Sunday, March 29, 2020

March 17, 1942: MacArthur Arrives in Australia

Tuesday 17 March 1942

US GIs arriving in Australia, 17 March 1942
United States troops arrive in Australia, 17 March 1942.
Battle of the Pacific: General Douglas MacArthur completes his escape from the Philippines by arriving on 17 March 1942 at the emergency field Batchelor Airfield about 50 miles from Darwin, Australia. Arriving at 09:00 in two B-17 bombers from Mindanao, MacArthur and his group have had to leave their luggage behind because a third bomber experienced engine troubles. The bombers take off at 01:30 on the 17th with one engine spluttering due to a bad supercharger and with MacArthur sitting in the radio operator's seat. His chief of staff, Major General Richard K. Sutherland, rides out the 1500-mile flight in the cramped bomb bay.

NY_Times, 18 March 1942
The NY Times edition that announced the return of General MacArthur notes optimistically in its headline that "Move hailed as foreshadowing turn of [the] tide."
MacArthur's journey almost had a disastrous ending. As the two B-17s approached Darwin, the original destination, the crew learned that a Japanese air raid was in progress over the airfield. The planes are able to divert without incident to nearby Batchelor Airfield, where a very grateful General MacArthur awards Silver Stars to the crews of the two bombers. Waiting at the airfield are two Australian National Airways DC-3 transport planes. Because the general's wife, Jean MacArthur, is tired of flying, the general has the planes fly them only to the nearest railway station at Alice Springs, 1000 miles (1600 km) away. There, the general, his wife, and a few cronies spend the night on cots on a hotel verandah before later boarding a special train to Melbourne.

Adelaide, Australia, Advertiser, 17 March 1942
The Advertiser of Adelaide, Australia, of 17 March 1942 notes in its headline that the Japanese have bombed Darwin for the third time. However, there does not appear to be any mention of General MacArthur's arrival.
MacArthur's arrival receives worldwide attention. President Roosevelt issues a public statement congratulating the general on his escape:
I know that every man and woman in the United States admires with me General MacArthur's determination to fight to the finish with his men in the Philippines. But I also know that every man and woman is in agreement that all important decisions must be made with a view toward the successful termination of the war. Knowing this, I am sure that every American, if faced individually with the question as to where General MacArthur could best serve his country, could come to only one answer.
President Roosevelt quickly sends off a cable to Winston Churchill apprising him of the general's arrival in Australi with "a small staff." Roosevelt also instructs General Brett, the US commander in Australia, to propose MacArthur as the supreme commander in that region to Australian Prime Minister Curtin. This offer is immediately accepted by PM Curtin, making MacArthur the overall commander of Allied forces in the southwest Pacific Ocean.

The United States officially takes responsibility for the strategic defense of the Pacific Theater of Operations. The British still have a presence there, of course, but the overwhelming power lies in the hands of the Americans and this is just an acceptance of the reality of the situation.

Hattiesburg, Mississippi, American, 17 March 1942
The Hattiesburg (Mississippi) American of 17 March 1942 notes the arrival of General MacArthur but also trumpets the series of tornadoes that have devastated many nearby states from 15-17 March 1942.
The trapped men left behind in the Philippines (two-thirds of whom do not survive the war) are not quite as joyful as some others, but nobody in the outside world can hear them anyway. However, the Axis propaganda networks are trumpeting MacArthur's departure from the Philippines, a fact which makes Roosevelt urge Churchill to issue a joint press release announcing the general's escape so that the effects of such propaganda is "forestalled." MacArthur will further this effort on 20 March 1942 when he makes his famous "I shall return" speech.

US Navy submarine USS Grayback (SS-208, Lt. Cdr. W. A. Saunders) sinks 3291-ton Japanese collier Ishikari Maru six miles west of Port Lloyd, Chichi Jima, Bonin Islands. There is no indication of casualties.

US Navy submarine USS Permit is damaged by depth charges off Tayabas Bay, Luzon, but remains on patrol.

Eastern Front: Operation Raubtier, the German attempt to encircle Soviet forces that have advanced across the Volkhov River, continues to make slow but steady progress. The Germans in the north are coming very close to one of the two Soviet supply roads, codenamed "Erika." If they take it, the Soviets will have only one other supply road, codenamed "Dora," for their two armies operating to the west.

European Air Operations: A prolonged lull in major RAF operations continues. A lone Wellington bomber is sent to Essen but, due to clouds that prevent accurate navigation, drops its bombs in the Ruhr River.

Tanker San Demetrio, sunk on 17 March 1942
Tanker San Demetrio, sunk on 17 March 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-68 (K.Kapt. Karl-Freidrich Merten), on its third patrol out of Lorient, has a big day while operating about 28 miles southwest of Cape Palmas, Ivory Coast. It sinks three ships. First, at 06:35, Merten torpedoes and later uses the deck gun to finish off independent 5755-ton British freighter Ile de Batz. There are four deaths and 39 survivors. Then, at 13:26, Merten puts two torpedoes into 4917-ton British freighter Scottish Prince. Once again, Captain Merten surfaces and the crew uses the deck gun to finish off the slowly sinking Scottish Prince. There is only one death, and the 38 survivors make it to Cape Palmas in the boats. Finally, at 21:03, Merten spots his third victim, 5081-ton British freighter Allende. Two torpedoes send the Allende to the bottom. There are five dead and 38 survivors.

U-404 (Kptlt. Otto von Bülow), on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 8073-ton British tanker San Demetrio. The tanker is traveling independently northwest of Cape Charles, Virginia. There are 19 dead, and the 34 survivors spend two days in lifeboats before being picked up by passing American freighter Beta. The master, Conrad Vidot, receives the Lloyds War Medal for Bravery at sea. This is another in a series of devastating tanker losses for the Allies in early 1942  which are causing concern in Washington and London.

British freighter Allende, sunk on 17 March 1942
British freighter Allende, sunk on 17 March 1942 off the coast of Africa.
U-124 (K.Kapt. Johann Mohr), nicknamed "Edelweisseboot," on its eighth and most successful patrol, torpedoes and sinks 1698-ton Honduran freighter Ceiba off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The crew of the independent Ceiba has brought along their wives and children, and many of them are among the 44 deaths. There are only a dozen survivors.

U-71 (K.Kapt. Walter Flachsenberg) is operating about 450 miles southeast of Philadephia, Pennsylvania when it puts two torpedoes into 6355-ton Norwegian tanker Ranja at 18:58. The ship catches fire and develops a list but does not sink and even continues to make headway, so Flachsenberg puts another torpedo into it at 19:54. That does the trick and the tanker becomes a blazing wreck that soon sinks. There are 34 deaths.

Norwegian tanker Ranja, sunk on 17 March 1942
Norwegian tanker Ranja, sunk on 17 March 1942.
U-373 (Kptlt. Paul-Karl Loeser), on its fourth patrol out of Brest, torpedoes and sinks independent 4292-ton Greek freighter Mount Lycabettus at 15:08 in the mid-Atlantic. All 30 men on board perish and this sinking was a mystery under post-war records were consulted. According to one source, the Lycabettus was chartered by neutral Switzerland with a Swiss cross painting and "Switzerland" prominently written on her hull, but this did not save her.

Royal Navy 630-ton rescue tug HMS Adept runs aground at Paterson's Rock near Sanda Island, Scotland, in thick fog. The sea batters the tug before it can be refloated and it is written off. There is no indication of any casualties.

British 3738-ton freighter Clare Lilley runs aground at Portuguese Cover, Halifax Harbor, and is lost. There are five deaths, and the rest of the crew is saved only due to heroic efforts by locals residents. The Clare Lilley's cargo of munitions remains a local hazard until the present day, though much of it was removed in the 1970s.

Italian submarine Guglielmotti, sunk on 17 March 1942
Italian submarine Guglielmotti, sunk on 17 March 1942.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Royal Navy submarine HMS Unbeaten (captain Edward Arthur Woodward) spots Italian submarine Guglielmotti off Capo dell Armi, Sicily, At 06:40, Captain Woodward fires four torpedoes and sinks the Italian submarine. All 61 men on board perish. Guglielmotti ends its career having sunk only one vessel, 4008-ton Greek tanker Atlas on 6 September 1940. This is the second British sinking of an Italian submarine recently, with HMS Ultimatum having sunk one on 14 March 1942.

U-83 (Kptlt. Hans-Werner Kraus) torpedoes and badly damages 2590-ton British tanker Crista between Alexandria and Tobruk. There are seven deaths, but the ship does not sink. A British motor torpedo boat (MTB 266) finds it abandoned and anchors it off Bardia, Libya. It is then towed back to Alexandria, arriving on the 28th. Crista is put back into service after repairs in 1944.

Royal Navy carrier-based aircraft attack 1778-ton German freighter Achaia and send it on a frantic attempt to escape. This causes the ship to blunder into a minefield, which does sink her about 25 miles east of Tripoli, Libya. There is no record of casualties.

Heavy Axis bombing of Malta resumes after a day of rest. Numerous bombs are dropped, particularly on favored targets Luqa and Grand Harbour. There are 30 civilian deaths recorded and one Spitfire is lost, along with several planes damaged on the ground. All told, the Luftwaffe drops 79,000 kg of high explosives today on the island.

Funeral for US seaman in the UK, 17 March 1942
Funeral of a United States seaman on 17 March 1942 in Gillingham Cemetery, Kent. "US Marines and US Seamen standing at the salute at the graveside." © IWM (A 7813).
British Military: Air Vice Marshal Donald F. Stevenson, commanding Allied air forces, transfers his headquarters from Burma to Calcutta. India.

US Military: Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley establishes his new United States Naval Forces Europe command. This will plan joint operations with the Royal Navy. Ghormley, former commander of the USS Nevada and Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, has been President Roosevelt's Special Naval Observer in the United Kingdom since August 1940. While Ghormley has a fancy new title, his European command actually only encompasses a very few ships, at least one of which the British have "lent" the US Navy (USS Impulse, formerly the British corvette HMS Begonia, commissioned into the US Navy on 16 March 1942 at the Albert Dock.).

The US Army Air Force 9th Pursuit Squadron arrives at Darwin, Northern Territory, equipped with P-40Es. The port city has been under regular Japanese air raids and today, of course, is when General MacArthur arrives there from the Philippines.

Serbian communist and anti-fascist militant Nada Dimić, executed 17 March 1942
On 17 March 1942, occupation authorities execute Serbian communist and anti-fascist militant Nada Dimić. She is executed in the Stara Gradiška concentration camp. Nada Dimić was a member of a partisan group in Croatia. She was executed for helping people escape the fascists into partisan areas.
Holocaust: At recently constructed Belzec extermination camp in Poland, daily gassings of prisoners begin. This is done quietly by experienced Aktion T4 (euthanasia program) personnel brought in under the guise of being Operation Todt construction laborers. While there have been gassings of prisoners before during the T4 euthanasia program (since ended, at least officially, due to public outcry), Belzec is the first stationary extermination camp to enter operation (Auschwitz is already functional but is not yet gassing inmates).

The Germans take great pains to conceal the camp's true purpose by creating two separate zones, or camps that are completely screened from each other. These are smaller gas chambers than are used later, made of planks and insulated with sand and rubber. It takes time to perfect the extermination process, with many rooms not functioning properly, and this quickly creates a massive backlog of thousands of people awaiting execution with more arriving daily by train. New gas chambers of brick and mortar are soon built as a result of the lessons learned from this early process. There is little time to waste, as today the Germans send the first transport trains of Jews from the cities of Lublin and Lwów (Lviv) to Belzec.

In Ilja, north of Minsk, USSR, the SS rounds up and liquidates 900 Jews. The incident is notable because the victims attempted collective resistance, but it failed.

In Kovno, 24 Jewish residents are found outside the ghetto buying food from local Lithuanians. Such "escapes" are strictly forbidden, and all 24 men are shot by the Gestapo.

First US draft lottery held on 17 March 1942
The first United States wartime draft lottery takes place on 17 March 1942.
British Homefront: The recent surge in U-boat sinkings of tankers, such as the sinking of tanker San Demetrio today, leads to a painful result in Great Britain. Drastic cuts are announced by Hugh Dalton, the president of the board of trade, in parliament. The British government imposes fuel rationing of about 25%. Coal, gas, and electricity for home heating are all subject to new limits. Persistent over-consumption will lead to prosecution and a complete cut-off of supply. In addition, the government announces cuts in the civilian clothing ration in order to release 50,000 textile workers for war production. All pleasure boating also is banned in order to save fuel.

American Homefront: The Wartime Civil Control Administration of the Western Defense Command and Fourth Army announce two new steps to speed up the "voluntary" evacuation of alien and American-born Japanese from the Pacific Coast military area. These include the opening of new services centers in 64 communities in the three Pacific Coast states and Arizona. In addition, the Farm Security Administration announces a plan for continuing full production on agricultural lands to be evacuated by the departing internees.

Future History: John Wayne Gacy is born in Chicago Illinois. He becomes involved with the Illinois Democratic Party in 1960, becoming an assistant precinct captain. He then engages in a series of odd jobs, including that of a mortuary attendant. During the 1960s, Gacy is believed to have begun sexually assaulting minor boys, and for one incident he is convicted and serves time in the Anamosa State Penitentiary. During the 1970s, Gacy's sexual violence escalates and he begins a string of murders, again of minor boys. He performs at events as ""Pogo the Clown" or "Patches the Clown," which enables him to disarm his victims into thinking he is safe. Gacy is arrested on 21 December 1978 and convicted of sodomy of a teenage boy in Iowa in 1968, serves his time, and returns to Illinois. He then continues his string of murders, which leads in 1980 to convictions of 33 counts of murder. After spending 14 years on death row, John Wayne Gacy is executed by lethal injection on 10 May 1994.

Decatur, Illinois, Daily Review, 17 March 1942
The 17 March 1942 Decatur (Illinois) Daily Review features scenes of devastation from the series of hurricanes that hit the southern half of the United States in mid-March 1942.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

March 16, 1942: General MacArthur Gets His Ride

Monday 16 March 1942

U-502 arriving back at Lorient on 16 March 1942
U-502 arrives back in port after a successful patrol during which it sank 33,800 tons of enemy shipping on 16 March 1942 (Moravia; Junkers, Federal Archive Figure 101II-MW-3810-20A).

Battle of the Pacific: Just before midnight on 16 March 1942, General Douglas MacArthur, his family, and his staff finally receive planes to take them from Del Monte, Mindanao, Philippines, to Australia on 16 March 1942. Three B-17 bombers of the US Army 5th Air Force arrive for this mission but one requires repairs before it can make the return trip (defective supercharger). Lead pilot Lieutenant Frank P. Bostrom readies for a quick turnaround by drinking a pot of coffee. He informs the general that he and his party must leave behind any luggage - including Mrs. MacArthur's prized mattress which she brought from Corregidor.

Japanese siege guns continue bombarding US Army forts on their fortified islands near Manila. The Japanese have emplaced additional artillery southwest of Temate and US counterbattery fire is ineffective. Already, several US guns have been knocked out at Forts Drum and Frank. The Japanese guns range up in size to 240 mm, and one shell hits a Fort Frank powder room but somehow fails to detonate the 60 filled powder cans inside. US Navy submarine USS Permit arrives at Corregidor Island to evacuate naval radio and communications intelligence soldiers.

U-502 arriving back at Lorient on 16 March 1942
The happy crew of U-502 as it arrives back at Lorient on 16 March 1942. Note the victory pennants signifying a successful patrol. (Moravia; Junkers, Federal Archive Figure 101II-MW-3810-24A).
Eastern Front: Operation Raubtier, the German mission to cut off Soviet troops that have advanced past the Volkhov River in an effort to take Lyuban, continues from both the north and south. Progress is slow but steady. The Soviet defenders on each end of the six-mile-wide breakthrough are slowly being compressed together. Even small German advances greatly improve their chances of final success.

The Germans need Operation Raubtier to end quickly so that they transfer the forces there to relieve the men trapped in the Demyansk pocket. In the pocket, General Walter von Brockdorff-Ahlefeldt, commander of the II Army Corps, has been talking about staging a desperate breakout to the west. To reassure him, Army Group North commander Georg von Küchler makes an unusually risky flight for an army group commander. He flies into the Demyansk pocket. During the flights in and out, Küchler makes personal observations about the relative positions of the two forces. He sees that the Soviets are attacking from the north and south, which means that an attack from the west might well succeed. Still, the relief attack will have to cover a full 20 miles, no small feat in the snowy or, if the attack is postponed too long, boggy terrain.

Examining a captured Panzer IV on 16 March 1942
"A captured German Mk IV tank is examined back at base in the Western Desert, 16 March 1942." © IWM (E 9309).
The Soviet attack at the Parpach Narrows in Crimea begun on 13 March 1942 is over. It has accomplished virtually nothing except the capture of the strongpoint at Korpech'. That small victory came at great cost in men, tanks, and planes. The Germans begin preparing a counterattack set to start on 20 March 1942. They bring in the fresh 22nd Panzer Division in order to recapture Korpech'. However, while the 22nd Pzr is powerful, it is equipped with obsolete Czech-built Panzer 38(t)s. The Soviets, meanwhile, are also building up their forces for a renewal of their attack, and the big question is who attacks first.

European Air Operations: It is a very quiet night on the Channel Front. There are standard anti-shipping sweeps during the day but no bombing missions.

U-502 arriving back at Lorient on 16 March 1942
The commander of U-502, Kptlt. Jürgen von Rosenstiel, on deck after his boat docks in Lorient on 16 March 1942 (Moravia; Junkers, Federal Archive Figure 101II-MW-3810-26A).
Battle of the Atlantic: U-332 (Kptlt. Johannes Liebe), on its third patrol out of La Pallice, torpedoes and sinks 11,628-ton US tanker Australia. The independent tanker is zigzagging near the Diamond Shoals Light Buoy of Cape Hatteras near other ships when U-332 spots its silhouette against the shore lights in the background. Liebe hits the tanker with a torpedo in the engine room, killing four men instantly. Freighter William J. Salman picks up the men in their three lifeboats in only 95 minutes. The ship submerges but does not completely sink (masts still visible) and has to be completely sunk later (20 March 1942) in order for the owner to receive compensation from the US War Shipping Administration (WSA).  There are four dead and 36 survivors.

U-68 (KrvKpt. Karl-Friedrich Merten), on its third patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 3386-ton British freighter Baron Newlands six miles south of Cape Palmas, Liberia. The ship is sunk after a difficult pursuit through a thunderstorm. There are 20 survivors and 18 deaths. The survivors apparently managed to swim to shore or clung to flotsam and jetsam as no lifeboats were launched.

Dutch tanker Oscilla, sunk on 16 March 1942
Dutch tanker Oscilla, sunk near the Windward Islands on 16 March 1942.
Italian submarine Morosini torpedoes, shells, and sinks 6341-ton Dutch tanker Oscilla about 100 miles northeast of the Windward Islands.  There are four survivors and four deaths, including the captain, M.A.F. Kuypers.

Italian submarine Morosini also (apparently it is the Morosini, this is not confirmed) torpedoes and sinks 2802-ton British freighter Manaqui northeast of Barbuda. Morosini is known to be operating in this area. There are 41 dead. Another candidate for this sinking is U-504.

U-504 (KrvKpt. Hans-Georg Friedrich Poske), on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 5966-ton British freighter Stangarth about 300 miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The ship, which is carrying ammunition and other military goods, explodes and sinks immediately. All 46 men on the Stangarth perish. Another candidate for this sinking is the Morosini.

USS Impulse, commissioned on 16 March 1942
"Commissioning of USS Impulse, formerly the British corvette HMS Begonia. 16 March 1942, Albert Dock." USS Impulse served with the US Navy until being returned to the Royal Navy in 1945. © IWM (A 7789).
Danish 1458-ton freighter Agnete (under German control) is bombed and sunk by RAF aircraft about eight miles northeast of Terschelling, the Netherlands. Casualties are not recorded.

German 2642-ton freighter Utlandshorn hits a mine and sinks in the waters off northern Norway (Grense Jakobselv). The ship apparently is supplying the German garrison at Pechenga. Casualties are not recorded.

German harbor defense vessel (patrol boat) HS-97 hits a mine and sinks near Dunkirk. No details on this one.

British 430-ton freighter Miriam Thomas collides with Admiralty Hospital Ship Vasna and sinks about 15 miles south of Chicken Rocks near Holyhead, UK. All eight men aboard perish.

Dutch 4539-ton freighter Alcyone hits a mine and sinks 18 miles off Green Point, Capetown, South Africa. The mine was laid by the Speybank, a captured ship being used by the Germans. There are 46 deaths.

British 4270-ton freighter Cressdene hits a mine and is severely damaged near Swansea, UK. It sinks while under tow on the 17th. Details are scarce on this ship.

Tanks in Halfaya Pass on 16 March 1942
"The gun turret of a Matilda tank that had been captured [by Axis forces] and concreted into position to be used as part of the defenses of Halfaya Pass, 16 March 1942. A Valentine tank passes by in the background." © IWM (E 9320).
Battle of the Mediterranean: The Royal Navy and RAF combine in an attack on the Italian E-boat base in Rhodes. This is Operation MF.8. Light cruisers HMS Dido and Euryalus and six destroyers bombard the island during the night of 15/16 March 1942.

Italian submarine Galatea uses its deck gun to sink a small sailing vessel off the Palestinian coast.

The situation on Malta is critical in certain vital areas that the Axis air forces have targeted. Ta Qali Airfield, in particular, is in trouble due to incessant bombing attacks. In addition, the field has to be modified for the use of new Spitfire squadrons. The island government sends out a request for volunteers to help with this work.

Royal Navy submarine HMS Ultimatum (P 32) arrives in Malta with 14 Italian survivors of its 14 March 1942 sinking of Italian submarine Ammiraglio Millo in the Ionian Sea off Punta (Cape) Stilo, Calabria, Italy. Commander Harrison of the Ultimatum makes a quick turnaround and departs for a new patrol on 17 March.

Dr. Seuss cartoon on 16 March 1942
Dr. Seuss cartoon from 16 March 1942. Image from Dr. Seuss Went to War (Mandeville Special Collections Library, UC San Diego).
Partisans:  Joseph Goebbels notes in his diary that:
The activity of the partisans has increased notably in recent weeks. They are conducting a well-organized guerilla war.
The Germans at the front are busy preparing "Operation Munich," an anti-partisan sweep set to begin on 19 March 1942. This is planned as a large-scale operation to include a special air detachment established Bobruisk on 14 March 1942. Another such mission in the same general area set to begin later in March 1942 is Operation Bamberg.

Anglo/US Relations: President Roosevelt cables Prime Minister Winston Churchill with an offer to send a large US Navy force ("two battleships, two cruisers, an aircraft carrier, and a squadron of destroyers") at homeland British bases such as Scapa Flow. He notes that recent tanker sinkings are "very disturbing." He promises that by 1 July 1942 "our mounting production of small escort vessels and planes will come fully into play."

Time magazine on 16 March 1942
Time magazine, 16 March 1942. The cover story, "The Viceroy of India." Cover credit: Ernest Hamlin Baker.
Anglo/Indian Relations: British Lord Privy Seal Sir Stafford Cripps departs from London to enter negotiations with Indian leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru who demand independence. He also will talk with Moslem League President Mohammed Ali Hinnah who wants a separate Pakistan. Cripps is an avowed socialist who is sent on missions like this regularly.

Anglo/Soviet Relations: The Soviet Ambassador to Great Britain repeats Joseph Stalin's repeated request that the western Allies open a second front in Europe.

Life magazine on 16 March 1942
Life magazine, 16 March 1942. Note that the soldier on the cover is wearing a World War I helmet.
US Military: Lt. General W.J. Slim departs India for Magwe, Burma, in order to establish the 1st Burma Corps. This is to include the 1st Burma Division, the 17th Indian Division, and the 7th Armored Brigade. All of these units have been battered during the retreat across Burma. This will become known as "Burcorps" after it is officially established on 19 March 1942.

The 39th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 35th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), transfers from Ballarat to Mount Gambier with its P-39 fighters. The 64th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 43d Bombardment Group (Heavy), arrives at Sydney, Australia from the US with its B-17s. The 68th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 58th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), arrives at Amberly Field, Australia from the US with its P-39s.

US Government: The Maritime Commission places orders for another 234 Liberty ships. These are generic freighters built according to a standard plan that prioritizes cheap parts and ease of construction. For instance, they use a 140-ton vertical triple expansion compound steam engine of obsolete design rather than modern steam engines because the latter type is more difficult to build and requires special tooling. Everybody, including President Roosevelt, makes fun of the Liberty ships and their ugly appearance, but they get the job done.

Weather map, morning of 16 March 1942
"The weather map from the morning of March 16th [1942] showed low pressure over central Oklahoma, with an associated warm front lifting northward across central Illinois. Temperatures were unseasonably warm across the area, rising into the mid to upper 70s by afternoon." National Weather Service.
Holocaust: The Germans deport about 1600 Jews from Lublin, Poland, to Belzec concentration camp. Belzec is an extermination camp that opened on 13 March 1942 and already an estimated 6000 people have been murdered there.

American Homefront: Powerful tornadoes hit the Central and Southern United States. States affected include Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Many of these areas do not usually get tornadoes, so they come as real shocks. The outbreak goes on for almost three full days, with 149 fatalities and 1312 injuries. On the Fujita scale, some of the tornadoes score the maximum rating of tornado damage, with costly property damage.

The Lacon F5 Tornado of 16 March 1942
The Lacon F5 Tornado of 16 March 1942.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

March 15, 1942: Operation Raubtier Begins

Sunday 15 March 1942

Hitler greets disabled veterans, 15 March 1942
Adolf Hitler greets disabled veterans as part of the Heroes Day celebrations, 15 March 1942 (Polish National Digital Archives).
Eastern Front: After two days of postponements, Army Group North's 18th Army finally begins Operation Raubtier ("Beast of Prey") on 15 March 1942. The weather remains frigid, but the Luftwaffe sends its Stukas to soften up the Soviet defenders on the Volkhov River salient at 07:30. German I Corps and 38th Corps advance from the north and south, respectively, in an effort to pinch off the Soviet salient and create a pocket. The troops in the southern section include General de División Augustín Muñoz Grandes’s División Azul, or Blue Division, the Spanish volunteer formation known to the Germans as the 250th Division.

The two German attacks advance slowly, with the northern group advancing about 3500 yards (3200 meters) and the southern group only about 880 yards (800 meters). The Germans find that the snow greatly lessens the effectiveness of the Stukas, because when the planes drop their bombs far ahead of the advancing troops, the Soviets have time to recover. When the Stukas drop their bombs closer to the advancing troops, they often hit their fellow German soldiers. Operation Raubtier continues despite the slow progress, however, and eventually does cut off the Soviet salient and create a Soviet pocket on the west side of the Volkhov River.

Life Infographic March 1942
This March, 1942, infographic from Life magazine showed the lines of Axis attack against the United States and its Allies.
In the Army Group South sector, the Soviet offensive at the Parpach Narrows peters out without achieving his major objective of a breakthrough to relieve Sevastopol. The only victory by the Soviet 51st Army is the capture of strongpoint Korpech’, which requires heavy Soviet losses and is something of a Pyrrhic victory. While the attacks continue sporadically for a few days, the main effort ends on 15 March 1942 because the Soviets are out of ammunition and have taken devastating tank losses.

The Germans have destroyed 157 Soviet tanks in three days, including 88 tanks of the 56th Tank Brigade. Among the heroes of the defensive victory for the Germans is Fritz Schrödel, whose StuG III destroyed eight Soviet tanks, of which two were KV-1s, and Lieutenant Johann Spielmann, whose StuG III destroyed 14 T-34s in one day. This is the heyday of the German tank destroyers, which are almost as effective as tanks but vastly cheaper to produce because they lack expensive turrets.

The Sunday Star, 15 March 1942
The headline on the 15 March 1942 Washington, D.C., The Sunday Stary is, "Allies Reveal Loss of 12 Ships, Including U.S. Cruiser Houston, In Last-Ditch Battle for Java." Information, especially about losses, was released very slowly during World War II.
Battle of the Pacific: The British 1st Burma Division wards off the advancing Japanese 55th Division and retreats toward India. It is being replaced in the front lines by the Chinese Division in Burma.

The Japanese High Command is beginning to plan Operation C, a full carrier strike in the Indian Ocean against the British Eastern Fleet stationed in Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). They order reconnaissance of the western coast of India and Ceylon. Meanwhile, on the British side, Vice-Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton is announced as the new commander-in-chief of Ceylon.

The front on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines remains deceptively quiet, but the Japanese are working furiously to build up their forces. Heavy artillery along the southern shore of Manila Bay southwest of Ternate renews intensive bombardment of the fortified Allied islands in the bay such as Forts Frank and Drum. The US Army attempts counterfire, but it is insufficient to make a difference. The Japanese bombardment damages four guns at Battery Ermita (Battery E, 91st Coast Artillery) in Fort Frank, two beyond repair.

British tanker British Resources, 15 March 1942
British tanker British Resources, sunk on 15 March 1942.
At Del Monte Airfield on Mindanao, General MacArthur continues to cool his heels waiting for B-17s to carry him and his party on to Australia. MacArthur is furious at the delay and commands General Brett in Australia to send him the three best bombers in the theater. In order to make Mrs. Jean MacArthur more comfortable during her wait, MacArthur aid Sid Huff moves her preferred mattress (yes, she brought her mattress on the PT boat) ashore for her. This leads to a cynical rumor that the mattress is stuffed with treasure, which it isn't - apparently.

Pursuant to President Roosevelt's telegram to Winston Churchill of 14 March 1942, the US Army informs Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell, Commanding General American Army Forces, China, Burma, and India, that Chiang Kai-Shek's request that he be placed in charge of Allied operations in Burma is being denied. This is a delicate diplomatic situation because Chiang is still bitter about the British attempt to commandeer lend-lease supplies allocated to him in December 1941. Chiang has gotten along well with Stilwell and apparently wants to show his preference for the Americans. British General Archibald Wavell, Commander in Chief India, will remain responsible for operations In Burma even though he is no favorite of Churchill's. The British power base in India makes this a pragmatic if not altogether ideal solution.

Luftwaffe Field Division Lieutenant, March 1942
An Oberleutnant (first lieutenant) of a Luftwaffe Field Division (the Meindl division) in Russia, March 1942. He has the Iron Cross First Class and a pilot's badge (House Block, Federal Archive Figure 101I-395-1513-30).
European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command is in the middle of a lengthy quiet period as it builds its forces and waits for better flying weather. During the day, six Bostons fly unproductive sweeps off the Brittany coast. After dark, three Blenheims make solo attacks on Dutch airfields, including Schiphol near Amsterdam.

The Luftwaffe conducts a coastal sweep and sinks 91-ton Belgian fishing boat Gratie Gods in Oxwich Bay on the south of the Gower Peninsula, Wales.

HMS Vortigern (D 37), sunk on 15 March 1942
HMS Vortigern (D 37), sunk on 15 March 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: The early morning hours see a brutal sea action off the eastern British coast. In a typical night-time attack, five German E-boats (S 105, S 111, S 62, S 104, and S 108) swarm English coastal convoy FS-749 near Cromer. Royal Navy destroyer HMS Vortigern is defending the merchantmen and occupies the E-boats while the rest of the convoy escapes. E-boat S-104 sinks Vortigern with a torpedo, causing the loss of 147 lives with only 14 survivors. On the way back to their base, the E-boats tangle with Royal Navy MGB 87, 88, and 91, and E-boat S-111 takes heavy damage and eventually sinks. A force of Spitfires from Nos. 234 Squadron, 317 Squadron, and 412 Squadron also attack the E-boats and claim to sink one E-boat (probably S-111) and damage four others.

The crew of another Royal Navy destroyer nearby witnesses the Vortigern sinking but they do not stop to render aid, as Captain S. Lonbard-Hobson feels that it makes more sense to remain with the fleeing convoy to protect it. This action leads to a Court of Inquiry that is inconclusive. The loss of life is the worst for any single sinking along the English east coast during World War II.

U-503 (Kptlt. Otto Gericke), on its maiden patrol out of Bergen, has been at sea for only 16 days when it is spotted by a patrolling US PBO-1 Hudson aircraft (VP-82 USN) about 250 miles southeast of St. John's, Newfoundland. The Hudson quickly attacks and sinks U-503. All 51 men on board perish. U-503 has sunk no ships during its brief career.

HMS Dido, 15 March 1942
HMS Dido as seen from HMS Euryalus in the Meditteranean, 14 or 15 March 1942. They are en route to bombard the Italian base at Rhodes (© IWM (A 8578)).
U-158 (Kptlt. Erwin Rostin), on its first patrol out of Helgoland, is in a heavily trafficked spot about 15 miles south of Cape Lookout when it spots 7118-ton tanker Olean. At 06:04, Rostin hits the tanker with one torpedo and the crew abandons ship even though the tanker is still moving forward (though out of control). Rostin pumps a second torpedo into the tanker at 06:18 and then departs the scene. However, the tanker does not sink. Olean is later towed to Hampton Roads and eventually repaired and returned to service first under the new name Sweep and then USS Silver Cloud (IX 143), being used as a mobile floating storage tanker. There are six dead and 36 survivors.

U-158 is not done for the day. At 07:22, Rostin spots a second tanker, 6952-ton Ario about four miles from Olean. He pumps one torpedo into Ario, then surfaces and opens fire with his deck gun. The tanker's crew abandons ship but reboards it after U-158 (which is close by and almost collides with a lifeboat) departs the scene. Unlike Olean, though, this tanker really is sinking, though it takes its time and drifts to within 10 miles east of Cape Lookout before finally going under. There are 26 survivors and 8 dead, most of whom perish as their lifeboat is struck by a shell as it is being lowered to the water.

U-161 (Kptlt. Albrecht Achilles), on its second patrol out of Lorient, concludes a successful patrol by using its deck gun to sink 1130-ton USCG Acacia, a Coast Guard lighthouse west of St. John's and north of Haiti (about 80 miles southwest of Saint Kitts and Nevis). This is the only US Lighthouse Service vessel lost during World War II. All 35 men aboard the lighthouse are rescued and taken to San Juan.

Canadian freighter Sarniadoc, sunk on 15 March 1942
Canadian freighter Sarniadoc, sunk on 15 March 1942.
U-161 also torpedoes and sinks 1940-ton Canadian freighter Sarniadoc in the same area as Acacia. All 21 men on board perish.

U-124 (KrvKpt. Johann Mohr), on its eighth patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes 7209-ton British tanker British Resource about 230 miles north of Bermuda late on 14 March. After the first two torpedoes do not sink her, Mohr fires another which turns the tanker into a blazing wreck. It sinks during 15 March, with 46 deaths and only seven survivors, including the master, third radio operator, and three gunners.

Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli sinks 8780-ton British tanker Athelqueen near the Bahamas using torpedoes and gunfire. There are three deaths.

British 971-ton freighter Presto sinks during a convoy from Blyth to Dover due to a collision with fellow freighter Llandover. There is no record of casualties.

German freighter H-5, sunk on 15 March 1942
German freighter H-5, sunk on 15 March 1942.
German 4974-ton freighter H-5, the former Nicole Schiaffino captured on 5 August 1940 at Bordeaux and used as a troop transport, wrecks at Finnsnesrenna, Gisund, south of Tromsø, Norway. There is no record of casualties.

German FW 200 Condor aircraft bomb and sink 1757-ton British freighter Dago near Cape Carvoeiro during a passage from Lisbon to Oporto. There is no record of casualties. The location of this wreck was finally pinpointed in 2014 by a volunteer team of divers (International Journal of Nautical Archaeology).

British 127-ton utility barge Sparsholt hits a mine and sinks in the Thames Estuary. There are seven deaths.

British 231-ton fishing vessel Danearn runs aground at Scotstoun, North of Peterhead, and is written off. There is no record of casualties.

British WRENS in the Middle East, 15 March 1942
"Two Wrens having a banquet of oranges, a rare treat for them." The ladies have just arrived in the Middle East, probably Cairo, on 14 or 15 March 1942 (© IWM (A 8440)).
Battle of the Mediterranean: The Luftwaffe resumes its major bombing campaign against Malta on 15 March 1942, targetting Valletta for the first time. The most notable feature of today's raids is the first use of 1800kg (two-ton) "Satan" bombs. These are the heaviest bombs carried by Junkers Ju 88s. The Luftwaffe presence has greatly increased recently, and enemy fighters now outnumber defending RAF planes during raids. In all, the Axis planes drop over 15,000kg of high explosive bombs on Valletta, killing a dozen civilians and a British serviceman.

With the British occupied in Malta, the Italian Navy mounts Operation Sirio, a supply convoy of two transport ships from Naples to North Africa via Messina. The British also send supply ships of their own in Operation MF-8 to transfer supplies to Malta and return empty freighters to Alexandria.

Valletta, Malta, 15 March 1942
"A large cloud of smoke rising from the center of Valletta as a bomb bursts on St Ursula's Church." Malta, 15 March 1942. © IWM (A 9624).
POWs: At the Colditz officer's camp, the Germans have set the prisoners to work removing dirt that they have discovered being stockpiled in an attic. It has been moved there from an abortive tunnel being dug beneath the chapel and discovered by the Germans in January. The prisoners are forced to load carts full of the dirt and take them through Colditz town for dumping. Today, as one of the carts is rolling through town, French Lieut. H. Desjobert is spotted emerging from beneath the mound of dirt. He is quickly apprehended.

US Military: The US Army Air Force activates the XI Interceptor Command (11th and 18th Pursuit Squadrons) at Elmendorf Field, Anchorage.

The USAAF 67th Pursuit Squadron arrives in New Caledonia. This is the first USAAF tactical unit in the theater. It brings with it 45 crated P-40 fighters.

NSDAP collection of Hitler speeches that ends on 15 March 1942
A three-volume collection of Adolf Hitler's speeches issued by the Central Publishing House of the NSDAP concludes with his address at the Sportspalast on 15 March 1942.
German Government: In the evening, Adolf Hitler gives his annual speech at the Berlin Sportpalast in honor of Heroes' Memorial Day. In it, Hitler accuses the victors of World War I of causing World War II through the draconian Treaty of Versailles that caused the "impoverishment" of Germany. He further accuses the western Allies ("especially in the United States") of planning World War II "as far back as 1935 and 1936." The speech is loaded with references to "the Jews who pull the strings" who fomented a "conspiracy of the Plutocracies and of Bolshevism." He vows:
Therefore, there can be only one solution, which is, to continue this fight until a permanent peace has been guaranteed, i.e., until the destruction of the enemies of such a peace has been accomplished.
The 15 March 1942 speech is notable for a somewhat pessimistic tone. Rather than bragging about Wehrmacht successes as in past speeches, Hitler makes a curiously truthful reference to the role played by the Russian winter on the course of the conflict:
Sooner than any experience or scientific knowledge had anticipated, a winter broke upon our army which now gave the adversary four months' time, to bring about on his part the turning point in this fateful struggle. It was the sole hope for the potentates of the Kremlin, in this behavior of the elements of nature which even they had never experienced, to inflict the Napoleonic fate of 1812 on the German Wehrmacht. In the superhuman struggle, under the exertion of the last forces of body and soul, the German and allied soldiers have withstood these trials and thus have conquered the hordes.
Of course, the Wehrmacht still faces the "hordes" and they are far from conquered, a fact his audience well knows.

Uncanny Tales, March 1942
Uncanny Tales, March 1942. Melvin R. Colby, No. 15 Volume 2, Canadian pulp magazine.
Holocaust: The Dünamünde Action (Aktion Dünamünde) takes place in Biķernieki forest, near Riga, Latvia. Conducted by SS troops under the command of SS General Friedrich Jeckeln and local collaborators, the Dünamünde Action involves the murder of about 1900 Jews who had been deported recently to Latvia from Germany, Austria, and the province of Bohemia and Moravia (former Czechoslovakia). The victims of the Riga Ghetto are tricked into boarding trucks that they are told will take them to a better camp called Daugavgrīva (Dünamünde), but in fact, the trucks take them to the words north of Riga where they are shot. They are buried in pre-dug mass graves. A similar second incident that is sometimes called the Second Dünamünde Action takes place on March 26, 1942, with 1840 people murdered and buried in that action.

The Dünamünde Action is notable because it marks the beginning of efforts to make these kinds of mass killings more "efficient." General Jeckeln has become disturbed by the haphazard manner in which his troops have been conducting executions, which he considers wasteful. In the Dünamünde Actions, Jeckeln invents Sardinenpackung (sardine packing). This involves forcing the victims to climb down into the pit and lie down in a pattern that occupies the least amount of space, usually above the corpses of previous victims in a head-to-foot arrangement, before they are shot. This greatly reduces the number of pits that must be dug.

At Auschwitz, the SS men running the camp get drunk and decide to have some fun. They force prisoners to exercise, which directly leads to 278 prisoner deaths and 28 others who perish later in the prison hospitals from the effects of exposure and beatings. The dead today include 198 Poles, 103 Soviet POWs, 68 Jews, 30 Czechs, 8 Germans, and 2 Yugoslavians.

Vogue magazine, 15 March 1942
The latest fashion in the 15 March 1942 Vogue, as captured by Horst P. Horst (Horst Bohrmann).
Norwegian Homefront: The Quisling government arrests more than 1300 schoolteachers who have refused to teach the required German curriculum. A total of 12,000 out of 14,000 teachers have refused to join the teacher's association and the occupation authorities wish to make a point. Half of the teachers are held in a concentration camp outside of Oslo, while the rest are sent to Kirkenes in the Arctic to perform forced labor alongside Soviet prisoners of war.

Salvation Army in Australia, 15 March 1942
A Salvation Army assembly in Newtown, New South Wales, Australia, 15 March 1942 (State Library New South Wales 30906).
New Zealand Homefront: As in other Allied nations, New Zealand begins to experience tire shortages due to reduced rubber supplies.

British Homefront: World War I veteran J. R. R. Tolkien, who has attempted to become a World War II cryptographer but failed, is working on a new book. He writes a letter to friend John Kettle on 15 March 1942 in which he discusses "The Hobbit," his book published on 21 September 1937. He goes further, though, and also discusses a new book that he is writing in which:
You will meet the perennial Gandalf again… Bilbo and many other hobbits of Took descent, and also one Sam Gamgee; Tom Bombadil… Trotter the Ranger; Ents (very strange creatures); Elrond, Gollum, and others; and visit the Mines of Moria, the elf-lands of Lothlórien; the Riders of Rohan; the Fortress of Minas Tirith; and come to the final overthrow of the Dark Tower. Or I hope so. And supposing you want to.
This will become "The Lord of the Rings," finally published in 1954. It will become one of the best-selling novels ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.

Future History: Mollie Peters is born in Walsham-le-Willows, Suffolk, England. Starting out as a model, she changes her name slightly to Molly Peters and branches out into acting. Film director Terence Young takes an interest in her and casts her as Patricia Fearing, a nurse who takes care of James Bond (Sean Connery") in "Thunderball" (1965). Her final on-screen appearance is in 1968, and Molly Peters passes away on 30 May 2017.

Macleans magazine, 15 March 1942
Maclean's, 15 March 1942.


Monday, March 23, 2020

March 14, 1942: US Leans Toward Europe

Saturday 14 March 1942

Heroes Day in Berlin 14 March 1942
Generalfeldmarschall Keitel, Reichsführer SS Himmler, and Generalfeldmarschall Milch waiting for Adolf Hitler in front of the Berlin armory at the 14 March 1942 Heroes Day ceremony. Note that Keitel is holding his Marshal's baton. (Federal Archive Figure 183-J00683).
Battle of the Pacific: The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff has been split between focusing on Japan or Germany as it builds up its forces. On 14 March 1942, it finally decides to lean toward Europe and maintain a more defensive posture in the Pacific Theater of Operations. This decision is strongly opposed by Admiral Ernest J. King, who prefers to focus on the PTO, but he is overruled. Throughout the war, though, King remains a lone voice calling for greater efforts against the Japanese.

During the late morning, coast watchers on the southern shores of New Guinea in the village of Kerema, just west of Port Moresby, spot a large force of Japanese planes heading west. They alert the RAAF by radio. They turn out to be eight Mitsubishi G4M1 heavy bombers escorted by twelve A6M2 Zeros of the 4th Kokutai The Japanese bombers took off from both Rabaul and Lae airfields, are heading toward Australia.

Heroes Day in Berlin 14 March 1942
The Heroes Day ceremony in Berlin, 14 March 1942. On the platform are Adolf Hitler, Grand Admiral Raeder, Generalfeldmarschall Keitel, Generalfeldmarschall Milch, Reichsführer SS Himmler, Colonel General Fromm, Reichsführer General d. Inf. Reinhardt and Reich War Victim Leader Oberlindober. The ceremony involves laying a wreath on the cenotaph dedicated to heroes. Among other things, this photo is interesting for showing how utterly concerned the Germans are about air attack at this stage of the war (Federal Archive Figure 183-J00682).
The Japanese bombers raid Horn Island, which is ten miles (16 km) north of Queensland, Australia. They destroy a Hudson bomber and a fuel dump and cause some other damage to infrastructure. The RAAF is able to get fighters in the air due to the warning and shoot down two Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters (according to the Japanese) or four Zeros and a bomber (according to the Australians). While little noticed by the public, Horn Island is in a critical location in the Torres Strait between Queensland and New Guinea and thus perfectly suited for air operations between Australia and New Guinea. The Allies realize this and are building the island up into the main tactical base for Allied air operations in the Torres Strait. This is the first of nine Japanese air raids against Horn Island.

The first US Army troops land in Australia. General MacArthur, their commander, remains stuck at Del Monte Field on Mindanao in the Philippines awaiting air transport to Darwin.

German soldiers in Crimea 14 March 1942
German troops during the March 1942 fighting in Crimea (Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe 2-840).
Eastern Front: It is the second day of the Soviet offensive in the Parpach Narrows, and already it is floundering. The fighting is bitter, but the Germans skillfully protect their strongpoint at Koi-Asan using antitank guns, StuG III tank destroyers, and an increased Luftwaffe presence. The Soviets are launching attack after attack (at least ten in all) with three rifle divisions, but the ground is soggy due to the beginning of the Spring Thaw (Rasputitsa). This slows down the advancing tanks and supporting infantry enough for the Germans to stop them.

The Germans remain determined to begin Operation Raubtier ("Beast of Prey"), the mission to encircle a Soviet salient across the Volkhov River. It already has been delayed for one day due to poor weather. As the new day dawns, however, the temperature has fallen precipitously (-31° F (-35° C). General Küchler, commander of Army Group North, reluctantly postpones the operation for another day. This leaves the infantry, in exposed forward positions ready for the attack, to suffer through another day and night of subzero weather.

Troops disembarking in Adelaide, Australia, 14 March 1942
"Adelaide, SA. 14 March 1942. Troops of the 7th Australian Division, disembarking from His Majesty's Transport (HMT) Orcades on their return from the Middle East." Australian War Memorial 030126/06.
European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command, having conducted major operations against Cologne and scattered other targets during the night of 13/14 March, have a quiet night on the 14th. It sends six Boston bombers on an anti-shipping sweep off Le Havre. This begins a lengthy period in which Bomber Command conducts only small-scale missions as it builds up its strength and waits for good summer weather.

Soldier testing a telescope in France, 14 March 1942
A soldier in a French workshop working on a telescope (Gourmet, Federal Archives Figure 101II-MW-3708-11).
Battle of the Atlantic: After dark, German E-boats attack a British convoy in the North Sea. They sink Royal Navy destroyer HMS Vortigern at a cost of five of their own boats.

Aircrew of a Short Sunderland, 14 March 1942
"North African coast area. 14 March 1942. Five members of the aircrew having a cup of tea in the wardroom of a Sunderland flying boat while on coastal patrol off the North African coast. A Sunderland aircraft carries a normal crew of eight." Australian War Memorial MED0354.
Battle of the Mediterranean: U-133 (Kptlt. Eberhard Mohr), on its third patrol but first under new captain Mohr, strikes a mine and sinks two hours south of Salamis. The Salamis wandered off course into a German defensive minefield. All 45 men on board perish. During its career, U-133 sank one ship of 1,920 tons. There is a myth about U-133 that it was on a secret mission to sail up the Colorado River and destroy the Hoover Dam, but that is all it is - a myth.

HMS Ultimatum (P 34, Lt. P.R.H. Harrison, DSC, RN) torpedoes Italian submarine Ammiraglio Millo in the Ionian Sea off Punta (Cape) Stilo, Calabria, Italy. Two out of four torpedoes hit. Commander Harrison takes aboard 14 survivors (57 dead) and then proceeds to Malta.

The German state radio pays the anti-aircraft efforts on Malta a rare compliment, saying:
Malta’s Anti-Aircraft artillery must be counted among Tommy’s very best, and plays the greatest part in the defense of the Island.
The Luftwaffe continues its attacks on Malta's airfields with raids on Hal Far. The Luftwaffe suffers an unfortunate accident when two Bf 109s collide over the island, killing Heinrich Blum, III/JG3. The other pilot, Leutnant Walter Seiz, manages to return to base (14 victories, POW 23 August 1944).

Partisans: Soviet partisans are becoming a problem for the Germans. They begin to plan operations using military forces to root them out. Today, in anticipation of the first such operation ("Operation Munich") set to begin on 19 March 1942, the Germans set up a special anti-partisan air detachment at Bobruisk.

Stalin's bunker in Kuibyshev, 14 March 1942
Stalin's secret bunker in Kuibyshev. The portrait is of Alexander Suvorov (ShinePhantom).
German/Italian Relations: The two Axis partners sign a new trade agreement.

Anglo/Soviet Relations: The new British Minister to the USSR, Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, arrives in Kuibyshev (Kuybyshev, or Samara). This is the Soviets' alternative capital should Moscow fall and has become a center of the Soviet bureaucracy. Among other things, the Soviets are busy at this time building a secret bunker for Stalin located 37 meters below the CPSU oblast Committee building (later the Samara State University of Culture). Stalin and the military high command (Stavka), however, remain in Moscow and there is no evidence that Stalin ever visits his potential command post in Kuibyshev.

Japanese Military: Now that resistance on Java is over, Japanese Imperial General Headquarters issues orders for "Operation X" (the invasion and occupation of Christmas Island). Rear Admiral Shōji Nishimura is assigned to command the Second Southern Expeditionary Fleet's Occupation Force. The British only have 32 men on Christmas Island. A group of Punjabi troops there recently mutinied and killed five British soldiers, including the British commander, Captain L.W.T. Williams. The invasion is planned for 31 March 1942.

Troops disembarking in Adelaide, Australia, 14 March 1942
"Adelaide, Australia. 14 March 1942. Troops of the 7th Australian Division, waiting to entrain at Adelaide after having disembarked from His Majesty's Transport (HMT) Orcades on their return from the Middle East." Australian War Memorial 030127/01.
US Military: US Army Air Force units of the 51st Pursuit Group, 10th Air Force, arrive in Karachi, India, from the United States. The 9th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), flying B-17s, also arrives from Australia.  These B-17s fly their first mission on 2 April 1942.

Units of the USAAF 5th Air Force transfer from Melbourne to Laverton, Australia. These include the 13th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy), 43d BG (Heavy), later redesignated as the 403rd Bomber Squadron. There are other transfers of units to and from Melbourne as General Brett rebalances his forces, and the air echelon of 88th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy), 7th BG (Heavy), ceases operating from Townsville, Australia with B-17's and begins moving to Karachi, India.

Troops disembarking in Adelaide, Australia, 14 March 1942
The New Yorker, 14 March 1942.
British Military: The British realize that Ceylon is a likely target of the Japanese and are beefing up their presence there. Today, they appoint General Sir Henry Pownall to lead the Ceylon Command.

The head of the British Military Mission to Chungking, Major-General Dennys, perishes in a plane accident near Kunming. Relations between Chiang Kai-Shek are not strained at the moment due to the lingering aftereffects of the Tulsa Incident.

US Government: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a proposal to all 48 state governors (Hawaii and Alaska are still territories) that speed limits throughout the nation be reduced to 40 miles per hour (64 km/h) to conserve tired due to the short supplies of rubber.

The War Production Board orders gasoline deliveries be cut 20 percent in 17 eastern states and the District of Columbia. This is due to the great loss of tankers in the past two months, particularly along the Eastern seaboard. Gasoline is already rationed.

Troops disembarking in Adelaide, Australia, 14 March 1942
"Adelaide, SA. 14 March 1942. Troops, hands extended, of the 7th Australian Division, receive a welcome from the people of the suburbs of Adelaide as they pass through a station on their way to Adelaide from the docks after having disembarked from His Majesty's Transport (HMT) Orcades on their return from the Middle East." Australian War Memorial 030127/02.
Australian Government: Prime Minister John Curtin makes a speech to the public:
We are, then, committed, heart and soul, to total warfare. How far, you may ask me, have we progressed along that road? I may answer you this way. Out of every ten men in Australia four are wholly engaged in war as members of the fighting forces or making the munition and equipment to fight with. The other six, besides feeding and clothing the whole ten and their families, have to produce the food and wool and metals which Britain needs for her very existence.
Curtin is trying to bring as many Australian troops home from other theaters as possible to defend the homeland.

Norwegian Homefront: Seven Bishops of the Norwegian Lutheran Church resign their offices rather than co-operate with the Quisling government. They are Bishop Andreas Fleischer (Bergen), Bishop Wollert Krohn-Hansen (Tromso), Bishop Gabriel Skagestad (Stavanger), Bishop Hille (Hamar), Bishop Johan Storen (Nidaros, Trondheim), Bishop Berggrav (Oslo - Primate of the Norwegian Church), and Bishop Maroni (Agder Diocese).

Future History: Rita Tushingham is born in Liverpool, England. She becomes an actress after working as an assistant stage manager at the Liverpool Playhouse. Her film debut is in "A Taste of Honey" (1961), in which she participates with Paul Danquah in what is reputed to be the first interracial kiss in film history. Other prominent film roles include supporting roles in "Doctor Zhivago" (1965), "Being Julia" (2004), and "The Leather Boys" (1964). Rita has won a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award. Rita Tushingham remains a working actress as of this writing in 2020.

Al Capp's Lil' Abner, 14 March 1942
Early ''Li'l Abner'' Comic Strip From 14 March 1942 Featuring J. Sweetlips Garks aka Jeb S. Scragg -- Drawn & Signed by Al Capp.