16 Dec 1941
  • Captain Gihachi Takayanagi, Chief Equipping Officer of Battleship No. 1, was commissioned as Yamato's first commanding officer. ww2dbase [Main Article | Tabular Record of Movement | CPC]
  • USS Enterprise task force returned to Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii after failing to find the Japanese Pearl Harbor attack force. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • US submarine Swordfish was credited with the first confirmed sinking of a Japanese ship in the Pacific War. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • US submarine Tambor, damaged, departed from Wake Island area for repairs. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Japanese troops landed on British Borneo at 0500 hours and captured the oil fields at Miri and Seria and the oil refinery at Lutong. British and Dutch authorities began to issue orders to destroy other oil related facilities to avoid further capture. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
  • As Axis troops in North Africa began to fall back towards El Agheila in Libya in earnest, British 4th Armoured Brigade failed to outflank the retreat in the Bir Halegh el Eleba region. To supply the Axis forces operating in Libya, the Italian Navy dispatched a convoy of four freighters from Taranto, Italy, escorted by a powerful fleet of four battleships, five cruisers, twenty destroyers, and one torpedo boat. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
  • US Navy expanded its pilot training program from 800 students per month to 2,500 per month. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Hiryu, Soryu, Tone, Chikuma, and two destroyers broke from the Pearl Harbor attack force to reinforce the Wake Island attack force. Meanwhile, Japanese naval land-based aircraft bombed Wake Island. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • During a cabinet meeting, Hans Frank, Gauleiter of Poland, asked his peers to shed any feeling of pity for the victims of the genocide. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Vice Admiral William Pye replaced Admiral Husband Kimmel as the acting Commander-in-Chief of the USN Pacific Fleet; he would soon be relieved by the newly-appointed permanent Pacific Fleet chief Rear Admiral Chester Nimitz, who was already en route to Hawaii. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Japanese continued to bombard the northern shore of Hong Kong island by artillery and aircraft. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Soviet forces captured Kalinin, Russia. The lowest temperature recorded in this region of Russia on this date was -42 degrees Fahrenheit (-41 degrees Celsius). ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Italian torpedo boat Orione mis-identified German submarine U-557 as a British submarine and rammed her 18 miles west of Crete, Greece at 2144 hours. U-557 sank, killing all 43 aboard. Orione sailed to Suda Bay, Crete to receive repairs for damage sustained during the ramming. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Five German U-Boats departed from Biscay ports along the French coast for Operation Paukenschlag (Drumbeat) off the American coast. ww2dbase [Main Article | AC]
  • USN Task Force 14, centered around USS Saratoga, departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii to relieve Wake Island. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
  • A Japanese floatplane flew near Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii in a reconnaissance mission. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • The German SS slaughter of Jews in Liepaja, Latvia continued. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • European civilians began to evacuate from Penang, Malaya while Allied troops destroyed guns, ammunition dumps, and other military facilities to prevent Japanese capture; the radio station and the ships in the harbor, however, were overlooked and would later be pressed into Japanese service. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Five German motor torpedo boats from Sicily, Italy entered Malta's Valletta harbour during the night and drop seventy mines there. ww2dbase [Main Article | AC]
  • US B-17 bombers at Del Monte airfield on Mindanao in the Philippine Islands departed for Australia. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • The refugee ship Struma arrived in Istanbul, Turkey with 769 Romanian Jews aboard; without permission to enter Palestine, they would remain on the ship for the following two months. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
United States
  • USS Yorktown departed Norfolk, Virginia, United States to return to the Pacific Fleet. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 16 Dec 1941
SOC-3A Seagull floatplane of US Navy Scouting Squadron 201 (VS-201) parked on the deck of escort carrier Long Island, 16 Dec 1941, photo 1 of 3SOC-3A Seagull floatplane of US Navy Scouting Squadron 201 (VS-201) parked on the deck of escort carrier Long Island, 16 Dec 1941, photo 2 of 3SOC-3A Seagull floatplane of US Navy Scouting Squadron 201 (VS-201) parked on the deck of escort carrier Long Island, 16 Dec 1941, photo 3 of 3BV 222 Wiking aircraft V2 hanging from a crane while undergoing repair at Piraeus, Greece, 16 Dec 1941. Note the high dome of the Church of St. Nicholas in the background.
See all photos dated 16 Dec 1941

16 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
"All that silly talk about the advance of science and such leaves me cold. Give me peace and a retarded science."

Thomas Dodd, late 1945