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 were 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.


2019

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