Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 912 February 28, 1942

At 10.57 AM 60 miles off Atlantic City, New Jersey, U-578 sinks US destroyer USS Jacob Jones with 2 torpedoes (138 killed, including many floating on rafts killed by primed depth charges exploding, 11 survivors picked up by patrol craft USS PE-56).

Burma. General Wavell relieves General Officer Commanding Burma Command General Hutton in public for planning to evacuate Rangoon (although the decision has already been made to replace Hutton with General Harold Alexander). Wavell orders Rangoon to be held, expecting reinforcements from the Middle East including Australian infantry.

Battle of Sunda Strait. At 7 PM Australian cruiser HMAS Perth and US cruiser USS Houston leave Batavia, Java, heading for the Indian Ocean through Sunda Strait to escape the Japanese Eastern Force fleet in the Java Sea. At 11 PM they run into Japanese Western Force landings at Bantam Bay. In the exchange of shells and torpedoes, HMAS Perth sinks at 11.42 PM (375 lost, 307 survivors) and USS Houston sinks 36 minutes after midnight (696 killed, 368 survivors). 1 Japanese minesweeper and 4 troop transports are also sunk, mostly by torpedoes from the Japanese cruisers. Dutch destroyer HNLMS Evertsen, which left Batavia at 8 PM, tries to avoid the fighting but is hit with several shells from 2 Japanese destroyers and then beached before the stern magazine explodes (9 killed, 159 get ashore safely and become POWs but 48 will die in captivity).

After emergency repairs following yesterday’s Battle of Java Sea, British cruiser HMS Exeter leaves Soerabaja, Java, at dusk, escorted by British destroyer HMS Encounter and US destroyer USS Pope. HMS Exeter will go to Ceylon for further repairs but they head North to go through the Sunda Strait as the nearby Bali Strait is too shallow.

Japanese submarines patrol South of Java to interrupt the escape route to Australia. I-153 sinks British freighter City Of Manchester (3 killed, 6 taken prisoner by I-153, 128 rescued by minesweepers USS Whippoorwill and USS Lark). I-4 sinks Singapore-based merchant steamer Ban Ho Guan.

Overnight, Japanese invade the North coast of Java. Western Force comes ashore at Bantam Bay, 50 miles West of the capital Batavia, and Eretan Wetan, 85 miles East of Batavia. Eastern Force lands 100 miles West of the main Allied naval base at Soerabaja. In all 35,000 Japanese troops come ashore and quickly overcome light resistance from Allied machineguns at all points.

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