About this blog

As the author of this blog, Karen L Garner Martin Messick, I am the daughter of an American soldier, Wilbur (Bill) C. Garner, Sr. and Women's Royal English Navy service woman (British Wren) Gwendoline Rosa Wilkins, who met and married during World War II. They lived and loved for over 50 years before Mother passed in 2000. When she did I helped Dad with every day chores when I could. One day I was helping him clear things out and I lifted a plastic bag out of the seat of Mom's piano stool, asking Dad, "Whats in this bag?" to which he replied, "Just some of Mary's old letters." Mary, his older sister, was still alive at the time, residing in an assisted living facility, suffering from Alzheimer's disease. I put the letters back in the piano seat thinking he did not want me to open the letters.
When Dad passed two years later, I inherited Mary's letters.
When I began to read them, I found they were mostly letters from Dad to Mary while he was in World War II ("The War"). I could not put them down. I wished I had opened them the day I first saw them so that Dad and I could have had conversations about them, but that was not to be...so as I read through these "Letters to Mary" I began to get a glimpse into Dad's young years when he met Mom and his time as a soldier. I have researched events during World War II to enhance my understanding of what was happening in the war as each letter came to broaden my understanding of what he might have been experiencing. I knew he landed on the beaches of Normandy, France D-Day plus 1 as he recounted his memory of that day to me when he was dying from Leukemia. It was horrifying. There were also letters from a companion Mary had met while in Minneapolis, he had been deployed overseas. I have entwined them chronologically with Dad's letters as it gives a greater dimension to the war itself. I intend to editorialize as necessary to explain personal relationships and situations as the story unfolds through the "Letters to Mary." I welcome any questions, comments and feedback. As the "Greatest Generation" fades away, I felt compelled to share these letters and story in hopes of continuing the legacy they left for the world. Let us never forget the untold years and lives that were sacrificed for freedom!
If you have stumbled upon this blog I have added a blog archive at the bottom of the blog page. Continue to scroll down to access the Blog Archive. The posts are chronologically listed and to follow the story it is best to start with the first post in December 2013.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

World War II South Pacific Timeline 1941-March 1944

By the time of Henri's  "Letter to Mary" in March of 1944, the USA had been fully engaged in "The War" for over two years, both in the Pacific, South Pacific and Europe. 
Bill headed off to England from Camp Polk, Louisiana in December of 1943 (Letter #4) and Henri was about to embark to places unknown, on the USS John Land, in April of 1944 (Letter #13). 
I have added another timeline of events for World War II in the South Pacific Theater, which takes us to the point in time the boys are leaving the USA.
There are
active internet links in the timeline to events that have occurred in the war to this point.

December 7, 1941 - Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; also attack the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Thailand, Shanghai and Midway

December 8, 1941 - U.S. and Britain declare war on Japan. Japanese land near Singapore and enter Thailand.
December 9, 1941 - China declares war on Japan.
December 10, 1941 - Japanese invade the Philippines and also seize Guam.
December 11, 1941 - Japanese invade Burma.
December 15, 1941 - First Japanese merchant ship sunk by a U.S. submarine.
December 16, 1941 - Japanese invade British Borneo.
December 18, 1941 - Japanese invade Hong Kong.
December 22, 1941 - Japanese invade Luzon in the Philippines.
December 23, 1941 - General Douglas MacArthur begins a withdrawal from Manila to Bataan; Japanese take Wake Island.
December 25, 1941 - British surrender at Hong Kong.
December 26, 1941 - Manila declared an open city.
December 27, 1941 - Japanese bomb Manila.


January 2, 1942 - Manila and U.S. Naval base at Cavite captured by the Japanese.
January 7, 1942 - Japanese attack Bataan in the Philippines
January 11, 1942 - Japanese invade Dutch East Indies and Dutch Borneo.
January 16, 1942 - Japanese begin an advance into Burma.January 18, 1942 - German-Japanese-Italian military agreement signed in Berlin.
January 19, 1942 - Japanese take North Borneo.
January 23, 1942 - Japanese take Rabaul on New Britain in the Solomon Islands and also invade Bougainville, the largest island.
January 27, 1942 - First Japanese warship sunk by a U.S. submarine.
January 30/31 - The British withdraw into Singapore. The siege of Singapore then begins.
February 1, 1942 - First U.S. aircraft carrier offensive of the war as YORKTOWN and ENTERPRISE conduct air raids on Japanese bases in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands.
February 2, 1942 - Japanese invade Java in the Dutch East Indies.
February 8/9 - Japanese invade Singapore.
February 14, 1942 - Japanese invade Sumatra in the Dutch East Indies.
February 15, 1942 - British surrender at Singapore.
February 19, 1942 - Largest Japanese air raid since Pearl Harbor occurs against Darwin, Australia; Japanese invade Bali.
February 20, 1942 - First U.S. fighter ace of the war, Lt. Edward O'Hare from the LEXINGTON in action off Rabaul.
February 22, 1942 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders General MacArthur out of the Philippines.
February 23, 1942 - First Japanese attack on the U.S. mainland as a submarine shells an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California.
February 24, 1942 - ENTERPRISE attacks Japanese on Wake Island.
February 26, 1942 - First U.S. carrier, the LANGLEY, is sunk by Japanese bombers.
February 27- March 1 - Japanese naval victory in the Battle of the Java Sea as the largest U.S. warship in the Far East, the HOUSTON, is sunk.
March 4, 1942 - Two Japanese flying boats bomb Pearl Harbor; ENTERPRISE attacks Marcus Island, just 1000 miles from Japan.
March 7, 1942 - British evacuate Rangoon in Burma; Japanese invade Salamaua and Lae on New Guinea.
March 8, 1942 - The Dutch on Java surrender to Japanese.
March 11, 1942 - Gen. MacArthur leaves Corregidor and is flown to Australia. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright becomes the new U.S. commander.
March 18, 1942 - Gen. MacArthur appointed commander of the Southwest Pacific Theater by President Roosevelt.
March 18, 1942 - War Relocation Authority established in the U.S. which eventually will round up 120,000 Japanese-Americans and transport them to barb-wired relocation centers. Despite the internment, over 17,000 Japanese-Americans sign up and fight for the U.S. in World War II in Europe, including the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in U.S. history.
March 23, 1942 - Japanese invade the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.
March 24, 1942 - Admiral Chester Nimitz appointed as Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific theater.
April 3, 1942 - Japanese attack U.S. and Filipino troops at Bataan.
April 6, 1942 - First U.S. troops arrive in Australia.
April 9, 1942 - U.S. forces on Bataan surrender unconditionally to the Japanese.
April 10, 1942 - Bataan Death March begins as 76,000 Allied POWs including 12,000 Americans are forced to walk 60 miles under a blazing sun without food or water toward a new POW camp, resulting in over 5,000 American deaths.
April 18, 1942 - Surprise U.S. 'Doolittle' B-25 air raid from the HORNET against Tokyo boosts Allied morale.
April 29, 1942 - Japanese take central Burma.
May 1, 1942 - Japanese occupy Mandalay in Burma.
May 3, 1942 - Japanese take Tulagi in the Solomon Islands.
May 5, 1942 - Japanese prepare to invade Midway and the Aleutian Islands.
May 6, 1942 - Japanese take Corregidor as Gen. Wainwright unconditionally surrenders all U.S. And Filipino forces in the Philippines.
May 7-8, 1942 - Japan suffers its first defeat of the war during the Battle of the Coral Sea off New Guinea - the first time in history that two opposing carrier forces fought only using aircraft without the opposing ships ever sighting each other.
May 12, 1942 - The last U.S. Troops holding out in the Philippines surrender on Mindanao.
May 20, 1942 - Japanese complete the capture of Burma and reach India.
June 4-5, 1942 - Turning point in the war occurs with a decisive victory for the U.S. against Japan in the Battle of Midway as squadrons of U.S. torpedo planes and dive bombers from ENTERPRISE, HORNET, and YORKTOWN attack and destroy four Japanese carriers, a cruiser, and damage another cruiser and two destroyers. U.S. loses YORKTOWN.
June 7, 1942 - Japanese invade the Aleutian Islands.
June 9, 1942 - Japanese postpone further plans to take Midway.
July 21, 1942 - Japanese land troops near Gona on New Guinea.
August 7, 1942 - The first U.S. amphibious landing of the Pacific War occurs as 1st Marine Division invades Tulagi and Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.
August 8, 1942 - U.S. Marines take the unfinished airfield on Guadalcanal and name it Henderson Field after Maj. Lofton Henderson, a hero of Midway.
August 8/9 - A major U.S. naval disaster off Savo Island, north of Guadalcanal, as eight Japanese warships wage a night attack and sink three U.S. heavy cruisers, an Australian cruiser, and one U.S. destroyer, all in less than an hour. Another U.S. cruiser and two destroyers are damaged. Over 1,500 Allied crewmen are lost.
August 17, 1942 - 122 U.S. Marine raiders, transported by submarine, attack Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands.
August 21, 1942 - U.S. Marines repulse first major Japanese ground attack on Guadalcanal.
August 24, 1942 - U.S. And Japanese carriers meet in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons resulting in a Japanese defeat.
August 29, 1942 - The Red Cross announces Japan refuses to allow safe passage of ships containing supplies for U.S. POWs.
August 30, 1942 - U.S. Troops invade Adak Island in the Aleutian Islands.
September 9/10 - A Japanese float plane flies two missions dropping incendiary bombs on U.S. forests in the state of Oregon - the only bombing of the continental U.S. during the war. Newspapers in the U.S. voluntarily withhold this information.
September 12-14 - Battle of Bloody Ridge on Guadalcanal.
September 15, 1942 - A Japanese submarine torpedo attack near the Solomon Islands results in the sinking of the Carrier WASP, Destroyer O'BRIEN and damage to the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA.
September 27, 1942 - British offensive in Burma.
October 11/12 - U.S. cruisers and destroyers defeat a Japanese task force in the Battle of Cape Esperance off Guadalcanal.
October 13, 1942 - The first U.S. Army troops, the 164th Infantry Regiment, land on Guadalcanal.
October 14/15 - Japanese bombard Henderson Field at night from warships then send troops ashore onto Guadalcanal in the morning as U.S. planes attack.
October 15/17 - Japanese bombard Henderson Field at night again from warships.
October 18, 1942 - Vice Admiral William F. Halsey named as the new commander of the South Pacific Area, in charge of the Solomons-New Guinea campaign.
October 26, 1942 - Battle of Santa Cruz off Guadalcanal between U.S. And Japanese warships results in the loss of the Carrier HORNET.
November 14/15 - U.S. And Japanese warships clash again off Guadalcanal resulting in the sinking of the U.S. Cruiser JUNEAU and the deaths of the five Sullivan brothers.
November 23/24 - Japanese air raid on Darwin, Australia.
November 30 - Battle of Tasafaronga off Guadalcanal.
December 2, 1942 - Enrico Fermi conducts the world's first nuclear chain reaction test at the University of Chicago.
December 20-24 - Japanese air raids on Calcutta, India.
December 31, 1942 - Emperor Hirohito of Japan gives permission to his troops to withdraw from Guadalcanal after five months of bloody fighting against U.S. Forces


January 2, 1943 - Allies take Buna in New Guinea.
January 22, 1943 - Allies defeat Japanese at Sanananda on New Guinea.
February 1, 1943 - Japanese begin evacuation of Guadalcanal.
February 8, 1943 - British-Indian forces begin guerrilla operations against Japanese in Burma.
February 9, 1943 - Japanese resistance on Guadalcanal ends.
March 2-4 - U.S. victory over Japanese in the Battle of Bismarck Sea.
April 18, 1943 - U.S. code breakers pinpoint the location of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto flying in a Japanese bomber near Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. Eighteen P-38 fighters then locate and shoot down Yamamoto.
April 21, 1943 - President Roosevelt announces the Japanese have executed several airmen from the Doolittle Raid.
April 22, 1943 - Japan announces captured Allied pilots will be given "one way tickets to hell."
May 10, 1943 - U.S. Troops invade Attu in the Aleutian Islands.
May 14, 1943 - A Japanese submarine sinks the Australian hospital ship CENTAUR resulting in 299 dead.
May 31, 1943 - Japanese end their occupation of the Aleutian Islands as the U.S. completes the capture of Attu.
June 1, 1943 - U.S. begins submarine warfare against Japanese shipping.
June 21, 1943 - Allies advance to New Georgia, Solomon Islands.
July 8, 1943 - B-24 Liberators flying from Midway bomb Japanese on Wake Island.
August 1/2 - A group of 15 U.S. PT-boats attempt to block Japanese convoys south of Kolombangra Island in the Solomon Islands. PT-109, commanded by Lt. John F. Kennedy, is rammed and sunk by the Japanese Cruiser AMAGIRI, killing two and badly injuring others. The crew survives as Kennedy aids one badly injured man by towing him to a nearby atoll.
August 6/7, 1943 - Battle of Vella Gulf in the Solomon Islands.
August 25, 1943 - Allies complete the occupation of New Georgia.
September 4, 1943 - Allies recapture Lae-Salamaua, New Guinea.
October 7, 1943 - Japanese execute approximately 100 American POWs on Wake Island.
October 26, 1943 - Emperor Hirohito states his country's situation is now "truly grave."
November 1, 1943 - U.S. Marines invade Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.
November 2, 1943 - Battle of Empress Augusta Bay.
November 20, 1943 - U.S. Troops invade Makin and Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands.
November 23, 1943 - Japanese end resistance on Makin and Tarawa.
December 15, 1943 - U.S. Troops land on the Arawe Peninsula of New Britain in the Solomon Islands.
December 26, 1943 - Full Allied assault on New Britain as 1st Division Marines invade Cape Gloucester.


         January 9, 1944 - British and Indian troops recapture Maungdaw in Burma.
         January 31, 1944 - U.S. Troops invade Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands.
         February 1-7, 1944 - U.S. Troops capture Kwajalein and Majura Atolls in the Marshall Islands.
         February 20, 1944 - U.S. Carrier-based and land-based planes destroy the Japanese base at  Rabaul.
         February 23, 1944 - U.S. Carrier-based planes attack the Mariana Islands.
         February 24, 1944 - Merrill's Marauders begin a ground campaign in northern Burma.
         March 5, 1944 - Gen. Wingate's groups begin operations behind Japanese lines in Burma.

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