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18 Dec 1941
  • 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]
  • Adolf Hitler finally accepted Walther von Brauchitsch's resignation, and took personal command of the Army and all Eastern Front operations. He fired Feldmarschall Fedor von Bock, replacing him with G√ľnther von Kluge. ww2dbase [Fedor von Bock | Adolf Hitler | G√ľnther von Kluge | Walther von Brauchitsch | 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 [Dutch East Indies Campaign, Borneo | CPC]
  • American cruiser Indianapolis returned to Pearl Harbor after failing to find the Japanese carrier fleet. ww2dbase [Indianapolis | 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 [Operation Trinity and Manhattan Project | Vannevar Bush | CPC]
  • Five German Type IX submarines departed Lorient, France for the east coast of the United States in preparation for Operation Paukenschlag. ww2dbase [Second Happy Time | CPC]
  • Nazi German philosopher Alfred Rosenberg declared "... biological extermination of the whole of European Jewry was to take place on Soviet territory." ww2dbase [Alfred Rosenberg | AC]
  • Archibald Wavell flew to Calcutta, India to meet with General Henry Pownall. ww2dbase [Archibald Wavell | 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 [Operation Crusader | 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 [Battle of Moscow | 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]
  • British bombers attacked Scharnhorst and Gneisenau at Brest, France during the daylight hours at about 1230 hours. ww2dbase [Gneisenau | CPC]
  • G√ľnther von Kluge's Chief of Staff, G√ľnther 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 China France Greece
  • Jerzy Iwanow-Szajnowicz was betrayed by an associate and arrested by the Gestapo in Greece. ww2dbase [Jerzy Iwanow-Szajnowicz | JR]
Hawaii Hong Kong
  • As oil refineries on the northern coast of Hong Kong Island burned with thick black smoke, 3,500 Japanese troops crossed the Lei Yue Mun Channel and established a beachhead at 2200 hours at the foot of the Chai Wan Mountain where a coastal battery overlooked the Lei Yue Mun Channel. Two hours later, another force of 4,000 would follow, overwhelming the remaining defenders at the battery. About 30 prisoners of war were murdered on Chai Wan Mountain. ww2dbase [Battle of Hong Kong | Hong Kong | TH]
  • Shigure, Shiratsuyu, Ariake, and Yugure departed Tokuyama, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan to make rendezvous with the Pearl Harbor strike force. ww2dbase [Yugure | Shigure | Tokuyama, Yamaguchi | CPC]
Mediterranean Sea
  • HMS Neptune struck a mine off Libya. ww2dbase [Neptune | AC]
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 [Battle of Wake Island | 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 [Invasion of the Philippine Islands | CPC]
Portuguese Timor
  • Dutch and Australian troops occupied Portuguese Timor to establish a defense against advancing Japanese forces. ww2dbase [Dutch East Indies Campaign, Java | CPC]
Taiwan United Kingdom
  • Hastings Lees-Smith, acting leader of the British Labour Party and Leader of the Parliamentary opposition, passed away. ww2dbase [AC]
  • The National Service (No. 2) Act became law, making the United Kingdom the first nation to conscript single women and childless widows between the ages of 20 and 30 for military service. ww2dbase [AC]
United States 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

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