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.

1 comment:

  1. My father was a doctor in the South Pacific in WWII with the 92nd Evac Hospital. He kept extensive diaries, and my mother, aunt, and grandmothers kept many of his letters. He was also one of the fortunate ones to have a camera. I am combining all of those, plus newspaper articles, in a blog:
    I am delighted to have found this site!