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December 6th, 1941 (SATURDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: London: Britain today reluctantly declared war on the country which, only two years ago, she was planning to defend. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, Finnish forces joined in; for the past five months Britain has been appealing to the Finns to withdraw.

Stalin recently stepped up the pressure on Britain to declare war on Hitler's three little satellites, Finland, Hungary and Romania. They were given a deadline, which expires at midnight.

Though Finland now becomes an enemy, the hundreds of Finnish merchant seamen serving aboard British ships will be offered the opportunity of remaining in service or being interned. 150 Finns are  arrested. Other Finns, along with Hungarian and Romanian nationals, have been ordered to report to the police. Those regarded as unreliable will be sent to internment camps.

The governments of Canada, India and New Zealand also declare war.

Submarine HMS Tempest commissioned.

FRANCE: Paris: Boulevard Péreire. Lt. Rohl wounded by a pistol shot.

FINLAND: Today, on Finland's 24th Independence Day, United Kingdom and Dominions declare war on Finland, Hungary and Romania.

By this date the Finnish advance in eastern Karelia is about to stop. The battle for town of Karhumäki (Medvezjegorsk, on northern shore of Lake Onega) is almost finished, and after the battle the Finnish troops dig into defence. The men are very war-weary; there has already been several instances of troops refusing the orders to advance. The men fighting in eastern Karelia feel they've been treated unfairly: the troops in Karelian Isthmus has been in defence for almost three months now, whereas they has been advancing and fighting the whole time. After the capture of Karhumäki the Finns are in defence all along the front, and the front-line will remain the same until June 1944. The Finnish leadership, already sensing the possibility of German defeat, adopt 'wait and see' policy, hoping in the event of Soviet victory to use the territories captured east of the pre-1939 border to bargain better terms for peace.

U.S.S.R.: A major Soviet counteroffensive kicks off along the Moscow front. Stretching 500 miles from Lake Ilmen in the north to west of Lipetsk in the south. Zhukov is in overall command of the effort which includes the North-West Front, the Kalinin Front, the West Front and the South-West Front and 20 Armies. He has planned the attack. Rokossovsky and Kuznetsov are among his subordinate commanders. The overextended and weakened German defenders will be unable to hold and forced to fall back.

The army was gathered together under great secrecy and they have won a stunning victory against the exhausted, frozen Germans.

Only four days ago, a German reconnaissance battalion mounted on motor cycles drove into the northern suburbs, only 12 miles from the Kremlin. It was pushed out by hastily-armed workers rushed to the spot. Some German tanks in another sector came within sight of Moscow's spires. This was to be the high tide of the Nazi assault.

Tonight the Germans are being driven back all along the front as the Red Army attempts to encircle the whole of the German 4th Army as it stands before Moscow. The Russians, well equipped and well fed, are advancing against an enemy ravaged by continuous fighting, shortage of supplied and the extreme cold.

The Germans do not have the correct oil in their tanks to cope with this weather and are lighting fires under the engines of to start them. Their frozen machine guns are refusing to fire on automatic and their men are in full retreat.

They are being hampered by Russian ski troops, T34 tanks and Ilyushin I-62s, the armoured assault planes which are doing to the German army what the Stukas did to the Poles and the French. In the north, the Germans are retreating along the single road through Klin, abandoning their heavy equipment. In the first day's fighting General Lelyshenko's 30th Army has advanced some 11 miles in this sector.

To the south, the defenders of Tula have turned into attackers, emerging from their strong points to strike at Guderian's tanks. A gap has opened between Guderian and von Kluge's 4th Army which General Zhukov is trying to exploit.  The story is the same all along the 500-mile front from Kalinin in the north to Yelets in the south. The Red Army is inflicting on the Wehrmacht  its first great defeat. It is not being done without cost. The Russians are too eager to go over to the attack, and many of their assaults are made frontally against German strong points. Their casualties are very high and General Zhukov has issued a directive calling for outflanking tactics.

The counter-assault before Moscow is not the Red Army's only success. It has driven the Germans out of the ruins of Tikhvin, the supply town south-east of Leningrad, and re-opened the precarious route to Lake Ladoga where lorries run the gauntlet of the ice.

BLACK SEA: Soviet submarine SC-204 believed lost to Bulgarian ASW activity near Cape Emine.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The British submarine HMS Perseus is sunk by a mine; one survivor escapes from a depth of 170 feet and swims ten miles to shore.

The loss of the RN submarine, HMS Perseus on an unknown date in very late December 1941, attributed to contact with Royal Italian Naval forces, probably a submarine, was based on Mediterranean Fleet intelligence estimates. However, these estimates came into question in 1943 when the then 33 year old Leading Stoker John Capes showed up at Alexandria via the British consulate in Turkey, claiming to be a survivor of His Majesties Submarine Perseus.

He stated that the ship had been mined on the night of 6/7 December 1941, and that it sank in 170 feet of water with the stern section holding air. He had been in the Petty Officer Stokers mess with several others at the moment of the mining sharing a bottle of rum. He and three others made it into the stern section alive, sealed it off, and after coming to rest on the sea floor in pitch darkness, donned their DESA escape gear and commenced flooding the after spaces in preparation to making a free ascent escape.

All four left the submarine, with Capes being last. Before departing, he polished off the remaining rum, and then left through the after escape hatch. He came to the surface alone and then was faced with swimming 7-9 miles to Keffalonia.

He did so, met up with Greek partisans, and then spent 20 months with them before successfully reaching Turkey. The other three survivors of the mining did not make it to the surface alive, most probably due to a failure to exhale completely throughout the ascent, which was made, as it turned out, from 20 feet deeper than it was though possible.

To say that Capes story was thought to been overly remarkable by many is an understatement. Many did not believe it, nor did they believe Capes was, in fact, himself, though those making those conclusions had to admit that, the crew list being classified, it was unlikely an imposter could have come up with the facts he had. None the less, his statements concerning the location of the sinking did not jive with Admiralty estimates, and many considered him a fraud to the day he died.

However, in 1996, Greek divers located HMS Perseus on the ocean floor, exactly where Capes said it would be. It was in 170 feet of water, and the rear escape hatch was open. Upon looking into the open hatch, the divers clearly saw on the floor below the rum bottle emptied by Capes just before his departure. All of this was photographed. Though Capes had been dead for some 15 years when the sub was discovered, it can truly be said that he had the last laugh on those that doubted his story. It is probably the single most remarkable survival story to come out of WW II. (Mark Horan)

JAPAN: The Foreign Office sends the following message to the Embassy in Washington, D.C.: "(1) The Government has deliberated deeply on the American proposal of the 26th of November and as a result we have drawn up a memorandum for the United States contained in my separate message #902. (2) This separate message is a very long one. I will send it in fourteen parts and I imagine you will receive it tomorrow. However, I am not sure. The situation is extremely delicate, and when you receive it I want you to please keep it secret for the time being. (3) Concerning the time of presenting this memorandum to the United States, I will wire you in a separate message. However, I want you in the meantime to put it in nicely drafted form and make every preparation to present it to the Americans just as soon as you receive instructions." The first 13 parts are sent today; the 14th is sent tomorrow.

COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: Hart informs Phillips, when MacArthur      "> MacArthur suggests that he remain in Manila and have a formal reception there, that Phillips ought to return to Singapore immediately if "you want to see your ships again" as war was imminent. Phillips returns to Singapore in the afternoon.
MacArthur orders Brereton to disperse aircraft "as well as possible", to man all stations full-time, and to increase airfield guards and off-shore patrols.
Hart orders Destroyer Division 57 from Balikpapan to Singapore and for it to operate under Phillips’ orders. (Marc Small)

Two B-17Cs and 14 B-17Ds arrive at Del Monte Field, Mindanao and since they are expected to only stay three days, they bring very few supplies. None of the barracks have been completed and there are not enough tents to house the air crew so many sleep in their planes. Radio communication with Luzon consists of high frequency radio which is sporadic at best. The only thing the PX has to offer is a single brand of beer called "San Miguel Beer for Convalescent Mothers."


CAROLINE ISLANDS: Two Japanese units depart the Palau Islands to participate in the invasion of the Philippine Islands:

  - The Japanese South Philippines Cover Unit under Rear Admiral TAKAGI Takeo consists of the small aircraft carrier HIJMS Ryujo, heavy cruisers HIJMS Myoko and Nachi, the light cruiser HIJMS Jinstu and seven destroyers. Aircraft from this force will attack Mindanao Island, Philippine Islands, on 8 December.

  - The North Philippines Cover Unit under Vice Admiral TAKASHASHI I. consisting of the heavy cruisers HIJMS Haguro and Mayo, the light cruiser HIJMS Kuma. These ships will be 200 miles (322 kilometers) west of Luzon on 8 December.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Three Japanese Navy submarines of the Interdiction Unit, Wake Invasion Group, South Seas Force, depart Kwajalein Atoll for Wake Island. They arrive off Wake on 10 December.

PACIFIC OCEAN: At 1215 hours in the South China Sea, an Australian Hudson Mk. I of No. 1 Squadron RAAF based at Kota Bharu in northeastern Malaya, sights three Japanese ships about 161 nautical miles (298 kilometers) from the base. At 1230 hours, the same aircraft reports a convoy of a battleship, five cruisers, seven destroyers and 22 transports 226 nautical miles (418 kilometers) from the base. Other aircraft are dispatched to shadow the ships but fail to find them because the area is being battered by a monsoon.

     In the South China Sea, USN yacht USS Isabel (PY-10), which sailed from the Philippine Islands on 3 December for the coast of French Indochina, as part President Roosevelt's "defensive information patrol," is sighted by floatplane from Japanese seaplane carrier Kamikawa Maru about 199 nautical miles (368 kilometers) east-northeast of Nha Trang, French Indochina is position 13.24N, 112.21E. Later in the day, USS Isabel receives orders to return to Manila.



Tonight at the Hickam Field Officer's Club, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, the waitresses are serving refreshments are clad in colorful Japanese kimonos.

Many sailors and other enlisted men are enjoying this Saturday night with the "Battle of Music" performed by military bands. The winner was the band from the battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38). 

Second place went to the band of the Pennsylvania's sister ship, the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39).

The Japanese Consulate in Honolulu sends the following to the Foreign Office in Tokyo: "(1) On the evening of the 5th, among the battleships which entered port were and one submarine tender. The following ships were observed at anchor on the 6th: 9 battleships, 3 light cruisers, 3 submarine tenders 17 destroyers, and in addition there were 4 light cruisers, 2 destroyers lying at docks (the heavy cruisers and airplane carriers have all left). (2) 2. It appears that no air reconnaissance is being conducted by the fleet air arm."

     Communication Intelligence Summary, December 6, 1941: General.-Traffic volume very heavy with a great deal of old traffic being transmitted. Messages as far back as 1 December were seen in the traffic. This not believed an attempt to maintain a high traffic level but is the result of confusion in traffic routing with uncertainty of delivery. The stations now holding broadcasts are TOKYO (with 3 distinct and separate broadcasts), SAIPAN, OMINATO and TAKAO.

Yesterday's high level of traffic from TOKYO originators was maintained with the Intelligence activity still sending periodic messages. Practically all of TOKYO's messages carry prefixes of high priority.

  - Combined Fleet.-Still no traffic from the Second and Third Fleet Commanders. These units are sending their traffic via the TAKAO and TOKYO broadcasts. The Commander in Chief Combined Fleet originated several messages to the Carriers, Fourth Fleet and the Major Commanders.

  - Fourth Fleet.-The Commander in Chief Fourth Fleet is again in the TRUK area. It is doubtful that he ever went to JALUIT although it is certain that some members of his staff were there over the past few days. There is a definite close association between the Third Base Force at PALAO and the forces in South China. This unit is constantly sending messages to the Chief of Staff the Second Fleet, Third Fleet, Indo-China Forces and BAKO. It is being almost entirely neglected by Commander in Chief Fourth Fleet under whose command it normally operates. RONGELAB radio addressed the PALAO weather observer.

  - Fifth Fleet.-This fleet appears dispersed about the JAPAN Sea with OMINATO broadcasting traffic for this unit.

  - Submarines.-The Commander Submarine Force originated two messages to his command. These are the first two originated since 1 December. He is definitely in the MARSHALLS.

  - South China.-Nothing new to report. BAKO, SAMA and TAKAO still sending many messages to the Task Force."


The British Special Operations Executive's (SOE) Camp X at Whitby, Ontario, becomes operational as Special Training School 103. At the same time, a sophisticated top secret communications relay station (Oshawa Wireless) is established at Camp X to facilitate the critical need for secure wartime transcontinental communications between Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. Hundreds of agents are trained at Camp X between 1941 and 1944. Many of those who train at the Camp receive specialized courses in security and intelligence, some are trained as radio operators and are dispatched to South America by the British Security Coordination (BSC). Others who are trained as secret agents, receive further training in the U.S. prior to missions in Asia or are shipped to Ringway (now Manchester International Airport), Beaulieu (Hampshire now home of the National Motor Museum) and Arsaig (west coast of Scotland, near Oban) in the U.K. before being sent on missions into occupied Europe. One of the students at the camp was Ian Fleming, the creator of Agent 007, James Bond.

Minesweeper HMCS Goderich arrived Halifax from builder Toronto, Ontario.

Corvette HMCS Weyburn arrived Halifax from builder Montreal, Province of Quebec.

Ordered in Canada - Revised Corvette (Increased Endurance) USS Haste (ex-HMS Mandrake), USS Intensity (ex-HMS Milfoil), USS Might (ex-HMS Musk), USS Pert (ex-HMS Nepeta), USS Prudent (ex-HMS Privet), HMS Rose Bay (ex-USS Splendor), HMS Smilax (ex-USS Tact), USS Vim (ex-HMS Statice), HMS Willowhead (ex-USS Vitality).

U.S.A.: President Franklin D. Rooseveltsends a message to Japanese Emperor containing the following: "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. . . . During the past few weeks it has become clear to the world that Japanese military, naval, and air forces have been sent to Southern Indochina in such large numbers as to create a reasonable doubt on the part of other nations that this continuing concentration in Indochina is not defensive in its character. . . the people of the Philippines, of the hundreds of Islands of the East Indies, of Malaya, and of Thailand itself are asking themselves whether these forces of Japan are preparing or intending to make attack in one or more of these many directions."  There is no Japanese reply. The Japanese leaders feel that involving the Emperor is wrong and are resentful of this effort. Later the first 13 parts of a 14 part Japanese message are transmitted. Unknown to the Japanese, US codebreakers will intercept and decode this message.

The whereabouts of the Washington notables during the late afternoon and evening of December 6 are a bit uncertain: 

Roosevelt seems to have been in the White House throughout the entire time; having sent off his message to Hirohito, he then called for a meeting with his “advisers” (presumably, Hull, Stimson, Knox, Marshall, and Stark) for 3 PM on Sunday, December 7, and conducted a brief dinner party.  He was home to receive the first 13 parts of the Japanese message at around 11:00 PM Washington time (1 PM, December 7, Philippine time).

Stimson and Knox were at their homes in Washington.

Stark was at the theater.

Marshall later claimed to have been at his quarters at Fort Myer,, though a Washington Times-Herald article stated that he attended a VMI Alumni meeting at the University Club on 16th Street in Washington.  His whereabouts have been a source of quandary and query ever since.

Arnold was at Hamilton AAF, California, hastening the despatch of the 37th and 38th Reconnaissance Squadrons to the Philippines via Hawaii.  (These were the planes which arrived in the middle of the Pearl Harbor strike.)

The Director of Army Intelligence, Brigadier General Sherman Miles, was guested to dinner at the quarters of the Director of Naval Intelligence, Rear Admiral Theodore Wilkinson.

(Marc Small)

Frank Knox, US Secretary of the Navy, states that he is very proud to report that the US Navy is second to none. This statement will appear in the New York Times Sunday Edition, tomorrow.

The New York Times reports:

Discounts Allied Air Forces

Revealing what he represented as the completed line-up of air strength of the ABCD powers in the Far East, Rear Admiral Toshio Matsunaga, chief of the marine department of the Japan Airways Company, assured the Japanese people through the newspaper Yomiuri that they need not fear the "encirclement front" because it was lacking in suitable air bases, effective planes and trained personnel.

He put the whole air strength of United States, British, Chinese and Netherland powers in the Far East at 1,000 planes--250 American, 400 British and the rest mostly trainers. Of these, he said, about fifty American planes were distributed in the Philippines and 350 in British Burma, although additional American bombers to the value of $24,000,000 are to go to the Netherlands Indies. In contrast, the Japanese Navy recently announced it alone had 4,000 planes, apart from Japanese Army planes.

Moreover, said Admiral Matsunaga, most of the types possessed by the ABCD powers are old or short-range planes that could not possibly bomb Japan and get back to their bases, except about twenty Consolidated PBY-28 [sic] bombers that had appeared in the Philippines, Singapore and Surabaya, Java.

These, he admits, are reported to possess the greatest flying capacity in the world at present, but he says that even they will not be able to perform what is expected of them.

He further estimates that there are about 200 air bases along the ABCD line, including a naval airport at Singapore, the Bandoeng flying grounds in Java and a recently completed military air depot at the northern end of the Philippines. But the weakest point of the whole line-up, he asserts, is a great shortage of trained pilots.

"For all these reasons," he concludes, "we can place full confidence in our preparations."



_New York Times_, Dec 6, 1941, pg.2.)

President Roosevelt authorizes the Manhattan Engineering District. The secret U.S. project to build an atomic bomb, later to be called the Manhattan Project, is put under the direction of the Office of Scientific Research and Development.

     As a result of the U.K. declaring war on Finland, six Finnish ships in U.S. ports are placed under protective custody.

     The USAAF 4th Air Force in California participates in air defense exercise in the San Francisco, California, area. The exercise continues until 11 December.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: Four crewmembers of U-562 injured in a torpedo reloading accident.

The USN destroyer USS Decatur (DD-341), in Task Unit 4.1.4, escorting slow convoy ONS-39 (U.K. to North America), carries out a depth charge attack on a suspicious contact about 470 nautical miles (871 kilometers) east-northeast of St. John's, Newfoundland, in position 51.54N, 41.53W.



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