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In the Philippines, the Allied troops have withdrawn to a short line across the neck of the Bataan Peninsula.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 go aboard 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. An 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 the 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.


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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