Burning Ships at Pearl Harbour. Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

By Ben Wheeler

THE HORROR of the Pearl Harbour attack has been laid bare after photos of the event were brought to life in colour, coinciding with anniversary of the assault on the US naval base.

Among the images are the sinking wreckages of the USS California and USS Oklahoma, with military personnel watching on from a vantage point in the foreground as their terrified colleagues desperately flee the vessels in the distance.

Others show dramatic blasts and blazes as several battleships and fighter jets billow with smoke after being hit by the Japanese aerial bombardment.

USS West Virgina. Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com


The photographs are the work of Cardiff-based British electrician, Royston Leonard (55), who painstakingly brought them into the 21st century.

“The photos show what was an island at peace hit by the horror of war,” he said.

“They are a reminder that no matter how much you want peace it can be taken in a moment.

USS Main. Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com


“I’ve been colourising pictures of Pearl Harbour for quite some time now, it’s a project that’s been ongoing for over three years now.

“I think the key message to take from the photos is to never take peace for granted and always be ready.

“If they had been ready at Pearl Harbour the loss of people and equipment might’ve been less.”

Damaged USS California and USS Oklahoma. Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com


Pearl Harbour is a US Naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii, near the centre of the Pacific Ocean, roughly 2,000 miles from the U.S mainland and about 4,000 miles from Japan.

Just before 8 a.m on the morning of Sunday 7 December, 1941, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the base, where they managed to destroy or damage nearly 20 American naval vessels and over 300 aiplanes.

More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack, including civilians, with another 1,000 people wounded. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked congress to declare war on Japan.

Striking images like these are featured in British author Michael D. Carroll’s new book, Retrographic on the colourisation of historical images.

For more information visit: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Retrographic-Historys-Exciting-Images-Transformed/dp/1908211504