Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 838 December 16, 1941

Invasion of Burma begins. Japanese infantry (who infiltrated across the border from Thailand on December 12) capture Victoria Point on the Southern tip of Burma, from a platoon of the Burma Frontier Force.

Invasion of Borneo begins. 10 Japanese troop transports left Cam Ranh Bay, French Indo-China, 2 days ago, escorted by 3 cruisers and 6 destroyers. At 5 AM, Japanese troops come ashore at British protectorates on the North shore of Borneo meeting minimal resistance. They quickly capture oilfields at Miri & Seria and the refinery at Lutong, beginning to execute the major Japanese war aim of securing oil supplies.

Malaya. British and Europeans evacuate Penang Island for the safety of Singapore, leaving behind the local inhabitants. Demolition parties destroy artillery and anti-aircraft guns, ammunition and supplies but the radio station is left intact and will be used for Japanese propaganda. Many ships in the harbor are not scuttled and will be used by the Japanese to outflank British defenses on the West coast by sea.

Operation Crusader. British 4th Armored Brigade at Bir Halegh el Eleba misses their opportunity to attack Afrika Korps from behind. Most of the Brigade heads 20 miles South to refuel while a small detachment goes North, only serving to alert the Germans. By the afternoon, Afrika Korps begins to withdraw West along the coast, covered by an anti-tank screen which tears up the main British armor when it finally arrives. Rommel is so desperate for supplies that Italians send 4 battleships, 5 cruisers 20 destroyers and a torpedo boat to escort a convoy of 4 freighters from Taranto, Italy.

At 9.44 PM 18 miles West of Crete, Italian torpedo boat Orione rams and sinks U-557, mistaking it for a British submarine (all 43 hands lost). Orione is damaged and returns to Suda Bay, Crete.

In the quadrant North to West of Moscow, Red Army has pushed 3 German Armies back 50 miles after 12 days of fighting. Germans are in full retreat, demoralized and facing temperatures as low as −42°F (also −42°C). Soviet forces recapture Kalinin from German 9th Army.

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