8 December 1941

8 December 1941

8 December 1941

Far East

At the same time as they attack Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces west of the International Date Line attack Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong, Guam, Midway, Wake Island and the Philippines.

No.1 Squadron (RAAF) send six Hudsons to attack the forces invading Malaya, sinking a 9,700ton transport ship for the lose of two aircraft

Great Britain, United States and their allies declare war on Japan

Russia remains neutral in the Far East

Historical Events on December 8

Event of Interest

1777 Captain James Cook leaves Society Islands

Music Premiere

1813 Ludwig van Beethoven's 7th Symphony in A, premieres in Vienna with Beethoven conducting

Event of Interest

1846 Hector Berlioz's "La Damnation de Faust" premieres

Music Premiere

1849 Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Luisa Miller" premieres in Naples

    Gustav Freytag's "Die Journalisten" premieres in Breslau Pope Pius IX proclaims Immaculate Conception, makes Mary, free of Original Sin

Music Concert

1857 1st production of Dion Boucicault's "Poor of New York"

Event of Interest

1863 Abraham Lincoln issues his Amnesty Proclamation and plan for Reconstruction of the South

Event of Interest

1864 The Clifton Suspension Bridge, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is finally opened in Bristol, England, 5 years after his death

Historic Publication

1864 James Clerk Maxwell's paper "A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field" is 1st read by the Royal Society in London (published by the Royal Society 1865)

    20th Roman Catholic ecumenical council, Vatican I, opens in Rome Timothy Eaton founds T. Eaton Co. Limited in Toronto, Canada.

Event of Interest

1874 Jesse James gang takes train at Muncie Kansas

    Aleksandr Ostrovsky's "Volki i Ovsty" premieres in St Petersburg Suriname begins compulsory education for 7-12 years 5,000 armed Boers gather in Paardekraal, South Africa Vienna's Ring Theater destroyed by gaslight fire, killing an estimated 384-1000 people

Election of Interest

1886 American Federation of Labor (AFL) formed by 26 craft unions Samuel Gompers elected AFL president

Battle of Interest

1895 Battle at Amba Alagi: Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II drives Italian General Baratieri out

Event of Interest

1902 Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr became Associate Justice on US Supreme Court

Event of Interest

1912 Wilhelm II of Germany calls 'War Council'

    Construction starts on Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco Battle of the Falkland Island: British Royal Navy destroys a German battle squadron

Music Premiere

1914 Irving Berlin's musical "Watch your Step" premieres in NYC

    Boers rebelling against the British in South Africa suffer several defeats, with one of their leaders, General Beyers, accidentally drowning

Music Premiere

1915 Jean Sibelius' 5th Symphony in E premieres

Event of Interest

1915 John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields" appears anonymously in "Punch" magazine

Anglo-Irish Treaty

1921 Eamon de Valera publicly repudiates Anglo-Irish Treaty

    German-US friendship treaty signed Labour/Liberals win British parliament Salary & price freeze in Germany Broadway Theater opens at 1681 Broadway NYC

Music Premiere

1930 Cole Porter's musical "The New Yorkers" opens at B. S. Moss's Broadway Theatre, NYC runs for 169 performances

    Coaxial cable patented French nun Bernadette Soubirous, who saw the vision of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes, is canonized by the Catholic Church Friedrich Wolf's "Professor Mamlock" premieres in Zurich The Japanese military police launches a violent suppression of the religious sect Oomoto, beginning with a crackdown on the sect's operational bases of Ayabe and Kameoka in Kyoto Prefecture and the arrest of its leader Onisaburo Deguchi. Anastasio Somoza García elected President of Nicaragua NAACP files suit to equalize salaries of black & white teachers Highest temperature for December in US recorded in La Mesa Calif National Football League Championship, Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C.: Chicago Bears beat Washington Redskins, 73-0 most one-sided victory in NFL history first NFL title game broadcast on national radio Chełmno extermination camp opens, 50 kilometres from Łódź, Poland London: Dutch government-in-exile declares war on Japan Russian 16th army recaptures Krijukovo San Francisco 1st blackout, at 6:15 PM

'Infamy' as Japanese Attack Pearl Harbor

1941 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers "Day of Infamy" speech to US Congress a day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor

The USS Shaw explodes after taking a direct hit at Pearl Harbor. © Everett Historical/
    8th Heisman Trophy Award: Frank Sinkwich, Georgia (HB) John Van Druten's "Voice of the Turtle" premieres in NYC US Army rocket plane XS-1 makes 1st powered flight "Caribbean Carnival" opens at International Theater NYC for 11 performances "Marinka" closes at Winter Garden Theater NYC after 168 performances 14th Heisman Trophy Award: Doak Walker, SMU (HB) Jordan annexs Arabic Palestine Jule Styne's "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" opens at Ziegfeld Theater NYC for 740 performances Chinese Nationalist government moves from Chinese mainland to Formosa

Film Release

1949 "On the Town", the film adaptation of the Broadway musical, starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller and Vera-Ellen, is released

    "Tree Grows in Brooklyn" closes at Alvin Theater NYC after 267 performances AL alters its restrictions on night games, adopting NL's suspended game rule & lifting its ban on lights for Sunday games 1st TV acknowledgement of pregnancy (I Love Lucy) French troops shoot on demonstrators at Casablanca, 50 die Isaak Ben-Zwi elected president of Israel 19th Heisman Trophy Award: Johnny Lattner, Notre Dame (HB)

United Nations Speech

1953 Dwight D. Eisenhower gives his "Atoms for Peace" speech at the United Nations in New York

Historical Events in December 1941

    US Civil Air Patrol (CAP) organizes Largest roller skating rink (outside of NYC) opens in Peekskill, New York New York Giants name Mel Ott as player-manager replaces another future Baseball Hall of Famer Bill Terry, who heads Giants' farm system US Naval Intelligence ceases bugging Japanese consul

Attack on Pearl Harbor

Dec 2 Japanese Marshal Admiral Yamamoto sends his fleet to Pearl Harbor

Event of Interest

Dec 2 American mobster Louis Buchalter is sentenced to death along with his lieutenants Emanuel Weiss and Louis Capone

Event of Interest

    Nazi ordinance places Jews of Poland outside protection of courts Football Writers Association of America organized Patrick Hamilton's "Angel Street" premieres in NYC Soviet anti-offensive in Moscow drives out Nazi army Sister Elizabeth Kenny new treatment for infantile paralysis approved US aircraft carrier Lexington and 5 heavy cruisers leave Pearl Harbor "Sullivan's Travels", directed by Preston Sturges and starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake, is released

'Infamy' as Japanese Attack Pearl Harbor

Dec 8 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers "Day of Infamy" speech to US Congress a day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor

The USS Shaw explodes after taking a direct hit at Pearl Harbor. © Everett Historical/

Event of Interest

Dec 9 300 Montgomery, San Francisco opens as new Bank of America HQ

    7th Heisman Trophy Award: Bruce Smith, Minnesota (HB) China declares war on Japan, Germany & Italy Citizen Register reports "Hostile planes reported nearing Westchester" Adolf Hitler orders US ships to be torpedoed British battleship Prince of Wales and battlecruiser Repulse (Force Z) sunk following Japanese aerial attacks off Malaya. 840 men die

Event of Interest

Dec 14 Premier Winston Churchill travels to US on board HMS Duke of York

    U-557 torpedoes British cruiser Galatea Japan and Thailand sign a treaty of alliance Gas/electrical use restricted in Holland German submarine U-127 sinks

Event of Interest

Dec 15 Nazi's transfers 100 Czech citizens, Heinrich Himmler falls faint

    North Africa: allied assault up Italians Gazala-posing USS Swordfish becomes 1st US sub to sink a Japanese ship The American Federation of Labor adopts a no-strike policy in war industries. Sarawak occupied by Japanese forces Dutch & Australian troops land on Portuguese Timor German submarine U-31 sunk

Event of Interest

Dec 17 German troops led by Erwin Rommel begin retreating in North Africa

    World War II: Beginning of the Siege of Sebastopol. 44 surviving crewmen of German U-434 surrender to the HMS Blankney after scuttling their wounded submarine. Two are lost. Japanese troops land on Hong Kong German submarine U-574 sinks Adolf Hitler takes complete command of German Army US Office of Censorship created to control info pertaining to WW II Free France under adm Muselier occupies St-Pierre et Miquelon Japanese troops land on Mindanao, Philippines World War II: First battle of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the "Flying Tigers" in Kunming, China. Chicago Bears Ray McLean makes last NFL drop kick for an extra point

NFL Championship

Dec 21 National Football League Championship, Wrigley Field, Chicago: Chicago Bears beat New York Giants, 37-9 first team in NFL championship game era (since 1933) to win consecutive titles Bears 5th title overall

Event of Interest

Dec 22 Tito establishes 1st Proletarian Brigade in Yugoslavia

    Winston Churchill arrives in Washington, D.C. for a wartime conference 1942 NFL Draft: Bill Dudley from University of Virginia first pick by Pittsburgh Steelers American forces on Wake Island surrender to Japanese British troops overrun Benghazi, Libya Japan begins assault on Rangoon, Burma First ships of admiral Nagumo's Pearl Harbor fleet return to Japan Japan announces surrender of British-Canadian garrison at Hong Kong Japanese aircraft carriers Akagi/Kagu back in Kure, Japan Winston Churchill becomes first British Prime Minister to address a joint meeting of the US Congress, warning that Axis would "stop at nothing" Japan bombs Manila even though it was declared an "open city"

Event of Interest

Dec 27 Dmitri Shostakovich completes his 7th Symphony in Siberia

    State of siege goes into effect in Bohemia and Moravia Nazis require Dutch physicians to join Nazi organization

The Taming of Winston Churchill

Dec 30 In an emotional speech to the Canadian Parliament Winston Churchill states Britain will never surrender to "Hitler and his Nazi gang" and that "they have asked for total war. Let us make sure they get it". Afterwards Yousef Karsh captures him in his famous photograph, "The Roaring Lion".

This day in history, December 8: US enters World War II by declaring war against Japan

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 8, the 343rd day of 2020. There are 23 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 8, 1941, the United States entered World War II as Congress declared war against Imperial Japan, a day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction for the South.

In 1886, the American Federation of Labor was founded in Columbus, Ohio.

In 1949, the Chinese Nationalist government moved from the Chinese mainland to Formosa as the Communists pressed their attacks.

In 1972, a United Airlines Boeing 737 crashed while attempting to land at Chicago-Midway Airport, killing 43 of the 61 people on board, as well as two people on the ground among the dead were Dorothy Hunt, wife of Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt, U.S. Rep. George W. Collins, D-Ill., and CBS News correspondent Michele Clark.

In 1980, rock star and former Beatle John Lennon was shot to death outside his New York City apartment building by an apparently deranged fan.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed a treaty at the White House calling for destruction of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

In 1991, AIDS patient Kimberly Bergalis, who had contracted the disease from her dentist, died in Fort Pierce, Fla., at age 23.

In 1998, struggling to stave off impeachment, President Bill Clinton’s defenders forcefully pleaded his case before the House Judiciary Committee. The Supreme Court ruled that police cannot search people and their cars after merely ticketing them for routine traffic violations.

In 2008, in a startling about-face, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal he would confess to masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks four other men also abandoned their defenses.

In 2012, Pakistan’s president visited a British hospital where a 15-year-old schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai (mah-LAH’-lah YOO’-suhf-zeye), was being treated after being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in October.

In 2013, hundreds of thousands of protesters poured into the streets of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv (KEE’-ihv), toppling the statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin and blocking key government buildings in an escalating stand-off with the president on the future of the country.

In 2014, the U.S. and NATO ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government.

Ten years ago: President Barack Obama rejected claims that he had betrayed Democrats by cutting a deal with Republicans on Bush-era tax cuts and implored his party to back the compromise, arguing it could jump-start the economy. Hackers rushed to the defense of WikiLeaks, launching attacks on MasterCard, Visa, Swedish prosecutors, a Swiss bank and others who had acted against the site and its founder, Julian Assange. A fire that started during an inmate brawl swept through an overcrowded prison in Chile, killing at least 81 people.

Five years ago: China declared its first ever red smog alert as poisonous air quality forced the government to close schools, order motorists off the road and shut down factories in and around Beijing.

One year ago: Puppeteer Caroll Spinney, who voiced and operated Muppets Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on “Sesame Street” for nearly 50 years, died at his Connecticut home at the age of 85. Rapper Juice WRLD, age 21, who rose to the top of the charts with “Lucid Dreams,” died after what was called a “medical emergency” at Chicago’s Midway International Airport a coroner determined that the death resulted from an accidental overdose of the opioid oxycodone and codeine. Actor René Auberjonois, best known for the TV shows “Benson” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” died of lung cancer at his Los Angeles home he was 79.

Today’s birthdays: Flutist James Galway is 81. Singer Jerry Butler is 81. Pop musician Bobby Elliott (The Hollies) is 79. Actor Mary Woronov is 77. Actor John Rubinstein is 74. Actor Kim Basinger (BAY’-sing-ur) is 67. Rock musician Warren Cuccurullo is 64. Rock musician Phil Collen (Def Leppard) is 63. Country singer Marty Raybon is 61. Political commentator Ann Coulter is 59. Rock musician Marty Friedman is 58. Actor Wendell Pierce is 57. Actor Teri Hatcher is 56. Actor David Harewood is 55. Singer Sinead (shih-NAYD’) O’Connor (AKA Shuhada’ Davitt) is 54. Actor Matthew Laborteaux is 54. Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Mussina is 52. Rock musician Ryan Newell (Sister Hazel) is 48. Actor Dominic Monaghan is 44. Actor Ian Somerhalder is 42. Rock singer Ingrid Michaelson is 41. R&B singer Chrisette Michele is 38. Actor Hannah Ware is 38. Country singer Sam Hunt is 36. MLB All-Star infielder Josh Donaldson is 35. Rock singer-actor Kate Voegele (VOH’-gehl) is 34. Christian rock musician Jen Ledger (Skillet) is 31. NHL defenseman Drew Doughty is 31. Actor Wallis Currie-Wood is 29. Actor AnnaSophia Robb is 27.

Celebrating Birthday's Today
David Carradine
Born: 8th December John Arthur Carradine, 1936 Hollywood, California
Known For :
Best known for his portrayal of a Shaolin monk, Kwai Chang Caine in the American West looking for his half-brother, Danny Caine. He has also appeared in many movies during his career including Kill Bill: Vol. I and Vol. II, Bound for Glory and Boxcar Bertha.

Teri Hatcher
Born: 8th December 1964 Palo Alto, California, USA
Known For : Plays Susan Mayer in Desperate Housewives now in it's 4th year whic has won many awards. Prior to her role in Desperate Housewives she played Lois Lane in The TV Series New Adventures of Superman and Paris Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies.

December 8, 1941 Day of Infamy

Roosevelt probably learned that he was riding in Al Capone’s limo after he got in, on the way to Capitol Hill. He didn’t seem to be bothered, the President’s only comment was “I hope Mr. Capone won’t mind.”

On Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941, the armed forces of Imperial Japan attacked the US Navy’s Pacific anchorage at Pearl Harbor.

The President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was notified almost immediately. It had been an act of war, a deliberate attack on one sovereign nation by another. Roosevelt intended to ask Congress for a declaration of war.

Presidential Limo “Sunshine Special”, used in both the FDR and Truman administrations

Work began almost immediately on what we now know as Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech, to be delivered to a joint session of Congress the following day.

There was no knowing if the attack on Pearl Harbor had been an isolated event, or whether there would be a continuation of such attacks, sabotage on facilities, or even assassination attempts.

The Willamette University football team, in Honolulu at this time to play the “Shrine Bowl”, took up a defensive cordon around the Punahou school.

Roosevelt’s speech was scheduled for noon on the 8th, and the Secret Service knew they had a problem. Roosevelt was fond of his 1939 Lincoln V12 Convertible. Roosevelt called it the “Sunshine Special,” but the car was anything but secure. Armored Presidential cars would not come into regular use for another 20 years, after the assassination of President Kennedy.

Federal regulations of the time restricted the purchase of any vehicle costing $750 or higher, $10,455 in today’s dollars, and that wasn’t going to get them an armored limo. They probably couldn’t have gotten one that quickly anyway, even if there had been no restriction on spending.

In 1928, Al Capone purchased a Cadillac 341A Town Sedan with 3,000 pounds of armor and inch-thick bulletproof windows. It was green and black, matching the Chicago police cars of the era, and equipped with a siren and flashing lights hidden behind the grill.

Advanced syphilis had reduced Al Capone to a neurological wreck by this time. By the time of FDR’s speech, Capone had been released from Alcatraz, and resided in Palm Island, Florida. His limo had been sitting in a Treasury Department parking lot, ever since being seized in his IRS tax evasion suit from years earlier.

Mechanics cleaned and checked Capone’s Caddy well into the night of December 7th, making sure that it would safely get the Commander in Chief the few short blocks to Capitol Hill. It apparently did, because Roosevelt continued to use it until his old car could be fitted with the same features. To this day, Presidential limousines have flashing police lights hidden behind their grilles.

Roosevelt probably learned that he was riding in Al Capone’s limo after he got in, on the way to Capitol Hill. He didn’t seem to be bothered, the President’s only comment was “I hope Mr. Capone won’t mind.”

The internet can be a wonderful thing, if you don’t mind taking your water from a fire hose. The reader of history quickly finds that some tales are true as written, some are not, and some stories are so good you want them to be true.

Napoleon once asked, ‘What is history, but a fable agreed upon?” Winston Churchill said “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it”.

You can find on-line sources if you like, to tell you this story is a myth. Others will tell you it’s perfectly true. CBS News reports: “After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt made use of a heavily armored Cadillac that was originally owned by gangster Al Capone until the Sunshine Special could be modified with armor plating, bulletproof glass, and sub-machine gun storage“.

As a piece of history, you may take this one as you like. I confess, I am one who wants it to be true.

8 December 1941 - History


Japanese preparations for the invasion of the Philippines

By 6 December 1941 (Hawaii time), the Japanese had assembled about five hundred fighters and bombers at airbases on Formosa (now Taiwan) for their assault on the Philippines. The task of this huge fleet of Japanese aircraft was to support a seaborne invasion by destroying the United States Far East Air Force, and seizing control of the skies over the Philippines for Japan.

The Japanese were not expecting to be able to employ their standard tactic of a swift surprise attack for their invasion of the Philippines. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor would take place at 8.00 a.m. on 7 December 1941 (Hawaii time). However, because of the difference in time zones, and the separation of Hawaii and the Philippines by the International Date Line, at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor it would be 2.30 a.m. on 8 December 1941 in Manila. The Japanese had planned for their bombers and fighters to begin taking off from Formosan airbases at 2.30 am on 8 December. This timing would enable the Japanese aircraft to reach the Philippines by daybreak on that same day. By that time, the Japanese expected that the commander of American air forces on the Philippines (MacArthur) would have responded to their attack on Pearl Harbor by placing his air defences on full war alert. The Japanese expected that their fighters and bombers would meet stiff opposition from American fighters when they arrived over the Philippines.

MacArthur thought that the new American B-17D heavy bomber (above) could prevent a Japanese invasion of the Philippines. Unfortunately, his inaction during the nine hours following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor caused his air power to be destroyed on the ground.

Before Japanese aircraft could take off from Formosa at 2.30 a.m. on 8 December, thick fog began to envelop the airbases. As hours passed with no sign of the fog lifting, senior Japanese commanders and their staff became increasingly concerned that the Americans might strike first at the Formosan airbases which were crowded with aircraft, fully armed, fuelled, and waiting to take off. They need not have worried. In the Philippines, General MacArthur had neglected to place his command on a full war footing even after learning about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese Attack on the Philippines

MacArthur's inaction and failure to follow war orders causes the loss of American air power in the Philippines

Within minutes of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which occurred at about 2.30 a.m. on 8 December 1941 (Manila time), the news was received at the headquarters of the United States Asiatic Fleet in the Philippines. Admiral Hart was informed at about 3.00 a.m. The news was not passed on to the army. Shortly after 3.00 a.m. on that morning, General MacArthur was informed of the Japanese attack by his Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Richard K. Sutherland. An army signalman had picked up the news while listening to a Californian radio station. At 3.40 a.m., Brigadier Leonard T. Gerow, Chief of the Army's War Plans Division, telephoned MacArthur from Washington to confirm that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese. He told MacArthur that he "wouldn't be surprised if you get an attack there in the near future". [1]

The commander of MacArthur's Far East Air Force, Major General Lewis Brereton, heard the news about Pearl Harbor from Brigadier General Sutherland shortly before 4.00 a.m. Brereton immediately placed MacArthur's only powerful offensive weapon on war alert. Many of his fliers had only just returned to their airbases from the lavish party at MacArthur's hotel.

It is at this point, that MacArthur's headquarters at Manila takes on the characteristics of a chapter from Alice in Wonderland. History records that the Japanese launched devastating attacks on MacArthur's airbases at about 12.20 p.m. on 8 December 1941. Instead of acting decisively to prepare for a likely Japanese attack on the Philippines, MacArthur took no significant action between 3.00 a.m. and 12.20 p.m. to bring his command to a proper state of readiness to resist an attack and to preserve his air force. Whether MacArthur's paralysis during these critical nine hours was due to indecision or the restraining influence of President Quezon, or perhaps a combination of both, has never been satisfactorily explained by historians. From 5.00 a.m. on the morning of 8 December 1941, Major General Brereton tried to speak to MacArthur about a Far East Air Force response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but he was repeatedly denied access to MacArthur by Brigadier General Sutherland.

At 5.30 a.m. on this morning, MacArthur received a cable from Washington directing him to execute the Rainbow -5 war plan at once. [2] It will be recalled from the preceding chapter, that Washington had amended the Rainbow -5 war plan on 19 November 1941 to include orders for the planes of the Far East Air Force stationed in the Philippines to attack any Japanese forces and installations within range at the outbreak of hostilities. The Japanese airbases and harbour installations on Formosa were within range of MacArthur's B-17s. Two of the most extraordinary aspects of this morning were (a) the failure by MacArthur to contact and confer with the commander of his Far East Air Force between 5.00 a.m. and 11.00 a.m., and (b) MacArthur's failure to obey both the amended Rainbow 5 war plan and the war order transmitted from Washington at 5.30 a.m.

Major General Brereton was aware of the Japanese propensity to launch surprise attacks at dawn, and he wanted to persuade MacArthur to mount a bombing attack on the Japanese airbases on Formosa. While waiting to see MacArthur on this morning, Brereton was informed by Admiral Hart that Japanese carrier aircraft had bombed the American seaplane tender William B. Preston in Davao Bay on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. This was clearly a hostile "first overt act" by Japan of the kind referred to in General Marshall's war warning of 27 November 1941. In response to this direct hostile act against an American warship in Philippine waters, Brereton again asked Sutherland to permit him to see MacArthur or approve bombing of the Japanese airbases on Formosa himself. Sutherland refused both requests.

Fearing that his aircraft would be caught on the ground by the Japanese and destroyed, Brereton finally ordered them aloft to circle their airfields. Shortly after 9.00 a.m., Brereton was told that Japanese aircraft had attacked southern Luzon, and he pressed Sutherland again for permission to attack the Japanese airbases on Formosa. Again Sutherland refused. It was not until 11.00 a.m. that MacArthur finally approved a bombing attack on the Japanese airbases. Brereton ordered all of his aircraft to land so that they could be refuelled and the bombers armed.

As a direct result of MacArthur's inexcusable failure to bring his command to a proper state of readiness to resist a likely Japanese attack, most of Brereton's aircraft were sitting on their airstrips when Japanese bombers and fighters arrived overhead at about 12.20 p.m. on 8 December and took them by surprise.

Reflecting the slackness of MacArthur's command structure, radar and other warnings of the approach of unidentified aircraft formations had not been passed on to flight commanders at American airbases. At the Clark Field airbase, located about 50 miles (80 km) north of Manila, the American bombers and fighters were caught on the ground and most were destroyed. Other Japanese aircraft attacked the American fighter airbase at Iba on the west coast of the main northern island of Luzon and destroyed all but two of the American P-40 fighters based there. Half of the aircraft of MacArthur's Far East Air Force were destroyed on the ground on the first day of the Japanese attack. In the following week, continuing Japanese air attacks reduced Brereton's remaining aircraft to a handful of P-40 fighters and a handful of B-17 bombers. Realising that there were not enough fighters left to protect the B-17 bombers, MacArthur ordered Brereton and his staff to take the B-17s to the safety of Australia.

It has been difficult for historians to establish the reason for MacArthur's fatal inaction during the crucial nine hours that elapsed in Manila following news of the Pearl Harbor attack. There was no American government inquiry into MacArthur's behaviour of the kind that addressed alleged failures of command at Pearl Harbor. When informally questioned after the war, the chief actors in the Philippines disaster appeared to be concerned to protect their own reputations by shifting blame to others.

MacArthur's failure to respond appropriately to the emergency was almost certainly influenced by Philippine politics. The President of the Philippines, Manuel Quezon, had been a friend of MacArthur for many years. Despite the Philippines already having been included, without its consent, in Japan's Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, Quezon naively believed that his country was neither militarily or economically important to Japan. In pursuance of this fantasy, Quezon had hoped to steer the Philippines to a course of neutrality in the event of war between the United States and Japan. When Quezon received news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he contacted MacArthur immediately to urge him to avoid action that might provoke a Japanese attack on the Philippines. Quezon's pressure for neutrality was reflected in the orders issued by MacArthur immediately following the news of Pearl Harbor. Although ordering his army and air forces to battle stations, MacArthur directed that the American Army and Air Force in the Philippines was not to initiate offensive action against Japan. The American Far East Air Force was permitted by MacArthur to retaliate only if directly attacked by the Japanese.

Quezon's pressure for neutrality appears to have infected the decision-making process at MacArthur's headquarters in Manila during the critical hours immediately following Pearl Harbor. MacArthur's culpable inaction was particularly damaging for America's most powerful means of retaliation, the Far East Air Force in the Philippines. United States Air Force historian, Dr Daniel R. Mortensen, describes the paralysis at MacArthur's headquarters during the initial hours following news of Pearl Harbor:

"Awakened before dawn on December 8, the military and political leaders at Manila realised that the disaster of Pearl Harbor might prevent the reinforcement of the islands. The shock of the Japanese attack on American territory, and the lingering hope that Japan might somehow ignore the Philippines, confused and paralysed MacArthur and other decision-makers. With Quezon urging neutrality, (Admiral) Hart hoping to regroup to the south, and (Major General ) Brereton calling for a strike against Formosa by his ill-prepared bomber squadrons, MacArthur's command post sank in a positive quagmire of indecision". From Delaying Action or Foul Deception, "War in the Pacific: Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay" (1991) at pages 53-54.

Drawing on the recollections of those who observed MacArthur at his headquarters during the critical nine hours between news of Pearl Harbor reaching Manila and the commencement of the Japanese air assault on the Philippines, his biographer William Manchester describes MacArthur's mental condition at this time as verging on "catatonic". The commander of America's Army and Air Force in the Philippines was observed to be "grey, ill and exhausted." Manchester was not a hostile biographer. He suggests that MacArthur's decision-making faculties may have become paralysed in the hours immediately following Pearl Harbor owing to "overload" caused by conflicting pressures. See William Manchester, "American Caesar", at pp. 230-231.

The inexcusable failure by MacArthur to place American military forces in the Philippines on a proper war footing immediately following news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor compromised the defence of the Philippines. His neglect of his duty to the United States resulted in the effective elimination of American air power in the western Pacific by 15 December 1941, forced the complete withdrawal of the United States Asiatic Fleet from Philippine waters, and paved the way for the Japanese invasion that followed. The Navy and Army commanders at Pearl Harbor were relieved of their commands even though they were taken completely by surprise by the Japanese attack. MacArthur's disgraceful neglect of duty was much worse and would appear to have justified at the very least dismissal from command, and arguably consideration of court martial. MacArthur's subsequent escape to Australia with only his closest staff officers and family enabled him to escape scrutiny of his behaviour at that time. Brereton was posted to duty elsewhere. Senior officers who might have testified to MacArthur's neglect of duty and incompetence as a commander remained in the Philippines, and either died or suffered lengthy imprisonment in Japanese prison camps. Even after the truth became known at the end of World War II, MacArthur had established himself as an heroic figure and was never brought to account for this disgraceful episode in the Battle of the Philippines.

MacArthur was criticised after the war for what appeared to be an inexcusable failure to bring his command to a proper state of readiness to resist the Japanese attack that took place on 8 December 1941. It was suggested that he had failed to obey orders imposed on him by the amended Rainbow -5 war plan and the 5.30 a.m. cable from Washington on 8 December 1941. In his defence, MacArthur relied on the words "..the United States desires that Japan commit the first overt act" in General Marshall's war warning of 27 November 1941, and said, "my orders were explicit not to initiate hostilities against the Japanese". This ludicrous defence ignored the obvious facts that Pearl Harbor and the bombing of the William B. Preston in Philippine waters were each a hostile "first overt act". In conformity with his standard approach of blaming others for failures in his commands, MacArthur blamed Major General Brereton for the loss of half of the Far East Air Force on the ground.

Major General Brereton cannot escape criticism for the debacle that wiped out American air power in the Philippines in such a short time. Even allowing for MacArthur's fatal inaction during the crucial nine hours that elapsed after news of Pearl Harbor, Brereton should have responded to the danger created by MacArthur's inaction by taking sensible precautions to avoid all of his aircraft being caught on the ground by the Japanese. Those sensible precautions could have included maintaining combat fighter patrols over the main airbases while other fighters were being refueled, dispersing some of his fighters to secondary airfields, and withdrawing all of his B-17s to Mindaneo while MacArthur was paralysed by indecision.

The Japanese cut the American supply line to the Philippines

The Japanese plan to capture the Philippines included necessary military action to isolate the defenders of the Philippines from any hope of reinforcement from the United States. Within hours of Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese aircraft bombed Guam and Wake, America's two island outposts between Hawaii and the Philippines. On 10 December 1941, 5,000 troops of Japan's elite South Seas Detachment stormed ashore on Guam and quickly overran the small garrison of 300 US Marines. On 11 December 1941, a Japanese amphibious invasion force approached Wake Island. Here the Japanese received a nasty surprise. The Americans had reinforced their Marine garrison with twelve Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters and 5 inch coastal guns. As the Japanese warships approached Wake, they were subjected to heavy bombardment and were forced to withdraw with the loss of two destroyers and damage to several cruisers, destroyers and transports.

The Japanese mounted daily air attacks on the small Wake Island garrison, and after all of their aircraft had been destroyed, a second much more powerful invasion force attacked the island successfully on 22 December 1941. This second invasion force included two of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's powerful fleet aircraft carriers, Hiryu and Soryu . With three aircraft carriers at his disposal, the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Kimmel, could probably have reinforced the defenders of Wake Island from Hawaii, and forced the Japanese into a drawn-out war of attrition in the central Pacific which would have hampered their aggression in the Philippines and the South-West Pacific. Unfortunately, Kimmel was not a bold commander. He passed up the opportunity and allowed Wake Island to fall to the Japanese.

Japanese troops land in the Philippines

Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma steps ashore at Lingayen Gulf after his troops have secured a beachhead.

Having won complete control of the skies over the Philippines, the Japanese poured in their troops on 22 December 1941. Two divisions of Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma's 14th Army landed at Lingayen Gulf which is located 120 miles (193 km) north of Manila on the west coast of Luzon. They were opposed by two Philippine Army divisions, but these inexperienced and poorly equipped troops were unable to hold their ground against the battle-toughened Japanese troops, and the Japanese advanced steadily towards Manila. The ease with which the Japanese established themselves on Philippine soil exposed the absurdity of MacArthur's boast that his troops would hold the Japanese on the beaches.

December 8 1941

In the book The General vs the President, author H.W. Brands examines the often tenuous but respectful relationship between General Douglas MacArthur and President Harry Truman.

Besides their differing personalities, in the public eye, the two men drew widely opposite impressions. Truman had unexpectedly assumed the presidency amidst doubts about his leadership and foreign policy experience while MacArthur was the beloved general of the Allied forces in the Pacific.

General Douglas MacArthur

After World War II ended and when North Korea threatened South Korea, both men had vastly different views on how America should proceed.

Truman gave MacArthur leverage, but China was drawn into the conflict and the two world powers were nearly brought to the brink of a nuclear war. Truman relieved the popular general of his duties. “With deep regret I have concluded that General of the Army Douglas MacArthur is unable to give his wholehearted support to the policies of the United States Government and of the United Nations in matters pertaining to his official duties,” Truman announced at a press conference. That explosive missive is the basis of Brand’s book.

But Truman, as important as he was to ending the war, was just a senator from Missouri when President Franklin Roosevelt crossed ways with MacArthur.

That relationship nearly reached the boiling point in 1941, shortly after Japan attacked Pear Harbor.

MacArthur and Roosevelt

MacArthur who is in the Philippines at the time Pearl Harbor was attacked feared the American bases on the island would be next. He was right. The next day, December 8, Japan hit hard. MacArthur asked Roosevelt to immediately strike back. Force Russia to attack Japan, he pressed, before Japan can do more damage in the Philippines. Roosevelt ignored MacArthur’s plea and set his sights on Germany instead.

MacArthur rebutted. He supported a plan by Philippine President Manuel Quezon to broker a peace deal with Japan. It was the only way, MacArthur agreed, to avoid a “disastrous debacle.”

In retrospect, Brands assumes, MacArthur was abandoning the Philippines. But there were lives at stake. A defiant Roosevelt dismissed the peace deal. “American forces will continue to fly our flag in the Philippines,” the president commanded, “so long as there remains any possibility of resistance.”

Back home, MacArthur was being criticized for poor decision making.

Brands points out the there was a nine-hour window after the first dispatches were received that Japanese bombers were in the air. There was nothing anyone could do about the battleships in the Harbor but in the Philippines, in hindsight, why didn’t MacArthur order the planes moved out of the way?

MacArthur blamed his subordinates and miscommunication. Nevertheless, half of MacArthur’s forces were decimated in the attack and the Philippine’s line of defense was greatly diminished.

It would get worse. The conquest of the Philippines by Japan is still considered one of the worst military defeats in U.S. history.

Bombing of the Philippine Islands

MacArthur endured attacks from Japan forces by hunkering down on the Bataan peninsula and Corregidor Island. “Help is on the way,” MacArthur told the men. “Thousands of troops and hundreds of planes are being dispatched” he continued, hoping to boost morale.

None of it was even being considered.

The only order coming from Roosevelt was getting his four-star general out of the islands before all hell broke loose. MacArthur had no recourse. It was an order, not a choice. He took the next plane out and flew to Australia where he was to organize the counter offensive against Japan and pave the way to his own interminable place in American history. Roosevelt would later praise his departure, but MacArthur felt like he was abandoning his post.

Before boarding he told the troops, “I shall return.”

When MacArthur did return three years later he was hailed as a hero. “Though not by American soldiers he left behind [in the Philippines],” Brands writes in the book.

December 8, 1941: The War with Japan Begins

D ecember 7, 1941 is the day the attack on Pearl Harbor took place. A day later The United States and Great Britain declared war on Japan. World War two now had its two largest combatants fully engaged. The war would intensify as man&rsquos inhumanity to man scaled new and scientific heights.

&ldquoYesterday, December 7, 1941 &mdash a date which will live in infamy &mdash the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.&rdquo

It was around 9:30 in the morning when then president Franklin Delano Roosevelt went before the Congress to request a formal declaration of war against Japan. He gave a speech about the sad destruction of the pacific fleet the day before. His address was broadcast over every radio and school loud speaker in the country. The nation listened in mourning still dumbfounded by yesterday&rsquos brutal attack. 1,500 people were dead and 1,500 people were injured. The planes, boats, ships and artillery at the Pearl Harbor military installation lay in ruins. It seemed to many an unprovoked attack on a &ldquoneutral&rdquo nation. ABOVE: December 7th, 1941 &ndash Japan attacks Pearl Harbor

The United States had been assisting its old allies Britain and France with weapons and funds since the beginning of the war in 1939. So soon after the end of the Great War (914-1918), Britain was ill equipped to wage another campaign. The U.S. had declared itself neutral and Adolph Hitler had stated on several occasions he had no desire to go to war with the United States. Japan was Germany&rsquos ally and a part of a pact signed in 1940 by Italy, Germany and Japan that stated if a country (namely the United States) attacked one of the pact members they were automatically at war with the other two members.

There are several theories that the attack on Pearl Harbor was planned to ensure American involvement in World War II. FDR had pledged to the American people they would not become involved but he had informed Great Britain that he would support a war against Germany. No matter the cause, the attack the day before was to bring America into the war against Germany and all her allies. Less than half an hour after FDR finished his speech and he request for a declaration of war, Congress passed a resolution to enter a state of war with Japan. The vote was unanimous. A similar vote in the house had only one vote against. Before lunch on December 8, 1941 America was at war. LEFT: December 8th, 1941 &ndash The U.S. Declares War on Japan

American involvement with Japan would last until August of 1945 when two atomic bombs were dropped by the United States on the Japanese towns of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Almost 200,000 people died as a result of the attacks. Japan, a thus far ruthless and determined opponent surrendered and one of history&rsquos bloodiest wars came to an end.

The Beginning of World War II

The nation was divided on entering the second war until the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred. This had everyone united against the Empire of Japan in remembrance and support of Pearl Harbor. At the end of the speech, Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war against Japan and his request was granted that same day.

Because Congress immediately declared war, the United States subsequently entered World War II officially. Official declarations of war must be done by Congress, who have the sole power to declare war and have done so on 11 total occasions since 1812. The last formal declaration of war was World War II.

The text below is the speech as Roosevelt delivered it, which differs slightly from his final written draft.