Most people studying history are aware of the fact that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on 7 December 1941, resulting in the United States entering World War II. A little known fact is that the Japanese also made another attack on the mainland of the United States, shelling an area near Santa Barbara, California.
Events leading to attack
The events leading to the attack actually started out in the late 1930s when a Japanese ship docked in the small city of Santa Barbara, California, 60 miles up the coast from Los Angeles. It is uncertain if the ship stopped in Santa Barbara to get crude oil that had been drilled from one of the off-shore wells on either side of the city or to load or unload cargo.
While in port, the captain of the ship was given a tour of the sights in Santa Barbara. As the captain was admiring some scenery on a hillside, he backed up and lost his footing. He fell backwards into a bed of cactus!
His guests burst into laughter at his misfortune. The captain did not understand the American sense of humor and felt that he was being ridiculed by these people. He had lost face because of his accident, and he vowed to get revenge on Americans and on Santa Barbara.
Sub shells coast
After war was declared between Japan and the United States, the freighter captain entered the Japanese navy as a submarine commander. On 23 February 1942, he brought his submarine close to the California coast. He knew of the oil fields near Santa Barbara, which had strategic importance in the war. But he also felt that his was his opportunity to get revenge on the rude Americans who had humiliated him so.
The captain surfaced his submarine near an oil field pier just north of the Santa Barbara suburb of Goleta. The submarine shelled the pier, damaging it. He also ordered shelling of the area around, but no damage was done, since it was primarily farmland there.
Since very few people lived in the area of the pier, no one was injured.
But the captain gained his revenge.
Results of shelling
The shelling of the pier had minimal--if any--impact on the American war effort. On 1 March 1942, the headlines of the Santa Barbara newspaper and the San Francisco Chronicle announced the attack.