Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Day 892 February 8, 1942

Singapore. 30,000 Japanese face an Allied force of 90,000 (40,000 combat veterans, 35,000 poorly-trained and untested troops plus 15,000 rearguard non-combatants) across Johore Strait. The best landing sites are mangrove swamps in Northwest Singapore where the Strait is 600 yards wide. Contrarily, General Percival expects the attack to come on the Northeast side where the water is twice as wide (a notion reinforced by landings yesterday on the island of Pulau Ubin); consequently, a thick concentration of trained and rested British troops of 18th Division defends this sector. At 10.30 AM, Japanese artillery opens up on the entire North shore of Singapore and 5th & 18th Divisions begin loading into 300 small rubber boats with outboard motors plus some larger, slower barges. At 10.30 PM, shelling stops and first wave of 4000 troops gets ashore on the Northwest coast defended by Australian 22nd Brigade. Allied artillery is not called down on the landing fleet due to overground wires cut by Japanese shells; however, Australian machinegunners open up on 2nd and 3rd waves as the landing craft return. Searchlights placed to illuminate the mangrove swamps fail to come on, hindering defensive firing and allowing Japanese to infiltrate through the jungle and bypass the defenses. Overnight, Australian 22nd Brigadeis surrounded and overrun and 13,000 Japanese push towards their objective of Tengah airfield.

Battle of Bataan. At 8 AM, Filipino troops on top of the cliff lower sheets to mark the Japanese positions and 2 US naval motor launches wipe out the few remaining Japanese troops at Quinauan Point with 37mm shellfire and machineguns. Japanese have 600 killed (plus another 300 killed previously at Longoskawayan Point) while US/Filipino forces have 82 casualties at Longoskawayan and 500 casualties at Quinauan Point. Japanese General Homma meets with his commanders at San Fernando to discuss lack of progress on Bataan. He decides to withdraw his troops from the Orion-Bagac line, rest and reorganize his Army and call on Tokyo for reinforcements.

Dutch Borneo. Japanese Sea Drive Unit lands 50 miles Southeast of the capital Bandjarmasin, having sailed down the coast from Balikpapan moving only at night and hiding in river banks during the day camouflaged with mangrove branches. They will advance overland to the Martapoera airfield.

Celebes, Dutch East Indies. Japanese invasion force from Kendari arrives off Makassar. US submarine S-37 cannot reach the troop transports and attacks the destroyer screen at 8.36 PM, firing 1 torpedo at each of 4 destroyers. Destroyer Natsushio is hit, breaks in 2 and sinks immediately (10 killed, 229 survivors rescued by destroyer Kuroshio). S-37 dives and is depth charged by the other destroyers without damage.

Soviet 11th Army and 3rd/4th Shock Army meet at Zaluch’e, 30 miles West of Demyansk, encircling 100,000 German troops (12th, 30th, 32nd, 123rd and 290th Infantry Divisions and SS-Division Totenkopf plus auxiliary units) in the Demyansk Pocket.


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