Asia Pacific 1941: Pearl Harbor and its Aftermath
On the morning of 8 December 1941 (still 7 December in Hawaii), Japan launched simultaneous attacks against American and British forces across the Pacific, bombing the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor and invading Malaya, Thailand, Guam, the Philippines and the Chinese concessions. Three days later, Germany supported Japan by declaring war on the United States.
7 Dec 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor▲
At 7:48 am on 7 December 1941 (Hawaiian Time) Imperial Japanese fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes launched from six aircraft carriers mounted a surprise attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory. The attack damaged all eight US battleships present, sinking four, as well as hitting three cruisers, three destroyers, and two other ships. In addition, 188 US aircraft were destroyed and 2,403 Americans were killed, with another 1,178 wounded. Japanese losses were much lighter. The following day the US declared war on Japan.
8 Dec 1941 Japan lands troops on Batan Island, Philippines▲
Japan lands troops on Batan Island, Philippines
8 Dec 1941 Japanese invasion of Malaya▲
Just after midnight on 8 December 1941 (before the attack on Pearl Harbor—it is still 7 December in Hawaii), Japanese troops under Tomoyuki Yamashita land at Khota Baru, Malaya. Khota Baru is the Royal Air Force’s and Royal Australian Air Force’s base of operations in northern Malaya, but attempts to bomb the incoming Japanese transports fail to stop the Japanese landing three infantry battalions by noon. Outnumbered the British and Australians withdraw south.
8 Dec 1941 Japanese invasion of Thailand▲
At 23:00 on 7 December, Japan demands that Thailand allow entrance to the Japanese military, giving the Thai government two hours to respond. Several hours after the expiration of the ultimatum, the Japanese simultaneously invade Thailand from French Indochina and make landings south of Bangkok and along the Kra Isthmus. After initial fighting, Thai Prime Minister Phibun arranges a ceasefire at noon, agreeing to form an alliance with Japan on 14 December.
8–10 Dec 1941 Battle of Guam▲
Japanese capture Guam
9–10 Dec 1941 Japanese invasion of the Gilbert Islands▲
Forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy occupy the British colony of the Gilbert Islands, landing on Tarawa on 9 December and Makin the following day. They build a seaplane base on Makin and disperse troops along the coastlines of the atolls to monitor the movement of Allied forces in the South Pacific.
10 Dec 1941 Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse▲
Japanese land-based bombers and torpedo bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy sink the British Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse off the east coast of British Malaya, near Kuantan. The British ships had been sent to intercept the Japanese invasion fleet north of Malaya.
11 Dec 1941 Germany at war with U.S.▲
Claiming that US President Franklin Roosevelt had repeatedly violated all rules of neutrality, and noting in particular his “shoot on sight” order, Nazi Germany declared war against the United States of America on 11 December 1941. The decision to declare war was made by German leader Adolf Hitler, almost without consultation. Later that day, the United States responded by declaring war on Germany.