the Arctic 1941: Attack on Pearl Harbor

By late 1941, the still neutral United States was firmly behind the Allied war effort and even allowing US destroyers to escort British ships and hunt German submarines in the hugely extended Pan-American Security Zone. Meanwhile, in the Pacific, US relations with Japan were being strained by the ongoing Japanese war in China. On December 7, frustrated by a US embargo, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, bringing America suddenly into the War.

Main Events

4 Sep 1941 Greer incident

In a confrontation near Iceland, a German submarine fired on the United States destroyer USS Greer. According to the Germans, the Greer had initiated the conflict by pursuing and attacking the submarine with depth bombs—a charge which the US Department of Navy wikipedia

11 Sep 1941 “Shoot-on-sight” order

In the aftermath of the Greer incident, the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced that “from now on, if German or Italian vessels of war enter the waters, the protection of which is necessary for American defence, they do so at their own peril”, effectively giving the US Navy permission to attack Axis submarines and warships operating within the Pan-American Security Zone. This became known as the “shoot-on-sight” wikipedia

12 Sep 1941 Buskø Incident

The United States Coast Guard captured the Norwegian sealer Buskø at Franz Joseph Fjord, Greenland, while it was bringing supplies to Norwegian hunting stations there. The ship was treated as an enemy vessel and towed to Boston, where the press seized upon it as an instance of the infiltration of Greenland by German agents. Actual evidence of German involvement was lacking, leading to the later release of the wikipedia

? Oct–11 Nov 1941 German base on Spitsbergen

A German Luftwaffe meteorological team established three weather stations and a runway on the northeast face of Spitsbergen wikipedia

7 Dec 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor

At 7:48 am on 7 December 1941 (Hawaiian Time) Imperial Japanese fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes launched from six aircraft carriers mounted a surprise attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory. The attack damaged all eight US battleships present, sinking four, as well as hitting three cruisers, three destroyers, and two other ships. In addition, 188 US aircraft were destroyed and 2,403 Americans were killed, with another 1,178 wounded. Japanese losses were much lighter. The following day the US declared war on wikipedia