I was in the ward room eating breakfast about 0755 when a short signal on the ship's air raid alarm was made. I immediately went to the phone and called the Officer-of-the-Deck to sound general quarters and then shortly thereafter ran up to the starboard side of the quarter deck to see if he had received word. On coming out of the ward room hatch on the port side, I saw a Japanese plane go by, the machine guns firing, at an altitude of about 100 feet. As I was running forward on the starboard side of the quarter deck, approximately by the starboard gangway, I was apparently knocked out by the blast of a bomb
When I came to and got up off the deck, the ship was a mass of flames
Lieutenant Commander S. G. Fuqua
At this time I attempted, with the assistance of the crews of #2 and #4 turrets to put out the fire which was coming from the boat deck and which had extended to the quarter deck. There was no water on the fire mains .About 0900, seeing that all guns of the anti-aircraft and secondary battery were out of action and that the ship could not possibly be saved, I ordered all hands to abandon ship.
From information received from other personnel on board, a bomb had struck the forecastle, just about the time the air raid siren sounded at 0755. A short interval thereafter there was a terrific explosion on the forecastle, apparently from the bomb penetrating the magazine. Approximately 30 seconds later a bomb hit the boat deck .. The commanding officer of the USS. Vestal stated that 2 torpedoes passed under his vessel which was secured alongside the Arizona, and struck the Arizona.
The first attack occurred about 0755. I saw approximately 15 torpedo planes, which had come in to the attack from the direction of the Navy Yard. These planes also strafed the ship after releasing their torpedoes. Shortly thereafter there was a dive bomber and strafing attack of about 30 planes. This attack was very determined, planes diving within 500 feet before releasing bombs, about 0900. There were about twelve planes in flight that I saw.
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Corporal B. C. Nightingale of the U.S. Marine Corps
At approximately eight o'clock on the morning of December 7, 1941, I was leaving the breakfast table when the ship's siren for air defense sounded. Having no anti-aircraft battle station, I paid little attention to it. Suddenly I heard an explosion. I ran to the port door leading to the quarter deck and saw a bomb strike a barge of some sort alongside the Nevada, or in that vicinity. The marine color guard came in at this point saying we were being attacked. I could distinctly hear machine gun fire. I believe at this point our anti-aircraft battery opened up I reached the boat deck and our anti-aircraft guns were in full action, firing very rapidly. I was about three quarters of the way to the first platform on the mast when it seemed as though a bomb struck our quarterdeck. I could hear shrapnel or fragments whistling past me. As soon as I reached the first platform, I saw Second Lieutenant Simonsen lying on his back with blood on his shirt front. I bent over him and taking him by the shoulders asked if there was anything I could do. He was dead, or so nearly so that speech was impossible. Seeing there was nothing I could do for the Lieutenant, I continued to my battle station.
When I arrived in secondary aft I reported to Major Shapley that Mr. Simonson had been hit and there was nothing to be done for him. There was a lot of talking going on and I shouted for silence which came immediately. I had only been there a short time when a terrible explosion caused the ship to shake violently. I looked at the boat deck and everything seemed aflame forward of the mainmast. I reported to the Major that the ship was aflame, which was rather needless, and after looking about, the Major ordered us to leave. I was the last man to leave secondary aft because I looked around and there was no one left. I followed the Major down the port side of the tripod mast. The railings, as we ascended, were very hot and as we reached the boat deck I noted that it was torn up and burned. The bodies of the dead were thick, and badly burned men were heading for the quarterdeck, only to fall apparently dead or badly wounded.
I made my way to the quay and started to remove my shoes when I suddenly found myself in the water. I think the concussion of a bomb threw me in. I started swimming for the pipe line which was about one hundred and fifty feet away. I was about half way when my strength gave out entirely. My clothes and shocked condition sapped my strength, and I was about to go under when Major Shapley started to swim by, and seeing my distress, grasped my shirt and told me to hang to his shoulders while be swam in. We were perhaps twenty-five feet from the pipe line when the Major's strength gave out and I saw he was floundering, so I loosened my grip on him and told him to make it alone. He stopped and grabbed me by the shirt and refused to let go. I would have drowned but for the Major. We finally reached the beach where a marine directed us to a bomb shelter, where I was given dry clothes and a place to rest.
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Lieutenant Commander T. T. Beattie
About five minutes to eight I was in the wardroom just finishing breakfast, when word came over the loud speaker from the officer-of-the-deck, "away fire and rescue party." This was followed immediately by a second announcement over the loud speaker, "Japanese are attacking, all hands General Quarters," and the general alarm was rung.
I heard several dull explosions coming from other battleships. Immediately I left the wardroom and ran up the starboard passageway to the bridge. The Captain was just ahead of me and proceeding in the same direction.
At this time the ship listed at least five or six degrees and was steadily listing more to port. The Captain and I went to the conning tower, our battle stations, and at this time dive bombing attacks started to take place and numerous explosions were felt throughout the ship. Upon testing our communications with central station and to the guns we found they were disrupted. I suggested to the Captain as long as no communications were in the battle conning tower that we leave there and attempt to establish messenger communication and try to save the ship. We went out on the starboard side of the bridge discussing what to do. During all this time extremely heavy bombing and strafing attacks occurred. The ship was constantly shaken by bomb hits.
The Captain doubled up with a groan and stated that he had been wounded. I saw that be had been hit in the stomach probably by a large piece of shrapnel and was very seriously wounded. He then sank to the deck and I loosened his collar. I then sent a messenger for a pharmacists mate to assist the Captain.
Just then the USS Arizona's forward magazines blew up with a tremendous explosion and large sheets of flame shot skyward, and I began to wonder about our own magazines and whether they were being flooded. I posted a man with the Captain and went down to the forecastle where a number of the crew and officers had gathered. I got hold of a chief turret captain to check immediately on the magazines and to flood them if they were not flooded at this time. Large sheets of flame and several fires started aft. Burning fuel oil from the USS Arizona floated down on the stern of the ship. Just then the gunnery officer, Lieutenant Commander Berthold, came aboard and I asked him to try to flood the forward magazines. Shortly thereafter I was informed that the after magazines were completely flooded but that they were unable to flood the forward magazines as the water was now almost to the main deck.
At about this time a large oil fire swept from the USS Arizona down the port side of the USS West Virginia. We had no water on board as the fire mains and machinery were out of commission and we were unable to do any fire fighting at all. I got into a motor launch to go to the stern of the ship to investigate the fire. The smoke was so heavy that I could not see aft of the bridge. As I got into the boat a sheet of flame swept on top of us and we barely managed to get free of the fire. I then had the boat take me aft. The burning oil on the water swept by the ship and I managed to return to the quarterdeck. I realized then that the ship was lost.
The attack lasted approximately thirty minutes. We were able to fire all our ready ammunition on the anti-aircraft batteries, but were unable to replenish it as the ship was flooded. I then told the men on the quarterdeck, with the exception of a small working party, to leave the ship. I believe at this time that all the wounded had been taken off the ship and it was extremely dangerous for anyone to remain aboard; that nothing could be done to save the ship and shells from the secondary batteries were constantly exploding due to the intensive heat of the fire midships
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Pay Clerk D. L. Westfall
At the time of the attack I was in my room shaving. The word was passed "Away Fire and Rescue Party;" just as I was leaving my room the second word was passed for all hands to man their General Quartets Stations closely followed by a shock of a hit. I glanced at my clock as I was leaving my room and noticed the time was a few minutes before 8:00 A.M.
I started for my station in Radio Central; as I was passing along the third deck up a port ammunition passageway, I felt two more hits. The lights went out in the passageway except for one battle light and two panel lights in the boat crane machinery space.
By the time I reached the compartment abreast the armory the ship had picked up a 10-15 list to port; there were a couple of battle lights on in this compartment. Water and oil were bubbling up along the junction of the bulkhead and deck of the electrical work shop, port side. Repair personnel were busy closing watertight doors.
When I reached Radio Central, personnel there had just started evacuating on the orders of the Communication Watch Officer. Radio equipment apparently was out of commission as I noticed many pieces of equipment knocked over or dangling by wires. Back up on the third deck all lights were out and only a few flashlights were available. About this time the word came along from man to man to "Abandon Ship." I helped a partially incapacitated man to the second deck and then joined in a line passing injured men along to the ladder by the dental office. I lost all knowledge of time while here, but after some minutes, Ensign McClelland, who was beside me in the line, said be was feeling faint and then collapsed. I noticed other men dropping around me. I stooped over to pick up Mr. McClelland but when I stooped over I got dizzy and fell. I seemed to be paralyzed from the waist down, had great difficulty breathing, but had enough strength in my arms to drag myself to the ladder and up a couple of steps before collapsing completely [fuel oil fumes are mentioned on other ships as being cause for such collapses].
After passing out I had only flashes of consciousness until mid-afternoon. When I recovered I was at the Naval Air Dispensary on Ford Island. Shortly thereafter I joined a bunch of men going over to BOQ [Bachelor Officers Quarters] at the Air Station and started a check on survivors from the supply department.
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