Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 1096 August 31, 1942

Battle of Alam el Halfa, Egypt. Despite the attention of the RAF and Allied artillery, Rommel’s tanks make it through the minefields by noon and then turn North to attack what Rommel thinks is the Allied lines rearguard area. British General Montgomery has prepared a dense screen of anti-tank guns and tanks (firing from hull-down positions in an anti-tank role) along the Alam el Halfa ridge. The Panzers, confused when the British tanks refuse to come out and fight as they have done previously, are stopped cold by the massed British anti-tank fire as well as pre-ranged artillery from the sides. Rommel loses 22 tanks and 2 of his senior commanders (Afrika Korps commander General Nehring is wounded in an air raid and 21st Panzer Division’s General von Bismarck is killed by a bomb). British losses are 21 tanks.

The noose begins to tighten on Stalingrad. German XLVIII Corps tanks (part of 4th Panzer Army) reach the Stalingrad-Morozovsk railway on the outskirts of Stalingrad.

North Atlantic. At 1.54 AM 200 miles North of the Azores, U-516 sinks US tanker SS Jack Carnes (42 crewmen and 14 gunners abandon ship in 2 lifeboats; 28 in 1 boat reach Terceira Island, Azores 6 days later, but the other 28 are never found). At 10.04 AM 300 miles Southeast of Greenland, U-609 attacks convoy SC-97 sinking Panamanian SS Capira (5 killed, 33 survivors picked up by British rescue ship Perth and another 16 picked up from wreckage and a raft by Canadian corvette HMCS Drumheller) and Norwegian MV Bronxville (all 39 hands are picked up by rescue ship Perth). At 2.17 PM 390 miles East of Trinidad, U-66 sinks her fourth ship in 3 days, British tanker SS Winamac (27 crew and 3 gunners killed, 21 crew picked up by British MV Empire Lugard).

Off Adak Island in the Aleutian Islands, 2 PBY Catalina floatplanes drop depth charges on Japanese submarine RO-61 which is damaged and crash-dives. US destroyer USS Reid is called in and drops 2 patterns of 13 depth charges, forcing RO-61 to the surface where she is raked by 20 mm and 5 inch shellfire. RO-61 rolls over and sinks (60 killed, 5 survivors rescued by USS Reid).

35 miles off the Northern tip of Formosa/Taiwan, US submarine USS Growler sinks Japanese SS Eifuku Maru.

Milne Bay, Papua. Australians launch a counterattack from the Turnbull airstrip along the muddy coastal tracks of Milne Bay, reaching the KB Mission by evening despite Japanese delaying tactics (ambushes and snipers). An Australian bayonet charge at dusk displaces the Japanese from the KB Mission (60 Japanese killed). A Japanese attack overnight leaves another 90 killed.

Kokoda Track, Papua. Australians retreat 2 miles to Eora, harassed but not frontally-attacked by the Japanese who prefer to attempt another flanking move through the jungle to get behind the Australians.

240 miles east of Guadalcanal, Japanese submarine I-26 immobilises US carrier USS Saratoga with a torpedo. US cruiser Minneapolis sets up a tow while USS Saratoga sends off her aircraft to Espiritu Santo. USS Saratoga will be repaired at Pearl Harbor, returning to the Solomon Islands in November.

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