On this day, December 8

december 8
On this day, December 8 | Photo: Cavite Navy Yard burns from a Japanese air raid, 10 Dec 1941 @USNHistory

On this day, December 8, in 1941, at 7:55 am in Hawaii (1:55 am in the Philippines), Japan mounted a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, decimating the U.S. fleet in the Pacific. News reached the Philippines at 2:20 am Philippine local time. Immediately after, at 8 am, Japanese aerial bombings commenced on major Philippine cities.

With Japanese encroachment on mainland East Asia & Taiwan threatening to nip the soon-to-be independence of the Philippines in the bud, the first law enacted by the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935 under President Manuel Quezon was in preparation for a formidable national defense.

In Aug 1943, Quezon formally invited Douglas MacArthur as his adviser, creating for him the position of Field Marshal of the Philippine Army, even while the U.S. maintained its full control of Philippine defense, foreign affairs, & currency under the transitory government.

From 29 June to 10 July 1938, Pres. Quezon had an Official Visit to Japan on a mission of goodwill. He chose to be transported on a Japanese ship, instead of an American one. He also visited Katipunan leader Artemio Ricarte in Yokohama, Japan.

In January 1941, diplomatic channels between the United States and Japan have become very tensed, and Japan showed no signs of de-escalation. As such, on 26 July 1941, U.S. Pres. Franklin Roosevelt ordered the establishment of the USAFFE.

On this day, December 8, in 1941, the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was bombed without warning by 353 Japanese air bombers, effectively damaging 19 American ships (8 of which were battleships), and 188 aircraft. 2,403 were killed, while 1,178 were wounded.

On 10 Dec 1941, Cavite Navy Yard was bombed while a 3-pincer advance began from Taiwan, landing in Aparri and Vigan. On 22 December the Japanese 14th Army landed in Lingayen.

DECEMBER 8, 1941

World War 2 Begins in the Philippines

A few hours after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Japanese planes descend on the Philippines and subject Luzon’s airfields with waves of intense bombing attacks. American forces have known by 2AM that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. However, delays from high command in carrying out orders to preemptively attack Japanese airbases in Formosa (Taiwan) led to American planes being caught by surprise by Japanese forces as they prepared for the said attack. Iba and Clark Airfields are among the worst hit on this day.

Thus, American airpower was effectively crippled in the opening stages of what would be the Philippine campaign of 1941-42 or the Japanese Invasion of the Philippines.

In the days to come, Nichols Field in Pasay and Sangley Point Naval Base in Cavite would also be bombed with little resistance from the steadily weakened US air forces in the Philippines.

Soon, Manila itself would be bombed.

You may want to read: