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The Attack On Pearl Harbor

Discussion in 'United States at Sea!' started by Jim, Oct 21, 2010.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    "The rise and fall of the empire depends upon this battle," signalled Yamamoto to his attack fleet before the strike at Pearl Harbor. But even at this stage, not everything was going to plan. Attack fleet commander Admiral Chuichi Nagumo had just been informed that the American aircraft carriers were not at their moorings, as intelligence had indicated, but were elsewhere in the Pacific on a training exercise. Nonetheless, he decided the attack should go ahead. There were also to be attacks on the US Pacific island bases on Guam, Wake and Midway, and on the British strongholds of Singapore and Hong Kong.

    Japanese Planes warming up on the flight deck of the Kiryu before they take to attack Pearl Harbor.

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    Shortly after dawn on 7 December 1941, 423 Japanese aircraft took off from the decks of the six aircraft carriers of the Japanese fleet. By 7.55 am, they were over Pearl Harbor. Below them lay the American Pacific Fleet, including eight US battleships unprotected by torpedo nets, anchored in neat rows, the regulation practice in peacetime. Each Japanese pilot carried with him a cheap picture postcard of the base, divided into squares to show his specific target area.

    The Americans had little or no warning: Pearl Harbor's radar had shut down for church parade and the anti-aircraft ammunition was locked away. The attack came in two great waves, the dive-bombers and torpedo planes wreaking havoc on their sitting targets. Two hours later, four American battleships lay on the harbour bottom, and four more had been seriously damaged; 188 US planes had been destroyed or put out of action on the ground; and over 3500 American servicemen had been killed or injured. Hanging over the base was a huge pall of oily smoke that could be seen from miles out to sea.

    A Japanese Kate Torpedo Bomber Over Pearl Harbor.

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    Such was the degree of surprise achieved that only 29 attacking planes were shot down. "Leaving aside the unspeakable treachery of it, the Japanese did a fine job," judged fleet commander Admiral Husband Kimmel, later relieved of his command. Up to 18 days after the attack, sailors were still being cut out alive from the capsized hull of the battleship West Virginia. By one of the strange ironies of war, the Japanese government had planned to actually declare war on the USA half an hour before the air strike began, and diplomats in the Japanese embassy in Washington had been slaving away over the translation. But they missed the deadline, and a shamefaced Japanese ambassador was forced to deliver the declaration while the attack was in progress.

    Japanese Zero's awaiting take-off to attack Pearl Harbor.

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    Warnings from US Navy commanders on duty in the Pacific, who had sensed from intercepted signals that a Japanese attack was due at dawn somewhere, had been sent to Washington. But a series of bizarre accidents and misunderstandings meant that these warnings were not passed on to Pearl Harbor in time (the crucial message was sent by commercial cable, and was arriving by motorbike messenger just as the first bombs and torpedoes were falling). Some of these muddles were so peculiar that historians have claimed that President Roosevelt deliberately delayed the warnings in order to bring America into the war. But this seems highly improbable: incompetence and complacency seem the more likely villains.

    The day after the attack, the president addressed the nation.
    ''Yesterday, December 7th a day which will live in infamy, the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan," he said, his voice shaking with anger. "No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory." In Tokyo on the day of the attack, Tojo had broadcast to the Japanese people using similar phraseology. "I promise you final victory," he said.

    Civilian car strafed by Japanese planes during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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    Meanwhile in Berlin, the brutality of the Japanese air strike thrilled Hitler, but he was at first unsure how to act. An outraged story in an American newspaper concerning Roosevelt's "secret preparations for war" in Europe settled the matter for him: he declared war on the USA on the 11th December, Mussolini following suit. "A historical revision on a unique scale has been imposed on us by the Creator," was Hitler's grandiloquent explanation to the Reichstag. For Roosevelt's part, it is still uncertain whether he would have declared war on Germany at this stage, despite continuing pressure from Churchill; but it was probably inevitable sooner or later. Either way, the Japanese had precipitated global war.

    In his country house, Chequers, Churchill had been dining when he was informed of the attack; he rose hurriedly to draw up a declaration of war, (as he had promised Roosevelt in the event of Japanese aggression against America) within the hour. Both the British and Dutch declarations of war were issued the next day. Churchill was elated: America had been dragged into the conflict, and with its aid Britain would probably triumph. "So ... We should not be wiped out," he wrote later. "Our history would not come to an end. We might not even have to die as individuals."

    The Japanese were overjoyed at the 'victory' of Pearl Harbor. Yet devastating as the attack had been, it had not had quite the effect they hoped. Not only was there the question of the 'missing' carriers, but Nagumo had refused permission for a second strike on the harbour and this was to prove crucial in the months ahead as the Americans strove to salvage and repair their damaged ships. Nor were the enormous fuel stocks on Hawaii destroyed. Pearl Harbor remained a viable US naval base in the Pacific.

    Burying US Navy personnel after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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    More generally, the Japanese would now have to contend with the industrial might of America. Only Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of the air strike and a great realist, seemed to understand the potential consequences for his country. "The fact that we had a small success at Pearl Harbor is nothing," he told a colleague grimly. "People should think things over, and realise how serious the situation now is."
     
  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Private Joseph L Lockard was monitoring the radar screen along with Private George E Elliott as the Japanese were flying towards Pearl Harbor. Lockard was to what happened.

    “We were going to close down, but we figured that we might as well play around, because the truck had not come in yet to take us back for chow. So I was just checking the adjustments and was going to let Elliott operate them a while. He had not been in the outfit very long; he was a new man with us. I was going to let him operate. To me it looked like two main pulses. That is why I thought there was something wrong with the equipment, and I was checking to see if there was anything wrong. Apparently there was not.

    I showed it to Elliott. I fooled around some more trying to determine exactly whether it was something coming in or whether it was a defect in the equipment, and finally decided that it must be a flight of some sort. Since it was the only activity we had had that morning, I decided to plot it. Elliott plotted it. We picked it up at 136 miles.”


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    When the largest echo that Lockard had ever seen got to 132 miles north, the two men reported what seemed to be a group of aircraft to the Fort Shafter information center. The officer at the center, extremely inexperienced, concluded that the echo was probably U.S. bombers. By 7:40 a.m. Fleet commander Admiral Husband E. Kimmel had been told of the U.S.S. Ward's activities. News of the radar sighting got no farther than Fort Shafter.

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    Ruth Erickson, a nurse at the Naval Hospital at Pearl Harbor, was eating breakfast with friends.

    “We heard planes roaring overhead and we said, "The 'fly boys' are really busy at Ford Island this morning."

    We didn't think too much about it, since the reserves were often there for weekend training. We no sooner got those words out when we started to hear noises that were foreign to us. I leaped out of my chair and dashed to the nearest window in the corridor. Right then there was a plane flying directly over the top of our quarters, a one story structure. The rising sun under the wing of the plane denoted the enemy. Had I known the pilot, one could almost see his features around his goggles. He was obviously saving his ammunition for the ships. Just down the row, all the ships were sitting there, the California, the Arizona, the Oklahoma, and others.


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    My heart was racing, the telephone was ringing, the chief nurse, Gertrude Arnest, was saying, "Girls, get into your uniforms at once, this is the real thing:' I was in my room by that time, changing into uniform. It was getting dusky, almost like evening. Smoke was rising from burning ships.”

    It was all over by 9:45. The Japanese had lost 29 aircraft, a submarine, and five midget submarines. The United States lost 2,403 service personnel and civilians, with 1,748 wounded; two battleships and the battleship-cum-target ship Utah were lost; another six battleships were damaged but later returned to service; three light cruisers and three destroyers were damaged, 164 aircraft were destroyed, and 128 damaged.

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    The world had changed forever. Two wars, the conflict in Europe and the Mediterranean, and the war in China, had been fused together at Pearl Harbor with the Pacific war.
     
  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Seventeen-year-old Michael "Flip" Pallozola worked in a radio shop and was training in electronics.

    “It was a Sunday afternoon in St. Louis. I was out with some of my friends, using streetcar trolley cars and I'd heard about it. I was thinking, the war had started, I'm gonna become involved with this whether I want to or not. And I felt training in electronics would certainly be beneficial to me and to whatever job I was doing.”

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    Benny Gordon was a 17 year-old Memphis-born African-American living in Webster Groves, Missouri.

    “We felt threatened. We felt that it would be better to try to get them before they got us. Everyone was anxious to try to defend the country, fight for democracy.”

    It wasn't just Pearl Harbor that was attacked on December 7. The Japanese also launched assaults on the British colonies of Malaya and Hong Kong, as well as Guam, Wake Island, and the Philippines. In the summer of 1941, General Douglas MacArthur was appointed U.S. Army Commander for the Far East, based in Manila. He led 110,000 Filipino soldiers and 30,000 U.S. personnel.

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    Louise Kroeger was a Roman Catholic nun. She lived 5,000 feet up in the Philippine mountains, helping to run a school and preschool for children of the Igowant tribe. It was 8 o'clock in the morning.

    “We were sitting at the breakfast table and the phone rang. I think it came from the Spanish fathers. No sooner had we been told then the planes were overhead. We went outside to cheer. We were convinced they would be American planes. What other planes would be there?

    We were screaming and cheering, then all of a sudden, we heard the bombs dropping, we saw them dropping, saw the explosions. Just after midday, Japanese warplanes based in Formosa arrived over Clark Airfield. Madeline Ullom was an American officer and an army nurse at Sternberg Army Hospital in Manila. It was lunchtime and she was on duty.

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    “We just stepped out of the wards, our hospital was built on Spanish-type architecture, so it was a courtyard and nice green grass around. We saw all these planes. We were Americans and we thought after all we saw six formations coming over. They were beautiful planes. There were nine in each group and there were a total of 54 in the formation and they came over the city. We said, "Look at that, aren't they beautiful, aren't they gorgeous" We thought it's great to be an American "these are our planes, look how beautiful they are, look at the sun shining on them."

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    All of a sudden, the bombs started to drop. We were stunned for a couple of minutes; we just couldn't do anything, sort of frozen. We couldn't believe our eyes that they weren't ours. Then we started hearing the crashes and noises that the bombs were dropping. Nichols Field is probably about two miles away. We saw flashes of light. People started saying, "Hit the dirt, hit the dirt!"
    Here we were in our nice white starched uniforms and caps. We hit the dirt.”



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    Jesse White was a master sergeant in the Army Air Corps, serving with the 24th Pursuit Group at Clark Field.

    “I was in the cockpit of my airplane. I looked up and I saw these bombers overhead and people were running for cover. I was running a pre-flight inspection, so I killed the engine, jumped out, and ran as fast as I could and jumped into a ditch just as the bombs were falling. I was lucky to make it to the ditch. Some of the men didn't. The plane was demolished by the first bomb. I was very lucky.”
     
  4. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    Some excellent pictures here Jim, and Pearl Harbor is always a great topic for debate.

    I have often read that the USA knew of the attack well before it happened, now i find this very hard to believe, not that the fact that knew of it, the fact that people who were in responsible position would allow for their own Marines and Civilians to perish, so for me i will continue to believe it was a myth. :fag:
     
  5. brianw

    brianw Member

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    I think it’s fair to say that this is yet one more of the various myths and “urban legends” which build up over time, especially about times of hostilities when security was by necessity tight or misleading.

    Pearl Harbour isn’t totally devoid of such myths either.

    Some have said that the two carriers, Enterprise and Lexington were at sea on the direct orders of Washington to keep them out of trouble during the impending attack. Wrong, they were on routine operations to Midway and Wake Islands.

    There were reports that a Japanese submarine was sunk just outside the harbour entrance in the hours prior to the attack.
    Wrong, the report was of a depth charge attack being made against a suspicious target, possibly a submarine and possibly Japanese, but the sinking was not confirmed.

    Roosevelt (or Churchill) knew in advance of the plan to attack Pearl Harbour.
    Wrong again. The situation might have been of “a feeling that something might be about to happen”, but this was a very uncertain period and intelligence sources had probably identified possible targets for any Japanese attack on US assets, but it could have come at any of up to five other locations such as Alaska, the mainland west coast, Midway, Wake or the Panama Canal as well as Hawaii. As it was, some British assets were also attacked on the same day.

    I think the film "Tora, tora, tora" tells the story as truthfully as was possible at the time.
     
  6. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    There is something about these myths that make people sit up, just like 9/11. Theories and conspiracies are common with history. I don't doubt something was known about Pearl Harbor before the attack but i guess we will never know.
     
  7. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    Got to agree with you on the film "Tora, tora, tora" great film. :thumb:
     
  8. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Japanese Pilots

    Japanese pilots get instructions aboard an aircraft carrier before the attack on Pearl Harbor, in this scene from a Japanese newsreel. It was obtained by the U.S. War Department and released to U.S. newsreels.

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  9. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    Thank you for your view Brian, conspiracy theories are very hard to confirm, also very easy to believe! Thou they do make the mind boggle. "Tora, tora, tora" was indeed a good film, better than the new film Pearl Harbor, which to me was more of a love story than a war film. :wtf:
     
  10. FREEDOM War44

    FREEDOM War44 New Member

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    Pearl Harbor documentary.

    I watched the documentary on the learning channel on direct TV about the attack on Pearl Harbor.
    There was a lot of soldiers and ships that where lost.There where a lot of buidings that where destroyed on the island.
     
  11. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    The Pearl Harbor Plot.

    The ultimate World War II conspiracy theory has it that President Roosevelt and sundry other national political and military leaders knew that the Japanese were about to attack Pearl Harbor, or even connived at arranging the attack in order to get the United States into the war and thereby save Great Britain’s bacon. Variations on the theme are numerous, including an interesting one contending that Winston Churchill knew but refused to tell. Unfortunately, when all the information is examined, particularly the periodic “new” evidence (most of which turns out to be material of little relevance), the most charitable thing that can be said of the charges is “not proven.” Indeed, some of the “proof” advanced in support of the conspiracy theory falls into the category of Elvis sightings, such as the charge that it was actually British airmen who conducted the attack from a secret air base on one of the other Hawaiian Islands. The disaster at Pearl Harbor was the result of a lot of audacity and luck on the part of the Japanese and numerous blunders by many American political and military leaders, with no particular criminality involved. As historian Gordon Prange said, “There’s enough blame for everyone.”

    James F. Dunnigan
     
  12. magnummedals

    magnummedals New Member

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    Hi

    Its great to see some of the rarer and more unusual photos of Pearl Harbor attack. The attack on Pearl Harbor was really a shock to everybody. The world took a big change after attack on Pearl Harbor.
     

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