Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 908 February 24, 1942

Overnight, E9W1 floatplane from Japanese submarine I-9 reconnoiters Pearl Harbor, Oahu, but cannot identify the ships in harbor due to poor visibility. Both wings of the plane are damaged during recovery onto the submarine.

Heading across the Atlantic to the US East coast, U-94 sinks British SS Empire Hail at 1.45 AM (all 42 crew and 7 gunners lost).

U-155 loses contact with convoy ONS-67 but calls in U-69, U-158, U-162, U-558, U-587 & U-588. Between 4.30 and 10.35 AM 525 miles Southeast of Newfoundland, U-158, U-162, U-558 & U-587 sink 5 ships and damage 1 more.

Soviet submarine SC-213 sinks passenger ship SS Struma, adrift in the Black Sea at the mouth of the Bosphorus carrying Jews from Romania to Palestine. SC-213 is under orders to prevent neutral ships carrying war material to German troops on the Black Sea. In the worst exclusively civilian naval disaster of WWII, 768 drown or freeze to death, including 100 children. 1 survivor is found clinging to wreckage next day. 19-year-old David Stoliar will get to Palestine, serve in the British Army during WWII and in the Israel Defense Force during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He is still alive today.

US cruisers USS Northampton & USS Salt Lake City and destroyers USS Balch & USS Maury shell Japanese installations on Wake Island. Douglas Dauntless dive bombers and Douglas Devastator torpedo bombers from carrier USS Enterprise plus Curtiss Seagull biplanes from the cruisers bomb Wake. Japanese guardboats No.5 Fukyu Maru and No.1 Miho Maru are sunk. 1 Dauntless is shot down (crew of 2 taken prisoner).

Dutch East Indies. As the Japanese prepare for invasion of Java, General Wavell’s ABDA HQ withdraws in anticipation of disbanding ABDACOM into local commands. Wavell plans to return to his post as Commander-in-Chief India to prepare the defense of India. Japanese air attacks on Java destroy 3 US B-17 bombers on the ground and the remaining 5th US Air Force B-17s evacuate to Australia.

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