1 The term “United Nations” is first officially used to describe the Allied pact.
2 Manila is captured by Japanese forces. The Japanese admiral stays in Solvec (owned by Charles Henry de Silva), Philippines.
7 Siege of the Bataan Peninsula begins.
11 Japanese troops capture Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Japan declares war on the Netherlands and invades the Netherlands East Indies.
19 Japanese forces invade Burma.
20 Nazis at the Wannsee conference in Berlin decide that the “final solution to the Jewish problem” is relocation, and later extermination.
23 The Battle of Rabaul begins.
25 Thailand declares war on the United States and United Kingdom. Japanese troops invade the Solomon Islands.
26 The first American forces arrive in Europe, landing in Northern Ireland.
31 The last organized Allied forces leave Malaya, ending the fifty-four-day battle.
11 Operation Cerberus — Flotilla of Kriegsmarine ships dash from Brest through the English Channel to northern ports; British fail to sink any of them.
15 Singapore surrenders to Japanese forces.
19 Japanese warplanes attack Darwin, Australia. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs executive order 9066, allowing the military to define areas as exclusionary zones. These zones affect the Japanese on the West Coast and Germans and Italians primarily on the East Coast.
22 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt orders General Douglas MacArthur out of the Philippines as American defense of the nation collapses.
23 Japanese submarine I-17 fires sixteen high-explosive shells toward an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, causing little damage.
27 Battle of the Java Sea begins; the USS Langley, the first U.S aircraft carrier, is sunk by Japanese warplanes off Java.
28 Japanese land forces invade Java.
10 Fall of Rangoon.
17 U.S. general Douglas MacArthur arrives in Australia after abandoning his headquarters in the Philippines.
3 Japanese forces begin an all-out assault on the U.S. and Filipino troops on the Bataan Peninsula. Bataan falls on April 9, and the Bataan Death March begins.
5 The Japanese navy attacks Colombo in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Royal Navy Cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire are sunk southwest of the island.
9 The Japanese navy launches air raid on Trincomalee in Ceylon (Sri Lanka); Royal Navy aircraft carrier Hermes and Royal Australian Navy destroyer Vampire are sunk off the country's East Coast.
18 Doolittle raid on Nagoya, Tokyo, and Yokohama.
4 The Battle of the Coral Sea starts.
5 Operation Ironclad — British forces begin the invasion of Madagascar to keep the Vichy French territory from falling to a possible Japanese invasion.
6 On Corregidor, the last American forces in the Philippines surrender to the Japanese.
8 The Battle of the Coral Sea comes to an end. This is the first time in naval history where two enemy fleets fought without seeing each other.
12 Second Battle of Kharkov — Soviet army initiates a major offensive in the eastern Ukraine.
During the battle, they will capture the city of Kharkov from the German army, only to be encircled and destroyed.
15 In the United States, a bill creating the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) is signed into law.
27 Operation Anthropoid — Reinhard Heydrich assassinated in Prague.
1 Mexico declares war on Germany, Italy, and Japan.
4 The Battle of Midway takes place. Reinhard Heydrich dies in Prague, assassinated by Czechoslovak paratroopers (Operation Anthropoid).
7 Japanese forces invade the Aleutian Islands. This is the first invasion of American soil in 128 years.
9 Nazis burn the Czech village of Lidice as reprisal for the killing of Reinhard Heydrich.
12 Future essayist Anne Frank receives a diary for her thirteenth birthday.
18 Manhattan Project started.
21 Afrika Korps recaptures Tobruk.
28 Operation Blue, the German plan to capture Stalingrad and the Russian oil fields in the Caucasus, begins.
1 First Battle of El Alamein begins.
3 Guadalcanal falls to the Japanese.
9 Anne Frank's family goes into hiding in an attic above her father's office in an Amsterdam warehouse.
18 The Germans test fly the Messerschmitt Me-262 using only its jets for the first time.
19 Battle of the Atlantic — German grand admiral Karl Dönitz orders the last U-boats to withdraw from their U.S. Atlantic coast positions in response to an effective American convoy system.
21 Japanese establish beachhead on the north coast of New Guinea in the Buna-Gona area.
Small Australian force begins rearguard action on the Kokoda Track Campaign.
22 The systematic deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto begins.
27 First Battle of El Alamein ends.
7 Operation Watchtower begins the Battle of Guadalcanal as American forces invade Gavutu, Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Tanambogo in the Solomon Islands.
8 In Washington, D.C., six German would-be saboteurs are executed (two others were cooperative and received life imprisonment instead).
13 General Bernard Montgomery is appointed commander of British Eighth Army in North Africa.
19 Operation Jubilee, a raid by British and Canadian forces on Dieppe, France, ends in disaster.
22 Brazil declares war on the Axis countries.
26 Battle of Milne Bay begins: Japanese forces launch full-scale assault on Australian base near the eastern tip of New Guinea.
30 Luxembourg is formally annexed to the German Reich.
1 Stalingrad is now completely encircled by German forces.
3 Australian and U.S. forces defeat Japanese forces at Milne Bay, the first outright defeat for Japanese land forces during the Pacific War. An attempt by the Germans to liquidate the Jewish ghetto in Lakhva leads to an uprising.
12 RMS Laconia, carrying civilians, Allied soldiers, and Italian POWs is torpedoed off the coast of West Africa and sinks.
3 First successful launch of A4-rocket from Test Stand VII at Peenemünde, Germany. The rocket flies 147 kilometers wide and reaches a height of 84.5 kilometers and is therefore the first man-made object reaching space.
11 Battle of Cape Esperance — U.S. Navy ships intercept and defeat a Japanese fleet on their way to reinforce troops on Guadalcanal.
14 A German U-boat sinks the U.S. ferry Caribou, killing 137.
18 Hitler issues Commando Order, ordering all captured commandos to be executed immediately.
23 Second Battle of El Alamein begins with massive Allied bombardment of German positions.
1 Operation Supercharge, the Allied breakout at El Alamein, begins.
3 Second Battle of El Alamein ends; German forces under Erwin Rommel are forced to retreat during the night.
8 Operation Torch — Allied invasion of Vichy-controlled Morocco and Algeria begins as French Resistance coup in Algiers, in which 400 French civil resistants neutralize the Vichyist Nineteenth Army Corps and Vichy leaders (Juin, Darlan, etc.), helping the Allies to take Algiers, and from there the whole of French North Africa.
10 In violation of a 1940 armistice, Germany invades Vichy France following Admiral François Darlan's agreement to an armistice with the Allies in North Africa.
12 Battle of Guadalcanal begins between Japanese and American forces.
13 British Eighth Army recaptures Tobruk. In the Battle of Guadalcanal aviators from the USS Enterprise sink the Japanese battleship Hiei.
15 Battle of Guadalcanal ends. Although the U.S. Navy suffered heavy losses, it was able to retain control of Guadalcanal.
19 Battle of Stalingrad — Soviet Union forces under General Georgy Zhukov launch the Operation Uranus counterattacks at Stalingrad, turning the tide of the battle in the USSR's favor.
22 Battle of Stalingrad — The situation for the German attackers seems desperate, and General Friedrich Paulus sends Adolf Hitler a telegram saying that the German Sixth Army is surrounded.
23 German U-boat sinks SS Ben Lomond off the coast of Brazil. One crewman, Chinese second steward Poon Lim, is separated from the others and spends 130 days adrift until he is rescued April 3, 1943.
27 At Toulon, the French navy scuttles its ships and submarines to keep them out of German hands.
2 Below the bleachers of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago, a team led by Enrico Fermi initiates the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction (a coded message, “The Italian navigator has landed in the new world,” was then sent to President Franklin D. Roosevelt).