The Rising Sun December 1941 - May 1942

Allied planners had seriously underestimated the strength and effectiveness of Japanese Forces. Allied opinion held that they could not shoot straight, since many Japanese were nearsighted. Despite reports in China, and then in late 1941 the arrival of the American Volunteer Group, it was still believed that the Western aircraft were superior to their Japanese counterparts.

So the shock of the Japanese assault on December 7/8, 1941 (depending on which side of the International Date Line you were on) was unbelievable. The Japanese seemed to be everywhere at once; on the first day of the war alone, they attacked by sea, land or air all over the Pacific: Pearl Harbor, Manila, Midway, Hong Kong, Thailand, Shanghai, Wake, Guam, Singapore, Dutch East Indies, Malaya, and Burma. The Japanese Forces often enjoyed superior numbers and equipment as well as tactics and training, allowing them to move quickly across the Pacific.

Islands fell in rapid succession:


December 8

The Foreign Quarter of Shanghai

December 10


December 23


December 25

Hong Kong


January 2

Manila, Philippines

January 25

Balikpapan, Java

February 14

Paratroops landed on the oil works on Palembang, Sumatra

February 17


February 19

Bombers from the First Air Fleet attack Port Darwin

March 5

Batavia, Java

March 20

The occupation of Admiralty and Western Solomons complete

April 8

Rangoon, Burma

April 9


May 7

Corrigedor fell, ending all resistance in the Philippines

Internet Links

HyperWar: Rising Sun: Contents
World War II: Pacific Theater of Operations: Japanese conquests following the attack on Pearl Harbor (Guam, Wake, the Philippines, Netherlands East Indies, etc.)

Rising Sun Over Borneo: The Japanese Occupation of Sarawak, 1941-1945 Pacific Affairs - Find Articles

War in the Pacific NHP: Liberation - Guam Remembers

BBC - WW2 People's War - Life in Occupied Shanghai - 1941
The Japanese army, now not only controlled their own little sector, but the whole of Shanghai except for ...

Polish Jewish Refugees in the Shanghai Ghetto, 1941-1945

Fourth Marines Band: Last China Band of United States Marine Corps during World War II

Fourth Marines in China - page 1

USS Wake Captured in Shanghai 8 December 1941

The Yangtze Patrol and South China Patrol
Chronology, ship descriptions, maps, links, photos and general information regarding the U.S. Navy's Yangtze Patrol and South China Patrol from 1854 through 1942...

USMC Monograph: The Defense of Wake

Wake Island: Dec. 7-23, 1941
Wake was one of the first objectives of Japan's military planners. The incredible courage of the island's defenders deserves to be remembered.

Battle of Hong Kong - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Fall of Hong Kong

Battle of Balikpapan (1942) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Borneo (1941–42) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Java (1942) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Fall of Java Island, March 1942 (Photo Gallery)

Java 1942-5: extracts from the diary of a medical officer.

Battle of Palembang - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Netherlands East Indies campaign - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The battle for Palembang

Tjideng Main Page

Admiralty Islands in 1942

April, 1942

Shanghai ghetto - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

USS Wake (PR-3) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Attack on HMS Peterel and taking of USS Wake