Year 1942

1942 – America enters War.

The year 1942 is characterized by the entry of the USA into WW2.

early US war poster

This early US war poster puts the industrial worker on a par with the soldier.

Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 destroyed the illusion of US neutrality, which had shaped the war up to this day – Roosevelt’s ‘date that will live in infamy’.

Within a few days, the industrial power and the military potential of the strongest nation on earth were opposed not only to Japan, but also to Germany and Italy. And Japan’s intended decisive blow proved just to be a short-term setback for the Allies.

Despite the prevailing deterioration in diplomatic and economic relations between the US and Japan, most objective observers believed that the leaders of Japan had no need to engage in a war with America. The rich British, French and Dutch possessions in the Far East lay more or less unprotected at their doorstep, while the German Operation Barbarossa offered similar opportunities for expansion in Eastern Siberia and the Far East of Russia.

They did not, however, reckon with the boundless arrogance, the political naiveté, and the sheer stupidity of the military clique led by General Tojo, who in October 1941 had attained absolute control over the Japanese government. As well, they had not taken into consideration the prominent vanities of the Japanese naval commander.

Admiral Yamamoto had for many years been heavily involved in the development of the aircraft carrier. In November 1941, he was able to deploy six fast and large aircraft carriers that could accommodate more than 350 modern and powerful aircraft, many of which were armed with the new ‘Taranto type’ torpedoes designed to be dropped even in shallow water. In addition were armor-piercing bombs for the carrier-based dive-bombers available. Even more impressive were the A6M2 Zero, the first carrier-based fighters which were superior to their counterparts from land bases.

But despite the seemingly unrestrained enthusiasm for these new weapons, Yamamoto remained a traditionalist in his heart. He missed searching and destroying the three US fleet carriers that were on sea outside of Pearl Harbor that day. Satisfied with the sinking of five battleships and the destruction of 188 aircraft, Yamamoto was convinced that the later following decisive battle in the open sea between the ‘remains’ of the US Navy and the Japanese Combined Fleet with the support of his great new flagship, the super-battleship Yamato, and the other 10 battleships, would decide the day.
Yamamoto stubbornly clung to his secret passion for the mighty battleships, and six months later, these unfounded and contradictory ideas in the Battle of Midway were to contribute significantly to the defeat of the Japanese ‘Combined Fleet’.

Since the Japanese had consciously decided to attack a key position of one of the world’s greatest powers, they would have been well advised to inflict the greatest damage. Before the turnaround, the Japanese carrier task force should at least have launched a third wave of aircraft that would have destroyed the still undamaged installations and stockpiles, including the long-accumulated, almost irreplaceable fuel reserves.
Thus, Yamamoto’s attack on Pearl, despite all catastrophic short-term effects, became a glorified raid only. When it was over, the Japanese fleet secretly retreated into the vast, empty space of the North Pacific as quickly as it had come.

A question can not be left unanswered. Would Yamamoto really have to attack Pear Harbor at all on that fateful Sunday? Would not it have been better to play a waiting game instead?
Many experts have pointed out that if the Japanese had only carried out the rest of their complex offensive strategy, including the invasion of the American Philippines, the US Pacific Fleet would have been forced to leave Pearl Harbor and went on a long journey to the West Pacific. There they would have encountered the Japanese practically in their home waters, where they could have used their powerful bomber force from land bases, like the fate of British battleships HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse.

Not only were Tojo and Yamamoto responsible for commanding an incomplete attack at the wrong time, but they also showed an astonishing lack of political understanding. By this only ‘notorious, cowardly’ action, the Japanese leaders had turned a reluctant, disunited, political opponent into a purposeful deadly enemy, in which the desire for revenge related to all conceivable military possibilities.

Hitler’s declaration of war to the US on December 11 was another turning point.
Between September 1939 and December 1941, it became clear that the gradual increase in American material and moral support for the oppressed British, and the inevitable involvement of the US Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic, would sooner or later result in a war between America and Germany.
Roosevelt himself would like to fight since a long time against Hitler, but Congress and public opinion did not allow this. In the US, there was a strong feeling to regard the war in the Pacific as ‘our war‘ and the European theatre as ‘their war’ and to concentrate all efforts against Japan.

Under the leadership of Roosevelt, however, America committed itself to a ‘Germany-first policy’, which was to determine the course and result of WW2. In 1940 America, the ‘great arsenal of democracy’, produced only limited quantities of military equipment. Three years later US armament production exceeded that of Germany, Italy and Japan together. Until to 1945, 15 million Americans have served in the US armed forces.

Diary December 31, 1942

Sailing for 'Operation Regenbogen'

WW2 War Diary for Thursday, December 31, 1942: Sea War Atlantic – BATTLE OF THE BARENTS SEA (Operation Regenbogen = ‘Rainbow’): Heavy cruisers Luetzow and Admiral Hipper make repeated, bungled, attempts to destroy Arctic Convoy JW 51B – after which… learn more

Diary December 30, 1942

FW 200 Condor.

WW2 War Diary for Wednesday, December 30, 1942: Air War Western Europe: B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberators bomb Lorient U-boat base. Northwest Africa: Night raid on Casablanca by Focke-Wulf Condors from Bordeaux. Home Fronts Britain: Harold Macmillan M.P. made… learn more

Diary December 29, 1942

Ju 52 in the Stalingrad pocket

WW2 War Diary for Tuesday, December 29, 1942: Eastern Front Stalingrad: Kotelnikovo, important airfield 153 km southwest of Stalingrad, recaptured by Russians after house-to-house fighting. learn more

Diary December 28, 1942

Army Group A is even using camels on her retreat

WW2 War Diary for Monday, December 28, 1942: Eastern Front Caucasus: Hitler orders Army Group A to withdraw from dangerously exposed salient in the Caucasus. Poltics French Northwest Africa: De Gaulle welcomes Giraud’s appointment from December 26 and appeals for… learn more

Diary December 27, 1942

Japanese fighter shot down by B-25 Mitchell

WW2 War Diary for Sunday, December 27, 1942: Air War Pacific: Japanese parachute supplies to half-starved expeditionary forces on Guadalcanal. learn more

Diary December 26, 1942

Christmas card 'God jul'

WW2 War Diary for Saturday, December 26, 1942: Politics North Africa: Giraud appointed High Commissioner in French North Africa. Air War Southeast Asia: US 10th AAF bombers raid Lashio (Burma Road) and Bangkok (night December 26-27). learn more

Diary December 25, 1942

Diamond-T tank transporter with Valentine tank

WW2 War Diary for Friday, December 25, 1942: Africa Western Desert: British 8th Army captures Sirte. Eastern Front Caucasus: Russians recapture two towns near Nalchik and reopen ‘Ossetian Military Highway’. learn more

Diary December 24, 1942

Panzer IV G waiting on a road for the advancing Russians

WW2 War Diary for Thursday, December 24, 1942: Eastern Front Stalingrad: Russians throw back Hoth’s Stalingrad relief force from river Myshkova to river Aksay (December 24) and Kotelnikovo (December 29). Africa French Northwest Africa: Admiral Darlan assassinated by French fanatic… learn more

Diary December 23, 1942

Boston III of 88 Squadron

WW2 War Diary for Wednesday, December 23, 1942: Air War Western Europe: RAF Bostons and Venturas bomb St Malo and Den Helder. learn more

Diary December 22, 1942

Hawker Hurricane IIC

WW2 War Diary for Tuesday, December 22, 1942: Air War Western Europe: RAF fighters, fighter-bombers and Boston light bombers make day and night attacks on rail communications in West Germany, Holland, North and Northwest France. Home Fronts Britain: Announced that… learn more

Diary December 21, 1942

Australian infantry with support of Stuart tank

WW2 War Diary for Monday, December 21, 1942: Pacific New Guinea: Stuart tanks penetrate strongly held Japanese perimeter at Buna. learn more

Diary December 20, 1942

B-17Fs of the 303rd 'Hell's Angels' BG

WW2 War Diary for Sunday, December 20, 1942: Air War Western Europe: US B-17 Fortress and B-24 Liberators (6 lost), escorted by 300 Allied fighters, bomb aircraft repair depot at Rommillies-sur-Seine, and shoot down 21 German fighters. Germany: RAF night… learn more

Diary December 19, 1942

Russian soldiers jump into action ifrom a KV tank

WW2 War Diary for Saturday, December 19, 1942: Africa East Africa: Major-General Dan Pienaar, GOC South African Division in Libya and leader of victorious South African troops during East African Campaign, killed while flying home – his aircraft crashing in… learn more

Diary December 18, 1942

infantry marching in a snow storm

WW2 War Diary for Friday, December 18, 1942: Eastern Front Stalingrad: Hoth makes repeated attempts to force the river Myshkova, 40 km southwest of Stalingrad (December 18-23), but without success. Air War Europe: 74 Pe-2 bombers and 10 Il-2 Stormovik… learn more

Diary December 17, 1942

Arrival of freight cars with Jews

WW2 War Diary for Thursday, December 17, 1942: Home Fronts Britain: Foreign Minister Eden announces that Germans ‘are now carrying into effect Hitler‘s oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe.’ Pacific New Guinea: American and Australian troops launch… learn more

Diary December 16, 1942

Retreating Italians in snow storm

WW2 War Diary for Wednesday, December 16, 1942: Eastern Front Operation Saturn: Russians smash Italian 8th Army along river Don, northwest of Stalingrad (December 16-18). Pacific New Guinea: Australian infantry and tanks land in Oro Bay, near Buna. Air War… learn more

Diary December 15, 1942

Formation of RAF Boston III attack bombers

WW2 War Diary for Tuesday, December 15, 1942: Air War Western Desert: RAF and USAAF batter retreating German columns west of El Agheila throughout the day, against negligible Luftwaffe opposition; huge ‘traffic jam’ at ‘Marble Arch’ (monument erected by Mussolini). learn more

Diary December 14, 1942

German recon patrol deep in the Sahara

WW2 War Diary for Monday, December 14, 1942: Africa Western Desert: Rommel skilfully evades 8th Army trap at El Agheila (December 14-18). Pacific New Guinea: Japanese reinforcements land near Buna. Politics Franco-British Agreement on Madagascar: General Legentilhomme appointed High Commissioner.… learn more

Diary December 13, 1942

Anton Mussert

WW2 War Diary for Sunday, December 13, 1942: Occupied Territories Holland: Anton Mussert, leader of Dutch Nazi Party (NSB), appointed ‘Leader of Netherlands People’ by Hitler. France: Laval says ‘without equivocation . . . I want Germany’s victory’. Africa :… learn more

Diary December 12, 1942

Panzer Group Hoth Operation 'Winter Storm'

WW2 War Diary for Saturday, December 12, 1942: Eastern Front Operation Wintersturm (‘Winter Storm’): 13 German divisions, under Manstein and Hoth, attempt to punch a corridor from Kotelnikovo to Stalingrad, through which 6th Army can withdraw. River Aksay is reached… learn more