Monday, April 15, 2019

January 9, 1942: Battle of Dražgoše

Friday 9 January 1942

Japanese marines, 9 January 1942
Rikusentai (Japanese marine troops) unit in landing craft, awaiting beach assault, unknown date. 
Battle of the Pacific: The Japanese launch their first main assault on the Allies' main defensive line on Bataan at 15:00 on 9 January 1942. Advancing from the Dinalupihan- Hermosa region, the Japanese split their force so that two combat groups attack US II Corps in the east and one attacks I Corps in the west. The American and Filipino army units see the Japanese coming and open fire with artillery, dispersing the attack. The attacking Japanese skirmish with Allied patrols but don't actually attack the Allied outpost line, preferring to establish their own line close to it instead. The USAAF Far East Air Force sends nine B-17 Flying Fortresses based at Singosari Airfield on Java against shipping in Davao Bay, Mindanao, but only five make it all the way, the rest turning back with various mechanical issues.

Japanese soldier in China, 9 January 1942
"Lot 11614-9: Second Sino-Japanese War, July 1937-September 1945. Battle of Changsha, January 1942. China Fights On Against All Odds. Despite overwhelmingly inequalities in armament, aircraft, and supplies, China continues to take heavy toll of the well-equipped Japanese army. With the material support of her U.S. and British allies, she is resisting the latest big Japanese drive. Picture shows Chinese soldier with captured Japanese war material. " This photograph released in January 1942. Office of War Information Photograph. (2016/01/22).
In Burma, the American Volunteer Group (AVG, or "Flying Tigers") are fighting the Japanese based in Thailand every day. Today, they launch an offensive mission against Tak Airfield at Rahaeng, Thailand. They destroy four Japanese planes at no loss to themselves.

Japanese invasion ships in Truk lagoon, 9 January 1942
The reconnaissance of Truk on 9th January 1942, by F-Lt R. Yeowart and crew in a specially fitted Hudson Mk IV of No. 6 Squadron. The operation, involving a return flight of 1,405 statute miles, was the longest sea reconnaissance which had been undertaken by the R.A.A.F. in a land-based aircraft. The concentration of enemy shipping and aircraft seen at Truk gave warning of the Japanese thrust south to New Britain and New Ireland in the next two weeks. Australian War Memorial 128121.
In Singapore, area commander Lieutenant General Arthur Percival orders Indian III Corps to withdraw into Johore. This is the last stop before Singapore itself. The Corps begins withdrawing while executing a scorched-earth policy. The shattered Indian 11th Division and all available other units plan to delay the Japanese at two lines, the first at Seremban and Port Dickson, and the second at Tampin and Malacca. The British are aided by the narrowing of the Malay Peninsula to the south, which typically favors the defense - if they have enough troops to man the entire line.

Japanese soldiers of Kunishi Detachment riding bicycles in the Malaya Peninsula, 9 January 1942
The Malayan Campaign. The Kunishi Detachment advancing on a muddy secret coastal path through coconut palm trees dragging their bicycles. 9 January 1942 Credits: Takao Fusayama.
The Japanese are planning invasions of Rabaul and the Netherlands East Indies. To soften up the defending Australian troops, the Japanese Naval Air Force has been bombing the Allied base at Rabaul with carrier-based aircraft. The Japanese have gathered a large fleet of transports at Truk lagoon to carry the invasion troops.

General de Gaulle, 9 January 1942
"General de Gaulle making a speech to the assembled ships companies" De Gaulle is visiting Free French merchant ships in Liverpool on 9 January 1942. © IWM (A 7013).
Eastern Front: After dark, a blizzard hits the Moscow sector which paralyzes all movement for a full day. This helps the Germans, whose front has been creaking for weeks but not entirely breaking. During the day, the Soviet Third and Fourth Shock Armies had attacked German 16th Army west of Ostashkov, but the snow stops them, too. However, before the snow began, they hit a two-regiment division, the 123rd, that is holding a 35-mile portion of the line. Since the 123rd Division is so weak, it has been holding widely separated strong points which the Red Army simply bypasses. That doesn't mean that the German strongpoints are safe, just that they haven't been eliminated... yet.

General de Gaulle, 9 January 1942
"General de Gaulle addressing the ship's company during a visit to one of the Free French Merchant Ships" Liverpool, 9 January 1942. © IWM (A 7011).
Partisans: The Battle of Dražgoše begins in Slovenia. This is the first direct battle between the German Army and the Slovene Partisans. The confrontation lasts until 11 January 1942. It is a controversial incident because there are conflicting accounts of why the battle takes place at all, and why it takes place there. According to one version, the Partisans chose the town of Dražgoše because it is Catholic and the Partisans for reasons of their own wish the Germans to harm its inhabitants. Under another version, the Battle of Dražgoše is simply a heroic act of defiance and a moral victory against the invaders (this is the accepted version throughout the subsequent decades of Communist rule). What is not disputed by anyone is that the German forces quickly force the Partisans out of the village and exact retribution against the villagers, executing dozens of inhabitants and eventually demolishing the entire town. Politics in the Balkans is very murky throughout World War II and subsequent decades and things there often are not what they seem at first glance.

HMS Cleopatra, 9 January 1942
"HMS Cleopatra, British Dido Class cruiser. 9 January 1942, at anchor in Scapa Flow."  © IWM (A 7062).
Japanese Homeland: Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto tells journalist Taketora Ogata of the Imperial Rules Assistance Association (a para-fascist organization formed to promote the "New Order"):
A military man can scarcely pride himself on having 'smitten a sleeping enemy'; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack.
This may be the source of the infamous "we have only awakened a sleeping giant" quote that is often attributed to Yamamoto.

First production TBF-1 Avenger on Long Island, 9 January 1942
The first production TBF-1 Avenger at the Grumman factory in Bethpage, Long Island, New York, January 9. 1942
American Homefront: Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis knocks out Buddy Baer (uncle of future Hollywood actor Max Baer, Jr.) in the first round. This is a rematch of their famous match in which Baer knocked Louis out of the ring, but then Louis returned and won the fight. He later comments:
The only way I could have beaten Louis that night was with a baseball bat.
Baer ends his career with a 52-7 record with 46 knockouts.

British Army dentist at work, 9 January 1942
A dentist at work at the Army Dental Centre in Belfast, 9 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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