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8 Dec 1941
  • The rebuilding of the interior of Japanese luxury ocean liner Hikawa Maru began. ww2dbase [Hikawa Maru | CPC]
  • I-68 traveled to the entrance of Pearl Harbor to rescue any surviving midget submarine crews. ww2dbase [I-68/I-168 | CPC]
  • RAF Hudson aircraft bombed Japanese invasion shipping off Kota Bharu, British Malaya, setting cargo ship Awajisan Maru afire. The Japanese 143rd Infantry Regiment of 55th Division (under command of 25th Army) landed on four beaches in southern Thailand; local Thai forces, unaware of their government's agreement to allow free passage to the Burma border, put up a fierce resistance and killed 79 Japanese soldiers. Japanese aircraft began arriving at Songkla in southern Thailand to prepare for air raids against targets in British Malaya. ww2dbase [Invasion of Malaya and Singapore | TH]
  • Soviet offensive broke through German Armeegruppe Mitte near Moscow, Russia, cutting the Klin-Kalinin road. German units began making hasty withdrawals to prevent encirclement, abandoning large numbers of immobilized equipment in the process. Adolf Hitler issued Führer Directive 39 which called for German troops to hold their ground. ww2dbase [Battle of Moscow | TH]
  • Japanese submarine I-123 mined Balabac Strait in Philippine waters while I-124 mined the entrance to Manila Bay. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Striking Force of the US Navy Asiatic Fleet departed from Iloilo, Philippine Islands for Makassar Strait. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Japanese naval aircraft from carrier Ryujo attacked seaplane tender USS William B. Preston in Davao Gulf; the ship escaped in tact, but two of the PBY Catalina flying boats she was tending were destroyed. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Japanese forces invaded the British colony of Hong Kong. British and Canadian garrison at Hong Kong was hopelessly outnumbered and beyond reach of any Allied help. Within less than two days the defenders would be forced to retreat to Hong Kong island itself. ww2dbase [Battle of Hong Kong | AC]
  • Japanese invasion fleet for Wake Island departed from Kwajalein while aircraft of the Japanese Navy 24th Air Flotilla (based at Roi-Namur, Kwajalein) attacked Camp One, Camp Two, and the airstrip on Wake; Japanese aircraft destroyed seven of the Eight F4F-3 fighters were destroyed as well as a 25,000-gallon capacity aviation gas tank. Meanwhile, Pan American Airways aircraft evacuated Caucasians from Wake Island, leaving airline staff of Chamorro ethnicity behind. ww2dbase [Battle of Wake Island | CPC]
  • In the Mariana Islands, Japanese land-based aircraft from Saipan attacked Guam, damaging various facilities and sinking minesweeper USS Penguin in Apra Harbor (1 killed, 60 wounded). ww2dbase [Invasion of Guam | CPC]
  • Destroyer Yuzuki conducted anti-submarine operations in the Mariana Islands area. ww2dbase [Yuzuki | CPC]
  • Vice Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue gave the order to the Japanese Navy Fourth Fleet at Truk, Caroline Islands to began executing the plans to capture Wake, Guam (Mariana Islands), Makin (Gilbert Islands), Tarawa (Gilbert Islands), and other islands and atolls in the Pacific Ocean. ww2dbase [Shigeyoshi Inoue | CPC]
  • Adolf Hitler ordered the German Navy to begin attacking American shipping. ww2dbase [Adolf Hitler | CPC]
  • Galeazzo Ciano called Joachim von Ribbentrop to discuss the American entry into the war; Ciano later noted that Ribbentrop was happy with this latest development. ww2dbase [Galeazzo Ciano | CPC]
  • German bombers sank British minesweeping trawlers HMT Milford Earl (5 killed) and HMT Phineas Beard off the east coast of Scotland, United Kingdom. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Light carrier Hosho passed through the Bungo Strait between Kyushu and Shikoku, Japan. ww2dbase [Hosho | CPC]
  • Costa Rica, Dominica, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua declared war on Japan. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Karl Burk was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class. ww2dbase [Karl Burk | CPC]
Australian New Guinea Canada
  • Canada declared war on Japan. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • In China, Colonel William W. Ashurst surrendered the US Marine Corps detachments in Tianjin, Beiping, Qinhuangdao (Camp Holcomb), and the American embassy to the Japanese. In Shanghai, Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops captured US Navy river gunboat Wake before the gunboat's crew could scuttle her. US passenger liner President Harrison, en route to northern China to evacuate US Marines, was captured by the Japanese at Sha Wai Shan, China; she was later refloated and pressed into service as Kakko Maru and later Kachidoki Maru. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • China, having already been engaged in war with Japan since Jul 1937, formally declared war on Japan and Germany. ww2dbase [CPC]
Dutch East Indies
  • While at Tarakan, Borneo, Dutch East Indies, USS Marblehead received the alert that Japan had started hostilities. ww2dbase [Marblehead | Tarakan, Borneo | CPC]
  • Leonardo da Vinci arrived at Le Verdon-sur-Mer, France at 1020 hours, ending a war patrol. At 1630 hours, she set sail for Pauillac, France, arriving at 1815 hours. ww2dbase [Leonardo da Vinci | Le Verdon-sur-Mer, Aquitaine | CPC]
  • Japanese ambassador in Germany Hiroshi Oshima sent a note to Joachim von Ribbentrop, requesting Germany to declare war on the United States. ww2dbase [Hiroshi Oshima | CPC]
Hawaii Iceland Libya
  • Hans-Joachim Marseille shot down a P-40 fighter, his 30th kill, over El Adem, Libya at 0845 hours. ww2dbase [Hans-Joachim Marseille | El Adem | CPC]
Malaya Marshall Islands Philippines
  • Japanese Navy 11th Air Fleet land-based aircraft from Taiwan attacked US Army airfields on Luzon island, Philippine Islands as well as shipping in Manila Bay; at the latter location, American freighter Capillo was abandoned after receiving heavy damage. Japanese Army aircraft joined in on the attack on this date also, striking Baguio and Tuguegarao at 0930 hours. North of Luzon, a Japanese force landed on Batan Island and established an air base. ww2dbase [Invasion of the Philippine Islands | CPC]
  • Saburo Sakai of Japanese Navy Tainan Air Group, flying an A6M Zero fighter, attacked Clark Field in the Philippine Islands; he shot down one P-40 Warhawk fighter. ww2dbase [Invasion of the Philippine Islands | Clark Field | Saburo Sakai | Angeles, Pampanga | CPC]
  • USS S-38 departed Manila Bay, Philippine Islands for her first war patrol. ww2dbase [S-38 | Manila Bay | CPC]
  • USS S-41 departed Manila Bay in the Philippines for her first war patrol. ww2dbase [S-41 | Manila | CPC]
Poland United Kingdom
  • United Kingdom declared war on Japan. ww2dbase [London, England | CPC]
  • The French government-in-exile in Britain declared war on Japan. ww2dbase [London, England | CPC]
  • The Dutch government-in-exile in Britain declared war on Japan. ww2dbase [London, England | CPC]
  • Mavis Batey successfully broke into a German Abwehr coded message on a link between Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Berlin, Germany, thereby allowing the codebreakers to construct one of the Enigma Machine. ww2dbase [Enigma Code Broken | Mavis Batey | England | AC]
United States
  • United States Congress declared war on Japan after Franklin Roosevelt's "a date which will live in infamy" speech. ww2dbase [Washington | CPC]
  • USS Saratoga departed San Diego, California for Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii. ww2dbase [Saratoga | San Diego, California | CPC]
  • The keel of submarine Runner was laid down at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, United States. ww2dbase [Runner (Gato-class) | Kittery, Maine | CPC]
  • Edward Murrow and his wife Janet had dinner at the White House in Washington DC, United States with Eleanor Roosevelt. The dinner was arranged prior to the Japanese attack, and Murrow had expected the invitation to be canceled, but surprisingly Franklin Roosevelt insisted that the plans be kept; although Roosevelt was too busy to join them at the meal, he would make sure to meet with Murrow for some time late in the evening. ww2dbase [White House | Edward Murrow | Washington | CPC]
  • Minoru Yasui resigned his position at the Japanese consulate in Chicago, Illinois, United States. ww2dbase [Minoru Yasui | Chicago, Illinois | CPC]
  • USS Ranger completed her final Atlantic Neutrality Patrol when she arrived at Norfolk, Virginia. ww2dbase [United States Neutrality Patrol | Norfolk Navy Yard | Ranger | Norfolk, Virginia | DS]
Photo(s) dated 8 Dec 1941
Light cruiser Raleigh fights to stay afloatThe repair ship Vestal beached off AieaFranklin Roosevelt signing the Declaration of War against Japan, 8 Dec 1941Maintaining a TBD-1 Devastator aircraft of Torpedo Squadron 5 at Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia, United States, circa 7-16 Dec 1941
See all photos dated 8 Dec 1941

8 Dec 1941 Interactive Map

Timeline Section Founder: Thomas Houlihan
Contributors: Alan Chanter, C. Peter Chen, Thomas Houlihan, Hugh Martyr, David Stubblebine
Special Thanks: Rory Curtis

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Famous WW2 Quote
"With Germany arming at breakneck speed, England lost in a pacifist dream, France corrupt and torn by dissension, America remote and indifferent... do you not tremble for your children?"

Winston Churchill, 1935

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