Attack on Pearl Harbor

World War II in the Arctic

the Arctic 1941.1207

Attack on Pearl Harbor

Arctic disputes, Winter War, Weather War, World War II, Cold War, Climate Change (7 December 1941)

Historical Map of the Arctic & the Far North

By late 1941, the still neutral United States was firmly behind the Allied war effort and even allowing US destroyers to escort British ships and hunt German submarines in the hugely extended Pan-American Security Zone. Meanwhile, in the Pacific, US relations with Japan were being strained by the ongoing Japanese war in China. On December 7, frustrated by a US embargo, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, bringing America suddenly into the War.

Main Events

Greer incident

In a confrontation near Iceland, a German submarine fired on the United States destroyer USS Greer. According to the Germans, the Greer had initiated the conflict by pursuing and attacking the submarine with depth bombs - a charge which the US Department of Navy denied.

"Shoot-on-sight" order

In the aftermath of the Greer incident, the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced that "from now on, if German or Italian vessels of war enter the waters, the protection of which is necessary for American defence, they do so at their own peril", effectively giving the US Navy permission to attack Axis submarines and warships operating within the Pan-American Security Zone. This became known as the "shoot-on-sight" order.

Buskø Incident

The United States Coast Guard captured the Norwegian sealer Buskø at Franz Joseph Fjord, Greenland, while it was bringing supplies to Norwegian hunting stations there. The ship was treated as an enemy vessel and towed to Boston, where the press seized upon it as an instance of the infiltration of Greenland by German agents. Actual evidence of German involvement was lacking, leading to the later release of the crew.

German base on Spitsbergen

A German Luftwaffe meteorological team established three weather stations and a runway on the northeast face of Spitsbergen Island.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

At 7:48 am Hawaiian Time, Imperial Japanese fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes launched from six aircraft carriers mount a surprise attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory. The attack damages all eight US battleships present, sinking four, as well as hitting three cruisers, three destroyers, and two other ships. In addition, 188 US aircraft are destroyed and 2,403 Americans are killed, with another 1,178 wounded. Japanese losses are much lighter. The following day the US declares war on Japan.

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