Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 974 May 1, 1942

6 Junkers Ju88s unsuccessfully attack Allied convoy PQ 15 (1 Ju88 shot down). At 3.45 PM 165 miles Northeast of Iceland, British battleship HMS King George V and destroyer HMS Punjabi collide in dense fog while providing distant cover to PQ 15. HMS Punjabi crosses the bow of the battleship which slices clean through at 25 knots. Punjabi's stern sinks immediately, detonating primed depth charges, (49 killed) but her forepart sinks slowly allowing destroyers HMS Martin & HMS Marne to take off 169 crew (another 40 survivors picked up from the sea). HMS King George V suffers a 40 foot gash in the bow above the waterline and buckled plates below from Punjabi's exploding depth charges but reaches Scapa Flow under her own steam on May 4 (repaired at Liverpool, returned to service on July 1). American battleship USS Washington, immediately astern of HMS King George V, sails between sinking the halves of HMS Punjabi and is also slightly damaged by the depth charges.

Mediterranean. At 3.56 PM 40 miles Northwest of Ténès, Algeria, a Hudson (233 Squadron from Gibraltar) drops 3 250lb depth charges on U-573 which is seriously damaged. British destroyers HMS Wishart & HMS Wrestler are sent to intercept the U-boat, while U-74 & U-375 and Italian submarines Emo & Mocenigo race to the rescue.

At 4.45 PM 120 miles off the East coast of China, US submarine USS Triton sinks Japanese auxiliary transport Calcutta Maru. In a case of mistaken identity, US submarine USS Grenadier sinks Soviet passenger/cargo ship Angarstroy en route from San Francisco USA to Vladivostok USSR (46 crew and 14 passengers rescued by Japanese ship Kayo Maru and taken to Shanghai, China, before completing the journey to Vladivostok).

Burma. Japanese 18th Infantry Division captures Mandalay. 50 miles West, the British retreat is blocked at Monywa on the Chindwin River. Japanese 33rd Infantry Division advancing unnoticed from Yanangyaung, up the West side of the Chindwin River, suddenly cross the Chindwin and captures the headquarters of 1st Burma Division and threatens to outflank the entire British retreat.

Philippines. Heavy Japanese artillery shelling of US positions on Corregidor Island continues. There are 13 separate bombing raids. Further South on Mindanao Island, Japanese overrun the Filipino 61 Infantry Regiment.

During the March landings in the Gulf of Huon, New Guinea, Japanese Navy did not provide support from carrier-based aircraft. This allowed US bombers to attack almost unopposed on March 10, sinking 3 transports and damaging several warships. To protect the invasion of Port Moresby in Papua, Japanese Carrier Strike Force (aircraft carriers Zuikaku and Shōkaku, 2 cruisers and 6 destroyers, commanded by Vice Admiral Takeo Takagi) leaves base at Truk heading for the Coral Sea. In preparation for invading the tiny island of Tulagi in the Solomon Islands, Japanese bomb the Australian seaplane base there, badly damaging a PBY Catalina. The remaining Catalinas fly off to safety.

At 5.43 AM 75 miles Southeast of New York, U-752 sinks Norwegian MV Bidevind (all 36 hands abandon ship in a launch and a lifeboat, reaching the US Coast Guard station near Toms River, New Jersey the next day). At 5.28 PM 370 miles Northeast of Bermuda, U-69 shells Canadian sailing boat James E. Newsom. All 9 crew abandon ship in a lifeboat and reach Bermuda. At 8.46 PM, U-162 sinks Brazilian SS Parnahyba near Trinidad (7 dead, 65 survivors).

Day 973 April 30, 1942

At 1.52 AM 180 miles East of Barbados, U-162 sinks British tanker MV Athelempress with shellfire from the deck gun (3 killed, 19 survivors make land at Gros Inlet Bay, St. Lucia, 28 survivors picked up by Norwegian tanker MV Atlantic and landed at Trinidad). At 3.36 AM 18 miles South of Cape Fear, North Carolina, U-402 sinks Soviet SS Ashkhabad (all 47 hands, including 3 women, picked up by the escort British anti-submarine trawler HMS Lady Elsa). At 7.37 AM 95 miles East of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U-576 sinks Norwegian SS Taborfjell (17 killed, 3 survivors on a raft rescued 20 hours later by British submarine HMS P-552). At 6.10 PM 5 miles North of Gibara, Cuba, U-507 sinks American SS Federal with shellfire from the deck gun (5 killed, 28 survivors).

24 RAF Douglas DB-7 Boston bombers fly across the English Channel to make daylight raids with fighter escorts on the docks at Flushing (The Netherlands), Abbeville railway yards, Morlaix airfield and docks at Le Havre (all France). No aircraft are lost.

Burma. While most Chinese troops retreat East back into China, General Sun Li Jen’s Chinese 38th Division is blocked by the Japanese and goes with the British towards India. British 7th Armoured Division crosses North over the Irrawaddy River at the Ava Bridge, Mandalay. Their Stuart tanks weigh 13 tons and cross the bridge (which is designed to carry 6 tons) in single file. At midnight, the Ava Bridge is blown up and Mandalay is given up to the Japanese.

Philippines. Heavy Japanese artillery shelling and aerial bombing of US positions on Corregidor Island continues. 2 PBY Catalina seaplanes arrive from Mindanao bringing medicine and 740 fuses for 3-inch anti-aircraft rounds, then evacuate 50 passengers including 20 American nurses.

200 miles North of Murmansk, USSR, British cruiser HMS Edinburgh (escorting Allied convoy QP 11 from Murmansk and carrying Soviet gold worth 5 million pounds sterling to USA as payment for munitions and materiel) is attacked unsuccessfully by U-436 which misses with 4 torpedoes. At 4.18 PM, another U-boat U-456 hits HMS Edinburgh with 2 torpedoes, blowing the cruiser's stern off and causing extensive flooding. After failed attempts to tow by British destroyer HMS Forester, HMS Edinburgh gets going under her own steam at 3 knots. She has to cover 200 miles to reach safety at Murmansk escorted by 2 British destroyers and 2 Soviet destroyers.

Baedeker Blitz. Overnight, Luftwaffe bombs Norwich on the East coast again.

Day 972 April 29, 1942

US aircraft carrier USS Wasp returns to Glasgow, Scotland, following the delivery of Spitfires to Malta (Operation Calendar). USS Wasp quickly loads another 47 Spitfires for a repeat run to Malta (Operation Bowery).

In Famagusta Bay, Cyprus, British schooner Terpsithea hits a mine laid on April 13 by U-562. At 7.45 PM, tug Alliance goes to assist but also hits a mine and sinks (3 killed, 7 survivors).

At 4.12 AM in the Caribbean 50 miles West of Grenada, U-66 sinks Panamanian tanker MV Harry G. Seidel (2 dead, 48 survivors). 350 miles North of Puerto Rico, US tanker SS Mobiloil and U-108 engage in a running battle between 9 AM and 4.45 PM. U-108 finally sinks SS Mobiloil with the 6th torpedo (all 53 hands picked up 86 hours later by patrol craft USS PC-490 and landed on May 4 at San Juan, Puerto Rico).

Philippines. To celebrate Emperor Hirohito's birthday, Japanese launch a massive artillery and air bombardment of US positions on Corregidor Island. Further South on Mindanao Island, Japanese and US forces face each other across the island. Japanese land near Cotabato in the Southwest corner of Mindanao to eliminate the remaining US-Filipino garrison.

New Guinea. In order to gain air superiority over the Coral Sea and directly threaten the Australian mainland, Japanese plan to capture Port Moresby in Papua (in the Southeast of the island, currently administered by the Australians for the British). The Allies are aware of the invasion from deciphered Japanese messages. To contest the invasion, Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander of Allied forces in the Pacific, orders Task Force 17 (carrier USS Yorktown, escorted by 3 cruisers and 4 destroyers, commanded by Rear Admiral Fletcher) and Task Force 11 (carrier USS Lexington with 2 cruisers and 5 destroyers commanded by Rear Admiral Aubrey Fitch) into the Coral Sea.

Burma. As British and Chinese resistance collapses, Japanese swarm North. 18th Infantry Division captures Kyaukse, 20 miles South of Mandalay. Further West, 33rd Infantry Division crosses to the West bank of the Irrawaddy River to pursue the British retreat towards India. Japanese have been planning for 3 weeks to take Lashio (the busy terminal of the Burma Road) by parachute drop. Japanese paratroops of 1st and 2nd Raiding Regiments fly over Lashio in the morning but cannot make the drop due to bad weather. However, the town is taken later at noon by ground forces of 56th Infantry Division.

Overnight, 88 RAF bombers (73 Wellingtons, 9 Hampdens, 6 Stirlings) attack the Gnome & Rhone aero-engine factory near Paris (1 industrial building destroyed and 3 more damaged, no civilian casualties, 3 Wellingtons lost). Baedeker Blitz; Luftwaffe bombs Norwich on the East coast again.

Day 971 April 28, 1942

Burma. With the decision made to retreat to India, British and Indian troops begin an orderly withdrawal despite being harassed by Japanese 33rd Division. Indian 17th Division crosses West over the Irrawaddy River by ferry and boat at Sameikkon, with 38th Chinese Division and British 7th Armoured Brigade holding the East bank of the river from Sagaing to Ondaw.

Allied convoy PQ 15 from Iceland to Murmansk, USSR, is joined by the ocean escort consisting of battleships HMS King George V, USS Washington, aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, 5 cruisers, 12 destroyers and 4 submarines. German aircraft spot the convoy 200 miles Northwest of Tromsø, Norway.

In the Mediterranean off Cape Bon, Tunisia, Italian submarine Corallo stops Tunisian fishing boats Dar El Salam and Tunis (at only 41 tons, one of the smallest boats sunk in WWII), and sinks them with the deck gun after taking off the crews. British tug HMS West Dean is sunk by bombing at Malta.

At 3.35 PM 30 miles Southeast of New York, U-136 sinks Dutch SS Arundo (6 dead, 37 survivors picked up by US destroyer USS Lea).

Overnight, RAF targets Kriegsmarine ships at dock in Kiel and Trondheim. 88 bombers (62 Wellingtons, 15 Stirlings, 10 Hampdens, 1 Halifax) attack Kiel in bright moonlight but against strong anti-aircraft and fighter defenses (no ships hit but all 3 shipyards damaged, 15 civilians killed and 74 injured, 5 Wellingtons and 1 Hampden lost). At Trondheim, 23 Halifax and 11 Lancaster bombers attack the Tirpitz (no hits, 2 Halifaxes lost). Baedeker Blitz; Luftwaffe again switches focus and bombs the historic city of York in Northeast England.

Day 970 April 27, 1942

Timor. Australian Sparrow Force, having reestablished contact with the Australian mainland using a radio built out of recycled parts, is supplied by airdrop to continue guerrilla operations against Japanese forces in Portuguese Timor.

Darwin. Australia. Japanese bombers and fighters again attack the RAAF airfield (3 Japanese bombers and 4 fighters shot down, 4 USAAF P40 fighters shot down).

Overnight, 97 RAF bombers (76 Wellingtons, 19 Stirlings, 2 Halifaxes) inaccurately bomb Cologne, Germany (1,520 houses damaged, 11 civilians killed and 52 injured, 6 Wellingtons and 1 Halifax lost). RAF bombers (31 Halifaxes and 12 Lancasters) attack German battleship Tirpitz and other warships in Trondheimsfjord (no hits on Tirpitz but U-657 is damaged and 1 crew member is injured). 4 Halifaxes and 1 Lancaster are lost. Halifax W1048 (35 Squadron) lands on frozen Lake Hoklingen, Norway, but breaks through the ice and sinks after the crew escapes. W1048 will be raised in 1973 and displayed at the RAF Museum, Hendon, England. Baedeker Blitz; Luftwaffe switches focus from Southwest England and bombs Norwich on the East coast.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 969 April 26, 1942

At 8.30 AM in the Caribbean 80 miles North of Bonaire, U-66 torpedoes American SS Alcoa Partner. Carrying 8500 tons of bauxite ore, SS Alcoa Partner sinks within 3 minutes (10 dead, 25 survivors escape in a lifeboat and reach Bonaire 37 hours later).

Burma. Indian 17th Division moves 20 miles South from Mahlaing to Meiktila to reinforce Chinese 200th Division protecting Mandalay. British General Alexander decides that British and Indian forces must withdraw West to ensure the defense of India.

At 3.20 PM, US WWI-era destroyer USS Sturtevant departs Key West, Florida, to escort a convoy from New Orleans, Louisiana. 2 hours later 18 miles North of Key West, USS Sturtevant runs into a minefield laid the previous day, hits 3 mines, breaks apart and sinks (20 killed, 132 survivors covered in oil rescued 5 hours later by a fleet of small vessels called out from Key West by a Coast Guard patrol aircraft). Ironically, USS Sturtevant had been moored at Key West next to USS Miantonomah, the minelayer that laid the minefield in response to U-boat attacks on the East coast of America.

Allied convoy PQ 15 (consisting of 25 merchant ships and fleet auxiliary oiler RFA Gray Ranger, escorted by British destroyer HMS Ledbury) leaves Reykjavik, Iceland, for Murmansk, USSR.

Overnight, in the last of 4 raids on Rostock, 106 RAF aircraft successfully bomb both the town and the Heinkel factory. 1 Stirling, 1 Wellington and 1 Whitley are lost. Over the 4 nights, 1,765 buildings are destroyed, 204 civilians killed and 89 injured. RAF Bomber Command estimates that 130 acres have been destroyed (60 per cent of the town). Baedeker Blitz; Luftwaffe bombers raid Bath, Southwest England.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 968 April 25, 1942

At 8.31 AM 110 miles Northwest of Bermuda, U-108 sinks British SS Modesta (17 crew and 1 gunner lost, 19 crew and 4 gunners picked up by Belgian merchant SS Belgian Airman and landed at Bermuda).

Burma. British Generals Alexander and Slim confer with US General Stilwell (assigned to the Chinese Army) at Kyaukse, 20 miles South of Mandalay, to discuss whether British forces will withdraw East into China or West into India. A withdrawal into China would leave the path to India, “jewel in the crown” of the British Empire, open to the Japanese. Chinese have a vested interest in protecting the Burma Road; Chinese 200th Infantry Division, currently holding the road to Mandalay at Meiktila, sends troops East to Taunggyi to block the Japanese 56th Division path to Lashio.

Luzon, Philippines. Japanese shelling of US fortifications on the island of Corregidor continues but for the first time firing occurs after dark. US command center is located in the bomb-proof Malinta Tunnel. At 10 PM, 2 shells from the Japanese 240mm siege howitzer lands near the Western entrance to the tunnel among US troops getting fresh air or smoking (15 killed, 35 wounded). 12 miles off the West coast of Luzon near the mouth of the Lingayen Gulf, US submarine USS Spearfish sinks Japanese freighter Toba Maru.

Darwin. Australia. 27 Japanese bombers and 15 fighters attacked the RAAF airfield on the outskirts of Darwin. USAAF 49th Pursuit Group, flying P 40 Warhawk fighters, claim 10 Japanese bombers and 2 fighters shot down and 1 bomber damaged (no Warhawks lost).

In response to the Doolittle Raid on April 18 and the crash-landing of B-25 Mitchell bombers in China, Japanese troops (22nd Infantry Division) begin scouring the Chinese provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangxi for the US airmen. Any towns or villages suspected of harboring the Americans will be burned to the ground and many civilians are executed in retaliation for China’s support of the raid.

Overnight, RAF returns to Rostock for a third night to find strengthened anti-aircraft defenses. 110 aircraft bomb the town and again set many fires with incendiary canisters. 18 bombers (including Manchesters of 106 Squadron commanded by Wing Commander Guy Gibson) target the Heinkel factory, which is hit for the first time. Baedeker Blitz; Luftwaffe switches focus from Exeter and bombs Bristol and Bath in Southwest England.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 967 April 24, 1942

Siege of Leningrad Day 229. The Spring thaw finally makes the ice road across Lake Ladoga unusable. The Road of Life has operated for 152 days carrying over 100,000 tons of food and ammunition into the city and bringing out 440,000 civilians.

12 RAF Douglas DB-7 Boston bombers with fighter escort fly across the English Channel on a daylight raid on the docks at Flushing, The Netherlands. No aircraft are lost.

Burma. Japanese 18th Infantry Division advances 37 miles North from Kyidaunggan and captures Yamethin, 105 miles South of Mandalay. Their path to Mandalay is blocked by the Chinese 200th Infantry Division at Meiktila.

At 11.48 PM 280 miles Southeast of New York, U-136 sinks British MV Empire Drum carrying 6000 tons of military stores, including 1270 tons of explosives, from New York to Egypt. All 41 hands abandon ship in 4 lifeboats. Swedish MV Venezia rescues 14 men in one lifeboat on April 26. US destroyer USS Roper picks up 14 survivors on April 29 and 13 men on 1 May (only 15 miles from the US coast).

Overnight, RAF returns to Rostock. 91 aircraft target the town, causing much damage to the old wooden buildings with incendiary canisters. 34 bombers drop bombs in the vicinity of the Heinkel aircraft works but fail to hit any of the factory buildings. 1 Hampden is lost. For the second night, Luftwaffe aircraft bomb Exeter in Southwest England. This is the beginning of the Baedeker Blitz (bombing of British cultural and historic targets in retaliation for the bombing of Lübeck, Germany, on March 28).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 966 April 23, 1942

Overnight, in the South Atlantic 1600 miles East of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, German armed merchant cruiser Michel spots a tanker and launches torpedo boat LS-4 (named Esau). US tanker Connecticut, carrying a cargo of 100-octane gasoline, explodes when hit without warning by Esau’s 2 torpedoes, spilling burning gasoline on the surface which envelops 2 lifeboats (36 killed, 18 survivors taken prisoner by Michel but 2 will die as Japanese POW's).

At 2.55 AM 35 miles Northeast of Sidi Barrani, Egypt, U-565 sinks British SS Kirkland (1 killed, 16 crew and 6 gunners picked up by British anti-submarine whaler HMS Falk).

At 8.53 PM 500 miles southeast of Bermuda, U-125 sinks American SS Lammot Du Pont (6 killed). 15 survivors on 2 rafts are picked up after 2 days by Swedish MV Astri. 33 men in a lifeboat are found by US destroyer USS Tarbell after 23 days, but 8 have already already died and 3 others die later in hospital at San Juan, Puerto Rico. To prolong U-boat cruises, Kriegsmarine has commissioned Type XIV supply U-boats (Milchkühe "milk cows”) with no torpedo tubes or deck guns but capacity to hold fuel and torpedoes to transfer to standard U-boats. In addition, Milchkühe have bakeries to make fresh bread and large refrigerators of fresh food. U-459 becomes the first active "milk cow”, beginning refueling operations on the US East coast.

1 mile off the North coast of Norway, Soviet submarine ShCh-401 attacks a German supply convoy from Narvik to Kirkenes, sinking Norwegian merchant Stensaas (all hands rescued by convoy escort German auxiliary submarine chaser UJ 1101). Later, ShCh-401 attacks another German submarine chaser UJ 1110, which counterattacks with depth charges. ShCh-401 is not damaged and radios her position in the evening but is then lost in German minefield "Karin", laid a few days earlier by German minelayer Ulm.

Burma. The Japanese plan is to cut the Allied supply line from India to China along the Burma Road (which they hope will knock China out of the war and free up the large numbers of Japanese troops currently in China to protect their recently-won territories in Southeast Asia and the Pacific). To achieve this, 3 Japanese prongs are pushing North. On the broad Central plain, Japanese 33rd Division chases the retreating British up the Irrawaddy River, while 18th and 35th Divisions head directly North on the road to Mandalay. In the mountainous Eastern part of the country, Japanese 56th Division advances on the Burma Road at Lashio, capturing Loilem 140 miles South of Lashio.

Overnight, RAF begins 4 nights of bombing the German Baltic port of Rostock with 93 Wellingtons, 31 Stirlings, 19 Whitleys, 11 Hampdens, 6 Manchesters & 1 Lancaster. 143 aircraft attack the town with incendiary bombs while 18 bombers target the nearby Heinkel aircraft factory. However, the bombing is inaccurate; neither the town nor the Heinkel factory are hit. 2 Wellingtons, 1 Manchester & 1 Whitley are lost. Overnight, Luftwaffe bombers attack Exeter in Southwest England.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 965 April 22, 1942

Operation Abercrombie. Overnight, Allied raiding party (100 British commandos of B and C troops No. 4 Commando and 50 Canadian infantry of 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade, commanded by Major Lord Lovat) crosses the English Channel in motor torpedo boats and land near Boulogne, France, from the newly-designed new Landing Craft Support. They reconnoitre the beaches but fail to capture any German prisoners for interrogation or destroy a searchlight battery (1 British commando shot through the ankle by a German sentry).

After missing German ships on March 16, April 7 and April 14, Soviet submarine M-173 sinks German SS Blankenese in the Barents Sea 3 miles off the Northeast tip of Norway.

At 3.29 AM 375 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-201 torpedoes US passenger/cargo ship SS San Jacinto carrying 79 crew and 104 passengers (5 crew, 9 passengers killed). 74 crew and 95 passengers (including 32 women and children) escape on 6 lifeboats and several rafts, before U-201 sinks SS San Jacinto with 75 rounds from the deck gun, and are picked up after dawn by US destroyer USS Rowan. U-201 then sinks British SS Derryheen on her maiden voyage at 9.05 AM (all 51 hands picked up by British MV Lobos and landed at Havana, Cuba).

Burma. Indian 17th Infantry Division has held Taungdwingyi since the Japanese attack on the Irrawaddy River line on April 11. With Japanese troops moving North all around them, Indian 17th Division withdraws 75 miles North to Mahlaing to protect Mandalay.

In the Mediterranean, German and Italian aircraft continue heavy bombing of Malta. 20 miles off the coast of Palestine, U-81 sinks 4 tiny sailing boats with shellfire from the deck gun including Egyptian El Saadiah at 4.45 AM and Aziza at 12.35 PM.

Overnight, RAF Bomber Command sends 64 Wellingtons and 5 Stirlings to Cologne, Germany, on an experimental raid to test the new Gee radio transmitter system for blind navigation at night. The raid is a partial success, with 12 to 15 aircraft dropping bombs accurately (44 high-explosive & 1200 incendiary bombs land in the city, 4 civilians killed, 8 wounded) but others miss by up to 10 miles. 2 Wellingtons are lost.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 964 April 21, 1942

At 0.30 AM 30 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-84 torpedoes Panamanian SS Chenango which sinks within 1 minute (30 killed). 2 men escape on a raft and are picked up by a US Coast Guard PBY Catalina flying 12 days later (1 man dies 2 days later, 1 Irish fireman survives). At 2.36 AM 500 miles East of North Carolina, U-201 sinks Norwegian SS Bris (5 dead, 21 survivors in 2 lifeboats rescued by American motor tanker Chester D. Swain on May 3 and by patrol vessel YT-132 on May 4). At 4.48 AM 175 miles East of Nantucket, U-752 sinks American SS West Imboden (all 35 hands rescued next day by US destroyer USS Bristol). At 6.54 PM 475 miles East of Virginia, U-576 sinks American SS Pipestone County (all 35 hands escape in 4 lifeboats and rescued after 3-17 days).

Germans murder 20 French civilians at St. Nazaire in retaliation for the British Commando raid on the dock there on March 28.

Mediterranean. At 3.36 PM 12 miles North of Crete, British submarine HMS Torbay sinks German vessel Delpa II in a gun duel. German coastal artillery shells HMS Torbay which dives and escapes, despite the attention of 2 German torpedo boats. British anti-submarine trawler HMT Jade is sunk by bombing at Grand Harbour, Malta.

Burma. Japanese continue moving North to threaten the Burma Road (the important Allied supply line from India to China). Japanese 18th Division overwhelms Chinese troops to capture Kyidaunggan, 140 miles South of Mandalay.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 963 April 20, 1942

USSR. After a month of fighting since March 21, German forces under General Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach break out of the Demyansk pocket through the "Ramushevo corridor". Of 100,000 Germans trapped in the pocket, 3,335 have been killed and 10,000 wounded. The airlift to supply the troops since February 8 has cost 265 Luftwaffe aircraft (including 106 Junkers Ju52, 17 Heinkel He111 and 2 Junkers Ju86) and 387 airmen while Soviets have lost 408 aircraft, including 243 fighters. The successful supply mission and subsequent breakout convinces Hitler and Göring that holding large pockets can tie up large Soviet formations; they will try the same tactic at Stalingrad, later in the year.

At midday, 1.5 miles off the Norwegian coast near Namsos, British submarine HMS Trident sinks the German freighter SS Hödur.

Operation Calendar. US aircraft carrier USS Wasp's contingent of Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters provide air cover for the take off of 48 Spitfires flying to Malta. However, Luftwaffe is aware of the fighter shipment and bombs Ta'Qali airfield before the Spitfires can refuel (20 destroyed and 12 severely damaged on the ground). The remaining Spitfires are destroyed by further attacks within 48 hours.

Off the US East coast, U-654 sinks Swedish MV Agra (carrying 6666 tons of supplies, nitrate, trucks and drums of fuel to Allied troops in Egypt) and US freighter Steel Maker (carrying 7660 tons of lend-lease supplies to USSR via Iran), U-572 sinks British SS Empire Dryden (also carrying 7000 tons military stores to Egypt) and U-109 sinks British SS Harpagon (carrying 8017 tons of supplies, explosives, aircraft and tanks to British forces in Bombay, India). 75 miles North of the Turks and Caicos Island, U-154 sinks Canadian SS Vineland (in ballast).

Burma. Japanese make good progress as they push North to threaten the Burma Road to China. Burmese 1st Infantry Division and Chinese 38th Division withdraw North from Yenangyaung. Japanese 18th Division attack Chinese positions at Kyidaunggan on the road to Mandalay while Japanese 56th Division captures Loikaw on the road to Lashio.

Bataan. Japanese bring up the massive WWI-era Type 96 240mm siege howitzer to shell US artillery on Corregidor.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 962 April 19, 1942

At 2.15 AM, U-130 surfaces and uses the 88mm deck gun to shell the Bullen Baai Company petroleum storage facility, near Willemstad on the Dutch island of Curaçao in the Caribbean (no damage done). Dutch return fire with their 120 mm naval gun battery forcing U-130 to submerge.

Burma. At 8 AM, Chinese 113th Regiment (38th Division) attacks into Yenangyaung, eliminating 3 Japanese strong points by 11.30 AM. Japanese move to defend the breach which opens a gap allowing British 1st Burma Division to break though, cross the Pin Chaung River and meet up with their Chinese rescuers. 90 miles East, Japanese 55th Infantry Division charges North from Toungoo and captures Pyinmana on the road to Mandalay.

Bataan Death March. The first wave of American and Filipinos are moved on the last leg of the journey to POW Camp O’Donnell. At San Fernando, they are loaded into railway cars and moved to Campos. With 100 men to a railway car for the 4 hour journey, many die from the heat. With no way to dispose of corpses or feces from the men suffering dysentery, the foul conditions contribute to the spread of disease. Arriving at Campos, they are marched another 9 miles to Camp O’Donnell. POWs will continue to straggle along the route Balanga-Orani-Lubao-Campos-Camp O’Donnell by foot, truck and train for 3 more weeks. 605 out of 11,796 US POWs (5.5%) and 5-10,000 out of 66,304 Filipino POWs (7.5 – 15%) die. Despite claiming ignorance of the events, Japanese commander in the Philippines, General Masaharu Homma, will be tried as a War Criminal for allowing the Death March to happen and shot on April 3 1946.

Soviet 33rd Army, which has been trapped near Vyazma for a month, is annihilated. Their commander General Mikhail Grigoryevich Yefremov, already severely wounded in the back, shoots himself in head when surrounded by a German patrol.

Mediterranean. Off Sfax, Tunisia, British submarine HMS Umbra sinks Italian vessel Assunta de Gregori. Off Palestine, U-81 sinks a tiny sailing boat with gunfire at 4.51 PM and rams the sailing vessel Hefz el Rahman at 10 PM.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 961 April 18, 1942

At dawn in the middle of the South Atlantic 1360 miles East of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, German armed merchant cruiser Michel shells and stops British tanker MV Patella carrying 10,000 tons of British Admiralty oil (3 killed, 60 survivors taken off). MV Patella is scuttled.

Doolittle Raid. At 7.38 AM 750 miles from Japan, US aircraft carrier USS Hornet is spotted by Japanese picket boat No.23 Nittō Maru, which is sunk by cruiser USS Nashville. Colonel James Doolittle launches the 16 B-25 bombers 8.20 and 9.19 AM (10 hours earlier than planned, despite adding 200 miles to the flight to Japan). At noon Tokyo time (6 hours later), they bomb Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka. 15 B-25s head for China, as planned, but 1 which is low on fuel lands in USSR. With assistance from the Chinese, Doolittle returns to USA a hero, is promoted 2 grades to General and is awarded the Medal of Honor by President Roosevelt on June 9, 1942.

Burma. Chinese 113th Regiment (38th Division) and British 7th Armoured Brigade under Chinese General Sun Li Jen attack South across the Pin Chaung River to rescue 7000 British and Indian troops trapped around Yenangyaung. They reach the outskirts of Yenangyaung at 5 PM but General Sun refuses to go any further until they determine Japanese strength in the town.

Panay, Philippines. Japanese troops encounter 1st Battallon, 63rd Infantry Regiment, 61st Philippine Division, led by Captain Julian Chaves at Mount Dila-Dila. The Japanese retreat without realizing how close they are to the main USAFFE position, which will become the core of the Panay Guerrillas.

At 10.30 AM, US 5th Air Force Martin B-26 “Marauder” medium bombers flying from Townsville, Australia, attack Simpson Harbor, Rabaul. Japanese Navy auxiliary aircraft transport Akomaki Maru is destroyed by a 500-pound bomb (settles on the bottom with her superstructure above water) and ammunition & fuel on the dock are ignited (11 killed , 31 wounded, 80 Australian POWs are beaten for cheering the sinking).

At 11.25 AM in the Ionian Sea 60 miles East of Cape Colonna, Italy, British submarine HMS Torbay sinks German army cargo ship Bellona despite being escorted by an Italian destroyer.

Overnight, US aircraft carrier USS Wasp carrying spitfires to Malta, escorted by US destroyers USS Lang and USS Madison, passes through the Strait of Gibraltar and are joined by British cruisers HMS Charybdis and HMS Cairo and 5 destroyers.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 960 April 17, 1942

At 3.55 AM 300 miles East of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-123 (out of torpedoes and with only 29 rounds for the deck gun) closes on the surface to 400 meters and sinks US freighter SS Alcoa Guide with the deck gun plus 37mm and 20mm anti-aircraft guns (6 dead, 27 survivors in lifeboats picked up on April 19 by US destroyer USS Broome, 1 man on a raft picked up by British SS Hororata after 30 days). At 5.23 AM 100 miles West of Grenada in the Caribbean, U-66 sinks Panamanian tanker Heinrich von Riedemann carrying 127,041 barrels of crude oil (all 44 hands escape in 3 lifeboats).

RAF Bomber Command experiments with an ill-conceived daytime raid to achieve accurate bombing. 12 Avro Lancaster bombers (6 each, 44 & 97 Squadron) fly at low level without fighter support to attack the MAN diesel engine factory at Augsburg in Southern Germany (450 miles from the French coast). Diversionary RAF raids in Northern France fail to distract Luftwaffe fighters, which shoot down 4 Lancasters. Anti-aircraft fire downs 3 more Lancasters over Augsburg. 7 Lancasters release their bombs over the target, causing minimal damage. Squadron Leader Nettleton (44 Squadron) wins the Victoria Cross for leading the raid and nursing his badly damaged aircraft home.

German bombers sink Soviet troopship Svanetiya carrying troops from Sevastopol to Novorossiyks in the Caucasus (750 killed. 193 crew and passengers rescued).

Burma. Chinese General Sun Li Jen leads 1121 men of 113th Regiment (38th Division) South to relieve 7000 British and Indian troops trapped by Japanese 33rd Division around Yenangyaung. British General Slim send British 7th Armoured Brigade North across the Pin Chaung River (before the Japanese ring closes) to meet up with the Chinese who lack tanks and artillery. Further East, Japanese 56th Infantry Division heads 45 miles North from Mawchi to Bawlake, whence they can threaten the Burma Road (the important supply route from India, through Burma into China) between Mandalay and Lashio.

Panay, Philippines. Japanese troops and light tanks head North from Iloilo City and South from Capiz across the flat Iloilo Plain. They meet at Dumarao, 30 miles South of Capiz (now known as Roxas City), and control the Eastern half of the island.

Overnight, 173 RAF bombers (134 Wellingtons, 23 Stirlings, 11 Halifaxes, 5 Manchesters) attack Hamburg, Germany (starting 33 fires, 23 civilans killed, 66 injured). 7 Wellingtons and 1 Manchester are lost. Luftwaffe bombs Southampton, England, overnight.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 959 April 16, 1942

Before dawn, 8000 Japanese troops land at sites on all 3 sides of Panay Island, Philippines. They occupy the main towns of lloilo City and Capiz unopposed, as well as copper mines near San Jose. Filipino troops (poorly trained and equipped, under the command of US officers) execute a planned withdrawal into the mountains to avoid confrontation with the numerically superior and better trained Japanese, blowing bridges and burning stores at lloilo that leads to destruction of much of the city.

In Japan, Imperial Navy issues Order No.18 for Admiral Yamamoto’s Combined Fleet to draw up plans to capture Midway Island in the central Pacific and the Aleutian Islands near Alaska, USA.

Burma. Japanese 33rd Division surrounds Yenangyaung, encircling 7000 British and Indian troops. In addition, more Allied troops are trapped on the road North from Minhla to Yenangyaung by Japanese roadblocks. General Bruce Scott, commanding 1st Burma Division, telephones Chinese General Sun Li Jen requesting assistance from his 38th Division, part of Chinese 5th Army. US B-17 bombers based in Calcutta, India, bomb Rangoon where Japanese have begun landing reinforcements.

US submarine USS Tambor sinks tiny Japanese freighter Kitami Maru 50 miles Southeast of Kavieng, New Ireland, in the Bismarck Archipelago.

At 3.38 AM 300 miles Southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U-575 sinks American SS Robin Hood (14 dead, 24 survivors in 1 lifeboat picked up a week later by US destroyer USS Greer).

At 2.45 PM 200 miles North of Norway in the Barents Sea, U-403 sinks British SS Empire Howard, the ship of the convoy commodore in convoy PQ-14 (25 killed, 37 survivors picked up by British armed trawler HMS Lord Middleton and HMS Northern Wave).

At 5.45 PM in the Caribbean 60 miles West of Grenada, U-66 sinks Dutch tanker SS Amsterdam (2 dead and 38 survivors picked up by Yugoslavian SS Ivan next day). At 6 PM 150 miles off the coast of North Carolina, U-572 sinks Panamanian SS Desert Light carrying 3800 tons of supplies from New York to the Naval Operating Base, Bermuda, including 104 tons of ammunition and dynamite (1 killed, 30 survivors picked up by US destroyer USS Roper).

Mediterranean. At 5.51 PM 3 miles off the Italian coast near Brindisi, British submarine HMS Turbulent sinks Italian merchant Delia. Operation Lighter. British destroyers HMS Kipling and HMS Kelvin land Royal Marines (11th Battalion) on the tiny Greek island of Koufonisi, 3 miles South of the Eastern end of Crete, to destroy a radio transmitter. 23 miles West of Beirut, Lebanon, U-81 sinks Free French anti-submarine trawler Vikings at 8.38 PM (41 dead, 16 survivors) and British SS Caspia at 9.48 PM (27 dead and 11 survivors rescued by British motor launches HMS ML-1023 & ML-1032). At 10.50 PM, U-81 surfaces and shells 3 Egyptian sailing boats, sinking Fatouh el Kher, Bab el Farag and an unidentified vessel.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 958 April 15, 1942

Burma. Japanese troops break through the British defenses and cut the road from Minhia, on the Irrawaddy River, North to Yenangyaung in several places. Allies retreat using British 7th Armoured Division tanks to break the Japanese roadblocks. At 1 PM, British General Slim orders the demolition of oilfields and the refinery at Yenangyaung. 1 million gallons of crude oil are ignited and oilwells are plugged with cement (Japanese will access the oil by simply redrilling the wells).

Bataan. Japanese shelling of James and Morrison artillery batteries on Northern Corregidor Island collapses a tunnel dug by Filipino troops into the hillside for shelter (70 killed). Bataan Death March continues. More US/Filipino POWs are moved from Balanga to Orani to Lubao. The first wave is again moved on, marching another 8 miles North from Lubao to San Fernando. Many die from heat, starvation, disease and random beatings and bayoneting by Japanese guards.

King George VI writes to the Governor of Malta General Sir William Dobbie awarding the island the George Cross " to bear witness to the heroism and devotion of its people" during the siege enforced by Luftwaffe bombing. The George Cross is present in the Flag of Malta to this day.

The last US motor torpedo boat, PT-41, is scuttled at Mindanao, Philippines, to prevent capture by the Japanese.

Overnight, 152 RAF bombers (111 Wellingtons, 19 Hampdens, 15 Stirlings & 7 Manchesters) inaccurately attack Dortmund, Germany (1 house destroyed, 1 civilian killed, 6 injured). 3 Wellingtons and 1 Stirling are lost.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 957 April 14, 1942

Britain lacks aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean to transport fighter aircraft to within flying distance of Malta (“club runs”), to provide much-needed protection from German and Italian air raids. America loans carrier USS Wasp and destroyers USS Lang and USS Madison, on the request of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. USS Wasp and escorts leave the Clyde Estuary, Scotland, after loading 52 Spitfires and their pilots (601 and 603 Squadrons).

One of Britain’s most successful submarines HMS Upholder (having sunk 1 destroyer, 3 submarines and 12 merchant supply ships; total 89,848 tons) disappears in the Mediterranean between Italy and Libya (all 32 crew and 1 passenger lost). HMS Upholder is sunk either by bombs from 2 Messerschmitt Bf110 and 2 Dornier Do17 bombers, escorting Italian “Aprilia” convoy to from Italy to Tripoli, or by depth charges from torpedo boat Pegaso.

Bataan. Japanese shell US positions on Corregidor Island. Bataan Death March continues. As more US/Filipino POWs are moved from Balanga to Orani, the first wave is marched another 15 miles North from Orani to Lubao. The men are again fed a bowl of rice, then crammed into an abandoned warehouse where there is water from a single faucet. The heat is intense and the men are starving, dehydrated and diseased, but stragglers are beaten and bayoneted all along the route.

At 3.15 PM 10 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-203 sinks British SS Empire Thrush (all 48 crew members and 7 gunners picked up by US Q-ship USS Asterion). At 4.36 PM off Barbados, U-66 sinks Greek SS Korthion (14 dead and 9 survivors). At 9.02 PM off Cape Cod, U-571 sinks American SS Margaret (all 29 hands lost).

RAF Bomber Command sends 12 Douglas DB-7 “Boston” bombers on a successful and accurate daylight raid across the English Channel on the Mondeville power station near Caen, France.

At 10.30 PM 650 miles west of Brest, France, British sloop HMS Stork and corvette HMS Vetch sink U-252 with depth charges (all hands 44 lost).

Overnight, 208 RAF bombers (142 Wellingtons, 34 Hampdens, 20 Stirlings, 8 Halifaxes, 4 Manchesters) mount an inaccurate raid on Dortmund, Germany (6 buildings hit, 4 civilians killed, 27 injured). 5 Wellingtons and 4 Hampdens are lost.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 956 April 13, 1942

150 miles North of Norway, U-435 & U-436 attack convoy QP-10 from Murmansk, USSR, to Reykjavik, Iceland. At 1 AM, U-436 sinks Soviet SS Kiev (6 crew killed including at least 1 woman). The remaining crew and 8 passengers (family of staff at the Soviet embassy in London) are picked up after 30 minutes by British anti-submarine trawler HMS Blackfly. At 1.29 AM, U-435 torpedoes Panamanian SS El Occidente which sinks before the lifeboats can be launched, so the crew jumps overboard into the freezing water (20 die but 21 survivors are picked up 30 minutes later by British minesweeper HMS Speedwell). U-435 also sinks British SS Harpalion at 3.50 PM, which had been bombed and damaged by German Ju88 bombers earlier in the day (all 70 crew had already abandoned ship).

25 miles off Cape Canaveral, Florida, U-123 uses her last torpedoes to sink American SS Leslie at 5.11 AM (4 killed, 28 survivors) and then sinks Swedish MV Korsholm with shellfire from the deck gun at 7.45 AM (9 dead, 17 survivors). At 5.52 AM 40 miles south of Haiti, U-154 sinks British SS Empire Amethyst (all 47 hands lost).

At 10.12 AM 82 miles Southwest of Benghazi in the Gulf of Sirte, British submarine HMS Thrasher sinks German freighter Atlas in a convoy. Thrasher is counterattacked by convoy escorts with 19 depth charges but is undamaged.

Burma. There is stalemate along the British line on the Irrawaddy River, 35 miles South of the oilfields at Yenangyaung. Further East, Japanese 56th Infantry Division heads North to cut off a potential British retreat into China, capturing Mawchi from leading elements of the Chinese 6th Army.

Bataan. Japanese shelling of Corregidor Island continues. Bataan Death March. US/Filipino POWs start leaving Balanga for Orani 8 miles North. Some are moved in trucks but most are forced to march on foot. At Orani, there is water from a single faucet and some men are fed a bowl of rice but there is not enough for all prisoners as the Japanese are not prepared to handle the large number of POWs.

At 9 PM 60 miles South of Japan, US submarine USS Grayling sinks Japanese vessel Ryujin Maru.

At 11.26 PM 400 miles South of Newfoundland, U-402 stops British SS Empire Progress with a dud torpedo but then sinks her after midnight with 2 coup de grâce (12 dead, 38 survivors picked up by Norwegian MV Olaf Fostenes). At midnight within sight of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-85 is detected on the surface by radar on US destroyer USS Roper, which closes in and attacks with deck gun and machinegun fire. U-85 fires a torpedo and dives, leaving 29 men in the water. USS Roper sinks U-85 (all hands lost) with 11 depth charges, killing everyone in the water (some are in civilian clothes and carrying US currency and identification cards, suggesting that U-85 is in the process of landing spies).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 955 April 12, 1942

At 6.26 AM 20 miles off Wilmington, North Carolina, U-203 damages Panamanian tanker SS Stanvac Melbourne (3 killed, 45 survivors), which is towed to Wilmington for repairs and returns to service on July 2. At 7.09 AM 60 miles South of Haiti, U-154 sinks US freighter SS Delvalle (2 dead, 61 survivors) after a running battle lasting 9 hours during which SS Delvalle unsuccessfully tries to ram U-154. At 7.21 PM 300 miles Northeast of Anguilla, U-130 sinks US tanker SS Esso Boston carrying 105,400 barrels of crude oil (all 37 hands escape in 3 lifeboats). Italian submarine Calvi sinks Panamanian tanker MV Ben Brush off the coast of Brazil (1 killed, 34 survivors).

Burma. At dawn, Japanese troops attack the British line on the Irrawaddy River but are stopped by tanks of the British 2nd Royal Tank Regiment at Minhia, Thadodan and Alebo. British tankers are surprised to see Japanese crews manning tanks captured from the British 7th Queen's Own Hussars during the battle at Shwedaung 2 weeks earlier.

4000 Japanese troops land at Manokwari at the Western end of Dutch New Guinea, to secure the deep water inlet. Japanese torture and kill a Dutch naval officer for scuttling the small Government Marine patrol boat Anna.125 Dutch troops and civilian reservists withdraw into the jungle to avoid capture (although many are killed by Japanese patrols or die of disease over the coming months, the last few Dutch troops are rescued by Allied forces in October 1944).

Japanese troops advancing across Cebu Island, Philippines, force US troops to withdraw into the mountains. US bombers from Mindanao Island bomb Japanese landing sites. US motor torpedo boat PT35, undergoing repairs at the Cebu Shipyard and Engineering Works, is scuttled by her crew to prevent capture by the Japanese.

Bataan. Japanese artillery is moved to the Southern tip of Bataan and begins daily shelling of Corregidor Island, targeting in particular counter-battery fire on the 46 coastal guns (6 to 12 inches). Corregidor’s coastal batteries, built in WWI, lack bomb-proof shelters and are vulnerable to Japanese high-angle guns and aerial bombardment. Bataan Death March continues as more US/Filipino POWs straggle into the camp at Balanga. Unfed and without water since surrendering 4 days ago, many die along the way or at the camp.

Overnight, 251 RAF bombers (171 Wellingtons, 31 Hampdens, 27 Stirlings, 13 Halifaxes, 9 Manchesters) attack Essen, Germany, causing a large fire at the Krupps factory and destroying 28 houses (36 civilians killed, 36 injured). 7 Wellingtons, 2 Hampdens, 1 Halifax are shot down. In 8 RAF raids since March 8, only 22 bomb patterns have landed within 5 miles of Essen, with 64 bombers lost.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 954 April 11, 1942

Bataan Death March. Japanese massacre 350 Filipino POWs (91st Division) as they march North around Mount Samat towards the transfer station at Balanga. All afternoon, men are beheaded or bayoneted (Pantingan River Massacre). As POWs pour into Balanga, promised food, water and medical treatment fail to materialize. Dysentery and other diseases start to spread due to overcrowding.

New Guinea. US Douglas A-20 Havocs attack Japanese shipping in the Gulf of Huon off the town of Lae, badly damaging the cargo vessel Taijun Maru (later scuttled).

US submarine USS Trout damages Japanese tanker Nisshin Maru 5 miles off the South coast of Japan.

Mediterranean. Northwest of Corfu, HMS Torbay surfaces and attacks 2 tiny Italian schooners with gunfire, sinking schooners Gesu Crocifisso with 50 rounds from the deck gun while schooner Natalina runs aground and is wrecked. British destroyer HMS Kingston, at dry dock in La Valletta harbour, Malta, is hit by bombers and destroyed.

Italian submarine Calvi sinks Norwegian vessel Balkis off the coast of Brazil.

60 miles Southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, British anti-submarine trawler HMT St. Cathan sinks after a collision with Dutch freighter Hebe. At 4.22 AM 5 miles off Jacksonville, Florida, U-123 torpedoes US tanker SS Gulfamerica, on her maiden voyage, carrying 101,500 barrels of furnace oil which explodes (19 killed, 29 survivors rescued by Coast Guard vessels). The burning wreck of SS Gulfamerica sinks 5 days later. At 1.20 PM 7 miles South of Cape Fear, North Carolina, U-203 torpedoes US tanker SS Harry F. Sinclair, Jr. carrying 66,000 barrels of gasoline which burst into flame (all 36 crew abandon ship in 3 lifeboats and a raft but 10 die when their lifeboat is engulfed in burning gasoline, 26 survivors picked up by British anti-submarine trawler HMS Hertfordshire). The burned out wreck will be towed to Baltimore, repaired and returned to service in 1943 as SS Annibal. At 10.31 PM 45 miles East of Cape Fear, U-160 sinks British passenger steamer SS Ulysses (all 190 crew, 5 gunners and 95 passengers picked up by US destroyer USS Manley). At 6.55 PM 580 miles Northeast of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, U-130 sinks Norwegian MV Grenanger (all 36 crew abandon ship in a motor launch & a lifeboat and arrive at St. Thomas 8 days later).

Burma. British tanks and infantry have withdrawn up the Irrawaddy River valley and formed a defensive line from Minhia on the Irrawaddy River, East to Taungdwingyi and Pyinmana (to protect the oilfields at Yenangyaung 35 miles further North). Overnight, “on a pitch-dark night lit by violent thunderstorms”, Japanese begin the assault on this line with an attack 48th Indian Brigade at Kokkogwa.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Day 953 April 10, 1942

At 2.20 AM 880 miles East of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-654 sinks British SS Empire Prairie (all 44 crew and 5 gunners lost). 20 miles off Cape Hatteras, U-203 sinks British tanker MV San Delfino with 7 torpedoes at 5.08 AM, (24 crew and 4 gunners lost, 20 crew and 2 gunners picked up by British anti-submarine trawler HMS Norwich City) and U-552 torpedoes US tanker SS Tamaulipas at 6.27 AM, which burns until sinking next morning (2 drowned, 35 survivors on 2 lifeboats also picked up by HMS Norwich City). Norwegian MV Chr. Knudsen goes missing 2 days out from New York, presumably sunk by U-85 (all 33 hands lost).

Philippines. Japanese (expecting only 25,000 POWs) are surprised by the 76,000 US and Filipino troops surrendering at Bataan. Planning to march the prisoners 25 miles in 1 day to Balanga, Bataan (for transport further North on Luzon), they provide no food or medical treatment along the way. Many POWs are in no condition for this pace and begin dying immediately from heat, exhaustion and starvation. The POWs are brutally treated by the Japanese troops and many are executed for falling behind. US minesweeper USS Finch, damaged yesterday by Japanese bombers off Luzon, is abandoned by her crew and sinks (salvaged by the Japanese and commissioned into the Imperial Japanese Navy as W103). Having conquered Luzon, Japanese continue their march down through the Philippines. 12,000 Japanese troops land from 11 transports, escorted by 3 warships, at 7 sites on the South side of the island of Cebu. The capital, Cebu City has a large harbor and an airfield. The US-Filipino garrison of 6500 troops withdraws inland. US B-17 bombers, flying from Australia and refueling at Mindanao, Philippines, attack Japanese invasion force without success.

6 miles North of Oshima Island (in the mouth of Tokyo Bay, Japan), US submarine USS Thresher sinks a Japanese merchant ship.

At 8.07 PM in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean (halfway between Cape Town, South Africa, and Montevideo, Uruguay), German raider Thor stops British vessel Kirkpool with several volleys of shellfire. The crew jumps overboard since the lifeboats are destroyed (16 drown). Thor searches for 3 hours and rescues 30 survivors (will be handed over to the Japanese and remain POWs until September 1945).

Overnight, 254 RAF bombers (167 Wellingtons, 43 Hampdens, 18 Stirlings, 10 Manchesters, 8 Halifaxes, 8 Lancasters) attack Essen, Germany, but the bombing is inaccurate due to cloud cover (12 houses destroyed, 7 civilians killed, 30 injured). An 8,000lb bomb is dropped for the first time, by a Halifax of 76 Squadron, but it is not known where it landed. 7 Wellingtons, 5 Hampdens, 1 Halifax, 1 Manchester are lost.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Day 952 April 9, 1942

Bataan, Philippines. Overnight, the bedraggled, diseased, malnourished and exhausted US II Corps troops fall back to the last defensive in line in Southern Bataan along the Lamao River. General Wainwright on Corregidor is under orders from MacArthur not to surrender, so he orders General Edward King, in command on Bataan, to mount a counterattack. King knows this is impossible as “II Corps as a tactical unit no longer existed” and I Corps on the West side of the peninsula is in no position to provide support and unilaterally decides to surrender (without informing Wainwright, to spare him any responsibility). US forces spike guns and destroy fuel and ammunition dumps. US submarine tender USS Canopus, tug USS Napa and floating drydock USS Dewey are all scuttled in Manila Bay. At 12.30 PM, General King surrenders 60,000 Filipino and 15,000 American troops on Bataan to Japanese Colonel Nakayama.

Cebu, Philippines. Overnight in the Cebu Strait 374 miles Southwest of Bataan, US motor torpedo boats PT-34 and PT-41 attack Japanese cruiser Kuma without success (1 torpedo hits Kuma but it is a dud). After daybreak, PT-34 is bombed and strafed by F1M floatplanes from Japanese seaplane carrier Sanuki Maru (damaged and beached, then destroyed in a second seaplane attack, 2 dead, 4 survivors including 3 wounded).

Operation C, Japanese Navy raid in the Indian Ocean. At 7 AM, aircraft from the Japanese carriers bomb the harbor at Trincomalee, Ceylon. At 9 AM, British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (which has no aircraft on board) and Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire are discovered 90 miles South, returning to port. At 10.35 AM, 91 Japanese bombers and dive bombers escorted by 38 fighters from carriers Akagi, Hiryu and Soryu sink HMS Hermes (307 killed) and Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire (9 killed). Hospital ship Vita rescues survivors from both warships. Nearby at 12.07 PM, 20 Japanese dive bombers sink British oiler RFA Athelstane carrying 7,000 tons of admiralty fuel oil from Trincomalee to Colombo (all hands escape in 2 lifeboats) and corvette HMS Hollyhock (which receives a bomb down the funnel exploding the magazine, 48 killed, 17 rescued by the lifeboats from HMS Athelstane).

At 7.16 AM 14 miles off Brunswick, Georgia, U-123 sinks American SS Esparta (1 drowned, 39 survivors on 2 lifeboats and a raft picked up by US patrol boat USS Tyrer 7 hours later). Off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-160 sinks American SS Malchace at 7.58 AM (1 drowned, 28 survivors on 1 lifeboat and a raft picked up by Mexican tanker Faja de Oro 7 hours later) and U-552 sinks US tanker SS Atlas carrying 84,239 barrels of gasoline which ignites (all 38 crew abandon ship but 2 die when their lifeboat is engulfed by burning gasoline on the water; 36 survivors, many badly burned, are picked up next day by a US Coast Guard cutter). At 10.04 AM off the Northwest coast of Iceland, U-252 sinks Norwegian steamer Fanefjeld (all 24 hands lost).

Mediterranean. British submarine HMS Thrasher sinks tiny Italian merchant ship Gala 20 miles Southwest of Benghazi, Libya, in the Gulf of Sirte. At Malta, Italian bombers again hit British destroyer HMS Lance which is under repair (HMS Lance is written off as a total loss and towed to back to Britain for scrap in June 1944).

Black Sea. Luftwaffe raids Soviet Caucasus ports of Novorossisk and Tuapse, which have been supplying troops to Sevastopol and the Kerch Peninsula, damaging Soviet cruiser Voroshilov and destroyers Nezamozhnik & Sposobny.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Day 951 April 8, 1942

Indian Ocean. At 1.50 AM, 200 miles off the Southern tip of India, Japanese submarine I-3 sinks British collier Fultala carrying 8,000 tons of coal.

At 4.57 AM 300 miles off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U-84 sinks Yugoslavian SS Nemanja (13 dead, 34 survivors). U-123 sinks 2 American tankers in shallow water 10 miles off St. Simon´s Island, Georgia; SS Oklahoma at 7.52 AM (19 killed, 18 survivors) and SS Esso Baton Rouge at 8.44 AM (3 killed, 65 survivors). Both ships will be refloated, repaired and returned to service. 20 miles off the North coast of Brazil, Italian submarine Calvi sinks US tanker Eugene V.R. Thayer with a torpedo and 120 shells from the deck gun.

Off Alexandria, Egypt, Italian bombers sink British minesweeping whaler HMS Svana and anti-submarine whaler HMS Thorgrim.

Bataan, Philippines. At 11 AM, Japanese bombers and fighters attack US II Corps forces digging in on the Alangan River. As Japanese infantry ford the river near the coast, they are caught in a crossfire by concealed Filipino troops. After an hour of fighting, the Japanese retreat back across the river but return later with tanks and rout the Filipinos, causing the whole US line to fall back. Many II Corps soldiers, starving and suffering from malaria and dysentery, become separated from their units in the jungle. With defeat imminent, US troops and medical staff begin withdrawing across the narrow strait to the fortified island of Corregidor.

A Catalina flying boat spots the Japanese Carrier Fleet approaching Trincomalee, Ceylon. British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire are sent out of port for safety.

Overnight, RAF Bomber Command sets a new record, sending 272 bombers (177 Wellingtons, 41 Hampdens, 22 Stirlings, 13 Manchesters, 12 Halifaxes, 7 Lancasters) to Hamburg (4 Wellingtons and 1 Manchester lost).

Day 950 April 7, 1942

At 2.18 AM 370 miles Northwest of Bermuda, U-754 sinks Norwegian tanker MV Kollskegg carrying 14300 tons of crude and refined oil (4 killed). 38 survivors abandon ship in 3 lifeboats (1 is rescued quickly by Panamanian SS Bushranger but 2 lifeboats drift in severe gales until picked up on April 14 by a Canadian warship).

10 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-552 sinks British MV British Splendour carrying 10,000 tons of benzene at 4.17 AM (11 crew and 1 gunner killed, 41 survivors picked up by escort vessel anti-submarine trawler HMS St. Zeno) and Norwegian whale factory ship SS Lancing at 10.52 AM (1 killed, 49 survivors in 4 lifeboats picked up by American tanker Pan Rhode Island).

Bataan, Philippines. At 10 AM, a Japanese dive bomber hits an ammunition truck passing by American field hospital No.1, sending many patients sprawling from their beds. Japanese aircraft return and bomb the hospital buildings, despite large red crosses on the roofs, killing 89 patients and wounding 101. The pharmacy is also hit, destroying most drug stocks. Following a 3 hour artillery and air bombardment, Japanese attack US II Corps dug in along the San Vicente River (which runs from Mount Samat 5 miles East to the coast). Filipino troops on the coast are routed by noon, while the Western end of the line is turned by Japanese troops moving along a network of communication trails cleared by the Americans behind Mount Samat. San Vicente line crumbles in disarray as retreating units become separated in the jungle. II Corps establishes a new line with about 1200 men on the Mamala River but this is abandoned at 9 PM and they withdraw 2.5 miles South to better positions on the Alangan River.

At 1 PM 40 miles North of Sid Barrani, Egypt, U-453 hits British hospital ship HMHS Somersetshire with 3 torpedoes (2 killed, 114 crew, 64 medical staff and 2 stewardesses abandon ship in 13 lifeboats). The crew reboards and HMHS Somersetshire reaches Alexandria under her own steam.

Mediterranean. British tugs HMS Emily and HMS Hellespont are sunk during air raids on Malta. At 5.30 PM 7 miles South of Petrovac, Croatia, British submarine HMS Turbulent sinks Italian freighter Rosa M. with 39 rounds from the deck gun.

Indian Ocean. At 7.20 PM 300 miles West of Bombay, Japanese submarine I-6 sinks British freighter Bahadur carrying 5,100 tons of supplies and ammunition.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day 949 April 6, 1942

At 8.07 AM 30 miles Southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, U-160 torpedoes US tanker MV Bidwell. The cargo of 83,144 barrels of fuel oil ignites, sending flames 150 feet into the air (second mate is sprayed with burning oil and dies). The crew makes emergency repairs and takes MV Bidwell into Hampton Roads, Virginia, under her own power (repaired at Norfolk, Virginia, and returned to service).

At 5 PM 250 miles Northwest of Bermuda, U-571 torpedoes Norwegian tanker MV Koll and the cargo of 96,067 barrels of diesel oil catches fire (2 killed). 33 survivors abandon ship in 3 lifeboats; 1 is rescued quickly but 2 lifeboats drift for 10 days in severe gales until found (1 man dies of exposure).

Mediterranean. British destroyer HMS Havock, sailing from Malta to Gibraltar for repairs to damage suffered in the Second Battle of Sirte on March 22, runs aground in shallows off Cape Bon, Tunisia and is scuttled by her crew. British tug HMS West Cocker is sunk during an air raid on Malta.

Operation C, Japanese Navy raid in the Indian Ocean. Most Japanese warships retire Southeast of Ceylon into the Indian Ocean and sink 16 Allied freighters, while aircraft carrier Ryūjō sends aircraft to raid the towns of Vizagapatam and Cocanada on the East coast of India (sinking 3 ships). At 4 PM Southwest of India near the Maldive Islands, Japanese submarine I-4 sinks US freighter Washingtonian.

Philippines. American/Filipino troops have fallen back so fast in the center of the Bataan peninsula that Japanese infantry pause for the day to bring up supplies. US forces are given no time to reorganise, however, as Japanese bombers attack artillery positions, troop concentrations, command posts and roads.

Burma. Royal Indian Navy sloop HMIS Indus, in dock at Akyab (now Sitwe) is hit by 3 bombs during a Japanese air-raid and sinks (no casualties).

Overnight, RAF Bomber Command sends 157 bombers (110 Wellingtons, 19 Stirlings, 18 Hampdens and 10 Manchesters) to bomb Essen, Germany, but most turn back due to a severe storm and complete cloud cover over Essen. 2 Hampdens, 1 Manchester, 1 Wellington and 1 Stirling are lost.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day 948 April 5, 1942

At 4.47 AM 7 miles off Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, U-552 torpedoes US tanker SS Byron D. Benson which catches fire and sprays burning oil over the water. All 37 crew abandon ship in 2 lifeboats without stopping the engines so the burning tanker keeps moving and sinks 3 days later. 10 men die when their lifeboat catches fire.

Operation C, Japanese Navy raid in the Indian Ocean. 36 Aichi D3A2 dive bombers and 53 Nakajima B5N2 torpedo bombers from the Japanese carriers, escorted by 36 Zero fighters, attack the British naval base at Colombo, Ceylon. They wreck dock facilities and sink several ships including British destroyer HMS Tenedos in dock for repairs in Colombo harbour (33 dead) and armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector in dry dock. 25 RAF aircraft (19 fighters and 6 Swordfish torpedo bombers) and 7 Japanese aircraft are shot down in dogfights over the city. At midday, a reconnaissance floatplane from Japanese cruiser Tone locates British cruisers HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire 200 miles Southwest of Ceylon. 53 dive bombers and torpedo bombers sink HMS Dorsetshire at 1.50 PM (234 killed) and HMS Cornwall at 2 PM (190 killed). 1,122 men from both ships are rescued by British cruiser HMS Enterprise and destroyers HMS Paladin & HMS Panther.

Bataan, Philippines. Japanese advance continues, wiping out Philippine 21st Infantry Division on Mount Samat. Allied commander in the Philippines, General Wainwright, realizes that his starving troops cannot hold the line and doubles their rations, either to give them strength or to prevent the Japanese getting the supplies.

Malta. Italian bombing of Valetta Harbour damages beyond repair HMS Abingdon, the last British minesweeper on Malta (beached and recovered for scrap after the war) and finally wrecks British destroyer HMS Gallant (being rebuilt at Pinto's Wharf after losing her bow to a mine on January 10). Italian bombers also hit destroyer HMS Lance which is under repair after hitting a mine.

Having survived the Soviet onslaught over the Winter, Hitler issues Führer Directive No. 41 with instructions for a renewed offensive against USSR. "Case Blue" (Fall Blau) comprises a two-pronged attack against the oilfields in the Caucasus (between the Black Sea to the West and the Caspian Sea to the East) and an advance along the Volga River towards Stalingrad.

At 11.18 PM just off the Northeast coast of the Dominican Republic, U-154 sinks US tanker SS Catahoula carrying molasses (7 killed, 38 survivors on 1 lifeboat and a raft picked up by US destroyer USS Sturtevant).

Overnight, RAF Bomber Command sets another record, sending 263 bombers (179 Wellingtons, 44 Hampdens, 29 Stirlings, 11 Manchesters) to attack the Humboldt Engineering Works Company at Kalk near Köln, Germany. The raid misses the Humboldt works by 5 miles (4 Wellingtons and 1 Hampden are lost). A bomber which crashed in Köln explodes killing 16 spectators and injuring 30.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day 947 April 4, 1942

Siege of Leningrad Day 209. 62 Luftwaffe Stuka dive bombers and 70 other bombers escorted by 59 Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighters attack Soviet fleet at Kronstadt. Battleship October Revolution is hit 4 times, cruiser Maxim Gorky suffers 7 hits while battleship Petropavlovsk, cruiser Kirov and destroyers Silny and Grozyashchi are also damaged.

Siege of Sevastopol Day 108. German shelling finally destroys Soviet destroyer Sovershenny )under repair after being bombed and capsizing on November 12, 1941).

Greek submarine RHS Glavkos is sunk by bombing at Malta.

Bataan, Philippines. Japanese advance up and around Mount Samat. General Parker (US II Corps commander) sends in his reserve, to prevent Japanese control of artillery positions on Mount Samat that dominate the entire Orion-Bagac line. However, most men in the US 31st Regiment are too sick from malaria or dysentery to march into position. MacArthur, from Australia and out of touch with the realities of the situation, orders General Wainwright (Allied commander in the Philippines) that “under no conditions should Bataan be surrendered – any action is preferable to capitulation”.

Operation C, Japanese Navy raid in the Indian Ocean. In the evening 400 mile South of Ceylon, a Canadian PBY Catalina seaplane (flown by Squadron Leader Leonard Birchall, 413 Squadron, RCAF) spots a Japanese carrier fleet. The 6 aircraft carriers Akagi, Ryūjō, Hiryū, Sōryū, Shōkaku, and Zuikaku, commanded by Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, had left Staring Bay, Celebes, on March 26. A Zero fighter from carrier Hiryū shoots down the Catalina after Squadron Leader Birchall radios the location of the Japanese fleet (3 killed, Birchall and the rest of his crew made POWs).

At 11.29 PM 200 miles off Ivory Coast, West Africa, U-505 sinks Dutch SS Alphacca (15 killed, 57 survivors in 4 lifeboats make land near Las Palmas, Ivory Coast). At 11.35 PM 200 miles North of Puerto Rico, U-154 the unescorted Comol Rico (3 dead, 39 survivors on 1 lifeboat and 3 rafts are rescued 2 days later by US destroyer USS Sturtevant).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Day 946 April 3, 1942

At 3.40 AM in the Indian Ocean 500 miles South of India, Japanese submarine I-7 sinks British MV Glenshiel, carrying 1000 tons of general cargo and 12 passengers from Bombay to Fremantle, Australia (all hands and passengers rescued by British destroyer HMS Fortune and landed at Colombo, Ceylon).

At 3.40 AM 10 miles off Chincoteague Inlet, Virginia, U-552 surfaces and fires 93 rounds from the deck gun at US colier David H. Atwater. SS David H. Atwater is set on fire by about 50 hits and sinks (24 crew jump overboard and drown, 3 survivors swim to an empty lifeboat and are picked up by US Coast Guard CG-218).

Philippines campaign is the only Japanese offensive behind schedule so General Homma’s command is reinforced with 50,000 troops from other theaters (including China, the sacred cow of Japanese strategic planning) plus heavy artillery, including the WWI-era Type 96 240mm siege howitzer. The renewed offensive opens with a massive bombardment of American positions on the Orion-Bagac line from 9 AM to 3 PM by 300 guns and 100 aircraft. At 3 PM, Japanese troops attack up the face of Mount Samat, in the center of the line, shattering the defenses of the demoralised, diseased and starving Filipino 41st Infantry Division.

At 11.49 AM 200 miles East of Virginia Beach, Virginia, U-754 sinks American SS Otho carrying 4400 tons of manganese ore, 1300 tons of palm oil and 750 tons of tin from Gold Coast, West Africa, to Philadelphia (32 dead and 21 survivors).

Off Gelendzhik on the Caucasus (Eastern) shore of the Black Sea, Soviet destroyer Shaumian runs aground and is wrecked (later salvaged for scrap). German bombers sink Polish SS Tobruk and British steamers New Westminster City and Empire Starlight, from convoy PQ13, in harbor at Murmansk. U-702 goes missing in the North Sea 100 miles off Norwegian coast, possibly hitting a drifting mine (all 44 hands lost).

6 USAAF B-17 bombers (10th Air Force) fly from Asansol, Northeast India, to bomb docks at Rangoon, Burma, starting 3 fires in warehouses (1 B-17 lost).

In the South Atlantic, German raider Thor stops Norwegian vessel Aust with shellfire and sinks her after taking off the crew.

At 11.31 PM 200 miles off Ivory Coast, West Africa, U-505 American SS West Irmo (10 African stevedores killed, 35 crew and 55 stevedores rescued by British minesweeping trawler HMS Copinsay).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 945 April 2, 1942

At 7.18 AM 17 miles off Cape Fear, North Carolina, U-123 shells US tanker SS Liebre with the deck gun for 35 minutes. SS Liebre is set on fire by about 10 hits (9 killed, 25 survivors escape in 2 lifeboats) before British motor torpedo boat MTB-332 chases off U-123. SS Liebre is towed into Morehead City, North Carolina, by tug Resolute and British anti-submarine trawler HMS St. Zeno (repaired at Baltimore and returned to service on July 19).

Doolittle Raid. At Naval Air Station Alameda, Oakland, California, US aircraft carrier USS Hornet departs carrying 16 B-25 2-engine bombers (80 crewmen, 5 for each bomber, led by Colonel James Doolittle, and 201 Army maintenance personnel). Their goal is to raid Tokyo, Japan, 5000 miles West.

In the Arabian Sea 350 miles West of India, Japanese submarine I-6 sinks British SS Clan Ross carrying 3,655 tons of general cargo and 1,027 tons of explosives to Cochin, India (11 killed, 38 survivors given water, biscuits and bearings to Bombay by I-6 and later rescued by Norwegian merchant L.A. Christensen).

Burma. Japanese troops dislodge Indian 17th Division from Prome where they have been holding a rearguard position to allow British tanks and infantry to retreat up the Irrawaddy River valley 120 miles North to protect the oilfields at Yenangyaung. Overnight, 3 USAAF B-17 bombers (10th Air Force) fly from Calcutta, Northeast India, to bomb Japanese shipping in the Andaman Islands, off the coast of Burma, claiming hits on 1 cruiser and a transport ship.

Following an unsuccessful bombing raid the night before, RAF Bomber Command sends 40 Wellingtons and 10 Stirlings overnight to attack the Ford motor factory at Poissy, a suburb of Northwest Paris. Luftwaffe bombs the English South coast towns of Dover and Weymouth overnight.