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18 Dec 1941
  • American cruiser Indianapolis returned to Pearl Harbor after failing to find the Japanese carrier fleet. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • British bombers attacked Scharnhorst and Gneisenau at Brest, France during the daylight hours at about 1230 hours. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • US Congress passed the First War Powers Act, giving the US President complete authority to reorganize the executive branch, independent government agencies, and government corporations during the time of war. It also authorized the US President to censor mail and other forms of communication between the United States and foreign countries. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • As oil refineries on the northern coast of Hong Kong island burned with thick black smoke, 3,500 Japanese troops crossed the Lye Mun Channel and established a beachhead at 2200 hours. Two hours later, another force of 4,000 would follow. Japanese troops executed 20 colonial Chinese prisoners of war at Sai Wan Hill, while 26 male medical personnel and 2 wounded soldiers were executed by beheading at the Salesian Mission Advanced Dressing Station; the female medical personnel at the latter location were set free after being forced to witness the beheading. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
  • Hitler finally accepted Brauchitsch's resignation, and took personal command of the Army and all Eastern Front operations. He fired Feldmarschall Bock, replacing him with Kluge. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
  • The Soviet Army created the Bryansk Front between the West and Southwestern Fronts. ww2dbase [TH]
  • A Dutch Do 24 bomber attacked and sank Japanese destroyer Shinonome off Miri, Borneo, killing all 219 aboard. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • American seaplane tender Wright transported 126 Marines to Midway. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • The S-1 Section of the United States Office of Scientific Research and Development, the forerunner of the Manhattan Project, held its first meeting. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Five German Type IX submarines departed Lorient, France for the east coast of the United States in preparation for Operation Paukenschlag. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Nazi German philosopher Alfred Rosenberg declared "... biological extermination of the whole of European Jewry was to take place on Soviet territory." ww2dbase [Main Article | AC]
  • Archibald Wavell flew to Calcutta, India to meet with General Henry Pownall. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • British 4th Armoured Brigade reached Mechili, Libya, too far behind the main body of the retreating Axis forces to achieve its goal of out-flanking the retreat, specifically the German tanks. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • In Russia, German 3rd Panzer Army and 4th Panzer Army shook off the persuing Soviet forces and reached Lama River and Ruza River, respectively, on their retreat from the Moscow. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • British destroyers HMS Stanley and HMS Blankney, escorting Allied convoy HG-76, discovered shadowing German submarine U-434, one of four submarine shadowing the convoy, 560 miles west of Gibraltar at 0945 hours. U-434 was forced to surface. The 44 crew members of U-434 scuttled the submarine and jumped into the water; 42 would be captured while 2 were killed by HMS Blankney accidentally while the British destroyer approached. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • GŁnther von Kluge's Chief of Staff, GŁnther Blumentritt, took over command of the German Fourth Army pending the arrival of General Ludwig Kubler on 26 Dec 1941. ww2dbase [AC]
Australian New Guinea
  • Two Japanese reconnaissance aircraft were spotted flying over Rabaul, Bismarck Islands. Wirraway fighters were scrambled, but they were not fast enough to intercept. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • The 1st and 2nd Squadrons of the American Volunteer Group was transferred to Kunming, Yunnan, China. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Jerzy Iwanow-Szajnowicz was betrayed by an associate and arrested by the Gestapo in Greece. ww2dbase [Main Article | JR]
  • At Honolulu, US Territory of Hawaii, the Roberts Commission began investigating the American preparations prior to the Pearl Harbor attack. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Mediterranean Sea Pacific Ocean
  • US Navy Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet Chester Nimitz ordered the submarines of Task Force 7 near Wake Atoll to move south out of the area until reinforcements arrived. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Japanese troops captured Naga, Luzon, Philippine Islands. To the north, the invasion convoy for the Lingayen Gulf assault departed from Taiwan and the Pescadores islands. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Portuguese Timor
  • Dutch and Australian troops occupied Portuguese Timor to establish a defense against advancing Japanese forces. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Taiwan United Kingdom
  • Hastings Lees-Smith, acting leader of the British Labour Party and Leader of the Parliamentary opposition, passed away. ww2dbase [AC]
United States
  • Robert Johnson was assigned to the Missouri Institute of Aeronautics in Sikeston, Missouri, United States for flight training. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 18 Dec 1941
M3 light tank, crew, and supplies at Fort Benning, Georgia, United States, 18 Dec 1941; Three of the men were L. D. Sample, Harold Postner, and Pelak GilleyM3 light tank crew peering out from opened hatches, Fort Benning, Georgia, United States, 18 Dec 1941

18 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
"Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue."

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 16 Mar 1945