Timeline of World War II (1942)
World War II
Declarations of war
Battle of Europe air operations
United Kingdom home front
Surrender of the Axis armies
World War II
This is a
timeline of events that occurred during
World War II
1: Twenty-six Allied countries signed the
Declaration by United Nations
2: Manila is captured by Japanese forces. They also take
Cavite naval base
, and the American and Filipino troops continue the retreat into Bataan.
5: The beginning of a major Red Army offensive under
6: The British advance continues to
, on the western edge of Libya.
In his State of the Union speech, President Roosevelt promises more aid to Britain, including planes and troops.
7: The Soviet Winter counter-offensive comes to a halt, after having pushed the exhausted and freezing German Army back 62–155 mi from Moscow. 'Operation Barbarossa' had failed.
Siege of the
Heavy air attacks on Malta; it is estimated that the bomb tonnage dropped on the island is twice that dropped on London.
8: Japanese troops penetrated the outer lines of defense at
9: Japanese advances in Borneo met with little opposition.
10: Japan declares war on the Netherlands.
11: Japanese troops capture Kuala Lumpur, Malaya.
Japan invades the
Dutch East Indies
13: The Red Army takes Kirov and Medya, as its counter-offensive continues.
The German U-boat offensive comes closer to the US shores starting the
Second Happy Time
15: German authorities begin to deport Jews from the Lodz ghettos to the Chelmno Concentration Camp.
19: Japanese forces take large numbers of British troops prisoner, north of Singapore.
in Berlin decide that the "
" is relocation, and later extermination.
Japanese bomb Singapore as their troops approach the city.
21: Rommel's Afrika Korps begins a surprise counter-offensive at El Agheila; his troops, with new reinforcements and tanks, capture
, then push north to
: At the
Fareynikte Partizaner Organizatsye
organisation is established, including
Battle of Rabaul
, on New Britain begins.
24: American troops land in Samoa, as part of a strategy to stop the Japanese advance in the Pacific.
declares war on the United States and United Kingdom.
Japanese troops invade the
26: The first American forces arrive in Europe landing in
27: The British withdraw all troops back into Singapore.
28: Brazil breaks off relations with the Axis powers.
29: Rommel's Afrika Korps recaptures Benghazi, Libya in his drive east. For the next few months, the two sides will rest and rearm.
30: Hitler speaks at the
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
1: Vidkun Quisling becomes the Nazi-aligned Minister-President of Norway
Rommel's forces reach
, Libya, near the border with Egypt; during a "Winter lull" he will remain there.
United States Navy
) islands as well as
United States automobile industry stops production and switches over the coming 12 months to producing war materials
Joseph ("Vinegar Joe") Stilwell
is named Chief of Staff to
and Commander-in-Chief of the Allied forces in China.
3: Japanese air power conducts airstrikes against
, especially the naval base at
, New Guinea is bombed by the Japanese, increasing the threat to Australia posed by Japan.
7: Americans continue their defence of Bataan against General Homma's troops.
9: British troops are now in full retreat into Singapore for a final defence.
Top United States military leaders hold their first formal meeting to discuss American military strategy in the war.
10: The cruise liner
catches fire and capsizes in New York harbour. Although the cause is probably a welder's torch, various conspiracies are imagined in the media.
British soldiers captured by the Japanese after the
Fall of Singapore
on 15 February 1942
11: The "
" – The German battleships
, with the heavy cruiser
, rush out of
to northern ports, including Wilhelmshaven, Germany; the British naval units fail to sink any of them.
is torpedoed by the Japanese submarine
480 miles southwest of
battle for Bataan
Singapore surrendered 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.
19: Japanese aircraft attack
, in Australia's
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Executive Order 9066
United States military
to define areas as exclusionary zones. These zones affect the
on the West Coast, and Germans and Italians primarily on the East Coast.
A military conscription law is passed in Canada.
20: Japanese troops cross the important
by a combined use of paratroops and amphibious troops.
21: The American Air Corps is now firmly established at bases in the UK.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
as American defence of the nation collapses.
internment of Japanese-American citizens
in the Western United States begins as fears of invasion increase.
registers for war service.
, the only survivor of the
Banka Island Massacre
, is captured and imprisoned by the Japanese.
Battle of the Java Sea
– Under a Dutch Rear Admiral Karl Doorman, the combined forces lose 2 light cruisers and 3 destroyers.
is attacked by nine Japanese
in the Java Sea, damaged and later scuttled to prevent capture.
28: Japanese land forces invade Java.
1: A Red Army offensive in the
begins; in the north, the siege of Leningrad continues.
3: Japanese aircraft make a surprising
on the airfield and harbour at
intended as a
and disruption of repair and salvage operations.
5: The Japanese capture
, the capital of the
Dutch East Indies
New conscription laws in the United Kingdom include women and men up to the age of 45.
6: Malta receives more fighters for its on-going defence.
8: The Japanese land at
, on Huon Bay, New Guinea, beginning their move toward Port Moresby, New Guinea, and then Australia.
9: Japanese troops entered
, Burma, which was abandoned by the British two days earlier.
It appears that the Japanese are in control of Java, Burma, and New Guinea.
Secretary of War
reorganizes the General Headquarters (GHQ),
United States Army
into three major commands –
Army Ground Forces
Army Air Forces
Services of Supply
, the latter of which is later redesignated
Army Service Forces
. At the same time, the four Defense commands and all Theaters Of Operations (TOPNS) are subordinated to the War Department General Staff.
11: The Japanese land on Mindanao, the southernmost island in the Philippines.
12: American troops begin to land in
; 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
, 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
; the retreat to
17: U.S. General
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.
begins, a program to attack Germany by means of free-flying balloons.
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
, destroying over 30% of the city, and 80% of the medieval centre. Hitler is outraged.
British commandos launch
, a raid on the port at Saint Nazaire, France.
, 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.
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
, 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.
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
2: Over 24,000 sick and starving troops (American and Filipino) are now trapped on the
Japanese make landings on New Guinea, most importantly at
3: Japanese forces begin an all-out assault on United States and
troops in Bataan.
Sustained Japanese air attacks on
4: Germans plan
on touristy or historic British sites, in revenge for the Lübeck bombing.
5: On Bataan, the Japanese overwhelm Mt. Samat, a strong point on Allied defensive line.
are sunk southwest of the island.
Directive No. 41
, outlining his plans for the coming summer offensive in Russia. The main offensive is directed to seize the Russian oil fields in the
; a secondary thrust is to capture
and protect the flank of the main advance.
boming raid on Cologne.
6: Japanese naval forces put troops ashore on
(some sources give a date of 8 April for these landings).
8: Heavy RAF bombing of Hamburg.
American forces are strained for one last offensive on Bataan.
With the withdrawal of
in Malta comes to a close.
9: The Japanese Navy launches an air raid on
in Ceylon; Royal Navy
Royal Australian Navy
are sunk off the country's east coast.
Bataan falls to the Japanese. The "
Bataan Death March
" begins, as the captives are taken off to detention camps in the north. Corregidor, in the middle of Manila Bay, remains a final point of resistance.
10: Japanese land on
, a large middle island of the Philippines.
12: Japanese forces capture Migyaungye in
an Austrian soldier of the Wehrmacht is put to death, after witnessing the
and saving Jews.
, 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
to take offensive action before this can occur.
becomes the first American ship to sink a
15: Malta is awarded the
King George VI
for "heroism and devotion".
Soldiers of the
I Burma Corps
begin to destroy the infrastructure of the
Yenangyaung oil fields
to prevent the advancing Japanese from capturing them intact.
17: French General
, who was captured in 1940, escapes from a castle prison at Königstein by lowering himself down the castle wall and jumping on board a moving train, which takes him to the French border.
's B-25s take off from
. The raids are a great boost of morale for Americans whose diet has been mostly bad news.
Eastern Sea Frontier
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.
, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of
, sends a message to
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
Spitfire Mk. V
No. 603 Squadron RAF
; 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
by the Luftwaffe on English provincial towns like Exeter, Bath, Norwich, and York; attacks continue sporadically until June 6.
24: Heavy bombing of
, Germany by RAF.
26: Hitler assumes a kind of supreme authority over Germany.
is bombed for fourth night in a row.
is held in Canada on the issue of
. It passes in favor of conscription; French Canadians are the main, though not the only, objectors.
The finalized thirty-three page draft for the German
trans-Atlantic range strategic bomber design competition is submitted to the
28: The bulk of the British assault troops depart
; the slower ships, carrying transport and heavy weapons, have departed in great secrecy some days earlier.
29: The "
" continue, focused on Norwich and York.
with the capture of
to a summit conference at
. Like most Hitlerian conferences, this one is actually a thinly-disguised attempt to harangue the invitees into compliance with the Fuehrer's will; in this case, the Italians are to commit more troops to the
. Hitler is successful, and Mussolini agrees to send an additional seven divisions, as well as the two already promised. These unfortunate troops will be formed into the
Eighth Italian Army
and attached to
Army Group B
1: Rommel readies for a new offensive during the early part of this month.
Troops of the
Japanese Fifteenth Army
, securing the western terminus of the
2: In response to American intelligence intercepts, which warn of the impending Japanese landings, the Australian garrison is evacuated from
3: In the initial move of the Japanese strategic plan to capture
, Japanese forces under Admiral
make unopposed landings on
, opening the
Battle of the Coral Sea
decides that nothing more can be accomplished in Burma, and that the time has come to evacuate.
4: US Rear Admiral
Frank Jack Fletcher
Task Force 17
makes the first carrier strike of the
Battle of the Coral Sea
, attacking Japanese naval targets near
Howell 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 "
": the invasion of
to keep the
territory from falling to a possible Japanese invasion.
The city of
is bombed by the Luftwaffe, another "
, both Japanese and American carrier aircraft spend this day and the following one searching for each other's ships, with no success, even though at one point the opposing carrier groups are separated by less than a hundred miles of ocean.
abandons his trucks, which constantly become stuck and so are actually impeding progress rather than aiding it. He retains his
, which do better. Late in the day his party arrives at
, Lt. General
Jonathan M. Wainwright
surrenders the last U.S. forces in the
to Lt. General
. 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
and his party of 114 set out from
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
, the most important port in Madagascar, to British forces involved in
. However, the Vichy forces are able to withdraw in good order.
, Japanese search planes spot refueling ship
, which have retired from
Task Force 17
into what should have been safer waters to refuel
. They are mistaken for an aircraft carrier and a cruiser. Japanese Admiral
, believing he has at last found the location of Fletcher's main force, orders a full out attack by carriers
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
stumble across light carrier
while pursuing the false lead and sink her, leading to the first use in the American Navy of the signal, "Scratch one flattop." Admiral
is so alarmed by the loss of
he halts the Port Moresby invasion group north of the
until the American carriers can be found and destroyed.
In Burma, General
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
, each side finally locates the other's main carrier groups, consisting of Japanese carriers
, and American carriers
. Several attacks follow. Only
has her flight deck bent, requiring two months' repairs;
is sunk and
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
cancels the Port Moresby operation, the first significant failure of a Japanese strategic operation in the
. In addition,
will be repaired in time to make important contributions at
(although she will not survive), whereas neither the damaged
(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
9: On the night of 8/9 May 1942, gunners of the
Ceylon Garrison Artillery
in the Cocos Islands rebelled.
was crushed and three of them were executed, the only British Commonwealth soldiers to be executed for mutiny during the Second World War.
deliver a second contingent of
. A few days later, a grateful
"Who says a
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
and his party begin crossing the
. 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,
has been neutralized.
, growing ever more frustrated with
inactivity, finally sends him a telegram with a clear order; attack in time to cover for the Harpoon/Vigorous convoys to
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,
, and the
in a state of suspense.
, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Karl Thurmann, sinks British freighter
near the mouth of the
St. Lawrence River
, signalling the opening of the
Battle of St. Lawrence
Second Battle of Kharkov
– In the eastern
forces of Marshal
Southwest Theatre of Operations, including Gorodnyanski's
, initiate a major offensive to capture
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
and 57th Army, the latter two formations having meanwhile cut the railway between Belgorad and Kharkov.
trans-Atlantic strategic bomber design competition proposal document makes it to
Hermann Goering's offices, with ten copies printed — six of these were sent to the
, and four held in reserve.
and his party cross the
. 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
orders elements of
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
, 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
and his party begin ascending the
. 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.
15: In the United States, a bill creating the
Women's Auxiliary Army Corps
(WAAC) is signed into law.
crosses the border into India.
16: United States
1st Armored Division
arrives in Northern Ireland.
17: In the salient north of
and 57th Armies are having trouble making progress against
(German) 6th Army
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
has routed the Romanian (3rd and/or 4th Army; accounts differ) troops in his path and captured
, and is proceeding to
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
is dismayed by the variety of units, especially armoured units, this handful of men represent (this is because
is concentrating troops in this area in preparation for his counter-offensive). Timoshenko loses confidence and has his Political Officer
ring up the
and ask for permission to halt while he secures his left flank; Stavka refuses.
It has been a week since
sent his ultimatum to
, 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
, after large numbers surrender.
In the salient north of
, the Soviet offensive has bogged down. In the southern salient,
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
rivers, greatly narrowing the base of the salient. In the process the Germans traverse and disrupt so many lines of communication that Kharitonov's
begins to lose cohesion as a fighting force, and becomes useless as a screen to protect Gorodnyanski's
which, because of its northward progress, is badly disposed to repel the German attacks coming from the south.
party a formal salute in honor of their arrival at
, 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.
's counter-offensive continues to prosper; and now
launches a second counter-attack from the north, designed to link up with Kleist's and encircle as many Soviet troops as possible. The
, gradually becoming aware of the extent of the danger, orders Gorodnyanski's
to halt their advance. But by now
is planning to extricate what forces he can before the two German spearheads link up.
and his party at last reach the truck roadhead at Litan; by this time the monsoon rains have started.
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
Japanese conquest of Burma
is complete; it is called a "military catastrophe". Coincidentally, on this same day General
and dismisses his evacuation party. All 114 have arrived, although some have to be hospitalized due to exhaustion; one of whom, Major
, later commander of
, is diagnosed to have had a mild heart attack en route.
forward elements draw ever closer together,
sends his subordinate General Kostenko into the salient to organize a fighting retreat, or, failing that, maximize what can be saved.
arrives in London, and high-level discussions begin the next day.
21: Invasion of Malta postponed indefinitely.
In discussions with
continues to press Soviet demands for territorial acquisitions made during the run-up to war, including the
. Churchill cannot or will not agree to these demands, and the talks become deadlocked.
22: Mexico declares war on the Axis.
tanks meet up at
, southeast of
, encircling most of the Soviets'
At the high-level Soviet/United Kingdom talks in London,
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
, 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
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.
Wallis and Futuna
and get rid of the pro-
, head of the
Reich Main Security Office
, is fatally wounded in
by Czechoslovak soldiers; he would die on June 4 from his wounds.
British use American Sherman tanks in attempts to stop Rommel's attacks on the Gazala line.
, 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 "
" 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.
"The Thousand Bomber Raid"
on Cologne, revealing new area bombing techniques.
leaves Pearl after hasty repairs and moves to join
for the next expected battle.
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
earlier in the month, that
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.
offensive has stalled out well short of Tobruk, due to resistance by British
1st Armoured Division
7th Armoured Division
, partially equipped with the new American
. 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
. He orders two lanes cut through the British minefields which run from
to Bir Hakeim, on either side of fortified positions held by the
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".
To further secure his supply lines,
launches an attack on
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
Battle of Dutch Harbor
, beginning the
Aleutian Islands Campaign
Battle of Midway
opens with ineffective attacks by land-based American
on the approaching Japanese fleet. Admiral
, in charge of the Japanese carrier force (
) 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
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
all find the targets, although most of the planes from
follow an incorrect heading and miss this attack.
Torpedo Squadron 8
breaks and follows the correct heading. The
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
when they arrive. The bombs find the Japanese flight decks crowded with fueling lines and explosive ordnance, and
are all soon reduced to blazing hulks,
hit by only one bomb dropped by Lt. Commander
Richard Halsey Best
escapes with no hits. Admiral Nagumo shifts his flag from
to another ship, the cruiser
, and orders attacks on the American carriers, one by a group of
dive bombers and a second by
torpedo bombers. The Japanese planes find
already sunk, the second attack group assume it must be
) and damage it so badly that
must be abandoned. Admiral
shifts his flag to cruiser
and cedes operational command to Admiral
. The attacks on
continued operations, though, and it is promptly attacked and will sink the next day, Admiral
choosing to go down with it. Of note,
and the other three destroyed Japanese carriers had participated in the attack on
, a key architect of the Holocaust, dies in Prague from medical complications that had arisen from injuries suffered from an attempted assassination by Czechoslovak agents one week earlier during
, British forces of the
commanded by General
launch a major counter-attack against
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
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.
Japanese forces invade Attu and Kiska
. This is the first invasion of American soil in 128 years.
Japanese occupation of Attu
The Battle of Midway comes to a close; USS
sinks; four Japanese carriers and one cruiser are sunk. The battle is viewed as a turning point in the Pacific war.
Greek People's Liberation Army
makes its first appearance at
proclaims the start of armed resistance against the Axis.
8: Malta receives a squadron of
A Japanese submarine fires several shells into a residential area in Sydney but with little effect.
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
orders 1st Free French Brigade to withdraw the following day.
burn the Czech village of
as reprisal for the killing of
. All male adults and children are killed, and all females are taken off to concentration camps.
Rommel pushes the Free French forces out of
, a fortress south-west of Tobruk. Although the 1st Free French brigade is largely surrounded, their commander, General
, is able to find and fight his way through gaps in Rommel's widely dispersed forces.
11: Two convoys set out for
, one from Gibraltar (code named
) and the other from Alexandria (code named
), 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.
, 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
'Black Saturday' for 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
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.
the Gazala Line
, the British position has become untenable, and General
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
must first breakout to the southwest, through the area occupied by Italian X Corps, and then turn east to rejoin
. This somewhat daring operation is concluded successfully. The RAF forces available, although outnumbered, make a valiant effort to cover the retreat.
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.'
, en route to
, sights a large Italian naval squadron headed toward it.
comes under attack for the first time; 'Vigorous' has been under air attack almost since leaving port.
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.
, 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
means that there will be precious little aviation fuel added to the dwindling RAF stocks on Malta. Late in the day,
is cancelled; the convoy diverts back to Alexandria.
, about to leave for America, takes the unusual step of sending a letter to King George VI, advising him to make
Prime Minister should Churchill not survive the journey.
17: Tobruk is now surrounded.
is started, the beginning of a scientific approach to nuclear weapons.
Winston Churchill arrives in Washington for meetings with Roosevelt.
The siege of
intensifies; some defending forces are pulled back to
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.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
arrives in London ready to assume the post of Commander of
American forces in Europe
25: Another massive British "Thousand Bomber" raid, this time on
; the raiders suffer grievous losses.
26: The Germans drive toward
Convoy PQ 17
sets sail from Iceland; only 11 of 37 ships will survive.
, the German plan to capture
and the Soviet Union oil fields in the
, begins. Generally, forces are shifted to the South.
, Egypt, about 140 miles from Alexandria, falls to Rommel.
30: United States deploys
to the European Theater.
First Battle of El Alamein
begins as Rommel begins first assault on British defences.
falls to the Germans; the end of Red Army resistance in the Crimea.
2: Churchill survives a censure motion in the House of Commons.
is now firmly in the hands of the Japanese.
4: First air missions by the
United States Army Air Forces
11: Rommel's forces are now stalemated before El Alamein, largely because of a lack of ammunition.
12: It now becomes clear that Stalingrad is the largest challenge to the invaders.
A balloon from
knocks out a power station near
15: The only action around El Alamein is light skirmishing.
Vel' d'Hiv Roundup
: On order from the
government headed by
, French police officers mass arrest 13,152
and hold them at the
before deportation to
18: The Germans test fly the
Messerschmitt Me 262
V3 third prototype using only its
for the first time.
Battle of the Atlantic
: German Grand Admiral
orders the last
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
22: The systematic deportation of
II, "a model" extermination 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.
27: Heavy RAF
incendiary attack on Hamburg
29: The Japanese take
, halfway along the Owen Stanley pass to Port Moresby.
30: Continuing stalemate at El Alamein between Rommel and Auchinleck.
1: The Germans continue their successful advance toward Stalingrad.
3: A convoy to Malta is decimated by the Luftwaffe and U-boats.
5: The U.S. planning team for
, which includes
George S. Patton
Hoyt S. Vandenberg
, meets in
to join the combined planning team from London, England.
: Henrik Hersch Goldschmidt aka
and almost 200 children of his orphanage, along with his staff, are led to
the Treblinka II death camp
, and killed there that day, probably with gas.
as American forces invade
8: Six of the eight German would-be saboteurs involved in
are executed in
Battle of Savo Island
, near Guadalcanal; the Americans lose three cruisers, the Australians one.
9: Numerous riots in favour of independence in India;
10: Rommel begins an attack around El Alamein, but by September he is back to his original lines.
, 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
Fighting increases as the Germans approach Stalingrad.
appointed commander of the Eighth Army, which encompassed Allied ground forces in Egypt and Libya; Churchill is anxious to see more offensive action on the part of the Allies in North Africa.
Disastrous end to the Malta convoy, but one tanker and four merchant ships get through.
15: Malta is supplied via
US Army Air Forces
B-17 heavy bomber raid in Europe, targeting the Sotteville railroad yards at Rouen, France.
Raid on Makin Atoll by elements of the US Marine 2nd Raider Battalion against the Japanese garrison. The Marines are withdrawn the following day under difficult circumstances.
18: In New Guinea, both Japanese and Australian reinforcements arrive.
, a raid by British and Canadian forces on
, ends in disaster; they come under heavy gunfire and eventually most are killed or captured by the German defenders.
on Guadalcanal receives its first American fighter planes.
21: Japanese counter-attack at Henderson Field; in another foray at the
(or Ilu) River, many Japanese are killed in a banzai charge.
declares war on the Axis countries, partly in response to numerous riots by a populace angry at the sinking of Brazilian ships.
Massacre of Jews at
, Poland (later Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine): in what the Nazi authorities describe as a "reprisal action", 1,000 Jews are shot, including women and girls who are raped beforehand at
headquarters; the head of the
(Mordechai Goldstein) is hanged publicly, along with 20 members of the Jewish police.
23: Massive German air raid on Stalingrad.
24: The naval battle of the Eastern Solomons; USS
is badly damaged and the Japanese lose one light carrier,
Battle of Milne Bay
begins: Japanese forces land and launch a full-scale assault on Australian base near the eastern tip of
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 cause a forest fire in
Battle of Alam Halfa
, a few miles south of El Alamein begins. This will be Rommel's last attempt to break through the Allied lines in Egypt; the air superiority of the
Desert Air Force
will play a significant role for the Allies.
is formally annexed to the German Reich.
31: Start of the
1942 Luxembourgish general strike
1: US Navy Construction Battalion personnel,
, began to arrive at Guadalcanal.
Battle of Stalingrad
proper may be said to have begun on this date, with German troops in the suburbs; even civilian men and boys are conscripted by the Red Army to assist in the defence.
Irish Republican Army
riots occur in Belfast during the night.
Manhattan Engineering District
is formally created, full-effort production of the
Chief of State
create what will become the
Service du travail obligatoire
5: Australian and U.S. forces defeat Japanese forces at
, Papua, the first outright defeat for Japanese land forces in the
. Their evacuation and the failure to establish an airbase eases the threat to Australia.
6: The Black Sea port of
is taken by the Germans.
9: A Japanese plane drops more incendiaries on Oregon, but with little effect.
10: RAF blasts
with large incendiary bombing.
, carrying civilians, Allied soldiers, and Italian POWs,
is torpedoed off the coast of West Africa and sinks
SS commander Brandt orders 3,000–4,000 Stanislau Jews deported to the
Belzec death camp
, the Jewish New Year holiday, and they were killed there that day.
12–14: American troops push back the Japanese in the
Battle of Edson's Ridge
13: The Battle for Stalingrad continues; it is now totally surrounded by the Germans. On the Soviet Union side General
is put in charge of the defence.
14: The Japanese retreat again from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal.
The Japanese are now within 30 miles of Port Moresby, New Guinea, on the Kokoda trail.
Continued convoy losses in the Atlantic.
15: Americans send troops to Port Moresby as reinforcements for the Australian defenders.
is sunk by a Japanese submarine off Guadalcanal.
18: Battle of the "grain silo" in Stalingrad; the Germans are beaten back. The Red Army begins ferrying troops across the Volga at night.
19: Allied attack on
, Libya is repulsed by Germans.
20: RAF bombs
Panhellenic Union of Fighting Youths
blows up the offices of the pro-Nazi
National-Socialist Patriotic Organisation
, thwarting attempts to raise a Greek volunteer legion for the Eastern Front.
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.
United States of America
to the Pacific Theater.
28: The Japanese continue their retreat back down the Kokoda Track in New Guinea.
(American volunteers in the RAF) are officially transferred to the US Army Air Force.
Hitler speaks to the nation and boasts that Stalingrad will be taken.
Dead Japanese soldiers at the Matanikau River, Guadalcanal
3: First successful launch of
, Germany. The rocket flies 147 kilometres wide and reaches a height of 84.5 kilometres and is therefore the first man-made object reaching space.
, a Channel Island, capturing one German soldier.
6: By mutual arrangement, the Allies agree on a strategy whereby Americans will bomb in the daytime and the RAF at night.
Third Battle of the Matanikau
Battle of Cape Esperance
On the Northwest coast of
United States Navy
ships intercept and defeat a Japanese fleet on their way to reinforce troops on the island. With the help of radar they sink one cruiser and several Japanese destroyers.
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.
100th Infantry Battalion
, a force of over 1,400 predominantly
13: Heavy bombardment of Henderson Field, Guadalcanal by the Japanese navy.
14: A German
sinks the ferry
, killing 137.
18: Hitler issues
, ordering all captured commandos to be executed immediately.
William "Bull" Halsey
is given command of the South Pacific naval forces.
21: Heavy RAF activity over El Alamein.
age in Britain reduced to 18.
secretly lands in Algeria to confer with Vichy officials and Resistance groups in preparation for impending Allied invasion.
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).
Battle for Henderson Field
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
, 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
Crisis at El Alamein: British tanks survive German 88 mm 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.
26: The naval
Battle of Santa Cruz
. The Japanese lose many aircraft and have two aircraft carriers severely damaged.
is sunk and
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
's persecution of
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.
The state of the Allies and Axis powers in November 1942
, the Allied breakout at El Alamein, begins.
The Americans begin the
against the Japanese
Second Battle of El Alamein
ends – German forces under
are forced to retreat during the night.
American victory over the Japanese in the
Koli Point action
III Panzer Corps
and Romanian 2nd Mountain Division capture the town of
, which is the furthest south the Axis would reach on the Eastern Front.
, the Allied invasion of Vichy-controlled
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
as part of Operation Torch.
10: In violation of a 1940 armistice, Germany invades
; they are responding to the fact that French Admiral
has signed an armistice with the
in North Africa.
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".
Battle of Guadalcanal
– A climactic naval battle near
starts between Japanese and American naval forces.
The Red Army makes an attempt to relieve Stalingrad at Kotelnikov.
British Eighth Army
Battle of Guadalcanal: aviators from
is sunk with much of its crew, including the five
; the Japanese ship would capsize at 03:25 on the morning of 15 November.
15: The naval battle of Guadalcanal ends. Although the
United States Navy
suffers heavy losses, it still retains control of the sea around
The British move westward in Tunisia.
British Eighth Army
17: Japanese send reinforcements into New Guinea; Americans are stymied at Buna.
18: Heavy British RAF raid on Berlin with few losses.
the Soviet Union forces under General
aimed at encircling the Germans in the city and thus turning the tide of battle in the USSR's favor.
20: The Allies take
, 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.
Battle of Stalingrad
: The situation for the German attackers of
seems desperate during the
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.
: a team of British
agents, together with over 200 Greek guerrillas from both
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
. Fighting breaks out which results in fatalities, it is dubbed the
Battle of Brisbane
, the French navy scuttles its ships (most notably
) 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 island of
the Vichy regime
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
is sunk as Japanese destroyers attempt to come down "the Slot" to Guadalcanal.
Publication of the
on the post-war nature of
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
initiate the first
nuclear chain reaction
. A coded message, "The Italian navigator has landed in the new world" is sent to President Roosevelt.
4: The first US bombing of mainland Italy --Naples.
6: RAF bombs
, the Netherlands.
7: On the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack,
, America's largest battleship is launched (commissioned five months later).
British commandos conduct
a raid on shipping in
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 "
Operation 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 and Australian troops finally push Japanese out of
, 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
23: Japanese air force planes begin bombing of Calcutta.
, the former
leader who had switched over to the Allies following the Torch landings, is assassinated in
The United States reorganizes its Combat Arms Regiments with their Organic Battalions into Separate Groups and Battalions.
25: American bombers hit
26: Heavy fighting continues on Guadalcanal, now focused on Mount Austen in the west.
28: The governor of pro-Vichy
invading British and Free French forces
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 draws to a close, things look much brighter for the Allies than they did a few months ago: Rommel is trapped in Tunisia, the Germans are encircled at Stalingrad, and the Japanese appear ready to abandon Guadalcanal.
Strategic operations of the Red Army in World War II
Timeline of World War II (1943)
Notes and references
Korczak communication website
(Washington Holocaust Memorial Museum website)
2033-The Century After: How the World Would Look/Be If Nazi Germany & Empire