The U.S. government chooses a site in Los Alamos, New Mexico, to build a lab devoted to the development of the atomic bomb on November 25, 1942. Learn about this and the other important World War II events that occurred during the month of November 1942 below.
World War II Timeline: November 12-November 28
November 12-15: The United States loses nine ships and the Japanese lose five in the waters off Guadalcanal. This is one of the most ferocious naval battles of the war, and a tactical victory for the United States.
November 15: The cruiser USS Juneau sinks off Guadalcanal, claiming the lives of five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, Iowa. Despite popular myth, no law or executive order inspired by the Sullivan tragedy is created that would prohibit family members from serving together. However, the practice is discouraged.
November 20: The RAF launches its most destructive raid against Italy in this war, devastating the northern industrial city of Turin.
In an address to the French people, Vichy prime minister Pierre Laval encourages the Vichy alliance with the Third Reich in the face of continued threats from "Jews and Communists."
November 22: In a stunning turnaround, some 270,000 soldiers of the Nazi German Sixth Army are surrounded by the Red Army in Stalingrad.
November 23: The U.S. Women's Coast Guard Reserve is established.
November 24: The Japanese begin construction of a new airfield at Munda, New Georgia, their new base of operations in the Solomon Islands.
November 25: The U.S. government selects a site in Los Alamos, New Mexico, to build a lab devoted to the development of the atomic bomb.
November 27: Citing betrayal by Vichy France, Adolf Hitler disbands the Vichy army.
November 28: Against the recommendation of Erwin Rommel, his accomplished general on the ground, Adolf Hitler insists that his beaten Nazi German forces fight to the death in the North African desert.
World War II Headlines
Below are more highlights and images that outline the events of World War II, including the French reaction to Operation Torch.
Erwin Rommel defies Adolf Hitler and retreats in Egypt: On October 23, 1942, British lieutenant general Bernard Montgomery's Eighth Army struck Nazi Germany's Afrika Korps near the village of El Alamein, Egypt. After 12 days of desperate fighting against an army twice the size of his own, German general Erwin Rommel finally ordered his corps to retreat -- in defiance of Adolf Hitler's command to fight until they won or died. In those 12 days, the Nazi Germans lost 12,000 men and 350 tanks. Rommel had no more than 80 tanks remaining for the 1,400-mile retreat through the desert to Tunisia, where he hoped to find reinforcements and supplies.
Operation Torch offered as substitute for invasion of France: Above, Allied forces make an amphibious landing near Algiers on November 8, 1942. Few American troops based in Europe had been under fire, and they did not know whether Vichy French defenders would resist the landings. Military considerations aside, Torch was tricky politically because Joseph Stalin was insisting that U.S. and British forces commit significant numbers of men to European combat with an invasion of France. Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill knew such an assault was not yet possible and offered Torch as a substitute.
French surprisingly resist Torch invasion: It took Franklin Roosevelt's intervention in July 1942 to resolve a serious dispute between U.S. and British military advisers. He sided with the British plan to invade North Africa in order to engage the Nazi Germans as soon as possible. French Morocco and Algeria were chosen as the sites for this attack since the Allies would face only French troops, who might let the Allies land unopposed. That is not how it turned out.
After the November 8, 1942, landing, the French troops did defend the landing sites. Here, a British ship takes a hit not far from shore. Negotiations with the French troops' commander, Admiral François Darlan, were needed to end the fighting on November 10. Darlan was assassinated in December by a French monarchist.
Check out the next section for a timeline and headlines detailing World War II events from early December 1942.