EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE BOMBING
Before entering World War II, Japan had many other problems
to deal with. It had begun to rely more and more for raw materials (especially
from outside sources because their land was so lacking in these. Despite these difficulties, Japan began to build a successful empire with a
solid industrial foundation and a good army and navy. The military became highly involved in the government, and this began to get them into
trouble. In the early 1930's, the Japanese Army had many small, isolated battles with the Chinese in Manchuria. The Japanese Army prevailed in
the series of battles, and Manchuria became a part of the Japanese political system. In 1937, the conflicts began again with the Chinese in the
area near Beijing's Marco Polo Bridge. Whether or not these conflicts began inadvertently or whether they were planned is unknown. These led
to a full-scale war known as the second Sino-Japanese War. This was one of the bloodiest wars in world history and continued until the final
defeat of Japan in 1945.
In 1939, World War II was beginning with a string of victories
by German forces. Germany's success included defeats of Poland and France
along with a seizure of England. Many of the European nations that Germany now controlled had control over important colonial empires such
as the East Indies and Singapore in Southeast Asia. These Southeast Asian countries contained many of the natural resources that Japan so
desperately needed. Now that these countries were worried about matters over in Europe, Japan felt that it should seize the opportunity to take
over some of them.
At the same time in the United States, President Franklin
D. Roosevelt wanted to halt the expansion of Germany and Japan, but many
the government wanted to leave the situation alone. The United States began to supply materials to the countries at war with Germany and
Japan, but it wanted to remain neutral to prevent and overseas war. Meanwhile, Germany, Italy, and Japan formed the Axis Alliance in
September of 1940. Japan was becoming desperate for more natural resources. In July of 1941, Japan made the decision to secure access to the
abundance of the much needed resources in Southeast Asia. It was afraid that it could not defeat the larger and stronger Western powers. It
needed to build up its armies in order to stay in the war. It also had to worry, though. about the United States' reaction to their plans to seize
Japan began their seizure with southern Indochina. (They
already controlled northern Indochina.) The United States was in strict
Japan's plans, and began their reaction with an embargo on the shipment of oil to Japan. Oil was necessary to keep Japan's technology and
military progressing. Without it, Japan's industrial and military forces would come to a stop in only a short time. Japan's government viewed the
oil embargo as an act of war.
Throughout the next few months of 1941, the United States
tried to come to some kind of resolve with Japan to settle their differences.
wanted the United States to lift the oil embargo and allow them to attempt a takeover of China. The United States refused to lift the embargo
until Japan would back off of their aggression with China. Neither country would budge on their demands, and war seemed to be inescapable.
The United States regarded Japan's adamant refusal to
budge on their stance as a sign of hostility. They too realized that war
They responded to this potential war with Japan by adding to the military forces stationed in the Pacific. General Douglas MacArthur and his
ground forces in the Philippines began to organize into a formidable army. The B-17 was just arriving at many air force bases throughout the
country, and was a great confidence to MacArthur upon its arrival. MacArthur became so confident in his forces stationed in the Philippines
that on December 5,1941, he said, "Nothing would please me better than if they would give me three months and then attack here."
The most powerful and most crucial part of American defense
in the Pacific Ocean was that of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Usually, this
stationed somewhere along the west coast of the United States, and made a training cruise to Hawaii each year. With war looming, the U.S.
Pacific Fleet was moved to the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii. This was the perfect location for the American forces in the Pacific because of
its location, halfway between the United States west coast and the Japanese military bases in the Marshall Islands. The Pacific Fleet first
arrived at Pearl Harbor naval base on April 2, 1940, and were scheduled to return to the United States mainland around May 9, 1940. This plan
was drastically changed because of the increasing activity of Italy in Europe and Japan's attempt at expansion in Southeast Asia. President
Roosevelt felt that the presence of the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii would retard any Japanese attempt at a strike on the United States. Admiral James
O. Richardson of the Pacific Fleet was in full opposition to the long stay at Pearl Harbor. He felt that the facilities were inadequate to maintain
the ships or crews. Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, was the one who originally made the decision to extend the crew's stay
in Hawaii; and, in spite of Admiral Richardson's complaints, he maintained that the Pacific Fleet must stay there to keep the Japanese from
entering the East Indies. Richardson felt that the Japanese would realize the military disadvantages of being stationed at Pearl Harbor, and
would be quick to act on the situation. All of Richardson's objections, in meetings with both the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and the
President, got him nothing but a dismissal shortly thereafter.
On November 12,1940, British torpedo bombers launched
an attack on the Taranto harbor in Italy. This sent worry into United States
government officials who were afraid that the same thing could happen to Pearl Harbor. On November 22, Admiral Stark suggested to
Richardson the idea of placing anti-torpedo nets in Pearl Harbor. Richardson replied that they were neither necessary nor practical. On
February 1,1941, Richardson was officially replaced by Admiral Husband E. Kimmel. Kimmel also did not like the idea of his fleet at Pearl
Harbor; but, after seeing what had happened to Richardson, he was very quiet about his objections. The Pacific Fleet was to be used as a
defensive measure to direct Japan's attention away from Southeast Asia by: (a)capturing the Caroline and Marshall Islands, (b)disrupting
Japanese trade routes, and (c)defending Guam, Hawaii, and the United States mainland. Kimmel was supposed to prepare his fleet for war with
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of Japan's
Combined Fleet, had to be careful of his country's position in the Pacific.
concentrated his forces too much in the Pacific islands, then the mainland would be more susceptible to attack from Europe and even the
United States. Yamamoto devised a plan that involved an opening blow to the United States Pacific Fleet at the same time as their offensive
against British, American, and Dutch forces in Southeast Asia. He planned to cripple the United States while he quickly conquered much of
Southeast Asia and gathered their natural resources. He hoped that his attack against the Pacific Fleet would demoralize the American forces
and get them to sign a peace settlement allowing Japan to remain as the power in the Pacific. A month after the British attack on Taranto harbor,
Yamamoto decided that if war with the United States was unavoidable he would launch a carrier attack on Pearl Harbor. In January of 1941,
Yamamoto first began to commit to this strategy by planning out his attack and showing it to other Japanese officials. Yamamoto developed the
following eight guidelines for the attack: (1) surprise was crucial, (2) American aircraft carriers there should be the primary targets, (3) U.S.
aircraft there must be destroyed to prevent aerial opposition, (4) all Japanese aircraft carriers available should be used, (5) all types of bombing
should be used in the attack, (6) a strong fighter element should be included in the attack for air cover for the fleet, (7) refueling at sea would be
necessary, and (8) a daylight attack promised best results, especially in the sunrise hours. Many of Japan's Navy General Staff were in
opposition to Yamamoto's plan, but they continued to prepare for the attack. All of the necessary training was given to troops, and all of the
fighters and submarines were prepared.
THE BOMBING BEGINS
There were peace talks occurring up until about November
27, 1941. At that time, negotiations had come to a halt. The United States
troops on alert. On December 6, 1941, President Roosevelt made an appeal for peace to the Emperor of Japan. Not until late that day did the U.S.
decode thirteen parts of a fourteen part message that presented the possibility of a Japanese attack. Approximately 9 a.m.(Washington time) on
December 7,1941, the last part of the fourteen part message was decoded stating a severance of ties with the United States. An hour later, a
message from Japan was decoded as instructing the Japanese embassy to deliver the fourteen part message at 1 p.m. (Washington time). The
U.S., upon receiving this message sent a commercial telegraph to Pearl Harbor because radio communication had been down.
At 6 a.m.(Hawaiian time) on December 7,1941, the first
Japanese attack fleet of 183 planes took off from aircraft carriers 230
miles north of Oahu.
At 7:02 a.m., two Army operators at a radar station on Oahu's north shore picked up Japanese fighters approaching on radar. They contacted a
junior officer who disregarded their sighting, thinking that it was B-17 bombers from the United States west coast. The first Japanese bomb was
dropped at 7:55 a.m. on Wheeler Field, eight miles from Pearl Harbor. The crews at Pearl Harbor were on the decks of their ships for morning
colors and the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner. Even though the band was interrupted in their song by Japanese planes gunfire, the
crews did not move until the last note was sung. The telegraph from Washington had been too late. It arrived at headquarters in Oahu around
noon (Hawaiian time), four long hours after the first bombs were dropped.
AFTERMATHS OF THE BOMBING
Of the approximately 100 U.S. Navy ships present in the
harbor that day, eight battleships were damaged with five sunk. Eleven
including cruisers and destroyers were also badly damaged. Among those killed were 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians. The wounded included
1,178 people. The U.S.S. Arizona was dealt the worst blow of the attack. A 1,760 pound bomb struck it, and the ammunition on board exploded
killing 1,177 servicemen. Today, there is a memorial spanning the sunken remains of the Arizona dedicated to the memory of all those lost in the
News of the attack was a shock to the entire nation. The
bombing rallied the United States behind the President in declaring war
on Japan. On
December 11, Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S., bringing about a global conflict. The United States would later drop two atomic
bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bringing Japan to complete surrender on August 14, 1945.
0342 Minesweeper CONDOR sights periscope off Honolulu Harbour
...notifies patrol destroyer WARD to investigate. 0458
Minesweeper CROSSBILL and CONDOR enter Pearl Harbor... defective submarine net remains open.
0600 - 200 miles south of Oahu carrier ENTERPRISE launches 18
aircraft to scout ahead...then to land at Ford Island, Pearl
0610 - 220 miles north of Oahu Admiral Nagumo orders launching
of 1st wave of 183 aircraft off six carriers...2 are lost during
0630 Destroyer WARD again notified of submarine sighting this
time by supply ship ANTARES off Pearl Harbor
entrance...Navy patrol plane (PBY) dispatched to the scene.
0645 WARD opens fire on target hitting conning tower...as she closes in drops depth charges..air attack by PBY follows.
0653 WARD'S commander Captain Outerbridge sends message to Commandant
14th Naval District: "We have attacked, fired
upon and dropped depth charges upon submarine operating in defensive sea area".
0700 Commander Fuchida flying towards Oahu directs his pilots
to home in on local radio station. 0702 Private's Lockhard and
Elliott of Opana Radar Station pick up what appears to be a flight of unidentified aircraft bearing in 132 miles north of
0710 Elliott phones in information to Fort Shafter...Only person
present at Information Center is Lt. Tyler...having begun his on
the job training Dec. 3...conversation last ten minutes.
0715 Capt. Outerbridge's attack message, delayed in decoding
is delivered to duty officer, 14th Naval District, and to Admiral
Kimmel's duty officer...Japanese launch 2nd wave of 168 assault aircraft...
0720 Lt. Tyler feels certain that the unidentified planes are
B-17s scheduled to arrive from the mainland...instructs Opana
station to shut down...Privates Elliott and Lockhard however continue to plot incoming flight...
0733 Important message from Gen Marshall from Washington to Short
received via RCA in Honolulu...cablegram has no
indication of priority...messenger Tadao Fuchikami proceeds on normal route...
0735 Reconnaissance plane from cruiser CHIKUMA reports main fleet in Pearl Harbor...
0739 Opana Station loses aircraft on radar 20 miles off coast of Oahu due to "dead zone" caused by surrounding hills...
0740 1st wave sights North Shore of Oahu...deployment for attack begins...
0749 Commander Fuchida orders attack...all pilots to begin assault on military bases on Oahu...
0753 Fuchida radios code to entire Japanese Navy "TORA TORA TORA"
indicating success...maximum strategic
surprise...Pearl Harbor caught unaware...
0755 Island wide attack begins...Japanese dive bombers to strike
airfields Kaneohe, Ford Island, Hickam, Bellows, Wheeler,
Ewa...Aerial torpedo planes begin their run on ships in Pearl Harbor...
** ATTACK ERUPTS AT PEARL HARBOR**
Along Battleship Row, battlewagons feel the sting of the newly perfected
torpedoes specifically designed for the shallow waters
of Pearl Harbor At 1010 dock violent explosions rock light cruiser HELENA on her starboard side crippling both her and
minelayer OGLALA moored beside her.. On the other side of Battleship row, Ford Island, target ship UTAH also feels the sting
of the torpedoes...and like the battleship OKLAHOMA begins to capsize... Light cruiser RALEIGH moored ahead of the UTAH
takes measures to prevent capsizing... Commander Logan Ramsey of Ford Island Command Center sends out message for all
radiomen on duty to send out in plain English "AIR RAID PEARL HARBOR THIS IS NO DRILL"...2nd dispatch orders all
patrol planes to seek out enemy... Simultaneously the call for General Quarters echos throughout Pearl Harbor...each ship and
their personnel in turn swing into action against the attacking Japanese...one quarter of all guns respond to the enemy...
0800 B-17's from the mainland reach Oahu after 14 hour flight...Aircraft
from carrier ENTERPRISE arrive Ford Island...both
caught between enemy and friendly fire...
0802 Machine guns on battleship NEVADA open fire on torpedo planes
approaching her port beam...two planes hit...however
one missile tears huge hole in ship's port bow...
0805 Repair ship VESTAL moored outboard of battleship ARIZONA opens fire...Admiral Kimmel arrives CINCPAC
headquarters..Battleship CALIFORNIA receives second torpedo "portside at frame 110"... prompt action directed by Ensign
Edgar M. Fain prevents ship from capsizing...High level bombers begin their run "on both bows" of battleship row...
0808 KGMB radio interrupts music calling for: "All Army, Navy,
and Marine personnel to report to duty"... High level bombers
unleash armour piercing, delayed action bombs from altitude of 10,000 feet scoring hits on battleships...
0810 Forward magazines on battleship ARIZONA suddenly ignite
resulting in a tremendous explosion and huge fireball sinking
the battleship within nine minutes...concussion of explosion blows men off repair ship VESTAL...
0812 General Short advises entire Pacific Fleet and Washington,
"Hostilities with Japan commenced with air raid on Pearl
0815 KGMB interrupts music with 2nd call ordering all military personnel to report for duty...
0817 USS HELM first of several destroyers to clear Pearl Harbor
spots a midget submarine struggling to enter harbor...shots
fired misses target...sub frees itself from reef and submerges...
0825 Using a Browning Automatic Rifle Lt. Stephen Saltzman and
Sgt. Lowell Klatt shot down enemy plane making strafing
run on Schofield Barracks...
0826 Honolulu Fire Department responds to call for assistance from Hickam Field...3 firemen killed...6 wounded...
0830 3rd call out for military via local radio stations...
0835 Tanker NEOSHO half loaded with high octane aviation fuel
moves clear of Battleship Row and oil tanks on Ford Island...
Damage reported in city...Police warn civilians to leave streets and return to their homes...
0839 Seaplane tender CURTISS sights midget sub in harbor and
commences to fire..Destroyer MONAGHAN heads for
intruder at ramming speed...
0840 Submarine surfaces after sustaining damage...MONAGHAN hits
sub and drops depth charges as she passes...1st
explanation over local radio stations. "A sporadic air attack...rising sun sighted on wing tips"...
0850 Lt. Commander Shimazaki orders deployment of 2nd wave over military bases on Oahu...
0854 Attack run begins...54 high-level bombers hit Naval air
stations, 78 dive bombers hit ships in Pearl, 36 fighters circle over
harbor to maintain air control...
0900 Crew of the Dutch liner JAGERSFONTEIN opens up with her
guns, the first Allies to join the fight...Radios throughout
the island crack out urgent messages "Get off roads and stay off.. Don't block traffic...Stay at home...This is the real McCoy"...
0930 Tremendous explosions rocks destroyer SHAW sending debris everywhere... bomb falls near Governor's home...
1000 First wave arrives back on carriers, 190 miles north of Oahu...
1005 Governor Poindexter calls local papers announcing state of emergency for entire territory of Hawaii
1030 Mayor's Major Disaster Council meets at city hall...Reports from local hospitals pour in listing civilian casualties...
1100 Commander Fuchida circles over Pearl Harbor...assesses damage
then returns to carrier task force...All schools on Oahu
ordered to close...
1115 State of emergency announced over radio by Governor Poindexter...
1142 As per orders by Army local stations go off the air...General short confers with Governor regarding martial law...
1146 First report of many false sightings of enemy troops landing on Oahu...
1210 American planes fly north in search for enemy with negative results...
1230 Honolulu police raid Japanese embassy...find them burning documents...Blackout to begin at night ordered by Army...
1240 Governor confers with President Roosevelt regarding martial
law...both agree it necessary that the military take over the
1300 Commander Fuchida lands on board carrier AKAGI...discussion
follows with Admiral Nagumo and staff concerning
feasibility of launching 3rd wave...
1330 Signal flags on carrier AKAGI orders Japanese task force
to withdraw... Territorial director of civil defense orders
blackout every night until further notice...
1458 Tadao Fuchikami delivers message from Washington...message
decoded and given to General Short regarding ultimatum
from Japan to be given at 1300 Washington time..."Just what significance the hour set may have we do not know, but be on the
1625 Governor signs Proclamation...martial law put into effect...