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.

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