Day 214 of Colourisation Project – December 7
Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.
Sunday, December 7, 1941: there was something different about this Sunday morning, 73 years ago today. As it turned out, it proved to be a pivotal moment in the course of history.
Just before 8 a.m. Japan launched a ‘surprise’ attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii, shattering the peace of that beautiful Hawaiian morning.
Hundreds of Japanese fighter planes attacked the American naval base in a barrage that lasted just two hours and resulted in a devastating loss of life. It also precipitated the entry of the United States into World War II.
Today’s image shows the destruction wreaked on the Battleship USS West Virginia which suffered two aerial bombs, both duds, and seven torpedo hits, one of which may have come from a midget submarine. 106 lives were lost on this ship. Though it was severely damaged, it was able to be repaired and was returned to service in July 1944.
The destruction, casualties and deaths were enormous that day. At least 1,177 lives were lost when the Battleship U.S.S. Arizona exploded and subsequently sank. In all 18 naval vessels (including eight battleships) were sunk or heavily damaged, 188 planes destroyed, and over 2,400 men killed.
The Japanese also suffered some losses. Twenty-nine planes, less than 10 percent of the attacking force, failed to return to their carriers.
Because the attack happened without a declaration of war and without explicit warning, the attack on Pearl Harbor was judged by the Tokyo Trials (International Military Tribunal for the Far East) to be a war crime.
“Yesterday, December 7th, 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…
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire”.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt – December 8, 1941 Speech to Congress