Not a terribly upbeat day, this February 15th in 1942. Seventy years ago the news was anything but optimistic for Allied forces fighting around the globe.
From Radio Tokyo came rumors the British forces in Singapore were asking the Japanese for an armistice, but no word of confirmation from London. Meanwhile, The Japanese were launching an offensive in Sumatra aimed at taking the oil fields in Palembang, which were the largest in the Far East and the main source for fueling Allied ships in the Pacific. The Dutch were readying destruction of the fields.
In Britain, further fears of a pending invasion were fueled by reports of the sighting of German warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in the English Channel. Speculation had it the ships, largely unopposed, could provide cover for an invasion force as a sizable German fleet was now in the North Atlantic. For our part, it also fueled speculation that the Germans could conceivably stage a "prestige raid" of the East Coast of the U.S. since our navies were stretched way too thin to be effective. As one government official put it we were "fighting a two ocean war with a one ocean navy".
The only good news to be had came from the Eastern Front where Russian forces were pushing the Germans back to the old Polish border and had re-taken four towns in the process. German casualties were reported as heavy during this offensive.
All this had an alarming effect on Congress, who sent out calls for stepped up War production and an investigation as to why Synthetic Rubber production hadn't been increased before Pearl Harbor when just this scenario was considered. In the interim, a demand for the immediate conservation of rubber was issued as supplies were quickly drying up. And an investigation into the causes for the suspicious fire that destroyed the French Liner Normandie in New York was issued and a request the investigation not be handled by the Navy Department.
Labor was adding to the picture as some 600 workers at the nations biggest Aluminum production facility in Detroit went on strike over a demand for Sunday double-time pay.
All in all, a pretty dismal day (for a Sunday no less), this February 15, 1942 as reported by NBC Radio on their Weekend Roundup.