Events occurring on Friday, February 20, 1942  
  The Japanese 1942 East Indies Campaign  
  Japanese forces invaded Timor Island, Netherlands East Indies when Japanese paratroopers were dropped in Kupang.  
  The Southwest Pacific Theater  
  Task Force 11, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier task force based around the USS Lexington and commanded by Vice Admiral Wilson Brown, was on its way to raid the Imperial Japanese military base at Rabaul, New Britain when it was attacked by a force of land-based bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy under the command of Vice Admiral Goto Eiji. As a result of the loss of surprise, Vice Admiral Brown canceled the planned raid on Rabaul and retired from the area. Because of the high losses in bomber aircraft, the Japanese postponed their impending invasion of Lae-Salamaua, Papua New Guinea. Although the American attack was cancelled, Japanese naval land based bombers attacked U.S. Navy Task Force 11, centering their efforts upon the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV 2). In the ensuing battle off Bougainville, combat air patrol F4F Wildcats and SBD Dauntlesses (the latter utilized in the anti-torpedo plane role) and ships' antiaircraft fire annihilated the Japanese formations. Lt. Edward O'Hare, attached to Fighting Squadron 3 on the USS Lexington, shot down five Japanese G4M1 Betty bombers that were attacking the USS Lexington in just four minutes, becoming the U.S. Navy's first flying ace in World War II. O’Hare was selected for promotion to Lieutenant Commander and became the first naval aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor for this action. O'Hare went missing on November 26, 1943, while he was leading the U.S. Navy's first-ever nighttime fighter attack launched from an aircraft carrier. In 1945, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS O'Hare (DD-889) was named in his honor and in 1949 the Chicago, Illinois airport was renamed O'Hare International Airport was named in his honor.  
  In the wake of the Japanese carrier strike the day before, Darwin, Australia, was abandoned as an Allied naval base. RAF and USAAF air operations from the field outside the port, however, would continue.  
  The Pacific Theater  
  The destroyer USS Stewart (DD 224), damaged by shellfire in the Battle of Badoeng Strait the previous night, suffered further damage when, improperly shored and placed on blocks. The USS Stewart rolled on her port side in a Dutch floating drydock at Surabaya, Java.  
  The Japanese 1941-42 Philippines Campaign  
  The submarine USS Swordfish (SS 193) evacuated President Manuel Quezon, his family, and other Philippine officials from Corregidor in the Philippines.  
  The Battle of the Atlantic  
  The unescorted American steam merchant Delplata was torpedoed and sunk by the U-156, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Werner Hartenstein, approximately 60 miles west of Martinique in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Of the ship’s complement, all 53 survived and were picked up by the minesweeper USS Lapwing (AVP 1). The 5,127 ton Delplata was carrying general cargo and was bound for St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.  
  The unescorted Norwegian steam merchant Nordvangen was torpedoed and sunk by the U-129, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Asmus Nicolai Clausen, in the eastern Caribbean Sea. All of the ship’s complement of 24 died. The 2,400 ton Nordvangen was carrying bauxite and was bound for New Orleans, Louisiana.  
  The unescorted American motor merchant Lake Osweya was torpedoed and sunk by the U-96, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, southeast of Sable Island, Nova Scotia in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. All of the ship’s complement of 39 died. The 2,398 ton Lake Osweya was carrying general cargo and was bound for Reykjavik, Iceland.  
  The United States and Vichy France  
  Admiral William D. Leahy, Ambassador to Vichy France, wrote to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt that he expected a recall "for consultation" since the French had not responded positively to Roosevelt's message of February 11 regarding giving aid to Axis powers. President Roosevelt, while sympathetic to Admiral Leahy's position, subsequently informed his ambassador that "to hold the fort [in Vichy] is as important a military task as any other in these days." Leahy was thus retained in France. On the same day that Leahy wrote to the President, however, German submarine U-156 put in to Martinique to put ashore one of the men wounded by the premature barrel explosion on February 16 while shelling an oil refinery on Aruba.  
  The Nisei - Japanese Americans in WW2  
  Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson authorized Lieutenant General John L. De Witt, Commanding General of the Western Defense Command, to effectuate the recommendations DeWitt made on February 14 and to exercise all powers conferred upon him and upon any military commander designated by him by Executive Order No. 9066 issued the previous day. Among the steps taken was the evacuation of Japanese from western Washington and Oregon, California and southern Arizona. Transmitted is the final report of that evacuation.  
  Ships Commissioned  
  A ship's commissioning was when the ship was handed over, post fittings and trials, to the end user which, in this case, was a combatant navy.  
  The Dutch destroyer HNMS Van Galen (G 84) was commissioned. Her first commander was Lt. Commander Francois T. Burghard.  
  February 1942 Calendar  
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The objective of is to provide a day by day account of the events that lead up to and were part of the greatest conflict known to mankind. There are accounts for the activities of each particular day and timelines for subjects and personalities. It is the of this website intent to provide an unbiased account of the war. Analysis, effects caused by an event, or prior or subsequent pertinent events are presented separately and indicated as text that is italicized.

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