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WWII Timeline – Winter 1942

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1942 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1942

January 1942

At Auschwitz-Birkenau, mass killings of Jews by Zyklon-B pellets began in Bunker I (the red farmhouse).

Zyklon-B pellets, made of hydrocyanic acid, vaporized when exposed to air. The Nazis had discovered that the gas produced, which was originally intended for commercial use as a disinfectant and an insecticide, could be used to kill humans.

In their killing process, the Nazis forced the prisoners into air-tight chambers disguised to look like showers. They then dumped the Zyklon-B pellets into the room through special air shafts or openings in the ceiling. Upon being exposed to air, the pellets would vaporize and gave off a bitter almond odor. The prisoners would breathe the tainted air and the vapors would combine with their red blood cells, which deprived their bodies of oxygen, leading to unconsciousness and death through oxygen starvation.

The bodies were buried in mass graves in a nearby meadow.

January 1, 1942

Twenty-six allied nations signed the Declaration of the United Nations.

January 2, 1942

The Japanese captured Manila and the U.S. Naval base at Cavite.

January 5, 1942

Tire rationing began in the U.S.

January 7, 1942

The Japanese attacked Bataan in the Philippines.

January 11, 1942

The Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies and Dutch Borneo.

January 13, 1942

The Germans began a U-boat offensive along the U.S. east coast.

January 16, 1942

The Japanese invaded and began an advance into Burma.

January 18, 1942

The German, Japanese, and Italian militaries signed an agreement in Berlin.

January 19, 1942

The Japanese took North Borneo.

January 20, 1942

Heinrich Himmler’s second in command of the SS, Reinhard Heydrich, convened the Nazis’ Wannsee Conference (Wannsee was a suburb of Berlin) to coordinate the “Final Solution.” Fifteen top Nazi bureaucrats and members of the SS met to determine how the Nazis would exterminate the eleven million Jews of Europe and the Soviet Union.

Heydrich declared,

Europe would be combed of Jews from east to west.

The minutes of the meeting (read the full minutes via a link at the bottom of this post) were taken by Adolf Eichmann, but Heydrich edited them and substituted the Nazis’ coded language in reference to lethal actions against the Jews. For example,

“…eliminated by natural causes,” meant death by hard labor and starvation.

“…transported to the east,” referred to mass deportations to ghettos in occupied Poland, then on to the gas chamber.

“…treated accordingly,” referred to execution by SS firing squad or death by gas, also sometimes referred to as “special treatment” or “special actions.”

January 21, 1942

Erwin Rommel began a counter-offensive from El Agheila.

January 23, 1942

The Japanese took Rabaul on New Britain in the Solomon Islands and invaded Bougainville, the largest island.

January 26, 1942

The first American forces arrived in Great Britain.

January 27, 1942

The first Japanese warship to be destroyed by the US Navy, I-73, was sunk by a U.S. submarine, the USS Gudgeon.

January 30/31, 1942

The British withdrew into Singapore, beginning the siege of Singapore.

January 31, 1942

SS Einsatzgruppe A (a paramilitary death squad) reported a total of 229,052 Jews killed.

February 1, 1942

Mass deportations of Jews from Western Europe to Poland’s extermination camps began.

The first U.S. aircraft carrier offensive of the war occurred as the USS Yorktown and USS Enterprise conducted air raids on Japanese bases in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands.

February 2, 1942

The Japanese invaded Java in the Dutch East Indies.

February 8/9, 1942

The Japanese invaded Singapore.

February 14, 1942

The Japanese invaded Sumatra in the Dutch East Indies.

February 15, 1942

The British surrendered to the Japanese at Singapore which had one million civilian inhabitants. Winston Churchill called it the “worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history” with nine thousand British, Australian, and other British Empire troops killed and 130,000 captured by the Japanese.

February 19, 1942

Japan staged their largest air raid since Pearl Harbor against Darwin, Australia.

The Japanese invaded Bali.

U.S. President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans along the West Coast.

February 20, 1942

Lt. Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare, for whom Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport was later named, became the Navy’s first flying ace when he single-handedly attacked a wave of nine Japanese heavy bombers approaching his aircraft carrier, the USS Lexington off Rabaul. He managed to shoot down five of the enemy bombers.

[Two months later, on April 21, 1942, O’Hare became the first naval recipient of WWII’s Medal of Honor. On November 26, 1943, O’Hare was killed defending the USS Enterprise. See more about Edward O’Hare via the link below].

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered General MacArthur out of the Philippines.

February 23, 1942

The first Japanese attack on the U.S. mainland occurred near Santa Barbara, California when a Japanese submarine shelled an oil refinery.

February 24, 1942

The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Enterprise attacked the Japanese on Wake Island.

February 26, 1942

The U.S.’s first aircraft carrier, the USS Langley, was sunk by Japanese bombers.

February 27 – March 1, 1942

Allied naval forces were heavily damaged by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Battle of the Java Sea, including the sinking of America’s largest warship in the Far East, the USS Houston.

March 1942

The Belzec extermination camp became operational in occupied Poland. The permanent gas chambers first had engines placed outside the chamber and carbon monoxide was piped into the chambers. Later Zyklon-B gas was used in exterminations.

March 4, 1942

Two Japanese “flying boats” bombed Pearl Harbor.

The USS Enterprise attacked Marcus Island, only a thousand miles from Japan.

March 7, 1942

The British evacuated Rangoon in Burma.

The Japanese invaded Salamaua and Lae on New Guinea.

March 8, 1942

The Dutch on Java surrendered to the Japanese.

Japanese forces captured Rangoon, evacuated by the British just the day before.

March 9, 1942

The Dutch East Indies surrendered to the Japanese.

March 11, 1942

Under orders from U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur left Corregidor in the Philippines. Left behind were 90,000 American and Filipino troops who would soon fall to the Japanese. MacArthur and his family were flown to Australia. General Jonathan Wainwright became the new U.S. senior field commander of all U.S. and Filipino forces in the Philippine Islands.

March 13, 1942

U.S. Army Air Force airmen arrived in Karachi, India as America entered the China-Burma-India theater. [George Edwin Farrar’s older brother Carroll was stationed in Burma during the war as part of the 315th Air Service Squadron].

March 17, 1942

Jews were deported from Lublin, Poland to the Belzec extermination camp. Twenty-thousand were murdered in the camp by the end of the month.

March 18, 1942

U.S. President Roosevelt appointed General Douglas MacArthur commander of the Southwest Pacific Theater.

The U.S. War Relocation Authority was established. The Authority led to nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans and resident Japanese to be forcefully transported to ten barb-wired internment camps. Despite this, over 17,000 Japanese-Americans signed up to fight for the U.S. in World War II in Europe, including the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was the most decorated unit in U.S. history.

March 23, 1942

The Japanese invaded the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.

March 24, 1942

U.S. Navy Admiral Chester Nimitz was appointed Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific theater.

March 24, 1942

The deportation of Slovak Jews to Auschwitz began.

March 27, 1942

The deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz began.

March 28, 1942

German Nazi politician Ernst Friedrich Christoph “Fritz” Sauckel was named Chief of Manpower to expedite recruitment of slave labor.

March 30, 1942

The first trainloads of Jews from Paris arrived at Auschwitz.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

The History Place: Full meeting minutes of the Wannsee Conference

Wikipedia: Edward O’Hare

Wikipedia: 442nd Regimental Combat Team

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1941

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019


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