2 Page Essay On Pearl Harbor

The road to war between the United States of America and Japan began on the surprise aerial attack on the United States Navy base in Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. This was the first step that brought the might United States into the Second World War Relations between the two countries started to detireate in the early 1930’s when Japan started to become aggressive in Asia, mainly in Manchuria in 1931 and tried to start conquering the rest of China into 1937. Japan in 1940 decided to allied it self with the “Axis” with countries like Germany.

Japan, a vastly resource free country needed supplies such as oil from countries like the United States. With their aggression in Asia the United States decided to put an embargo on Japan and halt valuable resources such as oil which the Japanese empire need greatly to expand their mighty war machine . Japan had only enough oil reserves to fight a war for about six more months, something that they couldn’t stand to bear with and the only solution to counter this problem was to move further down south into the vast and oil rich areas of South East Asia.

With their aggression already in China, Japan wasn’t a very favored country in the United States, already banning immigrations from Japan and angering them even further they drew out plans to counter this problem and the only solution left was to destroy the United States Pacific fleet that had recently been shifted to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by the United States President Roosevelt.

The United States of Americas Navy Pacific fleet was established way back in the late 1800’s but established their Head quarters on February 1st 1941 only 10 months before the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Pearl Harbor was seen as “impregnable” by the United States. Having this massive United States Navy a stone throw away from Japan was of a large concern. If Japan was to take further aggressive action down south, the United States would be sure to come to the defense of their allies and stop the Japanese. The only option left was to eliminate the United States Pacific Fleet so they would have superiority over the entire Pacific waters and further their interest down south with little resistance if at all from the United States.

For months the Japanese Navy has been practicing simulations on the attack of Pearl Harbor, if the diplomatic talks in Washington DC had failed they were prepared to go to war at all costs . On the 26th of November, the Japanese set sail of a Navy task force of six heavy aircraft carriers, the Shokaku, Zuikaku, Kaga, Akagi, Hiryu and Soryu and accompanying these aircraft carriers were two battle ships sailing to Pearl Harbor spearheaded this task force was Admiral Chuchi Nagumo . The plan to attack Pearl Harbor was devised by Admiral Yamamoto, he wanted the United States Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor to be neutralized so he could purse Japans goals in achieving domination.

The task force set sail and was to avoid detection by the United States Navy at all costs. If detected they were to set sail back home to Japan immediately. Admiral Chuchi Nagumo later learned that the United States Navy most prized possessions, their aircraft carriers were not in port but some carriers were doing training excises while other carriers were stationed else where and others delivering planes to remote Pacific islands . This was certainly a major downfall in the usefulness of the attack in the Pacific fleet but the attack was to go ahead, December 8th Japanese time which is December 7th the local date in Hawaii. Chatter was created on the radios in Japan to make the United States think that the aircraft carriers were at bay but this didn’t work.

The conditions were in favor of Japan, apart from the aircraft carriers belong to the United States navy not in port, the weather with the heavy fogged helped provide good coverage over the carriers from overheard reconossinace planes that were out looking for the missing Japanese carriers. All Japanese ships were to remain on radio blackout. Visibility over Pearl Harbor was clear, and this information was given over the local radio station in Oahu. In the early morning at 0600 hours the first launch of 183 aircraft, bombers laden with torpedoes and bombs, flanked by fighter aircraft escorting them they made their 1.5 hours journey to Pearl Harbor.

The attack on Pearl Harbor came at a great cost to the US but then again this is very debatable. During the two waves of strikes by the Japanese, only lost a total of twenty nine aircraft . This is a very small price to pay for the huge losses the United States Navy occurred, on that day, December 7th, 2403 people were recorded as dead, a further 1178 were injured, four battle ships were sunk, the Oklahoma, West Virginia, California and the Nevada. The Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Maryland were damaged but the Maryland was put back into service in February 1942. Aircraft lost by the United States were massive as well, with aircraft parked tightly to avoid any sabotage; this made it easier for Japanese bombers. Out of the 394 planes based, 165 were damaged and only some still able to fly.

This attack on Pearl Harbor seemed like a success on the day for the Japanese and my view is that it seemed like this from both sides. The United States suffers a huge loss compared to the minimal loss suffered on the Japanese side. Japan now has put a major dent into the United States Pacific fleet and is able to further their goals down south but my personal view is that the attack created more problems for Japan the solving.

No aircraft carrier was in dock at all, the power of the Pacific fleet is with the might aircraft carriers. It did not sink, damaged or even find any of the aircraft carriers. All of the battle ships that were sunk in Pearl Harbor were raised except the Arizona were repaired and put back into service thus making the United States Navy rely more on their carriers. The air raid on Pearl Harbor didn’t even attempt to destroy any of the logistics, logistics such as the vast supply of oil that was in dock, without this oil the United States Navy would not have been able to repair and return to service the battle ships that were damaged at such a quick rate.

From the Japanese point of view, it can only be seen as a success that they were able to sink many battle ships, destroy many aircraft and end the lives of many soldiers at such a small physical price. It is hard to determine whether this attack on this day was one of the biggest mistakes ever made by the Japanese empire, had they sent a third wave to destroy more of the logistics or if the aircraft carriers had been in port it may have changed the outcome of the war.

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Here is the list of the most popular essay topics on Pearl Harbor:

1. The Attack on Pearl Harbor
2. The Bombing Of Pearl Harbor
3. Did President Roosevelt Deliberately Withhold Information About the Attack on Pearl Harbor From the American Commanders?
4. Critique of Pearl Harbor and the Coming of the Pacific War
5. Causes of the Pearl Harbor
6. Americans approval of Japanese internment following the events of Pearl Harbor
7. The conspiracy of Pearl Harbor
8. Pearl Harbor and Retaliation
9. Ambiguity: Duplicity at Pearl Harbor?

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The Attack on Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941 one of the worst attacks ever on the United States occurred. More than 3,000 people lost their lives or were injured that morning, and the attack propelled us into war against the Axis Alliance. Through the misjudgement of numerous U.S. armed forces personnel, the Japanese were able to carry out this terrible attack, which crippled the United States' Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

In 1887, the United States government obtained exclusive use of the inlet called Pearl Harbor, and the right to maintain a repair and coaling station for ships. The area was established as a naval base in 1908, then in 1911 dredging of a channel from the sea was completed, across a sandbar and a coral reef at the mouth of the harbor. This made that channel accessible to the largest naval vessels, as it was now 35 feet deep, with a maximum depth of 60 feet. During the Japanese attack, this center for United States military action in the Pacific Ocean was nearly completely destroyed.

Between the middle of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, Japan looked to transform itself from a closed, feudal society into a modern industrial and military power. In the early 1930's, the Japanese army engaged in battles with the Chinese in Manchuria and prevailed. Because of their losses in these battles, Manchuria became a part of the Japanese political system. In 1937, conflict again began between Japan and China, this time near the Marco Polo bridge in Beijing. This conflict led to a full-scale war known today as the Sino-Japanese War, which was one of the bloodiest in history and lasted until the defeat of Japan in 1945.

In 1939, World War II began with a string of German victories. These successes included the defeats of Poland, France and England. Many European nations that Germany now controlled had control of important colonial empires; the East Indies and Singapore in Southeast Asia. These empires were of interest to Japan because they had the natural resources oil, coal, rubber and tin that Japan desperately neaded.

Japan began their expansion with the seizure of Indochina in mid-1941. To this, the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt was in strict opposition, but many others in America wanted to leave the situation alone. So the United States provided materials to countries who were at war with Germany and Japan, but tried to stay neutral and prevent war. This was not effective, however and President Roosevelt created an embargo on the shipment of oil to Japan. Without this critical resource, Japan's industrial and military forces would quickly come to a halt, so they viewed the embargo as an act of war. Only a few months later in September, Japan formed the Axis Alliance along with Italy and Germany. Things were beginning to look worse for the United States.

Officials in the United States tried to come to a resolve with Japan over their differences. Japan wanted America to lift the embargo and allow them to take over China. The United States refused to do either, and saw Japan's refusal to budge on their stance as a sign of hostility. Because of neither nation's willingness to compromise, it seemed that war was now inevitable.

The most powerful and important part of the United States' defense in the Pacific Ocean was the Pacific Fleet, which was usually on the west coast but made a training cruise to Hawaii every year. Because of the overshadow of war at the time of its training cruise in 1941, the fleet was moved to Pearl Harbor naval base. This was a perfect location because it was halfway between the U.S. west coast and Japanese bases in the Marshall Islands.

The Pacific Fleet arrived at Pearl Harbor on April 2, 1940 and was scheduled to depart and return to the United States mainland around the 9th of May. However, this plan was seriously altered because of the increasing activity in Italy and Japan's attempts to expand in Southeast Asia. President Roosevelt's theory was that the presence of United States forces in Hawaii would deter any Japanese attempt at a strike on American forces. Admiral James O. Richardson of the Pacific Fleet was in complete opposition to the proposed long stay at Pearl Harbor. However, when Admiral Stark suggested to him the idea of anti-torpedo nets, after British torpedo bombers launched an attack on Taranto Harbor in Italy, he thought they were neither practical nor necessary. Unfortunately, all of Richardson's protests and meetings with the president only got him dismissed and in February of 1941 he was officially replaced by Admiral Husband E. Kimmel. Kimmel also didn't like the idea of his fleet in Pearl Harbor, but kept his objections to himself after seeing what had happened to Richardson.

The Pacific Fleet was to be used as a defensive measure to direct Japan's attention away from Southeast Asia by:

"a) Capturing the Caroline and Marshall Islands

b) Disrupting Japanese trade routes, and

c) Defending Guam, Hawaii and The United States mainland." (The Attack on Pearl Harbor. Brill.acomp.usf.edu/~mportill/assign.html)

Kimmel was supposed to prepare the fleet for war with Japan.

Because of the United States' presence in the Pacific, Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of his country's Combined Fleet needed to be careful of his positions there. If he allowed his forces to be too concentrated, the mainland was susceptible to and attack from a European nation or America. Yamamoto created a plan which involved a strong opening blow to the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and offensive attacks against the British, U.S. and Dutch forces in Southeast Asia. His main purpose was to cripple the United States while he quickly gathered the natural resources of Southeast Asia. He hoped that his opening attack would demoralize American forces and require us to sign a peace settlement, thus allowing Japan to remain as the strongest power in the Pacific. Only one month after the British attack on Taranto Harbor, Yamamoto reasoned that if war was inevitable with the United States he would launch a carrier attack on Pearl Harbor.

In January of 1941, Yamamoto began to commit to his strategy, planning the attack and showing it to other Japanese officials. He developed eight guidelines for the attack, and they are as follows:

"1) Surprise was crucial

2) American aircraft carriers should be the primary targets.

3) United States aircraft there must be destroyed to prevent aerial opposition

4) All Japanese aircraft carriers should be used.

5) All types of bombing should be used in the attack

6) A strong fighter element should be included in the attack for air cover for the fleet

7) Refueling at sea would be necessary

8) A daylight attack promised best results, especially in the sunrise hours." (The Attack Pearl Harbor. brill.acomp.usf.edu/~mportill/assign.html)

General staff members were in opposition to the attack but continued preparations despite their knowledge that the attack would be difficult.

Secrecy and surprise were the two most important elements to the success of the Japanese plan. However, the flow of information around the Japanese Imperial Naval staff was not completely secure. On January 27, Joseph C. Grew, the United States Ambassador to Japan wired Washington that he had discovered information that Japan, in the event of problems with the United States, would plan a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, no one in Washington believed this information, but if someone had, it is possible that the terrible attack could have been prevented. Instead of an attack on Pearl Harbor, most United States officials thought that the Japanese would attack Manila, in the Philippine Islands. During this time period, American intelligence officers continued to monitor secret Japanese messages.

American scientists had previously developed a machine, whose code name was "magic," that gave intelligence officers the ability to read top secret Japanese message traffic. "Magic" provided the United States much high quality information, but because of ignorant ideas in Washington, most of this data was not followed up on and important pieces of the attack puzzle were missed. Japanese consular traffic was also intercepted, which provided the United States with even more important information. Although America had enough essential information to paint itself a crystal-clear picture of Japanese intentions, there was an internal struggle between the Office of Naval Intelligence and the War Plans Division, and the information was lost in the shuffle. In Japan, Admiral Nomura informed his superiors that he thought Americans were reading his message traffic, but no one believed him and their code was not changed.

In addition to listening in on Japanese message traffic, the United States also knew that Hawaii was full of Japanese intelligence officers. Because of our constitutional rights however, very little could be done. One such spy was Takeo Yoshikawa.

Yoshikawa was a Japanese naval reserve ensign. He retired after only two years of service, then contemplated suicide. The navy offered him a job with its general staff's intelligence division, and over the next four years Yoshikawa studied English as well as the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor. Wisely, he did not overuse any one observation post or method as he carefully watched goings on in Pearl Harbor and Hickam Airfield. He used many different costumes during his spying years, but never illegally entered military bases or stole confidential documents. Due to American openness, he received nearly all the information he needed by legal methods. He turned out to be one of the best sources of information for the Japanese military, but at the end of his career received neither honors nor pension, and was left asking, "Why has history cheated me?"

As the United States began to fear more and more the Japanese attack, they increased peace negotiations, which occurred up until about November 27, 1941. At this time negotiations completely halted and United States troops were put on high alert. On December 6, President Roosevelt made a final appeal for peace to the Japanese Emperor. Late the same day American intelligence officers decoded thirteen parts of a fourteen part message which brought forth the possibility of a Japanese attack. Around 9:00 a.m. on December 7th, the last piece of the message was decoded, which stated a severance of Japanese ties with America. One hour later a Japanese message was decoded, instructing their embassy to deliver the same 14-part message at 1:00 p.m., Washington time. Upon receiving this message, Washington sent a commercial telegraph to Pearl Harbor because communications were down. However, this message was not received until noon Hawaiian time, three hours after the bombing had been completed.

At this time, Pearl Harbor was not on a state of high alert. Senior commanders had concluded that there was no reason to believe an attack in the near future is inevitable. For this reason, aircraft were left parked wingtip to wingtip on airfields, anti-aircraft guns remained unmanned, and many ammunition boxes stayed locked in storage in accordance with American peacetime regulations. There were no torpedo nets protecting the Pacific Fleet anchorage. Because the 7th of December was a Sunday and it was early in the morning, most officers and crewmen were leisurely ashore.

The Americans were taken completely by surprise by the attack. The attacking Japanese planes came in two waves, the first of which took off from carriers located 230 miles north of Oahu around 6:00 a.m. This wave consisted of 183 fighters, bombers and torpedo planes. The previous night, about 10 miles outside the entrance to Pearl Harbor, five midget submarines were launched, each carrying two men and two torpedoes. It was their mission to remain submerged and once the attack got underway, cause as much damage as possible. Meanwhile in Pearl Harbor, the 130 vessels of the Pacific Fleet sat calmly. At 7:02 a.m., two army operators at Oahu's norther shore radar station detect the Japanese air attack approaching, but their junior officer disregarded their reports, thinking they were American B-17 bombers, which were expected to arrive from the west coast. At 7:15 a.m., the second wave of 160 planes took off from their carriers. In the event that followed, thousands of lives were lost, as well as incredible amounts of American naval property.

Around 6:40 a.m., the crew of the destroyer USS Ward spotted the conning tower of one of the midget submarines. The submarine was by depth charges and gunfire, and Ward radioed the news to headquarters. At 7:53 a.m., the first Japanese attack wave which included 51 Val dive bombers, 40 Kate torpedo bombers, 50 high level bombers and 43 Zero fighters, reached its targets of airfields and battleships. Meanwhile the attack leader, Commander Mitsuo Fuchida was sending coded messages "Tora, Tora, Tora," informing the fleet that the attack had begun and that absolute surprise had been attained. During this attack, Hickam Airfield's mess hall received a direct hit, killing 35 men who were having breakfast.

While the attack on the harbor grew increasingly intense, many other United States military installations on Oahu were hit. Hickam, Wheeler and Bellows airfields, Ewa Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station and Schofield Barracks were all damaged, with hundreds of planes destroyed on the ground.

After about five minutes, American anti-aircraft fire began to register hits, but they did not amount to much of a resistance. After a short pause, like in the eye of a hurricane, the second attacking wave reached its targets of ships and shipyard facilities at 8:55 a.m. This attack brought continued destruction, and reduced the American's ability to retaliate. However, Army Air Corps pilots managed to take off in a few fighters, and may have shot down up to ten enemy planes, but this was obviously too little too late.

At approximately 8:10 a.m., the USS Arizona received a direct hit from a 1,760 pound bomb, which penetrated the ship's forward ammunition magazine. This created a catastrophic explosion, which ripped apart the ship's sides. Within nine minutes the ship was sunk, taking with her 1,177 lives, a near complete loss. The USS Oklahoma was also hit by several torpedoes and completely rolled over, trapping inside over four hundred crew members. One surviving crew member of the USS Arizona relives his nightmare:

"I was about three quarters of the way to the first platform on the mast when it seemed as though a bomb struck our quarterdeck. I could hear shrapnel or fragments whistling past me. As soon as I reached the first platform, I saw Lieutenant Simonson lying on his back with blood on his shirt front. I bent over him and taking him by the shoulders asked if there was anything I could do. He was dead, or so nearly so that speech was impossible. Seeing that there was nothing I could do for the Lieutenant, I continued to my battle station...A terrible explosion caused the ship to shake violently. I looked at the boat deck and everything seemed aflame forward of the mainmast...{After being told to abandon ship,} I started swimming for the pipeline which was about one hundred and fifty feet away. I was about halfway when my strength gave out entirely. My clothes and shocked condition sapped my strength, and I was about to go under when Major Shapley started to swim by, and seeing my distress, grasped my shirt and told me to hang to his shoulders while he swam in. We were perhaps twenty-five feet from the pipe line when the Major's strength gave out and I saw that he was floundering, so I loosened my grip on him and told him to make it alone. He stopped and grabbed me by the shirt and refused to let go. I would have drowned but for the Major." (Attack at Pearl Harbor, 1941. www.ibiscom.com/pearl.htm)

By 9:55 a.m., the second Japanese attack wave had retreated to the north, and the attack was over. By 1:00 p.m., the carriers that had launched the planes from 274 miles off the coast of Oahu were headed back to Japan with a victory under their belts. In actuality however, they had sealed their own fates, as shortly after the attack the United Stated entered World War II and eventually defeated Japan.

Although the attack caused much damage, it was not a complete success. Most of the Pacific Fleet was destroyed, but its aircraft carriers had not been in port at the time of the attack and were still afloat. Surprisingly, Pearl Harbor was very much intact. Although fuel tanks along the Kamehameha Highway and North Road were incompletely camouflaged and visible to Japanese attackers, they were spared because they were not targets. This allowed what was left of the Pacific Fleet to continue operating at Pearl Harbor and not withdraw to the United States west coast. Among the dead from the attack were 2,335 servicemen, 68 civilians and a total of 1,178 injured. A complete account of damage and casualties can be found in the following table.

"December7, 1941 Losses

United States Japan

Personnel Killed

Navy 2,388

Marine Corps 1,998 64

Army and Army Air Corps 109

Civilian 48

Personnel Wounded 1,178 unknown

Navy 710

Marine Corps 69

Army and Army Air Corps 364

Civilian 35

Ships

Sunk or beached** 12 5

Damaged* 9

Aircraft

Destroyed 164 29

Damaged 159 74

*Figures are subject to further review

**All U.S. Ships except Arizona, Utah, and Oklahoma were salvaged and later saw action."

(USS Arizona Memorial. www.nps.gov/usar/ExtendWeb1.html)

As can be seen from this table, United States losses were considerably greater than

those of the Japanese.

The Pearl Harbor bombing rallied Americans behind President Roosevelt in declaring war on Japan the next day. Roosevelt called December 7, "...a date which will live in infamy." (Franklin D. Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor Speech. bcn.boulder.co.us/government/national/speeches/spch2.html) On December 11, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, dragging us into a global conflict. Seven months after the attack, the fuel supplies that had not been targets in the attack helped in the defeat of the Japanese carrier task force by the United States Pacific Fleet at the battle of Midway, the battle that turned the war around. The United States later dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, forcing Japan and their Axis Alliance partners to completely surrender on August 14, 1945.

Soon after the attack, President Roosevelt appointed a commission of inquiry to determine if negligence had contributed to the success of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. Their report found that naval and army commanders of the Hawaiian area, Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and Major General Walter C. Short were guilty of "derelictions of duty," and "errors of judgement." The two subsequently retired from the armed forces. A bipartisan congressional committee opened an investigation in November of 1945 in which testimony from many people was heard, and the attack was reviewed. The committee reported in July, 1946 that primary blame was to be placed on Short and Kimmel, who were not declared guilty of derelictions of duty, only errors of judgement.

Fifty-nine years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, it remains one of the worst defeats of the United States in our history. At many points along the time line of events could this tragedy have been prevented, but through a series of errors and poor decisions, nothing was done until it was too late. Today, fifty-nine years after the attack the USS Arizona National Memorial now stands above the remains of the battleship, commemorating those Americans who died. Despite the tremendous losses that day, the patriotism of many Americans only increased, and pride was not lost. The crews on many of the ships at Pearl Harbor were on the decks for morning colors and the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner. Although one band was interrupted by the gunfire and bombing from Japanese planes, not a single crew member moved until the last note was sung.

Bibliography

1) Deac, Will. The Pearl Harbor Spy... www.thehistorynet.com/WorldWarII/articles/1997/05973_text.htm

2) Attack At Pearl Harbor, 1941. www.ibiscom.com/pearl.html

3) Attack on Pearl Harbor, The. brill.acomp.usf.edu/~mportill/assign.html

4) Commander, Navy Region Hawaii. www.hawaii.navy.mil/New%20Homepage/7Dec98/virtour.htm

5) Franklin D. Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor Speech. bcn.boulder.co.us/government/national/speeches/spch2.html

6) The History Place World War Two in Europe. www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/pearl.htm

7) Pearl Harbor. encarta.msn.com/find/Concise.asp?ti=046f8000

8) Road to Pearl Harbor. history.acusd.edu/gen/WW2Timeline/RD-PEARL.html

9) USS Arizona Memorial. www.nps.gov/usar/ExtendWeb1/html

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