Japanese paratroops land
at Palembang in

Project 60: A Day-by-Day Diary of WWII 

Remembering the First Fight Against Fascism

British destroyers head out to meet the 
German squadron in "The Channel Dash"  

February 10, 1942

The 82,423 ton ocean liner Normandie, burned and partially capsized in New York harbor. Propagandists in Berlin attempted to claim they had sabotaged the ship, but investigations showed that a careless dockworker caused the fire.

All RAF personnel were ordered evacuated from Singapore while the other forces were extolled to fight to the last man.

Return to the top

February 11, 1942  

At 2300, the battle cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and the light cruiser Prinz Eugen, leave the port of Brest and, in a daring move into the English Channel, head for Keil.


French-Canadians riot in the streets of Montreal, protesting against the proposed draft by the government. Over a thousand demonstrators battled with local police. 


Australia called up all able bodied men up to 35 years and unmarried men up to 40 years for national service.

Return to the top

February 12, 1942

“The Channel Dash”  - Low clouds and rain shroud the German battle cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and the light cruiser Prinz Eugen, as they move northeast through the English Channel. Because of the bad weather, British aerial patrols did not spot the group until 1100 when a Spitfire from Fighter Command spotted the squadron of Le Touquet, as they entered the Straits of Dover. All available air and naval assets were mobilized to strike at the German ships. The first response came from British Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs) which attacked at 1200. Due to the heavy defensive firepower of the German ships, the MTBs were forced to engage from extreme range and missed. At 1300, six British Swordfish Torpedo planes (a venerable biplane affectionately called the “Stringbag”) attacked the ships. Five of the planes were shot down and no torpedoes hit the Germans. By 1430, the Germans were being engaged nearly continuously. Destroyers from Harwich and aircraft from Coastal Command engaged the German ships. Even Bomber Commands heavy strategic bombers flew 242 sorties against the enemy before darkness came. All of these attacks came to naught. In the end, the only damage came when Gneisenau hit a mine at 2035 and Scharnhosrt did the same at 2055.

Japanese forces capture Bandjermasin, capital of Borneo and Macassar, capital of Celebes.

A three ship British convoy from Malta to Alexandria was sunk.

Return to the top

February 13, 1942

Advancing Soviet units cross into Belorusssa as the Winter Offensive continues. German resistance is stiffening and advances are limited.

The “Channel Dash” ends as Scharnhorst puts into Wilhelmshaven and Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen put in at Kiel in the early morning darkness.

Japanese forces at Singapore destroy the massive 15” coastal artillery batteries, eliminating the last major obstacle to their overrunning the island.

Return to the top

February 14, 1942

Japanese paratroops land at Palembang, opening the invasion of Sumatra. 

Return to the top

February 15, 1942

Singapore surrenders to the Japanese. 16,000 British, 14,000 Australian, and 32,000 Indian troops were surrendered after taking 9,000 casualties. The Japanese also lost 9,000 killed and wounded in the campaign. Most of those captured would end up working on the notorious Burma-Thai Railway (remember “Bridge over the River Kwai”?) where half would die before the end of the war.

Japanese forces land at Muntok in Sumatra.

Return to the top

February 16, 1942

German submarines, using their deck cannons, bombard the Dutch oil storage tanks and refineries on Aruba and Curacao in the Caribbean.

In Malaya, 65 Australian nurses and 25 British soldiers surrendered to the Japanese. They were all taken to the beach where the men where bayoneted and shot. The nurses were marched into the sea and a machine gun shot them. Two of the men and one of the nursing sisters survived the slaughter.

Return to the top

Those wishing to contribute items. stories or comments should contact D.A. Friedrichs

Editor's Corner 

The items found in this section are comments from the editors of Project 60 and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of bartcop.

Vietnam and Afghanistan

When the “war against terrorism” began, many knowledgeable people warned that our operations in Afghanistan would turn into another Vietnam. In the flush of “victory”, much of the gloomy projections have been relegated to the trash heap.

However, there are still some interesting comparisons that can be made.

In the early days of Vietnam, the United States inserted teams of Special Forces, to assist in establishing good relations with the locals by helping with village defense, health, and education programs. These operations were highly successful in combating the influence of the Viet Cong. In the Afghan war, a similar, and, like its predecessor, highly successful program is well underway.

Like Vietnam, we are currently destroying any good will we have with the locals by blowing stuff up. The old saying “we had to destroy the village in order to save it” is alive and well and making a comeback in Afghanistan. However, we have progressed a long way in 35 years. In Vietnam, we would send an infantry platoon with Zippos into a village and burn it down. In Afghanistan, the mud doesn’t burn, so we use precision-guided ordnance to turn peoples homes into craters. The downside of this “improved” system, is that by the time we get around to blowing up a house, a wedding party moves in and we blow up a few score party-goers like we did at Qalaye Niazi.

The biggest similarity between the two wars is the Pentagon briefings. The goals and objectives are different but the level of lies and deceits have not changed one bit. In Vietnam, the goal was to show progress by inflating “body counts”. In our new, more compassionate world, we measure progress by how many buildings we blow up in a sterile and non-violent manner, with “minimal collateral damage”.  In Vietnam villages were called Viet Cong strongholds and in Afghanistan they are called Al Qaeda compounds. In reality, these are places which were filled with people, who wanted nothing more to try to scratch out a life for themselves before we came and destroyed everything in their pitiful lives.

The one area that is glaringly different is how the US press is conducting operations in the two wars. In Vietnam, the horrors and violence of war were brought home. We saw that people, our soldiers, their soldiers, innocent people, were horribly maimed and killed in war. Since Desert Storm, war for our citizens has been converted into some sort of sick bloodless video game. Our press today call sitting in a pentagon briefing journalism and don’t bother to fact check the lies they are fed by the Administration. The India Times has better, more accurate and more complete war coverage than the New York Times. This is a sad and pathetic commentary on the health of our Fourth Estate.

Like Vietnam, one of the reasons we got involved in the first place was to prop up a corrupt and inept government, which we installed. In Afghanistan, we have installed a government, but it remains to be seen just how corrupt and inept it will be. Early signs, despite what is reported in the US media, are not particularly encouraging.

In Vietnam, the primary reason for our presence was to stop Communism. In Afghanistan, we have traded the bogyman of Communism for terrorism. Both were and are vile and, if you will, evil. However, neither will be defeated by military intervention. Economic stability, justice and self-determination are the keys to defeating both of those enemies.

In both Vietnam and Afghanistan, the more compelling, and less acknowledged, reason for intervention appears to be US business interests. In the 60’s it was rubber and oil. Now it’s just oil and not even really oil, just a place to put a pipeline that the Ruskies don’t control. We seem to have an annoying habit of trading red blood for black gold.

So in the end, there are quite a few similarities. We can still avoid the bloodbath of Vietnam. There is no reason for our military to continue the bloodletting. With luck and some thought, perhaps we can avoid the need to put another black wall on our national mall. We shall see.

Previous Columns

Want to Win - Think Before You Lash Out - "If we are serious about taking the war to the enemy, it is time to look ..."

The First Fight Against Fascism - We must remember the Spanish Civil War also.

Arguing Victory - "... Each nation who fought against fascist tyranny in WWII brought with it part of whole needed to defeat that evil..." 

War, Glory, Honor and Remembrance - "War is a brutal and savage insult on human society..."

The First Casualty... in time of war, those in power are even more inclined to hide the truth, since that truth is often manifest in the most gruesome and terrible acts.  


Privacy Policy
. .