The Bugler

Bugler Newsletter

Dec. 7, 1941 & Sept. 2, 1945

December 7, 1941: Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor

The date is seared in our minds: December 7, 1941 when the Japanese launched a surprise attack against U.S. Forces stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It was planned for a Sunday in the hope that the entire fleet would be in port. Luckily, the aircraft carriers and one of the battleships were not. The USS Enterprise was returning from Wake Island, where it had just delivered some aircraft; the USS Lexington was ferrying aircraft to Midway; and the USS Saratoga and USS Colorado were undergoing repairs in the United States.

In spite of the latest intelligence reports about the missing aircraft carriers, Vice Admiral Nagumo's most important targets, he decided to continue the attack with his force of six carriers and 423 aircraft. At a range of 230 miles north of Oahu, he launched the first wave of a two-wave attack. Beginning at 0600 hours, the first wave of 183 fighters and torpedo bombers struck at the fleet in Pearl Harbor and the airfields in Hickam, Kaneohe, Ford Island, Wheeler, and Ewa. The second strike, launched at 0715 hours with 167 aircraft, struck at the same targets. There had been no declaration of war. American losses were devastating:

US Army: 218 KIA, 364 WIA.
US Navy: 2,008 KIA, 710 WIA.
US Marine Corps: 109 KIA, 69 WIA.
Civilians: 68 KIA, 35 WIA.
TOTAL: 2,403 KIA, 1,178 WIA.

USS Arizona (BB-39) – Total loss when a bomb hit her magazine.
USS Oklahoma (BB-37) – Total loss when she capsized and sunk in the harbor.
USS California (BB-44) – Sunk at her berth; later raised and repaired.
USS West Virginia (BB-48) – Sunk at her berth; later raised and repaired.
USS Nevada - (BB-36) – Beached to prevent sinking; later repaired.
USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) – Light damage. 
USS Maryland (BB-46) – Light damage. 
USS Tennessee (BB-43) – Light damage.
USS Utah (AG-16 and former battleship used as a target) – sunk.

USS New Orleans (CA-32) –  Light damage.
USS San Francisco (CA38) – Light damage.
USS Detroit (CL-8) – Light damage.
USS Raleigh (CL-7) – Heavily damaged but repaired.
USS Helena (CL-50) – Light damage.
USS Honolulu (CL-48) – Light damage.

USS Downes (DD-375) – Destroyed; parts salvaged.
USS Cassin - (DD-372)  – Destroyed; parts salvaged.
USS Shaw (DD-373) – Very heavy damage.
USS Helm (DD-388) – Light damage.

USS Ogala (CM-4) – Sunk but later raised and repaired.

Seaplane Tender
USS Curtiss (AV-4) – Severely damaged but later repaired.

Repair Ship
USS Vestal (AR-4) – Severely damaged but later repaired.

Harbor Tug
USS Sotoyomo (YT-9) – Sunk but later raised and repaired.

188 aircraft destroyed (Both U.S. Navy and U.S. Army Air Corps.) 

For more information ...
PBS "The War":

Pearl Harbor Photos

The following are two U.S. Navy photographs from the collections of the National Archives and the Naval History and Heritage Command (formerly the U.S. Naval Historical Center) in Washington, DC. To see the remaining photos, please click on photo album. Click on each individual photo on the right to enlarge it and move it into the center of the photo album.

Pearl Harbor Pearl Harbor

For more information …
Naval History & Heritage Command:
Photographic History of the U.S. Navy:

September 2, 1945: The Japanese Surrender

By August 1945, the Japanese situation was desperate. Major cities were devastated by atomic or conventional attack; casualties numbered in the millions. Millions more were refugees. The fleet was lost, and merchant shipping could not leave home waters or Japanese possessions without fear of submarine or mine attack. Oil stocks were gone, rubber and steel were in short supply, and the Soviets were moving against the only sizable forces the Japanese had left in Manchuria. They were a starving and undersupplied force. Many divisions had transferred to the Pacific, where they died in island battles.

The Japanese sent out peace feelers as early as June 1945. The only condition was the continued existence of the imperial throne. However, many in the military still wanted to fight on, preferring death to capitulation. The emperor was sympathetic to the peacemakers, but it was inconceivable to many in both the army and the navy that the emperor would support surrender. Unclear about the Japanese offer, the Allies refused and issued the Potsdam Declaration on July 26th that came from the Potsdam Conference -- a meeting that included Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom, and U.S. President Harry S Truman. The goals of the conference included the establishment of post-war order, peace treaty issues, and countering the effects of war. On August 6th and 8th, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by atomic bombs.

The emperor ordered a surrender document be sent accepting the Potsdam Declaration. Through Swiss channels, it was sent to the United States, but it added that the emperor must be left on the imperial throne. The Allies replied that the emperor would be subject to the Allied occupation commander. While the cabinet debated, the emperor secretly recorded a surrender broadcast. Imperial Guardsmen searched government offices in vain to seize the record but, on August 14th, it was broadcast. Using formal Japanese, the public was unsure if the emperor was surrendering or exhorting his subjects to continued resistance. The announcer assured the Japanese public that the war was over. An abortive attempt that night by army and navy right-wing officers to take the emperor hostage and continue the war was stopped.

President Truman accepted the surrender and announced that the war was over on August 15th. This date became known as V-J Day (Victory over Japan). On September 2, 1945, a huge force of Allied ships gathered in Tokyo Bay. Aboard the battleship USS Missouri, the Japanese envoys Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu signed their names on the Instrument of Surrender that had been prepared by the War Department and approved by President Truman. It set out in eight short paragraphs the complete capitulation of Japan. The opening words, "We, acting by command of and in behalf of the Emperor of Japan ...," signified the importance attached to the Emperor's role by the Americans who drafted the document. "We hereby proclaim the unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters and of all Japanese armed forces and all armed forces under Japanese control wherever situated."

Afterward, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Commander in the Southwest Pacific and Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, also signed. He accepted the Japanese surrender "for the United States, Republic of China, United Kingdom, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and in the interests of the other United Nations at war with Japan."

Here is the actual footage from September 2, 1945 when the Japanese surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur in a ceremony aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Click here: Japanese Surrender

The USS Missouri received a total of 11 battle stars for service in World War II, Korea, and the Persian Gulf, and was finally decommissioned on March 31, 1992. In 1998, she was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association and became a museum ship at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

For more information ...

From the U.S. Army Center of Military History site, this link will take you to an extensive history with maps of the Pacific war and the Japanese surrender. It is from the Reports of General MacArthur, “The Campaigns of MacArthur in the Pacific”:

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Flags should fly at half staff all day.

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