CBI - China: Day 30 of 154 of the Japanese Invasion of Manchuria.
1936 — , October 17
Spain: Day 93 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
1937 — , October 17
Spain: Day 458 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
CBI - China: Day 103 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 66 of 106 of the 2nd Battle of Shanghai.
Day 47 of 70 of the Battle of Taiyuan.
1938 — , October 17
Spain: Day 823 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
CBI - China: Day 468 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 129 of 139 of the Battle of Wuhan.
Day 6 of 81 of Japan's Operation GUANGDONG.
1939 — , October 17
ETO - Germany: Invading French troops are pushed back into the Saar region by the Germans.
CBI - China: Day 833 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
1940 — , October 17
ETO - UK: Day 42 of 258 of the Blitz.
ETO - UK: Day 100 of 114 of the Battle of Britain.
East Africa: Day 130 of 537 of Italy's East African campaign in the lands south of Egypt.
CBI - China: Day 1,199 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 338 of 381 of the Battle of South Guangxi.
CBI - Thailand: Day 17 of 221 of the Franco-Thai War (Vichy France vs Thailand).
1941 — , October 17
Atlantic: The destroyer USS KEARNY is damaged by a German torpedo off Iceland. America is outraged, but does nothing.
17 Oct 41: Baltimore News-Post headline
The attack on the United States gunboat USS PANAY on 12 Dec 37 by Japanese forces in China (usually referred to as the Panay incident) could be considered as the first hostile American action during World War II. Although the war was not officially declared in Europe until Germany invaded Poland on 01 Sep 39, Japan had been involved in military actions against China since 1931.
The first American military death in the European Theatre occurred on 21 Apr 40, during the German invasion of Norway. Military attaché Robert M Losey was killed during a German bombardment of Dombås while assisting with the evacuation of US embassy personnel and others to Sweden.
Either the casualties inflicted on USS KEARNY by U-boat U-568 on 17 Oct 41 or the sinking of the USS REUBEN JAMES by U-552 on 31 Oct 41 might be considered the first American naval losses of World War II. The United States was neither officially involved in the war at the time nor did the incidents cause them to declare war.
Dates of American pre-war incidents...
12 Dec 37: USS PANAY is sunk on the Yangtze River by Japanese planes
21 Apr 40: US Army Captain is killed during the bombing of Norway
10 Apr 41: US destroyer attacks a U-boat that had just sunk a Dutch freighter
14 Sep 41: US Coast Guard captures German-Norwegian ship in Greenland
17 Oct 41: USS KEARNY is damaged by a German torpedo off Iceland
31 Oct 41: USS REUBEN JAMES is sunk by a U-boat, killing 100
PTO - Japan: Minister of War Hideki Tojo is appointed Prime Minister, replacing Konoe Fumimaro. Tojo pledges his government to a Greater East Asia program, a "New Order in Asia."
Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, 1941
Politically, Tojo was fascist, nationalist and militarist, and was nicknamed "Razor" for his reputation for a sharp, legalistic mind capable of making quick decisions.
His only real combat experience came in July of 1937 when, as Chief of Staff, he personally led units of the 1st Independent Mixed Brigade in the Inner Mongolia border regions with Manchukuo.
He was a strong supporter of the Tripartite Pact between Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy, yet he accepted tens of thousands of Jewish refugees into Manchukuo and Japanese-occupied areas of China and rejected the resulting Nazi German protests.
Japan had a very interesting relationship with and outlook on Jewish people, which began with the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War being financed by $200 million in loans from a Jewish American banker. Japan soon became an outspoken supporter of establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
By the 1931 invasion of Manchuria, Japanese national policy was very friendly toward Jews fleeing an increasingly unfriendly atmosphere in Europe. Plus, Japan needed to populate their new puppet state of Manchukuo with stable, industrious settlers and welcomed Jews as such.
On 03 Aug 40, a Japanese luxury ocean liner dropped off 82 Jewish refugees in Seattle, again snubbing their Axis partners.
As the Army Minister, Tojo continued to expand the war with China.
After negotiations with Vichy France, Japan was given permission to place its troops in French Indochina in July 1941. In spite of its formal recognition of the Vichy government, the United States retaliated against Japan by imposing economic sanctions in August, including a total embargo on oil and gasoline exports.
As Prime Minister, Tojo served concurrently at times as Army Minister, Home Minister, Foreign Minister, Education Minister and Minister of Commerce and Industry.
As Education Minister, he continued militaristic and nationalist indoctrination in the national education system, and reaffirmed totalitarian policies in government. As Home Minister, he ordered various eugenics measures, including the sterilization of the "mentally unfit."
His popularity was sky-high in the early years of the war, as Japanese forces went from one great victory to another. However, after the Battle of Midway, with the tide of war turning against Japan, Tojo faced increasing opposition from within the government and military. To strengthen his position, in February 1944, he assumed the post of Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff. However, after the fall of Saipan, he was forced to resign on July 18, 1944.
After Japan's unconditional surrender in 1945, US general Douglas MacArthur issued orders for the arrest of the first forty alleged war criminals. Tojo was at the top of the list.
Related dates (Tojo)...
26 Feb 36: Failed socialist coup rewards Tojo with leadership posts
01 Mar 37: Tojo promoted to Chief of Staff of an army in China
22 Jul 40: Tojo is appointed to cabinet post as Army Minister
17 Oct 41: Tojo is appointed Prime Minister of Japan
02 Nov 41: Hirohito gives Tojo consent to go to war
27 Nov 41: Tojo rejects American counter-proposal for peace
18 Jul 44: Tojo resigns as PM, becomes Chief of Army General Staff
11 Sep 45: Tojo survives suicide attempt before arrest
12 Nov 48: Tojo is sentenced to death by Int'l Military Tribunal
23 Dec 48: Tojo is executed by hanging for war crimes