A new book, Seven Days of Infamy: Pearl Harbor Across the World, is described as a collection of remembrances of mostly famous characters not usually associated with the attack on Pearl Harbor. It offers anecdotes I’d never heard before.
Actress Greer Garson didn’t want the role of Mrs. Miniver. Portraying a mom of a grown-up son was professional suicide. Louis Mayer strong-armed her into signing on. It proved to be her greatest film.
Mary Astor didn’t like kissing Humphrey Bogart. A botched lip surgery made him a very slobbery kisser.
The Japanese knew their China “adventure” was a mistake and very unpopular at home, but they couldn’t pull out without losing face. Certainly they wouldn’t because the United States told them to.
If Honolulu radio station KGMB played music all night long, military aircraft were expected to arrive early the next morning. The air force paid for this service so planes could home in on their signal. Of course, so could the Japanese attack force.
At Schofield air field, a medical officer stood ready to spray an incoming flight of B-17s with insecticide to kill any bugs as soon as they touched down.
Author John Steinbeck wrote a play about a European town occupied by Germans for the Foreign Information Service to combat German propaganda. He dictated the play to a secretary who made significant changes of her own to the script, leaving out portions about the Germans she didn’t like. Turns out she was a Nazi sympathizer actively supporting Hitler.
The British were ecstatic over the attack on Pearl. They felt no outrage at the Japanese, no sympathy for the American dead, only pleasure that America was now in the war. The British ambassador, Lord Halifax, was sent to America to persuade Americans to join the war, which proved to be very much an uphill task. He was amazed at the virulence of anti-British feeling across the country. America Firsters in Detroit, convinced the British wanted America to fight to defend their empire, pelted him with eggs and tomatoes.
Many Americans were pleased the attack brought them into the war. Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease envoy to Britain, Averell Harriman, was bitter toward isolationists. He hoped American cities would be blitzed to wake people up.
Britain had no diplomatic relations with Hungary, so the American ambassador in Budapest handled their affairs. That included delivering their declaration of war. The British had no quarrel with Hungary, but their Russian allies, bitter over Hungarian soldiers on the Russian front, pressured them into the declaration.
A week later, the Hungarian prime minister/foreign minister returned the favor to the American ambassador. At Germany’s insistence, Hungary declared war on the US.
Spain was pleased with the attack, another success of the German-Italian-Japanese Axis that Spain had all but joined. Franco sent a congratulatory telegram to Tokyo. He presumed the American entry into the war would be confined to the Pacific.
The Japanese high command entertained far-fetched ideas in their euphoria after their success, such as an amalgamation of Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, and Washington State in a new Japanese-controlled country after they won the war.
How much of this did you know?