Sunday, August 2, 2020

April 1, 1942: Convoys Come to the USA

Wednesday 1 April 1942

HMS Eagle retrieving planes, 1 April 1942
"A Fairey Albacore preparing to land on the flight deck of HMS EAGLE with HMS MALAYA in the background." This photo was taken from HMS Argus on 1 April 1942 (© IWM A 8341).

Battle of the Pacific:
 Japanese forces remain on the offensive in Burma on 1 April 1942, attacking at Prome (Pyay). General Archibald Wavell, Commander-in-Chief India, visits the front and agrees to a request by Burma I Corps to withdraw north of Prome to the Allanmyo area. Wavell informs Whitehall that Japanese control of the air is proving decisive.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell, commander of US forces in the region, meets with Lieutenant General William J. Slim, General Officer Commanding Burma Corps. Stilwell is highly regarded by the Chinese even though the US does not have many forces in the area at this time.
Lights dimmed in NYC to save energy, 1 April 1942 (William C. Shrout).
After the meeting, Stilwell flies to Chungking to meet with Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek. The main topic is the refusal of Chinese generals to obey any orders that Stilwell gives (supposedly on behalf of Chiang) them despite his high position in the Chinese leadership as a top aide to Chiang. Stilwell confides privately that he believes that the Chinese generals actually are doing what Chiang wants because Chiang is giving them other orders behind his back. This situation is indicative of the murky politics and mutual distrust involved in Allied relations with the Chinese.

In the Solomon Islands, Japanese forces land at Buka Island off the north coast of Bougainville Island. Other troops land along the Dutch New Guinea coast from Sarong to Hollandia. Japanese troops also land at Ceram Island in the Netherlands East Indies. The Dutch there surrender without a fight. Australian RAAF Hudson Bombers of No. 2 and 13 Squadrons fly from Darwin to bomb Penfui Airfield on Dutch West Timor Island. The mission is a success, as the bombers destroy six aircraft on the field and damage six others.

US Navy submarine USS Seawolf torpedoes Japanese light cruiser HIJMS Naka 50 miles northwest of Christmas Island, which the Japanese have just occupied. Royal Navy submarine Truant sinks two Japanese freighters (6780-ton Yaeyama Maru and 4910-ton Shunsei Maru) in the Malacca Strait about 60 miles off the coast of Sumatra and 80 miles northwest of Penang, Malaysia.

While the Japanese have not begun their final offensive on the Bataan Peninsula, the Philippines, the US is making preparations. Today, the US scuttles Filipino boats Kanlaon II and Escalante R. at Assume Lingayan so that they do not fall into Japanese hands.

The Japanese Combined Fleet Headquarters begins planning an operation (AL-GO) to occupy the Aleutian Islands and then Midway Island. This is known as the Second Phase of operations. Admiral Yamamoto is in charge of planning.
Ad in April 1942 for Japanese business liquidation
An April 1942 ad in The Province newspaper for Yamato Silks at 460 Granville Street. Japanese-Canadians were forced to leave their homes and businesses and report to internment camps beginning April 1, 1942.
Eastern Front: The Battle of Suursaari continues on the frozen Gulf of Finland when the Finns send a force with orders to subdue to stubborn Soviet garrison on Bolshoy Tyuters. To their surprise, they find the island abandoned. However, the Soviets have not given up on Bolshoy Tyuters and will return soon.

At Demyansk, the spring thaw (Rasputitsa) is turning the ground into a quagmire. Soviet tanks are better suited to such conditions due to their wider tracks than German tanks. General Seydlitz is deploying his troops north to the Staraya Russa to Demyansk road, and the Soviets are bringing in reinforcements. The stage is being set for a desperate German lunge east to rescue the troops of the trapped 11 Corps of 16th Army in the Demyansk Pocket.

European Air Operations: During the day, a dozen Boston bombers attack shipping at Boulogne but wind up bombing the dock area instead because of cloud cover. One Boston fails to return.
In the evening, RAF Bomber Command decides to try a new tactic. It sends 35 Wellington and 14 Hampden bombers to attack railway installations at Hanau and Lohr. The attack turns into a disaster for the British because the Germans shoot down a dozen Wellingtons and a Hampden. This results in a 27% loss ratio, which is unsustainable.

In a separate raid on Paris and Poissy, the RAF sends 24 Whitleys and 17 Wellingtons to attack a Ford Motor factory. Damage to the factory is minimal and the British lose one Wellington.
In other operations, the British send 3 Blenheims to Holland, but they turn back due to the weather. Another 15 bombers lay mines off of Lorient and at the mouth fo the Gironde River, and five bombers drop leaflets over France. There are no losses.
"The Captain of HMS THUNDERBOLT, Lieut Cdr C B Crouch, DSO, RN, standing alongside the periscope in the control room." This photo was taken at Blyth on 1 April 1942 (© IWM A 8461).
Battle of the Atlantic: U-754 (Kptlt. Hans Oestermann), on its second patrol out of Brest, torpedoes 5992-ton US tanker SS Tiger at 06:18 just off Cape Henry, Virginia. Sunrise is a favored time of day for U-boat attacks along the East Coast of the United States because the rising sun illuminates the target while obscuring the submarine. The one torpedo badly damages the tanker and the 41 survivors (one dead) quickly abandon ship. Tiger remains afloat for another day and an attempt to tow it into the nearby Chesapeake Bay is made, but the tanker sinks on 2 April 1942.

U-160 (Oblt. Georg Lassen), on its first patrol out of Helgoland, torpedoes and sinks 4086-ton British freighter Rio Blanco about 60 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. There are 19 dead and 21 survivors.

U-202 (Kptlt. Hans-Heinz Linder), on its fifth patrol out of Brest, torpedoes and sinks 5249-ton British freighter SS Loch Don 500 miles northeast of Bermuda. There are three deaths and 44 survivors.

U-71 (Kptlt. Walter Flachsenberg), on its fifth patrol out of St. Nazaire, torpedoes and sinks 5812-ton British freighter Eastmoor about 600 miles east of Hampton Roads. There are 16 dead and 36 survivors. this concludes a very successful patrol for U-71 during which it has sunk 38,894 tons of shipping. However, in one of those oddities of war, this is the only war patrol out of ten (ending in May 1943) during which U-71 gets any victories. Today's sinking is the last of U-71's career despite the fact that it is only halfway through its wartime service.
Freighter Rio Blanco, sunk on 1 April 1942
Freighter Rio Blanco, sunk on 1 April 1942 by U-160.
Due to heavy losses along the US coast such as that today of the Tiger and Rio Blanco, which were sailing independently, the US decides it is time to change tactics (or, more accurately, to start using some wartime tactics). the US Coast Guard begins a partial convoying system that becomes known as the "Bucket Brigade." Ships are to sail in convoys during the day and anchor in harbors at night. The Bucket Brigade only applies to the East Coast and not the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico.

Soviet submarine Shch-404 torpedoes and sinks German freighter Michael off Vardø, Norway. There is one dead and 14 survivors.

Canadian 1750-ton freighter SS Robert W. Pomeroy hits a mine and sinks about 8 miles southeast of the Dudgeon Light Vessel in the Wash Approaches (between Norfolk and Lincolnshire).

German raider Thor spots 4563-ton British freighter Willesden in the South Atlantic. The crew of the Willesden opens fire with her 4" deck gun but Thor outranges it. Gasoline drums on the Willesden's deck catch fire, forcing the crew to abandon ship. Thor then sinks it with a torpedo. There are five deaths and 47 survivors are taken aboard the Thor.

Royal Navy minesweeping trawler Solomon hits a mine and sinks north of Cromer, Norfolk, England. Everyone survives.
Kingsport Times (Tennessee) 1 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.cmo
The Kingsport, Tennessee, Times, 1 April 1942. The image at the left is an April Fool's joke.
Battle of the Baltic: Ten Norwegian vessels interned at Gothenburg, Sweden, make a furtive break for Great Britain with the assistance of the British. Ten ships (known as the Kvarstad vessels) sail in Operation Performance. The operation turns into a disaster, as only two of the ships (MV B. P. Newton and MV Lind) actually make it through the Skagerrak out of the Baltic and to Great Britain.
The Luftwaffe helps out and sinks some of the fleeing freighters. In addition, the crews of four ships scuttle them after being approached by German coastal defense vessels, while two ships (Dicto and Lionel) return to Sweden and the Germans sink the remainder. While 124 people reach Great Britain, the vast majority of the other people on the ships (which include many civilians and seven women) wind up in prison camps.

German naval trawler UJ 1203 Heinrich Günther hits a mine and sinks off Pien, Tytursaari in the Gulf of Finland.
A customer fashionably attired in a fur coat shops at the Boylan-Pearce store in Raleigh, North Carolina, on 1 April 1942 (Barden Collection, State Archives of North Carolina).
Battle of the Mediterranean: Axis air attacks remain extremely heavy, particularly in the critical port area. A total of 148 aircraft bomb the island, hitting nine ships and killing 62 people. The planes bomb and sink two Royal Navy submarines, HMS P36 and Pandora and also 94-ton naval drifter Sunset. The British console themselves with the fact that they shoot down five Junkers Ju 87 Stukas and two Ju 88 medium bombers, along with one Bf 109, along with a roughly equal number of Luftwaffe planes damaged. The RAF claims no losses of its own.

The British "get one back" when submarine Urge sinks Italian cruiser Giovanni delle Bande Nere eleven miles off Stromboli. There are 381 deaths and 391 survivors The Italian Navy reports the discovery of the cruiser at a depth of 1400 meters on 9 March 2019.
Work Permit in Poland dated 1 April 1942
A permit dated April 1, 1942, authorizing Łucja Frey (for whom Frey's Syndrome is named) to work as a physician in the Lwów ghetto. This document is now conserved at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC (Record Group 2002.34, Łucja Frey Gottesman collection).
Inter-Allied Relations: The Pacific War Council officially replaces ABDACOM and holds its first meeting in Washington. It includes representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom,  China, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Canada. the Philippines and India are added later. The Pacific War Council is quite active and holds over 30 meetings during World War II.

Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet, resigns his command to serve on the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee in Washington, D.C. His "resignation" may be related to heavy shipping losses suffered recently during the Second Battle of Sirte and at Malta. It is a common tactic of the Churchill government to send officers and officials who are out of favor, such as Lord Halifax and Air Marshal Hugh Dowding, to staff posts in the United States. 

US Military: The US Army Air Force redesignates its main proving ground as Proving Ground Command. It has its main headquarters at Eglin Field, Valparaiso, Florida. Eglin becomes the main site for USAAF gunnery training and airplane testing.

Desmond Doss joins the US Army and enters military service at Camp Lee, Virginia (Fort Lee). He will win the US Medal of Honor in the Pacific.

Holocaust: Łachwa (or Lakhva) Ghetto is created in Lakhva, Western Belarus. The town's approximately 2500 Jewish inhabitants are put into a tiny ghetto comprising two streets and 45 houses. As with many ghettos, the Lakhva Ghetto is surrounded by barbed wire and transit in and out is strictly regulated. A Judenrat is established and also an underground resistance organization.
Office of Emergency Management newsroom. April 1, 1942 (Roger Smith, photographer for Office of Emergency Management).
British Homefront: Upon the retirement of Cosmo Lang as Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple succeeds him. Temple is an activist prelate sympathetic to the Labour Party (Winston Churchill, of course, is the leader of the Tories). Temple advocates theories such as what would become known much later as a universal basic income. In general, he proves an irritant to the Churchill government but supports the war effort as being necessary to eliminate the great evil represented by Adolf Hitler. 

American Homefront: Lieutenant General J.L. DeWitt, Western Defense Commander, posts exclusion orders at First and Front Streets in San Francisco, California. These direct the removal of persons of Japanese ancestry from the first part of San Francisco to be affected by the evacuation. The orders are issued today, April 1, 1942, and directs evacuation from this area of the city by noon on April 7, 1942. This order follows the first successful exclusion order carried out at Bainbridge Island, Washington, at the end of March 1942.
Exclusion order
Exclusion order posted in a neighborhood in San Francisco on 1 April 1942.

March 1942

March 1, 1942: Second Battle of Java Sea
March 2, 1942: Huge Allied Shipping Losses at Java
March 3, 1942: Japan Raids Western Australia
March 4, 1942: Second Raid On Hawaii
March 5, 1942: Japan Takes Batavia
March 6, 1942: Churchill Assaults Free Speech
March 7, 1942: British Defeat in Burma
March 8, 1942: Rangoon Falls to Japan
March 9, 1942: Japanese Conquest of Dutch East Indies
March 10, 1942:US Navy attacks Japanese Landings at Lae
March 11, 1942: Warren Buffett's First Stock Trade
March 12, 1942: Japan Takes Java
March 13, 1942: Soviets Attack In Crimea Again 
March 14, 1942: The US Leans Toward Europe
March 15, 1942: Operation Raubtier Begins
March 16, 1942: General MacArthur Gets His Ride
March 17, 1942: MacArthur Arrives in Australia
March 18, 1942: Japan Attacks In Burma
March 19, 1942: Soviets Encircled on the Volkhov
March 20, 1942: "I Shall Return," Says MacArthur
March 21, 1942: Germans Attack Toward Demyansk
March 22, 1942: Second Battle of Sirte
March 23, 1942: Hitler's Insecurity Builds
March 24, 1942: Bataan Bombarded
March 25, 1942: Chinese Under Pressure in Burma
March 26, 1942: Win Or Die, Vows MacArthur
March 27, 1942: The Battle of Suusari
March 28, 1942: The St. Nazaire Commando Raid
March 29, 1942: The Free Republic of Nias
March 30, 1942: Japanese-Americans Off Bainbridge Island
March 31, 1942: Japanese Seize Christmas Island

April 1942

April 1, 1942: Convoys Come to the USA 
April 2, 1942: Doolittle Raiders Leave Port
April 3, 1942: Japanese Attack in Bataan
April 4, 1942: Luftwaffe Attacks Kronstadt
April 5, 1942: Japanese Easter Sunday Raid on Ceylon
April 6, 1942: Japanese Devastation In Bay of Bengal
April 7, 1942: Valletta, Malta, Destroyed
April 8, 1942: US Bataan Defenses Collapse
April 9, 1942: US Defeat in Bataan
April 10, 1942: The Bataan Death March
April 11, 1942: The Sea War Heats Up
April 12, 1942: Essen Raids Conclude Dismally
April 13, 1942: Convoy QP-10 Destruction
April 14, 1942: Demyansk Breakout Attempt
April 15, 1942: Sobibor Extermination Camp Opens
April 16, 1942: Oil Field Ablaze in Burma
April 17, 1942: The Disastrous Augsburg Raid
April 18, 1942: The Doolittle Raid bombs Japan
April 19, 1942: British in Burma Escape
April 20, 1942: The Operation Calendar Disaster
April 21, 1942: Germans Relieve Demyansk


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