Wednesday, April 10, 2019

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 continues 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 to withdraw 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 was destroyed over Libya. The utilization 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, an 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 upon 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 the 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 the 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.


January 1942

January 1, 1942: Declaration By United Nations
January 2, 1941: Manila Falls to Japan
January 3, 1942: ABDA Command Announced
January 4, 1942: MacArthur on His Own in the Philippines
January 5, 1942: Soviets Plan General Offensive
January 6, 1942: US Army in Europe
January 7, 1942: Soviet General Offensive Opens
January 8, 1942: Hitler Sacks Hoepner
January 9, 1942: Battle of Dražgoše
January 10, 1942: Building the Jeep
January 11, 1942: Japan Takes Kuala Lumpur
January 12, 1941: Rommel Plans Counterattack
January 13, 1942: First Ejection Seat Use
January 14, 1942: Operation Drumbeat First Sinking
January 15, 1942: U-Boat Off NYC
January 16, 1942: Carole Lombard Crash
January 17, 1942: British Take Halfaya Pass
January 18, 1942: Soviet Paratroopers in Action
January 19, 1942: FDR Approves Atomic Bomb
January 20, 1942: The Wannsee Conference
January 21, 1942: Parit Sulong Bridge Battle
January 22, 1942: Parit Sulong Massacre
January 23, 1942: Japan Takes Rabaul
January 24, 1942: Battle of Makassar Strait
January 25, 1942: Kholm Surrounded
January 26, 1942: GIs Land in Europe
January 27, 1942: Battle of Endau
January 28, 1942: Rommel Takes Benghazi
January 29, 1942: First US Coast Guard Ship Sunk
January 30, 1942: Singapore Isolated
January 31, 1942: Army Group South Averts Disaster


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