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February 2nd, 1939 (THURSDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: A requirement is issued for a tank with Christie suspension, 40mm turret armour, a 2-pdr main gun and BESA machine gun. This led to the Crusader.

POLAND: Submarine ORP Orzel commissioned.

MALTA: HMS NUBIAN joins her flotilla along with HMS COSSACK

U.S.A.: Syracuse, New York state: After a major fire was all but extinguished in the Collins Block, the building collapses killing nine firemen.

Destroyer USS Benham commissioned.

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2 February 1940

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February 2nd, 1940 (FRIDAY)

The popularity of rabbit meat has increased as part of the menu in British households since meat rationing began.
Recipes for enhancing - or disguising - its taste fill the cookery columns. Rabbit, they point out, can be stewed, blanched, fricasseed, jugged or, of course, put in a pie. It is also plentiful and cheap, at 2 shillings for one rabbit. Fish is also unrationed but always seems to be scarce and is getting expensive. Cod is now 1/4 a pound. Herring, the price of which is controlled, costs 6d a pound.

RAF Coastal Command: Seven men on raft rescued with aid of aircraft.

NORTH SEA: At 0624, the unescorted tanker Creofield was torpedoed and sunk by U-59 east of Lowestoft. The master and 15 crewmembers were lost.

FINLAND: In Soviet air raids 15 were killed and 54 wounded at Sortavala, 21 killed at Pori.

YUGOSLAVIA:  The Balkan Entente Conference held in Belgrade begins and includes a proclamation by the neutral states of Yugoslavia, Greece, Romania and Turkey declaring a common interest in maintaining peace in southeastern Europe and the renewal of the pact. 

CANADA: Corvette HMCS Matapedia laid down Quebec City, Province of Quebec.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: The U.S. passenger liner SS Manhattan is stopped by the French auxiliary patrol vessel Vaillant about 25 miles (40 kilometres) southeast of Cape St. Vincent, Portugal, and ordered to proceed to Gibraltar for examination. 

At 2040, the unescorted SS Portelet was hit in the stern by one torpedo from U-59 and sank less than one mile WSW of Smith’s Knoll Lightship. Two crewmembers were lost. The master and eight crewmembers were picked up by the Finnish SS Oscar Midling and landed at Immingham on 4 February.

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2 February 1941

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February 2nd, 1941 (SUNDAY)


London: The British Reuters News Agency reported:-

The German Luftwaffe has begun to operate on the Libyan front. The attacking planes, which raided an advanced British position in Libya, could not be identified with certainty, but observers were convinced that they were German because of the style of the attack. Also, the planes did not appear to carry the standard Italian markings.

RAF Bomber Command: Attacks continue on the invasion ports from the next 9 days and nights. Le Havre and Ostend are especially targeted.

In a speech directed at the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill said: "Put your confidence in us...give us the tools and we will finish the job." 

GERMANY: U-431 is launched.

BULGARIA: Sofia: The British Legation reports that German troops are entering Dobruja and that schools had been closed, possibly to provide accommodation for them. There was evidence to show that a German military mission had arrived and that German infiltration was proceeding at a faster rate. 'It is therefore possible, though not yet certain, that Germans have already begun establishing themselves militarily in this country and are no longer waiting to begin a formal invasion until the Danube is free of ice.'

EUROPE: It is estimated that some 2.5 million prisoners of war are currently being held in camps across Germany and German-occupied territory. The vast majority, nearly two million are French; hundreds of thousands are Polish; tens of thousands are Belgian, Dutch and Norwegian, and about 44,000 are British.

Red Cross delegates are allowed into camps to report on conditions. Although these vary considerably, they are generally found to be satisfactory. Inmates of Oflags, camps in which officers are held, are usually better-fed and more comfortable than those in stalags, where privates and NCOs are confined. Dulags are transfer camps where the prisoners are sent first. A Red Cross delegate, Dr. Marti, wrote in his report on Dulag Luft: "Rooms with one to three beds; tables, easy chairs; exceptional comfort; dining-room; whisky every evening; papers; various games; walks outside camp ..."

The prisoners' main complaint is boredom, brought on by the routine and, perhaps most of all, by the diet of soup and potatoes that is standard camp fare. In several camps visited recently by the Red Cross the lack of winter clothing was also a problem. The situation was not helped by the Germans selling extra garments at vastly inflated prices.

But compared with the treatment of "dissidents" and, in particular, Jews, in Nazi camps, conditions for prisoners of war seem positively humane.

LIBYA:  The Australian forces have already advanced well to the west of Derna on the coast and are discovering that the Italians are withdrawing. General Archibald Wavel, Commander in Chief Middle East Command, agrees with General Richard O'Connor, General Officer Commanding Western Desert Force, that 7th Armoured Division should be sent hurrying across the center of Cyrenaica in an attempt to cut the Italians off. Supplies are being assembled to support this move but because the Italian retreat is so rapid the advance will have to start before the preparations are complete. 

ETHIOPIA: Gazelle Force and 4th Indian Division press on into the mountains, despite blown bridges and heavily mined stretches of road, but they cannot pass through the narrow Dongolaas Gorge, where a huge tumble of rocks lay across the road.

ITALIAN SOMALILAND: Carrier-based aircraft of the British aircraft carrier HMS Formidable, on her way to the Mediterranean to replace the damaged carrier HMS Illustrious, attack the harbour installations at Mogadishu. 

CANADA:  Prime Minister MacKenzie King announces that the number of Canadian troops serving overseas will be doubled. 

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2 February 1942

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February 2nd, 1942 (MONDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Glasgow: A reception committee of workmen at Harland and Wolff shipbuilders greet a trade union delegation from Russia.   

The British Naval Staff reports that the German battleships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst will probably attempt to leave Brest, in occupied France, and pass up the English Channel through the Straits of Dover. 

Minesweeping trawlers HMS Cloughton Wyke and Cape Spartel sunk by German aircraft off the Humber.

GERMANY: Because the British have been usually calling the Japanese "Japs", the Berlin broadcasts of the German Transocean News Agency last week began referring to the British as "Brits". (William Rinaman)

EGYPT: The Cabinet resigns after a dispute with King Farouk regarding his pro-Axis sympathies. 

LIBYA: General Claude Auchinleck, Commander in Chief Middle East Command, orders the British Eighth Army to hold Tobruk as a supply base for a future offensive. 

AUSTRALIA: HQ of the USAAF’s 49th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), with its three subordinate squadrons, arrives at Melbourne, Victoria, from the U.S. with P-40s. The aircraft are in crates and must be assembled and the vast majority of the pilots do not have the skills to survive in combat and must undergo combat training. The first squadron will fly their first mission in March. 

Minesweeper HMAS Rockhampton commissioned.

NEW GUINEA: The Japanese launched their first air raid on Port Moresby in New Guinea, in preparation for a planned amphibious assault.

NETHERLANDS EAST INDIES: The Japanese begin a combined, concentrated attack against Australian troops at Laha Airdrome on Ambon Island using infantry, dive-bombers, fighter planes, warships and artillery; the Japanese capture the airfield by mid-morning. Later in the day, the surviving Australians at Laha approached the Japanese with surrender negotiations, sending at least ten representatives under the commanding officer at Laha, Major Newbury, waving a white flag. The Australian party was escorted to the village of Suakodo, where the local Japanese HQ was located, and held captive for the night at the village school. 
     Japanese minesweeper W.9 is sunk, and minesweepers W.11 and W.12 are damaged, by Dutch mines off Ambon Island. 

PACIFIC OCEAN: The submarine USS Seadragon (SS-194) sinks a Japanese army cargo ship off Cape Bolinao, Luzon. 

COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: On Bataan, the II Corps attacks to clear the Japanese bridgehead, at first employing the 31st Engineer Battalion, Philippine Army (PA), and then reinforcing with elements of the 41st Infantry, PA, after Japanese opposition proves stubborn. The Japanese completes withdrawal from the bridgehead during the of night 2-3 February. In the I Corps area, an armoured platoon of U.S. 192d Tank Battalion and a platoon of the 1st Battalion, 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, attempt unsuccessfully to reduce the Big Pocket. In the South Sector, Company C of the 192d Tank Battalion assists the Scouts in another attack on the Quinauan Point beachhead, but results are no more satisfactory. Other Scout battalions (2d Battalion of the 45th Infantry; 3d and 1st Battalions of the 57th Infantry) attack abreast to clear the Anyasan-Silaiim sector, making slow progress except on left, where no opposition is met. 

TERRITORY OF HAWAII: The Hawaiian Air Force activates the VII Interceptor Command at Ft Shafter. 


Under provisions of Public Law 403 passed by the Congress and signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, clocks in the U.S. are advanced one hour year-round, i.e., Greenwich Mean Time minus four hours.. This law remains into effect until 30 September 1945.

The motion picture "Kings Row" premieres at the Astor Theater in New York City. Directed by Sam Wood, this small-town drama based on a Henry Bellamann novel stars Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan, Charles Coburn, Claude Rains and Judith Anderson.

Washington: Lt-General Joseph Stilwell is appointed chief of staff to Supreme Commander, China Theatre, Chiang Kai-shek and C-in-C of the US forces in the Chinese theatre. He is directed by the US War department to "increase the effectiveness of United States assistance to the Chinese Government for the prosecution of the war and to assist in improving the combat efficiency of the Chinese Army."

Two B-25 Mitchell medium bombers are loaded onto the aircraft carrier USS HORNET. The ship then steams out of sight of land.

Lieutenant John F. Fitzgerald then revs up his engines to the maximum and, at the signal from the launching officer, roars down the deck and takes off. (107)

Large cruiser USS Guam laid down.

Submarine USS Jack laid down.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-581 (Type VIIC) is sunk in the mid-Atlantic south-west of the Azores, in approximate position 39.00N, 30.00W, by the British destroyer HMS Westcott. 4 dead and 41 survivors. U-581 was sunk near the coast of Pico Island, in front of a place called Guidaste.

One of the officers, Ltn. Walter Sitek, managed to swim 6 km to shore where he was picked up by the locals. He then managed to pass through neutral Spain and make his way to Germany again when he again went to sea on a U-boat. Oblt. Walter Sitek commanded 3 boats (U-17, U-981 and U-3005) during the rest of the war and survived the fighting. The rest of the crew, 37 men, were picked up by the British destroyer and taken to POW camp being finally released in 1947. (Alex Gordon)

The unescorted and unarmed tanker, from Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso) W.L. Steed (6,182 tons) was struck by one torpedo at 1940 in bad and cold weather about 90 miles (145 kilometres) east of the mouth of the Delaware River, and was abandoned by all crewmembers in four lifeboats. U-103 surfaced and fired 17 shells into the hull until a second torpedo exploded her cargo and sank her 50 minutes after the first hit. The four lifeboats later drifted apart. Two survivors in boat 2 (14 of 16 men aboard had died of exposure) were picked up four days later by the British SS Hartlepool, but one died in hospital in Halifax on 10 February. Three others in boat 3 (had have 5 men aboard) were picked up by AMC HMS Alcantara on 10 February. Boat 4 (had 14 men aboard) was found on 12 February by the British SS Raby Castle with four men onboard, but only one was alive. The man died three days later aboard the ship. Boat 1, with three men, had cleared the ship first. But it was never found. (The Mexican tanker Poza Rica found an empty boat on 19 February northwest of Cape Hatteras, it may have been boat 1 from WL Steed) (Jack McKillop and Dave Shirlaw)

Tanker Corilla sunk by U-751 in Convoy HX-173.


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2 February 1943

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February 2nd, 1943 (TUESDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Submarine HMS Usurper commissioned.

GERMANY: U-795 laid down.

USSR: The last German troops at Stalingrad surrender.

The Russians are advancing to the rail link between Nikopol and Axis territory. (Gene Hanson)

AUSTRALIA: The 319th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) USAAF is transferred to Darwin and placed under the operational control of the RAAF Command.


At 0304, US Liberty ship Jeremiah Van Rensselaer in station #45 (last ship in the extreme port column) of Convoy HX-224 was torpedoed by U-456. The ship had been in station #11, but had performed poorly keeping station and kept her station about once in seven nights, she managed to catch up in the daytime and consequently her position was changed.

Two torpedoes struck on the port side in the #1 hold. The explosion created a hole 8 feet by 30 feet, blew the hatch cover off, spewed cargo overboard and started a fire. A short time later, a third torpedo struck on the port side at #4 hatch and blew a truck standing on deck into the water and also started a small fire. The engines were secured and some of the eight officers, 34 crewmen, 28 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) and one passenger abandoned ship. Panicking, they tried to launch three lifeboats, but two capsized in the rough seas. Eight men got away in a boat and others jumped overboard and swam to three rafts, but the harsh weather and cold water caused the most men to die from exposure. Only one officer, six crewmen and 17 armed guards survived. 23 survivors and three bodies were picked up after five hours by the British rescue ship Accrington and landed at Gourock. A boarding party from USCGC Ingham later boarded the ship and noted that she could have been saved, but the watch below left the boilers fire lit, which burned the boilers out. The vessel was scuttled by gunfire at 1300. The boarding party also found one man whom never left the ship and took him to the escort vessel. One week later two bodies were recovered from a raft by the French corvette Lobelia.

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2 February 1944

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February 2nd, 1944 (WEDNESDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Destroyer HMS Gabbard laid down.

Rescue tug HMS Emulous commissioned.

FRANCE: Paris: The German film The Adventures of Baron Münchhausen opens at the Normandie Cinéma on the Champs-Elysées and draws such a crowd that the police are obliged to form it into separate lines.

Vichy French leader, Pierre Laval, has agreed to extend the age limits of French workers liable for forced labour in Germany, it was reported today. Any male between 16 and 60 may find himself deported; and any childless female between 18 and 45 will also be liable.

Under the compulsory work service code which has been in effect since 1943, Laval is obliged to send one million men to the factories in the Reich by June. The new agreement has been signed with Fritz Sauckel, the Reich plenipotentiary for the allocation of labour. The development thwarts plans by Albert Speer, the Reich minister of armaments and war production, who wants to stop the recruitment of French workers and sees more profit in using French factories for the production of consumer goods and weapons. Speer has forbidden the deportation of workers from factories in an order named Speerbetriebe.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Sailing vessel Yahia rammed and sunk by U-453 in eastern Mediterranean.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Glen Borens diary:

2, Feb.1944

Talk about a rough day, we launched our first strike at 1000 hrs. One TBF, after taking off, went out about a mile and spun in. No reason given and no one was rescued. Bad luck wasn't finished with us yet, over the target, two TBFs ran into each other, killing all aboard. VT-17 skipper Lt.Cmdr Frank M. Whitaker and war correspondent  Raymond Clapper were both aboard one of them.

During the many attacks on the Bunker Hill, Clapper would stand in the hatchway to the island superstructure with his large camera and take pictures and I would stand behind him looking over his shoulder during many of these raids.

The word we received aboard ship is that we have completely taken over "Roi". Kwajalein is about over with. Fighting is still going on at Nauru..

On one of the strikes, our fighters dropped their belly tanks on a jap position and then strafed the tanks setting them of fire. The pilots reported that it worked very well.

So went 2 Feb. 1944



War correspondent Raymond Clapper killed in a collision between two Avenger aircraft from USS Bunker Hill.

NEW GUINEA: US landings at Saldor.

U.S.A.: Light cruiser USS Oklahoma City launched.

Destroyer USS John D Henley commissioned.

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2 February 1945

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February 2nd, 1945((FRIDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Convoy JW-64 sailed from the Clyde. The following AP report was released to the newswires - Information received from neutral and underground sources indicates that the Germans are ready to send 200 U-boats out into the sea lanes for a large-scale attack on convoys en route to France and Russia, the Daily Telegraph said today. Estimates have been made in Stockholm, the newspaper said, that the German navy has a total of 400 serviceable submarines and is building new ones at the rate of 20 monthly. A report from the Norwegian underground said many were based at Bergen and Trondheim. The new submarines, many of them long-range 1500-tonners, were said to be fitted with a number of new devices.

GERMANY: (From the unpublished memoirs of Tom Hough, RCAF fighter pilot) The ragged column of Allied PoWs from Stalag Luft III, arrive at a railway siding and a long line of boxcars labelled 40 hommes ou 8 chevaux. Hundreds of men were crammed inside each car. Conditions were worse than primitive, Mr. Hough said. "The press was so acute that no one could lie down. At best, perhaps half of us could sit down at one time, knees drawn up to our chests. Later, when complete exhaustion set in, some collapsed on top of others, so in places we lay in layers." (Henry Sirotin) Article by Buzz Bourdon, Globe and Mail, Thursday, May 5, 2006. Page S9. Link

Berlin: Plötzensee: The Jesuit priest Alfred Delp, one of the Kreisau Circle is executed. In his trial on January 9, 1945, Delp replied to the Judge of the People's Court, Roland Freisler: "I can preach forever, and with whatever skill I have I can work with people and keep setting them straight. But as long as people have to live in a way that is inhuman and lacking in dignity, that's as long as the average person will succumb to circumstances and will neither pray nor think. A fundamental change in the conditions of life is needed" (213 p.162)

Carl Friedrich Gördeler, Weimar politician, is hanged. (231)

U-4705 is commissioned.

HUNGARY: In Mészáros utca near Déli railway station László Deseő, 15 years old at the time of the siege, kept an hourly diary of the destruction that raged around him:

February 2. The front is here. Machine guns have been mounted on both balconies on the upper floor. They wanted to put an automatic weapon in my room. I was speaking with a German in the hall when a mine exploded in front of the door and the German collapsed. A splinter had sliced his finger clean off. The poor man is screaming. The firewood in the garden is being carried off to be made into barricades for the windows. Pieces of furniture are also being put in the windows. While they put it up in one room I take it down in another and carry the furniture back.

MALTA: President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill departed Malta for the summit in Yalta with Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

SINGAPORE:88 USAAF B-29s destroy the docks and Japanese naval base.

COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: Cabu, East Luzon: In a dramatic raid 24 miles behind enemy lines last night, US rangers and Filipino guerrillas freed 510 haggard and emaciated PoWs held captive since Bataan fell in 1942. During the five-minute attack all 223 guards were killed, as elated prisoners shouted "the Yanks are coming". One PoW collapsed and died from excitement.

MARIANAS ISLANDS, SAIPAN: Japanese aircraft are sighted for the last time from this island.

NEWFOUNDLAND: Frigate HMCS Strathadam departed St John's for Londonderry to join EG-25.


Corvette HMCS Fergus arrived St John's to join EG C-9.

Minesweeper HMCS Noranda returned Halifax from workups Bermuda.

ECUADOR: The government declares war on Germany. 

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