Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseLieutenant General Walter Campbell Short was the appointed to command Army operations and bases at Hawaii in Feb 1941. By the end of that year, Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo would strike Pearl Harbor and end Short's 40-year military career.
ww2dbaseShort was the assistant chief of staff to the Third Army during WW1. Between WW1 and the outbreak of WW2, he held a number of assignments of high importance, leading to his appointment at Hawaiian Department, the largest overseas Army department. While being an extremely efficient commander in terms of preparing his troops for war, Short himself was criticized in never preparing himself for an actual attack on Hawaii by the Japanese even though he was well aware of the threat (as shown by his decision to park his planes closely together to guard against possible Japanese saboteurs, which proved to be disastrous when the raid took place). After the Pearl Harbor attack, he was relieved of command by Washington on 17 Dec. His Quarter 5 residence, traditionally the commanding general's residence on Palm Circle, was occupied next by Lieutenant General Delos Emmons. Along with his Navy counterpart Husband Kimmel, Short was one of the principle scapegoats for the American unpreparedness for such an attack by the Japanese. Subsequent investigations, he was found to be guilty of errors of judgement and dereliction of duty. It was not until after his death before the United States Senate cleared his name (25 May 1999), although the Department of Defense continue to place the blame of the Pearl Harbor disaster on Short and Kimmel. "(Short and Kimmel) were denied vital intelligence that was available in Washington", said Senator William Roth, Jr., noting that they had been made into scapegoats in 1941 to lift blame from other high ranking officers. The attack on Pearl Harbor faced nine investigations, the national attention was clearly unjustly weighted on this single event when, for example, the same unpreparedness for Japanese aggression was equally as great at the Philippines. When President Roosevelt ordered Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts to head up the investigative commission, which was appropriately named the Robers Commission, many argue that Roosevelt had much political motivation in mind. By charging Short and Kimmel with failure to defend the important American military bases at Hawaii, Roosevelt paved himself a path to take military action against Japanese aggression that he had long wished to intervene, and cleared himself of any faults of his own for his re-election campaign in 1944.
ww2dbaseAfter being removed from command, Short retired from the Army and worked for Ford Motor Company. He passed away in 1949.
ww2dbaseSources: National Geographic, Talking Proud, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Jun 2005
Walter Short Timeline
|23 Jan 1942||The Roberts Commission found Walter Short guilty of dereliction of duty for the Pearl Harbor disaster.|
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Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943