A little past noon the droning of numerous
aircraft engines was heard, followed by an air-raid siren. Marines
rushed to the veranda of the Marine Barracks and watched 54 aircraft
in three large "V" formations approach. All eyes in the Yard were
focused on the aircraft which were widely assumed to be Army Air
Corps. The first suspicious sign was a dogfight below the formation.
Someone then yelled, "Look at those leaflets come down." Almost in
unison, many voices yelled out, "leaflets, hell — they're bombs!"
The naval base was rocked by the first bombs striking the ground.
Marines, sailors, and civilians crouched under the nearest cover
with no formal shelters available.
The first stick of bombs hit the water, as did most
of the second, but the rest of the bombs criss-crossed the Navy Yard
and small fires began to spread among the wreckage. The Marines of
Battery E, on top of the Naval Ammunition Depot, opened fire as
bombs hit first on one side of their building and then on the other,
splashing mud and water over them. Private First Class Leslie R.
Scoggin called out the plotting data for the nearby battery, but
found the aircraft were flying above 23,000 feet, far above the
range of the battery. Luckily, no bombs actually hit the depot.
Photo: National Archives
Photo SC 130991