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1939 1940 1941 - 1942 - 1943 1944 1945
| Decades: |
1910s 1920s 1930s - 1940s - 1950s 1960s 1970s
Events of 1942
- January 1 - WWII: The United States and Filipino troops fight the Battle of Bataan.
- January 2 - WWII: Manila is captured by Japanese forces.
- January 7 - WWII: The siege of the Bataan Peninsula begins.
- January 10 - WWII: The last German air-raid on Liverpool destroys the home of William Patrick Hitler, Adolf Hitler's nephew. After his house is destroyed, William Hitler goes to the USA.
- January 11 - WWII:
- January 19 - WWII: Japanese forces invade Burma.
- January 23 - WWII: The Battle of Rabaul begins.
- January 25 - WWII: Thailand declares war on the United States and United Kingdom.
- January 26 - WWII: The first American forces arrive in Europe, landing in Northern Ireland.
- January 31 - WWII: The last organized Allied forces leave Malaya, ending the 54-day campaign.
- February 2 - WWII: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs an executive order directing the internment of Japanese Americans and the seizure of their property.
- February 8
- February 9 - The SS Normandie Ocean Liner catches fire while being converted into the troopship USS Lafayette for World War II.
- February 10 - In the early hours of the morning the SS Normandie capsizes at pier 88 in New York City.
- February 11 - Operation Cerberus A flotilla of Kriegsmarine ships dash from Brest through the English Channel to northern ports; the British fail to sink any one of them.
- February 15 - WWII: Singapore surrenders to Japanese forces.
- February 19 - WWII:
- February 20 - Lieutenant Edward O'Hare becomes America's first World War II flying ace.
- February 22 - WWII: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt orders General Douglas MacArthur out of the Philippines as American defense of the nation collapses.
- February 23 - The Japanese submarine I-17 fires 17 high-explosive shells toward an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, causing little damage.
- February 24 - Propaganda: The Voice of America begins broadcasting.
- February 25 - Princess Elizabeth registers for war service.
- February 25 - Battle of Los Angeles: Over 1,400 AA shells are fired at an unidentified, slow-moving object in the skies over Los Angeles. The appearance of the object triggers an immediate wartime blackout over most of Southern California, with thousands of air raid wardens being deployed throughout the city. In total there are 6 deaths. Despite the several hour barrage no planes are downed.
- February 26 - The worst coal dust explosion to date, in Honkeiko, China, claims 1,549 lives.
- February 27 - WWII - Battle of the Java Sea: An allied (ABDA) task force under Dutch command, trying to stem a Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies, is defeated by a Japanese task force in the Java Sea.
- March - Construction begins on the Badger Army Ammunition Plant (the largest in the United States during WWII).
- March 9 - WWII: Executive order 9082 (February 28, 1942) reorganizes the United States Army into three major commands: the Army Ground Forces, Army Air Forces, and Services of Supply, later redesignated Army Service Forces.
- March 28 - WWII: British Commandos raid St. Nazaire on the coast of Western France.
- April 3 - WWII: Japanese forces begin an all-out assault on the United States and Filipino troops on the Bataan Peninsula.
- April 5 - WWII: the Japanese Navy attacks Colombo in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Royal Navy Cruisers HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire are sunk southwest of the island.
- April 9
- April 13 - The FCC's minimum programming time required of TV stations is cut from 15 hours to 4 hours a week during the war.
- April 18 - Tokyo, Japan is bombed by B-25 Mitchells commanded by then-Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle.
- April 27 - WWII: A national plebiscite is held in Canada on the issue of conscription.
- April 29 - WWII: An explosion at a chemical factory in Tessenderlo, Belgium leaves 200 dead and 1,000 injured.
- May - The first undersea oil pipeline is tested in Operation Pluto.
- May 5 - WWII - Operation Ironclad: United Kingdom forces invade the French colony of Madagascar.
- May 6 - WWII: On Corregidor, the last American and Filipino forces in the Philippines surrender to the Japanese.
- May 8 - WWII: The Battle of the Coral Sea (first battle in naval history where 2 enemy fleets fight without seeing each other's fleets) ends in an Allied victory.
- May 8/May 9 - WWII: On the night of 8/9 May 1942, gunners of the Ceylon Garrison Artillery on Horsburgh Island in the Cocos Islands rebel. Their mutiny is crushed and 3 of them executed (the only British Commonwealth soldiers to be executed for mutiny during the Second World War).
- May 12 - WWII - Second Battle of Kharkov: In the eastern Ukraine, the Soviet Army initiates a major offensive. During the battle the Soviets capture the city of Kharkov from the German Army, only to be encircled and destroyed.
- May 15 - WWII: In the United States, a bill creating the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) is signed into law.
- May 20 - The first African-American seamen are taken into the United States Navy.
- May 21 - WWII: Mexico declares war against Germany after the sinking of the Mexican tanker Faja de Oro by the German U-boat, U-160, off Key West.
- May 26 - WWII - Battle of Bir Hakeim: The Free French and British troops slow the German advance in North Africa.
- May 27 - WWII - Operation Anthropoid: Czech paratroopers attempt to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich in Prague.
- May 31 - June 1 - WWII - Attack on Sydney Harbour: Japanese submarines infiltrate Sydney Harbour in an attempt to attack Allied warships.
- June 1 - WWII: Mexico declares war on Germany, Italy and Japan.
- June 4 - WWII: Reinhard Heydrich succumbs to wounds sustained on May 27 from Czechoslovakian paratroopers acting in Operation Anthropoid.
- June 4-June 7 - WWII - The Battle of Midway: The Japanese naval advance in the Pacific is halted.
- June 7 - WWII: Japanese forces invade the Aleutian Islands (the first invasion of American soil in 128 years).
- June 8 - WWII: Attack on Sydney Harbour: The Australian cities of Sydney and Newcastle are shelled by Japanese submarines. The eastern suburbs of both cities are damaged and the east coast is blacked out.
- June 13 - The United States opens its Office of War Information, a propaganda center.
- June 21 - Fort Stevens, Oregon is fired upon by a Japanese submarine.
- June 29 - The German Eleventh Army under Erich von Manstein takes Sevastopol, although fighting rages until July 9.
- July 1 - July 27 - WWII: the First Battle of El Alamein.
- July 3 - Guadalcanal falls to the Japanese.
- July 13 - WWII: German U-Boats sink 3 more merchant ships in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
- July 18 - WWII: The Germans test fly the Messerschmitt Me-262 (using only its jets) for the first time.
- July 19 - WWII - Battle of the Atlantic: German Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz orders the last U-boats to withdraw from their United States Atlantic coast positions, in response to an effective American convoy system.
- July 21 - The Japanese establish a beachhead on the north coast of New Guinea in the Buna-Gona area; a small Australian force begins a rearguard action on the Kokoda Track Campaign.
- July 29 - The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR institutes the Order of Suvorov, the Order of Kutuzov, and reinstates the Order of Alexander Nevsky.
- July 31 - The Oxford Committee of Famine Relief (OXFAM) is founded.
- August 7 - WWII: Battle of Guadalcanal begins - USMC initiate the first American offensive of the war with a landing on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.
- August 8
- WWII: In Washington, DC, six German would-be saboteurs are executed (two others were cooperative and received life imprisonment instead).
- Quit India resolution is passed by the Bombay session of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), which led to the start of a historical civil disobedience movement across India.
- August 9 - Indian leader, Mohandas Gandhi is arrested in Bombay by British forces.
- August 13 - 14 night - In London instruments detect a massive burst of cosmic rays.
- August 15 - WWII: The American tanker SS Ohio reaches Malta as part of the convoy of Operation Pedestal.
- August 16 - The U.S. Navy blimp L-8 (Flight 101) comes ashore near San Francisco, eventually coming down in Daly City (the crew is missing).
- August 19 - WWII - Dieppe Raid: Allied forces raid Dieppe, France.
- August 22 - WWII: Brazil declares war on Germany and Italy.
- August 25 - WWII: Japanese marines land at Milne Bay.
- August 30 - Luxembourg is formally annexed to the German Reich.
- August 31 - A general strike is launched in Luxembourg to protest against forced conscription.
- September 5 - WWII - Battle of Milne Bay: Japanese forces suffer their first defeat on land.
- September 12 - The RMS Laconia, carrying civilians, Allied soldiers and Italian POWs, is torpedoed off the coast of West Africa and sinks.
- September 24 - Andrée Borrel and Lise de Baissac became the first female SOE agents to be parachuted into occupied France.
- October 2 - The British cruiser Curaçao collides with the liner Queen Mary off the coast of Donegal and sinks; 338 drown.
- October 3 - The first A-4 rocket is successfully launched from Test Stand VII at Peenemünde, Germany. The rocket flies 147 kilometres wide and reaches a height of 84.5 kilometres, becoming the first man-made object to reach space.
- October 9 - The Statute of Westminster Adoption Act formalizes Australian autonomy.
- October 11 - WWII - Battle of Cape Esperance: On the northwest coast of Guadalcanal, United States Navy ships intercept and defeat a Japanese fleet on their way to reinforce troops on the island.
- October 14 - A German U-boat sinks the ferry SS Caribou, killing 137.
- October 16 - A hurricane and flood in Bombay kill 40,000.
- October 23 - November 4 - WWII - Second Battle of El Alamein: British troops go on the offensive against the Axis forces.
- October 26 - WWII - Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands: 2 Japanese aircraft carriers are heavily damaged and 1 U.S. carrier is sunk.
- October 28 - The Alaska Highway is completed.
- November 2 - A USAF squadron, including B-24 Liberator's, intercepts many Luftwaffe patrols off the coast of Oran, Algeria.
- November 3 - WWII - Second Battle of El Alamein: German forces under Erwin Rommel are forced to retreat during the night.
- November 8 - WWII
- Operation Torch - United States and United Kingdom forces land in French North Africa.
- French Resistance Coup in Algiers: 400 French civil resistants neutralize the Vichyist XIXth Army Corps and the Vichyist generals (Juin, Darlan, etc.), so allowing the immediate success of Operation Torch in Algiers, and ultimately the whole of French North Africa.
- November 10 - WWII: In violation of a 1940 armistice, Germany invades Vichy France, following French Admiral François Darlan's agreement to an armistice with the Allies in North Africa.
- November 12 - WWII - Battle of Guadalcanal: A naval battle near Guadalcanal starts between Japanese and American forces.
- November 13 - WWII - Battle of Guadalcanal: Aviators from the USS Enterprise sink the Japanese battleship Hiei.
- November 15 - WWII:
- The Battle of Guadalcanal ends: Although the United States Navy suffers heavy losses, it retains control of Guadalcanal.
- A BOAC scheduled passenger flight, a DC-3 with registration G-AGBB, (formerly KLM PH-ALI, Ibis), enroute between Lisbon and Bristol, is attacked over the Bay of Biscay by German fighters. Although damaged, it escapes and lands in England. Other attacks follow on the same aircraft and scheduled route: April 19 and June 1, 1943 (fatal).
- November 19 - WWII - Battle of Stalingrad: Soviet Union forces under General Georgy Zhukov launch the Operation Uranus counter-attacks at Stalingrad, turning the tide of the battle in the USSR's favor.
- November 21 - The completion of the Alaska Highway (also known as the Alcan Highway) is celebrated (however, the "highway" is not usable by general vehicles until 1943).
- November 22 - WWII - Battle of Stalingrad: The situation for the German attackers of Stalingrad seems desperate during the Soviet counter-attack Operation Uranus, and General Friedrich Paulus sends Adolf Hitler a telegram saying that the German Sixth Army is surrounded.
- November 23 - A German U-boat sinks the S.S. Ben Lomond off the coast of Brazil. One crewman, Chinese second steward Poon Lim, is separated from the others and spends 130 days adrift until he is rescued on April 3, 1943.
- November 26 - The movie Casablanca premières at the Hollywood Theater in New York City.
- November 27 - WWII: At Toulon, the French navy scuttles its ships and submarines to keep them out of National socialist hands.
- November 28
- December 1 - Gasoline rationing begins in the United States.
- December 2 - Manhattan Project: Below the bleachers of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago, a team led by Enrico Fermi initiates the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction (a coded message, "The Italian navigator has landed in the new world" is then sent to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt).
- December 7 - WWII: British commandos conduct Operation Frankton, a raid on shipping in Bordeaux harbour.
- December 24 - French Admiral Darlan, the former Vichy leader who had switched over to the Allies following the Torch landings, is assassinated in Algiers.
- December 27 - The Union of Pioneers of Yugoslavia is founded.
- May 22 - Theodore Kaczynski, American terrorist
- November 20 - Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States