21 May 1943
  • Mineichi Koga replaced Isoroku Yamamoto as the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Navy Combined Fleet. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • The Royal Navy submarine HMS Sickle "torpedoed" the world famous Monte Carlo Casino. While attacking shipping in the harbour one of the torpedoes ran up the beach and exploded, blowing out the windows of the casino which was being occupied, at the time, by German officers. ww2dbase [AC]
Australian New Guinea
  • 4 US B-17 bombers attacked Vunakanau Airfield and Rapopo Airfield at Rabaul, New Britain. Pilot Senior Flight Petty Officer Shigetoshi Kudo and observer Lieutenant (jg) Akira Sugawara, in the J1N reconnaissance aircraft equipped with experimental aerial burst bomb launchers, shot down B-17E bomber "Honi Kuu Okole" (Major Paul Williams) and a unnamed B-17F bomber (Captain Joseph Geddes); it was this particular J1N aircraft's first combat. ww2dbase [CPC]
Australian Papua
  • 90th Bomb Squadron (flying B-25 aircraft) of USAAF 3rd Bombardment Group was transferred from Port Moresby to Dobodura Airfield, Australian Papua. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Japanese 39th Division began to cross the Yangtze River near Pianyan, Hubei Province, China. In Hunan Province, the Japanese 3rd Corps attacked at dawn from Chayuansi, advancing northward toward Changyang in Hubei Province. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Wahoo arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, ending her fifth war patrol. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Yamato was drydocked at Yokosuka, Japan for inspection and repairs. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | Tabular Record of Movement | CPC]
  • Shokaku arrived at Yokosuka, Japan with Cruiser Division 7 from Tokuyama, Japan. ww2dbase [Main Article | Tabular Record of Movement | CPC]
  • One month after the death of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who had been killed when the aircraft in which he was travelling on a tour of inspection was shot down by US fighters over Bougainville Island, the news was finally revealed to the Japanese public. At Yokosuka, Japan, senior Japanese naval officers led by the Emperor, in person, trooped aboard the battleship Musashi to pay their last respects to Yamamato. Along with the late Admiral's ashes, contained in a small white box, was a poem by the Admiral that had been found in his sea-cabin on the battleship Yamato. It began: "So many are dead, I cannot face the Emperor... soon I shall join the young dead soldiers." ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC, AC]
Malta Russia
  • The Soviet GKO issued a secret order for the construction of a railroad from Komsomolsk, Khabarovsk Krai, eastern Russia to Sovetskaya Gavan 200 kilometers to the southeast, in preparation for a war against Japan. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Nikolai Kamanin and his 8th Combined Air Corps was relocated to Liski, Voronezh Oblast, Russia. The air corps was attached to the Steppe Front. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Yorktown (Essex-class) got underway for shakedown training in the vicinity of Trinidad. ww2dbase [Main Article | DS]
Photo(s) dated 21 May 1943
MGen A. Vandegrift, Col M Edson, 2Lt M. Paige, and Plt. Sgt. J. Basilone at US 1st Marine Division Medal of Honor ceremony, Balcombe, Australia, 21 May 1943, photo 1 of 2MGen A. Vandegrift, Col M Edson, 2Lt M. Paige, and Plt. Sgt. J. Basilone at US 1st Marine Division Medal of Honor ceremony, Balcombe, Australia, 21 May 1943, photo 2 of 2

Timeline Section Founder: Thomas Houlihan
Contributors: Alan Chanter, C. Peter Chen, Thomas Houlihan, David Stubblebine
Special Thanks: Rory Curtis

21 May 1943 Interactive Map

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Famous WW2 Quote
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years."

James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945