Children

Operation Z

World War II: The Second World War began in 1939 and lasted till 1945. The war was fought between the Allies — France, Great Britain, The U.S. (which entered the war much later) the Soviet Union and the Axis powers — Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Pearl Harbour: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is located near the center of the Pacific Ocean. Today it serves as a military base.

Rewind: In 1941, the U.S. had not yet entered the war. The U.S. was unhappy with Japan’s aggressive attitude towards China, wanting to take over its import market. The Nanking Massacre of 1937 was to serve this purpose, causing America to respond with economic sanctions and trade embargoes. The Japanese stood their ground. Negotiations between Tokyo and Washington had reached stalemate.

Morning madness: On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour. Their plan was simple: Destroy the Pacific Fleet. That way, the Americans would not be able to fight back as Japan’s armed forces spread across the South Pacific.

8 A.M: Japanese planes filled the sky over Pearl Harbour. Bombs and bullets rained onto the vessels moored below. Ten minutes later, a 1,800-pound bomb smashed through the deck of the battleship USS Arizona and landed in her forward ammunition magazine. The ship exploded and sank with more than 1,000 men trapped inside.

Next, torpedoes pierced the shell of the battleship USS Oklahoma. With 400 sailors aboard, the Oklahoma lost her balance, rolled onto her side and slipped underwater.

This devastating attack was followed an hour and a half later by a second wave of 170 Japanese aircraft.

Less than two hours later, the surprise attack was over.

The date: President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress on December 8, the day after the crushing attack on Pearl Harbour.

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941— a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

At War: On December 8, Congress approved Roosevelt’s declaration of war on Japan. Three days later, Japan’s allies Germany and Italy declared war against the United States.

Just facts:

The attack on Pearl Harbour was referred to as Operation Z in planning.

The single vote against Congress’s declaration of war against Japan came from Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, who was a pacifist. “As a woman,” she said, “I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.”

Japanese Commander Mitsuo Fuchida called out, “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (“Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!”) upon flying over Pearl Harbour, telling the Japanese navy that they had caught the Americans by surprise.

Many of the ships that were damaged were repaired and fought in later battles. Three of the Pacific Fleet’s aircraft carriers were not at Pearl Harbour during the attack.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 9:00:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/operation-z/article25681154.ece

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