71 Years Later, 'Graphic' Pearl Harbor Account Published

Reporter Betty McIntosh's blunt description was squashed by editors

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 7, 2012 11:35 AM CST

(Newser) – In 1941, Betty McIntosh was a reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and she wrote her account of the days following the Dec. 7 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But the paper, deciding it was too graphic, never ran it; 71 years later, the Washington Post publishes it for the first time. Highlights:

  • "I saw a formation of black planes diving straight into the ocean off Pearl Harbor. The blue sky was punctured with anti-aircraft smoke puffs. Suddenly, there was a sharp whistling sound, almost over my shoulder, and below, down on School Street. I saw a rooftop fly into the air like a pasteboard movie set."
  • "Bombs were still dropping over the city as ambulances screamed off into the heart of the destruction. The drivers were blood-sodden when they returned, with stories of streets ripped up, houses burned, twisted shrapnel, and charred bodies of children."
  • "In the morgue, the bodies were laid on slabs in the grotesque positions in which they had died. Fear contorted their faces. Their clothes were blue-black from incendiary bombs. One little girl in a red sweater, barefoot, still clutched a piece of jump-rope in her hand."

  • "Seven little stores ... had nearly completely burned down. Charred, ripply walls, as high as the first story, alone remained to give any hint of where the store had been. At the smashed soda fountain was a half-eaten chocolate sundae. Scorched bonbons were scattered on the sidewalk."
  • "Then, in the nightmare of Monday and Tuesday, there was the struggle to keep normal when planes zoomed overhead and guns cracked out at an unseen enemy. There was blackout and suspicion riding the back of wild rumors: Parachutists in the hills! Poison in your food! Starvation and death were all that was left in a tourist bureau paradise."
Click for McIntosh's complete account.

In this US Navy file photo, a small boat rescues a USS West Virginia crew member from the water after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941 during World War II.
In this US Navy file photo, a small boat rescues a USS West Virginia crew member from the water after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941 during World War II.   (AP Photo, File)
In this Dec. 7, 1941 file photo, sailors at Ford Island Naval Air Station watch the explosion of the USS Shaw in the background, during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
In this Dec. 7, 1941 file photo, sailors at Ford Island Naval Air Station watch the explosion of the USS Shaw in the background, during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.   (AP File Photo)
In this Dec. 7, 1941 file photo, the battleship USS Arizona belches smoke as it topples over into the sea during a Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
In this Dec. 7, 1941 file photo, the battleship USS Arizona belches smoke as it topples over into the sea during a Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.   (AP File Photo)
In this Dec. 7, 1941 file photo, the destroyer USS Shaw explodes after being hit by bombs during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
In this Dec. 7, 1941 file photo, the destroyer USS Shaw explodes after being hit by bombs during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.   (AP File Photo)
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