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USN History Content 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1935

Aircraft List

The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II


Chapter III: 1941

* Jan 3, Fri. 1941

Heavy cruiser Tuscaloosa (CA-37) departs Lisbon, Portugal, for Norfolk, Virginia, having transported Admiral William D. Leahy, USN (Retired), U.S. Ambassador to France, on the transatlantic leg of his journey to his diplomatic post.

* Jan 5, Sun. 1941

Heavy cruiser Louisville (CA-28) arrives at Simonstown, South Africa (see 6 January).

* Jan 6, Mon. 1941

Heavy cruiser Louisville (CA-28) departs Simonstown for New York, having taken on board $148,342,212.55 in British gold for deposit in American banks (see 22 January).

* Jan 7, Tue. 1941

Office of Production Management is established under industrialist William S. Knudsen, labor leader Sidney Hillman, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson.

* Jan 8, Wed. 1941

Admiral William D. Leahy, USN (Retired) presents his credentials as Ambassador to France at Vichy.

* Jan 9, Thu. 1941

Transport William Ward Burrows (AP-6) arrives at Wake Island with first increment of workmen (Contractors Pacific Naval Air Bases) to begin building a naval air station there.

* Jan 10, Fri. 1941

Auxiliary Bear (AG-29) returns to Bay of Whales, Antarctica, to evacuate West Base; the evacuation is under the supervision of Commander Richard H. Cruzen, second-in-command of the U.S. Antarctic Service.

During air attack on British force off Malta, carrier HMS Illustrious is bombed and damaged by Luftwaffe JU 87s; Lieutenant Commander Frederick P. Hartman, U.S. Naval Observer on board, is consequently commended for gallantry in action.

* Jan 11, Sat. 1941

Rear Admiral Harold M. Bemis relieves Captain Eugene T. Oates as Commandant, Sixteenth Naval District and Navy Yard, Cavite, P.I. Captain Oates had been acting commandant since the incapacitation of Rear Admiral John M. Smeallie in December 1940.

* Jan 16, Thu. 1941

President asks Congress for immediate appropriation of $350 million for 200 new merchant ships.

* Jan 17, Fri. 1941

Rear Admiral Thomas Withers relieves Rear Admiral Wilhelm L. Friedell as Commander Submarines Scouting Force, on board light cruiser Richmond (CL-9) (force flagship) at Pearl Harbor, T.H.

Battle of Koh Chang: Vichy French retaliate against Thai moves against Cambodia. French squadron (Rear Admiral Jules Terraux) consisting of light cruiser Lamotte-Picquet, colonial sloops Amiral Charner and Dumont D'Urville and sloops Tahure and Marne, decisively defeats a Thai Navy force in a surface gunnery and torpedo action fought in the Gulf of Siam, sinking coast defense ship Dhonburi and torpedo boats Cholbury and Songkhla and damaging coast defense ship Sri Ayuthia and torpedo boat Trat in about two hours.

* Jan 18, Sat. 1941

German Consul General in San Francisco, California, displays the prescribed German Reich flag from the consular office in recognition of German national holiday. At noon this day the flag is taken down in the presence of what is described as "a large shouting throng of people" and torn to pieces. German Charge d'Affaires Hans Thomsen makes "most emphatic protest" over the incident (see 19 January and 25 June).

* Jan 19, Sun. 1941

Secretary of State Cordell Hull responds to German Charge d'Affaires Hans Thomsen's protest over the incident concerning the tearing down of the Reich flag over the consulate in San Francisco, promising a full investigation (see 25 June).8

* Jan 22, Wed. 1941

Heavy cruiser Louisville (CA-28) arrives at New York, with $148,342,212.55 in British gold brought from Simonstown, South Africa, to be deposited in American banks.

* Jan 24, Fri. 1941

Interior Department motorship North Star arrives at Bay of Whales, Antarctica, to take part in evacuating West Base of U.S. Antarctic Service.

* Jan 25, Sat. 1941

Keel of battleship Wisconsin (BB-64) is laid at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She will be the last battleship ever built by the U.S. Navy.

* Jan 29, Wed. 1941

U.S.-British-Canadian staff conversations begin in Washington to determine joint strategy in case of U.S. involvement in the war.

* Jan 30, Thu. 1941

Germany announces that ships of any nationality bringing aid to Great Britain will be torpedoed.

* Jan 31, Fri. 1941

Vice Admiral William S. Pye relieves Admiral Charles P. Snyder as Commander Battle Force.

Vice Admiral Walter S. Anderson becomes Commander Battleships Battle Force.

West Base, U.S. Antarctic Service, is closed.


* Feb 1, Sat. 1941

Navy Department announces reorganization of U.S. Fleet, reviving old names Atlantic Fleet and Pacific Fleet; Asiatic Fleet remains unchanged.

Marine Corps expansion occurs as the 1st and 2d Marine Brigades are brought up to division strength.

Rear Admiral H. Fairfax Leary relieves Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel as Commander Cruisers Battle Force.

Admiral Husband E. Kimmel relieves Admiral J.O. Richardson as Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet in battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38) at Pearl Harbor, T.H.

Vice Admiral Wilson Brown Jr. relieves Vice Admiral Adolphus Andrews as Commander Scouting Force.

Rear Admiral John H. Newton relieves Rear Admiral Gilbert J. Rowcliff as Commander Cruisers Scouting Force.

Auxiliary Bear (AG-29) and Interior Department motorship North Star depart Bay of Whales; they will proceed via different routes to rendezvous off Adelaide Island to evacuate Antarctic Service's East Base (see 24 February).

* Feb 3, Mon. 1941

Navy Department General Order No. 143 creates three independent fleets, each commanded by an admiral. Admiral Husband E. Kimmel becomes Commander in Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet (and also Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet in the event that two or more fleets operate together); Patrol Force U.S. Fleet becomes U.S. Atlantic Fleet under command of Admiral Ernest J. King; Admiral Thomas C. Hart continues as Commander in Chief U.S. Asiatic Fleet.

During routine exercises in Hawaiian Operating Area off Oahu, destroyers Dale (DD-353) and Hull (DD-350) contact what they believe is a submarine. With all U.S. boats accounted for, Commander Destroyers Battle Force orders Lamson (DD-367) to join Dale and Hull. The ships are to maintain contact and to take offensive action only if attacked. Mahan (DD-364) joins in search as well. With speculation that the only possible reason a submarine would be in those waters would be to obtain supplies or land agents, Lamson accordingly searches the shoreline east of Diamond Head (see 4 February).

* Feb 4, Tue. 1941

Fleet Landing Exercise (FLEX) No. 7 begins in Culebra-Vieques, Puerto Rico, area, with all available ships of the Atlantic Fleet and elements of the 1st Marine Division and the U.S. Army's First Division, to train "Army and Navy Forces in the amphibious operations incident to a Joint Overseas Expedition." Unlike FLEX No. 6 in 1940, bona fide transports are available for, and participate in, the maneuvers.

Search for submarine off Oahu, begun the previous day, continues. After destroyers Dale (DD-353) and Hull (DD-350) return to Pearl Harbor, destroyers Flusser (DD-368) and Drayton (DD-366) join Lamson (DD-367) in the hunt. Ultimately, however, the search is called off.

* Feb 13, Thu. 1941

Light cruisers Brooklyn (CL-40), Philadelphia (CL-41), and Savannah (CL-42) and stores issue ship Antares (AKS 3) arrive at Midway with the remainder of the 3d Defense Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. Pepper, USMC).

* Feb 14, Fri. 1941

Fleet Landing Exercise No. 7, which had begun on 4 February, concludes in Culebra-Vieques, Puerto Rico, area.

* Feb 15, Sat. 1941

Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, T.H., is established, Commander Harold M. Martin in command.

* Feb 19, Wed. 1941

Rear Admiral William P. Blandy relieves Rear Admiral William R. Furlong as Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance.

Coast Guard Reserve is established.

* Feb 21, Fri. 1941

Carrier Enterprise (CV-6) arrives off Oahu and launches 30 USAAC P-36s that will be based on Wheeler Field.

* Feb 24, Mon. 1941

Auxiliary Bear (AG-29) and Interior Department motorship North Star rendezvous off Adelaide Island to begin evacuation of East Base of U.S. Antarctic Service. Heavy pack-ice south of this area, however, prevents the ships from reaching East Base. The two vessels retire north to Dallman Bay. The time spent in the Mechior Archipelago, however, is not unfruitful, as North Star's people conduct surveys, make soundings, and make a geological study of the island group, in addition to collecting further examples of flora and fauna. Bear, meanwhile, gets underway soon thereafter to attempt to find a way through the pack ice to reach East Base. She is unsuccessful. Amidst growing concern over whether or not a full or partial evacuation can take place since mid-March, and the shortening of the polar days, is approaching, North Star, running short of supplies and fuel, is sent to Punta Arenas, Chile, to replenish and return if required (see 22 March).


* Mar 1, Sat. 1941

Support Force Atlantic Fleet (Rear Admiral Arthur L. Bristol) composed of destroyers and patrol plane squadrons and supporting auxiliaries is established for protection of convoys in North Atlantic.

Bulgaria joins the Axis as German troops occupy the country.

* Mar 3, Mon. 1941

Heavy cruisers Chicago (CA-29) (Rear Admiral John H. Newton, Commander Cruisers Scouting Force) and Portland (CA-33), light cruisers Brooklyn (CL-40) and Savannah (CL-42), destroyers Clark (DD-361), Conyngham (DD-371), Cummings (DD-365), Cassin (DD-372), Case (DD-370), Shaw (DD-373), Tucker (DD-374), Reid (DD-369), and Downes (DD-375), and oiler Sangamon (AO-28), depart Pearl Harbor for Samoa (see 9 March 1941).

* Mar 7, Fri. 1941

Carrier Wasp (CV-7) encounters foundering U.S. lumber schooner George E. Klinck in storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and rescues her crew.

Transport William P. Biddle (AP-15), escorted by light cruiser Concord (CL-10), arrives at Pago Pago, Samoa, and disembarks the Seventh Defense Battalion, the first unit of the Fleet Marine Force deployed to the Southern Hemisphere in World War II.

* Mar 9, Sun. 1941

Heavy cruisers Chicago (CA-29) (Rear Admiral John H. Newton, Commander Cruisers Scouting Force) and Portland (CA-33), light cruisers Brooklyn (CL-40) and Savannah (CL-42), nine destroyers and oiler Sangamon (AO-28), that had departed Pearl Harbor on 3 March arrive at Samoa (see 12 March).

* Mar 10, Mon. 1941

Japan steps in to mediate undeclared war between France and Thailand; France cedes territory to Thailand and gives Japan monopoly of Indochinese rice crop and right to airfield at Saigon.

Rear Admiral Edward J. Marquart is detached as Commander Minecraft Battle Force.

* Mar 11, Tue. 1941

United States
Congress passes Lend-Lease Act; "cash and carry" provisions of Neutrality Act of 1939 are changed to permit transfer of munitions to Allies. Although criticized by isolationists, the Act proves to be the primary means by which the United States will provide Great Britain, the USSR, and other belligerents with war material, food, and financial aid without the U.S. having to enter combat.

* Mar 12, Wed. 1941

Heavy cruisers Chicago (CA-29) (Rear Admiral John H. Newton, Commander Cruisers Scouting Force) and Portland (CA-33), accompanied by destroyers Clark (DD-361), Conyngham (DD-371), Cassin (DD-372), Downes (DD-375), and Reid (DD-369) depart Samoan waters for Sydney, Australia (see 20 March).

Light cruisers Brooklyn (CL-40) and Savannah (CL-42), and destroyers Case (DD-370), Shaw (DD-373), Cummings Auckland, New Zealand (see 17 March).

Oiler Sangamon (AO-28), that had accompanied the aforementioned cruisers and destroyers from Pearl Harbor, sails to return to Hawaiian waters.

United States
Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas, is established.

* Mar 17, Mon. 1941

TG 9.2 (Captain Ellis S. Stone), comprising light cruiser Brooklyn (CL-40) and Savannah (CL-42) and destroyers Case (DD-370) and Shaw (DD-373), and Tucker (DD-374), arrive at Auckland, New Zealand, beginning a three-day goodwill visit (see 20 March).

Heavy cruiser Vincennes (CA-44) arrives at Pernambuco, Brazil, en route to her ultimate destination of Simonstown, South Africa (see 20 March).

Coast Guard cutter Cayuga departs Boston, Massachusetts, with South Greenland Survey Expedition, composed of State, Treasury, War, and Navy Department representatives, embarked. The expedition's mission is to locate sites of airfields, seaplane bases, radio and meteorological stations and aids to navigation on Greenland's soil (see 31 March).

* Mar 18, Tue. 1941

Rear Admiral William R. Furlong breaks his flag as Commander Minecraft Battle Force.

* Mar 19, Wed. 1941

Destroyers Aylwin (DD-355) and Farragut (DD-348) are damaged by collision during night tactical exercises in Hawaiian Operating Area, 23°35'N, 158°14'W. One man dies on board Aylwin.

* Mar 20, Thu. 1941

Heavy cruisers Chicago (CA-29) (Rear Admiral John H. Newton, Commander Cruisers Scouting Force) and Portland (CA-33) and destroyers Clark (DD-361), Conyngham (DD-371), Reid (DD-369), Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375), arrive at Sydney, Australia, beginning a three-day goodwill visit (see 23 March).

TG 9.2 (Captain Ellis S. Stone), comprising light cruiser Brooklyn (CL-40) and Savannah (CL-42) and destroyers Case (DD-370) and Shaw (DD-373), and Tucker (DD-374), concludes its port visit to Auckland, New Zealand and sails for Tahiti (see 25 March).8

Heavy cruiser Vincennes (CA-44) departs Pernambuco, Brazil, for Simonstown, South Africa (see 20 March).

* Mar 22, Sun. 1941

Emergency evacuation of East Base, U.S. Antarctic Service, Marguerite Bay, is carried out. Two R4C flights (Aviation Chief Machinist's Mate Ashley C. Snow and Radioman First Class Earl B. Perce, naval aviation pilots) bring out the entire complement of 24 people to Mikkelson Island, the emergency landing field 25 miles northeast of Adelaide Island, whence they are taken on board Bear (AG-29), which soon sails for Punta Arenas, Chile, to rendezvous with Interior Department motorship North Star.

* Mar 23, Mon. 1941

Heavy cruisers Chicago (CA-29) (Rear Admiral John H. Newton, Commander Cruisers Scouting Force) and Portland (CA-33) and destroyers Clark (DD-361), Conyngham (DD-371), Reid (DD-369), Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375), depart Sydney, Australia, for Brisbane (see 25 March).

* Mar 25, Wed. 1941

Heavy cruisers Chicago (CA-29) (Rear Admiral John H. Newton, Commander Cruisers Scouting Force) and Portland (CA-33) and destroyers Clark (DD-361), Conyngham (DD-371), Reid (DD-369), Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375), arrive at Brisbane, Australia, beginning a three-day good-will visit (see 28 March).

TG 9.2 (Captain Ellis S. Stone), comprising light cruisers Brooklyn (CL-40) and Savannah (CL-42) and destroyers Case (DD-370), Shaw (DD-373) and Tucker (DD-374), arrive at Tahiti.

* Mar 27, Thu. 1941

U.S.-British-Canadian staff discussions in Washington end; ABC-1 Staff Agreement embodies the basic strategic direction of the war in the event of U.S. entry, making the defeat of Germany a priority and establishing a Combined Chiefs of Staff. U.S. Atlantic Fleet is to help the Royal Navy convoy ships across the Atlantic. The agreement inextricably links the U.S. Navy in the effort against Germany.

TG 9.2 (Captain Ellis S. Stone), comprising light cruisers Brooklyn (CL-40) and Savannah (CL-42) and destroyers Case (DD-370), Shaw (DD-373) and Tucker (DD-374), depart Tahiti for Pearl Harbor.

* Mar 28, Fri. 1941

British fleet defeats Italian fleet in Battle of Cape Matapan; three Italian heavy cruisers and two destroyers are sunk, and a battleship and a destroyer damaged.

Heavy cruisers Chicago (CA-29) (Rear Admiral John H. Newton, Commander Cruisers Scouting Force) and Portland (CA-33) and destroyers Clark (DD-361), Conyngham (DD-371), Reid (DD-369), Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375), depart Brisbane, Australia, for Suva, Fiji Islands (see 1 April).

* Mar 29, Sat. 1941

Heavy cruiser Vincennes (CA-44) arrives at Simonstown, South Africa (see 30 March).

Coast Guard receives report that crew of Italian merchantman Villarperosa, interned at Wilmington, North Carolina, is sabotaging the ship. The Coast Guard investigates reports that the crews of Italian and German vessels in American ports had received orders to "sabotage and disable" them (see 30 March).

* Mar 30, Sun. 1941

Heavy cruiser Vincennes (CA-44) departs Simonstown, South Africa, for New York, with a cargo of gold for deposit in the United States (see 16 April).

As the result of Coast Guard investigation of report that crew of Italian merchantman Villarperosa was sabotaging their ship, United States takes protective custody of two German, 26 Italian, and 35 Danish ships in American ports; Coast Guardsmen take over the vessels. Executive order consequently imprisons 850 Italian and 63 German officers and men.

Element of the First Defense Battalion (5-inch artillery, Detachment "A") arrives at Palmyra Island in stores issuing ship Antares (AKS-3) to begin construction of defenses.

Elements of the First Defense Battalion (5-inch artillery, Detachment "B", and Machine Gun Battery, Detachment "A") arrive at Johnston Island in high speed minesweeper Boggs (DMS-3) to begin construction of defenses.

* Mar 31, Mon. 1941

South Greenland Survey Expedition, in Coast Guard cutter Cayuga, arrives at Godthaab, Greenland, to take up its task.


* Apr 1, Tue. 1941


Heavy cruisers Chicago (CA-29) (Rear Admiral John H. Newton, Commander Cruisers Scouting Force) and Portland (CA-33) and destroyers Clark (DD-361), Conyngham (DD-371), Reid (DD-369), Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375) arrive at Suva, Fiji Islands (see 3 April 1941).

Interior Department motorship North Star and auxiliary Bear (AG-29) of the U.S. Antarctic Service, depart Punta Arenas, Chile; the former will proceed back to the United States via the west coast of South America, the latter via the east coast (see 5 and 18 May, respectively).

* Apr 3, Thu. 1941

Heavy cruisers Chicago (CA-29) and Portland (CA-33) and destroyers Clark (DD-361), Conyngham (DD-371), Reid (DD-369), Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375) depart Suva, Fiji Islands, for Pearl Harbor (see 10 April).

* Apr 6, Sun. 1941

German troops invade Yugoslavia and Greece; Italy declares war on Yugoslavia.

* Apr 7, Mon. 1941

Naval Operating Base, Bermuda, is established, Captain Jules James in command.

* Apr 9, Wed. 1941

Battleship North Carolina (BB-55) is commissioned at New York Navy Yard, the first new U.S. Navy battleship to enter the fleet since West Virginia (BB-48) was commissioned in 1923.

Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Danish Minister to the United States Henrik de Kauffman sign Agreement Relating to the Defense of Greenland.

* Apr 10, Thu. 1941

President Roosevelt, equating the defense of the United Kingdom to the defense of the United States, authorizes, under Lend-Lease, the transfer of 10 "Lake"-class Coast Guard cutters to the Royal Navy. Coast Guardsmen will train the British crews in the waters of Long Island Sound (see 30 April, 2, 12, 20 and 30 May).

Heavy cruisers Chicago (CA-29) and Portland (CA-33) and destroyers Clark (DD-361), Conyngham (DD-371), Reid (DD-369), Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375) arrive at Pearl Harbor, thus winding up the Australia-New Zealand good-will cruise.

* Apr 11, Fri. 1941

United States
President proclaims that the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are no longer combat areas and are open to U.S. shipping.

Destroyer Niblack (DD-424), while rescuing survivors of Dutch freighter Saleier (torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-52 the day before at 58°04'N, 30°48'W, after the dispersal of convoy OB 306) depth charges what is believed to be a German U-boat off Iceland. A thorough investigation by the German navy, however, will conclude that none of their submarines are in the vicinity at the time of Niblack's attack. The U.S. Navy's conclusion is that Niblack has depth-charged a false contact.

* Apr 13, Sun. 1941

Soviet-Japanese Non-Aggression Pact is signed.

* Apr 15, Tue. 1941

United States
President Roosevelt signs executive order allowing Navy, Marine Corps, and Army Air Corps individuals to sign contracts with the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CAMCO) in China for one year, after which time the men can rejoin their respective services with no loss in rank. This is the first step toward forming the American Volunteer Group (AVG), which will become known as the "Flying Tigers." Over half of the pilots in the AVG will be from the Navy and Marine Corps.

* Apr 16, Wed. 1941

Heavy cruiser Vincennes (CA-44) arrives at New York, having transported gold from Simonstown, South Africa.

* Apr 17, Thu. 1941

Yugoslavia capitulates to Axis.

Egyptian steamship Zamzam is shelled and sunk by German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis (Schiffe 16, aka "Raider C") in South Atlantic; 138 Americans (including 24 British-American Ambulance Corps drivers) are among rescued passengers. Even U.S. citizens travelling in ostensibly neutral ships find themselves at risk. [Zamzam was en route from New York to Mombasa, Kenya. After debarking, theambulance unit was to travel by rail to Kisumu, Uganda and then overland towards Lake Chad, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, and link up with Free French elements in the East African campaign. They carried enough supplies and spare parts (including 600,000 Lucky Strike cigarettes) to remain in the field for a year.)

Purportedly, the surreptitious photographs snapped of Atlantis by Life magazine photographer Carl Mydans, who is serendipitously among the passengers, will prove helpful in providing the Royal Navy with a record of the auxiliary cruiser's appearance. [Note: The Life Magazine photographer aboard the Zamzam was not Carl Mydans. Embarking Zamzam in Recife, Brazil was Life Magazine photographer David E. Scherman and Charles J.V. Murphy, a reporter for Fortune Magazine. Murphy had been with the Admiral Byrd expedition to Antarctica in 1932-33 as a media reporter. Zamzam had been scheduled to arrive in Recife via Port au Spain on 1 April 41, but was delayed due to heavy weather during the passage of the Caribbean Sea until 08 April. Murphy and Scherman had flown into Recife from New York via San Juan and Para' (Belem) in hopes of catching up with Zamzam which had departed New York on 20 March.]

* Apr 21, Mon. 1941

Battleship Arizona (BB-39) and destroyer Davis (DD-395) collide while fueling during exercises in Hawaiian Operating Area.

* Apr 22, Tue. 1941

Authorized enlisted strength of regular navy is increased to 232,000.

* Apr 23, Wed. 1941

Greece signs armistice with Germany.

* Apr 24, Thu. 1941

Neutrality Patrol is extended east to 26°W.

* Apr 25, Fri. 1941

Coast Guard cutter Ingham relieves Coast Guard cutter Campbell at Lisbon, Portugal.

* Apr 26, Sat. 1941

Neutrality Patrol is ordered extended southward to 20°S. Accordingly, carrier task group patrols are inaugurated this date when carrier Wasp (CV-7) (embarked squadrons: VF 72, VS 71, and VS 72) departs Hampton Roads accompanied by heavy cruiser Quincy (CA-39) and destroyers Livermore (DD-429) and Kearny (DD-432). TG 2, as the force is designated, will steam 5,292 miles before it arrives at Bermuda on 12 May.

* Apr 27, Sun. 1941

American-Dutch-British Conference at Singapore ends, having reached agreement on combined operating plan of local defense forces in the event of war with Japan; Captain William R. Purnell, Chief of Staff to Admiral Thomas C. Hart, Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet, is senior U.S. representative.

* Apr 30, Wed. 1941

First four "Lake"-class Coast Guard cutters are turned over to the Royal Navy: Pontchartrain becomes HMS Hartland; Tahoe becomes HMS Fishguard; Mendota becomes HMS Culver, and Itasca becomes HMS Gorleston (see 2, 12, 20 and 30 May).


* May 1, Thu. 1941

United States
Office of Public Relations is established as an independent office directly under the Secretary of the Navy, "to serve as liaison between the people and their Navy and, within the limits of military security, to keep the public informed of the activities of the Navy."

* May 2, Fri. 1941

Admiral Ernest J. King breaks his flag as Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet in heavy cruiser Augusta (CA-31), at Newport, Rhode Island.

Fifth "Lake"-class Coast Guard cutter, authorized for transfer on 10 April under Lend-Lease, is turned over to the Royal Navy. Chelan becomes HMS Lulworth (see 12, 20 and 30 May).

* May 6, Tue. 1941

Canal Zone
Carrier Yorktown (CV-5) suffers slight damage (a long dent and scraped paint) when the ship's prominent "knuckle" rubs one side of Miraflores Lock, during night transit of the Panama Canal.

* May 9, Fri. 1941

TG 1, comprising carrier Ranger (CV-4) (VF 41, VS 41 and VS 42), heavy cruiser Vincennes (CA-44), and destroyers Sampson (DD-394) and Eberle (DD-430), sets out from Bermuda to begin a 4,675-mile neutrality patrol that will conclude at Bermuda on 23 May.

German submarine U-110 is damaged in action with British destroyers HMS Bulldog and HMS Broadway [ex- U.S. destroyer Hunt (DD-191)] and corvette HMS Aubretia. Boarding party from Bulldog recovers a veritable cryptanalysis windfall, including an intact enigma machine and important current codes. Broadway is damaged in the encounter by collision with U-110, which sinks the following day. U-110's commanding officer, Kapitanleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp (who had been in command of U-30 when she had sunk British liner Athenia on 3 September 1939) is not among the survivors rescued.

* May 12, Mon. 1941

Ambassador Nomura Kichasaburo presents Secretary of State Cordell Hull with Japanese proposal for establishment of "just peace in the Pacific."

Three "Lake"-class Coast Guard cutters, authorized for transfer on 10 April under Lend-Lease, are turned over to the Royal Navy. Champlain becomes HMS Sennen; Sebago becomes HMS Walney, and Cayuga becomes HMS Totland (see 20 and 30 May).

* May 14, Wed. 1941

Pacific Fleet Exercise No. 1 commences off coast of California. The maneuvers involve a landing on San Clemente Island and a bombardment exercise in which heavy cruisers and destroyers bombard shore targets (see 18 June).

* May 15, Thu. 1941

During paratroop training at Camp Kearney, California, Second Lieutenant Walter A. Osipoff, USMC, becomes fouled in static cable and ripcord lines and dangles 100 feet to the rear of the R2D from which he was to jump. Efforts to bring him into the plane are unsuccessful. Seeing his plight, Lieutenant W.W. Lowery and Naval Aviation Pilot J. R. McCants take off in an SOC and effect a daring mid-air rescue.

* May 18, Sun. 1941

Auxiliary Bear (AG-29) reaches Boston, Massachusetts, winding up her work in support of the U.S. Antarctic Service's 1939-1941 expedition.

* May 20, Tue. 1941

German airborne troops invade Crete.

TG 2 (Rear Admiral Robert C. Giffen), comprising carrier Wasp (CV-7) (VF 71, VS 72, VMB 2), heavy cruiser Quincy (CA-39) and destroyers Livermore (DD-429) and Kearny (DD-432), departs Bermuda to conduct a 4,170-mile neutrality patrol that will conclude at Bermuda on 3 June.

Ninth "Lake"-class Coast Guard cutter, authorized for transfer on 10 April under Lend-Lease, is turned over to the Royal Navy: Shoshone becomes HMS Languard (see 30 May).

* May 21, Wed. 1941

Unarmed U.S. freighter Robin Moor, en route to South Africa and Mozambique, is stopped and sunk by German submarine U-69 (torpedo and gunfire) about 700 miles off the west coast of Africa, 06°10'N, 25°40'W. Robin Moor--her nationality prominently reflected in the U.S. flags painted on her sides--is the first American merchantman sunk by a U-boat in World War II. There are no casualties among her 38-man crew and eight passengers, and U-69's commanding officer, Kapitanleutnant Jost Metzler, provides the Americans with rations (see 3, 8 and 20 June).

* May 24, Sat. 1941

Construction or acquisition of 550,000 tons of auxiliary shipping for the Navy is authorized.

Battle of Denmark Strait: British battle cruiser HMS Hood is sunk, and battleship HMS Prince of Wales damaged, by German battleship Bismarck (which is damaged by a shell from the latter capital ship) and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. British Home Fleet elements at sea then pursue the German battleship; carrier HMS Victorious launches FAA Swordfish that in the prevailing poor visibility conditions almost attack Coast Guard cutter Modoc, which is in the vicinity searching for survivors of ships sunk in convoy HX German submarine torpedoes had wreaked great destruction against the ships in HX 126: U-94 had sunk British steamers Harpagus and Norman Monarch and Norwegian motor tanker John P. Pederson; U-556 had damaged British motor tanker San Felix and sunk British motor tanker British Security and motorship Darlington Court; U-111 had sunk British steamer Cockaponset; U-98 had sunk British steamer Rothermere; U-109 had sunk British steamer Marconi; and U-93 had sunk Dutch motor tanker Elusa. Bismarck, although damaged by an aerial torpedo, eludes her shadowers and disappears, while detaching her consort, Prinz Eugen, to conduct independent operations. One of the pursuing ships is British battleship HMS Rodney, en route to the United States for a refit at Boston when she is rerouted to participate in the hunt for Bismarck; on board is U.S. Naval Observer Lieutenant Commander Joseph H. Wellings, who witnesses the ensuing battle from that unique vantage point.

PBYs (VP 52) operating from seaplane tender Albemarle (AV-5) at Argentia, Newfoundland, and braving foul weather and dangerous flying conditions, search for Bismarck in the western Atlantic.

* May 25, Sun. 1941

State Department informs German Charge d'Affaires Hans Thomsen that an investigation into the incident concerning the tearing down of the Reich flag over the German consulate in San Francisco, California, on 18 January has yielded the fact that the individual involved was a U.S. Navy enlisted man who was tried and found guilty by court-martial for the offense, and was serving "an appropriate sentence."

* May 26, Mon. 1941

Naval observer Ensign Leonard B. Smith, USNR, flying an RAF Catalina (Coastal Command No. 209 Squadron) sights Bismarck. British fleet units alter course accordingly and converge on the lone German capital ship. The same day, another naval observer, Lieutenant James E. Johnson, flying another RAF Catalina (Coastal Command No. 240 Squadron) maintains contact with the German battleship as well.

* May 27, Tue. 1941

President issues proclamation that an unlimited national emergency confronts the United States, requiring that American military, naval, air, and civilian defenses be readied to repel any and all acts or threats of aggression directed toward any part of the Western Hemisphere. In a separate address to the nation to acquaint it with "cold, hard fact" that the conflict in Europe has developed into a "world war for world-domination." The President announces that the Atlantic Neutrality Patrol has been extended and that the Atlantic Fleet, greatly increased during the past year, is being constantly built up. He also mentions the dangers posed by "Nazi battleships of great striking-power" that pose "an actual military danger to the Americas," undoubtedly a reference to the recent operations of German battleship Bismarck. The President states the national policy as two-fold: active resistance "to every attempt by Hitler to extend his Nazi domination to the Western Hemisphere, or to threaten it," and "his every attempt to gain control of the seas, and giving "every possible assistance to Britain and to all who, with Britain, are resisting Hitlerism or its equivalent with force of arms." The delivery of supplies to Britain, Roosevelt tells the nation, "is imperative. This can be done; it must be done; it will be done."

German battleship Bismarck is overwhelmed and sunk by British naval force, 300 nautical miles west of Ushant, France, 48°10'N, 16°12'W.

* May 29, Thu. 1941

In the event that Germany invades Spain and Portugal, the Joint Board (the oldest inter-service agency, established in 1903 to facilitate Army-Navy planning) approves a plan for an occupation of the Portuguese Azores Islands; the joint Marine Corps-Army effort is to be headed by Major General Holland M. Smith, USMC (Commanding General 1st Marine Division).

TG 3, comprising carrier Ranger (CV-4) (VB 5, VF 5, and VS 5), heavy cruiser Tuscaloosa (CA-37), and destroyers McDougal (DD-358) and Eberle (DD-430), departs Bermuda for a 4,355-mile neutrality patrol that will conclude there on 8 June.

* May 30, Fri. 1941

Last "Lake"-class Coast Guard cutter, authorized for transfer on 10 April under Lend-Lease, is transferred to the Royal Navy: Itasca becomes HMS Gorleston.

* May 31, Sat. 1941

TG 1 (Rear Admiral Arthur B. Cook), comprising Yorktown (CV-5) (VF 41, VS 41, VS 42, and VT 5), heavy cruiser Vincennes (CA-44), and destroyers Sampson (DD-394) and Gwin (DD-433), departs Bermuda for 4,550-mile neutrality patrol that will conclude at Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 12 June.


* Jun 1, Sun. 1941

South Greenland Patrol (Commander Harold G. Belford, USCG), is established to operate from Cape Brewster to Cape Farewell to Upernivik; Coast Guard cutters Modoc,

Comanche and Raritan, together with unclassified auxiliary vessel Bowdoin (IX-50) make up the force.

Crete capitulates to the Germans.

* Jun 2, Mon. 1941

Rear Admiral Edward J. Marquart becomes Commandant New York Navy Yard.

Aircraft escort vessel Long Island (AVG 1) is commissioned at Newport News, Virginia. Converted from Maritime Commission C-3 type freighter Mormacmail in just 67 working days, Long Island is the first of a type of what come to be classified as "escort carriers" that will prove invaluable in the prosecution of the war in both Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

* Jun 3, Tue. 1941

Cape Town, South Africa-bound British ship rescues 35 survivors of U.S. freighter Robin Moor, sunk by German submarine U-69 on 21 May (see 8 June).

* Jun 6, Fri. 1941

Bill is signed authorizing the government to requisition foreign merchant ships lying idle in U.S. ports.

Naval Air Station, Balboa, Canal Zone, is established.

* Jun 8, Sun. 1941

Brazilian freighter Osorio rescues 11 survivors of U.S. freighter Robin Moor, sunk by German submarine U-69 on 21 May.

* Jun 9, Mon. 1941

Intelligence sources having indicated that Germany has no plans for invading Spain and Portugal, the President suspends planning for the joint occupation of the Azores.

* Jun 12, Thu. 1941

All members of the U.S. Naval Reserve, not in a deferred status, are called to active duty.

* Jun 14, Sat. 1941

Central North Atlantic patrols commence with battleship/destroyer task groups; Texas (BB-35) and accompanying destroyers inaugurate these patrols (see 20 June).

* Jun 15, Sun. 1941

Japanese land attack planes bombing Chungking, China, drop their ordnance near river gunboat Tutuila (PR-4), U.S. military attache's office and U.S. Navy canteen. Japanese Admiral Shimada Shigetaro expresses regret over the incident and assures U.S. representatives that the bombing is "wholly unintentional." U.S. military and naval attaches privately concur, however, that the bombing "was either criminal carelessness or [with] deliberate intent to bomb Embassy and gunboat..."

Naval Air Station, Kodiak, Alaska, is established.

TF 3 (Rear Admiral Jonas H. Ingram) begins patrol operations from Brazilian ports of Recife and Bahia; the force consists of four Omaha (CL-4)-class light cruisers and five destroyers.

* Jun 16, Mon. 1941

State Department requests that the German government "remove from United States territory all German nationals in anywise connected with the German Library of Information in New York, the German Railway and Tourist Agencies, and the Trans-Ocean News Service," and that those agencies and their affiliates "shall be promptly closed." In addition, all German consular officers, agents, clerks and employees thereof of German nationality shall be removed from American territory and that the consular establishments be promptly closed. The German government is given until 10 July to comply. This move is made because of suspicion that the agencies aforementioned "have been engaged in activities...of an improper and unwarranted character" and "wholly outside the scope of their legitimate duties."

Rear Admiral Joseph K. Taussig is detached as Commandant Fifth Naval District and Commander Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia.

* Jun 18, Wed. 1941

Pacific Fleet Exercise No. 1, which commenced off coast of California on 14 May, concludes.

* Jun 19, Thu. 1941

Germany and Italy request closure of U.S. consulates.

* Jun 20, Fri. 1941

President Roosevelt addresses message to Congress concerning the German sinking of U.S. freighter Robin Moor on 21 May. The President notes that Robin Moor's destruction is a "warning to the United States may use the high seas of the world only with Nazi consent. Were we to yield on this we would inevitably submit to world-domination at the hands of the present leaders of the German Reich. We are not yielding," the President declares, "and we do not propose to yield."

Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles sends this message to the German Embassy for the information of the German government (see 24 June, 19 and 26 September and 3 November).

Battleship Texas (BB-35) and destroyers Mayrant (DD-402), Rhind (DD-404), and Trippe (DD-403) are sighted by German submarine U-203 within what the German navy regards as the war, or "blockade" zone in the Atlantic. The American force, however, unaware of the U-boat, outdistances the submarine and frustrates its attempted attack. In the wake of this incident, the commander in chief of the German navy (Grossadmiral Erich Raeder) orders that American warships can only be attacked if they cross the western boundary of the blockade area by 20 or more miles, or within the 20-mile strip along the western edge of the blockade zone.

TG 2.6, comprising carrier Wasp (CV-7) (VF 71, VS 72, and VMB 1), heavy cruiser Tuscaloosa (CA-37), and destroyers Anderson (DD-411) and Rowan (DD-405), departs Hampton Roads for a 4,320-mile neutrality patrol that will conclude at Bermuda on 4 July.

Submarines O 6 (SS-167), O 9 (SS-170) and O 10 (SS-171) conduct deep submergence trials out of Portsmouth, N.H.; while O 6 and O 10 conduct their test dives without incident, O 9, the last boat to make the test dive, accidentally sinks (cause unknown) off the Isles of Shoals, southeast of Portsmouth, 42°59'48"N,

* Jun 21, Sat. 1941

State Department requests closing of all Italian consulates in U.S. territory; the "continued functioning of Italian consular establishments in territory of the United States," Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles informs Italian Ambassador Don Ascanio dei principi Colonna, "would serve no desirable purpose." The Italian government is informed that such withdrawals and closures be effected before 15 July.

* Jun 22, Sun. 1941

Germany, Italy, and Rumania declare war on the Soviet Union and invade along a front from the Arctic to the Black Sea.

After all hopes of finding any survivors from the sunken submarine O 9 (SS-170) are lost and continued diving operations in the vicinity deemed hazardous, Secretary of the Navy Knox personally conducts memorial ceremony, held on board submarine Triton (SS-201), over last known location of the lost boat.

* Jun 24.Tue. 1941

German Charge d'Affaires Hans Thomsen replies to Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles's 20 June note concerning the Robin Moor sinking. "I have the honor to advise you," Thomsen writes, "that I do not find myself in a position to pass on...the text of a message to Congress from the President of the United States for the information of my government" (see 19 and 26 September and 3 November).

* Jun 25, Wed. 1941

Finland declares war on the Soviet Union.

TG 2.7, comprising light cruisers Philadelphia (CL-41) and Savannah (CL-42) and destroyers Lang (DD-399) and Wilson (DD-408), depart Hampton Roads for a 4,762-mile neutrality patrol that will conclude on 8 July at Bermuda.

* Jun 27, Fri. 1941

Hungary declares war on the Soviet Union.

During German submarine attacks on convoy HX 133, Dutch steamship Maasdam is torpedoed and sunk by U-564 approximately 300 miles south of Iceland; among the survivors are marines under Major Walter L. Jordan, USMC, the advance detail for the Marine Detachment at the American Embassy in London.

* Jun 28, Sat. 1941

Albania declares war on the Soviet Union.

President issues executive order creating the Office of Scientific Research and Development (Dr. Vannevar Bush, chairman) which will replace the National Defense Research Committee. The new office will coordinate and supplement scientific research relating to the defense effort.

Destroyer Madison (DD-425) is damaged when she runs aground on the southeast tip of Moratties Shoal, Placentia Harbor, Argentia, Newfoundland.

* Jun 29, Sun. 1941

TG 2.8, comprising carrier Yorktown (CV-5) (VF 42, VS 42, VMO 1, and half of VMS 1), heavy cruisers Quincy (CA-39) and Vincennes (CA-44), and destroyers Wainwright (DD-419), Hammann (DD-412), Mustin (DD-413), and Stack (DD-406), departs Hampton Roads for neutrality patrol. Yorktown, accompanied by Wainwright and Stack, depart the patrol on 10 July, returning to Hampton Roads on the 12th; Quincy, Vincennes, Hammann, and Mustin continue the cruise, putting in to Bermuda on 15 July.

* Jun 30, Mon. 1941

Naval vessels on hand (all types)--1,899. Personnel: Navy--284,427; Marine Corps--54,359; Coast Guard--19,235. Total personnel--358,021.

Vichy France severs relations with the Soviet Union.


* Jul 1, Tue. 1941

Naval Coastal Frontiers are established: North Atlantic, Southern, Caribbean, Panama, Pacific Southern, Pacific Northern, Hawaiian, and Philippine. Their commanders are responsible for the direction of local patrol, convoy escort, and antisubmarine warfare operations. Mobilization of all Organized, Fleet, and local defense divisions of the Naval Reserve is completed on this date.

Task Forces are organized by Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet (Admiral Ernest J. King) to support defense of Iceland and to escort convoys between the U.S. and Iceland. TF 1 (Rear Admiral David M. LeBreton) based at Narragansett Bay and Boston; TF 2 (Rear Admiral Arthur B. Cook) based at Bermuda and Hampton Roads; TF 3 (Rear Admiral Jonas H. Ingram) based at San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Guantanamo; TF 4 (Rear Admiral Arthur L. Bristol) based at Narragansett Bay; TF 5 (Rear Admiral Richard S. Edwards), TF 6 and TF 8 (Rear Admiral Edward D. McWhorter), TF 7 (Rear Admiral Ferdinand L. Reichmuth) based at Bermuda; TF 9 (Rear Admiral Randall Jacobs); and TF 10 (Major General Holland M. Smith, USMC).

Patrol Wing 7 (the redesignated Patrol Wing, Support Force) (Captain Harold M. Mullinix) (TG 4.2) is established at Argentia, Newfoundland, for operations in North Atlantic.

Northeast Greenland Patrol (Commander Edward H. "Iceberg" Smith, USCG) (TG 6.5) is organized at Boston, Massachusetts, by the Coast Guard; it consists of cutters Northland and North Star, and auxiliary Bear (AG-29).

* Jul 2, Wed. 1941

Japan recalls its merchant ships from Atlantic Ocean and calls up more than one million army conscripts.

* Jul 4, Fri. 1941

PBYs (VP 72) begin operations based in seaplane tender (destroyer) Goldsborough (AVD-5), out of Reykjavik, Iceland, covering the movement of marines to Iceland.

* Jul 5, Sat. 1941

Destroyer Charles F. Hughes (DD-428) rescues 14 survivors (including four American Red Cross nurses) from the sunken Norwegian steamship Vigrid, which had been torpedoed while straggling from convoy HX 133 by German submarine U-371 on 24 June, at 58°58'N, 36°35'W.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom John Winant reports on 11 July 1941 that of the 27 American Red Cross nurses were travelling to serve in England; 9 had arrived safely, 10 had been rescued (4 in serious condition) and 8 were missing.

* Jul 6, Sun. 1941

Transport Munargo (AP-20) and U.S. Army transport Chateau Thierry arrive at Tunugdliarfik Fjord, Greenland, to disembark men and unload equipment to establish an air base there.

* Jul 7, Mon. 1941

President announces to Congress that an executive agreement has been made with Iceland for U.S. troops to occupy that country; the Navy is ordered to take all steps necessary to maintain communications between the United States and Iceland. TF 19 (Rear Admiral David M. LeBreton) lands 1st Marine Brigade (Provisional) (Brigadier General John Marston, USMC) at Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital. The replacement of the British garrison frees those troops for combat duty elsewhere.

1st Marine Aircraft Wing (Lieutenant Colonel Louis E. Woods, USMC) is established at Quantico, Virginia.

* Jul 8, Tue. 1941

Patrol Wing 8 (Commander John D. Price) is established at Norfolk, Virginia.

* Jul 10, Thu. 1941

2d Marine Aircraft Wing (Brigadier General Ross E. Rowell, USMC) is established at San Diego, California.

* Jul 12, Sat. 1941

Office of the Coordinator of Research and Development is established to unify the Navy's research activities, and to evaluate the best ways of advising tactical officers of air, ground, and sea forces of the "latest applications of science to the problems of modern warfare."

Naval Air Station, Quonset Point, Rhode Island, is established.

* Jul 15, Tue. 1941

Naval Air Station and Naval Operating Base, Argentia, Newfoundland, are established.

* Jul 16, Wed. 1941

Transport West Point (AP-23) (former U.S. passenger liner America) sails from New York City with German and Italian consular officials and their families, bound for Lisbon, Portugal. British government has granted West Point safe-conduct for the voyage (see 24 and 26 July, and 1 August).

TG 2.7, comprising light cruisers Philadelphia (CL-41) and Savannah (CL-42) and destroyers Meredith (DD-434) and Gwin (DD-433), departs Bermuda for 3,415-mile neutrality patrol that will conclude there on 25 July.

* Jul 17, Thu. 1941

VP 72 concludes its operations out of Reykjavik, Iceland, from seaplane tender (destroyer) Goldsborough (AVD-5).

* Jul 18, Fri. 1941

Prince Konoye Fumimaro forms new Japanese cabinet; Vice Admiral Toyoda Teijiro succeeds Matsuoka Yosuke as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

24, Thu. 1941

Transport West Point (AP-23) disembarks German and Italian consular officials and their families at Lisbon, Portugal (see 26 July and 1 August).

Japanese forces occupy northern French Indochina (see 26 July).

* Jul 26, Sat. 1941

In response to the Japanese occupation of northern French Indochina on 24 July, President Roosevelt freezes Japanese and Chinese assets in United States and cuts off the export of oil to Japan.

U.S. Army Forces, Far East (Lieutenant General Douglas MacArthur) is organized; Philippine military forces are called into service with U.S. Army.

Transport West Point (AP-23), at Lisbon, Portugal, embarks American and Chinese consular staffs from Germany, German-occupied countries, and Italy, and sails for the United States. In addition, West Point embarks the 21 American ambulance drivers who had been passengers on board the Egyptian steamship Zamzam when she had been sunk by German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis on 17 April (see 1 August). [The other three members of the detachment were accounted for as follows: (1) Commander of the BAAC field unit, Francis J. 'Frank' Vicovari of New York remained aboard the Atlantis due to the extent of his shrapnel injuries during the attack of April 17th (There had been 9 passengers wounded in the attack -- 3, who were serious, including Frank remained aboard Atlantis, the other passengers and crew transferred aboard the NDL freighter Dresden. The other wounded American died of his injuries several days later and was buried-at-sea. A British doctor was also wounded and transferred to the Dutch flagged prizeship Silva Plana in September, arriving Bordeaux in November). Frank would not return to the United States until released in the 2nd of 3 such operations under the RAMP (Returned Allied Military Personnel) scheme. Frank was exchanged for (2) German archeologists, detained in the United States. This 2nd exchange took place in Lisbon, Portugal during March of 1944 (1st Goteburg, Sweden October 42; 3rd Seville, Spain, May 44). Frank had been held in the Marlag und Milag du Nord interment camp near Bremen, Germany since his arrival and transfer from the French port of St. Nazaire on Christmas Eve, 1941. (2) The other 2 members of the BAAC team, David Stewart and Tom Greenough had escaped from a German transport train while the guards watching over the 21 drivers slept. After several days they walked safely across the border into unoccupied France. After meeting with Free-French officials, they were granted passage to Lisbon and arrived in the USA just 5-days ahead of the other 21 members of the BAAC.]

* Jul 28, Mon. 1941

Japan freezes U.S. assets.

* Jul 29, Tue. 1941

Japanese occupy southern French Indochina with French permission.

* Jul 30, Wed. 1941

TG 2.5, comprising carrier Yorktown (CV-5) (VF 42, VS 41, and VT 5), light cruiser Brooklyn (CL-40), and destroyers Roe (DD-418), Grayson (DD-435), and Eberle (DD-430), departs Hampton Roads, Virginia, for 3,998-mile neutrality patrol that will conclude at Bermuda on 10 August.

During Japanese bombing raid on Chungking, China, one bomb falls eight yards astern of river gunboat Tutuila (PR-4). While the bomb causes no damage to the ship, Tutuila's motor boats are badly damaged and the motor sampan cut loose from its moorings. There are no casualties (see 31 July).

* Jul 31, Thu. 1941

Economic Defense Board is created.

Japanese government assures U.S. government that the previous day's bombing of river gunboat Tutuila (PR-4) at Chungking, China, is "an accident 'pure and simple'."


* Aug 1, Fri. 1941

Naval Air Station, Midway Island is established, Commander Cyril T. Simard in command.

Naval Operating Base, Trinidad, is established.

Transport West Point (AP-23) arrives at New York with American and Chinese passengers.

* Aug 3, Sun. 1941

President Roosevelt departs Washington, D.C., by train for Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut, where he arrives later the same day, boarding presidential yacht Potomac (AG-25) that evening. Accompanied by auxiliary Calypso (AG-35), Potomac sails for Point Judith, R.I., where the ship anchors for the night.

* Aug 4, Mon. 1941

New River (North Carolina) Maneuvers begin with the 1st Marine Division and the First Infantry Division, U.S. Army, engaging in amphibious exercises. Aircraft escort vessel Long Island (AVG-1) participates and provides close air support in a test of that type of ship in that role.

Presidential yacht Potomac (AG-25), accompanied by Calypso (AG-35), proceeds to South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, where she embarks Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Martha of Norway and her party. After a day of fishing ("with some luck") the Chief Executive personally takes the helm of a Chris-Craft motorboat and transports his guests back to the place whence they came. That night, Potomac, again accompanied by Calypso, shifts to Menemsha Bight, Vineyard Sound, Massachusetts, where they join heavy cruisers Augusta (CA-31) and Tuscaloosa (CA-37) and five destroyers.

* Aug 5, Tue. 1941

President Roosevelt transfers from presidential yacht Potomac (AG-25) to heavy cruiser Augusta (CA-31); soon thereafter, Augusta and Tuscaloosa (CA-37) and five destroyers sail for Argentia, Newfoundland. The President's flag, however, remains in Potomac and she, in company with Calypso, will proceed via Cape Cod Canal to New England waters, maintaining a fiction of presidential presence (see 7 August).

Heavy cruisers Northampton (CA-26) and Salt Lake City (CA-25) arrive at Brisbane, Australia, for a goodwill visit.

* Aug 6, Wed. 1941

TF 16 (Rear Admiral William R. Monroe), formed around carrier Wasp (CV-7), battleship Mississippi (BB-41), heavy cruisers Quincy (CA-39) and Wichita (CA-45), and five destroyers, delivers U.S. Army troops, transported in transport American Legion (AP-35), stores ship Mizar (AF 120), and cargo ship Almaack (AK-27) to Reykjavik, Iceland. Carrier Wasp (CV-7) flies off USAAF P-40s and PT-13s (33d Pursuit Squadron) to Iceland to provide cover for the soldiers' arrival.

Executive order transfers Coast Guard's Honolulu District from the Treasury Department to the Navy in the first step toward shifting the Coast Guard to naval control (see 11 September and 1 November).

* Aug 7, Thu. 1941

President Roosevelt arrives at Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, in heavy cruiser Augusta (CA-31); this day he fishes from the flagship's forecastle and inspects base development at Argentia (see 9 August).

* Aug 8, Fri. 1941

Japanese Ambassador Nomura suggests conference between President Roosevelt and Japanese Prime Minister Konoye.

* Aug 9, Sat. 1941

Atlantic Charter Conference: British battleship HMS Prince of Wales, with British Prime Minister Winston L.S. Churchill embarked, arrives at Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, escorted by destroyer HMS Ripley [ex-U.S. destroyer Shubrick (DD-268)] and Canadian destroyers HMCS Restigouche and Assiniboine. In this first meeting between the two men, Churchill calls upon President Roosevelt on board heavy cruiser Augusta (CA-31); the two confer over luncheon and dinner before the prime minister returns to Prince of Wales.

* Aug 10, Sun. 1941

Atlantic Charter Conference continues: President Roosevelt, transported in destroyer McDougal (DD-358), attends divine services in British battleship HMS Prince of Wales as guest of Prime Minister Churchill, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. About 250 U.S. sailors and marines attend the service as well, wherein hymns "O God, Our Help in Ages Past," "Onward, Christian Soldiers," and "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" [the Navy hymn] are sung by all hands. "O God Our Help in Ages Past" was also sung during the funeral service for the late Lord Lothian, the British Ambassador to the United States, at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on 15 December 1940.-ź After inspecting the topsides of the British battleship, the President returns in McDougal to heavy cruiser Augusta (CA-31); that night, the chief executive hosts the Prime Minister at dinner.

* Aug 11, Mon. 1941

Atlantic Charter Conference continues: President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill confer twice on board heavy cruiser Augusta (CA-31).

* Aug 12, Tue. 1941

Atlantic Charter Conference concludes as President Roosevelt confers with Prime Minister Churchill on board heavy cruiser Augusta (CA-31). Discussions have concerned British needs for support, joint strategy, and the political character of the postwar world. The Atlantic Charter, the joint declaration that result from the meetings, outline goals in the war against Germany and emphasize the principles of freedom, self? determination, peace, and cooperation. Roosevelt privately reassures Churchill that when the United States enters the war, it would accord the defeat of Germany first priority. He also pledges that U.S. warships would escort British merchant ships between the United States and Iceland. After the last meeting, Prime Minister Churchill embarks in battleship HMS Prince of Wales and departs Placentia Bay. Soon thereafter, Augusta, accompanied by the same ships that had steamed with her to Newfoundland, sails for Blue Hill Bay, Maine, to rendezvous with presidential yacht Potomac (AG-25) and Calypso (AG-35).

Maneuvers at New River, North Carolina, conclude.

* Aug 13, Wed. 1941

Heavy cruisers Northampton (CA-26) and Salt Lake City (CA-25), arrive at Port Moresby, Papua, Australian Territory of New Guinea, for a goodwill visit.

* Aug 14, Thu. 1941

President Roosevelt, on board heavy cruiser Augusta (CA-31), returning from the Atlantic Charter conference, witnesses exhibition of flight operations by aircraft escort vessel Long Island (AVG 1) off Cape Sable, Nova Scotia. Roosevelt had been instrumental in championing conversion of merchant vessels to auxiliary aircraft carriers. Long Island's embarked scouting squadron (VS 201) is equipped with F2As and SOCs. That afternoon, Augusta reaches Blue Hill Bay, Maine, where the chief executive reembarks in presidential yacht Potomac (AG-25).

Submarine chaser PC 457 is accidentally sunk in collision with U.S. freighter Norluna off Puerto Rico.

During Japanese bombing raid on Chungking, China, Japanese planes approach the city from the east, passing directly over the U.S. Embassy chancery and the river gunboat Tutuila (PR-4). There is no repetition of the incident of 30 July.

* Aug 15, Fri. 1941

Naval Air Station, Palmyra Island, and Naval Air Facility, Johnston Island, are established.

TG 2.5, comprising carrier Yorktown (CV-5) (VF 42, VS 41, and VT 5), light cruiser Brooklyn (CL-40) and destroyers Roe (DD-418), Grayson (DD-435), and Eberle (DD-430), departs Bermuda to begin 4,064-mile neutrality patrol that will conclude at Bermuda on 27 August.

President Roosevelt fishes with "indifferent luck" off Deer Island from presidential yacht Potomac (AG-25); the ship anchors in Pulpit Harbor, Penobscot Bay for the night.

* Aug 16, Sat. 1941

Presidential yacht Potomac (AG-25) reaches Rockland, Maine, and disembarks President Roosevelt and his party. The chief executive returns by train to Washington the following morning.

Heavy cruisers Northampton (CA-26) and Salt Lake City (CA-25) arrive at Rabaul, New Britain, British New Guinea, for a goodwill visit.

* Aug 17, Sun. 1941

President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Hull confer with Japanese Ambassador Nomura and state conditions for resuming conversations or arranging a Pacific conference.

Panamanian (ex-Danish) freighter Sessa is torpedoed and sunk about 300 miles southwest of Iceland, 61°26'N, 30°50'W (see 6 September). The freighter's assailant is unknown.

* Aug 18, Mon. 1941

President Roosevelt announces that the United States is ferrying combat aircraft to British in Near East via Brazil and Africa.

* Aug 19, Tue. 1941

Wake Detachment, 1st Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force (Major Lewis A. Hohn, USMC), arrives at Wake Island in cargo ship Regulus (AK-14) to begin work on defense installations.

* Aug 22, Fri. 1941

Destroyer Hughes (DD-410) is damaged when accidentally rammed by British freighter Chulmleigh at Reykjavik, Iceland.

* Aug 25, Mon. 1941

British and Soviet forces invade Iran from south and north respectively.

TG 2.6 (Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt), comprising Wasp (CV-7), light cruiser Savannah (CL-42), and destroyers Meredith (DD-434) and Gwin (DD-433), departs Hampton Roads, Virginia, on a neutrality patrol that will conclude at Bermuda on 10 September.

* Aug 26, Tue. 1941

Ship Warrants Act is invoked by Executive Order, empowering President to direct Maritime Commission to establish cargo handling, ship repair, and maintenance priorities for merchant ships.

* Aug 27, Wed. 1941

Japan protests shipment of U.S. goods to Vladivostok, Soviet Far East, through Japanese waters.

German submarine U-570, attacked by an RAF Hudson (No. 269 Squadron), is captured intact by British surface force in the North Atlantic. The Royal Navy thoroughly evaluated the submarine, the first to be captured intact for intensive study; the U-boat served as HMS Graph until it was wrecked in 1944. Among the ships that captured the submarine was Canadian destroyer HMCS Niagara, formerly USS Thatcher (DD-162), one of the fifty destroyers transferred in the destroyers-for-bases agreement of August 1940.

* Aug 28, Thu. 1941

Supply, Priorities, and Allocations Board is established.

Hostilities in Iran cease.

TG 2.7, comprising aircraft escort vessel Long Island (AVG 1) (VGS 1), light cruiser Nashville (CL-43) and destroyers Livermore (DD-429) and Kearny (DD-432) departs Bermuda. It will conclude the patrol--the first involving the prototype "escort carrier"--at Bermuda on 9 September.


* Sep 1, Mon. 1941

Navy assumes responsibility for trans-Atlantic convoys from point off Argentia to meridian of Iceland.

Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet (Admiral Ernest J. King) designates a task group as a Denmark Strait Patrol to operate in waters between Iceland and Greenland.

U.S. Consul General in Shanghai, China (Clarence Gauss), Commander Yangtze Patrol (Rear Admiral William A. Glassford) and Commanding Officer Fourth Marine Regiment (Colonel Samuel L. Howard, USMC) recommend that all naval forces in China (river gunboats and marines) be withdrawn.

* Sep 4, Thu. 1941

Destroyer Greer (DD-145), while tracking German submarine U-652 175 miles southwest of Iceland, is attacked but not damaged. Soon thereafter, Greer damages the U-boat with depth charges.

* Sep 6, Sat. 1941

Destroyer Lansdale (DD-426) rescues only three survivors from Panamanian freighter Sessa, sunk on 17 August; 24 crewmen (one of whom is an American) perish.

* Sep 7, Sun. 1941

Gulf of Suez
Unarmed U.S. freighter Steel Seafarer (carrying cargo earmarked for the British Army in Egypt) is bombed and sunk by German plane (identified as a JU 88) off the Shadwan Islands; her 36-man crew is rescued unharmed.

* Sep 9, Tue. 1941

Naval Coastal Frontier Forces are formed.

* Sep 11, Thu. 1941

President Roosevelt, in the wake of the Greer-U 652 incident, announces order to Navy ("Shoot on Sight") to attack any vessel threatening U.S. shipping or ships under American escort. Roosevelt declares that if German or Italian vessels of war enter American-protected waters, they "do so at their own risk."

Executive order provides that such additional Coast Guard vessels, units, or people, should be transferred to the Navy as should be agreed upon between the Commandant of the Coast Guard and the Chief of Naval Operations (see 6 August and 1 November).

German submarines attack convoy SC 42; unarmed Panamanian freighter Montana is torpedoed and sunk by U-105 at 63°40'N, 35°50'W.

Gulf of Suez
Unarmed U.S. freighter Arkansan is damaged by antiaircraft shell fragments during heavy air raid on Port Suez; there are no reported casualties among the 38-man crew.

* Sep 12, Fri. 1941

Coast Guard cutter Northland, assisted by cutter North Star, seizes Norwegian trawler Buskoe in MacKenzie Bay, Greenland, thwarting Buskoe's mission of establishing and servicing German radio weather stations in that region. This is the first capture of a belligerent ship by U.S. naval forces in World War II.

* Sep 14, Sun. 1941

Army General Headquarters (GHQ) maneuvers commence in Louisiana. Army's neglect of aviation support for its ground troops during the interwar period compels it to ask the Navy to provide planes to take part. Five Navy (VB 2, VF 41, VF 72, VS 5, and VS 42) and four Marine Corps (VMF 111, VMO 151, VMSB 131, and VMSB 132) squadrons take part in the large-scale war games.

As TF 15 proceeds toward Iceland, destroyer Truxtun (DD-229) reports submarine emerging from the fog 300 yards away, but low visibility and uncertainty as to the position of MacLeish (DD-220), also in the screen of TF 15, prevents Truxtun from opening fire. After the submarine submerges, Truxtun, MacLeish and Sampson (DD-394) make depth charge attacks with no verifiable result.

* Sep 18, Thu. 1941

U.S. Navy ships escort eastbound British trans-Atlantic convoy for first time: TU.4.1.1 (Captain Morton L. Deyo), comprising destroyers Ericsson (DD-440), Eberle (DD-430), Ellis (DD-154), Dallas (DD-199), and Upshur (DD-144), assumes ocean escort duties for convoy HX 150, 150 miles south of Newfoundland.

* Sep 19, Fri. 1941

Secretary of State Cordell Hull sends note to German Charge d'Affaires Hans Thomsen concerning settlement of the Robin Moor incident, citing reparations to the amount of $2,967,092.00. German Embassy acknowledges receipt of the note the same day (see 26 September 1941).

* Sep 20, Sat. 1941

Army shore battery fires across the bow of destroyer Charles F. Hughes (DD-428) as TU 4.1.2 (Commander Fred D. Kirtland) enters Hvalfjordur, Iceland in foggy weather conditions.

German submarines attack convoy SC 44; among the ships lost in the onslaught are Panamanian freighter Pink Star (ex-Danish Landby) and tanker T.J. Williams, torpedoed and sunk by U-552 at 61°36'N, 35°07'W and 61°34'N, 35°11'W, respectively.

* Sep 24, Wed. 1941

Destroyer Eberle (DD-430), in TU 4.1.1, screening convoy HX 150, rescues crew of British freighter Nigaristan, which has suffered an engine room fire.

* Sep 25, Thu. 1941

U.S. Navy escorts (see 18 September) turn over convoy HX 150 to British escort vessels at the Mid-Ocean Meeting Point (MOMP). All convoyed vessels reach port safely.

* Sep 26, Fri. 1941

Navy orders protection of all ships engaged in commerce in U.S. defensive waters--by patrolling, covering, escorting, and by reporting or destroying German and Italian naval forces encountered.

German Charge d'Affaires Hans Thomsen replies to Secretary of State Hull's note of 19 September concerning reparations for the loss of Robin Moor: referring to the notes of 20 June and 19 September 1941, Thomsen replies that "the two communications made are not such as to lead to an appropriate reply by my government" (see 3 November).

* Sep 27, Sat. 1941

First Maritime Commission EC-2 type freighter (Liberty Ship), Patrick Henry, is launched at Baltimore, Maryland. This standardized type of ship is to be put into mass production in American shipyards to fulfill the need for merchant vessels in a wartime economy.

* Sep 28, Sun. 1941

Army GHQ Maneuvers in Louisiana conclude.

* Sep 30, Tue. 1941

TU 4.1.5 (Commander William K. Phillips) assumes escort duty for convoy . During the rough passage to the MOMP, which concludes on 9 October, all destroyers of the unit, Mayo (DD-422) (flagship), Broome (DD-210), Babbitt (DD-128), Leary (DD-158) and Schenck (DD-159) suffer varying degrees of storm damage.

TU 4.1.3 (Commander Dennis L. Ryan) assumes escort duty for convoy ON 20 at the MOMP (see 2 October).

Rear Admiral Harold M. Bemis, incapacitated by illness, is relieved as Commandant, Sixteenth Naval District and Navy Yard, Cavite, P.I., by Captain Herbert J. Ray (see 5 November)."


* Oct 1, Wed. 1941

United States, British, and Soviet representatives conclude three-day conference in Moscow on aid to the Soviet Union.

Secretary of the Navy Knox approves "popular" names for naval combat aircraft: "Avenger" (Grumman TBF), "Buccaneer" (Brewster SB2A), "Buffalo" (Brewster F2A), "Catalina" (Consolidated PBY), "Coronado" (Consolidated PB2Y), "Corsair" (Vought F4U), "Dauntless" (Douglas SBD), "Devastator" (Douglas TBD), "Helldiver" (Curtiss SB2C), "Kingfisher" (Vought OS2U/Naval Aircraft Factory OS2N), "Mariner" (Martin PBM), "Sea Ranger" (Boeing PBB patrol bomber), "Seagull" (Curtiss SO3C), and "Vindicator" (Vought SB2U). Names supplement the Navy's letter-number designations, which remain unchanged and continue to be used in correspondence. As can be seen, the name "Avenger" is assigned well before either Pearl Harbor (7 December 1941) or the slaughter of torpedo planes at the Battle of Midway (4-6 June 1942). These two events are commonly believed to have motivated the assignment of this particular nickname to the TBF/TBM series. The name "Seagull" is also applied unofficially to the Curtiss SOC series which is in use in cruiser-based observation squadrons. Ironically, the SO3C proves a failure in service, and the SOC it was designed to replace serves on.

Sale of War Savings Bonds to naval personnel is inaugurated on this date; under the direction of a Coordinator for War Savings Bonds, Supply Corps officers are designated as issuing agents and assigned to 28 major shore activities. Actual sales of the bonds will amount to $61,000,000--over 50 in excess of the predicted sales.

* Oct 2, Thu. 1941

President Roosevelt rejects Japanese Prime Minister Konoye's request to meet and discuss Pacific and Far Eastern questions.

Destroyer Winslow (DD-359), in screen of convoy ON 20, is detached from TU 4.1.3 to proceed to the assistance of Dutch motor vessel Tuva, torpedoed by German submarine U-575 at 54°16'N, 26°36'W. Although Winslow finds the freighter still afloat, the destroyer depth charges a "doubtful" submarine contact in the vicinity and upon her return is unable to locate any survivors. Winslow rejoins ON 20 the following morning. The Dutch freighter's crew, however, is apparently rescued by another ship, for the Lloyd's List of Shipping Losses: World War II lists only one man missing from among the complement of 35.

Coast Guard cutter Campbell scuttles irreparably damaged British tanker San Florentino (torpedoed by German submarine U-575 at 52°50'N, 34°40'W and 52°42'N, 34°51'W).

* Oct 5, Sun. 1941

Destroyer Mayo (DD-422), escorting convoy HX 152, after seeing Swedish motor vessel Kaaparen showing a string of lights for five minutes, thus jeopardizing the convoy, hails the offender and threatens to open fire if the practice is not stopped.

* Oct 7, Tue. 1941

TU 4.1.1 (Captain Marion Y. Cohen) assumes escort duty for convoy ON 22 at the MOMP. Although there are no U-boat attacks on the convoy, ships of TU 4.1.1 carry out depth charges attacks on suspicious contacts (see 8 and 9 October).

* Oct 8, Wed. 1941

Destroyer Dallas (DD-199), in screen of convoy ON 22, depth charges a contact (later evaluated as "non-submarine") about 450 miles southwest of Reykjavik, Iceland, 58°54'N, 29°31'W.

Oiler Salinas (AO-19), with convoy [???}, is damaged by heavy seas, and is convoyed to Iceland by destroyer Broome (DD-210).

* Oct 9, Thu. 1941

Destroyer Upshur (DD-144), in screen of convoy ON 22, carries out depth charge attack (like Dallas's the previous day, evaluated as "non-submarine") about 405 miles southeast of Cape Farewell, 56°47'N, 34°05'W.

* Oct 10, Fri. 1941

TG 14.3 (Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt), comprising carrier Yorktown (CV-5), battleship New Mexico (BB-40), heavy cruiser Quincy (CA-39), light cruiser Savannah (CL-42), and Destroyer Divisions 3 and 16, sails from Argentia, Newfoundland, for Casco Bay, Maine. Encountering heavy weather en route, Yorktown, New Mexico, Quincy, Savannah, and destroyers Rhind (DD-404), Hammann (DD-412), Anderson (DD-411), Sims (DD-409), Mayrant (DD-402), Rowan (DD-405), Hughes (DD-410), and Trippe (DD-403) will all suffer damage before the force reaches Casco Bay on 13 October.

Captain Lester J. Hudson relieves Captain Richard E. Cassidy as Commander, South China Patrol, on board river gunboat Mindanao (PR-8) at Hong Kong, B.C.C.

* Oct 14, Tue. 1941

German submarine U-553 encounters convoy SC 48 and summons help (see 15-18 October).

* Oct 15, Wed. 1941

German submarine U-553 begins onslaught against convoy SC 48, torpedoing and sinking British motorship Silvercedar at 53°36'N, 30°00'W, and Norwegian freighter Ila at 53°34'N, 30°10'W, before the U-boat is driven off by Canadian destroyer HMCS Columbia [ex-U.S. destroyer Haraden (DD-183)]. U-432, U-502, U-558 and U-568, followed by U-73, U-77, U-101 and U-751 converge on the convoy, and one of these boats, U-568, torpedoes and sinks British steamer Empire Heron at 54°55'N, 27°15'W, before being driven off by British corvette HMS Gladiolus. Consequently, TU 4.1.4 (Captain Hewlett Thebaud), comprising four U.S. destroyers, is directed to proceed to SC 48's aid as the west-bound convoy it had been escorting, ON 24, is dispersed (see 16-18 October).

* Oct 16, Thu. 1941

Battle to protect convoy SC 48 continues. German submarines U-502 and U-568 reestablish contact before retiring upon arrival of TU 4.1.4 (Captain Hewlett Thebaud). Destroyer Livermore (DD-429) sweeps ahead of the convoy, depth-charges U-553; destroyer Kearny (DD-432), sweeping astern, drops charges to discourage tracking submarines. Later, U-502 and U-568, augmented by U-432, U-553, and U-558 renew attack upon SC 48. The U-boats commence a determined assault on SC 48 during the night of 16-17 October.

Destroyer Charles F. Hughes (DD-428), while escorting convoy HX 154, rescues the only seven survivors of British freighter Hatasu (torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-431 on 2 October, 600 miles east of Cape Race), at 51°56'N, 35°58'W.

Destroyers Peary (DD-225) and Pillsbury (DD-227) are damaged in collision during night exercises in Manila Bay, P.I.

* Oct 17, Fri. 1941

General Tojo Hideki becomes Japanese Premier as Konoye Government resigns.

Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet (Admiral Husband E. Kimmel) sends two submarines to Midway and two to Wake on "simulated war patrols" (see 26 October).

Navy orders all U.S. merchant ships in Asiatic waters to put into friendly ports.

Battle to protect convoy SC 48 continues. SC 48 is the first U.S. Navy-escorted convoy to engage German submarines in battle, but despite the presence of the three modern U.S. destroyers and two flush-deckers--Decatur (DD-341) and HMCS Columbia [ex-U.S. destroyer Haraden (DD-183)], and four Canadian corvettes, the enemy torpedoes six ships and an escort vessel in a total elapsed time of four hours and forty-seven minutes. U-432 sinks Greek steamer Evros at 57°00'N, 24°30'W, Panamanian steamer Bold Venture and Norwegian motor tanker Barfonn at 56°58'N, 25°04'W; U-558 sinks British tanker W.C. Teagle at 57°00'N, 25°00'W, and Norwegian steamship Rym at 57°01'N, 24°20'W. U-553 sinks Norwegian steamer Erviken at 56°10'N, 24°30'W, and conducts unsuccessful approach on destroyer Plunkett (DD-431). Destroyer Kearny (DD-432) is torpedoed by U-568 southwest of Iceland, 57°00'N, 24°00'W; 11 of Kearny's crew are killed, 22 injured (see 18 October). Soon thereafter, U-101 torpedoes and sinks British destroyer HMS Broadwater [ex-U.S. destroyer Mason (DD-191)], at 57°01'N, 19°08'W. Lost on board the British flush-decker are two survivors from Ervinger and nine from W.C. Teagle. Escorted by Greer (DD-145), the damaged Kearny proceeds to Hvalfjordur, Iceland. There she will undergo repairs alongside repair ship Vulcan (AR-5) and eventually return to the United States. Iceland-based PBYs (VP 73) arrive to provide air coverage for SC 48.

Destroyer Charles F. Hughes (DD-428) and Gleaves (DD-423), while screening convoy HX 154, depth-charge suspicious contacts at 54°40'N, 33°59'W, and 54°40'N, 33°59'W (see 19 October).

* Oct 18, Mon. 1941

PBY (VP 73) drops package containing blood plasma and transfusion gear for use in treating the wounded on board Kearny (DD-432); Monssen (DD-435) retrieves the package but the gear becomes disengaged and sinks. PBM (VP 74) repeats the operation a few hours later; this time the drop is successful and Monssen retrieves the medical supplies intact. Destroyers Plunkett (DD-431), Livermore (DD-429) and Decatur (DD-341), meanwhile, make concerted depth charge attacks on sound contacts at 54°53'N, 33°08'W with no visible results. German submarines break off operations against SC 48.

* Oct 19, Sun. 1941

Destroyer Charles F. Hughes (DD-428) and Gleaves (DD-423), while screening convoy HX 154, depth-charge suspicious contacts at 59°58'N, 23°15'W, and 60°00'N, 23°20'W, and 59°57'N, 22°41'W.

Unarmed U.S. freighter Lehigh is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-126 about 75 miles off Freetown, Sierre Leone, 08°26'N, 14°37'W. While there are no fatalities, four men are slightly injured.

* Oct 20, Mon. 1941

PBYs (VP 73) provide air coverage for convoy ON 26.

* Oct 22, Wed. 1941

Battleships Oklahoma (BB-36) and Arizona (BB-39) are damaged in collision in Hawaiian Operating Area.

* Oct 25, Sat. 1941

TF 14 (Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt), formed around carrier Yorktown (CV-5) (VF 42, VB 5, VS 5 and VT 5), battleship New Mexico (BB-40), light cruisers Savannah (CL-42) and Philadelphia (CL-41), and nine destroyers, departs Portland, Maine, to escort a convoy ("Cargo") of British merchantmen.

TU 4.1.3 (Commander Richard E. Webb) escorts convoy HX 156; destroyer Hilary P. Jones (DD-427) carries out depth charge attacks on suspicious contact but, after spying a school of porpoises, ceases fire.

South and Northeast Greenland Patrols are merged and renamed Greenland Patrol; it is designated as TG 24.8 of the Atlantic Fleet.

* Oct 26, Sun. 1941

Submarines Narwhal (SS-168) and Dolphin (SS-169) arrive off Wake Island on simulated war patrols.

* Oct 27, Mon. 1941

TU 4.1.6 (Commander George W. Johnson) screens convoy ON 28. During the day, destroyers DuPont (DD-152) and Sampson (DD-394) each carry out two depth charge attacks against suspected U-boat contacts.

Destroyer Hilary P. Jones (DD-427) is damaged by heavy seas while screening convoy HX 156.

* Oct 29, Wed. 1941

TU 4.1.3 (Commander Richard E. Webb) escorts convoy HX 156; destroyer Hilary P. Jones (DD-427) carries out depth charge attack on suspicious contact.

TU 4.1.6 (Commander George W. Johnson) screens convoy ON 28. During the day, destroyers Lea (DD-118), DuPont (DD-152), MacLeish (DD-220), and Sampson (DD-394) depth charge suspected U-boat contacts.

* Oct 30, Thu. 1941

Oiler Salinas (AO-19), in convoy ON 28, is torpedoed by German submarine U-106 about 700 miles east of Newfoundland. Only one of Salinas's crew is injured. TU 4.1.6 (Commander George W. Johnson), screening ON 28, attacks sound contacts; destroyer Bernadou (DD-153) carries out five depth charge attacks and fires at what was most likely German submarine U-67, forcing her to submerge; DuPont (DD-152) carries out three depth charge attacks; MacLeish (DD-220) and Sampson (DD-394) one apiece. Lea (DD-118) escorts Salinas (which will reach port under her own power); they will be joined en route by Coast Guard cutter Campbell and tug Cherokee (AT-66).

TU 4.1.1 (Captain Marion Y. Cohen) contacts MOMP-bound convoy HX 157 at 45°43'N, 55°37'W. The convoy will not be attacked by U-boats (see 1 November).

* Oct 31, Fri. 1941

Destroyer Reuben James (DD-245), while escorting 42-ship convoy HX 156, is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-552 off western Iceland, 51°59'N, 27°05'W; 115 men are killed. No merchantmen in HX 156 are attacked. Despite the heavy oil slick in the vicinity and the need to investigate sound contacts, destroyer Niblack (DD-424) rescues 36 men (one of whom dies of wounds on 2 November); Hilary P. Jones (DD-427) picks up 10. The loss of Reuben James, the first U.S. naval vessel to be lost to enemy action in World War II, proves a temporary detriment to Navy recruiting efforts.

TU 4.1.6 (Commander George W. Johnson), screening ON 28, carries out vigorous attacks on sound contacts: destroyer Babbitt (DD-128) carries out two, while Buck (DD-420), DuPont (DD-152) (which is attacked by U-boat but missed), Leary (DD-158) and Sampson (DD-394) one attack apiece.


* Nov 1, Sat. 1941

Executive order places Coast Guard under jurisdiction of Department of the Navy for duration of national emergency.

Pacific Escort Force is formed at Pearl Harbor to protect transports and certain merchant vessels carrying troops and valuable military cargoes between Hawaii and the Far East.

PBYs (VP 73) provide air coverage for convoy ON 30.

Destroyers Dallas (DD-199), Ellis (DD-154), and Eberle (DD-430), screening convoy HX 157, carry out depth charge attacks on sound contacts off St. John's, Newfoundland.

* Nov 2, Sun. 1941

TF 14 (Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt) (see 25 October 1941 for composition) reaches MOMP and exchanges convoy "Cargo" for CT 5, eight British transports carrying 20,000 British troops earmarked for the Middle East. Convoy CT 5's first destination is Halifax, Nova Scotia.

PBMs (VP 74) provide air coverage for convoy ON 30.

* Nov 3, Mon. 1941

Secretary of State Hull releases to the press the correspondence of June and September detailing the German refusal to pay reparations for sinking U.S. freighter Robin Moor on 21 May.

PBYs (VP 73) provide air coverage for convoy ON 31.

Destroyer Upshur (DD-144), escorting convoy HX 157, depth charges sound contact (later determined to be most likely a whale or blackfish) at 56°56'N, 49°21'W.

* Nov 4, Tue. 1941

PBYs (VP 73) provide air coverage for convoy ON 31.

British RFA oiler Olwen reports German surface raider attack at 03°04'N, 22°42'W. Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic, Vice Admiral Algernon U. Willis, RN, orders heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (accompanied by armed merchant cruiser HMS Canton) to investigate. Light cruiser HMS Dunedin and special service vessels HMS Queen Emma and Princess Beatrix are ordered to depart Freetown, Sierra Leone to join in the search. Dorsetshire and Canton part company, with the former heading southeast and the latter steaming toward a position to the northwest, to be supported by TG 3.6, light cruiser Omaha (CL-4) and destroyer Somers (DD-381), which are at that time well to the northwest of the reported enemy position. Light cruiser Memphis (CL-4) and destroyers Davis (DD-395) and Jouett (DD-396), near to Olwen's position, search the area without result; Omaha and Somers search unsuccessfully for survivors (see 5-6 November).

* Nov 5, Wed. 1941

Oiler Laramie (A0 16) is rammed by Panamanian freighter Montrose, Tunugdliark Fjord, Narsarssuak, Greenland, but suffers no damage in the accidental encounter caused by stormy weather.

Search for German raider reported by British RFA oiler Olwen the previous day continues; Commander-in-Chief South Atlantic (Vice Admiral Algernon U. Willis, RN) informs British ships of the unsuccessful efforts by the five U.S. ships (two light cruisers and three destroyers) involved in the search the previous day (see 6 November).

Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell relieves Captain Herbert J. Ray as Commandant, Sixteenth Naval District and Commander, Philippine Naval Coastal Frontier. Ray had been acting in that capacity due to the illness of Rear Admiral Harold M. Bemis.

* Nov 6, Thu. 1941

Unsuccessful search for German raider reported by British RFA oiler Olwen on 4 November is not entirely fruitless: TG 3.6, light cruiser Omaha (CL-4) (Captain Theodore E. Chandler) and destroyer Somers (DD-381), en route to Recife, Brazil, returning from the 3,023-mile patrol, captures German blockade runner Odenwald, disguised as U.S. freighter Willmoto, in Atlantic equatorial waters, 00°40'N, 28°04'W. Boarding party from Omaha (Lieutenant George K. Carmichael) reaches Odenwald as Germans explode charges to scuttle the ship. Omaha's sailors, however, joined by a diesel engine specialist from Somers, prevent Odenwald's loss while the cruiser's SOCs and her accompanying destroyer screen the operation. The three ships then proceed to Trinidad because of possible complications with the Brazilian government; in view of the precarious fuel state in the American ships, Somers's crew ingeniously rigs a sail that cuts fuel consumption and allows her to reach her destination with fuel to spare. British RFA oiler Olwen subsequently reports that she had made the "raider" signal when what was probably a surfaced submarine had fired upon her at dawn on 4 November 1941. Ten U.S. and British warships had searched for two days for a phantom enemy.

Destroyer Madison (DD-425), on the flank of convoy ON 39, carries out depth charge attack at 45°50'N, 40°40'W; investigation later proves their quarry to have been a whale.

* Nov 7, Fri. 1941

Destroyers Lansdale (DD-426), Charles F. Hughes (DD-428), and Gleaves (DD-423), while in TU 4.1.2 escorting convoy ON 30, make depth charge attacks on sound contact. Destroyer Madison (DD-425) sights bleeding whale soon thereafter, leading to the conclusion that the warships had attacked a large marine mammal.

* Nov 8, Sat. 1941

Destroyer Niblack (DD-424) damages Norwegian freighter Astra in collision, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Naval Operating Base, Iceland, is established; Rear Admiral James L. Kauffman is the first commandant.

* Nov 9, Sun. 1941

TU 4.1.4 (Captain Alan G. Kirk) departs Argentia, Newfoundland, to screen 31-ship convoy HX 159. It is the first escort task unit that includes in its composition a Coast Guard cutter, Campbell. The convoy will not be attacked by U-boats although the presence of whales and blackfish result in attacks on sound contacts on five occasions (see 11, 12, and 13 November).

* Nov 10, Mon. 1941

U.S.-escorted convoy WS 12 (Rear Admiral Arthur B. Cook), formed around carrier Ranger (CV-4) and transporting more than 20,000 British soldiers (see 2 November) in six U.S. Navy transports, sails from Halifax.

Destroyer Ericsson (DD-440), screening convoy HX 157, depth charges sound contact later evaluated as a "doubtful" submarine.

Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet (Admiral Thomas C. Hart) receives permission to withdraw river gunboats from the Yangtze and USMC forces from China.

* Nov 11, Tue. 1941

Destroyer Edison (DD-439), en route to rendezvous with convoy ON 34, depth charges sound contact.

Destroyer Decatur (DD-341), screening convoy HX 159, depth charges sound contact off the Grand Banks; it is later evaluated as a "doubtful" submarine.

* Nov 12, Wed. 1941

TU 4.1.3 (Commander Richard E. Webb) assumes escort duty for convoy ON 34.

Destroyer Decatur (DD-341), screening convoy HX 159, twice depth charges sound contacts that are later evaluated as "non-submarine." Destroyer Badger (DD-126), depth charges sound contact that is later evaluated as perhaps Decatur's wake. Coast Guard cutter Campbell reports sound contact and conducts search; she is joined by destroyer Livermore (DD-429).

* Nov 13, Tue. 1941

Destroyer Edison (DD-439), screening convoy ON 34 southwest of Iceland, depth charges sound contact.

Destroyer Decatur (DD-341), screening convoy HX 159, depth charges sound contact; although it is regarded as a good contact, the ensuing search yields no evidence of a submarine.

* Nov 14, Fri. 1941

Marines are ordered withdrawn from Shanghai, Peiping, and Tientsin, China.

Destroyer Benson (DD-421) and Niblack (DD-424), screening convoy ON 34, depth charge sound contacts.

Destroyer Edison (DD-439), en route to MOMP in TU 4.1.1 to screen convoy ON 35, attacks a sound contact southwest of Iceland at 62°53'N, 24°30'W.

* Nov 15, Sat. 1941

United States
Army GHQ maneuvers begin in North and South Carolina. Two U.S. Navy (VB 8 and VS 8) and two Marine Corps (VMF 111 and VMF 121) squadrons take part in the large-scale war games.

TU 4.1.1 (Captain Marion Y. Cohen) assumes escort duty for convoy ON 35 at the MOMP. There will be no U-boat attacks on the convoy, but nearly continuous heavy weather between 16 and 25 November result in 16 of the 26 ships straggling.

* Nov 16, Sun. 1941

TU 4.1.5 (Commander William K. Phillips) clears Argentia, Newfoundland, to assumes escort duty for convoy HX 160; between 17 and 28 November, heavy seas will cause varying degrees of damage to destroyers Mayo (DD-422), Nicholson (DD-424), Babbitt (DD-128), Leary (DD-158) and Schenck (DD-159). The convoy will not be attacked by U-boats (see 19, 20 and 27 November).

* Nov 17, Mon. 1941

Congress amends the Neutrality Act of 1939 by Joint Resolution; U.S. merchant ships can now be armed and can enter war zones.

Bureau of Navigation directs that naval district personnel who received Armed Guard training be assigned to Little Creek, Virginia, or San Diego, California, for further instruction. They will be transferred to Armed Guard centers at New York, New York, and Treasure Island, California, for assignment to merchant ships.

Special Japanese envoy Kurusu Saburo arrives in Washington and confers with Secretary of State Cordell Hull.

Destroyers Benson (DD-421) and Edison (DD-439), screening convoy ON 34, depth charge submarine contacts.

TU 4.1.5 (Commander William K. Phillips) intercepts and joins convoy HX 160; although none of the destroyers in the task unit will be damaged by enemy action, all--Mayo (DD-422), Babbitt (DD-128), Leary (DD-158), Schenck (DD-159), and Nicholson (DD-442)--will suffer storm damage of varying degrees between this date and 28 November.

German blockade runner Odenwald, captured by light cruiser Omaha (CL-4) and destroyer Somers (DD-381) on 6 November, is escorted into San Juan, Puerto Rico, by Somers and turned over to U.S. authorities.

* Nov 19, Wed. 1941

Destroyer Leary (DD-158), with TU 4.1.5, escorting convoy HX 160, depth charges a sound contact.

* Nov 20, Thu. 1941

Ambassador Nomura presents Japan's "final proposal" to keep peace in the Pacific.

Destroyer Nicholson (DD-424), with TU 4.1.5, escorting convoy HX 160, depth charges a sound contact at 50°30'N, 50°40'W.

* Nov 21, Fri. 1941

United States
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations mistakenly informs Naval Air Station, New York, of the imminent delivery of infantile paralysis serum from Navy Medical Supply Depot, Brooklyn, for further transport to Norfolk by 1000 on the following day and thence to Bermuda. It is soon discovered, however, that no such serum exists in Brooklyn or anywhere east of Milwaukee. Urgent ensuing search locates the needed serum in Milwaukee, whence it is flown to Chicago, where American Air Lines holds a plane to make the necessary connection for the flight to New York (see 22 November).

Lend-Lease is extended to Iceland.

Destroyer Shaw (DD-373) and oiler Sabine (AO-25) are damaged in collision in Hawaiian Operating Area.

* Nov 22, Sat. 1941

United States
Naval Air Station, New York SNJ-2 delivers needed infantile paralysis serum to Norfolk. It ultimately arrives in Bermuda on time.

* Nov 23, Sun. 1941

U.S. occupies Surinam, Dutch Guiana, pursuant to agreement with the Netherlands government to protect bauxite mines.

TU 4.1.6 (Commander Gilbert C. Hoover) assumes escort duty for convoy HX 161; the convoy will not be attacked by U-boats during its passage (see 24 November).

* Nov 24, Mon. 1941

Destroyer DuPont (DD-152) in North Atlantic with TU 4.1.6, escorting convoy HX 161, is damaged in collision with merchant ship Thorshovdi.

British light cruiser Dunedin is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-124 north of Pernambuco, Brazil, at approximately 03°00'S, 26°00'W (see 27 November).

* Nov 25, Tue. 1941

Japanese troop transports en route to Malaya are sighted off Formosa.

Submarines Triton (SS-201) and Tambor (SS-198) arrive off Wake Island on simulated war patrols.

* Nov 26, Wed. 1941

Secretary of State Hull submits final proposal to Japanese envoys for readjustment of U.S.-Japanese relations.

Japanese carrier task force (Vice Admiral Nagumo?', Chuichi), formed around six aircraft carriers, sails from remote Hittokappu Bay in the Kuriles, its departure shrouded in secrecy. Its mission, should talks between United States and Japan fail to resolve the diplomatic impasse over Far Eastern and Pacific questions, is to attack the U.S. Pacific Fleet wherever it is found in Hawaiian waters.

Tug Sonoma (AT-12) sails from Wake Island with Pan American Airways barges PAB No. 2 and PAB No. 4 in tow, bound for Honolulu.

* Nov 27, Thu. 1941

Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, sends "war warning" message to commanders of the Pacific and Asiatic Fleets. General George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, sends a similar message to his Hawaiian and Philippine Department commanders.

U.S. passenger liner President Madison, chartered for the purpose, sails from Shanghai, China, with the 2d Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Donald Curtis, USMC) embarked, bound for the Philippines (see 28 November).

Destroyer Babbitt (DD-128), with TU 4.1.5, escorting convoy HX 160, depth charges a sound contact.

U.S. freighter Nishmaha rescues 72 survivors (five of whom succumb to their wounds) from British light cruiser HMS Dunedin, sunk by German submarine U-124 on 24 November. Nishmaha transports the survivors to Trinidad.

* Nov 28, Fri. 1941

Carrier Enterprise (CV-6) sails for Wake Island in TF 8 (Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.) to ferry USMC F4Fs (VMF 211) to the atoll. Occasioned by the "war warning" of the previous day, the deployment is part of eleventh-hour augmentation of defenses at outlying Pacific bases. Halsey approves "Battle Order No. 1" (28 November) that declares that Enterprise is operating "under war conditions." "Steady nerves and stout hearts," the carrier's captain concludes, "are needed now." Supporting PBY operations will be carried out from advanced bases at Wake and Midway.

Seaplane tender Wright (AV-1), arrives at Wake Island, with Marine Aircraft Group 21 people to establish an advance aviation base.

U.S. passenger liner President Harrison, chartered for the purpose, sails from Shanghai, China, with the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Curtis T. Beecher, USMC) and regimental staff (Colonel Samuel L. Howard, USMC) embarked, bound for the Philippines. "Stirring scenes of farewell," U.S. Consul Edwin F. Stanton reports to Secretary of State Hull, accompany the marines' departure.

During their storm-fraught passage to rendezvous with the river gunboats proceeding from Shanghai to Manila, submarine rescue vessel Pigeon (ASR-6) experiences steering casualty; minesweeper Finch (AM-9), which loses both anchors in the tempest, stands by to render assistance, and eventually, after three tries, manages to take the crippled ship in tow the following day.

* Nov 29, Sat. 1941

River gunboats Luzon (PR-7) and Oahu (PR-6) (Rear Admiral William A. Glassford, Commander Yangtze Patrol, in Luzon) depart Shanghai for Manila. Oahu (PR-6) is the sistership of river gunboat Panay (PR-5), which had been bombed and sunk by Japanese naval aircraft near Nanking, China, on 12 December 1937.

TU 4.1.2 (Commander Fred D. Kirtland), accompanied by salvage vessel Redwing (ARS-4) and oiler Sapelo (AO-11), assumes escort for convoy HX 162 (see 1 December).

TU 4.1.4 (Captain Alan G. Kirk) assumes escort duty for convoy ONS 39; the convoy will not be attacked by U-boats during its passage. ONS 39, however, will encounter considerable stormy weather that causes varying degrees of topside damage to destroyers Plunkett (DD-431), Livermore (DD-429), Decatur (DD-341) and Cole (DD-155).

Destroyer Woolsey (DD-437), screening convoy HX 161, despite having been hampered by propulsion problems the previous days, depth charges suspicious contact without result.

* Nov 30, Sun. 1941

Japanese Foreign Minister Tojo rejects U.S. proposals for settling Far East crisis.

Small reconnaissance seaplane from Japanese submarine I 10 reconnoiters Suva Bay, Fiji.

U.S. passenger liner President Madison arrives at Olongapo, P.I., and disembarks the 2d Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Donald Curtis, USMC). President Madison will then proceed on to Singapore.

River gunboats Luzon (PR-7) and Oahu (PR-6) (Rear Admiral William A. Glassford, Commander Yangtze Patrol, in Luzon) rendezvous with submarine rescue vessel Pigeon (ASR-6) and minesweeper Finch (AM-9); they will remain in company until 3 December.

Destroyer Decatur (DD-341), in TU 4.1.4 (Captain Alan G. Kirk), escorting convoy ONS 39, carries out depth charge attack on suspicious contact, 59°24'N, 27°03'W.

Army GHQ Maneuvers in North and South Carolina conclude.


* Dec 1, Mon. 1941

Patrol Wing 9 (Lieutenant Commander Thomas U. Sisson) is established at Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

German submarine U-575 encounters and tracks unarmed U.S. tanker Astral, the latter en route from Aruba, N.W.I., to Lisbon, Portugal, with a cargo of 78,200 barrels of gasoline and kerosene. After seeing that Astral is unarmed and bears prominent neutrality markings, however, the U-boat's commanding officer, Kapitanleutnant Gunther Heydemann, allows the American ship to pass unmolested. Subsequently, another submarine in the vicinity, U-43, encounters Astral and attacks her, but her torpedoes miss their mark (see 2 December).

TU 4.1.2 (Commander Fred D. Kirtland), accompanied by salvage vessel Redwing (ARS-4) and oiler Sapelo (AO-11), while escorting convoy HX 162, encounters heavy weather that scatters 35 merchantmen. Destroyers Charles F. Hughes (DD-428), Madison (DD-425), Lansdale (DD-426), Wilkes (DD-441) and Sturtevant (DD-240) all suffer storm damage of varying degrees (see 7 December).

Destroyer Livermore (DD-429), escorting convoy ONS 39, is dispatched to investigate darkened merchantman steaming on opposite course. Livermore trails her and after determining her to be Panamanian freighter Ramapo, en route to join convoy SC 56, allows her to continue her voyage after being warned not to radio a report of contact with a convoy.

President orders a "defensive information patrol" of "three small ships" established off the coast of French Indochina; he specifically designates yacht Isabel (PY-10) (reserve flagship for Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet) as one of the trio of vessels (see 3 and 6 December). Schooner Lanikai is acquired and commissioned, but the start of the war results in her planned mission being cancelled. The third vessel, schooner Molly Moore, is selected for the mission but is never taken over. Lanikai's civilian career had seen her used as a "prop" in the filming of motion picture "Hurricane" that starred Dorothy Lamour and Jon Hall.

U.S. passenger liner President Harrison arrives at Olongapo, P.I., with the remaining elements of the 4th Marine Regiment (Colonel Samuel L. Howard, USMC) withdrawn from Shanghai. President Harrison soon sails to bring out the last marines from China (see 8 December).

As river gunboats Luzon (PR-7) and Oahu (PR-6) (Rear Admiral William A. Glassford, Commander Yangtze Patrol, in Luzon), submarine rescue vessel Pigeon (ASR-6) and minesweeper Finch (AM-9) proceed toward Manila, they become the object of curiosity by Japanese forces in the vicinity; first a floatplane circles the formation, then seven Japanese warships of various types.

* Dec 2, Tue. 1941

U.S. freighter Dunboyne receives first naval Armed Guard crew. By the end of World War II, the U.S. Navy will arm some 6,236 merchantmen; approximately 144,970 officers and enlisted men will defend these merchant vessels in every theater of war.

German submarine U-43 again attacks unarmed U.S. tanker Astral and this time torpedoes and sinks her at 35°40'N, 24°00'W. There are no survivors from the 37-man merchant crew.

Weather encountered by convoy ONS 39, being escorted by TU 4.1.4 (Captain Alan G. Kirk) worsens to the extent that the watch on board destroyer Plunkett (DD-431) cannot be relieved because officers and men cannot safely traverse the weather decks.

TU 4.1.5 (Commander William K. Phillips) clears Reykjavik, Iceland, to rendezvous with convoy ON 41, which due to poor weather will be 48 hours late to the MOMP. Over the ensuing period at sea, TU 4.1.5 battles "consistently severe" weather conditions that will cause varying degrees of damage to all of the ships in the task unit. Although ships of the unit carry out attacks (see 5, 9 and 11 December), there will be no U-boat attacks on the merchantmen under their protection.

TU 4.1.6 (Commander Gilbert C. Hoover), escorting convoy HX 161, encounters heavy weather; destroyer Bernadou (DD-153) suffers storm damage; destroyers Roe (DD-418) and Lea (DD-118) each lose a man overboard. Neither sailor is recovered (see 4 December).

Submarine Trout (SS-202) arrives off Midway Island on simulated war patrol.

* Dec 3, Wed. 1941

Unarmed U.S. freighter Sagadahoc is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-124 in South Atlantic, 21°50'S, 07°50'W. One man of the 37-man crew is lost.

Destroyer Mayo (DD-422), in TU 4.1.5 en route to MOMP and convoy ON 41, encounters two British ships, HMS Tenacity and merchantman Meademere, burning navigation lights south of Iceland; when they fail to answer challenge, Mayo illuminates them with starshells, at which point they turn off lights and answer challenge promptly.

Yacht Isabel (PY-10) sails for coast of French Indochina, deployed in accordance with President Roosevelt's "defensive information patrol" order.

Submarine Argonaut (SS-166) arrives off Midway Island on simulated war patrol.

* Dec 4, Thu. 1941

River gunboats Luzon (PR-7) and Oahu (PR-6) (Rear Admiral William A. Glassford, Commander Yangtze Patrol, in Luzon), followed later by submarine rescue vessel Pigeon (ASR-6) and minesweeper Finch (AM-9), reach Manila.

River gunboat Mindanao (PR-8) (Captain Lester J. Hudson, Commander South China Patrol, embarked) sails from Hong Kong, British Crown Colony, for Manila. She is the last U.S. Navy ship to depart Chinese waters prior to war. Luzon Stevedoring Company tug Ranger follows subsequently, carrying spare parts and 800 3-inch shells for Mindanao's main battery (previously stored ashore at Hong Kong). Only two U.S. naval vessels remain in Chinese waters: river gunboat Wake (ex-Guam) (PR-3) at Shanghai to maintain communications until a radio station is established at the Consulate General with Navy equipment, and river gunboat Tutuila (PR-4) at Chungking, where she furnishes essential services to the U.S. Embassy. Wake had received her new name on 23 January 1941 to clear the name Guam for a new large cruiser (CB 2).

Carrier Enterprise (CV-6) ferries USMC F4Fs (VMF 211) to Wake Island; TF 8 (Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.) then shapes a course to return to Pearl Harbor. TF 8 is slated to reach Pearl on 6 December. Heavy weather on 5-6 December, however, will result in a delay in fueling the force's destroyers and push back the time of arrival in Pearl from the afternoon of the 6th to the morning of the 7th. That same day, a routine scouting flight from the carrier sights Honolulu-bound tug Sonoma (AT-12) with Pan American Airways barges PAB No. 2 and PAB No. 4 in tow. Sonoma, armed with only two .30-caliber machine guns, will eventually reach Honolulu on 15 December 1941, with her tows.

Japanese naval land attack plane (Chitose Kokutai) reconnoiters Wake Island undetected.

TU 4.1.5 (Commander William K. Phillips) reaches MOMP to escort convoy ON 41 which has been delayed by bad weather.

TU 4.1.6 (Commander Gilbert C. Hoover), encounters "mountainous" seas as it continues to escort convoy HX 161; destroyer Roe (DD-418) suffers two sailors hurt when torpedo breaks loose atop her after deckhouse.

* Dec 5, Fri. 1941

Japan assures the U.S. that her troop movements in French Indochina are only precautionary.

Carrier Lexington (CV-2) in TF 12 (Rear Admiral John H. Newton) sails for Midway to ferry USMC SB2Us (VMSB 231) to that atoll. Like Enterprise (CV-6)'s deployment to Wake, Lexington's to Midway is in response to the "War Warning" of 27 November.

TU 4.1.3 (Commander George W. Johnson) assumes escort duty for convoy HX 163 in North Atlantic.

Destroyer Babbitt (DD-128), in TU 4.1.5 escorting convoy ON 41, depth-charges suspected submarine contact without result.

* Dec 6, Sat. 1941

Yacht Isabel (PY-10) is sighted by floatplane from Japanese seaplane carrier Kamikawa Maru at about 13°24'N, 112°21'E. Later in the day, Isabel receives orders to return to Manila.

Destroyer Decatur (DD-341), in TU 4.1.4 (Captain Alan G. Kirk), escorting convoy ONS 39, carries out depth charge attack on suspicious contact, 51°54'N, 41°53'W.

* Dec 7, Sun. 1941

TU 4.1.2 (Commander Fred D. Kirtland), accompanied by salvage vessel Redwing (ARS-4) and oiler Sapelo (AO-11), while escorting convoy HX 162, reaches the MOMP; 21 of the 35 merchantmen scattered by the storm encountered on 1 December have rejoined by this time.

Unarmed U.S. Army-chartered steam schooner Cynthia Olson is shelled and sunk by Japanese submarine I 26 about 1,000 miles northwest of Diamond Head, Honolulu, T.H., 33°42'N, 145°29'W. She is the first U.S. merchantman to be sunk by a Japanese submarine in World War II. There are no survivors from the 33-man crew or the two Army passengers.

Japanese Type A midget submarine attempts to follow general stores issue ship Antares (AKS-3) into the entrance channel to Pearl Harbor; summoned to the scene by the auxiliary vessel, destroyer Ward (DD-139), on channel entrance patrol, with an assist from a PBY (VP 14), sinks the intruder with gunfire and depth charges. Word of the incident, however, works its way with almost glacial slowness up the chain of command.

Army radar station at Opana Point, Oahu, soon thereafter detects an unusually large "blip" approaching from the north, but the operator reporting the contact is told not to concern himself with the matter since a formation of USAAF B-17s is expected from the west coast of the United States. The army watch officer dismisses the report as "nothing unusual." The "blip" is the first wave of the incoming enemy strike.

Consequently, "like a thunderclap from a clear sky" Japanese carrier attack planes (in both torpedo and high-level bombing roles) and bombers, supported by fighters, totaling 353 planes from naval striking force (Vice Admiral Nagumo Chuichi) attack in two waves, targeting ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, and nearby military airfields and installations. Japanese planes torpedo and sink battleships Oklahoma (BB-37) and West Virginia (BB-48), and auxiliary (gunnery training/target ship) Utah (AG-16). On board Oklahoma, Ensign Francis G. Flaherty, USNR, and Seaman First Class James R. Ward, as the ship is abandoned, hold flashlights to allow their shipmates to escape; on board West Virginia, her commanding officer, Captain Mervyn Bennion, directs his ship's defense until struck down and mortally wounded by a fragment from a bomb that hits battleship Tennessee (BB-43) moored inboard; on board Utah, Austrian-born Chief Watertender Peter Tomich remains at his post as the ship capsizes, securing the boilers and making sure his shipmates have escaped from the fireroom. Flaherty, Ward, Bennion, Tomich and Bennion's falling in action sets in motion a chain of events that will result in Mess Attendant First Class Doris Miller becoming the first African-American to be awarded the Navy Cross. Miller, a brawny, broad-shouldered former high school football player, is recruited to carry the mortally wounded captain from the bridge. Their egress temporarily blocked by fires, however, the men are compelled to remain on the bridge. Miller mans a .50-caliber machine gun and later tells interviewers modestly that he believes he may have damaged two low-flying Japanese planes. Sadly, Miller will not survive the war; he will perish with escort carrier Liscome Bay (CVE-56) on 24 November 1943 off the Gilberts.

Japanese bombs also sink battleship Arizona (BB-39); the cataclysmic explosion of her forward magazine causes heavy casualties, among them Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, Commander Battleship Division 1, who thus becomes the first U.S. Navy flag officer to die in combat in World War II. Both he and Arizona's commanding officer, Captain Franklin van Valkenburgh, are awarded Medals of Honor, posthumously. In addition, the ship's senior surviving officer on board, Lieutenant Commander Samuel G. Fuqua, directs efforts to fight the raging fires and sees to the evacuation of casualties from the ship; he ultimately directs the abandonment of the doomed battleship and leaves in the last boat. He is awarded the Medal of Honor.

When Arizona explodes, she is moored inboard of repair ship Vestal (AR-4); the blast causes damage to the repair ship, which has already been hit by a bomb. Vestal's captain, Commander Cassin Young earns the Medal of Honor by swimming back to his ship after being blown overboard by the explosion of Arizona's magazines, and directing her beaching on Aiea shoal to prevent further damage in the fires consuming Arizona.

Battleship California (BB-44) is hit by both bombs and torpedoes and sinks at her berth alongside Ford Island; during the battle, Ensign Herbert C. Jones, USNR, organizes and leads a party to provide ammunition to the ship's 5-inch antiaircraft battery; he is mortally wounded by a bomb explosion. Gunner Jackson C. Pharris, leading an ordnance repair party, is stunned by concussion of a torpedo explosion early in the action but recovers to set up an ammunition supply train, by hand; he later enters flooding compartments to save shipmates. Chief Radioman Thomas J. Reeves assists in maintaining an ammunition supply party until overcomes by smoke inhalation and fires; Machinist's Mate Robert R. Scott, although his station at an air compressor is flooding, remains at his post, declaring "This is my station and I will stay and give them [the antiaircraft gun crews] air as long as the guns are going." Jones, Pharris, Reeves and Scott all receive the Medal of Honor (Jones, Reeves and Scott posthumously).

Japanese bombs damage destroyers Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375), which are lying immobile in Drydock No. 1.

Minelayer Oglala (CM-4) is damaged by concussion from torpedo exploding in light cruiser Helena (CL-50) moored alongside, and capsizes at her berth; harbor tug Sotoyomo (YT-9) is sunk in floating drydock YFD-2. Contrary to some secondary accounts, Utah (a converted battleship) is not attacked because she resembled an aircraft carrier, she is attacked because, in the excitement of the moment, she looked sufficiently like the capital ship she once had been. Of the other sunken ships, California, West Virginia, Oglala, and Sotoyomo are raised and repaired; Cassin and Downes are rebuilt around their surviving machinery; all are returned to service. Oklahoma, although raised after monumental effort, is never repaired, and ultimately sinks while under tow to the west coast to be broken up for scrap. The hulks of Arizona and Utah remain at Pearl as memorials.

Battleship Nevada (BB-36), the only capital ship to get underway during the attack, is damaged by bombs and a torpedo before she is beached. Two of her men are later awarded the Medal of Honor: Machinist Donald K. Ross for his service in the forward and after dynamo rooms and Chief Boatswain Edwin J. Hill (posthumously) for his work in enabling the ship to get underway and, later, in attempting to release the anchors during the attempt to beach the ship.

Battleships Pennsylvania (BB-38), Tennessee (BB-43), and Maryland (BB-46), light cruiser Honolulu (CL-48), and floating drydock YFD-2 are damaged by bombs; light cruisers Raleigh (CL-7) and Helena (CL-50) are damaged by torpedoes; destroyer Shaw (DD-373), by bombs, in floating drydock YFD-2; heavy cruiser New Orleans (CA-32), destroyers Helm (DD-388) and Hull (DD-350), destroyer tender Dobbin (AD-3), repair ship Rigel (AR-11), and seaplane tender Tangier (AV-8), are damaged by near-misses of bombs; seaplane tender Curtiss (AV-4) is damaged by crashing carrier bomber; garbage lighter YG-17 (alongside Nevada at the outset) is damaged by strafing and/or concussion of bombs.

Destroyer Monaghan (DD-354) rams, depth-charges, and sinks Type A midget submarine inside Pearl Harbor proper, during the attack. This particular Type A may have been the one whose periscope harbor tug YT-153 attempts to ram early in the attack.

Light minelayer Gamble (DM-15) mistakenly fires upon submarine Thresher (SS-200) off Oahu, 21°15'N, 159°01'W.

Thresher mistakes Gamble for destroyer Litchfield (DD-336) (the latter ship assigned to work with submarines in the Hawaiian operating area), the ship with which she is to rendezvous. Gamble, converted from a flush-deck, four-pipe destroyer, resembles Litchfield. Sadly, the delay occasioned by the mistaken identity proves fatal to a seriously injured sailor on board the submarine, who dies four hours before the boat finally reaches port on the 8th, of multiple injuries suffered on 6 December 1941 when heavy seas wash him against the signal deck rail.

Carrier Enterprise (CV-6) Air Group (CEAG, VB 6 and VS 6) search flight (Commander Howard L. Young, CEAG), in two-plane sections of SBDs, begins arriving off Oahu as the Japanese attack unfolds; some SBDs meet their doom at the hands of Japanese planes; one (VS 6) is shot down by friendly fire. Another SBD ends up on Kauai where its radio-gunner is drafted into the local Army defense force with his single .30-caliber machine gun. Almost all of the surviving planes, together with what observation and scouting planes from battleship (VO) and cruiser (VCS) detachments, as well as flying boats (VP) and utility aircraft (VJ) that survive the attack, take part in the desperate, hastily organized searches flown out of Ford Island to look for the Japanese carriers whence the surprise attack had come.

Navy Yard and Naval Station, Pearl Harbor; Naval Air Stations at Ford Island and Kaneohe Bay; Ewa Mooring Mast Field (Marine Corps air facility); Army airfields at Hickam, Wheeler, and Bellows; and Schofield Barracks suffer varying degrees of bomb and fragment damage. Japanese bombs and strafing destroy 188 Navy, Marine Corps, and USAAF planes. At NAS Kaneohe Bay, Aviation Chief Ordnanceman John W. Finn mounts a machine gun on an instruction stand and returns the fire of strafing planes although wounded many times. Although ordered to leave his post to have his wounds treated, he returns to the squadron areas where, although in great pain, he oversees the rearming of returning PBYs. For his heroism, Finn is awarded the Medal of Honor.

Casualties amount to: killed or missing: Navy, 2,008; Marine Corps, 109; Army, 218; Civilian, 68; Wounded: Navy, 710; Marine Corps, 69; Army, 364; Civilian, 35. One particular family tragedy prompts concern in the Bureau of Navigation (later Bureau of Naval Personnel) on the matter of brothers serving in the same ship, a common peacetime practice in the U.S. Navy. Firemen First Class Malcolm J. Barber and LeRoy K. Barber, and Fireman Second Class Randolph H. Barber, are all lost when battleship Oklahoma (BB-37) capsizes. The Bureau considers it in the "individual family interest that brothers not be put on the same ship in war time, as the loss of such a ship may result in the loss of two or more members of the family, which might be avoided if brothers are separated." The Bureau, however, stops short of specifically forbidding the practice. On 3 February 1942, it issues instructions concerning the impracticality of authorizing transfers of men directly from recruit training to ships in which relatives are serving, and urges that brothers then serving together be advised of the undesirability of their continuing to do so. Authorizing commanding officers to approve requests for transfers to facilitate separation, the Bureau directs in July 1942 that commanding officers of ships not forward requests for brothers to serve in the same ship or station. This is too late, however, to prevent the five Sullivan brothers from serving in light cruiser Juneau (CL-52) (see 13 November 1942). Acts of heroism by sailors, marines, soldiers and civilians (from telephone exchange operator to yard shop worker), in addition to those enumerated above, abound. Among the civilians who distinguish themselves this day is Tai Sing Loo, the yard photographer, who has a scheduled appointment to take a picture of the marine Main Gate guards. During the attack, he helps the marines of the Navy Yard fire department fight fires in dry dock number one and later, in the wake of the morning's devastation, delivers food to famished leathernecks.

Japanese losses amount to fewer than 100 men, 29 planes of various types and four Type A midget submarines. A fifth Type A washes ashore off Bellows Field and is recovered; its commander (Ensign Sakamaki Kazuo) is captured, becoming U.S. prisoner of war number one.

Japanese Naval Aviation Pilot First Class Nishikaichi Shigenori, from the carrier Hiryu, crash-lands his Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 0 carrier fighter (ZERO) on the island of Niihau, T.H. He surrenders to the islanders who disarm him and confiscate his papers but, isolated as they are, know nothing of the attack on Pearl Harbor. "Peaceful and friendly," Nishikaichi is not kept in custody but is allowed to roam the island unguarded (see 9, 12-14 December).

First night recovery of planes in World War II by the U.S. Navy occurs when Enterprise turns on searchlights to aid returning SBDs (VB 6 and VS 6) and TBDs (VT 6) that had been launched at dusk in an attempt to find Japanese ships reported off Oahu. Friendly fire, however, downs four of Enterprise's six F4Fs (VF 6) (the strike group escort) that are directed to land at Ford Island. Other Enterprise SBDs make a night landing at Kaneohe Bay, miraculously avoiding automobiles and construction equipment parked on the ramp to prevent just such an occurrence.

Damage to the battle line proves extensive, but carriers Enterprise and Lexington (CV-2) are, providentially, not in port, having been deployed at the eleventh hour to reinforce advanced bases at Wake and Midway. Saratoga (CV-3) is at San Diego on this day, preparing to return to Oahu. The carriers will prove crucial in the coming months (see Chapter VI, February-May 1942). Convinced that he has proved fortunate to have suffered as trifling losses as he has, Vice Admiral Nagumo opts to set course for home, thus inadvertantly sparing fuel tank farms, ship repair facilities, and the submarine base that will prove invaluable to support the U.S. Pacific Fleet as it rebuilds in the wake of the Pearl Harbor disaster.

Midway Island is bombarded by Japanese Midway Neutralization Unit (Captain Kaname Konishi) consisting of destroyers Ushio and Sazanami; Marine shore batteries (6th Defense Battalion) return the fire, claiming damage to both ships. One of the submarines deployed on simulated war patrols off Midway, Trout (SS-202), makes no contact with the enemy ships; the other, Argonaut (SS-166), is unable to make a successful approach, and Ushio and Sazanami retire from the area. Subsequent bad weather will save Midway from a pounding by planes from the Pearl Harbor Attack Force as it returns to Japanese waters.

Damage control hulk DCH 1 (IX-44), formerly destroyer Walker (DD-163), being towed from San Diego, California, to Pearl Harbor, by oiler Neches (AO-5), is cast adrift and scuttled by gunfire from Neches at 26°35'N, 143°49'W.

Japanese declaration of war [N.B.: the so-called "Fourteen Point message" is not a declaration of war; it merely declares an impasse in the ongoing diplomatic negotiations. The Imperial Rescript declaring a state of war between the Japanese Empire and the United States is not issued until the next day, in Tokyo. pwc] reaches Washington, D.C., after word of the attack on Pearl Harbor has already been received in the nation's capital.

President orders mobilization.

* Dec 8, Mon. 1941

U.S. declares war on Japan. In his address to the nation, President Roosevelt describes December 7th, 1941 as "a date which will live in infamy."

Potomac River Naval Command with headquarters at Washington, D.C., and Severn River Naval Command with headquarters at Annapolis, Maryland, are established.

Japanese submarine I 123 mines Balabac Strait, P.I.; I 124 the entrance to Manila Bay.

Striking Force, Asiatic Fleet (Rear Admiral William A. Glassford) departs Iloilo, P.I., for Makassar Strait, N.E.I.

Seaplane tender (destroyer) William B. Preston (AVD-7) is attacked by fighters and attack planes from Japanese carrier Ryujo in Davao Gulf, P.I.; William B. Preston escapes, but two PBYs (VP 101) she is tending are strafed and destroyed on the water.

Japan interns U.S. Marines and nationals at Shanghai, Tientsin and Chinwangtao, China. River gunboat Wake (PR-3) maintained at Shanghai as station ship and manned by a skeleton crew, is seized by Japanese Naval Landing Force boarding party after attempt to scuttle fails.

Wake, the only U.S. Navy ship to surrender during World War II, is renamed Tatara and serves under the Rising Sun for the rest of the war. British river gunboat HMS Peterel, however, moored nearby in the stream of the Whangpoo River, refuses demand to surrender and is sunk by gunfire from Japanese coast defense ship Idzumo. American-flag merchant small craft seized by the Japanese at Shanghai: tug Meifoo No. 5, tug Mei Kang, Mei Nan, Mei Ying and Mei Yun.

U.S. passenger liner President Harrison, en route to evacuate marines from North China, is intentionally run aground at Sha Wai Shan, China, and is captured by the Japanese. Repaired and refloated, President Harrison is renamed Kakko Maru and later, Kachidoki Maru (see 12 September 1944). Among the baggage awaiting shipment out of occupied China along with the North China Marines are the bones of Peking Man, which are never seen again. Their fate remains a mystery to this day.

Japanese forces land on Batan Island, north of Luzon.

Japanese forces land on east coast of Malay Peninsula. RAF Hudsons bomb invasion shipping off Kota Bharu, Malaya, setting army cargo ship Awajisan Maru afire; destroyers Ayanami and Shikinami and submarine chaser Ch 9 take off Awajisan Maru's crew.

Japanese planes bomb Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Philippine Islands. Extensive damage is inflicted on USAAF aircraft at Clark Field, Luzon, P.I. During Japanese bombing of shipping in Manila Bay, U.S. freighter Capillo is damaged by bomb, set afire, and abandoned (see 11 December).

Japanese naval land attack planes (Chitose Kokutai) bomb Wake Island, inflicting heavy damage on airfield installations and VMF 211's F4Fs on Wake islet. The four-plane VMF 211 patrol is out of position to deal with the incoming raid (there is no radar on Wake). Pan American Airways Martin 130 Philippine Clipper (being prepared for a scouting flight with an escort of two VMF 211 F4Fs when the attack comes) in the aftermath of the disaster precipitately evacuates Caucasian airline staff and passengers only (Pan American's Chamorro employees are left behind). Another individual who somehow fails to get a seat on the outgoing flying boat is an official from the Bureau of the Budget who was on Wake to go over construction costs.

Japanese force slated to assault Wake Island (Rear Admiral Kajioka Sadamichi) sails from Kwajalein, in the Marshall Islands.

Japanese floatplanes (18th Kokutai) bomb Guam, M.I., damaging minesweeper Penguin (AM-33) and miscellaneous auxiliary Robert L. Barnes (AG-27). Penguin, abandoned, is scuttled in deep water by her crew.

Robert L. Barnes, maintained in reduced commission as a floating oil depot, her seaworthiness reduced by age and deterioration, had served since 1 July 1937 as the training ship for Guamanian mess attendants recruited on the island.

Destroyers Niblack (DD-424), Benson (DD-421) and Tarbell (DD-143), part of TU 4.1.3 escorting convoy HX 163, depth-charge sound contacts that are later classified as non-submarine.

* Dec 9, Tue. 1941

Japanese seize Tarawa and Makin, Gilbert Islands.

Japanese submarines RO 63, RO 64, and RO 68 bombard Howland and Baker Islands in the mistaken belief that American seaplane bases exist there.

Transport William Ward Burrows (AP-6), en route to Wake Island, is re-routed to Johnston.

Japanese submarine I 10 shells and sinks unarmed Panamanian-flag motorship Donerail 200 miles southeast of Hawaii, 08°00'N, 152°00'W. There are only eight survivors of the 33-man crew; all seven passengers perish.

Japanese Naval Aviation Pilot First Class Nishikaichi Shigenori, from the carrier Hiryu, who had crash-landed his Mitsubishi A6M2 fighter Type 0 carrier fighter on Niihau on 7 December, is placed under guard by the islanders; attempts this day and the next to transport him to Kauai are frustrated by bad weather (see 12-14 December).

Japanese naval land attack planes (Chitose Kokutai) bomb defense installations on the islets of Wilkes and Wake, Wake Island.

China declares war on Japan, Germany, and Italy.

Japanese occupy Bangkok, Thailand.

River gunboat Mindanao (PR-8), en route from Hong Kong to Manila, encounters Japanese fishing vessel No. 3 South Advance Maru, stops her, and takes her 10-man Formosan crew prisoner. Mindanao leaves the craft adrift at 16°42'N, 118°53'E, and steams on, reaching her destination the following day.

Submarine Swordfish (SS-193), in initial U.S. submarine attack of the war, torpedoes Japanese ship 150 miles west of Manila at 14°30'N, 119°00'E. Her claim of a sinking, however, is not confirmed in enemy records.

TU 4.1.5 (Commander William K. Phillips) continues its escort duty with convoy ON 41; destroyers Babbitt (DD-128) and Mayo (DD-422) depth-charge sound contacts; Babbitt's at 57°19'N, 33°09'W. Destroyer Schenck (DD-159), operating independently from TU 4.1.5 while escorting U.S. freighter Ozark, carries out "well conducted" depth charge attack on sound contact at 52°19'N, 39°37'W.

* Dec 10, Wed. 1941

PBYs (VP 52) supported by seaplane tender (destroyer) Greene (AVD-13) and small seaplane tender Thrush (AVP-3), begin antisubmarine patrols over the south Atlantic from Natal, Brazil, and thus inaugurate operations from Brazilian waters.

Battleship New Mexico (BB-40), en route to Hampton Roads, Virginia, accidentally rams and sinks U.S. freighter Oregon, bound for Boston, Massachusetts, south of Nantucket Lightship, 35°55'N, 69°45'W.

TU 4.1.1 (Captain Marion Y. Cohen) assumes escort duty for convoy HX 164; the ships will not be attacked by enemy submarines. While escorting oiler Mattole (AO-17) to join the main convoy, destroyer Gleaves (DD-423) carries out depth charge attack on sound contact at 45°50'N, 53°35'W. The contact is later classified as "doubtful" submarine.

Cavite Navy Yard, P.I., is practically obliterated by Japanese land attack planes (Takao Kokutai and 1st Kokutai). Destroyers Peary (DD-226) and Pillsbury (DD-227), submarines Seadragon (SS-194) and Sealion (SS-195), minesweeper Bittern (AM-36), and submarine tender Otus (AS-20), suffer varying degrees of damage from bombs or bomb fragments; ferry launch Santa Rita (YFB-681) is destroyed by direct hit. Submarine rescue vessel Pigeon (ASR-6) tows Seadragon out of the burning wharf area; minesweeper Whippoorwill (AM-35) recovers Peary, enabling both warships to be repaired and returned to service. Bittern is gutted by fires. Antiaircraft fire from U.S. guns is ineffective. During bombing of Manila Bay area, unarmed U.S. freighter Sagoland is damaged.

While flying to safety during the raid on Cavite, Lieutenant Harmon T. Utter's PBY (VP 101) is attacked by three Japanese Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 0 carrier fighters (ZERO) (3rd Kokutai); Chief Boatswain Earl D. Payne, Utter's bow gunner, shoots down one, thus scoring the U.S. Navy's first verifiable air-to-air "kill" of a Japanese plane in the Pacific War. Utter, as a commander, will later coordinate the carrier air strikes that lead to the destruction of Japanese battleship Yamato (see 7 April 1945).

Japanese forces land on Camiguin Island and at Gonzaga and Aparri, Luzon. Off Vigan, minesweeper W.10 is bombed and sunk by USAAF P-35 at 17°32'N, 120°22'E; destroyer Murasame and transport Oigawa Maru are strafed; the latter, set afire, is beached to facilitate salvage. USAAF B-17s bomb and damage light cruiser Naka and transport Takao Maru; the latter is run aground at 17°29'N, 120°26'E (see 5 March 1942). Off Aparri, minesweeper W.19 is bombed by a B-17 and grounded (total loss) at 18°22'N, 121°38'E; light cruiser Natori is also damaged by a B-17. The B-17 is probably the one flown by Captain Colin P. Kelly, Jr., who is awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, posthumously, for heroism when Japanese fighters attack his bomber over Clark Field as he returns from his mission over Aparri.

British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse (Admiral Sir Tom S.V. Phillips, RN) are sunk by Japanese land attack planes off Kuantan, Malaya. Four U.S. destroyers that had been sent to help screen Phillips's ships, having arrived at Singapore too late to sortie with the British force, search unsuccessfully for survivors before returning to Singapore.

Governor of Guam, M.I. (Captain George J. McMillin) surrenders the island to Japanese invasion force (Rear Admiral Goto Aritomo). District patrol craft YP-16 and YP-17; open lighters YC-664, YC-665, YC-666, YC-667, YC-6687, YC-670, YC-671, YC-672, YC-673, YC-674, YC-685, YC-717, YC-718; dredge YM-13; water barges YW-50, YW-55, YW-58; and miscellaneous auxiliary Robert L. Barnes (AG-27) are all lost to the Japanese occupation of that American Pacific possession.

SBD (CEAG) from carrier Enterprise (CV-6) sinks Japanese submarine I 70 in Hawaiian Islands area, 23°45'N, 155°35'W. Plane is flown by a VS 6 pilot.

Japanese naval land attack planes (Chitose Kokutai) bomb Marine installations on Wilkes and Wake islets, Wake Island. During the interception of the bombers, Captain Henry T. Elrod, USMC, executive officer of VMF 211, shoots down a Mitsubishi G3M2 Type 96 land attack plane (NELL); this is the first USMC air-to-air "kill" of the Pacific War. Japanese submarines RO 65, RO 66, and RO 67 arrive off Wake. Shortly before midnight, submarine Triton (SS-201), patrolling south of the atoll, encounters a Japanese warship, probably a picket for the oncoming assault force (see 11 December).

Unarmed U.S. freighter Mauna Ala, re-routed back to Portland, Oregon, because of Japanese submarines lurking off the U.S. west coast, runs aground off the entrance to the Columbia River; she subsequently breaks up on the beach, a total loss.

* Dec 11, Thu. 1941

Germany and Italy declare war on United States.

United States declares war on Germany and Italy.

Secretary of the Navy Knox arrives on Oahu to personally assess the damage inflicted by the Japanese on 7 December.

Submarine Triton (SS-201), patrolling south of Wake Island, attacks the Japanese ship she has encountered shortly before midnight; she is unsuccessful.

Wake Island garrison (Commander Winfield S. Cunningham) repulses Japanese invasion force (Rear Admiral Kajioka Sadamichi); Marine shore battery gunfire (1st Defense Battalion) sinks destroyer Hayate and damages destroyers Oite, Mochizuki, and Yayoi, and Patrol Boat No. 33 (high-speed transport); USMC F4Fs (VMF 211) bomb and sink destroyer Kisaragi and strafe and damage light cruiser Tenryu and armed merchant cruiser Kongo Maru. Later the same day, USMC F4F (VMF 211) bombs and most likely damages submarine RO 66 south of Wake. U.S. submarines deployed off Wake, Triton to the south and Tambor (SS-198) to the north, take no active part in the battle. Following the abortive assault, Japanese naval land attack planes (Chitose Kokutai) bomb marine gun batteries on Peale islet.

Japanese submarine I 9 shells unarmed U.S. freighter Lahaina about 800 miles northeast of Honolulu, T.H., 27°42'N, 147°38'W (see 12 and 20 December).

Japanese make landings at Legaspi, Luzon.

Unarmed U.S. freighter Capillo, damaged by bomb on 8 December 1941, is partially scuttled by U.S. Army demolition party, off Corregidor, P.I. (see 29 December). Freighter Sagoland, damaged by bombs the previous day, sinks in Manila Bay.

TU 4.1.5 (Commander William K. Phillips) detaches destroyers Babbitt (DD-128) and Leary (DD-158), low on fuel because of the delayed arrival of convoy ON 41 at the MOMP, to proceed to Argentia. En route to that place, Babbitt depth charges sound contact without result at 51°37'N, 43°08'W.

TU 4.1.6 (Commander John S. Roberts) assumes escort duty at MOMP for convoy ON 43, which has been badly scattered by heavy weather conditions (see 13 and 15 December). Convoy HX 163, being escorted by TU 4.1.3 (Commander George W. Johnson), encounters same abominable weather.

* Dec 12, Fri. 1941

Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) is established.

U.S. government seizes French ships in U.S. ports.

Secretary of the Navy Knox departs Oahu after inspecting the damage done by the Japanese attack of 7 December.

Japanese reconnaissance flying boats (Yokohama Kokutai) bomb Wake Island in pre-dawn raid. Later in the day, land attack planes (Chitose Kokutai) bomb Wake.

Unarmed U.S. freighter Vincent is shelled and sunk by Japanese armed merchant cruisers Aikoku Maru and Hokoku Maru about 600 miles northwest of Easter Island, 22°41'S, 118°19'E, and her entire crew captured.

Unarmed U.S. freighter Lahaina, shelled and torpedoed by Japanese submarine I 9 the previous day, sinks (see 21 December).

Japanese Naval Aviation Pilot First Class Nishikaichi Shigenori begins, with aid of Harada Yoshio, a Japanese resident of Niihau, to terrorize the inhabitants of the island into returning papers confiscated on 7 December. In response to this campaign of intimidation, the islanders flee to the hills (see 13 December).

Submarine S 38 (SS-143) mistakenly torpedoes and sinks Norwegian merchantman Hydra II west of Cape Calavite, Mindoro, P.I., believing her to be a Japanese auxiliary. Hydra II had been en route from Bangkok, Thailand, to Hong Kong, when she is diverted to Manila by the outbreak of war.

During Japanese bombing of shipping off Cebu, in the Visayan Sea, Philippine passenger vessel Governor Wright is sunk, 12°55'N, 123°55'E.

USAAF B-17 (19th Bombardment Group) bombs Japanese shipping off Vigan, P.I., damaging transport Hawaii Maru.

Dutch submarines operate off Malaya against Japanese invasion shipping. K XII torpedoes and sinks army cargo ship Toro Maru off Kota Bharu, 06°08'N, 102°16'E; O 16 torpedoes and damages army cargo ships Tozan Maru, Kinka Maru, and Asosan Maru off Patani/Singora.

Japanese minelayer/netlayer Naryu is damaged by marine casualty, Tomogashima Channel.

* Dec 13, Sat. 1941

Congress, to meet the demand for trained enlisted men, authorizes the retention of enlisted men in the Navy upon the expiration of their enlistments when not voluntarily extended.

Japanese planes attack Subic Bay area and airfields in Philippines. During bombing of shipping in Manila Bay by naval land attack planes (Takao Kokutai), unarmed U.S. tankship Manatawny is damaged (see 11 January 1942).

Occupation of Niihau by Japanese Naval Aviation Pilot First Class Nishikaichi Shigenori ends: a party of Hawaiians sets out for Kauai to inform the outside world of events on Niihau; in the meantime, Nishikaichi burns his plane (it will not be until July 1942 that the U.S. Navy will be able to obtain an intact ZERO to study) and the house in which he believes his confiscated papers are hidden. Later, in confrontation with a local Hawaiian, Benny Kanahele, a scuffle to grab the pilot's pistol ensues. Although Kanahele is shot three times, he picks up Nishikaichi bodily and dashes the pilot's head into a stone wall, killing him; Harada Yoshio, the Japanese resident of Niihau who had allied himself with the pilot, commits suicide. Kanahele survives his injuries. On the basis of the report by the islanders who have arrived on Kauai after a 15-hour trip, meanwhile, Commander, Kauai Military District (Colonel Edward W. FitzGerald, USA) dispatches expedition (squad of soldiers from Company M, 299th Infantry) in Coast Guard light house tender Kukui to proceed from Kauai to Niihau (see 14 December).

Japanese cargo ship Nikkoku Maru is stranded and wrecked off Hainan Island, 18°00'N, 110°00'E.

Gunboat Erie (PG-50) receives 50 Japanese POWs at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, from Costa Rican government, and sends prize crew to take charge of motor vessel Albert.

Destroyer Woolsey (DD-437), sweeping astern of convoy ON 43, depth charges sound contact at 57°55'N, 32°05'W.

* Dec 14, Sun. 1941

TF 11 (Vice Admiral Wilson Brown Jr.), comprising carrier Lexington (CV-2), three heavy cruisers, nine destroyers, and oiler Neosho (AO-23), sails for the Marshall Islands, to create a diversion to cover TF 14's attempt to relieve Wake Island (see 15 and 16 December).

Japanese reconnaissance flying boats (Yokohama Kokutai) bomb Wake Island. Later in the day, naval land attack planes (Chitose Kokutai) raid Wake, bombing airfield installations.

Destroyer Craven (DD-382) collides with heavy cruiser Northampton (CA-26) during underway refueling and is damaged. The ships are part of TF 8 operating north of Oahu.

Norwegian motorship Hoegh Merchant is torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I 4 about 20 miles east-northeast of Oahu. All hands (35-man crew, 5 passengers) survive the loss of the ship.

Coast Guard lighthouse tender Kukui reaches Niihau with squad of soldiers from Company M, 299th Infantry (Lieutenant Jack Mizuha); the detachment learns of the denouement of the events that have transpired on Niihau since 7 December.

Japanese gunboat Zuiko Maru, wrecked and driven aground by storm, sinks off Matsuwa Jima, Kuriles, 48°05'N, 153°43'E.

Gunboat Erie (PG-50), off coast of Costa Rica, boards and takes charge of motor vessel Sea Boy, and takes off a Japanese POW; she orders Sea Boy into Balboa the following day.

USAAF B-17s bomb and damage Japanese cargo ship Ikushima Maru and oiler Hayatomo off Legaspi, Luzon.

With its operating area rendered untenable by Japanese control of the air, Patrol Wing 10 (Captain Frank D. Wagner) departs Philippines for Netherlands East Indies. Seaplane tender (destroyer) Childs (AVD-1), with Captain Wagner embarked, sails from Manila.

Submarine Seawolf (SS-197) torpedoes Japanese seaplane carrier San'yo Maru off Aparri, P.I.; one torpedo hits the ship but does not explode.

Submarine Swordfish (SS-193), attacking Japanese shipping off Hainan Island, torpedoes army transport Kashii Maru, 18°08'N, 109°22'E.

Navy boarding party (Lieutenant Edward N. Little) transported in commandeered yacht Gem, seizes French motor mail vessel Marechal Joffre, Manila Bay. Majority of the crewmen, pro-Vichy or unwilling to serve under the U.S. flag, are transported ashore (see 17-18 December).

* Dec 15, Mon. 1941

Seaplane tender Tangier (AV-8), oiler Neches (AO-5), and four destroyers sail for Wake Island.

Japanese reconnaissance flying boats (Yokohama Kokutai) bomb Wake Island.

Johnston Island is shelled by Japanese submarine I 22; although one shell lands astern and another passes over her forecastle, transport William Ward Burrows (AP-6) is apparently unseen by the enemy submariners. She is not hit and escapes.

Kahului, Maui, T.H., is shelled by Japanese submarine from the Second Submarine Squadron. Possible candidates for having carried out the shelling are I 2, I 3, I 4, I 5, I 6, or I 7.

Philippine steamship Vizcaya is scuttled in Manila Bay.

TU 4.1.2 (Commander Fred D. Kirtland) clears Reykjavik for the MOMP, escorting convoy ON 45; destroyer Sturtevant (DD-240), escorting cargo vessel Alchiba (AK-23), depth-charges sound contact at 62°05'N, 24°15'W (see 16 December).

Destroyer Benson (DD-421), detached from TU 4.1.3 and convoy HX 163 at the MOMP, searches for survivors of steamer Nidardal, reported sinking at 56°07'N, 21°00'W (later amended to 56°07'N, 23°00'W) (see 16 December).

Convoy ON 43, struggling through rough seas and high winds, being escorted by TU 4.1.6 (Commander John S. Roberts), is dispersed.

United States
Admiral Ernest J. King is offered the post of Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet. He accepts (see 18, 20 and 30 December).

* Dec 16, Tue. 1941

Carrier Yorktown (CV-5) departs Norfolk, Virginia, the first carrier reinforcement dispatched to the Pacific.

Convoy ON 45, escorted by TU 4.1.2 (Commander Fred D. Kirtland), is dispersed because of bad weather.

Destroyer Benson (DD-421) sights white distress rocket at 0241 and alters course in hopes of locating survivors of merchantman Nidardal; the intense darkness in which the search is being conducted renders it barely possible to see the surface of the ocean from the bridge, and the loudness of the wind makes it unlikely that a hail can be heard no more than 50 to 100 feet from the ship. Benson searches throughout the daylight hours but finds no trace of the missing ship or her crew. She abandons the search at nightfall and proceeds to Reykjavik.

TF 14 (Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher), comprising carrier Saratoga (CV-3) (with VMF 221 embarked), four destroyers; heavy cruisers Astoria (CA-34) (flagship), Minneapolis (CA-36), and San Francisco (CA-38); and five destroyers, sails from Pearl Harbor. These ships will overtake the force formed around Tangier (AV-8) and Neches (AO-5) and their consorts that is to relieve Wake Island.

Japanese Pearl Harbor Attack Force (Vice Admiral Nagumo Chuichi) detaches carriers Hiryu and Soryu, heavy cruisers Tone and Chikuma, and two destroyers (Rear Admiral Abe Hiroaki) to reinforce second planned attack on Wake Island.

Japanese naval land attack planes (Chitose Kokutai) bomb Wake.

Submarine Tambor (SS-198), damaged by operational casualty, retires from the waters off Wake.

Submarine Swordfish (SS-193), attacking Japanese convoy south of Hainan Island, torpedoes army transport Atsutasan Maru, 18°06'N, 109°44'E.

Gunboat Erie (PG-50) boards Panamanian motor vessel Santa Margarita and orders her to proceed to Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Later the same day, the gunboat tows disabled motor boat Orion into Puntarenas.

* Dec 17, Wed. 1941

Vice Admiral William S. Pye, Commander, Battle Force, becomes acting Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, pending the arrival of Rear Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who is ordered on this date to relieve Admiral Husband E. Kimmel.

Small reconnaissance seaplane from Japanese submarine I 7 reconnoiters Pearl Harbor.

Unarmed U.S. freighter Manini is torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I 175 180 miles south of Hawaii, 17°45'N, 157°03'E (see 27 and 28 December).

USMC SB2Us (VMSB 231), led by a plane-guarding PBY (VP 21) (no ships are available to plane-guard the flight), arrive at Midway, completing the longest over-water massed flight (1,137 miles) by single-engine aircraft. The squadron had been embarked in Lexington (CV-2) when the outbreak of war cancelled the projected ferry mission on 7 December 1941.

Japanese submarine RO 66 is sunk in collision with sistership RO 62 off Wake Island.

Philippine steamship Corregidor, crowded with about 1,200 passengers fleeing Manila for Mindanao, hits an Army mine off Corregidor and sinks with heavy loss of life. Motor torpedo boats PT-32, PT-34, and PT-35 pick up 282 survivors (196 by PT-32 alone) distributing them between Corregidor and the requisitioned French steamship Si-Kiang; seven of those rescued die of injuries suffered in the tragedy. Dr. Jurgen Rohwer, in his volume on Axis submarine successes, attributes the sinking to a mine laid by Japanese submarine I 124 on 8 December 1941 off Corregidor, P.I. Interestingly, Corregidor was formerly the British seaplane carrier HMS Engadine, which took part in the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

Navy takes over French motor mail vessel Marechal Joffre, Manila Bay (see 18 December).

Japanese land at Miri, Sarawak, Borneo.

* Dec 18, Thu. 1941

President Roosevelt signs Executive Order No. 8984 that provides that Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet will take supreme command of the operating forces of all Navy fleets and coastal frontier commands, and be directly responsible to the President.

In another executive order, President Roosevelt directs a commission, to be headed by retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Owen J. Roberts (Roberts Commission), to "ascertain and report the facts relating to the attack made by the Japanese armed forces upon the Territory of Hawaii on December 7, 1941...to provide bases for sound decisions whether any derelictions of duty or errors of judgment on the part of United States Army or Navy personnel contributed to such successes as were achieved by the enemy on the occasion mentioned; and if so, what these derelictions or errors were, and who were responsible therefor." In addition to Justice Roberts, the commission's membership includes retired Admiral William H. Standley and Rear Admiral Joseph W. Reeves; Major General Frank R. McCoy, USA (Retired) and Brigadier General Joseph T. McNarney, USA (see 23 January 1942).

Congress passes First War Powers Act.

State Department announces that Rear Admiral Frederick J. Horne and Admiral Georges Robert, French High Commissioner at Martinique, French West Indies, have reached an agreement neutralizing French Caribbean possessions.

French motor mail vessel Marechal Joffre, manned by a scratch crew that includes aviation personnel from Patrol Wing Ten, departs Manila Bay for Borneo. Marechal Joffre will be formally acquired by the Navy on 20 April 1942, and will serve as the transport Rochambeau (AP-63).

Dutch Dornier 24 bombs and sinks Japanese destroyer Shinonome off Miri, Borneo.

* Dec 19, Fri. 1941

TF 8 (Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.), formed around carrier Enterprise (CV-6), heavy cruisers, and destroyers, sails from Pearl Harbor proceeding to waters west of Johnston Island and south of Midway to cover TF 11 and TF 14 operations (see 14-16 December). Destroyer Craven (DD-382), in TF 8, is damaged by heavy sea soon after departure, however, and returns to Pearl for repairs.

Japanese naval land attack planes (Chitose Kokutai) bomb Wake Island, targeting installations on Wake and Peale islets.

Unarmed U.S. freighter Prusa is torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I 172 about 150 miles south of Hawaii, 16°45'N, 156°00'W (see 27 December).

United States
U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1942 is graduated early, due to the National Emergency.

* Dec 20, Sat. 1941

In the wake of the signing of Executive Order No. 8984, Admiral Ernest J. King is announced as the designated Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet (see 30 December).

SBDs (VB 6 and VS 6) from carrier Enterprise accidentally bomb submarine Pompano (SS-181) twice, at 20°10'N, 165°28'W, and 20°15'N, 165°40'W.

PBY (VP 23) arrives at Wake Island to deliver information to the garrison concerning the relief efforts then underway (see 21 December).

Survivors of U.S. freighter Lahaina (sunk on 11 December by Japanese submarine I 9), aided by Coast Guard cutter Tiger, reach land at Sprecklesville Beach, near Kahului, Maui, having lost four of their number during their ordeal in their one lifeboat.

Japanese troops land at Davao, Mindanao, P.I.

Unarmed U.S. tankship Emidio is shelled, torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I 17 about 25 miles west of Cape Mendocino, California, 40°33'N, 125°00'W (see 21 December).

Unarmed U.S. tanker Agwiworld is shelled by Japanese submarine I 23 off the coast of California, 37°00'N, 122°00'W.

* Dec 21, Sun. 1941

PBY (VP 23) departs Wake Island; Japanese concern over the potential presence of patrol planes at Wake, occasioned by the large amount of radio traffic that accompanies the sole PBY's arrival at the island, prompts advancing the date of the first carrier strikes. Consequently, planes from carriers Soryu and Hiryu bomb Wake Island for the first time. Later that day, land attack planes (Chitose Kokutai) bomb Wake.

Naval local defense forces in Philippine Islands (Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell) move headquarters to Corregidor.

Destroyer Paul Jones (DD-230) is damaged when her starboard propeller strikes a sunken object off Makassar, N.E.I.

Coast Guard cutter Shawnee rescues 31 survivors of U.S. tanker Emidio, sunk the previous day by I 17 off Cape Mendocino, California, from Blunt's Reef Lightship.

Light cruiser Omaha (CL-4) and destroyer Somers (DD-381), operating out of Recife, Brazil, encounter darkened ship that acts suspicious and evasive when challenged. Omaha fires starshell and illuminates the stranger; Somers sends armed boarding party that learns that the merchantman nearly fired upon is Soviet freighter Nevastroi.

Destroyer Edison (DD-439), in TU 4.1.3 en route to MOMP to pick up convoy ON 47, depth-charges sound contact without result.

* Dec 22, Mon. 1941

President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill open discussions in Washington (arcadia Conference) leading to establishment of Combined Chiefs of Staff. The arcadia conference, which lasts into January 1942, results in a formal American commitment to the "Germany First" strategy. In addition, the United States and Britain agree to form a Combined Chiefs of Staff as the supreme body for Allied war planning, to confer regularly in Washington. The Anglo-American allies also agree that there should be one supreme commander directing operations in each theater.

Japanese bombers and attack planes, covered by fighters, from carriers Soryu and Hiryu, bomb Wake Island for the second time; the last two flyable USMC F4Fs (VMF 211) intercept the raid. One F4F is shot down, the other is badly damaged.

American troops (Task Force South Pacific) (Brigadier General Julian F. Barnes, USA) arrive at Brisbane in convoy escorted by heavy cruiser Pensacola (CA-24). This is the first U.S. Army troop detachment to arrive in Australia.

Japanese submarine I 19 shell unarmed U.S. tanker H.M. Storey southwest of Cape Mendocino, California, 34°35'N, 120°45'W, but fails to score any hits and the American ship escapes.

Japanese commence invasion of Luzon, landing troops at Lingayen, P.I.; submarine S 38 (SS-143) torpedoes and sinks Japanese army transport Hayo Maru in Lingayen Gulf, 16°00'N, 120°00'E.

USAAF B-17s bomb and damage Japanese army oiler No. 3 Tonan Maru off Davao, P.I.

TU 4.1.3 (Commander George W. Johnson), assumes escort duty at MOMP for convoy ON 47; the convoy is dispersed the following day.

* Dec 23, Tue. 1941

U.S.-British War Council composed of President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Churchill, and their chief naval, military, and civilian advisers meets for the first time in Washington, D.C.

Wake Island (Commander Winfield S. Cunningham) is captured by naval landing force (Rear Admiral Kajioka Sadamichi) that overcomes gallant resistance offered by the garrison that consists of marines, sailors, volunteer civilians (Contractors Pacific Naval Air Bases) and a USAAF radio detachment. Japanese Patrol Boat No. 32 and Patrol Boat No. 33 (old destroyers converted to high speed transports) intentionally run ashore to facilitate landing of troops, are destroyed by marine shore batteries (1st Defense Battalion). Planes from carriers Hiryu and Soryu, as well as seaplane carrier Kiyokawa Maru provide close air support for the invasion. Open cargo lighter YCK 1 is lost to Japanese occupation of the atoll, as are civilian tugs Pioneer and Justine Foss, and dredge Columbia.

Uncertainty over the positions of and number of Japanese carriers and reports that indicate Japanese troops have landed on the atoll compel Vice Admiral William S. Pye, Acting Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, to recall TF 14 (Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher) while it is 425 miles from its objective.

Palmyra Island is shelled by Japanese submarines I 71 and I 72.

Unarmed U.S. tanker Montebello is torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I 21 about four miles south of Piedras Blancas light, California, 35°30'N, 121°51'W. I 21 machine-guns the lifeboats, but miraculously inflicts no casualties. I 21 later also shells unarmed U.S. tanker Idaho near the same location.

Japanese submarine I 17 shells unarmed U.S. tanker Larry Doheny southwest of Cape Mendocino, California, 40°00'N, 125°00'W, but the American ship escapes.

USAAF B-17s bomb Japanese ships in Lingayen Gulf and off Davao, damaging minesweeper W.17 and destroyer Kuroshio off the latter place. USAAF P-40s and P-35s strafe landing forces in San Miguel Bay, Luzon, damaging destroyer Nagatsuki.

Submarine Seal (SS-183) sinks Japanese army cargo ship Soryu Maru off Vigan, Luzon, 17°35'N, 120°12'E.

Japanese troops land at Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo. Off the invasion beaches, Dutch submarine K XIV torpedoes and sinks transport Hokkai Maru, army transport Hiyoshi Maru, and damages army cargo ship Nichiran Maru and transport Katori Maru.

TU 4.1.4 (Commander Richard E. Webb) assumes escort duty for convoy HX 166; the ships reach their destination without being attacked by U-boats.

* Dec 24, Wed. 1941

Unarmed U.S. freighter Absaroka is shelled by Japanese submarine I 17 about 26 miles off San Pedro, California, 33°40'N, 118°25'W; although abandoned, she is later reboarded and towed to San Pedro.

Unarmed U.S. steamship Dorothy Philips is shelled by Japanese submarine I 23 off Monterey Bay, California.

Seaplane tender Wright (AV-1) disembarks Marine reinforcements (Batteries "A" and "C," 4th Defense Battalion) at Midway.

Second Marine Brigade (Colonel Henry L. Larsen, USMC) is formed at Camp Elliott, California, to defend American Samoa (see 6 and 20 January 1942).

Japanese land at Lamon Bay, Luzon.

Motor torpedo boat PT-33 is damaged by grounding on reef five miles northwest of Cape Santiago, Luzon, 13°46'N, 120°40'E.

During Japanese bombing of shipping in Manila Bay by naval land attack planes (Takao Kokutai and 1st Kokutai), seized French steamship Si-Kiang is set afire off Mariveles; of the 8-man USMC guard detachment on board (from 1st Separate Marine Battalion), two marines are killed and three wounded. Tug Napa (AT-32) assists in fire-fighting efforts.

Dutch submarine K XVI torpedoes and sinks Japanese destroyer Sagiri off Kuching, Sarawak, 01°34'N, 110°21'E.

* Dec 25, Thu. 1941

Admiral Thomas C. Hart turns over all remaining naval forces in the Philippines to Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell (Commandant Sixteenth Naval District). After Japanese bombers destroy PBYs (VPs 101 and 102) earmarked to transport him and his staff south, Hart sails in submarine Shark (SS-174) (held in readiness for that eventuality) to establish new Asiatic Fleet headquarters in Java (see 1 January 1942). During Japanese bombing of shipping in Manila Bay, submarine Sturgeon (SS-187) is straddled but is not damaged.

British surrender Hong Kong. U.S. freighter Admiral Y.S. Williams, under repairs in that port for damage incurred in a grounding that had occurred on 24 September, is intentionally damaged to prevent use by the Japanese. The merchantman is salvaged, however, and is renamed Tatsutama Maru. U.S. steamship (ex-yacht) Hirondelle (also under repairs in the Crown Colony when caught there by the outbreak of hostilities) and Philippine steamship Argus are captured. Hirondelle is renamed Gyonan Maru and will survive the war. Argus is refitted and commissioned in the Japanese Navy as the gunboat Hong Kong Maru; for her fate under her new owners, see 19-21 June 1943. Philippine steamship Churruca is scuttled.

Japanese land at Jolo, P.I. Submarine Sealion (SS-195), damaged by bombs at Cavite, P.I., on 10 December, is scuttled by demolition crew.

Carrier Saratoga (CV-3) diverted from the attempt to relieve Wake Island, flies off USMC F2As (VMF 221) to Midway. These will be the first fighter aircraft based there.

* Dec 26, Fri. 1941

Manila, P.I., is declared an open city but Japanese bombing continues unabated. Japanese naval land attack planes (Takao Kokutai and 1st Kokutai) bomb shipping in Manila Bay; destroyer Peary (DD-226) is damaged by near-misses.

Motor torpedo boat PT-33, damaged by grounding on 24 December five miles northwest of Cape Santiago, Luzon, 13°46'N, 120°40'E, is burned to prevent capture.

Dutch Army planes bomb and sink Japanese minesweeper W.6 and collier No. 2 Unyo Maru off Kuching, Sarawak, 01°34'N, 110°21'E.

Japanese destroyer Murasame and minesweeper W.20 are damaged by marine casualties off Takao, Formosa.

Seaplane tender Tangier (AV-8), diverted from the attempt to relieve Wake Island, disembarks Battery "B," 4th Defense Battalion and ground echelon of VMF 221 at Midway to augment that garrison's defenses.

Submarine chaser PC 451 accidentally rams and sinks U.S. tug Nancy Moran off east coast of Florida.

* Dec 27, Sat. 1941

Destroyer Allen (DD-66) rescues first of two groups of survivors from U.S. freighter Manini (sunk by Japanese submarine I 175 on 17 December) at 21°29'N, 159°36'E.

Coast Guard cutter Tiger rescues 14 survivors of U.S. freighter Prusa, sunk by Japanese submarine I 172 on 19 December. A second group of 11 survivors reaches safety after a 2,700-mile voyage, rescued by a Fijian government vessel and taken to Boruin, Gilberts.

Unarmed U.S. tanker Connecticut is shelled by Japanese submarine I 25 about 10 miles west of the mouth of the Columbia River.

Submarine Perch (SS-176) torpedoes Japanese supply ship Noshima in South China Sea, 22°14'N, 115°13'E.

Six PBYs (VP 101) bomb Japanese shipping at Jolo, P.I. against heavy fighter opposition; four Catalinas are lost.

Japanese bomb shipping in Manila Bay and Pasig River (Takao Kokutai and 1st Kokutai). Philippine customs cutters Arayat and Mindoro and motor vessel Ethel Edwards are set afire, while lighthouse tender Canlaon is destroyed by a direct hit. Steamship Taurus is scuttled in the Pasig River (see 29 December).

* Dec 28, Sun. 1941

Destroyer Patterson (DD-392) rescues second of two groups of survivors from sunken U.S. freighter Manini at 21°06'N, 161°55'E.

Destroyer Peary (DD-226) is damaged when mistakenly bombed and strafed by RAAF Hudsons off Kina, Celebes, N.E.I.

Japanese destroyer Akikaze and army cargo ships Kamogawa Maru and Komaki Maru are damaged by marine casualties east of Luzon.

* Dec 29, Mon. 1941

Corregidor is bombed for the first time by Japanese naval land attack planes (Takao Kokutai and 1st Kokutai), ending "normal" above-ground living there. During the bombings that day, submarine tender Canopus (AS-9) is damaged in Mariveles Harbor, 14°25'N, 120°30'E; river gunboat Mindanao (PR-8) is damaged by near-misses off Corregidor. Bombs also set fire to Philippine freighter Don Jose and the hulk of U.S. freighter Capillo off Corregidor. Minesweeper Finch (AM-9) puts out the blaze on board both ships; Don Jose is later moved to the south side of the island to ensure a clear shipping channel. Finch repeats the procedure on 1 January 1942, but since the crew never returns to the damaged merchantman, Don Jose is never salvaged. Philippine presidential yacht Casiana is bombed and sunk near the Fort Mills dock; Philippine steamship Bicol and motor vessel Aloha are scuttled in Manila Bay. Finch later assists Navy- commandeered tug Trabajador in dumping unused mines in Manila Bay, an operation those two ships will repeat the following day as well. Cable Censor, Manila (Lieutenant Frederick L. Worcester, USNR) clears Pasig River of interisland shipping and tugs and other ships that have drawn heavy bombing from Japanese planes, thus saving area from further destruction and the shipping for use in maintaining communications between Bataan and Corregidor and in patrol work. This action is later praised as "commendable assumption of authority and action by non-nautical" district officers.

Japanese submarine RO 60, returning from the Wake Island operation, is irreparably damaged by grounding, Kwajalein Atoll, 09°00'N, 167°30'E.

TU 4.1.5 (Commander William K. Phillips) assumes guard for east-bound convoy HX 167. U.S. freighter Stonestreet is damaged by evaporator explosion; one man is killed and three injured. Destroyer Simpson (DD-221) puts medical officer and corpsman on board promptly to treat the injured; Stonestreet is directed to return to St. John's; U.S. PBY provides cover. During the voyage to Iceland, HX 167 will not encounter any enemy submarines but poor navigation by the convoy will result in a critical fuel state for the "shortlegged" flush-deck destroyers (see 3 January 1942).

* Dec 30, Tue. 1941

Admiral Ernest J. King assumes duties as Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet. To avoid use of what he considers the pejorative acronym CINCUS ("Sink Us"), he introduces COMINCH ("Comm Inch").

Japanese submarine I 1 shells Hilo, Hawaii; seaplane tender (destroyer) Hulbert (AVD-6), moored to a pier adjacent to the one damaged by the bombardment, is not damaged.

Navy-commandeered tug Ranger lands volunteer raiding party on Sangley Point. The sailors bring out diesel generators and diesel oil needed on Corregidor to provide auxiliary power.

* Dec 31, Wed. 1941

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz assumes command of Pacific Fleet in ceremonies on board submarine Grayling (SS-209) at Pearl Harbor.

Japanese submarines shell Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii.

While returning from attempting to aid destroyer Peary (DD-226) (see 28 December), small seaplane tender Heron (AVP-2) is damaged but fights off, over a seven-hour span, a series of attacks by Japanese reconnaissance flying boats (Toko Kokutai) and land attack planes off Ambon, N.E.I. Heron shoots down one seaplane whose crew refuses rescue.

Submarine rescue vessel Pigeon (ASR-6) transports armed party [Lieutenant (j.g.) Malcolm M. Champlin, USNR] to Sangley Point which brings out Luzon Stevedoring Company lighter loaded with 97 mines and eight truckloads of aerial depth charges; Pigeon then tows the barge to a point four and a half miles off Sangley Point and capsizes it in 11 fathoms of water. The sailors also destroy the aircraft repair shop at Cavite and one irreparable PBY.

U.S. cargo/passenger ship Ruth Alexander, en route from Manila to Balikpapan, Borneo, is bombed and irreparably damaged by Japanese flying boat in Makassar Strait, N.E.I., 01°00'N, 119°10'W, one man is killed in the bombing. She sinks on 2 January 1942. Dutch Dornier 24 later rescues all 48 survivors.

Japanese destroyer Yamagumo is damaged by mine off Lingayen.

Philippine steamships Magellanes and Montanes are scuttled, most likely at Manila.

The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II

1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944

U.S. Navy Abbreviations U.S. Navy Code Words

This webpage was updated 14th August 2012

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