Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 943 March 31, 1942

14 ships from Allied convoy PQ13 arrive safely at Murmansk today and tomorrow, but 5 ships have been sunk by coordinated German action (2 by U-boats, 2 by aircraft, 1 by a surface vessel).

Operation Performance. 10 Norwegian freighters and tankers interned at Gothenburg, Sweden, attempt to breakout and sail to Britain under the guise of legal Swedish/British trade. However, both the Swedes and Germans know of this plan and are determined to contain or sink the Norwegian ships. Only 2 ships, MV Lind and tanker B.P. Newton (on her maiden voyage), make it to Britain. 6 are sunk by mines, Luftwaffe bombers or German warships while MV Dicto and MV Lionel return to Gothenburg.

At 8 AM, U-754 surfaces and attacks US tug Menominee in the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay 35 miles off Cape Charles, Virginia, raking the tug and her 3 barges with 88mm shellfire from the deck gun. Menominee and barges Allegheny and Barnegat (both carrying coal) sink but the barge Ontario remains afloat on her cargo of timber (in all 16 killed, 9 survivors picked up by US Coast Guard motor lifeboat CG-4063 and tanker Northern Sun). At 10.22 PM 480 miles further East, U-71 sinks British tanker SS San Gerardo (51 killed, 6 survivors British tanker MV Regent Panther).

Japanese extend their grip on the island chain North of Australia. At 9.45 AM, 850 Japanese troops land on Christmas Island, a strategically important island 225 miles south of Java, to observe sea routes between India and Australia. The landing is unopposed, due to a mutiny by Indian soldiers murdering the sleeping British officers on the night of March 10. Japanese also occupy Bougainville Island, Dutch East Indies, and Ceram Island, East of New Guinea.

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