December 1941

Dec

11

1941

Hitler declares war on the USA

Adolf Hitler addresses the Reichstag on the 11th December 1941 after declaring war on the United States.

Today I am at the head of the strongest Army in the world, the most gigantic Air Force and of a proud Navy. Behind and around me stands the Party with which I became great and which has become great through me. The enemies I see before me are the same enemies as 20 years ago, but the path along which I look forward cannot be compared with that on which I look back.

Dec

10

1941

Far East disaster for the Royal Navy

Photograph taken from a Japanese aircraft during the initial high-level bombing attack. Repulse, near the bottom of the view, has just been hit by one bomb and near-missed by several more. Prince of Wales is near the top of the image, generating a considerable amount of smoke. Japanese writing in the lower right states that the photograph was reproduced by authorization of the Navy Ministry.

The Repulse is going down. The torpedo-smashed Prince of Wales, still a half to three-quarters of a mile ahead, is low in the water, half shrouded in smoke, a destroyer by her side. Japanese bombers are still winging around like vultures, still attacking the Wales. A few of those shot down are bright splotches of burning orange on the blue South China Sea. Men are tossing overboard rafts, lifebelts, benches, pieces of wood, anything that will float.

Dec

9

1941

Squadron Leader Scarf wins VC in single handed attack

Squadron Leader Scarf flew the only Blenheim Bomber that survived the Japanese attack on the airfield at Butterworth, Malaya.

It would have been reasonable had he abandoned the projected operation which was intended to be a formation sortie. He decided, however, to press on to Singora in his single aircraft. Although he knew that this individual action could not inflict much material damage on the enemy, he, nevertheless, appreciated the moral effect which it would have on the remainder of the squadron, who were helplessly watching their aircraft burning on the ground.

Dec

8

1941

The ‘Day of Infamy’ continues with further attacks

large numbers of Indian troops were amongst the reinforcements sent to Singapore and Malaya in November 1941. The Regiment of this unit is not stated.

Where were our planes? Although we did not know it then, well-aimed bombs had already destroyed them before they were able to leave the ground. The Japs first objective had been the airport and the destruction of the half dozen obsolete biplanes that stood there. Even had they left the ground they would have been duck soup for the Zero Pilots.

Dec

7

1941

Japanese shock attack on US Naval base at Pearl Harbor

Sailors stand amid wrecked planes at the Ford Island seaplane base, watching as USS Shaw (DD-373) explodes in the center background, 7 December 1941. USS Nevada (BB-36) is also visible in the middle background, with her bow headed toward the left.

Gee !, then more speculation, perhaps a happy conclusion to Japanese / U.S. negotiations had something to do with it. Loud explosions made us decide to be elsewhere. We were being bombed, and we were on the top floor. By the time we got to the ground, the building was being shaken by the explosions and wall tiles were crashing down the steel staircase behind us. Outside we found some blokes trying to set up a machine gun while enemy planes roared overhead enroute to the harbour. There were more big explosions further down the hangar line and rubbish began to fly. Such a beautiful day and all this happening “just like in the movies!”

Dec

6

1941

Home Guard prepare for invasion of England

The Home Guard: A squad of Home Guards prepare to deal with an invader by means of Molotov cocktails during training in the Dover and Folkestone area.

The police tried to truncheon one stopped carrier and I could stand the other chaps’ comments no longer. I dropped the damn phone, and my sense of duty, and had a glimpse in time to see the police attack repelled by rifle and revolver fire. One poor devil had a blank charge in the eye at about 1 ft range, and came to our post half-blinded.

Dec

5

1941

Five Stuka’s shot down in one sortie

A later official portrait of  Clive Caldwell in Australia, as a Wing Commander flying Spitfires in the defence of northern Australia.

At 300 yards I opened fire with all my guns at the leader of one of the rear sections of three, allowing too little deflection, and hit No. 2 and No. 3, one of which burst into flames immediately, the other going down smoking and went into flames after losing about 1000 feet. I then attacked the leader of the rear section…from below and behind, opening fire with all guns at very close range.

Dec

4

1941

The British reinforce Singapore

The new British battleship HMS prince of Wales in Singapore Harbour, 4th December 1941. She had arrived with HMS Repulse, together forming 'Force Z' designed to deter Japanese aggression.

Bizarrely each day between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. the whole camp came to a standstill for a compulsory Siesta. Every man had to be in his bunk during that period. I disagreed with this from the start. The enemy seemed unlikely to suspend hostilities to allow us time to rest during the hottest part of the day.

Dec

3

1941

British tanks still outgunned in the desert

There had been high hopes for the new Stuart 'Honey' tanks when they arrived in the desert in August 1941

Closer and closer the German tanks came, and miraculously our line held. Again, somehow, the enemy had been able to muster almost fifty tanks. Against the inferior armour and gun-power of our only slightly more numerous Honeys it was almost enough to give victory.

Dec

2

1941

German families learn of their sacrifice for Hitler

German Panzer III assault gun and tank in the snow on the Eastern front, December 1941.

His heroic death occurred when he was fighting bravely for Greater Germany in the front lines during a heavy battle with Russian tanks. The entire company and I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to you for the terrible loss which has befallen you.