Monday, September 3, 2012

Day 1100 September 4, 1942

At 4.30 AM in the Gulf of Mexico 15 miles off the coast of Northern Mexico, U-171 uses 10 torpedoes to sink empty Mexican tanker SS Amatlan (10 dead, 24 survivors).

Battle of Alam el Halfa, Egypt. Panzerarmee Afrika continues to retreat West, while mounting local counterattacks against New Zealand 5th and British 132nd Brigades. With no hope of disrupting Rommel’s withdrawal, Operation Beresford is cancelled and the New Zealand and British troops are withdrawn.

US submarines have a busy day. USS Guardfish, on her first patrol, attacks a convoy off Kuji Northeast Honshū (the main island of Japan), sinking Japanese freighter Kaimei Maru and passenger/cargo ship Tenyu Maru. USS Guardfish chases freighter Chita Maru into Kuji harbor and sinks her with a long-range torpedo. Also off Honshū, USS Pompano sinks Japanese guardship No. 27 Nanshin Maru. USS Growler sinks Japanese ammunition ship Kashino off Formosa/Taiwan.

Papua. At Milne Bay, Australian 2/9th Battalion’s is held up all day at Japanese defensive positions at Goroni. During a charge at 3.15 PM, Corporal Jack French wins a posthumous VC for storming a Japanese machinegun post with grenades and a Thompson machinegun. Again, Japanese reinforcements from Rabaul (130 troops, 5th Yokosuka SNLF) fail in their attempt to land at Milne Bay. On the Kokoda Track, Australian 2/16 and 2/14 Battalions intend to hold Myola Ridge, where a nearby dry lake is being used as an air drop and supply dump – to give this up means supplies must be brought in by foot 47 miles along the track from Port Moresby. Japanese repeat their successful tactics of persistent shelling from the mountain gun, frontal attack along the Track and another flanking attack. In the evening, a small Japanese force gets behind the Australians forcing them to break through and withdraw.

Solomon Islands. US Marine 1st Raider Battalion lands from high speed transport ships (converted WWI-era destroyers) USS Gregory and USS Little on Savo Island, just North of Guadalcanal, to sweep for Japanese troops. Finding none, they re-embark on USS Gregory and USS Little too late to return to Tulagi so the Raiders are dropped at Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, and the old destroyers lie offshore. Japanese attempt to bring artillery and heavy equipment to Guadalcanal on barges (as this cannot be done on the fast destroyers brining troops) but they are sunk off Santa Isabel Island US aircraft from Henderson Field (known as Cactus Air Force). In the evening, Japanese destroyers Yudachi, Hatsuyuki, and Murakumo run down the Slot and lands 1000 troops of Ichiki and Aoba Detachments at Taivu, Guadalcanal.

Overnight, 251 RAF bombers (98 Wellingtons, 76 Lancasters, 41 Halifaxes, 36 Stirlings) raid Bremen, Germany. Pathfinders use a new technique on this night (illuminating the area with white flares, marking identified aiming points with coloured flares and backing-up with incendiary bomb loads) leading to accurate bombing. 71 industrial targets and 1821 houses are destroyed or seriously damaged. 7 Wellingtons, 3 Lancasters, 1 Halifax & 1 Stirling are lost.

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