Photos of the Pearl Harbor bombing donated to the Museum of the British Columbia Interior

A small but powerful collection of photographs depicting the December 7, 1941 bombardment of United States Navy battleships at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii is on display at the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin in Williams Lake.

One of the six photographs shows dozens of people jumping from a battleship after it was shelled and another shows a group of men standing outside the barracks watching the bombardment, including a man below -clothes.

The photographs and a photo enlarger belonged to the late Joe Fetters Sr. who moved to the Cariboo with his wife Louise, son Joseph Ernest Jr. and daughter Marla Anne in 1955.

Fetters Sr. died in December 2010 at the age of 95 and Louise on July 11, 2011 at the age of 93.

Joe Fetters Jr. and his wife Kathy discovered the photographs over the past two years and decided to donate the enlarger and reprints of the photographs to the museum.

“Dad mostly photographed flowers and landscapes, so we were surprised to find the Pearl Harbor photos,” said Fetters Jr., who lives with Kathy in the last house his parents owned in Russet Bluff.

Museum board chair Laura Zimmerman said the museum is grateful for the donation and is always grateful when community members donate items of historical value.

“We respect all veterans who served then and now,” Zimmeran said.

Joe Fetters Sr. was stationed as a civilian at Naval Station Pearl Harbor from 1941 until returning to the United States in 1944.

He was a welder, but also took pictures and enlarged them for the military to send home.

In an interview with the Tribune in 1994, he said that on the morning of the attack on December 7, 1941, they initially thought the low-flying aircraft was performing a friendly aircraft maneuver.

He set about going to breakfast after finishing a long night shift.

“At the first detonations, he and everyone else realized the planes overhead weren’t American. They all panicked,” the 1994 article noted. eruption when a nearby destroyer was hit directly and its magazine exploded.”

Only one of the nine battleships escaped without damage, Fetters Sr. told the reporter.

Fetters Sr. was born and raised near Ellensberg, WA. He and Louise met in high school and were married on January 1, 1944 while he was on a month’s leave from Pearl Harbor.

After the war, he started a timber business with his brother. Eventually, they moved their business to the Horsefly region of the Cariboo.

While her brother returned to Washington, Fetters Sr. and his family remained.

Eventually they moved to Williams Lake in 1960 and purchased the land known as Russet Bluff to develop a housing estate.

In a 2003 interview, Louise said her husband built all the roads and put in place the water system in Russet Bluff.

Fetters Jr. worked overseas as an engineer for many years and moved back to Williams Lake with Kathy in 1995 and they helped her parents with development and eventually finished it.

His sister Marla lives in Arizona.

The photograph enlarger ran on a generator at the Fetters’ home when they lived in Horsefly, he recalls. Regarding the Pearl Harbor photographs, Fetters Jr. said he wished he had asked his father more about that time in his life.

“He didn’t really talk about it.”

The Fetters also donated copies of the photographs to the Horsefly Museum.


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