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12 Dec 1941
  • Japanese Navy 11th Air Fleet aircraft attacked the US Navy base at Olongapo in Luzon, Philippine Islands. At Legaspi, Japanese troops captured an airfield and moved north. ww2dbase [Invasion of the Philippine Islands | CPC]
  • US Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox departed from Oahu, Hawaii after personally inspecting damages. ww2dbase [Frank Knox | CPC]
  • The United Kingdom declared war on Bulgaria while Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania declared war on the United Kingdom and the United States. ww2dbase [TH]
  • Germans reported widespread typhus on the Eastern Front of the European War. ww2dbase [TH]
  • Refugee ship SS Struma departed Romania with 769 Rumanian Jews on board, sailing for Palestine. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • US submarine S-38 claimed sinking the first Japanese ship in the Pacific War by an American vessel, but the sinking was not confirmed. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Churchill placed the defence of Burma under Wavell's command, promising four fighter and six bomber squadrons and matérial reinforcements, together with the 18th Division and what remained of 17th Indian Division (since two of its Brigades had been diverted to Singapore). On the same day, the 3rd Squadron of the American Volunteer Group was transferred to Rangoon, Burma. ww2dbase [Invasion of Burma | AC]
  • In a meeting with Adolf Hitler, Erich Raeder noted to Hitler that the Americans would most likely divert warships to the Pacific Ocean which was advantageous for the German Navy. ww2dbase [Erich Raeder | CPC]
  • Wilhelm Keitel clarified Adolf Hitler's Nacht und Nebel decree to the leaders of the German military. ww2dbase [Wilhelm Keitel | CPC]
  • Colonel Shizuo Saeki led elements of the Japanese 5th Division attacked Jitra, British Malaya. After sundown, British General Lewis Heath gave the order for the 11th Indian Division to withdraw from Jitra. ww2dbase [Invasion of Malaya and Singapore | CPC]
  • Italian cruisers Alberto da Giussano and Alberico da Barbiano departed Palermo, Sicily, for Tripoli, Libya with 135 men and 950 tons of various types of fuel. ww2dbase [Battle of Cape Bon | CPC]
  • Destroyer Yukikaze escorted the Japanese invasion force for Legaspi, Luzon, Philippine Islands. ww2dbase [Yukikaze | CPC]
  • The Australian government decided to abandon Rabaul in the Bismarck Islands should the Japanese invade; only civilians, restricted to women and children, were allowed to be evacuated. ww2dbase [New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 1, Bismarck Islands | CPC]
  • Light carrier Hosho detected a hostile submarine near Okinoshma Lighthouse in Japan. Later in the day, she arrived at Kure, Japan. ww2dbase [Hosho | Kure, Hiroshima | CPC]
Pacific Ocean
  • USS S-38 fired a torpedo at what the commanding officer thought was a Japanese transport west of Cape Calavite, Mindoro, Philippine Islands. The torpedo scored a hit and sank the ship, and it was discovered that the target was Norwegian freighter Hydra II. 41 were killed. ww2dbase [S-38 | South China Sea | CPC]
Philippines Russia
  • Semyon Timoshenko of Soviet Southwestern Front and Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Military Council ordered the arrest of the head of the Special Department of the 1st Tank Brigade and the assistant to the Technical Department of the Tank Regiment for "overreaching their authority" and "unauthorized shootings" for the execution, while intoxicated, of a lieutenant of the 1st Tank Brigade without reason. ww2dbase [Semyon Timoshenko | CPC]
United Kingdom United States
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower, Chief of Staff of the US 3rd Army, was called to Washington, United States by George Marshall. ww2dbase [Dwight Eisenhower | AC]
US Pacific Islands
  • Japanese reconnaissance flying boats bombed Wake and Peale Islands in a pre-dawn raid, followed by daylight bombing by land-based attack aircraft from Majuro, Marshall Islands; neither bombing caused significant damage. Aircraft from US Marine Fighter Squadron 211 reported a possible sinking of a Japanese submarine 25 miles southwest of Wake Atoll. ww2dbase [Battle of Wake Island | Wake | CPC]

12 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
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Winston Churchill, on the RAF

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