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Chronology 1941

Date Event Historical Background
January 1941 Exhaustion of British Credit Due to the effectiveness of the German U-boot offensive in the Battle of the Atlantic and the dire straits of the British military situation, the British government exhausted $6.5 billion in credit offered by the U.S. government in 1940. As a result, British purchases had to be cut back, even though Britain had become increasingly dependent on American arms, food, and raw materials.
January 5-February 8, 1941 First Imperial Libyan Offensive Imperial forces launched a major offensive against Italian forces in Libya. The British captured Baria on January 5th, including 25,000 Italian prisoners and valuable war material. Tobruk fell on January 22nd, and the Imperial forces continued west, seizing Derna (January 24th), Benghazi (the capital of Cyrenaica, on February 7th), and El Agheila (February 8th). General Sir Archibald Wavell captured over 114,000 Italian prisoners at a cost of 3,000 casualties in this two-month operation.
January 6, 1941 Four Freedoms Speech President Franklin Roosevelt recommended Lend-Lease assistance to the Allies and enunciated the "Four Freedoms" (freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear) as the basis for a post-war peace in his annual message to Congress.
January 8, 1941 U.S. Office of Production Management President Franklin Roosevelt created the four-man Office of Production Management to coordinate national defense efforts.
January 15-November 1941 British East African Offensive British forces from Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and Kenya mounted a major offensive against Italian East Africa to drive the Italians out of the Horn of Africa. The British first forced the Italians out of Kassala in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan on January 19th. British troops entered Eritrea on January 19th and Mogadiscio, the capital of Italian Somaliland, fell to Imperial forces on February 26th. British and Ethiopian forces captured Neguelli in southern Ethiopia on March 22nd, and Italian troops in Addis Ababa surrendered the Ethiopian capital on April 6th. By the end of June, the Italian forces in Eritrea capitulated. The last Italian troops in Ethiopia surrendered at Gondar on November 27th, leaving Italian East Africa under British control.
January 20, 1941 German Occupation of Italy In response to Italian military setbacks and to bolster the Italian military effort, Premier Benito Mussolini allowed German troops into Italy.
January 27-March 29, 1941 Secret U.S.-British Staff Conference American and British military officials met secretly in Washington, DC and developed the ABC-1 plan, outlining a common Anglo-American strategy for World War II. Both countries agreed that in the event of war with both Germany and Japan, the concentration of force should be directed against the Germans.
January 31, 1941 Franco-Thai Truce The Japanese government arranged a truce to end fighting between Thai and Vichy French forces in Indo-China. The Thai government sought to regain territory lost to the French during their colonization of Indo-China. Under the terms of the truce, the Japanese confirmed their military occupation of French Indo-China and gained access to Indo-Chinese rice, rubber, coal, and minerals.
February 1, 1941 U.S. Fleet Assets in the Caribbean The Roosevelt administration raised the status of the United States Patrol Force in the Caribbean to fleet status and enhanced the resources in the region. The U.S. Navy developed naval facilities in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands at a rapid pace. The U.S. also planned a third set of locks for the Panama Canal.
February 10, 1941 British Severence of Relations with Romania The British government severed official diplomatic relations with Romania in response to the Romanian government's pro-German policies.
February 17, 1940 Turco-Bulgarian Non-Aggression Pact The Turkish and Bulgarian governments signed a non-aggression pact, an agreement which reflected the new status quo in the Balkans.
March 1, 1941 German Occupation of Bulgaria The Bulgarian government threw its support behind the Axis powers and German troops marched into Sofia. The British diplomatic corps withdrew from Sofia on February 24th, and the Soviet government warned the Bulgarians not to expect Russian assistance.
March 5, 1941 Panamanian Air Defenses The Panamanian government granted the United States the right to extend American air defenses beyond the limits of the Canal Zone.
March 5, 1941 British Severence of Relations with Bulgaria In response to Bulgaria's new relationship with the Germans, the British government severed diplomatic relations with Sofia.
March 11, 1941 U.S. Lend-Lease Act Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act which empowered the president to provide economic and military support to countries whose defense was vital to the United States. Isolated Britain was fighting the Axis powers alone and had exhausted most of the country's financial assets. The Roosevelt administration now had legal authority to send military supplies to the beleaguered British. The initial authorization totaled $7 billion. The first American Lend-Lease food shipments departed the U.S. on April 16th and helped divert an acute food shortage in Britain. Between April and December, the U.S. delivered one million tons of food to the British. By the end of the war, the U.S. extended $50 billion in aid to the Allied powers.
March 11, 1941 Franco-Thai Convention Vichy French and Thai delegates negotiated a treaty whereby Thailand regained territory west of the Mekong River. The Thais received three-quarters of Campong-Thom Province, all of the Laos Province west of the Mekong, and territory in northern Cambodia.
March 24-May 29, 1941 German Libyan Counter-Offensive To salvage the Italian debacle in North Africa, the Germans dispatched General Erwin Rommel and the Afrika Korps to reinforce the Italians in Libya. At the same time, the British High Command transferred 60,000 Imperial troops from Libya to help defend Greece. Axis forces launched a counter-offensive on April 3rd and forced the British army to retreat. The Germans regained Sollum and Bardia on April 14th and encircled a British garrison at Tobruk on April 20th (the Royal Navy was able to resupply the besieged garrison). Axis armored forces halted their offensive on the Egyptian frontier on May 29th.
March 25, 1941 Yugoslavian Alliance with the Axis Powers The government of Prince Paul of Yugoslavia signed the Three-Power Pact at Vienna and Yugoslavia became part of the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis.
March 27, 1941 Military Coup in Yugoslavia The Yugoslav army overthrew the pro-Axis government of the Yugoslav regent, Prince Paul, and proclaimed Peter II as king. General Simorich set up a new cabinet and announced that Yugoslavia would follow a policy of neutrality.
April 3, 1941 Pro-Axis Coup in Iraq Rashid Ali led a coup against the Iraqi government and established a government with sympathies for the Axis cause. His request for German aid led to British military intervention in May 1941.
April 6, 1941 German Invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece After the overthrow of Prince Paul's government, the Germans decided to invade Yugoslavia to secure the Axis position in the Balkans. German troops deployed in Germany, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria poured across the frontier into Yugoslavia and Greece. Soviet newspapers accused the Germans of widening the war.
April 9, 1941 American Occupation of Greenland The U.S. and Danish governments signed an agreement whereby the American government agreed to take over the defense of Greenland in exchange for the right to construct air and naval bases on the island. On April 10th, the U.S. established a protectorate over Greenland.
April 10, 1941 Fall of Belgrade Wehrmacht forces occupied the capital of Yugoslavia, although fighting continued across the kingdom. Partisan units took up a guerilla war against the Germans and their Yugoslav allies.
April 11, 1941 U.S. Extension of the "Sea Frontier" Facing mounting losses to Allied shipping from German air, surface, and submarine forces, President Franklin Roosevelt informed British Prime Minister that the U.S. would extend its security zone and patrol areas to a line covering all North Atlantic waters west of West Longitude 26 degrees, the "sea frontier of the U.S."
April 13, 1941 Russo-Japanese Treaty of Neutrality The Soviet and Japanese governments signed a Treaty of Neutrality, which pledged both countries to remain neutral in the event of a war with a third party.
April 17, 1941 Surrender of Yugoslavia The Yugoslav government signed a treaty of capitulation, twelve days after the Germans first invaded. Guerilla forces resumed military operations, harassing German and Italian forces in former Yugoslav territory.
April 18, 1941 French Withdrawal from the League of Nations The Vichy French government announced its withdrawal from the League of Nations.
April 21-27, 1941 U.S.-British-Dutch Staff Conference in Singapore American, British, and Dutch military officials met in Singapore and developed a strategic plan for combined operations against Japan in the event the Japanese attacked the U.S.
April 23, 1941 Surrender of Greece The Greek government surrendered and ordered the Greek army to cease resistance in the face of an overwhelming German assault. King George II of Greece fled to Crete to reform a government.
April 27, 1941 German Occupation of Athens German troops marched into Athens, while the British evacuated their Greek Expeditionary Force. While the Royal Navy was able to evacuate 48,000 of the 60,000 man force, the British again had to abandon their military equipment.
May 2, 1941 British Intervention in Iraq The Iraqi government, led by Rashid Ali, invited German aid into the country. In response, the British sent forces into Iraq to overthrow the pro-Axis regime. This resulted in fighting across Iraq.
May 9, 1941 Treaty of Tokyo The Thai and Vichy French governments signed the Franco-Thai Convention in Tokyo, finalizing the transfer of territory from French Indo-China to Thailand.
May 10-June 22, 1941 Resumption of the Battle of Britain Longer days and improved weather saw the return of the Luftwaffe over Britain. A major German air raid on May 10th hit the Houses of Parliament and the British Museum in London. The intensity of German raids fell dramatically as the Luftwaffe redeployed aircraft to the east to support the invasion o the Soviet Union in June.
May 17, 1941 Icelandic Independence The Icelandic Parliament declared its independence from Denmark and established itself as a separate state (the country became a republic in June 1944).
May 20-June 1, 1941 German Invasion of Crete German airborne troops landed on Crete with the support of superior German air power. The Royal Navy suffered serious cruiser and destroyer losses in the campaign.
May 21, 1941 German Torpedoing of American Ship A German U-boot sank an American merchant ship, the S.S. Robin Moor, in the South Atlantic, off the coast of Brazil.
May 27, 1941 State of National Emergency in U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt declared an unlimited state of national emergency in the United States in the response to the quasi-war with German U-boots in the Atlantic.
May 31, 1941 British Evacuation of Crete The surviving British forces were evacuated from Crete and redeployed to Cyprus and Egypt. German control of Crete gave the Germans a dominant position in the Eastern Mediterranean.
May 31, 1941 British Occupation of Baghdad After sending in reinforcements, the British were able to gain control of Iraq and restore political stability in Iraq.
June 4, 1941 British Occupation of Mosul The British army seized control of Mosul, the oil rich region of Iraq and set up a government that was pro-British. The British negotiated an armistice with the various parties under British supervision.
June 8, 1941 Anglo-French Occupation of Syria In response to political instability in Syria, the British and Free French governments landed troops in Syria. Fighting broke out between the Anglo-French forces and Syrian nationalists.
June 16, 1941 U.S. Closure of German Consulates The Roosevelt administration ordered the closure of German consulates across the United States. Three days later, the German and Italian governments closed American consulates in Axis-controlled areas of Europe in response.
June 18, 1941 Turco-German Non-Aggression Pact The German and Turkish governments signed a non-aggression pact. This treaty kept the Turks out of the war in Europe and protected the German's flank for the planned invasion of the Soviet Union.
June 22, 1941 German Invasion of the Soviet Union German and Axis forces launched a 2,000-mile wide offensive, from the White Sea to the Black Sea, against the Soviet Union. The Axis invasion force totaled three million men from Germany, Italy, Romania, Hungary, and Finland. The Red Army consisted of two million men plus an indefinite reserve. The invasion completely surprised the Soviet government and Premier Josef Stalin disappeared from public view for several weeks. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill promised that the British would send all possible aid to the Russians.
June 24, 1941 U.S. Aid Pledge to USSR In response to the German invasion of the Soviet Union, President Franklin Roosevelt promised American military to the Russians.
June 25, 1941 Japanese Demands on French Indo-China With the collapse of the French army in Europe, the Japanese government demanded that the French allow the landing of Japanese troops in French Indo-China. Japanese warships took up naval stations off Indo-Chinese ports.
June 29, 1941 Fall of Grodno, Brest-Litovsk, and Vilna Axis forces quickly overwhelmed Red Army units and drove deep into Russian territory, capturing Grodno, Brest-Litovsk, and Vilna. Blitzkrieg tactics proved to be as effective on the Eastern Front as on the Western Front.
June 30, 1941 Vichy France Severence of Relations with the Soviet Union The Vichy French government severed diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. French volunteers fought with the Axis forces on the Eastern Front in an attempt to vanquish Bolshevism.
July 1-2, 1941 Fall of Riga and Bialystok The Soviets took heavy losses as German forces occupied Riga and Bialystok.
July 2, 1941 China Severence of Relations with the Axis Powers The Nationalist Chinese government severed diplomatic relations with Germany, Italy, and the other Axis Powers in support of the Allied war effort.
July 7, 1941 American Occupation of Iceland At the invitation of the Icelandic government, the U.S. government landed forces on the island to relieve the British occupation force. The British dispatched troops to Iceland in 1940 to prevent the island from falling into German hands after the invasion of Denmark. The U.S. planned to develop air and naval bases on the island. The Germans would have converted Iceland into an ideal U-boot base for attacking North Atlantic shipping.
July 12, 1941 Armistice in Syria After confused fighting in Syria between Anglo-Free French forces and Vichy French forces, an armistice was negotiated. The Royal Navy landed British and Free French troops on the Lebanese coast and the Allied force advanced on Beirut and Damascus. The Allied occupation ended Vichy French rule in Lebanon and Syria and foiled German attempts to gain control over these colonies.
July 13, 1941 Anglo-Russian Mutual Aid Treaty With the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the British no longer fought the Axis powers alone. British and Soviet negotiators set up an agreement where the British would provide military assistance to help the Russians stem the German onslaught. Both countries also agreed not to sign a separate peace with the Germans.
July 16, 1941 Fall of Smolensk German forces crossed the pre-1939 Russo-Polish frontier and occupied Smolensk.
July 24, 1941 Vichy French Approval of Japanese Occupation of Indo-China The Vichy French government granted the Japanese government permission to establish military control over French Indo-China. The French held tenuous administrative control over the colony.
July 26, 1941 U.S. Freezing of Japanese Credits President Franklin Roosevelt "froze" all Japanese credits in the United States in response to the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China. The British government adopted the same policy in the United Kingdom as well. This brought American-Japanese trade to a halt. President Roosevelt placed all armed forces in the Philippines under the control of United States and assigned General Douglas MacArthur the Commander-in-Chief in the Far East. President Roosevelt also warned Japanese Ambassador Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura that additional Japanese attempts to expand Japanese military control in the Far East would force the U.S. to take immediate steps to protect American rights and interests.
July 31, 1941 Battle of the Atlantic The British government estimated that German air and U-boot attacks in the Atlantic had destroyed over seven million tons of British, American, and neutral shipping since the beginning of the war. The German maritime offensive made a significant impact on Britain's ability to prosecute the war.
August 1, 1941 Britain Severence of Relations with Finland The British government severed diplomatic relations with Finland for the Finns participation in the invasion of the Soviet Union.
August 9-12, 1941 Atlantic Charter Conference President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister met off the coast of Canada on American and British warships to devise wartime objectives and post-war peace plans. Their joint plans were announced on August 14th through the Atlantic Charter.
August 14, 1941 Atlantic Charter Declaration As a result of the meeting between President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the British and American governments announced the post-war aims of both countries in the Atlantic Charter. Both countries agreed that neither state sought territorial aggrandizement, desired no international boundary revisions contrary to the desires of the inhabitants, respected the right of nations to choose their own form of government, and wished to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to people who had been forcibly deprived of these rights. The two leaders also promoted the equality of economic opportunity with access to raw materials for all nations, friendly collaboration between nations, fair labor practices, social security, freedom from want and fear, freedom of the seas, the abandonment of force, and the disarmament of aggressor nations. The Atlantic Charter became the basis for the Anglo-American plan for peace.
August 17, 1941 U.S. Warning to the Japanese President Franklin Roosevelt warned Admiral Nomura, the Japanese ambassador to the United States, that the U.S. would be forced to take immediate action to safeguard American rights and interests in the Far East if the Japanese took new military actions in the region.
August 18, 1941 U.S. Selective Service Extension President Franklin Roosevelt signed a law which permitted the U.S. Army to keep draftees in service 18 months longer.
August 18, 1941 German Reorganization of the Dutch Government The Reich commission in the Netherlands suppressed the kingdom's representative bodies and established an authoritarian administrative model.
August 19, 1941 German Annexation of the Ukraine The German government annexed all Ukrainian territory west of the Dnieper River, with the exception of Odessa, which was claimed by the Romanians.
August 24, 1941 British Pledge in the U.S.-Japanese War In the event that negotiations failed and the United States became involved in a war with the Japanese, Prime Minister Winston Churchill pledged British military aid to the U.S.
August 24-29, 1941 Allied Invasion of Iran With firm control over Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, British and Soviet forces invaded Iran to overthrow the pro-Axis government of Riza Shah. The British occupied the southern part of the kingdom, while Red Army forces secured the northern half. Iran was strategically important to the Allies for its petroleum wealth and as a conduit to ship military supplies to the USSR.
September 4, 1941 Beginning of German Siege of Leningrad Driving into Soviet territory, German and Axis forces began the siege of Leningrad. The Red Army would not fully relieve the beleaguered city until January 1943.
September 4, 1941 German U-Boot Attack on U.S. Warship A German U-boot attacked the U.S.S. Greer, a destroyer operating off the coast of Iceland. This attack marked the beginning of a "quasi-war" between the U.S. and Germany in the North Atlantic.
September 11, 1941 U.S. "Shoot on Sight" Warning As German U-boots took a heavy toll on Allied shipping in the Atlantic, the Roosevelt administration gave U.S. Navy patrols permission to "shoot on sight" when encountering submarines. The president also warned German and Italian ships entered the U.S. security zone at their own risk.
September 16, 1941 U.S. Atlantic Convoy Duty Owing to the overextension of British anti-submarine assets protecting Atlantic convoys, the U.S. Navy announced that American destroyers and anti-submarine forces would protect convoys as far east as Iceland. The Royal Navy would assume responsibility for the protection of the convoys from Iceland to British ports.
September 16, 1941 Abdication of Riza Shah of Iran After the Anglo-Soviet occupation of Iran, Riza Shah abdicated his throne, and was succeeded by his son, Mohammed Riza Pahlavi.
September 19-October 31, 1941 Axis Ukrainian Offensive Axis forces advanced into the Ukraine, seizing Kiev and Poltava on September 19th. The offensive continued with Axis forces advancing into Orel (October 8th), Bryansk (October 12th), Vyasma (October 13th), Odessa (October 16th), Tanganrog (October 19th), and Kharkov (October 24th). By the end of October, the Germans entered the Crimea and began a siege of Moscow in the north. In response to the Axis threat, the Soviet government moved its headquarters to Kuibyshev.
September 20, 1941 U.S. Revenue Law To provide for $3.6 billion for defense appropriations, a revenue measure became law in the United States.
September 24, 1941 Endorsement of the Atlantic Charter Fifteen countries, including nine in exile, signed the Atlantic Charter and embraced the document's war aims. The signatory states included Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, the Free French, Great Britain, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, the Soviet Union, the Union of South Africa, and Yugoslavia.
September 29-October 1, 1941 Three-Power Moscow Conference Delegates from the United States and Britain met in Moscow with Soviet officials to reach an agreement to supply the Red Army and bolster the Soviet war effort against the Axis powers. The three powers issued an agreement in the First Russian Protocol.
October 1, 1941 First Russian Protocol American, British, and Soviet delegates, meeting in Moscow, signed a treaty whereby the British and U.S. governments agreed to provide materials critical to the Russian war effort for a period of nine months. The British and American governments recognized that the Soviets were in danger of collapse and an immediate infusion of military equipment and supplies was necessary to keep the Russians in the war.
October 5-December 6, 1941 Battle of Moscow Axis forces launched an offensive against Moscow, but met bitter Soviet resistance. The Axis forces were unable to seize the Russian capital before the Red Army launched a counter-offensive in December and pushed the Axis armies back.
October 8, 1941 Romanian Annexation of Transniestria By decree, the Romanian government annexed Odessa and the region beyond the Dniester River (Transniestra).
October 9, 1941 Modification of U.S. Neutrality Laws President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress to modify the neutrality laws to allow American merchant ships to be armed and to allow their passage through combat zones.
October 11, 1941 Anglo-American Atomic Bomb Project President Franklin Roosevelt privately proposed to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that the countries pool their resources and research facilities to develop an atomic bomb.
October 17, 1941 Torpedoing of "U.S.S. Kearny" The Battle of the Atlantic escalated as a German U-boot torpedoed the American destroyer, U.S.S. Kearny, off the coast of Iceland. Eleven American sailors were killed, but the stricken destroyer made it to port for repairs. The U.S. and Germany was now involved in an unofficial war at sea.
October 17, 1941 Tojo Government in Japan Prince Fumumaro Konoye was forced to resign and General Hideki Tojo became the new Japanese Prime Minister and Minister of War. General Tojo was more pro-Axis in his policies.
October 31, 1941 Sinking of U.S.S. Reuben James A German U-boot sank an American destroyer, the U.S.S. Reuben James, while on convoy duty in the North Atlantic in a torpedo attack. The warship sank off the Icelandic coast and over 100 Americans lost their lives.
November 1941 Second Conference of American National Committees on Intellectual Cooperation To promote intellectual cooperation in Latin America, the League of Nations held its second conference on this issue in Havana.
November 6, 1941 U.S. Lend-Lease Aid to Soviet Union President Franklin Roosevelt extended $1 billion in lend-lease credit to the Soviet government to help support the Russian war effort against the Germans. The Soviets could use this credit to purchase American supplies, which sped up the implementation of the First Russian Protocol.
November 15-22, 1941 Siege of Sevastopol The Germans maintained pressure on Red Army forces in the Ukraine. Axis forces began the siege of Sevastopol (November 24th), and captured Kerch (November 25th) and Rostov (November 22nd). The Germans did not capture Sevastopol until July 1942.
November 17, 1939 Arming of American Merchant Ships In response to German U-boot attacks on American warships in the North Atlantic, Congress revised the restrictive clauses of the neutrality laws and authorized the arming of U.S. merchant ships. In addition, American cargo ships were permitted to carry supplies to belligerent ports.
November 18, 1941-January 18, 1942 Second Imperial Offensive into Libya After months of preparations, coupled with the transfer of German units from the Afrika Korps to the Eastern Front, the British launched their second offensive against the Axis in Libya on December 11th. Imperial forces relieved Tobruk and reached Benghazi on December 25th. The Imperial forces stopped their offensive at El Agheila on January 18, 1942, deep inside Libyan territory.
November 19, 1941 U.S.-Mexican Expropriation Settlement The Roosevelt administration and the government of President Avila Camacho reached an agreement on the Mexican appropriation of American oil company property. The Mexicans agreed to pay $40 million to settle American agrarian claims. In return, the U.S. government established a $40 million fund to support the Mexican peso, to resume the purchase of Mexican silver above the world market price, and to issue $30 million in credit to Mexico through the Export-Import Bank for highway construction. Both governments agreed to appoint an expert to determine an equitable valuation of the U.S. owned oil companies that had operated in Mexico.
November 20-December 7, 1941 U.S.-Japanese Negotiations in Washington To defuse the growing crisis in the Far East, Japanese delegates met with U.S. State Department officials to work out a modus vivendi. On November 20th, Japanese ambassador Admiral Nomura and special envoy Saburo Kurusu proposed that the U.S. unfreeze Japanese credits, reopen trade relations, assist Japan in the exploitation of resources in the Dutch East Indies, halt the American military build-up in the Western Pacific, and end support for the Chinese. Secretary of State Cordell Hull responded on November 26th with a proposal which called for the Japanese evacuation of French Indo-China and China, recognition of the territorial integrity of these states, extend official recognition to the Nationalist Chinese government, and conclude a multi-lateral non-aggression pact. Once the Japanese acted on these points, the U.S. would begin negotiations to establish a liberal trade policy between the two nations. Special Envoy Kurusu concluded that this proposal effectively ended the talks, but requested two weeks to study the offer. On November 29th, Secretary Hull informed the British ambassador to the U.S. that the talks had virtually collapsed. On December 1st, the Japanese government publicly rejected the Hull proposals. Despite President Franklin Roosevelt's personal message to Emperor Hirohito to use his influence to preserve the peace on December 6th, the two Japanese representatives met with Secretary Hull again on December 7th, to inform the U.S. government that the Japanese empire had severed diplomatic relations. Due to the complexity of the Japanese government instructions and the secrecy involved, the two Japanese representatives met with Secretary Hull after Washington officials learned about the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
November 24, 1941 U.S. Occupation of Dutch Guiana The U.S. government dispatched American troops to occupy Dutch Guiana to protect the colonies' resources and prevent Axis agents from using the territory for operations.
November 25, 1941 Bulgarian Alliance with the Axis Powers The Bulgarian government signed the Three-Power Treaty and became part of the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis.
November 26, 1941 Lebanese Independence The Lebanese government declared their independence from France and became an independent, sovereign state.
November 27, 1941 U.S. Pacific War Warning The U.S. government warned the British government and American military commanders of an imminent war with Japan. American intelligence concluded that a Japanese offensive against the Philippines or Southeast Asia was most likely.
November 29, 1941 Exclusion of Britain and U.S. from the Far East General Hideki Tojo, the Japanese Prime Minister, declared the American and British influence must be eliminated from Far Eastern affairs.
December 1-16, 1941 Soviet Winter Counter-Offensive Taking advantage of lengthened Axis supply lines and preparations for the winter, the Red Army launched a series of counter-offensives and made some modest gains. The Soviets recaptured Rostov on December 1st, which helped relieve the Axis pressure on Moscow (December 6th). The Red Army also regained Kalinin on December 16th.
December 2, 1941 Definition of Japanese Aims in Indo-China President Franklin Roosevelt asked the Japanese government for a definition of Japanese aims in French Indo-China. American trade with Japan depended on a reversal of Japanese expansionist policies in the Far East.
December 6, 1941 Roosevelt Appeal to Emperor Hirohito President Franklin Roosevelt appealed directly to the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, to intervene in Japanese foreign-policy making and avoid a war with the United States.
December 7, 1941 Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor Japanese carrier aircraft launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet, anchored at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Japanese forces simultaneously conducted attacks on U.S. military installations in the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island and Midway Island, as well as attacks on British military bases in Hong Kong and Malaya. The Americans, caught unprepared, lost a large number of aircraft (177) and warships, including five battleships and three cruisers at Pearl Harbor, in the attack. Over 2,340 Americans were killed plus another 876 were reported as missing. The Japanese, however, did not destroy the American aircraft carrier task forces and left the logistical infrastructure in Hawaii intact.
December 7, 1941 British Declarations of War against Axis Satellites The British government declared war against Finland, Hungary, and Romania for these countries' support of the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
December 8, 1941 U.S. Declaration of War against Japan The U.S. Congress declared war against the Japanese in response to the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor.
December 8, 1941-January 31, 1942 Japanese Offensive against Malaya The Japanese landed forces on the Malay Peninsula and Thailand and advanced southward. The British evacuated the Malay Peninsula on January 31st and reorganized for a stand at Singapore.
December 10, 1941-May 6, 1942 Japanese Offensive against the Philippines The Japanese landed troops in the Philippines on December 10th and began a six-month campaign against American-Filipino forces.
December 11, 1941 German and Italian Declarations of War against the U.S. The German and Italian governments, bound by their Axis treaties, declared war on the United States in support of the Japanese.
December 13, 1941 Fall of Guam American forces on Guam surrendered to the Japanese after a week of resistance.
December 15, 1941 U.S. Appropriation for Defense Congress passed a military appropriation bill of $10 billion for the defense of the country. Four days later, Congress extended the age for the draft to men from 20 to 44.
December 17, 1941 Nimitz Appointed Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Chester Nimitz replaced Admiral Husband Kimmel as the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet after the disastrous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
December 19, 1941 Revised Selective Service Act The U.S. Congress extended military conscription to men between the ages of 20 and 44 to expand the ranks of the U.S. armed services.
December 20, 1941 British War Declaration against Japan The British government declared war on Japan following Japanese attacks on Malaya and Hong Kong.
December 21, 1941 Japanese-Thai Alliance The Japanese and Thai governments signed a ten-year Treaty of Alliance at Bangkok. The Thais acknowledged their debt to the Japanese in light of the Treaty of Tokyo and the transfer of territory from French Indo-China to Thailand.
December 22, 1941 Fall of Wake Island Lacking supplies and facing superior Japanese forces, the American garrison on Wake Island surrendered.
December 22-28, 1941 First Washington Conference With the U.S. fully involved in the war, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill traveled to Washington, DC to confer with President Franklin Roosevelt. The two leaders reconfirmed their joint strategy and worked out the details on Anglo-American cooperation in the war effort. They agreed to concentrate Anglo-American resources against the Axis in Europe (seen as the decisive theater of the war) while pursuing a policy of containment in the Far East. The Allies would focus on the Japanese after the victory in Europe or if increasing Allied resources permitted stronger blows against Japan. The two leaders also drafted the Declaration of the United Nations for publication on January 1, 1942.
December 23, 1941 Free French Expedition against St. Pierre and Miquelon Free French forces seized control of the colony of St. Pierre and Miquelon, two islands off the coast of Newfoundland. These islands had been governed by pro-Vichy French officials.
December 25, 1941 Fall of Hong Kong Japanese forces seized control of Hong Kong from the British, which allowed the Japanese to continue their expansion to the south.
December 29-31, 1941 Churchill Official Visit to Canada British Prime Minister Winston Churchill traveled to Ottawa to speak before the Canadian Parliament and reaffirm the war effort against the Axis powers.

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