Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 1110 September 14, 1942

In the last act of convoy ON-127 440 miles East of St. John’s Newfoundland, U-91 sinks convoy escort Canadian destroyer HMCS Ottawa at 2.05 AM. 109 are killed, including 13 crew and 5 gunners rescued from British tanker SS Empire Oil torpedoed 4 days ago by U-659. 65 survivors are rescued by other ships in the convoy.

Convoy PQ-18 20 miles South of Spitzbergen, Svalbard Island. At 4 AM, U-457 sets British tanker MV Atheltemplar on fire and the crew abandons ship (3 killed, 58 survivors picked up by British rescue ship Copeland and destroyer HMS Offa). MV Atheltemplar stays afloat and is finished off at 2.30 PM by U-408. Luftwaffe torpedo bombers from Banak attack again en masse but anti-aircraft fire from the convoy escorts and Sea Hurricane fighters from British carrier HMS Avenger break up the attacks (21 German aircraft shot down). American SS Mary Luckenbach is hit by an aerial torpedo and vapourised by the detonation of 1,000 tons of TNT on board (all 189 crew killed); the explosion damages nearby American ships SS Nathanael Greene and SS Wacosta. U-589 is sunk by depth charges from British destroyer HMS Onslow and a Swordfish bomber from escort carrier HMS Avenger (all 44 hands lost).

Aleutian Islands. US bombers leave the newly-completed airfield at Adak Island and bomb the harbor at Kiska Island, damaging Japanese submarines RO-63 and RO-64.

Stalingrad. Germans infantry again advance, meeting a counterattack by Soviet 62nd Army. At dawn, Luftwaffe aircraft bomb and strafe the Soviet troops who are pushed back onto Mamayev Kurgan, a Tartar burial mound 102 meters high (with dominating views of the city, also known as Hill 102). 2 miles south of Mamayev Kurgan, German 71st and 76th Divisions assault Central Station, which changes hands 4 times during the day and is eventually held by a NKVD rifle battalion. In the evening, Soviet 13th Guards Rifle Division (10,000 troops, ordered to the front by Stalin on hearing of the German progress yesterday) crosses the Volga in barges, tugs and rowing boats despite German shellfire and mortars. They go straight into combat (taking 30% casualties in 24 hours), preventing German troops cutting 62nd Army in two by reaching the Volga. There is a frost overnight, signaling the start of the Russian Winter.

On the Kokoda Track, Papua, Japanese reach Australian positions at Ioribaiwa Ridge. In the now-standard pattern, Japanese fix Australian 21st Brigade (the remnants of 2/14 and 2/16 Battalions combined) on the Track with a frontal assault and shelling from 8 mountain guns, to cover a flanking movement. The attack in the center makes some progress, although the Australian defenses hold out, but the flanking attack runs into 2/31st Battalion placed on the left in anticipation.

Gili Gili airfield at Milne Bay is renamed Gurney Field in honour of RAAF Squadron Leader Gurney who was killed in a crash.

A poorly planned and executed series of British raids on Tobruk (Operation Agreement aka daffodil), Benghazi (Operation Bigamy aka Snowdrop), Jalo oasis (Operation Nicety aka Tulip) and Barce (Operation Caravan aka Hyacinth) ends in disaster, achieving none of the objectives. An attempted amphibious landing of 400 Royal Marines and 180 Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders at Tobruk is broken up by German dive bombers which sink British cruiser HMS Coventry (63 killed) and destroyers HMS Zulu (39 killed) and German 88 mm shore batteries which score multiple hits and sink HMS Sikh (115 killed, 75 taken POW). 300 Royal Marines and 160 Highlanders are killed or taken POW.

In the Mediterranean in the Gulf of Stora off Phillipeville (now Sakīkdah) Algeria, British aircraft sink Italian submarine Alabastro.

290 miles Northeast of Ascension Island, hundreds float on the wreckage of British troopship Laconia sunk 2 days ago by U-156. U-156 remains on the surface to assist and await the arrival of more ships.

At 2.10 PM 40 miles East of Trinidad, U-515 sinks British SS Harborough with a torpedo and the deck gun (5 killed; 39 crew, 5 gunners and 1 passenger reach Tobago).

Overnight, 202 RAF bombers attack Wilhelmshaven, Germany, with accurate Pathfinder marking (77 civilians killed, more than 50 injured).

1 comment:

  1. My father,Captain William Joseph HARTLEY D.S.C., was Master of the Rescue Ship COPELAND on PQ 18. He rescued 215 from that Convoy and his war total was 362. The Rescue Ships - a largely unknown & forgotten Service. 4,194 men owe their lives to the brave crews of the Rescue Ships. B. Shackleton ( Mrs )