The People History

What Happened in 1942 Important News and Events, Key Technology and Popular Culture

What happened in 1942 Major News Stories include Japanes take Guam, Hong Kong, Wake, Singapore and the Philippines, Manhattan Project Started, US mobilization of war efforts quick and effective with car makers and other manufacturers changing to production of weapons of war, Duquesne Spy Ring members jailed, allied forces invade North Africa, Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston burns to the ground, Executive Order 9066 signed into law, US Gas Rationing goes into effect, Battle of Midway turns tide in naval war with American Resounding Success,

1942 Following the US entering the war , the mobilization of war efforts were quick and effective with car makers and other manufacturers changing to production of weapons of war . The war also created a new breed of movies with war themes , and one of the most popular songs of all time "White Christmas" from Bing Crosby first appeared in the movie "Holiday Inn" . The US sentiment towards Japanese following Pearl Harbor showed itself when 120,000 people of Japanese descent were sent TO internment camps. In late 1941 and early 1942 the war in the pacific was not going well with America losing Guam, Hong Kong, Wake, Singapore and the Philippines , but in late 1942 the US started to turn round the war with major offences at Midway and The Coral Sea. And meanwhile the allied forces in Europe invaded North Africa in November.
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Cost of Living 1942

How Much things cost
Average Cost of new house $3,770.00
Average wages per year $1,880.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 15 cents
Average Cost for house rent $35.00 per month
Bottle Coca Cola 5 cents
Average Price for a new car $920.00

World War II 1942

United States

  • Following the United States joining the War it truly becomes a World War with most areas of the world effected in some way and choosing sides , There are so many important facts that happened in 1942 we have only a few facts and leave it to others more knowledgeable than ourselves to provide a more detailed account
  • War Bonds introduced raising $13 billion
  • Women's Coast Guard Auxiliary established
  • Voice of America begins broadcasting
  • Car Makers switch from making cars to making War Materials
  • The United States conducts an air raid on Tokyo during World War II.
More Information for the Doolittle Raid
The United States leads its first air raid attack on the Japanese main islands during April of 1942 in World War II. It was known as the Doolittle Raid or Tokyo Raid, and the attack targeted Tokyo and other locations on the island of Honshu. While the attack did not inflict much actual damage on Japan, it was still seen as a victory for the United States. It was a retaliation after the Pearl Harbor attacks and helped to boost morale in the United States. It also proved that Japan was vulnerable to air attacks. The raid was planned and orchestrated by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle who was later given the Medal of Honor and promoted.
  • The minimum draft age is lowered from 21 to 18.
  • German saboteurs who were part of Operation Pastorius are arrested and sentenced to death by a United States military commission executed on August 8th
  • Thirty members of the Duquesne Spy Ring operating in the US are jailed for 300 years
  • The K9 corps begins training dogs for use in warfare
  • American and Filipino defenders surrender to the Japanese and are force marched on the "Bataan Death March"
  • In Allied countries around the world government war efforts encourage the population to help by giving scrap metal as much needed raw materials for guns and tanks.
More Information and Timeline for Scrap Days
Beginning in October of 1942 the United States government increasingly encourages U.S. citizens to donate and gather scrap metals and fabrics for the war effort. These "Scrap Days" are held throughout the country and asked ordinary people to take any scrap materials they could get their hands on to their local scrap merchant. The scrap would then be used to create the raw materials needed to build tanks, guns, and ships that were desperately needed. Children were also encouraged to bring the scrap materials to school as many of the schools and public buildings became local donation centers. In some places, children brought up to 10 pounds of scrap weekly.
  • Congress creates the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps ( WAAC ) and modeled after the British Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) , during the war General Douglas MacArthur called the WACs "my best soldiers", adding that they worked harder, complained less, and were better disciplined than men. Over the next 6 months similar women's units were set up including Navy WAVES, the SPARS of the Coast Guard and the (civil) Women Airforce Service Pilots.
  • US Gas Rationing goes into effect 3 gallons per week
  • The Alaska Highway from Alaska through Canada is completed
  • US Munitions Workers Give Up Labor Day Weekend Holidays to Help With War Effort
  • The Battle of Midway begins on June 4th when Japanese attacked Midway and due to US strategy was a resounding success for US Forces which resulted in the loss of 322 aircraft and 3,500 men from the Japanese Navy.
  • Executive Order 9066 is signed into law which authorized the physical removal of all Japanese Americans into internment camps

United States -- Declaration of the United Nations

The Declaration of the United Nations was signed by 26 nations during January of 1942. It laid the foundation for what would become the United Nations Organization after the end of World War II. Leaders, including Roosevelt and Churchill, and representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, China, and Soviet Union, as well as 22 other nations, had been meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss important military decisions regarding the war after the U.S. joined the Allies. The signing of the Declaration affirmed that the signatories would adhere to the Atlantic Charter, a document drawn up to define the goals of the Allies after the war that had been created in August of the previous year.

United Kingdom

  • The British Government accept the findings of The Beveridge report which proposes a welfare system for Great Britain to provide services from the cradle to the grave.
  • British asked to bathe in 5 inches of water or less to help the war effort.

North Africa

  • After a lengthy period Allied troops led by Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery defeat the crack ( Afrika Korps commanded by Field Marshal Rommel in the second battle for El Alamein.


  • American and Filipino defenders surrender to the Japanese and are force marched on the "Bataan Death March"


  • Norway under German Occupation is ruled by Vidkun Quisling,


  • Singapore Surrenders to the Japanese


  • Singapore Surrenders to the Japanese

Japanese Canadians

  • Canada interns Japanese Canadians as possible security threats by evoking the War Measures Act.


  • The Mediterranean island of Malta is awarded the George Cross Medal for Bravery


  • 26 countries agree to create the United nations

The classic film "Casablanca" has its premiere..

  • The classic film "Casablanca" has its premiere..
More Information and Timeline for the Casablanca premiere
The iconic and classic film "Casablanca" premieres on November 26th of 1942 in New York City. The film stars popular actors Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, along with Claude Rains, Dooley Wilson, and Paul Henreid. The film, based on a play, focuses on the complicated relationship between two former lovers and is set in North Africa at the beginning of World War It was a hugely successful movie and remains one of the most quoted and loved films of all time, continually ranking high on lists of the best movies ever made. After its release it was nominated for eight Academy awards and won three, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing.

Calendar For The Year 1942

1942 Calendar


  • Cyclone in Bengal Bangladesh kills 61,000

Cocoanut Grove nightclub
  • The Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston burns to the ground in the worst Night Club Fire in US history killing 492 people

Popular Culture

Popular Films

  • Road to Morocco, starring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour
  • Casablanca
  • Bambi
  • Mrs. Miniver
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • Holiday Inn

Popular Musicians

  • " White Christmas " Bing Crosby
  • " Deep in the heart of Texas " by Alvino Ray

Born This Year

Judith Sheindlin October 21st
Anita Roddick October 23rd
Robert Pickton October 24th
Linda Evans November 18th
Joe Biden November 20th
Jimi Hendrix November 27th
Harrison Ford July 13th -- Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Michael Bloomberg February 14th -- Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Billy Connolly November 24th -- Anderston, Glasgow, Scotland
Michael Crichton October 23rd -- Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Richard M. Daley April 24th -- Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Britt Ekland October 6th -- Stockholm, Sweden
Vicente Fox July 2nd -- Guanajuato, Mexico
John Wayne Gacy March 17th -- Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Jerry Garcia August 1st -- San Francisco, California, U.S.
Stephen Hawking January 8th -- Oxford, England
Bob Hoskins October 26th -- Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England,
Brian Jones February 28th -- Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England,
Calvin Klein November 19th -- Bronx, New York, U.S.
Paul McCartney June 18th -- Liverpool, England
Charlie Rose January 5th -- Henderson, North Carolina, U.S.
Martin Scorsese November 17th -- Queens, New York, U.S.
Barbra Streisand April 24th -- Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Tammy Wynette May 5th -- Itawamba County, Mississippi, U.S.


  • Duck Tape The US Military using ( The Johnson and Johnson Permacel Division ) developes Duct Tape ( Duck Tape ) originally called Duck Tape by the troops because water ran off it but later adapted to Duct Tape because of it's use to provide a seal over ductworks.
  • Worlds first Nuclear Reactor Built in Chicago
  • Manhattan Project Started
  • Instant Coffee Introduced

Inventions Invented by Inventors and Country ( or attributed to First Use )
Atomic Power USA by Enrico Fermi's team creating first self-sustaining chain reaction
Napalm USA from Harvard University
Guided Missile Germany by Werner von Braun

Major World Political Leaders

Australia -- Prime Minister -- John Curtin --
Brazil -- President -- Getúlio Vargas --
Canada -- Prime Minister -- William Lyon Mackenzie King --
Germany -- Chancellor -- Adolf Hitler --
Italy -- Prime Minister -- Benito Mussolini --
Japan -- Prime Minister -- Hideki Tojo --
Mexico -- President -- Manuel Ávila Camacho --
Russia / Soviet Union -- General Secretary of the Central Committee -- Joseph Stalin --
South Africa -- Prime Minister -- Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts --
United States -- President -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --
United Kingdom -- Prime Minister -- Winston Churchill --