Remember The Attack On Pearl Harbor

The Attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise aerial attack largely on Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, and the USA launched by the 1st Air Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy of the task force Carrier Striking Task Force on the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941 (Hawaii time). It was aimed at the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy and its defending Army Air Corps and Marine defensive squadrons as preemptive war intended to neutralize the American forces in the Pacific in an impending World War II. Pearl Harbor was actually only one of a number of military and naval installations which were attacked, including those on the other side of the island.

Of 8 American battleships in the harbor, the attack resulted in 1 destroyed, 2 sunk at their moorings, 1 capsized, 1 beached and 3 damaged but afloat. With the exception of the Arizona (destroyed), all the others were refloated or righted and 6 (Nevada, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, California and Pennsylvania) were repaired and returned to service. While the Oklahoma, which had capsized, was righted, she was never repaired. Additionally, the attack severely damaged 9 other warships, destroyed 188 aircraft, killed 2,403 American servicemen, and 68 civilians. However, the Pacific Fleet's three aircraft carriers were not in port and were left undamaged, as were the base's vital oil tank farms, Navy Yard and machine shops, submarine base, and power station, as well as the Headquarters Building (home to the intelligence unit HYPO). These provided the basis for the Pacific Fleet's campaign during the rest of the war.

Ninety minutes before the attack on Pearl Harbor began (December 7, 1941 Japan time, on the other side of the International Date Line), Japan invaded British Malaya. This was followed by an early morning attack on the New Territories of Hong Kong and within hours or days by attacks on the Philippines, Wake Island, and Thailand and by the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse.

On December 8, 1941, Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress, calling 7 December 1941 "a date which will live in infamy". Amid outrage at the attack and the late delivery of the note breaking off relations, actions considered treacherous, Congress declared war on Japan with Jeannette Rankin (Republican of Montana) casting the only dissenting vote. Roosevelt signed the declaration the same day. Continuing to intensify its military mobilization, the U.S. government finished converting to a war economy, a process begun by provision of weapons to Britain.

The Pearl Harbor attack immediately galvanized a divided nation into action. Public opinion had been moving towards support for entering the War during 1941, but considerable opposition remained until the Pearl Harbor attack. Overnight, Americans united against Japan, and that response probably made possible the unconditional surrender position later taken by the Allied Powers. Some historians believe the attack on Pearl Harbor doomed Japan to defeat simply because it awakened the "sleeping U.S. behemoth", regardless of whether the fuel depots or machine shops had been destroyed or even if the carriers had been caught in port and sunk. U.S. industrial and military capacity, once mobilized, was able to pour overwhelming resources into both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters. Others believe Japanese trade protection was so incompetent, U.S. submarines could have strangled Japan into defeat alone.

Perceptions of treachery or possible treachery in the attack before a declaration of war sparked fears of sabotage or espionage by Japanese sympathizers residing in the U.S., including citizens of Japanese descent and was a factor in the subsequent Japanese internment in the western United States. Other factors included misrepresentations of intelligence information (none) suggesting sabotage, notably by General John DeWitt, commanding Coast Defense on the Pacific Coast, who had personal feelings against Japanese Americans. . In February 1942, Roosevelt signed United States Executive Order 9066, requiring all Japanese Americans to submit themselves for arrest and internment.

Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on the United States on December 11, four days after the Japanese attack. Hitler and Mussolini were under no obligation to declare war under the mutual defense terms of the Tripartite Pact. However, relations between the European Axis Powers and the American leadership had deteriorated since 1937. Earlier in 1941, the Nazis learned of the U.S. military's contingency planning to get troops in Continental Europe by 1943; this was Rainbow Five, made public by sources unsympathetic to Roosevelt's New Deal, notably the Chicago Tribune. Hitler seems to have decided war with the United States was unavoidable, and the Pearl Harbor attack, the publication of the Rainbow Five plan, and Roosevelt's post-Pearl Harbor address, which focused on European affairs as well as the situation with Japan, probably contributed. Hitler also underestimated American military production capacity beyond Lend Lease, the nation's ability to fight on two fronts and the time his Operation Barbarossa would require. Similarly, the Nazis may have hoped the declaration of war, a showing of solidarity with Japan, would result in closer collaboration with the Japanese in Eurasia.

Regardless of Hitler's reasons, the decision was an enormous strategic blunder and it enraged the American public. It allowed the United States to immediately enter the European war in support of the United Kingdom and the Allies without much public debate about the relative lack of retaliation against Japan. Conversely, the Pacific theater became Japan's sole focus of attention; overwhelming the Americans and, later, defending against them, undermined cooperative efforts against British and Russian holdings in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region. Opening a second front against the Soviet Union, which never came to fruition, would have been of considerable value to the combined Axis' war effort.

President Roosevelt appointed an investigating commission, headed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts to report facts and findings with respect to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Both the Fleet commander, Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, and the Army commander, Lieutenant General Walter Short (the Army had been responsible for air defense of Hawaii, including Pearl Harbor, and for general defense of the islands against hostile attack), were relieved of their commands shortly thereafter. They were accused of "dereliction of duty" by the Roberts Commission for not making reasonable defensive preparations. This evaluation has been controversial ever since. On May 25, 1999, the US Senate voted to recommend both officers be exonerated on all charges of dereliction of duty, citing allegations of the denial to Hawaii commanders of vital intelligence which was available in Washington.

In terms of its own objectives, the attack on Pearl Harbor was a tactical success which by far exceeded the expectations of its planners. In execution, it has few parallels in the military history of any era. Even the surprise British carrier strike on the Italian's Taranto naval base in 1940 had not been so devastating in terms of damage inflicted, although in successfully neutralizing the Italian Navy it had much greater strategic implications. Due to its losses at Pearl Harbor, and in the subsequent Japanese invasion of the Philippines, the U.S. Navy and Army Air Corps were unable to play any significant role in the Pacific War for the next several months. With the U.S. Pacific Fleet essentially out of the picture for a time, Japan was temporarily free of worries about the rival Pacific naval power. It went on to conquer Southeast Asia, the Southwest Pacific, and to extend its reach far into the Indian Ocean, if without occupying territory.

Although Pearl Harbor was the most notable attack on American soil during WWII, there were several others (including the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, Aleutians, and Midway attacks.)

Posted by admin on Wednesday 06 December 2006 - 14:29:12 | LAN_THEME_20

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