Thursday, May 30, 2019

January 29, 1942: First US Coast Guard Ship Sunk

Thursday 29 January 1942

USCG Alexander Hamilton sinking off Iceland, 29 January 1942
US Coast Guard Cutter USS Alexander Hamilton launching a boat as it sinks on 29 January 1942. 
Battle of the Pacific: The Japanese continue tightening their grip on the Netherlands East Indies on 29 January 1942 by landing at Badoeng Island and Mampawan on Celebes Island. After RAAF aerial reconnaissance spots a Japanese convoy near Ambon Island, the Dutch order Australian engineers to destroy infrastructure on the island at Laha.

Brooklyn Eagle, 29 January 1942
The headline of the Brooklyn Eagle on 29 January 1942 is "M'Arthur Routs Foe Again."
In the Philippines, the Allied troops battle ferociously to hold the Main Line of Resistance (MLR) and eliminate Japanese pockets to its south. In the western I Corps sector, Allied troops of the 1st and 11th Division of the Philippine Army battle the Big and Little Pockets, which are just south of the MLR. Further south, the Japanese bridgeheads at Canaan Point and Anyasan Bay continue to hold out. However, the Allies score a major success by eliminating the Japanese holdouts at Longoskawayan Point, where the 2d Battalion of the Philippine 57th Infantry is assisted by minesweeper USS Quail (AM-15).

Japanese POWs, 29 January 1942
Japanese prisoners are taken prisoner by the Chinese at the Battle of Changsha, January 1942 (Office of War Information Photograph Lot 11614-4, National Museum of the US Navy via Flickr).
On the Malay Peninsula, Commonwealth troops continue withdrawing to Singapore Island from the mainland. The pace of the retreat across the Straits of Johor is accelerating and local workers are building fortifications on the north shore of Singapore Island. US naval transports USS Wakefield and West Point, part of Convoy B.M. 11, arrive at Singapore carrying elements of the British 18th Division as reinforcements, and other ships from India bring light tanks to help in the defense. Also arriving in the convoy are ground elements of three RAF fighter squadrons. These are the only Allied tanks to participate in the campaign. In the air, USAAF FEAF B-17s are operating from Palembang, Sumatra, and attack Kuantan Airfield.

The Australian defenders on the mainland move into the "Outer Bridge Head" 2 miles outside Johore Bahru. The 2/19 Battalion hold to the right, the 2/20 is in the center, and the Gordon Highlanders are to the left. They have 2 regiments of artillery support. They will cross the Causeway to Singapore Island in phased withdrawals over the next two days.

On January 29, 1942, 210 Royal Marine survivors from Prince of Wales and Repulse, under Royal Marine Captain Bob Lang, join 250 men of Major Angus Rose’s 2nd Argylls to form "Roseforce." They carry out operations using boats to land 140 miles behind Japanese lines. Both detachments are from the Marine Plymouth Division, the composite unit, officially called the Marine Argyll Battalion. Thus, colloquially they become known as the Plymouth Argylls after the English soccer club of that name. Roseforce sets ambushes, destroys vehicles, and kills two senior Japanese staff officers in their cars.

US Navy sailors in England, 29 January 1942
"American sailors onboard a US destroyer sporting various beards and mustaches. Two American sailors, one with a mustache and one clean-shaven." This photograph, taken ca. 29 January 1942, is on the occasion of the arrival in Londonderry, Ulster, of the first US warships escorting a convoy all the way across the Atlantic. Previously, only Royal Navy ships served as escorts on the eastern half of the convoy. © IWM (A 9218).
Battle of the Mediterranean: Having pocketed Benghazi, the commander of Panzer Group Africa, Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel, contemplates his next move. The Axis forces have regained the initiative in North Africa for several reasons, including the British withdrawal of troops from the theater to shore up its Asian possessions against the Japanese and some recent success sending convoys across the Sicilian Strait to Tripoli. Rommel plans to strike quickly, before the end of the month, to take advance of his momentum. He plans to send one armored column along the coastal road toward Tobruk and another further inland to protect its flank. The British, meanwhile, are preparing a major defensive position at Gazala, where the Germans left behind usable fortifications. Some Axis advance elements continue chasing the Indian 4th Division from Benghazi toward Derna, but the majority is concentrated around Msus.

USCG Alexander Hamilton sinking off Iceland, 29 January 1942
Treasury Class Cutter USCGC Alexander Hamilton (WPG-34), sunk by U-132 on 29 January 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-132 (Oblt. Ernst Vogelsang) is on its second patrol out of Trondheim when it torpedoes and sinks 2216-ton US Coast Guard vessel Alexander Hamilton (WPG-34). The torpedo (one of four fired) hits at 13:12 around 20 miles (32 km) west of Reykjavik, Iceland. It takes some time for the ship to sink, but the weather is poor, so attempts to tow the Alexander Hamilton to port are unsuccessful and the Alexander Hamilton founders. There are 26-29 deaths, with about 20 perishing during the sinking and an additional six men dying of wounds after being picked up by an Icelandic fishing trawler. There are 101 survivors who are picked up by destroyer USS Gwin (DD-433). This is the first US Coast Guard vessel lost during World War II.

Reinhard Heydrich, 29 January 1942
Reinhard Heydrich, 29 January 1942 (Bauer, Friedrich Franz, Federal Archive Bild 183-B20373). There already are assassins waiting for Heydrich in his new posting as Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia in Operation Anthropoid.
Eastern Front: Although Adolf Hitler wishes to use the recent relief of Sukhinichi as the springboard for further advances that can trap advanced Red Army troops, local commanders have the last say. They abandon Sukhinichi and the Soviets quickly take it.

Rosehearty, Scotland, bomb damage, 29 January 1942
Damage caused by the Luftwaffe raid on Rosehearty, Scotland, on 29 January 1942.
European Air Operations: A Luftwaffe bomber raids Rosehearty in Scotland at around 18:30. The plane drops five high explosive bombs, damaging the harbor wall, two small boats, and destroying several houses. There are eleven deaths, four women and seven children.

Rosehearty, Scotland, bomb damage, 29 January 1942
Damage caused by the Luftwaffe raid on Rosehearty, Scotland, on 29 January 1942.
Ecuadorian/Peruvian Relations: The foreign ministers of Ecuador and Peru, Julio Tobar Donoso and Alfredo Solf y Muro, respectively, sign the Rio Protocol (Protocolo de Río de Janeiro). This ends the July 1941 Ecuadorian–Peruvian War, known locally as the War of '41 (Guerra del '41). Militarily, Peru was the winner, taking almost the entire Ecuadorian coastal province of El Oro in addition to some towns in the Andean province of Loja. The Rio Protocol reverses most of those gains in exchange for Ecuador ending its claims for rights to direct land access to the Marañon and Amazon rivers. This gives Peru 200,000 km2 (77,000 sq mi) of hitherto disputed territory in the Maynas region of the Amazonian basin. There also are some other land swaps, with Ecuador ceding 18,552 km² of previously possessed territory to Peru, and Peru ceding 5,072 km² of previously possessed territory to Ecuador.

Otto Klemperer records the WPA Orchestra, 29 January 1942
German emigre conductor Otto Klemperer (father of actor Werner Klemperer) conducts rehearsals of the National Youth's Administration Orchestra on 29 January 1942 that are turned into an album in 2012, "Klemperer Rarities."
In the broadest sense, the Rio Protocol is beneficial to the Allied war effort by helping to unite Latin America and redirect its energies toward less disruptive pursuits. There is a hint of this coming to fruition when Ecuador today also breaks diplomatic relations with Germany, Italy, and Japan. However, there are hard feelings on both sides, especially in Ecuador. Even as Peruvian forces withdraw in accordance with the terms of the treaty, there are "incidents" in which lives are lost. The Rio Protocol is not fully accepted by the Ecuadorian government itself, which disputes its validity for decades on the grounds that it was obtained by invasion and coercion. Further wars arising from the dispute will erupt in 1981 and 1995 before a definitive (so far, at least) resolution is reached in 1998 with the Brasilia Presidential Act.
Dr. Seuss cartoon, 29 January 1942
A Dr. Seuss cartoon from 29 January 1942 (Mandeville Special Collections Library, UC San Diego). "Mein Early Kampf" by Adolf Hitler, "June 20, 1889: I cut my first tooth on a Bust of Bismarck."
US Military: At Hickam Field in Hawaii, the USAAF Hawaiian Air Force activates the VII Bomber Command in place of the 18th Bombardment Wing.

The US establishes a new war zone, the ANZAC Area. It covers the triangular area between Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia in the New Hebrides.

The US military successfully test-fires five-inch (12.7 cm) artillery shells containing new radio-proximity fuses. The test at the Naval Proving Ground, Dahlgren, Virginia, is considered satisfactory when 52% of the fuses fired five miles explode when the near water. The plan is to use the proximity fuses as anti-aircraft ammunition. Production begins immediately.

US-built hospital base in England, 29 January 1942
"Hospital base being constructed by Americans. 29 January 1942, Creevagh. Interior of a hospital ward. 3 section type." © IWM (A 9594).
Japanese Military: Japanese headquarters in Tokyo sets a new strategy in the Southwest Pacific. It orders the Navy to consolidate control of northern New Guinea at Lae and Salamaua, then to open a new campaign in the Solomon Islands by taking Tulagi, a small island north of Guadalcanal which can be used as a seaplane base. Port Moresby, a strategically important point on the southern coast of New Guinea, also is set as an objective. While Port Moresby is not very far from Salamaua as the crow flies, it is much further by ship and separated from the north shore by rugged mountains. Japanese possession of Port Moresby would make an invasion of Australia extremely likely and at the very least would serve as a defensive firewall for Japanese gains further north. The overall goal is to secure the southwest Pacific against recovery by the Allies.

Italian Tempo Magazine, 29 January 1942
Tempo Magazine, 29 January 1942. "Night war flights."
Australian Government: The Manpower Directorate comes into existence. It enacts measures to match citizens with war needs.

Iran: The Iranian government agrees to the partition of Iran between the Soviet Union and Great Britain for the duration of the conflict. It signs a treaty of alliance which establishes the Persian Corridor, a supply route from the Persian Gulf north to the Soviet Union. The Allied occupation is not entirely popular with the populace, who resent the Soviet Union buying up all of the grain and leading to food shortages. Ultimately, the United States solves the problem by shipping its own grain to Iran while Iranian grain finds its way north to feed the Red Army.

Bing Crosby's Kraft Music Hall performance, 29 January 1942
Bing Crosby and others (including Mary Martin) perform on The Kraft Music Hall (NBC) on 29 January 1942. The broadcast is recorded and turned into an album in 1977. Among the songs performed are "The Caissons Go Rolling Along," "Pledge to the Flag," and "Home on the Range" (one of Crosby's signature songs). The show is broadcast by short-wave radio to US troops in the Philippines "by special request of General MacArthur on the Bataan Peninsula."


January 1942

January 1, 1942: Declaration By United Nations
January 2, 1941: Manila Falls to Japan
January 3, 1942: ABDA Command Announced
January 4, 1942: MacArthur on His Own in the Philippines
January 5, 1942: Soviets Plan General Offensive
January 6, 1942: US Army in Europe
January 7, 1942: Soviet General Offensive Opens
January 8, 1942: Hitler Sacks Hoepner
January 9, 1942: Battle of Dražgoše
January 10, 1942: Building the Jeep
January 11, 1942: Japan Takes Kuala Lumpur
January 12, 1941: Rommel Plans Counterattack
January 13, 1942: First Ejection Seat Use
January 14, 1942: Operation Drumbeat First Sinking
January 15, 1942: U-Boat Off NYC
January 16, 1942: Carole Lombard Crash
January 17, 1942: British Take Halfaya Pass
January 18, 1942: Soviet Paratroopers in Action
January 19, 1942: FDR Approves Atomic Bomb
January 20, 1942: The Wannsee Conference
January 21, 1942: Parit Sulong Bridge Battle
January 22, 1942: Parit Sulong Massacre
January 23, 1942: Japan Takes Rabaul
January 24, 1942: Battle of Makassar Strait
January 25, 1942: Kholm Surrounded
January 26, 1942: GIs Land in Europe
January 27, 1942: Battle of Endau
January 28, 1942: Rommel Takes Benghazi
January 29, 1942: First US Coast Guard Ship Sunk
January 30, 1942: Singapore Isolated
January 31, 1942: Army Group South Averts Disaster


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