Ellwood Beach Attacked During WWII 79 years ago
By edhat staff
Seventy-nine years ago today, the Ellwood Oil Field in Goleta was fired on by a Japanese submarine during World War II.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, seven Japanese submarines were seen patrolling the west coast where they sank two merchant ships and damaged six more.
President Roosevelt had scheduled a radio speech on February 23, 1942 concerning the Japanese government, the latter ordered a submarine to shell the California coast that same day.
Around 7:00 pm an Imperial Japanese Navy submarine came to a stop opposite the Ellwood field and aimed at a Richfield aviation fuel tank just beyond the beach. The Japanese vessel opened fire about 15 minutes later, the first rounds landing near a storage facility. The majority of the workers were gone for the day but a few on-site spotted a ship in the distance and called the police.
The Japanese shells destroyed a derrick and a pump house, while the Ellwood Pier and a catwalk suffered minor damage. After 20 minutes, the gunners ceased fire and the submarine sailed away. Estimates of the number of explosive shells fired ranged from a minimum of 12 to as many as 25.
The attack caused widespread panic and President Roosevelt ordered the internment of Asian-Americans just a week later through Executive Order 9066. From then until 1945, it was the policy of the U.S. government that people of Japanese descent would be interred in isolated camps.
Executive Order 9066 affected the lives of about 117,000 people, the majority of whom were American citizens. The Japanese internment camps are now considered one of the most atrocious violations of American civil rights in the 20th century.
For a more comprehensive report on this attack, read Tom Modugno's.
Detailed map of Ellwood and Ellwood Offshore Oil Field, showing location of Luton-Bell Well No. 17, damaged by Japanese shelling Feb 23, 1942 (source: wikipedia)
Sources: Wikipedia and Goleta History