Rise of the nationalists:

Japan Scraps Naval Treaty To Expand Navy:

Joyita - Roland West's Yacht Served As A Patrol Boat At Pearl Harbor In WWII:

Pearl Harbor:

Sinking Of The USS Panay:

Toriachi Kono:

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