Headlines & photos: Japan bombs Pearl Harbor in Hawaii – US declares war & joins WWII (1941)

Japan declares war by bombing Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and the US joins WWII (1941)

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WWII Headlines - Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor in Hawaii - San Francisco Examiner Mon Dec 8 1941

Japanese declare war!

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on Pearl Harbor

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on Pearl Harbor - 1941 WWII

Bombs falling on Hawaii

Citizens are killed amid heavy damage as Tokyo unleashes surprise air attack

Japan now at war with United States and Britain after sending planes in early morning attack on Honolulu and nearby Pearl Harbor Naval Base; surprise raid comes as Japanese envoys confer with Secretary Hull on prospects of war or peace; all Pacific army and naval units stand ready and reports say that first attacks have been successfully beaten off; Governor of Hawaii in conference with President by phone; United States Congress and British Parliament summoned to meet tomorrow morning to consider next steps; Britain stands side-by-side with US in critical hour; heavy loss of life feared in US island outposts but first reports are scarce in details.

Imperial headquarters at Tokyo declared war late today against both the United States and Britain after Japanese bombers had attacked the great Pearl Harbor naval base at Honolulu and the Philippines.

An NBC broadcast said Japanese planes — estimated as high as 150 in the opening assault — struck at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, the US Navy’s mighty fortress of the Pacific, and dropped high-explosive and incendiary bombs on Honolulu itself.

WWII Headlines - Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor in Hawaii - Honolulu Advertiser Tue Dec 9 1941

Despite an official White House announcement that Japanese warplanes had also attacked Manila, an Associated Press dispatch from Manila timed at 4:25 pm EST Sunday, said flying units of the US forces of the Far East had taken to the air — presumably to combat Japanese attackers in the Philippines.

Imperial Japanese headquarters said the state of war became effective at dawn today.

Thus the war that Adolf Hitler started in September, 1939, exploded at last into a real World War, with the great navies of the United States and Japan seemingly destined to play the major role in what will probably be largely a sea campaign.

Latest reports indicated that the United States had already won the first battle of the new conflict. A bulletin from Honolulu said a naval engagement was in progress off that famed island playground, with at least one black aircraft carrier in action against Pearl Harbor’s defenses.

The British radio also reported that a “foreign warship” had begun bombarding Pearl Harbor.

The Pearl Harbor attack in Hawaii: Japan declares war (1941)

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WAR declared on Japan by US

WWII Headlines - Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor in Hawaii - Honolulu Star Bulletin Mon Dec 8 1941

Aerial dogfights raged in the skies over Honolulu itself as American warplanes rose to give battle to the Japanese invaders.

In Washington, the White House announced that a US Army transport, carrying lumber rather than troops, had been torpedoed 1,300 miles west of San Francisco – thereby placing Japanese naval action well east of Hawaii, toward the United States mainland.

An NBC broadcast from Honolulu said the Japanese attack had inflicted untold damage on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor and on the city itself.

Several Japanese planes were reported shot down.

First reports from Honolulu said at least two formations of nine four-motored black bombers, marked with Japan’s rising sun insignia, flew over Honolulu.

Unconfirmed reports said that one ship in Pearl Harbor was seen lying on its side and four others in flames.

“There has been severe fighting going on in the air and on the sea,” an NBC broadcast said.

“The battle has been going on for nearly three hours.”

Later, the Honolulu broadcaster announced:

“The army and navy, it appears, now have the air and sea under control.”

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941 from Naval History and Heritage Command

WWII Headlines - Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor in Hawaii - Honolulu Advertiser Mon Dec 8 1941

100+ D-Day pictures: See WWII's Operation Overlord in June 1944, plus get historical insight from 25 years later

pearl harbor attack 1941

Writer tells story of attack on Hawaii

by Eugene Burns

Honolulu, Dec 7 – At least two Japanese bombers, their wings bearing the insignia of the rising sun, appeared over Honolulu at about 7:35 am (Honolulu time) today and dropped bombs.

Unverified reports said a foreign warship appeared off Pearl Harbor and began firing at the defenses in that highly fortified post.

The sound of cannons firing comes to me here in Honolulu, as I telephone this story to the San Francisco Associated Press office.

Reports say that the Japanese bombers scored two hits, one at Hickam Field, air post on Oahu island, and another at Pearl Harbor, setting an oil tank afire.

Shortly before I started talking on the transpacific telephone, I saw a formation of five Japanese planes flying over Honolulu.

American antiaircraft has set up a terrific din, and the sky also is filled with American battle aircraft.

The sound of cannonading coming from the direction of Pearl Harbor has been continuing for an hour and a half. So far, there are no reports of casualties. No bombs have fallen in Honolulu itself, so far as I could determine before making this call.

There is much commotion going on, with planes in the air and antiaircraft firing.

The citizens of Honolulu have been cleared from the streets by military and naval units, assisted by civilian volunteers, all carrying arms. But a lot of citizens have left the city for hills, to watch the planes and antiaircraft, and get a general view of the excitement.

I heard one man say, as he passed me enroute to the hills: “I’ll bet the mainland papers are going to exaggerate this.”

The sky was filled with puffs of smoke from exploding shells fired by American army and navy antiaircraft units.

Whether surface units of the United States fleet were in action against the enemy could not be immediately determined, but columns of water rising from the sea, as shells hit the water, indicated a naval action.

Viewed from the hills back of Honolulu, where many city folk went to view the fight, columns of heavy black smoke went skyward from Pearl Harbor.

Why the Navy wanted to borrow binoculars for WWI & WWII

Japan launches reckless attack on U.S.

In desperate gamble on victory or suicide it strikes first blow at Hawaii

Out of the Pacific skies last week, World War II came with startling suddenness to America. It was 7:35 a.m. on a Sunday morning — the aggressors’ favorite day–when two Japanese planes, wearing on their wings the Rising Sun of Japan, flew out of the western sky over the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

Japan had seized the initiative and was making the most of the aggressor’s privilege to strike the first blow.

With reckless daring Japan aimed this blow at the citadel of American power in the Pacific, the great naval fortress of Pearl Harbor. Close observers of Japan have said for years that if that country ever found itself in a hopeless corner it was capable of committing national hara-kiri by flinging itself at the throat of its mightiest enemy. Japan has found itself in just such a corner. It could not retreat without losing all and it could not advance another step without war.

It took the desperate plunge and told its enemies in effect: “If this be hara-kiri, make the most of it.”

Japan’s daring was matched only by its barefaced duplicity. There was no warning — not even such an ultimatum as Hitler is wont to send while his legions pour across some new border.

At the very moment the first bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, Japan’s two envoys in Washington were in Secretary Hull’s office at the State Department, making their blandest protestations of peaceful intent. Ambassador Nomura and Envoy Kurusu had come with the answer to Hull’s note. He read it through and then, for the first time in many long, patient years, the soft-spoken Secretary lost his temper.

Into the teeth of the two Japanese, who for once did not grin, he flung these words: “In all my 50 years of public service, I have never seen a document that was more crowded with infamous falsehoods and distortions — on a scale so huge that I never imagined until today that any government on this planet was capable of uttering them.”

The two Japanese scurried out of his office and home to their Embassy. Even as Hull spoke, America sprang to arms. Wherever it was in the wide ocean, the U. S. Fleet went into action and all over the Pacific U. S. garrisons stood ready.

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America goes to war

In Washington, President Roosevelt dictated his war message to Congress. From Army and Navy headquarters, the prearranged orders went out which transformed the U. S. into a nation at war.

In the face of an attack so clear that no man could argue it, the nation stood absolutely united. Senator Wheeler, the leader of Isolationists, spoke for all when he said: “The only thing now is to do our best. to lick hell out of them.”

How much or how long it would take to lick Japan, no man could say. The U.S. Navy has always been supremely confident of its ability to sink the Japanese Fleet in open battle or, if the enemy ships refused battle, to strangle the island empire by blockade.

In recent months, the vulnerable Philippine station has been strengthened by the addition of squadrons of heavy bombers. With new British warships at Singapore, plus the combined land-air strength of the British, Dutch and Australian forces, America has a long-range superiority over Japan. It may be, indeed, that America’s greatest danger is overconfidence.

There will surely be more naval losses and more strong attacks on American islands because Japan has a strategic and tactical advantage at the outset of this Pacific war. It will take not only all-out U. S. military might but great persistence and great courage to hurl back attack and to win the final victory.

Jap bombers aim first blow at Oahu base

Japan attacks Pearl Harbor - WWII - Life Dec 1941 (5)

Japan attacks Pearl Harbor - WWII - Life Dec 1941 (6)


Great Pearl Harbor Naval Base is center for defense of entire US Pacific coast

Japan attacks Pearl Harbor - WWII - Life Dec 1941 (7)

Japan attacks Pearl Harbor - WWII - Life Dec 1941 (1)

The US fleet takes first punishment

Japan attacks Pearl Harbor - WWII - Life Dec 1941 (2)

Japs sneak in close for Hawaiian attack

Japan attacks Pearl Harbor - WWII - Life Dec 1941 (3)

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WWII War declared - Newspaper headlines from Detroit Free Press - December 8 1941

WWII War declared - Newspaper headlines from Daily News - December 8 1941

WWII War declared - Newspaper headlines from The Tampa Times - December 8 1941

WWII War declared - Newspaper headlines from Arizona Republic - December 8 1941

WWII War declared - Newspaper headlines from The Havre Daily News - December 8 1941

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

WWII War declared - Newspaper headlines from The Shreveport Journal - December 8 1941

WWII War declared - Newspaper headlines from Iowa City Press Citizen - December 8 1941

WWII War declared - Newspaper headlines from Longview News Journal - December 8 1941

WWII War declared - Newspaper headlines from Muncie Evening Press - December 8 1941

WWII War declared - Newspaper headlines from The Coshocton Tribune - December 8 1941

WWII War declared - Newspaper headlines from The Independent Record - December 8 1941

This day and time: Japan moves – Pearl Harbor

No one need be surprised at what Japan has just done. Every competent observer in America expected this nation eventually would be called upon to go to war against the Japanese.

Now, apparently, the hour has come. Time is past when discussions, negotiations and polite diplomatic language will serve any good purpose. In its place is the hour of action.

For action, the United States is ready. In the Pacific, our fleet stands at battle stations. Long have the men of war of Uncle Sam stood guard in the Pacific over a restless marauding Japan. Now these same men of war will have to do more than stand guard. They will have to fight.

United States naval men have been longing for a chance to have a go with the Japanese fleet. Sunday that time arrived with gusto.

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The Congress may decide Monday to declare war on Japan, formally. That, at any rate, would be more than was done by the Japanese, who sent their raiders against Manila and Pearl Harbor even while their ambassador and their special envoy were in Washington, for talks with Secretary of State Hell.

To some, at least, this is the supreme affront. Tokyo sends its envoys to discuss peace and its bombers to spread war. Try to reconcile that, if you can.

Of course you can’t. And the people of this great nation won’t expect you to. This means war, declared or undeclared. The principle is the thing, and America will not be caught unprepared to defend the principles upon which our democracy has flourished.

This is no hysterical outcry. The hint of war has appeared in this space many times before. Without alarming the reader, every effort has been made to prepare him for the obvious outcome of all the clashes of American and Japanese positions.

The move was up to Japan. Japan has moved. The move was, and is, war, with all it implies. Now the next moves are up to the United States.

How long it will take for the United States to act is clearly demonstrated in orders putting the entire Pacific Coast area on a wartime footing. By the time this reaches you the whole of the United States may be on a wartime footing. This is the real thing. No sham battles, no mock maneuvers.

This, America, is war. We are in it for sure and make no mistake.

It is our move. Japan has already won what advantage attaches to first assuming the initiative. Now we shall see if American aggressiveness and command are able to wrest the initiative from Japan and assume the offensive. That America can and will do this no American has any doubt.

This column has repeatedly said, in the past, that in the event the United States were to become involved in a war, it would be in the Pacific. Today the United States is in that war, and it is in the Pacific – a state of war declared by Japan to exist between the United States and Japan.

Reason for this war is obvious. Hitler urged Japan to take the step in order to divert the United States away from help to Britain and Russia, for Hitler is not faring so well in his campaigns against these two nations.

But war did come; it is here; it is in the Pacific; and it is the sort of war forecast – a war of diversion. Hitler wanted the war. Now he has it. Next in line likely will be declarations of war against the US by Hitler and the rest of his satellites.

100+ D-Day pictures: See WWII's Operation Overlord in June 1944, plus get historical insight from 25 years later

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