PEARL HARBOR - 7 DECEMBER 1941 ©
The Pacific War Historical Society presents an illustrated account of Japan's treacherous attack on the United States Pacific Fleet at its Pearl Harbor base, and places the attack in its historical setting
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it."
George Santayana, Spanish-American philosopher 1863-1952
TEXT AND WEB-SITE BY JAMES K. BOWEN. THIS WEB-SITE LAST UPDATED ON 20 FEBRUARY 2007.
On 5 November 1941, Japan's militarist government decided to attack the United States and seize the Philippines unless the American government accepted all of Japan's demands by 25 November 1941. The Japanese had already decided to seize the resource-rich British and Dutch colonial possessions in South-East Asia. To distract the American government while it secretly positioned a powerful aircraft carrier strike force for a surprise attack on the United States Pacific Fleet at its Pearl Harbor base in Hawaii, the Japanese government had ordered its envoys in Washington to engage the Americans in intensive diplomatic negotiations.
Battleships of the United States Pacific Fleet burn in Pearl Harbor after the Japanese launched their devastating surprise attack early on Sunday morning, 7 December 1941. The Japanese military high command deliberately chose a Sunday morning for their sneak attack, well knowing that it was a day of worship in the United States, and that American defence preparedness would be at its lowest ebb.
The United States had been at peace for twenty-three years and was unprepared for a direct attack on American territory when the Japanese launched their treacherous surprise attack on the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor at 8.00 am on Sunday, 7 December 1941. The Japanese had carefully planned their attack to take place on a Sunday morning, knowing that American preparedness would be at its lowest ebb at that time.
At the United States Navy base at Pearl Harbor peacetime Sunday routine prevailed, and the normal bustle of a huge naval base was absent when the first wave of Japanese carrier-launched aircraft launched a devastating attack on the battleships of the United States Pacific Fleet. There had been no prior declaration of war.
The whole of the American Pacific Fleet battle line was destroyed or damaged in this terrible attack, and 2,403 Americans were killed.
Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, most Americans did not want to become involved in Nazi Germany's war against Great Britain. The treacherous nature of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor united all Americans against Japan and filled them with a fierce determination to avenge the heavy loss of American lives and ships.
If the United States had not been drawn into World War II by Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, it is very likely that Australia would have been occupied by Japan before the end of 1942.
INDEX TO PEARL HARBOR
Japanese Preparations for the Attack
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor address to America
Pearl Harbor unites Americans behind President Roosevelt
Pearl Harbor in Retrospect
Review of 20th Century Fox Pearl Harbor attack film "Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
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