History: USS West Virginia and Pearl Harbor

Today we remember the devastation of Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941. One of the vessels sunk during the raid was the USS West Virginia. This blog is about that vessel and will include some facts as well as various newspaper clippings from around the world on the event as it unfolded. At the bottom will be a few additional Pearl Harbor articles and headlines.

Per Wiki: USS West Virginia (BB-48) was the fourth dreadnought battleship of the Colorado class, though because Washington was cancelled, she was the third and final member of the class to be completed. The Colorado class proved to be the culmination of the standard-type battleship series built for the United States Navy in the 1910s and 1920s; the ships were essentially repeats of the earlier Tennessee design, but with a significantly more powerful main battery of eight 16-inch (406 mm) guns in twin-gun turrets. West Virginia was built between her keel laying in 1920 and her commissioning into the Navy in 1923. The ship spent the 1920s and 1930s conducting routine training exercises, including the typically-annual Fleet Problems, which provided invaluable experience for the coming war in the Pacific.

The Christening of the USS West Virginia 19 Nov 1921
West Virginia Governor Ephraim Morgan and Alice Wright Mann

The WV State Archives has a wonderful online exhibit for the USS West Virginia. It can be found: HERE

Poem: The West Virginia

Tom Swinburn
Charleston, W. Va., April 1, 1903

O named for the hills of the State,
Where the men of the mountains are free.
O named for the forests so great;
For the valleys so pleasant that be.

The coal and the iron and oil;
For the gas, and the salt, and the wood.
The grass and the grain from her soil;
For her rivulet, torrent and flood.

Deep down in her pockets of earth
She has treasures untold in her grasp.
Her cliffs give the eagle his birth.
She has home, shop, and ship in her clasp.

O ship, may thy sides like her hills
Be a bulwark for freedom intact;
Thy voice like the eagle’s that thrills;
Like her swoop be thy sharp beak’s impact.

Thy ports like the mines in her hills,
Belch the hope of the hearths of the free.
Thy furnace glow like her kilns,
Be the heart of the giant in thee.

Like the crags on her sentinel hills
Be thy turrets thy castles of might.
Like pines on her peaks the wind fills
Wave thy flag over freedom and right.

Thy pennant floated over no wrong,
Nor be tarnished with innocent blood.
For righteousness ever be strong,
Ever stand for the free, brave and good.

The vessel had its own newsletter:

The boat’s nickname was “The Wee Vee“.

Some pictures below from: https://www.usswestvirginia.org/

GREAT articles, photos and history.

Ship’s inspection taken about 1924.
A photo of the USS West Virginia’s band in about 1940.
In Hawaii, before the attack – Left to right: Hoot Gibson, Renee Fontanotte, Don Wilkins, Pappy Meyers, Lou Grabinski, and Carl Buckhan.
Group photo taken about 1941

Group photo taken about 1941
A high quality photo of the USS West Virginia after the Pearl Harbor attack. 
Photograph dated 12/12/1941
Caption: [typed on back] “U.S.S. West Virginia — showing collapsed gun deck.”

Per Wiki: West Virginia was moored in Battleship Row on the morning of 7 December 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into World War II. Badly damaged by torpedoes, the ship sank in the shallow water but was later refloated and extensively rebuilt over the course of 1943 and into mid-1944. She returned to service in time for the Philippines Campaign, where she led the American line of battle at the Battle of Surigao Strait on the night of 24–25 October. There, she was one of the few American battleships to use her radar to acquire a target in the darkness, allowing her to engage a Japanese squadron in what was the final action between battleships in naval history.

Battleship Row during the attack on Pearl Harbor; the large column of water visible in the center is one of the torpedo hits on West Virginia

Japanese reconnaissance photo showing Battleship Row; West Virginia is leaking fuel from torpedo hits.
USS West Virginia, engulfed in flames

Newspaper Clippings of USS West Virginia after Pearl Harbor Attack

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Daily Press
Newport News, Virginia
08 Dec 1941, Mon  •  Page 1
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Daily Press
Newport News, Virginia
08 Dec 1941, Mon  •  Page 1
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Hartford Courant
Hartford, Connecticut
08 Dec 1941, Mon  •  Page 12
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The Courier-Journal
Louisville, Kentucky
08 Dec 1941, Mon  •  Page 9
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The Huntsville Times
Huntsville, Alabama
08 Dec 1941, Mon  •  Page 1
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Waterloo, Iowa men at Pearl Harbor. -
The Courier
Waterloo, Iowa
08 Dec 1941, Mon  •  Page 10
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The San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco, California
08 Dec 1941, Mon  •  Page 12
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The Minneapolis Star
Minneapolis, Minnesota
09 Dec 1941, Tue  •  Page 22
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The Knoxville News-Sentinel
Knoxville, Tennessee
09 Dec 1941, Tue  •  Page 13
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he Morning Post
Camden, New Jersey
09 Dec 1941, Tue  •  Page 13
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Lancaster New Era
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
10 Dec 1941, Wed  •  Page 6

Articles on Pearl Harbor:

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Asheville Citizen-Times
Asheville, North Carolina
08 Dec 1941, Mon  •  Page 1
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Globe-Gazette
Mason City, Iowa
08 Dec 1941, Mon  •  Page 16
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The Central New Jersey Home News
New Brunswick, New Jersey
08 Dec 1941, Mon  •  Page 7
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The Age
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
09 Dec 1941, Tue  •  Page 7
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Star-Gazette
Elmira, New York
13 Dec 1941, Sat  •  Page 5
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The Pantagraph
Bloomington, Illinois
13 Dec 1941, Sat  •  Page 4
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The Eugene Guard
Eugene, Oregon
13 Dec 1941, Sat  •  Page 1
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The Morning Call
Allentown, Pennsylvania
11 Dec 1941, Thu  •  Page 12
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The Morning Call
Allentown, Pennsylvania
11 Dec 1941, Thu  •  Page 12
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The Morning Call
Allentown, Pennsylvania
11 Dec 1941, Thu  •  Page 12
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Calgary Herald
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
11 Dec 1941, Thu  •  Page 5
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Austin American-Statesman
Austin, Texas
11 Dec 1941, Thu  •  Page 7
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The Shreveport Journal
Shreveport, Louisiana
11 Dec 1941, Thu  •  Page 17
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The Atlanta Constitution
Atlanta, Georgia
14 Dec 1941, Sun  •  Page 56
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The Raleigh Register
Beckley, West Virginia
08 Dec 1959, Tue  •  Page 4

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