Pearl Harbor bike couriers 1941

Bike couriers delivered the news of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor 70 years ago today.

The caption for this photo says these bike messengers scrambled from the White House after learning of the attack on Pearl Harbor the evening of December 7, 1941, presumably to deliver the facts to the news outlets of the day.

Bike couriers scramble to deliver the news on Pearl Harbor Day

Japan intended to deliver a formal declaration of war 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the attack, but bureaucrats at the Japanese embassy in Washington were slow in decoding, typing, and delivering the message to Secretary of State Cordell Hull.

The U.S. Army had already decrypted the declaration on the evening of December 6 and dispatched war warnings to all Pacific area commands. Communication problems delayed receipt of the warning in Honolulu until after 7:30 AM, Hawaii time.


Bike messenger on Pearl Harbor Day

A Japanese-American bicycle messenger was immediately sent to deliver the warning to General Walter Short, who was in charge of defending Pearl Harbor. The messenger was pedaling to Fort Shafter when, at 7:55 AM, the cyclist was caught in the attack. He finally delivered his message through falling bombs and bullets two hours later. The picture is obviously fake, but this story is true.

There’s no word on if this unnamed messenger received a tip for his services.

In other news: The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will disband at the end of this year.