Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day 1109 September 13, 1942

Overnight, 290 miles Northeast of Ascension Island, U-156 rescues survivors from British troopship Laconia (carrying 1809 Italian POWs plus 1032 Allied civilians and military personnel). At 1.25 AM, Korvettenkapitän Hartenstein radios for assistance to Admiral Dönitz, who orders 2 U-boats to the scene and requests Vichy French to send warships. At 6 AM on his own initiative and without seeking Dönitz approval, Hartenstein radios in English a general request for help from all ships.

At 00.58 AM, U-506 sinks neutral Swedish MV Lima 150 miles off the coast of Liberia, West Africa (3 dead, 30 survivors).

At 1.35 AM 950 miles Northeast of Barbados, U-512 turns US tanker SS Patrick J. Hurley (carrying 75,000 barrels of gasoline and 60,000 barrels of diesel oil) into a burning wreck with shellfire from the deck gun (17 killed, 22 survivors picked up after 7 days by Swedish SS Etna, 23 survivors picked up on 4 October by British SS Loch Dee).

45 miles East of Trinidad, U-515 sinks British SS Ocean Vanguard at 2.27 AM (11 dead, 40 survivors picked up by Norwegian MV Braga) and Panamanian SS Nimba at 6.34 AM (20 killed, 12 float on a raft and wreckage for 12 hours until picked up by US destroyer USS Barney at 6.30 PM).

Battle of Edson’s Ridge, Guadalcanal. At daybreak, Marine artillery and aircraft from Henderson Field break up the Japanese attack. At 5.50 AM, Japanese General Kawaguchi retreats into the jungle to regroup for another attack overnight. US Colonel Edson pulls his Marines back onto Hill 123 (the highest point on the Ridge at 123 feet, with dominating views of the lower slopes). Japanese attack at nightfall, breaking down the flank of Edson’s line, but they are stopped by machinegun fire from Hill 123 plus Marine 105 mm and 75 mm artillery ranged on open ground South of the Ridge (500 Japanese killed, 80 US killed). Japanese attacks overnight along the coast East and West of Henderson Field are also repulsed with heavy losses.

At 6.22 AM 100 miles West of Grenada, U-558 fires 3 torpedoes at convoy TAG-5, sinking Dutch SS Suriname (13 killed, 69 survivors rescued by a US patrol craft) and British SS Empire Lugard (all 47 hands picked up by Norwegian MV Vilja).

At 6.45 AM, Germans launch an infantry assault on Stalingrad supported by aerial and artillery bombardment. They make slight progress, due to dogged Soviet resistance and terrain devastated by Luftwaffe bombing over the last 2 weeks, but manage to capture an airfield just West of the city.

Convoy PQ-18 150 miles Northwest of Bear Island. U-408 sinks Soviet SS Stalingrad and American SS Oliver Ellsworth. Luftwaffe reconnaissance aircraft from Banak, Northern Norway, spots the convoy and torpedo bombers from Banak use a new tactic of coordinated torpedo attack to sink 8 more steamers.

Convoy ON-127 1300 miles West of Ireland, 600 miles East of Newfoundland. US air escort from Newfoundland keep the U-boats away from the main convoy but at 2.36 PM U-594 sinks a straggler, Panamanian SS Stone Street (13 killed, captain taken prisoner by U-594, 38 survivors on 2 rafts rescued on September 19 by SS Irish Larch).

Overnight, RAF mounts a big raid on Bremen, Germany, with 446 aircraft (Lloyd dynamo works and Focke-Wulf factory knocked out for 1-2 weeks; 7 historical buildings, 6 schools and 2 hospitals hit in the city centre; 70 civilians killed, 371 injured). 15 Wellingtons, 2 Lancasters, 1 Halifax, 1 Hampden, 1 Stirling & 1 Whitley are lost.

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