Campaign for North Rivett day 5 Posted on 14 Mar 02:00 , 0 comments
November and December 1941 saw dark clouds hovering over Asia. Japanese fleets prowled across the Pacific from Singapore
to the Bismarck Sea
but prowling was all they were doing. The South Monsoon's rainy season had lasted unusually late making any aggression in the Pacific unsustainable.
But then on January 10th 1942, the heavens broke as Japanese troops simultaneously and without warning attacked British and Dutch possessions from Singapore, Batavia and Rabaul catching the disoganised defenders completely by surprise. All three including the supposedly impregnable Gibraltar of the east, Singapore fell to the lightning strikes of the Japanese empire.
The Japanese even launched a submarine raid on 400,000 tonnes of British convoy shipping supporting Iranian oil through the Persian gulf to Russia. The British navy was so stretched by the Battle of the Atlantic that Churchill simply didn't have the fleet to spare to protect British far east possessions.
These outrageous and unprovoked attacks on plucky little Britain and the Netherlands finally roused the slothful US eagle to act and on the 3rd March Franklin Delano Roosevelt finally declared war on the empire of Japan. This was followed on the 17th with a declaration of war on Germany and Italy as well. At last the most powerful nation on earth had converted all these disparate wars into a true world war.
In Russia winter had brought major operations to a temporary halt apart from finally clearing out all stay behind Russian troops in the Pripet marshes but the war in the Mediterranean carried on relentlessly. Greece had become a stalemate
Greece front winter 1941/42
but in the Mediterranean both sides were gearing up for major operations.
Perhaps the most climactic campaign over that long winter occurred in the Atlantic where 280 German and Italian subs sunk another 2,000,000 tons of British shipping for only 20 subs lost. By March 1942 the British production was being severely affected by the constant drain on shipping as total convoy losses exceeded 11 million tons, more than 60% of their pre-war total and almost 50% of British production was dedicated to building and repairing the humble merchantmen.
Th spring in Russia came unusually early and on the 12th March, the Wehrmacht commenced a major operation to cross the Dnieper just south of Kiev. It was widely successful completely unhinging the Russian's southern line.
The Russian Front March 1942
Stavka ordered an immediate withdrawal north of the breakout to try to stem the tide. They established a new line 150 km to the rear and for the moment held the line as the weather closed in during the late spring thaw and the front came to another temproary halt.
This led to the greatest carrier battle of the war so far on May 6 1942 with 6 US CVs taking on 5 Japanese carriers. Both sides launched ferocious air assaults but the fighters of both sides managed to ward off the enemy torpedo and dive bombers and although 200 US aircraft were destroyed for minimal Japanese losses it was the Kidō Butai who eventually decided that discretion was the better part of valour and retired to Truk.
As spring 1942 gradually turned into summer, the war was delicately poised with Germany regaining the offensive in Europe, Italy rampant in the Mediterranean and Japan having conquered its south-east Asian co-prosperity sphere in a matter of weeks. Would this lead to the Axis suffering from the victory disease? Only time will tell.