Malayan rubber plantation burnt by the British as they retreat to Singapore, Dec 1941 (Imperial War Museum: 4700-45 KF 97)
80 Years Ago—Dec. 23, 1941: Japanese take Wake Island after determined defense by US Marines.
British evacuate Malaya above the Perak River as the Japanese advance.
Off Cambria, CA, Japanese sub I-21 sinks US tanker Montebello in sight of the coast; survivors machine-gunned in lifeboats but no one is injured.
Canadian Prime Minister King, British Ambassador Halifax, and Chinese Ambassador Song with US President Roosevelt, Arcadia Conference, Washington DC, 1 Jan 1942 (US Government photo)
80 Years Ago—Dec. 22, 1941: Arcadia Conference begins in Washington, DC: Britain and US agree to “Germany First” plan.
Japanese make main landings at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon, and advance toward Manila.
First American troops arrive in Australia.
US expands draft: all men 18-65 must register, all men 20-44 are liable for conscription.
British escort carrier HMS Audacity, 1941 (US Navy photo)
80 Years Ago—Dec. 21, 1941: In Atlantic convoy HG-76, U-751 sinks British escort carrier Audacity, which had kept away 12 U-boats for a loss of only 4 ships in the convoy, leading the Germans to change tactics when carriers are present.
American Volunteer Group 3rd Pursuit Squadron in front of a P-40C Tomahawk, 1941 (US National Archives)
80 Years Ago—Dec. 20, 1941: Japanese land on Mindanao in the Philippines and in Dutch Borneo, Celebes, and the Moluccas in Netherlands East Indies.
American Volunteer Group (“Flying Tigers”) flies its first mission over China.
Adm. Ernest King is named Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet.
Off Mendocino, CA, Japanese sub I-17 sinks US tanker Emidio, the first loss off the US West Coast.
Goebbels appeals to German public for winter clothing for troops.
Certificate for participating in German winter clothing collection, December 1941
Victory Garden poster, US, WWII
80 Years Ago—Dec. 19, 1941: Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch resigns as Commander in Chief of German army; Hitler takes his place.
US forms Office of Censorship.
US Department of Agriculture holds National Defense Garden Conference to encourage home and community gardens (Read more: “Victory Gardens in World War II”).
British WWII posters for the Auxiliary Territorial Service, Women’s Royal Naval Service, and Women’s Auxiliary Air Force
80 Years Ago—Dec. 18, 1941: Japanese land on Hong Kong Island.
In Britain, all unmarried women ages 20-31 are called up and required to choose between ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service), WRNS (Women’s Royal Naval Service), WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force), Civil Defense, Land Army, or war industry work, the first military conscription of women in any country.
Congress passes First War Powers Act, giving president power to reorganize governmental agencies, and authorizing censorship of mail and communications.
Admiral Nimitz addressing officers after assuming command of US Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor, 31 Dec 1941; Admiral Kimmel at right (US Naval History and Heritage Command: NH 62021)
80 Years Ago—Dec. 17, 1941: Due to Pearl Harbor attack, Adm. Chester Nimitz is named to replace Rear Adm. Husband Kimmel as Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet.
Germans intern 340 American men in France; those Americans not interned have to report weekly to German military commanders.
North Platte Canteen opens at Union Pacific station in North Platte, Nebraska; will serve 6 million servicemen.
Lt. Boyd “Buzz” Wagner (National Museum of the US Air Force: 050607-F-1234P-025)
80 Years Ago—Dec. 16, 1941: Japanese land in British Borneo.
In the Philippines, P-40 fighter pilot Lt. Boyd Wagner becomes the first US Army Air Force ace (5 victories) in World War II.
US poster, 1942
80 Years Ago—Dec. 15, 1941: With Germans in retreat, the Soviet government returns to Moscow.
American Federation of Labor adopts a no-strike policy in war industries.
Many US universities agree to cut undergraduate programs to three years by going year-round.
Troops of the Japanese 15th Army preparing to cross into Burma, late Dec 1941 (public domain via WW2 Database)
80 Years Ago—Dec. 14, 1941: Japanese land at Penang, Malaya, and Victoria Point, Burma.
US armed forces extend term of service for enlistments to “duration plus six months.”