Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 940 March 28, 1942

Operation Chariot. At 1.22 AM British destroyer HMS Campbeltown enters the Loire estuary along with motor launches carrying Commandos plus 1 MTB and 1 MGB. They are illuminated with searchlights and fired on by German shore batteries, sinking many of the small vessels. Despite being hit a number of times, HMS Campbeltown rams the gates of the dry dock at 1.34 AM. Commandos on HMS Campbeltown and from the surviving launches go ashore to destroy pumping machinery and other dock installations. The MTB torpedoes the closed gate to the main marina (Basin de St Nazaire). Only 228 men return to England, 105 Royal Navy personnel & 64 Commandos are killed and another 106 sailors and 109 Commandos are taken prisoner by the Germans (5 VCs are awarded for the raid). A timer detonates the explosives on HMS Campbeltown at noon, killing 40 German officers and civilian administrators touring the ship plus 320 others nearby. The dry dock is flooded and put out of service for the rest of the war.

German aircraft, submarines and destroyers search for the ships of Allied convoy PQ-13 (from Iceland to Murmansk, USSR), which was scattered by a storm 3 days ago 100 miles North of Norway. At 7.04 AM, U-209 unsuccessfully attacks Polish SS Tobruk but is chased off by depth charges from British anti-submarine trawler HMS Blackfly. In the afternoon, Junkers Ju88 bombers sink Panamanian SS Raceland and British SS Empire Ranger. In the evening, German destroyers Z24, Z25 and Z26 leave Kirkenes and, overnight, Z-26 sinks Panamanian SS Bateau.

Burma. Japanese 6 inch howitzers and bombers bombard the Chinese positions in the fortress town of Toungoo, while small caliber artillery lobs in tear gas shells. Japanese infantry advance and make some local gains but again the Chinese hold their ground. Japanese motorized infantry (56th Division) rush North from Rangoon to reinforce the attack; they ford the Sittang River to outflank Toungoo from the East and encircle the entire Chinese 200th Division.

Hostilities cease on the island of Sumatra, Dutch East Indies. Dutch commander General Roelof T. Overakker and 2000 troops surrender to the Japanese at Kutatjane near Kabanjahe, Northern Sumatra.

Overnight, in the Ionian Sea 20 miles West of Greece, British submarine Proteus sinks Italian hospital ship SS Galilea, escorted by Italian destroyer Sebenico, auxiliary escort Città di Napoli and torpedo boats San Martino, Castelfidtardo, Mosto and Bassini. SS Galilea is carrying healthy troops of Italian Julia "Alpini" Division from Greece to Italy (on their way to fight the Soviets on the Eastern Front) as well as other Italian troops and some Greek POWs (991 killed, 284 survivors).

From 11.18 PM to 3 AM on this clear moonlit night, 234 RAF Wellington and Stirling bombers drop several 4000 pound Blockbuster landmines and 25,000 incendiary canisters followed by 400 tons of high-explosive bombs on Lübeck, Germany. Ancient wood-timbered houses create a firestorm that destroys or damages 62% of all buildings, severely damages the historic centre and destroys Lübeck Cathedral & 2 other churches (12 RAF bombers shot down).

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