On December 6, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt approved funding for atomic bomb research. Learn about this and the other major events of late November and early December 1941 in the timeline that follows.
World War II Timeline: November 26-December 6
November 26: The Japanese Hawaii task force leaves the Kurile Islands, bound for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Later in the day, in a note to the Japanese ambassador, U.S. secretary of state Cordell Hull demands the complete withdrawal of all Japanese troops from China. Japanese prime minister Hideki Tojo will refer to this as "an ultimatum."
November 27: With the fall of Gondar, Ethiopia, the 350,000-man Italian army has been routed by about 20,000 Allied troops, marking the final stand of Italy in East Africa.
Believing that Japan is likely to attack within a matter of days, the United States military is placed on high alert.
December 1: In a unanimous vote, Japanese leaders officially endorse plans to enter the war against the United States.
December 4: Britain calls for unmarried women, ages 20 to 30, to serve in public service jobs, primarily on the home front.
December 5: At the end of a massive Soviet campaign that has seen the elimination by death or injury of more than 750,000 Axis soldiers, Adolf Hitler calls for a temporary halt in the offensive.
In the interest of protecting wartime intelligence, U.S. naval facilities throughout Asia are ordered to destroy almost all documents and communications codes.
December 6: General Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov launches a successful counterattack around Moscow, pushing back the cold and starving Nazi German troops. It is the Wehrmacht's first major defeat.
Franklin Roosevelt promises more than adequate funding for an atomic bomb research project.
World War II Headlines
Read on for details on some of the other significant events of World War II, including more attacks by Japanese forces.
Husband Kimmel, Walter Short responsible for Pearl Harbor attack: One week after Pearl Harbor, Admiral Husband Kimmel, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, was on the cover of Time magazine due to the investigation into who was at fault for the Navy and Army's lack of vigilance. Kimmel and Army Lieutenant General Walter Short were eventually found responsible for dereliction of duty. Both resigned, their careers ruined. Kimmel went to work for a private-sector military contractor, and Short accepted a position with the Ford Motor Co.
Japan bombs naval yard in Philippines: Flames rise from the Cavite Naval Yard in Luzon, Philippines, following a Japanese bombing raid on December 10, 1941. Japanese air superiority had been assured two days earlier when their planes caught much of the U.S. Far East Air Force, including a number of valuable B-17 bombers, on the ground at Clark Field. The Japanese followed with multiple landings on Luzon and later Mindanao.
Deprived of his airpower and facing multiple enemy advances, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur abandoned plans to defend all of Luzon. On December 23, he ordered his forces to withdraw to the Bataan Peninsula for what would turn out to be their final stand.
Japanese sink British ships off Singapore: The battleship HMS Prince of Wales sinks on December 10, 1941, after coming under attack by Japanese dive-bomber and torpedo planes off Singapore. Caught without air cover, the battleship was easy prey after a torpedo disabled the rudder. Among the 327 killed was Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, the Far East Fleet commander.
The obsolete battle cruiser Repulse was also sunk in the attack. Despite fears that design problems contributed to the disaster, the battleship's stronger hull actually allowed much of the crew to be rescued -- in contrast to HMS Repulse, which took 513 men to the bottom.
The timeline on the next page addresses the attack on Pearl Harbor and some of the other significant events of early December 1941.