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Today in World War II History—January 11, 1942

Japanese troops in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, 11 Jan 1942 (Imperial War Museum: 5707-03 HU 2776)

Japanese troops in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, 11 Jan 1942 (Imperial War Museum: 5707-03 HU 2776)

80 Years Ago—Jan. 11, 1942: Japanese invade the Netherlands East Indies, landing at Tarakan, Borneo, and in Celebes.

Japanese take Kuala Lumpur, Malaya.

Operation Paukenschlag (“roll of the kettledrums”) is set to begin: first group of 5 German U-boats (U-66, U-109, U-123, U-125, U-130) takes up station off the US East Coast; will sink 26 ships in a month.

Today in World War II History—January 10, 1942

Japanese flamethrower on the Orion-Bagac Line, Bataan Peninsula, 1942 (public domain, Japanese government photo)

Japanese flamethrower on the Orion-Bagac Line, Bataan Peninsula, 1942 (public domain, Japanese government photo)

80 Years Ago—Jan. 10, 1942: Japanese make first surrender demand to US forces on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines.

Ford Motor Company signs a contract to manufacture jeeps for the US Army.

Actor Mickey Rooney (age 21) marries actress Ava Gardner (age 19); they divorce in 1943.

Today in World War II History—January 9, 1942

British Royal Engineers preparing to blow up a bridge in Malaya during the retreat to Singapore, Dec 1941 (Imperial War Museum: 4700-45 KF 89)

British Royal Engineers preparing to blow up a bridge in Malaya during the retreat to Singapore, Dec 1941 (Imperial War Museum: 4700-45 KF 89)

80 Years Ago—Jan. 9, 1942: Soviets begin offensive at Moscow and Smolensk (Battle of the Valdai Hills).

In Malaya, British begin withdrawal into Johore to protect Singapore.

Today in World War II History—January 8, 1942

Poster for the US Office of Civilian Defense, WWII

Poster for the US Office of Civilian Defense, WWII

80 Years Ago—Jan. 8, 1942: US Army Forces in British Isles (USAFBI) is established under Maj. Gen. James Chaney.

Japanese take Jesselton, capital of British North Borneo.

James Landis is named to succeed Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia as head of the US Office of Civil Defense.

Today in World War II History—January 7, 1942

Japanese tankette during Battle of Muar, Malaya, mid-Jan 1942 (public domain via WW2 Database)

Japanese tankette during Battle of Muar, Malaya, mid-Jan 1942 (public domain via WW2 Database)

80 Years Ago—Jan. 7, 1942: In the Philippines, Japanese begin siege of the Bataan Peninsula.

In Malaya, Japanese break through Indian defenses at the Slim River.

US Navy issues a warning that 16 German U-boats are suspected to be near the US East Coast.

Today in World War II History—January 6, 1942

Combined Chiefs of Staff in Québec, Canada, August 23, 1943 (US government photo)

Combined Chiefs of Staff in Québec, Canada, August 23, 1943 (US government photo)

80 Years Ago—Jan. 6, 1942: Roosevelt’s State of the Union address calls for the production of 60,000 aircraft and 1.2 million tons of shipping in 1942.

Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) is formed, consisting of the British Chiefs of Staff & US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Pan Am’s Pacific Clipper lands in New York City, the first commercial airplane to circumnavigate the globe, having left San Francisco for New Zealand Dec. 2, 1941, being stranded after Pearl Harbor, and forced to head west rather than back east.

Make It Do – Tire Rationing in World War II

Make It Do - Tire Rationing in World War II

During World War II, rationing was a large part of life on the United States Home Front. Tires were the first items to be rationed.

Rubber Shortage

US Poster encouraging rubber conservation, WWII

US Poster encouraging rubber conservation, WWII

The Japanese conquered the prime rubber producing nations of Malaya and the Dutch East Indies from January to March of 1942, eliminating 91% of America’s rubber supply. Since cargo ships were needed for military purposes, the ability to import rubber from South America was reduced. The synthetic rubber program had just begun and didn’t produce enough to meet civilian and military needs. Before the war, the US had accumulated a stockpile of crude rubber – but only enough for one year at peace.

Uses for Rubber

In civilian life, three-quarters of rubber was used for automobile tires, but rubber was also used for gloves, raincoats, boots, waterproof sheets and baby pants, girdles, hot water bottles, bathing caps, garden hoses, and toys. The military required rubber for vehicle and aircraft tires, pontoon bridges, gas and oxygen masks, medical equipment, boots, raincoats, shoes, and even erasers.

 

Tire Rationing

US poster encouraging conservation of rubber, WWII

US poster encouraging conservation of rubber, WWII

To ensure enough rubber for military and vital civilian purposes, rationing of tires and rubber goods was announced on December 27, 1941, to start on January 5, 1942. The program ran through December 31, 1945. Local Tire Rationing Boards issued certificates for tires or recapping upon application. Certificates for new tires were restricted to vehicles for public health and safety (medical, fire, police, garbage, and mail services), essential trucking (food, ice, fuel), and public transportation.

Recapping was allowed at the discretion of the local board for any of the above, and occasionally for taxis and defense workers who shared rides. Civilians were allowed to keep five tires per automobile, and were required to surrender any others.

Shortages of Rubber Products

Men’s rubber boots and work shoes were rationed starting September 30, 1942 (see Shoe Rationing in World War II), but most other civilian products made from rubber were no longer produced. People simply had to make do with what they had. Macy’s even canceled their traditional Thanksgiving Day parade from 1942 through 1944 to conserve rubber and helium. In November 1942, Macy’s ceremonially handed over their rubber balloons for the war effort.

Public service campaigns educated people on how to care for rubber products to make them last for the duration – protection from heat and moisture, proper cleaning, avoiding folding or crumpling, careful stretching of elastic, and speedy repair of holes or tears.

Rubber Drive

US poster encouraging scrap rubber collection, WWII

US poster encouraging scrap rubber collection, WWII

From June 15-30, 1942 the United States held a nationwide rubber drive. People were encouraged to donate used or surplus rubber items. People brought in old or excess tires, raincoats, hot water bottles, boots, and floor mats. In exchange they received a penny a pound. Although 450,000 tons of scrap rubber was collected, used rubber was found to be of poor quality for military use.

Care of Tires

US poster about conserving tires, WWII

US poster about conserving tires, WWII

Since civilians had to make five tires last the entire war, they had to be extremely careful. People were encouraged to drive less – in fact, the primary purpose for nationwide gasoline rationing was to protect tires. A “Victory Speed” of 35 mph was instituted – tires wore out half as quickly at 35 mph than at 60 mph. Slow and steady stops, starts, and turns also reduced wear on the treads.

Everyone was encouraged to use public transportation, to share rides, and to avoid rough roads. Proper auto maintenance was more important than ever – brake adjustment, wheel alignment, tire inflation, tire rotation, and early repair of holes all prolonged wear. In addition, all auto racing was banned.

How would you have handled tire rationing?

Today in World War II History—January 5, 1942

Sign posted in window of store owned by a Japanese-American the day after Pearl Harbor, shortly before the man’s internment, Oakland, CA, March 1942 (Photo: Dorothea Lange, Library of Congress: LC-USZ62-23602)

Sign posted in window of store owned by a Japanese-American the day after Pearl Harbor, shortly before the man’s internment, Oakland, CA, March 1942 (Photo: Dorothea Lange, Library of Congress: LC-USZ62-23602)

80 Years Ago—Jan. 5, 1942: In the Philippines, US & Filipino forces complete retreat into Bataan peninsula; troops are put on half rations.

In US, “enemy aliens” are required to surrender transmitters, shortwaves, and precision cameras.

Rationing of tires and all rubber goods goes into effect in the US (Read more: “Tire Rationing in World War II”).

Today in World War II History—January 4, 1942

Japanese fleet at Truk, preparing for the invasion of Rabaul, photographed by an RAAF Hudson, 9 January 1942 (Royal Australian Air Force photo)

Japanese fleet at Truk, preparing for the invasion of Rabaul, photographed by an RAAF Hudson, 9 January 1942 (Royal Australian Air Force photo)

80 Years Ago—Jan. 4, 1942: Japanese begin pre-invasion air raids on the major British naval and air base of Rabaul in the Bismarcks in the South Pacific.

In Hong Kong, Japanese order non-Chinese enemy nationals to report to Murray Parade Grounds; 2800 civilians will be interned on the grounds of Stanley Prison, and 121 will die during internment.

Today in World War II History—January 3, 1942

Chiang Kai-shek, 1943 (public domain via Wikipedia)

Chiang Kai-shek, 1943 (public domain via Wikipedia)

80 Years Ago—Jan. 3, 1942: Japanese land at Brunei on Borneo in Netherlands East Indies.

Gen. Chiang Kai-shek is named Commander in Chief of Allied Forces in China.