Germany and Italy formally joined Japan in war against the United States today and Adolf Hitler shouted that the Axis would "always strike the first blow."
Hitler and Fascist Premier Benito Mussolini completed the mobilization of total Axis strength against the Allied powers in speeches at Berlin and Rome declaring that Europe is "impregnable" and that "we shall wage war to conquer."
But before the House of Commons in London Prime Minister Winston Churchill, anticipating the declarations, replied for the Allies with a statement that this is a life or death fight and "we will go forward to victory -- not over Japan alone but over the Axis and all of its works."
An on the blood-smeared beaches of the Philippines and Malaya, in the air over Singapore and Manila and on the vast Pacific Ocean front American and British fighting men were speaking for themselves with the blazing weapons of war.
In the Philippines province of Luzon, where strong Japanese expeditionary forces crashed through a hail of American bombs to land on the coast, an official war communique said that the invaders were being mopped up near Lingayen and -- in the historic words of the marine corps -- the situation is in hand.
On the eastern coast of Malaya, British Imperials aided by British and Dutch fighting planes fought back against a Japanese invasion headed toward the great naval base of Singapore and reported that, after losing Kota Bharu airdrome near the Thailand border, they had prevented any farther advances. The Japanese still were hammering at the Kuantan area, 2000 miles north of Singapore, however, in an effort to gain a foothold there.
British Hold Fast
Behind the barricades at Hong Kong, besieged by Japanese warships, hammered by Japanese airplanes and assaulted from land by Japanese infantry, the British forces were reported holding their ground after having sunk two enemy transports and destroyed at least one company of enemy troops. The Japanese claimed that they had sunk two British gunboats near Hong Kong.
The Japanese, however, did report the capture of Guam, where 350 Americans were taken prisoner, and called upon the Dutch East Indies to surrender because Japan had "broken" British and American sea power in the Pacific and a fight would be useless. The Dutch replied by sending air reinforcements to British Malaya.
Hammer At Axis
British fighting men replied to the Axis challenge in North Africa, too. The Imperial forces, now under a new 44-year-old commander, Maj. Gen. Neil M. Ritchie, crashed forward against the crack Nazi panzer divisions in the Libyan desert driving them back from the Tobruk-El Adam sector toward their defense lines at Derna.
Churchill, speaking to commons, said that the goal of destroying all Axis armored forces in Libya might soon be within reach, and both Rome and Berlin acknowledged reverses.
Reds Fight On
On the eastern front, the Red armies continued to drive forward against the stalled Axis forces in bitterly cold weather, striking to regain all of the Donets basin and recapture the important city of Kharkov.
In the battle of the Atlantic, Churchill said that British shipping losses had been reduced to less than one-fifth of the losses suffered in four months ending last June 30. He acknowledged that American war supplies might be reduced as a result of the conflict in the Far East but he pledged Britain to keep up her supplies to the Russians and said that four-fifths of the human race was fighting against the "criminal" Axis leaders.