History Storytime - For Kids

WW2: Pearl Harbor 1941

December 7, 2020

Sophie (age 7) & Ellie (age 5) tell the story of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor which happened today in 1941 and brought America into World War Two. #OTD


Until the 19th century Japan isolated itself from the world. Then Commodore Perry’s ironclad ship sails into Tokyo Harbour. The Japanese are amazed to realise how technologically far behind the world they have fallen. They resolve to catch up.


For the next fifty years they modernise their economy building a formidable modern navy and fleet. They then resolve to use them in a bid for power. They start with a surprise attack on Russia at Port Arthur. Japan wins the war. Then in the 1930s they launch a surprise attack on China sweeping to control great swathes of the country. They treat ordinary Chinese people very badly.


By 1941 the world is at war in Europe – World War Two. Other countries are concerned about Japan’s intentions. They stop selling oil to Japan. Without oil Japan would not be able to fight an aggressive war. Japan decides to strike at the oilfield in the far east controlled by the European Empires. But they know this will draw the American forces into World War Two. They decide to first launch a surprise attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbor.


At Pearl Harbor the US fleet suspects nothing. People are going about their daily business. Suddenly they see Japanese planes overhead diving into bomb the ships at harbor. Bombs rain down. Torpedoes dart underwater. Withing minutes some of the greatest US battleships are sunk. Thousands of lives are lost. The US try to fight back but it is too late to save the bulk of the fleet.


The result is a crushing Japanese victory.


But the Japanese victory is a hollow one. The Japanese have sunk the US Battleships. But the US carriers are not in Pearl Harbor that day. They are safe to fight again. Worse for Japan, America is roused to utter fury at the unprovoked attack. The US President calls it a day of infamy. The huge resources of America are mobilised for World War Two. They far outweigh the capacity of Japan. Three years later the Japanese empire is destroyed, Japan’s cities are in rubble and Japan is occupied.


If you like this episode you might also like our other World War Two episodes. We have World War Two episodes on Dunkirk:

WW2: The Miracle of Dunkirk and Winston Churchill in 1940 (historystorytime.com)

Or you might like our World War Two episode on the Battle of Britain:

WW2: The Battle of Britain and Winston Churchill in 1940 (historystorytime.com)

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