February 1942 (1)

(top) Navy plane over Wotjie Atoll, smoke is from fuel & ammo dump eruption.  (bottom) 2 US vessels during battle

(top) Navy plane over Wotjie Atoll, smoke is from fuel & ammo dump eruption. (bottom) 2 US vessels during battle

 

1 February – Adm. Halsey sent aircraft from the Enterprise and Yorktown to strafe and bomb Kwajalein and 5 other sites during the Marshall-Gilbert raids.  A fleet that also included the Salt Lake City and Northhampton.  Enemy transports were sunk or damaged and the Japanese commanding admiral was killed, at the cost of 13 planes.  The enemy retaliated and hit the Enterprise.  The US exaggerated the success of this battles by using headlines that read, “Pearl Harbor Avenged.”

Further information on this___Link Here.

In the Java/Sumatra area, allied naval forces were small compared tho the enemy fleet.  After a confrontation occurred between the two sides, the USS Marblehead found it necessary to go to Ceylon for repairs and the Houston‘s rear turret was out of commission.  Australian and Dutch troops on Sumatra were driven south.  The following day, the Dutch naval base at Surabya, on Java, was heavily damaged by an enemy air attack.

Port facilities at Oosthaven, Sumatra destroyed.

Port facilities at Oosthaven, Sumatra destroyed.

4 February – in the Madura Strait, Netherlands RAdm. Doorman suffered a massive air attack as his allied naval forces attempted to intercept a Japanese invasion fleet off Borneo.  One Dutch cruiser and 2 US cruisers were damaged.  10-20 February – the Japanese made paratrooper drops on Sumatra as Borneo and Celebes went under the enemy’s control.  The Japanese then followed up with jumps on Kupang, Timor.  Dutch and US ships engaged the enemy’s navy in the Badeong Strait (east of Bali).  One Japanese destroyer was damaged and the Dutch lost 2 vessels.

Japanese at Singapore

Japanese at Singapore

Gen. Percival had made the error of concentrating his force of the 18th British Division on the coastline of Singapore and the 22nd Australian Brigade in the dense mangrove swamps.  On 7 February – Gen. Yamashita sent the Konoye Division across the strait, headed directly to those swamps.  By dawn of the following day, 30,000 enemy troops were ashore attacking in bayonet charges during the pouring rain and pushed the Allies into retreat.  The 27th Brigade, in the central area were left defending their front.  13 February – almost all of the ships carrying evacuees fell prey to the enemy bombers and vessels; the Japanese picked up some of the survivors.

The ABDACOM area of responsibility

The ABDACOM area of responsibility

Despite Churchill’s insistence that Singapore could hold out for 6 months, the ‘City of Lions’ fell.  15 February – at 1800 hours, Percival and his officers emerged from his headquarters in front of Japanese reporters and newsreel cameramen to record a stage-managed surrender to Yamashita.  The battles had cost both sides about 10,000 men.  European women and children were then incarcerated in Changi camp and thousands of Chinese civilians were executed.  On the Japanese home front, the government decreed 2 bottles of beer or sake per family and a bag of candy for the children in celebration.

The staged Singapore surrender.

The staged Singapore surrender.

Sir Max Hastings, British journalist, historian and author, has said, “At Singapore the Japanese had a brilliant general and a terrific army up against one of the most incompetent range of commanders that the British army has ever put in the field.”  Hastings believes that the “British forces in Singapore was not unique in the context of the Second War War…the British convinced themselves that if the other side had air superiority, then the British were entitled to expect to lose the ground battle….The British Army was just not very good.”

The Japanese continued to advance to Burma and the Allied ABDA Air Command was down to 55 fighters.  Gen. Wavell sent a cable out: “Loss of Java, though a severe blow…would not be fatal.  Efforts should NOT therefore be made to reinforce Java which might compromise Burma and Australia.”  Prime Minister Curtin recalled his 1st Australian Division from sailing across the Indian Ocean.  But, Churchill interceded and redirected the division to Rangoon, telling Curtin, “…your greatest support in this our of peril must be drawn from the U.S.” (Once again, Australia had lost a method of self-defense).

Click on images to enlarge.

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Humor –  Aussie and British style today….

Tank crew poster at Aberdeen training grounds.

Tank crew poster at Aberdeen training grounds.

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Owen Boyd – Lynnwood, WA; US Army, Korea

Tom Chappell – Born in England, Belle Glade, FL; RAF & RCAF, WWII, instructor at Clewiston, FL pilot & Bombardier school

Keith Dawson – Manurewa, NZ; RNZ Army # 815463 / RNZ Air Force # 44883, WWIIlib-bell

William Howell – South Jordan, UT; US Army, Korea, 4th Signal Battalion

Obrad Marinkovich – San Antonio, TX; US Air Force, fighter pilot (Ret. 30 years)

Bernard Murphy, FL; US Army, MSgt (Ret. 22 years), Korea & Vietnam

John O’Kane – Waltham, MA; US Army, WWII, ETOGeorge Scherr – Washington, IL; US Army, Korea, Engineers

Henry Turner – Canton, GA; US Army, WWII mortar crew, Korea & Vietnam

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on October 20, 2014, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 62 Comments.

  1. A catastrophic time all round, it was the telling point in the fall of Singapore.
    British commanders not reading or interpreting the signs all round.
    Then began the legends of the Australians incarcerated in Changi
    where the Japanese atrocities new no bounds.
    Emu

    Like

    • I just finished reading “Surviving the Sword” about those men. That is NOT a book for the faint of heart.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Back in 1964-65 I was managing the accounts payable section of AMI in Fishermen’s Bend Melbourne Victoria ( I always bung in the Vic bit don’t want to get mixed up with Florida), I only had two men working with/for me in this department onewas Charlie Cook, the other was Reg, I can’t recall Reg’s last name. The rest of my staff was young women.

      They were both 20 years or more older than what I was and had both served in WWII, Charlie in the British forces he being a Pom, and Reg in the Australian Army. Neither spoke much about their war service, even though this was only 19-20 years after the end of WWII.

      Reg was the quieter one of the two, although he had a vicious wit at times. He also had an unusual gift, for want of a better word. he liked flies and blowflies and never killed them. They could settle on his arms and he would just look at them, he would never brush them from his forehead.

      This in Melbourne especially in the stinking humid hot summers that they sometimes experience as anybody that’s lived there can attest is bordering on the insane. They drive you mad. The ‘Great Australian Salute” is everywhere.

      Anyway Reg didn’t give a damn, so curiosity got the better of me and I asked him why he didn’t kill the pests and this is what he told me, unfortunately not verbatim. “when I was in Changi the flies would settle and lay their eggs into sores and wounds and the maggots would eat all that was rotten and decaying and then we would clean the wound after they’d left and it would heal” .

      He told me that had it not been for the flies he would most certainly have died in Changi as they cleaned his wounds.

      I accepted what Reg told me without question, why should I doubt him? He was an ex-POW from Changi; he’d survived, but never spoke about it unless asked and then reluctantly. Perhaps with his comrades in arms who suffered there it was different, I’ll never know.

      He never ever killed or harmed a fly in all the time we worked together.

      AMI mentioned in the first paragraph was Australian Motor Industres and they imported cars, knocked down, and assembled them in Fishermen’s Bend.

      The vehicles? From the USA the Nash Ramblers. From Great Britain, the Triumphs (the sportscar) and from Japan the Toyota’s. ( the Crown & Corona).

      Reg thought that was kind of humorous and kind of poetic justice for some reason.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The story about the maggots is probably true to the last word. At Bellvue Hospital, NY, an intern noticed that a homeless man with maggots on his wound and a clean-cut patient with a similar wound were recovering at different rates. When he removed the insects, the recovery slowed. Thanks for sharing Reg’s story, he had stamina that one to survive Changi.

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        • He must have indeed, plus endless courage I imagine. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t given much thought to him in years; it was following your posts that re-awakened the memory of Reg and what he and his comrades suffered.

          PTS wasn’t known back then but if any should have suffered from it .it was the prisoners of Changi. The true hero of Changi a man revered in Australian History and it should be world history IMHO is “Weary” Dunlop. Probably the most couragous of all prisoners of war and of the Japs in particular.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Dunlop

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          • Weary Dunlop is mentioned quite often in “Surviving the Sword”, which I just finished reading. When I get to the prisoners in other posts – he will HAVE to be mentioned. Thank you for the link, it will add to the data!!

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  2. History always has been a favorite subject of mine, and war history is at the top. I don’t know what it is that fascinates me about people killing people in the name of [country/family/religion/______________). I just finished an interesting book titled “The Crusades.” ISIS has absolutely nothing on the Arabs, Christians, Turks, etc. from the Crusades. History is merely repeating itself, and because too few people study history, we simply repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again.

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    • Quite true, Russell. It was beyond me why we would ever go into after Afghanistan when so many other other nations were unable to make a dent in the place. Maybe since our Congress is only about 18% military vets – how many are history buffs?

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  3. Sitting reading this all these years later, I get shivers up my spine thinking about what happened.

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  4. You have so much information and history on your blog I am intrigued looking around will look for more

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  5. Good ol’ Max~! I didn’t know he was a ‘Sir’ … well done at last, an honour where deserved.

    In the meantime the story seems to be unending hubris, hubris, hubris — but face it, what threat could little yellow men armed with swords possibly be to the Mightiest Empire the world has ever known? Hell, they all have to wear bottle-glass spectacles, for Gawd sake~!

    Knight takes queen—check.

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    • That’s how they felt at the time and I really don’t see WHY. Japan had defeated Russia in their war, China in theirs – they had won all their wars – yet the Anglos felt they were no threat? Thanks for coming by, Argus.

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  6. A great book on at least part of this discussion is ‘Last Stand of the Tincan Sailors’. It’s at the top of my military favorites.

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  7. Once again the details to your posts really put a picture in my mind of what was going on, Everett!

    Like

  8. This tends to be a war which is less well remembered here in England. It is always a surprise to see that the Dutch were fighting there. I seem to remember that their oil production was in the world’s top four along with Venezuela, the USA and the Soviet Union. Do your quotes from Max Hastings come from “Finest Years: Churchill As Warlord 1940-45”? I was genuinely shocked to find out that in the early war years particularly, Churchill had huge doubts about the basic courage of British troops, and the competence of their commanders. The great man, of course, had seen combat and participated in what has been called the last cavalry charge in history at Omdurman, in the Sudan in the 19th century. Another great post, by the way!.

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    • Sir Hastings’ quote was from WW2history.com. Churchill (IMO) was similar to MacArthur in that they both felt they were the only military leaders who knew how to run a war. The Dutch were in the Pacific, but not enough quantity to ably defend their satellites. I’m thankful for your loyal reading here, John.

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      • I know it’s been a long long time since the Declaration of Independence and one is inclined to forget the correct form of address, Sir Max Hastings should be addressed as Sir Max not Sir Hastings, before his elevtion to the knighthood he would have been addressed as Mr. Hastings> 🙂 🙂 🙂

        See we still know how to do things here in the colony (Australia) 😦 😦 The Australian Republic is along time coming .

        😉

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        • Thanks for the correction – I’m not accustomed to having Knights – and no royalty here in the US (although some people seem to think they are 😉 ) I think Australia is great, I just don’t understand the overwhelming attraction to the UK.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Something to do with the umbilical cord I think, we had a referendum some years back and the forelock tugging politicians worded it so that the vote turned out to be a vote to remain a colony.

            In 2008 I stood before the Liberty Bell in Philly and the tears flowed as I felt the presence of men like John Adams, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Great feeling, and I thought of the weak excuses Australia has for politicians.

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            • Ahem…if you’ll notice, you mentioned politicians we HAD. I don’t know of one we have to today that is fit to shine their boots. As far as today’s politicians are concerned – you and I are in the same boat, IMO!!!!!

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  9. Always so much to learn from you. Fascinating!

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  10. gp, As always the details behind the history staggers my mind & peaks my interest!!! Phil

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  11. Adm “Bull” Halsey a great USN Admiral who I believe is much maligned by the powers that be in the US. I wrote a blog/post on this subject sometime back You don’t get to be a 5 Star Admiral witout being an extraordinary sailor and Bull Halsey was every bit an extraordinary man!

    http://lordbeariofbow.com/2012/07/30/admiral-wm-f-halsey-jr-president-ronald-reagan/

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    • Oh, I completely agree with you! I have yet to find anything against him actually – he even got along with MacArthur! Thanks for the link – it helps to complete the post.

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  12. I appreciate your posts. My father with in the South Pacific during WWII. I wish I’d paid better attention to his stories and thanked him for his service. Thanks for liking one of my posts on nutsrok.

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  13. Max Hastings accounts of all the major world conflicts is invaluable. I have his WW1 book ‘Catastrophe’ and I have read it from cover to cover twice now !

    Like

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