On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor, an American Naval base, was attacked by Japanese air forces. This attack lead to a total of 2,403 deaths and 1,143 wounded. This day changed America and its citizens’ lives majorly.Three months prior to the attack, the fall of 1941 had started. President Franklin D.
Roosevelt was too busy keeping track of changing event around the world. The news abroad was bad and getting worse. Europe had been at war for two years. The forces of Nazi Germany had already defeated many countries from Poland in the East to France in the West. On another part of the world, the Empire of Japan had been constantly expanding.
So far the United States remained at peace, mostly because their nation’s army and navy were in poor shape. There were not enough soldiers to fight and not enough guns and ships to fight with. Young men were still enlisting, getting physicals, and being trained for combat, but their numbers were limited. In 1940, there were 190,000 American soldiers compared to 320,000 in Japan and 800,000 in Germany. America was also recovering from rough times. Before challenging these forces, America had a lot of preparation to do.In Japan, the government believed that the only way to solve its economic demographic problems was to expand into neighboring territories and take over its import market. Japan declared war on China in 1937, and American officials responded with economic boycott or penalty and trade stoppage.
The U.S. was unhappy with Japan’s aggressive attitude towards China. America concluded that without access to money and goods, especially essential supplies like oil, Japan would have to rein in its expansionism. This caused Japan to be more determined to stand their ground.Japan started planning the attack on Pearl Harbor in early 1941.
They wanted a strike so crippling that America would not recover in a long time.More than three hundred bombers and fighters were launched in two waves before and after dawn on December 7.”All in all, I would venture to say that there were seventy planes in the air that were enemy.” -Tanaka, Shelley. Attack On Pearl Harbor.
At dawn on the morning of the attack, William Outerbridge stood aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Ward as it was patrolling the waters of Hawaii, scanning for anything out of the ordinary. Suddenly he caught a glimpse of a submarine heading toward Pearl Harbor. Outerbridge ordered for open fire and when the submarine’s conning tower was hit at 6:54 AM, it submerged. Soon, the Ward spotted another submarine.
Just before 8 AM on a Sunday, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the base. This surprised the U.S. greatly. No one realized the danger until planes began firing their machine guns.
“The Japanese torpedo planes were coming in so close before launching their torpedoes, that it seemed possible to throw stones and hit them. ” -Molotsky, Irvin. “Pearl Harbor Diary : A Calm Sunday Abruptly Shattered” “To our unsuspecting eyes it was just another drill, though it was somewhat peculiar that they would pick Sunday morning for maneuvering. Not until we saw the flames shoot out of the large hangar at the head of the small island did we realize the significance of the situation.” -Molotsky, Irvin. “Pearl Harbor Diary : A Calm Sunday Abruptly Shattered.” The bombs began falling at 7:55 AM.
By 8:25 AM, the first waves of torpedoes and dive-bombers struck.”A plane that looked half like a Stuka and half like one of our own dive bombers was just leveling off and I could see the bombs dropping out of its bottom. It was a silver-gray plane with a reddish gold ball or sun painted on its side.” -Molotsky, Irvin. “Pearl Harbor Diary : A Calm Sunday Abruptly Shattered”Since they were not expecting the attack, the naval facilities at Pearl Harbor were rather undefended.
Ninety-six American ships sat in the harbor, including all eight battleships of the Pacific fleet.On the U.S.S. Arizona, the bombs hit the forward turret and blew a hole in the boiler beneath. The sudden explosion rocked the ship, killing 1,000 men.A wall of fire flooded the U.S.
S. Tennessee and five torpedoes destroyed the U.S.
S. Oklahoma. The Maryland, West Virginia, and California were soon heavily damaged. The U.S.S.
Nevada was crippled as it tried to head out to sea.As the battleships were under fire, crewmen tried to jump into the water and swim to safety, but with the oil that was gushing from the damaged ships and spreading across the water, many of the sailors never made it to shore.The Japanese also destroyed hundreds of parked planes.At 8:40 AM, the second wave of Japanese planes crossed. By 10:00 AM, the battle was over and astonished crewmen searched for lost friends in the burning waters and leveled buildings.
The Japanese left behind smoke and fire that burned long into the day and night.”The U.S.S. Arizona received two bomb hits amidship and a great number of torpedoes. She split in half and her forward magazines burst.
” -Pearl Harbor Memorial, “Attack on Pearl Harbor”The Arizona was completely destroyed, the Oklahoma capsized and was sold for scrap, the California and West Virginia were sunk upright and were returned to service in 1934 and 1944, the Nevada was returned to service in 1942, and the Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Tennessee were lightly damaged and able to be returned to service before the end of 1941. In addition to the battleships, 2 light cruisers were damaged and 3 destroyers were badly damaged. About 200 Navy and Army aircraft were destroyed also.This attack led to a total of 2,403 deaths, including 2,008 navy personnel, 109 marines, 218 army, and 68 civilians. Out of the total 1,177 were from the U.S.
S. Arizona, the worst battleship wreck in the attack. There were also 1,143 wounded, including 710 navy, 69 marines, 364 army, as well as 103 civilians.55 Japanese airmen were killed and 29 of their aircraft were shot down in the attack.”The attacks on Pearl Harbor is ‘a date that will live in infamy,'” – President Franklin D.
Roosevelt In response to the attack, the following day on December eight, the United States Congress declared war on Japan, joining World War II.