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This the most common translation of C7 Q40:

Within casks anointed outside with oil and grease

Twenty-one will be shut before the harbor,
at second watch; through death they will do great deeds;
To win the gates and be killed by the watch.
I believe that this prophecy could refer to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Line 1 could be a vague reference to submarines, as they did have a
very rough semblance to a cask. The reference to oil and grease could
refer to the lubrication of their internal engines. The initial attack
on Pearl Harbor began with a failed mini submarine penetration of the
Harbor entrance, launched from larger I boats lurking at the mouth of
the harbor. They were detected and hunted down by destroyers.
"Twenty one will be shut before the harbor..." Most people
assume that the relationship between the "twenty one" and the
gates is one where the "twenty one" are closed *outside* the gates,
and that the casks and the "twenty-one" are the same entities. But
could the twenty-one actually be closed *inside* the gates?
This would make the "casks" and the twenty one" two separate entities,
where the casks seem to be closing off the "twenty one" before the harbor
or "gate". This, in effect, is what the outside-lurking Japanese submarines
who initiated the night attack were doing to the vessels docked at Pearl
"At second watch..." One source says "It is difficult to know exactly
when the second watch is, according to our prophet. There have been
different starting times and divisions for night watches. In modern
times, the first night watch runs from 8pm-12pm. The second watch would
be from 12 m to 4am.
( ref:
Guess what? The mini subs launched their attack around 12:42 AM,
according to another source.
( ref:
Some will say that there were more that 21 vessels docked at Pearl
Harbor. Yes, but to me it is more than a coincidence that officially
there were 21 vessels listed as sunk and crippled at the end of
the raid. So the 21 here may not be referring to the total number of boats
docked the night before the raid happened, but to the 21 vessels
that were to ultimately be destroyed at the end of this raid that was
initiated by the submarines, described in line one.

This seems to fall in a pattern that I have noticed where Nostradamus

seems to describe events by mentioning their extreme beginnings and
endings. The alleged 'fall of the Iranian Shah in the 1979 revolution'
prophecy is another good example of this (C1-Q70).
"...through death they will do good deeds." This is all a matter of
perspective. To the Japanese, the submariners who went on their suicide
mission were considered heroes; as a matter of fact, they received more
praise than the pilots who flew in later. But from the American side,
the people who responded to the devastating surprise attack were the ones
who committed great deeds. The last line takes us bak to the beginning of
the operation again,when the mini-submarines were initially launched.
Some will say that there were no gates at the entrance of Pearl Harbor.
"Seizing the gates" may be poetic symbolic metaphor here, meaning the
general concept of seizing an entrance. Anyways, there was a gate of sorts
to Pearl Harbor.
According to Samuel Elliot Morrison, the mouth of Pearl
Harbor was controlled by an anti torpedo net, that had a few gates.
(History of US Naval Operations in WWII, vol. 3, page 97) One of these
gates was opened earlier to let some ships in at 0458, and was not
closed again until 0840. This allowed one of the midget submarines to
sneak in, and it was later detected by a destroyer and sunk.
Another one was damaged and beached. The exact fate of the three others
is not known, but they were probably destroyed in anti submarine
operations conducted by destroyers once the alert was put out on the
presence of the midget subs. Hence the meaning of the last line, "killed by
the watch." It is poetics metaphor for the naval response teams that
neutralized their threat.