Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 872 January 19, 1942

Operation Drumbeat. At 7.43 AM 150 miles off Cape Hatteras, U-66 sinks Canadian passenger ship SS Lady Hawkins (86 crew, 1 gunner and 164 passengers killed, 22 crew and 49 passengers survive 5 days in a lifeboat until picked up by American passenger ship Coamo and landed at Puerto Rico). Nearby, U-123 sinks Latvian SS Ciltvaira, American steamers SS Norvana and SS City of Atlanta, and also damages American tanker SS Malay.

Eastern Front. 225 miles Northwest of Moscow, 3rd and 4th Shock Armies continue widening and deepening the gap between German Army Group North and Army Group Center. 4th Shock Army continues it progress Southwest towards Toropets while 3rd Shock aims West for Kholm having overcome initial German resistance.

Malaya. Despite losing their tanks yesterday, Japanese infantry manage to surround and bypass the Allied positions at Bakri overnight. In confused fighting during the day, Japanese pick off isolated Indian and Australian groups although an Australian counterattack wipes out 140 Japanese (10 Australian dead). Japanese air raid destroys 45th Indian Brigade HQ concussing the commander General Duncan and killing all his staff at 10 AM. To make matters worse, a Japanese flanking move along the coast threatens the critical road junction at Yong Peng, forcing Australian 8th Division to withdraw from Gemas to avoid being cut off.

Singapore. Churchill learns from ABDA Commander General Wavell that there are no defences protecting Singapore against Japanese attack from Malaya across the Strait of Johore. Coastal batteries face out to sea and cannot be turned landward.

Burma. Japanese overcome 6th Battalion Burma Rifles and capture the British airfield at Tavoy in Southern Burma, which they can use for air support for the advance North (and also to bomb Rangoon).

Borneo. At 7 AM, Japanese troops land unopposed at Sandakan, the capital of British North Borneo.

Battle of Bataan. Japanese still hold deep penetrations on the Abucay-Mauban line East of Mount Natib, despite counterattacks by US and Filipino troops of II Philippine Corps.

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