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Selected: December 31
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1931 — , December 31

  • CBI - China: Day 105 of 154 of the Japanese Invasion of Manchuria.

1936 — , December 31

  • Spain: Day 168 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.

1937 — , December 31

  • Spain: Day 533 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
  • CBI - China: Day 178 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 23 of 54 of the Battle of Nanking.
    • Day 19 of 50 of the Rape of Nanking.
  • 1938 — , December 31

    • Spain: Day 898 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
    • CBI - China: Day 543 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
      • Day 81 of 81 of Japan's Operation GUANGDONG. Japan has full control of the southern province of Guangdong, which allows them to isolate China from the rest of the world and puts them in good position should they decide to take Hong Kong.

    1939 — , December 31

    • Atlantic: Allied merchant ships sunk by U-boats since the war began is 114 ships, with a loss of 9 U-boats during the same period.
    • Finland: Day 32 of 105 of the Russo-Finnish War.
    • CBI - China: Day 908 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
      • Day 47 of 381 of the Battle of South Guangxi.

    1940 — , December 31

    • Atlantic: Allied merchant ships sunk by U-boats in 1940 is 471 ships, with a loss of 24 U-boats during the year.
    • ETO - UK: Day 117 of 258 of the Blitz. British civilian casualty figures for December are 3,793 killed, 5,244 injured.
    • MTO - North Africa: Day 23 of 63 of the UK's Operation COMPASS, their campaign in North Africa against the Italian troops in Egypt and Libya.
    • East Africa: Day 205 of 537 of Italy's East African campaign in the lands south of Egypt.
    • CBI - China: Day 1,274 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • CBI - Thailand: Day 92 of 221 of the Franco-Thai War (Vichy France vs Thailand).

    1941 — , December 31

    • Atlantic: Allied merchant ships sunk by U-boats in 1941 is 432 ships, with a loss of 35 U-boats during the year.
    • Russian Front - North: Day 115 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
    • Russian Front - Center: Day 91 of 98 of the Battle of Moscow.
    • Russian Front - South: Day 63 of 248 of the Siege of Sevastopol, Crimean Peninsula. All further German attacks against the Crimean fortress of Sevastopol are halted for the winter.
    • MTO - Libya: The battle front returns to El Agheila.
    • CBI - Burma: Day 18 of 164 of Japan's Invasion of Burma.
    • CBI - China: Day 1,639 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
      • Day 8 of 99 of the 3rd Battle of Changsha.
    • CBI - Malaya: Day 24 of 55 of the Battle of British Malaya.
    • PTO: Admiral Chester W Nimitz is appointed to command the US Asiatic Fleet.
    • PTO: Lieutenant General George H Brett takes command of US forces in Australia.
    • PTO - Borneo: Day 16 of 107 of the Battle of Borneo.
    • PTO - Philippines: Day 24 of 152 of the 1st Battle of the Philippines.

    1942 — , December 31

    • Atlantic: Allied merchant ships sunk by U-boats in 1942 is 1159 ships, with a loss of 86 U-boats during the year.
    • Arctic: During the Battle of the Barents Sea, the British lose one destroyer and a minesweeper and the Germans lose one destroyer.
    • Russian Front - North: Day 480 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
    • Russian Front - North: Day 43 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 241 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 132 of 165 of the Battle of Stalingrad, bloodiest battle in human history.
    • Russian Front - South: Day 20 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 45 of 178 of the Battle of Tunisia. US 9th and 12th Air Forces provide Allied air support.
    • CBI - Burma: Day 11 of 104 of the 1st Battle of Arakan.
    • CBI - China: Day 2,004 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • PTO - Alaska: Day 208 of 435 of the Battle of Kiska, Aleutian Islands.
    • PTO - Malaya: Day 316 of 357 of the Battle of Timor Island, a long guerrilla war ending in Japanese victory.
    • PTO - New Guinea: Day 43 of 66 of the Battle of Buna-Gona.
    • PTO - Solomon Islands: Day 147 of 187 of the Battle of Guadalcanal.

    1943 — , December 31

    • Atlantic: Allied merchant ships sunk by U-boats in 1943 is 463 ships, with a loss of 239 U-boats during the year.
    • ETO - Germany: Day 44 of 135 of the Battle of Berlin (RAF bombing campaign). Missions are confined to mine laying only.
    • ETO - France: US 8th Air Force heavy bombers hit various targets in France.
    • Russian Front - North: Day 845 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
    • Russian Front - North: Day 606 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 8 of 113 of the USSR's Dnieper-Carpathian Offensive in southwestern Ukraine. The Soviets liberate Nikopol.
    • Russian Front - South: Day 8 of 22 of the Battle of Zhitomir, Russia. This will create a 70 mile gap in the German line.
    • MTO - Italy: The RAF and US Air Forces provide air support for the Allied ground units.
    • CBI - Burma: Day 2 of 99 of the 2nd Battle of Arakan.
    • CBI - China: Day 2,369 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • PTO - New Guinea: Day 104 of 219 of the Battle of Shaggy Ridge.
    • PTO - New Guinea: Day 101 of 162 of the Battle of the Huon Peninsula.
    • PTO - New Guinea: Day 17 of 597 of the Battle of New Britain.
    • PTO - Solomon Islands: Day 61 of 295 of the Battle of the Bougainville Islands.

    1944 — , December 31

    • Atlantic: Allied merchant ships sunk by U-boats in 1944 is 132 ships, with a loss of 234 U-boats during the year.
    • ETO - France: Day 153 of 284 of the Battle of Brittany.
    • ETO - France: Day 108 of 236 of the Siege of Dunkirk.
    • ETO - Belgium: Day 16 of 41 of the Battle of the Bulge. Rochefort is back in US hands. US 3rd Army launches a new counter-offensive near Bastogne. US 8th Air Force heavy bombers hit strategic and tactical targets behind the lines.
    • ETO - Belgium: Day 1 of 26 of Operation NORDWIND, the last major German offensive of World War II on the Western Front. The objective is simply to break through the lines of the US 7th Army and French 1st Army in the Upper Vosges mountains and the Alsatian Plain, and destroy them. Although costly for both sides, the operation will ultimately be unsuccessful.
    • ETO - Germany: Day 104 of 145 of the Battle of Hürtgen Forest.
    • Russian Front - Finland: Day 108 of 223 of the Lapland War. Finland and Russia have joined forces to kick the Germans out of Finland's most northern province.
    • Russian Front - Center: Day 78 of 206 of the Battle of the Courland Pocket in Latvia.
    • Russian Front - Center: Day 71 of 99 of the Siege of Memel, a border town of Lithuania and East Prussia.
    • Russian Front - South: Day 64 of 108 of the Battle of Budapest, Hungary.
    • MTO - Italy: US and Royal Air Forces provides air support for the Allied ground units.
    • CBI - Burma: Day 275 of 302 of the Chinese Salween Offensive.
    • CBI - China: Day 2,735 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
      • Day 259 of 259 of Japan's Operation ICHI-GO.
    • PTO - New Guinea: Day 370 of 597 of the Battle of New Britain.
    • PTO - New Guinea: Day 254 of 481 of the Battle of Western New Guinea.
    • PTO - Philippines: Day 73 of 299 of the 2nd Battle of the Philippines, aka the Liberation of the Philippines or the Philippines Campaign.
    • PTO - Philippines: Day 73 of 73 of the Battle of Leyte. The last pocket of Japanese resistance is captured.
    • PTO - Philippines: Day 17 of 244 of the Battle of Luzon.

    1945 — , December 31

    • Atlantic: Allied merchant ships sunk by U-boats in 1945 (through May) is 56 ships, with a loss of 132 U-boats during the same time period. The grand total of Allied merchant ships sunk by U-boats during WWII is estimated to be as high as 2,827 ships, with a total loss of 759 U-boats.
      Spotlight...

      31 Oct 41: The USS REUBEN JAMES, ablaze and sinking in the Atlantic after being torpedoed by German U-boat U-552 5 weeks before Pearl Harbor.

      According to the War Shipping Administration, the US Merchant Marine suffered the highest rate of casualties of any service in World War II.

      Officially, a total of 1,554 ships were sunk due to war conditions, including 733 ships of over 1,000 gross tons. Hundreds of other ships were damaged by torpedoes, shelling, bombs, kamikazes, mines, etc.

      The US Merchant Marine had no official historians and researchers, thus casualty statistics vary. According to a 1950 US Coast Guard report, 5,662 mariners on American flag ships died as a direct result of enemy action during WWII. Later Merchant Marine reports have increased that number to 6,847 and even as high as 8,421.

      Related WWII Store items...

    • USA: All tire rationing comes to an end.

Day-By-Day listings for December 31 were last modified on Thursday, January 28, 2016
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