Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 901 February 17, 1942

At 4.30 AM, Warrant Flying Officer Nobuo Fujita flies a two-seater Yokosuka E14Y floatplane from Japanese submarine I-25 over Sydney Harbour for reconnaissance of the airfield. By 7.30 AM, the floatplane is stowed and I-25 heads South towards Melbourne.

Dutch East Indies. At 8 AM, 9 Japanese troop transports depart Ambon for Timor, escorted by cruiser Jintsu and 8 destroyers.

In the Bangka Strait 67 miles West of Billiton Island, Dutch destroyer HMNS Van Nes, escorting Dutch troopship Sloet van Beele carrying troops from Billiton to Batavia (Jakarta), is sunk by Japanese bombers from aircraft carrier Ryujo (69 killed, 60 survivors).

Singapore. 3000 British civilians are sent to Changi prison while 50,000 British and Australian troops march to nearby Selarang Barracks to be interned as POWs (10,298 British and 7777 Australian POWs will die in Japanese work camps, many building the Burma Railway from Rangoon, Burma, to Bangkok, Thailand). Indian POWs are taken to playing fields at Farrer Park and addressed by Captain Mohan Singh who is collaborating with the Japanese. Thousands are persuaded to rebel against British rule and join the Japanese, leading to the formation of the Indian National Army (40,000 will join by the end of 1942).

Burma. Japanese cross Bilin River in strength and begin to encircle Indian 17th Infantry Division.

At 10.17 PM 250 miles South of Iceland, U-136 sinks British MV Empire Comet (all 38 crew and 8 gunners killed).

180 miles West of the Japanese island of Kyūshū, US submarine USS Triton sinks Japanese freighter Shinyo Maru No.5 and damages another.

Frequent bad weather at Kendari, Celebes, has frustrated Japanese bombing of Java causing them to seek alternative airfields on the island of Bali. Capture of Bali would also prevent air reinforcements to Java from Australia but an invasion fleet is vulnerable to attack due to proximity to ABDA air and sea forces on Java. Overnight, Japanese transports Sasego Maru and Sagami Maru escorted by cruiser Nagara and 7 destroyers depart Makassar, Celebes.

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