Remains of the USS Arizona
Japanese carrier borne aircraft attacked the main US Pacific Naval Base at Pearl
Harbour, Hawaii, while talks were continuing in Washington over Japanese demands
in the Western Pacific. Heavy damage was caused to naval craft - total
casualties were 3000, including 1500 dead. Several key US aircraft carriers were
at sea during the attack and so escaped destruction.
Japanese aircraft also attacked Dasao and Baguio in the Philippines while
dropping leaflets urging the local population to revolt against the Americans.
The formal declaration of war by Japan was made only later that day.
8th December Britain and the US formally
declared war on Japan with Germany and Italy declaring war on the US three days
Dawn, 10th December strong Japanese forces with
heavy naval and aerial support attempted to land between Vigan and San Fernando
on the west coast of Luzon (Philippines). These attacks were repulsed by US and
Filipino troops, but later that day Japanese troops established themselves at
Apari on the northern tip of the island and attempted to move south. Manila was
heavily bombed as was the naval base at Cavite on Manila Bay.
Japanese forces occupied the
22nd December about 100,000 Japanese troops
with tank support landed in the Lingayan Gulf area of Luzon. There were also
landings on Mindanao, the second largest island. That day, a small force of US
marines, facing overwhelming odds, surrendered on Wake Island 3000 miles to the
31st December faced by overwhelming numbers, American and Filipino forces
evacuated to Manila and Cavite. The island fortress of Corregidor continued to
hold out. Japanese forces entered the capital at 1500hrs.
2nd January Manila fell to Japanese forces
1st February heavy losses were inflicted on
Japanese naval and air force bases in a surprise attack by US carrier forces in
the Marshall and Gilbert Islands supported by cruisers and destroyers.
8th March 1942 Japanese forces landed at Salamaua
and Lae in New Guinea. This was followed 3 days later by landings at Finsch Harbour 70
miles east of Salamaua. The invading force was heavily attacked by RAAF and USAF
11th March a Japanese invasion fleet heading
for Port Moresby was heavily attacked by Allied aircraft causing the force to
break up and disperse.
17th March General Douglas McArthur arrived
in Australia to take command of air, sea and land forces in the South West
18th March US and Australian aircraft engaged
Japanese forces invading New Guinea, damaging or sinking 23 Japanese ships.
19th March Major Japanese forces were seen
moving South West in New Guinea, but heavy attacks by US bombers temporarily
halted the advance.
US and Filipino forces on the
Bataan peninsula of Luzon were at last overrun by Japanese forces after an
heroic resistance lasting four months. With the exception of 3500 marines and
others who escaped to Corregidor, 36,800 defenders were killed or captured.
See map: http://www.onwar.com/maps/wwii/pacific1/1bataan42.htm
By April, the Japanese had started to regroup their invasion force,
which had been heavily attacked on 11th March.
4th May US Naval Forces found part of the Japanese fleet at Tulagi in
the Solomon Islands and, over the following three days, almost destroyed it. The
Battle of the Coral Sea, as it came to be known, was the first in history to be
fought exclusively with carrier borne aircraft.
even greater losses were inflicted on Japanese Naval Forces at the Battle of
Midway Island. This battle is generally regarded as the turning point in the
See map: http://www.onwar.com/maps/wwii/pacific1/1midway42.htm