Sunday, July 12, 2020

March 22, 1942: Second Battle of Sirte

Sunday 22 March 1942

ATS Recruitment 22 March 1942
An ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) recruiting parade in Rishon le-Zion (Rishon LeTsiyon) on March 22, 1942 (Esther Herlitz, Jewish Women's Archive).
Battle of the Pacific: In Burma (Myanmar), the British Burma Corps under Lieutenant General William Slim gives up its biggest remaining foothold when they abandon the airfield at Magwe (Magway) on 22 March 1942. This opens up the Irrawaddy River valley, where the Japanese are eager to occupy the Yenangyaung oil fields. It will take the Japanese a few weeks to bring the 33rd Division into position for a set-piece attack on the oil field. The British are short of supplies, especially water, and are counting on newly arrived Chinese troops to help hold the oil.

Time magazine cover of General Yamashita 22 March 1942
Japanese General Yamashita, leader in the Philippines, on the cover of the 22 March 1942 Time magazine.
Eastern Front: The stalemate on the Kerch Peninsula in the Crimea continues. Two Soviet attacks to break it have failed, while the most recent attempt by the German 22nd Panzer Division also has failed. Soviet General Kozlov is preparing for a third attack on the German strongpoint at Koi-Asan which is scheduled to begin on 26 March. Both sides have taken heavy casualties during these battles, but the unsuccessful Soviet attacks have been particularly hard on their own forces. However, Stalin is insistent that the attacks continue because he sees this as a continuation of the successful winter counteroffensives even though winter is rapidly turning into spring this far south.

The temperature rises above freezing on the front north of Moscow, where the German Operation Brueckenschlag enters its second day toward the pocket at Demyansk. The Germans make good progress against spotty Soviet resistance. The first objective, the Redyat River, is coming within sight, but the snow is turning to slush, which favors the defense. The Soviets are determined to take the pocket before it is relieved and are sending in reinforcements from both the north and south. They also are preparing two paratrooper brigades to land in the Demyansk pocket and take it from within.

European Air Operations: It is a quiet day on the Channel front, with no major operations.

Greenville SC News, 22 March 1942
"Navy Asks For More Men For Production" is a headline in the 22 March 1942 Greenville (South Carolina) News.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-123 (Kptlt. Reinhard Hardegen), on its eighth patrol out of Lorient, gets its first success of a highly successful cruise off the east coast of the United States. Hardegen puts one torpedo into 7034-ton U.S. tanker Muskogee about 335 miles north-northeast of Bermuda. The torpedo hits the engine room and the tanker sinks quickly. While ten survivors make it onto rafts and are questioned by Hardegen, all 34 men aboard the Muskogee disappear and never see land again.

U-373 (Oblt. Paul-Karl Loeser), on its fourth patrol out of La Pallice, torpedoes and sinks 5575-ton British freighter Thursobank about 200 miles southeast of Nantucket. There are 30 dead and 34 survivors. This incident has a peculiar case of mutiny after the sinking when Chinese crewmen, who outnumber the British survivors, refuse to share their food with the British. The Chinese crewmen are arrested when rescued after three days by passing tanker Havsten.

Seas are rough along the North Atlantic convoy routes. One ship, 5786-ton Norwegian tanker Nueva Andalucia, runs aground off Mars Rock, Halifax Harbor. It is ultimately is towed to port but not repaired until 1947. All 39 men aboard survive.

Bomb damage in Malta, 22 March 1942
Bomb damage in Malta on or about 22 March 1942.
Battle of the Mediterranean: As a Royal Navy convoy approaches Malta, it is attacked by sustained Axis air power and also aggressive moves by the Italian Navy. The Italian battleship Littorio and several Italian cruisers keep the British on the defensive. Littorio damages Royal Navy destroyer HMS Havock with a near-miss. Destroyer Kingston also is badly damaged. Three of four freighters ultimately make it to Valletta but the port itself comes under heavy air attack. The Italians, though having the advantage, break off the attack at nightfall and head back to port. The battle is considered an Italian tactical victory but a Royal Navy strategic victory because the Italians fail at their objective of destroying or turning back the convoy.

Propaganda/Partisans: The BBC begins sending news in Morse Code to resistance fighters on the Continent.

British/Indian Relations: Sir Stafford Cripps is in India (the "Cripps Mission") attempting to arrange a settlement with Indian nationalists. Cripps is friends with Jawaharlal Nehru, but he has an unclear mandate from the British government. The British viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, is hostile to the Cripps Mission, and with good reason - one of Cripps' proposals is to remove Linlithgow. Cripps is only able to promise what the Indian Nationalists want - Dominion Status and ultimately full independence - after the war. Ultimately, the Cripps Mission fails. Mahatma Gandhi comments sarcastically that Cripps' promise of Dominion Status after the war was a "post-dated cheque drawn on a failing bank."

Article on solar power, 22 March 1942
Dr. Frank Thone poses an interesting question about solar power in the 22 March 1942 Galveston (Texas) Daily News.
American Homefront: The Japanese-American internment camp at Manzanar officially opens pursuant to Executive Order 9066 of 19 February 1942 signed by President Franklin Roosevelt. This is the first internment camp to open. At first, Manzanar is known euphemistically as the "Owens Valley Reception Center." It will acquire its better-known name of the Manzanar War Relocation Center on 1 June 1942. The first Japanese-Americans that arrive help to build the camp under the auspices of the US Army's Wartime Civilian Control Administration (WCCA).

Chevrolet ad, 22 March 1942
All production of automobiles has been halted due to the war situation. So, with no 1942 models to sell, dealerships are selling whatever they can find. In this case, it is  1940 Chevrolet with "lovely mohair upholstery". Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune, March 22, 1942.

March 1942

March 1, 1942: Second Battle of Java Sea
March 2, 1942: Huge Allied Shipping Losses at Java
March 3, 1942: Japan Raids Western Australia
March 4, 1942: Second Raid On Hawaii
March 5, 1942: Japan Takes Batavia
March 6, 1942: Churchill Assaults Free Speech
March 7, 1942: British Defeat in Burma
March 8, 1942: Rangoon Falls to Japan
March 9, 1942: Japanese Conquest of Dutch East Indies
March 10, 1942:US Navy attacks Japanese Landings at Lae
March 11, 1942: Warren Buffett's First Stock Trade
March 12, 1942: Japan Takes Java
March 13, 1942: Soviets Attack In Crimea Again 
March 14, 1942: The US Leans Toward Europe
March 15, 1942: Operation Raubtier Begins
March 16, 1942: General MacArthur Gets His Ride
March 17, 1942: MacArthur Arrives in Australia
March 18, 1942: Japan Attacks In Burma
March 19, 1942: Soviets Encircled on the Volkhov
March 20, 1942: "I Shall Return," Says MacArthur
March 21, 1942: Germans Attack Toward Demyansk
March 22, 1942: Second Battle of Sirte
March 23, 1942: Hitler's Insecurity Builds
March 24, 1942: Bataan Bombarded
March 25, 1942: Chinese Under Pressure in Burma
March 26, 1942: Win Or Die, Vows MacArthur
March 27, 1942: The Battle of Suusari
March 28, 1942: The St. Nazaire Commando Raid
March 29, 1942: The Free Republic of Nias
March 30, 1942: Japanese-Americans Off Bainbridge Island
March 31, 1942: Japanese Seize Christmas Island


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