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This Week in World War II: 75 Years Ago

A rating from an unknown Royal Navy vessel plays the ball during a game of cricket on an artificial wicket in Valletta, Malta, about the time of the 10-day raid by German and Italian bombers. Seen fielding are a petty officer and Royal Marines. This work was created by the United Kingdom Government and is in the public domain. Wikimedia. Click to enlarge.

By: Phil Kohn. Dedicated to the memory of his father, GM3 Walter Kohn, U.S. Navy Armed Guard, USNR, and all men and women who have answered the country’s call in time of need. Phil can be contacted at

The Red Army on October 9, 1942, ends its system of dual leadership in its armed forces. It abolishes the position of the Communist political commissar in favor of a single military commander in its various units. The Second Battle of the Matanikau (River) on Guadalcanal ends in an American victory.

The Battle of Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, takes place on October 10. U.S. Navy ships, with the help of radar, intercept a Japanese fleet on its way to reinforce troops on Guadalcanal. In the Mediterranean, German and Italian bombers begin a 10-day series of raids on the island of Malta. A Soviet offensive begun in the summer and aimed at breaking the siege of Leningrad (first besieged in the summer of 1941) ends indecisively. In Washington, representatives of Argentina and Chile protest remarks by U.S. Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles about Axis agents operating in those countries.

The Battle of Cape Esperance, at Guadalcanal, concludes on October 11 with the sinking of the heavy cruiser Furutaka and the destroyer Fubuki, the damaging of several other destroyers, and the withdrawal of the Japanese fleet; no reinforcement troops are landed. In Europe, the Luftwaffe launches its first night raid against England. The raids continue for 15 nights.

The destroyer USS Duncan sinks on October 12 due to damage incurred during the Battle of Cape Esperance, but two Japanese destroyers are bombed and sunk by aircraft from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. In Washington, U.S. Attorney General Francis Biddle announces that 600,000 Italians living in the U.S. will no longer be regarded as enemy aliens.

The Soviets regain some ground in Stalingrad on October 13, but at a heavy cost. Two Japanese battleships bombard U.S. Marine positions on Guadalcanal for some 90 minutes, killing 41 Marines, causing heavy damage and leaving only 42 planes airworthy.

In the northern part of Stalingrad on October 14, five divisions and 300 Panzer tanks of the German Sixth Army advance in bitter fighting and surround the heavily defended tractor factory following a series of devastating attacks (over 3,000 sorties) by bombers of the Luftwaffe. In Canada, the passenger ferry SS Caribou, traversing the Cabot Strait between Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-69. 137 of the 252 people aboard the ferry perish.

On October 15, 4,500 Japanese reinforcements land on Guadalcanal as the fighting on the island continues. Offshore, the Japanese heavy cruisers Kinugasa and Chokai bombard the island to cover the movement of the Japanese landing ships. The American destroyer USS Meredith is sunk off Guadalcanal by 14 bombs and seven torpedoes dropped by Japanese aircraft. Only 81 of her complement of 273 survive. In Europe, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army begins operations. A nationalist organization, it engages in guerrilla actions against the Germans, the Soviets and the Czechs.

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