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Lot 105: Admiral Nimitz: "I... felt that you would like to be swapping punches with the Japs"
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: Admiral Nimitz to Henry Ford’s Enforcer: “I thought of you… and felt that you would like to be out here swapping punches with the Japs” ********** NIMITZ, CHESTER. (1885-1966). American admiral and commander of Pacific forces during World War II. TLS. (“C. W. Nimitz”). 1p. 4to. Aboard the Flagship of the Commander-In-Chief, June 12, 1942. On United States Pacific Fleet letterhead on which the printed “U.S.S. Pennsylvania Flagship” has been blacked out. To HARRY BENNETT (1892-1979), Ford’s controversial head of internal security. ********** “Greetings and best wishes. I thought of you many times in the last six months and felt that you would like to be out here swapping punches with the Japs. Next to doing that, I believe, you are enjoying turning out the weapons that will help put the Japs in their place. I am sending with this letter, under the same cover, a letter with some photographs, addressed to Mr. Henry Ford. Will you see that he gets the pictures personally and personally reads my letter? I hope that all goes well with you and Mrs. Bennett, and that before many autumns pass we can again witness the Army and Navy teams in their annual football match…”********** After the December 1941 Japanese attack on the American military bases in Pearl Harbor precipitated America’s entry into World War II, U.S. forces fought in the air, land and sea, engaging Japanese vessels at Guadalcanal, the Battle of Tarawa and the Battle of Leyte Gulf, to name but a few. Fleet Admiral Nimitz shared command of the Pacific forces with Douglas MacArthur and was charged with leading the United States Pacific Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces in Pacific Ocean Areas. He is credited with the American victories at the Battles of the Coral Sea, Midway, the Solomon Islands, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. Despite heavy losses, the Japanese refused to surrender until atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. On September 2, 1945, Nimitz signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender. In recognition to his leadership during the war, October 5, 1945, was declared Nimitz Day, during which the admiral was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. ********** American auto manufacturer Henry Ford (1863-1947) was a pacifist who opposed intervention in World War II. But with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he began “a tremendous, all-out manufacturing effort,” building a plant to manufacture the B-24 Liberator bombers, (“Henry Ford: Helped Lead American World War II Production Efforts,” Historynet.com). “The first bomber rolled off the line in May 1942, beginning the effective production of several hundred aircraft a month. Bombers were produced at the rate of one plane per hour… By the end of the war, Ford had built 86,865 complete aircraft, plus 57,851 airplane engines, thousands of engine superchargers and generators, and 4,291 military gliders. Ford also turned out tanks, armored cars, jeeps and engines for robot bombs… By the end of the war, Ford plants had built 277,896 of the versatile [jeeps]. In all, the Allies were supplied with more than a million fighting vehicles by Ford operations in the United States, Canada, Britain, India, South Africa and New Zealand,” (ibid.). ********** On January 15, 1941, Nimitz and Ford dedicated the Navy Service School at Ford’s River Rouge Plant where Ford Motor employees instructed Navy artificers about motors, engines, welding, generators, and woodworking, graduating thousands of machinists, electricians and radio operators over the course of the war. ********** Ford was adamantly opposed to labor unions, and in 1920 he hired a colorful former boxer and U.S. Navy sailor as head of security to prevent the unionization of his workforce. Bennett was a master of intimidation, conducting target practice inside his office and bringing pet lions to work. He became known for his unwavering loyalty to Ford and, during the 1930s and 1940s, for his brutal union busting, including opening fire on protesters during the Ford Hunger March in 1932 and leading his staff to beat protestors at the 1937 Battle of the Overpass which touched off a four-year war between Ford and labor leaders. At the time of our letter, Bennett was a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve. When Henry Ford II took over his grandfather’s business in 1945, his first official act was to fire Bennett. ********** With two file holes in the upper margin and a staple hole in the upper left corner. With a red ink docket in the left margin and some show through from ink notes on the verso. In very good condition.