Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 1035 July 1, 1942

Before dawn in the Sulu Sea, Philippines, US submarine USS Sturgeon sinks Japanese passenger/cargo ship Montevideo Maru. USS Sturgeon is unaware that Montevideo Maru is carrying 845 Australian POWs and 208 civilian internees, plus 88 crew, from Rabaul, New Britain, to the Chinese island of Hainan South China Sea (1124 killed, only 17 crew survive).

At 1.27 AM 250 miles East of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-202 torpedoes US passenger/cargo ship SS City of Birmingham en route to Bermuda (7 crew and 2 passengers lost). 106 crew, 5 gunners and 263 passengers abandon ship in 5 minutes as SS City of Birmingham sinks (rescued 2 hours later by escort destroyer USS Stansbury).

US Navy cargo ship USS Luckenbach, carrying 1/6 of the world’s supply of tungsten, hits 2 mines and sinks in a US minefield 10 miles South of the Florida Keys (later salvaged to recover the tungsten, valued at $1,500,000). At 5.44 PM in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, U-129 sinks Norwegian SS Cadmus (2 killed, 20 survivors in 2 lifeboats reach the coast of Mexico after 5 days). At 6.31 PM 125 miles East of Trinidad, U-126 sinks American SS Warrior heading to Iran with 10,080 tons of Lend-Lease supplies and fuel for USSR (7 killed, 49 survivors rescued 4 hours later by US destroyer USS Herbert).

In the Barents Sea, U-456 spots Allied convoy PQ 17 from Iceland to Arkhangelsk, USSR, and begins shadowing the convoy.

Case Blue. German 4th Panzer Army rolls on towards Voronezh where the Red Army is preparing a counterattack. Germans declare Sevastopol to be in their hands, although sporadic Soviet resistance will continue for several days. Since the siege began on October 30, 1941, Soviet losses are 18,000 killed, 95,000 taken prisoner and 5000 evacuated out by ship sick and wounded. Germans have 5786 killed and 21,626 wounded while Romanian losses are 1874 killed and 6571 wounded.

First Battle of El Alamein. Rommel plans to ‘bounce’ British 8th Army with speed and daring, betting that the Allied positions are not prepared and the troops are ready to quit. Things go wrong from the beginning. 90th Light Division advances at 3 AM but strays into the minefields of the heavily defended coastal “box” manned by 1st South African Division. 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions attack further inland but are stopped by massed artillery fire and lose 18 tanks. Despite this, the Panzers overrun 18th Indian Infantry Brigade at Deir el Shein but are then repelled by an attack from British 1st Armoured Division, held as a mobile reserve. British have 2 advantages at El Alamein; first, being able to concentrate their artillery across the narrow front between the sea and the impassable Qattara Depression; second, a constant supply of ammunition brought up by rail from Alexandria.

At 1.43 PM in the Mediterranean 66 miles East of Port Said, Egypt, U-97 torpedoes British SS Marilyse Moller igniting the cargo of aviation fuel from Beirut to Port Said for British 8th Army (35 killed in the explosion, 4 survivors rescued by British anti-submarine trawler HMS Burra which counterattacks U-97 unsuccessfully with 3 depth charges).

In the Mozambique Channel, Japanese submarine I-16 sinks Swedish MV Eknaren and I-18 sinks Dutch vessel De Weert.

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