March 21, 1942 – Busy day on the fighting fronts.
First, with news from Britain that the Admiralty disclosed British submarines had sunk two large German supply ships in the Mediterranean and news that the German battleship Tirpitz was back in the Norwegian port of Trondheim was cause for speculation that the Germans may be intending to launch a strike force into the Atlantic. With the Tirpitz was the pocket battleship Admiral Scheer, the cruiser Prinz Eugen (which was thought to be damaged and out of commission) and a number of destroyers. Even if the Prinz Eugen was damaged, the rest of the German warships formed a constant menace to Allied shipping in the Atlantic and of the convoys heading to Russia. The fact that the menace existed meant the British Naval forces were kept ready to attack the German vessels if and when they moved out of harbor. But there was always the chance the German flotilla would slip out in fog or bad weather.
There was also wide speculation that something big was going to happen in the Middle-East. Earlier in the morning, reports reached London that the British General Nye, vice-chief of the Imperial General Staff, had arrived in Cairo with Sir Stafford Cripps, and that a war council had been called there. Since most high-ranking officials had been assembled there, all indications were that something big was either underway or underway shortly. For the first time, Chinese troops joined British troops fighting the Japanese in Burma.
And news of increased rationing throughout England drew comparisons to how much more severe shortages were in the Uk than they were in the U.S. – how there was talk of cutting down the tobacco supply and how clothing was to be more strictly rationed, as was gas. Reports that getting eggs was a thrilling experience for many and a decent meal was the subject of excited conversation for days on end. It was a war after all.
And that’s just a small slice of what went on in the world, this March 21, 1942 as presented by NBC’s News Of The World.