U.S. Navy dive bombers strike the Marshall Islands

1st February 1942: U.S. Navy’s first strike – the Japanese bases on the Marshall Islands hit by dive bombers

In several cases individual pilots, not satisfied with their dive, or observing previous hits on target selected pulled up and chose another target. As radical evasive action was required to escape the great volume of machine gun fire planes became separated and each pilot made his subsequent attacks individually. In the subsequent attacks 100 lb glide bombing and strafing were employed against smaller ships, large sea planes and shore installations. No enemy aircraft was encountered in the air.




Singapore struggles to cope with Air Raid victims

31st January 1941: Singapore struggles to cope with Air Raid victims as bombings cause huge casualties amongst Chinese and Malay civilians

I began to work in the resuscitation ward. This was filled with Malays, Chinese and Indians all brought in direct from the streets. Many were already dead, others were dying. To these hopeless cases we gave large doses of morphia and wrote the amount given on a strip of plaster which we stuck on their foreheads. Those with a chance of recovery we sent up to the wards when a bed could be found for them.




Hitler repeats his threat to kill the Jews

30th January 1942: Hitler repeats his threat to kill all the Jews of Europe in major public speech

He repeated this announcement of his intentions on 30th January 1942, in a speech I also know of: The war would not end, as the Jews imagined, by the extinction of European-Aryan peoples, but it would result in the annihilation of the Jews. This repetition of his words of 30th January 1939 was not unique. He would often remind his entourage of the importance of this dictum.




Winston Churchill wins vote of ‘Confidence’

29th January 1942: Winston Churchill wins vote of ‘Confidence’ in British Parliament

On behalf of His Majesty’s Government, I make no complaint of the Debate, I offer no apologies, I offer no excuses, I make no promises. In no way have I mitigated the sense of danger and impending misfortunes of a minor character and of a severe character which still hang over us, but at the same time I avow my confidence, never stronger than at this moment, that we shall bring this conflict to and end in a manner agreeable to the interests of our country, and in a manner agreeable to the future of the world.




RAF ace Stanford Tuck shot down over France

28th January 1942: RAF ace Stanford Tuck shot down over France during ‘Rhubarb raid’

RAF Fighter Command continued with a policy of taking the fight to the enemy with a series of ‘sweeps’ over northern Europe known as ‘Rhubarb raids’. This was designed to force the Luftwaffe to maintain a significant number of aircraft in the west, helping to relieve the pressure on Russia. The military value of attacking ground targets in France and the Low countries was limited and it proved to be costly in terms of aircraft and pilots. Many experienced pilots, veterans of the Battle of Britain, were lost in this way.




British face up to more bad war news

27th January 1942: British face up to more bad war news as Churchill faces vote of No Confidence

It seems we were not sure that Japan would attack. Personally, I think the people of Malaya could have done more. They have everything to lose. If they had got together an efficient Home Guard, they might have given the japs a little more trouble. Hong Kong fell sooner than expected. We have had bad luck over the loss of the Battleships, and it looks as if we shall lose Singapore, and many of the islands. But Mr Churchill doubted if they would attack Australia. Equipment is being sent there, and the boys can go back and fight for their homes.




RAF cover British retreat in the desert

26th January 1942: RAF cover British retreat in the desert after Rommel’s latest attack

A particularly successful attack was made on the 26th, when our fighters, in spite of severe sand-storms, continuously machine-gunned M.T. and tanks moving between Antelat, Saunnu, Msus and Charruba. At least 120 vehicles were destroyed or damaged and many enemy troops were killed or wounded. Our bombers had already helped to disorganise enemy movement towards Msus by dropping 40 tons of bombs in continuous attacks throughout the previous night.




U-boat versus merchantman in mid Atlantic gun duel

25th January 1942: U-boat versus merchantman in the Atlantic – Hardegen’s U-123 sinks British ship CULEBRA with deck gun

Deck gun ready and opened fire. The first shots hit the stern, then one each under the bridge and in the engine room. Steamer mans the gun and fires. The firing pin of our MG C30 is broken, so we fired with the deck gun at his gun. Several hits underneath, but he continues to fire until a direct hit struck the pivot. Gun crew out of action, the barrel can’t be moved anymore. We received 5 hits, which did not penetrate the pressure hull. Because they hit very low, I assume that they fell short, burst on the surface and only the splinters hit our hull. Some shots passed between conning tower and deck gun, one could hear them whistling past.




Psychological warfare in the Bataan jungle

24th January 1942: Psychological warfare in the Bataan jungle – Japanese attempts to demoralise the U.S. defence forces on the Philippines

Out of the night came a woman’s voice, sweet and persuasive. In sentimental words it announced the dedication of a programme to ‘the brave and gallant defenders of Bataan’. Songs followed, quavering through the forest. They were selected to arouse nostalgia to breaking-point in a boy facing death and longing for home. Home, Sweet Home, – Old Folks at Home – this was the kind of song the Japanese broadcast in the dead of night, alternating heartbreak with horror.




The Germans retreat amidst arctic storms

23rd January 1942: Eastern Front – the Germans retreat amidst arctic storms

The village was on a hill, and we were about half-way up when we received a warning from a despatch rider of the battalion in front, told to take defensive positions at once as Russian tanks in large numbers were coming our way. That was the bad news. The good news was that several of our tanks of our armoured division were also approaching, though from what direction was not very clear. One always got this panicky feeling when one was dog-tired.