December 1941

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The following events occurred in December 1941:

December 1, 1941 (Monday)[edit]

December 2, 1941 (Tuesday)[edit]

December 3, 1941 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Erwin Rommel's assault toward the garrisons at Bardia, Sallum and Halfaya Pass was repulsed by the Allies.[2]
  • The Japanese carrier fleet tasked with the Pearl Harbor attack began approaching the Hawaiian Islands with increased speed.[2]
  • U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull gave a press conference expressing a pessimistic view of U.S.-Japan relations, saying that the months of discussions to this point had never reached a stage where actual negotiations toward a peaceful settlement could take place.[8]
  • China Radio International was founded.
  • The first issue of the Chicago Sun (later merged with another paper to become the Chicago Sun-Times) was published.[10]
  • Died: Christian Sinding, 85, Norwegian composer

December 4, 1941 (Thursday)[edit]

December 5, 1941 (Friday)[edit]

  • Britain declared war on Finland, Hungary and Romania.[13]
  • Japan responded to Roosevelt's inquiry of December 2 by saying that foreign reports of the number of Japanese troops in French Indochina were exaggerated and the troop concentrations were in full accord with the agreement between Tokyo and Vichy.[14]
  • War Secretary Henry L. Stimson said during a press conference that those responsible for the previous day's leaking of American war plans were "wanting in loyalty and patriotism." Stimson also offered a statement asking, "What would you think of an American general staff which in the present condition of the world did not investigate and study every conceivable type of emergency which may confront this country and every possible method of meeting that emergency?"[15] The White House made no other comment on the matter and it would quickly be forgotten about after the events of December 7.[11][12]
  • German submarine U-175 was commissioned.

December 6, 1941 (Saturday)[edit]

  • President Roosevelt wrote a personal appeal to Emperor Hirohito to avoid war between the United States and Japan. "Developments are occurring in the Pacific area which threaten to deprive each of our Nations and all humanity of the beneficial influence of the long peace between our two countries." the president wrote. "Those developments contain tragic possibilities ... I address myself to Your Majesty at this moment in the fervent hope that Your Majesty may, as I am doing, give thought in this definite emergency to ways of dispelling the dark clouds. I am confident that both of us, for the sake of the peoples not only of our own great countries but for the sake of humanity in neighboring territories, have a sacred duty to restore traditional amity and prevent further death and destruction in the world."[16]
  • Finnish II Corps and Group "O" captured Medvezhyegorsk.[1]
  • The British submarine HMS Perseus struck a mine and sank in the Ionian Sea off Cephalonia.
  • SS Greenland hit a mine and was sunk in the North Sea near Lowestoft with the loss of nine men.
  • Born:

December 7, 1941 (Sunday)[edit]

  • The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:55 a.m. Hawaiian Time.[17] 21 American ships and over 300 aircraft were sunk or damaged and 2,418 Americans were killed. Japan lost 29 planes in return.[18]
  • Japan declared war on the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.[19]
  • The Japanese midget submarine HA. 19 ran aground and was scuttled at Oahu. Eventually Americans retrieved the sub and Kazuo Sakamaki became the first Japanese prisoner of war to be captured by American forces.
  • The Niihau incident began when Japanese pilot Shigenori Nishikaichi crash-landed his damaged A6M2 Zero on the Hawaiian island of Niihau after participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The local Hawaiians, who were as yet unaware of the attack and could not communicate with Nishikaichi, sent in succession for two locals of Japanese ancestry who agreed to help the pilot to retrieve his papers and escape.
  • Winston Churchill was dining at Chequers, the country house of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, with the American diplomats John Gilbert Winant and W. Averell Harriman when the news of the Pearl Harbor attack arrived. Churchill realized that the United States would now enter the war and that Britain would no longer have to fight alone. He later wrote of that night, "Being saturated and satiated with emotion and sensation, I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful."[20]
  • One hour after the Japanese attack, Australian Prime Minister John Curtin announced that "from one hour ago, Australia has been at war with the Japanese Empire." War would be formally declared two days later.[21]
  • The Japanese conducted the First Bombardment of Midway, killing four and wounding 10.
  • Canada declared war on Finland, Hungary, Japan and Romania.[22]
  • Panama declared war on Japan.[19]
  • Hitler issued the Nacht und Nebel ("Night and Fog") decree, targeting political dissidents for disappearances.
  • Realizing that success on the Tobruk front was unlikely at this time, Erwin Rommel pulled his forces 10 miles back toward the Gazala line.[2]
  • German submarine U-208 was sunk off Gibraltar by depth charges from the British destroyers Harvester and Hesperus.
  • German forces withdrew from Tikhvin.[1]
  • Born: Melba Pattillo Beals, journalist and member of the Little Rock Nine, in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Died: Isaac C. Kidd, 57, American admiral and posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor (killed in the Pearl Harbor attack)

December 8, 1941 (Monday)[edit]

December 9, 1941 (Tuesday)[edit]

December 10, 1941 (Wednesday)[edit]

December 11, 1941 (Thursday)[edit]

December 12, 1941 (Friday)[edit]

December 13, 1941 (Saturday)[edit]

  • The Battle of Cape Bon was fought off Cape Bon, Tunisia. The Italian cruisers Alberico da Barbiano and Alberto da Giussano were sunk and the Allies took no losses in return.
  • The Battle of Jitra ended in Japanese victory.
  • New Zealand and Indian troops attacked the Gazala Line in Libya but were halted by German tanks.[2]
  • Hungary declared war on the United States.[37]
  • Great Britain, New Zealand and South Africa declared war on Bulgaria.[19]
  • Honduras declared war on Germany and Italy.[19]
  • The Niihau incident ended with the death of Shigenori Nishikaichi in a struggle with people on the island and the suicide of one of his confederates, Yoshio Harada. The incident may have influenced the U.S. government's decision to intern Japanese Americans during the war, out of a belief that American citizens of Japanese ancestry might aid Japan.
  • Between 4,000 and 6,000 people were killed in Huaraz, Peru when a glacier partially collapsed into a nearby lake and triggered a moraine landslide.[38][39]
  • Born: John Davidson, singer, actor and television host, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

December 14, 1941 (Sunday)[edit]

December 15, 1941 (Monday)[edit]

  • Soviet forces captured Klin, northwest of Moscow.[26]
  • The largest of the Liepāja massacres began in Latvia. From this date through December 17 a total of 2,731 Jews and 23 communists were massacred by the Nazis.
  • The British 4th Armoured Brigade arrived at Bir Halegh el Eleba where they planned to outflank the Axis forces.[2]
  • German submarine U-127 was depth charged and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean by the Australian destroyer HMAS Nestor.
  • German submarines U-176 and U-216 were commissioned.
  • The British cargo ship Empire Barracuda was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean by the German submarine U-77.
  • The site of the Rose Bowl Game was transferred from Pasadena, California to Durham, North Carolina.[41]
  • The radio program We Hold These Truths was aired live, the first program broadcast on all four major U.S. radio networks simultaneously. The hour-long special commemorated the 150th anniversary of the United States Bill of Rights which was ratified on December 15, 1791.

December 16, 1941 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The Battle of Gurun ended in Japanese victory.
  • The Battle of Borneo began.
  • The Czechoslovak government-in-exile declared war on all countries at war with the United States, Britain and the USSR.[19]
  • Axis forces began to fall back to El Agheila, moving too quickly for the British 4th Armoured Brigade to outflank their retreat.[2]
  • Hitler called on the German troops of the Eastern Front to mount "fanatical resistance" and prohibited any retreat around Moscow.[42]
  • Japanese battleship Yamato was commissioned.
  • German submarine U-557 was accidentally rammed and sunk by the Italian torpedo boat Orione west of Crete.
  • Brześć Ghetto was created in Nazi-occupied Poland.
  • Born: Lesley Stahl, television journalist, in Lynn, Massachusetts

December 17, 1941 (Wednesday)[edit]

December 18, 1941 (Thursday)[edit]

December 19, 1941 (Friday)[edit]

December 20, 1941 (Saturday)[edit]

December 21, 1941 (Sunday)[edit]

December 22, 1941 (Monday)[edit]

December 23, 1941 (Tuesday)[edit]

December 24, 1941 (Wednesday)[edit]

December 25, 1941 (Thursday)[edit]

December 26, 1941 (Friday)[edit]

December 27, 1941 (Saturday)[edit]

December 28, 1941 (Sunday)[edit]

December 29, 1941 (Monday)[edit]

December 30, 1941 (Tuesday)[edit]

December 31, 1941 (Wednesday)[edit]


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