21 - 27 March 1942

21 March 1942

Berlin , Germany : Adolf Hitler placed Fritz Sauckel in charge of mobilizing forced laborers from occupied territories. From now on all necessary workforce for German war economy would be takewn off from occupied Europe and Russian territories as “forced labourers” against their will mostly

Poland : Jews from the Lublin ghetto in occupied Poland were deported to Belzec, Majdanek, and other concentration camps.

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-124 torpedoed and sank US tanker Esso Nashville 20 kilometers southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, United States at 0608 hours. At 1005 hours, U-124 struck again, damaging US tanker Atlantic Sun with a torpedo.

Iceland : Allied convoy PQ-13, consisted of 19 merchant ships, set sail from Reykjavík, Iceland, with 1 destroyer and 5 trawlers in escort.

Washington , US : Presient Franklin D. Roosevelt in an attempt to explain heavy shipping losses in US Eastern Seaboard , US Navy inability to deal with U-Boat threat and US admirals reluctance to initiate coastal convoys wrote to Prime Minister Churchill an explanation : My Navy has been definitely slack in preparing for this submarine war off our coast. As I need not tell you, most Naval officers have declined in the past to think in terms of any vessel of less than two thousand tons. You learned that lesson two years ago. We still have to learn it.

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy aircraft carriers HMS Argus and HMS Eagle departed Gibraltar, escorted by battleship HMS Malaya, cruiser HMS Hermione, and 9 destroyers, with Spitfire fighters for Malta. Italian submarines Mocenigo and Dandolo attempted to intercept this task force but they failed.

In East Mediterranean , Italian submarines Onice and Platino spotted British convoy MW10, which had departed from Alexandria, Egypt, off the Libyan coast. A force consisted of Italian battleship Littorio, three Italian cruisers, and ten Italian destroyers departed from Taranto on mainland Italy and Messina on the island of Sicily to intercept; Royal Navy submarine HMS P36 spotted this Italian response.

Demyansk Pocket , Russia : General Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach led a German assault out of the Demyansk, Russia to the northwest.

Sevastapol , Crimea : Soviet cargo ship Georgy Dmitrov was bombed and sunk by Luftwaffe bombers

Australia : US Army General MacArthur arrived at Kooringa, Australia by train and discovered there would be no army waiting for him to reinforce the Philippine Islands.

Port Moresby , Papua New Guinea : Four US Kittyhawk fighters arrived over Port Moresby, Australian Papua as reinforcement at 1400 hours, but nervous anti-aircraft gunners fired on them, damaging all four. Later in the day, a lone Japanese bomber attacked Port Moresby, and one of the newly arrived Kittyhawks was able to scramble and shoot down the attacker. Later in the day, 14 additional Kittyhawk fighters arrived.

New Delhi , India : Sir Stafford Cripps , lord privy seal arrives Delhi for new proposals to grant independence India after the war.

Burma : 151 Japanese bombers attacked the British airfield at Magwe in northern Burma, the operating base of the Chinese Air Force 1st American Volunteer Group “Flying Tigers”; 15 Sino-American aircraft were destroyed at the cost of 2 Japanese aircraft. Meanwhile, at Oktwin, forward elements of Japanese 55th Division engaged Chinese troops.


22 March 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-373 torpedoed and sank British cargo ship Thursobank 300 miles east of Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States at 0509 hours; 33 were killed, 26 survived. U-123 sank US tanker Muskogee in the Atlantic Ocean at 1756 hours; all 34 aboard were killed.

Mediterranean Sea : Second Battle of Sirte : Italian battleship Littorio, three Italian cruisers, and 10 destroyers successfully intercepted Allied convoy MW10 made of four merchant ships bringing supplies to Malta in the Gulf of Sirte between Libya and Malta at 1430 hours, but they were fended off by the smaller Royal Navy escort force of four cruisers and 17 destroyers commanded by Admiral Phillip Vian. As the Second Battle of Sirte ended at 1900 hours, three British cruisers and six destroyers were damaged (39 killed) by Italian gunfire, while the Italian battleship Littorio was also damaged in return. Italian task force could not reach , damage or sink any of the merchant ships in the convoy though which were defended by Admiral Vian’s cruisers and destroyers suberply by smoke screen , efficient deployment of destroyers and cruisers making torpedo attacks towards enemy in Royal Navy task force. Italian task force disengaged and returned back to Taranto however they delayed the convoy long enough that the merchant ships would arrive to Valetta harbour in Malta in daylight therefore vulnerable to Axis air attacks

After the two forces disengaged, Italian destroyers Lanciere and Scirocco were sunk by a storm, killing 201 and 189 from their crews, respectively.

German submarine U-73 was depth charged and damaged by a RAF Blenheim bomber 50 miles northwest of Derna, Libya at 1150 hours. U-73 would escape the encounter, but was forced to end her patrol early.

Arctic Ocean : Allied convoy QP-9, consisted of 19 merchant ships, departed Murmansk, Russia with cruiser HMS Nigeria, destroyer HMS Offa, and 2 minesweepers in close escort.

Demyansk Pocket , Russia : German Army Group Center troops outside the Demyansk Pocket attacked Soviet 11th Army and 1st Shock Army at Staraya Russa, Russia, supporting the breakout attempt from the pocket launched on the previous day.

Burma : American and British airmen abandoned the airfield in Magwe in northern Burma. To the southeast, at dawn, troops of the 600th Regiment of the Chinese 200th ambushed troops of the 122nd Regiment of the Japanese 55th Division near Oktwin, Burma

Luzon , Philippines : Japanese aircraft bombed US positions at Bataan and Corregidor, Luzon, Philippine Islands.

Kunming , China : The first four P-40E fighters for the 1st American Volunteer Group arrived in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.

Poland : Mass exterminations of Jews using Zyklon B gas began at Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland.

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23 March 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-124 torpedoed and sank US tanker Naeco 65 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, United States at 1023 hours; 24 were killed, 14 survived. In the afternoon, German submarine U-754 torpedoed and sank British tanker British Prudence 50 miles south of Newfoundland at 1531 hours; 3 were killed, 47 survived.

In the Southern Atlantic, German armed merchant cruiser Thor intercepted and stopped Greek freighter Pagasitikos, forced the 33 aboard to abandon ship, and sank the freighter with a torpedo. After sundown, Italian submarine Morosini torpedoed and sank British tanker Peder Bogen with torpedoes and gunfire; all 53 aboard survived.

Mediterranean Sea : Due to Second Battle of Sirte the day before Allied MW10 convoy en route to Malta was delayed and still had not reached Vletta harbour and in morning daylight became a perfect target for Luftwaffe aircraft from Sicily. One merchant ship Clan Campbell was hit and sunk by Luftwaffe JU-87 dive bombers twenty miles west of Malta but other three ships (tanker Breconshire hit by a bomb and damaged though still sailing , merchant ships Pampas and Talabot) managed to reach Valetta harbour in afternoon along with damaged destroyers HMS Lance , HMS Lively , HMS Legion and HMS Havock. Rest of the Royal Navy escort force retreated back to Alexandria since their mission is complate. In exchange eight German planes were shot down by anti aircraft gunners in the convoy.

Royal Navy destroyer HMS Kingston , already damaged from gunfire from Italian battleship Littorio while defending convoy MW 10 during Second Battle of Sirte , limped into Valetta Harbour , Malta but she was hit and sunk by Luftwaffe JU-87 dive bombers and wrecked , declared a total loss.

Black Sea : Soviet transport ship was torpedoed and sunk by Luftwaffe HE-111 aircraft near Khersen lighthouse. 102 crew and passangers aboard died.

Andaman Ilands , Indian Ocean : Troops of Japanese 18th Infantry Division landed at Port Blair, Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. The garrison of 300 Sikh militia and 23 British officers caught suprised , did not oppose the invasion.

Papua , New Guinea : 19 Japanese Type 1 bombers from Rabaul, New Britain attacked Seven Mile airfield near Port Moresby, Australian Papua at 1330 hours (Kittyhawk fighters failed to scramble in time to intercept the bombers), followed by strafing by four Zero fighters at 1420 hours (one shot down by anti-aircraft fire).

Burma : Chinese troops held the Japanese attacks in check near Oktwin, Burma, but withdrew toward Taungoo after sundown.

Berlin , Germany : Hitler ordered a build up of defenses in coastal areas in Western Europe , basically constructing first parts of Atlantic Wall

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24 March 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-123 torpedoed and sank British tanker Empire Steel with torpedoes and the deck gun 365 miles north of Bermuda at 0300 hours; 39 were killed, 8 survived

Arctic Ocean : Battle of Convoy PQ 13 en route and QP 9 returning from Russia begins. The day before a bad storm and fog dispersed the convoy and made it easy target for Luftwaffe and German Navy. Luftwafe recon aircraft spotted the dispersed ships of convoy PQ 13 today. In the afternoon Royal Navy minesweeper HMS Sharpshooter escorting the convoy returning QP 9 , spotted German submarine U-655 on the surface at the front of convoy in the Barents Sea and proceeded to ram and then sank her; the entire crew of U-655, 45 men, were killed.

German submarine U-585 approaching the convoy PQ 13 from south was detected by Royal Navy escorts , was damaged by depth charges from Royal Navy destroyer HMS Fury in the Barents Sea, badly damaged but was able to escape. However U-585 never returned to port and no report or news were heard from her ever again. It is estimated while returning to her base with damage , she struck a drifting mine in German minefield off Rybachy peninsula , Finland and sank with all hands during last week of March.

Malta : German bombers attacked Malta, damaging Royal Navy destroyer HMS Legion with near misses. Another Royal Navy destroyer HMS Southwold struck a mine at the entrance of Valetta harbour and sank.

France : 18 RAF Boston light bombers attacked targets in northern France, targeting power stations, rail marshaling yards, and other targets of military importance.

Black Sea : Soviet tanker Yalta and minelayer Osrevensky were bombed and sunk by Luftwaffe bombers off Tuapse

Pearl Harbour , Hawaii : Admiral Chester Nimitz was appointed the Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Theater.

Luzon , Philippines : Japanese Navy aircraft began daily bombings of Corregidor in the Philippine Islands.

Burma : Japanese 112th Regiment attacked Taungoo, Burma, overcoming the disorganized Chinese outer defenses. Meanwhile, Japanese 143rd Regiment flanked the Chinese defenses and captured the airfield and rail station 6 miles north of the city. Taungoo would be surrounded on three sides by the end of the day.

London , UK : The British House of Commons began a two-day debate on the conduct of the war in Germany; bombing of German cities was to be a focal point.

Auschwitz , Poland : Deportation of Slovakian Jews to Auschwitz Concentration Camp began.

Tarnapol , Galicia : 1.000 Jews living in Tarnapol , Galicia were deported to Belzec death camp

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25 March 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-552 torpedoed and sank Norwegian tanker Ocana 100 kilometers southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada at 0413 hours; 53 were killed, 4 survived; Ocana would remain afloat and burning for several days until scuttled by gunfire. At 0609 hours, U-105 torpedoed and sank British tanker Narragansett 400 miles east of Hampton Roads, Virginia, United States, killing all 49 aboard. Far out to sea, 530 miles east of Newfoundland, U-94 damaged British tanker Imperial Transport with a torpedo , causing the crew to abandon ship, but the men would reboard the ship by 2030 hours and continue the journey.

Arctic Ocean : Allied convoy PQ-9 ran into a storm west of Norway; ice accumulated on Royal Navy whaler/minesweeper HMS Sulla (FY1874), causing her to gain too much top weight, eventually capsizing her; all 21 aboard were killed.

Germany : 254 RAF Bomber Command aircraft (192 Wellington, 26 Stirling, 20 Manchester, 9 Hampden, and 7 Lancaster aircraft) attacked Krupp iron works and factories at Essen, Germany; 5 civilians were killed, 11 were wounded. The British lost 5 Manchester, 3 Wellington, and 1 Hampden aircraft.

Burma : The main Japanese offensive against Taungoo, Burma began at 0800 hours, striking northern, western, and southern sides of the city nearly simultaneously. Fierce house-to-house fighting would continue through the night.

Pearl Harbour , Hawaii : Joseph Rochefort’s cryptanalytic team in Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii intercepted a Japanese Navy message that mentioned a campaign against a location with code name RZP.


26 March 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-71 torpedoed and sank US tanker Dixie Arrow 20 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, United States at 1459 hours, killing 11 of 33 aboard. Further out to sea, German submarine U-123 torpedoed and sank US Q-ship USS Atik 200 kilometers east of Hampton Roads, Virginia, United States at 1937 hours, killing the entire crew of 139.

Scotland : Allied convoy PQ-14 departed Oban, Scotland, United Kingdom

Meditarranean Sea : German submarine U-652 torpedoed and sank Royal Navy destroyer HMS Jaguar 20 miles off Sidi Barani, Egypt at 0227 hours, which was escorting British tanker Slavol; 193 were killed, 53 survived. At 0510 hours, U-205 followed-up, torpedoed , sinking Slavol; 36 were killed, 20 survived.

Malta : Luftwaffe staged a series of heavy raids with 135 bombers and fighters over Malta from Axis airbases in Sicily throughout whole day. RAF interceptorrs and anti aircraft guns defending the island fought off five massive raids through out the day shooting down 15 German aircraft for no avail. Royal Navy destroyer HMS Legion (G 74), already damaged in Sercond Battle of Sirte three days prior, was hit again by bombs from Luftwaffe JU-88 bombers and broke in two at her moorings at Valetta Grand Harbour, Malta; both halves of the ship were re-floated but declared a loss and were towed out of the harbour to deep water and scuttled; 11 were killed in this attack.

The 5,415-ton British motor vessel Pampas which recently arrived with convoy MW10 was hit by multiple German bombs in the air raid and sank at her moorings. The empty freighter Talabot from same convoy was sunk at Valetta harbour as well with bomb hits. Last ship reached to Malta from the convoy , tanker Breconshire also foundered and sank with near bomb misses though most of the fuel she was carrying was salvaged and stored in underground bunkers. Neither Pampas nor Talabot unloaded most of their cargo though (only all anti aircraft munition cargo they were carrying were transferred to shore previous day) and they sank with them. Eventually only 5.000 tons of 26.000 ton cargo carried by convoy MW10 reached the island.

Royal Navy submarine HMS P39 was sitting alongside a jetty in Grand Harbour when German aircraft launched the attack; the submarine was seriously damaged with bombs and while she did not sink, due to the efforts of the crew, it was decided that she was too badly damaged to be worth repairing; she was towed to Kalkara and beached.

North Sea : German manned Dutch trawler Corrie was intercepted and sunk Royal Navy motor torpedo boats

Falmouth , UK : Operation Chariot begins. Three Royal Navy destroyers and 16 smaller troop carrying fast transport vessels departed Falmouth, England, United Kingdom with commandos aboard at 1400 hours for attacking drydock at Saint-Nazaire, France.

Portland , MA , USA : US Navy warship USS Washington, aircraft carrier USS Wasp, cruisers USS Wichita, USS Tuscaloosa, and eight destroyers sailed from Portland, Maine, United States for Britain to reinforce the Royal Navy Home Fleet

Germany : RAF Bomber Command (104 Wellington and 11 Stirling) attacked Essen, Germany, destroying two homes and killing six civilians; 11 bombers were lost in this attack.

Corregidor , Philippines : Japanese aircraft bombed Corregidor, Philippine Islands, knocking out power for freezers containing 24,000 pounds of carabao meat.

Burma : Chinese and Japanese troops continued to engage in house-to-house fighting in Taungoo, Burma, with heavy losses on both sides

Dutch East Indies : Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo’s Japanese First Air Fleet, built around a nucleus of five aircraft carriers, sailed from Staring Bay, Celebes, Dutch East Indies to the west of Timor into the Indian Ocean with the intention of attacking the Royal Navy’s bases at Colombo and Trincomalee in Ceylon.

Ceylon , Indian Ocean : Admiral Sir James Somerville, who had commanded the force that had sunk the Bismark in the previous year, took commanded of the Royal Navy Eastern Fleet, hoisting his flag in the battleship HMS Warspite at Trincomalee, Ceylon.

Vichy , France : French politician Pierre Laval warned Chief of State Philippe Pétain that it was important to cooperate with the Germans to avoid Berlin from appointing a Nazi Party Gauleiter for Vichy France.

London , UK : Winston Churchill told politicians of the rival Conservative Party ‘It now seems very likely that we and our allies cannot lose this war, except through our own fault’

Poland : A transport of 999 female Slovakian Jews from Poprad, Czechoslovakia arrived at Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland; they were the first Slovakians sent by Adolf Eichmann’s RSHA IVB4 office. Coinciding with the arrival of the Slovakian Jews was the arrival of the first transport of female prisoners from Ravensbrück Concentration Camp in northern Germany, also containing 999 Jews.


27 March 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-160 torpedoed and sank Panamanian tanker Equipoise 50 kilometers east of Hampton Roads, Virginia, United States at 0238 hours; 41 were killed, 13 survived. Further out to sea, 380 miles east of Virginia, U-150 torpedoed and sank Norwegian tanker MV Svenør at 1340 hours; 8 were killed, 29 survived.

Closer to Europe, German submarine U-587 returning to her base in France after her patrol in USA Eastern Seaboard discovered Allied troop carrier convoy WS-17 made up 30 ships , transporting 60.000 British soldiers en route to Middle East Theater. Since it was a troop carrying convoy WS-17 was made up fast ships and heavily escorted. U-587 which had exhausted her torpedoes during her patrol at US Eastern Seaboard instead began to shadow the convoy for the benefit of other boats, but one of the many escorts of the convoy, Royal Navy destroyer HMS Keppel, accurately discovered U-587 with its new Huff Duff direction finder due to radio reports of German submarine (first time shipborne HF/DF receiver used to locate a U-Boat) , and four other escorts—Royal Navy destroyers HMS Leamington, HMS Grove, HMS Aldenham, HMS Volunteer—pounced on U-587 and sank her by depth charges with the loss of all hands.; all 42 aboard the German submarine were lost. No other boats were able to respond to U-587’s contact report, so the tracking and loss were to no avail.

English Channel : Operation Chariot : At 2300 hours, Royal Navy destroyer HMS Campeltown (old US Town class chosen to be sacrificed fort the mission , packed with explosives ) , with commandos aboard following transport boats, left her destroyer escorts behind and sailed toward Saint-Nazaire, France with a few small vessels.

German anti submarine trawler S 147 struck a mine and sank.

Gibraltar : Royal Navy aircraft carriers HMS Argus and HMS Eagle departed Gibraltar with battleship HMS Malaya and other warships in escort to deliver 16 Spitfire fighters to Malta

Mediterranean Sea : Italian cargo ship Oreste struck a mine and sank off Calgari , Italy.

Admiral Andrew Cunningham commanding Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet is relieved and sent to Washington , US to represent Royal Navy in Combined Chiefs of Staff. Admiral Henry Harwood (who hunted and eliminated German pocket battleship Graf Spee in South Atlantic at December 1939) assigned as Coımmander in Chief of Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet.

Burma : Japanese aircraft and artillery bombarded Chinese positions at Taungoo, Burma.

Luzon , Philippines : Japanese transport ship Kitano Maru struck a Japanese naval mine and sank in Lingayen Gulf, Philippine Islands

With freezers failing after a Japanese aerial attack on the previous day, US and Filipino troops attempted to transport the contents, 24,000 pounds of frozen carabao meat, from Corregidor Island to Bataan Peninsula in the Philippine Islands for immediate consumption. Japanese air attacks would prevent this transport, and the meat would soon spoil.

Dutch East Indies : RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) Hudson bombers sank Japanese collier Yubari Maru off Koepang, Timor, Dutch East Indies.

Yellow Sea : American submarine USS Gudgeon torpedoed and sank Japanese merchant ship Nissho Maru in the East China Sea 20 miles off southern Korea.

France : The deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz Concentration Camp began.

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