21 Jan 1942
  • Shokaku launched strikes against Lae. ww2dbase [Main Article | Tabular Record of Movement | CPC]
  • HMS Indomitable refueled at Addu Atoll, Maldive Islands and departed for Java. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • American carriers Enterprise and Yorktown and their task forces set course to raid Marshall and Gilbert Islands. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Dutch motor launch Attla embarked the crew of USS S-36, which became stuck on Taka Bakang Reef in the Makassar Strait between British Borneo and Celebes, Dutch East Indies on the prior date. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • German General Erwin Rommel began his counterattack into Cyrenaica from El Agheila, Libya. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
  • USS Edsall and Australian minesweepers attacked and sank Japanese submarine I-22 off Darwin, Australia; I-22 was on a mine-laying mission. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Following the catastrophe of the previous day, Japanese Mitsubishi A6M fighters escorted the bombers to Singapore and shot down five of the defending Hurricane fighters without loss; during the period 30 Dec 1941 to 15 Feb 1942, Singapore would suffer 18 heavy air raids and 25 lesser attacks. Meanwhile, to the north in Malaya, the retreat of Indian and Australian troops from Bakri was blocked at the Parit Sulong bridge at 0930 hours. ww2dbase [Main Article | AC]
  • Destroyer HMS Opportune (G-80) was launched. ww2dbase [AC]
  • Japanese troops penetrated the west side of the Abucay-Mauban defensive line at Mount Natib on Luzon, Philippine Islands and began to cut off supplies to US-Filipino troops on the line. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Japanese submarine I-66 sank British ship Chak Sang (5 were killed, 61 survived) and Panamanian ship Nord 125 miles southwest of Rangoon, Burma. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • German submarine U-754 sank Norwegian ship Belize off Newfoundland at 1922 hours, killing all 24 aboard. German submarine U-130 sank Norwegian tanker Alexandra Høegh 200 miles east of Rhodes Island, United States at 2221 hours; all 28 aboard survived. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Australian New Guinea
  • Akagi's aircraft carried out strikes against Kavieng, New Ireland. ww2dbase [Main Article | Tabular Record of Movement | CPC]
  • Frustrated Australian Chaplain John May at Rabaul, New Britain sent a message to Townsville, Australia containing the Latin phrase "Morituri vos salutamus", or "we who are about to die salute you", referring to the Australian government's abandonment of those deployed to Rabaul. To the east, a Catalina aircraft from Buka Island took off at dawn and spotted a Japanese cruiser force 6 hours later; the aircraft was shot down by fighters; 3 were killed, 5 were captured by cruiser Aoba. Shortly after, 52 carrier aircraft attacked Kavieng, New Ireland. At 1630 hours, RAAF command ordered the No. 24 Squadron to attack any Japanese fleets that might be approaching Rabaul as if it did not know that No. 24 Squadron had effectively been wiped out by Japanese attacks on the previous day; nevertheless, the last surviving Hudson bomber was launched on patrol, and would return after failing to find any Japanese ships. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Dutch East Indies
  • Naka departed Tarakan, Dutch Borneo. ww2dbase [Main Article | Tabular Record of Movement | CPC]
  • Japanese Sakaguchi Detachment departed the island of Tarakan for Balikpapan, Dutch Borneo. Cruiser USS Boise, cruiser USS Marblehead, and four destroyers departed Koepang, Dutch Timor to intercept; en route, USS Boise hit a rock and USS Marblehead suffered engine trouble, thus the destroyers would sail on by themselves. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Pollack arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, ending her first war patrol. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • The German Luftwaffe resumed bombing London, England, United Kingdom and a number of southern British ports. ww2dbase [TH]

21 Jan 1942 Interactive Map

Timeline Section Founder: Thomas Houlihan
Contributors: Alan Chanter, C. Peter Chen, Thomas Houlihan, David Stubblebine
Special Thanks: Rory Curtis

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Famous WW2 Quote
"With Germany arming at breakneck speed, England lost in a pacifist dream, France corrupt and torn by dissension, America remote and indifferent... do you not tremble for your children?"

Winston Churchill, 1935