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.


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