Qioptiq logo Raytheon

ON THIS DAY

ON THIS DAY

07 December 1941: Japanese planes bomb Pearl Harbor. Japan has launched a surprise attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and has declared war on Britain and the United States. The US president, Franklin D Roosevelt, has mobilised all his forces and is poised to declare war on Japan. Details of the attack in Hawaii are scarce but initial reports say Japanese bombers and torpedo-carrying planes targeted warships, aircraft and military installations in Pearl Harbor, on Oahu, the third largest and chief island of Hawaii. News of the daring raid has shocked members of Congress at a time when Japanese officials in Washington were still negotiating with US Secretary
of State Cordell Hull on lifting US sanctions imposed after continuing Japanese aggression against China. At 0755 local time the first wave of between 50 and 150 planes struck the naval base for 35 minutes causing several fires and “untold damage” to the Pacific Fleet. The Japanese squadrons dropped high-explosive and incendiary bombs. A second strike followed at about 0900 when a force of at least 100 planes pounded the base for an hour. At least two Japanese airplanes have been shot down but it is reported that at least 350 men were killed by one single bomb at the Hickam Army Air Field, an Air Corps post on Oahu. Officials announced a further 104 Army personnel were killed and 300 were wounded in the raid. It is believed the attack was launched from two aircraft carriers. One radio report says US forces downed six Japanese planes and sunk four submarines. There are reports the Hawaiian capital Honolulu was also bombed as well as the Pacific island of Guam and the capital of the Philippines, Manila. A British gunboat, the Peterel, has also been sunk at Shanghai in China. Reports from Singapore suggest a build-up of Japanese warships in the South China Sea and seem to be headed for the Gulf of Siam, towards Bangkok. President Roosevelt is working on a message to Congress tomorrow in which he is expected to ask for a declaration of war with Japan. The Times newspaper’s Washington correspondent says the US Government expects Germany and Italy to declare war on the US within hours. Although the attack has shocked the American people there is little doubt that it had been brewing for some years. Relations with the United States have deteriorated since 1931 when Japan occupied Manchuria in northern China. Over the last decade conflict has intensified into a full-scale war between Japan and China. Last year, the US imposed trade sanctions on Japan. Then in September 1940 Japan signed a Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy. It became a formal member of the Axis alliance fighting the European war but continued to negotiate with America for trade concessions until today. Japan’s fury over the embargoes and allied support for China prompted a declaration of war. (Source: BBC)

11 December 941: Germany and Italy declare war on US. Germany and Italy have announced they are at war with the United States. America immediately responded by declaring war on the two Axis powers. Three days ago, US President Franklin Roosevelt announced America was at war with Japan, the third Axis power, following the surprise attack on its naval base at Pearl Harbor. Today Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, made his declaration first – from the balcony over the Piazza Venezia in Rome – pledging the “powers of the pact of steel” were determined to win. Then Adolf Hitler made his announcement at the Reichstag in Berlin saying he had tried to avoid direct conflict with the US but, under the Tripartite Agreement signed on 27 September 1940, Germany was obliged to join with Italy to defend its ally Japan. “After victory has been achieved,” he said. “Germany, Italy and Japan will continue in closest co-operation with a view to establishing a new and just order.” He accused President Roosevelt of waging a campaign against Germany since 1937, blamed him for the outbrea

Back to article list