Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 1063 July 29, 1942

Kokoda track. At 2.30 AM, 200 Japanese troops attack the Kokoda airfield, using machineguns and a single 70mm Type 92 Battalion Gun light howitzer. The 77 Australian defenders mount a tenacious defense (7 Australians killed, 6 wounded; 12 Japanese killed, 26 wounded) but when Colonel Owen is killed, Papuan Infantry Battalion’s Major Watson orders a retreat to Deniki. Japanese do not pursue believing they face an Australian regiment (1200 troops); instead, they pause to bring up reinforcements to Kokoda. Another Japanese convoy brings in troops to Buna on the North coast of Papua from Rabaul, New Britain. At 2.45 PM, 8 US Douglas Dauntless dive bombers from Port Moresby escorted by P-39 fighters attack the unloading convoy, hitting Japanese troopship Kōtoku Maru with 1 bomb (troops disembark but no equipment can be offloaded).

Case Blue. German 1st Panzer Army captures Proletarsk and crosses Manych River, having advanced 68 miles South in 4 days since crossing the River Don on July 25. The flat, dry terrain between the Don and the Caucasus Mountains is ideal for rapid movement of the German tanks.

At 10.19 AM 100 miles Southeast of Trinidad, U-160 torpedoes Canadian SS Prescodoc sinks rapidly despite carrying only ballast (16 killed, 5 survivors picked up by Yugoslavian SS Predsednik Kopajtic and taken to Port of Spain). At 8 PM 400 miles East of Trinidad, U-155 sinks Norwegian SS Bill (Brazilian mess boy killed, Captain taken prisoner by the U-boat, 23 survivor escape in 3 lifeboats).

Overnight, 291 RAF bombers raid Saarbrücken, Germany, on the French border. Saarbrücken has little air defense and the bombers come in at low altitude (below 10,000 feet), causing severe damage to an ironworks and an engineering plant (396 buildings destroyed, 324 seriously damaged, 155 civilians killed). 3 Wellingtons, 2 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters and 2 Stirlings are lost.

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