1941 Pearl Harbor Radio Logs

Value (2004) | $4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction

My uncle was in the Navy on the island of Oahu during the Pearl Harbor invasion. How he came to acquire it, I'm not exactly sure.

Was he a radio person, radio operator?

Uh, he was in the communications department with the Navy at this Oahu station. Probably in the aftermath of the invasion, he... Put this in a folder and came home with it.

Well, it's pretty remarkable. This document is basically the radio transcripts of the unfolding of the invasion of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. And I've seen a lot of World War II documents relating to Pearl Harbor, but mostly individual teletypes from different stations or specific battleships that are just basically saying "Pearl Harbor is under attack." So to have the complete radio transcript from Hawaii, from Oahu, from the base where it was actually happening is amazing. Here we have "Six unidentified ships off the coast." And there's "planes approaching. Unidentified destroyer approaching the beach." And then you go on. We can read "Air raid on Pearl Harbor-- this is not a drill." And then it just goes on and on and details, really, the entire invasion as it was happening. So it's like a real- time description. The radio operator would be getting this information live, you know, via Morse code, and then transcribing that. And it would be typed up and then sent out to all necessary parties-- through all the destroyers and battleships throughout the area. "Unidentified destroyer approaching the beach. Enemy parachute troops will be wearing blue denim." I mean, it's just descriptive detail that you don't see. So, really, this was like the epicenter of a day that, as Roosevelt would say, lived in infamy in our history. So, it's a family piece, so you inherited it, you didn't actually purchase it. You know, conservatively at auction, I would put an estimated value of around $4,000 to $6,000. But it has tremendous upside potential because it's so complete. Was this the original folder you got it in?

It is, yes.

It probably wasn't the actual folder that he had. These would have been coming off tear sheets, so you might want to think about doing a little bit of conservation. You've got some tears here. You know, this metal is not the best material to be in contact with it. I would consider separating it out, having the sheets flattened and putting them in archival sleeves. It's a fantastic piece, and I've never seen one so complete, and I'm excited that you brought it on today.

It's been fun.

Appraisal Details

Gary Piattoni, Inc.
Evanston, IL
Appraised value (2004)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Portland, OR (August 21, 2004)

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