U.S. has begun counterattack

By RICHARD HOTTELET, United Press Staff Correspondent  |  December 08 1941
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 1941 (UPI) - The United States pressed huge scale naval and aerial operations against Japan in the Battle of the Pacific today, Washington sources reported.

The United States' counter offensive began at the moment the first Japanese bomb exploded in Hawaii, according to naval officials.

Immediate objectives of the Pacific and Asiatic fleets was to hunt down marauding Japanese naval units in the Pacific and blockade Japan, cutting off, if possible, all approaches to Japan from the sea.

The fleets' planes plus the army's land-based bombers from the Philippines also were expected to press home aerial attacks if feasible against Japanese naval bases.

No details regarding the United States' action were divulged and only the general statement that the United States navy is striking with all the forces at its command.

Movements of the Pacific fleet which departed from Pearl Harbor after the Japanese bombing were secret. The Asiatic fleet was believed to have been at sea when war began, assumedly in the area south of the Philippines.

It was believed probably that the Asiatic fleet will cooperate with British naval units and utilize the British base at Singapore.

The United States Atlantic fleet is ready for any Atlantic hostilities should Germany enter the war on Japan's side.

Reports that Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk off Honolulu were not confirmed.

(A strict naval censorship was clamped on Honolulu and no news was allowed sent out after the first brief flashes regarding the raid cleared.)

Japanese planes engaging in the Hawaiian bombing were believed operating from South Pacific Islands as well as from aircraft carriers. Guam, which only last year received congressional approval for fortification, also was heavily attacked.

Japanese submarines apparently were operating as close as 700 miles to the United States' Pacific coast - the distance from which a U.S. cargo vessel sent distress signals. A U.S. army transport was reported torpedoed 1,300 miles west of San Francisco.

Scattered Philippine points were bombed. A report reaching the White House stating that Manila was bombed later was believed to be untrue.

Undoubtedly the major attack occurred at Pearl Harbor.

Naval officials were awaiting reports regarding the action the British and Russians would take in the Far East. A Netherlands East Indies declaration of war against Japan assured the United States navy of additional bases in the South Pacific as well as the reportedly strong Dutch naval forces, including submarines and planes.

A British declaration of war against Japan presumably automatically would open the world's largest naval base at Singapore to the United States fleet. It was estimated that the Russians have upwards of 100 submarines based at Vladivostok.

The U.S. Pacific fleet alone was believed at the outset to be at least equal to Japan's maximum strength, while the arrival of strong British units at Singapore in recent days would give the Allies definite superiority.

The United States navy's purpose would be to blockade Japan which will be attempted immediately. However, it will not be a blockade in the old technical sense, according to naval experts.

For instance, there will be no stationing of ships off Japanese ports. Instead, it probably will be a remote blockade conducted along the great arc from the Aleutian Islands to Hawaii, thence to the "Philippie anchor."

The Allied strategy, according to experts, will be to hold the blockade at all costs and bomb Japanese bases to force the Japanese fleet into home waters.

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