Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 829 December 7, 1941

Without declaring war, Japan launches a series of highly-coordinated attacks on British and American territory (spanning the International Date Line). The opening move is a landing of 5500 troops from Gulf of Thailand to capture the airfield at Kota Bharu on the Northeast corner of British-held Malaya. This is followed by several larger landings further up the coast in Thailand, meeting stiff Thai resistance until midday when Thai government agrees an armistice.

200 miles North of Oahu, Hawaii, 6 Japanese carriers launch 360 aircraft (104 bombers, 135 dive bombers, 40 torpedo bombers and 81 fighters) to attack US Pacific Fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbor. Torpedo bombers in the 1st wave (7.55-8.25 AM) followed by high-level & dive bombers at 8.40 AM sink 4 US battleships & 3 destroyers while 4 other battleships and 3 cruisers are badly damaged (2,402 servicemen & 57 civilians killed, 1,247 servicemen & 35 civilians wounded). Japanese lose 5 torpedo bombers, 15 bombers, 9 fighters and 5 midget submarines (55 killed). However, the attack does not find any US aircraft carriers (which are not at Pearl Harbor) and fails to destroy shore facilities.

Japanese bombers from Formosa (now Taiwan) bomb US airfields on the main island in the US-held Philippines, Luzon, destroying US Boeing B-17 bombers on the ground (ironically, sent as a deterrent to threaten Japanese airbases on Formosa) along with their Curtiss P-40 fighter support. Having established air superiority, Japanese Navy captures the tiny island of Batan, 120 miles North of Luzon.

China. 12 battalions of Japanese troops attack from the Chinese mainland across the New Territories towards Hong Kong. British defenders are forced to fall back to the Gindrinkers Line, the main defensive line protecting Hong Kong. In Shanghai, Japanese marines capture US river gunboat USS Wake and Japanese cruiser Izumo sinks British river gunboat HMS Peterel.

Siege of Leningrad Day 91. The day after the completion of ‘corduroy’ road to Lake Ladoga, Soviets recapture Tikhvin.

Moscow counteroffensive. North of Moscow, Soviet 30th Army advances on 3rd Panzer Army at Klin. South of Moscow, Soviet 50th Army attacks out of Tula, trying to link up with 10th Army to cut off parts of 2nd Panzer Army.

Operation Crusader. Africa Korps, with fewer than 40 tanks operational, is unlikely to receive many more due to British success against Italian shipping in the Mediterranean. In contrast, British are able to bring up fresh tanks from Egypt. Rommel realises he cannot persevere around Tobruk and withdraws 25 miles to prepared positions at Gazala. The siege of Tobruk is over, lasting 241 days since April 11.

U-208, trying to enter the Mediterranean, is sunk by British destroyers HMS Harvester and HMS Hesperus 115 miles West of Gibraltar (all 45 hands lost).

Canadian corvette HMCS Windflower, escorting convoy SC-58 off Newfoundland, collides with Dutch freighter Zypenberg in dense fog and sinks (23 crew lost).

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