17 Dec 1874
17 Dec 1883

  • Karl Wiligut became an infantryman in the Austro-Hungarian Army. [Main Article | CPC]
17 Dec 1905

  • Simo Häyhä was born in Rautjärvi, Finland. [Main Article | CPC]
17 Dec 1914

  • Vice Admiral Rinroku Eguchi was named the commanding officer of the Mako naval port at Pescadores islands, Taiwan. [Main Article | CPC]
17 Dec 1918
  • Kenkichi Ueda was made a staff officer attached to the Siberian Expeditionary Army. [Main Article | CPC]
17 Dec 1919
17 Dec 1925

United Kingdom
  • Battleship Rodney was launched at Birkenhead, England, United Kingdom, sponsored by Princess Mary, the daughter of King George V. [Main Article | CPC]
17 Dec 1927

  • Kenjiro Kinoshita succeeded Hideo Kodama as the Governor-General of Kwantung Leased Territory in northeastern China. [CPC]
17 Dec 1928

United Kingdom
  • Roderick Carr was named a flight commander in No. 9 Squadron RAF. [Main Article | CPC]
17 Dec 1934

  • The first production example of GL-832 HY floatplane took its first flight. [Main Article | CPC]
17 Dec 1935
  • The Douglas Skysleeper Transport aircraft took its first flight. [CPC]
  • Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein received his Abitur from the Realgymnasium in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. [Main Article | CPC]
17 Dec 1936
  • Communist Party of China sent a delegation to Xi'an under the urging of Joseph Stalin. [Main Article | CPC]
  • In Spain, the POUM (Partido Obrero de Unification Marxist [Revolutionary (i.e. anti-Stalanist) Communists]) was ousted from the Generalitat (Catalan Government) by the Communists. [AC]
  • In a secret meeting, Hermann Göring told leading German industrialists that the war to which Germany was preparing for was on the horizon. [Main Article | CPC]
17 Dec 1937
  • PB2Y Coronado flying boat took its first flight. [Main Article | CPC]
  • At the Sancha Fangsheng Temple and the nearby orphanage in Nanjing, China, Japanese troops massacred 400 to 500 civilians. At a dock on the Yangtze River, Japanese troops massacred over 3,000 prisoners of war, civilian workers of the power plant, and other civilians. German businessman John Rabe, who was in the Chinese capital of Nanjing, noted the diary entry on this date "In one of the houses in the narrow street behind my garden wall, a woman was raped, and then wounded in the neck with a bayonet. I managed to get an ambulance so we can take her to Kulou Hospital.... You hear nothing but rape. If husbands or brothers intervene, they're shot. What you hear and see on all sides is the brutality and bestiality of the Japanese soldiers." [Main Article | CPC]
  • Iwane Matsui entered Nanjing, China with a military parade. [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 17 Dec 1937
Japanese General Iwane Matsui marching into Nanjing, China, 17 Dec 1937, photo 1 of 2Japanese troops parading in Nanjing, China, 17 Dec 1937Japanese troops escorting 450 captured Nanjing policemen, China, 17 Dec 1937; most of them would be executed en masse later that day outside the West Gate of the city wallJapanese soldiers purchasing items from Chinese vendors, Nanjing, China, 17 Dec 1937; the Chinese claimed this to be a staged photo for propaganda
See all photos dated 17 Dec 1937
17 Dec 1938
  • U-47 was commissioned into service. [Main Article | CPC]
  • Wilhelm Keitel ordered that the invasion of the remainder of Czechoslovakia must be done by a peacetime German Army that was not reinforced by mobilization. [Main Article | CPC]
17 Dec 1939
  • Soviet Army assaulted Summa, Finland. [Main Article | TH]
  • Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled by her own crew at Montevideo, Uruguay. [Main Article | CPC]
  • Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richthofen" was operational at Jever, Germany. [CPC]
Photo(s) dated 17 Dec 1939
Admiral Graf Spee burning at River Plate, 17 Dec 1939Finnish soldier dragging a box of ammunition on the eastern side of the Kollaa River, Russia, 17 Dec 1939Soviet T-26 tank at the Kollaa River in northern Russia, 17 Dec 1939
17 Dec 1940
  • British Home Office announced the hanging death of a third German spy. On the same day, a British housewife was sentenced to death for spying. [TH]
  • German seaplane base on Sylt Island was bombed. [TH]
  • The British government announced a ration increase for Christmas week. [CPC]
  • British destroyer HMS Acheron hit a mine and sank while running sea trials 5 miles southwest of the Isle of Wight at 0640 hours, killing 153 crew and 22 shipyard workers; 13 crew and 3 shipyard workers survived. [TH]
  • British monitor HMS Terror and gunboat HMS Ladybird bombarded Bardia, Libya, sinking Italian ships Galata, Vincenzino, and Giuseppina D. in the harbor. On the same day, the British announced that they had captured 20,000 Italian prisoners, including three generals, in Egypt. [Main Article | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • Air Vice Marshal Richard Saul became the commanding officer of No. 12 Group RAF. [Main Article | CPC]
United States
  • President Roosevelt held a press conference in Washington DC, United States, revealing the Lend-Lease program to journalists. [Main Article | CPC]
17 Dec 1941
  • Seaplane from Japanese submarine I-7 conducted a reconnaissance mission on Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii. [CPC]
  • USS Lexington ordered to sail north to join Task Force 14 to reinforce Wake Island. [Main Article | CPC]
  • Japanese submarines RO-62 and RO-66 collided 25 miles southwest of Wake Island at 2020 hours in bad weather while recharging their batteries on the surface. RO-66 sank; all 63 inside the submarine were killed, while the 3 men on duty atop the ship survived the sinking. [CPC]
  • Walther von Brauchitsch again requested permission for him to resign due to health reasons. [Main Article | CPC]
  • The Japanese artillery and aerial bombardment on the northern coast of Hong Kong island, which began on 15 Dec 1941, ceased at 1130 hours as the Japanese observed the raising of a white flag from the defensive positions on the beaches. At 1430 hours, Governor of Hong Kong Sir Mark Young again rejected the Japanese demand for surrender. The bombardment would resume shortly after. [Main Article | CPC]
  • Fedor von Bock was relieved as the commander-in-chief of German Army Group Center; the official reason was health concerns. [Main Article | CPC]
  • British and Indian troops established a defensive line 65 miles south of Penang, British Malaya near the Perak River. [Main Article | CPC]
  • German submarines U-67, U-107, U-108, U-131, and U-434 shadowed Allied convoy HG-76 en route from Gibraltar to Britain. At 0925 hours, 230 miles northeast of Madeira, a Martlet aircraft from carrier HMS Audacity discovered U-131. At 1247 hours, U-131 was forced to surface. U-131 opened fire and shot down the Martlet aircraft (which was the first Allied aircraft to be shot down by an enemy submarine), but she was soon damaged by British warships. U-131 was scuttled at 1330 hours; all 47 aboard were captured. [CPC]
  • The 1,100-strong Australian Gull Force arrived at Ambon, Dutch East Indies to reinforce the Dutch garrison. [Main Article | CPC]
  • British minesweepers HMS Hazard and HMS Speedy, in escort of Allied convoy PQ-6 30 miles north of Cape Gorodetski in northern Russia, were attacked by German destroyers Z23, Z24, Z25, and Z27; Speedy was hit 4 times (2 were killed) and was forced to turn back. [Main Article | CPC]
  • In North Africa, No. 3 Squadron RAF received its first Kittyhawk fighters. [CPC]
Caroline Islands Germany
  • Five French prisoners of Oflag IV-C prisoners of war camp at Colditz Castle in Germany were sent to the town dentist for treatment. On the way back, escorted by two guards, three of them ran in three different directions; they would ultimately reach neutral territory successfully. [Main Article | CPC]
  • 2,749 Jews, mostly women and children, were killed on the beach near Liepaja, Latvia. Most Jews of Liepaja were now eliminated, short of a small left alive to be used as slave laborers. [Main Article | CPC]
  • Hans-Joachim Marseille scored his 35th and 36th kills as he shot down two South African Hurricane fighters southeast of Derna, Libya at 1100 and 1128 hours; he also damaged another enemy fighter in combat. Later in the day, Albert Kesselring personally presented him the German Cross in Gold medal. [Main Article | CPC]
Mediterranean Sea
  • Allied and Italian naval forces engaged in the First Battle of Sirte as convoys of each side unexpectedly came across each other 185 miles northwest of Benghazi, Libya. Italian battleships Littorio, Andrea Doria, and Giulio Cesare fired on Allied cruisers and destroyers from the distance of 32 kilometers, which was too far to hit accurately, but did still damage British destroyer HMS Kipling and Australian destroyer HMAS Nizam with near misses. [Main Article | CPC]
  • American passenger ship Corregidor departed Manila, Philippine Islands with about 1,200 civilians on board; a short distance later, while still in Manila Bay, she struck a mine previously laid by Japanese submarine I-124 and sank, killing many. To the north, 24 transports with 7,000 Japanese troops aboard departed from the Ryukyu Islands, heading for Lamon Bay at eastern Luzon island. [Main Article | CPC]
  • 1st Lieutenant Boyd "Buzz" Wagner became USAAC's first ace in WW2 after shooting down a Japanese aircraft over the Philippine Islands. [CPC]
  • Another German assault on Sevastopol, Russia (now Ukraine) was launched, consisted of 15,551 men. [Main Article | CPC]
  • Japanese troops landed at Sarawak; British troops nearby, not strong enough to counter the Japanese offensive, destroyed oil refineries and withdrew. [Main Article | CPC]
United States
  • The keel of the large cruiser USS Alaska (CB-1) was laid down by New York Shipbuilding in Camden, New Jersey, United States. [Main Article | AC]
  • Columbia was launched in Camden, New Jersey, United States, sponsored by Miss J. A. Paschal. [Main Article | CPC]
US Pacific Islands
  • A PBY Catalina flying boat led 17 SB2U-3 Vindicator dive bombers of Marine Scout-Bomber Squadron 231 from Hickam Field, Oahu, Hawaii Islands to Midway Atoll; at 9 hours and 45 minutes covering 1,137 miles, it was the longest mass over-water flight by single-engined aircraft to date. [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
  • Japanese aircraft attacked Wake Atoll, igniting a diesel oil tank on Wilkes Island and damaged an evaporator unit that was vital for the island's water supply. [Main Article | CPC]
17 Dec 1942
  • Japanese Navy Captain Chiaki Matsuda relieved Rear Admiral Gihachi Takayanagi as the commanding officer of Yamato; Takayanagi was reassigned as the Chief of Staff of the First Fleet. [Main Article | Tabular Record of Movement | CPC]
  • Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden reported to the British House of Commons of the mass murder of Jews by the Germans; this would be followed almost immediately by a US declaration that these crimes would be avenged. [Main Article | TH]
  • US Marines captured Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Meanwhile, troops of the 35th Infantry Regiment of the US Army 25th Division arrived on the island. [Main Article | CPC]
  • Axis forces largely completed their evacuation from the Marsa Brega and El Agheila region in Libya. [Main Article | CPC]
  • Archibald Wavell met with Joseph Stilwell; during the meeting, despite Stilwell's insistence, Wavell refused to expand his current attack on Arakan, Burma into a larger coordinated joint-Chinese-American-British campaign. [Main Article | CPC]
  • Hubert Lanz stepped down as the commanding officer of 1. Gebirgs-Division. [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS S-35 set sail for Adak, US Territory of Alaska. [Main Article | CPC]
Australian New Guinea British Western Pacific Territories
  • The Japanese completed a 4,700-foot long airstrip at Munda Point, New Georgia, Solomon Islands. [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 17 Dec 1942
Pensacola at Espiritu Santo on 17 Dec 1942, showing damage sustained at Battle of Tassafaronga
17 Dec 1943

Australian New Guinea
  • 78 Allied fighters (US Marine Corps F4U fighters, US Navy F6F fighters, RNZAF Kittyhawk fighters) took off from Torokina Airfield on Bougainville, Solomon Islands for a fighter sweep over Rabaul, New Britain. 70 Japanese fighters rose to defend. RNZAF pilots claimed 5 Japanese shot down while suffering 2 losses, while the Americans claimed 4; Japanese records would later show that only 2 A6M aircraft were lost on this day (with only 1 pilot killed). Gregory Boyington, who participated in the sweep, thought the Japanese only launched a limited number of aircraft in defense because the Allies sent too many fighters, and it made more sense for the Japanese to rely more on anti-aircraft guns rather than risking fighters. [Main Article | CPC]
  • US Fifth Army captured San Pietro Infine, Italy after a 10-day battle. [Main Article | TH]
Japan Marshall Islands Photo(s) dated 17 Dec 1943
Spruance awarding Purple Heart to USMC Corporal Galuszka, 17 Dec 1943Rear Admiral Richmond Turner congratulating US Marine Corps Private First Class Carl Emanuel Magnuson after Magnuson had just received a Purple Heart medal, aboard a hospital ship at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, 17 Dec 1943Louisville off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, United States, 17 Dec 1943
17 Dec 1944
  • The newly established USAAF 509th Composite Group was activated. The group's mission was to deliver atomic weapons. [Main Article | CPC]
  • British bombers attacked Ulm, Germany. [Main Article | CPC]
  • In a P-38 Lightning aircraft, US ace Richard Ira Bong scored his 40th kill to become America's leading fighter ace of the war. [Main Article | AC]
  • USS Baya fired six torpedoes at a Japanese transport in the South China Sea; all torpedoes missed. [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Guitarro transited the Lombok Strait between the islands of Bali and Lombok, Dutch East Indies. [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Spot set sail for the Yellow Sea between China and Korea. [Main Article | CPC]
  • 150 prisoners of war of US 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion were massacred by Waffen-SS forces at Malmédy, Belgium. Only 43 survived. [Main Article | TH]
  • Allied troops captured Faenza, Italy. [Main Article | CPC]
Japan Pacific Ocean
  • USS Alabama departed waters off Luzon, Philippine Islands. [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Segundo encountered a typhoon while at sea, registering sustained winds at 145 miles per hour, with occasional gusts up to 185 miles per hour. [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Preston guarded carriers while the carriers launched strikes against Luzon, Philippine Islands. [Main Article | CPC]
United States
  • Franklin Roosevelt departed Warm Springs, Georgia, United States by train. He made a brief stop at Atlanta, Georgia to meet with Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd. [Main Article | CPC]
  • Ernest King was promoted to the rank of fleet admiral. [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 17 Dec 1944
Two US Army African-American soldiers carrying the body of another American soldier near Malmédy, Belgium, circa 17 Dec 1944Crew of HMS Howe manning the rails, Sydney, Australia, 17 Dec 1944
17 Dec 1945
  • Memphis was decommissioned from service. [Main Article | CPC]
  • Joseph Stalin returned to Moscow, Russia from an extended vacation in the Caucasus region of southern Russia; it was his first vacation in nine years. Late in the night, he met with Viktor Abakumov, Nikolai Bulganin, Aleksei Antonov, and Sergei Shtemenko regarding the future reorganization of Soviet counterintelligence arms. [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 17 Dec 1945
American coroner performing a post-mortem examination for Fumimaro Konoe, Japan, 17 Dec 1945
17 Dec 1946

Photo(s) dated 17 Dec 1946
Stern view of USS Capitaine off Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California, United States, 17 Dec 1946Port view of USS Capitaine off Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California, United States, 17 Dec 1946Bow view of USS Capitaine off Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California, United States, 17 Dec 1946
17 Dec 1948

Photo(s) dated 17 Dec 1948
F4U-4 Corsair fighters of US Marine Corps squadron VMF-212 in flight over Wright Memorial, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, United States, 17 Dec 1948; seen in Feb 1949 issue of US Navy publication Naval Aviation News
17 Dec 1949
  • Indonesia was granted independence by the Dutch government. [CPC]
17 Dec 1963

  • In Germany, West Berlin citizens were allowed to visit East Berlin for the first time in more than two years. [CPC]
17 Dec 1965
17 Dec 1989
17 Dec 2012

United States
  • Daniel Inouye passed away from respiratory problems at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC, United States. [Main Article | CPC]

Timeline Section Founder: Thomas Houlihan
Contributors: Alan Chanter, C. Peter Chen, Thomas Houlihan, David Stubblebine
Special Thanks: Rory Curtis

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Famous WW2 Quote
"Goddam it, you'll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!"

Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943