1941 – Pearl Harbor

Cecil Hodgson’s brother Aubrey had died. It had shocked the whole family. Mabel was running and working at her mothers shop at Belle Vue. The wealth of the Hodgson’s was in decline.

Emigration To America Before World War 2

Since Ida Mae and Maurice had emigrated to New York in 1923 & 1924, America had brought in measures to block the entry of black people into the country. The introduction of ‘The Immigration act of 1924’ drastically reduced Caribbean immigration into the United States.

In 1924, the year Maurice went to America, there was 10,630 Caribbean’s who moved to America. But the following year 1925, that figured dropped massively to only 321 Caribbean people going to the States. The Immigration act of 1924 was primarily aimed at restricting non white and Southern and Eastern European immigration.

The new law had stipulated that an immigration quota system of only 2% of foreign-born people were to be allowed to settle. Those from the British Caribbean were only allowed under a very small quota.

Jamaica 1937 – 1939

Before world war broke out in 1941, there had been riots and unrest in Jamaica over the lack of food, work and social conditions. Unemployment was high. When the war actually started, it had a big effect on food distribution everywhere. German submarines were attacking ships that were delivering food stocks.


There were many family members either living or spending time at Southfield Pen. It was a central hub for all the family. Everyone was there;



Maurice’s Jamaican born son, Maurice Vincent Hodgson (Vin)

Aubrey’s children, Valdie, Rennie, Cissy, Clinton and the youngest child.

Linton’s children Astley and Myrtle were there

Leslie’s children, Ralph, Ainsley and Shirley

Mae and Maurice would also come over from America to visit.

It was time for the elders to move away from Southfield to find work. Cecil had already been and gone, finding temporary work in Central America working on the construction of the Panama canal. He came back to Southfield.

c1940. Cecil Employed On The Panama Canal (note the Panama hat)

Everyone wanted to go to America but could not get in because of the heavy restrictions. But things were about to take a sudden turn.

Japan And America

For many decades, Japan and America had often been on the brink of war. In 1937 – before World War 2 started – Japan had declared war on China. The United States were unhappy with Japan’s attitude towards China. The Japanese believed that the only way they could solve their own economic and demographic issues was to expand into China’s territory and take over it’s import market.

The American’s reacted to Japan’s aggression with economic sanctions and trade embargoes. America believed that without access to money and goods, and especially essential supplies like oil, Japan would have to calm down and rein in its expansionism.

America got it wrong. Instead, the sanctions made the Japanese more determined to stand their ground. During months of negotiations between Tokyo and Washington, neither side would budge. It seemed that war was all but inevitable.

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Pearl Harbor, located near the center of the Pacific Ocean, was far away, roughly 2,000 miles from the U.S. mainland and about 4,000 miles from Japan.

America believed that the Japanese would not start a war with an attack on the distant islands of Hawaii.

Additionally, American intelligence officials were confident that any Japanese attack would take place in one of the nearby European colonies in the South Pacific: the Dutch East Indies, Singapore or Indochina.

Because American military leaders were not expecting an attack so close to home, the naval facilities at Pearl Harbor were relatively undefended. Almost the entire Pacific Fleet was moored around the harbor, and hundreds of airplanes were squeezed onto adjacent airfields.

To the Japanese, Pearl Harbor was an irresistibly easy target. The Japanese plan was simple: Destroy the Pacific Fleet. That way, the Americans would not be able to fight back as Japan’s armed forces spread across the South Pacific.

Japanese Attack

December 7th 1941 – After months of planning and practice, the Japanese launched their attack. At about 8 a.m., Japanese planes filled the sky over Pearl Harbor. Bombs and bullets rained onto the vessels moored below. At 8:10, a 1,800-pound bomb smashed through the deck of the battleship USS Arizona. The ship exploded and sank with more than 1,000 men trapped inside.

Pearl Harbor Attack 1941

Next, torpedoes pierced the shell of the battleship USS Oklahoma. With 400 sailors aboard, the Oklahoma lost her balance, rolled onto her side and slipped underwater.

By the time the attack was over, every battleship in Pearl Harbor – USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, USS California, USS West Virginia, USS Utah, USS Maryland, USS Pennsylvania, USS Tennessee and USS Nevada – had sustained significant damage.

The Japanese attack crippled or destroyed nearly 20 American ships and more than 300 airplanes. Dry docks and airfields were destroyed. 2,403 sailors, soldiers and civilians were killed and about 1,000 people were wounded.

But the Japanese had failed to cripple the Pacific Fleet. Although battleships were very important in a war, they were no longer the most important naval vessel – Aircraft carriers were. At the time of the attack, all of the Pacific Fleet’s aircraft carriers were away from the base.

The Japanese attack had failed to destroy the base’s most vital facilities – oil storage depots, repair shops, shipyards and submarine docks. As a result, the U.S. Navy was able to recover relatively quickly from the attack.

The next day, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

He went on to say,

“No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory. I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.”

United States Enter World War 2

After the Pearl Harbor attack, and for the first time during years of discussion and debate, the American people were united in their determination to go to war.

The Japanese had wanted to goad the United States into an agreement to lift the economic sanctions against them; instead, they had pushed their adversary into a global conflict that ultimately resulted in Japan’s first occupation by a foreign power.

Congress approved Roosevelt’s declaration of war on Japan. More than two years after the start of World War II, the United States had entered the conflict.

Three days later, Japan’s allies Germany and Italy declared war against the United States.

After the United States entered World War 2 in 1941, large scale Caribbean Immigration was restored in America after It had been operating on a small quota basis for the last 16 years.

“Mae and Maurice would have been joined straight away by the rest of their family had America not stopped black people going there. Pearl Harbor is part of our story. Once America entered the war, they reached out for cheap labour – Jamaican Labour. This gave our family the chance to become American Citizens”

“We should all have been American’s” Robert Roy Hodgson


Dont forget to keep checking Latest News

Coming Next

Tuesday: Farm School

Thursday: War Food

Next Sunday: American Farmer

TBA: The Family Mourns

TBA: Wars End




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