February 15, 1942 – a day of unexpected audacity on the battlefronts of the world. Starting with reports from the Far East of rumored armistice requests from British forces in Singapore, but no confirmation. Reports from Cairo that considerable movement of enemy mechanical transport and armored vehicles was met with strong British fighter resistance, and that British planes almost wiped out a German air force of some 30 dive-bombers and fighters. News from Batavia told of a big sea attack by the Japanese against Palembang and the oil center on the southeast coast of Sumatra. Further reports of destruction by the Dutch of the oil installations. If completed, it would be the greatest voluntary material destruction the world had known. It was said that Palembang was the main center for supplying fuel for the Allied navies in that part of the world. If Palembang were to fall, the island of Bangka would almost certainly come under Japanese control. It would cut off the southern approach to Singapore, making Japanese encirclement of the island complete.
Meanwhile, on the Eastern front – reports from Moscow say that Russian ski troops on the central front have been driving Nazi troops back as far as the old Polish border, and that four more towns had been retaken in one sector alone in its continued drive westward from Moscow. At last report, some 3,000 German dead are listed in two days of fighting.
From Washington – The threatened loss of Rubber from the far east is causing many on Capitol Hill to call for a checkup on War strategy and war production. War Finance Chief Jesse Jones and Donald Nelson, War production Czar issued a joint statement urging conservation of rubber. They admitted to having barely enough to supply our Armed forces for the next two years. The statement implied that Japanese advances in Malaya were responsible for the situation. But it was significant that neither Jones nor Nelson came forward until after Wendell Wilkie and Sen. Ralph Brewster of the Political opposition demanded the truth about the Rubber situation and why we hadn’t stepped up the production of synthetic rubber before Pearl Harbor.
A busy day of audacity and drama, this February 1, 1942 as reported by NBC News Of The World.