CBI - China: Day 86 of 154 of the Japanese Invasion of Manchuria.
1936 — , December 12
CBI: The Sian incident in China; Chiang is kidnapped by the Manchurian warlord Yang.
Spain: Day 149 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
1937 — , December 12
CBI - China: The USS PANAY, a gunboat patrolling the Yangtze River in China, is attacked and sunk by Japanese planes, turning US opinion against Japan.
USS PANAY sinking after Japanese air attack, 12 Dec 37
The American gunboat PANAY was anchored in the Yangtze River outside Nanking (now known as Nanjing), China. It was a flat-bottomed craft built in Shanghai specifically for river duty, serving as part of the US Navy's Yangtze Patrol in the Asiatic Fleet, which was responsible for patrolling the Yangtze River to protect American lives and property in China.
On the morning of the 12th, the Japanese air forces received information that fleeing Chinese forces were in the area in 10 large steamers and a large number of junks. The PANAY and three Standard Oil tankers came under attack from Japanese naval aircraft.
The PANAY was hit by two of the eighteen 132 lb bombs dropped by three Japanese bombers. It was also strafed by nine Japanese fighters. Four men aboard the PANAY were killed and 43 sailors were wounded. The oil tankers were also destroyed and the captain of one was killed, as were many Chinese civilians.
Japan and the United States were not at war at the time. The Japanese claimed that they did not see the American flags painted on the deck of the gunboat, apologized, and paid an indemnity.
News of the attack caused US opinion to turn against the Japanese.
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
CBI - China: Day 159 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 4 of 54 of the Battle of Nanking.
Spain: Day 514 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
1938 — , December 12
Spain: Day 879 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
CBI - China: Day 524 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 62 of 81 of Japan's Operation GUANGDONG.
1939 — , December 12
Atlantic: Two German cruisers, accompanied by five destroyers, are damaged by torpedoes from the British submarine HMS SALMON.
Finland: Day 13 of 105 of the Russo-Finnish War. In central Finland, Finnish troops inflict heavy casualties against the Soviet troops at Tolvajarvi.
CBI - China: Day 889 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 28 of 381 of the Battle of South Guangxi.
1940 — , December 12
ETO - UK: Day 98 of 258 of the Blitz. Sheffield is heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe. This night, and another to follow on the 15th, come to be known as the Sheffield Blitz. Over 660 people are killed, 1,500 injured and 40,000 made homeless.
Firefighting in the aftermath of the Sheffield Blitz
In 1940 Sheffield was a city of about 560,000 people that contained many steel and armament heavy industries. The Vickers works was host at the time to the only drop hammer in the country, capable of forging crankshafts for the Rolls Royce Merlin engine which powered the Supermarine Spitfire fighter plane and later in the war the Avro Lancaster bomber. Hadfields steelworks was the only place in the UK at that time where 18-inch armor piercing shells were made. Thus, Sheffield was a logical target for German bombing raids.
As was the case for Allies and Axis alike, accuracy was very difficult to achieve. The majority of the bombs fell on the city center and residential areas.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the city soon after the raids to inspect the damage and boost morale amongst survivors. Prime Minister Winston Churchill also toured the blitzed city, speaking through loudspeakers to a 20,000-strong crowd in Town Hall Square and giving his signature "V" for "Victory" sign.
MTO - North Africa: Day 4 of 63 of the UK's Operation COMPASS, their campaign in North Africa against the Italian troops in Egypt and Libya.
East Africa: Day 186 of 537 of Italy's East African campaign in the lands south of Egypt.
CBI - China: Day 1,255 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
CBI - Thailand: Day 73 of 221 of the Franco-Thai War (Vichy France vs Thailand).
1941 — , December 12
Russian Front - North: Day 96 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
Russian Front - Center: Day 72 of 98 of the Battle of Moscow.
Russian Front - South: Day 44 of 248 of the Siege of Sevastopol, Crimean Peninsula.
MTO - Libya: Day 247 of 256 of the Siege of Tobruk.
MTO - Romania: The SS STRUMA leaves Romania for Palestine carrying 769 Jews, but is later denied permission to disembark. Later it is accidentally sunk in the Black Sea by a Soviet submarine.
MTO - Bulgaria: Bulgaria declares war on both Britain and the USA. Hungary and Romania declare war on just the USA. Britain declares war on Bulgaria while the US declares war on Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
CBI - China: Day 1,620 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 5 of 18 of the Battle of Hong Kong.
CBI - Malaya: Day 5 of 55 of the Battle of British Malaya.
PTO - Marshall Islands: Day 5 of 17 of the Battle of Wake Island, aka the Alamo of the Pacific.
PTO - Philippines: Day 5 of 152 of the 1st Battle of the Philippines.
1942 — , December 12
ETO - France: US 8th Air Force heavy bombers attack Rouen-Sotteville and Abbeville.
Russian Front - North: Day 461 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
Russian Front - North: Day 24 of 59 of the Battle of Velikiye Luki, near Leningrad. This stalemate does help ease the siege a little, but mostly it keeps German troops from being sent to other fronts.
Russian Front - North: Day 222 of 658 of the Siege of the Kholm Pocket, USSR lays siege to the Kholm Pocket but the Germans hold out for a about a year and a half.
Russian Front - Center: Day 19 of 21 of the Battle of Sychevka, Russia.
Russian Front - Center: Day 18 of 26 of the 2nd Battle of Rzhev-Sychevka, Russia, launched by the Soviets as Operation MARS.
Russian Front - Center: Day 18 of 22 of the Battle of Belyi, Russia.
Russian Front - Center: Day 18 of 29 of the Battle of Molodoi Tud River, Russia.
Russian Front - South: Day 113 of 165 of the Battle of Stalingrad, bloodiest battle in human history.
Russian Front - South: Day 1 of 12 of Germany's Operation WINTER STORM, another failed attempt to take Stalingrad.
Russian Front - South: Day 1 of 69 of the USSR's Operation LITTLE SATURN, a successful drive into the Northern Caucasus and the Donets Basin pushing the Axis troops out.
MTO - Algeria: The 1,500 ton destroyer HMS PARTRIDGE is sunk off the coast of Algeria by U-565.
MTO - Tunisia: Day 26 of 178 of the Battle of Tunisia. US 12th Air Force provides Allied air support.
MTO - Italy: US 9th Air Force RAF Liberators attack the dock area at Naples.
CBI - China: Day 1,985 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
PTO - Alaska: Day 189 of 435 of the Battle of Kiska, Aleutian Islands.
PTO - Malaya: Day 297 of 357 of the Battle of Timor Island, a long guerrilla war ending in Japanese victory.
PTO - New Guinea: Day 24 of 66 of the Battle of Buna-Gona.
PTO - Solomon Islands: Day 128 of 187 of the Battle of Guadalcanal.
1943 — , December 12
ETO - France: Rommel takes command of German Army Group B, which covers the entire coastal defenses from the Netherlands to the Bay of Biscay.
[+] show related dates
Related dates (Rommel)...
06 Feb 41: Lt Gen Rommel appointed commander of the Afrika Korps
12 Feb 41: Rommel arrives in Tripoli with his Afrika Korps
19 Mar 41: Hitler tells Rommel not to expect reinforcements in Libya until May
24 Mar 41: Rommel begins his North African offensive
15 Aug 41: Panzer Group Afrika is activated with Rommel in command
17 Nov 41: British mission to kill Rommel fails because he is away in Rome
22 Jun 42: Rommel is promoted to the rank of Field Marshal
03 Nov 42: Hitler orders Rommel's Afrika Korps to stand and fight
09 Mar 43: Rommel leaves North Africa for reasons of health
11 Mar 43: Rommel receives Diamonds to his Knight's Cross medal
12 Dec 43: Rommel takes command of northern coastal defenses
15 May 44: Rommel invited to anti-Hitler meeting, but does not attend
05 Jun 44: Rommel goes back to Germany for his wife's birthday
29 Jun 44: Rommel urges Hitler to pursue peace, which he rejects
15 Jul 44: Rommel writes to Hitler, again urging he sue for peace
17 Jul 44: Rommel is wounded when his staff car is strafed
14 Oct 44: By Hitler's order, Rommel is forced to commit suicide
18 Oct 44: Funeral service is held for Field Marshal Erwin Rommel