World War II As It Happened
A MaritimeQuest Daily Event Special Presentation
Sunday March 1, 1942
Day 913

March 1, 1942: Front page of The People, London, England.
(Click on the image for a readable version.)
Over the wireless:
Historical note: On this day U-656 was sunk by U.S. Navy aircraft. This was the first U-boat sunk by U.S. forces in World War II.
In March of 1942 the killing center, Birkenau (also known as Auschwitz II,) was opened near the main camp at Auschwitz. Almost 90% of the people murdered at Auschwitz, were killed at Birkenau. It is thought that a million people, or more, were killed and turned into ashes at the killing complex. Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on Jan. 27, 1945.

March 1, 1942: Front page of the Sunday Pictorial, London, England.
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March 1, 1942: Front page of The Sunday Post, Glasgow, Scotland.
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March 1, 1942: Front page of The Sunday Sun, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
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March 1, 1942: Front page of The Sunday Star, Washington, D.C.
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Note the headline report: "Japs Land On Java; Furious Battles Rage"
(Notice that the headlines in the American papers are tamer than they were yesterday. This may indicate that the American press were getting some information that the battle off Java was not going as well as first reported. The NBC radio report [available above] announces that the Dutch had lost 2 cruisers and a destroyer, which was true. Between Feb. 27th and Mar. 9th, the ABDA [American-British-Dutch-Australian] Command would suffer appalling losses, while the Japanese sustained relatively few and successfully invaded Java. The complete details of the coming days can be found in many books and covering them here is far beyond the scope of this page, but I would like to give you some perspective about the events of those days. Keep the following information in mind when you read headlines like;

"Eight Transports Sunk or Damaged - Jap Cruiser And Three Destroyers Sunk" or Big Java Invasion Attempt Foiled" or "Big Sea Victory Off Java" all which appear on this page.

Feb. 25: The Japanese depart for the invasion of Java. They are split into two forces, which was the typical Japanese tactic, one which almost always failed. Almost one hundred transports ships of all sizes were escorted by a huge force of cruisers, destroyers, minesweepers, submarine chasers, and all kinds of support vessels. Air cover was provided by the aircraft carrier Ryujo and the seaplane carrier Chiyoda along with shore-based aircraft. A third force, under Admiral Nagumo, consisting of aircraft carriers, battleships, cruisers and destroyers takes up a position south of Java.

The invasion forces are sighted by waiting Allied submarines on Feb. 25, but no attack is made against them. Japanese air reconnaissance sights Allied ships off Java and the invasion force is stopped. There was no great battle, the Japanese just retired to avoid combat.

Feb. 26: The ABDA force, under the command of Rear Admiral Kaerl Doorman, sortied, but did not locate the Japanese. They sortie again on the 27th and this time they found one of the invasion forces and the Battle of the Java Sea began.

Feb. 27: The Dutch destroyer Kortenaer is sunk by a torpedo fired from Haguro, 59 men are lost. Then HMS Exeter, veteran of the Battle of the River Plate, is hit by a Japanese shell and is forced to retire, 13 men are killed. HMS Electra is sunk by a torpedo attack with the loss of 109 men.

HMS Jupiter hits a Dutch mine and sinks, taking 84 men with her. HNLMS De Duyter, flagship of the squadron, is sunk sometime during the night of Feb. 27-28, three hundred and sixty-six men, including Doorman, were lost. HNLMS Java, also sunk in the same action takes five hundred and thirty men with her.

In a separate action with Nagumo's covering force, USS Langley AV-1 is sunk, fortunately only 16 men were lost. In all of this, only two Japanese warships had been damaged, none were sunk.

Feb. 28: Japanese forces land on Java.

Mar. 1: The Battle of the Sunda Strait. The cruisers USS Houston CA-30 and HMAS Perth attack the Japanese force landing on Java, sinking two transports and damaging a minesweeper. Both Houston and Perth are sunk, Houston lost six hundred and ninety-three men while Perth lost three hundred and forty-two.

HMS Exeter is sunk with the loss of 54 men. HMS Encounter is shelled and sunk, 7 men are killed. USS Pope DD-225 is bombed by aircraft from Ryujo and disabled, then shelled by the same two Japanese ships that sank HMS Encounter and sunk, only 1 man was lost. The Japanese lost two transports [mentioned above] and two cruisers were damaged.

In a separate action on Mar. 1st, aircraft from Nagumo's force locate USS Pecos AO-6 and sink her. One hundred and seventy-two men, including many survivors from USS Langley, were killed. The battleship force then comes across USS Edsall DD-219, which also had survivors from Langley on board. The destroyer took on the battleships single-handed, never hauling down her flag, she went down after a severe punishing. One hundred and forty-seven men went down with the ship, five were picked up by the cruiser Chikuma. They were interrogated, tortured, and then executed at Kendrie POW camp, Celebes. Along with this, five merchant ships were sunk.

Mar. 2: HMS Stronghold is sunk, 75 men lost, USS Pillsbury DD-277 is sunk, 185 men lost. One merchant ship sunk one captured. HNLMS Banckert, HNLMS Witte de With, USS Stewart DD-224 and three Dutch submarines, K-XII, K-XVIII and K-IV are scuttled at Surabaya, Java. Stewart and Banckert were later raised and repaired by the Japanese. USS Sailfish SS-192 sinks the aircraft transport Kamogawa Maru.

Mar. 3: USS Asheville PG-21 is sunk with 160 of her 161-man crew.

Mar. 4: Japanese ships locate a small convoy and sink all but one ship, which is captured. Lost were HMAS Yara with 138 men, HMAS Anking, with 259 men lost, HMS MMS-51 with the loss of 2 men and RFA Francol and 19 men. The 7,089-ton Tjisaroea was captured.

Mar. 5: Nagumo's carrier aircraft raid Tjilatjap, Java, two ships are damaged but 15 are scuttled.

Mar. 6: HNLMS Jan van Amstel, HNLMS Eland Dubois and HNLMS Pieter de Bitter are scuttled.

Mar. 9: With much of the ABDA force sunk and the remaining ships and submarines having fled to safety, the ABDA command is dissolved.

Many of the survivors would die as prisoners in Japanese custody.)
[More about HMS Exeter here.]
[HMS Exeter Roll of Honour.]

March 1, 1942: Front page of The Sunday Star-News, Wilmington, North Carolina.
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March 1, 1942: Front page of the Detroit Times, Detroit, Michigan.
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March 1, 1942: Front page of The Hammond Times, Hammond, Indiana.
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March 1, 1942: Front page of The Kingsport Times, Kingsport, Tennessee.
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March 1, 1942: Front page of The Port Arthur News, Port Arthur, Texas.
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March 1, 1942: Front page of The Helena Independent, Helena, Montana.
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Note the report and photo at bottom left: "Nazi Battleship Definitely Up For Repairs"
(The report was true. The attack took place on Feb. 27, Gneisenau was hit, according to the ships war diary, at 2235 hours. The bomb penetrated the forecastle and exploded, causing a larger explosion of ammunition and powder. The damage was extensive, and 127 men were killed. The ships bows were replaced and in April Gneisenau was moved to Gotenhafen. Heavier guns were to be fitted, but further German navy failures soured Hitler on the idea of spending so much money, time, and manpower resources on a ship like Gneisenau. The project was abandoned and Gneisenau never sailed again. The heavy gun turrets were removed and used as shore batteries, and the ship was more or less abandoned. When the Soviets neared the city, Gneisenau was towed out and sunk as a blockship. The ship was later raised and scrapped by the Poles.)

March 1, 1942: Front page of the Nevada State Journal, Reno, Nevada.
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March 1, 1942: Front page of the Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California.
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March 1, 1942: Front page of the Völkischer Beobachter, the official newspaper of the NSDAP.
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1. Tojo zu den plutokratischen Niederlagen - Davon werden sie sich nicht mehr erholen - Endziel: England und die USA. zur Übergabe zwingen.
(Tojo on the plutocratic defeats - they will never recover from them - ultimate goal: England and the USA. force to surrender.)

Page published March 1, 2023