Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 887 February 3, 1942

At 3 AM, 6 Japanese flying boats bombed Port Moresby in Southern New Guinea, only 250 miles from the Northern tip of Australia (1 civilian killed).

Ambon, Dutch East Indies. Remaining Australian troops of “Gull Force” surrender the tiny island to the Japanese. Mistreatment of wounded Australian and Dutch prisoners at Laha airfield begins immediately and about 100 will die over the next few days. Japanese will soon press the airfield into use.

Java, Dutch East Indies. Japanese bombers attack Allied naval base at Surabaya and other targets, destroying 5 USAAF B-17 bombers. Allied air reconnaissance reports a Japanese invasion force (20 troop transport, escorted by 3 cruisers and 10 destroyers) off Balikpapan, Dutch Borneo, possibly heading across the Makassar Strait to Makassar on the West coast of the island of Celebes. Allied warships (2 Dutch cruisers HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Tromp, 2 US cruisers USS Houston and USS Marblehead, escorted by 3 Dutch and 4 US destroyers) leave Surabaya to intercept.

Burma. Burmese 2nd Infantry Brigade and the rest of 17th Indian Division conduct a fighting withdrawal 80 miles North from Martaban to new defensive positions on the Bilin River, to prevent Japanese advance on Rangoon. Chiang Kai-shek sends Chinese 5th and 6th Armies into Northern Burma to aid the defense of the Burma Road supply line to China.

Allied withdrawal from Rommel continues in Libya. British 1st Armored Division abandons Mechili in the desert and Indian 4th Division retreats from Derna on the coast.

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