Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 1028 June 24, 1942

At 9.08 AM, 5 German Ju88 bombers attack Allied shipping at anchor in the Kola Inlet near Murmansk, USSR. 1 or 2 bombs hit British minesweeper HMS Gossamer which is blown in two and rolls over at 9.21 (23 killed, 12 wounded).

Without pausing to regroup after the conquest of Tobruk, Rommel launches an attack into Egypt. British 7th Armoured Division withdraws from Sollum, allowing Rommel to advance 50 miles almost to Sidi Barrani. General Auchinleck puts X Corps (just arrived from Syria) into the line at Mersa Matruh, replacing XIII Corps which falls back to El Alamein (Auchinleck’s favoured position for a last stand to prevent Rommel reaching the Egyptian heartland of Cairo and Alexandria).

At 9.04 AM 700 miles Southeast of Bermuda, U-156 sinks British SS Willimantic with shellfire after missing with the last torpedo at 8.10 AM (6 dead, 32 survivors). At 9.37 AM 30 miles off Cape Fear, North Carolina, U-404 sinks Yugoslavian SS Ljubica Matkovic, which catches fire on the combustible cargo of 4100 tons of sugar, 850 tons of fuel oil and 25 tons of wood, but all 30 hands escape.

At 8.05 PM in the mouth of Delaware Bay, US rescue tug John R. Williams hits a mine laid on June 11 by U-373 and sinks instantly (chief engineer, 2nd assistant and 2 deckhands survive as they are blown overboard but 14 other men drown).

US PBY Catalina floatplane spots US submarine USS S-27 which ran onto rocks off Amchitka Island in the Aleutian Islands on June 19. The Catalina lands at Constantine Harbor and rescues 15 of S-27’s crew.

Allies still suspect another Japanese attempt to capture Port Moresby in Papua, so they take protective actions. Australian 39th Battalion and Papua Infantry Battalion are sent to hold the Kokoda Track, the overland route from the Japanese-held North of the island. Australian forces depart from Port Moresby in Dutch ships Karsik and Bontekoe, escorted by Australian sloop HMAS Warrego and corvette HMAS Ballarat, to begin the construction of airfields at Milne Bay on the Eastern tip of Papua. These airfields will protect the sea route to Port Moresby through the Coral Sea and also provide a forward base for bombing of Japanese bases at Rabaul.

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