Sunday, May 19, 2019

January 26, 1942: GIs Land in Europe

Monday 26 January 1942

US troops arrive in Belfast, Ireland, 26 January 1942
The first US troops in the European Theater of Operations disembark at Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 26 January 1942.
Battle of the Pacific: On the Malay Peninsula, the Commonwealth troops continue to retreat south toward Singapore on 26 January 1942. The war off the coast is heating up as well as a Japanese convoy approaches Endau, Malaya. Endau is a small town in Mersing District, Johor, Malaysia, which lies on the northern tip of east Johor, on the border with Pahang. The defense of Endau is critical to the defense of Singapore because it would sever lines of communication with British forces farther north. For this reason, it becomes a major objective of the Japanese military.

British Ten-Pound note issued by the Bank Ireland, 26 January 1942
British Ten-pound banknotes issued by the Bank of Ireland in Northern Ireland, dated 26 January 1942, U/11 079069, with the signature of H.J. Adams
Two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Lockheed Hudson reconnaissance aircraft on routine patrol spot a convoy of eleven Japanese troopships heading from Cam Ranh Bay, Indochina, toward Endau. During the afternoon, the RAF sends 12 Vickers Vildebeest and 9 Fairey Albacore torpedo bombers of No. 36 Squadron RAF and No. 100 Squadron RAF to attack the force. The RAF planes are all biplanes and no match for defending Japanese fighters, and in any event, the planes arrive long after the landings have begun.

Private Colin Spence, an Australian soldier wounded in Malaya by a Japanese soldier using a sword, 26 January 1942
"Studio portrait of NX33552 Private (Pte) Colin John Spence, 2/18 Battalion of Longueville, NSW (originally of Dunedin, NZ). On 26 January 1942 near Mersing in Malaya, a Japanese officer slashed Pte Spence with a sword, before Pte Spence killed the officer. Cut from his hip to his shoulder, Pte Spence required 150 stitches. He was then evacuated from Singapore on the last ship and admitted to hospital in Australia. Pte Spence was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for the leadership he displayed." Australian War Memorial P04154.005
The RAF planes strafe the beach and bomb two Japanese transport ships at the cost of five Vildebeests (the Japanese lose one Ki-27). At dusk, the RAF sends a second wave of nine Vildebeests and three Albacores of No. 3 Squadron, but they fare little better, losing five Vildebeests, two Albacores, and a defending Hurricane fighter. The RAF then sends in another wave of attacks, this time by six unescorted Hudsons of  No. 62 Squadron out of Palembang, Sumatra. Six Japanese Ki-27s set upon them and shoot two of them down. The RAF then sends off the fourth raid from Palembang, this time of five Bristol Blenheims of No. 27 Squadron, but it is too late and they turn back. While the RAF attacks demonstrate how seriously the British view the invasion, they accomplish nothing of value and the Japanese troops secure their lodgement areas. The British have not given up, however, and send two destroyers (HMS Thanet and HMAS Vampire) from Singapore to try to disrupt the landings. However, the ships do not arrive until early on the 27th.

US troops arrive in Belfast, Ireland, 26 January 1942
"Arriving: Private Milburn Henke, who was presented to the press as the 'first' United States soldier to step ashore, salutes as he lands at Dufferin Quay, Belfast, Northern Ireland. In reality, a whole contingent of GIs had come ashore without distinguished reception." © IWM (H 16847).
In the Philippines, the Allied troops are in disarray and trying to find a defensible line. Both I Corps and II Corps complete their withdrawal to the final defense line in the Bataan Peninsula, but it gives the American and Philippine troops no relief. The Japanese follow close behind. The main Allied advantage is that the Peninsula narrows as they retreat south, and it now is possible to form a complete line from coast to coast. This extends from Orion in the east to Bagac on the west coast, just to the south of the Pilar-Bagac road. The entire Allied military organization is revised, and the Headquarters, US Army Forces, Far East (USAFFE) takes advantage of the shortened line by taking the Philippine Division out of the line and putting it in reserve. The Japanese begin heading south on the West Road, with every step contested by the 91st Filipino Division. Further south, the Japanese keep their beachheads at Quinauan and Longoskawayan Points despite frantic Allied attacks that cause heavy casualties on both sides.

US troops arrive in Belfast, Ireland, 26 January 1942
A US GI and a British Tommy shake hands as the first US troops arrive in Europe at Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 26 January 1942 (Life magazine).
At Balikpapan, Borneo, the Japanese complete the capture of the City of Balikpapan and the surrounding area. This is the most economically significant success of the entire Japanese offensive to date, as the Balikpapan refinery is projected to provide almost a third of all Japanese oil requirements.

The New Zealand High Commissioner arrives in Portsmouth to inspect the troops, 26 January 1942
"Mr. W.J. Jordan, the High Commissioner for New Zealand, being greeted by the Commodore of the Royal Naval Barracks, Portsmouth, Captain E R Archer, RN, on his arrival at Portsmouth." 26 January 1942. © IWM (A 7228).
In Burma, Allied defenses near Moulmein on the Salween River in the eastern part of the country are under great strain. The main fight in the air is much further west, over Rangoon. Today, American Volunteer Group (AVG or "Flying Tigers") fighters of the 1st and 2nd Fighter Squadrons put up a stout defense over the capital, shooting down three Japanese Army fighters.

Time magazine cover featuring ter Poorten, 26 January 1942
"Ter Poorten of the Indies" is the cover story of the 26 January 1942 Time magazine. Hein ter Poorten is the Allied land forces commander in the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command on Java in January 1942.
The Allied Command (ABDA) is determined to defend the Netherlands East Indies, but they have to transfer troops from the Middle East to have any hope of that. The Australian government is understandably leery about the Japanese wave heading south toward them, so the British are transferring Australian troops from the North African front. Lieutenant General Sir John Lavarack, General Officer Commanding I Australian Corps, arrives

US Generals Chaney and Hartle in Belfast, Ireland, 26 January 1942
US Army officers Major General Chaney and Major General Hartle, in command of the troops arriving at Belfast, Northern Ireland on 26 January 1942.
Battle of the Mediterranean: The attack by Afrika Korps is held up by a fierce sandstorm. Behind the scenes on the Allied side, there is a flurry of activity as the Allied leaders try to digest the latest successes by the Germans in North Africa. General Sir Claude Auchinleck, Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, sends a telegram to Winston Churchill in which he notes that the British line has been pushed back and that he is in the process of evacuating Benghazi. General Sir Thomas Blamey, Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, the top Australian military official in the Middle East, sends Churchill a separate telegram indicating that Commonwealth forces have had to retreat in the vicinity of Antelat, Libya. Churchill is very put out by all of these developments and views the retreats as implying the "failure of Crusader and the ruin of Acrobat," which are the codenames for the recent operation that relieved Tobruk and a separate operation being considered against Tripoli. Everyone knows that the situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon because Australian and New Zealand troops need to return home to defend Australia.

US troops arrive in Belfast, Ireland, 26 January 1942
The first US GIs arriving in Europe at Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 26 January 1942. Note that the troops wear the standard Word War I helmets.
Eastern Front: The Stavka decides to increase its pressure on General Hermann Hoth's 17th Army, holding a stretch of the front on the Mius River northwest of Rostov. Marshal Timoshenko orders Ninth Army to join the attack alongside 57th Army. As with all of the Soviet offensive, the Red Army men are pushing the Wehrmacht troops back but not capturing much aside from forests and fields. The Soviet plan is to get behind the main German line on the river and then pivot to the south. This, Timoshenko hopes, will leverage the Germans off the entire Mius River line by threatening to cut them off when they reach the coast between Mariupol and Melitopol. On the German side, General Ewald von Kleist sees the danger and begins moving in from the south the 14th Panzer Division, the 100th Light Division, and Panzer Detachment 60. This force is called the "von Mackensen Group" after its commander, General von Mackensen, commander of III Panzer Corps. It has to battle fierce snowstorms to get into position, but the weather also slows down the Red Army attacks and this situation becomes a mixed blessing for both sides. Von Kleist also orders the very weak XI Corps to march west via Dnepropetrovsk. The importance of these ad hoc commands is growing on the German side because of the huge losses many units have taken. Disparate units that are the remnants of once-imposing units have to be cobbled together to form larger groupings from whatever odds and ends are in the vicinity. This is the only way to blunt the incessant Soviet attacks.

US troops arrive in Belfast, Ireland, 26 January 1942
US troops arriving at Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 26 January 1942.
Western Front: Under great secrecy, the first US soldiers arrive at Belfast, Northern Ireland to take up posts in the European Theater of Operations. They are members of the 133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Division. About 4,000 men arrive in order to honor the "Germany First" principle agreed to at the Arcadia Conference in early January 1942.

British/New Zealand Relations: The Australians are not the only ones watching the Japanese approach with trepidity. On 26 January 1942, the Government of New Zealand sends British Prime Minister Winston Churchill a telegram requesting confirmation that New Zealand would have a voice at the Far East Council and influence over the affairs of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) troops. New Zealand also emphasizes that it requires direct communications on its own with the United States, which everyone realizes is the only Allied force in the Pacific capable of stopping the Japanese.

British Military: General Sir Archibald Wavell, Supreme Commander, South West Pacific, replies to a pointed inquiry from Winston Churchill about relations with China. Wavell denies that he has refused Chinese help and states that he has accepted the 49th and 93rd Chinese Divisions. Relations between China and the UK have been frayed since the Tulsa Incident in late December when local British authorities in Rangoon tried to divert US Lend-Lease supplies destined for China to British troops. Wavell does, however, note that it would be better to defend Burma with British troops rather than risk losing larger portions of China to the Japanese. Both men agree that British relations with China are extremely poor.

Life magazine feature the WAAFs, 26 January 1942
The 26 January 1942 Life magazine cover story is about the Women s Auxiliary Air Force ("WAAF").


Friday, May 17, 2019

January 25, 1942: Kholm Surrounded

Sunday 25 January 1942

Fairey Fulmars at Donibristle after a snowstorm, 25 January 1942
"Fairey Fulmar planes grounded in the snow after a storm." Royal Naval Air Station Donibristle, 25 January 1942. © IWM (A 7252).
Battle of the Pacific: Thailand, on 25 January 1942, declares war on the Allies, and Britain, New Zealand, and South Africa reciprocate. While Thailand does not have a particularly imposing military, it does have an extremely useful location for Japanese troops invading Burma. General Archibald Wavell, Commander in Chief Australian-British- Dutch-American (ABDA) Command, South West Pacific, visits Rangoon and finds the situation deteriorating rapidly. The battle line is west of the Salween River, opposite Moulmein, and Wavell orders Moulmein held. The Japanese are bringing up reinforcements via Thailand, however, and the unit tasked with holding Moulmein, the 16th Brigade, Indian 17th Division, is overmatched and at best can delay the Japanese.

Fairey Fulmars at Donibristle after a snowstorm, 25 January 1942
"Fairey Fulmar planes grounded in the snow after a storm."  Royal Naval Air Station Donibristle, 25 January 1942. © IWM (A 7251).
On the Malay Peninsula, Lieutenant General Arthur Percival orders a withdrawal in central Johore State. The British are unable to hold Batu Pahat after furious battles during the day, including attempts to reinforce the garrison with the British 53rd Brigade Group. Indian 3 Corps begins pulling out of the area after dark.

25-pounder in Malaya, January 1942
"Malaya. AIF artillerymen firing a 25 pounder gun from beside a rubber plantation." January 1942. Australian War Memorial 011303/30.
In Borneo, the Japanese expand their hold at Balikpapan, where they already are in possession of the critical refinery. Their advance southward is slow because the Dutch garrison has destroyed the bridges on the main coastal road. Late in the day, the Japanese reach Balikpapan City, which the Dutch have abandoned. The Japanese send their Surprise Attack Unit south of the Reservoir and head upriver toward the village of Banoeabaroe. The remaining Dutch troops in the area attempt to withdraw via the coast road, but the Surprise Attack Unit cuts them off. After that, the Surprise Attack returns to Balikpapan City and helps to complete its occupation.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, 25 January 1942
The Richmond Times-Dispatch for 25 January 1942 has timely news about the Battle of the Makassar Strait, an American victory.
In the Philippines, the eastern half of the Allied line controlled by II Corps pulls back under pressure. I Corps, in control of the western half of the line, also pulls back and abandons its defenses at Mauban south of Moron (Morong). The Japanese roadblock on West Road behind the main front line continues to be a thorn in the I Corps side, and the US command has to divert additional troops to it from the west. The small Japanese bridgehead far to the south at Quinauan and Longoskawayan Points also holds out against fierce Allied attacks, though it is being forced back against some cliffs. It is a bitter battle, with heavy casualties on both sides. The retreat down the Bataan Peninsula has progressed so far now that the southern beach areas now shift from the control of the Service Command Area to the military commanders of I and II Corps.

Warangoi River, New Britain, near Rabaul, 25 January 1942
"Warangoi River, New Britain. 1942-01. The Adler River, in the Bainings Mountains on the eastern side of the Gazelle Peninsula, an obstacle to the Australian troops retreating from Rabaul after the successful attack by Japanese forces. This is the point where at least two parties of retreating Australian troops crossed the Adler River. The first party of twenty-one men from the Anti-aircraft Battery Rabaul and the 17th Anti-tank Battery crossed here on 1942-01-26 securing a lawyer vine rope to cross the river. This image was taken in late January 1942 and shows some of the men of Sergeant L. I. H. (Les) Robbins' party fording the river as they make their way south toward Palmalmal Plantation and rescue in April 1942." The Japanese are in firm control of the port of Rabaul on 25 January 1942, but their grip on the rest of New Britain is tenuous. The retreating Australian troops have nowhere to go and little hope of rescue, but they can hide out in the jungles for as long as they can find food and water. Australian War Memorial P02395.012.
Sailors in the Japanese Navy continue to feel invulnerable and use their submarines to take potshots at US military installations. on 25 January 1942, Japanese submarine I-73 shells the US base on Midway Island. Meanwhile, I-59 enters Sabang Roads, Sumatra (Indonesia) and sinks a freighter and captures part of the crew.

General Rommel inspecting the front, January 1942
Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel on an inspection tour of the front, January 1942 (Gemini, Ernst A., Federal Archive Figure 183-H26262).
Battle of the Mediterranean: Panzer Group Africa continues its offensive and takes Msus. British 1st Armoured Division, 13 Corps, falls back on Mechili. Indian 4th Division evacuates Benghazi and Barce, protected by a small detachment of tanks from the 1st Armoured Division. British General Neal Ritchie, General Officer Commanding Eighth Army, then orders Indian 4th Division and 1st Armoured Division to prepare a counterattack.

U-123, 25 January 1942
U-123 (Kptlt. Reinhard Hardegen, shown here in January/February 1942, was the first U-boat operating off the east coast of the United States as part of Operation Drumbeat. On 25 January 1942, it sinks British freighter Culebra.
Battle of the Atlantic: Operation Paukenschlag (Drumbeat), the U-boat offensive off the east coast of the United States, continues claiming victims. U-125 (Kptlt. Ulrich Folkers) is on its third patrol out of Lorient attacks 7294-ton US tanker Olney off Cape Lookout, North Carolina. Attempting to escape, Olney's captain grounds the tanker. Olney later proceeds to port, its minor damage is repaired, and returns to service.

U-130 (KrvKpt. Ernst Kals) is on its second patrol out of Lorient. Today, it is operating off the coast of New Jersey and torpedoes and sinks 9305-ton Norwegian tanker Varanger. Everyone is rescued.

British freighter Culebra, sunk on, 25 January 1942
British freighter Culebra, sunk by U-123 on 25 January 1942.
U-123 (Kptlt. Reinhard Hardegen) is on its seventh patrol out of Lorient. It was the first U-boat to reach the US east coast and now is on its way back to France. Today, in the mid-Atlantic, it uses its deck gun to attack and sink 3044-ton British freighter Culebra, which was dispersed from Convoy ON-53 and is en route from London/Loch Ewe to Bermuda/Jamaica. There are no survivors. Captain Hardegan praises the crew of the Culebra in his log, noting their "astonishing cold-bloodedness" as the Culebra's crew puts up a heroic fight with its deck gun.

U-754 (Kptlt. Hans Oestermann) is on its first patrol out of Kiel. Today, it torpedoes and sinks 3876-ton Greek collier Mount Kitheron about two miles off St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. There are 12 deaths and 24 survivors.

German soldiers in southern Russia, 25 January 1942
German soldiers on the march in southern USSR, January 1942 (Grunewald, Federal Archive Picture 101I-539-0393-26A).
Eastern Front: The Red Army advance west of Moscow continues on 25 January 1942. The advancing Soviets encircle Kholm (south of Lake Ilmen). Isolated in the pocket are about 5500 German troops under the command of General Theodor Scherer, primarily of the 218th Infantry Division and the 553rd Regiment of the 329th Division, but with many other men from other units, too. Unlike in the larger Demyansk pocket nearby, there is not enough land for an airstrip, so all supplies must be air-dropped - which is hazardous for both the planes and the German soldiers who sometimes are enticed into going dangerously close to Soviet outposts to get the containers.

Greek freighter Mount Kitheron, sunk on 25 January 1942
Greek freighter Mount Kitheron, torpedoed off St. John's, Newfoundland, on 25 January 1942.
The Soviet troops are occupying vast swathes of territory during the Moscow counteroffensive, but it is not easy. They are struggling through snowdrifts and over icy roads, and the fact that they are encountering little opposition from the Wehrmacht, which is, for the most part, sitting tight in fortified towns, is cold comfort. Due to necessity, the Germans have adopted a strong-point strategy (also called a hedgehog defense) wherein they occupy isolated fortified towns and villages while basically conceding everywhere else to the Soviets. This has been put in motion not out of some kind of well-thought strategy, but because Hitler has ordered the troops to hold towns without regard to being surrounded. The hedgehog defense actually is very effective (it is "invented" by NATO in the 1970s), but flies in the face of 1942 military doctrine.

German soldiers unloading a Junkers Ju 52 in the Demyansk pocket, January 1942
German soldiers use sleds to unload a Junkers Ju 52 transport in the Demyansk pocket south of Lake Ilmen, January 1942 (Ullrich, Gerhard, Federal Archive Bild 101I-003-3446-21). 
On the Crimea Peninsula, Soviet General Kozlov continues sending reinforcements by sea to his small bridgehead at Sudak, which is far behind the main line. Kozlov is convinced that the Germans don't have the strength eliminate the bridgehead, but German General Fretter-Pico already is diverting troops from 30 Corps which will soon be in a position to attack with devastating superiority.

Hermann Goering and Mussolini at Furbara Airfield, 25 January 1942
Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering and Italian leader Benito Mussolini watch a demonstration of aircraft prototypes at Furbara Airfield, January 1942 (Federal Archive Picture 146-1979-155-22).
Australian Government: The Australian War Cabinet calls up for military service "all able-bodied white male British subjects" between the ages of 18 and 45 years old.

British telephone company repairing lines, 25 January 1942
"At the scene of the 'incident', telephone repair crews unroll new cables on a bomb-damaged London street in order to breach the gap in telephone supply caused by an air raid." London, January 1942 (© IWM (D 6445)). 


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

January 24, 1942: Battle of Makassar Strait

Saturday 24 January 1942

British tanker Empire Gem sinks off the North Carolina coast on 24 January 1942
British tanker Empire Gem sinks off Cape Hatteras after being torpedoed by U-66 on 24 January 1942 (Naval History and Heritage Command NH 54371).
Battle of the Pacific: There is a short, sharp surface engagement between US Navy destroyers and Japanese surface ships off Balikpapan early in the morning on 24 January 1942. Sometimes called the Battle of Makassar Strait, it takes place during the Japanese landing at Balikpapan. The 59th US Navy Destroyer Division, under Rear Admiral William A. Glassford and Commander Paul H. Talbot, attacks following orders from Admiral Thomas Hart. There are 12 Japanese transport vessels and three old World War I-vintage Japanese destroyers serving as escorts just off Balikpapan. The US destroyers (USS Paul Jones, Parrott, Pope, and John D. Ford) use torpedoes to sink four transport ships (Kuretake Maru, Nana Maru, Sumanoura Maru, and Tatsukami Maru) and patrol boat P-37. There is gunfire between the armed transports and destroyer John D. Ford, with both ships suffering damage. The battle, the first true surface engagement of the war involving the United States Navy, is over by 04:00. The invasion, however, is unimpeded, with Major General Sakaguchi's 56th Mixed Infantry Group and the No. 2 Kure SNLF occupying Balikpapan and its critically important refineries without resistance.

British tanker Empire Gem sinks off the North Carolina coast on 24 January 1942
British tanker Empire Gem sinks off Cape Hatteras after being torpedoed by U-66 on 24 January 1942 (Naval History and Heritage Command NH 54213).
In the Philippines, the Allied forces begin a broad retreat in the eastern II Corps sector. The Japanese maintain pressure on the Allies, particularly on the Philippine Division, but many of the Allied troops get away. In the western I Corps sector, the Japanese also gain ground. The 1st Division of the Philippine Army begins to crumble. A Japanese roadblock on the West Road which blocks US Army communications with its troops further north at the front continues to hold out despite increasingly frantic attempts to eliminate it. Small Japanese forces which recently landed well behind the front at Quinauan and Longoskawayan Points also continue to hold out. Ad hoc US units including some US Marines do, however, make some progress there, regaining Pucot Hill and driving the Japanese back to Longoskawayan and Lapiay Points.

British tanker Empire Gem sinks off the North Carolina coast on 24 January 1942
British tanker Empire Gem sinks off Cape Hatteras after being torpedoed by U-66 on 24 January 1942 (Naval History and Heritage Command NH 60611).
In the Netherlands East Indies, the Japanese Eastern Invasion Force lands at Kendari on Celebes Island. Japanese destroyers and aircraft attack fleeing USN seaplane tender (destroyer), USS Childs (AVD-1, ex-DD-241), but it manages to escape to the south in stormy weather. The landings go well for the Japanese, who occupy Kendari and capture most of the Dutch defenders. As usual, some of the defenders escape into the interior and begin guerilla operations (which invariably are primarily focused on mere survival). The Japanese 21st Air Flotilla quickly beings operations from Kendari Airfield.

British tanker Empire Gem sinks off the North Carolina coast on 24 January 1942
British tanker Empire Gem sinks off Cape Hatteras after being torpedoed by U-66 on 24 January 1942 (Naval History and Heritage Command NH 60610).
On the Malay Peninsula, the situation continues to deteriorate for the Commonwealth troops. There is hard fighting at Batu Pahat and the Japanese approach Kluang. The Japanese 18th Division completes its landings at Singora. There is some renewed hope for the British when 942 men of the Australian 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion and 1907 other Australian reinforcements arrive in Singapore during the day. However, these men are short-timers without adequate training, and many have never even fired a rifle. General Arthur Percival issues his first plan for a complete withdrawal of all troops onto Singapore Island itself. However, the island has not been prepared for a siege and no fortifications have been built because the island's civilian workers who must do the work are demanding more money.

British tanker Empire Gem sinks off the North Carolina coast on 24 January 1942
British tanker Empire Gem sinks off Cape Hatteras after being torpedoed by U-66 on 24 January 1942 (Naval History and Heritage Command NH 60612).
On New Britain, Japanese forces begin mopping up operations south of Rabaul. Many Australian soldiers remain at large in the interior of the island, but they have no food or water or any means of resupply. The Japanese know this and post leaflets in English stating, "you can find neither food nor way of escape in this island and you will only die of hunger unless you surrender." The Japanese 3rd Battalion of the 144th Infantry Regiment under General Horii begins searching the southern part of the Gazelle Peninsula and captures of the first of over 1000 Australian soldiers. The interior of the island is so rough and inhospitable, however, that Japanese efforts to clear New Britain require huge expenditures of effort and time.

SS Venore, sunk off the North Carolina coast on 24 January 1942
US tanker SS Venore is one of two tankers sunk on 24 January 1942 by U-66 off the North Carolina coast. There are 21 deaths and 22 survivors. Venore was the other tanker sunk in the attack that also claimed Empire Gem.
In the Gulf of Panama (on the Pacific side of the isthmus), submarine chaser USS Sturdy accidentally rams and sinks US submarine S-26. There are 43 deaths, the entire crew of USS S-26 excepting three men (the captain, executive officer, and a lookout) who are in the conning tower and survive.

A British convoy forms off Methil on 24 January 1942
Aboard a convoy ship at Methil on 24 January 1942. "General view showing the convoy gathering at the anchorage." © IWM (A 7219).
Battle of the Atlantic: It is an active day in the Atlantic:
  • U-106 (Oblt. Hermann Rasch), on its fifth patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 5631-ton British freighter Emperor Wildebeeste (dispersed from Convoy ON-53) at 06:53 southeast of Halifax. There are nine dead and 34 survivors.
  • U-66 (Kptlt. Richard Zapp), on its fourth patrol out of Lorient, is operating about 20 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, when it torpedoes and sinks 8139-ton British tanker Empire Gem and 8017-ton US tanker Venore.
  • U-333 (Kptlt. Peter Erich Cremer), on its first patrol out of Kiel and operating as part of Wolfpack Ziethen in the North Atlantic, torpedoes and sinks 4765-ton Norwegian freighter Ringstad, which also has been dispersed from Convoy ON-53.
Convoy QP-6 departs from Murmansk (QP convoys head east to west, PQ convoys head west to east). It includes six freighters and two Soviet Navy escorts. The Kriegsmarine has been beefing up its forces on the Arctic Convoy routes, but the days are short high above the Arctic Circle and German U-boats and planes have difficulty finding the Arctic Convoys.

Italian liner MV Victoria, sunk by the RAF on 24 January 1942
Italian 13,098-ton Italian ocean liner MV Victoria, sunk on 24 January 1942 by a British air attack in the Gulf of Sirte. An Albacore of RAF No. 826 Squadron torpedoed the Victoria late on 23 January 1942. Italian destroyers Avere and Camicia Nera are nearby and pick up 1064 of the 1455 people on board. Victoria was part of Italian supply operation T-18, and the other ships in the convoy make it to Tripoli.
Battle of the Mediterranean: German General Erwin Rommel's offensive is gathering speed, and already the British see which way the wind is blowing. The Royal Navy sends three destroyers (HMS Dulverton, Heythrop, and Southwold) from Alexandria to evacuate Benghazi. Rommel receives badly needed supplies in Tripoli when Italian supply operation T-18 makes port with 5322-ton Monviso, 5324-ton Monginevro, and 6339-ton Vettor Pisani. However, Rommel does not get all of his supplies because 6142-ton Ravello has to turn back to Messina with rudder problems. In addition, the real prize, 13,098-ton Italian liner Victoria, sinks en route after being torpedoed by an RAF Albacore of No. 826 Squadron. While 1064 of the 1455 people on board the Victoria do get rescued and make it to Tripoli, this is another troubling loss on a convoy route that the Italian Navy is proving unable to protect.

A British Royal Navy officer on board a convoy ship on 24 January 1942
Aboard a convoy ship at Methil on 24 January 1942. "The 1st officer at work in the Chart Room." © IWM (A 7212).
Eastern Front: A desperate German attempt to rescue an encircled 4000-man garrison at Sukhinichi barely succeeds on 24 January 1942. Generalmajor Werner von Gilsa has been able to hold out by receiving sporadic Luftwaffe supply drops. He also has been the beneficiary of somewhat clumsy Red Army attacks. A weak Second Panzer Army thrust east by 18th Panzer Division and the 208th Infantry Division exploits the weak Soviet cordon around the town to get near. A desperate battle involving reinforcements by both sides in -40 °F weather finally results in two battalions of the 18th Panzer Division reaching the town during the afternoon. It is a brilliant success, but the line back to the main German lines is extremely tenuous and Hitler still has not lifted his order to hold the town - so it is unclear if the rescuers will just get trapped there, too.

A damaged Finnish Brewster Buffalo on 24 January 1942
A Finnish Brewster Buffalo (No. BS-372) showing damage sustained during a mission on 24 January 1942. The plane was repaired and put back into service, ultimately being shot down and lost on 25 June 1942. The plane is found again in August 1998 in Big Kolejärvi Lake, about 50 kilometers from the town of Segezha. The Finns were the only major power able to make good use of the Brewster Buffalo after receiving a consignment of 44 of them from the United States during the Winter War. Reportedly, every Finnish Brewster averaged 11 victories.
Since 22 January, a Red Army offensive by I and V Cavalry Corps has been chewing into the Army Group South line being held by General Hermann Hoth's 17th Army. The Soviet troops are making good progress west of Slavyansk. As with Soviet advances west of Moscow, the advance is impressive in terms of ground regained. It has retaken half the distance from Izyum to Dnepropetrovsk. However, there are no strategic objectives anywhere east of Dnepropetrovsk, which contains a vital crossing across the Dnieper River (one of less than a handful in the entire southern portion of the front).

British Royal Navy headquarters at Greenock on 24 January 1942
""Bagatelle", the office of the Flag Officer in Charge, Greenock." This photo was taken on 24 January 1942. © IWM (A 7732).
Even further south, on the Crimea, the Soviets have not given up on their small landing force behind the German lines at Sudak. General Dimitri Kozlov, confused by the slow Axis reaction into thinking that the Germans have no troops available to eliminate the bridgehead, feeds more reinforcements into the bridgehead. In fact, the Germans have plenty of troops available but have been waiting to see if local Romanian troops can handle the situation. Local German commander General MaximilianFretter-Pico begins sending units of the German 30 Corps to the area, but they will not get into position for a forceful counterattack for a couple of days.

Production at the SPAWAR plant in San Diego on 24 January 1942. The production line is making B-24 Liberators.
A view of the B-24 Liberator production line at the Consolidated Aircraft Production Plant No. 2, in the SPAWAR complex in San Diego, California, on 24 January 1942. The plant, incidentally, remains intact in the 21st Century.
US Government: The Roberts Commission, formed in December 1941 to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, releases its report to the public on 24 January 1942. Led by Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts, the other members of the committee are all active or retired military officials: Admiral William H. Standley, Admiral Joseph M. Reeves, General Frank R. McCoy, and General Joseph T. McNarney. The Roberts Commission assigns the majority of the blame for the destruction of the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor on two men: General Walter C. Short and Admiral Husband E. Kimmel. The report singles them out for "dereliction of duty" for their lack of preparedness, a conclusion which many over the years consider typical scapegoating after an attack.

A change of command at Greenock on 24 January 1942
Change of command at Greenock. "Vice Admiral B. C. Watson, CB, DSO, FOIC, Greenock (center) with his staff after taking leave of them on being relieved." © IWM (A 7729).
The Roberts Commission's Report also includes an offhand remark which addresses a question of rising importance to millions of people:
There were, prior to December 7, 1941, Japanese spies on the island of Oahu. Some were Japanese consular agents and other [sic] were persons having no open relations with the Japanese foreign service. These spies collected and, through various channels transmitted, information to the Japanese Empire respecting the military and naval establishments and dispositions on the island...
This statement has a devastating impact on public opinion. There were Japanese consular agents - or agents purporting to be consular officials - who spied on Pearl Harbor throughout much of 1941. The US intelligence services kept a close eye on them. However, it is unclear who the spies "having no open relations with the Japanese foreign service" were. This inflames public opinion and greatly accelerates the process of sending Japanese-Americans to internment camps. General John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Defense Command, meets with California governor Culbert Olson shortly after the report's release. Olson tells him:
Since the publication of the Roberts Report, they [the people of California] feel they are living in the midst of enemies. They don't trust the Japanese, none of them.
All of this is undoubtedly true, the only open question is whether the Roberts Commission was correct about there being private Japanese spies and, if so, who they were. That question is never satisfactorily answered. Heretofore, General DeWitt has taken a moderate opinion on the question of internment, but, following the release of the Roberts Commission Report, he redoubles his efforts to intern Japanese-Americans.

Commander Paul Talbot receives the Navy Cross for his leadership on the night of 24 January 1942
Commander Paul H. Talbot receives the US Navy Cross for "especially meritorious conduct, extreme courage and complete disregard for his own personal safety" as commander of Destroyer Squadron 59 on the night of 24 January 1942. "LC-Lot-4263-32: Battle of Balikpapan, January 24, 1942. The Honorable Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy, presents the Navy Cross to Commander Paul H. Talbot, USN, July 11, 1942. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox Collection. Photographed through Mylar sleeve. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. (2015/11/20)."


Thursday, May 9, 2019

January 23, 1942: Japan Takes Rabaul

Friday 23 January 1942

Funeral of Field Marshal von Reichenau, 23 January 1942
The funeral of Field Marshal von Reichenau in Berlin on 23 January 1942. Visible (among others) are Reich Minister Dr. Frick, Reichsleiter Bouhler, Generaloberst Fromm, Reich Minister Goebbels, Grossadmiral Raeder (in black), and Field Marshal Milch (at far right). Notably absent are Adolf Hitler and Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering (Schwahn, Ernst, Federal Archive Figure 183-J00243).
Battle of the Pacific: Around 5,300 Japanese troops sail directly into Rabaul's Simpson Harbor on New Britain before dawn on 23 January 1942. They quickly evict defending Australian Lark Force troops from the vicinity and take the critical port of Rabaul. The Japanese 144th Infantry Regiment under Colonel Masao Kusunose brushes the Australians defending Vulcan Beach aside after a brief fight, but most of the landings are unopposed and the invaders quickly move inland. By nightfall, the Japanese have secured Lakunai airfield and Australian commander Lieutenant Colonel John Scanlan orders his civilians and soldiers alike to disperse into the nearby forests. The Australian troops lose two officers, 26 other men, and control of both New Britain and New Ireland Islands.

Japanese invasion of Rabaul, 23 January 1942
Japanese troops take Rabaul, 23 January 1942.
Many beaten Australian defenders of Rabaul remain at large in the interior of the two islands for weeks and some for months. There is no way to supply the men, so guerilla operations on any kind of large scale are impossible. The RAAF manages to get is people off New Britain at the last minute in flying boats and a Hudson, but the vast majority of Australians, around 1000, ultimately surrender after the Japanese make additional landings in the southern portion of New Britain. In any event, the Japanese are happy to just hold the northern portion of New Britain along the line of the Keravat River which contains the port and airfield. Northern New Britain turns into a virtually impregnable position due to the geography of the island - aside from a large-scale direct invasion such as that mounted by the Japanese. The invasion of New Ireland and New Britain is the beginning of the New Guinea Campaign.

Japanese occupation of Kavieng on New Ireland, 23 January 1942
"New Ireland. Japanese troops occupy Kavieng (formerly Kawieng) [New Ireland] on 23 January 1942." Australian War Memorial 127910.
In Burma, the 1st and 2d Fighter Squadrons, American Volunteer Group (the "Flying Tigers") have been giving a very good account of themselves since they began operation in late December 1941. Japanese pressure is increasing, however, and there are fierce air battles over Rangoon. The American pilots have a good day, shooting down five "Nate" fighters at 10:30. They also destroy five "Mary" light bombers and seven Ki-27 fighters after dark. The Japanese troops continue making slow but steady progress into Burma from Thailand.

USS Cassin, 23 January 1942
Capsized USS Cassin (DD-372) being salvaged at Pearl Harbor, 23 January 1942 (Navsource).
On the Malay Peninsula, the Commonwealth troops evacuate Yong Peng after dark and head south. Some elements of the Indian 45th Brigade which escaped after the lost battle of the Parit Sulong Bridge manage to make it there through the jungles and swamps in the intervening five kilometers. British troops, the 2nd Loyals (North Lancashire), fight a desperate rear-guard action at Yong Peng against seven Japanese tanks which holds the road open just long enough for the fleeing 45th Brigade men to make it to safety. The British plan is to form a shortened line in the south to protect central Johore State, which serves as a buffer zone protecting Singapore. This line is projected to run Batu Pahat-Ayer Hitam-Kluang- Jemaluang. Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival, General Officer Commanding Malaya Command, is under no illusions, however. He now sets in motion the first stages of withdrawal from the mainland to Singapore Island, where the British still have not begun building defensive fortifications along the vulnerable north coast.

Balikpapan Oil refinery, captured on 23 January 1942
The Balikpapan Oil refinery, which the Japanese capture on 23 January 1942 (Collectie Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen).
Japanese invasion forces moving south through the Makassar Strait and Molucca Passage land at Balikpapan, Borneo, and Kendari, Celebes Island, respectively. The Japanese troops at Balikpapan are in Major General Sakaguchi’s 56th Mixed Infantry Group and the No. 2 Kure SNLF. They quickly occupy the critical oil refinery which the Japanese project can supply a full third of their oil needs. The Dutch send air strikes which accomplish little. Some Allied planes are based at Palembang, Sumatra, and RAF reinforcements begin arriving there today. However, the Japanese are moving quickly and bomb that airfield for the first time today. A Japanese landing force also heads out after dark and lands north of Kendari, Celebes Island, where they seize Kendari Airfield. The US Navy has four destroyers, USS Parrott, John D. Ford, Pope, and Paul Jones, in the vicinity of Balikpapan and they stage a daring raid on the unsuspecting Japanese invasion fleet lying at anchor offshore. In the first such night action of the war, the US destroyers use torpedoes to sink four (empty) enemy transport ships and a torpedo boat before slipping away undetected in the dark.

USS Cassin and Downes, 23 January 1942
"USS Cassin (DD-372), at left, and USS Downes (DD-375), Under salvage in Drydock Number One at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, 23 January 1942. They had been wrecked during the 7 December 1941 Japanese air raid. Photographed from the foremast of USS Raleigh (CL-7), which was undergoing battle damage repairs in the drydock. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Photo #: NH 54562." Navsource.
In the Philippines, heavy fighting continues in the II Corps sector western flank on the Bataan Peninsula. The Japanese force II Corps to begin withdrawing after dark to the final prepared defensive line. In the I Corps sector in the western half of the peninsula, the Japanese blocking force on West Road continues to hold out despite desperate Allied attempts to dislodge them and free a line of communications to the U.S. troops north of them holding the front. The Japanese cause further problems when a battalion of the 16th Division makes small landings far behind the Allied lines at Longoskawayan Point and Quinauan Point. The local US forces are taken completely by surprise and, despite increasingly frantic attacks, are unable to dislodge them.

Zero taking off from Zuikaku, 23 January 1942
An A6M2 Zero taking off from Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku on 23 January 1942.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel's "reconnaissance in force" is quickly developing into a full-scale offensive in Libya. The Afrika Korps panzers destroy 2 Armoured Brigade of 1 Armoured Division west of Saunnu on 23 January 1942. The British thus lose their only effective mobile formation. This opens the way for Rommel's forces to advance to Msus and thence on to Benghazi and Gazala.

Dwight Eisenhower with War Plans Division, 23 January 1942
Officers of the U.S. War Department War Plans Division, 23 January 1942. Left to right: Col. W. K. Harrison, Col. Lee S. Gerow, Brig. Gen. Robert W. Crawford, Brig. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Brig. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow, Chief, Col. Thomas T. Handy, Col. Stephen H. Sherrill.
Partisans: The Germans and Italians have been trying to recover territory lost to partisans in remote areas of Croatia since 15 January 1942. This is Operation Southeast Croatia (Unternehmen Südost Kroatien). It is part of a long-term battle against partisans throughout the Balkans. Operation Southeast Croatia concludes today due to the weather, but reduced operations continue into February 1942. The blizzards hamper operations and the operation "recovers" territory only temporarily. The partisans know the Germans are coming and simply melt away into the mountains or discard their weapons and "become locals." The Germans have suffered 25 dead, 131 wounded, one missing, and 300 cases of frostbite during Operation Southeast Croatia. The partisans lose 531 killed and about 1400 captured. The Yugoslavs come to call this the "Second Enemy Offensive" - the Germans being, of course, the enemy. Operation Southeast Croatia has an unintended long-term consequence for the partisans because Chetnik (royalist) troops in the region do not fight the Axis troops but instead quickly flee across the Drina River, while Josip Broz Tito's communist partisans do fight for a while. Technically, the Chetniks may have the right plan, but politically it is a disaster. Tito's men eventually slip through Italian formations in the south of the operation and form up again around Foča. This severs cooperation between the two partisan forces, which causes the partisan movement many more problems than anything the Axis troops do.

Polish troops on exercises in Great Britain, 23 January 1942
"Anti-aircraft Bren gun team stands guard as 4.5-inch howitzers of the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment (1st Polish Corps), towed by Morris-Commercial 'Quad' artillery tractors, passing by in deep snow, Scotland." 23 January 1942. © IWM (H 16800).
The German security forces learn some valuable lessons during Operation Southeast Croatia, such as that their Croatian allies are of little help in the mountains due to poor equipment and training and the difficulty of operations in the mountains during winter. A more valuable lesson that could be learned but apparently is not is that encirclement tactics against partisans rarely work except against very large formations (such as those that have tanks and planes) because the partisans can act like locals and simply slip through almost any cordon. Surrounding a large area to "flush out" the partisans requires a vastly greater expenditure of troops and equipment than can ever be profitable for the small gains achieved. During Operation Southeast Croatia, for instance, the Germans use 20,000-30,000 troops, five panzer platoons, and an armored train. This is a vastly greater allocation of troops than the operation ever could have been worth even had it been entirely successful and cleared the target territory of its estimated 8000 partisans. Nothing of the sort results and partisans return as soon as the German security troops leave the vicinity - those that actually left in the first place, that is. The local German commanders can just point at a map and tell their commanders that they successfully cleared a large area - and who is to dispute them? They did - for a few weeks. So, the German authorities continue to believe that encirclement is a good tactic despite its ineffectiveness during Operation Southeast Croatia.

USS Curtiss Biplane, 23 January 1942
"A US Curtiss Biplane, used by the Royal Navy taking off for a patrol flight." On board HMS Victorious at Hvalfjord, Iceland, ca. 23 January 1942. © IWM (A 7311).
US Military: The Roberts Commission, formed following the attack on Pearl Harbor to study the circumstances surrounding the attack, concludes its investigation. The report assembles 2,173 pages of exhibits which form an invaluable resource for future students of the attack.

BBC Radio Times, 23 January 1942
BBC Radio Times, Issue 956, 23 January 1942, covering the schedules from 25 January 1942 to 31 January 1942.


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

January 22, 1942: Parit Sulong Massacre

Thursday 22 January 1942

London bomb Damage, January 1942
"A view of St Paul's Cathedral through bomb damage and snow." January 1942. © IWM (D 6418).
Battle of the Pacific: In the Malay Peninsula, the day 22 January 1942 begins with Lieutenant Colonel Charles Anderson and his 45h Indian Brigade trapped on the wrong side of the Parit Sulong Bridge. As promised, the RAF sends two Fairey Albacores accompanied by three RAAF Brewster Buffaloes to drop supplies and then attack the Japanese holding the bridge. However, the Japanese have tanks and numerical superiority which resume their attack once the planes are gone. Major General Gordon Bennett, in overall command of the area, then sends Anderson an understated farewell message:
Sorry unable help after your heroic effort. Good luck.
After trying once more to force his way across the Parit Sulong Bridge, Anderson orders the troops to destroy all remaining guns and vehicles. At 09:00, everyone who can walk heads eastward into the swamps and jungles toward Yong Peng about 5 km to the east, which the British still hold. About 150 defenseless men are left behind to surrender. This concludes the battle of Muar, a brutal Japanese victory.

The Yuma Daily Sun, 22 January 1942
The United States media continues to take an inventive approach to their reporting on events overseas. The 22 January 1942 Yuma (Arizona) Daily Sun, for instance, trumpets, "British Open Offensive in Malaya" when, in fact, the Allies are running as fast as they can for refuge in Singapore.
About 500 Australians and 400 Indians eventually make it to safety, but there is no safety for those left behind. The Japanese mistreat and massacre virtually everyone they capture, with only two men surviving to tell the tale. The Japanese herd the men into a hut at Parit Sulong village and then refuse to give them food or water. With extreme brutality at every step of the process, the Japanese bayonet, shoot, and behead the prisoners, then burn the bodies of the living and the dead alike. Lieutenant Ben Hackney of the 2/29th Australian Battalion and Sergeant Ron Croft manage to slip away, Croft still soaked in the petrol used to burn the others. Hackney and Croft at first find refuge with some native Malays, but Croft eventually perishes and the natives carry Hackney out into the jungle and leave him. Eventually, after 36 days, the locals give Hackney to the Japanese, who mistreat him but allow him to live. Hackney survives the war to give evidence against Japanese commander General Takuma Nishimura, who is sentenced to death for the Parit Sulong Massacre.

Norwegian tanker Inneroy, sunk by U-553 on 22 January 1942
U-553 (Kptlt. Karl Thurmann) torpedoes and sinks 8260-ton Norwegian tanker Innerøy on 22 January 1942. Traveling as an independent, the Innerøy sinks just before midnight south of Nova Scotia. There are 36 deaths and five survivors.
The main Japanese objective in the Bismarck Sea is the large Australian naval base of Rabaul on New Britain, and on 22 January 1942, the Japanese begin their methodical plan to conquer it. Early in the morning, between 3,000 and 4,000 troops land near the main town of Kavieng on New Ireland, just to the north of Rabaul. The Australians have sent a few commandos of the 2/1st Independent Company to the area, but the Japanese quickly brush them aside and secure Kavieng and the nearby airfield. The Australians withdraw toward the Sook River but have no hope of holding the island. After dark, the Japanese send about 5500 troops of the 144th Infantry Regiment (Colonel Masao Kusunose) toward Simpson Harbour, where Rabaul itself is located on New Britain, for landings on the 23rd. During the day, Japanese aircraft carriers Akagi and Kaga send air strikes against Rabaul for the third straight day. The Japanese also land troops on Mussau Island in the Saint Matthias group about 113 miles northwest of Kavieng.

Norwegian freighter William Hansen, sunk by U-754 on 22 January 1942
1344-ton Norwegian freighter SS William Hansen, shown, is transporting military stores from Hoboken, New Jersey, bound for Argenta, Newfoundland and thence St. John's when U-754 (Kptlt. Hans Oestermann), on its first patrol and operating with Wolfpack Ziethen, spots it. The U-boat torpedoes and sinks the William Hansen south of Newfoundland on 22 January 1942. There are eight survivors, but five of them die of their exposure on the rescue ship.
On the southeast coast of Borneo, west of Manggar and Sepiinggang, the Japanese at Sandakan, British North Borneo, plan an attack on the Balikpapan refining and oil center. These facilities are critical objectives of the Japanese war effort because they can supply about a third of Japanese oil needs.

In the Philippines, the Japanese begin an offensive in the eastern II Corps sector of the line. The Philippine Division falls back to a line east and south of Abucay Hacienda, relinquishing all gains during its recent counterattack. In the western I Corps sector, a determined Allied counterattack against Japanese behind the main front on West Road fails. The Allied 1st Division, further north at the front, remains cut off from supply and reinforcement but is not in immediate danger. After dark, the Japanese send an amphibious force from Moron (Morong) which heads toward Caibobo Point, near Bagac. US Navy torpedo boats attack the force and PT-34 (Lieutenant John D. Bulkeley) sinks two of the landing barges.

U.S. Navy destroyer USS Conyngham (DD-371), 22 January 1942
The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Conyngham (DD-371) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California (USA), 22 January 1942. Note that she still has her number three 5/38 gun (Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives 19-N-27127).
With Wake Island in Japanese hands, it becomes a favorite target for US Navy live fire exercises. The first such mission begins on 22 January 1942, when USS Lexington (Task Force 11, Admiral Wilson Brown, Jr.) departs from Pearl Harbor to attack the island. There are no plans now or later to recapture Wake Island, as it is of virtually of no use to anyone so long as the Americans keep an eye on it.

Kingston, Jamaica The Daily Gleaner, 22 January 1942
The Kingston, Jamaica Daily Gleaner has good news about the Eastern Front.
Eastern Front: Civilians are starving in Leningrad, which, despite the continuing Red Army counteroffensive, remains cut off from all land approaches. The only way in or out, aside from hazardous flights, is on the "ice road" across Lake Ladoga. The Soviet authorities begin evacuating the first of 440,000 residents over the next 50 days. Further south below Lake Ilmen, Second Shock Army under General Vlasov holds a small bridgehead of about three-by-five miles across the Volkhov River that has the potential to break the Leningrad siege. It makes good progress of several miles today to the west. However, the Red Army troops are still seventy miles south of Leningrad and are operating in the middle of forests with no strategic objectives nearby. The Soviet counteroffensive continues, but it is attenuating as it spreads out in all directions.

American Homefront: MGM releases (wide release, the premiere was 18 December 1941) "Kathleen," starring Shirley Temple and Laraine Day and directed by Harold S. Bucquet. It is Temple's only film for MGM and fails at the box office. This leads the parties to cancel her contract with the studio "by mutual consent." It is the beginning of a lengthy downturn in Shirley Temple's career as she approaches puberty.

Poster for "Kathleen" starring Shirley Temple, 22 January 1942
The poster for "Kathleen," an MGM film starring Shirley Temple that is released on 22 January 1942.