Thursday, March 8, 2012

Day 920 March 8, 1942

Invasion of New Guinea. Overnight, Japanese troops land unopposed, under cover of shellfire from escorting warships, at Lae and Salamaua in the Gulf of Huon on the Eastern end of the Australian Territory of New Guinea. They intend to construct an airfield to cover the advance into New Guinea and attack Northwest Australia.

At 00.39 AM 113 miles southwest of Iceland, U-701 sinks British anti-submarine trawler Notts County (all 41 hands lost). Off the Grand Banks, Newfoundland, U-587 sinks anti-submarine trawler HMS Northern Princess (all 38 hands lost).

Java. Dutch troops at Bandoeng wake up to find Japanese artillery looking down on the town from the Lembang Heights, 5 miles North. At 10 AM at the Isola Hotel in Lembang, Dutch commander at Bandoeng General Jacob J. Pesman surrenders to Japanese Colonel Toshishige Shoji of 230th Infantry Regiment. In the afternoon, Dutch Governor Dr. Tjarda Van Starkenborgh Stachouwer, Dutch General Hein Ter Poorten (Commander-in-Chief on Java) and General Pesman formally surrender all Allied forces to Japanese Commander-in-Chief General Hitoshi Imamura. At the Allied naval base at Soerabaja, the last Dutch warships are scuttled (minelayer HNMS Krakatau and HNMS Gouden Leeuw) or try to escape to the open sea to head for Australia (minesweepers HNLMS Eland Dubois and HNLMS Jan van Amstel). HNLMS Eland Dubois breaks down in Madoera Strait and is scuttled, transferring the crew to HNLMS Jan van Amstel which is then sunk by Japanese destroyer Arashio.

Japanese submarine I-25 launches its floatplane to reconnoiter Wellington, New Zealand.

Burma. General Hap Alexander’s deception has worked. Japanese do not realize that the entire British Army in Burma is withdrawing from Rangoon and is trapped at the Taukkyan Roadblock. Consequently, the Japanese continue their plan to circle around Rangoon and attack the city from the West. They abandon the roadblock overnight, leaving only a small garrison which is dislodged in the morning by a bayonet charge by the 1st/11th Sikhs. The British column proceeds North, molested only by Japanese air attacks. Meanwhile, Japanese troops occupy Rangoon and are amazed to find it abandoned.

RAF begins a new campaign of area bombing to destroy German industrial centers. Overnight, 211 RAF bombers attack Essen (home of the Krupp iron works and factories) but the raid is inaccurate and only destroys a few houses and a church (29 civilians killed).

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