Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 1078 August 13, 1942

In the Mediterranean. At midnight in the Strait of Sicily between Tunisia and Sicily, 7 German and 8 Italian torpedo boats attack the Pedestal convoy sinking freighters MV Wairangi, MV Glenorchy, SS Almeria Lykes and SS Santa Elisa. At 1 AM 4 miles off Kellibia, Tunisia, Italian torpedo boats MAS16 and MAS22 immobilise British cruiser HMS Manchester (10 killed in the explosion, 122 drown abandoning ship, 312 rescued by destroyers HMS Pathfinder and HMS Eskimo, 300 survivors reach Tunisia and are interned by the Vichy French authorities) which is later sunk by torpedoes from HMS Pathfinder. Dive bombers attack at dawn, sinking freighters SS Waimarama (80 killed in an explosion of fuels drums on deck) and MV Dorset. Tanker SS Ohio (damaged yesterday by a torpedo) is bombed all day and brought to a standstill by bomb hits, near misses and 2 crash-landing dive bombers; Ohio is abandoned overnight, although her fuel tanks are mostly intact. RAF fighters from Malta arrive and chase off the bombers, allowing freighters MV Rochester Castle, MV Port Chalmers and MV Melbourne Star to reach Malta between 5.30 and 6.30 PM (all 3 captains are awarded the Distinguished Service Order).

6 Italian cruisers and 17 destroyers (which sortied yesterday from Messina, Sicily, to intercept the Pedestal convoy) return to base for lack of German air cover. 21 miles North of Capo d'Orlando, Sicily, British submarine HMS Unbroken torpedoes cruisers Bolzano (run aground to prevent sinking, towed to La Spezia for repairs) and Muzio Attendolo (loses 60 feet of her bow, towed to Naples for repairs).

Caribbean. U-600 and U-658 attack as 2 USA-South America convoys pass the strait between Cuba and Haiti. At 5.07 AM, U-658 sinks Dutch SS Medea in convoy WAT 13 (5 killed, 23 rescued by convoy escorts). At 9.48 AM, U-600 sinks Latvian SS Everelza (23 killed, 14 rescued by convoy escorts) and American passenger/cargo ship SS Delmundo (8 killed including 3 passengers, 50 survivors including 5 passengers picked up by British destroyer HMS Churchill) in convoy TAW 12.

At 7.50 AM in the Gulf of Mexico 25 miles off the coast of Louisiana, U-171 stops US tanker SS R.M. Parker Jr. with 2 torpedoes and finishes her off with the deck gun (all 37 crew and 7 gunners rescued 8 hours later by US Coast Guard auxiliary craft USS Pioneer).

South Atlantic. At 7.40 AM 400 miles Southwest of Freetown, Sierra Leone, U-752 sinks American SS Cripple Creek carrying 7500 tons of war supplies from USA to British 8th Army in Egypt (1 killed, 38 crew and 13 gunners in 3 lifeboats rescued after 4 days by British armed trawler HMS St. Winstan). 1400 miles West of Freetown, Italian submarine Reginaldo Giuliani sinks American SS California with the deck gun and torpedoes (1 killed, 35 survivors).

Papua. Japanese harass Australians at Deniki to precipitate a retreat without resorting to a full attack, firing their single field gun at Australian positions and probing around the edge of the defenses. Japanese also land more troops at Buna to reinforce the attack along the Kokoda Track.

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