A man from Dundee left for the United States and a better life, but saw his son killed in Pearl Harbor

Robert Adair Anderson was only 21 when he was killed in Pearl Harbor.

He died on the aging battleship which for many has become the symbol of the whole event.

Arizona’s foredeck was hit by a 1,760-pound bomb that set off a massive explosion and the ship burned down for two and a half days.

Smoke rises from the battleship USS Arizona as it sinks in a Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

Robert’s father, James Clark Anderson, was a commercial carpenter from Dundee and the son of a thread launderer whose parents were married in Brechin in 1862.

He was one of nine million people who immigrated to America between 1830 and 1930.

He went to start a new life in Kansas City, Missouri, with his English wife, Josephine.

By 1941, the military situation across Europe was becoming increasingly desperate for the Allies, and the dark clouds of war cast their shadow further.

Robert was the fourth of the couple’s five children and joined the United States Navy at the age of 19 in 1939 and was posted to Arizona as a Third Class Gunners Mate.

A report said that in a letter to his family, Robert wrote that he hoped to be home for Christmas, “to see the whole family again before something happened that would take me away for a long time.”

It was not to be.

I am a very proud mother of the navy to have had a son who gave his life for his country. “

Robert Anderson’s mother, Josephine

On December 7, 1941, a surprise attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii triggered the United States’ entry into World War II.

Just before 8 a.m. local time, an assault involving more than 350 Japanese planes led by Mitsuo Fuchida, launched from a fleet of aircraft carriers.

They were supported by a number of submarines, each carrying a miniature submarine with a crew of only two whose task it was to stop the American battleships leaving Pearl Harbor and reaching the open sea where they would have a margin of maneuver.

Fuchida fired a rocket from the cockpit of his plane, the signal that triggered the attack that would claim the lives of more than 2,300 US servicemen.

With no US planes in the air, Fuchida’s squadrons flew unchallenged and the carnage began as the meticulously planned attack targeted ships and planes on the ground.

The US Air Force believed the greatest threat to their aircraft on the ground was sabotage of Japanese nationals and had their planes grouped together so that they could be easily guarded, but this made them vulnerable to air attack.

The Japanese took full advantage of it.

Figures vary, but according to the Imperial War Museum, 18 US warships were sunk or damaged and 188 planes destroyed in an attack that lasted less than two hours.

Anderson’s ship, Arizona, was hit within minutes.

Although heavily armored and classified as a “super-dreadnought,” the 185-meter vessel was older, having been launched in 1915.

Suffering three near misses and four direct hits from 800 kg bombs, the last bomb penetrated his bridge and exploded in a powder magazine.

The massive explosion caused the ship to “jump” about 15 feet into the water before it shattered in half and collapsed on its forecastle decks, creating a cavity so huge its turrets forward and its turret fell 30 feet into its hull, killing 1,177 of them. crew.

Despite the catastrophic damage to Arizona, the vessel’s damage control officer, Lieutenant-Commander Fuqua, remained at his post to lead the rescue efforts.

He then received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the attack.

Japanese forces looked home, but more importantly, much of the port’s infrastructure and supply systems remained intact.

Congress statement

The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress, describing the disaster as “a date that will live in infamy.”

America was at war.

Just six months after Pearl Harbor, America caused irreparable damage to the Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway in June 1942.

However, the war between the Allies and Japan will last until 1945.

Today, the Pearl Harbor area is a designated National Historic Landmark and in 2016 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the site and offered “his sincere and everlasting condolences” to the victims of the attack.

Robert Anderson will always be remembered.

Robert, along with some 900 of his shipmates, remains entombed in the Arizona hull and a memorial in his honor has been placed in Mount Moriah Cemetery in his hometown of Kansas City.

As the war continued, Robert’s mother honored her son’s legacy.

In October 1942, the Kansas City Times reported that a tree would be planted in Robert’s memory, while the Kansas City Star informed its readers that Mrs. Anderson had received the Purple Heart Medal which had been awarded posthumously to her son.

Perhaps most poignantly, the American War Mothers, an organization formed during World War I, rallied to support the next generation of mothers whose children went to war.

After a meeting of American Mothers of War, Anderson said: “I am a very proud Navy Mother to have had a son who gave his life for her country.”

In 1944, a number of newspapers published an image of Mrs. Anderson receiving an autographed copy of the song “Remember Pearl Harbor” from band leader and songwriter Sammy Kaye.

Robert’s name has survived thanks to his niece Roberta Bloch, who was named in his honor.

The attack continues to fascinate historians and military tacticians and has been the subject of numerous books, films and documentaries.

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