Pearl Harbor

'Remember December 7th' US Government propaganda poster of 1942'Remember December 7th' US Government propaganda poster of 1942

Until December 1941 the USA had been neutral in the Second World War. Britain was at war with Germany, Japan and Italy, but America had no reason to enter the conflict. Then, on a quiet Sunday morning, 353 Japanese aircraft took off from six aircraft carriers and sank or damaged many of the ships in America’s Pacific Fleet, which was based at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, in the Pacific Ocean. 188 American planes were also destroyed, and almost 3,500 Americans were killed or wounded. The Japanese lost 29 aircraft and 65 men.

The attack came as a total surprise to the USA, and Japan did not declare war until it had taken place. Germany and Italy, too, declared war on America almost immediately. Pearl Harbor made Americans change their minds about taking part in World War II, and American service personnel were soon fighting both in Europe and the Far East.

The attack on Pearl Harbor will never be forgotten. A memorial built above the USS Arizona, which was one of the ships sunk during the attack and which is the last resting place of more than 1,100 sailors, is visited by over a million people each year. And the crews of all US ships entering Pearl Harbor still salute the memorial as they pass it.


The text contains English equivalents of these words and phrases. What are they?

  1. annen verdenskrig (there are two equivalents in English)
  2. japansk
  3. Stillehavet
  4. hangarskip
  5. fly (plural noun: there are two equivalents in the text)
  6. den fjerne østen
  7. erklære krig
  8. angrep


Activities for the links below

1) At the first link you will find the text of the speech President Roosevelt made to Congress on the day after the attack. Read it first, and then find the sentences in which the President said the following:

  1. The Japanese tricked the USA into believing that they did not want war, but in reality they were planning the attack.
  2. The Japanese have attacked a number of places, and we know what this means for our country.
  3. We are facing attacks, and the situation is obviously very dangerous for us.
  4. We have suffered serious losses.
  5. We will never forget the nature of the attack.
  6. The message which the Japanese sent did not mention war.

2) The second link is a BBC article written when the war in the Pacific ended. Read it, and write answers to these questions:

  1. What and when is VJ Day?
  2. Who was Harry S Truman?
  3. Who was Douglas MacArthur?
  4. Why was the British Prime Minister so grateful to the USA?
  5. What did King George VI do at 9 p.m.?
  6. Which weapon did Hirohito refer to?
  7. What effect did this weapon have on the war?
  8. What did Hirohito think would happen if Japan did not stop fighting?


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Sist oppdatert: 08.09.2009

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