Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 895 February 11, 1942

At 1.33 AM South of Iceland, U-136 fires 4 torpedoes at convoy SC-67 sinking Norwegian MV Heina (all 30 hands picked up by Canadian corvette HMCS Dauphin) and Canadian corvette HMCS Spikenard (57 killed, 8 survivors on a raft picked up 19 hours later by British corvette HMS Gentian).

Dutch East Indies. At 1.37 AM in the Molucca Sea 20 miles West of the island of Halmahera, Japanese destroyer Yamakaze spots US sub USS Shark on the surface and sinks her with shellfire from the 5" guns (all 54 crew lost as survivors are left to drown). Japanese invasion force departs Cam Ranh Bay, French Indo-China, for Palembang on the island of Sumatra, Dutch East Indies.

Singapore. ABDA commander General Wavell, who visited Singapore yesterday, provides this encouragement “There must be no thought of sparing troops or the civil population. There must be no question or thought of surrender. Every unit must fight it out to the end”. Japanese lack artillery shells for a major offensive so General Yamashita bluffs by dropping 29 copies of a demand for the British surrender. General Percival, chastened by Wavell’s order, does not respond. Australian and British forces are thrown in piecemeal to retake the village of Bukit Timah, but they are picked off one-by-one by the Japanese (a scratch force “X Battalion” is surrounded and annihilated, with 150 killed). Although Percival finally brings the fresh British 18th Division into the action, Japanese probing attacks gradually push the Allied line back towards the city of Singapore. Australian troops, who have borne the brunt of the fighting so far, start abandoning the line and even boarding boats carrying civilians off the island.

US forces arrive to reinforce Dutch islands CuraƧao, Bonaire and Aruba in the Southern Caribbean.

Operation Cerberus. At 11.30 PM, German battleships Scharnhorst & Gneisenau and cruiser Prinz Eugen leave Brest, France, heading for the English Channel (the “Channel Dash”). They are escaping regular RAF bombing, which has been ineffective so far, to safety in the German ports of Wilmshaven and Kiel (via the Kiel Canal). They set out on a moonless night to achieve surprise and get as far into the Straits of Dover before the British can attack.

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