Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

  • Evacuation of the American battleship USS California

  • Destruction in Pearl Harbor after suicide bombers

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Title: Evacuation of the American battleship USS California

Author :

Creation date : 1941 -

Date shown: December 7, 1941

Contact copyright: SuperStock / LeemageAgence Leemage, 7 Rue Maître Albert 75005 Paris

Picture reference: SST903-1365

Evacuation of the American battleship USS California

© SuperStock / Leemage

To close

Title: Destruction in Pearl Harbor after suicide bombers

Author :

Creation date : 1941 -

Date shown: December 7, 1941

Contact copyright: Keystone / Zuma / Leemage Agency Leemage, 7 Rue Maître Albert 75005 Paris

Picture reference: 411207wwsk09799

Destruction in Pearl Harbor after suicide bombers

© Keystone / Zuma / Leemage

Publication date: April 2018

Historical context

December 7, 1941, "a day of infamy"

Evacuation of the American battleship USS California and destruction in Pearl Harbor after kamikaze attackss were both taken by members of the United States Army on the very day of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. By arousing emotion and indignation, President Roosevelt intends to justify the entry into war of the United States and obtain the vote of Congress before which he expressed himself on December 8, speaking of December 7 as "a date that will forever be marked in history as a day of infamy". They then take on a new meaning, tapping into the myth of the unjustly assaulted Nation that finds the resources to recover from such ordeal and ultimately triumph.

Image Analysis

Two scenes from Pearl Harbor

Color photography, Evacuation of the American battleship USS California is quite impressive. Taken from a slight overhang (aboard a plane flying at low altitude, from the top of another ship or even from a surrounding hill), it shows the evacuation operations of the crew of the building hit by two bombs and two torpedoes. We can see many soldiers equipped with their yellow life jackets leaving the battleship or are already in the water (on the left of the image), waiting to be recovered by small boats like the one seen in the center. After having suffered from water inlets, the USS California appears to be leaning sharply to its left. It stands out against the background of thick black smoke, caused by the fire from a massive fuel oil leak, trails of which can also be seen in the foreground. Some debris (the end of a fireplace, in the background on the right) emerges here and there, completing the picture of the recent rout, with which, however, the calm of the transparent sea and the resplendent light of the morning contrast which serve as a framework for the scene.

Sure Destruction in Pearl Harbor after kamikaze attacks, we can see the destroyers Cassin and Downes seriously damaged, while the battleship Pennsylvania (located behind them, in the background) has remained almost intact. Here, the black and white creates a rather dismal atmosphere of desolation (pieces of driftwood near the quay, column of black smoke, gaunt and capsized carcass of one of the two destroyers). Stranded alongside the quayside and cramped between the pontoons topped with buildings and a crane, the two ships seem almost entangled, accentuating the impression of chaos that emerges from the whole.

Interpretation

A surprise attack ... and unworthy

These two photographs first give a glimpse of the losses caused. After the two waves - between 6 a.m. and 9.45 a.m. - of Japanese bombing on the US Army's largest naval base in the Pacific Ocean (located on the south coast of the island of Oahu in the archipelago of Hawaii, 15 kilometers west of Honolulu), there are 2,403 dead and 1,178 injured on the American side. Regarding material losses, two battleships (USS Oklahoma and USS Arizona) and one target ship (USS Utah) are permanently destroyed, three (including USS California) are severely damaged, and three others suffer only slight damage. Four destroyers, three cruisers and an anti-mine shooter are also affected, as well as the 188 combat aircraft stationed there.

Both images also suggest that the targets were destroyed by surprise and not in a "classic" encounter. The place where the various buildings were affected (at the dock for Destruction in Pearl Harbor after kamikaze attacks ; moored in the wing of the battleships for Evacuation of the American battleship USS California) indeed gives these representations a rather unusual, unreal or at least unnatural character. Far from falling in "fair" (and at sea) combat against an open enemy, these warships have come under attack when they are unable to defend themselves, unusually vulnerable. As such, they indirectly insist on the indignity, ease or even cowardice of such an attack.

  • War of 39-45
  • army
  • naval combat
  • boat
  • military
  • hurry
  • bombing raid
  • Roosevelt (Franklin Delano)
  • Japan
  • United States
  • cranes

Bibliography

ABBAD, History of Japan (1868-1945), Paris, Armand Colin, 1992.

BERNSTEIN, Serge and MILZA, Pierre, History of XXe siècle Volume 1: 1900-1945: the end of the “European world”, Paris, Hatier, 1996.

KASPI, André, « Pearl Harbor: an American provocation? », The story n ° 101, June 1987, p. 36-44.

LACROIX, Jean-Michel, History of the United States, Paris, PUF, 1996.

SOUTY Patrick, the Pacific War 1937-1945, Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 1995.

Tora! Tora! Tora!, film by Richard Fleischer, 1970.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "Pearl Harbor"


Video: - Calm Before the Storm - Pearl Harbor - WW2 - 120 C - December 7, 1941