350 killed in Japanese attack on Hawaii (1941)

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Air raids on Hawaii & Manila throw US into World War

Striking with bomb and torpedo in the early morning dawn, Japan attacked the United States’ far eastern outposts by sea and by air in an unannounced onslaught of oriental might and while the two nations still were theoretically at peace.

The attack, centering upon Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and defense facilities at Manila in the Philippines, was followed by a formal declaration of war upon the United States and Great Britain by the emperor of Japan.

President Roosevelt called a special cabinet meeting for 8 o’clock last night and congress was expected to be summoned into session to answer war with war. United States forces immediately launched a counterattack from the air, warplanes taking off from the Manila base. Military authorities said they were in readiness for thorough reprisals.

>> Japan declares war (1941)

Great Britain was brought into the war later in the day when Japanese sunk the British gunboat, Petrel, as it lay off the International Settlement at Shanghai.

Winston Churchill has promised that England would join the United States in the event of a Japanese attack. The British prime minister was expected momentarily to issue a statement on this point.

Germany, pledged under the Axis pact to come to the aid of Japan, had taken no steps early last night. Nazi spokesmen said they were waiting for further information. It seemed probable that war between the United States and Germany would be an immediate result.

>> Quick measures taken as war flares suddenly (1941)

The Orientals first blasted at Pearl Harbor with 150 planes, which bombed shipping and defense posts there. Loss of life was reported heavy at both Pearl Harbor and Manila, and at Hickam Field, 350 Americans were killed by a direct hit. The US battleship Oklahoma was set afire. An army transport, carrying lumber, was torpedoed 1,300 miles west of San Francisco, well east of Hawaii.

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The attack came shortly before 1:30 o’clock Sunday afternoon, Hutchinson time, and was announced by the president immediately.

At the very moment the news was received in Washington, the Japanese ambassadors were calling upon Secretary Hull to give him Japan’s answer to President Roosevelt’s secret message to their emperor.

Observers said the Japanese military clique apparently wished to force the war issue while they were in power and before more peaceful factions could take advantage of delays occasioned by the now meaningless exchange of notes between the two powers.


Photo: USS Oklahoma. Rescue crews are shown here working on the upturned hull of the 29,000 ton battleship USS Oklahoma, which capsized in Pearl Harbor after being blasted by Japanese warplanes. Holes were burned through the hull to permit the rescue of some of the men trapped below. Note one of the Oklahoma’s launches in the foreground. The battleship, USS Maryland is in the background.

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