Soviet Bt-7 tanks moving thought the streets of Moscow on the way to the front.

- Project 60: A Day-by-Day Diary of WWII - 

Remembering the First Fight Against Fascism

Japanese infantry storm ashore


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Pearl Harbor

Map Links: East Front Dec '41 - Feb '42 | North Africa Nov 41-July 43 | Japanese Expansion

December 7, 1941

Japanese forces launch a surprise attack on the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor. The US military forces are caught completely by surprise and suffer greatly. Two battleships, the  Arizona and Oklahoma are complete losses. All of the other battleships are damaged, some severely. Over 2700 were killed in the attack. Aircraft losses were 180. For more information see Bartcop's Pearl Harbor Special Edition.

Zhukov extends the counter-attack at Moscow, ordering the West Front to attack Guderian’s overextended 2nd Panzer Army in the Tula area.

German forces withdraw from the immediate vicinity of Tobruk and take up defensive positions around Gazala. The first siege of Tobruk ends.

Hitler issues the “Night and Fog Decree” which calls for the arrest and/or execution of people who “endanger German security.” They were to be spirited away into the night and fog so that even their relatives would not know where they went. Editor’s Note: Sound familiar to anyone?

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December 8, 1941  

The United States and Britain declare war on Japan. Joining the alliance against Japan were Canada, New Zealand, Free France, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and Panama.

A thousand volunteers were turned away from the Navy recruiting office in New York City because the staff did not have the facilities or time to process all that were wanting to join up.

Japanese bomber forces hit Clark Field in the Philippines, destroying half of the US aircraft available. Also struck were Hong Kong, Singapore, Wake, Midway and Guam.

Japanese forces land in Malaya and Thailand.

The British Task Force “Z” consisting of the battleship Prince of Wales and battle-cruiser  Repulse, leave Singapore to intercept the Japanese invasion fleet. A note on the Repulse’s wardroom wall read, “We are off to look for trouble. I expect we shall find it.”

Zhukov’s offensive at Moscow has expanded to include all three fronts on the Moscow axis. Heavy fighting is reported at Kalinin, Klin, Solnechnogorsk, Istra, Tula and Elets. Active and severe fighting was now going on over a front of 175 miles. Most advances were limited to a few miles but some units had penetrated up to 20 miles since the 5th. The attacks at Klin were particularly serious for that town was the nexus for all the communication and supply roads for 3rd Panzer Army. Its loss would be a catastrophe for the Germans.

10,000 Jews are marched out of the Riga Ghetto and taken to Rumbuli Forest where they are executed, completing the systematic execution of most Latvian Jews.

After contending with serious attacks by the Soviet 4th Army for several weeks, the 39th Panzer Corp at Tikhvin, withdraws, loosening the cordon around Leningrad.

Admiral Halsey entered Pearl Harbor with his carrier Enterprise. Upon seeing the extent of the destruction, Halsey said, "Before we're through with 'em, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell."

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December 9, 1941

Japanese forces occupy Bangkok after signing an agreement with the Thai government allowing Japanese troops right of passage.

Japanese forces land at Tarawa and Makin in the Gilbert Islands.

China, despite being at war with Japan for over a decade, makes a formal declaration of war on Japan, Germany and Italy. Cuba and South Africa declare war on Japan.

Hitler suspends his ban on U-boat operations and extends unlimited submarine warfare into US territorial waters. A declaration of war is still two days away.

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December 10, 1941

British Task Force Z, in a brave, but ultimately, foolhardy attempt to intercept the Japanese invasion force in Malaya is attacked and sunk by Japanese aircraft. Four torpedoes hit the battleship Prince of Wales. Fourteen torpedoes hit the battle cruiser Repulse. Both ships sink. This eliminated the British naval presence in the southwest Pacific. 2100 sailors survived the attacks while 700, including the task force commander Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, went down with their ships. This was the first time major capital ships were destroyed from the air in combat in the open seas.

The siege of Tobruk ends as Rommel withdraws the Afrika Korp to Gazala.

The 500-man garrison at Guam surrenders to the 6000 Japanese invaders.

In the Philippines, the US naval base at Cavite is destroyed by Japanese bombers. 4000 Japanese troops landed on the northern tip of Luzon.

The German spy Karel Richter, is executed in Wandsworth Prison by the British.

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December 11, 1941

Germany and Italy declare war on the United States, thus ending one of the more difficult political dilemmas for Roosevelt (how to get into the European war).

A Japanese landing force attempted to capture Wake Island. Nine enemy ships closed to bombard the American positions. The US forces gamely held fire until the enemy closed to point blank range and opened fire. The Japanese destroyer Hayate was sunk and three other ships were damaged. The invasion force withdrew. US planes took to the skies and sunk the destroyer Kisaragi before the Japanese made good their escape. This was the only time in the war that a major amphibious attack failed.

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December 12, 1941

A 2500-man Japanese force lands at Legaspi in southern Luzon.

The “Flying Tigers”, the US volunteer group lead by Claire Chennault, moves from  China to Burma to assist that nation in defending against the Japanese who were already infiltrating forces across the boarder from Thailand.

The Finns complete their campaign against the Russians by destroying two divisions south of Medvezhyegorsk in the Karelia peninsula. The Finns went over to the strategic defense and for all practical purposes contributed nothing further to the Nazi war effort.

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December 13, 1941

Soviet forces open a fresh set of attacks as Timoshenko’s Southwest Front attacks at Telets and Livny. The attacks split the 2nd Panzer Army and 2nd Army apart forcing both to withdraw in haste

Japanese air raids in the Philippines all but destroy the last US aircraft available to the island’s defenders.

The British 8th Army launches heavy attacks against Rommel’s Afrika Korp near Gazala. The fighting is inconclusive and casualties are heavy.

The US Department of Justice announces that 595 Japanese and 187 German alien residents have been interned. This would be followed-up by thousands more in time and begin one of the most shameful chapters in US history.

The Italians, desperate to support their forces in Libya, dispatch a convoy consisting of the cruisers Da Bardiano and Di Diguissano. The ships are engaged by 3 British and one Dutch destroyer. The cruisers are quickly dispatched as their decks were covered with barrels of diesel and aviation fuel intended for Rommel in North Africa.

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December 14, 1941

Hitler, incensed at the retreats of his army, begins interfering with tactical deployments of the eastern armies and begins to countermand withdrawal orders from the field commanders.

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December 15, 1941

Russian forces capture Klin and Istra as the Soviet winter offensive continues to roll back the Germans around Moscow.

British attacks on the Gazala line succeed in convincing Rommel to withdraw from the Cyrenaica.

The British cruiser Galatea is torpedoed by U-557 and sinks off Alexandria.

The few surviving B-17s in the Philippines are withdrawn to Australia.

The Japanese, after attempting to secure the surrender of the British forces at Hong Kong, begin an artillery and aerial bombardment of the besieged island.

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December 16, 1941

Japanese forces land at Sarawak and Brunei in Borneo. Landings are also made on the eastern coast of Malaya on Penang Island.

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December 17, 1941

British and Indian troops in northern Malaya begin to retreat as Japanese forces press their forward in the Penang area.

Manstien’s 11th Army launches major attacks against the Crimean fortress city of Sevastopol.

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December 18, 1941

Hitler accepts the resignation of Field marsh von Brauchitsch as head of the OKH and takes personal command of the eastern armies. He immediately relieves the highly capable von Bock replaces him with the unimaginative but obedient lap dog von Kluge as commander of Army Group Center.

Japanese forces, supported by heavy artillery fire, land on Hong Kong island.


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December 19, 1941

In a daring raid, Italian frogmen penetrate the defenses of the port of Alexandria. They are able to plant charges on the British battleships Queen Elizabeth and Valiant. Queen Elizabeth sank in shallow water, but was able to be re-floated and repaired. Valiant was heavily damaged. Both ships were out of action until 1944.

The British take Dema from Rommel as the British 8th Army continues to advance in Libya.

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December 20, 1941

Joseph Gobbles (Ed. Note – the Karl Rove of Nazi Germany) makes a nation wide radio broadcast appealing for winter clothing for the soldiers on the eastern front.

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Those wishing to contribute items. stories or comments should contact D.A. Friedrichs

Editor's Corner 

The items found in this section are comments from the editors of Project 60 and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of bartcop.

War, Glory, Honor and Remembrance

War is a brutal and savage insult on human society. For nations it is the destruction of the resources needed for the enrichment of its citizens. For families, it is the loss of loved ones and the horrors held by the survivors. For the individual, it is the loss of precious time and ultimately, life itself.

There is no honor or glory in war. The sacrifice of a generation of humans cannot be seen in anyway to be glorious. Platitudes like “just cause” and “noble purpose” are meaningless to the person whose body has been blown to bits. If there is honor, it is in survival. If there is glory it is returning to your families, friends and community.

What we, the people who did not have to experience war, must do, is remember those who gave so much for our freedom. We must redouble our efforts so that their sacrifice is not in vane, so tyranny will not threaten our world again, so no more young men and women of any nation, need be surrendered to the insanity of war again.

D. A. Friedrichs

Previous Columns

Want to Win - Think Before You Lash Out - "If we are serious about taking the war to the enemy, it is time to look ..."

The First Fight Against Fascism - We must remember the Spanish Civil War also.

Arguing Victory - "... Each nation who fought against fascist tyranny in WWII brought with it part of whole needed to defeat that evil..." 

War, Glory, Honor and Remembrance - "War is a brutal and savage insult on human society..."

The First Casualty... in time of war, those in power are even more inclined to hide the truth, since that truth is often manifest in the most gruesome and terrible acts.  


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