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Pearl Harbor Box Brownie Photographs

by Brett M. Christensen

An earlier version of this story was first published on 29th April 2008.

This remarkable series of photographs depicts the Japanese attack on the United States at Pearl Harbour in 1941.

The photos, and the accompanying description, circulate via email and appear on blogs and social media websites. According to the description, the photos were found in a Kodak Box Brownie camera left in a footlocker.

The message claims that an unnamed sailor serving on the USS QUAPAW ATF-11O took the pictures.

The photographs are genuine and do show the Pearl Harbor attack. However, the claims in the message’s description are false. They were not found in one old box brownie camera as stated in the message, nor were they taken by a sailor on the USS QUAPAW.

In fact, the images are US Naval archive photographs taken by different people at various locations around Pearl Harbour at the time of the attack. The photographs form part of the historical image collection available on the Naval History and Heritage Command website.

To take all of these photographs, the brownie-wielding sailor would have needed to possess the uncanny ability to take pictures from several vantage points around the harbor at almost the same time.

Some earlier versions of the email included high aerial shots of the harbour as well. The aerial shots are omitted in this version, possibly because their inclusion too clearly “gives the game away”. The sailor could hardly have been in an aircraft and several locations around the attack zone during one narrow window of time.

Moreover, the USS QUAPAW was not at Pearl Harbour in 1941. In fact, the navy did not even launch the vessel until 1943. Her keel was laid on 28 December 1942, more than a year after the Pearl Harbor attack.

These photographs are indeed spectacular, and they form an important part of the historical record. They speak for themselves, and there is no need to embellish them with fictional stories about their origin.

Example (Click an image for larger view):

Subject: FW: Photos stored in a Kodak Box brownie camera since 1941 awesome

PHOTOS STORED IN AN OLD Kodak Box BROWNIE CAMERA

Thought you might find these photos very interesting; what quality from 1941. Pearl Harbor photos found in an old Box Brownie stored in a foot locker.

THESE PHOTOS ARE FROM A SAILOR WHO WAS ON THE USS QUAPAW ATF-11O.

I THINK THEY’RE SPECTACULAR!

PEARL HARBOR

December 7th, 1941

(

On Sunday, December 7th, 1941 the Japanese launched a surprise attack against the U.S. Forces stationed at Pearl Harbor , Hawaii . By planning his attack on a Sunday, the Japanese commander Admiral Nagumo, hoped to catch the entire fleet in port. As luck would have it, the Aircraft Carriers and one of the Battleships were not in port. (The USS Enterprise was returning from Wake Island, where it had just delivered some aircraft. The USS Lexington was ferrying aircraft to Midway, and the USS Saratoga and USS Colorado were undergoing repairs in the United States.)

In spite of the latest intelligence reports about the missing aircraft carriers (his most important targets), Admiral Nagumo decided to continue the attack with his force of six carriers and 423 aircraft. At a range of 230 miles north of Oahu, he launched the first wave of a two-wave attack. Beginning at 0600 hours his first wave consisted of 183 fighters and torpedo bombers which struck at the fleet in Pearl Harbor and the airfields in Hickam, Kaneohe and Ewa. The second strike, launched at 0715 hours, consisted of 167 aircraft, which again struck at the same targets.

At 0753 hours the first wave consisting of 40 Nakajima B5N2 “Kate” torpedo bombers, 51 Aichi D3A1 “Val” dive bombers, 50 high altitude bombers and 43 Zeros struck airfields and Pearl Harbor Within the next hour, the second wave arrived and continued the attack.

When it was over, the U.S. losses were:

Casualties
USA< /st1:country-region> : 218 KIA, 364 WIA.
USN: 2,008 KIA, 710 WIA.

USMC: 109 KIA, 69 WIA.
Civilians: 68 KIA, 35 WIA. TOTAL: 2,403 KIA, 1,178 WIA.
————————————————-

Battleships
USS Arizona (BB-39) – total loss when a bomb hit her magazine.
USS Oklahoma (BB-37) – Total loss when she capsized and sunk in the harbor.
USS California (BB-44) – Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.
USS West Virginia (BB-48) – Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.
USS Nevada – (BB-36) Beached to prevent sinking. Later repaired.
USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) – Light damage.
USS Maryland (BB-46) – Light damage.
USS Tennessee (BB-43) Light damage.
USS Utah (AG-16) – (former battleship used as a target) – Sunk.
————————————————————————————————-
Cruisers
USS New Orleans (CA-32) – Light Damage..
USS San Francisco (CA38) – Light Damage.
USS Detroit (CL-8) – Light Damage.
USS Raleigh (CL-7) – Heavily damaged but repaired.
USS Helena (CL-50) – Light Damage.
USS Honolulu (CL-48) – Light Damage..
——————————————————– ————————————-
Destroyers
USS Downes (DD-375) – Destroyed. Parts salvaged.
USS Cassin – (DD-37 2) Destroyed. Parts salvaged.
USS Shaw (DD-373) – Very heavy damage.
USS Helm (DD-388) – Light Damage.
————————————————————————————————
Minelayer
USS Ogala (CM-4) – Sunk but later raised and repaired.
———————————————————————————-
Seaplane Tender
USS Curtiss (AV-4) – Severely damaged but later repaired.
————————————————————————————
Repair Ship
USS Vestal (AR-4) – Severely damaged but later repaired.
————————————————————————————
Harbor Tug
USS Sotoyomo (YT-9) – Sunk but later raised and repaired.
———————————————————— ——————————–
Aircraft
188 Aircraft destroyed (92 USN and 92 U.S. Army Air Corps.)



Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer