12 May 1942
  • The last US troops in the Philippine Islands surrendered on Mindanao. ww2dbase [Invasion of the Philippine Islands | TH]
  • A major Soviet offensive toward Kharkov, Ukraine was launched, beginning with an aerial and artillery bombardment between 0630 and 0730 hours, followed by the ground assault. By the end of the day the Soviets penetrated only about 10 kilometers into the German lines, falling far short of the ultimate goal of having the Soviet 6th and 28th Armies converging west of Kharkov to cut off the city and the German defenders. ww2dbase [Second Battle of Kharkov | TH, CPC]
  • The US 8th Air Force began arriving in England. ww2dbase [TH]
  • German submarine U-507 sank US tanker Virginia immediately off the Mississippi River Delta in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 27 of 41 aboard. To the south, U-69 sank Norwegian tanker Lise with torpedoes and the deck gun 90 miles north of Bonaire island; 12 were killed, 21 survived. ww2dbase [Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico Campaigns | CPC]
  • 2,500 residents of Ivye, Byelorussia were massacred by Germans. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Japanese hospital ship Hikawa Maru arrived at Queen Carola Harbor near Buka, Bougainville, departing later on the same day. ww2dbase [Hikawa Maru | CPC]
  • Massachusetts was commissioned into service. ww2dbase [Massachusetts | CPC]
  • The monsoon began in Burma, slowing the retreat of Allied troops into India, but it also stopped Japanese attempts to attack the retreating columns from the air. ww2dbase [Invasion of Burma | CPC]
  • USS Pollack sank a Japanese patrol vessel with her surface weapons off Japan. ww2dbase [Pollack | CPC]
  • The fire on British destroyer HMS Jackal, damaged by German bombers yesterday and undertow by HMS Jervis, became uncontrollable. Jervis broke the tow and scuttled Jackal by torpedoes north of Sidi Barrani, Egypt and set sail for Alexandria, Egypt. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Soviet submarine K-23 attacked a German convoy off Nordkyn, Norway but was in turn counterattacked by German escort vessels with depth charges, which sank K-23 with all hands lost. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • 808 Japanese-American internees, mostly from Oregon, arrived at the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States. ww2dbase [Portland Assembly Center | CPC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • German submarine U-124 sank British catapult armed merchant Empire Dell and British transport Llanover of Allied convoy ONS-92 800 miles west of Ireland at 0200 hours; 2 were killed, 92 survived. At 0340 hours, U-94 also attacked the convoy, sinking Panamanian ship Cocle; 5 were killed, 37 survived. At 0400 hours, U-124 came back for another attack, sinking and Greek ship Mount Parnes and British ship Cristales; 115 were killed. On the North American coast, 50 miles southwest of Anticosti Island, Quebec, Canada, U-553 sank Dutch ship Leto and British ship Nicoya. Finally, at 0540 hours, U-558 sank British anti-submarine trawler HMS Bedfordshire 35 miles south of Cape Fear, North Carolina, United States, killing all 37 aboard. ww2dbase [Second Happy Time | CPC]
  • Seeadler began escorting merchant raider Stier as the raider attacked British shipping in the English Channel. ww2dbase [Seeadler | English Channel | CPC]
  • Alpino Bagnolini sighted a freighter in the Atlantic Ocean at 1540 hours; she submerged to attack, but she could not close in to the target, and the attack was ultimately called off. ww2dbase [Alpino Bagnolini | CPC]
  • Comandante Cappellini surfaced in the Atlantic Ocean at 0305 hours after being depth charged by sloop HMS Hastings on the previous date. In the heavy rain, the British sloop and the convoy she was escorting could not be seen. ww2dbase [Comandante Cappellini | CPC]
Australian New Guinea
  • USS S-44 attacked salvage vessel Shoei Maru 24 kilometers (15 miles) off of Cape St. George, New Ireland at 0957 hours, hitting her with 2 of 4 torpedoes. Shoei Maru would sink at 1440 hours. ww2dbase [S-44 | CPC]
  • Italian frogmen raided Alexandria harbor, Egypt, but failed to damage their target, HMS Queen Elizabeth. ww2dbase [Queen Elizabeth | Alexandria | CPC]
Hawaii Italy
  • Italian 1st Air Force Paratroop Unit was formed at Tarquinia, Italy under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Edvino Dalmas. ww2dbase [Tarquinia, Lazio | CPC]
Japan New Caledonia Pacific Ocean
  • Shokaku made rendezvous with Kuroshio, Oyashio, and Hayashio in the Philippine Sea; Ushio and Yugure were released as her escorts. Shokaku avoided more US submarines during her final leg home. However, with the high speeds and gashed bow, the ship took on so much water that she nearly capsized en route. ww2dbase [Yugure | Shokaku | Philippine Sea | CPC]
  • Soviet troops began to withdraw from the Kerch peninsula in Russia, freeing some German resources for the offensive near Kharkov, Ukraine to the north. ww2dbase [Battle of Sevastopol | Krym | CPC]
  • About 60 survivors of HMS Edinburgh embarked HMS Trinidad at Murmansk, Russia. ww2dbase [Edinburgh | Murmansk | CPC]
  • The PPS submachine gun's testing completed. ww2dbase [PPS | CPC]
United States Photo(s) dated 12 May 1942
Battleship Massachusetts entering Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, United States, 12 May 1942Hurricane fighters of British No. 237 (Rhodesian) Squadron RAF in the Middle East, 12 May 1942F4F-3 Wildcats of Fighting Squadron 6 get ready for launch from USS Enterprise, May 12 1942 while on their way toward the Battle of the Coral Sea (which was over before Enterprise could get there).Rhodesian troops of 60th King
See all photos dated 12 May 1942

12 May 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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