December 7th, 1941 (SUNDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM:The highest number of RAF Bomber Command sorties for a single night during December is 251 during the night of 7/8 December when Aachen, Germany, and Brest, France, are the two main objectives. The Brest attack marks the operational debut of Oboe when Stirlings use the device on this raid.
FRANCE: Paris:Rue de la Convention. Attack on a Wehrmacht canteen.
GERMANY: Hitler issues the infamous Nacht und Nebel Erlass or 'NuN' (Night-and-Fog) Decree. This is a number of directives for the prosecution of offences committed within the occupied territories against the German State or the occupying power by which any individuals accused of resistance to the occupying power (Germany) can be summarily arrested and deported to a virtual death-sentence at any number of KZ's in Germany or the occupied territories., of 7 December 1941: "Within the occupied territories, communistic elements and other circles hostile to Germany have increased their efforts against the German State and the occupying powers since the Russian campaign started. The amount and the danger of these machinations oblige us to take severe measures as a determent. First of all the following directives are to be applied: I. Within the occupied territories, the adequate punishment for offences committed against the German State or the occupying power which endanger their security or a state of readiness is on principle the death penalty. II. The offences listed in paragraph I as a rule are to be dealt with in the occupied countries only if it is probable that sentence of death will be passed upon the offender, at least the principal offender, and if the trial and the execution can be completed in a very short time. Otherwise the offenders, at least the principal offenders, are to be taken to Germany. III. Prisoners taken to Germany are subjected to military procedure only if particular military interests require this. In case German or foreign authorities inquire about such prisoners, they are to be told that they were arrested, but that the proceedings do not allow any further information. IV. The Commanders in the occupied territories and the Court authorities within the framework of their jurisdiction, are personally responsible for the observance of this decree. V. The Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces determines in which occupied territories this decree is to be applied. He is authorized to explain and to issue executive orders and supplements. The Reich Minister of Justice will issue executive orders within his own jurisdiction. The decrees are an order to seize "persons endangering German security," who are not to be executed immediately but are to vanish without a trace. It is applied against members of the resistance in western Europe." (Russ Folsom)
POLAND:Kolo: 700 Jews are deported to nearby Chelmno.
U.S.S.R.: Generalfeldmarschall Walther Brauchitsch, Commander in Chief of the Army, offers his resignation to Hitler. The stress of the battle on the Eastern Front has taken its toll. Hitler makes no formal acceptance of the resignation, but Brauchitsch makes no important decisions after this date.
The German offensive (Operation BARBAROSSA, begun on 22 July 1941 by Field Marshal Waither von Britishauchitsch, Commander-in-Chief of the German Army) to crush Soviet forces has ground to a halt on the broken line from Lake Ladoga on the north to the Sea of Azov on the south. At the extremities of front, the Soviet garrisons of Leningrad and Sevastopol are besieged; on the central front the Germans are at the outskirts of Moscow. The Red Army is conducting a general counteroffensive (begun on 6 December) to drive the Germans westward. Three fresh Soviet armies are exerting pressure against the German spearheads in the vicinity of Moscow. Although assured the support of satellite nations (Finland, Romania, Hungary), the Germans are at a disadvantage because of overextended supply lines and battle exhaustion.
LIBYA: Major General Neil M. Ritchie's British Eighth Army, a component of General Sir Claude Auchinleck"s British Middle East Command, continues the offensive, begun in November, to clear Libya of German and Italian forces, which are nominally under Italian command, but actually under German General Erwin Rommel. The objective is twofold: first, destruction of the Axis forces concentrated in east Cyrenaica, which is in progress; second, the conquest of Tripolitartia. Armored elements of the British XXX Corps battle Axis tanks around Bir el Gubi. After nightfall, the British XIII Corps goes on the offensive, the 70th Division driving along El Adem Ridge, the key feature south of Tobruk.
JAPAN: 10:30 PM (9:30 AM, December 7. Washington time): Grew receives message for Emperor sent by Roosevelt, delayed in route by Japanese.
The Foreign Office sends the following message to the Japanese Ambassador in Washington, D.C.: "Will the Ambassador please submit to the United States Government (if possible to the Secretary of State) our reply to the United States at 1:00 p. m on the 7th, your time." A second message reads, "After deciphering part 14 of my (message) #902 [a] and also #907 [b], #908 [c] and #909 [d], please destroy at once the remaining cipher machine and all machine codes. Dispose in like manner also secret documents."
CHINA: Japanese occupy the International Settlement at Shanghai.
MALAYA: Two RAF (PBY-5) Catalina Mk. I flying boats of No.205 Squadron, based at Seletar in Singapore, are despatched to shadow a Japanese convoy; one aircraft is lost to Japanese fighters.
COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: 9:00 AM (8:00 PM, December 6, Washington time). Navy Department log entry stating Harrison called to request current positions of all USN and RN ships. Harrison later denied making this call. (This may have been in preparation for the planned meeting with Roosevelt at 3 PM on December 7.)
5:00 PM: Unidentified aircraft spotted over Clark.
9:00 PM until 2:00 AM December 8 (8:00 AM to 1:00 PM Washington time): Advance Party of 27th B.G. -- an incoming unit of A-24 attack bombers -- throws party in honour of Brereton at Manila Hotel. Hart and Purnell are present for first part.
9:30 PM (8:30 AM Washington time): Brereton telephones FEAF HQ at Neilson Field from Manila Hotel to order that FEAF and all fields and subordinate commands were to go on "combat alert" at daylight. Order was never carried out.
MIDWAY ISLANDS: At 2135 hours local, the islands are bombarded by the Japanese Midway Neutralization Unit consisting of destroyers HIJMS Ushio and Sazanami; Marine shore batteries of the 6th Defense Battalion return the fire, claiming damage to both ships. One of the USN submarines deployed on simulated war patrols off Midway, USS Trout (SS-202), makes no contact with the enemy ships; the other, USS Argonaut (SS-166), is unable to make a successful approach, and the two destroyers retire from the area. Subsequent bad weather will save Midway from a pounding by planes from the Pearl Harbor Attack Force as it returns to Japanese waters.
PACIFIC OCEAN: The 2,140 ton U.S. Army-chartered steam schooner Cynthia Olson is shelled and sunk by Japanese submarine HIJMS I-26 about 987 nautical miles (1 827 kilometers) north-northeast of Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii. There are 35 people aboard, 33 crewmen and two Army passengers. All are lost. She is the first U.S. merchant vessel sunk by a Japanese submarine in WWII.
Light minelayer USS Gamble (DM-15) mistakenly fires upon submarine USS Thresher (SS-200) about 65 nautical miles (121 kilometers) west of Honolulu, Oahu, in position 21.15N, 159.01W. Thresher mistakes Gamble for destroyer USS Litchfield (DD-336) (the latter ship assigned to work with submarines in the Hawaiian operating area), the ship with which she is to rendezvous. USS Gamble, converted from a flush-deck, four-pipe destroyer, resembles USS Litchfield. Sadly, the delay occasioned by the mistaken identity proves fatal to a seriously injured sailor on board the submarine, who dies four hours before the boat finally reaches port on the 8th, of multiple injuries suffered on 6 December 1941 when heavy seas wash him against the signal deck rail.
The first night recovery of aircraft in World War II by the U.S. Navy occurs when the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) turns on searchlights to aid returning SBD Dauntlesses and TBD Devastators that had been launched at dusk in an attempt to find Japanese ships reported off Oahu. Friendly fire, however, downs four of Enterprise's six F4F Wildcats (the strike group escort) that are directed to land at NAS Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. Other Enterprise SBDs make a night landing at NAS Kaneohe Bay, miraculously avoiding automobiles and construction equipment parked on the ramp to prevent just such an occurrence.
Japan launches air attacks on Pearl Harbor, Guam and Wake Island; its navy bombards Midway Island.
Honolulu: The message was simple and stark:
"AIR RAID, PEARL HARBOR.
THIS IS NO DRILL."
Japan's devastating opening blow of the Pacific war against the United States came plunging out of a sunny Hawaiian sky yesterday when 184 aircraft from six Japanese aircraft carriers of Vice-Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's Strike Force caught the American defenders completely unawares at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, at 7.55am [local time].
Japanese spies had reported that the Pacific Fleet was almost certain to be in Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning. They were right. 86 warships of the fleet were spread out before the eager eyes of the Japanese pilots. They included seven battleships - the prime targets in the absence of carriers - moored close to each other in "Battleship Row", and another the USS PENNSYLVANIA, in dry dock.
This audacious operation, designed to neutralize the Pacific Fleet in one blow, succeeded in sinking four battleships in a total of 19 warships sunk or disabled. It destroyed 188 military aircraft and damaged 159, and killed 2,403 Americans, 1,000 of them in the battleship USS ARIZONA which blew up and sank at her mooring early in the attack. For the battle force of the US Pacific Fleet it was the hour of doom.
Japanese losses were light. Only 29 Japanese aircraft failed to make it back to the carriers, and one Japanese I-class submarine and five midget submarines were sunk.
Such a spectacular victory on the first day of war has no parallel in the history of warfare. In Washington today, President Roosevelt described the Japanese action as "a day that will live in infamy."
The six Japanese carriers, AKAGI, KAGI, Hiryu, SORYU, ZUIKAKU and SHOKAKU, had met in late November at Tankan Bay in the Kuriles and with naval escort, approached in great secrecy to the flying off position 275 miles north of Hawaii.
The first attacking wave comprised 50 high-level bombers, 40 planes carrying shallow-running torpedoes, 51 dive-bombers and 43 Zero fighters. Their approach was detected by army radar at a distance of 132 miles, but they were thought to be friendly planes.
By 7.40am the Japanese strike force was over Oahu, and 15 minutes later the attack began with dive-bombers blasting the army, navy and marine airfields to neutralize American air power so that the attack on warships could proceed without interference.
The torpedo planes, high-level and dive-bombers attacked the warships initially without any opposition whatever. Amid the roar of engines and the crash of bombs, they turned Pearl Harbor into a smoke-filled inferno of blazing, exploding warships and installations.
At 8.30am a lull developed, but within 45 minutes a second strike force of 176 planes launched its attack. They withdrew by 10am and the raid was over. The big disappointment for the Japanese was the absence of the aircraft carriers of the Pacific Fleet which were on manoeuvres at the time of the raid. By this action alone, the Japanese have proved the value of big carriers in any naval campaign.
At 0645 hours local, the old Wickes Class four-stack destroyer USS Ward (DD-139) opened fire with her Number 1 4-inch gun on a Japanese midget submarine attempting to enter Pearl Harbor; the shell splashed harmlessly beyond the small conning tower. Then number three 4-incher atop the galley deckhouse amidships commenced fire and its round passed squarely through the submersible's conning tower. As the Japanese midget submarine wallowed lower in the water and started to sink, the destroyer swiftly dropped four depth charges which sink the sub.
Seaman First Class James Richard Ward, US Navy, wins the MOH for conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. When it was seen that the U.S.S. Oklahoma was going to capsize and the order was given to abandon ship, Ward remained in a turret holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see to escape, thereby sacrificing his own life. (Drew Halevy sent me the above citation)
Captain Mervyn Sharp Bennion, US Navy, displays conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard for his own life, above and beyond the call of duty. As commanding officer of the USS West Virginia, after being mortally wounded, Capt. Bennion evidenced apparent concern only in fighting and saving his ship, and strongly protested against being carried from the bridge. (MOH)
USCGC Taney's screen of anti-aircraft fire prevented Japanese planes bombing Pearl Harbor from destroying Honolulu power plant.
Two B-17Ds took off from Hickam Field, Territory of Hawaii at 1140 hours to look for the Japanese fleet.
The newly federalized Hawaii Territorial Guard (HTG), made up of ROTC cadets and volunteers from Honolulu high schools, the majority Nisei, is placed under direct Army command. (Gene Hanson)
Remembrances of our List Vets on "Where was I when ...":
I was sitting at the bar of the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado. The bartender came up to me and said, "Soldier you better get back to your base. The Japanese just bombed Pearl Harbor and all military people are ordered back"
I hitch hiked back to base. What a contrast! Hitching rides into Denver that day I waited 30 minutes for a car to stop. Going back, the first car I stuck my thumb out at screeched to a stop and drove me right up to the gate! (Hal Turrell)
I had just come off watch in the ops room at RAF Portreath, Cornwall, England, in 10 Gp Fighter Command, and the Spits were ready for a dawn 'Rhubarb' (low-level nuisance raid against opportunity targets). It was very cold and wet with a thick sea mist and the mud was vile. As I took off my boots I turned on the radio. The news of the attack was shocking, but I knew then that the hope of our winning the war was now a certainty as the USA was bound to come in. It was an ill wind that looked as if it would blow us good in the end. (Doug Tidy)
It was 8th of December in Burma and my Squadron was in Keydaw, just a few miles north of Toungoo ( this place is still on the maps) and the war came to the AVG in the form of an air raid siren going off in the middle of the night. Scared the hell out of us uninitiated heroes as we were informed that we may have a visit from Japanese paratroopers and this caused some palpitations and shrinking gonads among us stalwarts of democracy and saviors to the Chinese. We got right busy after the initial shock and carried on our normal activities. We spent the day checking our armament loading for my squadron, the 3rd or Hell's Angels, American Volunteer Group, Chinese Nationalist Air Force. As a member of the 3rd Squadron I went by train to Mingaladon Air Base just outside of Rangoon while our other 2 Squadrons left Keydaw for Kunming, China.
I soon after learned that you were not immortal even at 21.
- Walter Gourlay: "I was living in New York City and worked a turret lathe in Sperry Gyroscope, a major defense plant in Brooklyn. That Sunday afternoon I had taken my new girl friend to a movie theater in Times Square that showed foreign art films. I don't remember what movie we were watching -- I think it was a Russian import with English subtitles-- when suddenly the film stopped, the lights went on and the manager announced that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and we were at war. We went outside and stood among the crowd watching the news bulletins flashing on the Times Building, with the first details of the raid (remember there was a big time difference between Hawaii and New York.) Several men in uniform with their dates were in the crowd. Everyone was subdued. Then the bulletin flashed ordering all military personnel to return to their units immediately, and they left the scene, some with their dates, others saying goodbye on the Square.
I remember phoning my best friend, who was in the merchant marine, to tell him we were at war. He didn't believe me until he turned on his radio. (No TV then.)
The next day I was in the plant, working my turret lathe, when the loudspeaker told us to stop working to listen to FDR calling on Congress to declare war. We listened quietly and then went back to work."
- Ben Frank: "I was taking care of my father's drugstore while he was home for lunch. I was listening to a broadcast of the NY Philharmonic, when the concert was interrupted by a news flash about the bombing of Pearl Harbor."
- Dick Jones: At age 19 in 1941 I was working in an acetylene manufacturing plant in Norfolk, Virginia. I was working the graveyard shift (Midnight to 0800) because it paid ten cents more per hour. When our boss, Maurice Van Osselar came to work the next morning he told me that the Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor. We had been watching the newsreels at the movies and listened to the radio and knew that things were getting dicey.
A few days later when the US declared war on Japan and Germany we got busy at the plant and painted all the windows black on the inside. We use a water based paint which was the forerunner of modern latex paints. It was casein paint with lampblack for color.
TERRITORY OF ALASKA: Upon learning of the Pearl Harbor attack, the Air Force, Alaska Defense Command's six B-18 Bolos and 12 P-36 Hawks take to the air to avoid being caught on their fields.
CANADA: Under the War Measures Act, Order in Council P.C. 9591, all Japanese nationals and those naturalized after 1922 are required to register with the Registrar of Enemy Aliens.
At 0900 hours local, the 14th part of the message from the Japanese Foreign Office to the embassy is received. The missing piece does not mention the attack, it merely says negotiations have come to a standstill and must be ended.
The following is from a memorandum regarding a conversation, between the Secretary of State (Cordell Hull), the Japanese Ambassador (NOMURA), and Mr. KURUSU: "The Japanese Ambassador asked for an appointment to see the Secretary at 1:00 p.m., but later telephoned and asked that the appointment be postponed to 1:45 as the Ambassador was not quite ready. The Ambassador and Mr. Kurusu arrived at the Department at 2:05 p.m. and were received by the Secretary at 2:20. The Japanese Ambassador stated that he had been instructed to deliver at 1:00 p.m. the document which he handed the Secretary, but that he was sorry that he had been delayed owing to the need of more time to decode the message. The Secretary asked why he had specified one o'clock. The Ambassador replied that he did not know but that was his instruction. The Secretary said that anyway he was receiving the message at two o'clock. After the Secretary had read two or three pages he asked the Ambassador whether this
document was presented under instructions of the Japanese Government. The Ambassador replied that it was. The Secretary as soon as he had finished reading the document turned to the Japanese Ambassador and said, "I must say that in all my conversations with you (the Japanese Ambassador) during the last nine months I have never uttered one word of untruth. This is borne out absolutely by the record. In all my fifty years of public service I have never seen a document that was more crowded with infamous falsehoods and distortions -- infamous falsehoods and distortions on a scale so huge that I never imagined until today that any Government on this planet was capable of uttering them." The Ambassador and Mr. Kurusu then took their leave without making any comment." The Japanese had handed Secretary Hull the so-called "Fourteen Point message" which is not a declaration of war; it merely declares an impasse in the ongoing diplomatic negotiations. The Imperial Rescript declaring a
state of war between the Japanese Empire and the U.S. is not issued until the next day, in Tokyo. [The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, took place on 7 December, at 1320 hours, Washington time (0750 hours, Honolulu time), which was 8 December, 0320 hours, Tokyo time. On 8 December at 0600 hours, Tokyo time (7 December, 1600 hours, Washington time), the Japanese imperial headquarters announced that war began as of "dawn" on that date.]
President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders mobilization of the armed forces.
Local authorities and the F.B.I. begin to round up the leadership of the Japanese American communities. Within 48 hours, 1,291 Issei (Japanese-born immigrant) are in custody. These men are held under no formal charges and family members are forbidden from seeing them. Most would spend the war years in Japanese alien internment camps run by the Justice Department.
The New York Times reports this morning.
BIG FORCES ARE MASSED FOR SHOWDOWN IN PACIFIC
Japan Would Have to Meet Superior Strength of the ABCD Powers
By HANSON W. BALDWIN
Men stood to arms along the shores and upon the islands of the Western
Pacific yesterday as the storm of war, roaring eastward out of Europe, clouded
the skies of the Orient.
The American-Japanese negotiations, stalemated at the week-end but prolonged
in the hope of eventual compromise as both sides sought for time, were perhaps a
less important index to the seriousness of the Pacific situation than the actual
military forces in the theatre of potential struggle.
The land, sea and air forces now mobilized in the Pacific are very
considerable, not by any means as large as the great armies struggling in Russia
or the fleets and air forces deployed around the periphery of the continent of
Europe, but nevertheless more considerable than any the Orient has hitherto
known. They include:
The Japanese Army consists of perhaps sixty to sixty-six divisions (part of
them "triangular" divisions of 16,000 to 17,000 men; the rest, "square"
divisions of 22,000 men), a grand total of about 1,800,-000 men. The exact
disposition of these troops is not known, but probably more than twenty
divisions are locked up in the unending struggle with China; another twenty to
twenty-seven may be in Manchukuo opposite the Russian Far Eastern armies; there
are forces in Metropolitan Japan and garrisons in her island outposts; there are
possibly 75,000 to 150,000 troops today in French Indo-China and several other
divisions in Hainan Island, on the high seas or on the island of Formosa.
Perhaps 1,000 of Japan's 3,000 to 5,000 tactical planes are in China; there
are undoubtedly several hundred in French Indo-China; the others may be
scattered from Metropolitan Japan and Paramshir and Sakhalin to Formosa. Japan
possibly has one new battleship in commission, of about 40,000 tons with
sixteen-inch guns, giving her a total of eleven capital ships, with a twelfth
nearly ready. She has at least seven, possibly nine, aircraft carriers converted
from merchantmen, a number of seaplane carriers, and large squadrons of
cruisers, destroyers and submarines. There may be one or two big, heavily
armored new battle cruisers or "pocket battleships" In commission.
The United States
Approximately 50 per cent of United States naval strength was In the Pacific
at last report, with the bulk of our hitting power concentrated in the Pacific
Fleet based on Hawaii. The Asiatic Fleet, a separate entity, consisted some
months ago of three cruisers, a squadron of destroyers, eighteen submarines,
some twenty-four long-range patrol bombers and various auxiliaries. It has
probably been strengthened in recent months, but it is still primarily a
defensive torpedo fleet, which is to be assisted in its task by air power.
The Philippines have been heavily strengthened, both with land and air
forcees, and Lieut. Gen. Douglas
MacArthur has now assumed direct command of
United States armed forces in the Far East, with Regular Army troops and 150,000
Filipinos under his orders.
Hawaii is a great fortress, more heavily garrisoned, land, sea and air, than
ever in its history, and bases in Alaska, Midway, Wake and many other
mid-Pacific islands are being completed and garrisoned.
At Singapore Britain has recently stationed two capital ships to compensate
for our Pacific weakness—resulting from transfers to the Atlantic—in this
category, and there are cruisers, probably aircraft carriers and some smaller
There are probably 10,000 or more men in Hong Kong and perhaps a few British
submarines, but almost no planes. There may now be 70,000 to 150,000 men in
Malaya, with several hundreds of planes, and an unknown garrison in Burma,
probably small on land, but considerable in the air. In addition India,
Australia and New Zealand provide a large backlog of strength.
Russia has drawn upon her Far Eastern Forces to reinforce her hard-pressed
armies in the West, but, nevertheless, it is likely that more than twenty
divisions still are stationed in Eastern Siberia, with some tanks and a
considerable number (several hundred) of planes.
China has a large, though badly equipped, army of guerrillas and regulars,
variously estimated at from 2,000,000 to 6,000,000 men, and perhaps 100 Curtiss
P–40 pursuit planes with American volunteer pilots may shortly be ready to help
General Chiang Kai-shek defend the Burma Road.
A naval force that admirably supplements the British Far Eastern forces,
consisting of about three cruisers, eight destroyers, forty torpedo boats and
some fifteen submarines, is supplemented by an increasingly powerful bomber
force, which may now consist of 200 to 300 bombers, plus a considerable number
of long-range naval patrol planes, and 200 or so fighters (nearly all
American-built planes). The Netherlands Indies Army probably numbers more than
100,000, mostly natives, and is fairly well equipped.
An army of perhaps 80.000 men —most of them already mobilized —with numerous
reserves but little equipment. Air force negligible.
Such are the forces most immediately concerned by the situation in the
Pacific. The equation of uncertainty that any Pacific struggle would entail is
rendered more complex by the great distances in that ocean.
The general strategy of a Pacific war would be one in which air power and sea
power, acting primarily as weapons of economic attrition, would play large
roles. From Hawaii and Singapore and the Netherlands Indies Anglo-American naval
forces would operate in distant blockade; planes from our carriers and
long-range bombers might raid Japanese industries and cities, and submarines
would harass Japanese shipping in the Sea of Japan and the China Sea.
Against such tactics the Japanese have the advantage of the interior position
and shorter lines of communication. But in a fullblown war, Japan's task is
immediately spread all over the map. She may have to attack Siberia or defend
herself from Russian attacks; hold the Chinese in check; smash at Singapore by
air, if not by land; reduce Hong Kong; perhaps attack or neutralize the
Philippines; hold off the harassing air and sea attacks by Britain and the
United States, and eventually— if she is to reap anything from hostilities—she
must move either into Malaysia and Burma, or into the Netherlands Indies, any
one of them a major, risky and unpredictable operation.
And at this juncture Japan cannot count upon much help—directly or indirectly—from Germany. She would fight for life—and unless Germany won, Japan would almost certainly lose, though not quickly.
In a scheduled baseball game, the Paramount Pictures team is playing the Japanese-American Los Angeles Nippons. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is announced in the third inning but the game continues with Paramount wining 6-3.
10:00 AM (9:00 PM, December
11:00 AM: (10:00 PM, December 6,
Washington time): copies of first 13 parts of Japanese message on negotiations
delivered to Roosevelt, Knox, Turner, the Director of Naval Intelligence, Rear
Admiral Theodore S Wilkinson, and to the Director of Army Intelligence,
Brigadier General Sherman Miles.
Miles was the son of Lieutenant General Nelson Miles and the nephew of
General William Tecumseh Sherman.
MIDWAY ISLAND: Two destroyers of the Japanese Midway Neutralization Unit shell Sand Island. (Gordon Rottman)
INTERNATIONAL: A number of countries declare war today:
- Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. declare war on Finland, Hungary and Romania.
- Canada declares war on Finland, Hungary, Japan and Romania.
- Japan declares war on Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., the U.S., and the Union of South Africa.
- Greece breaks diplomatic relations with Japan.
- Nicaragua breaks diplomatic relations with Vichy France.
- Norway breaks relations with Finland.
- Panama declares war on Japan.
- Yugoslavia at war with Japan.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: Corvette HMCS Windflower rammed and sunk in convoy SC.58 by Dutch freighter Zypenhberg C/S "PIZW", in dense fog off the Grand Banks at 46 19N 49 30W. 23 crewmembers lost. Windflower was cut down in thick fog by the bow of the freighter. One of her boilers blew up and within 10 minutes she was sinking. Her starboard lifeboat was thrown overboard by the force of the explosion, dragging along several of the men who had been attempting to launch it. As live steam from the exploded boiler seethed up through the fog the men remaining on board got away the port lifeboat and one carley float. Windflower's stern went under, her fore part rose out of the water and leaned perilously over the men close alongside. Some of those on the float, seeing the looming shape above them, prepared to abandon their refuge for the water, where they would almost certainly have drowned. A Petty Officer calling upon all his stock of authority and the mighty resources of a naval vocabulary kept them in their places while the bow leaned off in the other direction and sank slowly from sight. HMS Nasturtium returned to join with Zypenhberg in rescuing 47 of Windflower's company, three of whom died later. Convoy SC-58 (49-ships in ten columns) sailed from Sydney, NS, on 04 Dec. An eight-ship mid-ocean escort group (Lt. H.S. Rayner in St Laurent, Senior Officer), relieved the local escort group on 06 Dec. Windflower was stationed on the starboard bow of the convoy but lost contact with the main body in heavy fog. The OOW reversed course and was closing to resume station when she was sighted by Zypenhberg crossing her bow from right to left at a distance of 400 yards. Zypenhberg, Capt Bakker, Master, which was the fourth in the starboard column of five ships, went full astern and began sound signals to warn the next ship astern, Baltara (3,300 GRT). Windflower went to full ahead and altered to starboard but was struck on the port quarter and lost 25 feet of her stern. For a time it appeared that the ship could be saved but the after bulkhead finally gave away and caused the boiler to explode, which was the main cause of the casualties. HMS Nasturtium, hearing the explosion, assumed that the convoy was under attack and closed the area, carrying out a depth charge attack on an Asdic contact that was actually the sinking Windflower. In the process she seriously damaged herself although no casualties were inflicted on the 47 Windflower survivors that were recovered by Zypenhberg. Zypenhberg and Nasturtium were detached to St. John's while the remainder of the convoy continued. Four days later a strong gale scattered the formation but there was fortunately no contact with the enemy and the ships arrived safely in Liverpool on 21 Dec 41. (Alex Gordon and Dave Shirlaw)(108)
German submarine U-208 is sunk about 95 nautical miles (176 kilometers) west of the Tangier Zone by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Harvester (H 19) and Hesperus (H 57) in position 35.51N, 07.45W; all 45 crewmen are lost.
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