Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 830 December 8, 1941

At 12.30 PM in Washington, President Roosevelt makes his "a date which will live in infamy" speech to Congress, declaring war on Japan. Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands and the Free French will follow suit.

70,000 Japanese in French Indochina and Thailand face 88,000 British, Australian, Indian and local Malay troops in Malaya. Titiwangsa Mountains divide the Malay peninsula, running North-South to the Thai border. Japanese landings on the East coast of Malaya and Thailand convince the British to mass their defenses East of these mountains to meet the perceived threat; however, Japanese troops at Songkla and Pattani in Thailand cross the peninsula to advance down the Western side of Malaya. Japanese aircraft arrive at Songkla airfield, Southern Thailand, to begin air raids on Malaya and Singapore. British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse depart Singapore to prevent further landings from the Gulf of Siam (escorted by destroyers HMS Electra, HMS Express, HMS Tenedos and HMAS Vampire but no aircraft carrier is available and land-based air support has been destroyed).

US minesweeper USS Penguin is damaged by Japanese bombing in Agana Harbor, Guam, while directing anti-aircraft fire (1 killed, 60 wounded). USS Penguin is scuttled in 200 fathoms to prevent capture. The crew escape in liferafts and will serve ashore in the defense of Guam.

Moscow counteroffensive. North of Moscow, Soviet 30th Army cuts the Klin/Kalinin road, threatening to surround 3rd Panzer Army which is gathering at Klin. Soviet 16th Army attacks Istra causing Hoepner’s 4th Panzer Army to fall back to prevent being trapped. South of Moscow, Soviet cavalry units slice into both flanks of 2nd Panzer Army, beginning to encircle 3 infantry divisions at Livny. Although Germans around Moscow are in general retreat, Hitler issues Fuhrer directive 39 officially halting the Moscow offensive but ordering Army Group Center to hold its ground.

Operation Crusader. British allow Rommel to make an orderly retreat to the Gazala line. British tank crews are too weary after 19 days of battle and too wary of Rommel’s anti-tank gun traps to pursue.

German bombers sink British minesweeping trawlers HMT Milford Earl (5 dead) and HMT Phineas Beard off the East coast of Scotland.


  1. Canada did not wait for the USA to declare war. A state of war existed between Canada and the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941 BEFORE Congress officially declared war on December 8, 1941.

  2. Sir, you are right, my apologies. I should have checked my facts.