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.

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