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February 2nd, 1942 (MONDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Glasgow: A reception committee of workmen at Harland and Wolff shipbuilders greet a trade union delegation from Russia.   

The British Naval Staff reports that the German battleships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst will probably attempt to leave Brest, in occupied France, and pass up the English Channel through the Straits of Dover. 

Minesweeping trawlers HMS Cloughton Wyke and Cape Spartel sunk by German aircraft off the Humber.

GERMANY: Because the British have been usually calling the Japanese "Japs", the Berlin broadcasts of the German Transocean News Agency last week began referring to the British as "Brits". (William Rinaman)

EGYPT: The Cabinet resigns after a dispute with King Farouk regarding his pro-Axis sympathies. 

LIBYA: General Claude Auchinleck, Commander in Chief Middle East Command, orders the British Eighth Army to hold Tobruk as a supply base for a future offensive. 

AUSTRALIA: HQ of the USAAF’s 49th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), with its three subordinate squadrons, arrives at Melbourne, Victoria, from the U.S. with P-40s. The aircraft are in crates and must be assembled and the vast majority of the pilots do not have the skills to survive in combat and must undergo combat training. The first squadron will fly their first mission in March. 

Minesweeper HMAS Rockhampton commissioned.

NEW GUINEA: The Japanese launched their first air raid on Port Moresby in New Guinea, in preparation for a planned amphibious assault.

NETHERLANDS EAST INDIES: The Japanese begin a combined, concentrated attack against Australian troops at Laha Airdrome on Ambon Island using infantry, dive-bombers, fighter planes, warships and artillery; the Japanese capture the airfield by mid-morning. Later in the day, the surviving Australians at Laha approached the Japanese with surrender negotiations, sending at least ten representatives under the commanding officer at Laha, Major Newbury, waving a white flag. The Australian party was escorted to the village of Suakodo, where the local Japanese HQ was located, and held captive for the night at the village school. 
     Japanese minesweeper W.9 is sunk, and minesweepers W.11 and W.12 are damaged, by Dutch mines off Ambon Island. 

PACIFIC OCEAN: The submarine USS Seadragon (SS-194) sinks a Japanese army cargo ship off Cape Bolinao, Luzon. 

COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: On Bataan, the II Corps attacks to clear the Japanese bridgehead, at first employing the 31st Engineer Battalion, Philippine Army (PA), and then reinforcing with elements of the 41st Infantry, PA, after Japanese opposition proves stubborn. The Japanese completes withdrawal from the bridgehead during the of night 2-3 February. In the I Corps area, an armoured platoon of U.S. 192d Tank Battalion and a platoon of the 1st Battalion, 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, attempt unsuccessfully to reduce the Big Pocket. In the South Sector, Company C of the 192d Tank Battalion assists the Scouts in another attack on the Quinauan Point beachhead, but results are no more satisfactory. Other Scout battalions (2d Battalion of the 45th Infantry; 3d and 1st Battalions of the 57th Infantry) attack abreast to clear the Anyasan-Silaiim sector, making slow progress except on left, where no opposition is met. 

TERRITORY OF HAWAII: The Hawaiian Air Force activates the VII Interceptor Command at Ft Shafter. 


Under provisions of Public Law 403 passed by the Congress and signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, clocks in the U.S. are advanced one hour year-round, i.e., Greenwich Mean Time minus four hours.. This law remains into effect until 30 September 1945.

The motion picture "Kings Row" premieres at the Astor Theater in New York City. Directed by Sam Wood, this small-town drama based on a Henry Bellamann novel stars Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan, Charles Coburn, Claude Rains and Judith Anderson.

Washington: Lt-General Joseph Stilwell is appointed chief of staff to Supreme Commander, China Theatre, Chiang Kai-shek and C-in-C of the US forces in the Chinese theatre. He is directed by the US War department to "increase the effectiveness of United States assistance to the Chinese Government for the prosecution of the war and to assist in improving the combat efficiency of the Chinese Army."

Two B-25 Mitchell medium bombers are loaded onto the aircraft carrier USS HORNET. The ship then steams out of sight of land.

Lieutenant John F. Fitzgerald then revs up his engines to the maximum and, at the signal from the launching officer, roars down the deck and takes off. (107)

Large cruiser USS Guam laid down.

Submarine USS Jack laid down.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-581 (Type VIIC) is sunk in the mid-Atlantic south-west of the Azores, in approximate position 39.00N, 30.00W, by the British destroyer HMS Westcott. 4 dead and 41 survivors. U-581 was sunk near the coast of Pico Island, in front of a place called Guidaste.

One of the officers, Ltn. Walter Sitek, managed to swim 6 km to shore where he was picked up by the locals. He then managed to pass through neutral Spain and make his way to Germany again when he again went to sea on a U-boat. Oblt. Walter Sitek commanded 3 boats (U-17, U-981 and U-3005) during the rest of the war and survived the fighting. The rest of the crew, 37 men, were picked up by the British destroyer and taken to POW camp being finally released in 1947. (Alex Gordon)

The unescorted and unarmed tanker, from Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso) W.L. Steed (6,182 tons) was struck by one torpedo at 1940 in bad and cold weather about 90 miles (145 kilometres) east of the mouth of the Delaware River, and was abandoned by all crewmembers in four lifeboats. U-103 surfaced and fired 17 shells into the hull until a second torpedo exploded her cargo and sank her 50 minutes after the first hit. The four lifeboats later drifted apart. Two survivors in boat 2 (14 of 16 men aboard had died of exposure) were picked up four days later by the British SS Hartlepool, but one died in hospital in Halifax on 10 February. Three others in boat 3 (had have 5 men aboard) were picked up by AMC HMS Alcantara on 10 February. Boat 4 (had 14 men aboard) was found on 12 February by the British SS Raby Castle with four men onboard, but only one was alive. The man died three days later aboard the ship. Boat 1, with three men, had cleared the ship first. But it was never found. (The Mexican tanker Poza Rica found an empty boat on 19 February northwest of Cape Hatteras, it may have been boat 1 from WL Steed) (Jack McKillop and Dave Shirlaw)

Tanker Corilla sunk by U-751 in Convoy HX-173.


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