Yesterday           Tomorrow

August 4th, 1942 (TUESDAY) 

UNITED KINGDOM: Westminster: American servicemen in Britain will not be subject to British law, the House of Commons decided today. MPs passed the USA (Visiting Forces) Bill through all its stages in a single day after government reassurances about the way American courts martial will work. Sir Donald Somervill, the attorney-general, said that British witnesses summoned before such hearings would have the same rights and immunities as they would in a British court. But British courts would enforce the orders of American judges for their appearance.

The government charges that Mohandras Gandhi and his All-Indian Congress Party favoured "appeasement" with Japan. (Jack McKillop)

BELGIUM: The first trainload of Jews is deported to Auschwitz.

U.S.S.R.: (Sergey Anisimov)(69)Baltic Fleet, Ladoga and Onega Flotillas: Shipping loss. MS "TSch-205 "Gafel"" - grounded by storm (floated Aug.14)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The German submarine U-372 is sunk in the Mediterranean southwest of Haifa, Palestine, in position 32.28N, 34.37E, by depth charges from the RN destroyers HMS Sikh and HMS Zulu and the escort destroyers HMS Croome and HMS Tetcott and by depth charges from an RAF Wellington Mk VIII of No 221 Squadron based at Shandur, Egypt. All 48 men aboard the U-boat survive.

EGYPT: Cairo: Winston Churchill has decided to shake up the command of the British forces in North Africa. The prime minister, who arrived in Cairo yesterday to see for himself, wants a new commander-in-chief. Churchill acknowledges General Auchinleck's success in stopping Rommel at El Alamein last month, but is impatient to take the offensive against the Germans, who are still only 60 miles from Alexandria. Auchinleck wants to build up his reinforcements first. The Eighth Army is likely to have a new commander, too.

AUSTRALIA: Major General George C. Kenney assumes command of the Allied Air Forces, Southwest Pacific Area at Brisbane. The US aircraft under his command consist on paper of 62 heavy bombers, 70 medium bombers, 53 light bombers, 235 fighters and 36 transports. 

He also has a larger number of serviceable RAAF aircraft. Among the 235 USAAF fighters almost all are unfit for action. The 36 transport aircraft are of 19 different types and only about half are flyable. A month later he will have 41 transport aircraft, 15 of which are "totally unserviceable". (Jack McKillop and Michael Alexander)

PACIFIC OCEAN: A US submarine sinks a Japanese freighter off northern Honshu, Japan.

Destroyer USS Tucker mined and sunk in the Segond Channel, New Hebrides. Six killed . (Dave Shirlaw)

TERRITORY OF ALASKA: ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: The USAAF 11th Air Force dispatches an LB-30 Liberator to fly a photo mission and 2 B-17 Flying Fortresses and 3 B-24 Liberators, covered by 8 P-38 Lightnings, to escort USN tenders to Nazan Bay, Atka Island; two Kawanishi H6K Navy Type 97 Flying Boats, Allied Code Name "Mavis," and a possible third are downed near Atka Island by 2 of the P-38's, in their first aerial combat in any theatre; weather cancels bombing mission to Kiska Island. A radar-equipped USN PBY Catalina carries out a predawn bombing attack of the submarine base and Main Camp on Kiska dropping 92 empty beer bottles on the targets. (Jack McKillop)

CANADA: Patrol vessel HMCS Departue Bay commissioned. Seized Japanese fishing vessel. (Dave Shirlaw)

U.S.A.: The motion picture "Holiday Inn" premieres at the Paramount Theatre in New York City. Directed by Mark Sandrich, this musical comedy stars Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Walter Abel. Crosby sings Irving Berlin's legendary song "White Christmas" but the song is not an immediate hit with the public. It's popularity increases when American servicemen start requesting that it be played over the Armed Forces Radio Network. Bing sang "White Christmas" on the first broadcast of Armed Forces Radio's "Mail Call" on 11 August 1942 and that could be where the GIs caught on to it. Bing performed a lot on AFR programs, and sang "White Christmas" just after VJ day on AFR's "GI Journal" show.
     One reason why "White Christmas" might not have been an immediate hit, aside from the fact that the song was first heard during the dog days of August, was the now-forgotten recording ban imposed by James C. Petrillo, president of the American Federation of Musicians. He insisted that the major record companies--Columbia, Victor and Decca--pay a1/4 to 3/4 cent royalty on each recorded disc to a union "employment fund." Presumably, musicians would share in this, but it wasn't all that clear. The union's 138,000 members could no longer make records as of July 31, 1942. Record companies could still reissue discs, with some bizarre results. When movie audiences became enthralled by "As Time Goes By" in the movie "Casablanca," they could only get versions recorded in 1931 by Rudy Valee or Jacques Bernard. Harry James's record of "All or Nothing at All," recorded in 1939, became a smash when reissued in 1943 with Frank Sinatra. Not being able to record with orchestras, Sinatra, Bing Crosby and other vocalists started cutting records a cappella with other singers. The result was such hits as Crosby's "Sunday, Monday or Always" and Sinatra's "Close to You." But Petrillo could only go so far in wartime; instrumentalists could still record "V-Disks," distributed by Armed Forces Radio, which is probably why "White Christmas" became a serviceman's favourite before it became an all-time hit among the general public.
     As a further historical note, Decca caved in to Petrillo's demands in August, 1943. At this point, a bunch of start-up recording companies, such as Capitol and Signature, had come on the scene. Fearing such new competition, Columbia and Victor finally gave in in November, 1944. The ban spelled the beginning of the end for the big swing bands, that had depended so much on income from records. And popular taste moved on to small-band bebop, folk singers and, then, rock 'n roll. (Matt Clark and Jack McKillop) 

Destroyer escort USS Keith laid down.

Destroyer USS Doran commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)


ATLANTIC OCEAN: While escorting an eastbound convoy, HMCS Sackville engages three U-boats in a 36 hour period. In the foggy weather, Lieut. Alan Easton and his crew seriously damaged one submarine, hitting another with 4-inch gunfire, and shook up the third with depth charges in an action that will win the DSC for Lieut. Easton and commendations for the crew. (Gene Hanson)

US Army Middle East Air Force (USAMEAF) B-24s strike a convoy during the night of 4/5 August, claiming hits on 2 merchant ships. (Jack McKillop)

At 1615, the Empire Arnold, dispersed from Convoy E-6, was torpedoed and sunk by U-155 about 500 miles NE of Trinidad. Eight crewmembers and one gunner were lost. The master was taken prisoner by
the U-boat, landed at Lorient on 15 September and taken to the POW camp Milag Nord. 42 crewmembers, seven gunners and two passengers were picked up after eight days by the Norwegian merchantman Dalvanger and landed at Georgetown, British Guinea on 14 August.
At 0159, the unescorted Havsten was hit by one torpedo from U-160 (Lassen) and at 0205, missed by a second torpedo. The U-boat then surfaced and shelled the tanker with 20 rounds, setting her on fire and
the crew abandoned ship. The second engineer and another crewmember had been killed on watch below. The U-boat took prisoners the master Captain Gjert Olsen and the British radio officer. They were taken to the POW camps Marlag und Milag Nord, but the master eventually came back to Norway. On 14 August, the lifeboats reached land. At 1031 on 6 Aug 1942, Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli sank the drifting wreck of the Havsten by two torpedoes in 11°18N/54°45W.

At 1558, the unescorted Richmond Castle was torpedoed and sunk by U-176 SE of Cape Farewell. 14 crewmembers were lost. The master, 44 crewmembers and five gunners were rescued: The master and 14 survivors by the Irish Pine and landed at Kilrush. The chief officer and 16 survivors were picked up after 12 days by HMS Sunflower and landed at Londonderry. The remaining 18 survivors were picked up by the British merchantman Hororater and landed at Liverpool.
At 0401, U-553 attacked the convoy ON-115 and damaged the Belgian Soldier. The ship then fell out of the convoy and was sunk by a coup de grāce from U-607 at 0229 on 4 August. 21 men were lost from 53
crewmembers (24 Belgians) and seven gunners. (Dave Shirlaw) 

Top of Page

Yesterday        Tomorrow