February 1: The Command staff of the Eighth Air Force reaches England
February 2: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs an executive order directing the internment of Japanese Americans and the seizure of their property.
February 3: Rommel suspends his offensive in Cyrenaica.
February 7: Maritime Commission fleet operations transferred to War Shipping Administration (lasting until September 1, 1946).
February 8: António Óscar Carmona is elected president of Portugal. - Top United States military leaders hold their first formal meeting to discuss American military strategy in the war. - Daylight saving time goes into effect in the United States.
February 9: Post of Chief of the Air Force Staff created. - The ocean liner SS Normandie catches fire while being converted into the troopship USS Lafayette (AP-53) for WWII.
February 10: In the early hours of the morning the SS Normandie capsizes at pier 88 in New York City.
February 11: Operation Cerberus A flotilla of Kriegsmarine ships dash from Brest through the English Channel to northern ports; the British fail to sink any of them.
February 15: Singapore surrenders to Japanese forces.
February 19: Japanese warplanes attack Darwin, Australia. - President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs executive order 9066 allowing the United States military to define areas as exclusionary zones. These zones affect the Japanese on the West Coast, and Germans and Italians primarily on the East Coast.
February 19-23: the Battle of Sittang Bridge British forces retreat to the Sittang River.
February 20: Lieutenant Edward O'Hare becomes America's first U.S. Navy WWII flying ace.
February 22: General George Marshall transmits a direct order to General MacArthur in President Roosevelt's name, ordering MacArthur himself to turn over command of the Philippines to a subordinate and report to Australia to assume command of the large American force being built up there. The orders are worded to allow MacArthur to choose the exact moment of his departure; for various reasons, he will not leave until March 12 (Eastern Date).
February 23: The Japanese submarine I-17 fires 17 high-explosive shells toward an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, causing little damage.
February 24: MV Struma, carrying Jewish refugees from Axis-allied Romania to British-administered Palestine, is torpedoed and sunk by the Soviet submarine Shch-213, killing about 791 men, women and children, with only one survivor.
February 24: Propaganda: The Voice of America begins broadcasting.
February 25: The Princess Elizabeth registers for war service.
February 25: Battle of Los Angeles: Over 1,400 AA shells are fired at an unidentified, slow-moving object in the skies over Los Angeles. The appearance of the object triggers an immediate wartime blackout over most of Southern California, with thousands of air raid wardens being deployed throughout the city. In total there are 6 deaths. Despite the several hour barrage no planes are downed.
February 26: The worst coal dust explosion to date, in Honkeiko, China, claims 1,549 lives. - The 14th Academy Awards ceremony is held in Los Angeles; How Green Was My Valley wins Best Picture.
February 27: Battle of the Java Sea: An allied (ABDA) task force of 14 vessels under Dutch command, trying to stem a Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies, is defeated by a 19 vessel Japanese task force in the Java Sea; 2.300 sailors die, including the commander, admiral Karel Doorman; Japanese attain naval hegemony in East-Asia (source: Wikipedia)