Wednesday, August 14, 2019

January 30, 1942: Singapore Isolated

Friday 30 January 1942

Demyansk airlift January 1942
Troops unload a Junkers Ju 52 carrying desperately needed supplies into the Demyansk pocket, January 1942 (Ulrich, Federal Archive, Picture 101I-003-3446-16).
Eastern Front: There are heavy snowstorms in northern Russia on 30 January 1942 which bring most operations on the Moscow sector to a halt. General von Mackensen's III Panzer Corps moves north in anything it can find to use as transport, while XI Corps moves east, both trying to cut off Soviet advances near Barvenkovo. There is little fighting today, and overall the poor weather aids the Wehrmacht's attempt to stabilize the front while the Soviets are having trouble capitalizing on earlier successes. The Soviet forces also are getting strung out as they cover much longer distances than the Germans do. The Red Army cavalry is moving much faster than the tanks and infantry, leaving them vulnerable for a riposte - if the Germans can get into position to deliver one.

New Castle News, 30 January 1942
The New Castle (Pa.) News for 30 January 1942 has fairly accurate reports on the perilous state of the defense of Singapore and General MacArthur's defense of Bataan. Fortunately, the Florida Orange Fete Queen is available to brighten the front page.
Battle of the Pacific: In the Philippines, the Allies' position on the Bataan Peninsula is starting to deteriorate. General Douglas MacArthur assumes command of all naval forces in the sector, which in any event are vastly reduced due to withdrawals and the loss of ports. U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey ship Pathfinder is beached at Corregidor following a Japanese bombing attack. On the peninsula, Japanese troops establish a bridgehead across the Pilar River in the eastern half of the Main Line of Resistance (MLR). The local troops are unable to eliminate it and the Japanese quickly reinforce this breach. To the west, I Corps is cleaning up two enemy pockets behind the MLR, but progress slow. Further south, well behind the MLR, Japanese forces continue to hold out at the Quinauan Point beachhead. While they do not pose a threat to the Allies' position, they have proven to be a major distraction.

Singapore Causeway in the 1940s
The Singapore Causeway in the 1940s (National Museum of Singapore 1996-00396-063).
On the Malay Peninsula, the hasty British withdrawal into the island fortress of Singapore reaches its climax. East Force crosses the Singapore Strait, followed by the Indian 11th Division, then West Force. All of these units have been badly beaten up during the retreat down the peninsula and now must be the main force defending Singapore itself. The 22nd Brigade of Indian 9th Division does not make it during the day, so the causeway is left intact overnight in hopes they can reach it on the morrow. There are Commonwealth troops all the way up the peninsula, most with no hope of reaching Singapore. On the mainland, the 2/20th Battalion AIF holds the outer line, called Line “E,” from the Western Road along Ayer Hitam Road to Tebrau Junction. This is just a switch position and the retreat across the Causeway will conclude on 31 January 1942.

Japanese bombers strike Keppel Harbor late in the morning. They damage four transport ships, including two that arrived on the 29th, USS Wakefield (AP-21) (destroys the sickbay) and USS West Point (shrapnel). They are waiting to take off supernumeraries and the damage they take shows the urgency of quick turnarounds in ports near the front lines. Each of the ships that can still make steam is loaded after the bombing attack, including the Wakefield despite its damage, and quickly head for Batavia, Java, Netherlands East Indies.

The Japanese also make progress in the Netherland East Indies, where they invade Ambon Island. Ambon is home to the second-largest naval base in the territory. The Dutch and Australian defenders accomplish little and fail to destroy key bridges and other infrastructure which might at least slow down the two major Japanese landings. Off the coast of West Timor, the Japanese shoot down a Qantas Short Empire flying boat, killing 13 of the 18 aboard.

HMS Hermione being refueled at sea, 30 January 1942
"HMS HERMIONE getting into position to haul in towing wires." Hermione is being refueled by tanker RFA Dingledale (shown) somewhere in the Atlantic on 30 January 1942. (© IWM (A 7342)).
In Burma, the Japanese take Moulmein (Mawlamyine), moving north along the lengthy peninsula in the southeast and taking a key airbase there. The British are hampered by having too many places to defend at once, including Singapore, while the Japanese have a long, weakly defended border to cross where they can pick their spots.

HMS Argus on 30 January 1942
Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Argus at sea in the North Atlantic, 30 January 1942. This photo was taken from cruiser HMS Hermione (© IWM (A 7338)).
Battle of the Atlantic: US Coast Guard ship Alexander Hamilton (WPG-34), torpedoes on the 29th, sinks at 17:28 after being taken in tow.

U-106 (Kptlt. Hermann Rasch), on its fifth patrol out of Lorient and operating about 150 miles (241 km) northeast of Norfolk, Virginia, uses its 10.5 cm deck gun to sink 6836-ton US tanker Rochester.

U-107 (Kptlt. Harald Gelhaus), on its fifth patrol out of Lorient and operating in the Atlantic east of Washington, D.C. and south of Nova Scotia, torpedoes and sinks 7419-ton British motor tanker SS San Arcadio. There are 41 deaths. Nine men are rescued by a PBM "Mariner" from Patrol Squadron Seventy-Four (VP-74). Some accounts place this sinking on 31 January 1942, but the National Museum of the U.S. Navy dates it as 30 January 1942.

Canadian pilot Johnny Arundel on 30 January 1942
Canadian Sgt. Pilot J.S. Arundel, of Peterborough, Ontario, right, receives his sweater issue from  Pilot Officer J.W. Sills, of Toronto on 30 January 1942 (Dept of National Defense – PL-7156 – UK-903). Johnny Arundel KIA 25 July 1942.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel enters Benghazi around mid-day following its capture a couple of days before. His troops have taken prisoner about 1000 men of the 4th Indian Division, caught by surprise after Rommel's stunning advance. Rommel has not kept anyone informed of his progress or intentions (which has kept the Allies reading his codes from learning them). Thus, there is tremendous confusion within the Axis high command as to the situation. In Rome, Benito Mussolini, Rommel's nominal commander, sends Rommel a telegram today somewhat timidly suggesting that he take Benghazi, to which Rommel simply replies, "Benghazi already taken." Rommel now orders an immediate continuation of his offensive beyond Benghazi. He orders an attack for the morning of the 31st, with a coastal group to follow the Via Balbia and an inland group heading toward Marawa. The British are not expecting another Axis push so soon and are in full retreat.

US/Irish Relations: Officially noting the recent landings of American troops in Northern Ireland, the Irish government claims that its neutrality is being violated by their presence. The government statement calls the British government in Northern Ireland a "Quisling government" and rejects what it characterizes as British attempts to embroil it in the European conflict.

Adolf Hitler giving a speech on the anniversary of his assump of power, 30 January 1942
Adolf Hitler giving his 30 January 1942 speech at the Berlin Sportpalast.
German Government: It is the anniversary of Hitler's assumption of power, always a major event in the Third Reich, so Hitler gives his usual speech in the Berlin Sportpalast. Hitler's tone changes from previous speeches, becoming much darker. While he always claims that Germany is the victim, he openly states that "the outcome of this war will be the annihilation of Jewry." In fact, he makes that the focus of the war, stating:
We are fully aware that this war can end only either in the extermination of the Teutonic peoples or in the disappearance of Jewry from Europe... The result of this war will be the complete annihilation of the Jews ... the most evil universal enemy of all time will be finished.
It is a nihilistic war objective with hints of doom that clashes with the Propaganda Ministry's portrayal of the war as going well. He mentions casually that "I do not know if the war will end this year."

Bella Rodova, killed in Minsk on 30 January 1942
Bella Rodova, born in 1933 in Minsk, Belorussia (USSR). Perished on 30 January 1942 in the Berezino Ghetto, Belorussia.
US Government: Congress passes the Emergency Price Control Act (EPCA), H.R. 5990. This allows the Office of Price Administration (OPA), which is yet to be established (11 April 1941), to place ceilings on prices and rent. The EPCA also creates the Emergency Court of Appeals, an Article III court, which leads to long-term impacts on the relationship between the courts and other branches of government (see, e.g., Lockerty v. Phillips, 319 U.S. 182 (1943) (Congress has the power to ordain and establish inferior courts)).

In Washington, D.C., President Roosevelt's cabinet holds a meeting about the internal security of the West Coast. The Hawaiian Commander, General Emmons, recommends deporting as many Japanese aliens and civilians from the islands as possible, but not before about 20,000 Caucasian women and children had been evacuated. Emmons is worried about the continuing Japanese presence but states that:
if an assault were made on Oahu before transfer of sufficient number of Nipponese, we have ready plans to immobilize the Japanese.
However, Emmons does clarify that all Japanese considered threats based on real evidence are already being detained. The War Department orders Emmons to suspend the use of Japanese civilians by the Army, but he protests that these workers are absolutely necessary. The War Department then cancels the order. Evacuation of all Japanese from Hawaii, however, remains official policy. They total about 100,000 people.

Ray's ad on 30 January 1942
The 30 January 1942 edition of The Palm Beach Post announces the opening of Ray's. 
American Homefront: US domestic auto production begins to shut down as factories are converted to military construction. General Motors' Chevrolet Division and Chrysler's DeSoto Division complete their last cars until after the war.

The authorities on the West Coast continue to tighten restrictions on people classified as aliens of hostile foreign powers. Professional and business licenses of about 5000 people are revoked. While the individuals affected are mostly Japanese, there are fairly robust German presences in certain spots. These include San Francisco, the location of a German consulate, and Los Angeles, where certain German sympathizers maintained a compound (Murphy's Ranch) until it was shut down immediately after Pearl Harbor.

President's Birthday Balls are held across the United States. These are held in President Roosevelt's honor and raise funds to combat infantile paralysis or polio.

Future History: Martyn Jerel Buchwald is born in Cincinnati, Ohio on 30 January 1942. The Buchwald family later moves to San Francisco, California. In 1962, Buchwald begins recording with Challenge Records. He changes his name to Marty Balin, releases a couple of singles, and founds a folk music quartet. He is a major factor in the San Francisco music scene as the owner (with three equal limited partners) of a restaurant and later club called The Matrix. During this time, Balin assembles the group Jefferson Airplane as the club's house band. He serves as a lead singer (with Grace Slick). The group becomes a legendary rock act and goes through several name changes. Following a legendary career which includes induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, Marty Balin passes away on 27 September 2018.

Radio Times, 30 January 1942
Anona Winn is set to star in a new play, as reported in the 30 January 1942 Radio Times.


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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