Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Day 893 February 9, 1942

U-85 and U-654 attack convoy ON-60 450 miles East of Cape Race, Newfoundland. Just after midnight, U-654 torpedoes Free French corvette Alysse, which was launched as HMS Alyssum for the Royal Navy and loaned to the Free French in June 1941 (36 killed, 34 survivors rescued by Canadian corvettes HMCS Moosejaw and HMCS Hepatica. HMCS Hepatica attempts to tow Alysse which sinks next day). At 8.20 PM, after a 7 hour chase, U-85 sinks British SS Empire Fusilier (9 killed, 32 crew and 6 gunners were picked up by Canadian corvettes HMCS Barrie).

Singapore. Japanese capture Tengah airfield, having secured 14 square miles on the West side of the island in 24 hours, then pause as 10,000 reinforcements pour onto their beachheads. British General Percival still believes a further attack will fall on the Northeast corner so he fails to move British 18th Division into the fight. At 9 PM, 4th Imperial Guard Regiment crosses Johore Strait and lands at Kranji in the middle of Singapore’s Northern shore, aiming to capture (and then repair) the damaged causeway. They are decimated by machinegun and mortar fire from Australian 27th Brigade as well as oil from opened storage tanks which ignites and incinerates the boats. Overnight Australian 27th Brigade unexpectedly pulls back 3 miles from the waterfront allowing subsequent waves of Japanese to land unopposed.

Celebes. At dawn, Sasebo Combined Special Naval Landing Force lands at Makassar. They capture the city almost unopposed as most Dutch forces have moved 50 miles inland to make a last stand at the fortifications at Tjama. Dutch native troops defending a bridge at Makassar are tied in groups of three after being captured and thrown into the water to drown.

In the Bangka Straits between the Dutch East Indies islands of Sumatra and Bangka, British river gunboat HMS Scorpion is damaged by Japanese bombers.

US submarine USS Trout torpedoes and sinks the Japanese auxiliary gunboat Chuwa Maru 50 miles Northeast of Formosa (Taiwan).

Japanese submarine I-69 shells Sand Island, Midway, but is strafed and damaged by US Marine Brewster Buffaloes of VMF 221.

In New York, French luxury liner SS Normandie (impounded by USA in May 1941) is being converted to troopship USS Lafayette. At 2.30 PM, a fire starts which spreads out of control. Lafayette capsizes at midnight.

In the Mediterranean, British cruiser HMS Cleopatra is damaged by a bomber (en route from Gibraltar to Malta) and destroyer HMS Farndale is heavily damaged by Luftwaffe aircraft off the coast of Egypt. Italian aircraft raid Alexandria, Egypt.

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