Click on the link here for Audio Player – News of the World – February 20, 1942 – NBC Blue Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
News for this February 20th, 72 years ago was ominous and hopeful, simultaneously.
The ominous news was the impending invasion of Darwin, in northern Australia – an invasion which many expected, but now that Japan was on the offensive, meant one more front to deal with. Japanese raids on the city the previous night claimed some 15 lives with 24 wounded and signified the first attack on Australian soil. The Australian government met in executive session to discuss and map out plans for defense of the country, which was now on high-alert. Japan was also setting sights on the Dutch East Indies, with attacks on Batavia, and an invasion of Bali.
Fighting was also going on in Burma with heavy losses on both Japanese and British sides. Rangoon was still hanging on, but raw materials heading for China were now to be re-routed through India instead. As of this broadcast, there was no confirmation on reports of a landing by Japanese on the island of Timor.
On the hopeful side – Prime Minister Churchill announced a shake-up of the War Cabinet and that a new War Cabinet had been assembled. This was interpreted as a direct-response to public outcry for more efficient conduct of the military in the war. One of the new members of the cabinet was a popular one among the British public – Sir Stafford Cripps, former Ambassador to Moscow when Britain and Russia became allies. Cripps also assumes the role as Leader of the House of Commons, taking much of the Parliamentary burden off Churchill, who will be free to look after the progress of the war. The shake-up was viewed as a general house-cleaning of policies that didn’t work and were detrimental in Britain’s survival in the war. The new cabinet represented abilities to assume tasks, rather than a representation of political appointments.
Meanwhile, in Washington – talk was focusing on Offense, rather than Defensive moves in the war was considered more useful – as it was stated that, spending so much time in a defensive position would make it impossible to focus on offensive positions, thus breaking out of a protracted stalemate. In short, Secretary of War Stimson, echoing the sentiment of most Americans and President Roosevelt was to attack, and keep attacking as the only successful way to win the war.
So that was just a taste of what went on this February 20th in 1942, as presented by the News Of The World from the NBC Blue Network.