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February 1942
Today in World War II Pacific History
Day by day chronology

SUNDAY, 1 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA In the Philippines , P-40's from Bataan bomb and strafe Ianding barges off Quinauan Point during the night of 1/2 Feb. These strikes, in conjunction with naval and field artillery fire, cause considerable damage and casualties but fail to prevent the landings which take place S of the point, although the attempt to reinforce troops already on the point is thwarted. HQ 35th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) arrives at Brisbane, Australia from the US.

USN - First U.S. Carrier Offensive--Task Forces 8 (Vice Admiral W. F. Halsey) and 17 (Rear Admiral F. J. Fletcher), built around the carriers Enterprise and Yorktown, bombed and bombarded enemy installations on the islands of Wotje, Kwajalein, Jaluit, Makin, and Mili. Two TBD Devastators ditched in the lagoon, TBD 1515 and TBD 0298. Japanese A5M4 Claudes from Taroa clash with American carrier planes over the Marshalls. Though outnumbered, lightly armed, and completely unprotected the Mitsubishi fighters managed to shoot down three SBD dive bombers, damage a couple Wildcats, and dive bomb a cruiser. Thanks to their excellent maneuverability only two Type 96 fighters were lost and their pilots survived.


MONDAY, 2 FEBRUARY 1942


PACIFIC OCEAN AREA - VII Interceptor Command is activated at Ft Shafter, Territory of Hawaii with Brigadier General Howard C. Davidson in command. Major General Willis H Hale commands the VII Bomber Command.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA - HQ 49th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) and 7th, 8th and 9th Pursuit Squadrons (Interceptor) arrive at Melbourne, Australia from the US with P-40's; first mission is 14 Mar, 20 Apr and 18 Mar respectively.


TUESDAY, 3 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA - Bad weather from now until 18 Feb, along with effective interception by fighters, thwarts attempts of heavy bombers in Java to deliver damaging blows on shipping and airfields in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). B-17's from Singosari bomb shipping off Balikpapan.

RAAF: Five Catalinas attack shipping in Simpson Harbor off Rabaul. Newly arrived A5M4 Claudes of the Chitose Kokutai fly continuous combat air patrols over Rabaul and intecept the flying boats (operating in tandem with the searchlight crews). Damaged are Catalina A24-3 and Catalina A24-5. Cruisers and transports were observed and attacked with a possible direct hit on one large vessel NW of Dawapia Rocks (The Beehives). Several near misses were also reported.


WEDNESDAY, 4 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA- HQ 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 9th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), and 88th Reconnaissance Squadron begin a movement from Brisbane to Karachi. The 9th is operating from Jogjakarta with B-17's; the 88th is operating from Hickam Field with B-17's.

New Guinea - Six Japanese flying boats bombed Port Moresby 3-3:30am, although no great damage was done this set the stage for the future living conditions in town. One man is KIA.

THURSDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 1942

ALASKA - Alaskan Air Force is redesignated 11th Air Force.

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA - Hawaiian Air Force is redesignated 7th Air Force.

USN - Shot down over Ambon is PBY 2309. Grounded while taking off is PBY 2304.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA - Far East Air Force is redesignated 5th Air Force. Air echelon of 91st Bombardment Squadron, 27th Bombardment Group , ceases operating from Brisbane with A-24s and begins a movement to Malang. The ground echelon is based on Bataan.

New Guinea - Seven flyingboats hit Port Moresby at 3am, hit an aminol (explosives) dumb do damage to the town.

SUNDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA: Nine 7th BG B-17s, armed with seven 100 lbs bombs and a bomb bay fuel tank took off from Singosari Airfield at 7:35am to bomb the Japanese occupied Kendari II Airfield. A dozen fighters trailed the formation from behind and made head on attacks, shooting down B-17E 41-2492 and B-17E 41-2456 and damaging B-17E 41-2482. Forced to jettison their bomb bay fuel tanks, the remaining B-17s aborted their mission.


MONDAY, 9 FEBRUARY 1942

ALASKA - 36th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 28th Composite Group, transfers from Elmendorf Field to Ft Greeley, Kodiak with B-18's.

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA - 12 B-17's are detached and released to Commander-in-Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC) for assignment to Task Force (TF) 11 for operations in the S Pacific.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA: Between this day and 18 Feb, heavy bombers fly at lesst 14 missions, but they result in claims of only 3 hits on shipping. B-17s attack the airfield at Kendari and are repulsed by fighter attacks. B-17's on a shipping strike claim hits on a carrier near Sinjai, Sumatra.

On Bataan, P-40B Warhawks escort a Stinson bi-plane piloted by Jesus Villamor to take photographs over the Ternate area. Lost are Ki-27 Nate piloted by Kurosawa also, Ki-27 Nate piloted by Kanamaru force landed at Pilar Airfield and was later destroyed by artillery fire. Lost is P-40B Warhawk piloted by Stone.




TUESDAY, 10 FEBRUARY 1942

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA, 7th Air Force): 12th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 50th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), arrives on Christmas Island, Line from the US with P-39's.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): Air echelon of the 88th Reconnaisssance Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), begins a movement from Hickam Field to Fiji with B-17's. The ground echelon is enroute from Australia to India.

WEDNESDAY, 11 FEBRUARY 1942

RAAF - First mast height attack on enemy shipping of the New Guinea campaign: three Hudsons attacked and sunk two transports at Gasmata. They are attacked by A6M4 Claudes of the Chitose Kokutai. Ensign Satoshi Yoshino claims to shoot down two. Lost are Hudson A16-91 and Hudson A16-126.

USN - USS Shark SS-174 is sunk off Menado, likely by destroyer Yamakaze.


THURSDAY, 12 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): Air echelon of the 88th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), arrives at Nandi Airport on Fiji from Hawaii with B-17's. The ground echelon is enroute from Australia to India.

THURSDAY, 13 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): On February 13, 1942 eleven B-17s (three from the 19th BG and eight from the 19th BG) on a bombing mission against Japanese shipping off Makassar. This was the largest formation by Java based B-17s to date. Inbound to the target, B-17E 41-2466 aborted the mission due to engine trouble. The rest of the formation bombed through clouds, reporting: "Bombs were dropped on lights off shore - results undetermined." but claimed one ship hit. Also, B-17E "Topper" 41-2481 arrives at Bandoeng Airfield in Java after a ferry flight via the "African route".

SATURDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 1942

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (7th Air Force): A B-17 flies a photo reconnaissance mission over Wake.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): 9th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 49th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), transfers from Melbourne to Williamstown, Australia with P-40's; first mission is 18 Mar. A detachment of the 22d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), based at Jogjakarta begins operating from Nandi Airport with B-17's under control of US Navy (USN).

SUNDAY, 15 FEBRUARY 1942

SINGAPORE: Japanese forces on the Malay Peninsula capture Singapore. The large naval guns protecting the harbor never fire a shot, as the Japanese attacks came from the landward side.


MONDAY, 16 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): HQ 49th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) and 7th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) transfer from Melbourne to Bankstown, Australia with P-40's; the 8th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) transfers from Melbourne to Canberra with P-40's. Air echelon of the 16th Bombardment Squadron , 27th Bombardment Group, transfers from Brisbane to Batchelor with A-24s. The ground echelon is on Bataan.

NEIAF - Lost on a convoy attack is B-10 M-531


TUESDAY, 17 FEBRUARY 1942

ALASKA (11th Air Force): Colonel Lidnel R Dunlap arrives from the ZI and becomes Commanding Officer of the 11th Air Force.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): The air echeon of the 88th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), departs Nandi Airport, Fiji from Australia with B-17's. The ground echelon is enroute Australia to India.

USN - The Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet authorized removal of athwartships hangar deck catapults from Wasp, Yorktown, Enterprise, and Hornet.


WEDNESDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): Detachment of the 22d Bombardment Squadron (Hevy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), departs Nandi Airport, Fiji from Australia with B-17's. The squadron is based at Jogjakarta. Air echelon of 91st Bombardment Squadron, 27th Bombardment Group, begins operating from Malang with A-24s; ground echelon is on Bataan.


THURSDAY, 19 FEBRUARY 1942

AUSTRALIA - Japanese carrier-borne aircraft carry out successful raids on Dawin in Northern Australia destroying harbor installations and sinking 12 warships.

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA, 7th Air Force): VII Air Force Base Cmmand (AFBC) is activated.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): In the NEI, A-24s, with P-40 escort, and B-17's operating out of Malang, Madioen, and Jogjakarta, attack vessels landing troops on Bali; the attacks, carried out during the aftenoon of 19 Feb and throughout the morning of 20 Feb, cause considerable damage to vessels but fail to halt the landings; P-40's shoot down or turn back seversl bombers sweeping west over Java. Destroyed by a Japanese air raid at Bandoeng Airfield was B-17E 41-2493, B-17E 41-2503, B-17E 41-2466 and LB-30 Liberator.

IJN: Japanese aircraft attack Darwin and Darwin Harbor bombing vessels loaded with troops destined for the defense of Koepang. Ten P-40's sent to Darwin to escort the convoy are almost entirely wiped out by the attack. Lost is A6M2 Zero 5349. Lost are P-40E piloted by Rice and P-40E piloted by Pell.

USN - PBY Catalina 2306 is shot down near Bathurst Island.

FRIDAY, 20 FEBRUARY 1942

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA, 7th Air Force): 19th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 18th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), transfers from Wheeler Field to Bellows Field wtih P-40's.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): Air echelon of 17th Bombardment Squadron, 27th Bombardment Group, begins a movement from Brisbane to Batchelor with A-24s. Ground echelon is on Bataan. Detachment of the 22d Bombardment Squadron and air echelon of 88th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), arrive at Townsville from Fiji with B-17's. The detachment of the 22d is under control of the USN. Ground echelon of the 22d is at Jogjakarta; ground echelon of 88th is enroute from Australia to India.

IJN: Nine A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kokutai strafe Singosari Airfield. Destoyed on the ground is B-17E 41-2455, B-17E 41-2484, B-17E 41-2488, B-17E 41-2478 and B-17E 41-2498.

A-24s, with P-40 escort, and LB-30s attack Japanese landing force off Bail. Lost are A-24 41-15796, A-24 41-15760 and P-40E piloted by Sprague force landed is P-40E "Colleen" Tail 6.

USN: Task Force 11 including USS Lexington CV-2 is attacked by G4M1 Betty bombers.

IJN: G4M1 Betty bombers attack the Task Force 11. Lost are G4M1 Betty piloted by Ito (KIA), G4M1 Betty piloted by Ono (ditched).

SATURDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): Major General George H Brett, Deputy Commanding General American-British-Dutch-Australian Forces Command (ABDACOM) informs the War Department of his decision to evacuate the 5th Air Force and other US troops from Java. 5th Air Force bombers at Java bases fly about 20 strikes, usually in 2 and 3 aircraft elements, against shipping in the Java Sea and against targets on Bali from this date through 1 March. Eleven strikes are complete failures; the remainder, although causing some damage to vessels and airfield facilities, fail to deter the Japanese invasion.

USN - The seaplane tender Curtiss and Patrol Squadron 14 arrived at Noumea, New Caledonia, to begin operations from what became a principal Navy base in the South Pacific during the first year of the war.

SUNDAY, 22 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): Air echelon of 17th Bombardment Squadron, 27th Bombardment Group, arrives at Batchelor from Brisbane, Australia with A-24s. Ground echelon is on Bataan.

RAAF: During the night, Catalinas bomb Rabaul.

MONDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): First American bombing mission against Rabaul.  A group of nine B-17s took off from Townsville before midnight on February 22, 1942 on a bombing mission against Japanese shipping in Simpson Harbor near Rabaul. The force suffers mechanical trouble and runs into bad weather.  Only two B-17s manage to bomb the target, and all are intercepted by Japanese fighters from the 4th Kokutai. Returning, B-17E 41-2446 (aka 'The Swamp Ghost') runs out of fuel and force lands in a swamp off northern New Guinea. Also, two B-17s bomb Denpasar Airfield from 27,000' through thick clouds.

Major General Lewis H. Brereton, Commanding General 5th Air Force, departs for India after issuing an order terminating HQ 5th Air Force. Until September 3, 1942, units of the 5th Air Force will be initially under control of ABDACOM and then Allied Air Force (SWPA).


TUESDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): Heavy bomber units begin evacuating Java, NEI.

USN - First Wake Island Raid--A striking force, (Vice Admiral W. F. Halsey) composed of the carrier Enterprise with cruiser and destroyer screen, attacked Wake. Lost is PBY Catalina 28-5MNE.

New Guinea - 4th Kokutai A6M2 Zeros escort G4M1 Betty and bomb Port Moresby, fighters fly close escort with the bombers.


WEDNESDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): Arriving at Brisbane from the US are: HQ 3d Bombardment Group and 8th, 13th, 89th and 90th Bombardment Squadrons with A-20's; first mission is in Apr. HQ 22nd Bombardment Group (Medium), 2d, 19th and 33d Bombardment Squadrons (Medium) and 18th Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium) with B-26's; first mission is in Apr. HQ 38th Bombardment Group (Medium) and 15th Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium) and 69th, 70th and 71st Bombardment Squadrons (Medium) with B-26's; first mission is Jun; air echelon of 69th and 70th remain in the US until May/Jun. 39th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 35th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), with P-39's; first mission is 2 June. Force landed is B-26 40-1398 (survived).

USN - PBY 28 SMNE 73 (MIA) is lost over Bali.

THURSDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): Force landed near Truscott is C-53 41-20066.

KLM: Crashed is DC-3 "Emoe" PH-AFZ


FRIDAY, 27 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): Battle of Java Sea. Allied air and naval units try to stop a convoy of some 80 ships approaching Java from the NE. All available B-17's, A-24s, P-40's and LB-30's are put into the air but achieve only insignificant results. An Allied naval force, 5 cruisers and 11 destroyers, under Rear Admiral Karel W Doorman, Royal Netherlands Navy, meets the enemy near Surabaya, Java and is decisively defeated, losing five ships. Most of the 5th Air Force ground echelon in Java is evacusted by sea. 13th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy), 43d Bombardment Group (Heavy), arrives at Melbourne from the US with B-17's; first mission is Oct 42.

(USN) SS Sea Witch delivers 27 crated P-40's to Tjilatjap. Thirty-two P-40's aboard USS Langley (AV-3), which depared Fremantle for India on 23 Feb, are lost when USS Langley is damaged by Japanese G4M1 Betty bombers 100 miles south of Tjilatjap. The pilots are rescued by other vessels in the convoy, but the enemy sinks these ships with the exception of a destroyer, which delivers two of the pilots to Perth.

(HMNS) During the Battle of the Java Sea. Sunk are HNMS De Ruyter, HNMS Java and Hr Ms Kortenaer.

FRIDAY, 28 FEBRUARY 1942

(5th AF) B-17D 40-3061 is destroyed at Singosari Airfield to avoid capture by the Japanese.

(RAAF) Lost on a flight from Java is S23 "Circle" Tail G-AETZ

(IJN) Japanese planes locate the eight fleeing Allied ships that survived their attack in the Java Sea. Five of the eight are sunk immediatley and the other three are sunk the following day, leaving no survivors. This would be the Allies' worst naval defeat of the war in the Pacific.

(IJN) Japanese bombers and fighters hit Port Moresby: Jackson Drome and Anti-Aircraft gun pits. Houses in town burning, 130 bombs dropped, 10 wounded, one seriously. At about 10:00am, six A6M2 Zeros of the 4th Koktai led by Harutoshi Okamoto took off from Lakunai to attack Port Moresby. After testing their guns on the SS Pruth, they lined up and strafed PBY Catalinas  at Napa Napa at almost sea level.  A24-3 and A24-6 sank on their moorings.  George Nancarrow, electrician, was killed.  Barney Ross, fitter, was creased by a bullet.  The RAAF had established a lewis 7.7mm machine gun to cover over the slipway area, manned by the orderly room staff from a gun position dug in the hill behind the area. Jim Preston and his mates did a good job protecting Catalina A24-2 (under repair on the slipway). One Zero, A6M2 Zero flown by Lt. Nagatoma wash hit by machine gun fire from a Lewis gun and crashed into Bootless Bay, after he bailed out and was captured. Nagatomo became the first Japanese POW taken in Australian territory during the war.

 

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