Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 836 December 14, 1941

Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto, which left Naples yesterday to engage British ships after Battle of Cape Bon, is promptly torpedoed by British submarine HMS Urge in the Strait of Messina, Sicily. Vittorio Veneto is seriously damaged by a torpedo hit to the magazine (out of service for several months) but steams to Taranto escorted by 4 destroyers and 2 torpedo boats.

After searching for Italian supply convoys, British cruiser HMS Galatea is returning to base at Alexandria, Egypt. After entering a mine-swept channel, the destroyer screen is sent forward to Alexandria but HMS Galatea is attacked by Italian submarine Dagabur at 7.55 PM and then again by U-557 just before midnight, causing HMS Galatea to sink within 3 minutes 35 miles West of Alexandria (470 killed, 154 survivors picked up by destroyers HMS Griffin and HMS Hotspur).

Malaya. British and Indian troops regroup at the best defensive line in Northern Malaya at Gurun, a 4 mile gap on the coastal plain between Kedah peak (4000 ft) and Malayan mountain foothills. At 3 PM, Japanese make a frontal attack along the main road with tanks and artillery, overrunning forward defenses and brigade HQ, but are prevented from reaching the town of Gurun by 2 companies of British East Surrey Regiment.

Thailand. Prime Minister Plaek Pibunsongkhram signs a secret agreement with Japan, allowing Japanese troops to operate from Thailand and committing Thai support for the planned invasion of Burma.

Hong Kong. 50,000 Japanese troops occupy Kowloon and face 12,000 Allied defenders on Hong Kong Island across Victoria Harbor, less than a half mile wide at the narrowest point. British refuse Japanese demands for surrender.

Philippines. 3 B-17s from US Del Monte airfield, Mindanao, bomb the Japanese beachhead at Legaspi, Luzon. They are attacked by 12 Zero fighters, presumably from a Japanese aircraft carrier. Lieutenant Hewitt T. Wheless wins the Distinguished Service Cross for returning with over 1,000 bullets holes in his B-17. The remaining B-17s in the Philippines will be sent to Australia next day.

Operation Crusader. British 4th Armored Brigade begins a long trek South to the desert crossroads at Bir Halegh el Eleba, 30 miles West of Gazala, to outflank Afrika Korps and cut off their lines of retreat along the coast or through the desert.

No comments:

Post a Comment