The order is given: Bomb Pearl Harbor

The order is given: Bomb Pearl Harbor

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On November 5, 1941, the Combined Japanese Fleet receive Top-Secret Order No. 1: In just over a month's time, Pearl Harbor is to be bombed, along with Malaya (now known as Malaysia), the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines.

Relations between the United States and Japan had been deteriorating quickly since Japan’s occupation of Indochina in 1940 and the implicit menacing of the Philippines (an American protectorate), with the occupation of the Cam Ranh naval base approximately 800 miles from Manila. American retaliation included the seizing of all Japanese assets in the States and the closing of the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping. In September 1941, President Roosevelt issued a statement, drafted by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, that threatened war between the United States and Japan should the Japanese encroach any further on territory in Southeast Asia or the South Pacific.

READ MORE: Why Did Japan Attack Pearl Harbor?

The Japanese military had long dominated Japanese foreign affairs; although official negotiations between the U.S. secretary of state and his Japanese counterpart to ease tensions were ongoing, Hideki Tojo, the minister of war who would soon be prime minister, had no intention of withdrawing from captured territories. He also construed the American “threat” of war as an ultimatum and prepared to deliver the first blow in a Japanese-American confrontation: the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

And so Tokyo delivered the order to all pertinent Fleet commanders, that not only the United States—and its protectorate the Philippines—but British and Dutch colonies in the Pacific were to be attacked. War was going to be declared on the West.

Watch The Real Story of Pearl Harbor on HISTORY Vault

This Day In History: The Order to Attack Pearl Harbor in 1941.

On this day in 1941, a top-secret order was sent to the Japanese fleet. The order was to change history and start a brutal war that cost the lives of millions. The secret order (order No.1) directed the Japanese fleet to bomb several targets in the Pacific. Among the targets to be bombed are sites in Malaysia, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines. The main target of the bombers was to be Pearl Harbor, the home of the US Pacific fleet.

The relationship between Washington and Tokyo had been strained for some time. Americans had condemned the Japanese invasion of China and Washington had been especially concerned by the Japanese occupation of French Indochina. They saw the Japanese as becoming increasingly aggressive and they were fearful of their intentions towards the Philippines, which was still an American dependency. Indeed the Japanese had occupied a naval base only a few miles from Manila. The Americans saw this as a threat and they responded with sanctions and they seized the assets of the Japanese government in the USA. The Americans issued a statement they warned the Japanese that they advanced any further that they would regard it as an act of war.

The Japanese War Minister Tojo who gave the order to attack Pearl Harbor

The Japanese government had long been under the influence of the military and they wanted to adopt an aggressive approach in the Pacific. This was even though negotiations were taking place between Washington and Tokyo at this time, in a bid to de-escalate the situation. Tojo, the minister of war and the future prime minister was determined not to back down and believed that the Americans were going to attack the Japanese Empire and that a preemptive strike was necessary to safeguard both Japan and its Empire from US attacks. The Imperial Japanese High Command had drafted up a series of plans for a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and other targets in the Pacific. The aim of these plans was to neutralize the American, British and Dutch naval and aerial power in the Asia-Pacific region. This would allow Tokyo to sweep through much of Asia and the Pacific unopposed.

Tojo on this date issued the order that the Japanese fleet already out at sea and began to prepare for a series of attacks all over the Pacific where American and western forces were stationed. The Americans and the other western powers were unaware of these plans and they were to be taken by total surprise when the Japanese attacked.

A Pearl Harbor Timeline

The following is a timeline of selected events leading up to, and following, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The USS Shaw was destroyed when its magazine detonated in a huge explosion. National Archives hide caption

July: Japan invades North China from Manchuria.

July: U.S. imposes trade sanctions, followed by an embargo, aimed at curbing Japan's military aggression in Asia.

January: Adm. Yamamoto begins communicating with other Japanese officers about a possible attack on Pearl Harbor.

Jan. 27: Joseph C. Grew, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, wires Washington that he has learned that Japan is planning a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. No one in Washington believes the information. Most senior American military experts believe the Japanese would attack Manila in the Philippine Islands if war broke out.

February: Adm. Husband E. Kimmel assumes command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. Kimmel and Lt. Gen.Walter C. Short, commanding general of the Hawaiian Department, prepare for the defense of the islands. They ask their seniors in Washington for additional men and equipment to insure a proper defense of military instillations.

April: U.S. intelligence officers continue to monitor Japanese secret messages. In a program code-named Magic, U.S. intelligence uses a machine to decode Japan's diplomatic dispatches. Washington does not communicate all the available information to all commands, including Short and Kimmel in Hawaii.

May: Japanese Adm. Nomura informs his superiors that he has learned Americans were reading his message traffic. No one in Tokyo believes the code could have been broken. The code is not changed.

July: Throughout the summer, Adm. Yamamoto trains his forces and finalizes the planning of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Sept. 24: The "bomb plot" message from Japanese naval intelligence to Japan's consul general in Honolulu requesting a grid of exact locations of ships in Pearl Harbor is deciphered. The information is not shared with the Hawaii's Adm. Kimmel and Gen. Short.

November: Tokyo sends an experienced diplomat to Washington as a special envoy to assist Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura, who continues to seek a diplomatic solution.

Japan wants the U.S. to agree to its southern expansion in Asia diplomatically but if those efforts were unsuccessful, Japan was prepared to go to war.

Nov. 16: Submarines, the first units involved in the attack, depart Japan.

Nov. 26: The main body, aircraft carriers and escorts, begin the transit to Hawaii.

Nov. 27: Kimmel and Short receive a so-called "war warning" from Washington indicating a Japanese attack, possibly on an American target in the Pacific, is likely.

Night of Dec. 6, Morning of Dec. 7: U.S. intelligence decodes a message pointing to Sunday morning as a deadline for some kind of Japanese action. The message is delivered to the Washington high command before 9 a.m. Washington time, more than 4 hours before the attack on Pearl Harbor. But the message is not forwarded to the Pearl Harbor commanders and finally arrives only after the attack has begun.

At 0755, Hawaiian time, the first wave of Japanese aircraft begin the attack. Along with the ships in Pearl Harbor, the air stations at Hickam, Wheeler, Ford Island, Kaneohe and Ewa Field are attacked.

The Japanese attack continues for two hours and 20 minutes. When it's over, more than 2,400 Americans are dead and nearly 1,200 wounded. Eighteen ships have been sunk or damaged. More than 300 aircraft are damaged or destroyed.

Dec. 8: President Roosevelt addresses Congress and asks for a declaration of war against Japan, which he receives.

Dec. 16: Adm. Kimmel and Gen. Short are relieved of their commands.

January: The Roberts Commission appointed by President Roosevelt finds Kimmel and Short in dereliction of duty and solely responsible for the Pearl Harbor disaster.

January: Capt. Laurence Safford, the Navy's former chief cryptographer, discovers that officials in Washington withheld secret information from Kimmel and Short.

October: A Naval Court of Inquiry finds Kimmel had not been derelict but had acted appropriately given what he knew. The Chief of Naval Operations overrules the court, saying if Kimmel had done aerial reconnaissance he might have discovered the Japanese fleet just 250 miles off Hawaii.

December: A Defense Department investigation finds others share the responsibility with Kimmel and Short for the Pearl Harbor disaster. It does not say who those "others" are.

An amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act of 2001 finds Kimmel and Short acted competently and professionally and urges the president to restore the officers to their highest WWII rank.

Tojo ordered strike on Pearl Harbor according to Hirohito interview

Historians had long speculated about who actually gave the order for the attack on the U.S. naval base in Hawaii that brought U.S. forces into World War II. Until now, no documents had been found in Japan that named Tojo, the wartime prime minister, as responsible.

Records of the Sept. 25, 1945, interview by Hugh Baillie, president of the then United Press wire service, and Frank Kluckhohn, Pacific bureau chief for The New York Times, were found in the Archives and Mausolea Department of the Imperial Household Agency.

The interview marked the first time that Hirohito, known posthumously as Emperor Showa, had been interviewed by any media organizations.

The interview was recorded by officials of the household agency's Board of the Ceremonies.

Analysts said aides to Hirohito clearly wanted the interview to stave off international moves to pursue the question of the emperor's responsibility for Japan's actions during the war.

The document includes responses to questions that were submitted to the emperor beforehand.

One crucial question posed by Kluckhohn centered on the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. The emperor was asked whether he had intended to withhold Japan's declaration of war on the United States until after the attack, which is what Tojo did.

The emperor replied that it had never been his intention for the declaration of war to be issued to American officials hours after Japanese aircraft bombed Pearl Harbor. He said that decision was made by Tojo, a Class-A war criminal who was later hanged.

A draft of the interview compiled by former Prime Minister Kijuro Shidehara avoided directly naming any individual for the decision to attack Pearl Harbor. Instead, it said only that "details of war strategy were left up to the highest commanders in the (Imperial Japanese) army and navy."

In the Page One story that ran in the Sept. 25, 1945, edition of The New York Times, Kluckhohn wrote that the emperor placed responsibility on Tojo for the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

Because the contents of that report differed from the draft put together by Shidehara, researchers had long pondered the accuracy of The New York Times report.

The discovery of the records settles once and for all any question about the emperor's response to the question on Pearl Harbor.

Examine the facts and timeline of the Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941

President Franklin D. Roosevelt speaking to Congress on December 8, 1941 said “Yesterday, December 7, 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.”

TIMELINE of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941

  • At 6:10 AM, Minesweeper USS Condor sights a periscope
  • At 6:10 AM, the first wave of planes took off from Japanese aircraft carriers, approximately 200 miles north of Oahu.
  • At 6:45 AM, the first shots fired by the USS Ward at a Japanese submarine. These were the first shots fired by the United States in World War II.
  • At 6:53 AM, USS Ward radios Navy headquarters but the decoding process delays the message.
  • At 7:02 AM, A radar station on Oahu spots unidentified aircraft heading toward Hawaii.
  • At 7:20 AM, Army lieutenant disregards this radar report because he believes it is a flight of U.S. B-17 bombers coming from California.
  • At 7:40 AM, the first wave of Japanese aircraft reaches Oahu.
  • At 7:49 AM, the Japanese aerial commander orders the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • At 7:55 AM, the Coordinated attack on Pearl Harbor begins.
  • At 8:10 AM, the USS Arizona explodes.
  • At 8:17 AM, the Destroyer USS Helm fires at and sinks Japanese submarine at entrance to harbor.
  • At 8:54 AM, the second wave of attack begins.
  • At 9:30 AM, the USS Shaw explodes in dry dock.
  • At 10:00 AM, Japanese planes head back to carriers and ultimately back to Japan.


  • Japan’s aerial attacking force at Pearl Harbor involved 353 planes, 29 of those planes were lost in the attack. Japan’s fleet consisting of some 67 ships was located approximately 200 miles north of Oahu.
  • Only one ship that participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor survived through the end of World War II.
  • Locator map of Oahu as part of the Hawaii islands
  • Map of Oahu showing the directions of the first and second waves of attack by the Japanese towards Pearl Harbor.
  • Map of Pearl Harbor with Ford Island in the middle showing where all of the United States ships were docked and the directions of the flight paths of Japan’s attack squadrons

Map also shows which ships were damaged:

  • U.S. Ships that were a total loss: Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah
  • U.S. Ships damaged and repaired: Curtiss, Raleigh, Nevada, Vestal, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, California, Oglala, Helena, Shaw, Cassin, Downes, Pennsylvania, Honolulu
  • Battleships USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma along with former battleship, now target ship USS Utah were a total loss and never returned to service. USS West Virginia was the only ship attacked at Pearl Harbor present during Japan’s formal surrender on September 2, 1945.
  • A total of 2,404 United States military and civilians were killed, 1,177 were killed aboard the USS Arizona and 68 civilians were killed. A total of 64 Japanese military were killed with one taken prisoner
  • 15 United States Navy personnel received the Medal of Honor and 51 received the Navy Cross. The Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal was later given to all military veterans of the attack.

Sources: Naval History and Heritage Command, National WWII Museum

The relationship between Japan and the United States had soured in the years leading up to Pearl Harbor. This began with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, an expansion throughout the Chinese mainland that led to the Second Sino-Japanese war between China and Japan in 1937. Japan then joined the Berlin, or Tripartite Pact, forming an alliance with Germany and Italy in 1940.

The war in Europe had opened up strategic opportunities for the Japanese conquest of European colonial holdings, such as French-Indo China, British Malaysia and Singapore, Dutch Indonesia and the Philippines.

Following the invasion of French-Indo China in 1941, the U.S. froze Japanese assets in the United States and declared an embargo on petroleum shipments. U.S. oil accounted for eighty percent of Japan’s oil imports at the time. By late 1941, the United States had severed practically all commercial and financial relations with Japan.

Japanese military strategy was based on the peculiar geography of the Pacific Ocean and on the relative weakness of Allied military presence there. The western half of the Pacific is dotted with many islands, while the eastern half of the ocean is almost devoid of land masses and hence, usable bases except for Hawaii.

The British, French, American, and Dutch military forces in the entire Pacific region west of Hawaii amounted to only about 350,000 troops. Allied air power in the Pacific was weak and consisted mostly of obsolete planes.

The Japanese believed they could quickly launch coordinated attacks from their existing bases on certain Pacific islands and overwhelm the Allied forces, planning to establish a strongly fortified defensive perimeter. They believed that any American and British counter offenses against this perimeter could be repelled, after which those nations would eventually seek a negotiated peace that would allow Japan to keep this newly acquired empire.

On the morning of December 7th, at 6:10 AM, the first wave of Japanese planes launched. At 6:45 AM, the USS Ward spotted and open fired on a Japanese submarine off the coast of Hawaii. At 6:53 AM, the Ward reported sinking the sub, but decoding the message took time. At 7:02 AM, a radar station on Oahu spotted unidentified aircraft heading towards the island. However, radar systems were less than a month old, and the lieutenant who received the warning thought it was a false alarm. By 7:40 AM, the first wave of Japanese aircraft had reached Oahu, having evaded American early warning systems. Shortly thereafter, the Japanese aerial commander ordered the attack.

The Japanese aircraft flew in two waves. The first wave attacked airfields and anti-air defenses on the west side of the island, while the second wave, almost an hour later, concentrated on the eastern side. Both waves met over Pearl Harbor.

In the harbor, anchored ships made perfect targets for the Japanese bombers. Most of the damage to the battleships occurred in the first thirty minutes of the assault. The Arizona was completely destroyed and the Oklahoma capsized. The California, Nevada and West Virginia sank in shallow water. However, the Pacific fleet’s three aircraft carriers were at sea during the attack, and the Japanese failed to destroy the important oil storage facilities on the island. All but two of the battleships were returned to service during the war, and overall U.S. naval strategy in the Pacific shifted to rely on aircraft carriers over battleships as a result.

Japan’s fleet of 67 ships was located about 200 miles north of Oahu. They launched dive bombers, torpedo bombers and fighter planes. There were 353 Japanese aircraft involved in the attack, 29 of which were shot down. Only one Japanese ship that participated survived to the end of the war.

In total, 2,404 U.S. military personnel and civilians were killed. 1,177 of those casualties were aboard one ship–the USS Arizona, where an armor-piercing bomb struck and ignited over a million pounds of gunpowder within the ship. Sixty-eight civilians were also killed.

After the battle, fifteen individuals were awarded the Medal of Honor and fifty-one were awarded a Navy Cross for their actions in battle. The following day, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the United States, and the U.S. Congress declared war against Japan. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. And the previously reluctant nation entered the Second World War.

The attack on Pearl Harbor is credited with uniting the U.S. population behind the war effort. It is estimated that between 35 and 65 million people died during the Second World War, including civilians killed as a result of war, those that died from disease, and those killed during the Holocaust.

The Second World War resulted in the expansion of the Soviet Union’s power throughout Eastern Europe, the spread of communism to China, the advent of nuclear weapons, and the decisive shift of world power away from the states of Western Europe and toward the United States and Soviet Union.

Japan, Pearl Harbor and War

While most Americans anxiously watched the course of the European war, tension mounted in Asia. Taking advantage of an opportunity to improve its strategic position, Japan boldly announced a "new order" in which it would exercise hegemony over all of the Pacific. Battling for its survival against Nazi Germany, Britain was unable to resist, withdrawing from Shanghai and temporarily closing the Burma Road. In the summer of 1940, Japan won permission from the weak Vichy government in France to use airfields in Indochina. By September the Japanese had joined the Rome-Berlin Axis. As a countermove, the United States imposed an embargo on export of scrap iron to Japan.

It seemed that the Japanese might turn southward toward the oil, tin and rubber of British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies. In July 1941 the Japanese occupied the remainder of Indochina the United States, in response, froze Japanese assets.

General Hideki Tojo became prime minister of Japan in October 1941. In mid-November, he sent a special envoy to the United States to meet with Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Among other things, Japan demanded that the U.S. release Japanese assets and stop U.S. naval expansion in the Pacific. Hull countered with a proposal for Japanese withdrawal from China and Indochina in exchange for the freeing of the frozen assets. The Japanese asked for two weeks to study the proposal, but on December 1 rejected it. On December 6, Franklin Roosevelt appealed directly to the Japanese emperor, Hirohito. On the morning of December 7, however, Japanese carrier-based planes attacked the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in a devastating, surprise attack. Nineteen ships, including five battleships, and about 150 U.S. planes were destroyed more than 2,300 soldiers, sailors and civilians were killed. Only one fact favored the Americans that day: the U.S. aircraft carriers that would play such a critical role in the ensuing naval war in the Pacific were at sea and not anchored at Pearl Harbor.

As the details of the Japanese raids upon Hawaii, Midway, Wake and Guam blared from American radios, incredulity turned to anger at what President Roosevelt called "a day that will live in infamy." On December 8, Congress declared a state of war with Japan three days later Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

The nation rapidly geared itself for mobilization of its people and its entire industrial capacity. On January 6, 1942, President Roosevelt announced staggering production goals: delivery in that year of 60,000 planes, 45,000 tanks, 20,000 antiaircraft guns and 18 million deadweight tons of merchant shipping. All the nation's activities -- farming, manufacturing, mining, trade, labor, investment, communications, even education and cultural undertakings -- were in some fashion brought under new and enlarged controls. The nation raised money in enormous sums and created great new industries for the mass production of ships, armored vehicles and planes. Major movements of population took place. Under a series of conscription acts, the United States brought the armed forces up to a total of 15,100,000. By the end of 1943, approximately 65 million men and women were in uniform or in war-related occupations.

Bomb threat shuts down Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii for several hours

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii — A bomb threat led to the closure of all gates leading in and out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for about five hours Tuesday, according to base officials.

Residents and workers at the base were directed to shelter in place at about 9:30 a.m. An “all-clear” was issued about 2 p.m.

No bomb was found, said base spokesman Chuck Anthony.

The alert also temporarily shut down tours to the USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri Memorial and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum on Ford Island.

“Units from Honolulu Police Department and Federal Fire Department responded to assist in the investigation with [base security force] and other emergency personnel,” the base said in a news release.

Anthony declined to provide further details about the bomb threat.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that workers at a dry dock at the Pearl Harbor Shipyard were evacuated and that bomb-sniffing dogs were working along the waterfront.

Drivers snarled in long lines of traffic in front of the closed gates expressed frustration on social media over the hours-long delay.

Adding to the confusion, the base had kicked off its annual Citadel Protect exercise Monday, a two-week series of anti-terrorism and force protection scenarios, which the base had warned in a news release would include the firing of blank rounds.

Some social media users believed that the shelter-in-place order was part of the exercise.

Time of Attack

The first wave of attack were felt at 7:48 A.M. Hawaiian Time and the attack only lasted about two hours. Six aircraft carriers were used to launch a total of 353 Japanese bombers, fighter and torpedo planes and they sunk four U.S. battleships, while damaging all eight of them. Over 2,000 Americans died in the attack and over 1,000 others were wounded.

America’s First Reactions to the Attack

December 7, 1941, arrived as a quiet Sunday morning on the West Coast. It didn’t stay that way for long. In the early afternoon, in Washington, D.C., Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox told President Franklin Roosevelt that a message from Hawaii had reached the Mare Island Naval Shipyard north of San Francisco. It read: “Air Raid Pearl Harbor. This is no drill.” The message had arrived at 10:58 a.m. Cali- fornia time, 7:58 a.m. Hawaii time.

Knox told Roosevelt that the attack was in progress even as they spoke.

Secretary of State Cordell Hull was scheduled to meet that afternoon with Japanese ambassador Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura and special envoy Saburo Kurusu to discuss the American trade boycott of Japan. Roosevelt phoned Hull and told him to say nothing to the Japanese diplomats.

The president next called his press secretary, Steve Early, and told him to issue a statement to the wire services, and Early got the Associated Press, United Press, and the International News Service on a three-way call. At 2:22 p.m. Eastern Time, the first bulletins went out, reading “Washington—White House Announces Japanese Wave Attacked Pearl Harbor.” Within minutes, the radio networks were interrupting their regular broadcasts with the news.

The NBC Blue Network got the story in its most graphic form. A reporter with KGU, the NBC affiliate in Honolulu, had gone up to the roof of the Honolulu Advertiser Building with microphone in hand and telephone in the other and had called NBC with the first eyewitness account to reach the mainland. “This battle has been going on for nearly three hours…. It’s no joke, it’s a real war.”

By now, and over the course of the coming hours, additional bulletins flooded in, telling of the simultaneous Japanese air strikes against the Philippines and Thailand. Both Hong Kong and Wake Island were also under attack.

“Japanese parachute troops are reported in Honolulu,” CBS reported. “They have been sighted off Harbor Point. At least five persons have been reported killed in the city of Honolulu. The Japanese dive bombers have been making continuous attacks, apparently from a Japanese aircraft carrier. A naval engagement is reported in progress off Honolulu. And there’s one report that a Japanese warship is bombarding the harbor. Aerial dogfights are raging in the skies over Honolulu itself.”

At 4:10 p.m., the Jack Benny Program on NBC Red was interrupted on California affiliates with news of civilians reporting for volunteer duty, and to issue a warning about avoiding “hysteria.”

Many of the 9.7 million people of the Pacific Coast States wondered what they should be doing. The immediate fear was of air raids. The images from the newsreels of the London Blitz the previous year, the firestorms and devastation wrought by German bombs during the Battle of Britain, were deeply ingrained in the minds and imaginations of Americans. For those on the Pacific Coast, knowing that the Japanese had projected their airpower as far as Hawaii clearly suggested that they could reach Washington, Oregon, or California.

It was assumed that the best form of civil defense against air raids was a blackout—turning off all lights in the evening so as not to aid enemy bombardiers in identifying cities, bridges and other targets. Throughout the West, lights were ordered to be turned off at 11:00 p.m. Likewise, civilian radio stations went off the air, because aircraft could use radio waves to locate cities, though most people did not realize that this was why the radio was suddenly silent on the night of December 7. It was unnerving. It was scary.

At 6:56 p.m., the sky was already getting dark in Seattle when radio station KIRO, announced that “in the states of Oregon, Washington, and California…every farm house, every light of any kind in that area must be out by eleven o’clock. To test your blackout, you will have plenty of time between the hours of seven and eleven…to make arrangements to get heavy black paper to seal your windows, or heavy drapes or some- thing. . . . No lights are to be used on automobiles and no lights whatever are to be shown anywhere on the Pacific coast in the states of Oregon, Washington, and California until thirty minutes after daylight.”

As the sun rose on Monday morning, those in urban areas well knew that it had been an imperfect blackout. Many had not gotten the word that there would be a blackout and large sections of downtown areas, with their lighted neon signs, had remained bathed in their usual glow. In San Francisco, master switches plunged neighborhoods into darkness while Market Street blazed brightly. William Harrelson, the general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge District, ordered his bridge into darkness shortly after 6:00 p.m., but he turned the lights back on an hour later to prevent automobile accidents.

In the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, the Lockheed Aircraft factories, including the air terminal in Burbank went dark, but they were merely patches of darkness in a twinkling sea. In many places, streetlights were on individual timers and had to be turned off individually. There had been no prior planning to get this job done, and it was still not completed by morning.

Civil Defense volunteers swung into action, but most people were simply confused by the well-intentioned air raid wardens. The Associated Press reported that a woman in San Francisco phoned the police to report “a crazy man prowling about my place shouting ‘Lights out.’”

In the composing rooms of the newspapers, typographers reached for the largest fonts they had to set the headlines that screamed “WAR,” and readers stripped the newsstands as soon as the morning papers appeared.

“Japan has asked for it,” read the editorial in the Los Angeles Times. “Now she is going to get it. It was the act of a mad dog, a gangster’s parody of every principle of international honor.”

America’s Search for Scapegoats

When the news about Pearl Harbor reached Washington, President Roosevelt was thunderstruck—not because he was surprised by the attack itself, but because the attack had been far more dreadful than anything the administration had expected.

Faced with losses and humiliations they had not anticipated when they dictated unacceptable conditions to a proud but threatened nation—now enraged and filled with ferocious self-confidence—Roosevelt and the men around him began a frantic search for scapegoats.

Their first target was Admiral Husband Kimmel. As his predecessor Richardson had done, Kimmel had warned the president about the Navy’s lack of preparation for war. Roosevelt, however, did not warn Kimmel about the impending attack—not even after he had read the decoded Japanese message on December 6. Ten days after the attack, Kimmel and General Walter Short were both demoted and replaced.

Kimmel saw it coming. As he watched the last phase of the attack on the morning of December 7, a spent .50-caliber slug from one of his fleet’s own antiaircraft machine guns hit Kimmel in the chest, shredded his white linen uniform, and tumbled to the ground at his feet. Kimmel stooped over, picked up the half-inch-wide bullet, and looked at it glumly: “It would have been merciful had it killed me.”

General Short took his demotion humbly. Kimmel—whom Roosevelt had appointed because he was a scrapper—fought for the rest of his life to win exoneration. “The Pacific Fleet deserved a fighting chance,” Kimmel wrote in Admiral Kimmel’s Story, published in 1954. “Had we had as much as two hours of warning a full alert of planes and guns would have greatly reduced the damage. We could possibly have been able to locate the Jap carriers, and our own carriers Lexington and Enterprise already at sea to the westward of Oahu might have been brought into the picture instead of expending their efforts to the southward as a result of faulty information. The great intangible, the element of surprise, would have been denied the Japs.”

The question whether Kimmel was substantially to blame for a lack of vigilance remains open. But why didn’t the White House or the War Department telephone Hawaii when the president read a decoded message that said, “This means war”? That question is unanswered by anything Kimmel did or did not do.

Pearl Harbor had been an obvious target—so obvious, in fact, that John Huston was at work at the time on a movie about a fictional Japanese air attack. After the attack, Huston scurried to change the target in the film from Pearl Harbor to the Panama Canal. The film kept its original title, Across the Pacific, perhaps because it was almost completed when the Japanese struck. Had the film been released before the attack, Roosevelt’s embarrassment might have been even deeper than it was.

Three days after the attack, Henry Morgenthau Jr. asked J. Edgar Hoover what he thought about rounding up the entire Japanese and Japanese-American population of the west coast. Hoover was appalled and bluntly told Morgenthau that Attorney General Francis Biddle would not approve any “dragnet or round-up procedure.” Many of these ethnic Japanese were American citizens, Hoover reminded Morgenthau, and such an action would be illegal. He also knew that such a move was unnecessary. Based on information from loyal Japanese-Americans, including Togo Tanaka, and from Korean dissidents, including Kilsoo Haan, as well as information obtained by burglarizing the Japanese consulate in Los Angeles and the Black Dragon Society’s office, Hoover had a comprehensive list of people he wanted to arrest, and he had already started.

On March 18, 1942, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9102, establishing the War Relocation Authority, which Senator Robert Taft called the sloppiest criminal law he had ever heard of. Japanese-Americans born and raised in the United States, many of them Christians, many of them graduates of American high schools and colleges, were moved on a few days’ notice to ten concentration camps in isolated mountain and desert locations. Some collapsed of heat stroke before they arrived at the hastily constructed tar-paper and clapboard barracks, where multiple families shared a single room.

By June 7, 112,000 American men, women, and children were interned behind barbed wire, eating wretched food in harsh climates.

Operation Snow—Was Foreign Espionage Responsible for the Attack?

Historians have long discussed whether foreign espionage was responsible for Japan’s military attack on Pearl Harbor. But new research has connected major pieces of that Soviet activity within the United States in much detail. And most of it leads to one man.

Much of the evidence points to one American government worked-turned-spy: Harry Dexter White. He was the top official in FDR’s Treasury Department and had the ear of prominent New Dealers such as his boss Secretary Henry Morgenthau, as well as others in President Roosevelt’s Cabinet.

White was in close contact with Vitaly Pavlov, the “second-in-command” in the NKVD (predecessor to the KGB). The two plotted a strategy—”Operation Snow”—that initiated a toppling of dominoes that utlimately led to December 7, 1941. The main issue was oil. Japan didn’t have any and had to acquire it from the Soviet Union or the United States. White worked furiously to pull levels of American government power to provoke an attack from Japan, sparing the Soviets.

He did so by influencing the Roosevelt administration against reaching a diplomatic deal with the Japanese. White worked overtime once the Hitler-Stalin pact abruptly ended, since a Japanese attack on Russia would divert Russia’s forces away from its Western Front, making Germany’s conquest of the Soviet Union all the more likely.

Much of what we know about White comes from his August 1948 testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. But because the former Treasury official failed to exonerate himself in these committee appearance, he took his own life three days later in a disguised suicide

Living (and loving) in a soberly-divided marriage

Posted On July 21, 2020 03:01:31

(Military Families Magazine)

Marriage can feel like a roller coaster, full of unforeseen ups and downs. But a marriage that becomes divided by sobriety levels up the ride, adding sharp turns, twists and loops that will make any head spin.

From the moment my husband and I met in 2007 — at a bar on a Monday night — alcohol has played a significant role between us. We bonded and drank our way through every phase: courting, engagement and newlywed. We drank through good times and bad, for good reasons and not.

When we entered the new-parent phase, there was a shift. My husband, whose sole goal in life was to be a dad, started to slow down his drinking. I boldly amped it up, increasing with each of the three children we brought into the world.

When my heavy weekend drinking trickled into weekdays, my husband expressed concern. When I drank excessively while he was on missions, he gave me ultimatums to not drink.

When my few solo travels resulted in reckless drinking, we both agreed I should stop altogether. Twice I attempted to break up with alcohol for my kids and marriage — once for 100 days, the other for eight months.

Yet, I knew I’d drink again because that’s what my husband and I did. We drank. A lot. Together.

By the beginning of 2017, my drinking was at an all-time high, and I was at an all-time low. My soul felt beyond broken. I was living life on alcohol’s terms rather than my own.

I was in single-mom-mode with our kids and on day four of an uncontrollable bender. I heard a very distant voice. It was my own, deep inside, and it said, enough. In that moment I knew I was ready to get sober — not for my kids, not for my marriage, but for me.

Fast forward to today, more than three years later, and I’m still gratefully sober.

The years have gifted me heaps of self-growth, such as how to honor my feelings, to stay present and to live authentically. I’ve found my voice and my calling in a new career. I’ve also done a complete 180 on how I perceive alcohol and the alcohol industry.

When people ask about the hardest part of recovery my answer has been and remains my marriage.

At first, it was not only the elephant in the room, but an elephant between us. To remove the elephant, we’ve attempted a dry house, which resulted in resentment from both parties.

We’ve tried a normal routine of my husband drinking as he pleases, which has also resulted in resentment and rejection from both parties.

We’ve talked. We’ve fought. We’ve cried, and we’ve loved each other so hard through it all.

(Military Families Magazine)

So how then do you live in a soberly divided marriage?

For us, there is no black-and-white answer, but I can attest to what we’ve learned over the years.

Honest communication is a must.

If I’m triggered or having an off day, it’s best to own it and say it aloud. Otherwise, my husband may have no understanding as to my bitterness or emotional distance. Plus, he’s able to better support me in the future, and vice versa if he struggles on his side of the journey.

Establish and honor boundaries.

Being around my husband when he drinks usually doesn’t bother me because, oddly enough, I like his tipsy, talkative lighter side. But my boundary is set at two nights in a row of his drinking. Beyond that and he knows he’ll find me elsewhere, doing my own thing. He honors my choice and space, but more times than not, he’ll not risk losing my company for a drink.

Respect the differences.

He’s a science guy. I’m a believer in Jesus. In all our time, we’ve respected our differences in faith. Similar respect is now applied to our opposing relationships with alcohol. We agree to disagree, and we do so respectfully.

Time and patience do wonders.

Despite the infinite ups and downs outside that come with being soberly divided, it’s clear with every passing sober day, we grow stronger in our marriage. We also grow stronger as individuals. But we must practice patience when the sober journey feels tough.

Practice empathy daily.

Lastly, without empathy, we may have fallen apart years ago. With empathy, we see through each other’s eyes more clearly. We’re better equipped to practice the “Golden Rule.” We’re forever reminded that at the end of the day, we’re two imperfect people doing our best to love each other through the sober journey’s good, bad and in-betweens.

Visit to follow Alison Evans’ journey with sobriety and fitness.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

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Diplomatic background

War between Japan and the United States had been a possibility that each nation had been aware of, and planned for, since the 1920s. Japan had been wary of American territorial and military expansion in the Pacific and Asia since the late 1890s, followed by the annexation of islands, such as Hawaii and the Philippines, which they felt were close to or within their sphere of influence. [23] [24] [25] [26]

Although Japan had begun to take a hostile policy against the United States after the rejection of the Racial Equality Proposal, [27] the relationship between the two countries was cordial enough that they remained trading partners. [28] [29] [30] Tensions did not seriously grow until Japan's invasion of Manchuria in 1931. Over the next decade, Japan expanded into China, leading to the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. Japan spent considerable effort trying to isolate China and endeavored to secure enough independent resources to attain victory on the mainland. The "Southern Operation" was designed to assist these efforts. [24] [31]

Starting in December 1937, events such as the Japanese attack on USS Panay, the Allison incident, and the Nanking Massacre swung Western public opinion sharply against Japan. The U.S. unsuccessfully proposed a joint action with the British to blockade Japan. [32] In 1938, following an appeal by President Roosevelt, U.S. companies stopped providing Japan with implements of war. [33]

In 1940, Japan invaded French Indochina, attempting to stymie the flow of supplies reaching China. The United States halted shipments of airplanes, parts, machine tools, and aviation gasoline to Japan, which the latter perceived as an unfriendly act. [nb 6] The United States did not stop oil exports, however, partly because of the prevailing sentiment in Washington that given Japanese dependence on American oil, such an action was likely to be considered an extreme provocation. [23] [30] [34]

In mid-1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the Pacific Fleet from San Diego to Hawaii. [35] He also ordered a military buildup in the Philippines, taking both actions in the hope of discouraging Japanese aggression in the Far East. Because the Japanese high command was (mistakenly) certain any attack on the United Kingdom's Southeast Asian colonies, including Singapore, [36] would bring the U.S. into the war, a devastating preventive strike appeared to be the only way to prevent American naval interference. [37] An invasion of the Philippines was also considered necessary by Japanese war planners. The U.S. War Plan Orange had envisioned defending the Philippines with an elite force of 40,000 men this option was never implemented due to opposition from Douglas MacArthur, who felt he would need a force ten times that size. [ citation needed ] By 1941, U.S. planners expected to abandon the Philippines at the outbreak of war. Late that year, Admiral Thomas C. Hart, commander of the Asiatic Fleet, was given orders to that effect. [38]

The U.S. finally ceased oil exports to Japan in July 1941, following the seizure of French Indochina after the Fall of France, in part because of new American restrictions on domestic oil consumption. [39] Because of this decision, Japan proceeded with plans to take the oil-rich Dutch East Indies. [nb 7] On August 17, Roosevelt warned Japan that America was prepared to take opposing steps if "neighboring countries" were attacked. [41] The Japanese were faced with a dilemma—either withdraw from China and lose face or seize new sources of raw materials in the resource-rich European colonies of Southeast Asia. [ citation needed ]

Japan and the U.S. engaged in negotiations during 1941, attempting to improve relations. In the course of these negotiations, Japan offered to withdraw from most of China and Indochina after making peace with the Nationalist government. It also proposed to adopt an independent interpretation of the Tripartite Pact and to refrain from trade discrimination, provided all other nations reciprocated. Washington rejected these proposals. Japanese Prime Minister Konoye then offered to meet with Roosevelt, but Roosevelt insisted on reaching an agreement before any meeting. [42] The U.S. ambassador to Japan repeatedly urged Roosevelt to accept the meeting, warning that it was the only way to preserve the conciliatory Konoye government and peace in the Pacific. [43] However, his recommendation was not acted upon. The Konoye government collapsed the following month when the Japanese military rejected a withdrawal of all troops from China. [44]

Japan's final proposal, delivered on November 20, offered to withdraw from southern Indochina and to refrain from attacks in Southeast Asia, so long as the United States, United Kingdom, and Netherlands supplied one million U.S. gallons (3.8 million liters) of aviation fuel, lifted their sanctions against Japan, and ceased aid to China., [45] [44] The American counter-proposal of November 26 (November 27 in Japan), the Hull note, required Japan completely evacuate China without conditions and conclude non-aggression pacts with Pacific powers. On November 26 in Japan, the day before the note's delivery, the Japanese task force left port for Pearl Harbor. [ citation needed ]

The Japanese intended the attack as a preventive action to keep the United States Pacific Fleet from interfering with its planned military actions in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. Over the course of seven hours there were coordinated Japanese attacks on the U.S.-held Philippines, Guam, and Wake Island and on the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong. [15] Additionally, from the Japanese viewpoint, it was seen as a preemptive strike "before the oil gauge ran empty." [23]

Military planning

Preliminary planning for an attack on Pearl Harbor to protect the move into the "Southern Resource Area" (the Japanese term for the Dutch East Indies and Southeast Asia generally) had begun very early in 1941 under the auspices of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, then commanding Japan's Combined Fleet. [46] He won assent to formal planning and training for an attack from the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff only after much contention with Naval Headquarters, including a threat to resign his command. [47] Full-scale planning was underway by early spring 1941, primarily by Rear Admiral Ryūnosuke Kusaka, with assistance from Captain Minoru Genda and Yamamoto's Deputy Chief of Staff, Captain Kameto Kuroshima. [48] The planners studied the 1940 British air attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto intensively. [nb 8] [nb 9]

Over the next several months, pilots were trained, equipment was adapted, and intelligence was collected. Despite these preparations, Emperor Hirohito did not approve the attack plan until November 5, after the third of four Imperial Conferences called to consider the matter. [51] Final authorization was not given by the emperor until December 1, after a majority of Japanese leaders advised him the "Hull Note" would "destroy the fruits of the China incident, endanger Manchukuo and undermine Japanese control of Korea". [52]

By late 1941, many observers believed that hostilities between the U.S. and Japan were imminent. A Gallup poll just before the attack on Pearl Harbor found that 52% of Americans expected war with Japan, 27% did not, and 21% had no opinion. [53] While U.S. Pacific bases and facilities had been placed on alert on many occasions, U.S. officials doubted Pearl Harbor would be the first target instead, they expected the Philippines would be attacked first. This presumption was due to the threat that the air bases throughout the country and the naval base at Manila posed to sea lanes, as well as to the shipment of supplies to Japan from territory to the south. [54] They also incorrectly believed that Japan was not capable of mounting more than one major naval operation at a time. [55]


The Japanese attack had several major aims. First, it intended to destroy important American fleet units, thereby preventing the Pacific Fleet from interfering with the Japanese conquest of the Dutch East Indies and Malaya and enabling Japan to conquer Southeast Asia without interference. Second, it was hoped to buy time for Japan to consolidate its position and increase its naval strength before shipbuilding authorized by the 1940 Vinson-Walsh Act erased any chance of victory. [56] [57] Third, to deliver a blow to America's ability to mobilize its forces in the Pacific, battleships were chosen as the main targets, since they were the prestige ships of any navy at the time. [56] Finally, it was hoped that the attack would undermine American morale such that the U.S. government would drop its demands contrary to Japanese interests and would seek a compromise peace with Japan. [58] [59]

Striking the Pacific Fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbor carried two distinct disadvantages: the targeted ships would be in very shallow water, so it would be relatively easy to salvage and possibly repair them, and most of the crews would survive the attack since many would be on shore leave or would be rescued from the harbor. A further important disadvantage was the absence from Pearl Harbor of all three of the U.S. Pacific Fleet's aircraft carriers (Enterprise, Lexington, and Saratoga). IJN top command was attached to Admiral Mahan's "decisive battle" doctrine, especially that of destroying the maximum number of battleships. Despite these concerns, Yamamoto decided to press ahead. [60] [ page needed ]

Japanese confidence in their ability to achieve a short, victorious war also meant other targets in the harbor, especially the navy yard, oil tank farms, and submarine base, were ignored, since—by their thinking—the war would be over before the influence of these facilities would be felt. [61]

The order is given: Bomb Pearl Harbor - HISTORY

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Sunday, December 7, 1941

Aboard a Japanese carrier before the attack on Pearl Harbor, crew members cheer departing pilots. Below: A photo taken from a Japanese plane during the attack shows vulnerable American battleships, and in the distance, smoke rising from Hickam Airfield where 35 men having breakfast in the mess hall were killed after a direct bomb hit.


Above: The USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese air raid. Below Left: The battleship USS Arizona after a bomb penetrated into the forward magazine causing massive explosions and killing 1,104 men. Below Right: Dousing the flames on the battleship USS West Virginia, which survived and was rebuilt.

Sequence of Events

Saturday, December 6 - Washington D.C. - U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt makes a final appeal to the Emperor of Japan for peace. There is no reply. Late this same day, the U.S. code-breaking service begins intercepting a 14-part Japanese message and deciphers the first 13 parts, passing them on to the President and Secretary of State. The Americans believe a Japanese attack is imminent, most likely somewhere in Southeast Asia.

Sunday, December 7 - Washington D.C. - The last part of the Japanese message, stating that diplomatic relations with the U.S. are to be broken off, reaches Washington in the morning and is decoded at approximately 9 a.m. About an hour later, another Japanese message is intercepted. It instructs the Japanese embassy to deliver the main message to the Americans at 1 p.m. The Americans realize this time corresponds with early morning time in Pearl Harbor, which is several hours behind. The U.S. War Department then sends out an alert but uses a commercial telegraph because radio contact with Hawaii is temporarily broken. Delays prevent the alert from arriving at headquarters in Oahu until noontime (Hawaii time) four hours after the attack has already begun.

Sunday, December 7 - Islands of Hawaii, near Oahu - The Japanese attack force under the command of Admiral Nagumo, consisting of six carriers with 423 planes, is about to attack. At 6 a.m., the first attack wave of 183 Japanese planes takes off from the carriers located 230 miles north of Oahu and heads for the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor - At 7:02 a.m., two Army operators at Oahu's northern shore radar station detect the Japanese air attack approaching and contact a junior officer who disregards their reports, thinking they are American B-17 planes which are expected in from the U.S. west coast.

Near Oahu - At 7:15 a.m., a second attack wave of 167 planes takes off from the Japanese carriers and heads for Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor is not on a state on high alert. Senior commanders have concluded, based on available intelligence, there is no reason to believe an attack is imminent. Aircraft are therefore left parked wingtip to wingtip on airfields, anti-aircraft guns are unmanned with many ammunition boxes kept locked in accordance with peacetime regulations. There are also no torpedo nets protecting the fleet anchorage. And since it is Sunday morning, many officers and crewmen are leisurely ashore.

At 7:53 a.m., the first Japanese assault wave, with 51 'Val' dive bombers, 40 'Kate' torpedo bombers, 50 high level bombers and 43 'Zero' fighters, commences the attack with flight commander, Mitsuo Fuchida, sounding the battle cry: "Tora! Tora! Tora!" (Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!).

The Americans are taken completely by surprise. The first attack wave targets airfields and battleships. The second wave targets other ships and shipyard facilities. The air raid lasts until 9:45 a.m. Eight battleships are damaged, with five sunk. Three light cruisers, three destroyers and three smaller vessels are lost along with 188 aircraft. The Japanese lose 27 planes and five midget submarines which attempted to penetrate the inner harbor and launch torpedoes.

Escaping damage from the attack are the prime targets, the three U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga, which were not in the port. Also escaping damage are the base fuel tanks.

The casualty list includes 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians killed, with 1,178 wounded. Included are 1,104 men aboard the B attleship USS Arizona killed after a 1,760-pound air bomb penetrated into the forward magazine causing catastrophic explosions.

In Washington, various delays prevent the Japanese diplomats from presenting their war message to Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, until 2:30 p.m. (Washington time) just as the first reports of the air raid at Pearl Harbor are being read by Hull.

News of the "sneak attack" is broadcast to the American public via radio bulletins, with many popular Sunday afternoon entertainment programs being interrupted. The news sends a shockwave across the nation and results in a tremendous influx of young volunteers into the U.S. armed forces. The attack also unites the nation behind the President and effectively ends isolationist sentiment in the country.

Monday, December 8 - The United States and Britain declare war on Japan with President Roosevelt calling December 7, "a date which will live in infamy. "

Thursday, December 11 - Germany and Italy declare war on the United States. The European and Southeast Asian wars have now become a global conflict with the Axis powers Japan, Germany and Italy, united against America, Britain, France, and their Allies.

Wednesday, December 17 - Admiral Chester W. Nimitz becomes the new commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Both senior commanders at Pearl Harbor Navy Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, and Army Lt. General Walter C. Short, were relieved of their duties following the attack. Subsequent investigations will fault the men for failing to adopt adequate defense measures.

Copyright © 1997 The History Place™ All Rights Reserved

(Photo credits: U.S. National Archives)

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Watch the video: Pearl Harbour Attack (June 2022).


  1. Evrawg

    Something no longer related to that issue has suffered me.

  2. Khanh

    Intelligible response

  3. Skeet

    I will tear everyone who is against us!

  4. Atkinsone

    You are an abstract person

  5. Ranfield

    Excuse, I have removed this phrase

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