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Today in World War II History—December 7, 1939 & 1944

Soviet T-26 light tanks and T-20 Komsomolets armored tractors advancing into Finland during the Winter War, 2 Dec 1939 (public domain via WW2 Database)

Soviet T-26 light tanks and T-20 Komsomolets armored tractors advancing into Finland during the Winter War, 2 Dec 1939 (public domain via WW2 Database)

80 Years Ago—December 7, 1939: In Soviet-Finnish war, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Italy declare neutrality.

Lou Gehrig is elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame; at 36, he is the youngest player honored to that date.

The number three gun of the destroyer USS Ward and her crew, credited with firing the first shot at Pearl Harbor (US Navy photo)

The number three gun of the destroyer USS Ward and her crew, credited with firing the first shot at Pearl Harbor (US Navy photo)

75 Years Ago—Dec. 7, 1944: At Ormoc Bay on Leyte, destroyer USS Ward is damaged by a kamikaze; exactly three years earlier, USS Ward fired the first shots during the attack on Pearl Harbor—she is scuttled by destroyer USS O’Brien under the command of William Outerbridge, who had commanded the Ward on Dec. 7, 1941. (Read more: “Remember Pearl Harbor—The US Navy’s Role at Pearl Harbor”).

Nazi women’s leader Gertrud Scholtz-Klink asks all German women over 18 to volunteer to serve in the armed services to release men to the front.

USS Ward on fire after being struck by a Japanese kamikaze in Ormoc Bay, Philippines, 7 Dec 1944, three years to the day after she fired the first US shot of the Pacific War (US Navy photo 80-G-270773)

USS Ward on fire after being struck by a Japanese kamikaze in Ormoc Bay, Philippines, 7 Dec 1944, three years to the day after she fired the first US shot of the Pacific War (US Navy photo 80-G-270773)

2 Responses to “Today in World War II History—December 7, 1939 & 1944”

  1. Donald Steiner

    This story of the Destroyer USS Ward triggered my interest as to where I was on this date of December 7, 1944, upon reviewing out Ships Deck Log, of the LST 45, I recall it distinctly, as if it were “yesterday” we were at Leyte Gulf, beached at Tarraguna, almost directly across the island from Ormoc Bay; there was grove of trees off of our now and we were unloading Army cargo, it was 1220, “flash red” was sounded for emergency general quarters. At 1231 our anti-aircraft guns commenced firing on an unidentified plane approaching overhead the plane became identified as a friendly F40 Corsair, guns stopped firing immediately – 57 rounds 20mm, and 5 rounds 40mm expended. Thankfully, we didn’t hit it. Three days later, on the 10th we had moved to nearby Taytay Point bay with several other ships when at 1905 a Japanese Kamikaze plane came alongside our port side, we fired at it, setting it on fire, as it crossed our stern and dove into a Liberty Ship, two minutes later at 1907 a second Kamikaze plane came over and we, along with other ships, commenced firing at it as it dove into the second Liberty Ship which was unloading gasoline, setting it on fire, that ship, a few weeks earlier, had been hit in the bow and left a hole the size that a “train could go through”. The next day all hands (that were left) abanded ship and she sunk. I had not realized that the first incident was on December 7th until I read our ships log, promped by your story. Thank you for these great daily postings. Whenever you post them, I always wonder “where was I on that date?”.

    • Sarah Sundin

      My goodness, Donald. What you lived through! Thank you again for your service – I can never thank you enough.