Tuesday, May 7, 2019

January 21, 1942: Parit Sulong Bridge Battle

Wednesday 21 January 1942

Zero on Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku, 21 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A Japanese Zero (Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 0 Model 21) taking off from aircraft carrier Zuikaku for a raid against Lae, New Guinea on 21 January 1942.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel unleashes an offensive from El Agheila on the startled British forces in West Cyrenaica, Libya on 21 January 1942. As is typical with desert offensives on both sides, it begins with a "reconnaissance in force" designed to probe for weakness and exploit it if found. The Afrika Korps advances in three columns centered on the main coastal road with powerful support from the Luftwaffe. British Eighth Army has not been alerted to any German plans to attack by the Ultra decryption service and thus has not prepared defensive positions. The British 13 Corps quickly withdraws back toward a line centered on Agedabra and El Haseiat. Indian 4th Division moves to block a German advance along the coast toward Benghazi. The British quickly begin looking over their shoulders to the old German line at Gazala, where they ultimately wind up.

Borger Daily Herald, 21 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Borger (Texas) Daily Herald for 21 January 1942 trumpets Red Army successes outside Moscow.
Rommel also engineers a distraction for his attack. He sends a Heinkel He 111 of Sonderkommando Blaich (Captain Theo Blaich) to bomb the Free-French controlled Fort Lamy in French Equatorial Africa. Blaich has proposed the mission against the fort because it is an important waypoint along the Allied supply route from Takoradi, Ghana, to Egypt. The mission is successful, but the plane runs out of fuel and has to make an emergency landing in the middle of the desert. There, the crew waits until 27 January, when it is spotted by an Italian Caproni Ca.309 Ghibli reconnaissance plane. The next day, a Junkers Ju 52 bomber brings fuel and the original Heinkel is flown back to base. While the mission only causes minor damage to the fort but destroys a large number of badly needed Allied supplies. French general Philippe Leclerc takes the threat perhaps more seriously than it deserves and expends a great deal of effort to strengthen the air defenses at the fort and launch ground operations against remote Italian forces in the Fezzan region. It is a good example of inducing the enemy to waste more resources than you are using against him.

Panamanian collier Nord, sunk by Japanese submarine I-66 on 21 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Japanese submarine I-66 sinks 3193-ton Panamanian collier Nord off Rangoon in Preparis North Channel, Andaman Sea, on 21 January 1942. Everyone survives.
Battle of the Pacific: A RAAF Consolidated PBY Catalina crew spots the approaching Japanese invasion fleet off Kavieng. The Crew gets off its position before the Japanese shoot the flying boat down. This causes the Australian defenders to deploy ground troops along the western shore of Blanche Bay, where they expect the Japanese to land. With only two Wirraways left at Rabaul, the RAAF withdraws them and a Hudson to Lae with as many wounded as they can carry. The Australians then destroy the airfield and dig in for what they know is bound to be a difficult battle. Japanese carrier-based air attacks continue, with bombers from carriers Akagi and Kaga bombing Rabaul on New Britain Island while Shokaku and Zuikaku bomb Kavieng on New Ireland Island. The US Navy sends Rear Admiral William A. Glassford aboard light cruiser USS Boise to attack the force with a small force that includes light cruiser USS Marblehead and four destroyers. However, both cruisers experience troubles (Boise runs aground and Marblehead has engine troubles), so the fairly unimposing force quickly is reduced to just the four destroyers.

In the Makassar Strait, US submarine USS S-36 is scuttled by its crew after running aground. All 42 men aboard are rescued by a Dutch flying boat and they scuttle the submarine.

Hong Kong News, 21 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Hong Kong News of 21 January 1942 features war pictures. Naturally, they are from the Japanee perspective.
In the Philippines, the Japanese are preparing a major offensive in the eastern II Corps area, so things today are relatively quiet. The Japanese plan to attack the western half of the II Corps line on 22 January. The Allies continue attacking with the Philippine Division in this area to restore the original line, without success. In the western I Corps sector, a small Japanese force has gotten behind the main Allied line in the extreme west near the coast. The Japanese are on West Road about miles east of Mauban. This effectively cuts off the Ist Division which is defending the main line. The Allies attack this force from both north and south, but the Japanese hold firm.

Hong Kong News, 21 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Hong Kong News for 21 January 1942 features war pictures. 
On the Malay Peninsula, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Anderson leads his 45th Indian Infantry Brigade at dawn in a desperate attempt to take the Parit Sulong Bridge and continue their retreat south toward Singapore. The Japanese, however, have tanks, aircraft, and artillery in position to stop them. A Japanese machine gun nest on the bridge forces the Brigade back, where it hemmed into a length of roadway measuring only about 440 years (meters) long. The Brigade has a working radio and gets the news that troops at Yong Peng, about five miles to the east, are on to their way. Fierce fighting rages into the night, with the Allies knocking out several Japanese tanks approaching from the north. Anderson knows he cannot hold out much longer and calls in an airstrike for the morning of the 22nd while he tries to hold out throughout the night. He sends two ambulances with wounded men to try to cross the Parit Sulong Bridge under a flag of truce, but the Japanese refuse and order the ambulances to remain as roadblocks. However, the British drivers outwit the Japanese and escape back to the Brigade during the night.

MOMA Exhibit, 21 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A new exhibit entitled "Americans 1942: 18 Artists from 9 States" opens at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City on 21 January 1942.
Eastern Front: Soviet 4th Shock Army takes Toropets on the central front. The Soviet advance has created a wedge here into the German line that becomes known as the Toropets Bulge. The Red Army units in the area use supplies captured in Toropets to continue moving to the west. However, the Germans are stubbornly holding out at Kholm and Demyansk to the north. The Soviets never expected their counteroffensive to get this far and experience a little confusion about the best next step. Perhaps due to the strong German resistance at Kholm and Demyansk, they decide to turn south and move behind Army Group Center. The German generals actually prefer this, as it takes the pressure off the besieged German garrisons to the north and sends the Red Army units into an area they feel they have a better chance of holding.

Irene von Meyendorff in Filmwelt Magazine, 21 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Irene von Meyendorff in Filmwelt Magazine, 21 January 1942.
US/Chinese Relations: U.S. Major General Joseph W. Stilwell becomes chief of the Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's Allied staff. Stilwell assumes command of Allied units. With relations improving, the Chinese agree to move the 49th Division of the 6th Army into Burma, where the Japanese have opened a new front in the east along the Thai border.

Future History: Morris Mac Davis is born in Lubbock, Texas. In the 1960s, Davis writes several successful country songs for Elvis Presley, including "Memories", "In the Ghetto," "Don't Cry Daddy," and "A Little Less Conversation." Mac Davis then embarks on a very successful solo career in 1970 which includes country music, Broadway plays, motion pictures ("North Dallas Forty"), and television.

Zarah Leander on the cover of Filmwelt Magazine, 21 January 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Filmwelt Magazine for 21 January 1942 features Zarah Leander on the cover.

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 DražgoŇ°e
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

2019

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