1942: The Year That Tried Men's Souls
This account covers the Allies' relentless defeats as the Axis overran most of Europe, North Africa, and the Far East. But midyear the tide began to turn. America finally went on the offensive in the Pacific, and in the west the British defeated Rommel's panzer divisions at El Alamein while the U.S. Army began to push the Germans out of North Africa. By the year's end, the smell of victory was in the air. 1942, told with Groom's accomplished storyteller's eye, allows us into the admirals' strategy rooms, onto the battle fronts, and into the heart of a nation at war.
event. Yet they had won a resounding victory. In exchange for 307 American lives and the loss of the Yorktown and 147 airplanes and most of their crews, the U.S. fleet had destroyed four Japanese carriers, along with 332 planes, a cruiser, and three destroyers, and killed 4,899 Japanese sailors.* On June 6 (EST) Americans were treated to newspaper headlines describing the battle and got the uplift they so badly needed. Admiral Ernest King, chief of naval operations, gleefully pointed out that
manpower to stop a determined Japanese invasion.9 The second reason Burma was now so important had to do with the famous Burma Road. This had been set up in early 1940 to carry supplies from the Allies to the Chinese army under Chiang Kai-shek, headquartered at Chungking, deep in China’s interior. Until the Japanese occupied Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos) just before war broke out, there was another, shorter, and easier road to supply Chiang’s army that began at Hanoi, but with the Japanese
existence. Its board of directors included some of the most well known and respected people in the country, including a former U.S. Army general in command of the American Legion, a Chicago meatpacking baron, automaker Henry Ford,* the famous World War I flier Eddie Rickenbacker, various Nobel Prize winners, and the president of Sears and Roebuck.7 Its chief spokesman would turn out to be the most notable American hero of the period, Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, who had made history by being the
The cities we had learned about in school. Chapter Twenty In North Africa the situation was boiling up to its critical mass. By mid-November 1942, all American and British troops and their equipment were ashore, the French had been subdued, and a fresh Allied buildup was under way. Now the problem was to race into Tunisia and occupy it before the Germans could reinforce it from their bases in Sicily and Italy, the Allies’ utmost fear. Tunisia was already held by the Germans, and there were a
repair. But after personally inspecting the ship when it returned to Pearl, Nimitz ordered the navy yard to do whatever it took to make the thing seaworthy again. This they did immediately, working more than three thousand men around the clock, shoring up structural damage with timbers and bailing wire, re welding twisted bulkheads, splicing miles of broken cables, and producing a ready fighting ship in a little under three days! As the planes, bombs, ammunition, and fuel were frantically being