Aftermath - The Aftermath: Teacher Information Sheet

Historical Background

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States was in a state of shock, much like on September 11. The battleships USS Arizona and USS West Virginia sunk, while USS Oklahoma had overturned. Nearly all ships stationed at Pearl Harbor sustained damages in the Japanese attack. Even USS Pennsylvania which was in a drydock at the time of the attack was not spared. In addition, over 200 planes were either damaged or destroyed. By the end of the day more than 2,000 people were killed.

Small Group Activities

1. Divide students into small groups and give each group a set of the five photographs provided. Students will use these photographs to assess the damage resulting from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In carrying out this exercise, ask each group examine the photographs carefully making sure that students pay attention to specific details. Then as a class, discuss the damages in the five photographs using the following questions as a guideline:

  • What do the photos tell you about the military strength of Japan and the United States?
  • What do the photos not tell you about Pearl Harbor? What is missing from these pictures?
  • How do these photos remind you of images from the World Trade Center and Pentagon wreckage from September 11, 2001 ?

Through the classroom discussion, students should understand the different ways a photograph can be interpreted and how photographs can be deceptive to the naked eye.

Photograph Descriptions

Photograph # 1: Bomb Damage to Turret #3 of USS Tennessee, Dec. 1941 (Photo # NH 64479)

  • Notice thickness of the metal and how the bomb essentially tore through the metal on USS Tennessee

Photograph #2: "Battleship Row" area of Pearl Harbor, 10 December, 1941 (Photo #80-G-387565)

  • Notice oil leaking from the battleships
  • Ship located on the upper left of the photo is the sunken USS California (BB-44), with smaller vessels clustered around her.
  • Diagonally, from left center to lower right are:

USS Maryland (BB-46), lightly damaged, with the capsized USS Oklahoma (BB-37) outboard. A barge is alongside Oklahoma, supporting rescue efforts. USS Tennessee (BB-43), lightly damaged with the sunken USS West Virginia (BB-48) outboard. USS Arizona (BB-39) sunk with her hull shattered by the explosion of the magazines below the two forward turrets.

Photograph #3: Wrecks of USS Downes & Cassin, 7 Dec. 1941, (Photo #80-G-19943)

  • Severe wreckage of USS Downes and USS Cassin.
  • In the background, ships are still burning in the Harbor.

Photograph #4: Wrecks of USS Arizona, at Pearl Harbor, 10 December 1941, (Photo# NH 63918)

  • USS Arizona was sunk and is now submerged in the harbor with only her mast above water.

Photograph #5: Aerial View of Pearl Harbor drydock area, 10 December 1941 (Photo # 80-G-387598)

  • Ships in drydock were damaged as well.
  • Oil from ships drift into harbor.
  • Oil tanks in the bottom left hand side of the corner were not damaged.

Action Report: USS Ward

  • The Japanese attack was not limited to an air raid, but part of the attack also involved submarines moving that launched torpedoes into the harbor.
  • An important aspect to note in this report is the sinking of the Japanese submarine while patrolling the Pearl Harbor entrance.

Damage Reports: Ships

When reading through these reports, students should focus on:

  • How ships were damaged – torpedoes, bombs, fragments
  • The outcome of the ships after the attack.

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