- August: UK Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and USA President Franklin D Roosevelt meet in utmost secrecy on ships in the Atlantic and draft a document that expresses the shared political principles of the United States and Britain - the Atlantic Charter. The Declaration by United Nations is signed in 1942 by 26 governments stating their adherence to the charter and later forms the basis of the UN organisation.
† "Sail on, O Ship of State!": Longfellow verse quoted by Mr Roosevelt in a message to Mr Churchill
Sail on, O Ship of State! (Click to view)
"Roosevelt ... agreed that we all ought to tell Japan where she gets off, but ... stops short of actually instructing the USA Ambassador to do so. I am left in no doubt (without words) that America will not stand by & see Australia attacked. ... R. is a little jealous of Winston's place in the centre of the picture. I tell him they should have a meeting." (Robert Menzies, Diary 1941)
The Longfellow broadsheet of 1941 foretold Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt's dramatic secret meeting off the coast of Newfoundland. Roosevelt used the verse as a hastily scribbled message of support to Churchill in early 1941, when American entry into the war seemed remote. Churchill had it printed, and both he and Roosevelt signed a few copies on the last day of their meeting in August 1941. Menzies collected Roosevelt's signature earlier, on his journey back to Australia. At their meeting Churchill and Roosevelt drafted the Atlantic Charter, the agreement on war aims which was to be the basis of the enduring Anglo-American alliance.
Only four other signed copies are known to exist.
Longfellow broadsheet, also depicting the Mayflower,
signed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President F D Roosevelt.
- September: Nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh forms the Vietnam Independence League, the Viet-Minh.
- December 7: 360 Japanese warplanes attack the US fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii leading to the extension of World War II to the Pacific. More than 2,400 people are killed. The attack ends a long struggle by isolationist forces in the US to stay out of the war.
- December: Japan invades the Philippines, takes Hong Kong and lands troops in Malaya.
- Britain introduces severe rationing and applies conscription to women.
- The film Citizen Kane, directed by and starring Orson Welles, screens in New York.