20 Mar 1942
  • USS Yorktown patrolled the Coral Sea. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • South Dakota was commissioned into service. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Lexington set sail for Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii after raiding New Guinea. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • The keel of US submarine Scorpion was laid down. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • German submarine U-71 sank US tanker Oakmar over 200 kilometers east of Hampton Roads, Virginia, United States at 2054 hours, killing 6 of 36 aboard. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • The United States and New Zealand completed a discussion which concluded that the US would be responsible for defending the Samoan islands. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • The United States Air Forces in the Philippines was established, replacing the Far East Air Force. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • J2M Raiden aircraft took its first flight. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Japanese 143rd Regiment and a cavalry formation of the Japanese 55th Division attacked troops the Cavalry Regiment of the Chinese 5th Army north of the Kan River in Burma. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • German submarine U-652 damaged destroyer HMS Heythrop 40 miles northeast of Bardia, Libya at 1054 hours, killing 15; Heythrop was sailing with 6 other destroyers on an anti-submarine sweep for Allied convoy MW10. At about 1600 hours, after 151 survivors had been taken off by destroyer HMS Eridge, Heythrop sank while under tow. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Major General Brian Horrocks assumed command of the British 9th Armoured Division in place of Major General Brocas Burrows who had been moved to command 11th Armoured Division. ww2dbase [AC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • The 823-ton Norwegian freighter Risoy, en route from Southampton, England, United Kingdom to Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom with a cargo of 450 tons of scrap iron, was attacked by three German aircraft and sank off Trevose Head, Cornwall, England when hit by a bomb. One member of the crew was killed. ww2dbase [Main Article | HM]
  • Douglas MacArthur made the "I came through and I shall return" speech at Terowie, South Australia, Australia while transferring trains. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • The US Navy set up a new radio intelligence station at Melbourne, Australia; many of the staff members of this new station were recently evacuated from station CAST at Corregidor, Philippine Islands. ww2dbase [CPC]
Australian Papua
  • Japanese bombers attacked Port Moresby in Australian Papua while four fighters strafed the nearby Seven Mile airfield. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • German armed merchant cruiser Michel departed La Pallice, France for the South Atlantic. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Allies in Libya attacked Benghazi and Derna, diverting attention from an important convoy for Malta. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Jonathan Wainwright received the official US War Department order promoting him to the rank of lieutenant general and placing him charge of US troops in the Philippine Islands, replacing Douglas MacArthur, who had been ordered to go to Australia by Franklin Roosevelt. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Gas chambers of Block I of Auschwitz II (Birkenau) Concentration Camp began extermination operations. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
  • Soviet Army's Kerch offensive in Russia was defeated with heavy losses. To the west, German counter attack at Sevastopol failed, resulting in the loss of the 22nd Division. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
United States
  • USS Hornet arrived at San Francisco, California, United States. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 20 Mar 1942
Stern view of Grunion, Groton, Connecticut, United States, 20 Mar 1942

20 Mar 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
"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You win the war by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country!"

George Patton, 31 May 1944