Sunday, Dec 7, 1941Transcript from a letter by Gertrude Doyle:
We are at war with Japan. Early this morning a flight of bombers attacked the island of Oahu—treacherously, while their ministers talked peace in Washington. They came out of the rising sun to spread death and destruction in a sleeping city.
Mary and I were asleep—it wasn't nine o'clock—on a Sunday morning—and the telephone kept ringing downstairs. Finally we woke up enough to send Christine down to answer it. She came back and said a lady wanted her momma, and Mary went down. I don't know why—maybe it was the mixture of sounds—the guns in the distance—the voices in the yard—the odd sound of Mary's "No! Caroline!" and telling Chris to turn on the radio—but I got up fast and put on my dress and shoes and went down. Mary looked at me so funny. "Caroline says we're having an air raid." All I could think of was that men from Mars scare of so long ago—I said—she's crazy—and tuned in the radio. It was warm and sputtering. The announcer panted "Keep off the streets! Do not use the telephone! We are being attacked! Keep off the streets!" Even then it didn't seem real. I went to the back door and saw Toots and Anne in the yard looking up. Toots said, "It's time you got up! We're having an air raid!" I remember saying "Yes— I know—" and right then I guess I did know.
I looked up and could see smoke puffs in the sky—and little dots they said were enemy planes—presumably Japanese—we could hear the anti-aircraft guns—big guns—or maybe they were bombs—Mary told Caroline to try & get down if she was scared—and to bring the baby—
I decided to move into my new apartment in spite of the Japs. Thought I'd better get my things out of the car in case we needed it—or someone had to have it—so I lugged suitcases, boxes and stuff for about a couple hours. I had to stop and look up at the sky every once in a while—I used to think how nice it was to know it was only the mailman—but I guess those days are gone for good—or bad—
We got orders on the radio to fill everything in sight with water. The radio went off the air too—just came on to give orders and information—we filled the tubs in the yard and all the pots and pans in the house—just in case the water mains got hit.
Caroline came in about then with the baby. She was plenty upset—and came in from her house with her baby. She was honestly scared silly—just trembled and shook—and I've never seen anyone so pale and terrified looking. Anne and I went over to her house, to listen to the short wave broadcast. We kept hearing of planes coming in. Anne heard one report while I was out, of five troop transports lying off Barber's Point—and I heard a call for the police to get a man armed with a knife in Punaho Campus just across the street—so I went home to tell them to be careful. I looked out the window and saw three women trudging up Punaho Hill—with big bundles tied up in bed sheets—one of them was old, and had a bandana tied under her chin—it looked like the pictures you see of refugees in Europe—and they were refugees from some bombed section of the city.
Greg came home from the office picking glass and dirt out of his hair. Just after we got up Toots called him and asked him to come home—he laughed and said it was a joke—but it seems a bomb lit down there on Beretania—killed a woman twenty feet on the other side of him, and almost blew him out of the building—he was convinced.
About this time the evacuees began to come into the Hotel from Hickman Field and Pearl Harbor—when I left and got back to Mary's, she had given my apartment away, and I had to move out again. I didn't mind doing it—but I should rather have offered to myself, not to get told it was already done—but this is no time for little gripes.
Caroline and I got permission from the cop on the corner to go up to her place and get things for the baby—stopped for groceries on the way home—got reports over her radio of parachutist landings on Punchbowl and in the mountains at the end of Manoa Valley. When we got back to Mary's I finally managed to get through to Mother on the telephone. She and the girls are all right. Naturally her big worry is Dad. Seems they got attacked at Manila at the same time.
I went out and got permission from the same cop to go pick up some clothes. It didn't dawn on me until much later the the policeman himself was a Jap. Lord what a job these men have on their hands. Imagine trying to control a city waked out of a sound sleep by bombs—not a city at war—one at peace and totally unprepared—with all its varies races and people—can they keep it in hand? I hope to God they can—it will be hell if they don't!
Anyhow, I drove up to Mother's and picked up the warmest of my clothes and my slacks in case they evacuate us into a culvert like they have some people. Mrs. Studebaker and her three boys have moved in with Mother—they were living at Waikiki near DeRussy, but the incendiary bombs drove them out. I suggested to Mother that she and the girls each pack a small bag in case of evacuation.
When I got back to Mary's I packed a suitcase myself. Toots came over with bandages for us to fold and Mary, Caroline and I tried to do that. We spent the afternoon that way. Later Toots brought us some tea. They are planning to use the Main Hotel building for a hospital in case of need.
Anne brought over a kettle of stew and we all had supper together—but I forgot to eat—and by the time Mary came downstairs it was too dark to see or eat—we had no lights at all being totally unprepared for a blackout. I went with Anne to put Mike to bed, but it was so dark and eerie, and she couldn't lock her back door—so she decided to pack a case and come back over here. We stopped to listen to her radio. We could get the Mainland—and heard an unconfirmed report that the West Virginia was gone.
I'm writing this today—you know that we are O.K. here.Gertrude and "Pal" survived the war, as did their daughter, Jane, and her husband Fred. Fred's sister, Mary, lost her husband Allan on the Franklin in March of 1945.
Sunday A.M. Dec 7 Darling,
We were awakened this morning by Pearl Harbor being bombed by the Japs. We haven't heard a thing as to what has happened or how it was made possible. The radio said the planes shot down had the "Rising Sun" on the tip of the wings. Oh! Pal how did they ever get in here. Guess it was going on before we waked up—I didn't sleep half the night, heard the clock strike five, so guess when I did finally get to sleep I was sleeping quite soundly and didn't hear the first part of it as it was mostly in Pearl Harbor.
At the present time I can again hear the anti-aircraft guns.
It's terribly nervewracking darling and everything on an emergency basis. The Army has warned everyone to keep off the street, no phone is allowed to be used. They want all the lines open for the emergency. Just called for about fifty doctors to report to the Tripler Hospital, saying that they were needed there on account of casualties. Whether they needed all of them there, or just some, they didn't say—But they did say they needed doctors there on account of casualties.
What else has gone on at Pearl Harbor they haven't said, so up to date we don't know—I could see puffs of black smoke in the air from our side bedroom window. It must have been from the anti-aircraft guns. The air seemed to be full of planes and we could hear the guns firing.
Pal, I can't understand how we were surprised like this. Then to think that these horrible Japs had the nerve to try an attack on these islands. They don't seem to fear us to attack without declaring war. Of course the place has been placed on an emergency basis. What makes it so dreadfully heartbreaking to me is that this is war and now you will actually be in it. O darling Pal, that is my most terrible worry—your safety—God protect you my darling Pal and may you come through this terrible situation safely. We have the radio on. They are doing a grand job of it trying to keep the people calm, play jazz music, etc. Whenever necessary broadcast instructions to the people and report all necessary news items. We are told to keep the radio on for information, also that they will soon tell us what to do for tonight's blackout. They are calling all militia, Legion members, emergency ambulances, doctors etc. to their emergency stations. All Inter-Island ships and planes to the other Islands have stopped. All cars ordered off the streets. Can't even park them—If you haven't a garage, they are to be driven onto the lawn. Don't know why.
Katie Roper called me just before the order for everyone to keep off the streets—asked us over there—we were dressing to go but thought better of it so remained at home—Stoney isn't here.
They say that we have the situation well in hand. Maybe we won't have another attack. Where are they coming from and how many are there? The Governor just announced his proclamation for a full emergency. He was terribly upset or scared—you could scarcely understand him. Sounded like he was ready to cry. I'm scared honey, I don't mind telling you. It affected me like an earthquake. Everything right now so calm—Don't know when another attack will come—and quiet. This is Sunday. Officers having no duty were home, others out "fishing", etc. Like Fred and Allan—so guess they got the word from their spies. We are at war at last. Out U.S. and these beautiful Hawaiian islands threatened by Japs. I can't go on. I'm just stunned.
A man came around to tell us to fill everything with water. Told us that the Phillipines were being bombed—and God help and protect you my darling. Oh! I could just scream. You must be protected by God I couldn't bear it otherwise—if I only knew how you were out there—all my love is yours.