17 May 1942
  • USS Gar reported damaging a Japanese decoy ship in daylight with one of two torpedoes fired. ww2dbase [Gar | CPC]
  • USS Pollack damaged a small boat with her deck gun off Kyushu, Japan. ww2dbase [Pollack | CPC]
  • USS Skipjack sank Japanese ship Tazan Maru off French Indochina. ww2dbase [Skipjack | CPC]
  • The British RAF launched two strikes against German cruiser Prinz Eugen while she was sailing toward Kiel, Germany. The first wave of 18 aircraft reached the ship but scored no hits; 3 aircraft were shot down. The second wave of 30 aircraft was intercepted by German fighters mid-way; 4 British bombers and 3 German Bf 109 fighters were shot down in action. ww2dbase [Prinz Eugen | CPC]
  • German submarine U-103 sank US ship Ruth Lykes with her deck gun 200 miles south of the Grand Cayman island at 0044 hours; 6 were killed, 26 survived. Off Grenada, U-155 sank British tanker San Victorio at 0217 hours; 52 were killed, 1 survived). 75 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River in southern United States, U-506 sank US tanker Gulfoil at 0534 hours; 21 were killed, 19 survived. At 0952 hours, U-155 struck again, sinking US ship Challenger; 8 were killed, 56 survived. ww2dbase [Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico Campaigns | CPC]
  • USS Triton sank Japanese submarine I-64 south of Japan, killing all 81 aboard. ww2dbase [Triton | CPC]
  • USS Tautog attacked Japanese submarines I-22 and I-24 70 miles south of Truk, Caroline Islands at 0648 hours; all torpedoes missed. At 1107 hours, she discovered I-28 and attacked again, this time sinking the target, killing all 88 aboard. ww2dbase [Tautog | CPC]
  • HMS Eagle launched 17 Spitfire and 6 Albacore aircraft for Malta; the Spitfire fighters successfully reached Malta, but the Albacore torpedo bombers returned due to engine trouble. Later in the day, 6 Italian SM.79 torpedo bombers attacked her, but all torpedoes missed. ww2dbase [Eagle | CPC]
  • Saburo Sakai, Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, and Toshio Ohta performed daring aerial stunts over an Allied airfield; they were later scolded by their commanding officer Lieutenant (jg) Junichi Sasai. ww2dbase [Saburo Sakai | CPC]
  • Representatives of the US War Relocation Authority visited Portland Assembly Center and recruited about 250 volunteers among the internee population to assist in the construction of the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in Newell, California, United States. ww2dbase [Portland Assembly Center | CPC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • German submarine U-135 sank British ship Fort Qu'Appelle 480 miles east of Long Island, New York, United States; 14 were killed, 11 survived. Further south, also in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, U-653 sank British ship Peisander; all 65 aboard survived. Still further south in the Central Atlantic, German submarine U-156 sank British ship Barrdale at 0904 hours; 1 was killed, 52 survived. Finally, U-432 sank small US trawler Foam (1 was killed, 20 survived) and U-588 sank Norwegian ship Skottland (1 was killed, 23 survived) 85 miles south of Nova Scotia, Canada at about 1800 hours. ww2dbase [Second Happy Time | CPC]
Caroline Islands
  • Japanese hospital ship Hikawa Maru departed Truk, Caroline Islands. ww2dbase [Hikawa Maru | Truk | CPC]
Hawaii Japan
  • Damaged carrier Shokaku, having evaded no less than eight submarines, arrived at Kure, Japan at 1830 hours, escorted by Yugure, Kuroshio, Oyashio, and Hayashio. She was immediately placed in the Reserve Unit of the Mobile Force. ww2dbase [Shokaku | Yugure | Kure Naval Arsenal | Kure, Hiroshima | CPC]
  • Japanese Naval General Staff approved the plans for what was to become the I-400-class submarine design. These would be submarine aircraft carriers conceived to carry out long-range aerial attacks on targets such as the Panama Canal and the continental United States. An order for the construction of 18 examples would be issued within weeks. ww2dbase [Japanese Attacks on the Continental United States | I-400-class | CPC]
  • Gato-class submarine USS Silversides made a torpedo attack on two Japanese merchant ships off Susami, southern Honshu, Japan, damaging both ships. In making this attack, Silversides' periscope became entangled in Japanese fishing nets and the submarine dragged the nets with her as she made the attack. The nets had been suspended from small fishing buoys that flew small Japanese flags, making the Silversides perhaps the only US warship to make an attack while flying the Japanese flag. ww2dbase [Silversides | Kii Suido | DS]
  • The German 3rd Schnellboot Flotilla consisting of six boats was sent out from Sicily, Italy to lay a minefield in the approaches to Valetta Grand Harbour, Malta. Daybreak caught them within range of the 9.2-inch coastal battery in Fort Leonardo (Maltese: Il-Fortizza San Leonardu) on the eastern side of the harbour. As S-34 was 12 kilometers off Zonqor Point she received a direct hit in her engine room killing three and injuring others of the crew. The boat, being of wooden and light metal construction failed to sink however so the crew attempted to scuttle her; the charges detonated but caused no further damage. Another boat radioing for air cover brought in a German Bf 109 fighter that sank the boat. ww2dbase [HM]
Marshall Islands
  • Kamoi departed Emidji, Marshall Islands; later on the same day, she arrived at Jabor, Marshall Islands. ww2dbase [Kamoi | Emidji | CPC]
  • Tatsuta Maru departed Davao, Philippine Islands. ww2dbase [Tatsuta Maru | Davao | CPC]
  • German troops began capturing large numbers of artillery pieces and munitions around Kerch, Russia, which they would later use against Sevastopol. ww2dbase [Battle of Sevastopol | Kerch, Krym | TH]
  • In Operation Fridericus, German 1st Panzer Army attacked Soviet troops at Izium, Ukraine, breaching the Soviet lines and capturing Barvenkovo. The spearhead of the Soviet offensive continued toward Kharkov, however, despite the actions behind it. ww2dbase [Second Battle of Kharkov | Kharkov | CPC]
United States
  • From Washington DC, United States, Ernest King sent Chester Nimitz a message noting that King was now in agreement with the theory that Midway Atoll was likely one of the primary targets in the upcoming Japanese offensive. Later in the day, King messaged Harold Stark in London, England, United Kingdom, ordering him to relay the explanation for the US Navy removing two carriers from the South Pacific to British liaison officers. Also on this day, the US Office of Naval Intelligence also voiced its agreement in a report to King that the Japanese Navy code name AF was likely Midway Atoll. ww2dbase [Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Islands | Ernest King | Washington | CPC]
  • Submarine Gunnel was launched at Groton, Connecticut, United States, sponsored by the wife of US Navy Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks Ben Morell. ww2dbase [Electric Boat Company | Gunnel | Groton, Connecticut | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 17 May 1942
Paul Giesler with his deputy Heinrich Vetter, Hagen, Germany, 17 May 1942Submarine Gunnel at sea off Groton, Connecticut, United States, 17 May 1942

17 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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