Pearl Harbour in Retrospect

by Don Thomas

On the evening of Dec. 7th, 1941 the Canadian Prime Minster announced that Canada was at war with Japan. The British garrison at Hong Kong had been attacked and even though Canada had been at war since 1939, it was the first time the Canadian Army had gone into action. On Christmas Day the garrison fell and of the 1,975 Canadians that were part of the defense force, 290 were killed in action and those who survived the battle became POW’s and their ordeal was just beginning, another 287 would die in the camps.

But it was the attack on Pearl Harbour on Dec.7th, 1941 that would make WW2 truly a world conflict. Because shortly after Canada’s declaration of war on Japan, the United States also made their decision to join the Allies in the ongoing struggle.

The USS Arizona during the attack.  (via)

Pearl Harbour in Retrospect, will be a collaboration of interlocking articles to give the reader some insight into the “ Pearl Harbour” mystique. With the help of Martina, Tony and Tom, we will all contribute on a different aspect of the Pearl Harbour story, from everyday life on the Island of Oahu to how the memory of that fateful day is never forgotten.

There have been many documentaries, movies and made for TV series dealing with the overall story. Each has its merits but for me the best by far is the 1953 movie “From here to Eternity”. I have a passion for the older black and white movies, but I like a movie that is shot on the true location. Three weeks of the movie were shot at Schofield Barracks on Oahu. Also another plus, the movie is based on the bestselling novel “From Here to Eternity” by James Jones who was actually stationed at Schofield Barracks prior to the war and served throughout the Pacific campaign with the US Army.  

The movie captures all the aspects of military life in Hawaii prior to the surprise attack. The Isolation and boredom that goes with a peacetime garrison. It has it all, life in the barracks, training, bar fights and some good jazz music and “Yes” The famous beach scene!!!  And the attack itself.

But all in all the movie is well done with accurate kit, uniforms and civilian dress (Martina will enlighten us on the civilian side in her segment) And you could not ask for a better cast of famous actors, Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Montgomery Clift and Frank Sinatra. I would highly recommend this movie if you have a passion for the old black and white movies. But from a historical perspective it will give you a good insight into prewar military life and the lead up to the attack on Pearl Harbour.

In our next segment, Tony Austin will give you a tour of modern Day Pearl Harbour and how the memory of that fateful day is kept alive. Followed by Tom Sturgill who will cover some of the weapons used in the movie and were on issue to the US Army at the time. And last but not least Martina Diklitch will cover the 1941 civilian aspect of life in Hawaii, maybe we can find out why Spam is so popular on the Islands today!!!!!