Posted in World War II Chronicle

World War II Chronicle: 5 December 1941

On this date, Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo’s First Air Fleet is steaming southeast, some 800 nautical miles north of Oahu. The armada encounters a Norwegian freighter, and to keep the lid on their operation, sailors board the vessel and destroy its radio. Japanese submarines now surround Hawaii as Rear Adm. John A. Newton’s Task Force 12 departs Pearl Harbor for Midway, with USS Lexington ferrying SB2U-3 Vindicators from Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 231 (VMSB-231) to Midway Island.

Having delivered the Marine fighter aircraft to Wake the day before and due to return to Hawaii on 6 December, USS Enterprise runs into bad weather, causing a delay.

The aircraft carriers deployed warplanes in response to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Harold R. Stark’s 27 November “war warning,” which stated “This dispatch is to be considered a war warning. Negotiations with Japan looking toward stabilization of conditions in the Pacific have ceased and an aggressive move by Japan is expected within the next few days. The number and equipment of Japanese troops and the organization of naval task forces indicates an amphibious expedition against either the Philippines, Thai or Kra Peninsula or possibly Borneo. Execute an appropriate defensive deployment preparatory to carrying out the tasks assigned in WPL 46 [Navy Basic War Plan-Rainbow 5]. Inform district and Army authorities.”

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Posted in Military History

4 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. John J. Savage, who on this day in 2008, died of wounds from an improvised explosive device attack on his vehicle in Mosul, Iraq. The 26-year-old from Weatherford, Texas was assigned to the 103rd Engineer Company, 94th Engineer Battalion and was serving his second Iraq deployment.


1783: Nine days after the British evacuate New York City, Gen. George Washington bids farewell to his fellow Continental Army officers over a turtle feast at Fraunces Tavern. Washington tells them: “With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.”

1861: Jefferson Davis is elected President of the Confederate States of America. Previously, Davis served as a junior officer in the U.S. Army following graduation from the U.S. Military Academy. During the Mexican-American War, he raised a volunteer infantry regiment and became its colonel. President James Polk will offer Davis a federal commission as brigadier general, which he will turn down. Continue reading “4 December: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in World War II Chronicle

World War II Chronicle: 4 December 1941

HMS Prince of Wales moored at Singapore on 4 December 1941. Japanese bombers will send this new battleship to the bottom of the South China Sea in less than a week, taking the lives of 327 sailors.

On this date in 1941 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with congressional leaders regarding the “Far Eastern situation” (see image below the fold), while Japanese fleets haul anchor and secretly sail for the invasions of Guam, Malaya, and Thailand.

Meanwhile, the Japanese submarine fleet received the attack schedule for Pearl Harbor. Off the coast of Hawaii, the battleship USS Arizona conducted nighttime gunnery training, and the complement of Marine Corps F4F Wildcats launched from the deck of USS Enterprise and headed for Wake Island. Enterprise should return to Pearl by 6 December.

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Posted in Military History

23 November: Today in U.S. military history

A Marine from 1st Marine Division uses a flamethrower to clear a path through what was once a thick jungle in Tarawa – 1943 (USMC photo)

1863:The battles of the Chattanooga campaign begin between newly appointed commander of the Western armies, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg.

Within days, Union Army​ forces will attack and capture Orchard Knob, Lookout Mountain, and the Confederate works on Missionary Ridge​. The “Gateway to the Lower South” will open, and within a year, Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman​ will pass through the “gateway” en route to Atlanta.

1943: Japanese-held Tarawa falls to American forces despite the boast of its defending commander, Rear Adm. Keiji Shibasaki​, that “a million men could not take Tarawa in a hundred years.” It takes several thousand Marines and about 76 hours to seize Tarawa.

Makin Atoll, 100 miles north of Tarawa, is also declared secure. Continue reading “23 November: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in Military History

21 November: Today in U.S. military history

The Grumman F9F-2 “Panther” – Ensign Neil Armstrong (future Apollo 11 astronaut) is flying the jet in the background

1817: The First Seminole War begins when Gen. (and future president) Andrew Jackson leads forces into Spanish-held Florida to reclaim escaped slaves from Seminole tribal areas.

1943: USS Nautilus (SS-168) surfaces and disembarks Capt. James L. Jones and his Marine Amphibious Reconnaissance Company off the beaches of Abemama Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. The raiders board rubber rafts and paddle ashore under cover of darkness, spending the next several days wiping out the defenders and capturing the islands along with fire support from the sub. The Marine Corps’ modern-day Force Reconnaissance companies trace their roots to Jones’ team. Continue reading “21 November: Today in U.S. military history”