Wednesday, May 2, 2012

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).

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