Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 942 March 30, 1942

U-boats swarm around the scattered ships of convoy PQ13 in the Barents Sea 100 miles North of Murmansk, USSR. At 5.52 AM, U-209 misses British SS Induna with 2 torpedoes but U-376 sinks SS Induna at 8.07 AM (38 killed, 28 survivors in 2 lifeboats picked up by a Russian minesweeper on April 2). At 10.35 AM, a torpedo from U-456 stops American SS Effingham (2 drowned, 41 crew and gunners escape in 2 lifeboats), which is then sunk by U-435 at 12.19 PM. 1 lifeboat is found next day by British minesweeper HMS Harrier (17 men alive, 6 died of exposure). The other lifeboat is found on April 1 by a Soviet patrol vessel (14 men alive, 4 died of exposure). Many of the survivors from SS Induna and SS Effingham will lose limbs to frostbite, having been sprayed by icy water in temperatures of 20° below zero. U-585 is heading from Kirkenes (after repairs from depth charge damage on March 24) to join the hunt but sinks 72 miles North of Murmansk on a German mine which had drifted from the ´Bantos-A´ barrage (all 44 hands lost).

Burma. Overnight, Chinese 200th Division withdraws North across the Sittang River abandoning Toungoo by 4 AM. Japanese 55th Division attacks at dawn to find the town undefended. The road West through the Bago Yoma Forest is open to trap the retreating British in a pincer. At Shwedaung, British 7th Armoured Brigade breaks through the Japanese roadblock but a British tank is immobilised on the Irrawaddy River bridge by anti-tank fire. Burma National Army troops (collaborating with the Japanese) ambush the British as they cross open fields to get around the blocked bridge. In bitter fighting, both sides lose about 350 men killed and wounded.

Bataan. At 7.30 AM, Japanese bombers attack American field hospital No.1 which has large red crosses painted on the roof (15 killed). In the evening, Japanese radio broadcasts an apology.

20 miles off the Southwest corner of Celebes, Dutch East Indies, US submarine USS Sturgeon sinks Japanese transport ship Choko Maru.

US Army engineers arrive on Ascension Island in mid-Atlantic (1145 miles South of Freetown, Sierra Leone, and 1400 miles East of Brazil) to build an airbase. Wideawake Field (due to a nearby colony of Sooty Terns or 'Wideawake birds') will serve as an important refueling stop on the Southern Atlantic route from America to Europe and the Middle East via Africa.

At 2 PM in the Atlantic, 500 miles Southwest of St Helena, German armed merchant cruiser Thor uses machinegun fire from her Arado seaplane and 6 inch shellfire to stop British freighter SS Wellpark (carrying aircraft parts and military vehicles from USA to British troops in Egypt). SS Wellpark is scuttled with demolition charges (7 killed, 41 survivors taken prisoner by Thor).

At 10.43 PM 200 miles South of Monrovia, Liberia, U-68 sinks British MV Muncaster Castle carrying 265 passengers and 3000 tons of supplies and trucks from Freetown, Sierra Leone, to Colombo, Sri Lanka (4 crew, 1 gunner and 19 passengers killed, 70 crew, 13 gunners & signalmen, 246 passengers picked up by British corvette HMS Aubretia and Greek steamer Ann Stathatos and taken back to Freetown).

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