20 Feb 1942
  • The Chief of Staff of the Combined Fleet, Rear Admiral Matome Ugaki, began a series of war games aboard Yamato to test plans for the second-stage operations. Rear Admiral Shigeru Fukudome (Chief of the 1st Bureau (Plans and Operations) of Naval General Staff), Captain Baron Sadatoshi Tomioka (Naval General Staff), Commander Prince Takamatsu Nobuhito (brother of Emperor Showa), and Army Major Prince Tsunenori Takeda observed the war games. ww2dbase [Yamato | CPC]
  • German submarine U-432 sank US freighter Azalea City 100 kilometers off Virginia, United States, killing the entire crew of 38. German submarine U-129 sank Norwegian ship Nordvangen 30 miles east of Trinidad at 0400 hours, killing all 24 aboard. Finally, Italian submarine Torelli sank British ship Scottish Star 770 miles east of Martinique; 4 were killed, 69 survived. ww2dbase [Second Happy Time | CPC]
  • Destroyer Yuzuki departed Kavieng, New Ireland, Bismarck Islands. ww2dbase [Yuzuki | CPC]
  • The Japanese attacked the positions of 16th and 46th Indian Brigades at Kyaikto, Burma, delaying the retreat from the Balin to the Sittang Bridge for forty-eight hours, and causing total confusion among the withdrawing columns. To make matters worse the Indians came under friendly air attack from RAF and AVG aircraft. In addition most of the Divisional Headquarters' radio equipment was lost in the confusion. In Rangoon, Hutton's implementation of the second part of the evacuate Europeans caused wide-spread panic with much looting by drunken natives, and the emptying of the cities goals of lunatics and criminals. ww2dbase [Invasion of Burma | AC]
  • Adolf Hitler ordered that any Russian who refused to work would be punished with death by hanging. Additionally, Russians working in German-occupied lands had no limit to their work days, and their employers were free to issue corporal punishment. ww2dbase [Adolf Hitler | CPC]
  • Destroyer Yukikaze escorted the Japanese invasion force for eastern Java, Dutch East Indies and was engaged in the Battle of the Java Sea, firing torpedoes on Allied warships. ww2dbase [Yukikaze | CPC]
  • German submarine U-156 damaged US ship Delplata with 3 torpedoes 60 miles west of Martinique at 1131 hours; all 53 survived and abandoned ship. Meanwhile, four Italian submarines operating in the Caribbean Sea commenced an operation that would see the sinking of fourteen merchant vessels over a four day period. ww2dbase [Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico Campaigns | CPC, AC]
  • Japanese submarine I-65 sank British merchant ship Bhima 30 miles north of the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean; all 70 aboard survived. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Chiaki Matsuda was made the commanding officer of old battleship Hyuga. ww2dbase [Juneau | CPC]
Australian New Guinea Black Sea
  • Oberleutnant Hansgeorg Bätcher, commanding officer of 1. Staffel of I./KG 100 of the German Luftwaffe, flying a He 111 bomber, sank a 2,000-ton Soviet freighter in the Black Sea with supplies for the Soviet garrison of Sevastopol, Russia. ww2dbase [CPC]
Caroline Islands
  • Tatsuta Maru departed Truk, Caroline Islands. ww2dbase [Tatsuta Maru | Truk | CPC]
  • Tenryu interrupted her anti-aircraft weaponry refitting at Truk, Caroline Islands to sortie for American raiders. ww2dbase [Tenryu | Truk | CPC]
Dutch East Indies
  • At 0130 hours, a fresh ABDA force consisted of a Dutch cruiser and four US destroyers attempted to intercept a Japanese transport fleet in the Badung Strait in the Dutch East Indies for the second time. Dutch cruiser Tromp (10 killed) and American destroyer Stewart were damaged on the Allied side, while Japanese destroyers Asashio (4 killed) and Oshio (7 killed) also suffered damage. At 0220 hours, Japanese destroyers Arashio and Michishio joined in the action; Michishio became the target of all four American destroyers, suffering several hits and 13 killed, but was able to be towed away from battle. Elsewhere, at dawn, Japanese troops landed at Dili, Portuguese Timor and Koepang, Dutch Timor. Portuguese defenders at Dili was overrun and Portugal accepted the Japanese occupation for the duration of the war; Australian defenders at Koepang resisted, however. At 1045 hours, 323 Japanese paratroops were delivered to Koepang airfield, but most of them did not land in the drop zone, and 245 of them were killed by the Australians. ww2dbase [Dutch East Indies Campaign, Java | Timor | CPC]
  • Japanese troops massacred 72 Dutch prisoners of war and 2 Dutch civilians at Balikpapan, Borneo, Dutch East Indies by beheading and gunfire for the destruction of oil facilities prior to Japanese occupation. ww2dbase [Dutch East Indies Campaign, Borneo | Balikpapan, Borneo | CPC]
France Hong Kong
  • Rensuke Isogai arrived at Hong Kong to being his tenure as the occupied territory's governor-general. He established his headquarters at the HSBC Main Building on Hong Kong Island, while the military established its headquarters at the The Peninsula Hong Kong hotel building in Kowloon. ww2dbase [Hong Kong | CPC]
  • Rensuke Isogai was named the governor of the Japanese Occupation Administration of Hong Kong, relieving Masaichi Niimi and Takashi Sakai. ww2dbase [Takashi Sakai | Masaichi Niimi | CPC]
Pacific Ocean
  • A Japanese H6K flying boat piloted by Lieutenant (jg) Noboru Sakai spotted a US carrier force 460 miles northeast of New Britain; US pilot Jimmy Thatch of Fighting Squadron 3 (VF-3) flying from USS Lexington shot down Sakai's aircraft at 1112 hours, but not before Sakai had alerted others. At 1202 hours, Burt Stanley and Leon Haynes, also of VF-3, shot down another H6K aircraft flown by Warrant Officer Kiyoshi Hayashi north of Lexington. At 1420 hours, 17 Type 1 bombers of Japanese 4th Air Group, led by Lieutenant Masayoshi Nakagawa, were launched from Rabaul, with the first wave reaching Lexington at 1625 hours. The first wave of 9 bombers were all shot down without causing any damage to Lexington (Nakagawa tried to crash into Lexington as he fell from the sky, but fell short by less than 1 mile). US Navy Lieutenant Albert Vorse of VF-3 shot down one of these bombers for his first aerial kill. The second wave attacked USS Lexington and USS Minneapolis at 1705 hours, still causing no damage; Edward "Butch" O'Hare shot down 3 and damaged 4 Japanese bombers. Only 2 Japanese bombers arrived back at Rabaul at the end of the day; 100 Japanese bomber crewmen were lost during the attacks, and Japan also lost 20 men with the H6K reconnaissance flights earlier in the morning. O'Hare was given credit for 5 kills, making him an "Ace in a Day" and leading to him being awarded the Medal of Honor. With the element of surprise lost, Lexington broke off her intended raid on Rabaul. Because of the loss of so many bombers, the Japanese delayed their plans to invade Lae, New Guinea. ww2dbase [Action off Bougainville | Minneapolis | Hull | Drayton | Pensacola | Lexington (Lexington-class) | San Francisco | Indianapolis | Albert O. Vorse, Jr. | CPC]
  • The experimental rocket engine for the BI-1 prototype aircraft exploded during a test in Bilimbay, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia, spraying nitric acid fuel all over aircraft engineer Arvid Pallo; mechanics saved him from severe burns by quickly dumping him in a tank full of a sodium carbonate solution kept nearby for the very purpose of neutralizing the acid. Test pilot Grigory Bakhchivandzhi was slightly injured as the head of the rocket engine punched into the cockpit. ww2dbase [BI | Bilimbay, Sverdlovsk | CPC]
  • Lieutenant General Shichiro Higuchi was named the chief of staff of the Taiwan Army. ww2dbase [CPC]
United Kingdom
  • A Douglas DC3 aircraft of the USAAF landed at RAF Hendon bringing Brigadier General Ira Eaker and six of his fellow officers; their orders were to prepare the way for the entry of the US Army Air Force into the "European Theatre of Operations". ww2dbase [Ira Eaker | London, England | AC]
United States Photo(s) dated 20 Feb 1942
Smoke rising from the port facilities at Oosthaven, Sumatra as Allied personnel set fires during the withdrawal, 20 Feb 1942G4M1 bomber of Japanese Navy 4th Air Group commander Lieutenant Masayoshi Nakagawa, moments before crashing into sea during attack on USS Lexington off Bougainville, Solomon Islands, 20 Feb 1942. Photo 1 of 2G4M1 bomber of Japanese Navy 4th Air Group commander Lieutenant Masayoshi Nakagawa, moments before crashing into sea during attack on USS Lexington off Bougainville, Solomon Islands, 20 Feb 1942. Photo 2 of 2

20 Feb 1942 Interactive Map

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

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Famous WW2 Quote
"I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil."

General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944

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