Japanese carrier Shoho under attack May 7. She sunk minutes after this picture was taken.

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

Remembering the First Fight Against Fascism

American carrier Lexington sailing along side Yorktown in the early morning hours of May 8. "Lady Lex" would be dead by nightfall.  

Correction: The photo identified as "an American POW is executed" was misidentified. It is actually an execution done to an Australian (probably a coast watcher) and was published by Life magazine in 1943. Apologies for the mistake.

April 28, 1942  

Chiang Kai-shek informed the American government, that as a result of the Doolittle Raid, Japanese forces had landed in several coastal areas and razed towns, killing all of the men women and children, where they suspected the locals assisted the American fliers.

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April 29, 1942

The Belgian resistance destroys Tenderloo chemical works, killing more that 250.

The Japanese begin an intensive bombardment of Corregidor Island in Manila Bay

Hitler and Mussolini meet in Berchtesgaden. Among the topics discussed was the recent increase in tension between Hungry and Rumania over long standing territorial disputes. It had already been decided that Hungarian and Rumanian troops would not be stationed in adjacent sectors for fear they would turn their guns on each other rather than the Russians.

Japanese forces in Burma capture Lashio, ending a 300 mile, 18-day march. The loss of the town blocked the Burma road, the main supply line between the western Allies and Nationalist Chinese forces.

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April 30, 1942  

The Japanese continue to advance out of Lashio in Burma, driving the Chinese back along the Burma Road into China while British and American forces retreat  toward India.

The month of April saw 102,497 deaths in Leningrad from starvation. This would be the worst month of the siege.

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May 1, 1942

Mandalay, Burma falls to the Japanese.

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May 2, 1942

US Naval intelligence intercepts top secret messages indicating that the Japanese have dispatched two naval task forces into the Coral Sea. A minor force had as its goal a landing at Tulagi. The larger and more serious threat was aimed at Port Moresby in New Guinea. The loss of Port Moresby (only 500 miles from Australia would be a devastating blow to the Allied war effort placing northeast Australia under a serious threat.

Hollywood goes to war as the seven-man unit. Lead by Frank Capra begins filming the "Why We Fight" films, arguably the finest propaganda films ever produced.

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May 3, 1942

Japanese forces land at Tulagi in the central Solomons in preparation for the invasion of Australia. The quickly establish a sea plane base there which allowed reconnaissance flights deeper into Allied waters. The opening actions of the Battle of the Coral Sea was completed.

German surface ships sink the British cruiser Edinburgh as she escorts Convoy PQ-15 heading for Murmansk.

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May 4, 1942

Admiral Fletcher orders the US carrier Yorktown north to raid the Japanese landings at Tulagi. The attack has limited success due to poor weather over the target area, but the navy planes fatally damage the destroyer Kikuzuki.

British forces abandon Akyab on the Bay of Bengal as Japanese forces advance to within 100 miles of the Indian border.

British forces land in Madagascar, encountering light resistance from the Vichy forces there.

The American "Flying Tigers" abandon their airbase in Burma and move to Kunming, China.

Japanese forces in Burma capture Bhamo, reinforcing their stranglehold on land communications between the Western Allies and China.

German, Italian and Croat forces in occupied Yugoslavia launch Operation Trio against Tito's partisans. The Axis forces took and executed civilian hostages as the partisans simply slipped away.

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May 5, 1942

Admiral Fletcher's carrier Yorktown, rejoins the carrier Lexington and begins maneuvering against the Japanese Covering Force now entering the Coral Sea.

Japanese forces land at Cavalry Point on Corregador, establishing a secure beachhead.

A major Soviet Offensive is launched in the Kursk and Kharkov area.

Karl Oberg, a vicious anti-Semite, arrives in Paris to assume his new position as head of the SS and Police.

Marshall Petain calls for a vigorous defense of Madagascar against British "aggression".

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May 6, 1942

Japanese and American carrier forces continue to maneuver, searching in vain for each other. At one point in the day, the two forces were a mere 70 miles (15 minutes flying time) from each other, but each was oblivious to the other.

Corregidor Island is surrendered to the Japanese. 16,000 Filipinos and Americans were taken prisoner.

Chinese troops in Burma, attack and recapture Maymyo from the Japanese.

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May 7, 1942

Battle of the Coral Sea: US and Japanese scout planes took to the skies over the Coral Sea in the early morning darkness.

At 0800, Japanese scouts reported spotting a "carrier and cruiser". However, the ships were actually the fleet tanker Neosho and her destroyer escort Sims. Both vessles were well away from the US carrier force and heading further away. Later in the morning, two typically ineffective high altitude level bombing raids were executed against the ships. At 1200, Japanese dive bombers hit the two ships, sinking the destroyer outright with heavy losses and reducing the vital fleet tanker to a floating hulk.

Meanwhile, scouts from Yorktown spotted the Japanese light carrier Shoho and four heavy cruisers. The message relayed back to the carriers was "two carriers and four heavy cruisers" so Fletcher ordered an all out strike on what he thought was the main body of the Japanese carrier force. Shoho was pummeled with bombs and torpedoes and sunk in minutes.

Late in the day, the Japanese ordered the amphibious force to clear the area and await the outcome of battle. Also, 30 scout planes were launched to seek out the American carriers. Most of these were lost in combat or failed to make their night landings, thus depleting the Japanese air reserves further.

In other news of the day

Churchill announces to Parliament that Diego-Suarez on Madagascar was captured by British forces. Also, he indicated the the Vicy French forces had fought gallantly and regretted the need for the action, but hoped that France would see this as a step toward liberation.

Chief Justice of the Philippines, Jose Abad, after refusing to work with the Japanese military authorities, was executed. 

Dutch Jews a re ordered to wear the Star of David badge.

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May 8, 1942

Battle of the Coral Sea: Before dawn, Japanese and US naval forces launch scout planes. Both sides are spotted a couple of ours later. The Japanese had their strike force already airborne, but the American strike was also airborne by 0900. Both strikes reached the enemy fleet at about 1100. The Japanese fleet was under low cloud cover, but the Americans were under clear skies.

Both Yorktown and Lexington took several bomb hits. Lexington was also struck by four torpedoes. Yorktown, although badly damaged, remained operational. The damage on Lexington was extensive as she took on an immediate 7o list, but damage control parties seemed to have everything under control and she resumed flight operations within and hour. However, at 1247, a major explosion caused several fires and ships communications were destroyed. The fires soon raged out of control. A second major explosion occurred two hours later. Lexington was abandoned at 1600. Fires reached the hanger deck and at 1730 a spectacular explosion detonated munitions, engulfing the ship in fire and smoke. Later a destroyer fired torpedoes into the stricken ship and she sank at 2000.

On the other side, American planes hit the Japanese fleet carrier Shokaku. Her flight deck was hit by three bombs and large fires broke out, prevented the launching of planes. Shokaku  withdrew from the battle area and headed back to Japan.

At the end of the day, both sides withdrew from the battle area. The first naval battle fought solely from the air was over. Tactically, the Japanese had won the battle due to the loss of Lexington. However, and more importantly, the Japanese had decided to call off the Port Moresby landing. This was their first strategic defeat of the war. The headlong and uncheck expansion of the Japanese Pacific empire had come to an abrupt stop in the Coral Sea.

In other events of the day

German forces in the Crimean Peninsula open the German summer offensive by attacking Soviet positions around Kerch and Sevastopol.

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May 9, 1942

Operation Bowery concludes as Malta receives 63 Hurricane fighters delivered from the Carriers Eagle and American Wasp. This turned out to be the turning point in the fight for air superiority in the central Medeterainian.

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May 10, 1942

The Maly Trostenets death camp opens outside Minsk.

Heavy fighting between the German 11th Army and Soviet Coastal Army at Sevestapol is reported as German forces attempt to break into the besieged city's defenses.

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May 11, 1942

A German U-Boat penetrated into the St. Lawrence River in Canada and sunk a transport ship.

Japanese forces launch an offensive in China's Chekiang province in order to prevent a repeat of the Doolittle raid.

US submarine S-42 torpedoed and sank the Japanese minelayer Okinoshima in the Solomons.

German attacks at Sevastopol succeed in surrounding the Soviet fortifications in the Ak-Monay area in very heavy fighting.

German forces in the Crimea recapture Feodosiya in heavy fighting. 

German aircraft, operating in the Mediterranean Sea, sink three British destroyers (Lively, Kiplin and Jackal) off Crete.

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

1942 Archive:
  January |  February | March  | April

Special Editions:
Pearl Harbor | The Doolittle Raid

Editor's Corner Archive:

The Past Through Tomorrow "It is quite frightening to realize just how similar our nation's actions have been and appear to be heading when compared this way..."

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.  

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