World War II Timeline: January 23, 1942-February 1, 1942
On January 25, 1942, Thailand declared war on the United States and Great Britain. Learn about this and the other important World War II events that occurred during 1942 below.
World War II Timeline: January 23-February 1
January 23: Australia sends an urgent request for assistance from the Allies after a series of conquests in the Southwest Pacific brings the Japanese within a thousand miles of Australian territory.
January 24: U.S. Supreme Court justice Owen Roberts reports that inquests into culpability for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor reveal indifference and neglect on the part of Navy and Army commanders -- Rear Admiral Husband Kimmel and Lieutenant General Walter Short.
The first significant naval battle in the Pacific Theater, the Battle of Makassar Strait, ends with the Japanese losing four transport ships. Despite their losses, they will achieve their objective of securing the oil-rich port of Balikpapan, Borneo.
January 25: Thailand declares war on the United States and Great Britain.
January 26: The U.S. armed forces establish their British office in the capital city of London.
The Japanese gain a critical base with the capture of Rabaul, New Britain.
January 30: In a speech that leaves no doubt about one of Adolf Hitler's primary goals of the war, the Führer asserts that the conflict will end with the "complete annihilation of the Jews," calling them "the most evil universal enemy of all time."
Nazi puppet Vidkun Quisling is named Norwegian premier for the second time. He will publicly accept his reappointment in a speech unapologetically delivered in German.
Nazi German U-boats adopt a new cipher called "Triton," meaning the Allies can no longer interpret their messages.
World War II Headlines
Below are more highlights and images that outline the events of World War II, including the evacuation of Singapore.
Civilians killed during evacuation of Singapore: Women and children arrive in Britain after evacuating from Singapore. Confident of the impregnability of the fortress and fearful of creating a panic, British authorities waited too long to begin the mass evacuation of civilians. As defeat loomed, all available ships were hastily loaded with fleeing civilians. The Empire Star, designed to carry a small number of passengers, was crammed with 2,000 refugees. As coordination broke down, the evacuation became a debacle. Enemy planes attacked the fleeing ships and thousands of civilians drowned. Others survived drowning only to be murdered by Japanese troops as they struggled ashore on Bangka Island.
Australian Vivian Bullwinkel survives Japanese massacre: Sister Vivian Bullwinkel, an Australian Army nurse, was among the last 65 nurses evacuated from Singapore before it fell in February 1942. Their ship was sunk by Japanese aircraft off Bangka Island near Sumatra. Bullwinkel and a group of survivors struggled ashore and surrendered to Japanese soldiers, who bayoneted the men and shot the women.
Miraculously, Bullwinkel survived a bullet to the side. She escaped into the jungle and eventually surrendered to Japanese sailors, from whom she concealed her wounds. She then endured three years of harsh imprisonment, attributing her survival to the friendship of fellow nurses and faith in Australia.
Britain's heartbreaking defeat in Singapore: The loss of the "Gibraltar of the Far East" on February 15, 1942, ranks among the greatest defeats in British military history. The quick Japanese victory over a numerically superior force stunned the world, shattered British military power in the region, exposed the myth of Western superiority for all to see, and raised the hopes of nationalist movements chafing under colonial rule. Britain's colonial star went into decline and would never regain its former ascendancy.
See the next page for a World War II timeline that follows the major events of early February 1942.