Franklin Roosevelt approved aid to the Nationalist Chinese on February 7, 1942. Learn about this and the other important World War II events that occurred during the month of February 1942 below.
World War II Timeline: February 1-February 13
February 1: Japanese bases on the Gilbert and Marshall islands come under attack by more than 90 carrier-based U.S. warplanes.
February 4: In Egypt, British ambassador Sir Miles Lampson surrounds King Farouk's palace with Allied tanks to pressure the monarch into appointing a pro-British government.
Japan presses Britain to surrender control of Singapore, the crown jewel in the British Asian empire.
February 6: British and American officials meet in Washington, D.C., for the first conference of the Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff.
The United States counterattacks a reinforced Japanese force on the island of Luzon, Philippines.
February 7: A congressional call for $500 million in aid to the Nationalist Chinese gets Franklin Roosevelt's stamp of approval.
February 9: The Japanese capture Singapore's Tengah airfield, a vital supply link.
February 10: Axis sabotage is suspected when Normandie, the luxury French liner impounded in New York, catches fire and capsizes. No sabotage actually occurred.
February 11: London questions Vichy France's assertions of neutrality, revealing that France has supplied Nazi German forces in North Africa with more than 5,000 tons of fuel over the past three months.
February 11-13: The Nazi German navy humiliates the British with the perfect execution of Operation Cerberus, also known as the "Channel Dash." Unable to return from Brest, France, to their home ports via the British-controlled Atlantic route, the Nazi German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the cruiser Prinz Eugen make an audacious escape up the English Channel.
World War II Headlines
Below are more highlights and images that outline key events of World War II, such as Japan's air raid on Surabaya, Java.
Adolf Galland, the Wehrmacht's youngest general: Adolf Galland, probably the best-known Luftwaffe ace of the war, led a fighter group during the Battle of Britain that accounted for 103 aircraft "kills." By late 1941, he was commanding the Luftwaffe fighter arm. In late 1942, he became the Wehrmacht's youngest general (age 31). Despite his youth, he consistently demonstrated impressive organizational and intellectual abilities. Galland's well-founded advocacy of using the Luftwaffe tactically rather than strategically was fully in line with the air-warfare policies of Hermann Göring and Adolf Hitler. He was dismissed in January 1945, and was later shot down and captured while commanding an Me 262 jet fighter squadron.
The Blenheim bombers attack Nazi German targets: The British Royal Air Force's (RAF) Bristol Blenheim bombers were the first RAF aircraft to make a bombing attack against Nazi German targets. These three-man-crewed light bombers flew at 225 mph to a range of 1,450 miles, carrying up to 1,350 pounds of bombs. Five machine guns were provided for self-defense.
Fifteen RAF Blenheim squadrons were in service by 1939, with a much-improved "long-nose" Mark IV version introduced that year. Used for low-level daylight bombing raids in 1941-1942, almost 600 of 1,012 RAF Blenheims were lost -- 403 to enemy action. They were finally withdrawn from service in late 1942, and were replaced progressively by Boston, Ventura, and Mitchell bombers.
Japan goes after Java's oil: Clouds of smoke roil into the sky following an air raid on Surabaya, Java, in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in February 1942. The Japanese had long coveted the region's vast oil fields and refineries, and they moved to occupy Java soon after the fall of Singapore. An Allied attempt to turn away the Japanese invasion fleet failed in the seven-hour Battle of the Java Sea on February 27. Five Allied warships were sunk in the melee, while the Japanese lost only a single destroyer.
See the next page for details of the other significant World War II events that occurred during February 1942.