Saturday, April 6, 2019

January 2, 1942: Manila Falls to Japan

Friday 2 January 1942

Japanese capture Manila, 2 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Japanese troops enter Manila in the Philippines on 2 January 1942.
Battle of the Pacific: While the Allies declared Manila an open city in late December 1941, they have retained control of the capital city and all of its facilities and supplies. Until now, that is. On 2 January 1942, the Japanese actually enter the city and it ceases being "open." A battalion of the Japanese 1st Formosa Regiment and two of the 47th Infantry Regiment are the first units into the city. Other Japanese troops occupy the Cavite Naval Base, which the departing US troops and the Japanese Air Force's bombs have wrecked.

Japanese capture Manila, 2 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Daily Times-News of Burlington, North Carolina trumpets the loss of Manila in its 2 January 1942 edition. Ordinary people may not know much about the Pacific region, but Manila is one place that pretty much everyone has heard of due to the huge US military presence there.
The Japanese are hardly satisfied by taking Manila. They have a very good idea where the Americans have gone and may eventually go. Japanese bombers begin daily bombing of fortified Corregidor Island in Manila Bay, where the US Army has a vast underground military complex. American and Filipino army units complete their withdrawal through San Fernando, which the Allies abandon at 02:00. The Japanese to the east of San Fernando cross the Pampanga River and take the city occupy the city without opposition. The goal of the Allied troops now is to delay the Japanese troops on the ten-mile road from Porac to Guagua, and to do this, the Filipino 21st Division covers the west side of the road and the 11th Division covers the east side. During the day, the advancing Japanese attack the western side, forcing the 21st Division back from Porac.

Japanese capture Manila, 2 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Japanese troops celebrate their capture of Manila, the Philippines, 2 January 1942.
The Allies have been quite successful in moving 80,000 troops and 26,000 civilian refugees into the Bataan Peninsula, but everyone is tired, supplies are short, there is little prepared infrastructure such as airfields and naval bases, and the troops already are on half rations. Perhaps as a gesture of defiance, the US Army headquarters in Bataan sends a message:
Manila, Cavite lost; MacArthur fights on, holding Corregidor.
However, wars are not won by losing cities and holding tiny islands.

Italian POW in London, 2 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
An Italian POW, still wearing his Afrika Korps cap, arrives in London on 2 January 1942 (AP Photo).
The fate of the Philippines is rising to the top of American concerns on 2 January 1942, and things do not look good. US and Filipino troops under Lieutenant General Douglas MacArthur are racing to secure the neck of the Bataan Peninsula before the Japanese can get there, and so far that is going reasonably well. However, the US Naval and US Army Air Force presence in the Philippines is dwindling fast, which gives the Japanese invaders a huge advantage. This is an unusual situation for World War II, where the Axis has aerial domination over the western Allies, and the imbalance cannot be rectified right away. In Australia, Major General George H. Brett, Commanding General-Designate of the U.S. Forces in Australia (USFIA), sends a dispiriting message to General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army in Washington, D.C. Brett indicates that reinforcing the Philippines is becoming critical, but it is impossible for the time being. Until a major airbase can be completed in Darwin, Australia, and a similar supply and repair depot constructed at Townsville, Queensland, effective relief is impossible. Of course, Brett also doesn't have much naval power to spare, either. The Philippines are beginning to look like a lost cause, but nobody wants to abandon them just yet.

USS President Hayes, 2 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
USS President Hayes (AP-39), shortly after launching at Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, on 2 January 1942 (Photo No. 19-N-26565. Source: U.S. National Archives, RG-19-LCM).
In the Malay Peninsula, Indian III Corps is under increasing pressure along the Perak River, as Japanese troops cross the river and take Teluk Anson (Teluk Intan) near the west coast. The 1st Independent Company and Indian 3d Cavalry Squadron retreat from the area, while Indian 12th Brigade Group nearby barely hangs on to its position. The Japanese also attempt an ad hoc landing at Kuala Selangor late in the day, but Allied artillery prevents this. After dark, the troops in the area begin to withdraw to the Slim River. The silver lining for the Allies is that from this point onward, the Malay Peninsula narrows like a triangle reaching its apex until the peninsula reaches Singapore at the southern tip. This should favor the defense, and the Battle of Kampar which ends today is characterized as an Allied defensive victory due to the delays imposed on the Japanese. However, the inability of the Commonwealth troops to hold any defensive line for any length of time so far is a bad omen. The less ground that remains between the Japanese lines and Singapore makes Japanese air attacks easier, more effective, more often, and less costly. Eventually, the British could run out of real estate to defend, though great hope is placed in "Fortress Singapore."

Alien Restrictions, 2 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Seattle Star on 2 January 1942 reports on "Alien Restrictions Tightened" as restrictions on foreign nationals from Axis countries increase.
In Thailand, the American Volunteer Group (AVG, or "Flying Tigers") have been battling Japanese raiders over Rangoon since 20 December 1941 as the Allies squabble below them. Today, they launch their first raid on Japanese forces, a strike on an airbase in Thailand. This makes the title of a US Army Air Forces video, "Flying Tigers Bite Back," real. The AVG squadron leader is John Van Kuren Newkirk of Westchester, New York. Identified publicly only as "Scarsdale Jack," Newkirk is a former Navy pilot. Flying with him in their separate P-40B Tomahawk aircraft is Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, a former US Marine Corps aviator who was such a good flyer that he served as an instructor at Pensacola. Both Newkirk and Boyington are "private contractors" who are employed by the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CAMCO), a front for covert US operations in Burma led by Claire "Old Leatherface" Chennault.

Italian armored personnel carrier, 2 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Italian WWII Fiat 665NM protetto (protected) or scudato (shielded) armored personnel carrier,. This photo was taken on 2 January 1942. This is an early model, perhaps a prototype, as these were developed in 1942 at the Arsenale Regio Esercito di Torino in collaboration with the Fiat Veicoli Industriali following the request of the Italian Military Staff.
Battle of the Mediterranean: The South African 2nd Division and British 1st Armoured Brigade (30 Corps, British Eighth Army) take Bardia southeast of Tobruk. A total of 2,200 German and 4,400 Italian troops who have been trapped in Bardia since the beginning of Operation Crusader in late November surrender on 2 January 1942. Other Axis troops continue to hold out near Halfaya Pass, but their situation also is hopeless and, unless Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel can stage a successful counteroffensive soon, they will be forced to surrender. While their defensive positions are good, the Axis troops in the area are running out of food and water and aerial supply by the Luftwaffe is not coming close to meeting their daily needs.

On Malta, a Bomb Disposal Officer reports finding a unique bomb with tail fins made of a blue alloy. There are other odd aspects to this weapon and how it is found. The officer reports it as a "seemingly rocket-propelled" type of bomb. If so, it is the first use of such a weapon. The trail grows cold here and it is unclear how this turns out.

A destroyed German train carrying tanks, 2 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A destroyed German train station in Maloyaroslavets, Russia, 2 January 1942. Soviet bombers destroyed this train. In the foreground is a German tank Pz.Kpfw.IV. On the second platform, a destroyed light tank Pz.Kpfw.II. Propaganda photo by Ivan Shagin.
Eastern Front: The Red Army continues to make gains around Moscow. Soviet 43rd Army opens a ten-mile gap between Borovsk and Maloyaroslavets, thereby cutting the German Fourth Army (General Ludwig Kuebler) off from its neighbor to the south. The commander of Fourth Panzer Army, General Erich Hoepner, requests permission withdraw to reestablish contact with Fourth Army and is given a "categorical" no. Instead, Army Group Center commander Field Marshal Guenther von Kluge simply transfers a Fourth Army corps that had been cut off on the Fourth Panzer Army side to Hoepner. This helps the stranded corps receive supplies from Fourth Panzer Army but also removes any incentive for Kuebler or Hoepner to close the gap between their armies - so it grows wider. This is a pattern that will reassert itself repeatedly throughout the war on the Eastern Front, as Soviet attacks between armies split the German front because the German army commanders are more concerned with preserving their own units and less with their contact with neighboring units.

Hawker Hurricanes at Duxford, 2 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Pilots and Hurricanes of No 56 'Punjab' Squadron at Duxford, 2 January 1942. The official caption reads: 'Fighter aircraft donated by the Province of the Punjab have been in action and have scored numerous victories over the Hun'." © IWM (CH 4547).
In the Crimea, the opposing Soviet and German forces begin to dig in just west of the port of Feodosia. Soviet 44th Army's offensive from its bridgehead at Feodosia has stalled after German 42 Corps finally sorted out its units and got them into position facing the Red Army thrust. The Soviet success in recapturing the Kerch Peninsula has not come cheap, as they have lost 41,935 men, including 32,453 killed or captured and 9482 wounded or suffering from frostbite and other maladies. They also have not succeeded in their ultimate objective of relieving Sevastopol, which was never a realistic goal due to the large German 11th Army forces surrounding the port. However, the Red Army has taken a great deal of pressure off of Sevastopol and caused General Erich von Manstein a huge problem in maintaining two separate fronts, one facing west toward Sevastopol and the other facing east against the Soviet forces which landed at Feodosia. The Red Army does have other units of the 51st Army heading west from Kerch, but they are moving slowly and the Germans also are building their line with units taken from the siege of Sevastopol.

US Military: US Army Air Force Eighth Air Force is activated on 2 January 1942 at Savannah Air Base, Georgia.

German Homefront: Heinrich Himmler writes to Reinhard Heydrich asking him to suppress the Swing Kids (Swingjugend). The Swing movement of Hamburg, Himmler complains, is detrimental to the war effort. Himmler suggests that some time in concentration camps might improve the Swing Kids' attitudes.

Dr. Seuss cartoon, 2 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Image from "Dr. Seuss Went to War" (Mandeville Special Collections Library, UC San Diego).

2019

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