Operation Drumbeat. Just after midnight off Newfoundland, U-754 sinks Greek SS Icarion (9 dead and 20 survivors). At 9.43 AM 35 miles Southeast of Ocean City, New Jersey, U-130 sinks American tanker SS Francis E. Powell (4 dead, 28 survivors) and damages American tanker SS Halo with shellfire.
Battle of Endau, East coast of Malaya. At 3.18 AM, destroyers HMS Thanet and HMAS Vampire run into the troop convoy escorted by Japanese cruiser Sendai and 6 destroyers. Both sides exchange torpedoes and shellfire, badly damaging Japanese troop transports Kansai Maru and Kanbera Maru. At 4 AM, HMS Thanet is hit in the engine and boiler rooms, explodes and sinks (38 killed). 67 survivors drift away on life boats (rescued by British patrol vessel HMS Giang Bee and taken to Singapore) and 31 are taken POW by Japanese destroyer Shirayuki (4 die in captivity). HMAS Vampire is outnumbered and heads South back to Singapore.
Malaya. ABDA commander General Wavell gives permission for a withdrawal to the island of Singapore. Allied troops start the difficult process of disengaging from the Japanese to retreat. British aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (escorted by destroyers HMS Napier, Nizam and Nestor) flies off 48 Hurricane fighters to Java, Dutch Borneo, to be flown on to Singapore. British tanker MV Harpa, carrying a full cargo of aviation fuel to Java, hits a British mine and explodes in Singapore Strait (37 crew and 2 gunners killed, 1 survivor rescued by patrol vessel HMS Hua Tong). Overnight, British gunboats HMS Dragonfly and HMS Scorpion begin evacuating 1500 British troops trapped at Rengit, taking them to Singapore.
Dutch Borneo. Japanese capture Singkawang II airfield from the Indian/Dutch garrison. In the evening, Indian & Dutch troops withdraw to high ground at Ledo, 15 miles Southwest of the airfield. 70 troops of the 15th Punjabi Regiment cover the withdrawal causing 500 Japanese casualties (killed or wounded) before their ammunition runs out and they are overrun (3 Punjabis escape; the rest are put to death).
Battle of Bataan. Following the landings on January 23, Japanese land more troops to reinforce the beachhead at Point Quinauan on the Southwest coast of Bataan, behind the Orion-Bagac line. The Americans are expecting more landings and have strengthened their coastal defenses.
260 miles West of Midway Atoll, US submarine USS Gudgeon’s radar detects Japanese submarine I-73 running on the surface. USS Gudgeon fires 3 torpedoes but I-73 dives with open vents and disappears (all 68 hands lost). I-73 is the first warship ever sunk by US submarines.
Libya. At Msus, Rommel sends a small column East across the desert towards Mechili but this is a feint, which draws in the remnants of British 1st Armored Division. Meanwhile, the main Panzer force heads Northeast towards Benghazi.
In London, Churchill opens a 3 day Parliamentary debate on the course of the war by asking for a Vote of Confidence. He details the failure to defend territories in the Far East from Japanese attack and warns that worse is to come. Describing Rommel’s counterattack in Libya, Churchill says “We have a daring and skillful opponent against us and, may I say across the havoc of war, a great General”.
Eastern Front. Soviets attempt to isolate German 9th Army at Rzhev. 11th Cavalry Corps reaches Vyazma but is unable to take the road in the face of stiff German resistance and withdraws. Soviet 2nd Parachute Battalion begins landings West of Vyazma but they are too spread out to be effective. There are insufficient aircraft to deliver the whole force, so they are dropped over several days.