Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 1092 August 27, 1942

Milne Bay, Papua. Overnight, Japanese destroyer Hamakaze enters Milne Bay to land supplies but is unable to make contact and departs at 2.30 AM, leaving the invasion force desperately short of supplies following the air strike yesterday. At dawn, 8 Japanese dive bombers raid the Gili Gili airfield at the end of Milne Bay, escorted by 12 Zero fighters, causing minimal damage (1 Japanese aircraft shot down by RAAF P-40 Kittyhawks). Australians execute a poorly-planned exchange of units on the East bank of the Gama River. At 5 PM, 420 troops of 2/10th Infantry Battalion replace 25th and 61st Battalion. They do not have time to dig in before Japanese attack with their 2 tanks at 8 PM, leading 4 frontal assaults until midnight when the Australians withdraw in disarray across to the West bank of the Gama River (43 killed, 26 wounded).

Kokoda Track, Papua. The main Australians defenses at Isurava hold despite several Japanese probing attacks and heavy fire from the mountain gun and mortars. A Japanese flank force along a side track is more successful, infiltrating the Australian 53rd Battalion, killing several senior officers and forcing a retreat behind the main position at Isurava. Australian 2/16th Battalion, held in reserve, is thrown in to hold the Japanese on the side track.

At 1 AM in the North Atlantic 190 miles North of the Portuguese island of Madeira, U-156 sinks British SS Clan MacWhirter (10 crew and 2 gunners killed, 67 crew and 7 gunners in 3 lifeboats rescued 4 -6 days later near Madeira by Portuguese sloop Pedro Nunes).

Caribbean. At 6.29 AM 15 miles off the Eastern point of Haiti, U-511 fires 2 torpedoes at convoy TAW-15, sinking British tanker SS San Fabian (26 killed, 33 survivors picked up by US destroyer USS Lea and patrol craft USS PC-38) and Dutch tanker MV Rotterdam (10 killed, 37 survivors picked up by US submarine chaser USS SC-522) and causing major damage to American tanker SS Esso Aruba (no casualties) which is run aground at Guantanamo Bay to prevent sinking (repaired at Galveston, Texas, and returns to service in February 1943).

U-165, U-513 and U-517 target convoys from USA to Iceland moving out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence via the Belle Isle Strait. At 1.48 PM, U-517 sinks US liner SS Chatham carrying 428 construction personnel to Iceland (7 crew and 7 passengers killed; 99 crew, 28 gunners and 421 passengers in 12 lifeboats and 9 rafts are picked up by US destroyer USS Bernadou, Canadian corvette HMCS Trail and US Coast Guard cutter USS Mojave or row ashore).

Japanese diplomat exchange vessels Kamakura Maru and Tatuta Maru arrives at Lourenço Marques, Portuguese East Africa (now Maputo, Mozambique), carrying various Allied embassy staff and other civilians from Japan, French Indochina and Singapore. Over the next few days, Japanese civilians will arrive on various vessels from England and Australia.

In the Mediterranean 30 miles West of Crete, British submarine HMS Umbra Italian transport ship Manfredo Campiero.

Operation Wunderland. German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer shells Soviet military installations on Dikson Island in the Kara Sea, badly damaging freighters Dezhnev and Revolutsioner in the harbour.

Siege of Leningrad Day 354. Soviet Volkhov Front launches the major branch of the Sinyavino Offensive to close a 10 mile gap to the Leningrad Front and thereby open a corridor to Leningrad. However, German 18th Army is nearby, preparing for its own offensive against Leningrad (Operation Nordlicht). Soviet 8th Army attacks out of the Krualaia Grove against German 223rd Infantry Division, advancing 2 miles.

German 16th Panzer Division holds a small corridor to the Volga, North of Stalingrad, under shellfire from Soviet positions either side. 16th Panzer is out of fuel until the infantry of 6th Army catches up. An assault on Stalingrad also awaits the arrival of 4th Panzer Army who are held up by Soviet resistance around Lake Sarpa 15 miles South of Stalingrad. Soviet General Zhukov is summoned to Moscow and promoted to Deputy Supreme Commander, second only to Stalin, and then dispatched to take command at Stalingrad.

Overnight, RAF probes further into Germany, attacking Kassel with 306 bombers. With little cloud, Pathfinder aircraft mark the target with flares and the bombers destroy 144 buildings and severely damage 317 more including all 3 Henschel aircraft factories (28 troops and 15 civilians killed, 64 soldiers and 187 civilians injured). 21 Wellingtons, 5 Stirlings, 3 Lancasters, 1 Halifax & 1 Hampden are lost, mostly to Luftwaffe night-fighters. In addition, 9 Lancaster bombers (each carrying a 5500 lb "Capital Ship" bomb designed for armoured targets) unsuccessfully attack the German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin under construction at Gotenhafen on the Baltic Sea (now Gdynia, Poland). Also on the Baltic Sea, Soviet bombers raid Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany (now Kaliningrad, Russia).

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