Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake Snowflake

The Attack on Pearl Harbor

  • Wars And Conflict
  • 6 mins

By Crusader1307

Before The September 11th 2001 Terror attacks in New York, the single most defining moments for Americans was The Attack on US Naval Forces stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7th 1941. Even today, the phrase "Remember Pearl Harbor" is forever embedded into The American conscious. Many hundreds of Books, Articles, Movies and Television Shows have been produced over the last 75 years, telling the story of what was once considered "unthinkable". The following is a "digest" of the Events leading up to, as well as the Attack which would finally draw America into World War II.

 

THE BACKGROUND:
Japan left it's isolationist views behind in the 1870s, and embraced it's need for a Modern Army and Navy. America, Britain, Germany and France's - were among the first to send Advisors (and weapon Contractors), to "The Land of The Rising Sun". Japan was rich in raw materials then. The need for Treaties was tantamount to Japan's new "Allies" (moreso because each disc not want the other to have a step up on the other in terms of possible Military Bases in The Region). Japan was no stranger to military conquest. Korea and a crumbling Dynastic Government in China, made them prime targets of invasion and conquest for Japan. Developing a small but powerful Navy, Japan was able to engage in and win a War against a much larger Russia  (The Sino-Russian War). With victory, Japan's growing Ultra-militaristic Power base, began to think that they could "rule" The Far East. This ambitious Plan became known as "The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere". Japan would begin a vicious Colonization Policy in Asia. A favored trading Partner, The United States viewed Japan very much as a "petulant child". Forcing Japan into several Treaties to limit their growing Navy, were mostly ignored. When Japan invaded Manchuria and occupied Nanking, her barbarism became widely known. Similarly, a political save Japan joined with The Axis Powers in their Tri-Partite Pact. America retaliated by stopping all of it's exports of oil and scrap metal. The move was seen to curb Japanese agression. What it did was the opposite. The US had few Territorial possessions in The South Pacific. Those garnered were mostly by Treaty with Spain (as a result of The Spanish-American War). It's largest and most important was at The Hawaiian Island of Oahu at Pearl Harbor. American had moved it's mighty Pacific Fleet from California to Hawaii to send a clear message to Japan. The message was understood. As far as Japan was concerned, The American Fleet needed to be removed.

 

THE PLAN:
With the "blessing" of Japan's Emperor Hirohito, The Imperial High Command set in motion a Plan aimed at initiating a first strike against America. It was decided that Japan's brightest and best of Admirals, Isoroku Yamamoto was chosen. Educated in America and having served as Imperial Naval Advisor to Washington on behalf of Japan - he was asked to develop what was known as "Operation: Z". The Plan was simple .  Using a mass Carrier assault, three Formations of Japanese Torpedo and Bombers would strike and decimate The American Fleet. Utmost secrecy was the watch word. With American effectively removed  (temporarily) from The Pacific Japan could stabilize it's hold on it's "Sphere" of growing influence. Should War come, Japan would be in a much better position to strike at America again (even leveling it's resources against America's West Coast). Great expense was taken to recruit Japan's best for the assault. Training was detailed and consistent. All the while, America remained unawares and complacent.

 

ESPIONAGE:
Such a great undertaking does not go through without utilizing the "Ancient Art" of Espionage, or Spying. Japanese Agents, posing as everything from "Tourists" to simple "Fruit Field Workers", gathered detailed intelligence about what ships were present, numbers and defenses. The "Data Base" served the future attackers well. Pilots memorized Ship names and geographic details easily based on the information provided. Disinformation was spread at Diplomatic levels in Washington DC to insure that America was keot "off guard". To confuse the situation further, Japan was using a highly complex Code which could not be quite broken. Naval Intelligence Officers were close, but not enough to spur The Executive Branch if Government to take precautions.

 

PRE-ATTACK PLANS:
The Japanese Attack Fleet was massive. Consisting of (6) Aircraft Carriers and an additional 70 Surface Ships, The Air Wing Strike Force consisted of 424 Aircraft. Their target of The American Fleet at Pearl, consisted of  (8) Battleships, (8) Cruisers, (30) Destroyers and (50) assorted Surface and support Ships. The ultimate hope was that the 2 known Aircraft Carriers with The Fleet, would be stationed there as well. With regards to Air Power, America was practically empty. Hickham Field, ran by The Army Air Corps, had some 390 Aircraft assigned. Most of these were down for maintenance or outdated. Army Ground Forces consisted of close to 1,500 Soldiers (again using outdated equioment). With everything in their "favor", The Japanese Fleet departed Homewaters on November 26, 1941 for their target.

 

THE ATTACK:
The first Wave of Japanese Bombers were actually detected by a new type of technology known as Radar. The massive "blimps", as viewed by new and under trained Soldiers, were quickly dismissed as "friendly aircraft" or even a "flock of birds". It was known of a Flight of B-17 Bombers in-bound to The Islands. It was a quiet Sunday morning, 5-minutes to 8:00 AM. Suddenly, Aircraft swarmed The Harbor. Wave after wave began dropping both bombs and Toroedoes into The Harbor. Other Fighter's mercilessly staffed The Harbor with Machine Gun fire. By 8:20 AM, The USS "Arizona" exploded in the Harbor in a wash of fire and smoke. "Oklahoma", "Utah" and others followed suit. The normally azure blue Pacivic sky was black with smoke. Loose oil pooled up on the water of the Harbor , catching fire. The Harbor looked as a scene out of Hell. With only 30 Enemy Aircraft shot down, The Japan launched it's second Wave of Fighters against Hickham Field and Schofield Army Barracks. Schofield was repeatedly staffed by Machine Gun fire. Many grabbed their own Machine guns, running to the roof tops to engage the Enemy. Amazingly only 40 soldiers were killed. Hickham suffered far worse. In an attempt to protect American Fighters, most of the 390 Planes had been (by protocols), all "bunched" up in the center of the Air Field. This made an easy target for attacking Japanese Fighters. All structures on the Field were struck and destroyed. Several remote Field Fighter Aircraft were able to launch and try to engage the Enemy. They were largely unsuccessful.  The Japanese Command was pleased. But at the turn of the Third Wave, Admiral Yamamoto cancelled the strike. His goal had been accomplished, he had severely weakened America's ability to make War in The Pacific. 

 

THE AFTERMATH:
Word of the attack would reach Washington DC late in the 7th. President Franklin Roosevelt was shocked over the loss of life and materials. On December 8th, in an Emergency Session of Congress, he spoke the line from his immortal speech. "Yesterday, December 7th 1941......A Day That Will Live In Infamy........" He asked for a Declaration of War. He got it. On December 10th, Germany would declare War on America. The World truly was at War. The casualties were none more felt than those who perished aboard the Battleship "Arizona". Half of the Islands casualties came from her, when golf her crew were killed instantly. Many were recovered and buried with honors. Many more, like the still standing wrecks of "Arizona" and "Utah" - still lay where they fell 75 years ago.