11: The Japanese land on Mindanao, the southernmost island in the Philippines.
12: American troops begin to land in Nouméa, New Caledonia; 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 Solomon Islands, 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 Manila Bay; the retreat to Corregidor begins.
17: U.S. General Douglas MacArthur 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.
20: Operation Outward 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 Lübeck, destroying over 30% of the city, and 80% of the medieval centre. Hitler is outraged.
British commandos launch Operation Chariot, a raid on the port at Saint Nazaire, France. HMS Campbeltown, 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.
1: The 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 Dönitz, 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.
The 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 ABDA Command.
2: Over 24,000 sick and starving troops (American and Filipino) are now trapped on the Bataan Peninsula.
Japanese make landings on New Guinea, most importantly at Hollandia.
3: Japanese forces begin an all-out assault on United States and Filipino troops in Bataan.
Adolf Hitler issues 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 Caucasus; a secondary thrust is to capture Stalingrad and protect the flank of the main advance.
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 Cebu Island, a large middle island of the Philippines.
14: Winston Churchill, 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 General Auchinleck to take offensive action before this can occur.
17: French General Henri Giraud, 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.
The Eastern Sea Frontier, the 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.
20: General Dobbie, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of Malta, sends a message to Winston Churchill 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 Lord Gort.
In the Coral Sea, 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.
General Stilwell abandons his trucks, which constantly become stuck and so are actually impeding progress rather than aiding it. He retains his Jeeps, which do better. Late in the day his party arrives at Indaw.
6: On Corregidor, Lt. General Jonathan M. Wainwright surrenders the last U.S. forces in the Philippines to Lt. General Masaharu Homma. 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 Stilwell and his party of 114 set out from Indaw 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 Diego Suarez, the most important port in Madagascar, to British forces involved in Operation Ironclad. However, the Vichy forces are able to withdraw in good order.
In the Coral Sea, Japanese search planes spot refueling ship USS Neosho and destroyer USS Sims, which have retired from Fletcher'sTask Force 17 into what should have been safer waters to refuel Sims. They are mistaken for an aircraft carrier and a cruiser. Japanese Admiral Takagi, believing he has at last found the location of Fletcher's main force, orders a full out attack by carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku 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 USS Lexington and USS Yorktown stumble across light carrier Shōhō while pursuing the false lead and sink her, leading to the first use in the American Navy of the signal, "Scratch one flattop." Admiral Inoue is so alarmed by the loss of Shōhō he halts the Port Moresby invasion group north of the Louisiades until the American carriers can be found and destroyed.
In Burma, General Stilwell 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 Coral Sea, each side finally locates the other's main carrier groups, consisting of Japanese carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku, and American carriers Lexington and Yorktown. Several attacks follow. Only Zuikaku escapes unscathed; Shōkaku has her flight deck bent, requiring two months' repairs; Lexington is sunk and Yorktown 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 Inoue cancels the Port Moresby operation, the first significant failure of a Japanese strategic operation in the Pacific Theatre. In addition, Yorktown will be repaired in time to make important contributions at Midway (although she will not survive), whereas neither the damaged Shōkaku nor Zuikaku (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 Crimea.
9: On the night of 8/9 May 1942, gunners of the Ceylon Garrison Artillery on Horsburgh Island in the Cocos Islands rebelled. Their mutiny was crushed and three of them were executed, the only British Commonwealth soldiers to be executed for mutiny during the Second World War.
USS Wasp and HMS Eagle deliver a second contingent of Spitfires to Malta in Operation Bowery. A few days later, a grateful Churchill will signal Wasp "Who says a Wasp 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 Stilwell and his party begin crossing the Uyu River. 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, Kesselring informs Hitler that Malta has been neutralized.
Churchill, growing ever more frustrated with General Auchinleck's inactivity, finally sends him a telegram with a clear order; attack in time to cover for the Harpoon/Vigorous convoys to Malta 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, CIGS, and the War Cabinet in a state of suspense.
Second Battle of Kharkov – In the eastern Ukraine, Soviet forces of Marshal Timoshenko's Southwest Theatre of Operations, including Gorodnyanski's 6th Army and Kharitonov's 9th Army, initiate a major offensive to capture Kharkov 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 28th Army and 57th Army, the latter two formations having meanwhile cut the railway between Belgorad and Kharkov.
The 33-page Amerika Bomber trans-Atlantic strategic bomber design competition proposal document makes it to Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering's offices, with ten copies printed — six of these were sent to the Luftwaffe, and four held in reserve.
13: General Stilwell and his party cross the Chindwin River. 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 Kharkov area, Hitler orders elements of Richthofen'sFliegerkorps VIII 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 General Kleist, 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 Stilwell and his party begin ascending the Naga Hills. 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.
For once, Adolf Hitler 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 9th Army has routed the Romanian (3rd and/or 4th Army; accounts differ) troops in his path and captured Krasnograd, and is proceeding to Poltava; Gorodnyanski's 6th Army 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 Timoshenko is dismayed by the variety of units, especially armoured units, this handful of men represent (this is because Kleist is concentrating troops in this area in preparation for his counter-offensive). Timoshenko loses confidence and has his Political Officer Nikita Khrushchev ring up the Stavka and ask for permission to halt while he secures his left flank; Stavka refuses.
It has been a week since Churchill sent his ultimatum to General Auchinleck, 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.
In the salient north of Kharkov, the Soviet offensive has bogged down. In the southern salient, Kleist 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 Oksol and Donetz rivers, greatly narrowing the base of the salient. In the process the Germans traverse and disrupt so many lines of communication that Kharitonov's 9th Army begins to lose cohesion as a fighting force, and becomes useless as a screen to protect Gorodnyanski's 6th Army which, because of its northward progress, is badly disposed to repel the German attacks coming from the south.
The Assam Rifles give General Stilwell's party a formal salute in honor of their arrival at Ukhrul, 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.
19: At Kharkov, Kleist's counter-offensive continues to prosper; and now Paulus launches a second counter-attack from the north, designed to link up with Kleist's and encircle as many Soviet troops as possible. The Stavka, gradually becoming aware of the extent of the danger, orders Gorodnyanski's 6th Army to halt their advance. But by now Timoshenko is planning to extricate what forces he can before the two German spearheads link up.
General Stilwell and his party at last reach the truck roadhead at Litan; by this time the monsoon rains have started.
General Auchinleck 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 Malta.
20: The Japanese conquest of Burma is complete; it is called a "military catastrophe". Coincidentally, on this same day General Stilwell arrives in Imphal and dismisses his evacuation party. All 114 have arrived, although some have to be hospitalized due to exhaustion; one of whom, Major Frank Merrill, later commander of Merrill's Marauders, is diagnosed to have had a mild heart attack en route.
At Kharkov, as Kleist's and Paulus' forward elements draw ever closer together, Timoshenko sends his subordinate General Kostenko into the salient to organize a fighting retreat, or, failing that, maximize what can be saved.
Molotov arrives in London, and high-level discussions begin the next day.
At the high-level Soviet/United Kingdom talks in London, Anthony Eden 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 Kerch and Kharkov, 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 positions at Bir Hakeim 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.
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 Spitfires delivered to Malta in Operation Bowery earlier in the month, that Kesselring 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.
Rommel's offensive has stalled out well short of Tobruk, due to resistance by British 1st Armoured Division and 7th Armoured Division, partially equipped with the new American Sherman tanks. 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 position at Bir Hakeim. He orders two lanes cut through the British minefields which run from Gazala to Bir Hakeim, on either side of fortified positions held by the 150th Brigade of 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, Rommel launches an attack on 150th Brigade of 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.
The Battle of Midway opens with ineffective attacks by land-based American B-17s on the approaching Japanese fleet. Admiral Nagumo, in charge of the Japanese carrier force (Hiryu, Soryu, Akagi, and Kaga) 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.
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 USS Hornet, Yorktown, and Enterprise all find the targets, although most of the planes from Hornet follow an incorrect heading and miss this attack. Torpedo Squadron 8 from Hornet breaks and follows the correct heading. The Devastators 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 Yorktown and Enterprise when they arrive. The bombs find the Japanese flight decks crowded with fueling lines and explosive ordnance, and Akagi,Kaga, and Soryu are all soon reduced to blazing hulks, Akagi hit by only one bomb dropped by Lt. Commander Richard Halsey Best; only Hiryu escapes with no hits. Admiral Nagumo shifts his flag from Akagi to another ship, the cruiser Nagara, and orders attacks on the American carriers, one by a group of Aichi D3A dive bombers and a second by Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers. The Japanese planes find Yorktown (thinking Yorktown already sunk, the second attack group assume it must be Enterprise) and damage it so badly that Yorktown must be abandoned. Admiral Fletcher shifts his flag to cruiser Astoria and cedes operational command to Admiral Spruance. The attacks on Yorktown give away Hiryu's continued operations, though, and it is promptly attacked and will sink the next day, Admiral Yamaguchi choosing to go down with it. Of note, Hiryu and the other three destroyed Japanese carriers had participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Reinhard Heydrich, 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 Operation Anthropoid.
5: At Gazala, British forces of the Eighth Army commanded by General Ritchie launch a major counter-attack against Rommel's 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 Ariete and 21st Panzer 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.
A Japanese submarine fires several shells into a residential area in Sydney but with little effect.
9: At Bir Hakeim, Rommel 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 Ritchie orders 1st Free French Brigade to withdraw the following day.
10: Nazis burn the Czech village of Lidice as reprisal for the killing of Reinhard Heydrich. All male adults and children are killed, and all females are taken off to concentration camps.
Rommel pushes the Free French forces out of Bir Hakeim, a fortress south-west of Tobruk. Although the 1st Free French brigade is largely surrounded, their commander, General Koenig, is able to find and fight his way through gaps in Rommel's widely dispersed forces.
11: Two convoys set out for Malta, one from Gibraltar (code named 'Harpoon') and the other from Alexandria (code named 'Vigorous'), 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.
At Gazala, 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).
'Black Saturday' for the 8th Army at 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 50th Division and 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.
14: At the Gazala Line, the British position has become untenable, and General Auchinleck authorizes General Ritchie 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 50th Division must first breakout to the southwest, through the area occupied by Italian X Corps, and then turn east to rejoin 8th Army. This somewhat daring operation is concluded successfully. The RAF forces available, although outnumbered, make a valiant effort to cover the retreat. Churchill 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.'
The convoy 'Vigorous', en route to Malta, sights a large Italian naval squadron headed toward it. 'Harpoon' comes under attack for the first time; 'Vigorous' has been under air attack almost since leaving port.
15: General Auchinleck sends Churchill 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. Operation Harpoon arrives in Malta, 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 Kentucky means that there will be precious little aviation fuel added to the dwindling RAF stocks on Malta. Late in the day, Operation Vigorous is cancelled; the convoy diverts back to Alexandria.
Churchill, about to leave for America, takes the unusual step of sending a letter to King George VI, advising him to make Anthony Eden Prime Minister should Churchill not survive the journey.
17: Tobruk is now surrounded.
18: Manhattan Project is started, the beginning of a scientific approach to nuclear weapons.
Winston Churchill arrives in Washington for meetings with Roosevelt.
The siege of Tobruk intensifies; some defending forces are pulled back to Egypt.
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.
19: Battle of the Atlantic: German Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz orders the last U-boats 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 Kokoda Track.
22: The systematic deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto begins. : Treblinka 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.
The naval Battle of Savo Island, near Guadalcanal; the Americans lose three cruisers, the Australians one.
9: Numerous riots in favour of independence in India; Mahatma Gandhi is arrested.
10: Rommel begins an attack around El Alamein, but by September he is back to his original lines.
11: HMS Eagle, 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 New Hebrides islands.
Fighting increases as the Germans approach Stalingrad.
13: General Bernard Montgomery 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.
17: First 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.
19: Operation Jubilee, a raid by British and Canadian forces on Dieppe, France, ends in disaster; they come under heavy gunfire and eventually most are killed or captured by the German defenders.
20: Henderson Field on Guadalcanal receives its first American fighter planes.
21: Japanese counter-attack at Henderson Field; in another foray at the Tenaru (or Ilu) River, many Japanese are killed in a banzai charge.
22: Brazil 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 Stanislau, 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 Gestapo headquarters; the head of the Judenrat(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 Enterprise is badly damaged and the Japanese lose one light carrier, Ryujo.
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 Oregon.
30: The 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.
Luxembourg is formally annexed to the German Reich.
5: Australian and U.S. forces defeat Japanese forces at Milne Bay, Papua, the first outright defeat for Japanese land forces in the Pacific War. Their evacuation and the failure to establish an airbase eases the threat to Australia.
6: The Black Sea port of Novorossiysk is taken by the Germans.
9: A Japanese plane drops more incendiaries on Oregon, but with little effect.
10: RAF blasts Düsseldorf with large incendiary bombing.
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.
On the Northwest coast of Guadalcanal, 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.
American General Mark Clark secretly lands in Algeria to confer with Vichy officials and Resistance groups in preparation for impending Allied invasion.
23: 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).
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 Operation Torch, 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 Morocco.
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.
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 Oran as part of Operation Torch.
10: In violation of a 1940 armistice, Germany invades Vichy France; they are responding to the fact that French Admiral François Darlan has signed an armistice with the Allies in North Africa.
Oran, Algeria 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".
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.
Operation Harling: a team of British SOE agents, together with over 200 Greek guerrillas from both ELAS and EDES 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 Brisbane. Fighting breaks out which results in fatalities, it is dubbed the Battle of Brisbane.
27: At Toulon, the French navy scuttles its ships (most notably Dunkerque and Strasbourg) 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.
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.