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.

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