Today in WW II: 19 Jan 1942 Japanese troops seize control of North Borneo.   

World War II Timeline: 1942

Original Caption from National Archives:  Hayward, California. As Bataan fell, as recorded in these newspapers of 9 April 1942, evacuation of residents of Japanese ancestry was already under way in California. This newsstand was pictured at a corner drugstore in a neighborhood in which such residents lived. Evacuees will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration
Original Caption from National Archives: Hayward, California. As Bataan fell, as recorded in these newspapers of 9 April 1942, evacuation of residents of Japanese ancestry was already under way in California. This newsstand was pictured at a corner drugstore in a neighborhood in which such residents lived. Evacuees will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.

This page presents World War II Timeline events for the year 1942.

Links are provided in the timeline with additional information from pages or relevant books on the event or subject. For additional compilations of the events of World War II, go to one of the recommended time line web sites listed at the bottom of the main WWII Timeline page. If you have other events to suggest, or spot any errors, please contact

1 January Declaration of the United Nations signed by 26 Allied foes of the Axis, pledging to support the Atlantic Charter; first use of term United Nations.
2 January Japanese capture Manila and Cavite, Philippines.
5 January On the Kerch Peninsula, German forces in the Crimea defeat a surprise landing at Eupatoria by the Soviet Red Army.
5 January Birth of the Seabees: Authority granted to recruit men from the construction trades for assignment to three Naval Construction Battalions [CBs => Seabees].
6 January Facing overwhelming odds, Gen. MacArthur all US and Filipino troops withdrawn into the Bataan Peninsula for a final defense of the Philippines.
9 January Japanese begin retreat across the Luoyang River, unable to defeat the Chinese in the Third Battle of Changsha, Hunan Province.
10 January Japan declares war on Netherlands and Japanese troops invade the Dutch East Indies.
11 January Japanese occupy Kuala Lumpur, on the Malayan Peninsula.
13 January German U-boat offensive begins along the US east coast.
18 January German-Japanese-Italian military alliance and cooperation agreement signed in Berlin.
18 January US Marines arrive at Pago Pago, American Samoa, supported by aircraft from the USS Enterprise.
19 January Japanese troops seize control of North Borneo.
20 January Wannsee Conference: In a Berlin suburb, Nazi leaders meet to plan the Final Solution, the extermination of all Jews in German occupied territories, Reinhard Heydrich in charge.
21 January Rommel's second offensive drives the British 8th Army back almost 300 miles, halting on 4 Feb between Gazala and Bir Hacheim, 30 miles west of Tobruk, Libya.
25 January Thailand, independent but occupied by Japanese troops, declares war on the United States and England.
26 January American forces arrive in Northern Ireland, the first landing in Europe.
31 January End of Operation Barbarossa. German Wehrmacht casualties exceed 900 thousand out of 3 million soldiers in action on the Eastern Front.
8 February Battle of Sarimbun Beach begins, the first stage of the Japanese assault on Singapore.
8 February Japanese Offensive in Burma begins [8 Feb-2 May].
10 February Japanese submarine shells Midway, the fourth attack since 7 Dec 1941, part of a campaign to break US resistance to Japanese capture of the atoll.
12 February German battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, with heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen make the 'Channel Dash' [Operation Cerberus] escape from Brest, France to Germany.
15 February Singapore falls to Japanese under the command of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita.
19 February President Franklin Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066 directing the seizure of property belonging to Japanese Americans and their internment in War Relocation Camps.
19 February Japanese warplanes attack Darwin, Australia with heavy damage and 243 people killed.
20 February Navy Lt. Cdr. Edward 'Butch' O'Hare of Chicago becomes America's first World War II flying ace. Chicago expanded old Orchard field in 1946, renaming it for O'Hare.
22 February President Roosevelt orders Gen. Douglas MacArthur out of the Philippines to Australia as American defense of the Philippines fails.
23 February Japanese submarine I-17 attacks a coastal oil refinery at Santa Barbara, CA. 17 high-explosive shells cause insignificant damage.
24 February SS Struma, carrying Jewish refugees from Romania to British Palestine, is sunk by Soviet submarine, killing 768 men, women and children, the greatest civilian naval loss of WW II.
24 February Beginning of broadcasts by The Voice of America, news programs directed at the Axis-occupied areas of the world.
24 February Moving object in Los Angeles' night sky triggers false alarm panic; blackout ordered, thousands of airraid wardens deployed, over 1,400 AA shells fired, several deaths [24-25 Feb].
27 February USS Houston [CA-30] sunk as Allied task force under Dutch command loses battle in the Java Sea with Japanese invasion force aimed at Dutch East Indies.
28 February Japanese forces invaded Java, beginning the Battle of Java with defending Allied personnel [28 Feb-12 Mar].
3 March Broome, Western Australia raided by Japanese planes with loss of more than 100 people.
4 March Gen. Joseph Stilwell establishes his headquarters in Chungking as chief of staff for Allied armies in China.
8 March Japanese enter Rangoon, Burma.
8 March Island of Java falls to the Japanese.
8 March Official start date of construction for the Alcan Highway.
12 March Allied force surrenders to Japanese in the Battle of Java, signed at Bandung.
12 March Gen. Douglas MacArthur evacuated from Philippines on orders of Pres. Roosevelt, by PT boats to Mindanao, then B-17 to Australia.
16 March German V-2 rocket's first test launch fails as it explodes on launch.
17 March Gen. Douglas MacArthur arrives in Australia, evacuated from Philippines.
28 March A force of 650 British Commandos stage a raid on the French coastal town of St. Nazaire aimed at its German U-Boat pens and other naval facilities.
29 March RAF Bomber Command strikes Lübeck, their first major raid on a German city.
2 April USS Hornet [CV-8] leaves San Francisco with Doolittle's Raiders and 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers destined to drop the first American bombs on Japan.
3 April Japanese forces launch final assault on US and Filipino troops on the Bataan Peninsula, Philippines.
5 April Japanese Navy attacks naval base at Colombo in Ceylon [Sri Lanka] sinking two Royal Navy ships, the auxiliary cruiser Hector and the destroyer Tenedos.
9 April Japanese Navy launches an air raid on Trincomalee in Ceylon [Sri Lanka] sinking a Royal Navy aircraft carrier and an Australian destroyer.
9 April Bataan falls, US troops in Philippines surrender to Japanese.
10 April Bataan Death March begins.
11 April RAF Bomber Command drops the first 8,000-pound Blockbuster bomb [aka "cookie"] from a Halifax aircraft on Essen, Germany.
14 April Destroyer USS Roper [DD-147] sinks German U-boat U-85 in the Atlantic Ocean off North Carolina, the first such sinking of the war.
18 April Doolittle Raid takes American bombers to Tokyo.
27 April As ordered in other Nazi occupied areas, Star of David is now required wearing for all Jews in the Netherlands and Belgium.
3 May Japanese invasion of Tulagi, near Guadalcanal [3-4 May]. Invasion is successful and results in another Japanese military base.
4 May The original 29 Navajo American Indian recruits begin basic training at Camp Elliot, CA, on their way to become the first Code Talkers.
5 May United Kingdom forces invade the French colony of Madagascar [Operation Ironclad].
6 May After heroic defense against a final Japanese assault, last US forces on Phillipines, at Corregidor, surrender to Japanese.
7 May First day of the Battle of the Coral Sea, fought in waters southwest of the Solomon Islands, east of New Guinea [7-8 May].
12 May Second Battle of Kharkov, eastern Ukraine: Red Army offensive captures Kharkov from Germans who later encircle and destroy the Soviet forces [12-28 May].
15 May Gas rationing begins for the Eastern United States.
15 May US Congress authorizes Women's Auxiliary Army Corps [WAAC].
20 May First African-American seamen taken into the United States Navy.
21 May Sinking of the Mexican tanker Faja de Oro by German submarine U-160, off Key West, precipitates Mexican declaration of war against Nazi Germany.
25 May Japanese attack force leaves Hokkaido for invasion of the Aleutians Islands, Alaska.
26 May German Afrika Korps counteroffensive in North Africa drives the British back to the Gazala line, just in front of Tobruk [26-27 May].
26 May At remote oasis in the Libyan desert, Free French and British troops slow the German advance [Battle of Bir Hakeim].
27 May British-trained Czech paratroopers attempt to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich in Prague [Operation Anthropoid].
30 May Operation Millennium: Raid on Cologne, Germany, the first RAF attack by 1,000-plus bombers.
31 May Japanese submarines infiltrate harbor at Sydney, Australia attempting to attack Allied warships [31 May-June 1]. One Australian vessel sunk killing 21 sailors.
1 June Mexico declares war on Axis countries: Germany, Italy and Japan.
2 June German air and land bombardment of Sevastopol resumes at the Siege of Sevastopol.
3 June Japanese bomb Dutch Harbor, opening attack on the Aleutians Islands, Alaska followed with amphibious attack on Adak Island.
3 June Battle of Midway ends Japanese naval superiority in the Pacific [3-6 June].
4 June Reinhard Heydrich dies from wounds sustained from 27 May assassination attempt [Operation Anthropoid].
7 June Japanese forces invade the Aleutian Islands, the first invasion of American soil since the War of 1812, 128 years earlier.
8 June Sydney and Newcastle, Australia, are shelled by Japanese submarines causing damage to suburbs and a blackout.
9 June Nazis destroy the Czech village of Lidice and kill about 340 residents in reprisal for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich [9-10 June].
10 June Operation Blue: German Summer Offensive in the Ukraine begins, with Soviet oil reserves in the Caucasus region as the objective [10 June-14 Sep].
12 June Anne Frank's 13th birthday is recorded in the first entry in her diary.
13 June US Government establishes the Office of War Information [OWI] to promote favorable news about the war, best known for their series of memorable and effective posters.
13 June US government establishes the Office of Strategic Services [OSS] by Executive Order 9182.
16 June RAF and US planes sink Italian cruiser and 2 destroyers that attacked Allied convoys in Mediterranean.
21 June With a surprise attack, Rommel captures Tobruk, Libya.
21 June Japanese submarine fires 17 deck gun shells attacking Fort Stevens, OR, at the Columbia River's entrance to the Pacific [night of 21-22 June]. No significant damage.
25 June Second Washington Conference between Roosevelt and Churchill [June 25-27].
1 July First Battle of El Alamein began, stopping Rommel's advance to Cairo [1-27 July].
3 July Germans prevail in the Siege of Sevastopol, after an eight month struggle, seizing the site of the Soviets' main naval base on the Black Sea.
4 July German bombers and submarines sink 24 ships of Convoy PQ 17 to the Soviet Union after the convoy spread out in the Arctic Ocean to evade the German battleship Tirpitz.
4 July US Eighth Air Force flies its first mission in Europe using six borrowed British planes; only three aircraft returned.
6 July Anne Frank's Jewish family goes into hiding in an attic above her father's office in an Amsterdam warehouse.
6 July Flying Tigers in Burma and China integrated into the US Army Air Forces as the China Air Task Force with Gen. Claire Chennault commanding the new unit.
8 July US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Chester Nimitz orders invasion of Guadalcanal, Solomon islands, to seize a strategic Japanese airfield.
16 July Under orders of the Vichy government, 13,000 French Jews were arrested in Paris then sent to Velodrome d'Hiver sports stadium, Auschwitz, and other camps.
22 July Japanese invade Papua, New Guinea at Basabua then move along the northeast coast of New Guinea to Buna, beginning a long campaign.
22 July Daily gassing of Jews from Warsaw begins at Treblinka; 4000 men, women, children killed daily, the largest slaughter of any single community during the Holocaust [22 Jul-12 Sep].
27 July After vicious battle to defeat the Soviet defenders, Rostov once again captured by German troops.
28 July 6000 Jews brought to pits by German SS and shot dead in Minsk, Belarus, a total of 30,000 slaughtered over four days of the Great Pogrom [28-31 Jul].
7 August US Marines invade Guadalcanal, the first major American offensive operation of WW II.
8 August Six German saboteurs executed in Washington, DC and two other sentenced to life in prison. The Germans landed on Long Island, NY and Florida beaches.but were quickly captured.
10 August German forces enter the Caucasus Mountains, taking Pyatigorsk.
12 August Second Moscow Conference: Churchill, Stalin and US representative planned the North Africa Campaign and future Second Front in France [12-17 Aug].
12 August Winston Churchill appoints Lt. General Bernard L. Montgomery to command the British Eighth Army in N. Africa.
15 August Operation Pedestal, a last ditch attempt to re-supply Malta and avoid surrender to a German blockade, succeeds as tanker SS Ohio and other convoy ships reach Grand Harbour port.
17 August Raid on Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, led by Lt. Colonel Evans F. Carlson, USMC.
19 August Ill-fated Allied commando raid on French city of Dieppe; of 5100 troops landed in the raid, 3648 did not return.
19 August Battle of Stalingrad begins [19 Aug 1942 - 2 Feb 1943].
22 August Brazil joins the Allies, declares war on Germany and Italy; Brazilian Expeditionary Force [FEB] sent to fight in Italy from mid-1944 until the end of the war.
24 August Battle of the Eastern Solomons: US and Japanese aircraft carrires clash during the Guadalcanal Campaign, the 3rd such battle after Coral Sea and Midway [24-25 Aug].
25 August Japanese land on the north shore of Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea [25-26 Aug].
30 August Germany formally annexes Luxembourg to the German Reich, triggering a general strike the next day protesting German Army conscription.
30 August Battle of Alam el Halfa, between Rommel's German force and British Commenwealth troops under Montgomery, south of El Alamein, the end of last major Axis offensive of their Western Desert campaign [30 Aug-5 Sep].
3 September Japanese attack at Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, repulsed; they evacuate their force by sea [3-6 Sep].
6 September Germans capture Novorossiysk, key Soviet port on Black Sea. Soviet sailors in a small enclave called Malaya Zemlya hold out for 225 days, denying German military use of the port.
14 September Battle of Edson's Ridge: Japanese assault US Marines' perimeter line of Henderson Field Guadalcanal, a Japanese defeat with heavy losses [12-14 Sep].
25 September Due to failure at Milne Bay and Guadalcanal's drain on resources, Japanese Gen. Horii ordered to withdraw his troops from the Kokoda Track to beachheads at Buna, Gona and Sanananda.
3 October First German V-2 rocket [then called the A-4] successfully launched from Peenemünde by team led by Wernher von Braun.
4 October Hermann Göring declares that World War II is "the War of the Races".
7 October Japanese quietly abandon some of their positions in the Aleutian Islands, on Attu and Agattu.
11 October Battle of Cape Esperance: US and Japanese naval forces clash off northwest coast of Guadalcanal. US victory opens supply lines for Allies, prevents Japanese reinforcement.
11 October Wave of relentless Luftwaffe air attacks against Malta begins, continuing for 17 days with heavy losses of British and German planes and pilots.
23 October 2nd Battle of El Alamein, Egypt begins; British successfully driving the German Afrika Korps out of Egypt [23 Oct-4 Nov].
26 October Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands: US and Japanese naval forces clash in southern Solomons as Japanese try to prevent US forces from responding to ground offensive on Guadalcanal.
27 October Wierzbnik ghetto in Poland liquidated by Germans, with mass killings in the square and about 4,000 deported to concentration camp.
27 October Aircraft carrier USS Hornet [CV-8], who carried the Doolittle Raiders to bomb Tokyo, damaged by Japanese attacks and sunk dufing Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Solomons.
28 October Construction of the Alaska-Canada [ALCAN] Highway is completed.
29 October Coffee rationing begins in the United States.
1 November First LORAN-A navigation system placed in operation with four stations between the Chesapeake Capes and Nova Scotia.
3 November End of the Second Battle of El Alamein, Egypt between British Commonwealth forces and Gen. Erwin Rommel's German Afrika Korps.
3 November US Army and Marine Corps fight in Koli Point action on Guadalcanal [Nov 3-12].
4 November Start of a 5 month retreat from El Alamein across North Africa by German Gen. Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps.
5 November At Gibraltar, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower opens Allied operational HQ for the invasion of North Africa.
5 November British Lt. Gen. Montgomery announces complete British victory in Egypt with Rommel's Afrika Korps in full retreat.
6 November Gen. Douglas MacArthur arrives in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) to supervise operations in the Southwest Pacific Theater.
8 November Operation Torch begins, 125,000 US-British troops land at Casablanca, Oran and Algiers.
8 November French Resistance in Algiers neutralizes the Vichy-supporting French Army command, preventing interference with Operation Torch.
9 November German and Italian army units occupy Tunisia, unopposed by the French colonial forces.
11 November Triggered by Operation Torch in N. Africa, Germans take control of all of Vichy France north of the Riviera.
11 November Allies capture Casablanca, Morocco during Operation Torch.
11 November In the aftermath of Operation Torch, Germany and Vichy France begin negotiations on the fate of the French fleet at Touson.
12 November British Eighth Army enters Tobruk, Libya as German General Rommerl's troops are pushed westward following El Alamein.
12 November American and Japanese naval forces fight a classic naval battle, the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal [12-13 Nov].
13 November Five Sullivan Brothers lost in naval battle in the Solomons as their ship, light cruiser USS Juneau [CL-52], was heavily damaged then sunk.
14 November Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal pits aircraft from US carrier Enterprise and Henderson Field against large Japanese force trying to reinforce Guadalcanal by sea.
16 November Australians assault Gona, Papua New Guinea, but retreat in failure after heavy losses.
19 November Russian counteroffensive at Stalingrad [November 19-22].
19 November Rabbi Stephen Wise, President of the World Jewish Congress, exposes reports of the German implementation of the 'Final Solution' [Die Endlösung], confirmed by US State Dept.
20 November British forces capture Benghazi, Libya.
20 November Alaska-Canadian [ALCAN] Highway dedicated at Soldiers Summit and officially opened, although not generally usable until 1943.
21 November ALCAN Highway opened for its first full day of traffic.
23 November SS Ben Lomond sunk by German U-boat off the coast of Brazil.
25 November British SOE team and anti-Nazi Greeks blow up the Gorgopotamos railway viaduct, the first significant sabotage in occupied Europe [Operation Harling, Nov 25-26].
26 November Battle of Brisbane: American and Australian soldiers fight in Brisbane, Australia with multiple fatalities [26-27 Nov].
27 November Operation Lila: German Army units reach Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast, to capture the Vichy French fleet based there.
27 November French Navy at Toulon scuttles its ships and submarines to prevent German confiscation.
2 December First controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction is realized by the Manhattan Project, first step toward the atomic bomb.
9 December Renewed attacks by Australian forces break through and take Gona Village, Papua New Guinea.
14 December US 3d Battalion overruns Buna Village, Papua New Guinea after heavy fighting.
14 December Manpower shortages in Germany motivate a statement from Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS, asking police forces under German control to send 35,000 'detainees fit for work' to labor camps.
16 December Adolf Hitler directs that anyone with any amount of Gypsy blood is to be sent to 'resettlement' camps in the East.
24 December Admiral Darlan, de facto head of the French Government in North Africa, assasinated in Algiers.
25 December Flying from Guadalcanal, US planes bombed and strafed Japanese airfield and installations at Munda, New Georgia Island, overcoming AAA and intercepting planes.
31 December Battle of the Barents Sea between German surface raiders and British conboy escort ships on way to USSR.

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