Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 846 December 24, 1941

At 1.35 AM 50 miles Northeast of Mersa Matruh, Egypt, U-568 sinks British corvette HMS Salvia (all 106 hand lost, plus an unknown number of survivors rescued a few hours earlier from British passenger ship SS Shuntien transporting German and Italian POWs from Tobruk to Alexandria).

Borneo. Japanese troops sail 250 miles South from Miri (departed 2 days ago) to capture the British airfield at the district capital Kuching. 30 miles offshore, Dutch submarine HNMS K-XVI sinks Japanese destroyer Sagiri with 2 torpedoes (121 killed, 120 survivors rescued by destroyer Shirakumo and a minesweeper). At 11 AM, 20 Japanese landing craft run up the Santubong River and land at Kuching. Indian defenders (15th Punjab Regiment) sink 7 barges wi mortar and shellfire but are quickly overcome. At 4 PM, Japanese capture the town but they do not reach the airfield.

Philippines. Japanese reinforce their bridgehead at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, with another 10,000 troops. MacArthur realizes he is hopelessly outnumbered and cannot defend Manila or prevent the capture of Luzon. He orders a withdrawal to the Bataan Peninsula, with 5 defensive lines to delay the Japanese advance. Overnight, MacArthur and President of the Philippine Commonwealth Manuel Quezon, evacuate to the island of Corregidor, just South of Bataan.

Hong Kong. Japanese overcome Allied defenses on "The Ridge" by frontal assault and reach British HQ, Stanley Fort, deep on the Stanley peninsula. Japanese troops bayonet 56 wounded men plus doctors and nurses at St. Stephen's College Emergency Hospital and also rape many nurses. British destroyer HMS Thracian is damaged by Japanese aircraft and forced to beach.

Japanese submarines attack shipping off the Californian coast. I-17 shells freighter Absaroka 26 miles off San Pedro, while I-23 shells steamship Dorothy Philips off Monterey Bay.

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