27 December 1941 - 02 January 1942

27 December 1941

El Haseit , Libya : At the battle of El Haseia in Libya, German tanks from recently reinforced and reformed 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions flanked British 22nd Armoured Brigade in a suprise attack before Agadebia , destroying many British tanks, but failed to break through.

Lofoten Islands , Norway : British Commandos and Norwegian troops completed the Operation Anklet raid in the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway, embarking a number of ships to return to Britain along with 29 prisoners of war and 200 Norwegian volunteers who wished to joined the forces of the Norwegian government-in-exile.

Vaasgo Island , Norway : Royal Navy cruiser HMS Kenya and four Royal Navy destroyers bombarded German defenses on Vaagso Island, southern Norway in Operation Archery at dawn. Shortly after the bombardment, 560 British Commandos and 12 Norwegian troops landed, wiped out German local garrison of 180 German mountain troops and 65 men strong local German naval detachment , destroyed fish oil production and storage facilities and four shore batteries , sank six German cargo vessels and three naval anti submarine patrol ships in the harbour totaling 17.000 tons , and captured a complete German naval code book as well as total 98 German prisoners and Quisling supporter Norwegian prisoners and returned back to UK. In this operation, the Allies suffered 21 British and 1 Norwegian killed, while the Germans suffered 150 killed.

Hitler, angered by the range and unexpectedness of the attack, began to talk of turning the whole North Sea, Channel and Atlantic coastlines under his control into an impregnable fortress: ‘Fortress Europe’. Not knowing where an Allied attack might come, and faced now with the inevitability of eventual American participation in it, Hitler ordered the construction of coastal fortification from the border of Norway and Finland, above the Arctic Circle, to the border between France and Spain in the Bay of Biscay.

Berlin, Germany : There was another change of German plans on December 27; Dr Todt, in conversation that day with Albert Speer, insisted that communication and transportation conditions in Russia, from which he had just returned, were so difficult, and the ‘discouragement and despair’ among the German soldiers so great, that grandiose architectural building plans would have to be suspended, in terms of priority use of skilled manpower, until the roads of the Ukraine could be put in order. Staff and workmen who were still ‘frivolously engaged’, as Speer later wrote, in working on road construction in Germany would have to be sent to Russia to repair and build the roads there, without which neither supplies nor men could move forward. Todt told Speer he had seen ‘stalled hospital trains in which the wounded had frozen to death, and had witnessed the misery of the troops in villages and hamlets cut off by snow and cold’.

Philippines : Japanese air units bombed Manila, Philippine Islands while 6 US PBY Catalina aircraft attacked Japanese warships at Jolo (4 would be shot down). On land, US and Philippine forces withdrew to the Santa-Ignacia-Gerona-Guimba-San Jose line 30 miles south of Lingayen Gulf, Luzon.
US cargo ship Taurus was bombed by Japanese aircraft and scuttled in Pasig River.

Leningrad , Russia : German 250th Infantry Division of Spanish volunteers repulsed a heavy Soviet attack about 100 kilometers south of Leningrad, Russia which began on 23 Dec 1941.

Dutch East Indies : British and Indian troops originally based in Kuching, Sarawak, island of Borneo fled into Dutch territory. To the north, Japanese troops captured the Tambelan Islands, Dutch East Indies, which was the first Dutch territorial loss in the Pacific War.

South China Sea : Japanese cargo ship Nojima Maru was torpedoed and sunk by US submarine USS Perch at south west of Hong Kong

British Malaya : Japanese bombers attacked Kuala Lumpur, Malaya. Meanwhile, Japanese troops from 25th Army advanced toward Kampar in western Malaya and Kuantan on the east coast. General Sir Henry Pownell suceeds Vice Air Marshal Sir Brooke-Popham as British Commander in Chief Far East

Crimea , Ukraine : 46th Infantry Division of the German 11th Army counterattacked the Soviet beachheads on the Kerch Peninsula, Russia, but the attacks failed to stop further Soviet reinforcements from the sea. Soviet troopship Penay and Soviet minesweeper Kiziltash were bombed and sunk by Luftwaffe JU-87 dive bombers with loss of 200 Soviet troops and naval personnel.

Pacific Ocean : Japanese submarine I-25 shelled and sank unarmed American tanker Connecticut about 10 miles west of the mouth of the Columbia River off the American states of Oregon and Washington.


That ship was salvaged after this attack. She sank after another attack on April 22, 1942.

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28 December 1941

Burma : Lieutenant-General Thomas Hutton assumed command of Burma army. A competent and efficient Staff Officer (he had been responsible for the great expansion of the Indian army), he had not actually commanded troops for twenty years. Across the border in Thailand, Japanese Colonel Keiji Suzuki announced the disbandment of the Minami Kikan (Burmese armed pro-Japanese nationalists) organization, which would be replaced by the formation of a Burma Independence Army (BIA), to accompany the Invasion force.

Libya : A British SAS squad led by Lt. Paddy Mayne led a second night raid on Temet airfield at El Aghelia , destroying 20 Italian and five German aircraft on the ground and fuel depots in the airfield. (within two weeks Mayne’s SAS team destroyed 49 Axis aircraft on the ground in same airfield)

Mediterranean Sea : German submarine U-75 attacked Allied convoy ME-8 off Mersa Matruh, Egypt, sinking British cargo ship Volo; 24 were killed, 14 survived. However Royal Navy destroyer HMS Kipling escorting the convoy , detected the German submarine in shallow water with sonar , counterattacked and sank U-75 with depth charges; 14 were killed, 30 survived , picked up and captured by British.

British Malaya : Indian 22nd Brigade arrived at Kuantan, Pahang, Malaya.

Sumatra , Dutch East Indies : Japanese paratroop detachments began landing on Sumatra.

Philippines : On Luzon island, Philippine Islands, the US 4th Marine Regiment completed its move from the Bataan Peninsula to Corregidor Island except for the radar detachment. Meanwhile, also on Luzon, north of the capital of Manila, US and Phiippine defenses fell back to the Tarlac-Cabanatuan line. Over Manila, Japanese aircraft appeared again, sinking four British small freighters and two US cargo ships totalling 7.000 tons in Manila Bay. To the south, Japanese 16th Division captured Luisiana, with forward units reaching as far as Los Baños on the southern shore of Laguna de Bay.

USS Permit embarked Admiral Thomas Hart’s staff at Mariveles Harbor at the southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula, Philippine Islands for evacuation.

Czechslovakia : British SOE (Special Oerations Executive) started Operation Anthropoid, parachuting two Czech agents, Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik, near Pilsen. Their task was to get in touch with the Czech underground and prepare for assasination of SS General and ruler of Bohemia and Czech protectorate Reinhardt Heydrich.


29 December 1941

Berlin Germany : OKM (German Naval High Command) decided to send battleship Tirpitz to Norway on 10 Jan 1942 to tie down Allied naval resources in the North Atlantic.

Philippines : 40 land-based bombers of the Japanese Navy 5th Air Group attacked Corregidor in the Philippine Islands for the first time. On Luzon island, Japanese Lingayen Force captured Cabanatuan, but American and Filipino forces held on to Tarlac to the west.

Rangoon , Burma : Japanese bombers struck Rangoon, Burma, destroying the railway station and dock facilities.

Burma - Thailand Frontier : The counter attacks by 17th Indian Division push vanguard of 15th Japanese Army back to Bokhpyn Thailand.

Dutch Borneo : British troops, Indian troops, and civilians from Kuching, British Borneo arrived at Singkawang II airfield in Dutch Borneo. The British and Indian troops were incorporated under Dutch command to bolster the airfield’s defenses, while the civilians were sent further south to Pontianak to await further evacuation.

China : Chinese Rear Admiral Chan Chak arrived in Huizhou, Guangdong Province, China with a group of British officers and men who had escaped from Hong Kong four days prior.

Japanese and Chinese troops clashed in northern Hunan Province, China.

Crimea , Ukraine : The Soviet 44th Army landed 23,000 men and a battalion of tanks at Feodosiya to reinforce Sevastopol, Russia at 0350 hours. In response, General Hans von Sponeck ordered the German 46th Infantry Division to fall back, losing much heavy equipment in the process and against Adolf Hitler’s “no retreat” order. While offloading troops at Sevastopol, Russia, Soviet light cruiser Molotov was damaged in the stern by German artillery.

Kola Peninsula , Russia : Allied convoy QP-4 departed Arkhangelsk, Russia.


30th December 1941

Java , Dutch East Indies : General Sir Archibald Wavell assumed command of the newly created ABDA Command (American-British-Dutch-Australian) with his headquarters in Java, Dutch East Indies.

Washington , USA : Admiral Ernest King was officially sworn in as the Commander-in-Chief of US Fleet.

Ottawa , Canada : Winston Churchill spoke to the Canadian Parliament , making fun of French general Maxime Weygands prediction in June 1940 that Britain’s head will be wrung like a chicken in three weeks , “Some chicken , some neck”

Moscow Front , Russia : Soviet troops captured Kaluga, Russia near Moscow.

Philippines : Japanese Lingayen Force captured Tarlac on Luzon, Philippine Islands; American and Filipino forces fell back to the Bamban-Sibul Springs Line, the final defensive line north of Manila. South of Manila, the Japanese 16th Division reached the Laguna De Bay lake

Libya : German and British tanks clashed near El Haseiat, Libya; the Germans destroyed 65 tanks at the loss of 30 panzers. Not a decisive blow as Rommel hoped (but still a bloody nose that spelled ill omen for 8th Army in the future) , so German Italian Panzer Group hurriedly retreated back to El Aghelia.

General Francis Tuker was made the commanding officer of Indian 4th Division.

Mediterranean Sea : German cargo ship Campina was torpedoed and sunk by Royal Navy submarine HMS Thorn in Ionian Sea.

British Malaya : 8,000 troops of the 9th Brigade of the Japanese 5th Division launched probing attacks on Kampar on the west coast of British Malaya. On the east coast, Japanese troops attacked the defensive positions north of the Kuantan River, whose defenders were confused by inaccurate intelligence that the Japanese were to land from the sea behind them. At midnight 11th Indian Division defending the central Malaya have surrendered Kampar and retreated from the river Perak , regrouping in further south on river Slim. Major general Heath’s hopes of making a stand against Japanese main force as it advanced south on the coast were crushed when a second Japanese column emerged from his eastern flank from the jungle , previously through impassable after marching from Thailand.

South China Sea : British troop transport ship Kudat was bombed and sunk by Japanese bombers in Klang Straits off Malaya.

Crimea , Ukraine : German troops retreated from Kerch peninsula.
10,000 Jews were massacred in Simferopol, Crimea.

Black Sea : Soviet minesweeper Minrep struck a mine and sank off Kerch peninsula


31 December 1941

Pearl Harbour , Hawaii : Admiral Chester Nimitz assumed command of the US Navy Pacific Fleet; the ceremony was performed on board submarine Grayling at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.

American carrier USS Yorktown became the flagship of Rear Admiral Frank Fletcher’s newly-formed Task Force 17.

Iceland : Allied convoy PQ-7b departed Hvalfjörður, Iceland. Through Arctic waters, British supplies for Russia had continued to arrive at Archangel where, after their hazardous journey, they were hurried southward by rail to Moscow, the railway line itself remaining well behind the German front line. In all, 750 tanks, 800 fighter aircraft, 1,400 vehicles and 100,000 tons of stores reached Archangel from Britain by the end of the year. (36.000 tons more supplies were shipped by British to USSR over Iran to Soviet held Caucausia since September 1941 so far) Small in terms of what was needed, these supplies were not only useful in themselves, but an earnest of what was to come, and a pledge of continuing support.

Atlantic Ocean : British tanker Cardita straggled behind her convoy , was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-87.

British Malaya : British 155th Field Regiment of the Lanarkshire Yeomanry stopped a Japanese attack at Kampar, British Malaya; further south on the western coast, the Japanese landed behind the Allied lines. On the east coast, the Indian 9th Division fell back to the south side of the Kuantan River.

Russia : In the Soviet Union, the struggle for survival had reached a crucial stage; December 31 saw the recapture of yet another town in the Moscow sector, Kozelsk by Red Army , which lay to the west of the Medyn-Orel defensive line established by the Germans three and a half weeks earlier.

On the Kerch Peninsula, the Russian landings of two days earlier at Feodosiya had secured a strong foothold, in temperatures so cold—minus twenty degrees centigrade—that, as one historian has written, ‘the immobile wounded inexorably died as stiffened blocks of ice’. Soviet cargo ship Krasnogvardeets was bombed and sunk by Luftwaffe JU-88 bombers off Kerch peninsula. But the Feodosiya landings were a blow to the Germans, who were forced to break off their operations against Sevastopol to halt the new Russian thrust.

In just over seven months of fighting in Russia, as many as 200,000 German soldiers had been killed in action, or had died of their wounds; in the extreme cold, even a relatively minor wound and bleeding could lead to severe shock, and death. In one day alone, at the end of December, as a result of frostbite, more than fourteen thousand German soldiers had been forced to submit to amputation. Not all of them survived the operation. A further sixty-two thousand frostbite cases were classified as ‘moderate’: not involving amputation, but resulting in a total incapacity to return to action.

Crimea , Ukraine : Germans halted their attacks on Sevastopol, Russia for the winter.

Leningrad , Russia : The reality of war was of daily and desperate suffering. In Leningrad, where three to four thousand people were dying each day of starvation, despite an increase in a worker’s daily bread ration from eight to ten-and-a-half ounces, the scenes reflected the true face of what was now a global war.

‘Death would overtake people in all kinds of circumstances,’ a city official later recalled. ‘While they were on the streets, they would fall down and never rise again; or in their houses, where they would fall asleep and never awake; in factories, where they would collapse while doing a job of work. There was no transport, and the dead body would usually be put on a hand-sleigh drawn by two or three members of the dead man’s family; often, wholly exhausted during the long trek to the cemetery, they would abandon the body halfway, leaving the authorities to deal with it’. In Leningrad, however, as everywhere in war torn Europe and Asia, these ‘authorities’ were themselves powerless to control suffering, disease, or even the burial of the dead. That winter, a Leningrader on his way by car to the Piskarevsky cemetery, on the north-eastern outskirts of the city, noted down his impressions of the journey. ‘Coming out of town,’ he wrote, ‘where there were small one-storey houses, I saw gardens and orchards, and then an extraordinary formless heap. I came nearer. There were on both sides of the road such enormous piles of bodies that two cars could not pass. A car could go only on one side, and was unable to turn around.’

Hundreds of people, pulling the corpse of a loved one or a neighbour on a sledge, had hardly the strength to dump it on the ground. ‘Not infrequently,’ one historian has recorded, ‘those who pulled the sledge fell beside the corpse, themselves dead—without a sound, without a groan, without a cry.’ ‘To take someone who has died to the cemetery’, a Leningrad writer, Luknitsky, noted in his diary on December 29, ‘is an affair so laborious that it exhausts the last vestiges of strength in the survivors; and the living, fulfilling their duty to the dead, are brought to the brink of death themselves.’

Singapore : In Singapore, British and Dutch transports took on civilians for evacuation to South Africa.

Taiwan : Off the Chinese coast, 56 Japanese troop transports departed the island of Taiwan, escorted by 3 cruisers and 16 destroyers, for an amphibious operations in British Malaya.

Philippines : Japanese Lingayen Force captured Sibul Springs, Luzon, Philippine Islands, breaching part of the final defensive line north of Manila. South of the city, Japanese tanks of Sonoda Force reached Baliuag.

Japanese aircraft attacked the fortified island of Corregidor, to which MacArthur and the United States Philippines headquarters abd Philippine goverment including Manuel Quezon had been transferred four days earlier. US cargo ships Montanes and Magallenes were scuttled at Manila harbour. Meanwhile, the last day of the year, American and Filipino troops completed the evacuation of Manila.

Washington , USA : Franklin Roosevelt notified Chiang Kaishek that he had obtained agreement from the governments of Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands for the establishment of a China Theatre of War with the Chiang as the Supreme Allied Commander.

At the Arcadia Conference in Washington DC, United States, (which resumed on 31st December) Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt agreed on a “Germany First” strategy and creation of a Joint Chiefs of Staff made up Chiefs of various armed forces from both nations for joint war aims and determining strategy.


1 January 1942

Occupied France : Jean Moulin, the former mayor of Chartes, parachuted into France in an effort to coordinate and unify resistance groups.

Washington , US : British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, US President Franklin Roosevelt, Soviet Ambassador Maxim Litvinov, and Chinese Ambassador Song Ziwen (also known as T. V. Soong) signed the Declaration by United Nations during the Arcadia Conference in Washington DC, United States. Allied powers also announced preliminary plans for punishing enemy war criminals after the war.

Vice Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll was appointed as Commander-in-Chief, US Atlantic Fleet with the USS Augusta as his flagship.

Germany : Oberstgeneral Ernst Udet, head of the Luftwaffe’s Production and Development, committed suicide over his perceived inability to properly perform his mission.

Malaya : Japanese troops from 25th Army continued the assault on Kampar, British Malaya; both sides incurred heavy casualties in the morning. Meanwhile, Japanese 11th Regiment landed in the Bernam River 35 miles to the southwest. Japanese forces, continuing their southern advance, occupied Kuantan. In Washington , US , Winston Churchill complained of Royal Navy’s inability to disrupt Japanese shipping in Malayan waters.

Philippines : American and Filipino forces south of Manila, Luzon, Philippine Islands abandoned their positions and joined the defenses north of the city, which would fall back across the Calumpit bridges by the end of the day. Meanwhile, the Japanese sent a message to the mayor of Manila announcing that the Japanese forces would arrive on the following day. American and Filipino troops were pushed back into the Bataan peninsula. Off Luzon , Japanese cargo ship Teiun Maru entered a Japanese minefield and sunk with loss of 135 passangers and crew.

London , UK : At Bletchley, where 1,500 British scholars and academics were now decrypting and analysing the German Enigma messages, the first day of January brought a remarkable success, the breaking of four separate Enigma keys: ‘Pink’, used by the German Air Force command for messages of the highest secrecy, and ‘Gadfly’, ‘Hornet’ and ‘Wasp’, used by three of the German air corps. On the following day, 2 January, a fifth key was broken; known at Bletchley as ‘Kite’, it carried the German Army’s most secret supply messages from Berlin to the Eastern Front.

North Sea : British cargo ship Kentwood struck a mine and sank. All crew rescued

Crimea , Ukraine : The Red Army presses on with a strong counter attack on Kerch peninsula. Soviet cargo ship Tashkent was bombed and sunk by Luftwaffe aircraft off Fedosia.


2 January 1942

Moscow Front , Rzhev , Russia : Red Army broke through German lines at Rzhev, Russia. It was on the Eastern Front, on January 2, that Hitler issued an order forbidding his Ninth German Army, which had just evacuated Kalinin, to make any further withdrawals. Not ‘one inch of ground’ was to be given up. But the Red Army was not to be deterred in its repeated attacks by any such instructions to its enemy; that same day, the Thirty-ninth Russian Army broke through the German front line north-west of Rzhev. Such victories were helped by the growing Russian efforts behind the lines. ‘Repeatedly’, the Second Panzer Army reported on January 2, ‘it has been observed that the enemy is accurately informed about the soft spots in our front and frequently picks the boundaries between our corps and divisions as points of attack.’ Russian civilians, the report added, were crossing between the lines, and passing back information. ‘The movement of the inhabitants between the fronts’, this report concluded, ‘must, therefore, be prevented by all possible means.’

Bardia , Libya : Due to lack of water and oıther supplies , 7,000 Axis troops (5.600 Italian and 1.400 German) at Bardia, Libya surrendered to the besieging 8th Army , delivering the port city to British. Among the prisoners of war was German general Artir Schmitt.

Washington , USA : In Washington, Roosevelt and Churchill presided jointly on January 2 over a meeting, the main decision of which was in due course to overshadow all tactical manoeuvres: a staggering increase in the American arms programme. Instead of the target of 12,750 operational aircraft laid down by their Staffs a mere three weeks earlier, 45,000 were to be built by the end of 1943. Instead of 15,450 tanks, 45,000 were to be built; instead of 262,000 machine guns, half a million. All other weapons of war were to be increased in quantity by an average of seventy per cent.

Chiang Kaishek cabled US President Roosevelt asking the President to nominate a trusted American General to act as Chief of Staff in the China Theatre. The Americans responded by suggesting that the functions of Chief of Staff China Theatre should be combined with Commander of the China-Burma-India Theatre and Supervisor of Lend-Lease material. Brigadier-General John Magruder of the American Military Mission to China was not senior enough (and was already disillusioned with the Chinese) and when Lieutenant General Hugh A. Drum turned down the position it was finally offered to Major General Joseph W. Stilwell who reluctantly agreed to go where he was sent.

Admiral Ernest King ordered Chester Nimitz to plan a raid against Japanese positions in the Gilbert Islands and the Marshall Islands in order to establish an offensive momentum in the Pacific War.

Arctic Ocean : German submarine U-134 sank British ship Waziristan from convoy PQ-7b in the Barents Sea at 0648 hours; she was the first Arctic Convoy ships to be sunk. The 47 aboard abandoned ship but were never seen again. Also lost with Waziristan were 3,700 tons of supplies and 410 US-built trucks for the Soviet Union.

English Channel : Royal Navy destroyer HMS Vimiera struck a mine and sank in the Thames estuary in southern England, United Kingdom while escorting a coastal convoy; 96 were killed, 14 survived.

Mediterranean Sea : German submarine U-77 attacked Royal Navy destroyer HMS Kimberley off Tobruk, Libya at 0238 hours, blowing off the stern and killing 3; destroyer HMS Heythrop would tow HMS Kimberley to Alexandria, Egypt.

Malaya : Japanese and Anglo-Indian troops continued to fight at Kampar Hill in British Malaya and prepared to withdraw southward later in the day. To the south, troops of the Japanese 4th Imperial Guard Regiment sailed down the Perak River to reinforce the Japanese 11th Regiment at Bernam River; Indian 12th Infantry Brigade arrived to reinforce the failing defense at Telok Anson nearby. Far to the south, Japanese aircraft based in Malaya and Borneo attacked Singapore.

Philippines : 14th Japanese Army entered Manila, the capital of the Philippine Island. Japanese troops also captured Naval Base Cavite and Clark Field airbase in the Philippine Islands. US cargo ship Luzon was bombed by Japanese aircraft and damaged , scuttled by her own crew before Japanese reached to the docks.

Philippine hospital ship Lanau was bombed and sunk by Japanese aircraft off Cebu

Dutch East Indies : Panaman cargo ship Ruth Alexander was bombed and sunk by Imperial Japanese Army bombers off Balikpapan

USA : The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) captured and convicted 33 members of a German intelligence network headed by Fritz Joubert Duquesne in the largest espionage case in US history.