Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 884 January 31, 1942

Malaya. Thousands of British, Australians and Indians cross the causeway in orderly fashion from Malaya to the island of Singapore, accompanied by the bagpipes of the 2nd Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. At 7 AM, the Argyll and Sutherlands are themselves piped across and their commander, Colonel Ian Stewart, is the last to leave Malaya. At 8.15 AM, Indian sappers blow naval depth charges on the causeway, blasting a 70-foot gap. Japanese troops, who have advanced 420 miles in 55 days using bicycles and captured boats, occupy Johore Bharu and begin aerial and artillery bombardment of Singapore. Allied casualties are 5000 killed, 5000 wounded and 20,000 taken prisoner. Churchill is not pleased but worse is to come.

Ambon. Japanese capture Batugong and Passo in the center of Ambon. There is confusion when a white flag is seen, leading Dutch troops to surrender despite orders from their commander Colonel Kapitz to continue fighting.

63 miles Southeast of Madras, India, Japanese submarine I-64 sinks Indian merchant ship Jalapalaka with the deck gun (13 killed, 54 survivors).

Burma. Japanese 55th Infantry Division captures Moulmein forcing Burmese 2nd Infantry Brigade across Salween River to Martaban in disarray.

Operation Drumbeat. At 4.45 PM 425 miles Southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U-107 sinks British tanker MV San Arcadio carrying 6600 tons of gas oil and 3300 tons of lubricating oil to Britain (41 killed, 9 survivors rescued by a Mariner flying boat from Bermuda). U-82 spots troop convoy NA-2 at 3.32 PM and sinks British destroyer HMS Belmont at 10.12 PM 655 miles East of Cape Cod (all 138 hands lost). U-82 will follow the convoy for 1000 miles and lead 3 other U-boats to it but no further ships are sunk.

In mid-Atlantic, U-333 sinks German freighter MV Spreewald, disguised as British Royal Mail steamer Brittany. MV Spreewald is returning to Bordeaux, France, from Port Arthur, China, carrying rubber as well as 86 British POWs transferred from Armed Merchant Cruiser Kormoran (41 crew and 31 POWs killed, 25 crew members and 55 POWs rescued from 3 lifeboats and 3 rafts by U-105 3 days later). U-333’s Captain Cremer will be court-martialled but exonerated.

At 11.31 PM 500 miles Southwest of Ireland, U-105 attacks convoy SL-98 sinking British Sloop HMS Culver with 2 torpedoes causing an explosion in the magazine (126 killed, 12 survivors).

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