12 Dec 1937
  • National elections were held in the Soviet Union for the first Supreme Soviet under the recently ratified Stalin Constitution. The turnout reached 98.6% of the electorate. ww2dbase [AC]
  • At 0300 hours, General Tang Shengzhi, commanding officer of Chinese forces in Nanjing, China, having learned that Japanese naval vessels were heading up the Yangtze River, ordered his officers to prepare a small group of men to retreat across the river while the bulk would gather for an offensive to break out of the Japanese line. During the day, troops of the Japanese 114th Division wooed 1,500 Chinese troops into surrendering at the southern side of the city wall, promising to spare them their lives; they were all executed by the end of the following day. In the afternoon, Japanese bombers sank the American gunboat USS Panay in Nanjing, China at 1554 hours. At 1700 hours, Tang met with his officers again (several of whom were absent, having fled the city without permission) and was told that the Japanese were advancing faster than anticipated. He decided to increase the size of the Yangtze River evacuation to 5 divisions of troops. Tang would depart via the Yijiang Gate on the northern side of the city at 2100 hours, crossing the river on a small launch. ww2dbase [Battle of Nanjing and the Rape of Nanjing | Nanjing | CPC]
  • Kaname Harada saw his first combat action in China. ww2dbase [Kaname Harada | CPC]
  • The Daiton National Park (now Yangmingshan National Park) and the Tsugitaka Taroko National Park were established in northern Taiwan and eastern Taiwan, respectively. ww2dbase [CPC]
Photo(s) dated 12 Dec 1937
Japanese soldier holding the severed head of a Chinese civilian, Nanjing, China, Dec 1937-Jan 1938Japanese troops attacking the Zhonghua Gate of the Nanjing city wall with a field gun, China, 12 Dec 1937Japanese Type 94 tankettes attacking the Zhonghua Gate of the Nanjing city wall, China, 12 Dec 1937Type 94 Te-Ke tankettes and infantry attacking a gate of the Nanjing city wall, China, circa 12 Dec 1937
See all photos dated 12 Dec 1937

12 Dec 1937 Interactive Map

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

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Famous WW2 Quote
"With Germany arming at breakneck speed, England lost in a pacifist dream, France corrupt and torn by dissension, America remote and indifferent... do you not tremble for your children?"

Winston Churchill, 1935

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