Saturday, September 28, 2019

February 22, 1942: Bomber Harris Takes Over

Sunday 22 February 1942

St. Louis Dispatch, 22 February 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A local St. Louis girl, Nurse Agnes Kozjak, in her field uniform at Ft. Benning, Georgia. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Pictures Section, page 1, February 22, 1942.
Battle of the Pacific: The loss of the Allied position on the Bilin River and the resulting approach of Japanese troops causes panic in Rangoon on 22 February 1942. Civilians evacuate west to India or leave by sea. On the Sittang River, the last strong natural barrier between the Japanese Army and Rangoon, the Japanese continue to make gains. Throughout the day, the British Indian Army continues to hold the Sittang River Bridge despite fierce Japanese attacks, often at close quarters. Finally, at 17:30, Brigadier Sir John George Smyth, V.C., orders his troops to blow up the bridge rather than allow it to fall into Japanese hands intact. This is done despite the fact that a large portion of the 17th Indian Division is still on the other side. Those men now are forced to get across the river in small groups without their equipment, and most of them do manage to reach the British lines. The overall commander in Burma, General Hutton, soon dismisses Smyth and replaces him as commander of the 17th Division with Brigadier David "Punch" Cowan. Since the 17th Division is the only large force available to defend the Sittang River, its struggles now for all intents and purposes doom Rangoon.

Ada Texas Evening News, 22 February 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
""Americans, Dutch Forces Now on Offensive," screams the headline of the 22 February 1942 The Ada (Texas) Evening News. The reality is a bit different, but it certainly sounds good and is better than reading about constant retreats.
Japanese air attacks on the Allied stronghold of Java increase in intensity as they begin to utilize newly acquired airbases in the region. Attacks today destroy four B-17's at Pasirian Airdrome and an LB-30 Liberator at Jogjakarta Airdrome. USAAF Fifth Air Force retaliates by destroying Japanese aircraft on the ground at Pasar Airfield.

US Navy submarine USS Swordfish disembarks Philippine President Manuel Quezon and his party at San Jose, Panay. Quezon wants to set up a new headquarters in Mindanao, but the Allies want him out of the Philippines and in Australia. They fear that Quezon may make a separate peace with the Japanese, which would remove from battle many troops fighting hard in the Bataan Peninsula. Area commander General Douglas MacArthur, meanwhile, also has orders to leave the Philippines and head to Australia.

After dark, two flights of 3 B-17Es of the Kangaroo Squadron (435th Bomb Squadron of the 19th Bomb Group), six bombers in all, set out from Townsville (Queensland) Field to bomb the Japanese fortress at Rabaul. The raid will actually take place early on the morning of the 23rd. One of these B-17s is "Swamp Ghost," which later becomes famous for being found in the swamps of New Guinea. The area has become too hot now for the US Navy to realize its plans of sending a carrier task force to attack the port, which rapidly is becoming the main Japanese base in the southwest Pacific.

German warning against aiding partisans, 22 February 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A German poster, dated 22 February 1942, signed by Higher SS and Police Leader in General Government, SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Wilhelm Krüger. The poster sets forth penalties for aiding partisans or escaped Soviet prisoners.
Eastern Front: Adolf Hitler institutes a new practice by designating the Demyansk pocket a "fortress" (Festung). This makes the position there sound deliberate rather than unplanned and connotes a pleasing sense of permanence. He talks with the leaders of his army high command, OKH, about ways to restore contact with the large force at Demyansk. However, the smallest gap between the fortress and the German lines is about 20 miles to Staraya Russa to the north and the Polist River to the south. The troops outside the pocket, however, are busy holding their own lines, while the trapped German forces are barely surviving on less than half of the daily supplies they require from the Luftwaffe airlift. It will take a massive buildup nearby for the Germans to be able to stage a successful relief operation across the gap.

European Air Operations: After dark, RAF Bomber Command sends 50 bombers (31 Wellingtons and 19 Hampdens) to attack Wilhelmshaven. The targets are German heavy cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau ("Salmon and Gluckstein" as the British call them, after the tobacconist), which are believed to be at anchor. The weather is poor for bombing and bombers attempt to release their loads over the city instead (and, according to the Germans, they all miss Wilhelmshaven entirely). Seven bombers attack Emden, five bombers bomb the port of Ostend, five Manchesters lay mines off of Wilhelmshaven, and two Hampdens drop leaflets over Paris. The RAF loses no aircraft.

The Lone Ranger, 22 February 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Lone Ranger comic strip by Charles Flanders, illustrator. Taken from The Shreveport Times. February 22, 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-504 (KrvKpt. Hans-Georg Friedrich Poske), on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 5287-ton US freighter Republic about 3 1/2 miles (5 km) northeast of Jupiter Inlet, Florida. While the Republic remains afloat for over 24 hours, it drifts onto reefs about five miles east of Hobe Sound and is lost. This is one of the famous incidents near Florida in which residents onshore are able to see the attack or its result. The surviving crewmen row ashore and are helped by local citizens. There are five dead and 29 survivors.

U-96 (Kptlt. Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock), on its third patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 6,999-ton British freighter Scottish Standard, a straggler from Convoy ONS-67 The crew of Scottish Standard already has abandoned the ship after bombing by a German Focke-Wulf Fw200 Condor, but Lehmann-Willenbrock gladly administers the coup de grâce at 15:52. There are five dead and 39 survivors.

U-96 also hits 8888-ton British tanker Kars, another straggler, this one from Convoy HX-175 (convoys often overlap on the busy North Atlantic routes). The ship is abandoned and taken in tow. Kars makes it to Halifax and is beached on 27 February. There are 50 deaths and two survivors.

MV Adellen, 22 February 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
MV Adellen, sunk on 22 February 1942 by U-155. 
U-155 (Kptlt. Adolf Cornelius Piening), on its first patrol out of Kiel, gets its first two victories of the war. They are 1799-ton Norwegian freighter Sama and 7984-ton British freighter Adellen. Both of these ships are part of Convoy ONS-67. Both ships are hit after U-155 firest three torpedoes into the convoy south of Cape Farewell. There are 36 dead and 12 survivors from the Adellen and 19 dead and 20 survivors from Sama.

U-128 (Kptlt. Ulrich Heyse),  on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks unescorted 8103-ton US tanker Cities Service Empire about 25 miles north of Bethel Shoals, Florida. Heyse fires four torpedoes at the ship but misses with all four. He then fires two more torpedoes. These hit and immediately start a raging fire. There are 14 dead and 36 survivors.

British supply ship Hanne, sunk on 22 February 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
British supply ship Hanne, sunk by Luftwaffe bombers off North Africa on 22 February 1942.
Battle of the Mediterranean:  The Luftwaffe bombs and sinks British 1341-ton freighter Hanne (formerly City of Bradford) in the Mediterranean about 77 miles east of Tobruk. The Hanne was carrying military equipment, something it had done 21 times already without incident. There are four deaths and 21 survivors.

U-83 (Kptlt. Hans-Werner Kraus), on its fifth patrol out of Salamis, claims to hit two ships near Sidi Barrani with torpedoes. This may be true, but there are no records of damaged ships at this time and place.

LA Japanese Daily News, 22 February 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The 22 February 1942 L.A. Japanese Daily News reports on "Hundreds taken in round-up" by the FBI.
German Resistance: Ernst Junger, who maintains a personal diary, has tea with General of Infantry Carl-Heinrich Rudolf Wilhelm von Stülpnagel, who is the new military commander of Occupied France (succeeding his cousin, General Otto von Stülpnagel). Junger, who is on Stülpnagel's staff, finds that Stülpnagel is unexpectedly pessimistic about the military situation on the Eastern Front (where Stülpnagel commanded the 17th Army). Stülpnagel also complains about a hidden battle in France for power between the military occupation authority and the NSDAP. The former is acting in furtherance of military goals while the latter is more interested in political control. Stülpnagel is maintaining contacts with the anti-Hitler resistance through his friend, Lieutenant-Colonel Caesar von Hofacker. However, Stülpnagel is no angel and is alleged to authorize war crimes in his commands.

Holocaust: German Einsatzgruppe C sets up the Dzyatlava Ghetto (Zdzięcioł Ghetto) in Western Belarus when troops plaster city walls with posters directing the 4500 Jewish residents to relocate to an area around the synagogue and the Talmud Torah building within the streets of Łysogórska and Słonimska. Other residents are forced to evacuate their homes (which they gladly do so as to not be in the Ghetto themselves) and they are used for the new arrivals. The Ghetto is at least partially surrounded by barriers and barbed wire, with guards controlling access. Some trade is permitted between residents of the Ghetto and people outside for things like food and clothing, but these interactions are extremely limited. The Ghetto residents are used for building tasks outside the Ghetto under close guard.

Seattle Sunday Times, 22 February 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Seattle Sunday Times reports on FBI roundups of "Axis Spy Groups," 22 February 1942.
British Military: Air Marshall Arthur Harris becomes Head of Bomber Command for the RAF. He becomes known as "Bomber" Harris for his enthusiastic implementation of the RAF's new policy of terror bombings (the Area Bombing Directive of 14 February 1942).

Bomber Harris, 22 February 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Air Marshal Arthur "Bomber" Harris at his office during World War 2.
Harris puts forth his views on the upcoming bombing campaign by reference to the Bible:
The German people entered this war under the rather childish delusion they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw and half a hundred other places, they put their rather naive theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now, they are going to reap the whirlwind.
There is no question that Harris' strategy is effective at destroying cities, though the scope of its effect on the overall German war effort is debatable. The strategy fails utterly at undermining the Reich's morale, just as Hermann Goering's terror bombing of London failed in 1940 and 1941. Bomber Harris becomes a controversial figure within Britain and elsewhere both during and after the war due to his uncompromising and unwavering attitude toward bombing civilians.

A-24, 22 February 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Army's new dive bombers see action at Bali," says the caption to this photo in the 22 February 1942 Philadelphia Inquirer.
US Military: Recently arrived Major General Ira C. Eaker sets up the headquarter of U.S. Army Bomber Command, U.S. Army Forces, British Isles (USAFBI).

US Navy seaplane tender USS Langley leads a convoy of ships out of Freemantle, Australia, to India and Tjilatjap, Java. They carry 69 USAAF P-40s, motor vehicles, and U.S. Army troops

The A-24s of the 17th Bombardment Squadron, 27th Bomber Group, arrive at Batchelor from Brisbane, Australia. As with many air units in the region, their ground echelon is trapped in Bataan.

British Government: Prime Minister Winston Churchill continues his government shakeup following the loss of Singapore and the successful German Channel Dash. Among new appointees are Lord Wolmer as Minister of Economic Warfare and Sir James Grigg as Secretary of War. Everyone knows that Churchill, working very hard every day, is making all the big decisions and that his war cabinet basically exists to rubberstamp them.

Philadelphia Inquirer, 22 February 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Corporate Cat," a Gold Seal Novel by Martin Flavin, reprint included with the 22 February 1942 Philadelphia Inquirer. Illustrator: Henry C. Pitz.
American Homefront: While the major auto manufacturers closed down their production lines by 10 February, a few have continued producing cars past that date. That production ends today. The remaining manufacturers all end their production of automobiles on February 22, 1942. Units manufactured at the beginning of February bring up the total number of vehicles in a newly established car stockpile to 520,000. These are available for the duration of the war for rationed sales by auto dealers to purchasers deemed “essential drivers.” Naturally, this makes obtaining a "new" car exceedingly difficult and reliant on "knowing the right people" and "pulling strings." Even if you have a car, gasoline to use it also is rationed.

"A String of Pearls" by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra is the number one song on the Billboard singles chart. It spends ten weeks there.


February 1942

February 1, 1942: The US Navy Strikes Back
February 2, 1942: Germans Recovering in Russia
February 3, 1942: Japanese Shell and Bomb Singapore
February 4, 1942: Battle of Makassar Strait
February 5, 1942: Empress of Asia Sunk
February 6, 1942: The Christmas Island Body
February 7, 1942: The Double-V Campaign
February 8, 1942: Japan Invades Singapore
February 9, 1942: French Liner Normandie Capsizes
February 10, 1942: US Car Production Ends
February 11, 1942: Tomforce Fails on Singapore
February 12, 1942: The Channel Dash
February 13, 1942: Japanese Paratroopers In Action
February 14, 1942: RAF Orders Terror Raids
February 15, 1942: Japan Takes Singapore
February 17, 1942: Indian Troops Defect to Japanese
February 18, 1942: Battle of Badung Strait
February 19, 1942: FDR Authorizes Internment Camps
February 20, 1942: O'Hare the Hero
February 21, 1942: Crisis in Burma
February 22, 1942: Bomber Harris Takes Over
February 23, 1942: Bombardment of Ellwood, California
February 24, 1942: US Raid on Wake Island
February 25, 1942: Battle of Los Angeles
February 26, 1942: Gneisenau Eliminated
February 27, 1942: Battle of Java Sea
February 28, 1942: Battle of Sunda Strait

2020

Friday, September 27, 2019

February 21, 1942: Crisis in Burma

Saturday 21 February 1942

HMS Graph, 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
HMS Graph during sea trials off the Clyde, 19-21 February 1942. The Graph was U-570 before being captured. © IWM (A 9817).
Battle of the Pacific: In Burma, the Japanese win the race for Sittang Bridge near Mokpalin in a chaotic scene on 21 February 1942. A hodgepodge of British units holds the bridge against attacks while retreating Allied troops try to reach it. Due to Japanese infiltration, they wind up attacking both the eastern and western ends of the bridge, stretching the defending troops. The Japanese are so strong that they beat back the 3rd and 5th Gurkhas approaching from the east in hand-to-hand combat. The day ends with the British barely holding the bridge itself but little else in the area. They are in danger of having to destroy the bridge with most of the 17th Division still on the other side.

Meanwhile, the 16th Indian Brigade and 46th Indian Infantry Brigade of the Indian 17th Division are stuck on a hot, dusty road in their retreat from the Bilin River. They are harassed by Japanese fighters strafing the road and setting vehicles alight and also short of essentials like water. The Japanese reach the division's headquarters at Kyaikto, which barely holds out while it prepared to evacuate. The retreating column loses its discipline, with some men abandoning the road and taking refuge in the nearby Bogyagi Rubber Estate. Many men form up into small units or proceed alone through the jungle, always in danger of being spotted by Japanese snipers or running into ambushes. The American Volunteer Group (AVG) "Flying Tigers" now operate out of Rangoon. The First Squadron successfully attacks Tak Aerodrome at Rahaeng, destroying a fighter and two bombers. In general, the AVG pilots can establish aerial superiority over critical areas when necessary. However, when they try to help out the retreating 17th Division today, the Flying Tigers mistakenly attack some of the men they are trying to help on the road, killing 160 of them and only adding to the horrific scene of blazing vehicles and dying men.

NY Times, 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The 21 February 1942 New York Times features General MacArthur ("The Army reports that this is believed to be the most recent picture") on the front page. He is a symbol of United States resistance to Japanese aggression. Unkown to Times readers, today the War Department orders MacArthur to leave Bataan and eventually head to Australia.
In the Philippines, the fighting along the Main Line of Resistance (MLR) has died down as the Japanese bring in reinforcements for the final drive into the Bataan Peninsula. There is an eerie quiet as the Japanese pull back all of their outposts from the river in order to reorganize. General Douglas MacArthur receives orders from the War Department to follow Manuel Quezon to Mindanao and then proceed to Australia to take command of all Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific (a role now filled by default by Major General George H. Brett, Deputy Commanding General ABDA Command). MacArthur very briefly considers resigning his command and remaining as a private, but reconsiders and decides to follow orders. The Japanese have blocked most shipping from reaching Bataan, but submarines can still make the journey, and blockade runner Elcano makes it through today with half a ton of supplies for Corregidor.

Java remains the Allies' bastion in the Netherlands East Indies, but it is basically surrounded now that the Japanese have taken the islands around it. The decision of Australia to divert its men to the homeland also is reducing Allied options. General Brett tells the War Department, which still feels that the Allies can hold Java, that he is evacuating the Fifth Air Force and other troops from Java back to Australia. Today, USAAF Fifth Air Force bombers based at Surabaya, Java, attack on Japanese shipping and on Japanese positions on Bali which are thought to be preparing an invasion of Java. ABDA Commander General Archibald Wavell also informs his superiors that Java will soon be lost.

USS Growler, 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
USS Growler (SS-215) off Groton, Connecticut (USA), on 21 February 1942 (Naval History and Heritage Command).
The Allies have a small success on Dutch West Timor, where Australian commandos retreating from Portuguese East Timor attack the village of Babau at dawn. After a fierce struggle, they take the village by sunset. However, this is of little strategic significance, as the Australians are fleeing from the Japanese further east and are simply trying to escape back to Allied lines.

The Sook Ching Massacre continues in Singapore. The Japanese execute an unknown number of men of Chinese ethnicity in various locations.

US Navy submarine USS Triton (Lieutenant Commander Willis A. "Pilly" Lent, SS-201), on its second patrol out of Pearl Harbor in the East China Sea, intercepts two Japanese freighters. It hits Shokyu Maru with two torpedoes but is chased off by a four-engine seaplane. Shokyu Maru sinks about sixty miles south of Quelpart (Jeju) Island.

Collier's, 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Collier's, 21 February 1942.
Eastern Front: The Red Air Force has landed about 3000 troops inside the pocket south of Vyazma within the past couple of days. The Soviet planes fly through foul weather that the Luftwaffe considers too dangerous. These Soviet troops immediately begin consolidating their position rather than trying to expand it. The German V Panzer Corps in Vyazma watches the Soviets but does not have to do much fighting. Both sides at this time consider themselves to hold the initiative, but, somewhat perversely, neither side is acting on it. While the Germans do have sketchy control of areas all around the new Soviet arrivals, they know that the Red Army could punch through back to the East if they want to. However, the Soviet troops don't want to.

Sevastopol, Crimea, 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A Luftwaffe reconnaissance photo of Sevastopol, Crimea, taken on 21 February 1942. The arrow points to a Soviet Navy torpedo depot. The Red Army continues to hold Sevastopol, though it is surrounded on its landward approaches by General Manstein's 11th Army (Federal Archive Bild 168-278-017).
After considering a request for a withdrawal by Fourth Army for several days, the German Army Command (OKH) tells Fourth Army commander General Heinrici that he can begin building a fallback position on the Ugra River. However, OKH still refuses to approve giving up Yukhnov, which is the entire point of the exercise. That must await final approval from Hitler, and nobody wants to ask him. Given the unexpectedly unaggressive behavior of the Soviet paratroopers south of Vyazma, the Germans have the luxury of a long period of deliberation about this.

European Air Operations: The British learn that heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen has moved to a fjord near Trondheim, so during the day they send 15 bombers (6 Halifax, 5 Manchester, and 4 Stirling bombers) to attack Norwegian airfields. This is to prepare for a Fleet Air Arm raid by the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious on Prinz Eugen. However, the weather is poor and little is accomplished. The British lose one Manchester.

After dark, RAF Bomber Command sends 22 Wellington and 20 Hampden bombers over Germany in search of targets of opportunity. The RAF loses two Hampdens and one Wellington.

Circe Shell, sunk on 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Circe Shell, sunk on 21 February 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: Heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, the heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer, and the destroyers Richard Beitzen, Paul Jakobi, Z25, Hermann Schoemann, and Friedrich Ihn leave Brunsbüttel and head to Norway. They stop briefly at Grimstadfjord, then head further north to Trondheim. Prinz Eugen is one of the three large German warships that made the successful Channel Dash on 12 February 1942, and the British are keeping a close eye on it in an attempt to sink it and salvage some of their reputation for naval supremacy. The RAF launches airstrikes on Norwegian airfields in order to prepare for a raid on the ships.

The Kriegsmarine continues Operation Neuland in the Caribbean to great effect on 21 February 1942. While not as famous as Operation Paukenschlag along the east coast of the United States, Operation Neuland is very successful and greatly complicates the situation facing the United States Navy.

Norwegian tanker Kongsgaard, sunk on 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Norwegian tanker Kongsgaard, sunk on 21 February 1942.
U-67 (Kptlt. Günther Müller-Stöckheim), on its third patrol out of Lorient, sinks 9467-ton Norwegian tanker Kongsgaard about seven (11 km) miles west of Noordpunt, Curaçao. The attack takes place on the unescorted Kongsgaard at 15:32 when two torpedoes hit. The tanker immediately becomes a blazing inferno but takes several hours to sink, so U-67 fires two more torpedoes, one of which hits at 19:30. Due to the flames, the crew is only able to launch one lifeboat. There are 37 dead and nine survivors.

U-161 (Kptlt. Albrecht Achilles), on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes 8207-ton British tanker Circe Shell about 20 miles northwest of Port of Spain, Trinidad. The tanker takes a long time to sink, so U-161 waits until dark when it is safe from Allied aircraft and fires a final torpedo at 01:41 on the 22nd to finish it off. There is one dead and 57 survivors.

Freighter Azalea City, sunk on 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Azalea City (shown) is lost with all hands on 21 February 1942.
U-432 (Kptlt. Heinz-Otto Schultze), on its fourth patrol out of La Pallice, torpedoes and sinks 5529-ton independent US freighter Azalea City about 125 miles southeast of Ocean City, Maryland. Two of three torpedoes fired over more than an hour hit the freighter, which quickly sinks at 02:42. There are 38 dead and no survivors. Since there are no survivors, it is only assumed that this incident involved the Azalea City, but the facts match up.

U-107 (Oblt. Harald Gelhaus), on its fifth patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and damages 10,068-ton Norwegian tanker Egda in the mid-Atlantic south of Newfoundland. The tanker has been dispersed from Convoy ON-65. Two torpedoes hit, but they only cause a list to port that is corrected by counterflooding (tankers are notoriously difficult to sink due to their unique construction). Gelhaus runs out of torpedoes after firing one more that misses, so Egda is able to continue on to Halifax. There are no dead and 40 survivors.

U-156, which opened Operation Neuland by shelling an oil installation on Aruba, docks at Vichy French port Martinique in order to offload an injured man. This causes a diplomatic incident between the United States and Vichy France (see below).

HMS Graph, 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
HMS Graph, formerly U-570, undergoing trials in the Clyde on 19-21 February 1942. "The casing party heaving in on the capstan." © IWM (A 9881).
Battle of the Mediterranean: Military Governor Dobbie further restricts food and fuel rations to the civilian population. He warns London in a telegram that "we have reached a critical point in the maintenance of Malta." There are several Luftwaffe attacks during the day, including attacks on Kalafrana, Hal Far, Luqa, and Ta Qali. The attacks continue throughout the day and into the night with little let-up.

US/Vichy France Relations: French Vice Premier Admiral Jean Darlan tells US Ambassador Admiral William D. Leahy USN (Retired), about the emergency visit by U-156 today to the Vichy French port of Martinique. Leahy warns Darlan (as he writes in his diary) that the United States is prepared to:
take such action in the interest of security of the Western Hemisphere as it may judge necessary and in accordance with existing inter-American obligations.
Leahy is still waiting for a reply to his request to be recalled from France, where he feels very unwanted. The United States has no plans to occupy Martinique at this time, so Leahy is bluffing when he suggests that the United States is ready to act. However, the French Navy has large ships there, including the one-off aircraft carrier Bearn, so it is keeping a close eye on the port.

The New Yorker, 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The New Yorker, 21 February 1942.
Chinese/Indian Relations: Winding up a two-week trip to India, Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek prepares a farewell message for his wife (who speaks English after majoring in English literature at Wellesley) to broadcast over the radio. Chiang urges unity among the Allies:
In these horrible times of savagery and brute force, the people of China and their brethren the people of India should, for the sake of civilization and human freedom, give their united support to the principles embodied in the Atlantic Charter and in the joint declaration of the 26 nations, and ally themselves with the anti-aggression front. I hope the Indian people will wholeheartedly join the allies-namely, China, Great Britain, America, and the Soviet Union-and participate shoulder to shoulder in the struggle for survival of a free world until complete victory has been achieved and the duties incumbent upon them in these troubled times have been fully discharged.
After this speech, the couple returns to China.

US Military: With President Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066 in effect, Secretary of War Henry Stimson reassures Congress in a letter that the US Army is preparing to remove people of Japanese descent from the west coast of the United States. There is great concern among members of the west coast delegation that this is not being done quickly enough. Stimson has his subordinates begin drafting legislation to enforce FDR's order (it becomes Public Law 503 after being passed by Congress on 19 March and signed by the President on 21 March 1942).

Detective Fiction, 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Flynn's Detective Fiction, 21 February 1942.
Australian Military: Lieutenant General Vernon Sturdee, Chief of the Australian General Staff, orders Lieutenant General John Lavarack, General Officer Commanding I Australian Corps, and his staff to evacuate Java and return to Australia. This comports with a recent decision by Prime Minister John Curtin to repatriate all Australian troops not involved in actual combat to the homeland. In his instructions to ABDA Commander General Sir Archibald Wavell, Sturdee also asks for the return of Australian troops that on 18 February arrived on SS Orcades at Batavia.

British Military: The British remove Burma from the ABDA Command and it reverts to a purely British Empire war zone. The British 7th Armored Brigade arrives in Rangoon Harbor from the Middle East.

Australian Women's Weekly, 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Australian Women's Weekly, 21 February 1942.
Vichy French Military: Battleship Dunkerque arrives in Toulon after repairs at Oran, Algeria.

Uruguay: President Alfredo Baldomir dissolves congress and assumes dictatorial powers.

India: A non-party conference opens in Delhi under the auspices of Tej Bahadur Sapru. The goal is to claim Dominion status through dialogue rather than through resistance, as advocated by some other Indian leaders.

This is War, 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Episode 2 of "This is War," broadcast on 21 February 1942.
American Homefront: Episode 2 of Norman Corwin's series "This is War" is broadcast over all four national radio networks. This episode is entitled "The White House at War" and is narrated by actor Paul Lukas.

Future History: Margarethe von Trotta is born in Berlin. She becomes an actress, with her first contribution behind the scenes to Volker Schlöndorff’s "The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach" (1971). The two become a film team and get married, with Volker passing away in 1991. She becomes known as a "feminist filmmaker" who creates documentaries often centered around female historical figures such as Rosa Luxemburg and Hannah Arendt or fictional heroines. Usually, her heroines champion women's rights and seek to upset the status quo. Margarethe von Trotta remains active in the German film industry as of 2019.

The Saturday Evening Post, 21 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Saturday Evening Post of 21 February 1942, with a cover design by Rudy Arnold.

February 1942

February 1, 1942: The US Navy Strikes Back
February 2, 1942: Germans Recovering in Russia
February 3, 1942: Japanese Shell and Bomb Singapore
February 4, 1942: Battle of Makassar Strait
February 5, 1942: Empress of Asia Sunk
February 6, 1942: The Christmas Island Body
February 7, 1942: The Double-V Campaign
February 8, 1942: Japan Invades Singapore
February 9, 1942: French Liner Normandie Capsizes
February 10, 1942: US Car Production Ends
February 11, 1942: Tomforce Fails on Singapore
February 12, 1942: The Channel Dash
February 13, 1942: Japanese Paratroopers In Action
February 14, 1942: RAF Orders Terror Raids
February 15, 1942: Japan Takes Singapore
February 17, 1942: Indian Troops Defect to Japanese
February 18, 1942: Battle of Badung Strait
February 19, 1942: FDR Authorizes Internment Camps
February 20, 1942: O'Hare the Hero
February 21, 1942: Crisis in Burma
February 22, 1942: Bomber Harris Takes Over
February 23, 1942: Bombardment of Ellwood, California
February 24, 1942: US Raid on Wake Island
February 25, 1942: Battle of Los Angeles
February 26, 1942: Gneisenau Eliminated
February 27, 1942: Battle of Java Sea
February 28, 1942: Battle of Sunda Strait

2020

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

February 20, 1942: O'Hare the Hero

Friday 20 February 1942

Lt. O'Hare, 20 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Lieutenant Butch O'Hare in the cockpit of his Grumman F4F Wildcat shortly after shooting down five Japanese bombers and becoming an ace-in-a-day on 20 February 1942. For his actions, O'Hare is promoted to lieutenant commander and receives the Medal of Honor (Office of War Information National Archives, via the Naval Historical Center website).
Battle of the Pacific: The Combined Chiefs of Staff announces on 20 February 1942 that Allied forces will remain on Java and will not be evacuated. At this point, Java is basically encircled, with new Japanese naval and air bases close by Portuguese Timor, Bali, Singapore, and Sumatra. So far, the ABDA forces have not succeeded in stopping the Japanese anywhere, and everyone expected Singapore to hold out, too. In a show of confidence, Governor of the Netherlands East Indies Dr. van Mook returns to Batavia from the United States today.

In Portuguese Timor, about 1500 troops of the Japanese 228th Regimental Group, 38th Division, XVI Army, continue their landings at Dili. Resistance is spotty, with some areas such as the airport fiercely defended by Australian commandos while others are abandoned. The Australian defenders are heavily outnumbered and retreat to the south and the ease toward the mountains. About 200 Dutch East Indies troops head southwest toward the border with Dutch Timor.

The first issue of the Singapore occupation newspaper The Shonan Times on Feb 20, 1942, celebrates Japan's victory and "impregnable" position. The last issue on 4 September 1945 will list reasons for Japan's defeat. PHOTO: NATIONAL LIBRARY, SINGAPORE.
In the Badung Strait, Vice Admiral Karel Doorman retreats with his battered force after the Battle of Badung Strait on 19 February 1942. At 06:00, Admiral Doorman sends seven torpedo boats to the Strait, but they do not find any targets. The failure of the ABDA forces at the Battle of Badung Strait leaves the Japanese in possession of Bali. The Japanese have suffered little damage during the engagement, while the ABDA forces have lost destroyer Piet Hein and suffered damage to cruiser Tromp and destroyer Stewart. Japanese aircraft of the Tainan Air Group land at Bali and begin operations.

Edward O'Hare, seen during a subsequent ticker-tape parade, becomes an ace-in-a-day on 20 February 1942 by shooting down five Japanese bombers (AP Photo).
USS Lexington, Task Force 11, is on a mission to penetrate waters north of New Ireland near Bougainville, Papua New Guinea and to attack Rabaul when it is attacked by Japanese bombers based at Rabaul. This is known as the Action off Bougainville. While most of the carrier's fighters are chasing them off, another group of Bettys from the 4th Kōkūtai's 1st Chuta is located only twelve miles away. Lieutenant Commander Edward Henry "Butch" O'Hare and his wingman, Marion "Duff" Dufilho, are the only two fighter pilots available when the second wave of Japanese bombers attack US Navy aircraft carrier USS Lexington. They take off together, and O'Hare shoots down five Betty bombers and he damages three more. This makes O'Hare the first U.S. flying ace of the war and he receives the Medal of Honor. O'Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago is named after Lt. O'Hare, and destroyer USS O'Hare (DD-889) also is named after him.

In the Philippines, Japanese artillery bombardment intensifies on fortified islands still held by the Allies in and near Manila Bay. US Navy submarine USS Swordfish departs from the Philippines with President Manuel Quezon, Vice President Sergio Osmea, their families, and other top government officials. Their first stop is Mindanao, where Quezon wants to stop in order to remain in the country that he governs. General MacArthur, the leader of Allied forces in the Philippines, orders that troops keep a close eye on Quezon to make sure that he does not attempt to make a separate peace with the Japanese. Since MacArthur, who is a Field Marshal in the Philippine Army, relies on Philippine troops to man the Main Line of Resistance (MLR) on the Bataan Peninsula, that would be a catastrophic development and almost certainly lead to a quick defeat. Whether or not Quezon's departure has an effect on morale remains to be seen.

The San Diego (California) Tribune-Sun of 20 February 1942 notes that United States citizens of Japanese descent are subject to internment pursuant to President Roosevelt's new Executive Order 9066.
In Burma, the Indian 17th Division continues to withdraw toward the Sittang River. Japanese aircraft strafe the fleeing troops, who are short of water and other essentials, and this leads to a lot of abandoned equipment. The campaign has for the moment become a race for a key bridge across the Sittang, with Japanese infiltrators closer to it than the main body of Allied troops. The British authorities order all civilians to evacuate Rangoon within 48 hours.

Japanese aircraft of the Tainan Kokutai strafe Singosari Airfield on East Java. They destroy numerous aircraft on the ground, including B-17E 41-2455, B-17E 41-2484, B-17E 41-2488, B-17E 41-2478, and B-17E 41-2498. Other Japanese bombers damage 4991-ton Dutch freighter Jalakrishna and sink 983-ton Dutch freighter Tobelo at Kupang. Japanese submarine I-65 torpedoes and sinks 5280-ton freighter Bhima in the Indian Ocean southwest of India, with all 70 people on board surviving. Japanese bombers sink 4068-ton Australian freighter Koolama off Wyndham, West Australia.

Generalmajor Theodor Scherer, the commander of the German troops encircled by the Red Army at Kholm, receives the Knight's Cross at the hands of the officers of his staff, 20 February 1942. Note they are all unshaven, reflecting their difficult situation. Scherer receives the award as Generalmajor and commander of the 281. Sicherungs-Division. The Germans hold approximately one square mile in Kholm at the confluence of the Lowat and Kunja rivers. They have been surrounded since 21 January 1942. The trapped force there has been designated Kampfgruppe Scherer.
Eastern Front: The German Army high command (OKH) compiles a report on casualties to date on the Eastern Front. So far, there are 199,448 dead, 708,351 wounded, 44,342 troops missing, and 112,627 cases of severe frostbite. Considering that the invasion began with approximately 3 million Axis troops, casualties after eight months of the war are about one-third. While many wounded men are able to return to duty, replacements have not matched losses.

European Air Operations: Activities on both sides are relatively quiet day due to weather conditions. There are no major operations.

A Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” medium bomber photographed from the flight deck of USS Lexington, 20 February 1942. (U.S. Navy).
Battle of the Atlantic: U-156 (Kptlt. Werner Hartenstein), which opened hostilities in the Caribbean as part of Operation Neuland,  continues its successful patrol when it torpedoes and sinks independent 5127-ton US freighter Delplata about sixty miles (97 km) west of Martinique. There are no deaths and all 53 men on board are picked up on the 21st by seaplane tender USS Lapwing (AVP 1). The Delplata does not sink right away, so the Lapwing sinks it on the 21st with gunfire. Following this further success, Hartenstein requests permission from the Vichy French authorities at Martinique to dock in order to put ashore their gunnery officer, who lost his right leg in an accident on 16 February. This request is granted, and U-156 docks there on the 21st.

U-129 (Kptlt. Asmus Nicolai Clausen), on its fourth patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks unescorted 2,400-ton Norwegian freighter Nordvangen near Trinidad. The ship sinks quickly and all 24 men aboard perish. An empty lifeboat washes ashore on Trinidad on 6 March.

SS Nordvangen, sunk by U-129 on 20 February 1942.
U-96 (Kptlt. Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock), on its third patrol out of Lorient, 2398-ton US freighter Lake Osweya off Nova Scotia. This sinking is sometimes dated as taking place on 19 February, but it appears that the torpedoes hit at 04:53 on 20 February. Lehmann-Willenbrock reports seeing three lifeboats launched, but the entire 39-man crew disappears.

Italian submarine Luigi Torelli torpedoes and sinks British 7224-ton freighter Scottish Star while the freighter is en route from London to Buenos Aires. Some sources place this sinking on 19 February 1942. There are four deaths and 69 survivors.

German 1025-ton freighter Jason hits a mine and sinks near Calais.

SS Delplata, sunk on 20 February 1942.
Battle of the Mediterranean: After a day without any air raids for the first time in many weeks, the bombers return on 20 February 1942. They attack Senglea, Bighi, Cospicua, Luqa, Kalafrana, and Zeitun. There are no reports of any aircraft losses.

US/Soviet Relations: The United States offers the USSR a $1 billion loan.

US/Vichy France Relations: The US Ambassador to Vichy France, Admiral William D. Leahy, requests that he be recalled to the United States "for consultations." Leahy is concerned about a growing hardline Vichy French attitude against the United States. This request will be denied.

Portuguese/Japanese Relations: Portugal protests to the Japanese government over its seizure of Portuguese Timor and the airfield at Dili. Portugal is a neutral nation.

Scottish Star (previously the Millais), sunk by Italian submarine Luigi Torelli on 20 February 1942.
US Military: Major General Ira C. Eaker, commander of the USAAF VIII Bomber Command, arrives by air in the British Isles. Their first task is to select a headquarters site. Eaker reports to Commanding General U.S. Army Forces, British Isles (USAFI) Major General James E. Chaney, who arrived with U.S. Army troops in January.

The USAAF Fifth Air Force moves the A-24s of the air echelon of the 17th Bombardment Squadron, 27th Bomber Group, from Brisbane to Batchelor. The 22nd Bombardment Squadron B-17s complete a move from Fiji to Townsville.

Australian Military: Following the devastating Japanese air raid on the port of Darwin, the Allies abandon it as a naval base. The airfields remain operational.

The Paducah (Texas) Post notes large numbers of men being taken into the US military. Similar headlines play out all across the country.
American Homefront: Universal Pictures releases "Ride 'Em Cowboy." Directed by Arthur Lubin and starring the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, the film becomes the eighth biggest film hit of 1942.

Future History: Philip Anthony Esposito is born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. Esposito develops an early interest in hockey and signs with the Chicago Black Hawks of the National Hockey League as a teenager. He is an immediate success in a junior league, scoring 12 points (goals and assists) in one playoff game and averaging 3.3 points per game. After three years in the junior leagues, the Black Hawks bring Esposito up to the parent club during the 1964 season. Centering for Bobby Hull, another NHL star, Esposito is among the league scoring leaders for the next three years. In 1967, the Black Hawks trade Esposito to the Boston Bruins. Esposito goes on to become one of the greatest scorers in NHL history. Among his other accomplishments is becoming the first NHL player in history to score 100 points in 1969 and leads the league in goals for six straight years. He leads the Bruins to Stanley Cup Championships in 1970 and 1972. Esposito later plays for the New York Rangers and becomes its captain. Esposito retires in 1981 and goes into Rangers management, then is elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984. As of this writing, Phil Esposito serves as a radio color commentator for the Tampa Bay NHL franchise.

Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr. is born in Sheffield Alabama. His family moves to Georgia, then Louisville, Kentucky when Mitch McConnell is eight years old. After graduating from the University of Louisville, McConnell interns for Senator John Sherman Cooper in 1964. After law school, he enlists in the U.S. Army Reserve as a private. However, he is deemed medically unfit later in the year and honorably discharged. McConnell continues his political development and is elected as Jefferson County Judge/Executive in 1977 and to the United States Senate in 1984. As of this writing, Mitch McConnell is the Senate Majority Leader.

The 20 February 1942 Daily News focuses on the cabinet shifts in Great Britain.

February 1942

February 1, 1942: The US Navy Strikes Back
February 2, 1942: Germans Recovering in Russia
February 3, 1942: Japanese Shell and Bomb Singapore
February 4, 1942: Battle of Makassar Strait
February 5, 1942: Empress of Asia Sunk
February 6, 1942: The Christmas Island Body
February 7, 1942: The Double-V Campaign
February 8, 1942: Japan Invades Singapore
February 9, 1942: French Liner Normandie Capsizes
February 10, 1942: US Car Production Ends
February 11, 1942: Tomforce Fails on Singapore
February 12, 1942: The Channel Dash
February 13, 1942: Japanese Paratroopers In Action
February 14, 1942: RAF Orders Terror Raids
February 15, 1942: Japan Takes Singapore
February 17, 1942: Indian Troops Defect to Japanese
February 18, 1942: Battle of Badung Strait
February 19, 1942: FDR Authorizes Internment Camps
February 20, 1942: O'Hare the Hero
February 21, 1942: Crisis in Burma
February 22, 1942: Bomber Harris Takes Over
February 23, 1942: Bombardment of Ellwood, California
February 24, 1942: US Raid on Wake Island
February 25, 1942: Battle of Los Angeles
February 26, 1942: Gneisenau Eliminated
February 27, 1942: Battle of Java Sea
February 28, 1942: Battle of Sunda Strait

2020

Sunday, September 22, 2019

February 19, 1942: FDR Authorizes Internment Camps

Thursday 19 February 1942

If Day in Winnipeg, Canada, 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"If Day" actors portraying German soldiers invading Winnipeg, Canada, accost a Winnipeg Free Press newsman and rip up his newspaper on 19 February 1942 (Western Canada Pictorial Index).
Battle of the Pacific: Japan sends around a total of 242 aircraft to attack Darwin, Australia, on 19 February 1942. Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory and home to important naval and air bases, and the raid causes extensive damage. The first raid of 188 aircraft (36 fighters, 71 level bombers, and 81 dive bombers from aircraft carriers Akagi, Hiryu, Kaga, and Soryu) arrives over the city at 09:58. On the way, they shoot down a US Navy PBY Catalina. The Australian military receives their first warning of the incoming planes at 09:35 from a coastwatcher but wrongly assume that they are Allied planes. Thus, nothing is done to prepare for the raid before it hits. This first raid lasts for 30 minutes and sinks three warships, six freighters, and damage to ten more ships. The Japanese send in a second raid composed of 54 land-based aircraft which arrives at about 11:58 and lasts for about 20 minutes. This Japanese focus more on RAAF Base Darwin this time, destroying about 30 aircraft and killing six people. The Japanese then launch a third attack during the afternoon, but this time they avoid shore targets and instead sink two Philippine-registered ships, Florence D and Don Isidro, about 25 miles (40 km) north of Melville Island.

Japanese attack on Darwin, 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A "Val" attack plane takes off from Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi for the Darwin raid on 19 February 1942. As usual, there is a crowd of cheering Japanese sailors to send them off.
The 19 February 1942 Darwin raid comes as a major shock because Allied attention has been focused on Japanese invasions further north, with Australia itself being seen as relatively safe for the time being. About 250 people perish (maybe many more), over 300 are wounded, and 57 ships and boats are sunk. Among the losses is a 9155-ton hospital ship, HMAHS Manunda, with the loss of a dozen lives. The Japanese drop 681 bombs totaling 114,100 kg (251,500 lb). The Australians get minor satisfaction from capturing the first Japanese soldier on Australian territory, airman  Itto (Hiko) Hei (Flyer First Class) Hajime Toyoshima, when he crash-lands on Melville Island.

Japanese attack on Darwin, 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The crashed A6M2 Reisen "Zero" of Hajime Toyoshima on Melville Island, 19 February 1942.
With the Battle of Bilin River over, the Battle of Sittang Bridge begins in Burma. The Japanese 214th and 215th Regiments chase the 17th Indian Infantry Division toward the river. Due to Japanese infiltration around the Allied defenses on the Bilin River, their troops actually reach the bridge before the vast majority of the Indian troops. This forces the Allies to blow up the bridge with most of the 17th Division still on the other side. While most of the 17th Division does manage to make it back to Allied lines, its troops must abandon almost all of their equipment - which is hard to replace in remote areas of Burma. The Japanese also bomb the Burmese capital of Mandalay for the first time.

Japanese attack on Darwin, 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
British tanker British Motorist on fire with USS Peary in the background. Both ships sink during the Japanese raid on Darwin of 19 February 1942.
After dark, about 1500 troops from the Japanese 228th Regimental Group, 38th Division, XVI Army, invade Dill, Timor, and another 4000 men land at the Paha River in the southwest of Timor. The invasion takes the defenders by surprise, as they have assumed that the invasion fleet was Allied vessels. There is fierce fighting at the Dill airfield, but the Paha River area is undefended. The Japanese also land five Type 94 tankettes in the southwest, where the invaders quickly move north in an attempt to isolate a Dutch garrison in the west. The Australians at Dill are outnumbered and forced to retreat south during the night.

Japanese attack on Darwin, 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Dense clouds of smoke rise from oil tanks hit during the first Japanese air raid on Australia's mainland. In the foreground is HMAS Deloraine, which escaped damage." 19 February 1942 (Australian War Memorial 128108).
Japanese forces consolidate their hold on Bali, where they landed late on 18 February 1942. The US Army Air Force (USAAF) sends B-17s and other aircraft to attack the invasion shipping but, while claiming to cause extensive damage, do not interrupt the landings. The Japanese quickly capture Denpasar Airfield intact and begin using it immediately to launch an attack on Java, which USAAF P-40s turn back. This invasion effectively encircles the important Allied stronghold of Java.

New York Times, 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The NY Times of 19 February 1942 reports on the Darwin raid underneath the British difficulties in Burma. Due to time zone differences, US newspapers often can get that day's news from the Pacific Theater of Operations in their editions.
After 34 days at sea, the three-man crew of a TBD Devastator of Torpedo Squadron Six (VT-6), whose plane ditched due to fuel exhaustion on 16 January, reach the Danger Islands in the Western Northern Cook Islands. They have survived by catching fish and birds and collecting rainwater. USN Aviation Chief Machinist's Mate Harold F. Dixon (Naval Aviation Pilot) receives the Navy Cross for heroism, leadership, and resourcefulness.

New York Times, 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The NY Times of 19 February 1942 provides a helpful map of the Burma campaign on page 2.
Eastern Front: The German Army Headquarters (OKH) considers a plan offered by Fourth Army commander General Gotthard Heinrici to give up Yukhnov and retreat behind the Ugra River ten miles to the west. The OKH is basically in agreement with this plan but is not ready to make a firm decision without Hitler's express permission - and everyone knows that Hitler abhors voluntary withdrawals. So, the matter lies dormant for now until someone screws up the courage to talk to Hitler about it. The major point in favor of even making the attempt with Hitler is that General Heinrici is acquiring a solid reputation as a defensive tactician whose judgment can be trusted.

New York Times, 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The NY Times of 19 February 1942 provides a helpful map of the Burma campaign on page 3. There is still a lot of hope in the United States that General McArthur can hold his position in the Philippines indefinitely.
European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command sends eight Wellington bombers to attack targets in Germany, with seven bombers hitting Essen. Other RAF bombers drop leaflets on Paris and Lille. There are no losses.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-161 (Kptlt. Albrecht Achilles), on its second patrol out of Lorient, continues the success of Operation Neuland, the U-boat offensive in the Caribbean. At 05:32, it torpedoes 6940-ton British freighter British Consul and 7640-ton US freighter Mokihana while they are lying at anchor in the Port of Spain, Trinidad. Both ships sink in shallow waters and are later raised, repaired, and returned to service. There are no casualties among the 45 people on the Mokihana and two deaths among the 42 people on British Consul. This is the beginning of a very successful patrol for U-161, which will sink (five) or damage (four) nine ships of 58,544 tons before it returns to port in late March 1942.

US tanker Pan Massachusetts, sunk on 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
US tanker Pan Massachusetts, sunk by U-128 on 19 February 1942.
U-128 (Kptlt. Ulrich Heyse), on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 8202-ton US tanker Pan Massachusetts about 20 miles off Cape Canaveral, Florida. The tanker quickly catches fire, causing the crew that survives to quickly jump into the water. There are 20 deaths and 18 survivors. Fortunately, there are other ships nearby, British tanker Elizabeth Massey and US Coast Guard ship USS Forward (WAGL 160), and they combine to rescue the swimming men.

U-432 (Kptlt. Heinz-Otto Schultze), on its fourth patrol out of La Pallice, torpedoes and sinks 2158-ton British freighter Miraflores about 50 miles east of Atlantic City, New Jersey. The ship, hit at 03:18, sinks quickly and all 34 men aboard the freighter perish.


New York Times, 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Page 5 of the 19 February 1942 New York Times shows the situation in the Mediterranean.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Malta has its first raid-free day since 1 December 1941. This perhaps is due to violent storms passing over the island. This is fortunate for the British, as floods make Ta Qali and Hal Far airfields unusable.

War Crimes: Australian commandos, No. 7 section, defend the Japanese invasion of Timor fiercely and claim to kill 200 Japanse troops during the first hours. When men of the Australian commandos, No. 7 section, accidentally drive into a Japanese roadblock nearby, the Japanese troops take their revenge. All of the men but one are massacred by the Japanese after surrendering.

US Military: General Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes Chief of the War Plans Division for the US Army. He succeeds General Leonard T. Gerow, who has been appointed to Commanding General (CG) of the 29th Infantry Division, an Army National Guard formation.

Transport USS William P. Biddle (AP-15) lands the US Marine Corp's 9th Defense Battalion at Guantanamo Bay.

USAAF Seventh Air Force Base Command is activated. This previously was the Hawaiian Air Force, established in 1913 and received its current designation on 5 February 1942.

Japanese attack on Darwin, 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Oil tanks in Darwin burning after the 19 February 1942 Japanese attack.
US Government: After a week of frenetic debate and deliberation within the highest reaches of the United States federal government, President Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066. This, among other things, authorizes the internment of Japanese Americans. The order is open-ended, permitting the removal of any or all people from sensitive areas "as deemed necessary or desirable." The debate continues within the highest reaches of the government and military about who, exactly is to be rounded up and shipped off to internment camps, but this is the decisive moment in the process. Contrary to many myths about this affair, the US military is divided as to who should be interned, particularly about Japanese Americans. The entire West Coast is deemed a militarily sensitive area. This leads to the eventual internment of about 100,000 Japanese Americans in remote internment camps.

British Government: Prime Minister Winston Churchill shakes up his War Cabinet, reducing it from nine members to seven, after the loss of Singapore and the successful German Channel Dash. In the most notable change, Stafford Cripps becomes Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal. Cripps, a Labour leader, has proud Marxist sympathies and is an expert on the Soviet Union. He has played a key role in coordinating supply missions to the USSR with the Soviet government and has spent a lot of time there. Due among other things to a well-received radio broadcast following his return from the Soviet Union, Cripps is one of the most popular politicians in the United Kingdom. Lord Beaverbrook, who has clashed with labor leaders, leaves his position as Minister of War Production after barely a fortnight in disgust and heads to America to lead the Anglo-American Combined Raw Materials Board. Clement Attlee becomes Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary for Dominions.

Japanese attack on Darwin, 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Damage to the Don Hotel in Darwin following the 19 February 1942 Japanese attack.
Canadian Government: Parliament votes to introduce conscription. Conscripted troops still are only to serve on Canadian soil under current law (which will be changed in 1944). For this reason, those conscripts who refuse to waive this restriction earn the derisive nickname "zombies" because they cannot fight in the war (unless it reaches Canadian soil, which it actually does in minor ways in one or two obscure incidents).

US Supply ship Florence D, sunk at Darwin on 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
US Navy supply ship Florence D., one of the ships sunk in the 19 February Japanese raid on Darwin, Australia.
Hungarian Government: As expected, Regent István Horthy nominates his son, István Horthy, to be Deputy Regent pursuant to a recently passed law. The Germans do not like István Horthy, who is not a strong fascist and opposes the Holocaust, but accept his appointment in order to maintain good relations with his father. István Horthy has an interesting background, having worked in a Ford factory in Detroit, Michigan, and flying sorties (which eventually kill him) as a fighter pilot.

Vichy French Homefront: The Riom Trial begins in Riom, France. There are seven defendants, though only five actually face trial. These are Léon Blum, Édouard Daladier, Maurice Gamelin, Guy La Chambre, and Robert Jacomet. Supported by the German occupation authorities, the Riom Trial seeks to pin the blame for the war on France and France's defeat on the leaders of the Left-wing Popular Front government elected on 3 May 1936.

Separately, police arrest French Resistance leaders, including the Marxist philosopher Georges Politzer and his wife. These Communist leaders are subjected to torture and eventual execution (Politzer's wife dies in Auschwitz).

If Day in Winnipeg, 19 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
“If Day.” Canadians dressed as Wehrmacht soldiers at City Hall arrest Winnipeg Mayor John Queen, Ald. William Scraba, Ald. R. A. Sara, and Ald. Blumberg on 19 February 1942 (Western Canada Pictorial Index).
Canadian Homefront: In a creepy attempt to sell war bonds, Winnipeg, Manitoba, stages a simulated invasion by Wehrmacht forces. Canadians dress up in Wehrmacht uniforms and pretend to be invaders. This is called "If Day."

American Homefront: Somewhat ironically considering that this is the day that her husband orders the incarceration of Japanese Americans in internment camps, Eleanor Roosevelt writes in her "My Day" column:
The number of prisoners behind barbed wire all over the world today is quite appalling. It did not surprise me to have both Dr. Jerome Davis and Dr. Dri (Dri correct) Davis emphasize the fact there is such a thing called "barbed wire sickness. To have nothing to do mentally or physically, to know that those you love are anxious about you, to be anxious about them, and yet have no way of working towards your release, must be a horrible situation.
That number is about to increase by about 100,000 people in the United States.

Future History: The Supreme Court rules in 1944 that FDR's Executive Order 9066 authorizing the internment of Japanese Americans is constitutional. Executive Order 9066 is rescinded in January 1945 and the internees are released. On 10 August 1988, President Ronald Reagan signs the Civil Liberties Act which provides an official apology from the US Government and a $20,000 cash award to each surviving person incarcerated under Executive Order 9066.


February 1942

February 1, 1942: The US Navy Strikes Back
February 2, 1942: Germans Recovering in Russia
February 3, 1942: Japanese Shell and Bomb Singapore
February 4, 1942: Battle of Makassar Strait
February 5, 1942: Empress of Asia Sunk
February 6, 1942: The Christmas Island Body
February 7, 1942: The Double-V Campaign
February 8, 1942: Japan Invades Singapore
February 9, 1942: French Liner Normandie Capsizes
February 10, 1942: US Car Production Ends
February 11, 1942: Tomforce Fails on Singapore
February 12, 1942: The Channel Dash
February 13, 1942: Japanese Paratroopers In Action
February 14, 1942: RAF Orders Terror Raids
February 15, 1942: Japan Takes Singapore
February 17, 1942: Indian Troops Defect to Japanese
February 18, 1942: Battle of Badung Strait
February 19, 1942: FDR Authorizes Internment Camps
February 20, 1942: O'Hare the Hero
February 21, 1942: Crisis in Burma
February 22, 1942: Bomber Harris Takes Over
February 23, 1942: Bombardment of Ellwood, California
February 24, 1942: US Raid on Wake Island
February 25, 1942: Battle of Los Angeles
February 26, 1942: Gneisenau Eliminated
February 27, 1942: Battle of Java Sea
February 28, 1942: Battle of Sunda Strait

2020