Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 1086 August 21, 1942

Guadalcanal. Japanese Colonel Ichiki believes only a few Americans defend Henderson Airfield along the Tenaru River. At 1.30 AM, he sends 100 troops across the Tenaru River, supported by machineguns and mortars, but 2500 Marines mow them down with machinegun fire and anti-tank guns firing canister shot. At 2.30 AM, Ichiki sends another wave of 150 to 200 troops but they are also wiped out. Marine artillery and mortars find their range and wreak havoc as Ichiki's troops regroup between each attack. At 5 AM, Ichiki sends another wave along the beach but Marines turn their machineguns and artillery to stop them also. At 7 AM, the Marines counterattack inland and surround the remaining Japanese on the coast, who are then eliminated by five M3 Stuart tanks and strafing from US fighters. Japanese casualties are 740 dead, including Colonel Ichiki who is killed or commits suicide, and 15 taken prisoner (only 30 survivors escape back to the landing site at Taivu Point). US Marine lose 44 killed.

Papua. Japanese 41st Infantry Regiment (Yazawa Detachment) lands at Buna. General TomitarĊ Horii's South Seas Force, charged with crossing the Kokoda Track through the Owen Stanley mountain range to Port Moresby, now consists of 8,000 infantry, 450 SNLF Marines and 3000 naval construction troops. At the Eastern tip of Papua, Australian 18th Infantry Brigade (veterans of the Siege of Tobruk) arrives at Milne Bay bringing Australian General Cyril Clowes’ Milne Force to 7,459 Australian and 1,365 US troops and 600 RAAF personnel.

US submarine USS Tambor sinks Japanese collier Shinsei Maru No.6 off Ponape Island, 450 miles West of Truk Bay naval base.

Case Blue. At dawn, German 6th Army crosses the River Don at several points in inflatable boats and begins constructing pontoon bridges. On the Black Sea coast, German9th Infantry Division breaks through defences at Abinskaia and pushes on South towards Novorossiysk. In the Caucasus Mountains, German 4th Mountain Division troops reach the highest peak, Mount Elbrus, and raise the Nazi flag.

At 10.43 PM 100 miles Southwest of Freetown, Sierra Leone, U-506 sinks British SS City of Wellington carrying 2000 tons of copper ore, 500 tons of chrome ore and 5000 tons of general cargo from South Africa to Britain (7 killed, 61 crew and 5 gunners picked up by British destroyer HMS Velox).

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