10 - 16 January 1942

10 January 1942

Tokyo , Japan : Japanese goverment declared war on the Netherlands.

UK : Royal Navy Fighter School’s commanding officer Lieutenant Commander H. P. Bramwell made the first landing of a modified Spitfire fighter aboard carrier HMS Illustrious in the River Clyde, Scotland, United Kingdom. The success led to the development of the carrier version of the Spitfire design, Seafire.

South China Sea : US submarine USS Stingray torpedoed and sank Japanese cargo ship Harbin Maru 40 miles south of Hainan, China.

Arctic Ocean : German submarine U-584 sank Soviet submarine M-175 75 miles north of Murmansk, Russia at 0722 hours; all 21 aboard were killed.

Philippines : US-Filipino troops held the Abucay-Mauban defensive line on the Bataan peninsula on Luzon, Philippine Islands.

Panaman cargo ship Daylite struck a mine and sank in Manila Bay

Douglas MacArthur traveled from Corregidor to Bataan in the Philippine Islands, visiting forward command posts, speaking to officers but generally refusing to speak to enlisted men. When subjected to sporadic Japanese shelling when walking across a small clearing, he was observed to walk confidently without flinching.

US submarine USS Pickerel sank Japanese gunboat Kanko Maru off Davao Gulf, Mindanao, Philippine Islands

Malaya : Japanese tanks and infantry attacked the remnants of the Indian 11th Division at Serendah, Selangor, Malaya, 15 miles north of Kuala Lumpur, which was being evacuated along with Port Swettenham. Out to sea in the Gulf of Siam, Free Dutch Navy submarine O 19 torpedoed and sank Japanese freighters Akita Maru and Tairyu Maru.

Dutch East Indies : On Dutch Borneo, substantial Japanese forces, supported by two heavy cruisers and eight destroyers, landed on Tarakan; the island, with its oilfields, was under complete Japanese control within twenty-four hours.

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy destroyer Legion and Free Dutch Navy destroyer Isaac Sweers attacked German submarine U-374 with 43 deptch charges northeast of Sidi Barrani, Egypt between 1700 and 2000 hours; U-374 escaped, but the damage sustained caused her to lose the ability to submerge

Royal Navy submarine HMS Thrasher torpedoed and sank Italian ship Fedora 120 miles west of Patras, Greece.

Libya : Erwin Rommel wrote a letter to his wife, expressing optimism despite Allied success in Operation Crusader, mentioning General Ludwig Cruewell’s bout with jaundice, and the cold nights in the desert of North Africa.

Moscow Front , Russia : Soviet 29th Army attacked north of Rhzev, Russia while Soviet 39th Army moved northwest of the city, aiming to surround the German 9th Army based in the city. Red Army advance threteans German base at Mozhaisk.

South West England : After sundown, German bombers attacked several cities and towns in England, United Kingdom; oil pipelines were damaged at Ellesmere Port in western England while utility services were interrupted in Liverpool just to the north.

Wilhelmshaven , Germany : Wilhelmshaven, Germany was bombed for the first time by main force aircraft of British RAF Bomber Command; the raid would last through the early hours of the next date.

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11 January 1942

Dutch Borneo , East Indies : Japanese troops began the campaign against the Dutch East Indies by landing on Tarakan island off Borneo. 2,500 men of the Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces landed on two sites on Celebes, Dutch East Indies at 0300 hours. At 0900 hours, 334 Japanese paratroopers captured the Kakas seaplane base and the Menado airfield. In the face of superior forces, Dutch commanders at Tarakan decided to destroy the 700 oil wells present on Tarakan to prevent enemy use. Meanwhile Dutch garison display a tough resistance initialy against invaders but after demolishing of oilfields , they retreat.

Java Sea : US cargo ship Liberty was torpedoed ansd badly damaged by Japanese submarine I-166 , towed back to Java Dutch East Indies and beached at Tulamben , Java.

Moscow Front , Russia : Soviet 39th Army moved from northwest of Rzhev, Russia toward the area southwest of the city, further threatening the surround the German 9th Army in the city. A large German supply depot was captured by Soviet troops at Sychevka 50 kilometers to the south. Soviet troops also cut off Rzhev-Bryansk railway.

Malaya : Japanese troops from 25th Army entered Kuala Lumpur, the capital of the Federated Malay States, unopposed, capturing large amounts of supplies and ammunition left behind by the evacuating British and colonial troops.

Sollum , Libya : 7.000 Italian troops from Italian Savoa infantry division under siege in desert fort Sollum at Libyan frontier surrendered to besieging 1st South African Division due to lack of water , delivering Sollum to 8th Army. Only 2.000 German and 5.000 Italian trops holding Halfaya Pass only Axis garrison left in Cyreneica in the frontier region remained under siege.

Murmansk , Kola Peninsula , Russia : Allied convoy PQ-7b arrived at Murmansk, Russia.

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12 January 1942

Leningrad Front : General George von Küchler replaced Field Marshal Wilhelm von Leeb, who resigned after Adolf Hitler refused his request to withdraw behind the Lovat River to prevent II Corps being cut off. (Von Leeb remained inactive for the rest of the war)

Pacific Ocean : US aircraft carrier USS Saratoga was damaged by a torpedo from Japanese submarine I-6 about 500 miles southwest of US Territory of Hawaii; she returned to Pearl Harbor under own power.

Ukraine : Sixth German Army commander Genetal Walther von Reichenau suffered a stroke in Poltava, Ukraine , died two days later.

On January 12, in Kiev, the executions began, over a twelve day period, of what the Operational Situation Report USSR No. 173 described as ‘104 political officials, 75 saboteurs and looters, and about 8,000 Jews’. In Kovno, five thousand Jews, brought earlier by train to the former Lithuanian capital from Germany and Austria, were taken on January 12 to the Ninth Fort and shot. In Odessa, the deportations began that day of 19,582 Jews, most of them women, children and old people, to concentration camps near Balta. They were sent to the camps in cattle trucks. Those who died in the trains, as dozens did, were taken off at the station of Berezovka, their corpses put in heaps, petrol poured over them, and the bodies burned before the eyes of their families.

Philippines : Japanese troops from 14th Army continued to attack the Abucay-Mauban line on Bataan Peninsula, Luzon, Philippine Islands.

Malaya : Japanese 25th Army captured Kuala Lumpur

Murmansk , Kola Peninsula , USSR : Allied convoy PQ-7a arrived at Murmansk, Russia.

North Sea : The 5,626-ton British steam merchant Lerwick had brought a cargo of manganese ore to the Ford factory at Dagenham, London, England, United Kingdom and was on passage to the Tyne for dry docking. When she reached a position 6 miles east-southeast of Whitby High in Yorkshire, England, the ship was attacked by a single Heinkell III bomber that dropped three bombs, one landed off the starboard quarter and the other two were direct hits. The hatch covers were blown through the ship causing catastrophic damage and letting in a rapid flow of water. The Lerwick sank in less than twenty minutes four miles off Robin Hood’s Bay.

North Sea : British cargo ship Quickstewp struck a mine and sunk

Nova Scotia , Canada : Norwegian cargo ship Frisco was torpedoed and sunk off by German submarine U-130 off Nova Scotia

Berlin , Germany : Hitler orderes German Navy battleships Scharnhorst , Gneisenau and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen to sail away from Brest where they were cornered , pass through English Channel to be deployed to Norway.

Mediterranean Sea : German submarine U-374 already damaged two days ago , was torpedoed and sunk by Royal Navy submarine HMS Unbeaten off Calabria , Italy. 42 of 42 from U-Boat crew was lost.

Tangiers , Africa : A German plan to detect Allied shipping movements in Mediterranean by usinbg infrared beams across Straits of Gibrtaltar was foiled up when German infrared transmitter was sabotaged and blown up by British SOE agents

US Eastern Seaboard : Operation Drumroll (German U-Boat offensive in US East Coat) started. US Navy Admiral Adolphus Andrews received warning from Royal Navy inteligence in Liverpool , UK that three or four German submarines were entering waters off the east coast of the United States, but he refused to institute a convoy system. Earlier on the same day, German submarine U-123 sank British ship Cyclops off Nova Scotia, Canada at 0149 hours; 87 were killed, 95 survived.
The American East Coast towns were all well lit; the coastal resorts illuminated. Taking advantage of this, the German submarine commanders lay on the bottom by day, then surfaced at dusk to pick off their targets silhouetted against the lights of the coastal towns. War had come to the United States; but it was offshore, and thus remote to the majority of the population.

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13 January 1942

UK : Luftwaffe bombers attacked Lowestoft, Suffolk and Redcar, Yorkshire in England, United Kingdom during daylight hours; minor attacks were also conducted over Aberdeenshire, Scotland and the Shetland Islands.
The Allied conference in London, England, United Kingdom pledged to punish Axis war criminals after the war.

Singapore : Allied convoy DM1 arrived at Singapore from Durban, South Africa, delivering 9,100 troops, anti-aircraft guns, and 52 Hurricane fighters (with 24 pilots).

Moscow Front , Russia : West of Moscow, Russia, Soviet 11th Army and German 18th Motorised Division clashed at Staraya Russa, while Soviet 29th, 39th Army, and (further away to the southwest) 11th Cavalry Corps attacked German 9th Army at Rhzev.

Atlantic Ocean : Panaman cargo ship Frier Rock straggling behing convoy SC64 , was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-130 with loss of 31 of her crew

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14 January 1942

Washington , USA : US President Roosevelt ordered that all aliens must register with the government.

Burma : Japanese forces advanced into Burma.

USSR : Following their seizure of Kirov yesterday , Red Army recaptured Medya , driving a wedge between two panzer divisions.

Black Sea : Soviet cargo ship Bataysk was bombed and sunk by Luftwaffe bombers

Hamburg , Germany : Hamburg, Germany was bombed for the first time by mainforce aircraft of RAF Bomber Command; this raid conducted by aircraft of No. 207 Squadron would last until the early hours of the next date. Altona railway station and other targets were hit. Hamburg would ultimately be bombed on seventeen occasions, destroying 75% of the city

Guam , Pacific Ocean : Part of the Japanese invasion fleet for Rabaul, New Britain departed from Guam, Mariana Islands.

Malaya : Japanese troops on bicycles, supported by tanks, crossed the Gemencheh Bridge over the Kelamah River in Negeri Sembilan, Malaya at 1600 hours into an Australian ambush, killing somewhere between 140 and 700 Japanese troops while losing only 1 killed and 6 captured (they would later be executed); the Japanese would return after dark to successfully secure and repair the bridge. Elsewhere, Japanese troops captured Malacca on the west coast.

US Eastern Seaboard : German submarine U-123 sank Panamanian tanker Norness within sight of (about 60 miles off) Montauk Point, Long Island, New York, United States at 0834 hours; 2 were killed, 39 survived.

Atlantic Ocean : Much further out in the Atlantic Ocean, 450 miles northwest of Ireland, German submarine U-43 attacked Allied convoy ON 55, torpedoed and sinking Greek ship Maro (all aboard were killed), British ship Empire Surf (45 were killed, 6 survived), and Panamanian ship Chepo (17 were killed, 21 survived).

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15 January 1942

Moscow Front : German Army Group Center began to fall back from the Kaluga area, forming a new defensive lines 20 miles to the west.

Washington , USA : Allies formed the ABDA (American, British, Dutch and Australian) command in the Pacific region to counter Japanese advances.

Philippines : Philippine 51st Division withdrew from the Salian River valley on the eastern side of the Abucay-Mauban defensive line on Bataan Peninsula, Luzon, Philippine Islands.
On January 15 the Japanese reached the northernmost mountains of the Bataan Peninsula. ‘Help is on the way from the United States,’ General MacArthur assured the men now battling for survival. ‘Thousands of troops’, he told them, ‘and hundreds of planes are being despatched.’ But no such reinforcements were on their way; nor, with Manila Bay under Japanese blockade, would they have been able to secure an easy access, even assuming that they could have crossed the Pacific without crippling loss.

Malaya : Japanese troops crossed the Gemencheh Bridge over the Kelamah River in British Malaya at 1000 hours to attack Australian-held positions at Gemas; although the initial attack failed with the loss of six tanks, subsequent attacks and flanking maneuvers forced the Australians to fall back to the Gemas River. Elsewhere, Japanese 4th and 5th Imperial Guard Regiments wiped out forward positions held by elements of the Indian 45th Brigade north of the Muar River.

New York , USA : Transport Chateau Thierry and converted passenger liner Strathaird departed New York, New York, United States with 3,900 troops of US 34th Division aboard, bound for Britain. This convoy, codenamed AT10, was escorted by five US destroyers while US East Coat remained defenceless…

US Eastern Seaboard : Operation Drumroll continues. British tanker Coimbra was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-123. Another British tanker Diala was also torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-553 off Newfoundland. British cargo ship Dayrose was torpedoed and sunk again off Newfoundland by German submarine U-552

North Sea : British cargo ship Empire Bay was bombed and sunk by Luftwaffe bombers off Yorkshire

Mediterranean Sea : A Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Fairey Swordfish aircraft of 815 Squadron, located bombed and sunk German submarine U-577 on surface off Mersa Matruh , Egypt.

Atlantic Ocean : While trying to attack an inbound convoy SL 97 off Spain , German submarine U-93 was located by one of convoy escorts , Royal Navy destroyer HMS Hesperus via her shipborne radar. HMS Hesperus attacked U-93 by gunfire before she could dive , damaged U-93 by gunfire then rammed and sank the German U-Boat. 30 men from U-93 crew were picked up and rescued by HMS Hesperus

Indian Ocean : Indian cargo ship Jalajaran was torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I-65

UK : In order to recruit more people with the requisite abilities to work at the British Bletchley Park codebreaking facility a competition was staged for regular devotees to the Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle. They were asked to finish the puzzle within 12 minutes. Those who did well would subsequently be invited back for interview

My grandmother and my father (as a kid) witnessed that event. One of Dad’s fondest memories…

16 January 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-402 torpedoed British troop transport Llangibby Castle of Allied convoy WS15 north of the Azores islands at 1115 hours, blowing off the rudder and killing 26. Despite follow-up attacks by Fw 200 aircraft, Llangibby Castle would reach Horta, Azores for temporary repairs.

Papua New Guinea : Japanese aircraft attacked Rabaul, New Britain, destroying fuel stores, bomb stockpiles, and other facilities at Vunakanau Airfield. Two Wirraway fighters were scrambled to intercept, but they failed to reached the Japanese aircraft in time. 6 hours later, several flying boats followed up with an attack with fragmentation bombs.

Bermuda : Winston Churchill, Admiral Dudley Pound, and RAF Air Marshal Charles Portal departed Bermuda for Britain by air (Boeing 314 Clipper Flying Boat “Berwick”, operated by the British Overseas Airways Corporation). At dawn on January 17, when the flying boat deviated slightly from its course, it came to within five or six minutes’ flying time of the German anti-aircraft batteries at Brest, in German-occupied France. The error was corrected; but, in turning sharply northward, the flying boat seemed to the radar watchers in Britain to be a ‘hostile bomber’ coming from Brest. Six RAF fighter aircraft were sent up with orders to shoot down the intruder. Fortunately, as Churchill later reflected, ‘they failed in their mission’.

Burma : The first clash between Japanese and British forces within Burma occurred when a column of the 3rd Battalion of the Japanese 112th Infantry Regiment was engaged by the British 6th Burma Rifles (plus two companies of the 3rd Burma Rifles and elements of the Kohine battalion BFF) at the town of Tavoy (population 30,000 and strategically important as it was the start of a metal road to Rangoon). By the 18th the Japanese had taken the town, having lost 23 dead and 40 wounded, but the morale of the defenders had been badly damaged and the Japanese column was able to move on to Mergui without serious opposition.

Malaya : Japanese 4th and 5th Imperial Guards Regiments crossed the Muar River in British Malaya before dawn, forcing the Indian 45th Brigade to withdraw from Muar. Meanwhile RAF began to transfer most of its operable aircraft from Singapore to Sumatra.

Philippines : Japanese and Filipino-American forces both raced to capture Morong on Bataan Peninsula, Luzon, Philippine Islands. Both sides reached the town around the same time, but the Allies had detected the Japanese first. Taking the opportunity for a surprise attack, more than 20 American cavalry troops charged on their horses, dispersing Japanese troops. It was the last combat charge of horse-mounted American cavalry troops

Rzhev-Vyazma Front , Russia : Soviet 3rd Shock Army captured Andreapol, Russia.

Black Sea : Soviet cargo ship Jean Jaures struck a mine and sunk off Crimea

UK : German bombers sank British minesweeping trawler HMS Irvana off Yarmouth, England, United Kingdom, killing 2.

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