Friday, April 12, 2019

January 7, 1942: Soviet General Offensive Opens

Wednesday 7 January 1942

Japanese troops marching to Bataan, January 1942
Japanese soldiers marching to Bataan ca. 7 January 1942.
Eastern Front: The Soviet General Offensive begins as scheduled on 7 January 1942. North of Lake Ilmen, Soviet 4th and 52nd Armies and 2nd Shock Arm (now under the command of Lieutenant General Andrei A. Vlasov) of Volkhov Front attack southwest of Leningrad. On the southern part of Lake Ilmen, ski troops and motor convoys of Soviet 11th Army cross the frozen lake while German outposts watch from the opposite shore. The Red Army attacks are not strong, but the defending German 16th Army does not have a continuous line but instead a chain of isolated strongpoints. The German generals quickly decide that the 11th Army thrust is the most dangerous because it threatens Staraya Rusa, the main German supply depot for the entire region. Nothing appears too dangerous to them at the moment, but there are wide gaps in the German lines with no troops behind them for dozens of miles. Things could get difficult for the Germans, but it all depends on where the Red Army units head and how far they decide to go. The Battle of Moscow is generally defined to end on 7 January 1942 due to the Soviet offensive.

Zelenograd monument to the end of the Battle of Moscow on 7 January 1942
The monument to the victory in the Battle of Moscow (2 October 1941 - 7 January 1942) is located in Zelenograd, located within Moscow Oblast 37 km northwest of central Moscow at the approximate location of the closest German advance to the city in 1941 and the site of the first mass grave of Russian soldiers. The 42-meter monument symbolizes bayonets carried by Red Army rifle, tank, and cavalry divisions. It is located on the "Hill of Glory" which itself rises 27 meters. An inscription reads, 1941 "Here the defenders of Moscow, fallen in battle for the Motherland, remain forever immortal."
Battle of the Pacific: The Japanese attack on the main British defensive line at Slim River on the Malay Peninsula features some of the most daring and fluid attacks of the entire campaign. The Japanese have brought up powerful tank forces on the western end of the British defensive line near Trolak. At 03:30 on 7 January 1942, in heavy rain, the Japanese artillery begins firing at the positions of the Indian 11th Division defending the main raid south toward the Slim River rail bridge. Major Toyosaku Shimada of the 5th Division then sends his roughly 17 Type 97 medium tanks and 3 Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tanks down the road, maneuvering past defensive obstacles. The Indian 4/19th Hyderabad Regiment under the command of Major Alan Davidson Brown quickly call in artillery counterfire that destroys one Japanese tank. The Japanese keep coming, however, and soon drive a wedge into the Allied line. The defensive line breaks up into small groups, and by 04:00 the Japanese tanks had scored a clean breakthrough.

HMS Victorious 7 January 1942
"Striking down an aircraft. The Parking Officer in the flight deck of HMS VICTORIOUS flagging a Fairey Fulmar to the lift before being struck down." 7 January 1942. © IWM (A 7006).
Major Shimada's tanks then encounter the 5/2nd Punjab Regiment. After losing two tanks to land mines and Boys anti-tank rifles and a third to Molotov cocktails, the Japanese advance stops because the road is blocked and there are dense forests on either side. The Japanese quickly find a loop road that enables them to bypass the blocked main road. By 06:00, the Japanese tanks have destroyed the 5/2nd Punjab Regiment and advanced further south to the town of Trolak, where they face the 2nd Bn, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders under Lt. Col. Lindsay Robertson. The British troops are surprised by the speed of the Japanese advance and four of Shimada's tanks get through their line before the British open fire. The British, with tanks both in front of them and behind them, lose control of the road, and the four Japanese tanks in the lead head straight for the railway bridge. By 07:30, the Japenese have complete control of Trolak and the British are fleeing into the jungle, some remaining there for weeks. The British then destroy the rail bridge, leaving the Japanese in complete control of the north bank but unable to quickly cross the river.

First flight of Supermarine Seafire on 7 January 1942
The Supermarine Seafire, Spitfire fighters converted for use aboard aircraft carriers, makes its first flight on 7 January 1942. There are a total of 2646 built. The first batch of 48 is composed of Spitfire Mk Vb fighters that have been converted to carrier duty by adding an arrestor hook and strengthening the lower longerons. In addition, reinforcing strips are riveted around hatch openings and along the main fuselage longerons to provide strength.
The Japanese now send a small task force under Lieutenant Sadanobu Watanabe toward a road bridge that is still intact six miles away. The British service troops (artillery, medical, food supply, etc.) in this direction are taken by complete surprise, with two British artillery colonels surprised while driving on the road and killed. By 08:30, Watanabe is at the road bridge, where he personally cuts the demolition wires with his ceremonial sword. Watanabe then sends three tanks under the command of Ensign Toichero Sato across the bridge, and Sato advances 3 miles (4 km) before running into two 4.5-inch Howitzers of the British 155th Field Artillery Regiment. Sato's tank destroys one gun, then he himself is killed in his tank by the second gun. The remaining two Japanese tanks then quickly return to the road bridge and await reinforcements.

USS Downes (DD-375) on 7 January 1942
USS Downes (DD-375) on 7 January 1942. Downes was badly damaged during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This photo shows the aft deckhouse as seen from off the starboard side. USS Cassin (DD-372) has capsized against Downes' port side (U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph).
All in all, the Japanese advance over the Slim River during the morning hours of 7 January 1942 covers 16 miles (25 km), effectively destroys the 11th Indian Division, and blows a hole in the main Allied defensive line. The British realize the danger and withdraw Indian III Corps - or what is left of it - from the southern bank of the Slim River southward to Tanjong Malim, a village between the village of Slim and a road junction at Kuala Kubu.

With the British defenses further north being savaged, the British in Singapore know they are in trouble. General Archibald Wavell, commander of the entire British-held region centered in India, arrives in Singapore on an inspection tour. He tours the north side of the island with chief engineer Brigadier Ivan Simpson and learns that no island defenses have been prepared. When he queries local commander Lieutenant General Arthur Percival about this, Percival responds that he thinks building defenses would be bad for morale. Wavell immediately orders Percival to begin building defenses on the north side of the island and to prepare to destroy the causeway connecting it to the mainland. Percival pays lip service to Wavell's order but after this meeting does virtually nothing to prepare for a Japanese attack on the island.

HMS Victorious 7 January 1942
"Commander (F) H C Ranald testing the running up of fighter planes with a stopwatch in hand on the flight deck of HMS VICTORIOUS." 7 January 1942 © IWM (A 7008).
In the Philippines, the Battle of Bataan begins. United States Army and Filipino Army forces in Luzon abandon their switch position at Layac Junction on 7 January 1942. They now withdraw into the Main Line of Resistance (MLR) which is about 20 miles (32 km) long. The MLR extends from Mauban on the west to Mabatang on the east. There is an Outpost Line (OPL) is being maintained forward of the MLR. North Luzon Force now becomes 1 Corps (22,500 men of 1st, 31st, 71st, and 91st Divisions, all Philippine Army (PA), 26th Cavalry Philippine Scouts (PS), miscellaneous troops, and supporting weapons) and defends the western half of the MLR. The Bataan Defense Force becomes II Corps (25,000 men of the 11st, 21st, 41st, and 51st Divisions (all PA), the 57th Infantry (PS) of the Philippine Division, and supporting weapons.) and takes the right half of the MLR.

Sailors aboard FFS Indo Chinois, 7 January 1942
"Members of the crew giving the "V" for Victory sign." FFS Indo Chinois, 7 January 1942. © IWM (A 7015).
The Allies rely on a defense in depth. Behind the MLR is another defensive line composed of U.S. Army Forces, the Far East (USAFFE) reserve, i.e., the U.S. Philippine Division, less the 57th Infantry Regiment; a tank group; and a self-propelled mount group. This completes the Allied retreat into the Bataan Peninsula. There is a Service Command Area located at the southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula below the Mariveles Mountains. This rear area is the responsibility of Brigadier General A. C. McBride and is policed by the newly formed 2d Division Philippine Constabulary.

HMS Victorious 7 January 1942
"Commander (F) H C Ranald testing the running up of fighter planes with a stopwatch in hand on the flight deck of HMS VICTORIOUS." 7 January 1942. © IWM (A 7008).
Battle of the Mediterranean: British patrols find that the Germans have abandoned Agedabia. The first Royal Navy convoy from Alexandria to Benghazi arrives safely despite high seas.

Western Front: RAF Bomber Command continues its attacks on German warships at anchor in harbors along the French coast. While they have attacked Cherbourg Harbor during the past two nights, today the British switch to Wellington bomber attacks on warships at Brest and St. Nazaire. Neither attack causes much damage, but the Germans are on notice that the British are determined to eliminate the Kriegsmarine surface ships parked on the French Atlantic coast.

The Orange Leader of Orange, Texas, 7 January 1942
The Orange Leader of Orange, Texas headlines President Roosevelt's budget request for fiscal 1943.
US Government: Having previewed his plans during his State of the Union address on 6 January 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt submits his budget for fiscal 1943 (the fiscal year begins on 1 October 1942). This budget requests the expenditure of $77 billion over the next 18 months, $56 billion of which is for the war effort. The budget plan calls for the production of 125,000 aircraft, 75,000 tanks, 35,000 guns and 8 million tons of shipping by the end of 1943. These are all outlandish amounts that have never been contemplated, let alone requested, by any administration in the past. However, Roosevelt's party controls Congress and is certain to pass the budget, and everyone is united in a determination to spend whatever it takes to win the war.

Future History: Vasily Alekseyev, the strongest man in the world during the 1970s, is born in Pokrovo-Shishkino, Ryazan Oblast, Russia. He begins practicing weightlifting at the age of 18 and does everything necessary to increase his weightlifting prowess, including gaining weight. Alekseyev sets his first world record in January 1970, encouraged by bonus funds granted by the Soviet government. He goes on to win Gold Medals at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics. Alekseyev retires after performing poorly at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and later goes into politics. Vasily Alekseyev passes away on 25 November 2011 at a German clinic from heart problems after having become one of the great international sports celebrities of the Soviet era.

"Babes on Broadway" tops the United States film box office on 7 January 1942
"Babes on Broadway" (1941) starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland is the number one grossing film in the United States for the week of 7 January 1942. It comes in ahead of Bob Hope's "Louisiana Purchase."
German Homefront: Although the "Winter Relief Drive" got off to a very late start, the German newsreel "Die Deutsche Wochenschau" for 7 January 1942 is devoted largely to scenes of collecting and distributing winter clothing. There are many happy scenes of happy citizens donating clothing and happy men receiving it. The newsreel announcer notes that "Gifts for soldiers in the East show the unique solidarity between the homeland and the front." It further points out that "only the best wardrobe is good enough for the troops." There are also happy scenes of soldiers at the front building toy airplanes, happily learning to ski, and returning happily from Luftwaffe reconnaissance missions. While much clothing is being collected, little is making its way to the front because of lack of train space, and few soldiers at the front are smiling as they are attacked by the Red Army and losing digits and limbs to frostbite. Still, the battle is going well: "Whoever [on the other side] is not taken dead is taken alive," the announcer proudly states.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

January 6, 1942: US Army in Europe

Tuesday 6 January 1942

President Roosevelt gives his State of the Union speech, 6 January 1942
President Roosevelt gives his State of the Union Address to a Joint Session of Congress on 6 January 1942.
Battle of the Pacific: Japanese pressure on Commonwealth troops defending the Slim River line continues on 6 January 1942. The Indian 11th Division has to defend both its north-facing main front on the western half of the Malay Peninsula and also its rear line of communications because Japanese forces have infiltrated behind it. The Indian 6/15 Brigade Group reaches the Batang Berjuntai area in an attempt to block one this flanking move. Here, south of the Selangor River, they dig in to oppose a Japanese advance from the west. Meanwhile, on the eastern side of the Malay Peninsula, the British Kuantan Force withdraws through Jerantut after dark and moves west toward Raub.

Artillery in action in North Africa, 6 January 1942
Artillery in action in North Africa, 6 January 1942.
In the Philippines, the Allied troops have withdrawn to a short line across the neck of the Bataan Peninsula. The Main Battle Line runs from Abucay to Mount Natib to Mauban. The Allies have a switch position south of Layac Junction, and Japanese attacks today take Dinalupihan after the Allies evacuate it. The Japanese have brought up artillery which is made more effective by their dominance in the air, where Japanese observers act as artillery spotters. During the day, Major Toyosaku Shimada brings his assault force of about 17 Type 97 medium tanks and 3 Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tanks forward. He requests permission for a night attack, which is unusual in the Japanese Army, and the local commander, Colonel Ando, approves the request. This will be a head-on assault, not a flanking attack and with no diversions, which also is unusual. The attack is planned for 03:30 on 7 January. Elsewhere, a week-long Japanese aerial campaign against the fortress island of Corregidor ends with little to show for it, as the island's extensive pre-war fortifications are mainly deep underground and remain undamaged.

In the Netherlands East Indies, a Japanese amphibious force lands at Brunei Bay, British Borneo. Seven Japanese flying boats attack Ambon Island's Laha Airfield during the night, scoring hits on two RAAF Hudson and a Brewster Buffalo.

Gene Tierney on the cover of Pic Magazine, 6 January 1942
Gene Tierney on the cover of Pic Magazine, 6 January 1942. She is promoting "The Shanghai Gesture" (1941), an early film about (among other things) addiction.
The Second Marine Brigade of the United States Marines under the command of General Henry L. Larsen has been ordered to transfer to Pago Pago, American Samoa. The Marines board Matson Line passenger liners which recently have been used to evacuate non-essential military personnel and civilians from the Hawaiian Islands. The liners are SS Lurline, Matsonia, and Monterey, and they are accompanied by freighter USS Jupiter and ammunition ship Lassen. US Navy Task Force 17, which includes aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, heavy cruiser Louisville, light cruiser St. Louis, and three destroyers, serves as the Marines' escort.

German surrender of Bardia, 6 January 1942
"Bardia, Cyrenaica, Libya. 6 January 1942. Aerial view taken on the day that Bardia fell shows a long line of prisoners stretching down the road being rounded up by the Allied land forces and transported in the back of trucks." Australian War Memorial MED0280.
Japanese submarine I-7 remains lurking off Hawaii as it has since the war began. It sent its seaplane on a daring reconnaissance mission over Pearl Harbor on 18 December, and today it sends it on another mission over the US naval base after dark. The Americans never detect either flight and do not even know that they happened until after the war.

Religious service in Kharkov, 6 January 1942
Christmas service (January 6, 1942) in the monastery church in Kharkov (Herber, Federal Archive Bild 183-B16165).
Eastern Front: The Soviets have committed to a General Offensive beginning on 7 January, so 6 January is fairly quiet as they position their troops and plan their strategy. The German position outside Moscow is more tenuous than it appears on a map because it is composed of often isolated groupings connected by long stretches of vulnerable roads and railways. Fourth Army, for instance, relies on one good road - the Rollbahn - for virtually all of its supplies Yukhnov. The road runs parallel to the front and the Red Army is only a few miles away from it. The Fourth Army chief of staff already has noted to OKH operations chief General Franz Halder that "If the Russian thrust gets through to it, it will be deadly." It would only require an advance of a few miles there and elsewhere for the Red Army to cause the Wehrmacht extreme problems that could lead to catastrophic losses. However, the Soviet effort could come to little if the attacks are poorly made or in the wrong places, so the degree of success depends upon good execution and clever strategy.

Vice Admiral James Somerville, 6 January 1942
"Vice Admiral Sir James Somerville, KCB, DSO, leaving HMS HERMIONE." This was following Somerville's Farewell Address on 6 January 1942. Somerville, commander of Force H, has been appointed  Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet with his flag in the battleship HMS Warspite. © IWM (A 6851).
Western Front: After dark, RAF Bomber Command sends another attack against the German warships at Cherbourg. The 31 Wellington bombers score a close miss on heavy cruiser Gneisenau that floods two compartments. A couple of the bombers bomb the port facilities. In other attacks, 11 Whitley bombers attack Stavanger Airfield in southern Norway and small groups of Hampden bombers attack a potpourri of German cities: five bomb Essen, three attack Munster, two each hit Cologne and Emden, and one each attack Aachen and Oldenburg.

US Army V Corps begins operation in Europe on 6 January 1942
"V Corps Operations in the ETO: 6 Jan. 1942 - 9 May 1945" by Lt. Col. Edgar Wilkerson et al chronicles the experiences of the first US Army troops deployed to Europe during World War II. 
V Corps of the United States Army deploys the first American soldiers to the European Theater of Operations today. This force is known as the U.S. Army Northern Ireland Force or MAGNET. The V Corps troops are fated to be in the first wave on Omaha Beach on 6 June 1944.

Bardia, North Africa, 6 January 1942
"Bardia, Cyrenaica, Libya. 6 January 1942. Aerial view of Bardia taken on the day that the town was re-captured by Allied forces. The town sits on the end of a high and long rocky outcrop." Australian War Memorial MED0281.
Battle of the Mediterranean: The final surrender of the isolated Axis garrison of Bardia in North Africa, already agreed to, concludes today. The last of about 7000 Axis troops march into captivity. Other Axis troops remain nearby in Halfaya Pass, but they have little hope of relief and are running out of basic necessities like food and water.

German POWs arrive at Greenock, 6 January 1942
"U-boat prisoners being landed from a tender. They are wearing clothing supplied by their captors." Greenock, 6 January 1942. © IWM (A 7073).
US/Chinese Relations: The recent Tulsa Incident in Rangoon, which badly strained Allied relations in the Far East, has been resolved to China's satisfaction. This has been due to US Secretary of State Cordell Hull intervening in a local dispute in which a British officer ordered the confiscation of US Lend-Lease supplies intended for China by declaring that they are Chinese property and not subject to confiscation. The US then nominated Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek as Supreme Commander of an Allied China Theater. To return the favor, Chiang requests that a senior US officer act as his chief of staff. Chiang remains very upset at the British for their attempt to take "his" supplies, so this is both a gesture of gratitude toward the Americans and a slap at the British, who actually maintain a vastly greater presence in the Theater.

Bf-109s of JG 77, 6 January 1942
Messerschmitt Bf 109Es of I.(J)/LG 2) of JG 77 at Kecskemét Airfield, Hungary 1941. The nearest plane is that of Hauptmann Herbert Ihlefeld, Gruppenkommandeur of this unit during the period 30 August 1940 – 6 January 1942, until the squadron was reorganized and he took over I./JG 77. Ihlefeld became an "ace in a day" on 30 August 1940. While Ihlefeld was in command of I./JG 77, the unit was credited with 323 enemy aircraft downed for the loss of only 17 Bf 109s. If you look closely, you can see the victory markings on the tail of Ihlefeld's plane.
US Government: President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his annual State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress. He begins by noting the country's determination to win the war:
In fulfilling my duty to report upon the State of the Union, I am proud to say to you that the spirit of the American people was never higher than it is today—the Union was never more closely knit together—this country was never more deeply determined to face the solemn tasks before it.
This is the President's first speech to Congress since the war began, and he calls for massive new spending. The President's budget for the Fiscal Year 1943, which begins on October 1, 1942, is $59 billion. This will fund the construction of 45,000 aircraft, 45,000 tanks, 20,000 antiaircraft guns, and 8 million tons of new shipping. The figures are all unprecedented, but Roosevelt says they are necessary:
These figures and similar figures for a multitude of other implements of war will give the Japanese and Nazis a little idea of just what they accomplished.
Roosevelt's requests are certain to be passed, as his party has healthy majorities in both houses of Congress and the nation is gripped by a patriotic determination to win the war at any cost.

USS Wharton, 6 January 1942
The U.S. Navy troop transport USS Wharton (AP-7) off the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California (USA), 6 January 1942. Photograph 19-N-26645 from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives.
American Homefront: The issue of what to do about Japanese-Americans remains a very hot topic on the West Coast of the United States. Congressman Leland Ford of California sends a telegram to US Secretary of State Cordell Hull requesting their internment, stating:
I do not believe that we could be any too strict in our consideration of the Japanese in the face of the treacherous way in which they do things.
Congressman Ford's feelings are shared by many who greatly fear attacks from Japan such as those experienced at Pearl Harbor.

Pan American Airways Boeing B-314A, MSN 2083, registered NC18609 and named "Pacific Clipper." arrives in New York City after making an unprecedented journey for a commercial flight. Having flown from the United States to Auckland, New Zealand before the war, the Pacific Clipper was directed to fly back across the Indian Ocean rather than return across the unsafe Pacific (which typically would include stops at Midway and Wake Islands). The plane's journey totals 31,500 miles via Australia, the East Indies, India, Africa, South America, and Trinidad.

French soprano Emma Calve passes away on 6 January 1942
Emma Calvé.
French Homefront: French soprano Emma Calvé (15 August 1858-6 January 1942), perhaps the most famous French female opera singer of the Belle Époque, passes away in a clinic in Montpelier, aged 83.

Ecran Magazine, Chile, 6 January 1942
Ecran Magazine, Chile, 6 January 1942.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

January 5, 1942: Soviets Plan General Offensive

Monday 5 January 1942

Bomber pilots on a mission to Halfaya in North Africa, 5 January 1942
"Western Desert, Egypt. 5 January 1942. En route to a raid on Halfaya, this pilot of a Bristol Blenheim bomber aircraft looks through his gunsight as the raiding aircraft sweep down on the isolated Axis positions. Ceaseless attacks are being carried out by RAF and Free French squadrons." Australian War Memorial MED0297
Eastern Front: The Soviet leaders have been greatly surprised by the success of the counterattack around Moscow that began in early December 1941. On 5 January 1942, the political and military leaders make plans to convert the counteroffensive into a general offensive that will liberate vast sections of Soviet territory. After dark, the Politburo (political) members meet with Stavka (military) members to discuss a drive not only to relieve pressure on Moscow, but also to liberate Leningrad, the Donets Basin, and the Crimea. While the offensives in the Crimea and around Moscow already are in progress, the ones near Leningrad and in the Donets Basin are scheduled to begin on 7 January 1942 for the former and in two weeks for the latter.

Borger Daily Herald, 5 January 1942
Borger Daily Herald (Borger, Tex.), Vol. 16, No. 38, Ed. 1 Monday, January 5, 1942. The Daily Herald headline correctly reads, "Hitler and His Generals Split as Russian Campaign Back-Fires." 
Stalin presides over the meeting, as usual, and notes the reason for expanding the offensive:
The Germans are in confusion as a result of their setback at Moscow. They are badly prepared for winter. Now is the best moment to over to the general offensive.
Stalin then asks General Georgy Zhukov to speak, apparently without coordinating what Zhukov should say beforehand. Surprisingly, Zhukov disagrees with Stalin, which is extremely unusual, particularly in such an open setting. Zhukov contends that the entire effort should be made in the center of the front around Moscow and not dispersed to other areas. Another official present, member of the State Defense Committee and chief of war production Nikolai Voznesensky, then is asked to speak and basically supports Zhukov, not Stalin. Voznesensky notes that there would not be enough ammunition and weapons to sustain offensives in different places, so only one area should be chosen. It is an extraordinary display of independence among people in very vulnerable positions.

An article about the US Navy in Life magazine 5 January 1942
Images from a 5 January 1942 Life magazine article on life in the US Navy after Pearl Harbor.
However, Stalin is not upset, but he does have the last word. He concludes by saying:
We must pound the Germans to pieces as soon as possible so they won't be able to mount an offensive in the spring.
Stalin's plan for a general offensive in multiple places is adopted. Some members present at the meeting are surprised that Zhukov took a different position than Stalin. Martial Boris Shaposhnikov pulls Zhukov aside and chastises him for disagreeing because "the supreme commander had that question settled." Zhukov notes that he spoke his mind because his opinion had been requested, and asks why was he asked to speak it if it only supposed to be the same as Stalin's? This stumps Shaposhnikov, who lamely replies, "That, my dear fellow, I do not know."

An article about the US Navy in Life magazine 5 January 1942
Images from a 5 January 1942 Life magazine article on life in the US Navy after Pearl Harbor.
The Soviet counteroffensive already is making progress both in the Crimea and around Moscow. Soviet 51st Army finally reaches the Parpach Narrows today after a slow move west from Kerch, but it takes no offensive action. Further north, the Soviet 10th Army takes Belov (Belyov or Belev) south of Kaluga and southwest of Tula. The front is gradually drifting away from Moscow and freeing up large areas where the Soviets can begin rebuilding.

British torpedo boat in the Firth of Forth, 5 January 1942
"A view of MASB 37 as seen from the bow. The Commanding Officer is seen directing the operation from his tiny bridge while the machine gunner is at the ready." MASB 37 in the Firth of Forth, 5 January 1942. © IWM (A 6958). 
Battle of the Pacific: The United States military on 5 January 1942 is beginning to recover its equilibrium after the shock of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Today, the air echelon of the 22d Bombardment Squadron, 7th BG (Heavy), leaves Hickam Field, Hawaii, in its B-17s and heads for Singosari, Java. 

US West Virginia, photo taken on 5 January 1942
This photo of USS West Virginia (BB-48) taken on 5 January 1942 shows bomb and fire damage from the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.
Food is running low and resupply appears problematic in the Philippines, so rations for everyone are cut in half. The Allies form a new line running from Dinaluplhan on the west to Hermosa on the east. This protects the entrance to, or base of, the Bataan Peninsula from the north and east and is the center of communications in the northern portion of the peninsula. The withdrawal continues after dark, with the troops passing through Layac Junction and then blowing the bridge there. They continue to hold the junction itself until the 6th. The 71st and 72d Regiments, 71st Division, Philippine Army, the U.S. 31st Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Division, and the 26th Cavalry Regiment, Philippine Scouts form a switch line south of Layac along the west side of the Olongapo-Manila road.

New Castle News, 5 January 1942
With the war in the Philippines going poorly for the Allies, the US media reverts to its practices from just after Pearl Harbor and prints accounts of nonexistent victories there. Here, the New Castle (Pennsylvania) News of 5 January 1942 gives stirring tales of fabulous American victories in the Philippines while the US forces, in fact, are retreating under pressure into the Bataan Peninsula.
The US Army Air Forces continue a hurried reorganization of their deployments in the Philippines. Brigadier General Richard J. Marshall establishes the Headquarters US Army Forces Far East (USAFFE) in Bataan. The ground echelons of the 17th and 91st Bombardment Squadrons, 27th Bombardment Group transfer from Limay to Bataan. The Japanese are attacking Corregidor every day and also select targets in the Manila Bay area.

An article about the US Navy in Life magazine 5 January 1942
Images from a 5 January 1942 Life magazine article on life in the US Navy after Pearl Harbor.
The British are building up their presence in Burma as the Japanese consolidate their hold on the southernmost sliver of land running south to the west of Thailand. The Indian 17th Division moves into new headquarters at Moulmein at the top of the sliver of land to form a block against a Japanese advance into the heart of the country. However, only one of three brigades that constitute the division, the 16th Brigade, while two remain behind in India.

An article about the US Navy in Life magazine 5 January 1942
Images from a 5 January 1942 Life magazine article on life in the US Navy after Pearl Harbor.
At Singapore, the British begin planning for the worst. The Commander-in-Chief British Eastern Fleet, Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton, moves his flag (headquarters) from Singapore to Batavia, Java, Netherlands East Indies. At a conference in Segamat, Lieutenant General Arthur Percival, General Officer Commanding Malaya Command, plans for a retreat into Johore.

Map of the battle at Laytac Junction in the Malay Peninsula, 5 January 1942
This situation map of the battle at Layac Junction is based on materials that came from the United States Army Center of Military History.
Further north on the Malay Peninsula, the Indian 11th Division continues to hold its main defensive line anchored at Trolak just north of the Slim River. However, it is today it comes under pressure. The British have chosen to defend a narrow roadway between heavily forested areas that is just north of the Cluny Rubber estate, where the forests have been cut down and which is just north of the Slim River. During the afternoon, the Indian 5/16th Brigade on the coast pulls back through the 12th Indian Brigade positions, which is positioned on the north bank of the Slim River. The advance guard of the Japanese 42nd Regiment following close behind then launches an attack on the 12th Indian Brigade that leaves 60 Japanese soldiers dead on the battlefield. The leader of the Japanese Regiment, Colonel Ando, then decides to await reinforcements before launching further attacks. While the Allies' line holds, the situation looks grim for them because the Japanese can bring up more troops and the Allies don't have a lot of troops to spare. In addition, and unknown to the British, the Japanese have a large number of tanks quickly heading south, while the Allies have none available at all.

An article about the US Navy in Life magazine 5 January 1942
Life magazine prints this picture of an unidentified US Navy cruiser in its 5 January 1942 issue.
Battle of the Mediterranean: In a rare victory by one submarine over another, British submarine HMS/M 'Upholder' (N 99, Lieutenant-Commander Malcolm David Wanklyn) torpedoes and sinks 1461-ton Italian submarine Ammiraglio Saint Bon to the north of Milazzo, Sicily. There are three survivors and 59 deaths. The Ammiraglio Saint Bon was en route from Naples to Tripoli carrying 155 tons of gasoline and ammunition, which explode when the torpedo hits the starboard side. This is a demoralizing blow to the Axis because it demonstrates that not even submarine transport is safe in the Mediterranean.

Wrecked Axis planes at Benghazi, 5 January 1942
"Benghazi, Cyrenaica, Libya. 5 January 1942. The scene at El Berca airfield showing the wreckage of the many Axis aircraft destroyed and a densely filled cemetery behind." Australian War Memorial MED0274.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Following the large Luftwaffe raid on Malta on 4 January, the British receive intelligence from Cairo that the Germans have assembled powerful dive-bomber forces in Sicily for further attacks. There also are reports from an aerial reconnaissance of an Italian battleship accompanied by other ships about 200 miles to the east. The Germans conduct several raids around mid-day which drop bombs over Gozo, Msida Creek, near Tal Qroqq, near Gudja searchlight position, and in Zabbar. The British defenses are hampered by heavy rains recently, which have made the grass airfields waterlogged and sometimes impossible to use. The RAF manages no interceptions during the day, and the Luftwaffe loses no planes nor has any damaged, a rarity for days with sustained attacks.

Time magazine 5 January 1942
Time magazine, 5 January 1942 (cover photo credit: Ernest Hamlin Baker).
Western Front: RAF Bomber Command sends 89 Wellington bombers and 65 other aircraft (154 total) to attack the port area of Cherbourg and other German naval bases. The Kriegsmarine still has heavy cruisers Prinz Eugen, Scharnhorst, and Gneisenau at Cherbourg. The Germans make smoke, which successfully destroys the bombers' aim. While the warships are not hit, there is damage to the port area and large fires. The German admirals begin thinking of a way to get the large ships out of harm's way, but options are limited. One thing is sure, the Germans don't have much time to act before the raids begin causing serious damage.

An article about the US Navy in Life magazine 5 January 1942
Images from a 5 January 1942 Life magazine article on life in the US Navy after Pearl Harbor.
US/Japanese Relations: While Japan and the United States are at war, there are still certain diplomatic formalities to discharge. Each side is obligated to return the other's diplomats, for instance. The Japanese accept the port of Laurenzo Marques (Maputo) in Mozambique for this exchange of diplomats.

Postcard of US Seabees at work, the Seabees began recruiting from civilian construction trades on 5 January 1942
On 5 January 1942, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, Chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Yards and Docks, is given authority from the Bureau of Navigation to recruit men from the construction trades for assignment to a Naval Construction Regiment composed of three Naval Construction Battalions. The first construction units, later nicknamed Seabees for the acronym of "Construction Battalions," are formed at a newly constructed naval bast at Davisville, Rhode Island. (Postcard from the U.S. Naval Construction Training Center, Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island. Gift of Gay Meaker, The National WWII Museum Inc., 2003.103.095).
US Military: US Forces in Australia (USFIA), which controls Far East Air Force (FEAF), is activated and redesignated US Army Forces in Australia (USAFIA). It is under the overall command of Major General George H. Brett, and its headquarters is located in the MacRobertson Girls High School in Melbourne, Victoria.

All men aged 20-44 now are required to register for the draft no later than 16 February 1942. All Japanese-American selective service registrants are classified as enemy aliens (IV-C). Many Japanese-American soldiers are discharged or assigned to menial labor such as kitchen police (KP) duty.

An article about the US Navy in Life magazine 5 January 1942
"A squadron of Japanese raiders speck the sky above the smoke clouds rising from the dirty work they wrought below." Images from a 5 January 1942 Life magazine article on life in the US Navy after Pearl Harbor.
The US Navy changes its regulations covering the display of national insignia on aircraft. The star returns to the upper right and the lower left wing surfaces, and there is a revised rudder striping that now has 13 red and white horizontal stripes.

Attempting to rescue a ship stranded by a storm in Scapa Flow on 5 January 1942
"A repair and salvage party at work on a motor cutter which broke down and went ashore in a gale." Scapa Flow,  5 January 1942. © IWM (A 6951).
Australian Military: The War Cabinet in Canberra approves a British request for transfer of Australian I Corps (6th and 7th Divisions) from the Middle East to Southeast Asia. The British also begin moving the British 18th and Indian 17th Divisions from the Middle East to Bombay, India; Ceylon; and Singapore, Malaya. These British initiatives are designed to allay Australian and New Zealand fears that the British will focus exclusively on the Middle East battles while allowing the Far East territories to remain in peril.

British Military: British General Claude E. Auchinleck, Commander in Chief Middle East Command, has his authority expanded to include Iraq and Iran. British forces in Iraq are designated British Tenth Army under Lieutenant General Edward P. Quinan, with Ninth Army covering British forces in Syria under General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson.

An article about the US Navy in Life magazine 5 January 1942
Images in the 5 January 1942 issue of Life magazine showing life aboard a US Navy cruiser. 
Holocaust: The Dutch Council of Churches issues a public protest against mistreatment of Jewish residents. All Dutch Jews already are required to register with occupation authorities, but mass exterminations have not begun.

American Homefront: All enemy aliens in San Francisco, California, are required to surrender by the end of the day all radio transmitters, shortwave receivers and precision cameras to the U.S. Army's Western Defense Command under Lieutenant General John DeWitt.

An article about the US Navy in Life magazine 5 January 1942
The cover story for the 5 January 1942 Life magazine is "Wanted: 50,000 Nurses."


January 4, 1942: MacArthur on His Own in the Philippines

Sunday 4 January 1942

Kittyhawk that crashed near Msus, 4 January 1942
A Kittyhawk that crashed at Msus, Libya, shortly after takeoff because its engine cut off on 4 January 1942. The pilot, Sgt Albert Thomas Crocker, 1259818, RAFVR,  RAF No. 112 Squadron, did not survive (RAF 112 Squadron).
Battle of the Pacific: Following the announcement of the new ABDA (American-British-Dutch-Australian) command in the southwest Pacific, Major General George Brett assumes command of all United States forces in Australia and surrounding areas on 4 January 1942. The most urgent matter is what to do about the Allied position in the Philippines, where US and Filipino troops have been forced into the Bataan Peninsula. Brett immediately takes a cautious stance and orders two naval transport ships already heading from Brisbane, Queensland, en route to the Philippines with reinforcements to turn around. The ships divert from Bataan to Darwin in northern Australian. There are no further attempts to reinforce General Douglas MacArthur and his tens of thousands of American troops in the Philippines.

Albacore aircraft in the Western Desert, 4 January 1942
"Western Desert, North Africa. 4 January 1942. Three armorers bombing up an Albacore aircraft on a desert landing ground. One of the ground staff 'puts his back into it', using his back to help lift the bomb into place." Australian War Memorial MED0269.  
The Japanese pour into Manila, which the Americans evacuated during the last week in December. Japanese Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma, Commanding General 14th Army, meets with Manila Mayor Jorge Vargas and imposes strict restrictions, including a curfew, blackout, martial law, and the surrender of any radios and firearms. Homma, however, is no martinet and orders his 43,110-man army to respect the Filipinos' religion and customs and treat them as friends. Some of Homma's subordinates, led by Colonel Masanobu Tsuji, disagree with this leniency and send negative reports about Homma to General Count Hisaichi Terauchi, commander of the Southern Army. Terauchi, in turn, passes on his own negative reports about Homma to Tokyo. Emperor Hirohito prevails upon Army Chief of Staff Hajime Sugiyama to reinforce Homma in order to conquer the remaining Allied troops in Bataan quickly, who in turn tells Homma to aim for a quick victory. This leads Homma, who prefers a more patient strategy, to launch direct and costly assaults on the American lines.

Admiral Cunningham, 4 January 1942
"Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, KCB, DSO, broadcasting from his cabin in HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH." 4 January 1942. © IWM (A 7967).
The American and Filipino troops are holding a line across the neck of the Bataan Peninsula anchored at Porac and Guagua. The Japanese take Guagua and continue along Route 7 toward Lubao. Further west, the line is quiet, but with Guagua lost, the entire line is now untenable. After dark, the Filipino 11th and 21st Divisions begin falling back into the Bataan Peninsula. The US Provisional Tank Group continue to hold open the road from San Fernando to Dinalupihan at the neck of the peninsula despite taking heavy losses. Meanwhile, Japanese aircraft continue to pound Corregidor Island in Manila Bay against feeble opposition. The US Army Air Force continues withdrawing its few remaining fighters in the area to Mindanao.

Captured German gliders, 4 January 1942
"Western Desert, North Africa. 4 January 1942. One of the many German glider aircraft on the ground which were destroyed over Libya. The utilisation of this form of air transport was unsuccessful, the gliders falling easy prey to Allied fighters and ground fire." The Luftwaffe used this for bringing supplies from Naples due to the many losses in convoys. Australian War Memorial MED0272.
On Java, eight B-17 Flying Fortresses based at Singosari Airdrome attack Japanese shipping in Malalag Bay, Davao, Mindanao Island. While level bombing has not been particularly successful to date, the bombers display an accurate aim from 25,000 feet and damage Japanese heavy cruisers Myoko and Nachi. They also hit Japanese aircraft carrier Chitose off Davao City but cause little damage.

Factory workers at Bridgend, 4 January 1942
"War workers knit, read magazines and chat in the workers lounge at ROF Bridgend. Matron is on hand to answer any of their questions and offer any advice they may need." This is a Royal Ordnance Factory, January 1942. © IWM (D 6242).
In the Bismarck Archipelago, the Japanese have their eyes on the Australian naval base at Rabaul on New Britain Island. They begin an aerial campaign against the base on 4 January 1942 using carrier-based aircraft. The Australians only have 5400 men on the base from the Australian 2/22d Battalion, 8th Division, a RAAF detachment, 100 men of the New Guinea Volunteer Reserve, and a few Royal Australian Navy officers. While Rabaul has a fighter strip at Lakunai and a bomber strip at Vunakanu, the Australians have few planes available. Of more interest at Rabaul to the Japanese than the airstrips is the fine port which the Japanese Navy wants as a major fleet base.

The Stalingrad Truth, 4 January 1942
Stalingrad Truth: The organ of the Stalingrad regional and city committees of the CPSU, 4 January 1942.
In the Malay Peninsula, the Japanese have closed up on the Commonwealth line along the Slim River in western Malaya and are attacking it with their aircraft. The Japanese bypass the line through the jungle and move south along the coast. When they reach the Selangor River near Kuala Selangor, they turn east to advance in the direction of Rawang. This threatens the Allied line because Rawang is the last major communications junction north of Kuala Lumpur, so the Indian 6/15th Brigade moves to Batang Berjuntai to block it. The Japanese are preparing a major attack on the Slim River line and hope to block the escape of the Commonwealth troops at Rawang.

De Havilland Tiger Moths, 4 January 1942
An Air Training Corps cadet secures his parachute, before an air experience flight in a de Havilland Tiger Moth at Biggin Hill, Kent, 4 January 1942." © IWM (CH 5030).
Eastern Front: The Germans have completed their retreat from the Tikhvin salient in the Army Group North sector, and the Red Army has made some exploratory crossings of the Volkhov River. However, the commander of the army group, Field Marshal Ritter von Leeb, today reports his first quiet day since the offensive began. The Soviets have brought in 2nd Shock Army for offensive operations. The army's commander, Lieutenant General Sokolov, is a former NKVD commissar with no military training. Front commander General Kirill Meretskov decides that Sokolov is incompetent and replaces him with the former commander of 52nd Army, Lieutenant General Klykov.

Coastal gun at Gibraltar, 4 January 1942
"A 9.2-inch coastal gun on the Rock of Gibraltar, 4 January 1942." © IWM (GM 278).
Battle of the Mediterranean: Things have quieted down recently in North Africa, but Germany and Italy still want to subdue Malta to solve their convoy problems across the Strait of Sicily. Around 10:00, the Luftwaffe mounts a major attack on the island after circling around to the southeast. First, a Junkers Ju 88 escorted by ten fighters performs reconnaissance over the island. The RAF sends up half a dozen Hurricanes from Hal Far airfield, and two Hurricanes and one Bf 109 are damaged. Later, the main attack comes in. This is composed of Junkers Ju 88 bombers with fighter escort. Due to cloudy weather, the bombers are able to attack Luqa airfield. They lose one bomber to anti-aircraft fire and another to a Hurricane. The attack causes a lot of damage to Luqa airfield, but frantic efforts by army troops level the craters by 14:00.

Radio Times, 4 January 1942
Radio Times, Journal of the British Broadcasting Corporation, programming for January 4 - 10 1942.
British Homefront: Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, gives a dramatic radio broadcast recounting his recent visit to Moscow to meet Joseph Stalin and Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov. He assures the audience that Britain has an "identity of views" with the Soviet Union that is the "literal and absolute truth."

USS Alabama, 4 January 1942
USS Alabama (BB-60) under construction, Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, 4 January 1942.
American Homefront: Paranoia about potential Japanese attacks and subversion is running wild on the west coast. The Commanding General Western Defense Command, Lieutenant General John DeWitt, is uneasy about provoking Japanese-Americans in the area, but also feels the need to exclude them from sensitive areas. Today, he meets with the Chief of the War Department's Aliens Division in order to map out areas from which anyone defined as an enemy alien is to be excluded.

The National Football League holds its fourth All-Star Game at the Polo Grounds in Brooklyn, New York City. As is customary at this time, the recent Championship Game winning team faces an all-star team composed of top players from the remaining teams. The champion Chicago Bears win, 35-24.