Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 1016 June 12, 1942

is a very busy day for the submarines of many nations.

At 1.14 AM 40 miles off Sydney, Australia, Japanese submarine I-21 fires 4 torpedoes at a convoy sinking collier SS Guatemala (all hands rescued by Australian minesweeper HMAS Doomba). In the Mozambique Channel, I-16 sinks Yugoslavian merchant Supetar and I-20 sinks Panamanian merchant Hellenic Trader and British merchant Clifton Hall.

At 5.37 AM 25 miles off Bardia, Libya, U-77 sinks British destroyer HMS Grove returning from bringing supplies to Tobruk (110 killed, 60 survivors).

In the Aegean Sea, Greek submarine Papanikolis sinks 2 small sailing vessels Catina and Aghia Aikaterini.

550 miles East of Newfoundland, U-124 sinks British SS Dartford (30 killed, 14 crew and 3 gunners picked up by British rescue ship Gothland). 400 miles North of Puerto Rico, U-129 sinks British SS Hardwicke Grange (3 killed, 75 survivors). In the Gulf of Mexico 20 miles off Louisiana, U-158 sinks US tanker SS Cities Service Toledo carrying 84,000 barrels of crude oil (15 dead, 30 survivors).

In the Gulf of Siam 60 miles off Koh Rong Island, Cambodia, US submarine USS Swordfish sinks Japanese transport ship Burma Maru.

At dawn, in the first US Air Force bombing of Europe and the Middle East, 13 B-24s flying from Fayid, Egypt, (en route from US to China) bomb Ploesti oilfields, Romania, but cause minimal damage. 7 B-24s land at airfields in Iraq, 2 land in Syria and 4 are interned in Turkey.

Libya. While German 90th Light Division attacks towards the RAF airfield at El Adem, 15th Panzer overruns British anti-tank guns along nearby Rigel Ridge. The German tanks then turn South and crush British motorised infantry (201st Independent Guards Brigade) plus 2nd and 4th Armoured Brigade in an area known as “Knightsbridge” where the Trigh Capuzzo intersects another desert track. Rommel is only 15 miles from Tobruk and also threatens to cut off lines of retreat of the main British defensives at Gazala which now lie to his West.

British launch a desperate effort to bring supplies into Malta. In Operation Harpoon, 5 freighters and 1 tanker leave Gibraltar carrying 43,000 tons of cargo and oil, escorted by battleship HMS Malaya, aircraft carriers HMS Argus and HMS Eagle, 4 cruisers, 17 destroyers, 4 minesweepers, 1 minelayer and 6 motor gunboats. In Operation Vigourous, 11 ships sail from Haifa, Palestine, and Port Said, Egypt, escorted by 8 cruisers, 26 destroyers, 9 submarines and disarmed WWI-era battleship HMS Centurion (disguised as functional, after the Italian manned torpedo raid on Alexandria harbour in December 1941 incapacitated battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Valiant). The Vigourous convoy is attacked by German Ju88 bombers South of Crete, damaging freighter City Of Calcutta which puts in at Tobruk.

At Sevastopol, Crimea, Soviet cruiser Molotov and destroyer Bditel'nyy bring 2,314 soldiers, 190 tons of ammunition and 28 artillery pieces.

Aleutian Islands. US 11th Air Force bombers again raid Kiska Island, damaging Japanese destroyer Hibiki which returns to Ōminato Guard District, Japan, for repairs lasting until October.

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