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 November 16, 1942

German assault troop leader in Stalingrad

WW2 War Diary for Monday, November 16, 1942: Pacific New Guinea: American and Australian troops begin assault on Japanese fortress of Buna. Air War Southeast Asia: US bombers raid Bangkok. learn more

Diary November 15, 1942

German paratroopers on their way to Medjez-el-Bab in Tunisia

WW2 War Diary for Sunday, November 15, 1942: Africa Northwest Africa: British troops enter Tunisia. Sea War Atlantic: Escort carrier Avenger sunk by U-boat U 155 west of Gibraltar. Pacific: 4 remaining Japanese troopships beached on Guadalcanal, where they are… learn more

Diary November 14, 1942

damaged battleship 'USS South Dakota'

WW2 War Diary for Saturday, November 14, 1942: Sea War Pacific: 7 of 11 Japanese transports, carrying reinforcements to Guadalcanal, sunk by US planes from carrier Enterprise and Henderson Field. SECOND BATTLE OF GUADALCANAL: Battleship-vs-battleship action; Washington sinks Kirishima; South… learn more

Diary November 13, 1942

Bone airfield after a Luftwaffe raid.

WW2 War Diary for Friday, November 13, 1942: Air War Northwest Africa: Strong formations of RAF Eastern Air Command land at Bone (and on November 14); Luftwaffe carry out heavy counter-raids. Politics Free-French: Darlan recognized by Allies as French head… learn more

Diary November 12, 1942

C-47 en route Bone

WW2 War Diary for Thursday, November 12, 1942: Air War Northwest Africa: British paratroops dropped on Bone airfield, Algeria, by US C-47s – narrowly forestalling a planned German paratroop drop. US 9th AAF formed in North Africa. Sea War Pacific:… learn more

Diary November 11, 1942

Allied transport ship burning in the port of Bougie

WW2 War Diary for Wednesday, November 11, 1942: Sea War Mediterranean: Troopship Viceroy of India (19,600 t.) sunk by U-boat U-407 off North African coast. Atlantic – all 25 available U-boats withdrawn from North Atlantic and formed into 2 groups:… learn more

Diary November 10, 1942

Captured Axis troops outside Bardia

WW2 War Diary for Tuesday, November 10, 1942: Home Fronts Britain: Churchill describes 8th Army’s ‘glorious and decisive victory’ over Rommel in speech at London’s Mansion House. Secret War Switzerland: Swiss Joint Federal Assembly rejects appeals against death sentences imposed… learn more

Diary November 9, 1942

captured Vichy French soldiers

WW2 War Diary for Monday, November 9, 1942: Africa Northwest Africa: Cease-fire in French North Africa arranged by Admiral Darlan and Lieutenant-General. Mark Clark. General Giraud arrives in Algeria to rally support for the Allies. Western Desert: Rommel commences rapid… learn more

Diary November 8, 1942

US infantry is landing at Oran.

WW2 War Diary for Sunday, November 8, 1942: Sea War Mediterranean: OPERATION TORCH – ALLIED LANDINGS IN FRENCH NORTH AFRICA. 3 powerful Allied Task Forces, including US battleships Massachusetts and Texas and 5 aircraft carriers, land 34,300 troops near Casablanca,… learn more

Diary November 7, 1942

Operation Torch fleet

WW2 War Diary for Wednesday, November 7, 1942: Sea War Mediterranean: U-boats and Italian submarines attack Allied Task Forces engaged in Operation Torch (November 7-15). 7 transports sunk and 3 damaged; destroyers Martin and Isaac Sweers (Dutch) sunk. 5 U-boats… learn more

Diary November 6, 1942

Desert workshop

WW2 War Diary for Friday, November 6, 1942: Africa Western Desert: Heavy rain slows down 8th Army mechanized columns and gives Rommel brief respite. learn more

Diary November 5, 1942

Surrender of a disabled German Matilda tank

WW2 War Diary for Thursday, November 5, 1942: Africa Western Desert: Rommel attempts to make a stand at Fuka, 113 km west of El Alamein, but once again his lines are broken. Madagascar: FINAL SURRENDER OF VICHY FORCES IN MADAGASCAR.… learn more

Diary November 4, 1942

General Thoma meets Montgomery

WW2 War Diary for Wednesday, November 4, 1942: Air War North Africa: Allied bombers and fighter-bombers wreak havoc among hordes of German and Italian vehicles and infantry retreating westwards from Alamein. After a single (abortive) Stuka raid, the Axis air… learn more

Diary November 3, 1942

Australian infantry Alamein

WW2 War Diary for Tuesday, November 3, 1942: Africa Western Desert: Montgomery breaks through Rommel’s scratch defences west of Alamein. Pacific Solomons: Japanese reinforcements land east and west of Henderson Field (night November 3-4). learn more

Diary November 2, 1942

Infantry tanks Valentine on the advance at Ghazala

WW2 War Diary for Monday, November 2, 1942: Africa Western Desert: ALLIED VICTORY AT ALAMEIN. Phase 2 of Battle – Operation Supercharge: 8th Army compels Axis army to withdraw from Alamein Line and pursues it to Tobruk (November 13), Benghazi… learn more

Diary November 1, 1942

M2 tank on Guadalcanal

WW2 War Diary for Sunday, November 1, 1942: Pacific Solomons: US Marines launch counter-offensive on Guadalcanal. Home Fronts Brazil – Currency changes: Cruzeiro of 100 Centavos replaces the Milreis of 1,000 Reis. learn more

Diary October 31, 1942

BF 109F-4/B fighter-bomber

WW2 War Diary for Saturday, October 31, 1942: Air War Britain: German fighter-bomber raid on Canterbury: 68 Jabos, escorted by 68 fighters (3 lost), approach target, but balloon barrage hampers bombing. Night raid on same target (7 aircraft lost). Sea… learn more

Diary October 30, 1942

german at-gun stalingrad

WW2 War Diary for Friday, October 30, 1942: Sea War Atlantic: Transport President Doumer (11,900 t.) sunk by U-boat U-604 off northwest Africa. learn more

Diary October 29, 1942

Work on the 'Alaska Highway'

WW2 War Diary for Thursday, October 29, 1942: Home Fronts USA: ‘Alaska Highway’ opened, running 2,689 km from Dawson Creek (BC) to Fairbanks (begun March 1941). Africa Madagascar: East African soldiers capture 440 Vichy troops at Alakamisy and occupy Fianarantsoa,… learn more

Diary October 28, 1942

'Tank Busters' Hurricane II D attacking German tanks

WW2 War Diary for Wednesday, October 28, 1942: Air War Alamein: Allied bombers break up attempted Panzer counter-attacks at Alamein. Greek aircraft raid Italian positions. learn more