USN escorts of Atlantic convoy HX 162, reaches the MOMP (mid ocean meeting point) ; 21 of the 35 merchantmen scattered by the storm encountered on 1 December have rejoined by this time.
185 strike aircraft from four Japanese aircraft carriers set off on an hour and a half flight to Pearl Harbor.
Japanese midget submarine attempts to follow general stores issue ship Antares (AKS-3) into the entrance channel to Pearl Harbor ; summoned to the scene by the auxiliary vessel, destroyer Ward (DD-139), on channel entrance patrol, with an assist from a PBY, sinks the intruder with gunfire and depth charges. Word of the incident, however, works its way with almost glacial slowness up the chain of command.
Japanese invasion force begins bombardment of Kota Bharu, Malaya, in support of a landing a few hours later.
Unarmed U.S. Army-chartered steam schooner Cynthia Olson is shelled and sunk by Japanese submarine I-26 about 1,000 miles northwest of Diamond Head, Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii. She is the first U.S. merchantman to be sunk by a Japanese submarine in World War II. There are no survivors from the 33-man crew or the two Army passengers.
Army radar station at Opana Point, Oahu, detects an unusually large "blip" approaching from the north, but the operator is told not to concern himself with the matter since a formation of USAAF B-17's is expected from the west coast. The "blip" is the first wave of the incoming enemy strike.
Japanese carrier attack planes - torpedo, high-level, and dive bombers, supported by fighters, totaling 353 planes -- attack in two waves from a distance of 230 miles, targeting ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, and nearby military airfields and installations.
Japanese planes torpedo and sink battleships Oklahoma (BB-37) and West Virginia (BB-48), and auxiliary (gunnery training/target ship) Utah (AG-16). On board Oklahoma, Ens Francis Flaherty, USNR, and Seaman James Ward, as the ship is abandoned, hold flashlights to allow their shipmates to escape. On board West Virginia, her commanding officer, Captain Mervyn Bennion, directs his ship's defense until struck down and mortally wounded by a fragment from a bomb that hits battleship Tennessee (BB-43) moored inboard. Mess Attendant Doris Miller, a brawny, broad-shouldered former high school football player, is recruited to carry the mortally wounded captain from the bridge. Their way temporarily blocked by fires, however, the men are compelled to remain on the bridge. Miller mans a .50-caliber machine gun and later tells interviewers modestly that he believes he may have damaged two low-flying Japanese planes. Miller becomes the first African-American to be awarded the Navy Cross. Sadly, Miller will not survive the war ; he will perish with escort carrier Liscome Bay (CVE-56) on 24 November 1943 off the Gilberts. On board Utah, Austrian-born Chief Watertender Peter Tomich remains at his post as the ship capsizes, securing the boilers and making sure his shipmates have escaped from the fireroom.
Japanese bombs also sink battleship Arizona (BB-39) ; the cataclysmic explosion of her forward magazine causes heavy casualties, among them RAdm Isaac Kidd, Commander Battleship Division 1, who thus becomes the first U.S. Navy flag officer to die in combat in World War II. The ship's senior surviving officer on board, LCdr Samuel Fuqua, directs efforts to fight the raging fires and sees to the evacuation of casualties from the ship ; he ultimately directs the abandonment of the doomed battleship and leaves in the last boat. He is awarded the Medal of Honor.
USS Arizona (BB-39) magazine explodes with resultant fire. 2,403 die, 1,178 injured on a Sunday morning.
When Arizona explodes, she is moored inboard of repair ship Vestal (AR-4) ; the blast causes damage to the repair ship, which has already been hit by a bomb. Vestal's captain, Cdr Cassin Young earns the Medal of Honor by swimming back to his ship after being blown overboard by the explosion of Arizona's magazines, and directing her beaching on Aiea shoal to prevent further damage in the fires consuming Arizona.
Battleship California (BB-44) is hit by both bombs and torpedoes and sinks at her berth alongside Ford Island ; during the battle, Ens Herbert Jones, organizes and leads a party to provide ammunition to the ship's 5-inch antiaircraft battery ; he is mortally wounded by a bomb explosion. Gunner Jackson Pharris, leading an ordnance repair party, is stunned by concussion of a torpedo explosion early in the action but recovers to set up an ammunition supply train, by hand ; he later enters flooding compartments to save shipmates. Chief Radioman Thomas Reeves assists in maintaining an ammunition supply party until overcomes by smoke inhalation and fires ; Machinist's Mate Robert Scott, although his station at an air compressor is flooding, remains at his post, declaring "This is my station and I will stay and give them [the antiaircraft gun crews] air as long as the guns are going." Jones, Pharris, Reeves and Scott all receive the Medal of Honor (Jones, Reeves and Scott posthumously).
Destroyers Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375), lying immobile in drydock, are destroyed by bombs.
Minelayer Oglala (CM-4) is damaged by concussion from torpedo exploding in light cruiser Helena (CL-50) moored alongside, and capsizes at her berth ; harbor tug Sotoyomo (YT-9) is sunk in floating drydock YFD-2. Of the other sunken ships, California, West Virginia, Oglala, and Sotoyomo are raised and repaired ; Cassin and Downesare rebuilt around their surviving machinery ; all are returned to service. Oklahoma, although raised after monumental effort, is never repaired, and ultimately sinks while under tow to the west coast to be broken up for scrap. The hulks of Arizona and Utah remain at Pearl as memorials.
Battleship Nevada (BB-36), the only capital ship to get underway during the attack, is damaged by bombs and a torpedo before she is beached. Two of her men are later awarded the Medal of Honor : Machinist Donald Ross for his service in the forward and after dynamo rooms and Chief Boatswain Edwin Hill (posthumously) for his work in enabling the ship to get underway and, later, during the attempt to beach the ship.
Battleships Pennsylvania (BB-38), Tennessee (BB-43), and Maryland (BB-46), light cruiser Honolulu (CL-48), destroyer Shaw (DD-373), and floating drydock YFD-2 are damaged by bombs. Light cruisers Raleigh (CL-7) and Helena (CL-50) are damaged by torpedoes. Heavy cruiser New Orleans (CA-32), destroyers Helm (DD-388) and Hull (DD-350), destroyer tender Dobbin (AD-3), repair ship Rigel (AR-11), and seaplane tender Tangier (AV-8), are damaged by near-misses of bombs. Seaplane tender Curtiss (AV-4) is damaged by crashing carrier bomber. Garbage lighter YG-17 (alongside Nevada at the onset) is damaged by strafing and concussion of bombs.
Destroyer Monaghan (DD-354) rams, depth-charges, and sinks midget submarine inside Pearl Harbor proper, during the attack. This particular sub may have been the one whose periscope harbor tug YT-153 attempts to ram early in the attack.
Light minelayer Gamble (DM-15) mistakenly fires upon submarine Thresher (SS-200) off Oahu when Thresher approached having mistaken her for her rendezvous destroyer Litchfield (DD-336). Sadly, the delay occasioned by the mistaken identity proves fatal to a seriously injured sailor on board the submarine, who dies four hours before the boat finally reaches port on the 8th, of multiple injuries suffered on 6 December 1941 when heavy seas wash him against the signal deck rail.
Carrier Enterprise (CV-6) Air Group in two-plane sections of SBD's, begins arriving off Oahu as the Japanese attack unfolds ; some SBD's meet their doom at the hands of Japanese planes ; one is shot down by friendly fire. Another SBD ends up on Kauai where its radio-gunner and his .30-caliber machine gun augments the local Army defense force. Almost all of the surviving planes, together with what observation and scouting planes from battleship and cruiser detachments, as well as flying boats and utility aircraft that survive the attack, take part in the desperate, hastily organized searches flown out of Ford Island to look for the Japanese carriers.
Navy Yard and Naval Station, Pearl Harbor ; Naval Air Stations at Ford Island and Kaneohe Bay ; Marine Corps Ewa Airfield ; Army airfields at Hickam, Wheeler, and Bellows ; and Schofield Barracks suffer varying degrees of bomb damage. Japanese bombs and strafing destroy 188 Navy, Marine Corps, and USAAF planes. At NAS Kaneohe Bay, Aviation Chief Ordnanceman John W. Finn mounts a machine gun on an instruction stand and returns the fire of strafing planes although wounded many times. Although ordered to leave his post to have his wounds treated, he returns to the squadron areas where, although in great pain, he oversees the rearming of returning PBYs. For his heroism, Finn is awarded the Medal of Honor.
Casualties amount to : Killed or missing -- Navy, 2,008 ; Marine Corps, 109 ; Army, 218 ; Civilian, 68 ; Wounded : Navy, 710 ; Marine Corps, 69 ; Army, 364 ; Civilian, 35.
One particular family tragedy prompts concern in the Bureau of Navigation (later Bureau of Naval Personnel) on the matter of brothers serving in the same ship, a common peacetime practice in the U.S. Navy. Firemen First Class Malcolm Barber and LeRoy Barber, and Fireman Second Class Randolph Barber, are all lost when battleship Oklahoma (BB-37) capsizes.
Having accomplished his goal, VAdm Nagumo sets course for home, convinced that he was fortunate to have suffered only trifling losses, thus inadvertently sparing fuel tank farms, ship repair facilities, and the submarine base that will prove invaluable to support the U.S. Pacific Fleet as it rebuilds in the wake of the Pearl Harbor disaster.
Japanese losses amount to fewer than 100 men, 29 planes of various types and four midget submarines. A fifth washes ashore off Bellows Field and is recovered ; its commander (Ens Sakamaki Kazuo) is captured,becoming U.S. prisoner of war number one.
Japanese pilot Nishikaichi Shigenori, from the carrier Hiryu,crash-lands his Mitsubishi Zero fighter on the island of Niihau, T.H. He surrenders to the islanders who disarm him and confiscate his papers but, isolated as they are, know nothing of the attack on Pearl Harbor. "Peaceful and friendly," Nishikaichi is not kept in custody but is allowed to roam the island unguarded (see 9, 12-14 December).
Japanese 25th Army in two convoys, 40 transports with escorts, invade Malaya.
Thailand is attacked and quickly surrenders, perhaps by prior agreement.
Bombers attack Singapore.
First night recovery of Navy planes in World War II occurs when Enterprise turns on searchlights to aid returning SBD Dauntlesses and TBD Devastators that had been launched at dusk in an attempt to find Japanese ships reported off Oahu. Friendly fire, however, downs four of Enterprise's six F4F Wildcats that are directed to land at Ford Island. Other Enterprise SBD's make a night landing at Kaneohe Bay, miraculously avoiding automobiles and construction equipment parked on the ramp to prevent just such an occurrence.
Damage to the battle line proves extensive, but carriers Enterprise (CV-6) and Lexington (CV-2) are not in port having been deployed at the eleventh hour to reinforce advanced bases at Wake and Midway. Saratoga (CV-3) is at San Diego on this day, preparing to return to Oahu. The carriers will prove crucial in the coming months.
Midway Island is bombarded by Japanese Midway Neutralization Unit consisting of destroyers Ushio and Sazanami. Marine shore batteries return the fire, claiming damage to both ships. One of the submarines deployed on simulated war patrols off Midway, Trout (SS-202), makes no contact with the enemy ships ; the other, Argonaut (SM-1,ss-166), is unable to make a successful approach, and Ushio and Sazanami retire from the area. Subsequent bad weather will save Midway from a pounding by planes from the Pearl Harbor Attack Force as it returns to Japanese waters.
Damage control hulk, formerly destroyer Walker (DD-163), being towed from San Diego to Pearl Harbor by oiler Neches (AO-5) is cast adrift and scuttled by gunfire from Neches.
The so-called "Fourteen Point message" that declares an impasse in the ongoing diplomatic negotiations reaches Washington, D.C., is delivered after word of the attack on Pearl Harbor has already been received in the nation's capital. The Imperial Rescript declaring a state of war between the Japanese Empire and the United States is issued in Tokyo ... the next day,
Japanese destroyers shell Wake Island. Land based planes bomb Guam and the Philippines.