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Dates and Times in World War II

Attaching a date to an event during WWII is often easier said than done. Our "Spotlight" event for Sunday, December 7th, 1941, is a good example. It indicates that the attack on Pearl Harbor was followed by attacks on the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Siam, Thailand, Shanghai and Midway, in order to convey that these attacks were all part of a large coordinated series of attacks by Japan throughout the region. However, of these targets only Midway Island was actually attacked on the same date. The others, being west of the International Date Line, were actually attacked on Monday, December 8th.

Anyone researching World War II will encounter discrepancies in dates, usually being off by one day. At times a reported date and time will be according to actual local time and at other times according to the distant country reporting the event. Add to it military time-marking procedures used differently between countries, how close to midnight and/or the International Date Line the event took place and even the usage of special time shifting (Daylight Savings Time, War Time, Double Time) protocols and it's very easy to get confused.

To make matters worse, especially when using online sources for doing research, there's the risk of passing along misinformation, which could be as a result of anything from ignorance to maliciousness to a simple typo.

The International Date Line is the imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that runs from the north to south pole, demarcating one calendar day from the next, passing through the middle of the Pacific at roughly 180° longitude, and on the opposite side of the Prime Meridian from which all time zones are calculated.

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This WWII Article was last modified on Thursday, December 24, 2015
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