Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 907 February 23, 1942

Trondheim, Norway. British submarine HMS Trident torpedoes German cruiser Prinz Eugen, destroying her stern. Prinz Eugen is towed to Lofjord, where her stern is cut away and plated over. She will be steered back to Kiel with 2 manually-operated rudders (out of service for nearly a year until January 1943).

At 10 AM 90 miles East of Tripoli, Libya, British submarine HMS P38 prepares to attack Italian supply convoy K7 but is spotted by Italian torpedo boat Circe which drops depth charges. At 10.50 AM, P38 bobs up with her stern out of the water and sinks (all 32 hands lost). K7 arrives at Tripoli with supplies for Rommel.

Turkish troops board the disabled passenger ship SS Struma (ferrying Jews from Romania to Palestine, via the Black Sea and the Aegean) which has been at Istanbul for 2 months with engine trouble. SS Struma is towed back through the Bosphorus and abandoned to drift 10 miles into the Black Sea. Nearby, Soviet submarine SC-213 sinks Turkish vessel Çankaya, under orders to prevent neutral ships carrying war material to German troops on the Black Sea.

Burma. Indian 17th Infantry Division holds the Sittang River Bridge overnight, but in the morning it seems that Japanese troops will take the bridge with a clear path to Rangoon. British General Smyth, decides to detonate charges placed on the bridge stranding two-thirds of 17th Division on the far side. Despite delaying the Japanese advance, Smyth is relieved of command by his superior General Hutton (who previously ordered Smyth to stand on the Bilin River rather than falling back and preparing defenses at Sittang River) and ABDA commander General Wavell. Smyth is never given a command again and will return to Britain and go into politics.

Japanese aircraft again attack Allied airfields on Java, while 6 American B-17 bombers fly from Australia to bomb the airfield held by the Japanese at Rabaul, New Britain, in the Australian Territory of New Guinea.

Dutch West Timor. At 9 AM, Australian 2/40th Battalion led by Colonel William Leggatt (part of Sparrow Force) surrenders, ending Allied resistance around the capital Koepang. The Australians are trapped between the main Japanese force advancing with tanks and artillery from Koepang and Japanese paratroops landed at Usua 14 miles inland. At 10 AM, 2 waves of Japanese aircraft bomb both sides causing many casualties. The rest of Sparrow Force and other Australian units will conduct a guerilla war in West and East Timor for a year until February 10, 1943.

Caribbean. 125 miles southeast of Trinidad, U-129 sinks 3 small freighters. Off Martinique, U-161 sinks US freighter SS Lihue carrying 5000 tons of supplies and war material for British troops in Egypt. U-502 sinks Panamanian tanker Thalia and damages 1 tanker near Aruba. U-504 sinks US tanker W.D. Anderson off the coast of Florida.

At 7.10 PM, Japanese submarine I-17 surfaces off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. I-17 fires 17 shells from the deck gun at Ellwood oil fields, doing $500 damage to an oil rig and denting refinery equipment. I-17 departs at 7.35 PM, still on the surface.

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