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21 May 1943
  • Mineichi Koga replaced Isoroku Yamamoto as the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Navy Combined Fleet. ww2dbase [Mineichi Koga | CPC]
  • The Royal Navy submarine HMS Sickle "torpedoed" the world famous Monte Carlo Casino. While attacking shipping in the harbour one of the torpedoes ran up the beach and exploded, blowing out the windows of the casino which was being occupied, at the time, by German officers. ww2dbase [AC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • LtCdr William Drane, commanding officer of Composite Squadron VC-9, flying a TBF-1 Avenger from Auxiliary Aircraft Carrier USS Bogue attacked and damaged the German submarine U-231 in the North Atlantic. ww2dbase [Bogue | Black May | DS]
Australian New Guinea
  • 4 US B-17 bombers attacked Vunakanau Airfield and Rapopo Airfield at Rabaul, New Britain. Pilot Senior Flight Petty Officer Shigetoshi Kudo and observer Lieutenant (jg) Akira Sugawara, in the J1N reconnaissance aircraft equipped with experimental aerial burst bomb launchers, shot down B-17E bomber "Honi Kuu Okole" (Major Paul Williams) and a unnamed B-17F bomber (Captain Joseph Geddes); it was this particular J1N aircraft's first combat. ww2dbase [Rabaul, New Britain | CPC]
Australian Papua
  • 90th Bomb Squadron (flying B-25 aircraft) of USAAF 3rd Bombardment Group was transferred from Port Moresby to Dobodura Airfield, Australian Papua. ww2dbase [Dobodura Airfield | Dobodura | CPC]
  • Japanese 39th Division began to cross the Yangtze River near Pianyan, Hubei Province, China. In Hunan Province, the Japanese 3rd Corps attacked at dawn from Chayuansi, advancing northward toward Changyang in Hubei Province. ww2dbase [Battle of Exi | CPC]
Dutch East Indies Germany Hawaii
  • USS Wahoo arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, ending her fifth war patrol. ww2dbase [Wahoo | Honolulu, Oahu | CPC]
  • Shokaku arrived at Yokosuka, Japan with Cruiser Division 7 from Tokuyama, Japan. ww2dbase [Shokaku | Yokosuka, Kanagawa | CPC]
  • Yamato was drydocked at Yokosuka, Japan for inspection and repairs. ww2dbase [Yamato | Yokosuka Naval Arsenal | Yokosuka, Kanagawa | CPC]
  • One month after the death of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who had been killed when the aircraft in which he was travelling on a tour of inspection was shot down by US fighters over Bougainville Island, the news was finally revealed to the Japanese public. At Yokosuka, Japan, senior Japanese naval officers led by the Emperor, in person, trooped aboard the battleship Musashi to pay their last respects to Yamamato. Along with the late Admiral's ashes, contained in a small white box, was a poem by the Admiral that had been found in his sea-cabin on the battleship Yamato. It began: "So many are dead, I cannot face the Emperor... soon I shall join the young dead soldiers." ww2dbase [Isoroku Yamamoto | Yokosuka, Kanagawa | CPC, AC]
  • Masataka Kitagawa passed away. ww2dbase [Masataka Kitagawa | CPC]
Malta Pacific Ocean
  • USS New Mexico made rendezvous with other warships in the Pacific Ocean; their collective mission was to block the Japanese from delivering reinforcements to the Aleutian Islands. ww2dbase [New Mexico | CPC]
  • USS S-41 arrived in waters off the Kurile Islands. ww2dbase [S-41 | CPC]
  • The Soviet GKO issued a secret order for the construction of a railroad from Komsomolsk, Khabarovsk Krai, eastern Russia to Sovetskaya Gavan 200 kilometers to the southeast, in preparation for a war against Japan. ww2dbase [Khabarovsk Krai | CPC]
  • Nikolai Kamanin and his 8th Combined Air Corps was relocated to Liski, Voronezh Oblast, Russia. The air corps was attached to the Steppe Front. ww2dbase [Nikolai Kamanin | Liski, Voronezh | CPC]
Trinidad United Kingdom
  • Radio Travail, a black radio station operated by the propaganda section (S01) of SOE, ceased broadcasting from Britain. ww2dbase [Special Operations Executive | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 21 May 1943
MGen A. Vandegrift, Col M Edson, 2Lt M. Paige, and Plt. Sgt. J. Basilone at US 1st Marine Division Medal of Honor ceremony, Balcombe, Australia, 21 May 1943, photo 1 of 2MGen A. Vandegrift, Col M Edson, 2Lt M. Paige, and Plt. Sgt. J. Basilone at US 1st Marine Division Medal of Honor ceremony, Balcombe, Australia, 21 May 1943, photo 2 of 2

21 May 1943 Interactive Map

Timeline Section Founder: Thomas Houlihan
Contributors: Alan Chanter, C. Peter Chen, Thomas Houlihan, Hugh Martyr, David Stubblebine
Special Thanks: Rory Curtis

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Famous WW2 Quote
"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You win the war by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country!"

George Patton, 31 May 1944

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