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Today in
World War II History

Today in World War II History—May 16, 1942

Col. Oveta Culp Hobby (right) talks with WAACs Margaret Peterson and Elizabeth Gilbert at Mitchel Field, NY, 1943 (Library of Congress: cph.3c18263)

Col. Oveta Culp Hobby (right) talks with WAACs Margaret Peterson and Elizabeth Gilbert at Mitchel Field, NY, 1943 (Library of Congress: cph.3c18263)

80 Years Ago—May 16, 1942: Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby is sworn in as director of US WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps).

New song in Top Ten: “Sleepy Lagoon.”

Today in World War II History—May 15, 1942

US poster for the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, WWII

US poster for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, WWII

80 Years Ago—May 15, 1942: Germans take Kerch in the Crimea; Soviets flee the peninsula, leaving Sevastopol to stand alone.

US national insignia, May 1942

US national insignia, May 1942

National insignia on US Army Air Force, Navy, and Marine aircraft is changed to a white star on a dark blue disc, eliminating the central red disc due to confusion with Japanese aircraft.

US Army Air Force pursuit units are renamed fighter units.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs legislation forming Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC).

Gas rationing begins in 17 Eastern states due to tanker losses to U-boats; 8 million motorists register for cards worth 3 gallons/week (Read more: “Make It Do—Gasoline Rationing in World War II.”)

Today in World War II History—May 14, 1942

US poster, WWII

US poster, WWII

80 Years Ago—May 14, 1942: Australia decides to ration food and clothing.

US Navy begins full convoys on East Coast as the first convoy departs from Hampton Roads, VA, for Key West, FL.

German Abwehr agent Alfred Langbein is landed by U-boat U-213 at New Brunswick to report on convoys; he does not, and he surrenders to the Canadians on November 1 when he runs out of money.

Today in World War II History—May 13, 1942

New Zealand and US soldiers compare weapons in the Southwest Pacific, 1942 (US Army Center of Military History)

New Zealand and US soldiers compare weapons in the Southwest Pacific, 1942 (US Army Center of Military History)

80 Years Ago—May 13, 1942: US troops replace New Zealanders in Fiji and take responsibility for the islands.

King George VI becomes Commander in Chief, British Home Guard.

Today in World War II History—May 12, 1942

Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress, 99th Bombardment Group, 1943 (US Army Air Forces photo)

Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress, 99th Bombardment Group, 1943 (US Army Air Forces photo)

80 Years Ago—May 12, 1942: Soviets open offensive in Ukraine toward Kharkov.

Production begins of B-17F Flying Fortress bombers.

Battleship USS Massachusetts is commissioned, Quincy, MA.

San Francisco Bay Area has a 25-minute air raid alert.

Council on Books in Wartime holds first convention (Read more: “Books in World War II”).

Battleship USS Massachusetts, Battleship Cove, Fall River MA (Photo: Sarah Sundin, July 2014)

Battleship USS Massachusetts, Battleship Cove, Fall River MA (Photo: Sarah Sundin, July 2014)

Today in World War II History—May 11, 1942

British troopship HMT Queen Mary returning US troops from Europe, New York, NY, 20 June 1945 (US Navy photo 80-GK-5645)

British troopship HMT Queen Mary returning US troops from Europe, New York, NY, 20 June 1945 (US Navy photo 80-GK-5645)

80 Years Ago—May 11, 1942: Off Mersa Matruh, Egypt, Luftwaffe sinks British destroyers Kipling and Lively, and damages British destroyer Jackal (scuttled 5/12).

Troopship HMT Queen Mary embarks from New York, the first time any ship has carried more than 10,000 passengers (9880 troops, 875 crew). Read more about the Queen Mary during World War II and see photos from my tour: “The Sky Above Us—Tour of the Queen Mary.”

US Air Medal ribbon (public domain)

US Air Medal ribbon (public domain)

US authorizes Air Medal, awarded retroactively to September 1939.

Today in World War II History—May 10, 1942

Japanese-American children waiting for bus to take them to an Assembly Center, Byron, CA, 2 May 1942 (US National Archives: ARC 537467)

Japanese-American children waiting for bus to take them to an Assembly Center, Byron, CA, 2 May 1942 (US National Archives: ARC 537467)

80 Years Ago—May 10, 1942: Assembly center for Japanese-Americans opens at Stockton, CA.

US celebrates Mother’s Day.

US war bond poster for Mother’s Day, 10 May 1942

US war bond poster for Mother’s Day, 10 May 1942

Today in World War II History—May 9, 1942

British Spitfire V fighter taking off from carrier USS Wasp for Malta, May 1942 (US Navy photo: 80-G-7083)

British Spitfire V fighter taking off from carrier USS Wasp for Malta, May 1942 (US Navy photo: 80-G-7083)

80 Years Ago—May 9, 1942: Turning point on Malta—61 RAF Spitfires are delivered by aircraft carriers HMS Eagle and USS Wasp; the Luftwaffe will be diverted to other theaters.

Off North Carolina, US Coast Guard cutter Icarus sinks U-352, rescuing 33, the first German POWs taken by any US forces in WWII.

New song in Top Ten: “Jersey Bounce.”

Today in World War II History—May 8, 1942

USS Lexington's crewmen abandoning ship to a destroyer, 8 May 1942 (US Naval History & Heritage Command: 80-G-7398)

USS Lexington’s crewmen abandoning ship to a destroyer, 8 May 1942 (US Naval History & Heritage Command: 80-G-7398)

80 Years Ago—May 8, 1942: Battle of the Coral Sea concludes: US deters Japanese landing at Port Moresby, New Guinea, the first time in the war that the Japanese navy fails to achieve an objective.

In Battle of the Coral Sea, carrier USS Lexington is badly damaged and scuttled.

Japanese take Myitkyina, the last viable airfield to supply China from Burma.

Alvin York, WWI Medal of Honor recipient “Sergeant York,” is commissioned as a major.

Today in World War II History—May 7, 1942

Japanese carrier Shoho under attack by US Navy TBD-1 torpedo bomber, 7 May 1942 (US National Archives: 80-G-17015)

Japanese carrier Shoho under attack by US Navy TBD-1 torpedo bomber, 7 May 1942 (US National Archives: 80-G-17015)

80 Years Ago—May 7, 1942: In the Battle of the Coral Sea, destroyer USS Sims and Japanese small carrier Shoho are sunk.

Japanese execute José Abad Santos, chief justice of the Philippines, for refusing to participate in the puppet government.

Until Leaves Fall In Paris
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