April 26 - May 2, 1942
by David H. Lippman

April 26th, 1942...Associated Press sends out a note to all its sportswriters to avoid using military phrases like "defeated," "overcame," or "bombed" in baseball copy, as the real battles are not taking place in baseball stadiums.

A US garrison arrives to hold Fanning Island in the South Pacific, relieving five NZ officers and 108 enlisted men.

In Rostock, rescue workers clean up the damage of last night's RAF raid. More than 70 percent of houses in the old city center have been destroyed and the Heinkel works badly damaged.

With the failure of Operation Bowary, Winston Churchill asks President Roosevelt to let the carrier USS Wasp make a second dash to Malta to deliver Spitfires. "Without this aid," Churchill says, "I fear Malta will be pounded to bits." Malta's defense, he adds, is aiding Russia's defense, where the worst winter in 140 years is ending.

April 27th, 1942...As President Roosevelt outlines US war economy measures, the Office of Price Administration takes title to all 500,000 new 1942 cars in stock. The nation's production lines have already switched over to weapons, and OPA doles them out from government warehouses to bonafide applicants, like country physicians. By July 1944, only 30,000 will be left. Most Americans have to get by with three gallons a week on car rationing. Civilians are also rationed to two pairs of shoes a year, and shoes are soon third on American hijackers' lists, behind liquor and rayon. In Britain, however, fuel rationing is tougher...most Britons put their cars up on chocks for the duration.

The RAF hits Rostock again, blasting seven-tenths of the city, forcing the evacuation of 100,000 people. Josef Goebbels notes that there were signs of panic among the citizens.

As the Japanese storm towards Lashio in Burma, Chinese defenders pour out, making it impossible to hold the Burma terminus of the Burma Road, China's lifeline.

The American air raid on Tokyo is a hot topic of speculation, as the Americans have not confirmed it. President Roosevelt tells the American people, "It is even reported from Japan that somebody has dropped bombs on Tokyo and on other principal centers of Japanese war industries. If this be true, it is the first time in history that Japan has suffered such indignities."

In Burma, Gen. Joseph Stilwell asks for and gets permission to withdraw his 100,000 Chinese troops to India.

April 28th, 1942...Benito Mussolini surprises everybody by facing the cold facts, and admitting that Italy's war effort is not doing well. In fact, artillery production is behind that of World War I. He calls for sterner measures, to little effect.

In the Philippines, the Bataan Death March is wrapping up, as PoWs are herded onto packed, slow-moving rail box cars for the final trip to Camp O'Donnell. The captives are packed tightly in the metal cars, and suffer from heat in addition to their other miseries. The trains move slowly, and Filipino PoWs are able take advantage of frequent stops to make escapes, by pretending to be local residents. Filipino citizens shower the PoWs with all sorts of food and drink. In some cases, the Japanese guards drive the locals back, but then the people throw food through car doors.

April 29th, 1942...The RAAF base at Tulagi in the Solomons radios Coastwatcher Don McFarland on Guadalcanal that many Japanese ships are heading for the Solomons.

Having just told everyone his war effort is a mess, Mussolini has to explain it again to Adolf Hitler at a conference in Salzburg.

The Japanese attack Lashio in Burma with 30 light tanks, a few guns and two battalions of motorized infantry, and seize the town. The 3,000 Chinese defenders retreat up the Burma Road to their homeland. By now all Allied forces, Indian, Burmese, British, and Chinese, are bogged down in retreat with a mass of civilian refugees and criminal gangs, who add to the chaos with looting and murder.

In the Philippines, the Via Dolorosa ends as the Death March survivors reach Camp O'Donnell, an unfinished Philippine Army base. Camp commandant Capt. Tusneyoshi screams at the PoWs that Japan will fight for a hundred years to defeat the British and Americans, and that all PoWs are eternal enemies of Japan, completely at the mercy of the Emperor. Anyone who does not obey regulations will be shot to death. All PoWs must remove rank insignia and salute all Japanese guards, regardless of rank. The Americans nickname Tsuneyoshi "Little Hitler."
The Bataan Death March is over. An exact death toll is impossible, but about 650 Americans and between 5,000 and 10,000 Filipinos perished. Historian Stanley Falk later attributes the horror to three things: the low American physical condition at the surrender in April, Japanese unpreparedness to receive so many weakened PoWs, their unwillingness to do much about it, the cruelty and callousness of the individual Japanese soldier, and most importantly, the failure of Japanese leadership. "Taken alone," he writes, "any of these conditions might have been overcome. Together they produced the brutal, disorganized movement that has come to be known as the Death March."

To celebrate Emperor Hirohito's birthday, the Japanese commence a seven-day bombardment of Corregidor, starting at 7:25 a.m. All kinds of guns, joined by bombers (83 sorties, 106 tons of bombs), hammer the island in the heaviest bombardment yet. One 240mm shell plunges squarely down a tunnel's ventilation shaft into the gasoline tank of a searchlight's generator, roasting to death the searchlight's CO, Lt. Stanley O. Friedline, and five of his men.
In the Malinta Tunnel hospital, bottles and small items crash from shelves as the concrete walls vibrate. Dust rises in a choking cloud, forcing nurses to cover the patients' and their own faces with wet gauze. The nurses remain calm. Shells wreck wooden buildings, AA rangefinders, ammo dumps, phone lines, and silence 12-inch mortars.

April 30th, 1942...More than 125,000 Japanese-Americans, many of them American citizens with sons in the military, mark their 30th day in relocation camps across the American West. Executive Order 9066, signed on Feb. 19th, banned Japanese-Americans from the Pacific Coast.
On March 27th, they were given 48 hours to dispose of their homes, businesses and furniture. All razors and liquor were confiscated, and investments and bank accounts forfeited. The Japanese-Americans thus lose $70 million in farm acreage and equipment, 35 million in fruits and vegetables, and savings, stocks, and bonds beyond reckoning.
On March 30th, the Army evacuated persons "of Japanese ancestry" to 15 assembly areas, including Pasadena's Rose Bowl and Santa Anita's racetrack. Families were housed in horse stalls in the latter, then moved to 11 huge "relocation centers" in desolate areas.
The average Japanese family is now living in an "apartment" measuring 20 by 25 feet, without stove or running water. Each barracks block shares a community laundry, mess hall, latrine, and open shower stalls, which is embarrassing to the traditional Japanese women.
Surrounded by barbed wire, searchlights, and armed guards, the Japanese-Americans will while away three years in dreary tracts teaching children, holding church services, and attending 2,120 marriages, 5,981 christenings, and 1,862 funerals.
Incredibly, the Supreme Court will support this mass evacuation, calling it a proper exercise of the power to wage war. They will be supported by a wide range of Americans, including columnists like Damon Runyon and Westbrook Pegler, the military, the Nevada Bar Association, and Idaho Gov. Chase Clark, who tells the press that "Japs live like rats, breed like rats, and act like rats."
Despite this, the Japanese accept this mistreatment with formidable stoicism. There are no riots or disturbances in the camps. Internees work for little or no pay planting trees and painting Army recruitment posters. To the confusion of their guards, internees assemble each morning to raise Old Glory and salute it while their Boy Scout drum corps (every camp has one) plays the National Anthem.
The internees hope that when they are freed, they will have their property returned to them. The hope is a vain one. Japanese-American farms and businesses are taken over by white Californians, most of whom, with William Randolph Hearst's aggressive support, keep their loot. It is not until 1988, after countless protests and lawsuits, that the US government admits the injustice with a payment of $20,000 to each survivor of the camps and an apology from President Bush, himself a World War II Navy aviator.

In New Zealand, No. 14 Fighter Squadron is formed at Ohakea. From 1942 to 1944, it flies P-40 Kittyhawks, serving in Guadalcanal, New Georgia, Bougainville, Green Islands, and Emirau. The same day, New Zealand begins evacuation plans for civilians in case of invasion. The nation also begins rationing silk, stockings, and sugar, and camera film is scarce.

General William Slim's British troops in Burma cross the Irrawadda and destroy bridges and boats behind them as they retreat.

British civilian casualties for April 1942: 938 killed, 998 injured.

May 1st, 1942...The Japanese bomb Tulagi in the Solomons, and Guadalcanal Coastwatcher Martin Clemens has to find a way to hide a four-engine seaplane. 300 natives cover it with palm leaves.

In Canada, all-black regiments of US Army engineers struggle to build a highway across 1,645 miles of mountains and forests to link Alaska with the rest of the world. The Alaska Highway's highest point will be a 4,212-foot pass in the Canadian Rockies. More than 10,000 men work on the project. The 35th Engineers has to march 325 miles, carrying equipment on its backs, through -35F windstorms, to its work site. Despite the weather, the crews create 18 miles of pioneer road each day.

Japanese troops of the 33rd Division reach the Chindwin River in Burma, but do not cross the river. Gen. Slim counterattacks with tanks and two infantry brigades. While the 1st Burmese Division plans this, the Japanese attack division HQ. Maj. Gen. Bruce Scott has to fight his way out with his essential documents. Even so, his 63rd Brigade attacks Monya, driving the enemy back but not gaining the town. In any case, Mandalay falls to the Japanese, as they continue their advance.

Soviet partisans in one region put up 45 Red Flags to celebrate May 1, to which mines are attached. When the Germans try to pull them down, there are explosive results. Anti-German demonstrations go on in occupied France and Russia. The same day, Nazi Warthegau (part of Poland) ruler Arthur Greiser suggests to Heinrich Himmler that Poles with tuberculosis be sent to Chelmno for "special treatment."

More rationing in New Zealand: clothing, boots, shoes, hosiery, and knitting yarn. Women are now employed for railway work and as hotel porters. Aliens interned in New Zealand number 160, including 90 Germans, 29 Italians, and 29 Japanese, who while away the time playing cards and speculating about Axis chances.

Japanese Navy casualties in their offensive have been 23 warships, none larger than a destroyer, and 67 transport and merchant vessels, less than 350,000 tons, far lower than expected. Conquests have taken Japan to the edge of Australia, India, and Hawaii. The big question of what next rages in Tokyo. Even so, a big part of that is taking place anyway, in the Coral Sea. Rear Adm. Chuichi Hara's 5th Carrier Division, Shokaku and Zuikaku, are heading south to cover a two-pronged assault called Operation MO. The light carrier Shoho under Rear Admiral Aritomo Goto is headed for Port Moresby in New Guinea, while another force, led by the seaplane tender Kamikawa Maru, is enroute to Tulagi in the Solomons. Japanese intelligence believes the Americans have little in the area. Japanese intelligence is wrong. American codebreakers in Hawaii have read the Japanese plans, and Rear Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher's Task Force 17, with carrier Yorktown and Rear Adm. Aubry Fitch's Task Force 11, with carrier Lexington, have been despatched to cope with the attack. They are supported by Task Force 44, under Rear Adm. J.C. Crace, Royal Navy, with its two Australian cruisers, Australia, and Hobart. Fletcher, being senior, is in overall command. During the day, Fletcher moves forward while Fitch refuels. The two carrier groups are 100 miles apart as day ends, in the Coral Sea, ignorant of the enemy's immediate movements.

May 2nd, 1942...Japanese ships close in on Tulagi, so Guadalcanal Coastwatcher Don McFarland packs his bags from Barande, piles his gear into the plantation truck and drives into the interior to his Gold Ridge hideout, where a kerosene refrigerator is waiting. While McFarland sets up the new base, his colleague Ken Hay, stays at Berande with Snowy Rhoades, watching Australian troops on Tulagi demolish their base. Up at Aola, Martin Clemens packs his gear and waits.

The Monya battle rages on, as the British continue to counterattack, despite their exhaustion from the long and debilitating retreat in Burma. The counterattack drives the Japanese back, but does not stem the tide.

The US War Department mobilizes Hollywood to set up a Photo Signal Detachment under director Frank Capra, in which seven scriptwriters will prepare a series of films called "Why We Fight," to explain the origins and development of the war to the public. A year later, the first film is ready.
Hollywood helps kill time during World War II by producing 982 movies, and sending 34,232 prints overseas. Audiences get to enjoy some classics: The Man Who Came to Dinner with Monty Woolley; Woman of the Year with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy; The Song of Bernadette with Jennifer Jones; Going My Way with Bing Crosby; Double Indemnity with Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson; The Outlaw with Jane Russell; For Whom the Bell Tolls with Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman; Saratoga Trunk with the same cast; The Lost Weekend with Ray Milland; Shadow of a Doubt and Lifeboat by Alfred Hitchcock, Bambi from Walt Disney; and topping the list, Casablanca, with Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Sidney Greenstreet, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, and Conrad Veidt. The war provides employment for Canadian and Irish actors (as British pilots), European actors who have fled Hitler (usually as Nazi villains or heroic resistance men) and Chinese and Hawaiian actors like Richard Loo (who play Japanese secret agents and officers) in patriotic war movies. V-J Day ends the careers of most of the above, but Keye Luke continues to star on screen and TV, and Richard Loo's daughter Beverly becomes a leading book editor at McGraw-Hill, where in 1972 she purchases for the company Clifford Irving's faked autobiography of Howard Hughes.

The four-day bombardment of Corregidor intensifies. During one five-hour period, the Japanese rain 12 240mm rounds per minute, for a total of 3,600 rounds, onto the Geary-Crockett batteries, gradually eating through the magazines. The M1908 12- inch mortars are rendered inoperative, but the M1890s still work. Crews empty the magazines of their powder charges, but at 4:27 pm, a 240 mm shells crashes through and detonates among 1,600 62- lb. full section powder charges. The blast shakes the Rock and sends 13-ton mortars flying like pebbles. One travels 150 yards to land muzzle down on the golf course for a hole-in-one. A gaping crater remains where the mortars stood. The Japanese, elated by the huge explosion, cease fire. Geary Battery is out of the game.


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