Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 909 February 25, 1942

“Great Los Angeles Air Raid”. Overnight, air raid sirens sound in Los Angeles and anti-aircraft guns fire 1400 shells from 3.16 to 4. 14 AM, following a false sighting of Japanese aircraft. Several buildings are damaged, 3 civilians are killed by falling shells and 3 die of heart attacks. This is attributed to “war nerves” caused by the shelling of Elwood the previous night.

Axis submarines continue targeting South American sea routes. 70 miles South of Puerto Rico, U-156 sinks British tanker SS La Carriere with the last torpedo (15 killed, 26 survivors). 525 miles East of Trinidad, Italian Torelli sinks Panamanian tanker MV Esso Copenhagen (1 killed, 38 rescued). 800 miles East of Guadeloupe, Italian Da Vinci sinks Brazilian SS Cadebelo (no survivors).

Having swept down through Malaya, the Philippines and Dutch islands of Borneo and Celebes, Japanese prepare to crown their conquest of Dutch East Indies with the capture of the oil-rich island of Java in a massive naval pincer. Western Force (56 troop transports, aircraft carrier Ryūjō, 7 cruisers and 19 destroyers) departed on February 18 from Cam Ranh Bay, French Indochina, heading for the West tip of Java. Eastern Force (41 troop transports escorted by 5 cruisers and 16 destroyers) sails from Balikpapan, Borneo, to land on the East end of Java. In addition, aircraft carriers Akagi, Kaga, Hiryū and Sōryū, battleships Haruna, Kongo, Hiyei and Kirishima, 6 cruisers and 11 destroyers leave Kendari, Celebes, to patrol South of Java and prevent Allied ships escaping into the Indian Ocean. Allied submarines report these movements and ABDA surface ships set out at dusk from Batavia (now Jakarta) and Soerabaja to intercept the invasion force in the Java Sea. They find nothing and all ABDA warships converge overnight on the main naval base at Soerabaja.

Japanese submarines also swarm off the coast of Java, to intercept Allied naval and commercial shipping. At 10.15 AM, I-158 attacks Dutch freighter Boeroe, heading to Australia through the Sundai Strait, on the surface but I-158 is chased off by an escort warship. I-158 submerges and sinks Boeroe with 2 torpedoes at 11.30 AM South of Java (all 70 crew reach land safely).

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