15 Dec 1941
  • The construction of submarine Tang was ordered. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Erwin Rommel ordered the Cyrenaica region of Libya abandoned, using his remaining tanks to guard Point 204 on the Gazala Line as rearguard for the troops that would begin to fall back. To the southwest, British 4th Armoured Brigade arrived at Bir Halegh el Eleba at 1500 hours where they planned to outflank the Axis forces. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • US Submarine sank first Japanese merchantman. ww2dbase [TH]
  • To the north of Moscow, Russia, Soviet tanks cut the road west of Klin; to prevent encirclement, the German 3rd Panzer Army abandoned Klin at 2130 hours and fled to the southwest, abandoning most of its heavy equipment. On the same day, Soviet state offices moved back to Moscow. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • US Navy seaplane tender Tangier, oiler Neches, and four destroyers sailed from Pearl Harbor for Wake Island. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Japanese submarine I-22 shelled Johnston Island, destroying a 1,200-gallon oil tank; another submarine, I-1, shelled Kahului, Maui, Hawaii Islands. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • The American Federation of Labor established a no-strike policy in war industries. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Archibald Wavell received a cable from Winston Churchill, which warned him of a likely Japanese invasion of Burma. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • A group of 300 Japanese troops crossed the Lye Mun Channel onto Hong Kong island at 0300 hours, but the Allied defenders on the beach drove off this amphibious attack. Starting on this date, the Japanese artillery and aerial bombardment on the northern coast of Hong Kong island began. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • The US B-17 bombers at the Del Monte airfield on Mindanao, Philippine Islands were ordered to fly to Australia on the following day. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Australian destroyer HMAS Nestor sank German submarine U-127 with depth charges 200 miles west of Gibraltar, killing all 51 aboard. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Dutch submarine HNMS O 16 struck a mine and sank 22 miles northeast of Tioman Island, British Malaya at 0230 hours, killing 41. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Edward Brooks was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Australian New Guinea
  • Australian Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Erwin spotted the Japanese invasion fleet, 19 barges and 1 transport, gathering at Kapingamarangi northeast of Rabaul, Bismarck Islands. Hudson medium bombers were dispatched to attack, but they caused no damage. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Caroline Islands China
  • Kanemasa Akiyama was made the Chief of Research Section of the Chemical Warfare Section of the Japanese Kwantung Army in China. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Saratoga arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
  • Japanese reconnaissance flying boats bombed Wake Island. Meanwhile, US Navy Task Force 14 (USS Saratoga, USS Astoria, USS Tangier, with escorts; under Rear Admiral Frank Fletcher), carrying a US Marine Corps expeditionary force consisted of elements of the 4th Defense Battalion and Marine Fighter Squadron 211, departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii to reinforce Wake. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
  • German SS personnel began killing the remaining Jews in Liepaja, Latvia, most of whom were women and children. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Japanese troops overran the Allied defenses at Gurun, Kedah in Malaya, opening up the road toward Penang. On the same day, the British abandoned RAF Butterworth in Penang, flying all of of the remaining aircraft to Singapore. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • The British government accepted the Malayan Communist Party's offer to resist Japanese rule. At the same time, the British freed all left-wing political prisoners with ties to the party. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • Lord Sempill was discovered making telephone calls to the Japanese Embassy two days after the British police found secret documents in his possession that he should have returned to the Admiralty three weeks earlier. Despite the evidence of espionage and treason no arrest nor prosecution were made and he was allowed to quietly retire from public life. ww2dbase [AC]
United States
  • Henry Arnold was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 15 Dec 1941
Soviet cavalry entering a Russian town, 15 Dec 1941Pearl Harbor chart found in Japanese submarine Ha-19US Navy machine gun crew, possibly at Naval Air Station Ford Island, US Territory of Hawaii, circa mid-Dec 1941US Marine detachment of USS West Virginia aboard another warship, Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, mid or late Dec 1941
See all photos dated 15 Dec 1941

15 Dec 1941 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
"We no longer demand anything, we want war."

Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939