Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 858 January 5, 1942

At 5.42 AM North of Mesina, Sicily, British submarine HMS Upholder torpedoes Italian submarine Admiral Saint-Bon carrying 155 tons of petrol and ammunition from Taranto, Italy to Tripoli, Libya. The gasoline explodes and Saint-Bon sinks rapidly (82 killed, 3 survivors picked up HMS Upholder). However, Italian convoy M.43 arrives safely at Tripoli later in the day, with 54 tanks, armored cars, artillery, ammunition and fuel for Rommel.

At 8.00 AM 73 miles Northwest of Patras, Greece, British submarine HMS Proteus torpedoes Italian troopship Citta Di Palermo (carrying 600 Italian troops from Brindisi, Italy, to Patras). Palermo sinks in 6 minutes, killing almost everyone on board.

Flushed by the success of the Moscow counteroffensive in driving German forces from the gates of Moscow, Stalin orders a General offensive along the entire front from Leningrad to the Crimean. The main goal is to encircle and destroy German Army Group Center (which previously threatened Moscow) in the Rzhev-Vyazma-Smolensk area. In the Crimea, while German 11th Army is busy containing the Soviet landings on the Kerch peninsula, Soviet warships shell German positions around Sevastopol and the Sevastopol garrison attempts a breakout.

Malaya. Indian 11th Division defenses stretch from the river crossings at Slim River to Trolak, 9 miles North, where the road cuts through hills covered with dense jungle. In the afternoon, Japanese probing attacks at Trolak are repelled (60 Japanese killed).

On Luzon, Philippines, US and Filipino forces continue to fall back towards the Bataan peninsula.

60 miles South of the Indonesian island of Java, Japanese submarine I.56 sinks British freighter SS Kwantung. 98 crew and 35 military personnel abandon ship but I.56 rams a lifeboat and machineguns the others (98 killed, 35 survivors picked up next day).

100 miles South of Tokyo, US submarine USS Pollack torpedoes Japanese cargo ship Heijo Maru.

Overnight, 154 aircraft from RAF Bomber Command to attack German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in dock at Brest, France, but do little damage.

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