December 1941 in History

Events in History

  • Dec 1 British cruiser HMS Dorsetshire forces crew of German submarine supply ship MV Python to scuttle vessel in the South Atlantic 1,150 miles west of South Africa

Declaration of War

Dec 1 Japanese Emperor Hirohito signs declaration of war

  • Dec 1 US Civil Air Patrol (CAP) organizes

Event of Interest

Dec 2 American mobster Louis Buchalter is sentenced to death along with his lieutenants Emanuel Weiss and Louis Capone

  • Dec 2 Largest roller skating rink (outside of NYC) opens in Peekskill, New York
  • Dec 2 US Naval Intelligence ceases bugging Japanese consul

Event of Interest

Dec 3 Adolf Hitler views Poltava, Ukraine

  • Dec 4 Nazi ordinance places Jews of Poland outside protection of courts
  • Dec 5 Football Writers Association of America organized
  • Dec 5 Patrick Hamilton's "Angel Street" premieres in NYC
  • Dec 5 Sister Elizabeth Kenny new treatment for infantile paralysis approved
  • Dec 5 Soviet anti-offensive in Moscow drives out Nazi army
  • Dec 5 US aircraft carrier Lexington and 5 heavy cruisers leave Pearl Harbor
  • Dec 6 Dutch & British pilots see Japanese invasion fleet at Singapore
  • Dec 6 NYC Council agrees to build Idlewild (Kennedy) Airport in Queens
  • Dec 7 1st Japanese midget submarine (No. 20) attacked by a US ship (USS Ward)
  • Dec 7 Adolf Hitler issues "Nacht und Nebel Erlass" (Night and Fog Directive), against anti-Nazi resistance fighters in occupied territories; targets sent to concentration camps and/or murdered
  • Dec 7 Australian bombers land on Timor and Ambon islands of Indonesia
  • Dec 7 Imperial Japanese Navy attacks US Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; 18 sailors killed, 33 of 36 patrol planes destroyed or damaged, 1st Japanese aircraft shot down in action
  • Dec 7 Imperial Japanese Navy with 353 planes attack the US fleet at Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii, killing 2,403 people

Historic Siege

Dec 7 WWII: German Siege of Tobruk, Libya ends after 8 months, as Erwin Rommel withdraws after losses and supply chain failures

  • Dec 8 Chełmno extermination camp opens, 50 kilometres from Łódź, Poland
  • Dec 8 London: Dutch government-in-exile declares war on Japan
  • Dec 8 Russian 16th army recaptures Krijukovo
  • Dec 8 San Francisco 1st blackout, at 6:15 PM
  • Dec 8 US and Britain declare war on Japan, US enters World War II
  • Dec 9 1st US WW II bombing mission in Far East, Luzon, Philippines

Event of Interest

Dec 9 300 Montgomery, San Francisco opens as new Bank of America HQ

  • Dec 9 Adolf Hitler orders US ships to be torpedoed
  • Dec 9 China declares war on Japan, Germany & Italy
  • Dec 9 Citizen Register reports "Hostile planes reported nearing Westchester"
  • Dec 10 British battleship Prince of Wales and battlecruiser Repulse (Force Z) sunk following Japanese aerial attacks off Malaya. 840 men die
  • Dec 10 Japanese troops landed on northern Luzon in the Philippines
  • Dec 10 Japanese troops overrun Guam
  • Dec 11 Axis powers Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declare war against the United States
  • Dec 11 Dutch government in London declares war on Italy
  • Dec 11 Japanese attack Wake Island (only failed WW II-landing)
  • Dec 11 Japanese occupy Guam
  • Dec 12 European reservists on Java mobilize
  • Dec 12 German occupying army do a house search in Paris looking for Jews
  • Dec 12 Soviet 20th army recaptures Soljetsjnogorsk
  • Dec 13 German occupiers forbid National Front and Netherland Union
  • Dec 13 Lawine battlers destroy Haaraz, Peru; about 3,000 die
  • Dec 14 Japan and Thailand sign a treaty of alliance

Event of Interest

Dec 14 Premier Winston Churchill travels to US on board HMS Duke of York

  • Dec 14 U-557 torpedoes British cruiser Galatea
  • Dec 15 Gas/electrical use restricted in Holland
  • Dec 15 German submarine U-127 sinks

Event of Interest

Dec 15 Nazis transfers 100 Czech citizens, Heinrich Himmler falls faint

  • Dec 15 North Africa: allied assault up Italians Gazala-posing
  • Dec 15 The American Federation of Labor adopts a no-strike policy in war industries.
  • Dec 15 USS Swordfish becomes 1st US sub to sink a Japanese ship
  • Dec 16 Sarawak occupied by Japanese forces
  • Dec 17 Dutch & Australian troops land on Portuguese Timor
  • Dec 17 German submarine U-31 sunk
  • Dec 17 German troops led by Erwin Rommel begin retreating in North Africa
  • Dec 17 World War II: Beginning of the Siege of Sebastopol.
  • Dec 18 44 surviving crewmen of German U-434 surrender to the HMS Blankney after scuttling their wounded submarine. Two are lost.
  • Dec 18 Japanese troops land on Hong Kong
  • Dec 19 Adolf Hitler takes complete command of German Army
  • Dec 19 German submarine U-574 sinks
  • Dec 19 US Office of Censorship created to control info pertaining to WW II
  • Dec 20 Free France under adm Muselier occupies St-Pierre et Miquelon
  • Dec 20 Japanese troops land on Mindanao, Philippines
  • Dec 20 World War II: First battle of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the "Flying Tigers" in Kunming, China.
  • Dec 21 German submarine U-567 sinks
  • Dec 22 Japan's invasion leader lands on Luzon, Philippines

Event of Interest

Dec 22 Tito establishes 1st Proletarian Brigade in Yugoslavia

  • Dec 22 Winston Churchill arrives in Washington, D.C. for a wartime conference
  • Dec 23 American forces on Wake Island surrender to Japanese
  • Dec 23 British troops overrun Benghazi, Libya
  • Dec 23 Japan begins assault on Rangoon, Burma
  • Dec 24 First ships of admiral Nagumo's Pearl Harbor fleet return to Japan
  • Dec 25 Japan announces surrender of British-Canadian garrison at Hong Kong
  • Dec 25 Japanese aircraft carriers Akagi/Kagu back in Kure, Japan
  • Dec 26 Winston Churchill becomes first British Prime Minister to address a joint meeting of the US Congress, warning that Axis would "stop at nothing"
  • Dec 27 Japan bombs Manila even though it was declared an "open city"
  • Dec 28 State of siege goes into effect in Bohemia and Moravia

The Taming of Winston Churchill

Dec 30 In an emotional speech to the Canadian Parliament Winston Churchill states Britain will never surrender to "Hitler and his Nazi gang" and that "they have asked for total war. Let us make sure they get it". Afterwards Yousef Karsh captures him in his famous photograph, "The Roaring Lion".

  • Dec 30 Nazis require Dutch physicians to join Nazi organization
  • Dec 31 Young Park (2) in the Bronx named in honor of Samuel Young

Birthdays in History

  • Dec 2 Paul Ching Wu Chu, Chinese-American physicist (superconductivity), born in Changsha, Hunan, China
  • Dec 6 Richard Speck, American mass murderer (raped and killed 8 student nurses in 1966), born in Kirkwood, Illinois (d. 1991)
  • Dec 8 Albert J Evenhuis, Dutch undersecretary of Economic (VVD)
  • Dec 8 Randall "Duke" Cunningham, US Navy fighter pilot and Congressman
  • Dec 11 Max Baucus, American politician (11th United States Ambassador to China), born in Helena, Montana
  • Dec 14 Ellen Willis, American journalist and feminist, born in NYC, New York (d. 2006)
  • Dec 18 William, English Prince of Gloucester and grandson of George V, born in Hadley Common, England (d. 1972)
  • Dec 20 Frank Creton, Suriname/Neth painter
  • Dec 25 Lex Hixon, religious teacher/author
  • Dec 28 Don Francisco [Mario Kreutzberger], Chilean TV variety show host (Sábado Gigante, 1962-2015), born in Talca, Chile

Weddings in History

  • Dec 6 King Leopold of Belgium marries Lilian Baels
  • Dec 30 Al Capone's son Sonny marries in Miami Beach

Deaths in History

  • Dec 1 Alva B. Adams, American politician (U.S. Senator from Colorado, 1933-41), dies at 66
  • Dec 3 Pavel Filonov, Russian painter (b. 1883)
  • Dec 5 Amrita Sher-Gil, Hungarian-Indian painter described as the “Indian Frida Kahlo" and "one of the greatest avant-garde women artists of the early 20th century," dies of complications from a failed abortion at 28
  • Dec 6 Oskar Ernst Bernhardt, German author (In the Light of Truth: The Grail Message), dies at 66
  • Dec 7 Franklin Van Valkenburgh, United States Navy officer (Captain of USS Arizona), Medal of Honor recipient, killed in Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor at 53
  • Dec 7 Fusata Iida, Japanese Navy Air Service fighter pilot (commander of the Japanese 3rd Air Group), considered the 1st "kamikaze", dies in battle at U.S. Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii at 28
  • Dec 7 Herbert C. Jones, United States Navy ensign, Medal of Honor recipient, killed in Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor at 23
  • Dec 7 Mervyn S. Bennion, United States Navy officer (Captain of USS West Virginia), WWI veteran, and Medal of Honor recipient, killed in Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor at 54
  • Dec 7 Thomas J. Reeves, United States Navy radioman, Medal of Honor recipient, killed in Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor at 45
  • Dec 9 Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Russian writer and philosopher (b. 1865)
  • Dec 9 Leonard "Leo" Polak, Dutch philosopher, dies in Sachsenhausen concentration camp at 61
  • Dec 10 Colin Kelly, American B-17 Flying Fortress pilot and 1st US air hero during WW II, killed in action at 26 after ordering his crew to bail out shortly before his bomber exploded
  • Dec 11 Charles Émile Picard, French mathematician, died at 85
  • Dec 11 John Gillespie Magee, Jr., American poet and aviator (b. 1922)
  • Dec 12 Cesar Basa, Philippine Air Force and World War II hero (b. 1915)
  • Dec 19 L M Dovator, Russian general, dies in battle
  • Dec 20 Igor Severyanin, Russian poet (b. 1887)
  • Dec 30 El Lissitzky, Russian artist and architect (b. 1890)