31 May 1942
  • Unyo was commissioned into service. ww2dbase [Main Article | Tabular Record of Movement | CPC]
  • USS Colorado patrolled 650 miles west of San Francisco, California, United States. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Pollack damaged a small boat with her deck gun off Kyushu, Japan. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • British airfield RAF Bassingbourn's station log noted that from this date, when there were missions, "all personnel, officers, NCOs, and airmen to be served in the future in the airmen's mess." ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Lord Gort stepped down as the Governor of Gibraltar. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • British submarine HMS Proteus sank Italian merchant ship Gino Allegri 90 miles west of Benghazi, Libya. ww2dbase [CPC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • German submarine U-432 sank Canadian ship Liverpool Packet off Nova Scotia, Canada at 0140 hours; 2 were killed, 19 survived. At 0252 hours, U-506 sank British ship Fred W. Green with gunfire 200 miles southeast of Bermuda; 5 were killed, 36 survived. In the South Atlantic, Italian submarine Comandante Cappellini sank British Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Dinsdale, hitting her with 4 of 6 torpedoes fired; 5 were killed. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Australia
  • Japanese submarines I-22, I-24, and I-27 launched three midget submarines 7 miles off of Sydney, Australia. At 2235 hours, one was caught in torpedo nets and was scuttled by her own crew of two (both were killed in the process). The two others continued into Sydney Harbor. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Black Sea
  • Soviet submarine ShCh-214 sank Turkish ship Mahbubdihan in the Black Sea; Mahbubdihan was suspected of carrying supplies for German troops. ww2dbase [CPC]
Hawaii
  • USS Finback departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for the anticipated Japanese attack on Midway Atoll. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
  • Joseph Rochefort's cryptanalytic team in Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii intercepted a radio message noting that carrier Zuikaku's air group was being transferred out of the carrier, which provided a strong hint that Zuikaku was not going to participate in the upcoming offensive. Later on the same day, Chester Nimitz informed his carrier task forces commanders that the Japanese attack would likely take place on 3 Jun 1942, and the Japanese would be operating four fleet carriers. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
Libya
  • 50 trucks reached Bir Hakeim in Libya, bringing badly-needed fresh water and evacuating Indian troops and Italian prisoners of war. After sundown, Axis tanks attacked westward from within the Cauldron on the southern end of the Gazala Line, assaulting positions held by British 150th Brigade. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Hans-Joachim Marseille shot down the P-40 fighter piloted by Major Andre Duncan at 0726 hours near Fort Acroma, Libya. Two minutes later, he shot down his first victim's wingman. At 0734 hours, he scored his third kill of the day. His score stood at 68 by the end of this date. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Madagascar
  • Japanese submarine I-10 launched her floatplane for a reconnaissance mission over Diego-Suárez harbor, Madagascar to evaluate damage caused by the midget submarine attack that had taken place during the previous night. ww2dbase [Main Article | Event | CPC]
Pacific Ocean Poland
  • Monowitz labor camp, later to become Auschwitz III, opened on this date, housing forced laborers charged with building the Buna-Works for the German chemical firm I. G. Farben. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • German bombers attacked Canterbury, England, United Kingdom. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
United States
  • USS Maryland patrolled 650 miles west of San Francisco, California, United States. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 31 May 1942
Cruiser USS Chicago underway in Sydney Harbor, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, before the Japanese midget submarine attack that took place later that night, May 31, 1942US Navy sailors honoring fellow sailors killed during the Pearl Harbor attack, Naval Air Station Kaneohe, Oahu, US Territory of Hawaii, possibly 31 May 1942

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

31 May 1942 Interactive Map




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Famous WW2 Quote
"I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil."

General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944