Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 845 December 23, 1941

Invasion of Wake Islands. After their defeat on December 11, Japanese return with 1500 SNLF Marines, aircraft carriers Soryu and Hiryu, 6 cruisers, 6 destroyers and 2 patrol boats. The warships and carrier aircraft bombard the islands. Landings begin at 2.35 AM. Wake Island itself is overwhelmed by troops landing from barges and the 2 patrol boats which are run aground; American garrison surrenders at 8 AM. Marine Corps pilot Captain Henry Elrod, who sunk destroyer Kisaragi on December 11, dies fighting on the beach and is awarded the Medal Of Honor for his defense of Wake. On nearby Wilkes Island, 100 Japanese SNLF Marines are wiped ou by a determined counterattack by the 70 American Marines (US casualties, 11 killed, 5 wounded) - to no avail with the surrender of the main island.

Philippines. Japanese 48th Division from Lingayen Gulf advance 10 miles South towards Manila. Another 7,000 troops (16th Division) land at Lamon Bay, only 50 miles Southeast of Manila. These 2 forces form a pincer closing on the capital, where MacArthur has held most of his better troops. The 9 US B-17 bombers from Australia refuel and rearm on Mindanao then attack Japanese ships in Davao Gulf and Lingayen Gulf, damaging Japanese destroyer Kuroshio.

Hong Kong. Allied troops withdraw to the last fortified line "The Ridge", a large hill at the neck of the Stanley Peninsula. The island is lost but they intend to make stand in the vain hope of assistance from Chinese troops on the mainland.

Japanese submarines I-71 and I-72 shell US-held Palmyra Island, 1000 miles Southwest of Hawaii.

Siege of Leningrad Day 107. Trucks bring 786 tons of food across Lake Ladoga. Although many inhabitants still face death from inadequate rations and cold, the city is saved from starvation. The Road of Life can support railway freight cars which are towed out carrying machinery; 3677 railway cars haul out much of Leningrad’s industrial equipment between December 1941 and April 1942.

At 7.02 PM 29 miles East of Tobruk, U-559 sinks British passenger ship SS Shuntien carrying 1100 German and Italian POWs from Tobruk to Alexandria, plus 70 crew and 18 gunners (6 crew and 700 POWs killed). 64 crew and 400 POWS rescued by British corvette HMS Salvia and destroyer HMS Heythrop. In the same area, 40 miles North of Sollum, Egypt, British destroyers HMS Hasty and HMS Hotspur sink U-79 with depth charges (all 44 crew survive).

Late morning, 54 Japanese bombers and 24 fighters, flying from Thailand, bomb Rangoon, Burma (2000 killed and wounded).

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