In 1941, this was the United States Naval Base located in a landlocked inlet of the Hawaiian Islands, on the southern coast of Oahu Island, only seven miles west of Honolulu. The Harbor was reached through a narrow channel whose entrance was protected on the west by Fort Weaver and on the east by Fort Kamehameha and protected from air attack by Army Air Force installations at Hickam Field between the anchorage and the sea to the south west, Wheeler Field near Schofield Barracks to the northwest and Bellows Field on the south east of the island. Besides Schofield Barracks lying in the valley between the mountain chain, there was Fort Shafter between Fort Armstrong, Fort DeRussy and Fort Ruger. It was the world's largest dry dock.
The navy had standing orders that upon air attack, naval craft should disperse and rendezvous in the partially sheltered Lahaina, or Auau Channel 90 miles to the southeast.
The War Dept. had issued a warning that due to the large population of Japanese on the island, they should be alert to possible uprisings and sabotage. That included poisoning the water system. The aircraft warning system (radar) was manned daily from 4:00 AM to 7:00 am. On Sunday, December 7th a radar operator asked and received permission to remain at his post past 7:00 AM and at at 7:02 located a large flight of planes about 130 miles to the north, northeast. He reported his findings to the information center, but officers believed the flight to be American.
Earlier at 6:30 AM, the destroyer, Ward, had sighted a small submarine in the prohibited area off the mouth of the Pearl Harbor Channel. The Ward sank the submarine, but its report of the action did not reach Admiral Kimmel, Commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, until 7:12 AM.
The Japanese force consisted of four carriers, three battleships, supporting cruisers and destroyers, and a few small submarines. The carrier-based bombers, fighters and torpedo planes attacked Pearl Harbor base, the anchored Pacific fleet. all airfields and Oahu points at 7:55 AM.
At about 7:50 a young woman, aged 19, was helping her mother pack their belongings for the trip back to the States. As she went from her house in the Waukiekie section of Honolulu, to get a newspaper, she heard loud noises like a fire or bombs, but was not sure where or what they were. She returned to the house and told her mother what she had heard. A radio was turned on and the announcer was telling that Pearl Harbor was being attacked. The mother promptly sent her to a near by store to purchase canned goods, while she proceeded to boil water for storage. The Military knew that something was going to happen, but not know when or where. The man of the household, a Chief Machinist Mate of the U. S. Coast Guard had been ordered radio silence in November so there was no way he could be contacted. He was on his last mission delivering supplies for storage in Samoa, his replacement had arrived and they planned to be back in the States for Christmas.
The attack occurred at a time when Japanese envoys were in Washington engaged in peace talks.
Military Families had been issued gas masks, and advised to darken windows at night, or no lights at all. There were no bomb shelters on the Island of Oahu with the exception of a neighbor's. They were not permitted to use his, only if they would leave the daughter and take their son to the States. This offer was not accepted.
Losses in this attack included 3,077 Navy personnel killed or missing, 876 wounded and 226 army killed and 396 wounded. Several hundred army and navy planes were destroyed, most of them on the ground where they had been grouped without intervening bunkers. 18 U. S. Naval vessels were struck by bombs, including 6 battleships. The Arizona was a total loss. The Oklahoma, California and West Virginia were sunk, the Nevada was beached in a sinking condition, the Pennsylvania, Maryland and Tennessee were damaged and later repaired. The California, Nevada and West Virginia were salvaged and recommissioned, The Oklahoma, after being raised was abandoned and sunk as worthless. Two destroyers were in part salvaged.
This military family had been stationed in Honolulu since 1938, Chief Machinist Mate Crow of the U. S. Coast Guard had served his country during WWI and continued his duty as Machinist as well as converting salt water to fresh water during WWII ending his career at San Pedro, Ca. His family was returned to the United States in February, 1942. A son had died in November 1941 while serving the Navy as signalman 1st class. He had been missing for several days when they were notified his body had been recovered on Armistice Day, apparently from drowning.
GLADYS CROWE ADKINS, THE YOUNG
WOMAN MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE
This article is the cover story in the CVAHS Newsletter, Issue 39, Vol. 20
The sources of the information was the American Peoples Encyclopedia and a taped interview with Gladys.