This month in WW2: December

This page gives a daily diary snapshot of December in WW2.


WW2 was a global conflict that raged from September 1939 to August 1945; almost six long years.

The change of seasons brought with it changes in the pace of the war. Spring generally meant new offensives, while winter could mean stalemate or a winter offensive - such as those made by the Russians on the eastern front, or the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardenne.

A  rescue launch approaches the battleship USS WEST VIRGINIA, struck by at least six torpedoes and sinking slowly to the bottom.

A Day of Infamy: Dec 7th 1941. Japanese aircraft attack the US base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

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1 December 1942: The plans for the long term decline of British society are announced when Sir William Beverage announces that after the war Britain will become a ‘welfare state’.

2 December 1941: The British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse arrive in Singapore to boost the colony’s defenses

3 December 1944: King George takes the salute from the British Home Army, the ‘Home Guard’, and orders it to stand down

4 December 1943: The US Carrier, Lexington , ‘the Blue Ghost’ is damaged by a Japanese torpedo in the Marshall Islands, its aircraft having destroyed 30 enemy aircraft. The Lexington survived the war, and eventually became a museum in Texas

5 December 1940: Hilter meets with his Generals to discuss plans for the invasion of the USSR

6 December 1941: Japanese forces leave Palau for the Philippines

7 December 1941: ‘A Day of Infamy’; At approx 07:00 on a Sunday morning, Japanese carrier aircraft attack the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii sinking five battleships and fourteen other ships. Miraculously, the US carrier fleet escape the attack as they are at sea

8 December 1941: Britain, Australia and the United States declare war on Japan

9 December 1945: General Patton has a road accident and is paralysed from the neck down

10 December 1941: Japanese forces take the Pacific island of Guam

11 December 1943: US film makers film troops battling for the Italian town of San Pietro

12 December 1941: Japanese troops enter Burma

13 December 1942: Hitler appoints Anton Mussert as the leader of the Nederlands

14 December 1941: Japanese forces land in Penang and Gurun, on the Malaya Peninsula

15 December 1943: Allied forces attack along the Reinhard Line, Italy while Moroccan troops secure the San Michel Pass

16 December 1944: German forces attack through the lightly defended region of the Ardennes, retracing their plan of 1940. The ‘Battle of the Bulge’ had begun. Glenn Miller is presumed dead after his aircraft disappears over the English Channel

17 December 1939: The German pocket-battleship Admiral Graf Spee is scuttled by her captain off the neutral port of Montevideo, Uruguay after a fierce battle with the Royal Navy

18 December 1941: Japanese troops land on Hong Kong

19 December 1941: Adolf Hitler becomes Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the German Army

20 December 1944: German forces begin the encirclement of US forces at Bastogne, Belgium as the battle becomes named
the ‘Battle of the Bulge’

21 December 1945: General Patton dies following a car accident on 9th December

22 December 1944: The Allies evacuate St Vith in the Ardennes, Belgium

23 December 1941: The Japanese capture Wake Island in the Pacific. Manila, in the Philippines is declared an open city

24 December 1941: British troops recapture Benghazi in N.Africa

25 December 1944: The Allies begin a counter offensive in the Ardennes, Belgium, driving German forces back from the River Meuse

- [Veteran's story] -

'Screaming Eagle' Art Schmitz tells of Christmas Eve 1944

26 December 1944: US Third Army tanks relieve Bastongne

27 December 1944: Russian forces complete the encirclement of Budapest, Hungary

28 December 1939: The first Indian troops arrive to join the British Expeditionary Force in France

29 December 1940: US President Roosevelt declares that the United States is “the arsenal of the democracies”

30 December 1944: US Scientists working on the Manhattan Project estimate that the first atomic bomb will be ready by July 1945

31 December 1939: London police arrest New Years revellers shining torches at the statue of Eros, in contravention of Blackout regulations