July 18, 1942 – NBC News Of The World – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
July 18, 1942 – News for this day was a cause for concern while shrouded in mystery. News from the Eastern Front told of German advances to Stalingrad, but encountering stiff resistance and heavy casualties from the Russians. German bombers were busy attacking the Russian rear, hoping to end the bottleneck but the Russians were not taking any of it lying down. Russian planes were countering the Luftwaffe while ground troops were busy harassing German flanks. At one point, the Russian army was staging counterattacks in one sector, catching German units off-guard. Russians were still in retreat but a much slower pace than usual.
From Washington came reports on the situation in the Aleutian Islands, where Japanese forces were gaining ground with the capture of Agattu, an island some 750 miles west of Dutch Harbor. The American military didn’t think the island was worth defending since it was deemed not to be of any significant military value. But the Japanese thought it was worth taking. Washington military observers were considering the Aleutians the “back steps to North America” and raising questions as to why the island was given up so easily. Meanwhile, military operations in the Aleutians were draped in fog this day – from a physical standpoint as well as one of censorship over what was going on. This much was known; the American navy had sunk some 13 Japanese warships and had shot down 7 Japanese planes. It was strongly felt in Washington too that repercussions from the Aleutian campaign was bound to be felt in the lower 48 and there were calls for the Senate to conduct an investigation over the Aleutian situation and why the Japanese were permitted to get a toehold in North America.
And the Battle of El Alamein was continuing with one decisive battle concluding with some 25 German tanks destroyed or otherwise put out of commission. Fighting continued this day, but neither side was eager to involve tanks. American bombers were busy hitting targets throughout the front. Major General Louis Brereton, himself a veteran of the South Pacific campaigns was now in charge of the Army Air Force in the Middle East. In his first 36 days as commander, American planes carried out 21 tactical missions and continue to go out on day and night missions daily. American losses were comparatively light with three bombers lost in action during the first days.
And that’s just a small sample of what happened, this July 18, 1942 as presented by News Of The World from NBC.
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