World War 2 Pearl Harbor WW II
On the 7th of December 1941 at 7:53 am Japanese warplanes attacked the American fleet as it lay at anchor in Pearl Harbor, the Naval base in Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands.
40 minutes later a second wave of 170 warplanes attacked the harbor.
Without a declaration of war from the Japanese, the attacks came as a complete surprise to the American nation although war with Japan was expected to break out at anytime.
Political relationships between the USA and Japan had broken down in 1937 when Japan attacked China to add to their growing empire, having already taken control of Korea and Manchuria, The Japanese aim was to also take control of British French and Dutch colonies in the Far East and the American controlled Philippines.
The Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek who was resisting the Japanese attack had the full support of Washington, and America imposed sanctions on Japan.
In Italy on the 27th of September 1940 The Japanese signed the Tripartite Pact with the Germans and Joined the Axis.
On the 20th of November 1941 America received an Ultimatum from the Japanese government stating that the US must withdraw its support of China, lift the trade embargo with Japan and supply them with oil.
6 days later on the 26th of November, the USA replied to the Japanese ultimatum, refusing to comply and outlining their self-determination.
America knew that this would be unacceptable to the Japanese, but what they didn't know was that the Japanese navy was already under sail.
The Japanese Fleet
The Japanese Fleet
On November a heavily armed Japanese navy set sail including 6 aircraft carriers, which between them carried 423 warplanes, 2 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, 2 destroyers and 9 battle ships.
The fleet sailed slowly at 12 knots to allow re-fuelling from the slower but vital support ships.
As the fleet sailed radio signals were broadcast to make it appear that the ships were still in their home-ports.
To avoid the main shipping lanes the fleet sailed northwards and kept complete radio silence, they arrived at a position North east of the Hawaiian Islands on December the 6th.
On the night of December 6th, 2 Japanese Submarines sailed close to the coast of Oahu to deploy 5 two man midget subs, which were also used to attack the Pacific Fleet.
hachimaki Headscarf which reads "Certain Victory"
Japanese Zero Fighter Plane
En route to Pearl Harbor
At around 3:40 am on Sunday December the 6th 1941 whilst on a routine patrol the USS Condor spotted a periscope from one of the midget submarines just outside Pearl Harbour's anti-submarine netting, the destroyer USS Ward was summoned to search the area.
Submarine sightings in the area were often reported as they were a regular occurrence.
By the 6th of December it was known by the American government that the Japanese navy had sailed but it was not known where they were.
At around 4:50 am Japanese aircraft carriers turned into the wind, pilots readied themselves for the battle to come, each one wearing around their head a Hachimaki Headscarf which read "Certain Victory".
By 6:20 am 181 aircraft were in the air heading for Pearl Harbor, bad weather caused one planes to crash on take off and another had to return to the ship because of engine trouble, Included in the attack were 100 bombers 51 of which were dive bombers, 40 torpedo planes and 41 Zero Fighter planes (considered to be the finest in the world at that time).
The supply ship USS Antares, spotted another submarine just outside Pearl Harbor at around 6:30 am, the USS Ward was again Summoned to the area, the Ward took aim and fired and the midget submarine took the shell through it's conning tower, the ward then completed the kill by firing depth charges.
At around 7am the Japanese attack flight leader Commander Fuchida picked up a signal from a Hawaiian radio station, he locked onto it for the rest of the journey into Pearl Harbour.
A few minutes later US radar operators spotted a blip on the screen which indicated that over 50 aircraft were approaching, they reported the incident but were told that a flight of United Stated B17's were due at the base that morning.
Attack on pearl harbour
Tora Tora Tora!
As the Japanese planes began the attack on Pearl Harbor at 7:53am, Fuchida sent the now Famous Radio message "Tora Tora Tora" (Tiger Tiger Tiger) The signal meant that the Americans had been caught completely by surprise.
At the sound of the first bomb dropping it was thought by most Americans who heard it, to be an accident, a bomb dropped by one of their own aircraft.
When a dive-bomber blew up a hangar at the Ford Island Command centre, Commander Logan Ramsey realised that the island was under attack and he sent out the message "Air raid Pearl Harbor. This is no drill".
For the next 2 hours torpedoes from the midget subs slashed through the water hitting the hulls of the American Battleships, and bombs rained from the air attack.
From broken ships brave gunners managed to return fire, although to prevent sabotage they were short on ammunition, because it had been locked in storage boxes.
The second wave was divided into three groups. One was tasked to attack Kāneʻohe, the rest Pearl Harbor. The separate sections arrived at the attack point almost simultaneously, from several directions.
The Japanese bombed airfields and attacked ships with very little opposition from the Americans.
Tora Tora Tora!
The damage left Pearl harbor in ruins, the Arizona, was completely destroyed, the Oklahoma capsized, the Nevada, California and West Virginia were sunk at their moorings three other battleships, three cruisers and 3 destroyers and many other craft also suffered damage, 169 American aircraft were destroyed and another 150 damaged mainly on the ground, 2403 Americans were killed and 1176 people were wounded.
The Japanese losses were minimal they lost up to 69 planes, all 5 of their Midget Submarines and 1 fleet submarine, and under 100 Japanese were killed in action, including some suicide bombers (Kamikaze Pilots).
Roosevelt signs the Declaraton of War
Pearl Harbor was not the only attack carried out by the Japanese on the 7th of December 1941, attacks were also launched on Hong Kong, Guam, The phillipeans, Wake Island, and the japanese attacked Midway Island,in a day that was to become known in history as "The day of Infamy"
on the 8th of November President Roosevelt delivered the following message to congress.
"Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:
Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
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.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire."
The Senate Passed resolution by 82 votes to none, and the house of representatives by 388 votes to 1.
At ten minutes past four pm America declared war on Japan and on the same day Britain also declared war on Japan.
Hitler declared war on America on the 11th of November 1941.
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