We cannot avoid the study of Pearl Harbor facts if we are interested to know the whole story about World War 2. This is because the bombing of Pearl Harbor and US response to it, dictated the final outcome of the war. However, in the study of these facts depending on web resources, readers will encounter different versions.
The difference in the story is largely affected by the historian’s or the writer’s point of view about the war. In a time of knowledge explosion, established facts are facing constant challenge from another historical perspective claiming to be the “real facts.”
In this article, the best that we can do is to provide consolidated information from limited resources and it is up to the readers to sort out facts from fiction. Ultimately, it is you, the reader who will decide what to believe. Our only suggestion is for you to verify the reliability of our information and do further investigation.
Let us start with the date of the attack. We think no one will question this piece of information as part of established Pearl Harbor facts that Japan attacked the Naval Base of the US Pacific Fleet on December 7, 1941.
Now, what was the significance of the attack on US Pacific Fleet headquarters? Another unquestionable fact resulting from the attack was the entrance of the US into war. It was one day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor that the US Congress approved the declaration of war against Japan.
To include the reasons behind the attack among Pearl Harbor facts is debatable. Some would say it was an act of survival on the part of Japan due to US assaults to its sovereignty and national economy. Others would claim that the real motive was domination of the Pacific and the South East Asia. To achieve this goal, the destruction of the US Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor was necessary. And still another idea was that the attack was actually craftily devised by the US itself to appear as a “victim” in the eyes of the world in order to achieve its imperial dream all over the world. This idea implies that the Pearl Harbor tragedy could have been prevented if the US authority wished to do it. Unfortunately, the highest US authority was actually carefully observing as they maneuvered the enemy in the execution of a brilliant plan.
Connected to the foregoing paragraph was the prior knowledge of the attack. Could this be included among Pearl Harbor facts? The conventional story made us believe that the US was surprised with Japan’s military action on that day. We were told that the US authority was aware about the probability of such an attack but did not know the precise time and location. Japan was accused of deception and misleading message of peace. However, contrary story exists telling us that the US government had full knowledge of Japan’s plan to attack the Pearl Harbor.
Let us now consider Pearl Harbor facts related to loss of battle weapons and total casualties. In dealing with these facts, one can notice the tendency either to minimize or maximize the total loss. For instance, one claims that, on the side of Japan, they lost 5 ships, 103 aircrafts, and 65 men. But other source reports that only 29 Japanese aircrafts were actually destroyed.
On US side, in terms of human lives, there is little discrepancy in available information. Most sources agree that the total number of wounded Americans were 1,178. However, in the case of the total number of Americans killed in the attack, there are two available reports: 2,355 and 2,423.
The minimizing and maximizing tendency is evident in the loss of weapons. In terms of lost ships, one source recorded 8 battleships and 20 naval vessels were destroyed. Another source simply mentioned 18 ships without distinguishing them. And still another identified 21 destroyed ships. The fourth and final source was more detailed for it distinguished 3 types of ships. It reported that 8 battleships, 3 destroyers, and 3 cruisers were destroyed. Finally, diverse numbers also applied to lost aircrafts during the attack. 323, 180, 188, almost 200 and nearly 300 were the information given as to the number of destroyed aircrafts.