World War Two Daily: July 2020

Saturday, July 25, 2020

March 27, 1942: The Battle of Suursaari

Friday 27 March 1942

U-123 in February 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
U-123, the victor of the Action of 27 March 1942, in port at Lorient (Lockpick, Federal Archives, Figure 101II-MW-3983-23).

Eastern Front: The Battle of Suursaari begins in earnest at 04:00 on 27 March 1942 when Finnish artillery opens fire on Soviet positions on Gogland. The Finns are able to attack across the ice between the mainland and the island, making for an unusual battle where the Soviets essentially are defending the island against a land attack. The Soviets block one entry point to Gogland but the Finns successfully enter via another route. Two Finnish battalions secure much of Gogland by nightfall, with some Soviet holdouts fleeing across the ice around midnight. There remain isolated pockets of Soviet troops that fight ferociously for two more days. Fierce air battles rage over the island throughout the battle, with Finnish Air Force Fokker D.XXI, Curtiss P-36 Hawk, and Brewster F2A Buffalo fighters reporting kills of a total of 27 Soviet Polikarpov I-153 and Polikarpov I-16 fighters.

Battle of the Pacific: US submarine USS Gudgeon (SS-211) torpedoes and sinks 6526-ton Japanese freighter Nissho Maru southeast of Kumun Island. The ship is later salvaged after the war and re-enters service.

Japanese 7952-ton ocean liner Kitano Maru hits a Japanese mine and sinks off Mabilao, Lingayen Gulf, Philippines. There are three dead soldiers among the 650 being transported.

Dutch planes based in Australia sink 4109-ton Japanese collier Ubari Maru off Koepang, Timor.

The Marion Star, 27 March 1942
The Marion Star, 27 March 1942, headlines the RAF attacks on Essen of the previous two nights. The attacks were the first major efforts in weeks but accomplished little.

European Air Operations: During the day, the RAF sends a dozen Boston bombers to attack the Ostend power station. However, the bombs are all dropped in fields short of the target. After two nights of attacks on Essen, RAF Bomber Command switches to St. Nazaire. It sends 35 Whitleys and 27 Wellington bombers to support Operation Chariot, the Commando raid on the dry-dock gates in the port. Due to poor weather conditions, only four bombers bomb the port, while six drop bombs on other targets. The RAF loses one Whitley. Secondary operations are 8 Blenheims sent to Holland (Schipol and Soesterburg) and 15 Hampdens laying mines (13 successfully) off the northwest German coast. The RAF loses one Blenheim and three Hampdens on these missions.

The Luftwaffe sinks 496-ton British collier Staghound off Torquay. The Staghound later is salved for use as a practice bombing target and eventually is sunk again off St. Thomas' Head while being used for that purpose.

German 482-ton coastal vessel Sperrbrecher 147 Koert (requisitioned Dutch vessel Raket) hits a mine and sinks after an explosion off the Dutch coast. 

USS Antik
USS Antik, sunk on 27 March 1942.
 
Battle of the Atlantic: The Action of 27 March 1942 is fought. While patrolling 300 miles off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia, 6610-ton Q-ship USS Atik is torpedoed by U-123 (Kapitänleutnant Reinhard Hardegen). U-123, on its eighth patrol out of Lorient, is in the midst of the most successful U-boat war patrols as part of Operation Paukenschlag. The Q-ship is damaged but does not sink immediately, so this begins an unusual surface action between U-123 and the Atik in which the US ship uses all of its many weapons against the surfaced U-boat. Captain Hardegan responds to the US salvos, which only slightly damage the U-boat's bridge, with his own deck gun. The Americans finally abandon ship after U-123 submerges and pumps another torpedo into the ship.

Hardegan then surfaces again and watches the ship explode, killing all 141 US sailors at the cost of one German midshipman killed. All that is found of the Atik is some wreckage and five empty lifeboats. This is another example of a lesson the Royal Navy learned long ago, that Q-ships simply become targets themselves.

The Allies "get one back" when British warships spot U-587 (Kptlt. Ulrich Borcherdt), on its second war patrol out of St. Nazaire. Royal Navy vessels HMS Grove, Aldenham, Volunteer, and Leamington (formerly USS Twiggs) are covering Convoy WS-17 when they use depth charges to sink U-587 a few hundred miles southwest of Ireland. There are no survivors. U-587 ends its patrol and career having sunk five ships of 23,389 tons.

U-105 (Korvettenkapitän Heinrich Schuch), on its sixth patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 7616-ton Norwegian tanker Svenør about 300 miles east of Cape Hatteras. Captain Schuch surfaces and uses his deck gun to fire 76 round when the tanker does not sink right away. There are eight dead and 29 survivors. As Schuch sails away, he spots another ship, the Portuguese (neutral) freighter Cunene. He stops the Portuguese ship and directs it to the location of the Svenør's lifeboats, where the survivors are picked up and taken to Philadelphia on 31 March.

Panamianian freighter Equipoise, sunk on 27 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Freighter Equipoise, sunk on 27 March 1942.

U-160 (Kptlt. Georg Lassen), on its first patrol out of Helgoland, torpedoes and sinks 6210-ton Panamanian-flagged SS Equipoise about 60 miles southeast of Cape Henry, Virginia. There are 13 survivors and 41 deaths. All 8 Americans on board perish. This is the first of 26 victories for U-160.

Rough weather in the North Atlantic is no joke, and the danger to all is proven once again. Rear Admiral John W. Wilcox, Jr., is the commander of a task force heading toward the Arctic Convoy routes aboard battleship USS Washington when disaster strikes. He falls or is swept overboard off Sable Island and spotted face down about 80 minutes later. His body is never recovered, and an SB2U-2 Vindicator crashes during the search, killing its two-man crew. A board of inquiry is convened the same day. Since nobody saw him fall overboard, rumors spread that the death was not entirely accidental. Nothing untoward is ever proven, and the death is ruled accidental. Wilcox becomes the first US admiral lost at sea. There is a cenotaph to Admiral Wilcox located at Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville, Georgia.

The rough weather also claims 63-ton Canadian sailing vessel Tatagamouche off Nova Scotia.

Japanese farmer in California during World War II
A Japanese farmer transplanting tomatoes near Centerville, California, 27 March 1942 (Online Archives of California).

Battle of the Mediterranean: Fierce Axis air attacks on Malta continue. They finish off British 9776-ton ocean liner MV Breconshire, which was damaged during the Second Battle of Sirte and never repaired while anchored at Marsaxlokk.

Italian 2606-ton freighter Oreste hits a mine and sinks about 13 nautical miles off Cape Platamone (south of Cattaro/Kotor) in Montenegro.

Special Operations: The Royal Navy and Commando forces en route to St. Nazaire for Operation Chariot come upon two French fishing trawlers (La Slack and Nungesser et Coli). So as not to give away the operation's secrecy, the Royal Navy evacuates the crews and sinks the two trawlers. The crews of these ships are pro-Allies and eventually join the Free French.

HMS Thunderbolt 27 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
HMS Thunderbolt as seen from Submarine Depot Ship HMS Forth in Holy Loch, 27 March 1942 (© IWM A 8454).

The attack convoy heads in toward the target, with the Germans presumably distracted from its approach by a major RAF raid on the port. The Commando attack is planned for early on 28th March.

US Military: The US Army War Plans Division is busy mapping out future operations. Today, it issues "Plan for Operations in Northwest Europe," which provides for a limited cross-Channel operation in the summer of 1942 (Operation Sledgehammer). If Sledgehammer is not conducted, then a larger cross-Channel invasion is planned for early 1943 (Operation Roundup). The buildup of supplies for an eventual invasion is given the codename Operation Bolero.

A mysterious group of B-25 bombers is at Sacramento (California) Air Depot undergoing a flurry of modifications and training flights. Their special equipment has not been tested and many items such as practice bombs have to be tracked down on short notice from supply officers who have no idea that there is any urgency.  In fact, there is tremendous urgency because these are the bombers preparing for the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo that is due to begin shortly.

Holocaust: The Germans begin the first of more than 65,000 deportations from Drancy, France, to Auschwitz and other concentration camps.

Australian Homefront: A state of emergency is declared in the northern territories.

U-123 in February 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Louis vs. Simon II, 27 March 1942.

American Homefront: Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis technically knocks out Abe Simon in the sixth round at Madison Square Garden. This is Louis' first fight for the US Army and he receives no purse, as all proceeds go to the Army Relief Fund. Simon loses for the second time to Louis and later develops a successful acting career that includes roles in "On the Waterfront" and "Requiem for a Heavyweight." Simon passes away on 24 October 1969.

Future History: Michael Hugh Johnson is born in Fulmer, Buckinghamshire, England. After graduating from Oxford, embarks on a career in acting and changes his name. As Michael York, he first acts on stage and has his first film role as Lucentio in "The Taming of the Shrew" (1967). He goes on to a legendary career in the cinema that includes starring roles in "Romeo and Juliet" (1968), "Cabaret" (1972), and "Logan's Run" (1976), and the Austin Powers film (1997-2002), among many others. Michael York apparently is retired as of this writing in 2020.

The Detroit Jewish News 27 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Detroit Jewish News has its first issue on 27 March 1942.

March 1942

March 1, 1942: Second Battle of Java Sea
March 2, 1942: Huge Allied Shipping Losses at Java
March 3, 1942: Japan Raids Western Australia
March 4, 1942: Second Raid On Hawaii
March 5, 1942: Japan Takes Batavia
March 6, 1942: Churchill Assaults Free Speech
March 7, 1942: British Defeat in Burma
March 8, 1942: Rangoon Falls to Japan
March 9, 1942: Japanese Conquest of Dutch East Indies
March 10, 1942:US Navy attacks Japanese Landings at Lae
March 11, 1942: Warren Buffett's First Stock Trade
March 12, 1942: Japan Takes Java
March 13, 1942: Soviets Attack In Crimea Again 
March 14, 1942: The US Leans Toward Europe
March 15, 1942: Operation Raubtier Begins
March 16, 1942: General MacArthur Gets His Ride
March 17, 1942: MacArthur Arrives in Australia
March 18, 1942: Japan Attacks In Burma
March 19, 1942: Soviets Encircled on the Volkhov
March 20, 1942: "I Shall Return," Says MacArthur
March 21, 1942: Germans Attack Toward Demyansk
March 22, 1942: Second Battle of Sirte
March 23, 1942: Hitler's Insecurity Builds
March 24, 1942: Bataan Bombarded
March 25, 1942: Chinese Under Pressure in Burma
March 26, 1942: Win Or Die, Vows MacArthur
March 27, 1942: The Battle of Suusari
March 28, 1942: The St. Nazaire Commando Raid
March 29, 1942: The Free Republic of Nias
March 30, 1942: Japanese-Americans Off Bainbridge Island
March 31, 1942: Japanese Seize Christmas Island

2020

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

March 26, 1942: Win Or Die, Vows MacArthur

Thursday 26 March 1942

Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi, 26 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi departing from Starling Bay, Celebes Islands, on 26 March 1942. Note the line of ships stretching into the distance. The task force is heading for the Indian Ocean to defeat the British Eastern Fleet and destroy British airpower in the region in order to protect the flank of the invasion of Burma.
Battle of the Pacific: General Douglas MacArthur gives a rousing speech at a 26 March 1942 dinner in his honor (he receives the citation for his Medal of Honor) at the Australian Parliament House, Canberra, Australia. MacArthur notes, "Although this is my first trip to Australia," that he already feels at home. He calls the war a "great crusade of personal liberty" and further says:
There can be no compromise. We shall win or we shall die, and to this end, I pledge you the full resources of all the mighty power of my country and all the blood of my countrymen.
Privately, MacArthur meets with the Australian Advisory War Council and reassures them that the Japanese do not have the power to mount a large-scale invasion of Australia. However, MacArthur cautions that the Japanese still might attempt it "to demonstrate their superiority over the white races." The real danger, he says, is from small-scale invasions and raids in which the Japanese would attempt to set up air bases in Australia.

General Douglas MacArthur, 26 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
General Douglas MacArthur in Canberra, 26 March 1942 (CREDIT:F.J. HALMARICK, The Sydney Morning Herald).
On the Bataan Peninsula, the large force that MacArthur was ordered to leave continues to be shelled throughout the day as the Japanese prepare for a major offensive. Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon and his family evacuate aboard three USAAF B-17s to Australia.

At the Battle of Toungoo in Burma, the Japanese 112th Regiment attacks in the northwest of the Chinese perimeter but makes no progress. Other attacks elsewhere take the western part of the city to the west of the railroad, but the Chinese retain the heart of the city to the east of the railroad. The two sides close to within 100 meters on either side of the railway, firing at each other across the tracks. Both sides take heavy casualties, and eventually, the Japanese withdraw about 200 yards to give their artillery and bombers room to operate. Late in the day, the New 223nd Division arrives to the north of Yedashe and forces the Japanese to dilute their attacking strength by sending the 2nd Battalion, 143rd Regiment in a blocking move. A temporary stalemate develops.

A Japanese task force including aircraft carriers departs from the naval base at Kendari on Celebes Island, Netherlands East Indies, for the Indian Ocean. This is the beginning of a major raid in the Indian Ocean by the Kido Butai force that conducted the raid on Pearl Harbor. The first target will be Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Napa Register, 26 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Napa (California) Register of 26 March 1942 headlines MacArthur's "Win or Die" pledge below a disaster at Sandits Eddy Lehigh Cement in Pennsylvania.
Eastern Front: In the Crimea, Soviet General Kozlov opens his third offensive against the German line on the Parpach Narrows. The objective is the German strongpoint at Koi-Asan. The Soviet 390th Rifle Division and 143rd Rifle Brigade of the 51st Army lead the assault. They are supported by two T-26 companies, six KVs, and three T-34s from the 39th and 40th Tank Brigades and the 229th Separate Tank Battalion. The operation, much smaller than the previous two Soviet offensives, fails almost immediately.

Finnish forces begin a military operation (the Battle of Suursaari) in the frozen Gulf of Finland. The goal is to recover islands ceded to the Soviet Union after the Winter War in the Moscow Peace Treaty. These islands are Gogland and Bolshoy Tyuters. The islands already have changed hands twice since the peace treaty, as Soviet troops abandoned the islands, they were then occupied by the Finns, and then Soviet troops returned to recover them. The Finns have assembled three battalions in the nearby Haapasaaret Islands for this operation under the command of Major General Aaro Pajari. Today's preparations for the assault include opening two roads over the ice to the vicinity of the islands.

Berliner Illustrierter Zeitung, 26 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Berliner Ilustrierte Zeitung, 26 March 1942. Everything is sunny in the Reich, and the articles include an account of the destruction of a Soviet tank and ambitious plans in the United States that don't seem to be possible. Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, March 26, 1942, Howard Mowen NSDAP Collection, Western Michigan University.
European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command sends 24 Boston bomber to Le Havre. One bomber is lost.

After dark, the RAF sends a follow-up raid to Essen. The raid on the night of the 25th was a failure, with few bombers even hitting the city. Tonight's raid of 104 Wellingtons and 11 Stirlings is not a surprise and is met by heavy opposition, including Flak and night fighters. However, while a much smaller raid, it is somewhat more successful. Unlike the previous night, hits are scored on the target, the Krupps works, and fires are started in the city. However, accuracy remains a huge problem for the RAF and only 22 high-explosive bombs are counted in the city. Six people are killed, 14 injured, and two houses are destroyed at a cost of 10 Wellingtons and one Stirling lost, a terrible 10% loss rate.

There also are smaller attacks sent against Le Havre (8 bombers), Holland (11 Blenheims), minelaying off Wilhelmshaven (36 bombers), and 15 bombers on leaflet operations over France. In the Holland raid, hits are scored on Schipol Airport and the port area of Rotterdam, along with Leeuwarden and Soesterburg Airfield. Two Blenheims (from the attack on Schipol) and two Hampdens (minelayers) fail to return.

Officers aboard HMS Adamant, 26 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Captain R S Warne, RN, (left) Captain of HMS ADAMANT, and his First Lieutenant, Lieut Cdr W H Hills on the bridge of Royal Navy submarine depot ship HMS Adamant in the North Atlantic, 26 March 1942. © IWM A 8431.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-71 (Kptlt. Walter Flachsenberg), on its fifth patrol out of St. Nazaire, torpedoes and sinks 8046-ton US tanker Dixie Arrow about a dozen miles off Diamond Shoal Light Buoy (Cape Hatteras). With the break of day, Flachsenberg was about to submerge for the day when he spotted the masts of the Dixie Arrow approaching. He hits the tanker with three torpedoes at 08:58. There are 11 deaths and 14 survivors who are picked up about two hours later.

In a small-boats action in the North Sea, Royal Navy motor torpedo boats torpedo and sink 229-ton Dutch fishing trawler FV Corrie near Texel.

British freighter Pampas burning at Malta, 26 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
British freighter Pampas burning at Malta on 26 March 1942.
Battle of the Mediterranean: This is the beginning of the worst period of the war for the British in the Mediterranean. Malta is isolated and ships are being sunk left and right. With the weather improving, attacks on land in North Africa can be expected to resume soon, too.

Incessant Axis air raids on Malta following the Second Battle of Sirte claim two more victims, 5415-ton British freighter MV Pampas and 6798-ton Norwegian freighter SS Talabot. Both ships from Convoy MW10 are sunk at their docks where they are being unloaded in between air attacks. Both ships remain where they sink until after the war (Talabot is not completely removed until 1985). In addition, Royal Navy submarine P-39 nearby is seriously damaged and ultimately written off, then scrapped at Kalkara.

With these attacks, Convoy MW 10, the one attacked during the Second Battle of Sirte, turned out to be a massive failure. While 26,000 tons (23 587 metric tonnes) were shipped, only about 5000 tons (4536-metric tons) actually make it off the ships to Malta. In addition, several ships were lost at minimal cost to the Axis.

U-652 (Oblt. Georg-Werner Fraatz), on its eighth patrol out of Salamis, sinks two ships. They are Royal Navy destroyer HMS Jaguar (F 34, 193 men lost, 53 survivors) and 2623-ton British fleet oiler Slavol (36 dead, 26 survivors). The attacks are made about 25 miles north of Sidi Barrani, Egypt. Jaguar was escorting the Slavol and other ships to Tobruk, and Fraatz first picked it off and then attacked Slavol in the resulting confusion.

SS Talabot was sunk at Malta on 26 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
SS Talabot, sunk in Malta's Grand Harbor on 26 March 1942.
Partisans: German security forces begin Operation Bamberg. This is an anti-partisan sweep through Hlusk District, Babruysk, Polesia, Byelorussia. This operation has been planned since 26 February 1942 to clear the area of partisans. The three objectives are: 1) annihilate partisan bands, 2) pacify the forested region, and 3) collect grain, livestock, and other supplies. This is the second major anti-partisan operation in the region, which has many Soviet army officers helping to organize resistance. The main strategy is to encircle an area with a diameter of 25-30 km (16-19 miles) and then gradually move inward to trap the partisans.

Special Operations: Royal Navy ships (three destroyers, a gunboat, motorboats, and motor torpedo boats) set out from Falmouth Bay, Cornwall England carrying special forces. Their target is the French port of St. Nazaire located at the mouth of the Loire Estuary. This is the beginning of Operation Chariot.

Spy Stuff: Police in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, announce that they have broken up a spy ring and arrested 200 suspects. This is one in a series of such operations by local authorities in South America.

US Military: Admiral Ernest J. King takes over as Chief of Naval Operations from Admiral Harold R. Stark. This makes King Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations. His primary assistants are Vice Admiral Frederick J. Horne (Vice Chief of Naval Operations) and Vice Admiral Russell Willson (COMINCH Chief of Staff). Stark heads to England to become Commander of United States Naval Forces Europe. While this undoubtedly is a demotion for Stark due to fallout from the Pearl Harbor attack, he does good work preparing for and supervising the buildup of US forces for the D-Day landings.

Stark will be the beneficiary of a greatly increased US Navy presence in the European Theater of Operations. Today, Rear Admiral John Wilcox sails his Task Force 39, led by the battleship USS 'Washington' (BB-56), the aircraft carrier USS 'Wasp' (CV-7), the heavy cruisers USS 'Wichita' (CA-45) and 'Tuscaloosa' (CA-37) and six destroyers, from Portland, Maine, for Scapa Flow. This large force will supplement the British Home Fleet during the pendency of Operation Ironclad, the projected invasion of Vichy French Madagascar.

Egyptian Government: The ruling Wafd Party wins 240 of 264 seats in elections. This is partly due to a boycott of the election by the opposition.

Orli Wald, an inmate registered at Auschwitz on 26 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Orli Wald (original name Aurelia Torgau) registers at Auschwitz Concentration Camp, 26 March 1942. Wald has been in prison since 1936 when she was charged with high treason for being a communist and engaging in political resistance. She serves in the infirmary at Auschwitz-Birkenau and survives the war, dying in 1962.
Holocaust: Near Riga, Latvia, German occupation forces and their local auxiliaries begin the Second Dünamünde Action (Aktion Dünamünde). This operation results in about 1840 deaths of Jews who have been deported from Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and Moravia. The technique used is to lure the victims of Jungfernhof concentration camp to a supposed new resettlement facility in an area called Daugavgrīva (Dünamünde) with promises that things will be better. These victims are all older people, with younger people prohibited from accompanying them. Once aboard the transport trucks, the victims are taken to the Biķernieki woods north of Riga. The victims are forced to lie in trenches above previous victims in a pattern called "sardine packing" which the Germans consider to be the most effective use of space. They are then shot and more victims ordered to lie above them until the trenches are full.

The first trainload of female prisoners arrives at Auschwitz from Ravensbruck Concentration Camp and Slovakia via Poprad transit camp.

Judy Garland and Gene Kelly rehearsing, 26 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Judy Garland rehearses with Gene Kelly (his first film for MGM) for the upcoming musical "For Me and My Gal." Kelly later said, "I learned a great deal about making movies doing this first one, and much of it was due to Judy." (Photo credit: Kim Lundgreen via judygarlandnews.com).
American Homefront: The leaders of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) promise to aid the war effort for the duration of the conflict by curbing strikes.

Football star Tom Harmon, the winner of the 1940 Heisman Trophy and the first pick in the 1941 NFL draft, enlists in the US Army Air Corps. As a pilot, Harmon will win the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. After four years in the service, he returns to play for the Los Angeles Rams in 1947 and 1948, then enters broadcasting.

An explosion due to a premature detonation at Sandits Eddy Lehigh Cement five miles outside of Easton, Pennsylvania, kills dozens of men. The explosion is felt 50 miles away.

Future History: Erica Mann is born in New York City, New York. Under her married name, Erica Jong, she becomes famous as a fiction writer due to her 1973 novel "Fear of Flying," which explores female sexuality and sells 20 million copies.

Football star Tom Harmon enlisted in the USAAF on 26 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Football star Tom Harmon enlists on 26 March 1942.


March 1942

March 1, 1942: Second Battle of Java Sea
March 2, 1942: Huge Allied Shipping Losses at Java
March 3, 1942: Japan Raids Western Australia
March 4, 1942: Second Raid On Hawaii
March 5, 1942: Japan Takes Batavia
March 6, 1942: Churchill Assaults Free Speech
March 7, 1942: British Defeat in Burma
March 8, 1942: Rangoon Falls to Japan
March 9, 1942: Japanese Conquest of Dutch East Indies
March 10, 1942:US Navy attacks Japanese Landings at Lae
March 11, 1942: Warren Buffett's First Stock Trade
March 12, 1942: Japan Takes Java
March 13, 1942: Soviets Attack In Crimea Again 
March 14, 1942: The US Leans Toward Europe
March 15, 1942: Operation Raubtier Begins
March 16, 1942: General MacArthur Gets His Ride
March 17, 1942: MacArthur Arrives in Australia
March 18, 1942: Japan Attacks In Burma
March 19, 1942: Soviets Encircled on the Volkhov
March 20, 1942: "I Shall Return," Says MacArthur
March 21, 1942: Germans Attack Toward Demyansk
March 22, 1942: Second Battle of Sirte
March 23, 1942: Hitler's Insecurity Builds
March 24, 1942: Bataan Bombarded
March 25, 1942: Chinese Under Pressure in Burma
March 26, 1942: Win Or Die, Vows MacArthur
March 27, 1942: The Battle of Suusari
March 28, 1942: The St. Nazaire Commando Raid
March 29, 1942: The Free Republic of Nias
March 30, 1942: Japanese-Americans Off Bainbridge Island
March 31, 1942: Japanese Seize Christmas Island

2020

Monday, July 20, 2020

March 25, 1942: Chinese Under Pressure in Burma

Wednesday 25 March 1942

Bainbridge Island 25 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A US Army soldier hands out copies of Civilian Exclusion Order No. 1 to Bainbridge Island, Washington, residents. All 227 Japanese-Americans on the island are required to vacate the island by the end of the month. The Seattle Daily Times, March 30, 1942, page 2. 
Battle of the Pacific: Heavy fighting continues in Toungoo, Burma, on 25 March 1942 as the Allied defenses crumble save for desperate Chinese resistance. The Japanese attack the Chinese defensive perimeter at Toungoo on the north, west, and south, trying to overrun what has become a pocket. Behind the Chinese is the Sittang River, and trying to retreat across it while being attacked would be suicidal. The Chinese 200th Division at Toungoo, however, holds its ground for much of the day. Nighttime brings a different result. Around 22:00, Japanese infiltrators gain access through the carefully constructed defenses in the northwestern sector of the perimeter and a ferocious battle begins. A Chinese counterattack fails and they are forced to cede the lost ground, compressing the Chinese bridgehead even further. The Japanese airforce and artillery also manage to destroy a critical bridge over the Sittang, further reducing Chinese chances of retreat.

Men relaxing on USS Enterprise, 25 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
This photograph was taken 25 March 1942 on the foretop of USS Enterprise (CV-6). The three men (two reporters and an officer, center) are awaiting news of a strike against Marcus Island (US Navy History and Heritage Command).
It is a busy day in the Pacific for US submarines. They score three successes:
  • USS Drum sinks a freighter about 120 miles southwest of Japan;
  • USS Pompano sinks a tanker about 70 miles northwest of Okinawa;
  • USS Tautog sinks a transport about 460 miles southeast of Ulithi.
The Japanese bombardment of the Allied position on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines continues. Lieutenant General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV's United States Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) is hit with salvoes from 190 artillery pieces. These include some of the biggest guns of the war, including 150 mm cannons and even Type 42 240 mm howitzers. Japanese commanding General Homma, however, is not yet ready for a full-scale attack.

Joplin Globe 25 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
March 25, 1942, front page of the Joplin Globe, Joplin, Missouri is sunny and bright about the war situation - until you look a little closer. Aside from the tales of vanquishing hordes of Japanese, it also announces the loss of USS Edsall DD-219 and USS Pillsbury DD-227. While the paper "fears" the ships are lost, the US Navy knows full well the Edsall sank on 1 March 1942 and the Pillsbury sank on 2 March 1942. The Navy quickly names new destroyers after these two sunken ships.
The US 162nd Infantry Regiment of the 41st Infantry Division arrives at Bora Bora in French Polynesia. Companies C and D of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion disembark from light cruiser USS St. Louis at Midway. They bring a 37 mm gun battery for the 3rd Defense Battalion.

Japanese submarine HIJMS I-9 launches an E14Y1 reconnaissance "Glen" aircraft to reconnoiter Kiska and Amchitka Islands.

Eastern Front: In the Crimea, Soviet General Kozlov readies his third offensive against the German 11th Army line on the Parpach Narrows for the morning of the 26th. This drive will be aimed at the German strongpoint at Koi-Asan. This will be a much smaller operation than the previous offensives due to the large losses Kozlov's 51st Army has suffered.

German coast batteries sink Soviet patrol boat CKA-121 off Musketeers Bay, Sevastopol.

Royal Navy ships on maneuvers, 25 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Royal Navy ships performing high-speed maneuvers off Fort William, 25 March 1942. © IWM A 9340.
European Air Operations: During the day, nine Boston bombers with a fighter escort attack the Le Trait, France, shipyard. There are no losses.

After dark, RAF Bomber Command launches its first major attack in about two weeks. Things do not go particularly well. The RAF sends 254 aircraft (192 Wellingtons, 26 Stirlings, 20 Manchesters, 9 Hampdens, and 7 Lancasters) in a full-strength attack against Essen. Nine aircraft (5 Manchesters, 3 Wellingtons, and 1 Hampden) are lost. The attack is intended to hit the Essen Krupps works, but savvy German deception efforts lure most of the bombers to a phony site at Rheinburg some 18 miles to the west. Damage is extremely light in Essen itself, and the Germans exactly 1627 propaganda leaflets dropped on the town along with 9 bombs and 700 incendiaries. Only one house is destroyed, with five people killed and 11 injured. The Krupp works are undamaged. One bomber on this mission bombs Airfield Haamstede near the town of Haamstede on the island of Schouwen-Duiveland in the southwest of the Netherlands

In secondary operations, 27 bombers attack St. Nazaire, 38 lay mines off Lorient, and 30 bombers drop leaflets over France. A single bomber hits Lannion airport in Brittany. Two bombers, a Wellington and a Hampden, are lost on these secondary raids. Overall for the night, 11 out of 349 aircraft are lost, a 3.2% loss rate.

The day is notable for a "first" when US Army pilot Major Cecil P. Lessig becomes the first US Army Air Force pilot to fly a mission over France during World War II. He flies a Spitfire with RAF no. 64 Squadron out of Hornchurch, England. Lessig is part of an abortive sweep of 34 fighters that is recalled when 50 Luftwaffe fighters appear on the scene.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-105 (KrvKpt. Heinrich Schuch), on its sixth patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 10,389-ton British tanker Narragansett about 400 miles east of Hampton Roads, Virginia. The ship sinks at 06:18, taking all 49 men with it. Schuch had a difficult time with the tanker, missing with two separate salvoes totaling five torpedoes in the early morning hours before finally getting the tanker with two torpedoes.

HMT Sulla, a minesweeper in the service of the Soviet Navy, sinks in the Arctic due to foul weather.

New Greek Navy recruits on parade in Alexandria, 25 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Some 500 new recruits in the Greek Free Navy marching in Alexandria after being sworn in, Egypt, 25 March 1942. © IWM A 8848.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Axis airforces have been pounding Malta ever since the Second Battle of Sirte a few days ago. Today, they score two victories, sinking Royal Navy destroyer Legion and submarine P39 in the Grand Harbor, Valletta. Attempts to repair P39 are considered, but later bomb damage seals her fate. She is finally scrapped in 1954. Legion, already damaged by previous bomb damage, also is considered for repair but the damage is too great. She is completely scrapped by 1946.

British tanker HMS Breconshire, badly damaged during the Second Battle of Sirte, finally is towed into Marsaxlokk Harbour, Malta. The ship carries 5000 tons of oil that are badly needed by the island garrison. The ship has been stranded offshore due to continual Axis air raids ever since the battle. Destroyer HMS Southwold had been protecting her, but it blundered into a British minefield and sank, leaving the tanker defenseless until today.

UK Government: The ruling Tories lose a by-election in Grantham. This is their first loss since September 1939.

US Government: The Department of War forms the White Hosue Communications Agency. This office is intended to create secure communications for the President wherever he is.

Finnish Government: President Risto Ryti writes a letter to Field Marshal Mannerheim at his headquarters at Mikkeli about a proposed offensive toward the Murmansk railway line that the Germans badly want. Ryti notes that "from an operative point of view" the offensive "can be carried out." While Ryti tells Mannerheim to "use your own discretion," he very strongly hints that it would be a better idea to not attack in order to husband Finland's resources. In addition, he mentions the possibility that "the Germans are forced to retreat on the St. Petersburg front," which would "cause us great difficulties and hazards." Among other considerations is the fear that the United States might declare war on Finland due to such an attack. Ultimately, Mannerheim decides to postpone the attack and, in fact, the attack is never made.

B-25B in Florida, on or about 25 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
North American Aviation B-25B Mitchell 40-2291 at Eglin Field, Florida, March 1942. (U.S. Air Force).
German Military: An Me 262 fighter prototype is fitted with BMW 003 turbojet engines and flown at Rechlin Airfield north of Berlin. This is the plane's first test flight with its intended jet engines, and it does not go well. Shortly after takeoff, the compressor blades in the jet engine shatter, leaving the Me 262 powerless. However, fortunately for test pilot Fritz Wendel, the prototype still is equipped with a traditional propeller Junkers Jumo 210 G engine in the nose. He switches that on and lands safely. This mishap effectively ends the BMW engine as the one to be used on the plane. The engineers, fortunately, have another jet engine in development, the Junkers Jumo 004 A. They switch to that. Although this sets the program back a few months, that is what testing and test flights are for.

US Military: The US Army activates the 77th Infantry Division at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

Some B-26s of the 22nd Bomber Group (Medium) arrive from the United States at Archerfield Aerodrome, Brisbane. This is part of the standard ferry operation from the States to Australia via the South Pacific.

General Douglas MacArthur visits Lt. General George Brett, the man he replaced in charge of Allied forces in Australia. Brett, who still commands all air units in the Theater, recalls that MacArthur expressed "contempt" for the air units. Brett also recalls MacArthur saying that the Philippines were lost, but not due to anything MacArthur had done. Specifically, Brett recalls MacArthur saying about the air units, "They lack discipline, organization, purposeful intent." MacArthur has a reputation of preferring to deal only with his personal cronies, and Brett is not counted among them.

USS California, a battleship sunk during the 7 December 1941 Pearl Harbor raid, is re-floated today and dry-docked for repairs. Restoring her to service will take until 31 January 1944, after which she earns a total of seven battle stars during the war.

Twenty-two North American Aviation B-25B Mitchell twin-engine medium bombers of the 34th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), 17th Bombardment Group (Medium), U.S. Army Air Force, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James Harold Doolittle, begin a two-day, low-level, transcontinental flight to the Sacramento Air Depot, McClellan Field, California. These bombers will participate in the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo.

Holocaust: A train carrying 997 young women departs from Poprad railway station in the Slovak Republic bound for Auschwitz. This is the first mass transport by trains of Jews to the extermination camp.

Greek Independence Day parade in Athens, Greece, 25 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Greeks march in the streets of Athens to celebrate National Independence Day on 25 March 1942. They carry a large Greek flag and sing patriotic songs (National Museum of the US Navy).
Greece: Greeks defiantly march in the streets of Athens to celebrate National Independence Day. This is very dangerous due to the occupation and the parade is quickly dispersed.

Future History: Aretha Louise Franklin is born in Memphis, Tennessee. After singing gospel in her local church in Detroit, Michigan, Aretha becomes a recording artist at first Columbia Records and then Atlantic Records. She has a string of hits in the 1960s and 1970s, including "Respect," "Think," and "I Say a Little Prayer." Aretha Franklin passes away on 16 August 2018.

Sailing vessels in Boston Harbor, 25 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Sailing ships apparently in Boston Harbor, 25 March 1942. Boston Public Library.

March 1942

March 1, 1942: Second Battle of Java Sea
March 2, 1942: Huge Allied Shipping Losses at Java
March 3, 1942: Japan Raids Western Australia
March 4, 1942: Second Raid On Hawaii
March 5, 1942: Japan Takes Batavia
March 6, 1942: Churchill Assaults Free Speech
March 7, 1942: British Defeat in Burma
March 8, 1942: Rangoon Falls to Japan
March 9, 1942: Japanese Conquest of Dutch East Indies
March 10, 1942:US Navy attacks Japanese Landings at Lae
March 11, 1942: Warren Buffett's First Stock Trade
March 12, 1942: Japan Takes Java
March 13, 1942: Soviets Attack In Crimea Again 
March 14, 1942: The US Leans Toward Europe
March 15, 1942: Operation Raubtier Begins
March 16, 1942: General MacArthur Gets His Ride
March 17, 1942: MacArthur Arrives in Australia
March 18, 1942: Japan Attacks In Burma
March 19, 1942: Soviets Encircled on the Volkhov
March 20, 1942: "I Shall Return," Says MacArthur
March 21, 1942: Germans Attack Toward Demyansk
March 22, 1942: Second Battle of Sirte
March 23, 1942: Hitler's Insecurity Builds
March 24, 1942: Bataan Bombarded
March 25, 1942: Chinese Under Pressure in Burma
March 26, 1942: Win Or Die, Vows MacArthur
March 27, 1942: The Battle of Suusari
March 28, 1942: The St. Nazaire Commando Raid
March 29, 1942: The Free Republic of Nias
March 30, 1942: Japanese-Americans Off Bainbridge Island
March 31, 1942: Japanese Seize Christmas Island

2020

Saturday, July 18, 2020

March 24, 1942: Bataan Bombarded

Tuesday 24 March 1942

Japanese soldiers 24 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Japanese soldiers setting out on a mission, Nippon News, Number 094, Nippon News, No. 094, March 24, 1942.
Battle of the Pacific: Chinese infantry in Burma is falling back on 24 March 1942 as Allied defenses continue to crumble. A determined Japanese attack by the 55th Division along the Yunnan-Burma Road north of the Kan River takes the Toungoo airfield and a nearby railroad station. This compels the Chinese 200th Division to evacuate fortified positions at Oktwin and fall back on Toungoo. The 112th Japanese Regiment follows close behind in the jungle and wooded area. The Chinese take advantage of the city walls of Toungoo but have a tenuous supply line to the east. The Burma 1st Division, meanwhile, was helping the defense of Toungoo but is forced to withdraw to the Irrawaddy River. The Japanese plan an assault on Toungoo for the morning of the 25th.

The Japanese are eager to set their final conquest of the Philippines in motion, and General Masaharu Homma is under heavy pressure to move fast. Today, the Japanese begin a concentrated air and artillery bombardment of the Allied positions on Bataan and Corregidor. Japanese bombers also attack at night for the first time. All is not bad for the Allies, however. Fortuitously, a Filipino patrol captures orders from a dead Japanese officer. They spell out a plan to take Mount Samac on 26 March. This geographical feature divides the 1st and 2nd US Corps sectors and is a potential weak spot in the line. Having this warning enables the US Army to prepare its defenses in the area.

Los Angeles Examiner 24 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Los Angeles Examiner of 24 March 1942 trumpets the relocation scheme for Japanese-Americans which is just starting to gear up.
Ten P-40s of the 1st Fighter Squadron of the Flying Tigers (AVG) conduct a long-range mission from Kunming Aerodrome, China, against Chiengmai Aerodrome in Thailand. This requires staging through Loiwing and Namsang, Burma. The Japanese are taken completely by surprise by the air raid, which is from 07:10 to 07:25. The AVG fighters strafe the airfield and destroy fifteen Japanese bombers on the ground at a cost of two P-40s lost to ground fire. One of the AVG pilots perishes and the other eventually is taken prisoner after eluding capture for four weeks.

In the Solomon Islands, Australian coastwatchers Don McFarland, Martin Clemens, and Ken Hay set up a post on the isolated west coast of Guadalcanal at the town of Lavor.

Daily Gleaner 24 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Western media remains quite positive about the war situation despite a very grim actual situation. Kingston (Jamaica) Gleaner, 24 March 1942.
Eastern Front: The German relief attempt, Operation Brueckenschlag, to rescue the almost 100,000 troops trapped at Demyansk makes more progress today. General Seydlitz's men reach the Redya River, halfway to the Lovat. The weather has warmed up sufficiently for the ground to turn to slush. The Soviets are bringing in major reinforcements from the north and south in the valleys of both the Redya and the Lovat. In addition, a Soviet parachute brigade has landed within the pocket itself, though it is accomplishing little. This has been the easiest part of the advance for the Germans, however, as the forests between the Redya and Lovat are extremely dense and roadless.

The German 11th Army is still locked in a tight stalemate with General Kozlov's 51st Army on the Kerch Peninsula of the Crimea. The weather has improved enough for the Luftwaffe to build up its forces after replenishment back in the Reich. Today, KG 51 attacks Tuapse again to try to isolate Kozlov's troops. The Junkers Ju 88s sink transports Yalta and Neva. Despite this, Kozlov is preparing a third offensive to break through the Parpach Narrows. This is planned for 26 March 1942.

Pravda 24 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Pravda, 24 March 1942.
European Air Operations: A winter lull is still in effect, but things are slowly starting to pick up. During the day, a dozen Bostons attack the Comines power station and another half-dozen attack the Abbeville railway station. The Abbeville raid is probably designed to entice up JG-26, which is stationed there, for combat, but it doesn't result in any action. After dark, RAF Bomber Command sends 35 bombers to lay mines off the submarine pens at Lorient. A Hampden and a Lancaster (RAF No. 44 Squadron) are lost, the first RAF losses in 11 days and nights. This is the first Lancaster lost on an operation.

Training and routine patrols often lead to losses for a variety of reasons: fatigue, poor maintenance, bad weather, inexperience, etc. Today, an RAF No. 820 Squadron Albacore crashes on takeoff at Habston in the Orkneys. The three crewmen are lost.

SEC headquarters 24 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Staff at the Securities and Exchange Commission headquarters in Philadelphia, March 24, 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: In the Barents Sea, Royal Navy minesweeper HMS Sharpshooter spots a U-boat southeast of Bear Island and rams it. It is U-655 (KrvKpt. Adolf Dumrese), on its first patrol out of Helgoland. U-655 does not sink or damage any ships during its brief career. All 45 men aboard perish.

U-123 (Kptlt. Reinhard Hardegen), on its 8th patrol out of Lorient, continues a very successful patrol. At 03:01, U-123 torpedoes and sinks 8138-ton British tanker Empire Steel northeast of Bermuda (east of Delaware). This follows a 5-hour pursuit of the tanker. Hardegen gets impatient when the tanker refuses to sinks and surfaces to fire nine rounds from his deck gun. There are 39 deaths and eight survivors, who are picked up by the US tug Edmund J. Moran, which spots them while towing another vessel, 5184-ton passenger vessel Robert E. Lee.

German minesweeper M-3615 hits a mine and sinks just outside the port of Ostend. There are 15 deaths. The wreck was salvaged and scrapped in 1950.

Nassau Daily Review-Star 24 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Everything is okay on that pesky war front, with the Japanese already losing according to the 24 March 1942 Nassau (Long Island, NY) Daily Review-Star.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Royal Navy destroyer Southwold (Cdr C T Jellicoe), returning from the Second Battle of Sirte, sinks just under two miles off Malta due to an accident involving a British mine. There are five deaths. The wreck is still visible but is too deep for sport diving at 70 meters (230 feet).

Anglo/Sino Relations: Relations between the British and Chinese remain tense due to the Tulsa Incident, but British General Harold Alexander, General Officer Commanding Burma Army, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek meet to talk things over.

Vito Gurino 24 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Here is the real front-page hot story from the Long Island newspaper: "Vito Gurino, formerly of Brooklyn's famous Murder, Inc., is seen on the left as he appeared when he was brought to Nassau county court yesterday to plead guilty to second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of John Bagdonowiz in Albertson in 1933. He is shown handcuffed to Detective Sergeant Charles Snyder of the Nassau County warrant squad." (Page 1, Nassau Daily Review-Star, 24 March 1942).
US Military: The Combined Joint Chiefs of Staff institutionalize a decision made previously between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill and formally give control of the Pacific Theater of Operations to the United States.

The 23rd Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) of the 7th Air Force transfers within Hawaii from Hickam Field to Mokuleia. The B-17s will fly patrols from there.

The 91st Bombardment Squadron, 27 Bomber Group begins moving its A-24s from Brisbane, Australia, to Charters Towers. The ground echelon for this unit remains trapped in Bataan.

American Homefront: In San Diego, 20th Century Fox premieres "To the Shores of Tripoli" directed by H. Bruce Humberstone and starring John Payne, Maureen O'Hara, and Randolph Scott. The film is notable for being shot in Technicolor and having portions of the film shot at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. The film is a success and greatly aids Marine recruiting during World War II.

Look magazine 24 March 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Look magazine, 24 March 1942.


March 1942

March 1, 1942: Second Battle of Java Sea
March 2, 1942: Huge Allied Shipping Losses at Java
March 3, 1942: Japan Raids Western Australia
March 4, 1942: Second Raid On Hawaii
March 5, 1942: Japan Takes Batavia
March 6, 1942: Churchill Assaults Free Speech
March 7, 1942: British Defeat in Burma
March 8, 1942: Rangoon Falls to Japan
March 9, 1942: Japanese Conquest of Dutch East Indies
March 10, 1942:US Navy attacks Japanese Landings at Lae
March 11, 1942: Warren Buffett's First Stock Trade
March 12, 1942: Japan Takes Java
March 13, 1942: Soviets Attack In Crimea Again 
March 14, 1942: The US Leans Toward Europe
March 15, 1942: Operation Raubtier Begins
March 16, 1942: General MacArthur Gets His Ride
March 17, 1942: MacArthur Arrives in Australia
March 18, 1942: Japan Attacks In Burma
March 19, 1942: Soviets Encircled on the Volkhov
March 20, 1942: "I Shall Return," Says MacArthur
March 21, 1942: Germans Attack Toward Demyansk
March 22, 1942: Second Battle of Sirte
March 23, 1942: Hitler's Insecurity Builds
March 24, 1942: Bataan Bombarded
March 25, 1942: Chinese Under Pressure in Burma
March 26, 1942: Win Or Die, Vows MacArthur
March 27, 1942: The Battle of Suusari
March 28, 1942: The St. Nazaire Commando Raid
March 29, 1942: The Free Republic of Nias
March 30, 1942: Japanese-Americans Off Bainbridge Island
March 31, 1942: Japanese Seize Christmas Island

2020