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The greatest military conquests of the yearalthough not against the greatest forceswere those of frog-legged Tomoyuki Yamashita, who blasted the British out of Singapore, the Dutch out of the Indies and the U.S. out of Bataan and Corregidor. Yamashita in one year successfully seized a great empire for his country. On his side were advantages in numbers, in preparation, in the stupidity of the Allied nations, but Yamashita successfully capitalized on them.
Quite different were the military triumphs of Yugoslavia's General Draja Mihailovich, who capitalized on a conquered nation's unconquerable urge for freedom to fight when fighting seemed impossible. But before the year was out thousands of his countrymen, probably distrusting the Yugoslav Government in
Exile more than they did Mihailovich, supported the rival Partisan guerrillas who were carving out their own fighting front. From high on the crags of southern Serbia, Mihailovich, a great fighter, saw, instead of the unification of his country, a preview of rival aims and clashing ideologies which may bring out a rash of civil wars in post-war Europe.
As for the military men of the U.S., 1942 offered them few opportunities for great achievement. General Eisenhower's able occupation of North Africa only placed him on the threshold of his real test. Douglas MacArthur, whose brilliant skill and courage raised him to the rank of hero while he fought an inevitably losing fight, still lacked the means to win the crown of a great victory. Outstanding among Americans for accomplishment in battle stood the name of Admiral William Halsey, who, not once but again & again, took his task force into swift encounters against the Japs to deal them telling blows.
Yet no military man from Rommel to Halsey was the man of 1942 for a good sufficient reason: there was no military victory of the year which showed signs of being conclusive.
Men of Power. There was perhaps no more unlikely place to look for a Man of 1942 than in prostrate France. Yet two Frenchmen, both of whom the U.S. disliked and distrusted, rose to the top of a soiled political heap. One of them was Pierre Laval, who rose to the honor of a meeting with Hitler to which the tragicomic Benito Mussolini was not invited. If Hitler wins, Pierre Laval may yet be a successful man, Jean François Darlan's deal with General Eisenhower might have profited him eventually, but his award was an assassin's bullet (see p. 24).
A far greater step to power was taken by a Japanese. From behind his horn-rimmed glasses and the ack-ack of his cigar smoke, Premier Hideki Tojo emerged as a character worthy of his nickname: The Razor. He, like Stalin, was tough. So were his people. He took the major political risk of the year in tackling Britain and. the U.S., and, for the year, it turned out to be a good speculation. His armies conquered Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies and Burma. Never in history had one nation conquered so much so quickly. Seldom had any nation's fighting abilities been underestimated so badly. Tojo, or Emperor Hirohito, in whose name all Japanese wage holy war, might well have been the man of the year, if the explosive Japanese campaigns had not shown signs of burning out.