One of "Bomber" Harris' planes -
 A British Avro Lancaster

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

Remembering the First Fight Against Fascism

Japanese infantry fire on
retreating British in Burma   

February 17, 1942

New soviet attacks in the Rzhev area begin. The attacks are augmented by the dropping of over 7000 paratroops in the German rear area.

Despite the need for troops to stop Rommel's advance in Libya, Churchill orders two divisions to the Far East (only one, the 70th Infantry, would actually go).

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February 18, 1942

Japanese forces cross the Bilin River in Burma forcing the British to order the evacuation of Rangoon.  

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February 19, 1942

In attempts to prevent the landing on Bali, Allied naval forces engage the Japanese at the Lumbok Strait. The Japanese defeat the Allied force, sinking two Dutch cruisers and a destroyer and damaging a US destroyer.

Japanese carriers launch a 150-plane air raid on Darwin in northern Australia. Damage to the port facility is heavy. All 17 ships in port were sunk including the US Navy destroyer Peary. 22 Australian and American planes were shot down while the Japanese lost 5.Huge quantities of stores destine for the defenders of Java were destroyed, ruining any chance of holding there. 

Mandalay comes under Japanese air attacks for the first time. British forces in Burma are ordered to retreat as the defense of the Bilin River line crumbles.

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February 20, 1942

Japanese forces at Bataan suspend offensive action as their attacks, along with losses from disease take their toll. Philippine president Quezon is evacuated from Bataan by a US submarine.

On Amboina Island, Lt. Nakagawa ordered 120 Australian bound and blindfolded POWs to kneel down. They were then either beheaded or bayoneted.

Japanese forces land on Timor.

Hitler received an accounting of losses on the eastern front since the beginning of the campaign last June. The report indicated 199,448 killed, 708,351 wounded, 44,342 missing, and 112,627 cases of severe frostbite. Despite the huge losses, Hitler responded by saying "Now that January and February are past [we can] switch over to squaring the account. What a relief."

US Navy Lt. Edward "Butch" O'Hare shot down five Japanese bombers in a single mission, becoming the first navy ace of the war. O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named for this man.

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February 21, 1942

British forces continue their retreat in Burma, abandoning the Sittang River line. Reinforcements from the Middle East start arriving at Rangoon (just in time to leave).

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February 22, 1942

Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris, takes command of British Bomber Command, ushering in a new, and unprecedented, era of unrestrained and devastating terror bombing. Editor's note: Harris (along with Curtis LeMay), in my opinion, is one of the most heinous and vicious thugs NOT brought to justice after the war. He allowed his unrestrained hatred of all things German to cloud his humanity. His strategy of deliberately targeting civilian centers was simply a war crime.

Roosevelt orders MacArthur to leave the Philippines.

The US Tenth Air Force begins operations to interdict Japanese shipping. B-24s drop mines at the mouth of the Rangoon River in Burma.

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February 23, 1942

The British submarine Trindent torpedoes the cruiser Prinz Eugen while it was attempting to move to Norway from Kiel. It returned to port to repair the damage. 

The Japanese submarine I-17 shelled the Elwood oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California. It is reputed that the attack occurred because the captain of the submarine, Capt. Mishino had visited the site before the war and during the visit, slipped and fell butt first into a cactus patch. As the thorns were being picked out of his backside, riggers working nearby laughed at the visitor's distress. Mishino vowed he would never forget the slight to his honor. Apparently he didn't.

The Soviet Winter offensive, although beginning to lag, continues to score success against the Germans. Russian forces recaptured Dorogobuzh on the Dnierpr River.

US bombers raid Rabul, the first of many visits to the new Japanese airbase and naval facility during the war.

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1941 Archive:
June | July | August | September | October | November | December

1942 Archive:

Special Editions:
Pearl Harbor

Editor's Corner Columns:

Afghanistan and Vietnam: When the "war against terrorism" began, many knowledgeable people warned that our operations in Afghanistan would turn into another Vietnam.

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.  

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.

The Afghan War and the Geneva Convention

 This is part one of a four-part essay on the application of the Geneva Convention toward the Afghan War. The importance of this issue is that the Bush administration, by its complete misreading of international law has left the United States vulnerable to charges of war crimes. Our nation is better than that and those who supposedly lead us, should not act in criminal manners. Bush, Ashcroft and Rumsfeld have managed, in their ridiculous declaration regarding POWs in this war, to lay waste to any pretext we have to be the guardians of human rights in the world today.

Part one discusses the status of those taken by our forces during the conflict. Part two looks at the Geneva Convention in more detail and clarifies the rights POWs have. Part three examines, in detail, cases of war crimes committed by our soldiers in the field. Part four concludes the essay by examining the ramifications of our actions. 

Part 1: Are They POWs?

First, the people we hold at Camp X-ray are Prisoners of War. Article 4 of the Geneva Convention states


Prisoners of war   are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:


1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.


2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfill the following conditions:


(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) That of carrying arms openly;

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.


3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.


4. Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents,


5. Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict,


6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.


All of the prisoners at Camp X-Ray fall under  these provisions.


Case 2 covers the bulk of the cases. The Taliban fighters and the para-military arm of Al Qeada (the 55th Brigade) all fought under the Afghan flag, fought under a loose cabal of leaders and warlords, carried arms openly, and Islamic law regarding war fighting is far more strict than anything in the west.


Case 6 takes care of any argument. This provision says that if any force invades their land and the occupants of that land take up arms against the invaders, and they are captured, they are POWs.


If all of this is still unconvincing, Article 5 clears things up quickly. It states


Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.


It is that simple. There are no ambiguities, no stringent requirements, no dog tags, no serial numbers, no uniforms, no rank insignia requirements. There are no gray areas. There is no definition of "illegal combatant" anywhere in the convention. If you are under arms, in a combat zone and captured by an enemy force, you are classified as a prisoner of war. If there is any question to status, the prisoner is a POW and subject to the rights granted under the Geneva Convention.


However, some, if not all of the POWs at Camp X-Ray, may indeed be terrorists or have perpetrated other crimes, and should not be protected by the Geneva Convention. Chapter 3 of the Geneva Convention outlines the provisions and process on how to address this situation. A distinction is made between "disciplinary proceedings" (those involving rules violations at the camp) and "judicial proceedings" which involve crimes committed by the POW either before or after capture.  

Article 84 states

A prisoner of war shall be tried only by a military court, unless the existing laws of the Detaining Power expressly permit the civil courts to try a member of the armed forces of the Detaining Power


In no circumstances whatever shall a prisoner of war be tried by a court of any kind which does not offer the essential guarantees of independence and impartiality as generally recognized, and, in particular, the procedure of which does not afford the accused the rights and means of defence provided for in Article 105.

Article 99 states

No moral or physical coercion may be exerted on a prisoner of war in order to induce him to admit himself guilty of the act of which he is accused.

No prisoner of war may be convicted without having had an opportunity to present his defence and the assistance of a qualified advocate or counsel.

Article 104 lays out the pre-trial requirements and states

[the Detaining Power] shall notify the Protecting Power as soon as possible and at least three weeks before the opening of the trial  

The said notification shall contain the following information:


1.       Surname and first names of the prisoner of war, his rank, his army, regimental, personal or serial number, his date of birth, and his profession or trade, if any;

2.       Place of internment or confinement;

3.       Specification of the charge or charges on which the prisoner of war is to be arraigned, giving the legal provisions applicable;

4.       Designation of the court which will try the case, likewise the date and place fixed for the opening of the trial.

5.       The same communication shall be made by the Detaining Power to the prisoners' representative.

Article 105 states

[the accused is entitled] to defence by a qualified advocate or counsel of his own choice, to the calling of witnesses and, if he deems necessary, to the services of a competent interpreter.

Article 106 states

Every prisoner of war shall have, in the same manner as the members of the armed forces of the Detaining Power, the right of appeal or petition from any sentence pronounced upon him .  

This means that the POWs may only be tried as an individual. Council must represent them and they have a right to appeal, and the trials are open to international observers. The process is simple and straightforward. Present the case, allow the accused to defend themselves, pass judgment, and insure that the judgment is sound.


When Bush says "the Al Qeada members are criminals", it is a violation of the convention. It is a war crime. It is that simple.


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