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February 14th, 1942 (SATURDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Bomber Command after a period of conserving its strength, is being sent back into the attack. It has today been issued with a new directive instructing it to focus its attacks "on the morale of the enemy civil population and, in particular, of the industrial workers."

The Area Bombing Directive is based on the introduction into service of the new four-engined Avro Lancaster bomber and a radio-beam navigational device known as "Gee". It has been recognized for some time that the RAF's bombers have great difficulty in finding their targets at night. According to the directive: "The introduction of this equipment on operations should be regarded as a revolutionary advance in bombing technique which  ... will enable results to be obtained of a much more effective nature."

The directive also means that open season has been declared on civilian as well as military targets in Germany.

FRANCE: During the night of 14/15th, 15 RAF Bomber Command aircraft attack Le Havre while one Manchester flies a leaflet mission. There are no losses.  

GERMANY: During the night of the 14/15th, 98 aircraft of RAF Bomber Command attack Mannheim; a Hampden and a Whitley are lost. Sixty seven aircraft claimed to have bombed the city in difficult conditions however, the Germans report only a light raid, with two buildings destroyed, 15 damaged, some railway damage and with one man wounded and 23 people bombed out. 

U-737 laid down.

U-178, U-336 commissioned.

U-617 launched.


SINGAPORE: The city is surrounded by the Japanese 18th Division in the west, the 5th Division in the northwest and the Guards Division to the north and northeast. The Japanese burst into Alexandra Military Hospital and bayonet a number of the staff and patients, including one patient lying on the operating table. They then herd 150 into a bungalow and execute them tomorrow.  
     General Archibald Wavell, Commander in Chief ABDA Command, signals Lieutenant General Arthur Percival, General Officer Commanding Malaya Command, to fight on in Singapore, but adds it would "be wrong to enforce needless slaughter." If it is no longer possible to resist, "I give you discretion to cease resistance...Whatever happens I thank you for gallant efforts of last few days." Brigadier Ivan Simson tells Percival that there's only enough water for 48 hours. "While there's water," Percival says, "We fight on." Supplies of food and ammunition are also dwindling rapidly. 

Tugs HMS Pengawal, St Breock and St Just sunk by Japanese aircraft near Singapore.

NETHERLANDS EAST INDIES: Sumatra: The Japanese invade Sumatra. More than 700 Japanese paratroopers trying to capture Palembang, the last oilfield in the Dutch East Indies still in Allied hands, are facing stiff resistance.

At 0800 hours, Japanese bombers attack Palembang airdrome, codenamed P1, followed by fighters which strafe the airfield and provide cover for by 34 Kawasaki Ki-56, Army Type 1 Freight Transports (export version of the Lockheed Model 14 later given the Allied Code Name “Thalia”) carrying paratroopers. The paratroops are dropped at three points to capture the airfields in readiness for sea landings tomorrow by Vice-Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's western force.. The first drop of 260 paratroopers was over the airdrome and the second drop of 100 paratroopers was over an oil refinery nearby. Palembang, which produces 55% of the Dutch East Indies' oil, has been heavily fortified. The Japanese appear unaware of a second airbase, codenamed P2, where 50 Hurricanes are waiting to attack Ozawa's fleet. The airfield is defended by about 150 British AA troops, 110 Dutch soldiers and 60 RAF ground crew. The Japanese attack the airdrome all day, suffering 80 percent casualties, but are unable to capture it. The Japanese capture the refinery but it is later taken by Dutch troops from Palembang II airdrome. The Allied troops attempt to destroy the oil refinery but only the oil storage tanks are set ablaze. During ensuing Allied air attacks on the Japanese invasion convoy, RAF Blenheims bomb and sink a merchant ship off Palembang. 

Yesterday Ozawa's 25-ship task force was bombed by Australian aircraft from Palembang as it stood off the Anamba Islands.

If Palembang falls Australia's oil supplies will have to come from the United States or the Persian Gulf. 

After escaping from the fall of Singapore, river gunboat HMS Dragonfly is sunk in an air attack off Posik Island, East Sumatra. Again the number of survivors is uncertain as it is not known how many escapees she was carrying or how many were shot after the sinking or their fate during captivity.

 After escaping the fall of Singapore, river gunboat Grasshopper is sunk in an air attack off Posik Island, east of Sumatra. The ship’s dog Pointer is amongst the survivors and proved invaluable in locating sources of freshwater. (Alex Gordon)(108)

On Java, Vice Admiral Conrad E. L. Helfrich of the Royal Netherlands Navy succeeds Admiral Thomas C. Hart USN as commander of the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) Combined Naval Striking Force. 

ABDAFloat orders a task force (Rear Admiral Karel Doorman, RNN) to proceed and attack the Japanese Palembang-bound expeditionary force. As Doorman's ships, heavy cruiser HMS Exeter, light cruisers HMAS Hobart, HNMS De Ruyter, HNMS Java and HNMS Tromp and ten destroyers heads toward its objective, destroyer HNMS Van Ghent runs aground on a reef north of Banka Island; irreparably damaged, she is scuttled and sister ship HNMS Banckert takes off the crew. 
    The small vessel SS Vyner Brooke, carrying about 300 civilians escaping from Singapore, is bombed and sunk off Banka Island. Passengers include 65 nurses of the 2/13th Australian General Hospital; 22 of them survive as a group and reached Radjik Beach in a boat. 

Submarine USS Sailfish ended her second war patrol at Tjilatjap.

Submarine USS Seal arrives at Tjilatjap.

JAVA SEA: Lt. Thomas Wilkinson (b.1898), RNR, Comm ander of HMS LI WO, and auxiliary patrol vessel armed only with one 4-inch gun, engaged Japanese warships escorting a convoy; he set a transport on fire before LI WO was sunk by a heavy cruiser. He went down with her. There were ten survivors. (Victoria Cross)

Another casualty on the LI WO was A.S. William Thomas Snow (B.E.M.), the helmsman. (Diane Snow)

Full text of the award:


 Whitehall, S.W.I.

 17th December, 1946.


 The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS


 The late Temporary Lieutenant Thomas WILKINSON, Royal Naval Reserve.


 On I4th February, 1942, H.M. Ship Li Wo, a patrol vessel of 1,000 tons, formerly a passenger steamer on the Upper Yangtse River, was on passage from Singapore to Batavia. Her ship's company consisted of eighty-four officers and men, including one civilian; they were mainly survivors from His Majesty's Ships which had been sunk, and a few from units of the Army and the Royal Air Force. Her armament was one 4 inch gun, for which she had only thirteen practice shells, and two machine guns.


 Since leaving Singapore .the previous day, the ship had beaten off four air attacks, in one of which fifty-two machines took part, and had suffered considerable damage. Late in the afternoon, she sighted two enemy convoys, the larger of which was escorted by Japanese naval units, including a heavy cruiser and some destroyers. The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant T. Wilkinson, R.N.R., gathered his scratch ship's company together and told them that, rather than try to escape, he had decided to engage the convoy and to fight to the last, in the hope that he might inflict damage upon the enemy. In making this decision, which drew resolute support from the whole ship's company, Lieutenant Wilkinson knew that his ship faced certain destruction, and that his own chances of survival were small.


 H.M.S,. Li Wo hoisted her battle ensign and made straight for the enemy. In the action which followed, the machine guns were used with effect upon the crews of all ships in range, and a volunteer gun's crew manned the 4 inch gun, which they fought with such purpose that a Japanese transport was badly hit and set on fire.


 After a little over an hour, H.M.S Li Wo had been critically damaged and was sinking Lieutenant Wilkinson then decided to ram his principal target, the large transport, which had been abandoned by her crew. It is known that this ship burnt fiercely throughout the night following the action, and was probably sunk.


 H.M.S. Li Wo's gallant fight ended when, her shells spent, and under heavy fire from the enemy cruiser, Lieutenant Wilkinson finally ordered abandon ship. He himself remained on board, and went down with her. There were only about ten survivors, who were later made prisoners of war.


 Lieutenant Wilkinson's valour was equalled only by the skill with which he fought his ship. The VICTORIA CROSS is bestowed upon him posthumously in recognition both of his own heroism and self-sacrifice, and of that of all who fought and died with him.


 London Gazette Issue 37819 published on the 13 December 1946 page

6125  (Daniel Ross)

COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: On Bataan, the I Corps further reduces the Japanese salient in the main line of resistance, which is now about half its original size. 
     On Mindanao, submarine USS Sargo (SS-188) delivers one million rounds of 30-calibre (7.62 mm) ammunition to Polloc Harbor and evacuates 24 USAAF ground crewmen of the 14th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy). Meanwhile, submarine USS Swordfish (SS-193) torpedoes and sinks a Japanese transport off Davao. 

PACIFIC OCEAN:  Japanese submarine HIJMS I-23 is last reported south of Oahu, Territory of Hawaii. She is not heard from again, and her fate is unknown. 

WAKE ISLAND: A B-17 Flying Fortress of the USAAF 7th Air Force based in Hawaii flies a photo reconnaissance mission over the island. 

CANADA: Minesweeper HMCS Stratford launched Toronto, Ontario.

U.S.A.: Director Frank Capra is called up for duty with the Army Signal Corps.

"Blues In The Night (My Mama Done Tol' Me)" by Woody Herman And His Orchestra reaches Number 1 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in the U.S. The song was from the motion picture "Blues In The Night" starring Priscilla Lane, Lloyd Nolan and Jack Carson. This song, which debuted on the charts on 10 January 1942, was charted for 11 weeks, was Number 1 for 1 week and was ranked Number 8 for the year 1942.

“This Is War!,” a 30-minute 13-week anti-fascist radio series, debuts this Saturday night at 1900 hours Eastern Time. This is the only radio series to air on all four networks, The Blue Network, CBS, Mutual and NBC. The program features such Hollywood stars as James Stewart, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Tyrone Power in shows that promote the Army, Navy, and Air Force and help Americans understand themselves and the enemy. 

Washington: The U. S. Armys Western defence Command sends a memorandum to the Secretary of War recommending the evacuation of Japanese and other subversive persons from the Pacific Coast area. February 19, 1942:

President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues Executive Order 9066, which empowers the Secretary of War or any military commander authorized by him to designate military areas and exclude any and all persons from them. Shortly before signing the Executive Order, the President received a memorandum from his advisers which said, In time of national peril, any reasonable doubt must be resolved in favor of action to preserve the national safety, not for the purpose of punishing those whose liberty may be temporarily affected by such action, but for the purpose of protecting the freedom of the nation, which may be long impaired, if not permanently lost, by nonaction.. (Scott Peterson) More...

Fleet tug USS Sioux laid down.

Anti-aircraft cruiser USS Juneau commissioned at Berth 16, alongside Pier 2, Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York. First and only commanding officer was Captain Lyman Knute Swenson, USN (born 23 October 1892, Pleasant Grove, Iowa). The first and only Executive Officer was Commander Walter Ellery Moore, USN (born 9 April 1900, California).

Fleet tug USS Menominee launched.

Minesweeper USS Reliable launched.

Seaplane tender USS Rockaway launched.

Submarine USS Wahoo launched.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: At 0337, the Empire Spring, dispersed from convoy ON-63 (convoy commodore), was torpedoed and sunk by U-576 southeast of Sable Island. The master, the commodore, 41 crewmembers, five gunners and five naval staff members were lost.


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