ETO - UK: Day 103 of 258 of the Blitz. RAF bombers attack German seaplane bases on Sylt Island, Germany, in retaliation of their bombing of Scapa Flow.
MTO - North Africa: Day 9 of 63 of the UK's Operation COMPASS, their campaign in North Africa against the Italian troops in Egypt and Libya. While pursuing the retreating Italians, British troops take Sollum, Fort Capuzzo and several other crucial Italian defensive positions in Egypt.
East Africa: Day 191 of 537 of Italy's East African campaign in the lands south of Egypt.
CBI - China: Day 1,260 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
CBI - Thailand: Day 78 of 221 of the Franco-Thai War (Vichy France vs Thailand).
1941 — , December 17
Russian Front - North: Day 101 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
Russian Front - Center: Day 77 of 98 of the Battle of Moscow.
Russian Front - South: Day 49 of 248 of the Siege of Sevastopol, Crimean Peninsula.
MTO - Libya: Day 252 of 256 of the Siege of Tobruk. Rommel continues retreating.
PTO - Marshall Islands: Day 10 of 17 of the Battle of Wake Island, aka the Alamo of the Pacific.
PTO - Philippines: Day 10 of 152 of the 1st Battle of the Philippines. Japanese troops continue landing on beaches throughout the Philippines.
PTO - Borneo: Day 2 of 107 of the Battle of Borneo. Japanese troops make more landings in northern Borneo.
CBI - Burma: Day 4 of 164 of Japan's Invasion of Burma. Japanese troops move into southern Burmese territory on the Kra Isthmus and seize Victoria Point, which had been vacated by the British two days earlier.
CBI - China: Day 1,625 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 10 of 18 of the Battle of Hong Kong. Japanese artillery and aircraft continue pounding Hong Kong.
CBI - Malaya: Day 10 of 55 of the Battle of British Malaya. Japanese troops make gains in northern Malaya and are now only 10 miles from Penang, as British and Commonwealth forces begin to fall back to the river Perak.
1942 — , December 17
ETO: US Congress and British Parliament vow to avenge Nazi crimes against Jews.
Russian Front - North: Day 466 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
Russian Front - North: Day 29 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 227 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 23 of 26 of the 2nd Battle of Rzhev-Sychevka, Russia, launched by the Soviets as Operation MARS.
Russian Front - Center: Day 23 of 29 of the Battle of Molodoi Tud River, Russia.
Russian Front - South: Day 118 of 165 of the Battle of Stalingrad, bloodiest battle in human history.
Russian Front - South: Day 6 of 12 of Germany's Operation WINTER STORM, another failed attempt to take Stalingrad.
Russian Front - South: Day 6 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 - Tunisia: Day 31 of 178 of the Battle of Tunisia. US 12th Air Force provides Allied air support.
MTO - Algeria: French Admiral Jean Darlan announces that French Fleet units at Alexandria, Dakar, and North African ports are joining the Allies.
CBI - China: Day 1,990 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
PTO - Alaska: Day 194 of 435 of the Battle of Kiska, Aleutian Islands.
PTO - Malaya: Day 302 of 357 of the Battle of Timor Island, a long guerrilla war ending in Japanese victory.
PTO - New Guinea: Day 29 of 66 of the Battle of Buna-Gona. The final US-Australian assault on Buna begins.
PTO - Solomon Islands: Day 133 of 187 of the Battle of Guadalcanal.
1943 — , December 17
USA: Roosevelt reveals a plot uncovered to assassinate him at Teheran.
Russian Front - North: Day 831 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
Russian Front - North: Day 592 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 - South: Day 116 of 122 of the Battle of the Lower Dnieper River, USSR.
MTO - Yugoslavia: US 12th Air Force P-40s and P-51s strafe a vessel near Trpanj.
MTO - Italy: The US 5th Army captures the village of San Pietro in central Italy after 10 days of heavy fighting. RAF and US Air Forces provide air support for the Allied ground units.
CBI - China: Day 2,355 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 46 of 49 of the Battle of West Changde.
PTO - New Guinea: Day 90 of 219 of the Battle of Shaggy Ridge.
PTO - New Guinea: Day 87 of 162 of the Battle of the Huon Peninsula.
PTO - New Guinea: Day 3 of 597 of the Battle of New Britain.
PTO - Solomon Islands: Day 47 of 295 of the Battle of the Bougainville Islands.
1944 — , December 17
ETO - Belgium: Day 2 of 41 of the Battle of the Bulge. Lightly-armed elements of the 285th US Field Artillery Observation Battalion are taken prisoner at Malmedy, Belgium, only to be shot by a Waffen SS force. 81 US POWs are murdered at what will become known as the Malmedy Massacre. A similar fate was inflicted upon 11 African-American soldiers of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion near the town of Wereth.
17 Dec 44: Aftermath of the Malmedy Massacre: some 70 members of Battery B found killed after capture
In the second day of the Battle of the Bulge, elements of the 285th US Field Artillery Observation Battalion were taken prisoner only to be shot by an SS force.
As soon as the SS machine gunners opened fire, the American POWs panicked. Some tried to flee, but most were shot where they stood. A few sought shelter in a cafe at the crossroads. The SS soldiers set fire to the building, and shot all who tried to escape the flames. Some in the field had dropped to the ground and pretended to be dead when the shooting began. However, SS troops walked among the bodies and shot any who appeared to be alive.
Later, a few survivors emerged from hiding and returned through the lines to nearby Malmedy, where American troops held the town. Eventually, 43 survivors found refuge, some with the help of Belgian civilians.
Testimony from the survivors was taken hours after the massacre. All the accounts were similar and corroborated each other, though the men had no opportunity to discuss the events. By late evening of the 17th, rumors that the enemy was killing prisoners had reached the forward American divisions. There are claims that some American forces killed German prisoners in retaliation.
The Malmedy Massacre, as well as others committed by the same German unit on the same day and following days, resulted in the Malmedy massacre trial, part of the Dachau Trials of 1946. More than 70 Germans were charged and 43 death sentences were pronounced (none of which were carried out) and 22 life sentences.
Jan 45 photo of American soldiers removing bodies of massacred American POWs
Overshadowed by the magnitude of the Malmedy Massacre, 11 African-American soldiers of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion were captured on this same day near the town of Wereth after they became separated from their unit.
The SS troops massacred all eleven after brutally torturing them. Their remains were found by Allied soldiers two months later, after the Allies re-took the area. The soldiers had their fingers cut off, legs broken, and at least one was shot while trying to bandage a comrade's wounds. Another was reported to have had a knife plunged into his eye socket.
These men are now memorialized as the Wereth Eleven.