Churchill Archive for Schools - Themes_Key questions_significance of P

What was the significance of Pearl Harbor?

The U.S. Navy battleships USS West Virginia (BB-48) (sunken at left) and USS Tennessee (BB-43) shrouded in smoke following the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor, 1941. (National Archives and Records Administration, ARC 295976).

On 7 December 1941, over 350 Japanese aircraft attacked the US naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, destroying or badly damaging much of the US Pacific fleet and causing thousands of casualties. US President Roosevelt called it ‘a date that would live in infamy’.

Pearl Harbor was a devastating shock to the US, but was it more than just an attack on US naval forces? In this investigation, you will consider this question and explore the significance of Pearl Harbor through documents selected from the Churchill Archive.

Your challenge

We have a box of sources from the Churchill Archive for you to investigate.

  • Your challenge is to study the sources in the Source Box and use them to consider the significance of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • Your teacher will be able to help you with a recording framework and suggestions on how to present your work.

 Background information

The sources

 Notes for teachers

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941: Torpedo planes attack "Battleship Row" at about 0800 on 7 December, seen from a Japanese aircraft. (U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph 80-G-30550).