21 May 1942
  • The US Navy established the North Pacific force, initially with 2 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 4 destroyers, 9 destroyer escorts, 5 submarines, and 107 aircraft. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Northrop P-61 Black Widow night fighter took flight for the first time. ww2dbase [P-61 Black Widow | AC]
  • USS Pollack fired four torpedoes at a Japanese carrier off Kyushu, Japan; all torpedoes missed. ww2dbase [Pollack | CPC]
  • Aleksandr Vasilevsky was awarded the Order of Lenin for the first time. ww2dbase [Aleksandr Vasilevsky | CPC]
  • German submarine U-103 sank US ships Clare at 0348 hours (all 40 aboard survived) and Elizabeth at 0415 hours (6 were killed, 36 survived) 40 miles west of Cuba. A few minutes later, at 0421 hours, U-106 sank Mexican tanker Faja de Oro to the north; 10 were killed, 27 survived. German submarine U-69 sank Canadian ship Torondoc 60 miles northwest of Martinique at 0753 hours; all 21 aboard survived as observed by the Germans, but none would be seen again. 40 miles northwest of Jamaica, U-558 sank Canadian ship Troisdoc by the deck gun at 1917 hours; all 18 aboard survived. U-156 sank Dominican ship Presidente Trujillo off Fort de France, Martinique at 1829 hours; 24 were killed, 15 survived. ww2dbase [Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico Campaigns | CPC]
  • German submarine U-159 sank British ship New Brunswick (3 were killed, 59 survived) and damaged British fleet oiler Montenol (3 were killed, 61 survived) of Allied convoy OS-28 140 miles east of the Azores islands at 0323 hours. ww2dbase [Second Happy Time | CPC]
  • Allied convoy QP-12 departed Murmansk, Russia; it was consisted of 17 merchant ships, escorted by 1 catapult aircraft merchantman, 6 destroyers, 4 trawlers, and 1 anti-aircraft vessel. From the other end of the Arctic convoy route, PQ-16 departed Reykjav√≠k, Iceland with 35 merchant ships, 1 minesweeper, and 4 trawlers. ww2dbase [Arctic Convoys | CPC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • Alpino Bagnolini sighted a destroyer in the Atlantic Ocean at 1115 hours, followed by an aircraft; she dove to avoid detection. At 2105 hours, she sighted a freighter at the range of 10,000 meters; she attempted to attack, but spotted a Catalina aircraft and dove to avoid detection. When she surfaced at 2240 hours, the target was no longer in sight. ww2dbase [Alpino Bagnolini | CPC]
  • The US Navy cryptanalytic team in Melbourne, Australia belatedly voiced its agreement that the Japanese Navy was likely targeting Midway Atoll. In Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, Joseph Rochefort furnished the official report noting that Midway Atoll was confirmed as the Japanese target. Chester Nimitz, who had already began to prepare for such an attack, ordered his carriers to exercise radio silence to prevent the Japanese from learning of his attempt to gather Pacific Fleet carriers at Pearl Harbor. ww2dbase [Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Islands | Melbourne, Victoria | CPC]
Caroline Islands
  • Destroyer Yuzuki departed Truk, Caroline Islands for Saipan, Mariana Islands. ww2dbase [Yuzuki | Truk | CPC]
  • Destroyer Yukikaze departed Kure, Japan. ww2dbase [Yukikaze | Kure, Hiroshima | CPC]
  • Raizo Tanaka led the 2nd Destroyer Squadron, consisted of light cruiser Jintsu and 10 destroyers, out of Kure, Japan to escort the invasion fleet of the Midway operation. ww2dbase [Raizo Tanaka | Kure, Hiroshima | CPC]
Marshall Islands
  • Kamoi departed Jabor, Marshall Islands; later on the same day, she arrived at Emidji, Marshall Islands. ww2dbase [Kamoi | Jabor | CPC]
Pacific Ocean
  • USS S-43 arrived in the Solomon Sea near New Britain and New Ireland. ww2dbase [S-43 | Solomon Sea | CPC]
Philippines Trinidad Ukraine
  • German 6th Army and 1st Panzer Army continued to threaten the Soviet troops near Izium, Ukraine with encirclement. ww2dbase [Second Battle of Kharkov | Kharkov | CPC]
United States
  • George Marshall and Henry Stimson met in Washington DC, United States, concluding that there was a risk that the Japanese fleet suspected of sailing for Midway Atoll could actually be planning on conducting a major air raid against cities on the west coast of the United States. ww2dbase [George Marshall | Washington | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 21 May 1942
SOC-3A Seagull aircraft catapulted from escort carrier Long Island, 21 May 1942School teacher in Taiwan in group photograph with his students shortly after receiving conscription orders from the Japanese authorities, 21 May 1942

21 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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