Page last updated: 26 July, 2018

Did the U.S.S. Little Rock participate in....


While most of the undercover work that was undoubtedly carried on by some of the
U.S.S. Little Rock's crew over the years is "buried" in the SECRET files somewhere
Washington, DC, there is at least one individual who participated in getting information
about the enemy. Perhaps there are others. Who will be the next crew member we find was...

Spies in Our Midst?

From the abbreviated biography of Captain Henri Smith-Hutton, the second Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Little Rock, we know the following:

"After serving the year July 1935-1936 as Executive Officer of the USS LAWRENCE, he was assigned as Communications Officer of the USS AUGUSTA, flagship of the Asiatic Fleet, serving until February 8, 1937, and thereafter for two years as Fleet Intelligence Officer on the staff of the Commander in Chief.  Returning to the American Embassy, Tokyo, Japan, in April, 1939, he became Naval Attaché and Naval Attaché for Air, and was so serving when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, T.H. on December 7, 1941, precipitating the United States’ entry into World War II.  He was interned, but in June, 1942 was repatriated and returned to the United States."    

While other published information about Captain Smith-Hutton tells of his "touring" Japanese harbor facilities prior to the war, of his obtaining classified information on new IJN torpedoes from a discontented Japanese student, and of having access to and translating into English the Japanese version of their "Coast Pilot", none are as interesting as the group photo below. This telling picture shows Smith-Hutton seated with a large number of the major players in the run-up to and the prosecution of the Imperial Japanese Navy's (IJN) war efforts.

When you consider Smith-Hutton's activities while in Japan and the fact that he was interacting with some of the most powerful individuals in the I J N., it is logical to conclude that he was, if nothing else, "well placed" by the U.S. Navy during the years immediately preceding WWII, and that a significant amount of collateral information about Japan was obtained by the U.S. Navy from Smith-Hutton.

As a side note, I believe it is more than significant that his wife Jane who was in Japan with him, along with their oldest daughter Cynthia, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor was later an active member of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services).

Smith-Hutton Group Picture

Souvenir photograph of attendees at a luncheon given by Admiral Nagano for foreign
military and naval attaches and their assistants, at the Tokyo Naval Club on 6 May 1940.
US Naval Historic Photo #79962, courtesy of Captain H.H. Smith-Hutton, USN
(Click on photo for a larger version.)

Those present are: (seated in front row, left to right): Captain K. Kogawa, Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN); Commander Luanson-Burana, Royal Thai Navy;  Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondo, IJN; Air Commodore Bryan, British Royal Air Force; Admiral Osami Nagano, IJN; Captain Tufnell, British Royal Navy; Lieutenant Commander Henri H. Smith-Hutton, USN; Rear Admiral S. Maeda, IJN; Captain H. Kojima, IJN.

(Standing in second row, left to right): Commander S. Kanoe, IJN; Lieutenant Sicard, French Navy; Lieutenant Colonel Levitt, Polish Army; Captain S. Fujiwara, IJN; Lieutenant Commander Arthur H. McCollum, USN; Captain K. Nakamura, IJN; Major Paskewicz, French Air Force; Captain S. Horinouchi, IJN; Lieutenant Mitchel, British Royal Navy.
(Standing in back row, left to right): Commander A. Okamura, IJN; Commander J. Hosonoya, IJN; Commander C. Triye, IJN; Commander S. Otani, IJN; Commander K. Matsunaga, IJN;  Commander T. Watana, IJN;  Commander Y. Mutsuki, IJN; Commander Y. Usui, IJN; Lieutenant Commander M. Suekuni, IJN.

The highlighted names are those of significant contributors to the Japanese war effort based on the Editor's cursory research.
A brief summary of each of these officers is given below.

Note: According to Smith-Hutton's memoirs, he was stationed in Japan to learn the Japanese language at the time this photo was taken..

Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondo

At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kondo commanded the IJN 2nd Fleet, participating in the invasions of Malaya, the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies. During the Battle of Midway, he commanded the Midway Occupation Force and Covering Group. Subsequently, his forces played a leading role during the Indian Ocean Raid, Guadalcanal campaign, seeing combat in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. Kondo also led Japanese forces at the Battle off Savo Island.

After the first Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Kondo personally led the battleship Kirishima along with cruisers Atago, Nagara, Sendai, and Takao, in what was to have been a decisive attack to eliminate the threat from Henderson Field through a massive nocturnal shelling. Instead, Kondo was defeated by an American task force, losing Kirishima. This defeat marked a turning point of the entire Guadalcanal campaign. Kondo was apparently tainted by the Guadalcanal failures, and was soon removed from sea-going commands, or indeed any positions of real authority.

Kondo was apparently a very likable officer, always willing to hear out a subordinate and adept at winning over former enemies.  He was an efficient commander and capable bureaucrat.  He survived the war to become a successful businessman.

Captain Kiyoto Kagawa

Kagawa was born in Hiroshima and graduated from the 46th class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy. He received his first command, the destroyer Fubuki on 16 November 1936.

Kagawa was promoted to captain on 15 October 1941, and after a series of staff positions, was appointed commander of the 31st Destroyer Group (Desdiv 31) on 12 February 1943. Kagawa's group consisted of the destroyers Onami (flagship), Makinami, Amagiri, Yugiri and Uzuki. During the Battle of Cape St. George on 26 November 1943, Onami was sunk and Kagawa was killed in action. He was posthumously promoted to rear admiral.
(Ed. Note: It is most likely that "Captain K. Kogawa" in the list above is in fact "Kiyoto Kagawa".)

Admiral Osami Nagano

Admiral Osami achieved the rank of Admiral on 01 March 1934, and was appointed to the Supreme War Council.  In 1941, Nagano became Chief of the Imperial Japanese Naval General Staff. Although he was a proponent of the Nanshin-ron, he was against war with the United States. In this capacity, he adopted Admiral Yamamoto's plan of attack against  Pearl Harbor. Nagano subsequently ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor.

By 1944, however, Japan had suffered serious military setbacks and Nagano had lost the confidence of Emperor Hirohito. Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and Navy Minister Shigetaro Shimada removed Nagano from his post and replaced him with Shimada. Nagano spent the remainder of the war as an advisor to the government. Arrested by the American Occupation forces in 1945, Nagano was charged with “Class A” war criminal charges before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. When interrogated by United States naval officers he was described as "thoroughly cooperative", "keenly alert", "intelligent", and "anxious to develop American friendship". He died of a heart attack due to complications arising from pneumonia in Sugamo Prison in Tokyo before the conclusion of the trial in 1947.

Rear Admiral Minoru Maeda

Rear Admiral  Maeda was in charge of N-3, the Japanese Imperial Naval Staff intelligence section, at the outbreak of war. He subsequently led 24 Air Flotilla at Midway and commanded naval forces in Java by 1944. By the time of the Okinawa campaign in April 1945 he was a vice admiral and commander of 10 Air Fleet. (Ed. Note: After extensive checking, I'm of the opinion that the man referred to as "S. Maeda" in the list above is in fact "M. Maeda".)

So....  What Do YOU Know?

First off, it certainly is not our intent to try to obtain from our web site viewers any information that may still be considered classified. However, contributors to the U.S.S. Little Rock Association's Message Board have been a significant source of useful data in the past. If you have some insights about efforts on the part of Little Rock crew, whether from the CL 92, or CLG 4 / CG 4 time frames, to obtain information on or about "enemies" of the United States, we'd love to hear from you. Please feel free to use the Message Board or contact the web master directly.

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