Events occurring on Tuesday, March 17, 1942  
  Strategic Planning  
  The United States assumed assumes responsibility for the strategic defense of the entire Pacific Ocean while Britain assumed responsibility for the strategic defense of the Indian Ocean and the Middle East. This decision changed altered the basic concept of the U.S. military’s Rainbow 5 war plan.  
   
  The Southwest Pacific Theater  
  U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Lt. General Douglas MacArthur as the commander of the combined Allied forces in the southwest Pacific.  
   
  Lt. General Douglas MacArthur arrived at Batchelor Field (Alice Springs, Australia) and made the following statement to reporters: “The President of the United States ordered me to break through the Japanese lines and proceed from Corregidor to Australia for the purpose, as I understand it, of organizing the American offensive against Japan, a primary objective of which is the relief of the Philippines. I came through and I shall return.”  
   
  The Battle of the Atlantic  
  The unescorted Greek steam merchant Mount Lycabettus was torpedoed and sunk by the U-373, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Paul-Karl Loeser, in the western Atlantic Ocean. All of the ship’s complement of 30 died. The 4,292 ton Mount Lycabettus was carrying wheat and was headed for Leixos, Portugal.  
   
  The unescorted British motor tanker San Demetrio was torpedoed and sunk by the U-404, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto von Bülow, northwest of Cape Charles, Virginia in the western Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 19 died and 32 survivors were picked up by the American merchant Beta. The 8,073 ton San Demetrio was carrying alcohol and motor spirit and was headed for England.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Allende was torpedoed and sunk by the U-68, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Karl-Friedrich Merten, approximately 18 miles south of Cape Palmas, Liberia in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 6 died and 33 survivors reached land by lifeboat. The 5,081 ton Allende was carrying general cargo and was headed for England.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Ile de Batz was torpedoed and sunk by the U-68 approximately 28 miles south of Cape Palmas. Of the ship’s complement, 4 died and 39 survivors were picked up by the corvette HMCS Weyburn (K 173). The 5,755 ton Ile de Batz was carrying general cargo and rice and was headed for England.  
   
  The unescorted British motor merchant Scottish Prince was torpedoed and sunk by the U-68 approximately 180 miles west of Takoradi, Ghana in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and 38 survivors were picked up by the corvette HMCS Weyburn (K 173). The 4,917 ton Scottish Prince was carrying palm kernels, castor seed, and pig iron and was headed for England.  
   
  The unescorted Norwegian motor tanker Ranja was torpedoed and sunk by the U-71, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Walter Flachsenberg, about 450 miles east-southeast of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the western Atlantic Ocean. All of the ship’s complement of 34 died. The 6,355 ton Ranja was carrying petroleum and was headed for England.  
   
  The unescorted Honduran steam merchant Ceiba was torpedoed and sunk by the U-124, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Johann Mohr, in the western Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 44 died and 6 survivors were picked up by the destroyer USS Hambleton (DD 455). The 1,698 ton Ceiba was carrying bananas and was heading for New York, New York.  
   
  The unescorted and unarmed American steam tanker Acme was torpedoed and damaged by the U-124 approximately one mile west of the Diamond Shoals Light Buoy, North Carolina. Of the ship’s complement, 11 died and 20 survivors were picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard cutter USS Dione. The 6,878 ton Acme was carrying water ballast and was bound for Corpus Christi, Texas.  
   
  Naval Action in the Mediterranean  
  Sailing with Convoy AT-34, the British motor merchant Crista was torpedoed and damaged by the U-83, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Hans-Werner Kraus, approximately 45 miles northeast of Tobruk in the Mediterranean Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 7 died and 32 survivors were picked up by the South African M/S whaler HMSAS Boksburg. The 2,590 ton Crista was carrying cased fuel oil and was bound for Tobruk, Libya. For more information on these vessels visit the Crista and the U-83 pages on www.uboat.net.  
   
  Allied Submarine Action in the Pacific  
  The submarine USS Grayback (SS 208), commanded by Lt. Commander Willard A. Saunders, torpedoed and sank the 3,291 ton Japanese collier Ishikari Maru approximately 6 nautical miles west of Port Lloyd, Chichi Jima, Bonin Islands.  
   
  The submarine USS Permit (SS 178), commanded by Lt. Commander Wreford G. Chapple, is damaged by depth charges off Tayabas Bay, P.I. but remains on patrol.  
   
  The Holocaust  
  Bełzec extermination camp’s three gas chambers began operating. Its first victims were Jews deported from Lublin and Lvov.  March 17, 1942 is the official date given for the start of Aktion Reinhard (Operation Reinhard.)  
   
  The Doolittle Air Raid on Japan  
  Captain Donald B. Duncan, U.S. Navy CNO Admiral Ernest J. King’s Air Operations Officer and coordinator of the mission, met with Lt. Colonel James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle to review the progress of the proposed bombing raid on Japan before departing for Pearl Harbor to brief Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, and Vice Admiral William F.”Bull” Halsey, who would lead the task force of the mission. After the meeting Doolittle managed to convince Lt. General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces, that he be allowed to lead the raid.  Learn more about the Doolittle Raid …  
   
  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 corvette USS Fury (PG-69) was commissioned. Her first commander was Lt. Noah Adair, Jr.  
     
   
  March 1942 Calendar  
   
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