Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day 916 March 4, 1942

Operation K. Overnight, 2 Japanese Kawanishi H8K flying boats arrive at French Frigate Shoals (each carrying 4 550-lb bombs), to refuel from submarines I-15 and I-19 having flown 1900 miles from the Marshall Islands. The flying boats then fly another 560 miles to Oahu, Hawaii. At 2 AM in heavy cloud, the flying boats drop their bombs harmlessly in the sea or onto an extinct volcano and then fly another 2400 miles back to the Marshall Islands.

At 6.30 AM, 300 miles South of Java, Japanese cruisers Atago, Takao, and Maya and 4 destroyers spot Australian sloop HMAS Yarra and British minesweeper MMS-51 escorting depot ship Anking, tanker Francol to Australia. HMAS Yarra charges the Japanese warships to fire her 4-inch gun but is sunk at 8 AM by 8-inch shellfire from the cruisers (158 killed, 13 survivors rescued on March 9 by Dutch submarine K-11). The 3 other ships are also sunk.

US submarines have a busy day. 600 miles North of New Guinea, USS Grampus sinks Japanese auxiliary fleet tanker Kaijo Maru (all 90 hands lost). 200 miles South of Japan, USS Narwhal sinks Japanese army cargo ship Taki Maru. In the Sunda Strait, Java, USS S-39 damages Japanese fleet oiler Erimo with 3 torpedoes (4 killed, Erimo is beached and cruiser Yura rescues survivors).

Java. Dutch troops withdraw from the capital Batavia to defend Bandoeng, 70 miles Southeast. The retreat is covered by Australian Blackforce, which withdraws from Leuwiliang after dark. Japanese Eastern Force continues advancing towards the naval base at Soerabaja.

Burma. British 7th Hussars withdraw through Pegu to rejoin 7th Armored Brigade at Hiegu. They arrive at Pegu at nightfall to find it in Japanese hands.

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