17 Dec 1941
  • USS Lexington ordered to sail north to join Task Force 14 to reinforce Wake Island. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Seaplane from Japanese submarine I-7 conducted a reconnaissance mission on Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii. ww2dbase [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. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Walther von Brauchitsch again requested permission for him to resign due to health reasons. ww2dbase [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. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Fedor von Bock was relieved as the commander-in-chief of German Army Group Center; the official reason was health concerns. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • British and Indian troops established a defensive line 65 miles south of Penang, British Malaya near the Perak River. ww2dbase [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. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • The 1,100-strong Australian Gull Force arrived at Ambon, Dutch East Indies to reinforce the Dutch garrison. ww2dbase [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. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • In North Africa, No. 3 Squadron RAF received its first Kittyhawk fighters. ww2dbase [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. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Hawaii
  • Delos Emmons was made the commanding general of the Hawaiian Department. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Latvia
  • 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. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Libya
  • 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. ww2dbase [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. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Philippines
  • 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. ww2dbase [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. ww2dbase [CPC]
Russia
  • Another German assault on Sevastopol, Russia was launched, consisted of 15,551 men. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Sarawak
  • Japanese troops landed at Sarawak; British troops nearby, not strong enough to counter the Japanese offensive, destroyed oil refineries and withdrew. ww2dbase [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. ww2dbase [Main Article | AC]
  • Columbia was launched in Camden, New Jersey, United States, sponsored by Miss J. A. Paschal. ww2dbase [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. ww2dbase [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. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]

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

17 Dec 1941 Interactive Map




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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