I came across this video yesterday while perusing the Internet for engaging WWII related tidbits. The poster claimed that this was “Rare archival footage of the attack on Pearl Harbor…showing incredible shots of the sneak attack by Imperial Japan.” The individual explains that “the footage is low resolution, due to the fact that the original has been lost and this is a copy. Shown in the video are the USS Nevada firing at Japanese craft, the USS Oglala rolling over sinking and the USS St. Louis.”
Things come up on the web all the time claiming to be recoveries – or discoveries – of lost or previously unknown war documents, films, and images. Some are legitimately “new” discoveries or recovered footage, as this appears to be, others are not. You will all remember the recent Battle of the Bulge “uncovered camera” incident that turned out to be a hoax. I guess you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. How disconcerting.
But the truth is that there are documents out there in private collections and stored away in drawers, closets, and attics all across the land. And from time to time, a few will find their way to publication. My own web-journal, The Americanist Independent, will have the honor of publishing a small collection of personal letters written by Navy aviator William R. Evans, Jr., who fought at the Battle of Midway. Some of Bill’s words are inscribed in a monument to Indiana servicemen who fought in WWII. You can find them at the Memorial Mall in downtown Indianapolis. His letters to his family will be published in the journal, for the first time, in the September 2014 issue. His words are at once poetic and powerful. They are but a momentary glimpse at the Pacific Theater of war from Pearl Harbor to mid-1942 – a glimpse worthy of attention.