Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 1005 June 1, 1942

German and Italian troops and tanks, with Rommel personally taking charge, break through the British perimeter and overrun 150th Brigade “box” at Sidi Muftah in bitter hand-to-hand fighting. A relief column sent by the British along the Trigh Capuzzo and Trigh el Abd desert tracks is stopped by Rommel's anti-tank screen. 3000 British troops surrender, after their commander Brigadier Clive Haydon is killed by shellfire. This allows Rommel to secure supply lines North and South of the British who have been harrying his trucks with artillery fire. Capture of this “box” also completes the encirclement of the French in the fort at Bir Hacheim.

8 merchant ships from convoy PQ-16 arrive at Archangelsk, USSR. German Ju-88 bombers attack the unloading freighters, sinking the SS Steel Worker and damaging Soviet submarine SC-404.

In the Atlantic 320 miles East of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-404 sinks American SS West Notus with gunfire (4 dead, 36 survivors). Another 360 miles East, U-566 sinks British SS Westmoreland (3 dead, 65 survivors).

Caribbean. Off the Western end of Cuba, U-107 sinks Panamanian SS Bushranger at 3.54 AM (17 killed, 7 survivors on a raft picked up by a US Navy Catalina aircraft on June 7, another 19 survivors on 3 rafts that stayed together rescued by US Coast Guard cutter USS Nike on June 12). U-106 sinks American SS Hampton Roads at 11.40 AM (7 killed, 23 survivors picked up by American SS Alcoa Pathfinder). At 11.51 PM between St. Lucia and St. Vincent, U-156 sinks neutral Brazilian SS Alegrete (all 64 hands escape in 4 lifeboats).

Overnight, 956 RAF bombers attack Essen, Germany (545 Wellingtons, 127 Halifaxes, 77 Stirlings, 74 Lancasters, 71 Hampdens, 33 Manchesters and 29 Whitleys). Due to low cloud, bombing is very inaccurate and towns are hit all over the Ruhr valley. 15 Wellingtons, 8 Halifaxes, 4 Lancasters, 1 Hampden, 1 Manchester, 1 Stirling, 1 Whitley are lost.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Day 1004 May 31, 1942

At 1.40 AM 25 miles West of Nova Scotia, U-432 sinks Canadian SS Liverpool Packet (2 dead and 19 survivors reach nearby Seal Island). At 2.52 AM 200 miles southeast of Bermuda, U-506, which is out of torpedoes, sinks British SS Fred W Green with 34 rounds from the deck gun (5 killed, 36 survivors including 6 wounded in 2 lifeboats rescued next day by US destroyer USS Ludlow).

In the Black Sea, Soviet submarine SC-214 sinks Turkish vessel Mahbubdihan which is suspected of running supplies to German troops.

Libya. 90 miles West of Bengazi, British submarine HMS Proteus sinks Italian merchant ship Gino Allegri. At Bir Hakeim fort, the water supply is critically low (Rommel had ‘released’ 620 thirsty Indian POWs captured from 3rd Indian Motor Brigade on May 26 and sent them to the fort); however, 50 trucks (101st motorized company) arrive with water and then evacuate the Indians, Italian prisoners and the wounded. With Rommel “trapped” in the Cauldron, British General Ritchie writes to his superior General Auchinleck “Now I’ve got him in the hollow of my hand”. But it is Rommel who attacks, coming West out of the Cauldron with large numbers of tanks to assail the British 150th Brigade “box” where battle rages all night.

In the South Atlantic 500 miles Northwest of Natal, Brazil, British Royal Fleet Auxilliary tanker RFA Dinsdale is sunk, on her maiden voyage, by Italian submarine Comandante Cappellini with 4 of 6 torpedoes fired (5 killed).

Japanese submarine I-10 launches its floatplane to survey the damage from last night’s midget submarine attack on Diego Suarez harbor, Madagascar.

Overnight, Luftwaffe bombs Canterbury in Southeast England, in retaliation for the bombing of Cologne last night.

Overnight, 3 Japanese midget submarines (each carrying 2 men) are launched from I-22, I-24, I-27, 7 miles offshore, and enter Sydney harbor. At 10.35 PM, 1 midget submarine gets caught in torpedo nets and is blown up by the crew (both crew killed) while another is detected and sunk by depth charges from Australian auxiliary patrol boats HMAS Steady Hour, HMAS Sea Mist, and HMAS Yarroma at 5 AM next morning (both crew killed). However, midget submarine M-24 fires 2 torpedoes at US cruiser USS Chicago just after midnight (both miss USS Chicago). One passes underneath Dutch submarine K-9 then hits a breakwater where barracks vessel HMAS Kuttabul is tied up. HMAS Kuttabul breaks apart and sinks (19 Royal Australian Navy and 2 Royal Navy sailors killed, 10 wounded). M-24 escapes from the harbour and is abandoned in 180 feet of water 13 miles North (the fate of her crew is unknown).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 1003 May 30, 1942

Overnight, Japanese submarine I-10 launches its floatplane over the harbor at Diego Suarez, Madagascar, spotting British battleship HMS Ramillies plus a tanker, a freighter and an ammunition ship. At 5.40 PM, I-16 and I-20 send midget submarines M-16b and M-20b into the harbor from 10 miles offshore (I-18’s midget M-18b cannot launch due to engine trouble). At 8.25, M-20b fires a 17.7-inch torpedo into HMS Ramillies, opening a 30-foot hole near the forward turret (15-inch guns) and flooding magazines and shell rooms (HMS Ramillies will be towed to Durban, South Africa, for temporary repairs, then sail to Plymouth, England, in August under her own steam and return to service in June 1943). At 9.20 PM, as corvettes HMS Genista and HMS Thyme drop depth charges, M-20b fires the 2nd torpedo and sinks British tanker British Loyalty. The 2-man crew of M-20b escape but are killed by Royal Marines 3 days later.

At dawn, Japanese submarine I-25 prepares to launch her floatplane to reconnoiter Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and Fort Mears, on Unalaska Island in the Aleutian Islands, when lookouts spot an American cruiser. I-25 cannot dive with her plane on deck, but the cruiser passes by without noticing her.

At 6.51 AM 500 miles East of Barbados, U-155 sinks Norwegian MV Baghdad (9 dead, 21 survivors). At 10.24 AM 500 miles East of Cape Charles, Virginia, U-404 sinks US freighter SS Alcoa Shipper carrying 8340 tons of bauxite ore (7 killed 25 survivors on 3 rafts are questioned by the Germans and given several bottles of rum, cigarettes and a dungarees for a man with little clothing, then rescued 56 hours later by Norwegian steamer Margrethe Bakke).

At 9 AM, Admiral Fletcher’s Task Force 17 (aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, cruisers USS Astoria and USS Portland and 6 destroyers) leaves Pearl Harbor to meet up with Spruance’s Task Force 16. USS Yorktown has undergone minimal repairs in less than 3 days, compared to estimates of at least 2 weeks. Far from perfect, she can sail fast enough to intercept the Japanese at Midway and launch & recover her aircraft. This marvel of engineering will tip the scales at Midway and turn the tide against Japanese territorial expansion.

80 miles East of Okinawa, US submarine USS Pompano sinks the Japanese troop transport Atsuta Maru.

Despite continued Luftwaffe attacks, 21 ships from convoy PQ16 arrive at Murmansk, USSR (another 8 ships go to Archangelsk, arriving June 1).

70 miles West of Bengasi, Libya, British submarine HMS Proteus sinks the Italian merchant Bravo.

Overnight, RAF sends 1,047 aircraft (602 Wellingtons, 131 Halifaxes, 88 Stirlings, 79 Hampdens, 73 Lancasters, 46 Manchesters & 28 Whitleys) to attack Cologne, Germany, in the first 1,000 bomber raid (Operation Millennium). The goal is to overwhelm German night fighter and anti-aircraft defenses with sheer numbers. 868 bombers reach the target dropping 1,455 tons of explosives (2/3 incendiaries). 250 factories and 18,400 houses are destroyed or damaged mainly by fire (411 German civilians and 58 anti-aircraft gunners killed, 5,027 injured and 45,132 lose their homes). 41 RAF aircraft are lost.

Day 1002 May 29, 1942

An army of fitters, machinists and welders labours all night at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on US aircraft carrier USS Yorktown and, in the morning, she is refloated after only 1 day in drydock. Repairs continue as USS Yorktown is refueled and receives a new complement of aircraft and aircrews from Kaneohe Nava Air Station.

Caribbean. At 1.03 AM 60 miles west of St. Lucia, U-156 sinks British SS Norman Prince (16 killed; 32 survivors picked up by French merchant Angouleme, landed at Martinique and interned by Vichy French; radio officer Hubert John Tanner rescued after 2 days by US Coast Guard cutter USS Unalga). At 2.17 AM 10 miles off Rio Seco, Cuba, U-107 sinks British SS Western Head (24 crew lost, 6 survivors picked up by a US Navy patrol ship and landed at Guantanamo Bay). At 11.37 PM 54 miles South of Grand Cayman Island, U-50 sinks British SS Allister (15 crew lost, 8 survivors land at Port au Prince, Haiti).

Mediterranean. 40 miles Northeast of Tobruk, U-568 is forced to the surface and then scuttled by her crew, after 16 hours of depth charging by British destroyers HMS Hero, HMS Eridge and HMS Hurworth (all 47 hands survive). At 7 AM 135 miles Northwest of Benghazi, British submarine HMS Turbulent fires 4 torpedoes at 2 Italian merchant vessels escorted by 2 destroyers. 1 torpedo sinks Italian merchant Capo Arma while another torpedo runs in a circle over the top of the submarine and “with a great deal of luck” sinks Italian destroyer Emmanuele Pessagno.

Libya. In the morning, Italian Trieste Division finds a way through the British minefields to bring up supplies, despite heavy shelling from the British “boxes”. British General Ritchie is still slow in organizing an attack on the trapped Panzers with his greater number of tanks. In the Cauldron, Rommel pulls back to a series of ridges and hollows just East of the minefields which now serve to protect his flank. He uses a dense sandstorm to dig in anti-tank guns on the Sidra and Azlagh Ridges as a trap for the British armour. Afrika Korps commander General Ludwig Crüwell, leading the attack along the coast, is flying over the front line when he strays over British 150th Brigade “box” and his Storch light aircraft is shot down. The pilot is killed by the gunfire, the Storch crash lands and Crüwell is captured.

In the Black Sea, Soviet submarine A-3 sinks Romanian vessel Sulina and Soviet submarine SC-214 sinks Turkish vessel Hudarvendigar.

Battle of Kharkov ends with 25,000 Soviet troops killed and another 240,000 taken prisoner by the Germans. Red Army has lost most of 22 rifle divisions, 7 cavalry divisions and 15 tank brigades (540 aircraft, 1200 tanks and 2000 field guns and artillery pieces destroyed or captured). 25,000 Soviet stragglers reach safety in their own lines. German losses are 20,000 dead, wounded and missing.

In the Balabac Strait between Borneo and the Philippines, US submarine USS Swordfish sinks Japanese transport ship Tatsufuku Maru, which was damaged by torpedoes from USS Seal yesterday.

Japanese submarine I-21 launches its floatplane to reconnoiter Sydney, Australia.

Overnight, RAF sends 77 aircraft (31 Wellingtons, 20 Halifaxes, 14 Lancasters, 9 Stirlings, 3 Hampdens) to bomb the Gnome & Rhone factory at Paris/Gennevilliers, France. There is little damage to the factory, but 38 houses are destroyed with 34 French civilians killed and 167 injured. 4 Wellingtons and 1 Halifax are lost. Luftwaffe bombers attack Grimsby, England.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Day 1001 May 28, 1942

Japanese First Fleet, consisting of 7 battleships (the mighty Yamato [largest warship in the world], Mutsu, Nagato, Hyuga, Ise, Fuso and Yamashiro), light aircraft carrier Hosho, 3 cruisers, 21 destroyers and 4 oilers under the command of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, sails from Japan for Midway, 24 hours and 600 miles behind their carrier force. The Japanese have 2 aims at Midway. First, troops will occupy the island covered as usual by dive bombers from the carriers; second, dive and torpedo bombers will sink, damage and scatter US warships (especially US carriers) for final annihilation by the battleships.

At 6.45 AM, US aircraft carrier USS Yorktown moves into Dry Dock No.1 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, for a second day of repairs following the Battle of the Coral Sea. Yorktown’s engines and aircraft elevators are operation but 1 bomb penetrated the flightdeck and caused much damage below while 2 near-misses had caused exterior damage to the hull. Only essential repairs to the flighdeck and structural elements are performed. Around noon, Admiral Spruance’s Task Force 16 (aircraft carriers USS Enterprise and USS Hornet, cruisers USS Atlanta, USS Minneapolis, USS New Orleans, USS Northampton, USS Pensacola and USS Vincennes, 9 destroyers and 4 oilers) leaves Pearl Harbor to intercept the Japanese carrier fleet heading to Midway.

US submarine USS Salmon sinks Japanese passenger-cargo ship Ganges Maru in the South China Sea, 240 miles Southeast of Cam Ranh Bay, French Indochina.

Libya. Italian Ariete Division expects the fort at Bir Hacheim, defended by the Free French, to be a pushover. Having lost 32 tanks yesterday, Italians pause to consider their options. RAF bombers attack abandoned Italian tanks uncomfortably close to the fort, forcing the French out into no-man’s land to demolish them. In the Cauldron, Rommel’s attack runs out of steam in the face of British 1st and 7th Armoured Divisions. In addition, Italian Trieste Motorized Division has failed to find a way through the British minefields to bring up badly-needed supplies for the Panzers. However, Rommel's feint along the coast still dominates British General Ritchie’s thinking and he fails to grasp the opportunity to send his tanks en masse to annihilate Panzer Army Afrika.

In the Caribbean, U-103 sinks US tanker SS New Jersey 90 miles Southwest of Grand Cayman Island (26 survivors picked up after 33 hours by US destroyer USS Tattnall, 15 survivors picked up by US destroyer USS Biddle on June 1) and U-502 sinks American SS Alcoa Pilgrim (31 killed, 9 survivors picked up 6 days later by American SS Thomas Nelson).

In the Gulf of Mexico, U-106 sinks British SS Mentor (4 killed, 75 crew and 7 gunners picked up after 3 days by the British SS Antilochus). 150 miles East of Martinique, U-155 sinks Dutch SS Poseidon (all 32 hands lost). 525 miles East of Daytona Beach, Florida, U-506 sinks British SS Yorkmoor with 55 rounds from the deck gun, being out of torpedoes (all 45 hands in 2 lifeboats rescued on May 31 and June 4).

In the Barents Sea, 3 Soviet destroyers and 4 minesweepers join convoy PQ-16 providing anti-aircraft firepower to drive off the Luftwaffe attacks.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 1000 May 27, 1942

Just after midnight 340 miles North of Bermuda, U-578 sinks Dutch MV Polyphemus (15 Chinese crew members killed). 60 survivors (including 14 survivors from Norwegian tanker MV Norland picked up by Polyphemus on 25 May near Bermuda) in 5 lifeboats are questioned by U-578 and given a heading for New York. On 29 May, 1 lifeboat is provided with water and given further directions by U-566. 2 lifeboats are rescued by a Portugese ship after 1 week. The other 3 lifeboats land at Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.

Libya. Overnight, Rommel attacks with all his tanks around the Southern (desert) end of the Allied defenses. On his left, Italian Ariete Division engages 3rd Indian Motor Brigade (200 killed and wounded, 1000 taken prisoner) at dawn for 3 hours, before moving on to the old Ottoman fort at Bir Hacheim where they are stopped by 1st Free French Brigade under General Marie-Pierre Koenig. The French fire turn-of-the-century 75mm field guns over open sights in anti-tank role and destroy 32 tanks in 45 minutes. In the middle, 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions seek out the main British armour, advancing 25 miles until stopped South of Bir El Harmat at noon by British 1st Armoured Division. Furthest to the East on Rommel's right flank, 90th Light Division reaches El Adem (only 10 miles South of Tobruk) by mid-morning, overrunning several supply bases and 7th Armoured Division’s HQ as well as temporarily capturing Divisional commander General Frank Messervy. Despite these setbacks, General Ritchie’s Southern defenses have held and the German tanks are now trapped between minefields to the West and numerically-superior British armour to the North and East, in an area about 100 square miles that will become known as the Cauldron.

At 3.19 AM 1260 miles Northwest of St. Barts, Leeward Islands, U-172 sinks British tanker MV Athelknight (9 dead; 25 survivors picked up after 28 days by British SS Empire Austin; 18 survivors in a lifeboat land at St. Barts on June 23).

At 10.51 AM 100 miles Southwest of Port Salut, Haiti, U-558 sinks US Army transport ship Jack carrying 59,000 100-pound bags of sugar from Puerto Rico (27 crew, 3 gunners and 7 US Army passengers killed; 16 survivors in a lifeboat picked up by US submarine USS Grunion on May 31; 7 survivors on a raft picked up after 32 days).

At 11.03 AM in the Gulf of Mexico, U-753 sinks Norwegian tanker MV Hamlet (all 36 hands escape in lifeboats which are towed to Morgan City, Louisiana by fishing boats).

Luftwaffe attacks convoy PQ-16 all day. British SS Lowther Castle is sunk by He111 torpedo bombers. Ju-88s sink American SS Alamar & SS Mormacsul, British SS Empire Purcell & British CAM ship Empire Lawrence. Several other ships are damaged including Polish destroyer Garland & American SS City of Joliet, which sinks the following morning.

Battle of Kharkov. Germans continue reducing the Soviet forces trapped in the Izium pocket and snuff out the Eastward breakout, recapturing the town of Lozovenka.

Czechoslovakians Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík (flown from England to Czechoslovakia on December 28 1941 by the British Special Operations Executive) ambush SS-Obergruppenführer Richard Heydrich in the Prague suburb of Libeň, as he drives to meet Hitler in Berlin. Heydrich suffers severe injuries to his diaphragm, spleen and lung from a converted anti-tank mine thrown at the car (and will die of sepsis on June 4).

In the North Sea 43 miles East of Great Yarmouth, British minesweeper HMS Fitzroy hits a British mine and sinks (12 killed). A German Ju87 Stuka dive bomber sinks British anti-submarine trawler HMT Arctic Pioneer off Portsmouth Harbour, England (18 killed, 16 survivors).

At 2.20 PM, US aircraft carrier USS Yorktown arrives at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, for repairs following the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 8 (repair estimates range between 2 weeks and 3 months). Admiral Frank Fletcher is surprised to learn that his Task Force 17 (with USS Yorktown) will leave for Midway Atoll in 2 days. Yorktown’s crew is dismayed not to get time to recover Stateside but repair work stats immediately.

5000 Japanese troops aboard 12 transports, escorted by cruiser Jintsu and 10 destroyers (commanded by Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka), leave Saipan and Guam for the invasion of Midway Atoll. Japanese First Carrier Striking (4 aircraft carriers Akagi, Hiryū, Kaga and Sōryū, battleship Kirishima, cruisers Mikuma, Chikuma, Tone and Haruna and 12 other vessels under the command of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo) leaves Japan in support of the invasion.

Japanese submarine I-25 launches its floatplane to reconnoiter US Navy's Naval Air Station Kodiak, on Kodiak Island near the mainland of Alaska, and spots a US cruiser and 2 destroyers. The intelligence is so important to their planned attack on the Aleutian Islands that another submarine I-26 lurks nearby to recover the floatplane, in case I-25 cannot. Japanese submarine I-19 dives while preparing to launch its floatplane off Bogoslof Island, in the Aleutian Islands, when lookouts think they spot a US destroyer (the aircraft is destroyed).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day 999 May 26, 1942

At 2.59 AM 780 miles Northeast of Iceland, U-703 attacks convoy PQ-16 hitting American SS Syros with 2 torpedoes, exploding ammunition in the 6390 tons of general war cargo. SS Syros breaks in 2 and sinks within 80 seconds (9 killed, 30 survivors picked up from the freezing sea by British minesweeper HMS Hazard but 2 die of exposure). Luftwaffe attacks on the convoy are unsuccessful.

Battle of Kharkov. Soviet troops continue attempting to breakout East towards the Soviet lines, but only advance 1 mile to the town of Lozovenka. Germans squeeze the surviving Red Army soldiers into an area of 15 square kilometers

Libya. While the British lay elaborate plans for their coming offensive, Rommel’s aims are simpler. He wants to get his tanks around the Allied defensive line to create havoc in their rearguard areas. Previous experience suggests this will precipitate an Allied flight back into Egypt, allowing Rommel to capture Tobruk. At 4 PM, after intensive bombing from German and Italian aircraft to break up the minefields, General Ludwig Crüwell attacks along the coast near Gazala with 4 Italian infantry divisions and some German motorized infantry. But this is a feint by Rommel; Crüwell has no tanks, only small aircraft engines mounted on trucks to stir up a massive dustcloud. While British General Ritchie congratulates himself for having place most of his infantry near the coast road to prevent a direct drive on Tobruk, all Rommel's tanks (German 15th and 21st Panzer and 90th light Divisions, plus Italian Ariete Division) are poised to attack around the Southern end of the Allied line.

At 4.16 AM 125 miles Northwest of Montego Bay, Jamaica, U-103 sinks American SS Alcoa Carrier carrying 6500 tons of general cargo (all 35 hands escape in 2 lifeboats; 33 picked up 4 days later by a Cuban gunboat and 2 by a US Navy aircraft). At 11 AM in the Gulf of Mexico, U-106 sinks US tanker SS Carrabulle carrying 42,307 barrels of liquid asphalt (22 killed, 18 survivors picked up 15 hours later by American steamer SS Thompson Lykes).

I-9’s floatplane again reconnoiters Kiska Island at the western end of the Aleutian Islands.

In the Gulf of Mexico from 8 PM until 4 AM next morning, U-106 stalk American SS Atenas and the 2 ships exchange gunfire (U-106’s deck gun is out of order, so the 37 mm anti-aircraft gun is used instead). 7 holes in SS Atenas’ hull are plugged and 2 small fires are extinguished, allowing her to proceed to Cristóbal, Panama.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 998 May 25, 1942

At 1.34 AM 50 miles Southwest of Kingston, Jamaica, U-558 sinks American SS Beatrice (1 killed, 30 survivors). At 3.52 PM off Martinique, U-156 hits US destroyer USS Blakeley with a torpedo that blows away 60 feet of bow (6 killed, 116 survivors). USS Blakeley reaches Port de France, Martinique, for emergency repairs then limps back to Philadelphia with additional repairs in Port Castries, Santa Lucia, and in San Juan, Puerto Rico. USS Blakeley will be repaired with the bow donated by her sister ship USS Taylor and return to service in September.

At 8.53 PM 10 miles of the coast of New Jersey, U-593 sinks Panamanian tanker MV Persephone carrying 80,000 barrels of crude oil (9 dead and 28 survivors). MV Persephone breaks in 2 and sinks in only 50 feet of water where she is broken up and recycled.

Japanese submarine I-9 launches its floatplane to reconnoiter airfields on Adak Island and Kanaga Island (part of USA at the western end of the Aleutian Islands). Japanese Northern Area Fleet (2 small aircraft carriers, 5 cruisers, 12 destroyers, 6 submarines, and 4 troop transports, commanded by Admiral Boshiro Hosogaya) leaves Japan for the invasion of the Aleutian Islands (which is a diversion to draw US warships away from the planned Japanese attack on Midway Atoll).

US submarines have a busy day. 125 miles Southwest of Tokyo, Japan, USS Drum sinks Japanese merchant Kitakata Maru. 50 miles West of Okinawa, Japan, USS Pompano sinks small Japanese tanker Tokyo Maru. 440 miles Southwest of Ulithi, Caroline Islands, USS Tautog sinks Japanese merchant Shoka Maru

Battle of Kharkov. Soviet troops encircled in the Izium pocket attempt an organized breakout. Deprived of tanks and armoured vehicles by previous Luftwaffe bombing, Soviet infantry launch frontal assaults East towards Chepel. They are slaughtered by Germans shelling and bombing even before they leave the assembly areas. German pressure on all sides contracts the pocket to a strip 10 miles by 2 miles.

Convoy PQ16 (21 American, 4 Soviet, 8 British, 1 Dutch and 1 Panamanian merchant ships, escorted by British CAM ship Empire Lawrence) from Iceland to Archangel and Murmansk, USSR, is spotted by a German Focke-Wulf 200 reconnaissance aircraft 475 miles Northeast of Iceland. In the evening, He111 torpedo-bombers and Ju88 bombers attack the convoy. A near miss damages American SS Carlton which is towed back to Iceland. A Hurricane launched by Empire Lawrence shoots down 1 Heinkel.

General Sun Li Jen’s Chinese 38th Infantry Division crosses into India, having withdrawn from Burma along with British and Indian forces. In India, Chinese 30th, 22nd and 38th Divisions will be incorporated into X Force while General Sun Li Jen builds an unlikely relationship with American General “Vinegar” Joe Stilwell.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 997 May 24, 1942

Caribbean. At 1.15 PM 100 miles South of Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, U-502 sinks neutral Brazilian SS Gonçalves Dias by mistake (6 dead, 39 survivors). At 4.40 PM 60 miles Northwest of Grand Cayman Island, U-103 sinks Dutch MV Hector (2 killed, 29 survivors picked up by American tanker FQ Barstow).

In Libya, General Neil Ritchie prepares with typical British thoroughness for an offensive against Rommel, finalizing all the details for a massive attack in June. In addition to 850 tanks, he has amassed huge stockpiles of supplies and munitions at Tobruk and created supply dumps in the desert. Just in case Rommel should attack first, British defenses on the Gazala-Bir Hacheim line consist of a series of dug-in infantry “boxes” (well-provisioned trench systems equipped with artillery, anti-tank guns and anti-aircraft guns) interspersed with large, densely-sown minefields. Most of Ritchie’s troops are concentrated near the coast, but further inland the “boxes” are too far apart to provide mutual support. Most of the British tanks (1st and 7th Armoured Divisions) wait 20 miles behind this line as a mobile reserve.

Battle of Kharkov. Germans quickly begin reducing the Soviet Armies encircled in the Izium pocket, using artillery, tanks and Luftwaffe bombing.

Japanese submarine I-21 launches its floatplane to reconnoiter Auckland, New Zealand. In a case of mistaken identity, New Zealanders turn on the landing lights at Auckland airport. I-9 launches its floatplane to reconnoiter Kiska Island and Amchitka Island (part of USA at the western end of the Aleutian Islands).

20 miles Northeast of Formosa (Taiwan), US submarine USS Pompano sinks Japanese fishing vessel Kotoku Maru with the deck gun.

Overnight, Luftwaffe bombers attack the Royal Navy seaplane training center at Poole, Dorset, on the South coast of England.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Day 996 May 23, 1942

Just after midnight, 150 miles southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U-432 sinks British SS Zurichmoor (all 45 hands lost). At 10 PM in the same area, U-588 sinks British SS Margot (1 killed, 44 survivors picked up 4 days later by Swedish merchant MV Sagoland).

In the Caribbean. At 9.26 AM 100 miles East of Cozumel, Mexico, U-103 sinks US tanker SS Samuel Q Brown (2 killed, 53 survivors spotted by a US Navy patrol plane from Upham, Canal Zone and picked up by the plane and US destroyer USS Goff). At 10 PM just off St. Vincent, U-155 sinks Panamanian SS Watsonville.

In Libya, Rommel’s Panzer Army Africa and General Neil Ritchie’s British 8th Army face each other along a line running from Gazala on the coast 40 miles inland to Bir Hacheim on the edge of the Great Sand Sea. Both sides are preparing major offensives; Rommel with 560 tanks including 228 Italian light tanks while Ritchie has amassed 850 tanks (including 167 of the faster, better armoured American M3 “Grant” tanks sporting a turret-mounted 37mm cannon and a 75-mm gun on the side of the hull).

Battle of Kharkov. German 14th and 16th Panzer Divisions from the South and 3rd and 23rd Panzer from the North meet, encircling Soviet 6th and 57th Armies. They quickly widen the gap, with 14th Panzer recapturing Chepel, preventing Soviet 38th Army counterattacks to break through from the East.

Off Burgas on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, Soviet submarine ShCh-205 sinks Turkish merchant SS Safak (possibly carrying war material to German forces on the Black Sea).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 995 May 22, 1942

Battle of Kharkov. German 14th and 16th Panzer Divisions chew through to Chepel and Bayrak from the South, while 3rd and 23rd Panzer Divisions, redeployed from the Northern salient, cross of the Donets River from the North at Chervonyi Donets and Krasnaia Gusarovka. They are only 5 miles apart. Soviet 38th Army, attempting to break through the narrowing neck and link up with the forces in the pocket, recaptures Chepel but can get no further.

East Timor. A highly-decorated Japanese major, the "Tiger of Singapore", leads a patrol from Dili on the coast to Remexio inland, in pursuit of Australian Sparrow Force guerrillas. Sparrow Force ambushes the column killing the "Tiger", riding a white horse at the head of the column, and 30 troops. The Japanese retreat back to Dili.

RAF Blenheim bombers (60 Squadron) fly from India across the Bay of Bengal to bomb Akyab (now Sitwe) on the coast of Burma. On the return flight, a lone Blenheim is attacked by 5 Nakajima Ki-43 fighters (64 Sentai) from Akyab. The Blenheim is saved by gunner Flight Sergeant Jock McLuckie who shoots down Japanese ace Lt. Colonel Tateo Katō, commander of 64th Sentai, and damages 2 other Ki-43s. Katō will be promoted posthumously 2 ranks to Major General and honored with a State Shinto ceremony at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine in October 1942. Rare propaganda fotage of Kato.

At 7.30 AM in the Gulf of Mexico 90 miles North of Cuba, U-753 stops British WWI-era 140 foot 3-masted schooner E.P. Theriault with gunfire and attempts to scuttle her with demolition charges. Badly damaged, E.P. Theriault remains afloat and drifts onto the Cuban Coast, where she is salvaged, repaired and returned to service as Ofelia Gancedo.

At 8.10 PM 200 miles East of Cape May, New Jersey, U-588 sinks American SS Plow City (1 killed; 30 survivors in 2 lifeboats, including 1 man who is questioned aboard the U-boat, are picked up after 5 days by US patrol yacht USS Sapphire). 465 miles Southeast of Bermuda, U-158 sinks Canadian SS Frank B. Baird with the deck gun (all 23 hands picked up by Norwegian merchant Talisman).

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day 994 May 21, 1942

Battle of Kharkov. German 6th Army and 1st Panzer Army continue closing the gap in the Izium salient, to prevent Soviet forces escaping from the pocket.

At 3.23 AM, U-159 attacks convoy OS-28 140 miles East of the Azores sinking British SS New Brunswick (3 dead and 59 survivors) and badly damaging British fleet oiler RFA Montenol (3 dead, 61 survivors picked up by British sloop HMS Wellington), which is abandoned and later scuttled.

In the Gulf of Mexico 40 miles West of Cuba, U-103 sinks American steamers SS Clare at 3.48 AM (all 40 hands reach Cuba) and SS Elizabeth at 04.15 hours (6 killed, 36 survivors). 75 miles further North at 4.21 AM, U-106 sinks neutral Mexican tanker SS Faja de Oro (10 killed, 27 survivors) which will, along with the sinking of Potrero del Llano by U-564 on May 14, lead to Mexico declaring war on Germany.

In the Caribbean, U-69 sinks Canadian SS Torondoc 60 miles Northwest of Martinique at 7.53 AM (all 21 hands escape in a 4 lifeboats and 2 rafts and are questioned by the U-boat but never seen again) and U-558 sinks Canadian SS Troisdoc 40 miles Northwest of Jamaica with shellfire at 7.17 PM (all 18 hands picked up by US Coast Guard cutter USS Mohawk). At 6.29 PM, U-156 sinks Dominican SS Presidente Trujillo just after leaving Fort de France, Martinique (24 dead, 15 survivors).

Japanese occupy Leyte Island and Samar Island, in the central Philippine Islands, unopposed following the US surrender on May 6.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 993 May 20, 1942

In the Caribbean, 40 miles Southwest of Grenada, U-155 torpedoes Panamanian tanker SS Sylvan Arrow (1 killed, 43 survivors are picked up by US destroyer USS Barney and taken to Port of Spain, Trinidad). The captain and 11 crew return to salvage the wreck of SS Sylvan Arrow, which is taken in tow by a tug on May 26 but breaks up and sinks on May 28. The captain and 11 crew will be taken to Curaçao sent to USA on Dutch passenger steamer SS Crijnssen, but their adventure is only just beginning.

In the Gulf of Mexico, U-753 sinks American SS George Calvert on her maiden voyage 50 miles Northwest of Cuba and U-506 torpedoes US tanker SS Halo which explodes and sinks rapidly 50 miles South of Louisiana (19 killed immediately, 23 survivors drift for 5-7 days but only 3 ultimately survive).

Battle of Kharkov. German 6th Army and 1st Panzer Army continue closing the trap on Soviet forces in the Izium salient. 14th Panzer Division captures Protopopovka, narrowing the gap to only 12 miles. Soviet withdrawal out of the salient is hampered by the Luftwaffe. Ju88 bombers pummel retreating Soviet tanks and armoured columns, while Ju87 Stuka dive bombers destroy 5 bridges over the Donets River and damage 4 more to prevent Soviet forces escaping from the pocket.

In the North Atlantic 500 miles East of Bermuda, U-108 sinks Norwegian tanker MV Norland (all 48 hands escape in 3 lifeboats and survive) and U-158 sinks British tanker MV Darina (6 killed, 50 survivors rescued up to 6 days later), both dispersed from convoy ON-93. In the middle of the South Atlantic at 6.45 PM, German armed merchant cruiser Michel stops Norwegian SS Kattegat with shellfire. Michel sinks SS Kattegat after taking off all 32 crew, who suffer various ordeals as they are sent to Japan, France and back to Norway.

In the Mediterranean 10 miles off Sollum, Egypt, U-431 sinks British SS Eocene (all 35 crew, 6 gunners and 2 army engineers picked up by British anti-submarine whaler HMS Cocker and taken to Tobruk).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 992 May 19, 1942

At 0.30 AM 600 miles North of Natal, Brazil, Italian submarine Cappellini uses torpedoes and shellfire to sink neutral Swedish ship MV Tisnaren despite large, illuminated Swedish flags painted on the sides (all 40 hands rescued). MV Tisnaren is carrying a cargo of Scotch whiskey from Manchester, England, to South America.

At 10.40 AM between Jamaica and Haiti, U-751 sinks American SS Isabela (3 dead, 34 survivors in 2 lifeboats reach Haiti.).

Gulf of Mexico. 100 miles North of Cancun, Mexico, U-103 sinks American SS Ogontz. The crew abandons ship in 2 lifeboats and 2 rafts but a falling mast sinks 1 lifeboat (19 killed, 22 survivors picked up next day by American tanker SS Esso Dover). At 8.56 AM 10 miles off the coast of Louisiana, U-506 sinks American passenger/cargo ship SS Heredia carrying 9 passengers and 1500 tons of bananas and coffee from Guatemala (36 killed, 26 survivors).

Battle of Kharkov. German General Paulus’ 6th Army, which has held the gap between the 2 Soviet salients, attacks the Northern flank of the larger Izium salient while German 1st Panzer Army continues cutting into the Southern side. Realising the possible encirclement of Soviet forces in the Izium salient, Stalin finally authorises the local commander Marshal Semyon Timoshenko to halt the offensive and more vigourously resist the German flanking attacks. German air superiority prevents the rapid deployment of the Soviet tanks from the Westward attack to the defensive.

At 11.53 AM in the Adriatic Sea 20 miles East of Bari, Italy, British submarine HMS Thrasher sinks Italian merchant Penelope.

Overnight, RAF sends 197 aircraft (105 Wellingtons, 31 Stirlings, 29 Halifaxes, 15 Hampdens, 13 Lancasters, 4 Manchesters) to raid Mannheim, Germany, but most bombs miss the town. 600 incendiaries cause fires in docks, killing 2 firemen. 4 Halifaxes, 4 Stirlings and 3 Wellingtons are lost. Luftwaffe aircraft attack Hull.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day 991 May 18, 1942

Battle of Kharkov. German 14th and 16th Panzer Divisions (1st Panzer Army) continue cutting into the Southern side of the Izium salient. The rapid German advance forces the Soviets to evacuate forward airfields at Izyum and Petrovskaia, reducing effective air support for the ground forces. Luftwaffe aircraft exploit this ruthlessly, destroying 130 tanks and 500 other vehicles. Strangely, Soviet 21st and 23rd Tank Corps continue their offensive, pushing further West.

10 miles off Burgas on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, Soviet submarine ShCh-205 sinks Turkish merchant SS Duatepe with torpedoes and schooner Kaynardzha with the deck gun. Small Turkish ships are believed to be carrying war material to German forces in the Crimea and on the Northern shores of the Black Sea.

German cruiser Prinz Eugen arrives at Kiel, Germany, from Norway.

British submarine HMS Turbulent arrives in the Gulf of Sirte for her 5th patrol. At 5.10 AM 50 miles Northwest of Benghazi, Libya, HMS Turbulent sinks Italian SS Bolsena which has been ferrying supplies from Italy to Rommel in Libya.

U-162 concludes a successful patrol off the Northern coast of South America near Barbados (sinking 9 ships for 47,181 tons). At 2.10 AM, U-162 sinks Norwegian tanker MV Beth (now a British Royal Fleet Auxiliary) carrying 10,109 tons of fuel oil.

In the Caribbean. At 6.15 AM 25 miles Northwest of North Caicos, U-558 sinks Dutch SS Fauna. 125 miles South of Cape Frances, Cuba, U-125 sinks US tanker MV Mercury Sun at 6.06 AM and American SS William J. Salman at 9.50 PM.

In the Atlantic 460 miles East of Martinique, U-156 sinks American SS Quaker City at 10.18 AM (10 killed, 29 survivors drift in 4 lifeboats for 4 to 8 days and 1 man later dies of his injuries). From 6.52 PM until 7.39 next morning, U-156 hits British tanker MV San Eliseo with 4 torpedoes but fails to sink the tanker which sails on and arrives at Barbados on May 20 for temporary repairs (returned to service after permanent repairs in USA).

Following the disruption of the Japanese invasion of Port Moresby, Papua, by the Battle of the Coral Sea, both Japan and the Allies move to secure Port Moresby. Australian 14th Militia Brigade moves there from Australia, while Japanese plan an overland attack from the North shore across the Owen Stanley mountain range.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 990 May 17, 1942

Battle of Kharkov. German 1st Panzer Army attacks into the base of the Izium salient, aiming to halt the Soviet offensive and encircle their Armies. After a 90 minute artillery barrage, tanks of Kleist's 3rd Panzer Corps attack with air support and crush the Soviet defenses on the edge of the salient, opening a 12 mile wide breach and advancing 10 miles to capture Barvenkovo. Despite this, Soviet forces continue pushing West, deeper into the pocket.

Caribbean. At 0.44 AM 200 miles South of Grand Cayman Island, U-103 uses the deck gun to sink American SS Ruth Lykes carrying 39,136 bags of coffee from Colombia to Houston (6 killed, 26 survivors). Near Grenada, U-155 sinks British tanker MV San Victorio on her maiden voyage at 2.17 AM (52 killed, 1 survivor gunner Anthony Ryan is picked up by US patrol yacht USS Turquoise and landed at Trinidad) and American MV Challenger at 9.52 AM (8 dead and 56 survivors in 2 lifeboats picked up 11 hours later by USS Turquoise).

480 miles East of Long Island, New York, U-135 sinks British lend-lease ship SS Fort Qu´Appelle on her maiden voyage (14 killed, 11 picked up by Canadian minesweeper HMCS Melville). 100 miles South, U-653 sinks British MV Peisander (all 65 hands picked up by US Coast Guard cutter General Greene).

At 5.34 AM in the Gulf of Mexico 75 miles South of the Mississippi River Delta, U-506 sinks US tanker SS Gulfoil (21 killed, 19 survivors on 2 liferafts picked up after 35 hours by US tanker SS Benjamin Brewster and taken to Galveston, Texas).

At 9.04 AM 500 miles East of Barbados, U-156 sinks British SS Barrdale (1 dead, 52 survivors including 1 rescued by the U-boat picked up by Argentinian passenger ship MV Rio Iguazi and landed at Pernambuco, Brazil).

At 6.04 PM in the fishing grounds 85 miles south of Nova Scotia, U-432 sinks tiny unarmed US trawler SS Foam (1 dead, 20 survivors). Nearby at the same time, U-588 sinks Norwegian SS Skottland (1 killed, 23 survivors).

Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku arrives back in Japan for repairs after the Battle of the Coral Sea. US submarine USS Triton searches but fails to find Shokaku. However, 430 miles Northwest of Okinawa, Japanese submarine I-64 surfaces in front of USS Triton which sinks I-64 from 6,200 yards with the last torpedo (all 81 hands lost).

70 miles South of the Japanese naval base at Truk, US submarine USS Tautog intercepts Japanese submarines returning from the Battle of the Coral Sea. At 6.48 AM, USS Tautog fires at I-22 and I-24, but misses. At 11.07 AM, USS Tautog sinks I-28 (all 88 hands lost).

US submarine USS Skipjack sinks the Japanese troop transport Tazan Maru in the Southern part of the South China Sea between French Indochina, Malaya and Dutch East Indies.

In the evening, 18 RAF bombers unsuccessfully attack German cruiser Prinz Eugen sails South along the Norwegian coast from Trondheim towards Kiel, Germany (3 aircraft shot down). Another 30 RAF aircraft are intercepted by Luftwaffe Me109 fighters and prevented from reaching Prinz Eugen (4 RAF aircraft and 3 Me109s are shot down in the resulting dogfight).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day 989 May 16, 1942

Gulf of Mexico. At midnight, U-507 sinks Honduran SS Amapala (1 killed, 56 survivors). At 11 AM off the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana, U-506 badly damages US tankers MV Sun and MV William C. McTarnahan. MV Sun reaches New Orleans for repairs under her own steam 14 hours later (all 48 hands survive). MV William C. McTarnahan (18 killed) is towed to Southwest Pass for repairs and 27 survivors on lifeboats and rafts are rescued by shrimp trawlers.

At 4.15 AM 200 miles East of the Bahamas, U-751 sinks American SS Nicarao, carrying 500 tons of fruit, bananas, coconuts and charcoal from Kingston, Jamaica, to Jacksonville, Florida (8 killed, 31 survivors picked up at midnight by US tanker Esso Augusta).

Kharkov offensive. Soviet 28th Army, the Northern pincer threatening Kharkov from the Volchansk salient, grinds to a standstill and goes over to the defensive. Southern pincer from the Izium salient continues to advance, with 6th Guards Cavalry Corps reaching the town of Krasnograd on the Berestovoy River. However, Soviet 21st and 23rd Tank Corps are still 15 miles behind the front and cannot reinforce the breakthrough. Meanwhile, German 1st Panzer Army prepares to counterattack and trap the Soviet troops in the giant Izium salient.

German cruiser Prinz Eugen sails from Trondheim, Norway, returning to Kiel, Germany, for repairs to torpedo damage from British submarine HMS Trident on February 23.

US submarine USS Tautog operates near the Japanese naval base at Truk to intercept Japanese ships returning from the Battle of the Coral Sea. USS Tautog torpedoes cargo ship Goyo Maru, which is beached.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Day 988 May 15, 1942

British cruiser HMS Trinidad is scuttled in the Barents Sea 170 miles North of Norway, to prevent further attacks on the stationary cruiser and her destroyer escort after being hit several times yesterday by German dive bombers and torpedo bombers (63 killed). After the crew is taken off by destroyers HMS Matchless, Foresight and Forester, the burning wreck of HMS Trinidad is sunk at dawn by 3 torpedoes from HMS Matchless.

At 2.54 AM 420 miles Northeast of Barbados, U-156 sinks Norwegian MV Siljestad (2 killed). At 3 PM, Yugoslavian SS Kupa stops to pick up 31 survivors in 2 lifeboats and is promptly sunk by U-156 at 9 PM (2 more killed). All 31 from MV Siljestad in their 2 lifeboats and 39 Yugoslavs from SS Kupa in 2 more lifeboats make land after 5 - 10 days in Barbados and Venezuela.

German 11th Army forces the last Soviet troops off the Kerch peninsula linking Crimea to the Caucasus. Soviet losses in the campaign to relieve Sevastopol are 190,000 men killed or captured plus 417 aircraft and several hundred tanks and artillery pieces captured or destroyed. Germans have 12,400 casualties but capture 220 Soviet field guns and 170 tanks. Further North around Kharkov, the Soviet offensive is running out of steam. Soviet attacks continue but meet stiffer German resistance on the ground and overwhelming superiority in the air.

German cruiser Lutzow, returning to service following torpedo damage from British torpedo bombers on June 12 1940, sails from Kiel, Germany, for Ofotfjord in Northern Norway to threaten Allied convoys to USSR.

Australian Sparrow Force on the island of Timor conducts a guerilla raid on Japanese barracks at Dili, Portuguese Timor.

In Zhejiang-Jiangxi region of China, 180,000 Japanese troops (China Expeditionary Force), on a punitive campaign in response to the landing here of some US Doolittle Raiders, clashes with 300,000 poorly-equipped Chinese 3rd War Area troops.

Having marched through Northern Burma on foot, British Burma Corps, commanded by General “Hap” Alexander, reaches Imphal in the state of Manipur in Northeast India. US General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell and his headquarters group also arrive in India. Monsoon season halts the chasing Japanese on the Chindwin River in Burma.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Day 987 May 14, 1942

In the Gulf of Mexico, U-506 torpedoes US tanker SS David McKelvy, carrying 81,000 barrels of crude oil which explodes (17 killed, 25 survivors many horribly burned, 2 men survive in fresh water tanks in the ship´s bottom until the fire burns out). SS David McKelvy will be beached on the Louisiana coast but declared a total loss. U-564 sinks neutral Mexican tanker SS Potrero del Llano by mistake off the Southeast tip of Florida (13 dead, 22 survivors picked up by American patrol vessel USS PC-536 and taken to Miami). This incident will contribute to Mexico’s declaration of war against Germany in June. US Commander in Chief United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations (COMINCH-CNO) Admiral Ernest King recognises the unacceptable losses on the US East coast (109 ships in 4 months) and begrudgingly allows Vice-Admiral Adolphus Andrews, in command of Eastern Sea Frontier, to organise an interlocking convoy system running from Newport, Rhode Island, to Key West, Florida, consisting in part of small cutters and private vessels.

In the Caribbean 50 miles West of Grenada, U-155 sinks Belgian MV Brabant. 14 miles Southwest by of Grand Cayman, U-125 sinks Honduran SS Comayagua. U-162 continues creating havoc off the coast of South America. 90 miles Northeast of Barbados, U-162 uses 6 torpedoes to sink British tanker SS British Colony, carrying 9800 tons of Admiralty fuel oil (4 lost, 43 survivors make land near Bridgetown, Barbados).

Mediterranean. 5 miles off Port Said, Egypt, at the mouth of the Suez Canal, Allied convoy runs into a minefield laid by U-561 on April 14. Greek SS Mount Olympus sinks and Greek SS Fred is damaged. Norwegian SS Hav is towed to shore and beached but burns out and is a total loss. At 9 PM off Ras el Hilal, Libya, British submarine HMS Turbulent uses the deck gun to shell tiny Italian sailing vessel San Giusto, which is carrying 161 tons of gasoline and explodes.

At 2 PM in the English Channel, near Cherbourg, RAF aircraft sink minesweepers M26 and M256. In the North Sea, minesweeping trawler M-1307 German hits a mine and sinks.

Kharkov offensive. Soviets continue advancing West out of the Izium salient, but Soviet 28th Army, forming the Northern pincer advancing from another salient near Volchansk, is pounded to a standstill by Luftwaffe Fliegerkorps VIII, newly-arrived from the Crimea. Soviet fighters sent in to engage the Germans are decisively beaten despite being numerically superior. Hitler orders General Ewald von Kleist to counterattack with his 1st Panzergruppe. In the Black Sea, Soviet destroyer Dzerzhinski sinks on a Soviet mine near Sevastopol.

“AF is short of water”. US cryptologists learn that Midway Atoll, at the Northern end of the Hawaiian island chain, is the target of a coming Japanese naval attack.

US submarine USS Tuna sinks Japanese transport Toyoharu Maru 65 miles off Sohuksando, Korea.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Day 986 May 13, 1942

Overnight, German armed merchant cruiser Stier attempts to break out into the Atlantic through the English Channel, escorted by torpedoboats Iltis, Kondor, Falke and Seeadler. 14-inch batteries at Dover fire on the convoy, without effect. British motor torpedo boats sneak up in dense fog off Cap Gris Nez and attack (MTB220 is hit and sinks). Torpedoboat Iltis is torpedoed by MTB.221 and sinks (115 killed) and MTB.219 sinks torpedoboat Seeadler (85 killed, some by machinegun fire from Stier as she passes in the confusion). Stier reaches Boulogne undamaged and torpedoboats Kondor and Falke return to the battlescene for survivors, rescuing 88 Germans and 3 from British MTB220.

In the middle of the Atlantic 980 miles West of Ireland, U-94 attacks convoy ONS-92 again, sinking Swedish SS Tolken and British SS Batna (British rescue ship Bury picks up 75 survivors). U-128 attacks convoy SL-109 300 miles Northwest of the Cape Verde Islands sinking British SS Denpark (21 killed, 25 survivors picked up by the Danish merchant Nordlys and British merchant City of Windsor).

In the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana, U-507 damages US tanker SS Gulf Prince carrying 71,000 barrels of crude oil at 12.30 PM and U-506 sinks US tanker SS Gulf Penn carrying 104,181 barrels of fuel oil at 9.38 PM. In the Caribbean 100 miles East of Bonaire, U-69 sinks American SS Norlantic (7 killed, 17 survivors in 2 lifeboats picked up by Dutch schooner Mississippi on 16 May, 2 men on a raft rescued by freighter Marpesia on May 24 and 3 men on a raft rescued by tug Crusader Kingston off the coast of Nicaragua on June 19 having drifted 1000 miles in 37 days). 200 miles East of Barbados, U-162 sinks US tanker SS Esso Houston while U-156 sinks British SS City of Melbourne and Dutch MV Koenjit.

20 miles off the Southeast coast of Japan US submarine USS Drum sinks Japanese cargo ship Shonan Maru.

Kharkov offensive. Soviets continue making slow progress towards Kharkov out of the Izium salient, advancing another 10km. German generals, including General Paulus, hold off launching a major counteroffensive, awaiting Luftwaffe aircraft from Fliegerkorps VIII to arrive from the Crimea.

HMS Trinidad sails from Murmansk, USSR, for Britain after temporary repairs to torpedo damage caused by one of her own torpedoes during an engagement on March 29 with the German destroyers Z 24, Z 25 and Z 26.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Day 985 May 12, 1942

At 5.40 AM 35 miles South of Cape Fear, North Carolina, U-558 sinks British anti-submarine trawler HMS Bedfordshire, which is on loan to the US Navy (all 37 hands lost).

Mediterranean. British destroyer HMS Jackal, damaged by bombers yesterday burns out of control while under tow by destroyer HMS Jervis. HMS Jervis torpedoes the wreck of HMS Jackal off Sidi Barrani, Egypt, and returns to Alexandria with 650 survivors from HMS Kipling, Jackal and Lively.

Soviet Southern and Southwestern Fronts begin the Kharkov offensive, attacking towards Kharkov out of the Izium salient. After 1 hour artillery barrage from 6.30 – 7.30 AM and 20 minutes of aerial bombardment, Soviet forces move forward at 7.30 AM supported by T34 and British lend lease Mark II Valentine tanks, making gains of 3-10 km. However, German 6th Army, under General Paulus, is preparing to launch its own offensive to cut off Soviet troops in the Izium salient. Soviets meet stiff German resistance, including 2 Sturer Emil self-propelled tank destroyers named Max and Moritz, and realize they are facing many more German troops than expected. Soviet 38th Army withdraws 3 tank Brigades to protect against a counterattack by German 3rd and 23rd Panzer Divisions in the Kharkov area. In the Crimea, Soviet troops withdraw from the Kerch Peninsula in the face of frontal attacks from German 11th Army. With this battle won, many aircraft from Wolfram von Richthofen’s Fliegerkorps VIII are immediately deployed to Kharkov to resist the Soviet offensive.

Soviet submarine K-23 attacks a German convoy off Nordkyn, Northern Norway. Convoy escorts UJ1101, UJ1108 and UJ1110 counterattack with depth charges and sink K-23 (all hands lost).

In the Gulf of St. Lawrence 50 miles Southwest of Anticosti Island, U-553 sinks Dutch SS Leto and British SS Nicoya. 2 miles off the entrance to Southwest Pass, Mississippi River, U-507 sinks US turbine tanker Virginia carrying 180,000 barrels of gasoline. In the Caribbean 90 miles North of Bonaire, U-69 sinks Norwegian tanker MV Lise with torpedoes and the deck gun (12 killed, 21 survivors including 5 on a raft who are not found until May 31).

In the middle of the Atlantic 800 miles West of Ireland, U-94 and U-124 attack convoy ONS-92. U-94 sinks Panamanian SS Cocle at 3.40 AM (5 killed, 37 survivors). U-124 sinks British catapult armed merchant Empire Dell and British SS Llanover at 2 AM (2 dead, 92 survivors) and Greek SS Mount Parnes and British SS Cristales at 4 AM (all 115 hands survive).

Following the failed invasion of Port Moresby, Papua, the Japanese plan to occupy Nauru and Ocean islands in the South Pacific. Troop transports Kinryū Maru and Takahata Maru depart Rabaul, escorted by cruiser Tatsuta, destroyers Uzuki and Yuzuki and minelayers Okinoshima and Tsugaru. At 4.52 AM 125 miles East of Rabaul, US submarine USS S-42 severely damages minelayer Okinoshima which is taken in tow by a destroyer. USS S-42 is counterattacked with depth charges by the escort ships for 6 hours causing major damage and forcing her to return to base at Brisbane, Australia. Japanese repair ship Shoei Maru is called out from Rabaul to assist Okinoshima. At 6.40 AM, Okinoshima capsizes and sinks in St. George's Channel. Repair ship Shoei Maru turns back to Rabaul but is hit by 2 torpedoes from US submarine USS S-44 at 9.57 AM and sinks at 2.40 PM.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day 984 May 11, 1942

At noon, British destroyers HMS Kipling, Jackal, Jervis and Lively, which are searching for an Italian convoy to Benghazi, are detected by German reconnaissance aircraft from Crete. At 2.30 PM, 14 Ju88 bombers attack, carrying two 500kg and two 250kg bombs each. HMS Lively is hit and sinks at 3.30 PM 120 miles North of Sidi Barrani, Egypt (76 killed). At dusk, another 7 Ju88s attack 60 miles North of Sidi Barrani, sinking HMS Kipling (25 killed) and setting HMS Jackal on fire (15 killed). HMS Jervis rescues 630 survivors from the 3 ships and takes the burning HMS Jackal in tow.

At Malta, Spitfires which arrived in Operation Bowery go into action during an axis bombing raid, shooting down 47 German aircraft and Italian CANT bombers (3 Spitfires shot down). This effectively ends daylight bombing of Malta.

In the Black Sea, Luftwaffe aircraft sink Soviet gunboat Rion and barge Anakriya killing 400 wounded troops being evacuated from the Crimea.

After floating for 4 days in the Coral Sea, the wreck of US oiler USS Neosho is located by Australian and American aircraft. At 1 PM, US destroyer USS Henley arrives and sinks USS Neosho with gunfire, after rescued the 123 survivors from Neosho and US destroyer USS Sims.

In the Atlantic 400 miles Northeast of Barbuda, U-502 sinks British MV Cape of Good Hope (carrying military supplies from USA to British 8th Army in Egypt). 1 lifeboat with 18 survivors lands at Tortola, Virgin Islands on 24 May. Another boat with 19 survivors lands after 18 days at Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day 983 May 10, 1942

At 2.30 PM 1500 miles West of Australia, German armed merchant cruiser Thor stops Australian liner SS Nankin (carrying general cargo, 180 crew and 162 passengers, including 23 naval and military passengers and 38 women and children) with shellfire (2 crew killed). Nankin’s Captain abandons ship to prevent loss of life and attempts to scuttle by opening the sea cocks. Nankin is captured by a boarding party from Thor and renamed Leuthen.

US General Wainwright on Corregidor fears a Japanese massacre of his troops there, unless all US resistance in the Philippines ends. Under orders from Wainwright, US General Sharp surrenders all US and Filipino forces on Mindanao and elsewhere in the Philippines.

In the Gulf of Mexico 40 miles off Louisiana, U-506 torpedoes US tanker MV Aurora (1 killed, 49 survivors abandon ship in 2 boats and 3 rafts) which is towed to Algiers, Louisiana, and repaired. 300 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-333 sinks British SS Clan Skene (9 killed, 73 survivors picked up by US destroyer USS McKean and landed at San Juan, Puerto Rico). 35 miles off Nova Scotia, U-588 sinks British SS Kitty´s Brook (9 killed, 25 survivors make land at Lockeport, Nova Scotia).

Crimea, USSR. German 11th Army continues to advance against Soviet troops on the Kerch Peninsula. Luftwaffe aircraft sink Soviet vessel Chernomorets evacuating 500 wounded troops from the Crimea (all hands lost).

Mediterranean. British minelayer HMS Welshman, disguised as a French destroyer, arrives at Grand Harbour at Malta with RAF personnel and 240 tons of stores. HMS Welshman detonates 2 mines with her paravanes, sustaining some damage and returns to Gibraltar and then to Britain for repairs. In Operation MG2, British destroyers HMS Kipling, Jackal, Jervis and Lively leave Alexandria, Egypt, to intercept an Italian convoy to Benghazi.

Day 982 May 9, 1942

Battle of the Coral Sea. While a tactical victory for the Japanese (having sunk US carrier USS Lexington and damaged carrier USS Yorktown for the loss of light carrier Shōhō), it is also a strategic success for the US. Japanese fleet carrier Shōkaku sets sail for Japan to repair serious bomb damage and the other fleet carrier Zuikaku is also forced to return to Japan as she has too few operational aircraft to be battleworthy. The absence of these carriers will cost Japan dearly in the battle at Midway that they are currently planning.

50 miles North Anna Regina, British Guiana, U-162 sinks Canadian SS Mont Louis (13 dead, 8 survivors picked up by Canadian sailing ship Mona Marie). 50 miles West of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean, U-125 sinks Canadian tanker MV Calgarolite (all 45 hands escape in lifeboats and reach Cuba or Mexico in 3 to 4 days). 3 miles off Hillsboro Inlet, Florida, U-564 torpedoes Panamanian tanker MV Lubrafol, carrying 67,000 barrels of heating oil, which burst into flames and burns for 2 days before sinking (13 killed, 31 survivors). 30 miles Southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, U-352 attacks US Coast Guard cutter USCGC Icarus but misses with 2 torpedoes. USCGC Icarus counterattacks with depth charges forcing U-352 to the surface. The crew abandons ship and scuttles U-352 (15 killed, 33 survivors).

Operation_Bowery. US aircraft carrier USS Wasp flies off 47 Spitfires to Malta while British carrier HMS Eagle launches 17 Spitfires (61 arrive at Malta). British minelayer HMS Welshman, heading to Malta disguised as a French destroyer with RAF personnel and 240 tons of stores, deceives Axis aircraft which spot her.

Crimea, USSR. German 11th Army attacks Soviet positions on the Kerch Peninsula as a prelude to a renewed attack on Sevastopol.

Kriegsmarine minesweepers M-533 and R-45 collide and sink in the English Channel.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Day 981 May 8, 1942

Battle of the Coral Sea. At 8.20 AM, American and Japanese carriers are 240 miles apart when both are spotted by enemy search planes. They steam towards each other to shorten the distance the return flight for their aircraft. At 9.15 AM, Japanese carriers launch 18 fighters, 33 dive bombers, and 18 torpedo bombers while US carriers launch 15 fighters, 39 dive bombers, and 21 torpedo bombers. At 10.57 AM, Japanese carrier Shōkaku is badly damaged by three 1,000 lb bombs (223 killed or wounded). At 11.20 AM, US carrier USS Lexington is hit with 2 torpedoes and 2 bombs (191 killed) and USS Yorktown is hit by a 550 lb armor-piercing bomb which penetrates 4 decks and explodes, causing severe damage (66 killed or wounded). At 12.47 PM, gasoline leaking from torpedo damage to USS Lexington explodes starting a large fire (25 killed), followed by more explosions and fires. At 5.07 PM, 2735 men abandon ship and USS Lexington is sunk by 5 torpedoes from destroyer USS Phelps at 7.15 PM. Both sides withdraw low on fuel, with damage to their carriers and with many of their strike aircraft and fighters lost. The Japanese invasion of Port Moresby is cancelled.

Operation Ironclad. Despite the French surrender yesterday, Vichy submarine Monge attacks British aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable, which avoids the torpedoes, at 7.56 AM off Diego Saurez, Madagascar. British destroyers HMS Active and HMS Panther counterattacks and sink Monge.

140 miles southwest of Japan, US submarine USS Grenadier sinks Japanese freighter Taiyō Maru transporting 700 geologists and oil technicians to the East Indies to exploit oil production. This loss will hamper Japan’s war effort later in the war. 140 miles East of Cam Ranh Bay, French Indochina, US submarine USS Skipjack attacks a merchant convoy escorted by a destroyer, sinking Bujun Maru and severely damaging Taiyu Maru.

British minelayer HMS Welshman sails from Gibraltar, disguised as a French destroyer, carrying RAF personnel and 240 tons of stores to Malta. British submarine HMS Olympus leaves Malta ferrying crews from sunken submarines HMS Pandora, HMS P36 and HMS P39 to Gibraltar. HMS Olympus soon hits a mine and sinks (89 killed, 9 survivors swim 7 miles back to Malta). The wreck of HMS Olympus will be discovered in 2011.

Off the East coast of Florida, U-564 sinks American SS Ohioan. U-507 sinks Norwegian SS Torny in the Gulf of Mexico. Off Nova Scotia, U-136 sinks tiny Canadian sailing ship Mildred Pauline with 102 rounds from the deck gun.

Overnight, 193 RAF bombers (98 Wellingtons, 27 Stirlings, 21 Lancasters, 19 Halifaxes, 19 Hampdens, 9 Manchesters) raid Warnemünde and the nearby Heinkel aircraft factory, deep in Germany near the Baltic port of Rostock. 8 Wellingtons, 4 Lancasters, 3 Hampdens, 2 Halifaxes, 1 Manchester and 1 Stirling are lost. Baedeker Blitz; Luftwaffe bombs Norwich on the East coast again.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Day 980 May 7, 1942

British invasion of Madagascar (Operation Ironclad). Overnight, with British Royal Marines on the loose in Antsirane and a large British contingent (29th Independent Brigade plus both 17th and 13th Infantry Brigade Groups) advancing on the town from the South, Vichy commander surrenders. At 5 AM, Vichy French submarine Le Héros is located and attacked off Courrier Bay by Fleet Air Arm Swordfish from British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. Le Héros crash dives but is forced to the surface and abandoned. Vichy 12-inch guns on the Orangia Peninsular continue firing until subdued by “gentle persuasion” from 24 rounds of 15-inch shellfire from British battleship HMS Ramillies. By noon, all hostilities are over and the British fleet enters the harbour.

At 3.35 AM 100 miles South of Mobile, Alabama, U-507 sinks Honduran SS Ontario with shellfire from the deck gun (all 45 crew in 3 lifeboats picked up after 6 hours by American patrol yacht USS Onyx). At 8 AM 30 miles northwest of Paramaribo, Suriname, U-162 sinks Norwegian SS Frank Seamans (all 27 hands rescued next day by a Dutch ship).

Battle of the Coral Sea. A US scout planes locates Japanese light carrier Shōhō, 4 cruisers and 1 destroyer covering the invasion force heading for Port Moresby. At 10.40 AM, 93 American aircraft from carriers USS Lexington and USS Yorktown (18 Wildcat fighters, 53 SBD dive bombers, and 22 TBD torpedo bombers) attack, hitting Japanese light carrier Shōhō with 13 1,000 lb bombs and 5 torpedoes. Shōhō sinks at 11.35 AM (631 killed, 203 rescued by Japanese destroyer Sazanami). As a result of being discovered and fearing attacks on the troop transports, the Japanese invasion force heading for Port Moresby turns around and heads North. A Japanese search plane mistakes US oiler USS Neosho and escort destroyer USS Sims for a carrier and a cruiser. At 9.30 AM, 15 high level bombers attack but miss and at 10.38 AM USS Sims evades 9 bombs dropped by 10 bombers. A third attack by 36 Val dive bombers scores 7 direct hits on the oiler USS Neosho plus a kamikaze plane dives into her. USS Neosho is kept afloat (in part by the actions of Chief Petty Officer Oscar V. Peterson, who is horribly burned and wins the Medal of Honor posthumously). Three 500-pound bombs hit destroyer USS Sims which buckles amidships. There is a massive explosion as USS Sims sinks stern first (178 killed, 16 survivors reach USS Neosho in a damaged whaleboat). 4 days later, US destroyer USS Henley arrives and rescues the survivors from USS Sims and USS Neosho. At 5.47 PM, 12 Japanese dive bombers and 15 torpedo bombers searching for the US carriers are picked up on radar intercepted by 11 US Wildcat carrier-based fighters (9 Japanese bombers and 3 US fighters shot down). At 8 PM, the Japanese and US carrier fleets are only 70 miles apart.

Operation_Bowery. USS Wasp, carrying Spitfires to Malta, is joined off Gibraltar by HMS Eagle carrying a further 17 Spitfires from Gibraltar.

In response to requests from German naval staff, Japanese Imperial Navy sends submarine I-30 to reconnoitre the East coast of Africa for possible attack. I-30’s floatplane conducts a reconnaissance flight over the British port of Aden in Aden Colony (now Yemen).

Day 979 May 6, 1942

British invasion of Madagascar (Operation Ironclad). The British make no progress from the East all day. The commandos are held on the neck of land leading to Diego Suarez while 29th Independent Brigade infiltrates the Vichy lines on the approach to Antsirane but cannot dislodge them. 13th Infantry Brigade Group, 5th Infantry Division, lands in support in Ambararata Bay. In a daring move to break the deadlock, British destroyer HMS Anthony runs the gauntlet of French shore batteries defending Diego Suarez Bay under cover of dark at 8 PM, landing 50 Royal Marines commanded by Captain Martin Price on the quay at Antsirane. They storm the French naval depot, capturing rifles & machineguns and releasing 50 British prisoners. HMS Anthony escapes back to sea despite heavy fire from the French coastal guns. The main Vichy forces retreat South.

Corregidor, Philippines. Overnight, initial Japanese landings end in slaughter due to accurate US machinegun fire and shelling from 37mm and 75 mm guns, plus a 50-foot down which the Americans rain grenades (1200 killed, 800 get ashore). However, subsequent waves gain a foothold allowing the landing of tanks at 9.30 AM. By 10.30 the tanks approach the Malinta tunnel, with the US headquarters and hospitals holding 1,000 wounded, and General Wainwright (Allied commander in the Philippines) broadcasts his surrender which will come into effect at noon. Before then, US troops destroy all munitions especially artillery. US river gunboats USS Luzon and USS Oahu are scuttled to prevent capture by the Japanese (USS Luzon River will be raised by the Japanese, repaired and renamed Karatsu). At midnight, General Wainwright surrenders Corregidor and the rest of the Philippines to the local Japanese commander Colonel Sato (General Homma on Bataan refuses to accept the surrender from Wainwright).

Battle of the Coral Sea. American and Japanese carriers groups search for each other all day with air reconnaissance. At 8PM, Japanese fleet carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku & US carriers USS Lexington and USS Yorktown are only 80 miles apart, unaware of each other’s presence.

50 miles Northeast of Cam Rahn Bay, French Indochina, US submarine USS Skipjack sinks Japanese freighter Kanan Maru. US submarine USS Triton attacks an escorted convoy off the East coast of China, sinking freighters Taiei Maru and Taigen Maru.

50 miles East of Cape Fear, North Carolina, US naval auxiliary USS Semmes accidentally rams and sinks British anti-sub trawler HMS Senateur Duhamel (lent to the United States Navy in February to combat U-boats on the US East coast).

5 miles East of Palm City, Florida, U-333 damages US tanker SS Java Arrow and sinks US tanker SS Halsey and Dutch freighter SS Amazone. In the Gulf of Mexico 50 miles South of Biloxi, Mississippi, U-507 sinks American SS Alcoa Puritan. In the middle of the Caribbean off Grand Cayman, U-125 sinks US MV Green Island and British SS Empire Buffalo. 15 miles Southeast of Great Inagua Island, Bahamas, U-108 sinks Latvian SS Abgara.

Overnight, RAF unsuccessfully attacks Stuttgart for the third night running with bomber crews distracted by decoy fires 15 miles North near Lauffen.

Day 978 May 5, 1942

British invade the Vichy French island of Madagascar, East Africa (Operation Ironclad), to prevent Japanese use of naval bases which would threaten the supply routes via the Cape of Good Hope to India and to Allied troops facing Rommel in Libya. At 4.30 AM, British troops (29th Independent Brigade and No. 5 Commando, specially trained for amphibious operations) land in assault craft in Courrier Bay, at the Northern tip of Madagascar. They are followed by 17th Infantry Brigade Group (5th Infantry Division) landings in nearby Ambararata Bay. They make progress inland but are held nearing the port towns of Antsirane and Diego Suarez by dogged resistance from 3000 Vichy troops, mainly Malagasy colonial troops. Fleet Air Arm bombers from British aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable and HMS Illustrious attack the airfield and anchorage at Diego Suarez, sinking Vichy submarine Bévéziers, armed merchant cruiser Bougainville and colonial sloop D'Entrecasteaux. British corvette HMS Auricula hits a mine in the entrance to Diego Suarez Bay and is taken in tow (founders and sinks the next day).

USSR. German 16th Army breaks through to Kholm, where 5500 German soldiers of Gruppe Scherer have held out since January 23 (105 days).

Corregidor, Philippines. Heavy Japanese artillery bombardment and aerial bombing of US positions all day. US tug USS Genesee and minesweeper USS Quail are scuttled to prevent capture. Just before midnight, 2000 Japanese troops come ashore at Cavalry Point and Infantry Point on the Eastern tip of the island but meet fierce resistance from the 1000 US/Filipino defenders.

U-boats continue raiding the East coast of USA and Caribbean. U-507 sinks 2 American tankers in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida and U-108 sinks a freighter near Haiti. Near Bermuda, U-106 sinks Canadian liner SS Lady Drake (6 crew and 6 passengers killed, 115 crew and 141 passengers were picked up by US minesweeper USS Owl) and U-103 sinks British merchant SS Stanbank.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Day 977 May 4, 1942

Tulagi, Solomon Islands. At 7 AM 100 miles South of Guadalcanal, US aircraft carrier USS Yorktown launches 12 TBD Devastator torpedo bombers and 28 SBD Dauntless dive bombers which attack Japanese warships anchored off Tulagi at 8.50 AM, damaging minelayer Okinoshima and destroyer Kikuzuki (which is beached to prevent sinking). A second wave of US bombers at 12.10 PM sinks minesweepers WA-1 & WA-2 and damages minesweeper Tama Maru which sinks 2 days later (87 killed in total). All 6 Japanese seaplanes are shot down or destroyed in the harbor. Despite the attack, Japanese continue construction of the seaplane base and will be operational in 2 days. Japanese carrier force (which is 400 miles North) sets out to find the US carriers.

Corregidor, Philippines. In the heaviest Japanese artillery bombardment and aerial bombing yet, almost 2 million pounds of shells and bombs land on the island. US minesweeper USS Pigeon is sunk by a dive bomber while minesweeper USS Tanager is hit by shellfire from the Bataan peninsula and sinks. Shelling gradually concentrates on beaches at the East end of Corregidor, from where 15 invasion barges can be seen assembling on the nearby Bataan peninsula.

At 6.25 PM in the Philippine Sea 100 miles North of Truk Island, US submarine USS Greenling sinks Japanese 5,800-ton armed merchant cruiser Kinjosan Maru (all hands lost). US submarine USS Trout sinks Japanese auxiliary gunboat Kongosan Maru off the Southeast coast of Japan.

U-162 operates off the coast of British Guiana sinking American SS Eastern Sword at 9.43 AM 12 miles North of Georgetown (16 killed, 13 survivors). At 7 PM 40 miles Northeast of Anna Regina, U-162 sinks tiny unarmed British sailing schooner Florence M. Douglas with 21 rounds from the deck gun from 250 yards (after the crew are allowed to abandon ship in a lifeboat and reach Anna Regina). The submarine picks up a small black pig just before they are bombed by an Allied aircraft. The pig becomes their lucky mascot as they are not hit by any bombs.

At 5.42 PM in the Gulf of Mexico 100 miles West of the Florida Keys, U-507 sinks American SS Norlindo (5 men in the hold drown, 23 survivors on 4 rafts picked up 2 days later by Panamanian freighter SS San Blas and landed in Panama on May 11). At 7.04 PM 3 miles off Daytona Beach, Florida, U-564 British tanker SS Eclipse in shallow waters (2 dead, 45 survivors). SS Eclipse will be salvaged, repaired at Mobile, Alabama, and return to service in December. At 10.20 PM 200 miles West of Jamaica, U-125 sinks American SS Tuscaloosa City (all 34 hands in 1 lifeboat picked up after 7 hours by American merchant Falcon and landed at Cartagena, Colombia on May 8).

Overnight, 121 RAF bombers (69 Wellingtons, 19 Hampdens, 14 Lancasters, 12 Stirlings, 7 Halifaxes) raid Stuttgart targeting the Bosch factory (making dynamos, injection pumps and magnetos). Complete cloud cover and a decoy site near Lauffen, 15 miles North, cause most bombs to miss the city and the Bosch works are not hit (13 civilians killed and 37 injured). 1 RAF Stirling bomber is lost.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day 976 May 3, 1942

At 6.38 AM 120 miles South of Cape Race, Newfoundland, U-455 sinks British tanker SS British Workman (6 dead, 47 survivors picked up by Canadian destroyer HMCS Assiniboine and corvette HMCS Alberni). At 8.12 AM 60 miles Southwest of Miami, Florida, U-506 sinks Nicaraguan MV Sama (all 14 hands picked up 6 hours later in a lifeboat by British tanker SS Athelregent).

12 miles off Cape Canaveral, Florida, U-564 sinks British SS Ocean Venus at 8.24 AM (5 crew lost, 38 crew and 4 gunners row ashore) and U-109 sinks Dutch SS Laertes at 10.54 AM (18 killed, 48 survivors make land in a lifeboat).

Operation Bowery. US aircraft carrier USS Wasp sails from Scapa Flow, Scotland, with 47 Spitfires for delivery to Malta.

Tulagi, Solomon Islands. Overnight, the garrison of 24 Australian commandos and 25 RAAF personnel (No. 11 Squadron) evacuates to the larger island of Guadalcanal, following warnings from coastwatchers that a Japanese invasion force is near. Almost simultaneously, 400 Japanese troops (3rd Kure Special Naval Landing Force) come ashore in barges, unopposed. 6 Japanese seaplanes land in the harbor as the troops immediately start construction of a seaplane base. Aircraft carrier Shōhō covers the landings but then heads towards Bougainville for refueling to cover the planned attack on Port Moresby, Papua. At 5 PM, US Rear Admiral Fletcher (commanding Task Force 17 to counter the Japanese incursion into the Coral Sea) learns of the Japanese landings and sends TF17, including aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, towards Tulagi to launch airstrikes in the morning.

Philippines. Japanese artillery bombardment and aerial bombing of Corregidor Island continues. Overnight, US submarine USS Spearfish makes the last US Navy run to the island, evacuating 27 personnel (several nurses, including Ann Bernatitus, and a few civilians).

Burma. Japanese 33rd Infantry Division pursues 1st Burma Division North up the Chindwin River toward Alon.

At 5.23 PM 50 miles West of Jamaica, U-125 sinks Dominican SS San Rafael with 1 torpedo and 32 rounds from the deck gun (1 dead, 37 survivors escape in 2 lifeboats and 2 rafts).

Overnight, 81 RAF Bomber Command aircraft (43 Wellingtons, 20 Halifaxes, 13 Stirlings and 5 Hampdens) attack Hamburg, Germany. Despite complete cloud cover, 113 fires are started, 77 civilians killed and 243 injured (3 Halifaxes and 2 Wellingtons lost). Baedeker Blitz; 90 Luftwaffe bombers attack Exeter in Southwest England.

Day 975 May 2, 1942

At dawn, British cruiser HMS Edinburgh (badly damaged 2 days ago by torpedoes from U-456 but still carrying 5 million pounds sterling in Soviet gold) is attacked while under tow back to Murmansk, USSR by 3 German destroyers (Hermann Schoemann, Z24 and Z25). Hermann Schoemann is hit by shells from HMS Edinburgh and sinks at 8.30 AM, after Z24 takes off the crew. British destroyers HMS Foresight and HMS Forester are hit by shellfire from both Z24 and Z25 (total on both ships; 21 killed, 20 wounded). HMS Edinburgh is hit by one torpedo from Z24 (57 killed, 350 taken off by British minesweeper HMS Harrier and 450 taken off by minesweeper HMS Gossamer) and is finally scuttled by a torpedo from HMS Foresight. HMS Edinburgh and the gold go to the bottom of the Barents Sea.

200 miles Northwest of Tromsø, Norway, British destroyer HMS St. Albans and minesweeper HMS Seagull (escorting convoy PQ 15 from Iceland to Murmansk) attack an ASDIC contact with depth charges. This turns out to be Polish submarine ORP Jastrzab (5 killed) which surfaces badly damaged and is scuttled after 35 survivors are taken off. In addition, German torpedo bombers attack PQ 15 sinking freighters SS Cape Corso, SS Jutland and SS Botavon.

US submarines USS Drum and USS Trout operate very close to the South coast of Japan At 4.16 AM 90 miles Southeast of Tokyo, USS Drum sinks Japanese seaplane carrier Mizuho (101 killed, 472 survivors including 32 wounded). 134 miles Southwest of Tokyo, USS Trout sinks Japanese freighter Uzan Maru.

At 6.41 AM 115 miles East of Cape Fear, North Carolina, U-402 sinks US patrol yacht USS Cythera causing primed depth charges to explode (69 killed, 2 survivors rescued from the water by U-402, taken back to Germany and held as POWs until the end of the war).

Burma. 1st Burma Division attack Japanese 33rd Infantry Division bridgehead at Monywa on the Chindwin River but they are repelled. The British, Indian and Chinese retreat must now proceed North along the Chindwin River harried by Japanese troops on both sides of the river.

Corregidor Island, Philippines. Heaviest Japanese artillery bombardment yet. At 4.27 PM, a 240 mm howitzer shell hits the powder magazine of US gun battery Geary, exploding 1600 62-pound bags of powder which destroy the entire 8 gun battery (56 killed). A 3-foot thick concrete slab from the roof is blown over 1000 yards and a 10-ton mortar is ripped from its mount and thrown 120 yards by the explosion. 4 men trapped in the plotting room are dug out alive 12 hours later. US river gunboat USS Mindanao is scuttled in Manila Bay to prevent capture by the Japanese.

Solomon Islands. In preparation for an invasion, Japanese again bomb the Australian base on the tiny island of Tulagi. Warned that an invasion is coming, the small Australian garrison blows up the facilities at Tulagi and evacuates overnight.

Mediterranean. U-573, seriously damaged yesterday by depth charges, reaches Cartagena, Spain and is interned (will be sold to Spain in August 1942, commissioned as Spanish submarine G 7 and remain in service until 1970). However, U-74 which has been sent to rescue U-573, is sunk by depth charges from British destroyers HMS Wishart and HMS Wrestler 60 miles Southeast of Cartagena (all 47 hands lost).

At 10.53 PM 40 miles North of Trinidad and Tobago, U-66 sinks Norwegian tanker MV Sandar (3 killed, 34 survivors picked up next day by American merchant Alcoa Pilot but the captain dies of burns in hospital in Port of Spain Trinidad).