The shock of Pearl Harbor

The Japanese bombing of the US naval base in Pearl Harbor 75 years ago sent a seismic shock around the world. Nicholas Best charts how stunned onlookers across the planet – from Dirk Bogarde to Adolf Hitler to Mao Zedong – reacted to the news

The USS Arizona burning in Pearl Harbor following the Japanese attack. To the left of her are USS Tennessee and the sunken USS West Virginia. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the Christmas 2016 issue of BBC History Magazine.

Joan Fawcett rose early on the morning of 7 December 1941. The 21-year-old Englishwoman was a passenger aboard the Dutch ship Jägersfontein, travelling to India from San Francisco. After several days at sea, she was looking forward to arriving in Honolulu soon after breakfast. Joan didn’t want to miss a moment as the ship approached the Hawaiian island of Oahu from the south.

Want to read more?

Become a BBC History Magazine subscriber today to unlock all premium articles in The Library

Unlock now