The War Before the War – America’s Pre-Pearl Harbor Involvement in WW2

9 Jan

Military History Now

The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor may have officially propelled America into the Second World War, but it would be a mistake to think that the United States wasn’t already fighting in the then 26-month old conflict. Despite Washington’s official position of neutrality, in the weeks and months leading up to Dec. 7, 1941, American forces clashed with the Germans and Japanese. Here are the details of these early encounters (in reverse chronological order).

  • Five weeks before Pearl Harbor and Washington’s subsequent declaration of war on Japan, the German U-boat U-522 torpedoed and sank the American destroyer USS Reuben James in the North Atlantic. The American vessel was steaming from Newfoundland towards Iceland on Oct. 31 1941 when the British convoy she was escorting came under attack by a pack of German subs. Just before dawn, the Reuben James was herself hit near the forward magazine by a torpedo. The…

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