Captain Mitsuo Fuchida:
Pearl Harbour from their eyes
World War II broke out on September 3, 1939 with Hitler’s invasion of
Poland, a country protected by agreements with Britain and France. In
the Eastern Front urged by the Germans, Japan entered the war on July
27, 1941 occupying bases in Indo-China and landing 40,000 troops the
A photo of the American Battleship USS Maryland in flames,
bombed in the Pearl Harbour attack, was transmitted by the
Photograph Section of Lake House, to the Daily News Computer
Network at 4.46 p.m. on 15.8.2010. The reference No. is img
12189 Pearl Harbour Attack, Daily News.
President Roosevelt, determined to curb Japanese policies imposed
escalating sanctions on the Japanese, which antagonized and alienated
them. Yet the Japanese did achieve total surprise on December 7, 1941,
when their naval aircraft roared out of the sky over Pearl harbour to
hammer the US Pacific Fleet.
The reason for this was undoubtedly American complacency the notion
that Japan was still a minor, undeveloped country, incapable of mounting
attacks so far from home. Consequently, the initial American reaction
was one of disbelief. It soon changed to anger.
Captain Mitsuo Fuchida was commander of the Pearl Harbour assault
force, comprising 363 aircrafts, and in direct command of the Akagi
carriers air corps. Flying a Nakajima B5N ‘Kate’ bomber, this is his own
story to the carnage included damaging the USS Maryland.
“We should be nearing our objective. I strained hard to make out the
shape of the islands through gaps in the clouds ahead. They were
breaking up now – you could catch an occasional glimpse of the sea
through these gaps in the cloud cover, then everything closed up again.
Suddenly, just below my plane, a long continuous white line appeared:
the northern coastline of Ohau Island. I changed course at once to
starboard, guiding the entire force towards the west course. The sky
over Pearl Harbour was clear.
”Soon, across the broadening plain in the centre of the island, Pearl
Harbour at last! Came in sight. As we looked down, the morning mist hung
over a strip of land. It looked a peaceful scene, with wispy trails from
the cooking of breakfast lying across it.
I took up my binoculars, and gazed down. I could see eight
(Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee, West Virginia, Maryland, Oklahoma,
But however hard I looked, I could see nothing of the aircraft
carriers. ‘They’re not there’, I muttered, disappointed. We knew
already, from intelligence received the day before, that the carrier
force had left port, but still had the lingering hope that they would be
back – we hoped and prayed for that stroke of luck. At any rate the
battleships were there, we were glad. I glanced at my watch. Just 3.19
a.m. (Tokyo time). I turned round to my wireless operator in the seat
behind, and gave the order: ‘Make To!’ He had been waiting for that
moment and began tapping out to all formations: ‘To...To...To...’ This
repeated signal was the abbreviated message ‘TORA! TORA! TORA!’ (TIGER!
TIGER! TIGER! - ALL UNITS ATTACK).
The first bomb dropped was on wheeler airfield from a dive-bomber at
3.25 a.m. Leading the 25 dive-bombers in the attack on wheeler field was
Fighters could be seen getting ready for take-off from wheeler field,
all drawn up in orderly fashion on the aprons of the hangers.
To be continued