23 Dec 1941

  • 54 Japanese bombers escorted by 24 fighters attacked Rangoon, Burma in the late morning, killing 1,250; of those who became wounded as the result of this raid, 600 died. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Three Curtiss-Wright CW-41B fighters, assembled by the Chinese Aircraft Manufacturing Company at Loiwing (now Leiyun) in Yunnan Province, China on the border with Burma, crashed into a mountain whilst being delivered to the A.V.G. at Rangoon, Burma. Two of the pilots were killed. ww2dbase [AC]
  • Song Ziwen was named the Minister of Foreign Affairs. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Three CW-21 fighters crashed in poor weather while being ferried from Rangoon, Burma to Kunming, China. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
  • U-576 arrived at Saint-Nazaire, France, ending her second war patrol. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Hong Kong
  • Allied troops in Hong Kong withdrew to the final line, "The Ridge", at the Stanley Peninsula. A military hospital was established at St Stephen's College on the peninsula to treat wounded soldiers. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
Japan Mediterranean Sea
  • German submarine U-559 sank British passenger ship Shuntien 29 miles east of Tobruk, Libya at 1902 hours, killing 6 crew members and 700 passengers, who were mostly Axis prisoners of war. 64 crew members and 400 POWs were rescued by British corvette HMS Salvia and destroyer HMS Heythrop. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • British destroyers HMS Hasty and HMS Hotspur sank German submarine U-79 with depth charges 40 miles north of Sollum, Egypt; all 44 aboard survived. ww2dbase [CPC]
Pacific Ocean
  • USS Permit fired two torpedoes at a Japanese destroyer in the South China Sea; both torpedoes missed. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • In the Philippine Islands, as Japanese 48th Division marched south toward Manila, US Army General Douglas MacArthur began withdrawing to Bataan, declaring Manila an open city. On the same day, USAAF B-17 bombers attacked Japanese ships at Lingayen Gulf and Davao in the Philippine Islands, while P-35 and P-40 fighters strafed landing ships in San Miguel Bay, Luzon, damaging destroyer Nagatsuki. On Mindanao, the 9 US B-17 bombers originally from Australia refueled and took off to attack Japanese ships in Davao Gulf and Lingayen Gulf, damaging Japanese destroyer Kuroshio. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
  • Trucks brought in 786 tons of food into Leningrad, Russia across the frozen Lake Ladoga; for the second day in a row, enough food was brought in to feed the population. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Japanese troops landed at Kuching, Sarawak. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
United States
  • Japanese submarine I-21 sank American tanker Montebello about four miles south of the Piedras Blancas Light Station at Point Piedras Blancas, California, United States. Survivors were machine-gunned by I-21, but none of the survivors were hurt by the fire. Elsewhere, southwest of Cape Mendocino, California, Japanese submarine I-17 shelled American tanker Larry Doheny. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Churchill and Roosevelt met at the White House, Washington DC during the First Washington Conference (Arcadia). ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
  • In the United States, a White House directive extended the powers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to include counter-espionage throughout the Americas. By the end of the war the FBI would have grown from a strength of 2,280 personnel, in 1941, to 15,000, including 5,000 special agents (in slang, "G-men"). ww2dbase [AC]
US Pacific Islands
  • Before dawn, at 0235 hours, 1,500 troops of the Japanese Maizuru Second Special Naval Landing Force landed on Wake Island and Wilkes Island in the Wake Atoll; from the air, carrier aircraft from Soryu and Hiryu provided support by attacking targets on Wilkes, Peale, and Wake Islands. Given that defeat was now imminent, acting commander of the US Navy Pacific Fleet Vice Admiral William Pye recalled Task Force 14 with USS Saratoga; the force was originally dispatched to reinforce Wake. At 0800, the Americans surrendered. On Wilkes Island, the Americans attempted one final counterattack, killing 100 Japanese troops at the cost of 11 US Marines killed and 5 wounded. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
  • Japanese submarines I-71 and I-72 shelled American facilities at Palmyra Atoll. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Japanese submarines I-71 and I-72 bombarded the US Naval Air Station on Palmyra Atoll. ww2dbase [CPC]
Photo(s) dated 23 Dec 1941
Japanese Pearl Harbor attack fleet track chart, 26 Nov-23 Dec 1941Lieutenant General Delos Emmons decorating an enlisted man for actions performed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Hickam Field, 23 Dec 1941. Major General Clarence Tinker looking on.

23 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
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Winston Churchill, on the RAF