Post-Pearl Harbor Blackout in California

Post-Pearl Harbor Blackout in California

In this Speeches podcast, brought to you by The History Channel, learn about the battle of Pearl Harbor during World War II. The Japanese offensive that began with the December 7 bombing of Pearl Harbor soon extended across most of the Pacific, but Japanese military leaders never seriously considered a major military assault on the continental United States.


Contents

The line serves as a dramatic ending to the depiction of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, but it has yet to be verified that Yamamoto ever said or wrote anything resembling the "awaken a sleeping giant" quote. Neither At Dawn We Slept, the extensive history of the Pearl Harbor attack by Gordon Prange, nor The Reluctant Admiral, the biography of Yamamoto in English by Hiroyuki Agawa, contains the line.

The director of Tora! Tora! Tora!, Richard Fleischer, stated that while Yamamoto may never have said those words, the film's producer, Elmo Williams, had found the line written in Yamamoto's diary. Williams, in turn, has stated that Larry Forrester, the screenwriter, found a 1943 letter from Yamamoto to the Admiralty in Tokyo containing the quotation. However, Forrester cannot produce the letter, nor can anyone else, American or Japanese, recall it or find it. Randall Wallace, the screenwriter of the 2001 film Pearl Harbor, readily admitted that he copied the line from Tora! Tora! Tora!

Yamamoto did believe that Japan could not win a protracted war with the United States. Moreover, he seemed later to have believed that the Pearl Harbor attack had been a blunder strategically, morally, and politically, even though he was the person who originated the idea of a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. It is recorded that while all his staff members were celebrating, "Yamamoto alone" spent the day after Pearl Harbor "sunk in apparent depression". [3] Although almost 2,500 Americans lost their lives at Pearl Harbor and surrounding areas in Honolulu, he was only upset by the bungling of the Foreign Ministry which led to the attack happening while the countries were still at peace, thus, along with other factors, making the incident an unprovoked surprise attack that enraged American public opinion. [4] [5]

In The Reluctant Admiral, Hiroyuki Agawa gives a quotation from a reply by Admiral Yamamoto to Ogata Taketora on January 9, 1942, which is similar to the famous version: "A military man can scarcely pride himself on having 'smitten a sleeping enemy' it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack." [6]

The other common quotation attributed to Yamamoto predicting the future outcome of a naval war against the United States is, "I can run wild for six months . after that, I have no expectation of success". [7] As it happened, the Battle of Midway, the critical naval battle considered to be the turning point of the war in the Pacific, did indeed occur six months after Pearl Harbor, as the Battle of Midway ended on June 7, exactly 6 months later.

Similar to the above quotation was another quotation. Yamamoto, when once asked his opinion on the war, pessimistically said that the only way for Japan to win the war was to dictate terms in the White House. [8] Yamamoto's meaning was that military victory, in a protracted war against an opponent with as much of a population and industrial advantage as the United States possessed, was completely impossible, a rebuff to the Kantai Kessen Decisive Battle Doctrine of those who thought that winning a single major battle against the United States Navy would end the war, just as the Japanese victory in the Battle of Tsushima ended the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.

Yamamoto's quote about peace terms in the White House was abridged by Japanese propaganda to make it seem like an optimistic prediction, then it was further mistranslated by American propaganda to look even more boastful (see illustration).


Extra! Extra! How Did Journalists Cover Pearl Harbor The Day After?

USS West Virginia Burning in Pearl Harbor

Today they may have Tweeted: “Thousands dead in Hawaii after JP attack. Worst ever on homeland. FDR: US in it to win it.”

But on Dec. 8, 1941, one day after the bloodiest attack on U.S. soil by a foreign country, news organizations attempted to make sense of it all. Far removed from the future 24/7 news cycle, the correspondents of the era had only bits and pieces of information from the Japanese assault on Hawaii and did their best to put it into a broader context. Looking back on the articles on the 69th anniversary, the stories are often unclear about exactly how the attack on the Pearl Harbor Naval Base happened. What was evident, however, was that it was destined to bring about another world war. Its conclusion remained unknown.

The crash of exploding bombs in the Hawaiian Islands, Guam and possibly the Philippines, the roar of anti-aircraft guns and the twisted, flaming skeletons of wrecked planes heralded the war of the Pacific, with the principal antagonists the United States and Japan – a war that has been long brewing, a conflict often predicted but previously avoided. But the Japanese aggression yesterday did more than start a Pacific war. It broadened the conflicts already raging into a world-wide struggle whose end no man can know.

Asked whether there was an official information why Japan was able to get inside the outer defenses of the Hawaiian group, Presidential Secretary Stephen Early said it was the consensus of experts that probably all the attacking planes came from carriers which had moved forward during the night and sent their planes aloft. The attack came at dawn on Sunday.

Tonight the war becomes a world war in grim earnest, as Japan, desperate and surrounded by foes, strikes savagely at the United States. … The Japanese have taken a grave risk in sending aircraft carriers to attack Pearl Harbor. The Island of Oahu is one of the strongest and most formidable maritime fortresses in the world. Its striking power is enormous.

It was premeditated murder masked by a toothy smile. The Nation had taken a heavy blow. The casualties crept from rumor into uglier-rumor: hundreds on hundreds of Americans had died bomb-quick, or were dying, bed-slow. But the war came as a great relief, like a reverse earthquake, that in one terrible jerk shook everything disjointed, distorted, askew back into place. Japanese bombs had finally brought national unity to the U.S.

With a promptness and unanimity that left no possible room for doubt, the United States yesterday answered with decisive action Japan’s bloody, treacherous challenge. Hardly 30 minutes after President Roosevelt appeared before the historic joint session of congress to ask a declaration of a state of war, both the house and senate had passed the resolution formalizing the conflict which began with the dastardly attack on Hawaii at dawn Sunday. We are in this thing, now, ALL THE WAY – and we are in to win. OUR VERY SURVIVAL DEPENDS UPON COMPLETE VICTORY. We have answered the defiance of a cowardly, back-stabbing foe who talked peace even while plotting undeclared war. THERE IS NO TURNING BACK NOW THE DIE IS CAST.


There Was Another 'Pearl Harbor' Explosion in 1944

Here's What You Need to Remember: The accident was deemed was so shocking the Navy instituted a press blackout, and forbade witnesses from speaking about it. Only a terse statement on May 25 conceded to “some loss of life” and a few lost ships. The board’s recommendation to discontinue nesting ships together to speed up ammunition loading was dismissed by Navy chief Admiral Chester Nimitz, who argued it was “calculated risk that must be accepted.”

Flames roiled into sky from dozens of burning ships, creating a wall of smoke that crept out into the Pacific Ocean. The thunder of multiple explosions succession shook the Navy Headquarters on Pearl Harbor.

Had Japan somehow pulled off a second, stunning raid on Pearl Harbor in 1944?

In truth the ships and men burning were victims of a horrifying accident born of inadequate safety measures—an incident the Navy kept under wraps for years.

How It Occurred:

In May 1944, a gigantic amphibious landing force began assembling at Pearl Harbor to carry U.S. Marines to capture the strategic Mariana islands from Japan, 3,700 miles away.

By May 21 st , at least 29 Landing Ship, Tanks (LSTs) were strung beam-to-beam along six piers on West Loch—the western side branch of pincer-shaped Pearl Harbor. These long boxy vessels displaced over 4,000 tons and 120 meters long. The flat keels of the ocean-spanning ships allowed them to disgorge up to a company of tanks or infantry from their bow ramps directly onto a beach.

While roughly half the crew were on shore leave, the remainder rested onboard as the vessels were stuffed full of vehicles, ammunition and fuel. Dozens of barrels of high-octane gasoline were lashed to their decks to supply the vehicles once they were unloaded ashore.

At 3 PM Army stevedores began unloading 4.2” mortar shells from a smaller Landing Craft Tank (LCT) onto the elevator of LST-353.

So-called “chemical mortars” were used to deploy smoke rounds and burning white phosphorous shells to mark or obscure targets—as well as 24-pound high explosive rounds carrying eight pounds of TNT filler. But the heavy mortars proved too inaccurate fired firing from the LCTs, leading to their transfer back to LSTs.

The personnel conscripted for the heavy lifting came from the 29 th Chemical Decontamination Unit, a largely African-American unit which untrained in ammunition handling.

No one knows exactly what caused a fireball to erupt on LST-353 at 3:08 PM, because no nearby witnesses survived.

Perhaps one of the stevedores dropped a 4.2” shell. Some suggest sparks from a carelessly tossed cigarette, or from sailors doing spot welding, ignited the fuel vapor wafting from the roughly 80 barrels of gasoline tied next to the elevator.

Just a few soldiers managed to jump into the water before the eighty fuel drums erupted like a volcano, throwing a cloud of burning debris, oil and body parts high into the air which came raining down onto the decks of neighboring LSTs.

Three minutes later, another blast left LST-43 in flames. The oil drums on her deck too exploded, feeding the unfolding chain-reaction. You can see the apocalyptic scene in this recording.

The oil-soaked water caught fire, and flames spread to the adjoining pier 8. Some inexperienced crews abandoned ship before they were consumed by fire. Others did everything they could to save their vessels, but fires raged around the mooring lines tying the boats to the pier, preventing easy escape. Finally, one of the flaming boats rammed into pier, setting another LST on fire.

Surviving LSTs began frantically sputtering away from the fiery piers, some under their own power and others by the gallant intervention of tugs—eleven of which were damaged in the rescue effort. LCM landing craft crept close to the blaze to spray ships with firehoses. Smaller LCTs trawled for survivors but accidentally ran over several in the smoke.

Finally, a third explosion boiled through the harbor, causing flaming debris to drizzle from the sky over a half-mile away and shaking window panes up to 15 miles distant.

An errant phosphorous shell landed on Joseph Francis midway through loading 350 tons of ammunition from a depot. Her crew put out the chemical fire before it could cause a massive explosion. The blazing wrecks of LST-43, -179 and -69 then began drifting towards Joseph, but thankfully came to a halt just 500 feet away.

Though a final explosion resounded at 10:30 PM, ships continued to burn for days afterward.

In all, six LSTs sank in fiery ruin and four more were severely damaged. Three smaller LCTs, seventeen Amtrac amphibious landing vehicles, and eight 155-millimieter howitzers were also lost

The Navy officially counted losing 163 personnel and suffering 397 wounded though some accounts. But this number reportedly may not include Army and Marine personnel. Marine deaths may have ranged between 80 and 300 dead. 61 Army personnel, mostly African Americans, were reported dead or missing.

The Navy’s plans for Operation Forager were too big to be long delayed, even by such disastrous losses. The fleet departed just 24 hours later than intended after hasty repairs, leaving behind wreckage on West Loch that would take months to clear away.

Meanwhile, a promptly convened board of inquiry dismissed the theory of a Japanese submarine attack and zeroed in on the ammunition-handling as the likely cause of the accident. Though criticizing some crews for abandoning ship too readily, no one was held at fault.

The accident was deemed was so shocking the Navy instituted a press blackout, and forbade witnesses from speaking about it. Only a terse statement on May 25 conceded to “some loss of life” and a few lost ships. The board’s recommendation to discontinue nesting ships together to speed up ammunition loading was dismissed by Navy chief Admiral Chester Nimitz, who argued it was “calculated risk that must be accepted.”

But on July 17, 1944 an explosion that killed 320 in Port Chicago, California again highlighted the Navy’s unsafe ammunition handling practices and tendency to place African Americans in risky ammunition handling jobs they had not been trained for. This accident finally led the Navy to redesign ammunition and require advanced training of ammunition handlers.

At West Loch a huge cleanup effort eventually dredged up all but one of the scorched LSTs and dumped them out into sea, along with the wreckage of Japanese mini-submarine Ha-16, which had participated in the Pearl Harbor attack.

In 1960, classification was lifted and the press finally detailed the incident in 1964. A plaque commemorating those who died was installed in 1995, and two years later a lone survivor’s account, The West Loch Story, was published by William Johnson.

Today, the corroded prow of LST 480 can still be seen protruding from the waters off West Loch—a solemn reminder of the tragedy that unfolded there 75 years ago.

Sébastien Roblin holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. This article first appeared last year.


The Biggest Consequence

Atomic cloud over Nagasaki, Japan 09 August, 1945

Of course, the most important consequence of the attack on Pearl Harbor was the American declaration of war against Japan. While this was expected, Japan thought the US would be entering the war with a crippled and broken navy. Despite the efforts of the bombing runs on December 7th, the United States Navy wasn’t nearly as hindered as it was meant to be.

In fact, most of the battleships that were damaged during the attack were refloated and repaired to join the war and take part in battles all across the Pacific.

Three days after the United States declared war on Japan, due to the Tripartite Pact signed by the Axis and Japan, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States.

Historically significant not just for the United States but also for the world, the attack on Pearl Harbor is said to have sealed the Allied victory as it provided the other partners with badly-needed assistance. By drawing the United States into World War II—“Awaking the Sleeping Giant,”—the Japanese engaged a formidable foe that eventually led to their total defeat in 1945.

Arguably the most devastating of the consequences of Pearl Harbor had on Japan, however, was the dropping of two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Estimates vary widely, but at least 100,000 people were killed immediately—with another number at least as large dying over the following months—from the effects of the bombs.


Enforcing the Blackouts

Residents across the country installed blackout curtains

In response to the incident in Seattle, civil defense authorities passed regulations to prevent gatherings of more than five people and the sale of alcohol during the mandated blackouts. Despite the tension that coursed through the West Coast, the Seattle riot was the only of its kind in the Northwest.

Aside from a false alarm on December 10 in Longview, WA, the West Coast remained quiet. The blackouts were a preventive measure that gave residents some semblance of peace of mind.

The nation did get to see the effectiveness of the blackouts on June 21, 1942 when a Japanese submarine, I-25, surfaced near Fort Stevens, Oregon. The Japanese sub was able to inflict minor damage before a complete blackout was instituted. With no visible target, I-25 fired blindly on the area for 15 minutes before giving up.


Honoring Pearl Harbor Survivor Herb Weatherwax

Herb Weatherwax, a spry 98-year-old World War II veteran, has been spreading aloha to tourists and locals at the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center for nearly 20 years. There is no comparison to hearing the stories of December 7, 1941 straight from the mouth of a Pearl Harbor survivor. Coupled with his endearing personality, there’s little wonder why everyone wants to capture the moment by snapping a photo with “Uncle Herb.”

On June 3, 1917, Weatherwax was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He faced numerous hardships from a young age, including the loss of both his father and step-father. His brother, Eddie, was sent to live at Kalaupapa on Molokai after being diagnosed with Hansen’s disease.

At the age of 24, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned to the 298th Infantry Regiment at Schofield Barracks. While on Oahu, he worked as a switchboard operator at Pearl Harbor.

(RIGHT) Herb Weatherwax , a Pearl Harbor survivor, salutes during the 67th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Photo Credit: Jay Pugh

PEARL HARBOR STORY

On the morning of the Pearl Harbor attack , Private Weatherwax was off-base on a weekend pass. He heard a deafening explosion and saw black smoke engulf the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. Over the radio, he learned that Japanese aircraft were dropping bombs on Pearl Harbor and rushed back to report for duty.

Driving past Pearl Harbor, he could see that the USS Oklahoma had been torpedoed and had flipped over with her hull up. In a YouTube video posted on September 4, 2006 , Weatherwax states, “…and I remember seeing little objects scrambling on the hull of the Oklahoma. Those are the things that left a tremendous impression on my mind.”

Weatherwax gives a young admirer an autograph just before the 72nd anniversary commemoration of the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks. Photo credit: Nardel Gervacio

The USS Arizona was enveloped in flames. The sky was so full of black smoke he could barely see the planes overhead. The hangers and military planes at Wheeler Army Field were ablaze. The sight was devastating.

POST PEARL HARBOR ATTACK

In the aftermath of the attack, Weatherwax stayed on Oahu until 1944 when he left to train in the Signal Corps. He was reassigned to the 272nd Infantry Regiment, 69th Division and sent to Europe where he was responsible for disarming bombs. He survived the Battle of the Bulge, the bloodiest battle for the United States in WWII. The frostbite and other challenges he faced while stationed in Germany would eventually lead to his legs giving out on him.

After returning from the war, Weatherwax left the military and became an electrical contractor. In 1953, he established his own business, Weatherwax Electric, which continues to serve the Windward (Oahu) community today.

Not only is he a successful businessman and loving husband (married to his wife, Lehua, for 64 years!), he is also the best-selling author of Counting My Blessings, The Autobiography of a Native Hawaiian Pearl Harbor Survivor . Released in 2013 by Pacific Historic Parks, the book chronicles his life experiences before and after the war, giving insight as to what made Herb Weatherwax the man he is today.

“ Uncle Herb” continues to charm visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial today and is often considered a Pearl Harbor tour highlight. In the video mentioned above, he explains, “I volunteer at the Visitors Center because this is an opportunity for me to give my story out to the hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of visitors that come out here.”

Sitting on his motorized scooter known as “Herb’s Hot Rod,” he shakes hands, answers questions, and encourages pictures…bringing him one step closer to his light-hearted goal of having his picture in every household in the world.

We honor Pearl Harbor survivor and World War II veteran Herb Weatherwax for everything he has done and continues to do for the community. Mahalo, “Uncle Herb!”


Post-Pearl Harbor photos show San Francisco bracing for war

1 of 35 ThePacific Telephone & Telegraph building was covered by sandbags, to protect it from bomb blasts after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 9, 1941 Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 35 FP27-C-24MAY01-LV-HO WWII PEARL HARBOR DAY 1941 S.F. Selling newspapers on Market Street @ Eddy. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO FP27-C-24MAY01-LV-HO Show More Show Less

3 of 35 Customers at the newsstand, check out the first edition of the December 8th San Francisco Chronicle announcing the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

4 of 35 Poster directing San Francisco residents to the nearest air raid shelter, Negative say 111 Sutter, and Photo dated 01/05/1942 Show More Show Less

5 of 35 These servicemen look to the skies as air raid siren would go off in San Francisco the evening after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

6 of 35 The beach was being mind for sand after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

7 of 35 People look to the skies for japanese planes after the bombing of Pearl Harbor Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

8 of 35 Rules for what to do when the air raid alarms sounded ran in the Chronicle, sometimes on the front page after Pearl Harbor Show More Show Less

9 of 35 San Francisco hears air raid sirens and a night of blackouts follow. The feeling of war is all around after Pearl Harbor Show More Show Less

10 of 35 Huge crowds of San Francisco line up to join Civilian Defense after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

11 of 35 These servicemen waiting at the train station had plenty to say about, at the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941 Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

12 of 35 Mayor Angelo Rossi seated, called a meeting of the members of the San Francisci Defense Council. left to right, City Attorney John J. O'toole, Col. Theodore H. Kruttschmitt, Chief of Police Dullea, Captain J. M. Lewis, U.S.N., Theodore Roche, Joseph Murphy, Dr. J.C. Geiger and Fire Chief Brennan, after Pearl Harbor was bombed Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

13 of 35 Photo is labeled: Twin peaks air raid siren 12/1941 Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

14 of 35 San Francisco hears air raid sirens and a night of blackouts follow. The feeling of war is all around after Pearl Harbor Show More Show Less

15 of 35 Photo is labeled: Twin peaks air raid siren 12/1941 Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

16 of 35 ThePacific Telephone & Telegraph building was covered by sandbags, to protect it from bomb blasts after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 9, 1941 Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

17 of 35 Photo is labeled: Twin peaks air raid siren 12/1941 Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

18 of 35 H.M. Geraghty ready to demonstrate an air raid siren manufactured by E.D. Bullard Company in san Francisco Photo ran 12/13/1941 Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

19 of 35 Photo is labeled: Twin peaks air raid siren 12/1941 Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

20 of 35 San Franciscans in the thousands would flood the military recruitment offices The feeling of war is all around after Pearl Harbor Show More Show Less

21 of 35 AWVS, the American Women's Voluntary Service springs into action after Pearl Harbor Show More Show Less

22 of 35 San Franciscans in the thousands would flood the military recruitment offices The feeling of war is all around after Pearl Harbor Show More Show Less

23 of 35 Residents in Chinatown checking out the news. Many were ready for the U.S. joining the war after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. China was already at war with Japan. Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

24 of 35 ThePacific Telephone & Telegraph building was covered by sandbags, to protect it from bomb blasts after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 9, 1941 Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

25 of 35 Customers and bartenders alike, check out the first edition of the Chronicle announcing the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 8, 1941 Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

26 of 35 After the bombing Pearl Harbor, S.H. Liu, editor of the National Chinese Daily , listens to a shortwave radio assessing America of China's continued fight against the Japanese. December 8, 1941 Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

27 of 35 Many in Chinatown were ready for the U.S. joining the war after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, and Japanese. China was already at war with Japan. Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

28 of 35 Many in Chinatown were ready for the U.S. joining the war after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, and Japanese. China was already at war with Japan. Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

29 of 35 Li. General John L. DeWitt, Mayor Angelo Rossi, and Admiral J.W. Greenslade urge San Franciscans to improve the blackouts, to hamper anticipated bombing by the Japanese. Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

30 of 35 when "unidentified planes were sighted not far from san Francisco, Fireman Joseph V. Doherty of the Mint firehouse with used his fire truck siren to announce the blackout December 8, 1941 Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

31 of 35 The American Women's Voluntary Services organization provided major contributions to the war effort after Pearl Harbor Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

32 of 35 The Air Raid Control Center at San Francisco City Hall after Pearl Harbor Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

33 of 35 The Air Raid Control Center at San Francisco City Hall after Pearl Harbor Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

34 of 35 The Air Raid Control Center at San Francisco City Hall after Pearl Harbor Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

35 of 35 The Air Raid Control Center at San Francisco City Hall after Pearl Harbor Photographer Unknown/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

The fear felt in San Francisco after Pearl Harbor is often forgotten.

When the Japanese attacked Hawaii, many people thought the Bay Area would be the next target. The Chronicle has been writing stories about this time to mark the 75th anniversary of the event, and while helping with the research I&rsquove found dozens of great photos and articles from the time that haven&rsquot been seen in decades. Many are included here.

In December 1941, thousands of men flooded local recruitment offices to join the military, and thousands more San Franciscans rushed to volunteer for the Civil Defense department. Residents across San Francisco and surrounding areas prepared for a surprise Japanese attack and were ready for war.

On the night of Dec. 8, air-raid sirens went off four times, with unidentified aircraft reported over the city. San Francisco &ldquoblacked out&rdquo all lighting, businesses, homes, streetlights and cars throughout the city.

While Mayor Angelo Rossi congratulated city residents on their first attempt at a blackout, it was blasted as a &ldquoflop&rdquo by Lt. Gen. John DeWitt, commander of the Fourth Army. DeWitt said, &ldquoYou people do not seem to realize we are at war.&rdquo

&ldquoSo get this: Last night, there were planes over this community,&rdquo he said. &ldquoThey were enemy planes. Why bombs were not dropped, I don&rsquot know.&rdquo


Watch the video: Pearl Harbor: The Last Word - Civilian Reaction to the Attack. History