Monday 2 February 1942
|"A British destroyer flotilla taking part in Mediterranean operations." Photo was taken on board HMS Jervis in the eastern Mediterranean, 2 February 1942 (© IWM (A 8576)).|
|"Major the Earl of Bradford (right) directs his company of the Home Guard during exercises with regular troops, 2 February 1942." © IWM (H 17543).|
|A snow-covered SB2U-2 Vindicator sits on the USS Wasp flight deck, February 1942 (Naval History and Heritage Command).|
|"Kepper Harbour, Singapore. 2 February 1942. Men of HMAS Hobart returning electric sewing machines in wooden crates that they had found in a godown (storage shed where incoming merchant goods were stored after unloading), just before the fall of Singapore. Approximately fifty sailors were placed under guard on the quarterdeck by the gunnery officer before Captain H. Howden returned to the ship from the dockyard and ordered the sailors to return the machines to the godown. However, some machines were brought back to the ship with a lot of other selected material. The Captain returned to the ship with a car and the dockyard crest, both of which were shipped back to Australia. (Donor M. Williams)" Australian War Memorial P02497.026.|
|Tamagawa Maru, sunk by USS Seadragon on 2 February 1942.|
Following the successful Marshalls-Gilbert Raids of 1 February, Admiral Halsey retires with his task force from the area in bright moonlight. The US Navy ships are shadowed by Japanese planes and a submarine but escape unscathed at 25 knots. The ships encounter a sudden storm during the morning, which they use to screen themselves from the Japanese. Halsey proudly tells that the task force that it has "made history in the Marshalls."
|FV Cape Spartel, one of the ships sunk by the Luftwaffe on 2 February 1942.|
|Admiral Doenitz graces the cover of Time Magazine, 2 February 1942 (cover credit: Vuk Vuchinich).|
U-103 (Kptlt. Werner Winter), on its sixth patrol out of Lorient, is operating off the east coast of the United States as part of Operation Paukenschlag (Drumbeat). Winter gets his first sinking of the patrol when he torpedoes and then shells 6182-ton US tanker W. L. Steed about 85 nautical miles (160 km) east of the mouth of the Delaware River. The weather is horrendous, with snow and icy temperatures, so many of the 38 men who take to the boats perish from exposure. Ultimately, there are 34 dead and four survivors.
|Ernst Kals, commander of U-130.|
|W. L. Steed, sunk by U-103 on 2 February 1942.|
Battle of the Mediterranean: German Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel's troops continue their rapid march from Benghazi. The Afrika Korps is advancing in two columns. The coastal column captures Berta but is stopped a dozen miles west of Derna. The inland column advances further, stopping south of Derna. In Cairo, General Claude Auchinleck, Commander in Chief Middle East Command, can see what is coming and tells his Eighth Army commanders that he expects them to hold Tobruk.
|The Air Training Corps (ATC) Gazette Vol. II No. 2, February 1942.|
Major General Joseph W. Stilwell becomes Chief of Staff to Supreme Commander, China Theater (Chiang Kai-shek). His portfolio is to:
increase the effectiveness of United States assistance to the Chinese Government for the prosecution of the war and to assist in improving the combat efficiency of the Chinese Army.Stilwell cannot do much about the Chinese Army, but he helps to sort out the chaos of Lend-Lease shipments to China.
The Headquarters of the USAAF 49th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) arrives in Melbourne, Victoria. They are equipped with P-40s, the most plentiful USAAF fighter at this time. These are raw pilots just out of flight school and their first assignment is to help put their own planes together from the crates in which they were shipped.
Egypt: The entire British position in the Mediterranean hinges on keeping a tight grip on Egypt. However, that grip is shaken today when King Farouk, who is known to harbor Axis sympathies, forces his entire cabinet to resign.
Holocaust: The commandant at the Auschwitz camp institutes a new "reeducation" policy for some prisoners (Erziehungshäftlinge). This involves giving such prisoners a new series of numbers (beginning EH 1) that are distinct from the general series of numbers. A total of 1137 such numbers are issued. These reeducation prisoners live under the same conditions as other prisoners in the camp but are released after a limited period not to exceed eight weeks (though this time limit is not honored in actuality and many spend much longer in the camp). Ultimately, about 11,000 prisoners in this category pass through Auschwitz.
American Homefront: The Federal Bureau of Investigation is rounding up suspected Japanese spies, as evidenced by a headline in the 2 February 1942 Seattle Daily Times which reads, "FBI Ousts Nipponese in Island Raid."
|Bow view of the USS Silversides (SS-236) off Mare Island, California, 2 February 1942 (U.S. Navy).|