27: The British withdraw all troops back into Singapore.
28: Brazil breaks off relations with the Axis powers.
29: Rommel enters Benghazi, Libya in his drive east. For the next few months, the two sides will rest and rearm.
30: Hitler speaks at the Berlin Sportpalast and threatens the Jews of the world with annihilation; he also blames the failure of the offensive in Soviet Union on the weather.
31: The Japanese take the port of Moulamein, Burma; they now threaten Rangoon as well as Singapore.
: On the Eastern front, the Germans are in retreat at several points.
: The last organised Allied forces leave Malaya, ending the 54-day battle.
15: Singapore surrenders to Japanese forces; this is arguably the most devastating loss in British military history.
16: Being discussed in high American government circles are plans for the internment of Japanese-Americans living generally in the western US.
: The Japanese commit the Banka Island Massacre in which they open fire on Australian military nurses, killing 21.
17: Orders are given for Rangoon to be evacuated as Japanese forces approach.
11: The Japanese land on Mindanao, the southernmost island in the Philippines.
12: American troops begin to land in Nouméa, New Caledonia; it will become an important staging base for the eventual invasion of Guadalcanal.
13: RAF launches an air raid against Essen, Germany.
14: Japanese land troops in the Solomon Islands, underscoring Australia's dangerous situation, especially if, as it is soon made clear, an airfield is built on Guadalcanal.
: The Japanese are now threatening American forces around Manila Bay; the retreat to Corregidor begins.
17: U.S. General Douglas MacArthur arrives in Australia, after leaving his headquarters in the Philippines.
: The United Kingdom institutes rationing of electricity, coal, and gas; the clothing ration is decreased as well.
22: A fractured convoy reaches Malta, after heavy losses to the Luftwaffe and an Italian sea force. Continued heavy bombing attacks on the island with slight opposition from overtaxed RAF air forces.
25: RAF sends bomber raids against targets in France and Germany.
26: Jews in Berlin must now clearly identify their houses.
28: The RAF sends a raid against Lübeck, destroying over 30% of the city, and 80% of the medieval centre. Hitler is outraged.
: British commandos launch the raid on Saint-Nazaire. HMS Campbeltown, filled with explosives on a time-delay fuse, rams the dock gates and commandos destroy other parts of the naval service area. The port is completely destroyed and does not resume service till 1947; however, around two-thirds of the raiding forces are lost.
1: The Eastern Sea Frontier, desperately short on suitable escort vessels after the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, institutes an interim arrangement known as the "Bucket Brigaid," wherein vessels outside of protected harbors are placed in anchorages protected by netting after dark, and move only under whatever escort is available during the day. As word of this and similar measures reaches Doenitz, he does not wait to test their effectiveness, but instead shifts his U-boats to the area controlled by the Gulf Sea Frontier, where American anti-submarine measures are not as effective. As a result, in May more ships will be sunk in the Gulf, many of them off the Passes of the Mississippi, than off of the entire Eastern Seaboard.
: The Pacific War Council meets for the first time in Washington. Intended to allow the smaller powers involved in fighting the Japanese to have some input into US decisions, its purpose is soon outstripped by events, notably the collapse of the ABDA Command.
2: Over 24,000 sick and starving troops (American and Filipino) are now trapped on the Bataan Peninsula.
: Japanese make landings on New Guinea, most importantly at Hollandia.
3: Japanese forces begin an all-out assault on United States and Filipino troops in Bataan.
: Sustained Japanese air attacks on Mandalay.
4: Germans plan "Baedeker raids" on touristy or historic British sites, in revenge for the Lübeck bombing.
14: Winston Churchill, concerned that the situation in Malta will cause the Axis forces in North Africa to be better supplied than British forces, sends a telegram to Sir Stafford Cripps in Cairo, asking him to pressure General Auchinleck to take offensive action before this can occur.
: USS Roper becomes the first American ship to sink a U-boat.
17: French General Henri Giraud, who was captured in 1940, escapes from a castle prison at Konigstein by lowering himself down the castle wall and jumping on board a moving train, which takes him to the French border.
18: Doolittle Raid on Nagoya, Tokyo and Yokohama. Jimmy Doolittle's B-25's take off from the USS Hornet. The raids are a great boost of morale for Americans whose diet has been mostly bad news.
: The Eastern Sea Frontier, the United States Navy operational command in charge of the East Coast of the United States, somewhat belatedly forces a blackout along the East Coast. This deprives U-boat commanders of background illumination, but provides only a very little relief from U-boat attack; as the nights grow shorter more U-boat attacks are occurring in daylight hours.
20: General Dobbie, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of Malta, sends a message to Winston Churchill saying "it is obvious that the very worst may happen if we cannot replenish our vital needs, especially flour and ammunition, and that very soon...." Churchill concludes from this and other "disturbing news" that Dobbie is not capable enough for such an important job, and decides to replace him with Lord Gort.
: USS Wasp delivers 47 Spitfire Mk. V fighters of No. 603 Squadron RAF to Malta; the planes are destroyed, mostly on the ground, by intense Axis air raids before they can affect the course of battle.
23: Beginning of so-called Baedeker Raids by the Luftwaffe on English provincial towns like Exeter, Bath, Norwich, and York; attacks continue sporadically until June 6.
4: US Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher'sTask Force 17 makes the first carrier strike of the Battle of the Coral Sea, attacking Japanese naval targets near Tulagi. However, Japanese Rear Admiral Aritomo Goto's Covering Force has already withdrawn to support the Port Moresby operation, according to plan; so the attacking aircraft, mostly from USS Yorktown, find only a few targets and can do little damage.
:General Stilwell and his party of 114, mostly Americans, begin their trek to the Indian border and safety. To reach India, Stilwell will not only have to stay ahead of the Japanese, but beat the coming monsoon.
5: Heavy Japanese artillery attack on Corregidor.
: British forces begin "Operation Ironclad": the invasion of Madagascar to keep the Vichy French territory from falling to a possible Japanese invasion.
: The city of Exeter is bombed by the Luftwaffe, another "Baedeker Raid".
: In the Coral Sea, both Japanese and American carrier aircraft spend this day and the following one searching for each others ships, with no success, even though at one point the opposing carrier groups are separated by less than a hundred miles of ocean.
: General Stilwell abandons his trucks, which constantly become stuck and so are actually impeding progress rather than aiding it. He retains his Jeeps, which do better. Late in the day his party arrives at Indaw.
6: On Corregidor, Lt. General Jonathan M. Wainwright surrenders the last U.S. forces in the Philippines to Lt. General Masaharu Homma. About 12,000 are made prisoners. Homma will soon face criticism from his superiors over the amount of time it has taken him to reduce the Philippines, and be forced into retirement (1943).
: After a pep talk, General Stilwell and his party of 114 set out from Indaw on foot, with only 11 Jeeps to carry their supplies and any incapacitated, to reach the Indian border. He sends a last radio message which ends, "Catastrophe quite possible." The radio is then destroyed.
7: Vichy forces surrender Diego Suarez, the most important port in Madagascar, to British forces involved in Operation Ironclad. However, the Vichy forces are able to withdraw in good order.
: In the Coral Sea, Japanese search planes spot refueling ship USS Neosho and destroyer USS Sims, which have retired from Fletcher'sTask Force 17 into what should have been safer waters to refuel Sims. They are mistaken for an aircraft carrier and a cruiser. Japanese Admiral Takagi, believing he has at last found the location of Fletcher's main force, orders a full out attack by carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku and sinks both ships. This distraction helps prevent the Japanese from finding the real location of Fletcher's carriers. Meanwhile, Fletcher has a similar false alarm, the spotting of two cruisers and two destroyers being mistakenly encrypted as "two carriers and four cruisers." By chance, though, planes from USS Lexington and USS Yorktown stumble across light carrier Shoho while pursuing the false lead and sink her, leading to the first use in the American Navy of the signal, "Scratch one flattop." Admiral Inoue is so alarmed by the loss of Shoho he halts the Port Moresby invasion group north of the Louisiades until the American carriers can be found and destroyed.
: In Burma, General Stilwell must abandon his Jeeps. From here on all in the party will have to march. The fifty-nine-year-old General decides a cadence of one hundred five beats per minute will best match the disparate abilities of his party, and they march fifty minutes and rest ten each hour.
8: In the Coral Sea, each side finally locates the others main carrier groups, consisting of Japanese carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku, and American carriers Lexington and Yorktown. Several attacks follow. Only Zuikaku escapes unscathed; Shokaku has her flight deck bent, requiring two months' repairs; Lexington is sunk and Yorktown damaged. Fletcher retires; this action closes the Battle. While arguably a stalemate or even tactical victory for the Japanese, who have sunk the most tonnage and the only large carrier, the Battle of the Coral Sea is usually seen as a strategic victory for the United States, as Admiral Inoue cancels the Port Moresby operation, the first significant failure of a Japanese strategic operation in the Pacific Theatre. In addition, Yorktown will be repaired in time to make important contributions at Midway (although she will not survive), whereas neither the damaged Shokaku nor Zuikaku (which, although not directly attacked, has suffered unsustainable losses in aircraft), will be able to refit in time for Midway, giving the Japanese only four operable carriers available for that battle.
: The Germans take the Kerch peninsula in the eastern Crimea.
9: On the night of 8/9 May 1942, gunners of the Ceylon Garrison Artillery on Horsburgh Island in the Cocos Islands rebelled. Their mutiny was crushed and three of them were executed, the only British Commonwealth soldiers to be executed for mutiny during the Second World War.
:USS Wasp and HMS Eagle deliver a second contingent of Spitfires to Malta in Operation Bowery. A few days later, a grateful Churchill will signal Wasp "Who says a Wasp can't sting twice?" These aircraft, employed more aggressively than those previously delivered, turn the tide in the skies over Malta during the next few days, and the Axis is forced to abandon daylight bombing. This is a major turning point in the Siege, and thus in the North African Campaign, although the approaches to the island remain subject to deadly and accurate Axis air attack, preventing efficient re-supply of the island.
: In Burma, General Stilwell and his party begin crossing the Uyu River. Only four small rafts are available, and the crossing takes the better part of two days.
10: Unaware that the tide is turning even as he speaks, Kesselring informs Hitler that Malta has been neutralized.
: Churchill, growing ever more frustrated with General Auchinleck's inactivity, finally sends him a telegram with a clear order; attack in time to cover for the Harpoon/Vigorous convoys to Malta during the dark of the moon in early June. This places Auchinleck in the position of complying or resigning. Auchinleck does not immediately reply, leaving Churchill, CIGS, and the War Cabinet in a state of suspense.
12: German U-boat U-553, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Karl Thurmann, sinks British freighter Nicoya near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, signalling the opening of the Battle of St. Lawrence.
: Second Battle of Kharkov - In the eastern Ukraine, Soviet forces of Marshal Timoshenko's Southwest Theatre of Operations, including Gorodnyanski's 6th Army and Kharitonov's 9th Army, initiate a major offensive to capture Kharkov from the Germans. 9th Army is to attack first, with a primary objective of Krasnograd, and a secondary one of Poltava; 6th Army is to follow immediately. After 9th Army has captured Krasnograd, 6th Army is to swing north and link up with 28th Army and 57th Army, the latter two formations having meanwhile cut the railway between Belgorad and Kharkov.
13: General Stilwell and his party cross the Chindwin River. They are now almost certainly safe from the Japanese, but still dependent on their own supplies in a very remote area and racing to beat the monsoon.
14: In response to the Soviet offensive in the Kharkov area, Hitler orders elements of Richthofen'sFliegerkorps VIII north to do ground support missions. As a result, by the end of the day 14 May, the Germans have established a tentative but increasing air superiority over the Kharkov sector. In addition, on this day Hitler orders General Kleist, whose command is in positions opposite and to the south of the Soviets' left flank, to quickly prepare and launch a strong armoured counter-offensive.
: In Burma, General Stilwell and his party begin ascending the Naga Hills. They are met at Kawlum by a relief expedition headed by British colonial administrator Tim Sharpe. "Food, doctor, ponies, and everything," notes a grateful Stilwell in his diary.
17: In the salient north of Kharkov, Russian 28th and 57th Armies are having trouble making progress against General Paulus's(German) 6th Army. For once, Adolf Hitler has not hobbled his local commander with a strict "no retreat" order, and Paulus is free to conduct an efficient delaying action. In addition, Paulus' troops are largely up to strength and fully equipped as a result of preparations for the upcoming drive to Stalingrad. In the south salient, Kharitonov's 9th Army has routed the Romanian (3rd and/or 4th Army; accounts differ) troops in his path and captured Krasnograd, and is proceeding to Poltava; Gorodnyanski's 6th Army has made its planned turn to the north to link up with 28th and 57th Armies. 9th Army's impetus has stretched Kharitonov's armoured units out along a seventy-mile track, diluting their strength; and attempts to cover his left flank by driving the Germans back from it have been unsuccessful. The Russians take only a few prisoners along this flank, but Timoshenko is dismayed by the variety of units, especially armoured units, this handful of men represent (this is because Kleist is concentrating troops in this area in preparation for his counter-offensive). Timoshenko loses confidence and has his Political Officer Nikita Khrushchev ring up the Stavka and ask for permission to halt while he secures his left flank; Stavka refuses.
: It has been a week since Churchill sent his ultimatum to General Auchinleck, and he has not yet received a reply. He sends a terse follow-up: "It is necessary for me to have some account of your general intentions in light of our recent telegrams." Again there is no immediate reply.
18: The Red Army is in a major retreat at Kerch, after large numbers surrender.
: In the salient north of Kharkov, the Soviet offensive has bogged down. In the southern salient, Kleist has launched his counter-offensive. It is immediately successful and by the end of the first day the leading elements have reached the confluence of the Oksol and Donetz rivers, greatly narrowing the base of the salient. In the process the Germans traverse and disrupt so many lines of communication that Kharitonov's 9th Army begins to lose cohesion as a fighting force, and becomes useless as a screen to protect Gorodnyanski's 6th Army which, because of its northward progress, is badly disposed to repel the German attacks coming from the south.
: The Assam Rifles give General Stilwell's party a formal salute in honor of their arrival at Ukhrul, but can offer no motorized transport; the nearest road passable by trucks is still a day's march away, and there are no Jeeps yet in this part of India.
19: At Kharkov, Kleist's counter-offensive continues to prosper; and now Paulus launches a second counter-attack from the north, designed to link up with Kleist's and encircle as many Soviet troops as possible. The Stavka, gradually becoming aware of the extent of the danger, orders Gorodnyanski's 6th Army to halt their advance. But by now Timoshenko is planning to extricate what forces he can before the two German spearheads link up.
: General Stilwell and his party at last reach the truck roadhead at Litan; by this time the monsoon rains have started.
: General Auchinleck at last replies to Churchill's somewhat urgent telegram of the 10th, saying he will have an attack ready by the sailing of the Harpoon/Vigorous convoys for Malta.
20: The Japanese conquest of Burma is complete; it is called a "military catastrophe". Coincidentally, on this same day General Stilwell arrives in Imphal and dismisses his evacuation party. All 114 have arrived, although some have to be hospitalized due to exhaustion; one of whom, Major Frank Merrill, later commander of Merrill's Marauders, is diagnosed to have had a mild heart attack en route.
: At Kharkov, as Kleist's and Paulus' forward elements draw ever closer together, Timoshenko sends his subordinate General Kostenko into the salient to organize a fighting retreat, or, failing that, maximize what can be saved.
: Molotov arrives in London, and high-level discussions begin the next day.
21: Invasion of Malta postponed indefinitely.
: In discussions with Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden, Molotov continues to press Soviet demands for territorial acquisitions made during the run-up to war, including the Baltic states, Eastern Poland, and Bessarabia. Churchill cannot or will not agree to these demands, and the talks become deadlocked.
22: Mexico declares war on the Axis.
23: Kleist's and Paulus' tanks meet up at Balakleya, southeast of Kharkov, encircling most of the Soviets' 6th and 9th Armies.
: At the high-level Soviet/United Kingdom talks in London, Anthony Eden suggests abandoning attempts to reach territorial understandings, and instead conclude a twenty-years' alliance. Molotov, whose diplomatic position is weakening rapidly as the Soviet military situation deteriorates at Kerch and Kharkov, expresses interest.
25: In preparation for the next battle, the Japanese naval strategists send diversionary forces to the Aleutians.
26: The Anglo-Soviet Treaty: their foreign secretaries agree that no peace will be signed by one without the approval of the other. (An important treaty since Himmler and others will attempt to separate the two nations at the end of the war.)
: Rommel begins a Spring offensive at the Gazala line (west of Tobruk). It opens with "Rommel's Moonlight Ride," a dramatic mechanized dash around 1st Free French Brigade Group positions at Bir Hakeim on the British left (desertward) flank, conducted by moonlight during the night of 26/27 May. In the process Rommel disperses 3rd Indian Motorized Brigade, some six hundred of whom are taken prisoner and then released in the desert, and who will make their way to Bir Hakeim. The offensive lasts well into June and ends with a total victory for Rommel.
27: Reinhard Heydrich, head of Reich Security, is fatally hurt in Prague during Operation Anthropoid by Czechoslovak soldiers; he will die on June 4 from his wounds.
: British use American Sherman tanks in attempts to stop Rommel's attacks on the Gazala line.
: The USS Yorktown, damaged at the Coral Sea, limps into Pearl Harbor; it is ordered to get repaired and ready as fast as possible for the impending battle.
In Occupied Belgium, wearing of the "Yellow badge" becomes compulsory for Jews.
29: The Jews in France are ordered to wear the yellow Star of David.
: Japanese forces have large successes south of Shanghai.
: Rommel turns his troops to Bir Hachim on the south edge of the Gazala line; once it is taken, he can move north and destroy the Allied emplacements in the line.
31: Huge German successes around Kharkov, with envelopment of several Red Army armies.
: Japanese midget subs enter Sydney harbour and sink one support ship; fears of invasion grow.
:So effective has been the use of the Spitfires delivered to Malta in Operation Bowery earlier in the month, that Kesselring has only eighty-three serviceable aircraft left, as opposed to more than four hundred at the peak of Axis air strength earlier in the spring.
: Rommel's offensive has stalled out well short of Tobruk, due to resistance by British 1st Armoured Division and 7th Armoured Division, partially equipped with the new American Sherman tanks. He is also confronted by a long supply line, which must reach around and is under constant threat from the 1st Free French Brigade Group position at Bir Hakeim. He orders two lanes cut through the British minefields which run from Gazala to Bir Hakeim, on either side of fortified positions held by the 150th Brigade of British 50th Infantry Division. He then gathers the bulk of his forces near the outlets of these two lanes, completing the process on the 31st. These tactics serve the triple purpose of shortening his supply line, encircling 150th Brigade, and allowing him to use the British minefields as part of his defences. The area of concentration, promptly nicknamed "the Cauldron" by British Command, will be the focus of the battle for the next few days.
The state of the allies and axis powers in June 1942.
1: First reports in the West that gas is being used to kill the Jews sent to "the East".
: Mexico declares war on Germany, Italy, and Japan.
: To further secure his supply lines, Rommel launches an attack on 150th Brigade of British 50th Infantry Division, whose position he has surrounded. Since he is attacking from the east against a position designed to defend against attacks from the west, and since there is scant hope of relief, there is little 150th Brigade can do and they are soon overwhelmed.
2: Further heavy bombing of industrial sites in Germany, centred mainly on Essen.
3: The British coal industry is nationalised.
: Japan launches air raids against Alaska in the Battle of Dutch Harbor, beginning the Aleutian Islands Campaign
: The Battle of Midway opens with ineffective attacks by land-based American B-17s on the approaching Japanese fleet. Admiral Nagumo, in charge of the Japanese carrier force (Hiryu, Soryu, Akagi, and Kaga) is unable to locate any American aircraft carriers and decides to attack Midway's land-based air defences the first thing the next morning, which in any event is one of his planned tasks.
4: In the Battle of Midway, the day opens with Admiral Nagumo's attack on the air defences of the island. A good deal of damage is done and many aircraft destroyed on both sides, but in the end the island's airbase is still functional. Nagumo plans a second attack on the island, and begins refueling and rearming his planes. Meanwhile, attacks are launched from all three American aircraft carriers in the area. Planes from Hornet, Yorktown, and Enterprise all find the targets, although most of the planes from Hornet follow an incorrect heading and miss this attack. Torpedo Squadron 8 from Hornet breaks and follows the correct heading. The Devastators of "Torp 8" are all shot down without doing any damage; there is only one survivor, George H. Gay, Jr. of Waco, Texas, who watches the battle unfold from the water. The torpedo attack fails, but draws the Japanese Combat Air Patrol down to low altitude, and they are unable to effectively repel the dive bombers from Yorktown and Enterprise when they arrive. The bombs find the Japanese flight decks crowded with fueling lines and explosive ordnance, and Akagi,Kaga, and Soryu are all soon reduced to blazing hulks, Akagi by only one bomb dropped by Lt. Commander Richard Halsey Best; only Hiryu escapes with no hits. Admiral Nagumo shifts his flag from Akagi to another ship, cruiser Nagara, and orders attacks on the American carriers, one by group of Aichi D3A dive bombers and a second by Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers. The Japanese planes find Yorktown (thinking Yorktown already sunk, the second attack group assume it must be Enterprise) and damage it so badly that Yorktown must be abandoned. Admiral Fetcher shifts his flag to cruiser Astoria and cedes operational command to Admiral Spruance. The attacks on Yorktown give away Hiryu's continued operations, though, and it is promptly attacked and will sink the next day, Admiral Yamaguchi choosing to go down with it. Ironically, Hiryu and the other three destroyed Japanese carriers had participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
:Reinhard Heydrich dies in Prague from medical complications that had arisen from injuries suffered from an attempted assassination by Czechoslovak patriots two weeks earlier (Operation Anthropoid)
5: At Gazala, British forces of the Eighth Army commanded by General Ritchie launch a major counter-attack against Rommel's forces in the Cauldron. The attack fails, partly because Rommel has already recovered his critical logistics situation and has established an excellent defensive position, but also in large part due to German anti-tank tactics; 32nd Army Tank Brigade, for example, loses 50 of 70 tanks. By early afternoon Rommel is clearly in control of the situation and attacks the British position known as "Knightsbridge" with the Ariete and 21st Panzer divisions. Several British tactical headquarters positions are overrun and command and control of the British forces becomes problematic; as a result, several brigades are stranded in the Cauldron when the British retirement begins. In addition, the British suffer further heavy tank losses.
: United States declares war on Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania.
8: Malta receives a squadron of Spitfires.
: A Japanese submarine fires several shells into a residential area in Sydney but with little effect.
9: Nazis burn the Czech village of Lidice as reprisal for the killing of Reinhard Heydrich. All male adults and children are killed, and all females are taken off to concentration camps.
: At Bir Hakeim, Rommel renews his attacks on the 1st Free French Brigade's "box." Although the Free French continue to hold out, their perimeter, never the largest, is dangerously reduced in size, and their position becomes untenable. General Ritchie orders 1st Free French Brigade to withdraw the following day.
10: Rommel pushes the Free French forces out of Bir Hakeim, a fortress south-west of Tobruk. Althoug the 1st Free French brigade is largely surrounded, their commander, General Koenig, is able to find and fight his way through gaps in Rommel's widely dispersed forces.
11: Two convoys set out for Malta, one from Gibraltar (code named 'Harpoon') and the other from Alexandria (code named 'Vigorous'), with desperately needed supplies of food, fuel, and ammunition. The hope is that the Axis will concentrate their attacks on whichever convoy they find first, allowing the other one to get through.
12: Heavy fighting in Sevastopol with serious losses of life on both sides.
: At Gazala, the British are forced out of the defensive position known as 'Knightsbridge;' it is only approximately fifteen miles from the Tobruk perimeter (some sources give a date of 13 June for this; the withdrawal may have been in operation on both calendar days).
13: The United States opens its Office of War Information, a centre for production of propaganda.
: 'Black Saturday' for the 8th Army at the Battle of Gazala; during the course of the day Rommel does great damage to the British armour. At the end of the day not only have unsustainably large amounts of British armour been destroyed, but both 50th Division and 1st South African Division, who have largely retained their forward positions along the Gazala Line, are threatened with envelopment. The position of 50th Division is especially grave since Rommel's armour now ranges freely between them and safety.
14: At the Gazala Line, the British position has become untenable, and General Auchinleck authorizes General Ritchie to make a concerted withdrawal from forward positions along the line. 1st South African Division is able to withdraw along the coastal road, but the road cannot accommodate all the troops at once, and this route is in any event is under threat of being cut by Rommel's forces; so troops including 50th Division must first breakout to the southwest, through the area occupied by Italian X Corps, and then turn east to rejoin 8th Army. This somewhat daring operation is concluded successfully. The RAF forces available, although outnumbered, make a valiant effort to cover the retreat. Churchill sends Auchinleck a telegram beginning, 'To what position does Ritchie want to withdraw the Gazala troops? Presume there is no question in any case of giving up Tobruk.'
: The convoy 'Vigorous', en route to Malta, sights a large Italian naval sqaudron headed toward it. 'Harpoon' comes under attack for the first time; 'Vigorous' has been under air attack almost since leaving port.
15: General Auchinleck sends Churchill a reply to the latter's telegram of the 14th, saying in part, "...I have no intention whatever of giving up Tobruk."
16: Two convoys moving toward Malta suffer heavy losses; German air forces continue to bomb the island itself. Operation Harpoon arrives in Malta, but only two of the six supply ships survive; one of them has lost part of its cargo due to mine damage. The sinking of the tanker Kentucky means that there will be precious little aviation fuel added to the dwindling RAF stocks on Malta. Late in the day, Operation Vigorous is cancelled; the convoy diverts back to Alexandria.
: Churchill, about to leave for America, takes the unusual step of sending a letter to HRM George VI, advising him to make Anthony Eden Prime Minister should Churchill not survive the journey.
17: Tobruk is now surrounded.
18: Manhattan Project is started, the beginning of a scientific approach to nuclear weapons.
: Winston Churchill arrives in Washington for meetings with Roosevelt.
: The siege of Tobruk intensifies; some defending forces are pulled back to Egypt.
21: Afrika Korps recaptures Tobruk, with 35,000 men captured; the road to Egypt is now open as the British retreat deep into Egypt. Tobruk's loss is a grievous blow to British morale. German land forces have been assisted by Luftwaffe attacks.
27: Convoy PQ17 sets sail from Iceland; only 11 of 37 ships will survive.
28: Case Blue, the German plan to capture Stalingrad and the Soviet Union oil fields in the Caucasus, begins. Generally, forces are shifted to the South.
: Mersa Matruh, Egypt, about 140 miles from Alexandria, falls to Rommel.
30: United States deploys II Corps to the European Theater.
19: Battle of the Atlantic: German Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz orders the last U-boats to withdraw from their United States Atlantic coast positions in response to an increasingly effective American convoy system.
20: After landing in the Buna-Gona area, the Japanese in New Guinea move across the Owen Stanley mountain range aiming at Port Moresby in the south-eastern part of the island, close to Australia; a small Australian force begins rearguard action on the Kokoda Track.
22: The systematic deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto begins. Treblinka, "a model" concentration camp, is opened in Poland.
24: Germans take Rostov-on-the-Don; the Red Army is in a general retreat along the Don River.
26: A second attack by the British under Auchinleck fails against Rommel. First Battle of El Alamein may be said to be over.
9: Numerous riots in favour of independence in India; Mahatma Gandhi is arrested.
10: Rommel begins an attack around El Alamein, but by September he is back to his original lines.
11: The HMS Eagle, a carrier on convoy duty to Malta, is torpedoed and sinks with heavy loss of life.
12: At a conference in Moscow, Churchill informs Stalin that there will not be a "second front" in 1942.
: American forces establish bases in the New Hebrides islands.
: Fighting increases as the Germans approach Stalingrad.
13: General Bernard Montgomery appointed commander of British Eighth Army in North Africa; Churchill is anxious to see more offensive action on the part of the British.
: Disastrous end to the Malta convoy, but one tanker and four merchant ships get through.
27: Marshal Georgii Zhukov is appointed to the command of the Stalingrad defence; the Luftwaffe is now delivering heavy strikes on the city.
28: Incendiary bombs dropped by a Japanese seaplane causes a forest fire in Oregon.
30: The Battle of Alam Halfa, Egypt, a few miles south of El Alamein begins. This will be Rommel's last attempt to break through the British lines; RAF air superiority plays a large role.
:Luxembourg is formally annexed to the German Reich.
5: Australian and U.S. forces defeat Japanese forces at Milne Bay, Papua, the first outright defeat for Japanese land forces in the Pacific War. Their evacuation and the failure to establish an airbase eases the threat to Australia.
6: The Black Sea port of Novorossiysk is taken by the Germans.
9: A Japanese plane drops more incendiaries on Oregon, but with little effect.
10: RAF blasts Düsseldorf with large incendiary bombing.
12: RMS Laconia, carrying civilians, Allied soldiers and Italian POWs, is torpedoed off the coast of West Africa and sinks.
23: General Rommel leaves North Africa for medical treatment in Germany.
23-27: In the Third Battle of Matanikau River, Guadalcanal, Japanese naval bombardment and landing forces nearly destroy Henderson field in an attempt to take it, but the land forces are soon driven back.
12: The Red Army methods of ferrying troops across the Volga and into Stalingrad directly seems to be a success, as the German advance comes to a halt.
: The US 100th Infantry Battalion, a force of over 1,400 predominantly Nisei became active.
13: Heavy bombardment of Henderson Field, Guadalcanal by the Japanese navy.
18: Hitler issues Commando Order, ordering all captured commandos to be executed immediately.
: Admiral William "Bull" Halsey is given command of the South Pacific naval forces.
21: Heavy RAF activity over El Alamein.
22: Conscription age in Britain reduced to 18.
: American General Mark Clark secretly lands in Algeria to confer with Vichy officials and Resistance groups in preparation for impending Allied invasion.
23: Second Battle of El Alamein begins with massive Allied bombardment of German positions. Then Australian forces, mainly, begin advance while offshore British naval forces support the right flank (n.b. the ongoing concurrent victories being prepared at Guadalcanal and Stalingrad).
24: US Navy Task Force 34, consisting of aircraft carriers, a variety of support ships, including Troop Ships and other vessels, set sail from Hampton Roads, Virginia with Patton's forces for Operation Torch, the landing in North Africa. The other two task forces of Operation Torch, the first American-led force to fight in the European and African theatres of war, depart Britain for Morocco.
: Crisis at El Alamein: British tanks survive German 88mm fire; Montgomery orders the advance to continue despite losses.
25: Rommel hurriedly returns from his sickbed in Germany to take charge of the African battle. (His replacement, General Stumme, had died of a heart attack).
: The Japanese continue their attacks on the Marines west of Henderson field.
29: The Japanese continue to send troops as reinforcements into Guadalcanal.
: In the United Kingdom, leading clergymen and political figures hold a public meeting to register outrage over Nazi Germany's persecution of Jews.
: United States 1st Armored Division moves from Northern Ireland to England.
31: The British make a critical breakthrough with tanks west of El Alamein; Rommel's mine fields fail to stop the Allied armour.
8: Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of Vichy-controlled Morocco and Algeria, begins; French resistance coup in Algiers, consisting of about 400 fighters neutralise the Vichyist XIXth Army Corps and the Vichyist generals (Juin, Darlan, etc.), contributing significantly to the immediate success of the operation.
: The United States Combat Command "B" of the 1st Armored Division lands east and west of Oran as part of Operation Torch.
10: In violation of a 1940 armistice, Germany invades Vichy France; they are responding to the fact that French Admiral François Darlan has signed an armistice with the Allies in North Africa.
: Oran, Algeria falls to US troops; 17 French ships are sunk at Oran, causing a rift between the French and the Allies. There are more Allied landings near the Tunisian border.
: Montgomery begins a major British offensive beginning at Sollum on the Libya/Egypt border. The British reach Bardia on the 11th, Tobruk on the 12th, and Benghazi on the 18th.
: Lieutenant General Montgomery is knighted and made a full General.
: Churchill speaks: "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
11: Convoys reach Malta from Alexandria; an official announcement proclaims that the island is "relieved of its siege".
12: Battle of Guadalcanal - A climactic naval battle near Guadalcanal starts between Japanese and American naval forces. Notably, the USS Juneau is sunk with much of its crew, including the five Sullivan brothers.
: The Red Army makes an attempt to relieve Stalingrad at Kotelnikov.
20: The Allies take Benghazi, Libya; the Afrika Corps continues the retreat westward.
21: The Red Army attempt at encirclement of Stalingrad continues with obvious success.
: American army moves to shove Japanese off the extreme western end of Guadalcanal.
22: Battle of Stalingrad: The situation for the German attackers of Stalingrad seems desperate during the Soviet counter-attack; General Friedrich Paulus sends Adolf Hitler a telegram saying that the German 6th Army is surrounded.
: Red Army troops complete the encirclement of the Germans at Kalach, west of Stalingrad.
23: "Der Kessel"-- the Cauldron, a description of the heavy fighting at Stalingrad; Hitler orders General Paulus not to retreat, at any cost.
25: The encirclement of Stalingrad continues to stabilise. Hitler reiterates his demand of Paulus not to surrender.
: Operation Harling: a team of British SOE agents, together with over 200 Greek guerrillas from both ELAS and EDES groups, blow up the Gorgopotamos railway bridge, in one of the war's biggest sabotage acts.
26: Hostilities erupt between the American and Australian soldiers in Brisbane. Fighting breaks out which results in multiple fatalities, it is dubbed the Battle of Brisbane
27: At Toulon, the French navy scuttles its ships (most notably the Dunkerque and Strasbourg) and submarines to keep them out of German hands; the French have declined another option – to join the Allied fleets in North African waters.
29: The Allied offensive in Tunisia meets with only minimum success.
30: The naval Battle of Tassafaronga (off Guadalcanal); this is a night action in which Japanese naval forces sink one American cruiser and damage three others.
The state of the allies and axis powers in December 1942, showing allied progress in Northern Africa.
1: Gasoline rationing begins in the United States.
: The US cruiser Northampton is sunk as Japanese destroyers attempt to come down "the Slot" to Guadalcanal.
2: Heavy fighting in Tunisia, as German forces are pushed into the final North African corner.
: Below the bleachers of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago, a team led by Enrico Fermi initiate the first nuclear chain reaction. A coded message, "The Italian navigator has landed in the new world" is sent to President Roosevelt.
7: On the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, the USS New Jersey, America's largest battleship is launched (commissioned five months later).
: British commandos conduct Operation Frankton a raid on shipping in Bordeaux harbour.
9: The Marines turn over Guadalcanal to the American army.
12: Rommel abandons El Agheila and retreats to Tripoli; the final stand will be at the Mareth line in southern Tunisia.
: In a large operation named "Winter Storm", the Germans attempt to break through to forces trapped in Stalingrad.
13: The Luftwaffe flies in meagre supplies to the beleaguered Stalingrad troops.
15: American troops finally push Japanese out of Buna, New Guinea.
: Allies clash with Japanese troops in the Battle of the Gifu
22: The Germans begin a retreat from the Caucasus.
: The battle for "Longstop Hill" begins; a key position outside Tunis, the Germans eventually take it and hold it until April.
: The remainder of the United States 1st Armored Division arrived at North Africa for Operation Husky.
24: French Admiral Darlan, the former Vichy leader who had switched over to the Allies following the Torch landings, is assassinated in Algiers.
: The United States reorganizes its Combat Arms Regiments with their Organic Battalions into Separate Groups and Battalions
31: In the Battle of the Barents Sea, the British win a strategic victory, leading Hitler to largely abandon the use of surface raiders in favor of U boats.
: As the year comes to an end, things look bright for the Allies: Rommel is trapped in Tunisia, the Germans are encircled at Stalingrad, and the Japanese appear ready to abandon Guadalcanal.