31 January 1942
Baltics : German SS Einsatzgruppe A reported a tally of 229,052 Jews killed in the Baltic States and in Byelorussia, while Estonia was reported to be free of Jews. Extermination activities had paused in Lithuania, it reported, but would soon be picked up again.
Leningrad : More than 200,000 Russians had died in Leningrad this month from starvation, disease and illness. Reports began to circulate of cannibalism amongst the besieged population.
Eastern Front : Soviet partisans were active in disrupting German movement; on January 31 a German report noted that in the Yelnya—Dorogobuzh area ‘the partisan movement is gaining the upper hand’. Not only were ambushes and attacks a daily occurrence, but a partisan field hospital was said to have been set up near Yelnya.
Atlantic Ocean : The German support ship Spreewald, disguised as British Royal Mail steamer Brittany, was carrying 200 British seamen captured from sunken merchantmen when German submarine U-333 found her. Believing she was indeed a British ship, Spreewald was torpedoed and sunk off Bordeaux, France. Only 24 crewmen and 58 POWs were rescued. After the war the U-boat captain, Peter Cremer, was exonerated by a Royal Navy inquiry because he identified the ship as the Royal Mail steamer, Brittany, which was precisely what the Spreewald’s captain had disguised his ship to resemble.
German submarine U-107 torpedoed and sank British tanker San Arcadio 425 miles southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, United States at 0445 hours; 41 were killed, 9 survived. To the south, German submarine U-109 torpedoed and sank British tanker Tacoma Star 200 kilometers east of Virginia, United States. At 2212 hours, German submarine U-82 attacked Allied troop convoy NA-2 in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean , torpedoed and sank Royal Navy destroyer HMS Belmont, killing all 138 aboard. At 2331 hours, U-105 attacked Allied convoy SL-98 500 miles southwest of Ireland, torpedoed and sank Royal Navy sloop HMS Culver with 2 torpedoes which detonated the magazine; 126 were killed, 12 survived.
Burma : Japanese 55th Infantry Division captured the town of Moulmein, Burma one day after the nearby airfield was captured; Burmese 2nd Infantry Brigade (Brigadier Roger Ekin) retreated across the Salween River during the night after having lost 617 men (mostly missing); Archibald Wavell however, unaware of the true situation, was appalled and angry to hear of the ease with which the Japanese had driven Burmese 2nd Infantry Brigade from the town. On the same day, Slim issued a report summarizing the air situation in Burma, noting the Allies had 35 aircraft in the area to defend against about 150 Japanese aircraft; while a few more Allied aircraft were en route for Burma, by mid-Mar 1942 there would be 400 operational Japanese aircraft in this theater of war.
Dutch East Indies : Japanese troops captured Batugong and Passo on Ambon, Dutch East Indies.
Indian Ocean : Japanese submarine I-64 sank Indian merchant ship Jalapalaka 63 miles southeast of Madras, India with the deck gun; 13 were killed, 54 survived.
Malaya : Indian sappers destroyed the main causeway linking Singapore and British Malaya at 0815 hours. Shortly after, Japanese troops captured Johor Bharu, Johor, Malaya. Entire iskland and city of Singapore has been isolated from land , air and sea and apanese 25th Army under command of General Yamashita is preparing to strike final blow to “City of Lion” Malayan Command defending the Singapore island is numerically superior than Japanese but of 85.000 military servicemen in the island only 35.000 are actual combat troops , rest are logistics , base area support and administrative personnel. Entire Johore Strait shore looking to north towards Malaya is naked and defenceless due to neglect and indecision of Malayan Commander General Percival and Singapore governor Sir Thomas Shelton. The heavy guns fortified in cobncentrate to defend Singapore naval base are all looking to wrong way towards the sea and Japanese have total air superiorty. Japanese air raids on Singapore are causing heavy damage , panic and demoralisation. General Archibald Wavell , new ABDA Commander in Far East recommends evacuation of Singapore but it is rejected by London
Hawaii , Pacific Ocean : American carrier USS Lexington was ordered to sail south to cover the return of carriers USS Enterprise and USS Yorktown from their Marshall and Gilbert Islands raid. To that end, she set sail for Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii with Task Force 11.