Pearl Harbor Facts
- Full Name: Attack on Pearl Harbor
- Description: Japanese attack on United States naval base
- Date: December 7, 1941
- Duration: 2 hours
- Location: Hawaii
- President: Roosevelt
- Japanese Prime Minister: Tojo
- Japanese Admiral: Chuchi Nagumo
- Casualties: 2000 died, 1000 injured
- Consequences: US Entry into WWII
- History: Pearl Harbor Was a Shock Attack on a US Military Base by the Japanese in 1941
- History: The Invasion Could Have Been to Stop US Interference or to Destroy the US Naval Fleet
- History: The Attack On Pearl Harbor Took Place in 2 Waves with Different Types of Bombs
- History: The Japanese Caught the Americans Totally by Surprise
- Duration: The Attack Only Lasted 2 Hours but Had Shocking Consequences
- History: Pearl Harbor Was Considered a War Crime by the International Military Tribunal
- Casualties: Almost Half the Casualties of the Attack Were on One US Battleship
- Consequence: America Entered WWII the Day After the Attack on Pearl Harbor
- History: Japan and the US Had Been Edging Towards War for a Long Time
- Consequence: The US Ended the War by Dropping the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945
- Sunday Was Deliberately Chosen as the Invasion Day to Catch the Americans Off-Guard
- Many Family Members Died in the Attack
- A Slaughtered Band Won a Music Contest
- A Radar Operator Saw the Attack Coming but Was Told Not to Worry
- Massive Oil Leaks Continue to the Present Day
- Veterans Have Their Ashes Scattered Over the US Arizona
- Elvis Presley Raised Money for a Memorial
- American Planes Were Shot Down by Their Own Troops
- Every President Visits the Memorial Site
- Survivors of Pearl Harbor Become VIPs
Pearl Harbor Facts Infographics
Pearl Harbor Was a Shock Attack on a US Military Base by the Japanese in 1941
‘Pearl Harbor’ is a common euphemism for the surprise attack on two major US armed forces bases by the Japanese in 1941: Pearl Harbor and Clark Air Field. Pearl Harbor facts reveal the attack was preplanned months before by the Imperial Japanese General Staff – who even went as far as constructing a very detailed scale model of Pearl Harbor, Hickman Field and Pearl City, the nearest civilian area. The US had been expecting some kind of invasion, but were not sure where it would occur, and were thus unprepared for the attack.
The Invasion Could Have Been to Stop US Interference or to Destroy the US Naval Fleet
Pearl Harbor facts reveal the intentions behind the attack could be viewed as preventative – to stop the US Military from interfering with the Japanese fleet. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the United States President, had moved the Pacific Base in San Diego to Pearl Harbor and The Philippines only a few months earlier in an attempt to discourage possible further Japanese aggression in Asia. Another interpretation by historians of the events is that the Japanese wanted to destroy the US naval fleet.
The Attack On Pearl Harbor Took Place in 2 Waves with Different Types of Bombs
The Pearl Harbor bombing consisted of a two-wave attack. In the first wave, Japanese B5N2 bombers attacked the ships. The US called these bombers ‘Kates’. Each one had a crew of three and could hold several bombs or a single torpedo. Forty-nine of these Kates carried converted naval shells that attacked US ships. These bombs hit with great force, going through several decks before exploding. Aichi D3A1 dive bombers carrying land bombs, known as ‘Vals’, were also dropped to destroy the US aircraft. In the second wave of attacks, Vals went after US ships and Kates went after the airforce. The second wave included two different kinds of bombs from the first wave.
The Japanese Caught the Americans Totally by Surprise
The Japanese caught the Americans almost totally by surprise, yet the Japanese diplomatic code had been cracked months before and the intelligence services had been aware that the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces were planning an obvious military attack. Its code name was ‘Zero Hour.’ The US government had also been warned by both the Dutch and a British double-agent named ‘Tricycle’ of an imminent attack on one of their military bases in the Pacific. They just didn’t know exactly where.
The Attack Only Lasted 2 Hours but Had Shocking Consequences
The attack only lasted 2 hours, according to Pearl Harbor facts. But it was not only against the US. There were also simultaneous attacks upon Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Wake Island, Guam and Manila in a bid to strike a crippling blow to US and European influence in Asia. The consequences of this attack were not only the initial losses of life and military resources, but in the later repercussions of US entry to the war and in the later attack of the atomic bomb which was dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Pearl Harbor Was Considered a War Crime by the International Military Tribunal
A war crime is defined as a serious attempt to violate laws and customs applicable during armed conflict. This attack was considered to be a war crime by the International Military Tribunal. This was largely due to analysis of key documents during the trial that showed Japanese intent to cripple US forces. The secrecy and preplanned nature of the attack was also significant.
Almost Half the Casualties of the Attack Were on One US Battleship
Fifteen minutes into the attack, the Japanese dropped an 800 kg bomb onto the battleship US Arizona. It killed 1,177 soldiers instantly. Fires continued to burn for more than two days, cremating the victims. Only 107 men were positively identified. Almost half of the casualties of the entire attack were on the US battleship Arizona. The bodies were put into temporary mass graves, then were later removed, reburied and marked as unknown.
America Entered WWII the Day After the Attack on Pearl Harbor
After the attack, Japan formally declared war on the United States. President Roosevelt asked Congress to vote on entry into WWII, and this was approved with just one dissenting vote. Some say that Roosevelt used Pearl Harbor as an excuse to enter the war. The attack certainly swayed American public opinion on the matter, which up until this point had been quite divided. The consequence was that the US entered WWII – the very next day.
Japan and the US Had Been Edging Towards War for a Long Time
Japan and the US had been on the brink of war for a long time. The US had disapproved of the way Japan had been edging into Chinese territory and imposed a trade embargo unacceptable to the Japanese. In 1937 a United States gunboat had been sunk by the Japanese Imperial Navy on the Yangzee River in China and there had also been a very public slapping of the US consul to China by a Japanese soldier in Nanking in 1938. Tensions were already high at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack.
The US Ended the War by Dropping the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945
The US ended the war by dropping the only two atomic bombs that have ever been used in combat – on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. This caused destruction of massive proportions, not just at the time, but through subsequent generations of genetic abnormalities. This controversial attack may have never happened had it not been for Pearl Harbor.
Sunday Was Deliberately Chosen as the Invasion Day to Catch the Americans Off-Guard
Sunday was chosen for the attack as the Japanese thought that the US military would be more relaxed on this day. The Japanese were right! In fact, a lot of servicemen had been drinking until late the night before, so were probably also a little the worse for wear. We can learn from Pearl Harbor facts that many were in their pajamas at the time of the attack; some were having breakfast and were not prepared at all for the onslaught.
Many Family Members Died in the Attack
One of the saddest Pearl Harbor facts reveals that many family members died: in fact a whopping 23 sets of brothers out of 27 died on the Arizona alone, along with a father and son. There was also a set of twins on board; one died while the other didn’t. After so many tragic family losses, close relatives were discouraged from serving together because of the possibility of such devastating loss for one family.
A Slaughtered Band Won a Music Contest
Pearl Harbor facts show us that the night before the attack there was a round of a big ‘Battle of the Music’ competition. One military band, who had not yet taken part in the contest, were killed in the attack. They were not sitting around drinking coffee and holding their painful heads in woe – but instead were preparing to play the tribute for the flag raising ceremony. They were right in the firing line at the time of the attack. In their memory, they were declared the winners of the competition.
A Radar Operator Saw the Attack Coming but Was Told Not to Worry
A US private, Kermit Tyler, was on duty watching the radar screen on the morning of the attack. Another radar operator had noticed a large number of planes approaching on his radar screen and had reported this to Tyler. Unfortunately, he was told to ignore it: “Don’t worry about it,” Tyler said. By unlucky coincidence, a group of US-flown B-17s were expected to arrive at the same time as the Japanese attack took place. This incident was later investigated and no disciplinary action was taken against Tyler.
Massive Oil Leaks Continue to the Present Day
One of the most shocking Pearl Harbor facts is that, incredibly, even today, the wreck of the US Arizona continues to leak oil into the sea at the rate of between 2 and 9 quarts every day. It originally held 1.2 million gallons, which has gradually been dispersed into the water all around Hawaii. It still contains about 500,000 liters within the hull. Since 1998, research has gone into this,, and the oil loss has been monitored but it’s an environmental disaster with lasting repercussions.
Veterans Have Their Ashes Scattered Over the US Arizona
The US Arizona has been transformed into a memorial to the men who died there. Many soldiers had their ashes scattered over the wreck. Veterans of the tragedy are also allowed to choose to have their ashes scattered there when they die if they served on the US Arizona before the attack. The oil surrounding the wreck is known as black tears, commemorating the tragedy.
Elvis Presley Raised Money for a Memorial
Elvis Presley helped to raise money to turn the US Arizona into a memorial by performing a special concert commemorating Pearl Harbor. Servicemen stationed in Hawaii treat the place as a living memorial, taking care of it even though the military base is shut down. Ironically, the economy of Hawaii is highly dependent on Japanese tourism as many people come to visit and pay respects to the site.
American Planes Were Shot Down by Their Own Troops
The attack caused so much chaos in the two hours over which it took place that five American planes were shot down by the US military in ‘friendly fire’. Honolulu suffered civilian casualties from misfired US shells which fell on businesses and homes. Over 50 people were killed and many injured by these misplaced attacks; a small number compared to the total losses, perhaps, but still highly significant.
Every President Visits the Memorial Site
Pearl Harbor facts teach us that the Arizona Memorial site is one of nine significant WWII historical sites. Every single US President since the attack has visited the US Arizona memorial site, showing respect for the importance and gravity of this event in history. More than two million people visit the site every year. There are 4,500 tickets available each day but mostly these are gone by mid-morning. Access to the sunken battleship is only by navy boat.
Survivors of Pearl Harbor Become VIPs
Any survivor of Pearl Harbor, of which there are still a few remaining, is given VIP treatment on any US Military installation. There was a Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, recognized by US Congress, which met annually to commemorate the event but due to dwindling numbers, and the old age and ill health of many members, this ended in 2011. The group’s motto was “Remember Pearl Harbor–Keep America Alert– Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty.” Joe Langdell, the last surviving member of US Arizona died in February 2015.
Pearl Harbor Facts – Facts about Pearl Harbor Attack Summary
Pearl Harbor is an extremely significant event in the history of America and of WWII. The US military base in Hawaii was attacked by the Japanese in a preplanned two-wave massacre, lasting over 2 hours and resulting in over 2,000 casualties. President Roosevelt famously declared it a “day which will live in infamy”. Pearl Harbor had long-term significant repercussions, not just for the US but for the entire world. Most importantly, it was the catalyst for US entry into WWII, which culminated in the nuclear bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Pearl Harbor is now a memorial site to the tragedy which is widely visited by both tourists and Presidents to commemorate the loss of life on December 7, 1941.