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17 Dec 1941
  • In North Africa, No. 3 Squadron RAF received its first Kittyhawk fighters. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Seaplane from Japanese submarine I-7 conducted a reconnaissance mission on Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • USS Lexington ordered to sail north to join Task Force 14 to reinforce Wake Island. ww2dbase [Lexington (Lexington-class) | CPC]
  • Japanese submarines RO-62 and RO-66 collided 25 miles southwest of Wake Island at 2020 hours in bad weather while recharging their batteries on the surface. RO-66 sank; all 63 inside the submarine were killed, while the 3 men on duty atop the ship survived the sinking. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • British minesweepers HMS Hazard and HMS Speedy, in escort of Allied convoy PQ-6 30 miles north of Cape Gorodetski in northern Russia, were attacked by German destroyers Z23, Z24, Z25, and Z27; Speedy was hit 4 times (2 were killed) and was forced to turn back. ww2dbase [Arctic Convoys | CPC]
  • Walther von Brauchitsch again requested permission for him to resign due to health reasons. ww2dbase [Walther von Brauchitsch | CPC]
  • The Japanese artillery and aerial bombardment on the northern coast of Hong Kong island, which began on 15 Dec 1941, ceased at 1130 hours as the Japanese observed the raising of a white flag from the defensive positions on the beaches. At 1430 hours, Governor of Hong Kong Sir Mark Young again rejected the Japanese demand for surrender. The bombardment would resume shortly after. ww2dbase [Battle of Hong Kong | CPC]
  • Fedor von Bock was relieved as the commander-in-chief of German Army Group Center; the official reason was health concerns. ww2dbase [Fedor von Bock | CPC]
  • The 1,100-strong Australian Gull Force arrived at Ambon, Dutch East Indies to reinforce the Dutch garrison. ww2dbase [Dutch East Indies Campaign, Celebes and Moluccas | CPC]
  • German submarines U-67, U-107, U-108, U-131, and U-434 shadowed Allied convoy HG-76 en route from Gibraltar to Britain. At 0925 hours, 230 miles northeast of Madeira, a Martlet aircraft from carrier HMS Audacity discovered U-131. At 1247 hours, U-131 was forced to surface. U-131 opened fire and shot down the Martlet aircraft (which was the first Allied aircraft to be shot down by an enemy submarine), but she was soon damaged by British warships. U-131 was scuttled at 1330 hours; all 47 aboard were captured. ww2dbase [CPC]
Caroline Islands
  • Nachi departed Palau Islands. ww2dbase [Nachi | Palau | CPC]
  • Five French prisoners of Oflag IV-C prisoners of war camp at Colditz Castle in Germany were sent to the town dentist for treatment. On the way back, escorted by two guards, three of them ran in three different directions; they would ultimately reach neutral territory successfully. ww2dbase [Colditz Castle | Colditz, Sachsen | CPC]
  • Delos Emmons was made the commanding general of the Hawaiian Department. ww2dbase [Delos Emmons | CPC]
Latvia Libya
  • Hans-Joachim Marseille scored his 35th and 36th kills as he shot down two South African Hurricane fighters southeast of Derna, Libya at 1100 and 1128 hours; he also damaged another enemy fighter in combat. Later in the day, Albert Kesselring personally presented him the German Cross in Gold medal. ww2dbase [Hans-Joachim Marseille | Derna | CPC]
Malaya Mediterranean Sea
  • Allied and Italian naval forces engaged in the First Battle of Sirte as convoys of each side unexpectedly came across each other 185 miles northwest of Benghazi, Libya. Italian battleships Littorio, Andrea Doria, and Giulio Cesare fired on Allied cruisers and destroyers from the distance of 32 kilometers, which was too far to hit accurately, but did still damage British destroyer HMS Kipling and Australian destroyer HMAS Nizam with near misses. ww2dbase [Malta Campaign | CPC]
  • American passenger ship Corregidor departed Manila, Philippine Islands with about 1,200 civilians on board; a short distance later, while still in Manila Bay, she struck a mine previously laid by Japanese submarine I-124 and sank, killing many. To the north, 24 transports with 7,000 Japanese troops aboard departed from the Ryukyu Islands, heading for Lamon Bay at eastern Luzon island. ww2dbase [Invasion of the Philippine Islands | CPC]
  • 1st Lieutenant Boyd "Buzz" Wagner became USAAC's first ace in WW2 after shooting down a Japanese aircraft over the Philippine Islands. ww2dbase [CPC]
Russia Sarawak
  • Japanese troops landed at Sarawak; British troops nearby, not strong enough to counter the Japanese offensive, destroyed oil refineries and withdrew. ww2dbase [Dutch East Indies Campaign, Borneo | CPC]
United States
  • The keel of the large cruiser USS Alaska (CB-1) was laid down by New York Shipbuilding in Camden, New Jersey, United States. ww2dbase [Alaska | Camden, New Jersey | AC]
  • Columbia was launched in Camden, New Jersey, United States, sponsored by Miss J. A. Paschal. ww2dbase [Columbia | Camden, New Jersey | CPC]
US Pacific Islands
  • A PBY Catalina flying boat led 17 SB2U-3 Vindicator dive bombers of Marine Scout-Bomber Squadron 231 from Hickam Field, Oahu, Hawaii Islands to Midway Atoll; at 9 hours and 45 minutes covering 1,137 miles, it was the longest mass over-water flight by single-engined aircraft to date. ww2dbase [Midway Bases | Midway | CPC]
  • Japanese aircraft attacked Wake Atoll, igniting a diesel oil tank on Wilkes Island and damaged an evaporator unit that was vital for the island's water supply. ww2dbase [Battle of Wake Island | Wilkes, Wake | CPC]
  • A PBY Catalina flying boat led 17 SB2U-3 Vindicator dive bombers of Marine Scout-Bomber Squadron 231 from Hickam Field, Oahu, Hawaii Islands to Midway Atoll; at 9 hours and 45 minutes covering 1,137 miles, it was the longest mass over-water flight by single-engined aircraft to date. ww2dbase [SB2U Vindicator | Midway | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 17 Dec 1941
Shigenori Nishikaichi’s A6M Zero fighter after he crash landed on NiShigenori Nishikaichi’s A6M Zero fighter after he crash landed on NiAerial view of Goat Island in Narragansett Bay and within the City of Newport, Rhode Island, United States which became home to the United States Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance Naval Torpedo Factory in 1869.

17 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
"Goddam it, you'll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!"

Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943

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