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.

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