Project 60 - "The First Fight Against Fascism" - Archives
February 1, 1942
continue to retreat in North Africa, moving toward the Gazala-Bir Hacheim area
(west of Tobruk).
Zhukov is promoted to
command all Soviet Fronts (army groups) in the Moscow area. His command includes
West, Kalinn and Bryansk Fronts.
The Soviets launch a
major offensive in the Vyazma area.
February 2, 1942
Heavy fighting is reported in the Crimea as Russian forces retake Feodosiya.
February 3, 1942
German forces, regrouped and reinforced,
launch attacks against the overextended Soviet spearheads in the Vyazma region.
Several Soviet divisions are encircled in the attack.
February 4, 1942
The Japanese request and the British refuse
the surrender of Singapore. The Japanese launch massive air attacks against the
city for the next four days.
The Africa Korps recaptures Dema as the
British 8th Army continues its withdrawal to the Gazala line.
British forces in Egypt seized the royal
palace of King Farouk, forcing the king to appoint a pro-British government.
February 5, 1942
British efforts to assist the Yugoslavian partisans took a step forward as agents were parachuted into German occupied areas around Sarajevo to link up with the local partisan bands.
February 6, 1942
Japanese forces capture the oil facilities
at Samarinda in Borneo.
February 7, 1942
The Japanese launch a diversionary attack,
landing a force on Pulua Ubin Island, east of Singapore. The British mistakenly
move their force to counter a threat that did not exist.
February 8, 1942
The Japanese, meeting little resistance,
land on the western side of Singapore Island.
MacArthur informs FDR that the Bataan force
has suffered 50% losses and was “near done”. FDR gives permission for
MacArhur to surrender the Filipino troops but forbids the surrender of US
The Soviet 11th and 1st
Shock Armies link up along the Lovat River west of Demyansk, cutting off the
last tenuous land link with the German rear for the 2nd and 10th
Corps. In all 90,000 Germans are surrounded in the Demyansk area.
February 9, 1942
The Japanese 5th and 18th
Divisions, having established a secure beachhead on the island, move out to
capture the city of Singapore. They succeed in capturing the Tengah airfield,
insuring easy and quick resupply. The end for the British in Singapore is only a
matter of time.
Japanese forces are hit by counter attacks
in Luzon. Heavy casualties are reported, as well as some withdrawals.
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.
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.
February 12, 1942
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.
capture Bandjermasin, capital of Borneo and Macassar, capital of Celebes.
February 13, 1942
units cross into Belorusssa as the Winter Offensive continues. German resistance
is stiffening and advances are limited.
Dash” ends as Scharnhorst puts into Wilhelmshaven and Gneisenau
and Prinz Eugen put in at Kiel in the early morning darkness.
February 14, 1942
Japanese paratroops land at Palembang, opening the invasion of Sumatra.
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.
February 16, 1942
using their deck cannons, bombard the Dutch oil storage tanks and refineries on
Aruba and Curacao in the Caribbean.
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.
February 18, 1942
Japanese forces cross the Bilin River in Burma forcing the British to order the evacuation of Rangoon.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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).
February 22, 1942
“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.
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.
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.
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
The Soviet Winter
offensive, although beginning to lag, continues to score success against the
Germans. Russian forces recaptured Dorogobuzh on the Dnierpr River.
February 24, 1942
Soviet attacks near
lake Illmen succeed in surrounding the German II Corp at Starryy Russa.
February 25, 1942
Japanese attacks in Burma break the British lines at Pegu, threatening to cut the Rangoon-Mandalay railroad.
February 26, 1942
British bombers hit
the Gneisenau while she was undergoing repairs in the Kiel drydock. The
damage was extensive and she would not put to sea again during the war.
February 27, 1942
The first major
surface action of the Pacific war , the Battle of the Java Sea, opened. Dutch
Admiral Karel Doorman, leading a rag tag band of Allied war ships attempted to
intercept the Japanese invasion fleet heading for Java.
At 1620, contact was made between the two fleets. The Japanese fleet,
scored first, hitting the British cruiser Exeter with an 8-inch shell.
She lost most of her power, and was knocked out of the battle. The next
catastrophe for the Allies came when the Dutch destroyer Kortenaer was
hit midship by a torpedo, broke in half and sank. Soon afterward, the British
destroyer Electra was sunk by three Japanese destroyers. Allied fire
managed to damage the Japanese Asagumo forcing her out of the battle. As
dusk approached, Doorman withdrew to regroup his scattered fleet and attempt to
swing around the Japanese screen to hit the enemy transports. At 2125, the
British destroyer Jupiter struck a mine and blew up. At 2300, the
Japanese spotted Doorman’s cruisers and succeeded in sinking Java and De
Ruyter. The Perth and Houston withdrew to Batavia. The
Japanese had won handily.
make a daring raid into France. The Germans had erected a radar station at
Bruneval, near Le Havre and the British wanted to get a hold of the new German
equipment. The raid was more than successful. Only two British paratroops were
killed. The radar sets were captured intact and as a bonus, one of the German
operators was captured and brought back to England.
February 28, 1942
Elements of the
Japanese 16th Army land on the north coast of
Java. The main body of the invasion force heads for Batavia, capital of
the Dutch East Indies.
Upon making repairs,
the British cruiser Exeter, escorted by the destroyers Encounter and
Pope, leave Surabaya. At 0930, they were spotted by the Japanese and