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Rare Pearl Harbor Attack Footage

NH 86118

The forward magazine of USS SHAW (DD-373) explodes during the second Japanese attack wave. Footage of this explosion can be seen in the video below at about 2:16. Naval History and Heritage Command NH 86118.

Iconic images of U.S. Navy warships under attack and on fire at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 are seared into the collective American memory. Yet the total amount of moving picture footage of the surprise Japanese attack in Hawaii is limited, with the same shots often repeated over and over again. Rare footage shot by CWO4 Clyde Daughtry from the deck of USS Argonne (AS 10), moored at the 1010 dock on that tragic day, remains one of the best pieces of filmed material of the attack. Unfortunately, the original copies of that film disappeared in the late 1960’s. What remains are a few badly deteriorated copies of a copy, one version of which remains in the collection of the Naval History and Heritage Command. In 1982, Don Montgomery of the Defense Audiovisual Agency, after years of investigation and correspondance with Daughtry, came upon a decent quality copy of the film at the Naval History and Heritage Command (at that time the Naval Historical Center) in Washington, DC. This copy of the film was found in the donated collection of Captain Mell A. Peterson, Jr., who had obtained it from his father, and it was the only known version of the film to exist. It is thanks to Montgomery’s foresight that we have the ability to watch any version of this film at all. He made six additional copies of the footage for safekeeping, donating one copy to the National Archives. The quality of this version of the film is uneven. Much of it is faded badly (the original footage was in color that has long since deteriorated), but you can still make out many key moments of the battle, including the battleship USS Nevada (BB 36) underway and firing back at the Japanese attackers.


Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll see in this film:

0:00 – 0:47: views of Battleship Row and Ford Island showing battleships on fire: capsized USS Oklahoma (BB 37), listing USS West Virginia (BB 48), burning USS Arizona (BB 39). Clearest view begins at 0:22. Aerial shots of Japanese aircraft and heavy flak are interspersed.

0:48 –  0:50: View down 1010 dock at cruiser USS Helena (CL 50) and listing USS Oglala (CM 4), being pulled clear of the cruiser’s side

0:51 – 0:53: View in the sky of Japanese aircraft

0:54 – 1:21: USS Nevada underway and past the 1010 dock trying to reach open sea, being attacked with her guns firing back, she turns left and runs aground at Hospital Point. In the foreground, Oglala rolls over and sinks

1:22 – 2:05: Camera pans down Battleship Row again, showing West Virginia settling in with decreasing list, upturned hull of Oklahoma, with USS Maryland (BB 46) behind her. USS Tern (AM 31) is moored in foreground at 1010 dock. USS St. Louis (CL 49) can be seen briefly heading down the channel firing her guns.

2:06 – 2:11: Injured men being carried on stretches on 1010 dock

2:12 – 2:16 : Drifting oil fires from Arizona engulf California

2:17 – 2:27: Destroyer USS Shaw‘s (DD 373) forward magazine explodes in a large fireball

2:28 – 2:48: Oil fire has drifted clear of California

2:49 – 2:54: USS Blue (DD 387)heads down channel past burning oil fires for sea

2:55 – 3:00: Capsized Oglala sunken in foreground, while Shaw burns in the background

3:01 – 3:02: Japanese aircraft overhead

3:03 – 3:04: Shrapnel falls in water just off 1010 dock

3:05 – 4:08 : More views of Battleship Row and Ford Island, including California low in the water after torpedo hits

4:09 – 4:33: Another view of Oglala sunken beside dock

4:34 – 4:47: Pan across California low in the water, USS Vireo (AM 52) in foreground

4:48 – 4:55 : Pan across Ford Island showing American flag still flying

4:56 – 5:11: Film closes with American flag flying on the stern of USS Helena (CL 50)

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  1. Pingback: Pearl Harbor Survivor: Tugboat ex-USS Hoga (YT 146) | Naval Historical Foundation

  2. Michael Enoki

    Dear Sir/ Madam,

    My name is Michael, a media researcher of a Japanese TV production company, Collaboration, Inc.

    I am currently working on a Japanese documentary video called “Yoshitaro Amano”.

    This program is biographical video of Yoshitaro Amano, who was successful business-man in many Latin American nations and then became a one of

    the important archeologists in Peru. He loved the culture and history of Peru and founded Amano Museum in Lima, Peru when he was still alive.

    That why we decided to make his documentary video.

    I texting you because I have a big favor to ask you.

    During the video, we want to use a video footage of attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Amano was in Panama then was took in Japanese concentration camp during the World War II.

    Therefore, we want to show the story of Yoshitaro Amano how he lived at that time, and video footage of attack on Pearl Harbor would be short part of the program but important.

    If you have another similar videos or images of Pearl Harbor or Japanese concentration camp, could you send those to my E-mail? if you have a hight definition footage, it would be great for me.

    Plaese let me know your thoughts. Look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best regards,


    • Katelyn Raison

      I was given some of my decided relatives belongings & have come across many items & photos dating back to the 1950s of the boats facing pearl harbour Dec, 1956.

  3. Ed Daly

    I am trying to find footage of the USS. Downes. There was footage on a Walter Cronkite series of a sailor running down a gangway looked into the camera turned and went to a compartment that immediately exploded. The sailor looked like my father Edward C Daly. Can you help?

  4. Pingback: Pearl Harbor 74th Anniversary - WhoWhatWhy

  5. Candi spencer

    I have some old slides of the attack on pearl harbor and of a lot of the ships and battleship row during the attack. Could u point me in the direction of where I need to start to appraise them? Also have a lot of hong Kong slides… can u help?.. thanks

    • Candi,
      The next time our historian Dave Winkler is in the office, I’ll see if he has any suggestions for you. In the meantime, thanks for visiting our site!

  6. Larry Hendricks

    That tug for many years was leased to the city of Oakland and became a fire boat. I was a OFD Fireman for 30 years and got to pilot it beyond the Golden Gate Bridge and back to Oakland. I tried to imagine as I held the wheel what it was like during the attack. I am blessed to have touched this part of history.

  7. Jane Schaefer

    My father, Lt. Thomas Joseph Schaefer served with a Batillion Survey on the USS Hovey, Destroyer # 208, commissioned to serve in 1941. The USS Hovey was converted to a fast minesweeper in late 1940 and redesignated DMS-11 , in February 1941 she was transferred to Pearl Harbor. After the 7 December 1941 Japanese surprise attack on that Pacific Fleet base, Lt. Thomas Schaefer sailed with the Hovey that performed patrol and escort missions in the Hawaiian area until May 1942. As my father passed away when I was a child, I would like to find video footage of the USS Hovey, Destroyer #208. If anyone can point me to a source to view video footage of of the SS Hovey, Destroyer # 208 from 1941 through 1942, I would be deeply grateful.

  8. J Foust

    This is a great find, I’m glad to have found it.
    My grandfather was aboard the Argonne, and I’ve been trying to find as much as I can to give the stories to my daughter so she can ‘know’ him better.
    His name was Frank Raymond Foust, I’m not sure of his Rate at the time.

  9. Edward C. Daly

    On Dec, 7th 1961 Walter Cronkite did a TV show regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor. In one of the segments, a sailor was coming down a gangway, turned and look right in the camera, the he turned and went into a compartment that immediately exploded. When I saw his face I was startled as it looked like my father, and the circumstances were like what was relayed to me as a child. Could you assist me in locating that film? I have searched for many years for it, with no luck. My father was serving on the USS DD375 Downes. You may reach me at my email address is, [email protected]
    Sincerely Edward C. Daly Jr.

  10. Meda B Day

    My father in law always told my husband he was stationed on the Argonne on December 7,1941 in Pearl Harbor. We found him on the manifest of the USS Allen. Would there be any way to trace why he was not in his own ship that day?

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