Friday December 13, 2013
December 14, 1896 - General Jimmy Doolittle (right) is born at Alameda, CA. Entering the Signal Corps as a pilot in 1917, Doolittle served in the United State as a flight instructor during World War I. Remaining in the service after the conflict, he became a noted aviation pioneer and famous airplane racer. With the outbreak of World War II, Doolittle began planning the first attack on the Japanese home islands. Flying from the carrier USS Hornet, Doolittle led 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers on a raid against Tokyo. Unable to land on the carrier, they flew through to China where they were rescued. For his role in the attack, Doolittle received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Following the raid, he was given command of the Twelfth and Fifteenth Air Forces in the Mediterranean, before being moved to England to lead the Eighth Air Force. His largest command, he oversaw the Eighth's operations from January 1944 through September 1945. Shifting to the reserves in 1946, Doolittle remained in the service until his retirement in 1959.
World War II - Bombers:
Photograph Courtesy of the US Air Force
Wednesday December 11, 2013
December 12, 1941 - American aircraft sink four Japanese ships during the Battle of Wake Island. Strategically located in the central Pacific, Wake Island's defenses were incomplete when Japanese aircraft hit the island on December 8, 1941. Three days later, Wake's Marine defenders turned back the initial Japanese landing attempts, inflicting heavy losses in the process. Protected above by four F4F Wildcats (right) from VMF-211, the defenders held out until December 23. Unable to defeat a second, larger landing attempt, the island's defenders fought through the day until they were overwhelmed and forced to surrender. Though defeated, the Marines' heroic defense exacted a heavy price on the Japanese.
World War II - Early Japanese Victories:
Photograph Courtesy of the National Archives & Records Administration
Monday December 9, 2013
December 9, 1775 - American forces win the Battle of Great Bridge. As tensions in Virginia increased in early 1775, both Patriot and British leaders began mustering forces. After raiding the colony through the summer and fall, the royal governor, Lord Dunmore (right), announced that he would free any slaves that fought for the British and began fortifying Norfolk. In an effort to defend the city and cut off Patriot support from North Carolina, he directed that Fort Murray be constructed at Great Bridge to the south of Norfolk. This position commanded the crossing over the south branch of the Elizabeth River. Responding, American forces under Colonel William Woodford arrived on December 2. Building his own line of earthworks, Woodford and his men were reinforced over the next week. Concerned about growing American strength, Dunmore ordered his troops to attack south on December 9. Moving out, they were bloodily repulsed by Woodford's men. Beaten, the British elected to retreat north and later abandoned Norfolk.
American Revolution in the South:
Photograph Source: Public Domain
Saturday December 7, 2013
December 8, 1914 - The squadron of Admiral Graf von Spee is destroyed at the Battle of the Falklands. Rounding Cape Horn after inflicting a rare defeat on the Royal Navy at the Battle of Coronel, Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee steered his squadron of two armored cruisers and three light cruisers for the Falklands. Badly embarrassed by the debacle at Coronel, the British dispatched a strong force of two battlecruisers (right), three armored cruisers, and two light cruisers, under Vice Admiral Doveton Sturdee, to destroy von Spee's force. Approaching Port Stanley, von Spee encountered Sturdee's squadron. In the engagement that followed, Sturdee's ships sank both of von Spee's armored cruiser as well as two of the light cruisers. The battle effectively ended commerce raiding by German warships during World War I.
World War I at Sea:
Photograph Source: Public Domain