7 - 13 February 1942

7 February 1942

Burma : The Japanese infiltrated across the Salween River in Burma cutting the defenders of Martaban River, 3/7th Gurkhas with a company of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry under command, from the 46th Indian Brigade headquarters base at Thaton. The Gurkha’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel H. A. Stevenson, knowing that his position was now untenable led a bayonet charge to clear the road block. The subsequent retreat from Martaban (over difficult terrain with no food) of more than 50 miles in two days was a terrible ordeal and a foretaste of things to come.

A little known British brigadier, Orde Charles Wingate, was summoned to India at General Archibald Wavell’s behest. Although initially he did little more than reconnoitre northern Burma, his ideas for a long range penetration force would ultimately lead to the establishment of the Chindit Brigade who, supplied by air, would later do so much damage in the Japanese rear areas.

Sumatra , Dutch East Indies : Japanese aircraft attacked Palembang, Sumatra, Dutch East Indies, destroying 34 RAF aircraft.

Java Sea : Japanese submarine I-55 torperdoed and sank Dutch passenger ship Van Cloon 30 miles north of Java; all 187 aboard survived. American anti submarine yacht USS Isabel and a PBY Catalina aircraft counterattacked in failure.

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy destroyers HMS Zulu and HMS Lively engaged ans sank Italian trawler Grongo and small cargo ship Aosta with gunfire in the Mediterranean Sea near Malta.

Libya : Advance of Afrikakorps was halted in British held Gazala Line

Leningrad , USSR : German Army Group North halted Soviet offensive near Leningrad.

Scotland , UK : Allied convoy PQ-11 departed Loch Ewe, Scotland, United Kingdom.

Atlantic Ocean : British cargo ship Empire Sun was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-751

East Prussia : Nazi Armaments and Munitions Minister Dr Fritz Todt was killed when his aircraft was crashed during take off after he had met Hitler in Rastenburg.

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8 February 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-108 torpedoed and sank British freighter Ocean Venture 50 kilometers east of Hampton Roads, Virginia, United States.

Mediterranean Sea : Italian cargo ship Duino struck a British mine and sank off Bari , 154 passangers and crew aboard died.

Singapore : The main Japanese offensive against Singapore began. 5.000 Japanese troops crossed Johore Straits in midnight in assault barges and landed on the island. Australian troops stationed on the northwestern coast of Singapore initially inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese landing, but confusion of battle caused them to retreat prematurely, providing Japanese a beachhead by nightfall.

Japanese submarine I-4 torpedoed and sank Singaporean merchant ship Ban Ho Guan off Java, Dutch East Indies.

Dutch East Indies : Japanese troops landed 50 miles southeast of Bandjarmasin, Dutch Borneo and began marching toward the Martapoera airfield.

The Japanese invasion fleet arrived off Makassar, Celebes, Dutch East Indies. American submarine USS S-37 attacked the fleet at 2036 hours, firing four torpedoes at the escorting destroyers, sinking Japanese destroyer Natsushio (10 killed, 229 survived).

Pacific Ocean : Japanese submarine I-69 shelled Sand Island, Midway Atoll, causing minor damage to the radio towers. US Marine Buffalo aircraft of VMF 221 squadron counterattacked and damaged I-69

Philippines : American troops attacked and wiped out a Japanese infiltration force at Quinauan Point, Bataan on the Philippine island of Luzon; 600 Japanese troops were killed while the US-Filipino forces suffered 500 casualties. Meanwhile, General Masaharu Homma called off the first offensive against Bataan and fell back to more defensible positions while waiting for reinforcements.

Philippines president Manuel Quezon asked Washington to declare Philippines independence so Philippine goverment can declare neurality and US and Japanese can withdraw. The request was rejected by US State Dept in Washington.

Germany : Hitler was much shaken by the death of Fritz Todt who had served him, and Germany, so well; whose Todt Organization utilized hundreds of thousands of slave labourers assigned another of his acolytes to Armaments Ministry. That week, Todt was succeeded by Hitler’s architect, the thirty-six-year-old Albert Speer. He too showed no scruples in exploiting the labour of Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Danes, Belgians, Poles and a dozen other captive peoples.

Demyansk , Kalinn Front , Soviet 3rd Shock Army, 4th Shock Army, and 11th Army under command of General Kurochkin linked up at Zaluch’e, Russia and encircled 90,000 German troops and 10,000 auxiliaries around Demyansk, Russia.

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9 February 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-654 attacked Allied convoy ON-60 in the Atlantic Ocean 450 miles east of Cape Race, Newfoundland just after 0000 hours, torpedoed and sank Free French corvette Alysse; 36 were killed, 34 survived. At 2020 hours, German submarine U-85 also attacked ON-60, torpedoed and sank British ship Empire Fusilier; 9 were killed, 38 survived. Norwegian cargo ship Tolosa was torpedoed and sunk off North Carolina by German submarine U-108

Mediterranean Sea : Italian cargo ship Salpi and German cargo ship Sullberg both struck mines and sank in a British minefield off Cape Ferrato , Italy. Meanwhile German aircraft damaged British cruiser HMS Cleopatra west of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. German aircraft damaged British destroyer HMS Farndale off Egypt.

South China Sea : American submarine USS Trout torpedoed and sank Japanese auxiliary gunboat Chuwa Maru and Japanerse cargo ship Kurama Maru 50 miles northeast of Taiwan.

New Britain , South West Pacific : Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops arrived at Gasmata airfield, renamed Surumi airfield by the Japanese, in southern New Britain to expand the existing grass runway built by the RAAF.

Dutch East Indies : Japanese Sasebo Combined Special Naval Landing Force troops landed at Makassar, Celebes, Dutch East Indies at dawn and captured the city. Most Dutch defenders fell back to the fortifications at Tjama. A small number of captured native troops were tied in groups of three and thrown into a river near Makassar to drown.

Delhi , India : Chang Hai Shek arrived to Delhi and urged Indian nationalists to resist the Japanese.

Singapore : During the day, Japanese troops captured Tengah airfield at Singapore while behind the front 10,000 additional troops arrived at the beachheads. At 2100 hours, the Japanese 4th Imperial Guard Regiment landed at Kranji in northern Singapore, but the attempt was driven off by Australian 27th Brigade’s heavy machine gun and mortar fire before the Australians fell back in anticipation of another landing.

Strasbourg , France : On February 9 the Nazi anthropologist and surgeon, Auguste Hirt, head of the Reich Anatomy Institute which had just been set up at the University of Strasbourg, wrote to Heinrich Himmler: ‘By procuring the skulls of the Jewish—Bolshevist Commissars, who represent the prototype of the repulsive but characteristic subhuman, one has the chance to obtain palpable scientific data. The best practical method is to turn over alive all such individuals. Following induced death of the Jew, the head, which should not be damaged, should be separated from the body and sent in a hermetically sealed tin can filled with preservative fluid’. Himmler gave Hirt the authority he needed. Henceforth, Hirt used the skulls of more than a hundred murdered Jews to pursue his medical—scientific work. More than a year later, Adolf Eichmann was informed that a total of 115 people had been killed for their skeletons: seventy-nine Jews, thirty Jewesses, four Russians from Central Asia and two Poles.

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10 February 1942

Burma : Japanese 15th Army troops crossed the Salween River in Burma.

Philippines : US forces continued the attempt to eliminate the 500 Japanese troops trapped in the “Big Pocket” at Bataan, Luzon, Philippine Islands. In Tokyo, Japan, the Imperial General Headquarters approved the transfer of the Japanese 4th Division from Shanghai, China to the Philippine Islands to reinforce Masaharu Homma’s forces, but it would take weeks for the troops to arrive due to logistical issues.

Singapore : Australian 22nd Brigade misunderstood an order and withdrew past the Jurong Road in northern Singapore, thus exposing the flanks of neighboring Indian troops, forcing the entire Allied line to shift further south. Meanwhile, the British Royal Air Force withdrew the small number of aircraft from Singapore to prevent Japanese capture. After sundown, Japanese troops captured the Bukit Timah heights which overlooked Singapore and hosted two reservoirs of fresh water.
While touring islands defendes ABDA commander General Archibald Wavell fell from a seawall and injures his back. He and his staff hastily were evacuated back to Java

Demyansk , Russia : Luftwaffe started an airlift and began flying supply missions to the 100,000 trapped German troops at Demyansk, Russia.

Kola Peninsula , Russia : Allied convoys PQ-9 and PQ-10 arrived at Murmansk, Russia together.

Atlantic Ocean : The United Kingdom transferred 34 Royal Navy anti-submarine vessels and their crews to the United States Navy for anti-submarine patrols in the western Atlantic Ocean. On the same day, German submarine U-564 torpedoed and sank Canadian tanker Victolite 400 kilometers east of Hampton Roads, Virginia, United States.

New York , USA : 18.000 ton impounded French liner set fire and capsized in the harbour. Axis sabotage is suspected.

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11 February 1942

Brest , France : Operation Cerberus , The Channel Dash of trapped German battleships started. German warships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Prinz Eugen, accompanied by 6 destroyers, departed Brest, France at 2330 hours and began their dash through the English Channel towards North Sea and Norway.

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-136 attacked Allied convoy SC-67 south of Iceland at 0133 hours, torpedoed and sinking both Norwegian cargo ship Heina (all 30 aboard survived) and Canadian corvette HMCS Spikenard (57 were killed, 8 survived). Norwegian cargo ship Blink was also torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-108 off Carolinas.

11.000 ton Canadian tanker Victorie was torpedoed and sunk off Bermuda by German submarine U-564

English Channel : Two German minesweepers M1 248 and R-42 struck mines and sank off Marche , France

Burma : Having crossed the Salween River at Kuzeik, Burma during the night the Japanese II/215th Infantry regiment engaged the raw and inexperienced 7/10th Baluch who were deployed in a semi-circle with their backs to the river without barbed wire or artillery support. After dark the Japanese launched their attack on the Indian positions and after four hours of bitter hand to hand fighting began to get the upper hand. By dawn organized resistance had effectively ceased. The heroic 7/10th Buluch had suffered 289 killed; with the few survivors making off in small parties.

Pacific Ocean : The US submarine USS Shark was reported lost, probably depth charged and sunk by the Japanese destroyer Yamakaze, on patrol east of Manado, Celebes, Sunda Islands, Dutch East Indies.

Dutch East Indies : US forces arrived at the Dutch islands of Curaçao, Bonaire, and Aruba in the Caribbean Sea.

New Britain , SW Pacific : Three Australian Hudson bombers attacked Surumi airfield near the village of Gasmata, New Britain; Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Satoshi Yoshino shot down the bombers flown by John Lerew and Graham Gibson. Lerew would parachute to safety and return to New Guinea on 21 Feb 1942. Transports Kinryu Maru and Kizui Maru were damaged by the Hudson bombers, killing several men.

French Indo China : The Japanese invasion fleet for Sumatra, Dutch East Indies departed Cam Ranh Bay, French Indo-China.

Singapore : Battle of Bukit Timah: Japanese 5th Division attacked British, Commonwealth, and Chinese (Dalforce irregulars) troops along the Choa Chu Kang Road at Bukit Timah Hill in Singapore. Supported by 50 tanks, Japanese troops halted the Allied counterattacks and took the hill. British and Indian forces pulled back to their final defence line. After the battle, to avenge their casualties, the Japanese troops massacred Chinese civilians living nearby villages. Heavy Japanese gunfire and Japanese air raids caused havy damage and civilian casaulties in Singapore city. Calls for surrender from Japanese to British Malayan Army commander General Percival were ignored for the moment though Percival’s own officers realise that it is opnly a matter of days. Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered Singapore to be defended to last man and bullet regardless of military and civilian casaulties , there will be no evacuation.

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12 February 1942

Operation Cerberus , English Channel : Two RAF Spitfire fighters on patrol unexpectedly spotted a large German fleet (German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen) sailing through the English Channel at 1042 hours. Due to Royal Navy submarine observing the Brest withdrawn early in the morning and British coastal radars were jammed , German task force entered English Channel without much resistance. British coastal guns at South Foreland, England, United Kingdom fired 33 rounds at the fleet, all of which missed. Three Royal Navy MTBs (Motor Torpedo Boats) atried to attack German ships but powerful German gunfire from battleships and escıorts drove them off. A total of 240 Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and RAF Coastal Command aircraft were launched to attack but due to heavy Luftwaffe fighter screen , which failed to destroy the fleet, while 37 aircraft were shot down in the process mostly by Luftwaffe fighters providing air cover for German battleships , killing 23 airmen. The only damage sustained by the Germans were by British mines; German batlecruiser Scharnhorst hit two mines and other battlecruiser Gneisenau hit one mine and struck a submerged wreck off Dover and in North Sea. Only German submarine chaser ship VP 1302 was bombed and sunk by RAF Coastal Command Beaufort bombers off Zeebruge , Holland. The whole incident was humiliating for British armed forces response and demoralising for the public.

But in the inner circles of Allied war policy there was immediate relief when the decrypted German Enigma messages from German Navy Hşigh Command (that still used three rotor Enigma which was penetrated by Bletchley Park) revealed that during the dash both Gneisenau and Scharnhorst had been badly damaged by mines laid with foreknowledge of the ships’ route to Norway. That means German heavy surface units would not sortie against Allied onvoys deep in Atlantic Ocean anymore. This foreknowledge had itself been gained from Enigma. ‘The damage they suffered will keep them out of mischief for at least six months any way,’ Churchill told Roosevelt, ‘during which both our Navies will receive important accessions of strength.’

Russia : Allied convoy QP-7 departed Murmansk, Russia.

China : The US Army Air Force activated the 10th Air Force for the China-Burma-India theater.

Dutch East Indies : Dutch Admiral Conrad Helfrich was named the commander of the ABDA naval forces in the Pacific.

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy submarine HMS Una torpedoed and sank Italian tanker Lucania in the Gulf of Taranto in southern Italy.

Malta : Royal Navy destroyer HMS Maori was bombed and sunk by Luftwaffe JU-87 dive bombers at Malta Harbour during an air raid. Only one man was killed as most of the crew were sleeping in shelters ashore, with only a token crew left aboard. Another destroyer HMS Decoy, moored nearby, was damaged by the explosion; 2 were killed.

Yugoslavia : Tito’s partisans captured German manned cargo ship Sjendenburg and sunk it in shallow water.

Philippines : The 200 Japanese troops trapped in a beachhead in southern Bataan, Luzon, Philippine Islands mounted what would be their final counterattack.

US tanker Mindannao was bombed and sunk by Japanese aircraft off Midoro , Philippines

Singapore : Before dawn , Royal Navy cruiser HMS Durban, destroyer HMS Stronghold, destroyer HMS Jupiter, transport Empire Star, and transport Gorgon departed Singapore with British Royal Navy personnel for Batavia, Java, Dutch East Indies; they would be attacked and damaged by Japanese aircraft en route. Meanwhile, on Singapore island, Japanese troops made conservative probing attacks in western Singapore as the Allies slowly withdrew into the city.

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13 February 1942

Atlantic Ocean : Axis submarines arrived in waters near Aruba , Caribbean.

Kiel , Germany : Damaged German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and havy cruiser Prinz Eugen arrived at Kiel harbour.

Burma : In Burma, the British Commander-in-Chief Lieutenant-General Hutton requested Archibald Wavell to appoint a corps commander to take charge of operations and a liaison team to work with the Chinese. He received no reply as Wavell was incapacitated after suffering a fall.

Dutch East Indies : Japanese submarine I-55 torpedoed and sank British ammunition ship Derrymore 80 miles northwest of Batavia, Java, Dutch East Indies at 2100 hours; 9 were killed, 236 survived. Among those rescued was Australian pilot and future prime minister John Gorton.

Japanese troops captured Bandjarmasin, the capital of Dutch Borneo, unopposed.

Mediterranean Sea : Italian torpedo boat Circe attacked British submarine HMS Tempest on the surface in the Gulf of Taranto in southern Italy at 0300 hours. HMS Tempest surfaced at 0900 hours after sustaining damage to the battery (which released poisonous chlorine gas) and was abandoned. 39 were killed in the attack; 24 survived and were taken prisoner. Circe attempted to tow HMS Tempest back to port, but the submarine sank en route.

Philippines : All Japanese troops at the Longoskawayan Point and Quinauan Point beachheads at Luzon, Philippine Islands were wiped out. Japanese dive bombers tasked to bomb Bataan peninsula , accidently attacked their own lines and causing casaulties among Japanese ground forces.

Singapore : Japanese troops pushed the 55th Brigade of the British 18th Division out of its position which controlled the last fresh water reservoir in Singapore for the British. A hastily formed militia battalion purged initial Japanese holdings in the suburbs of the city but the whole town is under heavy Japanese artillery and air attacks. At midnight General Arthur Percival’s senior staff members persuaded him to request permission to surrender next day. At 1830 hours, a large convoy of 47 small and medium sized ships departed Singapore with evacuees; a few of these ships would be attacked and 12 of them sunk by Japanese aircraft , shore artillery or Japanese naval vessels patrolling the waters off Singapore.

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