23 Feb 1942
  • As the war games conducted by Rear Admiral Matome Ugaki aboard Yamato were completed, Ugaki noted that a simulated attack on British Ceylon had failed. ww2dbase [Yamato | CPC]
  • Air Marshal Arthur T. "Bomber" Harris took command of RAF Bomber Command. ww2dbase [Arthur Harris | TH]
  • British submarine HMS Trident attacked German cruiser Prinz Eugen with a torpedo, destroying her stern with a hit. Prinz Eugen was able to later reach Trondheim, Norway for temporary repairs. ww2dbase [Prinz Eugen | CPC]
  • Erwin Rommel was named the commanding officer of Heeresgruppe Afrika. ww2dbase [Erwin Rommel | CPC]
  • German submarine U-129 sank US freighter Lihue east of Martinique while German submarine U-502 sank Panamanian tanker Thalia and damaged another tanker off Aruba. ww2dbase [Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico Campaigns | CPC]
  • Hans-Joachim Marseille was informed that he was to be awarded the Silver Medal of Military Valor of Italy. ww2dbase [Hans-Joachim Marseille | CPC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • Morosini sighted British freighter Sagaing in the Atlantic Ocean at 1930 hours. Sagaing also spotted the Italian submarine in return and fled. ww2dbase [Morosini | CPC]
Australian New Guinea
  • Just after 0000 hours, six B-17 bombers of US 14th Reconnaissance Squadron were launched from Garbutt Field at Townsville, Australia to attack Rabaul, New Britain. 5 bombers reached and attacked Rabaul at 0647 hours, causing little damage. Four bombers returned to Townsville safely at 1430 hours; 1 crash landed in the Agaiambo Swamp in New Guinea. ww2dbase [Rabaul, New Britain | CPC]
Black Sea
  • Soviet submarine ShCh-213 sank Turkish vessel Çankaya in the Black Sea. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • The Sittang railway bridge in Burma was blown up to prevent its capture by the Japanese, even though most of General Smyth's command was still on the east bank. Smyth salvaged from the catastrophe 3,484 infantry, 1,420 rifles, 56 Bren guns and 62 Thompson submachine guns. Nearly 5,000 men, 6,000 weapons and everything else was lost. Despite many men making it back across the river without their weapons, 17th Indian was now a spent force. It would take the Japanese a fortnight to bring up bridging equipment which permitted the Europeans in Rangoon to make their escape from the doomed city. ww2dbase [Invasion of Burma | AC]
Caroline Islands
  • Destroyer Yuzuki arrived at Truk, Caroline Islands. ww2dbase [Yuzuki | Truk | CPC]
  • Tenryu gave up her search for American raiders and returned to Truk, Caroline Islands. ww2dbase [Tenryu | Truk | CPC]
Dutch East Indies
  • Japanese aircraft struck Allied airfields on Java, Dutch East Indies. Meanwhile, Colonel William Leggatt's Australian troops surrendered at Koepang, Dutch West Timor at 0900 hours, while the Australian troops outside of Koepang were bombed by Japanese aircraft at 1000 hours. ww2dbase [Dutch East Indies Campaign, Java | Koepang, Timor | CPC]
  • George Brett departed Java, Dutch East Indies for Australia. ww2dbase [George Brett | Java | CPC]
  • HMS Eagle arrived at Gibraltar and was assigned to Force H. ww2dbase [Eagle | CPC]
Mediterranean Sea
  • British submarine HMS P38 attempted to attack Italian convoy K7 90 miles east of Tripoli, Libya at 1000 hours, but she was detected by Italian torpedo boat Circe which counterattacked with depth charges, sinking P38 at 1050 hours, killing all 32 aboard. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • The last of the "Nikolai Rychagov conspiracy" arrestees were executed in the Soviet Union. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Turkish troops boarded the disabled passenger ship Struma at Istanbul, Turkey; Struma had departed Romania in Dec 1941 with 769 Romanian Jewish refugees on board and had been at Istanbul for two months. The Turkish troops prepared Struma for towing, and before the day ended she was towed through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea, where she was abandoned with all passengers still aboard. ww2dbase [Discovery of Concentration Camps and the Holocaust | Istanbul | CPC]
United States
  • Just after sunset, shortly after President Franklin Roosevelt began his Fireside Chat radio broadcast, I-17 surfaced and approached the Ellwood oil refinery at Goleta, California. I-17’s deck gun fired 17 rounds, with some falling short into the sea, some firing long into ranchland beyond the refinery, and some landing within the refinery’s boundaries. I-17 then withdrew, steaming on the surface southward through the Santa Barbara Channel. The shelling had caused only superficial damage to the installation. This was Japan’s first naval bombardment of the continental United States in World War II. ww2dbase [Japanese Attacks on the Continental United States | Ellwood, California | TH]
  • USS St. Louis arrived at San Francisco, California and entered Mare Island Naval Shipyard. ww2dbase [Mare Island Navy Yard | St. Louis | Vallejo, California | DS]
Photo(s) dated 23 Feb 1942
Ellwood oil piers at Goleta, California, United States shelled by Commander Kozo Nishino in Japanese submarine I-17 23 Feb 1942 in the first naval bombardment of the continental United States in World War II.Damage to an oil pumping station on the Ellwood piers, Goleta, California, United States following a shelling attack by Japanese submarine I-17, 23 Feb 1942.United States Army personnel inspecting damage to the Ellwood oil piers after Japanese submarine I-17 shelled the area on 23 Feb 1942, Goleta, California, United States.

23 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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