Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 878 January 25, 1942

Dutch Borneo. Japanese Assault Unit, which landed East of Balikpapan, captures the airfield by dawn. They make slow progress towards Balikpapan city due to destruction of bridges by the Dutch defenders. 1000 Dutch troops retreat North only to be overwhelmed by Japanese Surprise Attack Unit attacking from their river landings. In the evening, both Japanese units arrive in the city which is now undefended. Japanese are incensed at the prior destruction of the oil facilities by the Dutch, leading to a massacre next month.

Malaya. Australian 8th Division, having withdrawn successfully through Yong Peng, and British 53rd Brigade hold a line from Batu Pahat on the West coast, via Ayer Hitam on the main highway, to Jemaluang on the East coast. Malaya commander General Percival hope reinforcements will arrive at Singapore in time to bolster the line. However, Japanese Imperial Guards capture Batu Pahat unhinging the whole line and Percival decides to make the final withdrawal to the island of Singapore. Convoy BM10 arrives at Singapore from Bombay, India, with 4745 Indian 44th Infantry Brigade troops (plus vehicles and supplies for 53rd Brigade that arrived on January 13).

Battle of Bataan. Overnight, additional US and Filipino troops withdraw from the Abucay-Mauban line to the Orion-Bagac line.

Burma. In Rangoon, ABDA commander General Wavell orders the defense of Moulmein and its airfield, as Japanese 55th Infantry Division prepares to attack Moulmein.

Thai government declares war on Britain and USA. Seni Pramoj, Thai ambassador in Washington, refuses to deliver the declaration of war and defects to organise a Free Thai movement.

Overnight, Japanese submarines I-24 and I-18 shell U.S. Marine positions on Midway Island. The Marines return fire, forcing both submarines to submerge.

Operation Drumbeat. At 9.25 AM off Newfoundland, U-754 sinks Greek SS Mount Kitheron. At 10.02 AM 28 miles Southeast of Atlantic City, New Jersey, U-130 Norwegian tanker MV Varanger carrying 12,750 tons of fuel oil from Curacao to New York (all 40 hands escape in 2 lifeboats). U-123, in mid-Atlantic returning from Operation Drumbeat out of torpedoes, sinks British SS Culebra (all 45 hands lost).

German destroyer Z8 Bruno Heinemann (sailing from Kiel with Z4, Z5 and Z7 to Brest, France, to escort battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau), hits 2 British mines and sinks in the Strait of Dover, English Channel (98 killed, 229 rescued).

30 miles South of Messina, Sicily, British submarine HMS Ultimatum sinks Italian passenger ship Dalmatia L.

Libya. Germans overrun British tanks, capturing 30 Valentines (heavily-armored British “Infantry” tanks) parked in formation and part of the Divisional HQ, at the key road junction at Msus. The road runs Northeast of Msus to Benghazi, while a track heads East across the desert towards Egypt. British 1st Armored Division, which arrived from Britain in November, has lost 100 of its 150 tanks in 5 days.

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