Sunday, October 13, 2019

March 2, 1942: Huge Allied Shipping Losses at Java

Monday 2 March 1942

Prague exhibit of Soviet life, 2 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Prague citizens inspect a Soviet artillery piece at an exhibit depicting life in the Soviet Union, March 1942.
Battle of the Pacific: The Japanese Navy scores more successes in the waters around Java on 2 March 1942. It is a dangerous day to be on the water for both sides. The Japanese Navy has complete control of the seas and has stationed ships all around Java to prevent any Allied ships from escaping. Japanese cruisers Takao and Atago find and sink destroyer USS Pillsbury (DD-227) at 21:02. Little is known about this battle because the entire crew perishes, but the Japanese records indicate that it took place west of Christmas Island. Not far away, Japanese heavy cruiser Maya, accompanied by destroyers Arashi and Nowaki, finds destroyer HMS Stronghold (H50) trying to escape from Tjilatjap to Australia and sinks it at 18:58. About 50 survivors ultimately become prisoners of the Japanese.

USS Pillsbury, sunk on 2 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
USS Pillsbury, sunk by Japanese cruisers on 2 March 1942.
Allied shipping losses do not stop there. With the Japanese in complete control of the nearby seas and an invasion in progress, the Allies on Java realize the end is near. They scuttle ships both in the harbor and in drydock at Surabaya (Dutch destroyers HNMS Witte de With and Banckert and US Navy destroyer USS Stewart - the Japanese later raise and use Stewart). Japanese aircraft raid the port and cause further damage to the ships. Japanese forces advance toward Batavia (Jakarta), so the Dutch government leaves for Bandoeng (Bandung) to the southeast. A scratch force of Australian, Dutch, American, and British soldiers under the command of Australian Brigadier Arthur Blackburn ("Blackforce") temporarily blocks the Japanese 16th Army's advance into the city. The Japanese Nasu Detachment (Major-General Yumio Nasu) takes Rangkasbitung and then Leuwiliang, but are stopped there by the Australian 2/2nd Pioneer and 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalions along with artillery fire from the US 2/131st Field Artillery ("D" battery).

HMS Stronghold, sunk on 2 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
HMS Stronghold, sunk south of Java on 2 March 1942.
There is a long list of small- to medium-sized Allied ships scuttled, sunk as blockships at various Java ports, or sunk by Japanese naval and air actions. These include:
  • 9505-ton Dutch freighter Tjikarang
  • 1030-ton Dutch freighter Van Diemen
  • 1281-ton Norwegian freighter Tunni
  • 7970-ton Dutch freighter Tjikandi
  • 1615-ton Canadian freighter Shinyu
  • 1799-ton Dutch freighter Sinabang
  • 2232-ton Norwegian freighter Prominent
  • 322-ton Dutch tanker Milo
  • 5400-ton Dutch freighter Koning der Nederlanden
  • 340-ton Dutch tanker Kasuaris
  • 482-ton Dutch lightship J.H. Menten
  • 175-ton Dutch auxiliary minesweeper Endeh (HMV-18, sunk by gunfire south of Java)
  • 6924-ton Dutch freighter Bengalen
  • 1330-ton Dtuch freighter Belawan
  • 1053-ton Dutch freighter Benkalis
  • 43-ton Dutch tug Dann
  • 4323-ton Dutch freighter Liran
  • 1865-ton Dutch freighter Loa Koeloe
  • 2464-ton Dutch freighter Meroendoeng
  • 57-ton Dutch coaster Pehe
  • 1793-ton Dutch freighter Silindoeng
  • 172-ton Dutch freighter Tamako
  • 172-ton Dutch tug Taroena
  • 344-ton Dutch tanker Tembusu
  • 3545-ton Dutch freighter Sisunthon Nawa
  • 620-ton Royal Navy minesweeper HMS Harley
Basically, it is a good day for fish looking for new habitats on the seafloor.

Dutch freighter Kasuaris, sunk on 2 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Dutch freighter Kasuaris (in the foreground), scuttled on 2 March 1942.
Just before midnight, USAAF Fifth Air Force flies its last five B-17s and three LB-30s from Java. They carry 260 men from Jogjakarta Airfield as the Japanese approach. After they leave, the Allies no longer hold any airfield on Java and Headquarters V Bomber Command is dissolves, while Headquarter 19th Bombardment Group transfers from Singosari, Java, to Melbourne, Australia.

Time magazine,,2 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Time magazine, 2 March 1942, features General Yamashita on the cover
In the Philippines, P-40s based on Bataan attack Japanese shipping in Subic Bay, Luzon, losing four planes (three on crash landings). They sink an auxiliary submarine chaser, 385-ton Kyo Maru No. 11. With supply ships unable to pass through the Japanese blockade, General MacArthur's staff reduces rations to one-quarter of the normal ration. The 95,000 army troops are reduced to hunting any animals they can find in the jungle, and many men come down with diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, and malnutrition. Japanese ships shell US positions on Cebu and Negros Islands, while Japanese troops land on Mindanao Island.

In Burma, Japanese forces continue moving toward Rangoon. While the defending British and Indian forces have established a roadblock on the main road at Pegu with the 17th Indian Division, the Japanese simply leave the roads and bypass them through the jungle.

The Adelaide, Australia, Advertiser, 2 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Adelaide, Australia, Advertiser highlights the Japanese invasion of Java in its 2 March 1942 issue. As usual in the media, terrible naval losses are downplayed while supposed victories at sea are trumpeted to make it sound as if everything is going well at sea - when it definitely is not.
The air war continues in New Guinea, with Japanese air strikes softening up the Huon Gulf area for a planned invasion. The Japanese also have their eyes on Port Moresby, which is difficult to take by land due to mountains that run protect the city from the north. The RAAF sends a Hudson A16-101 on reconnaissance over Rabaul.

US Navy submarine USS Sailfish (SS-192) torpedoes and sinks Japanese aircraft transport Kamogawa Maru north of Lombok Strait. The ship is serving as a troop transport, and 273 troops perish along with 6 sailors (including Captain Shimizu) and 48 passengers.


A captured Soviet KV-2 tank in Prague, 2 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German troops ride a captured Soviet KV-2 into Prague for an exhibition of the "real" Soviet Union, March 1942. The tank has the unintended consequence of impressing the local Czechs about the might of the Soviet armed forces.
Eastern Front: Lieutenant General Dmitry Timofeyevich Kozlov makes one last attempt to break through the Axis line across the Parpach Narrows on the Crimea. He sends two rifle divisions, three tank brigades and a tank battalion to take the German fortified village of Koi-Asan. The Germans have carefully sited their anti-tank artillery, and along with Stukas, they devastate the advancing Soviet tanks, destroying 93 of them (according to Soviet sources). The Red Army makes no worthwhile gains, and Kozlov must admit defeat. However, his forces have gained a small salient in the north of the line which may provide a possible springboard into the interior of the Crimea in future battles. Stalin approves the cessation of the offensive but demands another one within ten days.

At the Fuhrer Headquarters at Rastenburg, Adolf Hitler continues his unexpected leniency on allowing retreats. He approves a plan by General Schmidt of the Second Panzer Army to pull troops back from Belev in order to consolidate his lines. With the spring thaw (Rasputitsa) coming soon, operations are going to die down anyway.

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command sends four Boston bombers to attack shipping off Den Helder. All return safely.

Norwegian freighter Gunny, 2 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Norwegian freighter Gunny, sunk on 2 March 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-126 (Kptlt. Ernst Bauer), on its third patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 2362-ton Norwegian freighter Gunny about 400 miles south of Bermuda. The ship is hit at 20:47 and sinks within a minute. The crew manages to launch a raft and fourteen men (one later dies) cling to it for a full week before being found by passing Swedish freighter Temnaren.

Battle of the Mediterranean: After dark, the RAF based on Malta sends Wellington bombers based at Luqa Airfield to attack Palermo Harbor, Sicily. This is the usual overnight stopping place for convoys sailing from Naples to Tripoli. The bombers drop 26 tons of bombs, damaging the dockyard area and a seaplane base. The bomber crews also claim to sink two ships of 9000 and 5000 tons and damage a third. The Luftwaffe, in terms, sends Junkers Ju 88 medium bombers to attack numerous places, including Grand Harbor, Lazaretto, Gudja, Safi Strip, Corradino, Cospicua, Zabbar, and Luqa Airfield.

Meanwhile, Royal Navy submarine HMS Turbulent (Cdr. J.W. Linton) has a big day near Thessaloniki, Greece. Commander Linton uses the deck gun to destroy three Greek two-masted schooners. These are 42-ton Chariklia, 250-ton Apostolos, and 45-ton Evangelistria. All three ships are ferrying German troops to their posts on the Aegean islands. The Apostolos' crew manages to beach the ship, but she never sails again. There are two deaths on the Apostolos, including one German soldier.

Australian troops on Java, 2 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Tjampea, Java. March 1942. Members of the 2/2nd Australian Pioneer Battalion with young Javanese children in West Java after the action at Leuwiliang and prior to the battalion reaching Bandoeng." Australian War Memorial 030390/14.
Battle of the Black Sea: Luftwaffe bombers damage 2366-ton Soviet freighter Fabritsius off Novorossiysk in the Caucasus. The captain acts quickly and beaches the ship, but she is ultimately destroyed completely in a friendly fire incident on 12 May 1943.

Australian/Thai Relations: Australia declares war on Thailand.

Newsweek, 2 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Newsweek magazine, 2 March 1942, embraces the new paranoia about enemy spies.
US Military: Under Operation Magnet (the transfer of US troops to the British Isles), 8555 US troops arrive at Belfast, Northern Ireland, in a 21-ship convoy (plus escorts). The troops include the headquarters of the 34th Infantry Division and units of the 133d and 168th Infantry Regiments. With these new arrivals, there are 10,433 US Army personnel in Northern Ireland (including 534 officers, 70 nurses, and 2 warrant officers).

The U.S. Naval Air Transport Service begins regularly scheduled operations with an R4D Skytrain flight from NAS Norfolk, Virginia, to NRAB Squantum, Massachusetts.

Headquarters, 19th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), 22nd Bomber Group (Medium), transfers its headquarters from Brisbane to Ipswich, Australia.

Kamogawa Maru, sunk on 2 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Kamogawa Maru, sunk by USS Sailfish on 2 March 1942.
Turkey: The Turkish government from now on only allows passage of the Dardanelles by ships under the command of Turkish captains.

Holocaust: German forces liquidate the Minsk Ghetto's nursery/ orphanage. They throw babies and older children into a pit and then bury them alive. According to at least one account, SS officer Wilhelm Kube and other officers throw candy to the shivering children before burying them. When "The Pit" murders are done, about 5000 victims have perished. There is a memorial to the incident at the spot.

Oakland, California, 2 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The owner of a grocery store has a huge "I Am An American" sign posted, March 1942. The store, being in Military Area No. 1, is closed after internment begins later in the month and the owner interned (Dorothea Lange (WRA)). 
American Homefront: General John DeWitt, commander of the Western Defense Command, issues Public Proclamation No. 1. This defines the coastal areas of California, Oregon, and Washington, and also part of Arizona, as Military Area No. 1. This new Military Area will define the areas from which persons of Japanese ancestry will be removed to internment camps.

Future History: John Winslow Irving is born in Exeter, New Hampshire. He develops an interest in writing and publishes his first novel, "Setting Free the Bears," in 1968. He continues publishing novels that don't receive much attention until "The World According to Garp" (1978), becomes an international bestseller and is made into a feature film directed by George Roy Hill and starring Robin Williams. After that, Irving enjoys great success and continues publishing novels to great acclaim. As of this writing, Irving continues publishing novels and winning writing prizes.

Lewis Allan Reed is born in New York City, New York. Reed develops a love for music and makes his first recording as a teenager. However, he also begins experiencing panic attacks and other mental issues. This does not stop Reed's musical development, and in 1964 he is signed as a songwriter by Pickwick Records. Living on the Lower East Side, Reed helps to form a new rock band, the Velvet Underground, under the name Lou Reed. This becomes a very influential rock group, though it never experiences that much commercial success. After the band breaks up in 1971, Reed moves back home to Long Island. He soon signs a recording contract with RCA Records and releases his first solo album, "Lou Reed." Reed continues recording and has a big hit, "Walk on the Wild Side." After that, Reed continues releasing material, though it is never as popular. Lou Reed passes away on Long Island on 27 October 2013.

Life magazine, 2 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Ginger Rogers, Academy Award winner in 1941, on the cover of Life magazine, 2 March 1942.

2019

Saturday, October 12, 2019

March 1, 1942: Second Battle of Java Sea

Sunday 1 March 1942

HMS Exeter sinking at the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
HMS Exeter is hit by a torpedo fired by Japanese destroyer Inazuma during the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942.
Battle of the Pacific: The naval situation of the Allies in the southwestern Pacific goes from bad to worse on 1 March 1942 when they lose another cruiser and two destroyers. Combined with the earlier Battle of the Java Sea and Battle of Sunda Strait, this action leaves the Allies without a naval presence near Java.

Damaged during the First Battle of Java Sea, Royal Navy cruiser HMS Exeter (famous for helping to destroyer German heavy cruiser Admiral Graf Spee in 1939) is ordered on 28 February to leave immediately from Surabaya to Ceylon for repairs. The decision comes just before the Japanese Navy sweeps the sea later that night in the Battle of Java Sea. At nightfall, Exeter and escorting destroyers HMS Encounter and USS Pope depart from the main north entrance (rather than the less obvious southern one) of the harbor due to Exeter's draft. The seas are swarming with Japanese, ships, and they spot Exeter at 04:00 on 1 March. They elude their pursuer, but the Japanese sight them again at 09:35. Heavy cruisers Haguro and Nachi, accompanied by destroyers Kawakaze and Yamakaze, approach and cause the Exeter to change course to the northeast. However, this only leads the British ships toward another group of Japanese warships (heavy cruisers Ashigara and Myōkō and destroyers Inazuma and Akebono). At 10:20, the ships begin firing at each other. At 11:20, a shell hits Exeter's boiler room, slowing it to four knots, and the Japanese cruisers close in. Exeter sinks at 11:40 about 90 miles (78 nautical miles and 140 km) northwest of Bawean. Both destroyers are sunk soon after, Encounter after her captain orders her scuttled and Pope by dive bombers. While the Japanese rescue 652 men from Exeter, 152 of them perish in Japanese custody.

HMS Exeter sinking at the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
HMS Exeter sinking on 1 March 1942 (U.S. Navy photo NH 91772 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command, captured by US forces on Attu Island in 1943).
Japanese Aichi D3A ("Val") dive bombers operating near Christmas Island attack and sink US Navy fuel tanker USS Pecos and damage accompanying destroyer USS Edsall. Battleships Hiei and Kirishima are alerted to the destroyer's plight and they sail to the area and sink it using gunfire. There are five survivors of the Edsall who are captured and executed by the Japanese at Kendari on Celebes Island.

With the seas now cleared of large Allied warships, the invasion of Java continues without serious interruption. The first landings begin just after midnight at around 00:15. Japanese transport ships unload troops at Bantam Bay in West Java (near Merak and Eretan Wetan) and Kragan in East Java. Facing little opposition, the Japanese in the western force quickly sets up its headquarters at Serang, while the eastern force takes Kalidjati airfield by noon. The Allied defenders send defensive forces to the landing zones during the day, but they do not arrive in numbers large enough to counterattack until 2 March.

HMS Exeter sinking at the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Second Battle in the Java Sea, 1 March 1942. Heavy cruiser Myoko and Ashigara are firing on the Exeter.
Everyone on the Allied side can see that the end is near for Java, and evacuations are in full swing. The USAAF flies its last three B-17s and an A-24 Dauntless squadron back toward Australia. Nine P-40s, six RAAF fighters, and four RNAF fighters attack the Japanese landings, losing three planes. The Japanese Air Force then counterattacks the P-40 base at Blimbing Airdrome and destroys the surviving fighters on the ground.

In the Philippines, the front is quiet but the Allied position is withering. The 34th Pursuit Squadron has been engaged in heavy fighting for two months and is down to its last two planes. The Japanese, however, also are taking heavy casualties, having lost 2700 killed and 4000 wounded. The difference between the two sides is that the Japanese can easily bring in reinforcements from the north, while the Allies are effectively blockaded by the oppressive Japanese sea and air presence.

HMS Exeter sinking at the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Dutch freighter Rooseboom, sunk west of Sumatra on 1 March 1942.
Japanese submarine HIJMS I-59 (later I-159), under the command of Lieutenant Yoshimatsu, torpedoes and sinks 1035-ton Dutch freighter at 23:35 west of Sumatra. Two men are picked up by a passing Dutch freighter in the water nine days later, with well over 100 deaths. There is one other (known) survivor, and he tells quite a tale. The sinking is best remembered for the account of the events endured by the survivors in the sole lifeboat that is launched before the ship quickly capsizes told by Corporal Walter Gardiner Gibson. According to Gibson, 80 people are crowded in the boat which is designed to hold only 28 people, with many more survivors left to swim in the water. Some of the swimming men try to build a raft from flotsam, but it sinks and they all drown. There is no food or water and people in the boat begin to hallucinate, many killing themselves due to their agony. A group of survivors in the boat's bow throws the weaker ones overboard at night, and then they themselves are pushed overboard to drown. When the survivors are down to a group of two white men, a Chinese woman, and four Javanese seamen, the Javanese murder and eat the other white man. Eventually, the lifeboat grounds on an island off Sumatra, Sipora. The four Javanese sailors all perish (two disappear into the jungle). The Japanese shoot the Chinese woman as a spy and put Gibson in a POW camp. Gibson lives to write two books about his experiences, "The Boat" (1952) and "Highland Laddie" (1954).

HMS Exeter sinking at the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
President Polk, sunk near the Gilbert Islands on 1 March 1942.
Japanese aircraft bomb and sink 9225-ton US troopship President Polk near the Gilbert Islands. The Americans later raise the ship and return it to service.

Japanese submarine HIJMS I-25 launches its Yokosuka E14Y1, Navy Type 0 Small Reconnaissance Seaplane "Glen" to perform reconnaissance over Hobart, Tasmania. As on its other flights, the seaplane carries out its mission without being spotted.

HMS Exeter sinking at the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Destroyer USS Pope (DD-225) sinking on 1 March 1942 during the Second Battle of the Java Sea. This photo was taken from a Japanese floatplane.
Eastern Front: While the front has stabilized following the Soviet counteroffensive in December, the German position remains much shakier than anyone ever expected. General Halder, head of OKH, issues an analysis showing that total casualties are approaching half the number of men that began the campaign. While many of those men are still fighting, the winter was not the respite that the Wehrmacht expected and instead has turned into a struggle to the death. Replacements are not coming close to making up all the losses, and ammunition supplies are becoming an issue as well.

After almost two weeks of indecision about whether to even approach Hitler with the idea of another retreat, today Fourth Army General Heinrici arrives at the Fuhrer headquarters in Rastenburg to plead his case with Hitler. Hitler, however, already is thinking about operations elsewhere to regain the initiative and rescue the trapped units at Kholm and Demyansk and is not concerned about the troops near Moscow. To Heinrici's (and everyone else's) astonishment, Hitler immediately grants the withdrawal request. He explains that previously he had been "deliberately obstinate" about retreats, but the front situation has improved so much in recent weeks that he no longer cares exactly where it is. Heinrici returns to headquarters with permission to pull troops back from an exposed position at Yukhnov.

HMS Exeter sinking at the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Guns of Japanese cruiser Myoko firing during the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942.
On the Crimea, the Soviet effort along the Parpach Narrows front now is focused on the Romanian forces at the north end of the line. They are the only sector that has given up serious ground. Today, the German 170th Infantry Division moves up and stops this threat, leaving the Red Army in possession of a bulge at the extreme northern end of the line. The Soviets land a small party at Alushta today, but it achieves nothing and quickly re-embarks, while the Soviet Navy bombards Yalta and Feodosiya to little effect. The Soviets already have lost 40 tanks during their offensive and now are achieving little, but they refuse to abandon it. Lieutenant General Dmitry Timofeyevich Kozlov prepares one last attack on the 2nd against the German strongpoint at Koi-Asan.

HMS Exeter sinking at the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
HMS Exeter sinking after the Second Battle of Java Sea, 1 March 1942.
European Air Operations: The RAF conducts no major missions today.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-656 (Kptlt. Ernst Kröning), on its second patrol out of Brest, is bombed and sunk by a Lockheed PBO-1 Hudson (VP-82 USN) south of Cape Race, Newfoundland. An unlucky boat, U-656 sinks or damages no ships during its career. There are no survivors of the 45 aboard. This U-boat sinking by an airplane is a rare event for this period of World War II.

Battle of the Mediterranean: Royal Navy submarine HMS Unbeaten sinks 3415-ton Vichy French tanker PLM.20 5 nautical miles east of Mehedia (Mahdia), Tunisia.

US/British Relations: Winston Churchill rightfully fears a Japanese expansion into the Indian Ocean. Today, he informs President Roosevelt of the Royal Navy's desire to land troops at Diego Suarez, Madagascar. Madagascar is under Vichy French control, and already there are Japanese submarines around India. The invasion is still tentative at this point, however, and no plans have been prepared.

Canadian Military: The Canadian Women's Army Corps receives full Army status as "a Corps of the Active Militia of Canada." Before this, the only women's units admitted to this status were the nursing sisters.

HMS Exeter sinking at the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Auschwitz 2.
Holocaust: The Germans begin building the Sobibor concentration camp near the town of Włodawa (Wolzek), Poland. The location is chosen due to the nearby Chełm – Włodawa railway line connecting the General Government with the Reichskommissariat Ukraine. Local people begin the construction and are soon replaced by the forced labor of a Sonderkommando of local Jewish residents. Ultimately, well over a hundred thousand people are murdered at the camp.

Also on 1 March 1942, Auschwitz Birkenau (also known as Auschwitz 2) is established. It is intended to house Soviet prisoners of war but ultimately becomes the main extermination camp at Auschwitz.

HMS Exeter sinking at the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
One of the first ration books (The National WWII Museum).
American Homefront: Nationwide food rationing takes effect throughout the United Staes. Not everything is rationed - for instance, fresh fruit and vegetables are not - so everyone can always find something to eat. People also are free to grow or raise their own food. However, certain food items such as coffee and sugar must be imported and thus are rationed because the shipping is needed for other purposes.

By now, about 10,000 family members of US servicemen have been evacuated from Hawaii. About 20,000 remain to be shipped to California. They are taking up all of the shipping space, which leaves none for the proposed internment on the mainland (favored by the US Army) of Japanese-Americans. This indirectly blocks their removal from the islands.

Cornelius Vanderbilt III passes away in Miami Beach, Florida at the age of 68. He is most remembered for his interest in yachting and for serving honorably as a brigadier general in World War I.

The owners of the major league baseball clubs decide against allowing players who now are in the military from playing for their clubs when they are available, i.e., on leave or based nearby.

HMS Exeter sinking at the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Japanese 2d Division celebrates landing at Merak, Java, on 1 March 1942.
Future History: The wreck of HMS Exeter was discovered on 21 February 2007 some 60 miles (97 km) from the last position given by its commander, Captain Oliver Gordon (who survives). It was classified as a British war grave and thus was considered untouchable. However, when another diving expedition visits the location in November 2016, it finds the right spot - but the ship itself is missing. Exeter, along with the nearby wreck of destroyer Encounter and two other vessels, apparently had been illegally scavenged during the intervening decade. It must have been a major salvage operation, one of the biggest in history. How this was done without anyone knowing about it in approximately 60 meters (200 feet) of water remains a mystery, along with what was done with the wrecks (presumably scrapped).


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

2019

Thursday, October 10, 2019

February 28, 1942: Battle of Sunda Strait

Saturday 28 February 1942

USS Pope under attack, 28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
" USS Pope (DD-225) under attack from gunfire from IJN Myoko and Ashigara, air attacks, and scuttling charges during the evacuation of Java, 28 February 1942. She later sank on 1 March. Photograph originally from a Japanese propaganda booklet Victory on the March. U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. (7/24/2013)." National Museum of the U.S. Navy 80-G-179003: USS Pope (DD 225) under attack, February 28, 1942.
Battle of the Pacific: Following the destruction of most of the Allied Combined Striking Force at the Battle of Java Sea late on Friday, Saturday, 28 February 1942, the Allied defense of Java is in disarray. Knowing that the Japanese have complete naval superiority, the Allied commanders order the remaining ships (cruisers USS Houston and HMAS Perth and Dutch destroyer HNLMS Evertsen) to withdraw from Tanjung Priok, north coast of Java, through Sunda Strait to Tjilatjap on the south coast of the island. The Allies do not expect to be spotted, but Japanese destroyer Fubuki happens to be nearby and begins following the fleeing cruisers (Evertsen comes later) at around 23:15. The Allies realize they have been found before midnight and open fire. The battle is short and sharp, with both cruisers quickly abandoned and sinking just after midnight. Evertsen, trying to catch up with the cruisers, also is trapped by Japanese destroyers, catches fire after being hit repeatedly, and explodes. There are 696 deaths on Houston and 375 on Perth, with 368 from Houston and 307 from Perth taken as prisoners. The crew of Evertsen manages to escape to shore but they are taken prisoner eventually, too. Japanese casualties are extremely light, with minor damage to cruiser Mikuma and destroyers Shirayuki and Harukaze.

Medal of Honor recipient Captain Albert Rooks, KIA,28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Captain Albert Harold Rooks of the USS Houston, who goes down with his ship on 28 February 1942. He posthumously receives a Medal of Honor - the highest honor for any US serviceman - for his actions during the period 4 to February 27, 1942. "Photograph taken circa 1940. This view was released by the Bureau of Personnel on 14 October 1966. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command." NH 97916 Captain Albert H. Rooks, USN.
Royal Navy cruiser HMS Exeter, badly damaged at the Battle of Java Sea, also tries to escape even though it is badly damaged. It leaves Surabaya for Ceylon at sunset escorted by destroyers HMS Encounter and USS Pope. They are sailing into seas full of Japanese warships, though, and meet their own fates on the morning of 1 March. Four US Navy destroyers (John D. Edwards, John D. Ford, Alden, and Paul Jones) also depart Surabaya at sunset but manage to evade detection.

With the Allies completely defenseless at sea, the Japanese begin landing troops at three places in Java. These are Bantam near Batavia, at Indramayu (mid-Java), and at Rembang (110 miles from Surabaya). Rembang houses a large oil refinery that is vital to Japanese plans.

NY Times, 28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The NY Times highlights the Battle of Java Sea in its 28 February 1942. Nobody knows the outcome of these battles right away.
In Burma, British defenders are under extreme pressure outside of Rangoon. They retreat to Pegu from Payagyi and Waw as the Japanese continue to sidestep them through the jungles. The Japanese cut the main road 50 miles north of Rangoon as they continue to pour across the Sittang River.

General Gordon Bennett becomes one of the few top officers to successfully escape from Singapore when he reaches Australia today. He is the most senior officer to evade capture or death. Bennett is extremely pessimistic and believes that an invasion of Australia itself is imminent. He heads for Sydney to report to the government.

TIE2 (M6) heavy tank, 28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
T1E2 after arrival on Aberdeen Proving Ground, 28 February 1942. This is a typical pre-war United States Army tank design with an array of guns designed for different purposes. That's a 37 mm anti-tank gun in the turret above the 76.2 mm main gun, for instance. This tank was designated the Heavy Tank M6, was produced in small numbers (40), and never saw combat. The Army preferred to go with the new M4 Sherman for all purposes instead. The M6 was declared obsolete on 14 December 1944. There is one remaining T1 on display at the Aberdeen, Maryland, Ordnance Museum.
Japanese aircraft raid Port Moresby, New Guinea. They drop 130 bombs and wound ten people. Among the damage is the sinking of two PBY Catalina flying boats at Napa Napa. One A6M2 Zero pilot bails out and is captured, still a rarity at this stage of the war. The pilot, Lt. Nagatoma, becomes the first Japanese POW taken in Australian territory.

Japanese submarine I-4 torpedoes and sinks 1693-ton Dutch freighter Ban Ho Guan south of Bali, while Japanese patrol boats sink 983-ton Dutch freighter Tomohon off Tjilatjap. All 30 men on the Tomohon survive. Japanese fighters shoot down British Overseas Airways Corp. (BOAC) Short S-23 C-Class Empire Boat, msn S-842, registered G-AETZ, after it takes off from Tjilatjap, Java, bound for Australia.

British commandos in training, 28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Commandos in a landing craft taking them ashore during training in Scotland, 28 February 1942." © IWM (H 17472).
Eastern Front: The Soviets conclude their airborne landings behind Wehrmacht lines south of Vyazma. The landings are unopposed by the Germans, who often are able to see the Soviet transport planes landing in the distance. Since the Germans control thinly held lines all around this forested area, in essence, the Soviet troops are flying into a pocket. Today, the airborne troops are able to link up with Soviet 50th Army, which also is trapped. The Germans are content to keep these Soviet forces under observation and conclude that the new troops don't have a clear objective. They focus more on self-protection and securing their supplies rather than making any aggressive moves.

Commandos showing off the spoils of war, 28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Squadron Leader Percy Pickard, Commanding Officer of No. 51 Squadron RAF, inspects a captured German helmet with parachute troops after the Bruneval raid, 28 February 1942. On the night of 27/28 February Pickard's squadron of Whitleys dropped 'C' Company, 2nd Parachute Battalion (commanded by Major J D Frost) near a German Wurzburg radar site at Bruneval near Le Havre in northern France - its objective to seize components of the radar and then evacuate them by sea." © IWM (H 17347).
In the Crimea, Lieutenant General Dmitry Timofeyevich Kozlov continues his offensive along the Parpach Narrows. There is bitter fighting, but the Red Army attack loses momentum after advancing five kilometers as two important German strongpoints hold out. Gruppe Hitzfeld from the German 73rd Infantry Division, under the command of Otto Hitzfeld, mounts a counterattack and recovers some ground lost by Romanian troops, retaking Kiet. The Soviets are reorienting their attack to focus on Romanian troops because they prove weaker than nearby German units. This is a Red Army practice that increases throughout the war, with areas held by Romanians easy to identify due to their different and distinctive helmets. The Germans bring up their 170th Infantry Division to secure the Romanian portion of the line in the north.

European Air Operations: Operations are light. RAF Bomber Command sends six Blenheims with a fighter escort to bomb north German ports without loss.

USS Jacob Jones, sunk on 28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A newspaper clipping showing "Ill-fated U.S. Destroyer" Jacob Jones, sunk on 28 February 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-578 (KrvKpt. Ernst-August Rehwinkel), on its third patrol out of St. Nazaire, torpedoes and sinks 1090-ton US Navy destroyer USS Jacob Jones (DD 130) off Cape May, New Jersey, and the Delaware Capes (about 38 miles (61 km) northeast of Ocean City, Maryland). One of the two torpedoes that hit ignites the destroyer's magazine, causing a huge explosion, while the second torpedo blows off the stern. While many men are able to abandon ship, the destroyer's depth charges explode as it sinks, killing many of the men in the water. There are 138 dead and only 11 survivors.

U-129 (Kptlt. Asmus Nicolai Clausen), on its fourth patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes 2605-ton Panamanian freighter Bayou at 07:45 about 140 miles north of Paramaribo, Suriname. The ship sinks immediately, within 25 seconds according to the U-boat commander. This concludes an 18-hour chase by U-129. There is only one survivor and 24 dead.

Norwegian freighter Leif, sunk on 28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Norwegian freighter Leif, sunk on 28 February 1942.
U-653 (Kptlt. Gerhard Feiler), on its second patrol out of Brest, torpedoes independent 1582-ton Norwegian freighter Leif east of Cape Hatteras. The two torpedoes blow off Leif's foreship and it sinks within 11 minutes. The crew abandons ship, but the weather is rough and one of two lifeboats disappears and is never found. There are ten survivors and 15 deaths.

U-156 (Kptlt. Werner Hartenstein), on its second patrol out of Lorient, concludes an outstanding patrol today by using gunfire to sink independent 7017-ton US tanker Oregon. Hartenstein is out of torpedoes and on his way home, but when he spots Oregon 130 miles north of the Mona Passage (170 miles (274 km) northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico) he can't resist attacking despite the fact that his gun is in poor condition, too, due to an accident off Aruba. U-156 approaches to within 900 meters and opens fire, immediately scoring hits. The second shell hits the bridge, killing the entire bridge crew including Master Ingvald C. Nilsen. This causes the tanker to sail out of control, hitting U-156 but not seriously damaging the U-boat. Hartenstein then pumps the rest of his deck gun's shells into the tanker at point-blank range, sinking it. The tanker's crew is able to abandon ship and there are six dead and 30 survivors. Some of the crew later claim that Hartenstein intentionally tried to kill them as they lowered a lifeboat and then again in the water, but there is no proof of that. Hartenstein's U-156 has sunk a total of five ships and damaged two others for a total of 22,723-tons sunk and 10,769-tons damaged.

Italian submarine Da Vinci torpedoes and sinks 3644-ton Latvian freighter Everasma in the mid-Atlantic east of Guadeloupe. There are 15 survivors.

Destroyer USS Jacob Jones, sunk on 28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Destroyer USS Jacob Jones, 1930s, lost on 28 February 1942 (US Navy photo).
Battle of the Mediterranean: Operation Abstention, the British attempt to seize the island of Kastellorizo from the Italians, comes to an inglorious conclusion. Royal Navy destroyers HMS Decoy and Hero land a party on the island and find the Commandos there on the run, with abandoned and wrecked equipment on the landing ground. Some of the Commandos who have retreated to a plateau east of the port make it back to the beach and are withdrawn, while others surrender to the Italians. There is a brief naval battle offshore between Royal Navy destroyer Jaguar and Italian destroyer Crispi during which Jaguar is lightly damaged. The Royal Navy opens a Board of Inquiry about the botched operation and concludes that a major factor in the defeat is complete Italian control of the air and an insufficient amount of aggressiveness by the commander of the destroyer (Hereward) that first landed the troops. Total British casualties are three dead, eleven wounded, and 27 men missing (most taken captive) while the Italians lost eight men killed, eleven wounded, and ten men missing. It is a bitter British defeat.

U-Boat captain Reinhard Hardegen on the cover of Toute la vie, 28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Reinhard Hardegen in "before and after" photos following his return to France on the cover of the “Toute la vie,” 28 February 1942. Hardegen at this time is the commander of U-123, one of the first U-boats operating off the United States' east coast during World War II - thus the headling about seeing New York City through his periscope (he saw Brooklyn). Reinhard Hardegen survived the war and passed away on 8 June 2018 in Bremen at the age of 105.
Japanese/Soviet Relations: Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander of the Combined Fleet, issues Navy Directive No. 60. This directs the Japanese Navy to treat Soviet ships as "absolutely neutral." This prevents war from breaking out between the two powers, which Japan does not want, but also leaves opens a huge source of supply to the Soviet Pacific port of Vladivostok.

US/French Relations: The U.S. Consul-General in New Caledonia officially recognizes the authority of Free French forces over French islands in the Pacific. This is announced on 12 March.

USS Hornet, 28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
US Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet. " View taken at Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, 28 February 1942. Close-up of starboard side of Island. Note camouflage; raft stowage; Island; underway refueling rig (R)." Naval History and Heritage Command 19-N-29065 USS HORNET (CV-8).
US Military: The United States Army Services of Supply or "SOS" branch of the U.S. Army is created.

US Government: The Dies Committee (which later becomes the House Un-American Activities Committee) issues a report on pre-war espionage in the United States by the Japanese. This widely anticipated "Yellow Paper" concludes that there was a wide-spread spy ring of about 150,000 members in the United States. This provides a foundation for the internment of Japanese Americans.

The Carolina Times, 28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Carolina Times for 28 February 1942. This newspaper (which remains in existence) focuses on news from a racial equality viewpoint.
Iran: The Iranian Cabinet resigns and a new government must be formed. This proves difficult and takes over a week.

India: From Berlin, Subhas Chandra Bose makes a radio broadcast affirming his support of the goals of the Third Reich and expressing his wish for an independent India. This is the first of two such broadcasts that he makes, the second is on 11 March.

Holocaust: There are mass killings at the Chelmno concentration camp in Poland. While it is impossible to single out many deaths, today Stanislaw Kaszyński, the secretary of the local Polish council, is put to death along with his wife. Kaszyński has been trying to publicize the exterminations at the camp. An obelisk to his memory is dedicated on 7 August 1991 at Chelmno.

Guns being fitted on HMS Rodney, 28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Changing the 16-inch guns on HMS RODNEY at Cammel Laird shipyard, Birkenhead. Lowering a gun into position in "A" turret." 28 February 1942. © IWM (A 7690).
German Homefront: Due to a growing fuel crisis, the government bans the use of private automobiles other than for war work.

American Homefront: "Moonlight Cocktail" by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra and written by Luckey Robers with lyrics by Kim Gannon hits No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart. It remains on top for ten weeks, taking over from Miller's own "String of Pearls." The record was recorded on 8 December 1941 with vocals by Ray Eberle and The Modernaires. However, not everybody enjoys "Moonlight Cocktail," as the BBC bans it in August 1942 as "sentimental slush" that does not aid the war effort. "Moonlight Cocktail" is the number two record of 1942, behind only Bing Crosby's classic "White Christmas."

Picture Post magazine, 28 February 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Picture Post magazine, 28 February 1942. At this point in the war, India considered very much in jeopardy.
Future History: Lewis Brian Hopkins Jones is born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. His father was a piano teacher when not working as an aeronautical engineer, while his mother plays piano and organ in the choir of her local church. Brian persuades his parents to buy him a saxophone in 1957 and then a guitar in 1959. He leaves home later that year to bum his way through Europe, but eventually returns home. In 1962, Jones (who now goes by Brian Jones) places an advertisement in Jazz News for musicians to audition to form a rock group. Ian Stewart and Mick Jagger appear, and Mick eventually brings along his childhood friend Keith Richards. Jones then comes up with a name for the nascent group, the "Rollin' Stones," which more formally becomes the band's name as The Rolling Stones. They have their first appearance at the Marquee Club in London on 12 July 1962 and in January 1963 convince drummer Charlie Watts to join. After that, The Rolling Stones begin releasing albums and become one of the iconic rock groups of all time. Jones, however, becomes estranged from the others in the group and last records with them in 1968, finally leaving the group on 9 June 1969. Less than a month later, on the night of 2-3 July 1969, Brian Jones is found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool at the age of 27 - a notoriously common age for the deaths of rock stars, a "trend" that Jones starts.


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

2019

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

February 27, 1942: Battle of Java Sea

Friday 27 February 1942

Battle of Java Sea, 27 February 1942 worlwartwo.filminspector.com
HMS Exeter (right, barely visible under the spray) and Australian cruiser HMAS Hobart (D63) under aerial attack by Japanese aircraft in the Battle of Java Sea. The date of this picture has not been positively established may be from 27 February 1942. Or, it may be from an earlier incident on 14-15 February 1942.
Battle of the Pacific: Admiral Karel Doorman has his fleet at sea east of Surabaya in search of a reported Japanese invasion fleet heading for Java on 27 February 1942. After spending all night and all morning in a fruitless search, his ships spot the Japanese ships at about 16:00. within about fifteen minutes, the two fleets are firing guns and torpedoes at each other. Allied cruiser HMS Exeter is hit in the boiler room by a Japanese shell and heads back to Surabaya, and destroyer HNMLS Kortenaer sinks quickly after being hit by a torpedo. A gun battle between Royal Navy destroyer Electra and Japanese light cruiser Jintsū and destroyer Asagumo leads to the loss of Electra (Asagumo is damaged and withdraws). At 18:00, having lost two ships with a third badly damaged, Doorman breaks off the battle and heads west in an attempt to intercept the invasion transport ships. However, on the way, Royal Navy destroyer Jupiter hits a mine and sinks, compounding the damage. The Japanese pursue Doorman and there is another furious gun-and-torpedo battle which leads to the sinking of Dutch cruisers De Ruyter and Java. Doorman goes down with his ship, and only 111 men survive from both ships. Following orders, the only two surviving Allied ships, cruisers Perth and Houston, retreat back to Tanjung Priok.

Battle of Java Sea, 27 February 1942 worlwartwo.filminspector.com
Dutch flagship De Ruyter, sunk on 27 February 1942.
The Battle of the Java Sea is decisive for the fate of the Netherlands East Indies. While the battle delays the Japanese invasion by the day, that comes at a cost to the Allies of virtually their entire fleet in the Netherlands East Indies (Japanese losses are not known with precision but apparently are very light). The fate of Java is now sealed and the Allies have almost no naval forces left in the region aside from the battered Exeter and a few destroyers. This arguably is the height of Japanese naval power in the Pacific, though a lot of fighting remains.

Battle of Java Sea, 27 February 1942 worlwartwo.filminspector.com
In this perfectly timed photo, the U.S. Navy seaplane tender USS Langley (AV-3) is torpedoed by USS Whipple (DD-217), after being abandoned, south of Java, 27 February 1942. Naval History and Heritage Command NH 92476 USS LANGLEY (AV-3)
Allied woes at sea on 27 February 1942 do not end there, however. US Navy aircraft carrier USS Langley, the country's first aircraft carrier and now serving as a seaplane tender, is attacked early in the day south of Tjilatjap (Cilacap), West Java, along with US destroyers Whipple and Edsall by sixteen Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers. They are flying out of Denpasar airfield on Bali and are escorted by 15 A6M Reisen "Zero" fighters. While Langley (which is carrying 32 P-40s) evades two bombing runs, it takes five 60- and 250-kg bombs on the third pass and bursts into flames. At 13:32, the crew abandons ship, and the escorting destroyers put two torpedoes into Langley to make sure that the Japanese don't salvage it. The tragedy of the Langley does not end there, either, as many of her surviving crew are on another ship, USS Pecos, when it is sunk while en route to Australia.

Battle of Java Sea, 27 February 1942 worlwartwo.filminspector.com
Polish soldiers in London, 27 February 1942 (Imperial War Museum).
Eastern Front: In the Crimea, Soviet Lieutenant General Dmitry Timofeyevich Kozlov launches an offensive along a section of the front at the Parpach Narrows at 06:30. The Red Army has 93,804 troops, 1,195 guns and mortars, 125 anti-tank guns, 194 tanks, and 200 aircraft. The offensive begins with a 230-gun artillery barrage, but the shelling is poorly aimed and does little to disrupt the German defenses. The Germans have their 46th and 132nd Infantry Divisions on the 42 Corps front along with the Romanian 18th Infantry Division. The Germans also have Gruppe Hitzfeld in reserve.

Battle of Java Sea, 27 February 1942 worlwartwo.filminspector.com
The crew of destroyer USS Whipple (DD-217) watches as its torpedo (fired to prevent the ship from falling into enemy hands) strikes USS Langley south of Java (Naval History and Heritage Command NH 92475 USS LANGLEY (AV-3)).
The Germans rely on a hedgehog defense of fortified strongpoints at the villages of Tulumchak, Korpech’, and Koi-Asan. They have built strong fortifications all along the front, and they are aided by warm weather which creates muddy conditions benefiting the defense. The Soviets must advance across a flat, 80-square kilometer plain which exposes them to brutal counter-fire. Soviet tanks, particularly the heavy KV-1s which are slow and make good targets, sink in the mud. Still, the Red Army soldiers take Tulumchak, which is held by the Romanian 18th Infantry Regiment. However, the Germans hold their other two strongpoints at Korpech’ and Koi-Asan after brutal fighting. The Luftwaffe makes 40 Stuka sorties which help to knock out 93 Soviet tanks in total, including 28 KV-1s. The Soviets do make minor gains but at a brutal cost.

Battle of Java Sea, 27 February 1942 worlwartwo.filminspector.com
Sergeant Hajime Toyoshima (left), Australia’s first Japanese prisoner of war, Bathurst Island, 27 February 1942. Toyoshima piloted of a Zero fighter damaged during the 19 February air raid on Darwin. After being forced to crash-land on Melville Island, Toyoshima was disarmed and captured by Aborigines who took him to Bathurst Island to hand over to Sergeant Leslie Powell (right), 23rd Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers. Powell, who had been sent to maintain demolition installations on the island and was unarmed, used Toyoshima’s service pistol to escort him into captivity.
European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command sends 68 bombers (33 Wellingtons, 17 Manchesters, and 18 Hampdens) to bomb the Kiel drydock again where Gneisenau is being repaired. However, the weather is cloudy and only 50 bombers even drop their bombs - but where they drop is a mystery because there is no report of damage in Kiel. In another mission, 33 bombers (three Whitleys are lost) attack Wilhelmshaven and heavy cruiser Scharnhorst, but again the weather is poor and only 26 bombers drop their bombs - somewhere - to no effect. Another 15 bombers (11 Hampdens and 4 Manchesters) lay mines off the Frisian Islands.

The Luftwaffe bombs and sinks 269-ton British coaster Fernside off Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Battle of Java Sea, 27 February 1942 worlwartwo.filminspector.com
Tanker R.P. Resor, sunk on 27 February 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-578 (KrvKpt. Ernst-August Rehwinkel), on its third patrol out of St. Nazaire, torpedoes and sinks 7451-ton tanker R.P. Resor about 20 miles east of Manasquan Inlet, New Jersey. The torpedo hits at 06:36 and ignites oil which sprays into all along the ship. The flames make abandoning ship almost impossible, and the sole lifeboat that can be launched is burned up. There are only two survivors of the 50 men on board. The ship stays afloat at an extreme angle, but the stern grounds in 122 feet of water when it is taken under tow and the ship sinks on 1 March.

U-432 (Kptlt. Heinz-Otto Schultze), on its fourth patrol out of La Pallice, torpedoes and sinks independent 8215-ton US tanker Marore about 3.5 miles off Wimble Shoals near Cape Hatteras. Captain Schultze then surfaces and begins the shelling the ship. The crew of the Marore abandons ship just in time. All 39 men survive.

U-156 (Kptlt. Werner Hartenstein), on its second patrol out of Lorient, uses its damaged deck gun (which exploded during a surface attack on the island of Aruba) sinks 2498-ton British freighter Macgregor about 15 miles northeast of Cabo Frances Viejo, Dominican Republic. Hartenstein follows the freighter for 16 hours until moonrise allows him to make his attack. The U-boat's gun erupts from 1600 yards at 22:35 and the first shot kills or wounds the freighter's gun crew. The Macgregor is able to send a distress signal before the guns destroy the freighter's bridge. After 35 minutes, the freighter is ablaze and the crew abandons ship. Amazingly, only one man on the Macgregor perishes, hit by the opening shot from U-156. There are 30 survivors.

Battle of Java Sea, 27 February 1942 worlwartwo.filminspector.com
Italian freighter Tembien, sunk off Tripoli on 27 February 1942.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Italian forces based on Rhodes launch a major counterattack against British commandos trying to take Kastelorizo in Operation Abstention. The weather is poor, making the landings difficult, but Ammiraglio di Divisione (Vice Admiral) Luigi Biancheri manages to land enough troops from gunboats Lupo, Lince, MAS 546, and MAS 561to isolate the poorly equipped British troops. During the afternoon, destroyers Crispi and Sella also land more troops to bring the total Italian Army presence to 258 soldiers and 80 marines. Now outnumbered, the commandos retreat to Nifti Point, harassed by naval gunfire by Lupo. Offshore, the Royal Navy makes a half-hearted attempt to intervene but can't locate the Italian ships. The British intend to land reinforcements on destroyer Rosaura, but the heavy Italian naval presence is calling that into doubt. Operation Abstention has become a muddled fiasco, but the British are determined to take the island and thus send more troops from Alexandria to land on the 28th.

Royal Navy Submarine HMS Upholder torpedoes and sinks 5584-ton Italian freighter Tembien about 24 miles (40 km) from the Tripoli lighthouse.

Battle of Java Sea, 27 February 1942 worlwartwo.filminspector.com
The Bruneval radar station.
Special Operations: The British execute Operation Biting, an overnight raid on German coastal radar installations in northern France. After several days of poor weather, conditions are right for aircraft of RAF No. 51 Squadron based at RAF Thruxton to drop "C" Company of the 2nd Parachute Battalion at Bruneval, France. The Commandos take the cutting-edge Wurzburg radar installation by force, killing one German guard and taking two others as prisoners. Rather than destroying the equipment, the Commandos remove it and take key pieces to the nearby beach on special trolleys. However, the Commandos find the beach to be under enemy fire, so they return to the installation and, after a fierce firefight with German troops, re-occupy it while other troops clear the beach. Six Royal Navy landing craft then appear on schedule and the entire force (less six Commandos who get lost) board and return to England. The Commandos lose two killed and eight wounded, while the Germans lose 5 killed, two wounded, and five missing men. The raid is both a technical and propaganda success for the British and leads to the expansion of British airborne forces. British scientists use the equipment to develop radar countermeasures, including "Window" (chaff), that are highly effective in later air raids. The British will erect a memorial to the Biting raid at Bruneval.

Battle of Java Sea, 27 February 1942 worlwartwo.filminspector.com
Short S23 C-Class S.849, Empire Flying Boat, A18-12 G-AEUG "Coogee" VH-ABC (see above photo) of 33 Squadron RAAF crashes on landing in Cleveland Bay near Townsville on 27 February 1942. Six RAAF crew perish and are buried at Townsville War Cemetery. 
US/Mexican Relations: President Roosevelt signs an executive order establishing a Joint Mexican-U.S. Defense Commission.

British/Venezuelan Relations: Great Britain cedes Patos Island to Venezuela. This is one of Britain's oldest possessions in the New World, dating to 1628 and being part of the colony of Trinidad and Tobago. In exchange, the Venezuela government gives Trinidad and Tobago Soldado Rock. The two islands are or will become national parks and are of no strategic importance.

Battle of Java Sea, 27 February 1942 worlwartwo.filminspector.com
HMS Duke of York at sea, 27 February 1942. © IWM (A 7556).
US Military: US Navy ship Sea Witch deposits 27 crated P-40s at Tjilatjap, Java. With the Japanese about to invade, it is doubtful that they can be prepared in time to enter combat.

US Government: There is a tense Cabinet meeting at the White House about Japanese internment. At the meeting, representatives of the US Army claim that ethnic Japanese in the Hawaiian Islands will all have to be brought to the mainland for internment. President Roosevelt disagrees and wishes them to be interned on Molokai. The issue is left unresolved, but eventually, the Army's position will prevail.

Battle of Java Sea, 27 February 1942 worlwartwo.filminspector.com
A formation of Japanese bombers attacking warships during the Battle of the Java Sea, as seen from the Australian cruiser, HMAS Hobart, February 1942. Australian War Memorial P02620.005.
British Homefront: British physicist and radio astronomer James Stanley Hey discovers radio emissions coming from the Sun. This is a major development in the field of radio astronomy - the study of celestial objects at radio frequencies. Hey's discovery is related directly to the war, as he realizes today that complaints from the RAF of jamming of anti-aircraft radars are not the result of German actions, but are natural phenomenon from the Sun.

American Homefront: Scientist Edwin Hubble publishes an article, "The Problem of the Expanding Universe," in Science magazine. Hubble writes that he has validated scientist Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity by proving that light takes longer than it should to arrive at earth from distant galaxies. The reason is that the universe is expanding. The theory of the expanding universe is one of the cornerstones of modern cosmology. The question of how fast the universe is expanding remains unresolved to this day.

Battle of Java Sea, 27 February 1942 worlwartwo.filminspector.com
Armorers reloading a Messerschmitt Bf 109E of Jagdgeschwader 27 (JG27), North Africa, February 1942.

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

2019