In one of WWII’s most controversial decisions, Hitler declares war on USA although not obliged by treaties with Japan. USA declares war against Germany and Italy in response, fulfilling Churchill’s goal of bringing America into the European war.
At dawn, 450 Japanese Marines in 2 transport ships (escorted by 3 cruisers, 6 destroyers & 2 patrol boats) attack the tiny US-held atoll of Wake Island, an important staging post to the Philippines (1500 miles East of Guam, 2300 miles West of Hawaii) defended by 447 US Marines and 75 Army & Navy personnel. Waiting until the invasion force is within 2.5 miles, six 5-inch naval guns (taken from a WWI-era battleship) sink Japanese destroyer Hayate with a direct hit to her magazine (all 168 hands killed), seriously damage Cruiser Yubari with 11 shells and hit another cruiser, 2 destroyers and a troop transport. Captain Henry Elrod flying a Navy Grumman Wildcat sinks destroyer Kisaragi, dropping a 100 pound bomb on her store of depth charges which explode (all 150 hands killed). After 45 minutes, Japanese warships steam away without attempting a landing.
Malaya. Japanese infantry under Colonel Saeki outflank a 14th Punjab Regiment ambush between Changlun and Asun, forcing a withdrawal, and then overrun the retreating troops with tanks. When Japanese tanks arrive at the bridge at Asun, 1st Gurkha Rifles disable 2 tanks with a Boys anti-tank rifle blocking the bridge. However, Japanese infantry ford the stream at 7 PM and capture the Gurkhas’ positions (350 killed or captured). At 8.30 PM, Saeki's tanks reach the town of Jitra but are held up by the main defenses of 11th Indian Division.
British troops withdraw onto the island of Hong Kong from the New Territories peninsula, after the collapse of the main defensive Gindrinkers Line.
Moscow counteroffensive. German 3rd and 4th Panzer Armies continue their retreat North of Moscow. Although 3rd Panzer holds onto Klin, Soviet 16th Army captures Istra and 20th Army reaches Solnechnogorsk. South of Moscow, Guderian’s 2nd Panzer Army is also in retreat as Soviet capture Stalinogorsk.
Mediterranean. At 4.21 AM, U-374 sinks British antisubmarine trawler HMS Lady Shirley in the Straits of Gibraltar (all 33 hands lost). British patrol yacht HMS Rosabelle tries to locate the U-boat and is also sunk at 4.42 AM (30 killed, 12 survivors picked up by patrol yacht HMS Sayonara). British submarine HMS Truant fires 2 torpedoes at Italian tankers in Suda Bay, Crete, but instead hits Italian torpedo boat Alcione which is beached but unsalvageable (20 dead). 30 miles Northeast of Bardia, Libya, British destroyer HMS Farndale brings Italian submarine Caracciola to the surface with depth charges and sinks her with shellfire (53 survivors rescued but an Italian General, a passenger on Caracciola, drowns).