Fear and Urgency Drive Action and Mistakes 

 

After the unexpected Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, “a day that will live in infamy,” Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Delaware 198th Regiment were deployed to Hartford, Connecticut to protect a defense plant. The unit was then ordered to Charleston, South Carolina where they sailed to a then unknown destination in January, 1942. In the rush to prepare for departure, the 198th unit, the Army, and the Navy made mistakes loading the ships. They incorrectly packed one of the ships so that it listed, and they stacked the equipment that they would need first upon landing at the bottom of the vessel underneath all other supplies. In the end, these mistakes provided important insights for future loading and unloading procedures of Naval vessels.

The 198th Regiment  spent fifteen months training at four different camps on the east coast. They improved their proficiency in using anti-aircraft equipment, as shown here. Credit: Anti-aircraft gun, Camp Upton, Long Island, N.Y., postcard, ca. 1940. Delaware Military Museum Archives.

This clipping tells the story of the men of 198th’s positive interactions with locals while they trained in camps in the U.S.  Credit:  “Fisherwoman Writes of State Soldiers While at Ontario,” publication unknown (February 28, 1941). Delaware Military Museum Archives.

Americans were jolted into the war with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which sent the 198th into action.  At the time, many feared that the east coast might even be attacked. Credit: New York Times (Dec. 8, 1941).

The Arthur Middleton was one of six ships quickly loaded with the 2,300 men of the 198th and their supplies. Their haste would prove problematic once they landed. Their destination was unknown to the Soldiers at the time.  Credit:  USS Arthur Middleton (AP-55), 18th January 1942. National Archives and Records Administration