Wednesday, August 26, 2020

April 8, 1942: US Bataan Defenses Collapse

Wednesday 8 April 1942

Japanese internees in San Diego, 8 April 1942
An MP watches local Japanese residents board trains at the Santa Fe Depot, San Diego, California, April 8, 1942. they are among 1150 Japanese-Americans boarding a train to the Santa Anita race track for processing. They are allowed no more than a single piece of luggage. (Clara Breed, San Diego Union-Tribune).
Battle of the Pacific:  The battle in Bataan turns decisively against the Allies on 9 April 1942 as the main defensive line cracks completely and the retreat becomes a rout. The two US Army corps lose contact with their units as everyone who can walks or rolls south. Major General Edward P. King bows to the inevitable and requests a parley with Japanese Major General Kameichiro Nagano. After dark, King orders equipment destroyed in preparation for surrender. The last US air units based in Bataan that can fly flee to Del Monte Field on Mindanao.

Only a very few lucky Allied soldiers evacuate aboard minesweeper/patrol boat YAG-4 from Mariveles Naval Base, where the navy scuttles massive floating drydock "Dewey." About 2000 men sail to fortified Corregidor Island in Manila Bay. Submarine USS Snapdragon delivers supplies to Corregidor and evacuated naval radio and communications intelligence experts.

San Francisco Chronicle, 8 April 1942
San Francisco Chronicle, 8 April 1942. The headline "Bataan's Peril Grows" could not be more accurate.
Japanese troops supported by light cruiser Tatsua, destroyer Mutsuki, and carried aboard Mishima Maru land on Lorengau, Manus Province, New Guinea, in the Admiralty Islands. As the soldiers of the 8th Special Base Force land at Lorengau harbor, the small group of Australian soldiers from the No. 4 Section, B Platoon, 1st Independent Company withdraw into the jungle. The Japanese quickly begin building an airstrip. Other Japanese troops occupy the town of Djailolo on Halmahera Island in the East Indies.

US Navy Admiral William "Bull" Halsey leads his Task Force 16, led by the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, out of Pearl Harbor on 8 April 1942 on a top-secret mission. His orders are to rendezvous with the USS Hornet, already at sea, and support its mission to bomb Tokyo.

San Diego Union, 8 April 1942
The San Diego Union of 8 April 1942 touts glorious US victories at sea while less prominently noting that "Nippon Hordes Gain in New Bataan Attacks."
Battle of the Indian Ocean: Japanese Admiral Nagumo leads his massive Kido Butai strike force north to a point east of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). A Catalina patrol plane spots the Japanese force during the afternoon and orders are sent to clear Trincomalee harbor, including Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes escorted by destroyer HMAS Vampire. The British fleet is far to the southwest and cannot intervene. Japanese submarine HIJMS I-3, operating about 300 miles west of Colombo, torpedoes and sinks 5051-ton British freighter Fultala. Dutch 2073-ton freighter Van der Capellen, hit during earlier raids, also sinks today.

Fighting in Burma has paused temporarily on the ground, but it remains ferocious in the air. The American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) sends its 1st and 3d Fighter Squadrons over Loiwing Aerodrome and they claim to shoot down a dozen Japanese fighters.
US Army Air Force Navigator who flies The Hump during WWII
Undated photo of an unidentified US Army Air Force navigator who flies supplies to China across "The Hump" during World War II.
US Army Air Force 10 Air Force based in India sends its first supply flight over the Himalayas to China. This is the first of many dangerous flights (450+ planes lost) over the 22,000-foot peaks called "The Hump" during World War II. This route becomes an essential supply lifeline to the Chinese government that stretches the limits of aircraft of the day, primarily the Douglas C-47 Skytrain derived from the civilian Douglas DC-3 airliner.
Sevastopol, Crimea, aerial photo, 8 April 1942
Luftwaffe aerial reconnaissance photo of the Soviet pocket at Sevastopol, Crimea, 8 April 1942 (Federal Archive Image 168-278-030).
Eastern Front: In the Crimea, Soviet General Kozlov prepares his troops for his fourth offensive against the German line across the Parpach Narrow. The Soviets have about eight rifle divisions and 160 tanks. It is scheduled to start early on 9 April 1942.

European Air Operations: During the day, the RAF sends four Boston bombers on a sweep off the Dutch coast. After dark, RAF Bomber Command mounts a major raid on Hamburg. It sends 272 bombers - 177 Wellingtons, 41 Hampdens, 22 Stirlings, 13 Manchesters, 12 Halifaxes, and 7 Lancasters - but the weather is poor, with icing and electrical storms. Only a small fraction of aircraft actually bomb Hamburg, causing 8 fires and killing 17 people and injuring 119. One of the bombers bombs Bremen by mistake and causes more militarily significant damage to the Vulkan shipyard there than by the main force over Hamburg. There also are minor raids by 13 Wellingtons to Le Havre, 3 Blenheims over Holland (Eindhoven, Haamstede, Leeuwarden and Schipol Airfields), 24 minelayers off Heligoland, and 16 leaflet-droppers over Belgium and France. The RAF loses four Wellingtons and a Manchester on the Hamburg raid and one of the leaflet planes for a 1.8% loss rate.
US floating dry dock Dewey, scuttled on 8 April 1942
US floating dock "Dewey," scuttled on 8 April 1942 in Bataan, the Philipines to avoid capture by the Japanese.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-123 (Kptlt. Karl-Heinz Moehle), on its eighth patrol out of Lorient, continues a very successful patrol off the east coast of the United States. It sinks two US tankers, 9264-ton Oklahoma (19 dead and 8 survivors) and 7989-ton Esso Baton Rouge (3 dead and 65 survivors), about ten miles off St. Simon's Island, Georgia. Both ships sink in shallow water and later are refloated and returned to service in late 1942.

U-84 (Oblt. Horst Uphoff), on its fourth patrol out of Brest, gets its first victory of the war about 180 miles southeast of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia. It is 5226-ton Yugoslavian freighter Nemanja (13 dead and 34 survivors). This sinking occurs after a nine-hour chase during which U-84 missed with two torpedoes.

Italian submarine Pietro Calvi torpedoes and sinks US freighter Eugene V.R. Thayer off the coast of Brazil.

German 734-ton freighter Kurzesee hits a mine laid by Soviet submarine K-1(Captain 3rd class Avgustinovich) earlier in the day. It sinks off Kvaenangenfjord (Skjervøy), Norway. Swedish 2374-ton freighter Ara hits a mine and sinks off Terschelling, Friesland, the Netherlands.

Soviet submarine ShCh-421 hits a mine in the Barents Sea and is irreparably damaged. Everybody survives the sinking, which actually concludes on 9 April 1942.

The British Admiralty scuttles 3645-ton freighter Carolina Thornden as a blockship in Water sound, Scapa flow.

HMS Penelope, showing battle damage of 8 April 1942
HMS Penelope, showing battle damage sustained at Malta.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Luftwaffe Field Marshal Albert Kesselring's air offensive against Malta reaches its climax. Royal Navy cruiser HMS Penelope (three dead), under heavy attack, heads out of Grand Harbor at 20:00 to avoid destruction and fights off repeated air attacks on its way to Gibraltar. Mooring vessel Moor (767 tons) hits a contact mine dropped by the Luftwaffe and sinks (28 deaths, one survivor). Today's attacks become the worst one-day attack on Malta of World War II.

The Italian Regia Aeronautica also attacks shipping at Alexandria. The planes sink Royal Navy whalers HMT Thorgrim (307 tons, refloated in 1950) and Svana (268 tons).

Anglo/US Relations: Harry L. Hopkins, a close crony of President Roosevelt, and Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall arrive in London, England. They are there to discuss the arrival of US troops, naval units, and air formations.

US Military: The US Army Air Force activates the 9th Air Force with its headquarters at New Orleans. This formerly was the V Air Support Command.
Nurse Betty Evans at her station in Iceland, 8 April 1942
Army Nurse Betty Evans checks thermometers by the medication cabinet, 8 April 1942, Iceland. Female nurses are not allowed in active combat zones at this time. Notice that the cabinet is locked, and nurses were among the few allowed access (US Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History).
Canadian Government: The Canadian government creates the Park Steamship Company to build freighters specifically designed for wartime service. These become known as Park ships and sail alongside Liberty ships built in American shipyards and Fort ships built in Great Britain.

American Homefront: The War Production Board expands on earlier orders that have terminated the production of civilian automobiles and some other consumer goods. It orders a halt to all production deemed unnecessary to the war effort as of 31 May 1942. As workers shift to the military and war work, the unemployment rate begins edging down from a 14% rate in 1940.

Future History: Roger Maxwell Chapman is born in Leicester, England. He becomes the vocalist for the Farinas, who release their first single, "You'd Better Stop," in August 1964. He later fronts a succession of acts, most notably Family, as a distinctive singer and showman. Much of his career is in Germany, where he is awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. After giving a "farewell performance" in 2010, Chapman appears to be retired as of 2020.

Leon A. Huff is born in Camden, New Jersey. He becomes a top songwriter, helping to develop the Philadelphia soul music genre along with partner Kenneth Gamble. As Gamble and Huff, they are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the non-performer category in March 2008.
Thrilling Wonder Stories, April 1942
"Thrilling Wonder Stories," April 1942 (cover art by Earle K. Bergey).


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

April 7, 1942: Valletta, Malta, Destroyed

Tuesday 7 April 1942

Bomb damage from the 7 April 1942 Luftwaffe raid on Valletta. Shown is Kingsway with the opera house on the right (NWMA Malta).
Battle of the Indian Ocean: The Japanese Kido Butai strike force remains on the loose in the Indian Ocean on 7 April 1942. It spends the day steaming to the northeast for another raid on Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The British remain unaware of its location, and Royal Navy Vice Admiral James Somerville cautiously heads to Port T at Addu Atoll, 600 miles (970 km) southwest of Ceylon, to refuel. 

Battle activity in the Indian Ocean is light today. After a lengthy chase on the surface, Japanese submarine HIJMS I-6 torpedoes and sinks 5424-ton British freighter Bahadur 170 miles northwest of Bombay. Fellow submarine I-2 reports sinking an unidentified freighter southeast of Ceylon. 

The Japanese are now using a sea route to reinforce their troops in Burma. The 18th Division of the Japanese Army arrives aboard transports at Rangoon from Singapore.
As the Bergen Evening Record from Hackensack, New Jersey, points out correctly on 7 April 1942, the Japanese are gaining rapidly in a "wild head-on drive" in Bataan. However, it is a little less accurate about developments on the Eastern Front.
Battle of the Pacific: The battle along the Bataan front continues to go poorly for the Allies. Japanese attacks force the entire US Army II Corps (eastern half of the line) to retreat to the Mamala River. The I Corps (western half of the line), with its right flank now in the air, is ordered to withdraw south to the Binuangan River. Things are worse than they appear on paper, as the Allied defense is disintegrating and the roads south are full of refugees and fleeing troops. Commanders lose touch with their troops who have packed up their radio equipment and commandeered vehicles for the illusion of safety in the south. A few lucky men make it to Mariveles Naval Section Base, where they await evacuation by auxiliary patrol boat USS YAG-4 on 8 April.

The US Army Air Force has been keeping some planes in Bataan, but today the remaining P-40 fighters are ordered to fly to Mindanao Island. They are needed on Mindanao to cover incoming bombers from Australia which are to be used to attack Japanese troop concentrations. However,  this deprives the ground forces in Bataan of air cover just when they are needed the most during the Japanese offensive.

U-552 leaving St. Nazaire, France, on its second war patrol, 7 April 1942.
Eastern Front: Stavka representative Lev Mekhlis knows that Stalin wants success in the Crimea, so he orders General Dimitri Kozlov to try one more time to break into the German lines along the Parpach Narrows. However, General Manstein in command of the German 11th Army has been receiving reinforcements, including powerful air units for Luftlotte 4. Ordinarily, a Luftlotte would serve as air support for an entire Army Group, but due to weather circumstances, it is all available in the Crimea to help Manstein's men. These planes are wreaking havoc throughout the Black Sea region, particularly the Soviet supply base at Kerch. General Kozlov plans his fourth offensive for 9 April 1942.

The Stavka also has its eye on the Northern theater. It instructs General Leytenant V.A. Frolov, in command of the 550-mile sector running north from Lake Onega to the Arctic coast, to prepare an offensive. He is to attack along the Zapadnaya Litsa River to Kestenga. To accomplish this, the Stavka is sending a guards division and two ski brigades to reinforce the Soviet 14th Army. The Soviet 26th Army, meanwhile, takes command in the Kestenga area, bringing with it two more divisions. These troop movements show the great advantage the Soviets have in the far North by having the Murmansk railway. The Germans, meanwhile, cannot bring in troops easily over snow-covered forest roads and trails, nor easily supply them even if they do get there.

European Air Operations: There are no missions scheduled today after last night's unsuccessful mission against Essen. This is likely due to low cloud cover and generally poor weather over the Continent.
U-552 departs from St. Nazaire, 7 April 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: There is a major disconnect in the records for the U-boat campaign during April 1942. Several sources claim that U-552 scores a string of victories off the east coast of the United States during the first week of April 1942. However, other sources show U-552 as departing St. Nazaire on 7 April 1942. There even are photographs of U-552 leaving port that day. Given the impossibility of a U-boat being in two places at the same time, this suggests that the victories attributed to U-552 during this time belong to another boat. However, until I can figure out the truth, we'll just go with the "accepted" version of events and give U-552 credit for sinking it probably does not deserve.

U-552 (Oblt. Erich Topp), on its second patrol out of St. Nazaire, torpedoes and sinks 7866-ton Norwegian whale factory ship Lancing near Buxton, Dare County, Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Lancing is carrying 8,900 tons of fuel oil. There are one death and 49 survivors. The wreck of the Lancing remains of interest to the present because of the possibility of pollution from its load of oil. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) examined the ship in 2011-2013 for contamination, and in 2013, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

U-552 also torpedoes 7138-ton British freighter British Splendour in the same vicinity off North Carolina as the Lancing. There are 12 deaths and 41 survivors. British Splendour contains 10,000 tons of gasoline that catches fire quickly.

Soviet submarine M-173 attacks a german convoy off Varangerfjord, Norway, but scores no hits. Royal Navy light cruiser Liverpool arrives in Murmansk, Russia, accompanied by destroyers Punjab and Marne. They are there to escort Convoy QP-10 to the west.

British freighter Murrayfield runs aground off Mousa, Shetland Islands. It is badly damaged and ultimately sinks on 8 April.
Bomb damage from the 7 April 1942 raid. "All that is left of the famous opera house in Kingsway, Valletta." © IWM A 8378.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Luftwaffe General Albert Kesselring continues his air offensive against Malta that began on 20 March 1942, and today it produces what some consider its most devastating results. Beginning at 17:49, the planes, mostly Junkers Ju 88s and Ju 87 Stukas, drop 280 tons of high explosives on Valletta, which is located on a tiny peninsula. This is a deliberate attempt to destroy Valletta residential areas with heavy bombs and in that sense it is successful.

Destroyed or severely damaged are many cultural treasures that play little or no role in the war effort, including ancient palaces and the Governor's Palace. Also hit are non-military structures such as the King George V Hospital in Floriana, the Market, the Royal Opera House, and the Auberge d’Aragon and the Auberge d’Italie. The government estimates that 70% of buildings in Valletta and Floriana are destroyed or damaged. Most of the remaining portion of the opera house is cleared only in the 1950s. Ultimately, a new theatre (Pjazza Teatru Rjal) is built on the site and inaugurated on 8 August 2013.
Paddle-wheel tug Hellespont, sunk in Grand Harbour, Malta, on 7 April 1942.
While the damage around Valletta is the worst of the day, bombers also attack Luqa, Hal Far, and Ta Qali aerodromes. Bombs fall all across the island, including at Cospicua, Marsa, Hamrun, Gzira, Msida, Tal Qroqq, and St Julians. Royal Navy tugs HMS Emily and Hellespont (a paddle-wheel tug) are sunk in the harbor. There are dozens of military and civilian casualties, including a four- and six-year-old children. 

South of Cattaro, Royal Navy submarine Turbulent torpedoes and sinks Italian coaster Rosa M. All ten people aboard survive.

North of Marsa Matruh, Egypt, U-453 (Kptlt. Egon Reiner Freiherr von Schlippenbach), on its third patrol out of Pola, torpedoes and damages 9716-ton Royal Navy hospital ship HMHS Somersetshire. Three torpedoes hit the ship, which Captain von Schlippenbach does not realize is a hospital ship. Fortunately, the ship is carrying no patients. After abandoning the ship, most of the crew and medical staff reboard the damaged ship and make it to Alexandria on one engine and the assistance of tugs. There are 7 dead and 180 survivors.
Hospital ship Somersetshire in a floating dry dock in Alexandria, Egyp, following her torpedoing by U-453 on 7 April 1942. Egyptian workers are removing ballast from the ship.
Resistance: In Luebeck, recently destroyed by RAF bombs, the Gestapo arrests Evangelist minister Karl Friedrich Stellbrink (and later in April three Catholic priests (Johannes Prassek, Eduard Müller and Hermann Lange)) for seditious activities. These are known as the Lübeck martyrs. Stellbrink and the others are tried before the People's Court on 22-23 June 1942 and executed on 10 November 1943. Stellbrink's guilty verdict is overturned in November 1993.

Anglo/Indian Relations: The Indian National Congress Working Committee tells envoy Stafford Cripps that the British proposal for Dominion status after the war is insufficient. Even Cripps' private promise, apparently not authorized by his government, that India could have immediate Dominion status and full independence after the war, is insufficient. The Nationalists, led by Mahatma Gandhi, demand immediate independence in exchange for war support. As Gandhi says, the British promise is a "post-dated check drawn on a failing bank."

After this, negotiations between the British and Indian Nationalists break down. The rest of the war will be occupied with various plans for strikes, disobedience, and outright revolts that will prove a nuisance to the British authorities but not imperil their rule. One thing working in the British favor is that there is split opinion within India as to how to proceed and the Nationalists have very little international support. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is adamantly opposed to Indian independence and he has sufficient sway with the United States and other Allied powers to maintain the status quo while he is in office.
The public is gripped with events in the Indian Ocean and the Philippines, but the US military has more mundane things to worry about. Lowell (Massachusetts) Sun Newspaper, 7 April 1942.
US Military: The US War Department officially decides that the 8th Air Force will be based in the United Kingdom under the auspices of the US Army Forces in the British Isles (USAFBI). Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall informs USAFBI commander Major General James E. Chaney to expect the arrival of this new command. The Eighth Air Force already has an advanced unit of VIII Bomber Command at RAF Daws Hill, England. The first combat units will begin arriving on 9 June 1942, and the Eighth's first mission (to Rouen, France) will be on 17 August 1942.

The Fifth Air Force in Australia continues transferring units to Townsville. Today, the headquarters, 22nd Bombardment Group (Medium), 2nd Bombardment Squadron, and the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron, 22nd Bombardment Group (Medium) transfer there. The 8th Photographic Squadron arrives in Melbourne from the United States, while the 33rd Bombardment Squadron, 22nd Bombardment Group (Medium) transfers from Ipswich to Antil Plains.

American Homefront: The military informs the 263 Japanese-Americans living in the Alaskan territory that they may be relocated to internment camps. This comes as the Japanese, unbeknownst to the Americans, are planning an attack and perhaps invasion of portions of Alaska.

Model Evelyn Frey poses with a sailboat on the cover of Look magazine, 7 April 1942.


Sunday, August 16, 2020

April 6, 1942: Japanese Devastation In Bay of Bengal

Monday 6 April 1942

Army Day parade, 6 April 1942
M4A1 tanks on parade for Army Day, 6 April 1942, in front of the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.
Battle of the Indian Ocean: The Japanese Indian Ocean raid, Operation C, continues on 6 April 1942. The Japanese Kido Butai strike group wreaks devastation throughout the Bay of Bengal, sinking freighter and tankers left and right, most of whom are probably completely oblivious to the presence of the most powerful enemy fleet in existence nearby. The ships sunk are listed below.
However, despite clearing the seas of enemy shipping, the Japanese have a problem. While he does not realize it, Japanese Admiral Nagumo is sailing away from the British Eastern Fleet that it is his mission to destroy. On the British side, Admiral James Somerville now realizes that the Japanese fleet includes four aircraft carriers and three battleships and that this force is superior to his own forces. Thus, he does not get overly aggressive. During the day, the British reinforce their Force A with Force B and they advance to the vicinity of where the Japanese recently sank cruisers heavy cruisers HMS Cornwall and Dorsetshire. There, the British rescue 1122 survivors. However, Somerville does not know where the Japanese are and thus is operating in the dark.
Clarksville, TN Leaf-Chronicle 6 April 1942
The Clarksville, Tennessee, Leaf-Chronicle accurately sums up the war situation on 6 April 1942.
The massive Japanese fleet, meanwhile, after withdrawing to the southwest after their attack on Colombo, has circled around again to the northeast roughly toward Ceylon (Sri Lanka). During the day, heavy cruisers Kumano and Suzuya along with destroyer Shirakumo of the Northern Group under rear Admiral Kurita Takeo encounter and sink British freighters Silksworth, Autolycus, Malda, and Shinkuang and the American ship Exmoor. The Central Group also sinks a freighter, while the Southern Group sinks three freighters.

To give some perspective, let's look at the damage going on in the Bay of Bengal on 6 April 1942. Ships sunk and damaged today in the Bay of Bengal include:
  • Dutch freighter Van Der Capellen (damaged by planes from aircraft carrier Ryujo)
  • British freighter Taksang (sunk by cruisers Yura and Yugiri)
  • British freighter Silksworth (sunk by cruisers Kumano, Suzuya, and Shirakumo, 50 survivors)
  • British freighter Shinkuang (sunk by cruisers Kumano, Suzuya, and Shirakumo)
  • British freighter Shinkiang (sunk by planes from Ryujo)
  • US freighter Selma City (sunk by floatplanes from cruiser Chokai)
  • British freighter Malda (sunk by cruisers Kumano, Suzuya, and Shirakumo)
  • British freighter Indora (sunk by cruisers Kumano, Suzuya, and Shirakumo
  • Norwegian freighter Hermod (sunk by two cruisers, all 36 men survive)
  • British freighter Ganges (sunk by floatplanes from cruiser Chokai)
  • British freighter Gandara (sunk by cruisers Mikuma, Mogami, and Amagiri)
  • US freighter Exmoor (sunk by cruisers Kumano and Suzuya)
  • Norwegian tanker Elsa (sunk by two cruisers, 1 of 30 crew dead)
  • Norwegian freighter Dagfred (sunk by two cruisers (all 40 men survive)
  • US freighter Bienville (sunk by planes from Ryujo and cruiser Chokai with 24 dead)
  • Dutch freighter Batavia (sunk by cruisers Yura and Yugiri)
  • Dutch freighter Banjoewangi (sunk by cruisers Uyra and Yugiri)
  • British freighter Autolycus (sunk by cruisers Kumano, Suzuya, and Shirakumo).
No matter how you look at it, that's a lot of sunk and damaged ships. The only "silver lining" for the Allies is that they manage to avoid losing any major warships today. However, they've already lost two cruisers and other naval vessels during the Indian Ocean raid - and, without giving anything away, they're about to lose more, too.

Nagumo's next target to draw out the British fleet is Trincomalee on Ceylon, but this will take a couple of days to set up. In the interim, his overpowering might will continue to clear the seas of Allied shipping.
Twin Falls, Idaho, Times News, 6 April 1942
Twin Falls, Idaho, Times News, 6 April 1942.
Separately, Japanese submarine HIJMS I-5 catches and sinks a US freighter about 216 miles northwest of the Maldive Islands. I-4 also sinks a US freighter at the entrance to Eight Degree Channel, the Washingtonian. The 42-man crew makes it to the Maldive Islands. Japanese bombers also sink Indian sloop HMIS Indus at Akyab, Burma, with ten crewmen wounded.

While the British Eastern Fleet is occupied with the Kido Butai strike group, the Japanese land troops at Rangoon. General Chiang Kai-Shek decides to send another division to help the Burma I Corps and directs the Chinese 200th and 96th Divisions in Burma to hold Pyinmana and Taungdwingyi, Burma.

The Japanese Air Force also creates problems for the Allies by conducting their first bombing raid on India. They attack Coconada and Madras. 
Honolulu Advertiser, 6 April 1942
Honolulu, Hawaii, Advertiser, 6 April 1942. This copy was sent by a US Army Private to his mother in Kansas.
Battle of the Pacific: The Japanese continue occupying areas that the Allies have abandoned. They send a small force from Truk Atoll in the Caroline Islands to the Lorengau on the eastern shore of Manus Island in the Bismarck Archipelago. Also on the Bismarck Archipelago, the US Army Air Force bombs Gasmata, New Britain Island. 

Lieutenant Colonel Jame H. Doolittle remains at sea aboard the USS Hornet en route to Japan. This is a complex operation, and today the Assam-Burma-China Ferry Command begins hauling 30,000 gallons of aviation fuel and 500 gallons of lubricants from Calcutta to Asansol in West Bengal, India, for his bombers. Of course, the Doolittle bombers will need to survive the mission and make it to India via China to be able to use these supplies.

On the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines, the situation does not improve for the Allies. A counterattack by II Corps (eastern end of the line) runs head-on into a Japanese attack and is forced back. A separate counterattack a little further east by US 31st Infantry and the Filipino 21st Division to close the breach at Mount Samat also fails. Another counterattack toward Mount Samat from a little to the west is smashed, with the Filipino 33rd Infantry surrounded and presumed lost. The situation at II Corps is in chaos, while the I Corps holding the western end of the line is doing only a little better. The Allied troops in the west withdraw to the San Vicente River. Two river gunboats, USS Mindanao and Oahu intercept the Japanese landing craft and claim four sunk, but later in the day, the Mindanao is damaged in another firefight.
Military Police at the Santa Anita Assembly Center, 6 April 1942
Military police on a watchtower overlooking the Santa Anita Assembly Center in California, 6 April 1942 (Photographer Clem Albers. National Archives Ctrl.#: NWDNS-210-G-B389; NARA ARC#: 537020).
Eastern Front: The five divisions of German General Seydlitz are making very slow progress along the Staraya Russa - Demyansk road. While the Germans only have six miles to reach the Lovat River and a total of 20 miles to relieve the Demyansk pocket, the Soviets have brought in heavy reinforcements and the going is very slow. There is some question about whether the roughly 100,000 Germans trapped in Demyansk (and the much smaller force at Kholm) can hold out much longer, so the Luftwaffe comes to their rescue. It flies 360 sorties today to and from the pockets, escorted by fighters of JG 51 and 53. The Germans are fortunate that the Soviets have been unable to bring up heavy anti-aircraft units in the 20 miles between the lines, but the flights are still somewhat hazardous due to ground fire. The German Ju 52s fly at treetop level to minimize the danger and drop many of their supply pallets by parachute, some of which drift into Soviet hands or into no-man's land, causing firefights to break out.

The Luftwaffe continues its air offensive against the Soviet fleet at the naval base on Kronstadt island just outside of Leningrad. Soviet battleship Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya and cruiser Maksim Gorki are hit and badly damaged by Heinkel He 111 medium bombers of Kampfgeschwader 4, but no ships are sunk.
RAF aerial reconnaissance of Swinemunde, 6 April 1942
RAF aerial reconnaissance photo of the Kriegsmarine base at Swinemünde (Świnoujście), 6 April 1942. Number 1 is cruiser Emden, No. 2 is cruiser Leipzig (Naval History and Heritage Command NH 80497).
European Air Operations: Tonight's main target for RAF Bomber Command is Essen, a frequent objective. The RAF sends 157 bombers, but they encounter terrible weather conditions including cloud cover of the target. While 49 bomber crews claim to have reached and bombed the target, few bombs actually fall in Essen and there are no casualties and light damage. The RAF loses five bombers (2 Hampdens and one apiece of Manchesters, Stirlings, and Wellingtons) on this failed raid.

In other attacks, one RAF bomber attacks Schipol Airfield and another the port area at Ostend.
Norwegian tanker Koll, sunk on 6 April 1942
Norwegian tanker Koll, sunk by U-571 on 6 April 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-160 (Oblt. Georg Lassen), on its first patrol out of Helgoland, scores its fourth victory at 08:07 when it damages 6837-ton US tanker Bidwell about 50 miles southeast of Cape Lookout, North Carolina. Showered with burning oil, the second mate jumps overboard and is drowned, but that is the only casualty. The tanker continues to steam forward, but the steering gear is damaged so it just steams in a circle (like the Bismarck in May 1941). Two US destroyers arrive within two hours, and the ship's steering issues are repaired sufficiently for it to make port in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

U-571 (Kptlt. Helmut Möhlmann), on its fourth patrol out of La Pallice, torpedoes and sinks 10,044-ton Norwegian tanker Koll east of Cape Hatteras. When it doesn't sink right away, the U-boat surfaces to give the men in the boats some crackers and uses its deck gun to fire 30 rounds and finish off the tanker. There are three dead and 33 survivors. Two lifeboats from Koll are at sea until the 14th before being picked up by passing freighters.

U-754 (Kptlt. Hans Oestermann), on its second patrol out of Brest, winds up a very successful patrol (its best of the war) by torpedoing and sinking 9858-ton Norwegian tanker Kollskegg about 350 miles northwest of Bermuda. There are 4 dead and 38 survivors. This incident is unusual in that the men in the Kollskegg boats spot the lifeboats from the Koll, also sunk today as mentioned above, though they are later separated.

Battle of the Mediterranean: Royal Navy destroyer HMS Havock runs aground at Kelibia on the Cap Bon peninsula, Tunisia. Havock is wrecked (later finished off with a torpedo from Italian submarine Aradam) and one crewman perishes, with 150 crewmen and 100 soldier passengers rescued. The Vichy French control Tunisia, and they follow the rules of war by interning the British crew and passengers (released in November 1942 due to Operation Torch). 

Axis bombers attack Alexandria and continue their air offensive against Malta. Among the victims today is the Royal Navy tugboat HMS West Cocker.
Japanese going into internment in San Francisco, 6 April 1942
Japanese internment evacuation at Van Ness in the Fillmore neighborhood of San Francisco, 6 April 1942 (Bancroft Library).
Partisans: Operation Bamberg, a German antipartisan military attack on known partisan hideouts in the area of Bobruysk in the Belorussian region of the German-occupied western USSR, concludes. Bamberg is the prototype for future German antipartisan operations. Mounted by the reinforced 707th Division, a Slovak infantry regiment, and the 315th Schutzpolizeibataillon, Operation Bamberg involved drawing a "noose" around the partisan area and then moving inward to flush out the partisans. This strategy comports with the recent Fuhrer Directive No. 41 order to "mop up" behind the front.

While closely followed by the German high command (including Adolf Hitler via the OKH) which placed high hopes in it, Bamberg turns out at best to be a mixed success. On the positive side, any actual partisan bases are torched and active partisan operations in the area are stopped, at least for the time being. However, there are many questionable results. The Germans find that identifying actual partisans is difficult, as they purposefully blend in with local inhabitants. Many people identified as partisans may or may not be so, so any numbers on partisans eliminated (the Germans claim 3600) are suspect. One of the German tactics is to destroy villages and farms in the "hot zone" at the center of the target area, which earns the Germans enmity in the region and probably just creates more partisans. However, despite its failings, Operation Bamberg becomes the template for future antipartisan operations, of which there are many to come.

Spy Stuff: U-252 (Kptlt. Kai Lerchen) lands spy Ib Arnason Riis in northern Iceland on the remote Langanes Peninsula. Riis is half-Iceland and half-Danish and a reluctant Abwehr recruit. After being dropped off in poor weather, Riis walks for 17 hours through rain and snow until he finds a farmhouse where he gives himself up. After being interrogated in Reykjavik, Riis leads army officers back to Langanes where he digs up his buried radio and other equipment. He becomes a double agent, feeding the Germans false information under the supervision of a British naval officer. The Germans are completely unaware of his treachery and award him the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Class - making Ib Riis the only Icelander to receive those awards.

Japanese/Soviet Relations: After riding the Trans-Siberian Railway, Naotake Satō, the new Japanese Ambassador to the USSR, presents his credentials to Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov. In the confusing politics of the era, Japan is at war with several of the Soviet Union's main allies but is not at war with the Soviet Union. Satō will serve as the Japanese ambassador to the Soviet Union for the remainder of World War II and be involved in murky negotiations with Molotov regarding possible peace deals with the Allies that never pan out.
Coca Cola ad in Life magazine, 6 April 1942
A Coca Cola ad, 6 April 1942 Life magazine.
US Military: US troops continue to flow into Australia. Today, the 41st Infantry Division, the 163d Infantry, the 167th Field Artillery Battalion, and other units arrive in Melbourne, Victoria. They become part of General Douglas MacArthur's Army Forces in Australia.

The USAAF Fifth Air Force sends the 11th and 12th Bombardment Squadrons, 7th Bomber Group (Heavy) sans equipment back to the United States to re-equip. The units will proceed to Columbia, South Carolina, to receive B-25 bombers.

Canadian Military: The First Canadian Army forms in the United Kingdom. Its commander is Lieutenant General Andrew McNaughton.
Life magazine, 6 April 1942
Life magazine, 6 April 1942.
American Homefront: In Proclamation 2542 of 20 March 1942, President Roosevelt proclaimed April 6, 1942, as Army Day. In that Proclamation, FDR wrote:
Army Day becomes, therefore, in fact a total-war day. It becomes a day when all of our citizens in civil pursuits can rally to the support of our armed forces, for only in the united effort of all of our forces—Army, Navy, and civilians—can we find the strength to defeat our enemies.
The Axis powers have not yet adopted the phrase "Total War" to describe their war effort. The Reich will not do that until after Stalingrad, in another year.

Future History: Barry Levinson is born in Baltimore, Maryland. After starting out as a television writer, Levinson becomes a prominent filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional actor. His major breakthrough is with "Diner" (1982), set in his native Baltimore. His extensive list of films written, directed, or produced includes "High Anxiety" (1977), "Tin Men" (1987), and "Good Morning, Vietnam" (1987). Barry Levinson remains active in the film industry as of 2020.
Time magazine, 6 April 1942
Time magazine, 6 April 1942, with Ezequiel Padilla (Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs) on the cover (cover credit Ernest Hamlin Baker).


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

April 5, 1942: Japanese Easter Sunday Raid on Ceylon

Sunday 5 April 1942

HMS Cornwall sinking after being attacked by Japanese D3A1 "Val" dive-bombers on 5 April 1942.
HMS Cornwall sinking after being attacked by Japanese D3A1 "Val" dive-bombers on 5 April 1942. All pictures of this encounter were filmed by circling Japanese aircrew.
Battle of the Indian Ocean: Major operations begin in the Japanese Indian Ocean Raid by the Kido Butai strike force. At dawn, Admiral Nagumo begins launching 127 planes (36 A6M2 fighters, 38 D3A1 bombers, and 53 B5N2 bombers) for a strike on Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). This becomes known as the "Easter Sunday Raid." The planes cause heavy damage to the port area and sink destroyer Tenedos (33 dead), passenger ship (requisitioned by the Royal Navy) Hector, and tanker Soli (only damaged and beached but declared a total loss). The Japanese lose 7 planes (1 A6M2 and 6 D3A1) to anti-aircraft fire and defending fire, while the defending RAF loses somewhat more than that, including an entire flight of six Swordfish of RAF No. 788 Squadron shot down by aircraft from Japanese carrier Hiryu. Just as during the Pearl Harbor attack, the force is commanded by Akagi flight leader Lt. Cdr Mitsuo Fuchida, who flies in an observation role.
The remains of one of five of Zuikaku's D3A1s shot down over Ratmalana airfield during the raid on Colombo, Ceylon, April 5, 1942.
The remains of one of five of Zuikaku's D3A1s shot down over Ratmalana airfield during the raid on Colombo, Ceylon, April 5, 1942.
After this successful strike, Nagumo heads southwest, apparently to avoid retaliation. This leads him directly toward the British fleet steaming toward him from the Maldives, of which he is unaware. At 10:00, a floatplane from cruiser Tone spots the British ships. Nagumo increases speed and launches another strike at 11:54, this time against the ships. The torpedo planes sink cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire (234 of 653 crew dead) about 200 miles (370 km) southwest of Ceylon at 14:00.

Also bombed at some point during the day is British freighter Dardanus (actual sinking from Japanese naval gunfire on 6 April), and British freighter Harpasa. They both sink after being attacked by aircraft from aircraft carrier Ryujo.
Map of the 5 April 1942 Easter Sunday Raid
A map showing the fleet movements and attacks on the days around 5 April 1942. The Japanese fleet is marked in blue and comes in from the lower right, attacks Ceylon, and ultimately withdraws through the Malacca Strait at the mid-right. British fleet assets are shown in red.
Meanwhile, Admiral James Somerville closes on the scene, but Nagumo changes course again. Somerville receives spotty information from his reconnaissance planes, and he also changes course, this time to the southwest. This takes the British ships away from the Japanese fleet. Nagumo, aware that he has been spotted, decides to resume his original mission and swings south and then east. As the day ends, he is positioned for another attack on Ceylon, this time on Trincomalee, while Somerville's fleet is heading in the other direction.

Japanese submarines are operating in the Indian Ocean near Ceylon along with Kido Butai. I-5 torpedoes and sinks US freighter Washingtonian, while another submarine torpedoes and sinks British minesweeper Beaver.
A D3A1 taking off from Zuikaku on April 5, 1942. worldwartwo.;
A D3A1 taking off from Zuikaku on April 5, 1942.
Battle of the Pacific: The Japanese assault on the Allied line stretching across the Bataan Peninsula, Philippines, continues today. The Japanese aim directly at the Filipino 21st Division that is defending the center of the line at Mount Samat. The Filipino unit is destroyed and the Japanese prepare to pour through the breach. The Allies struggle to bring up reinforcements. Among the casualties today is US Navy harbor tug USS YT-247 in Mariveles, Luzon.

With things well in hand at Bataan, the Japanese feel free to expand their efforts in the Philippines. At Lingayen Gulf, a large invasion force of 4852 troops sails from Luzon toward Cebu Island in the Visayan Islands.

The Japanese complete the occupation of Buka and Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. These islands will serve as a shield for the main Japanese base at Rabaul just to the north. The first order of business is to build airfields on these new acquisitions to support operations further south against targets such as Guadalcanal. Meanwhile, nine B-26 bombers based in the Bismarck Archipelago attack Lakunai and Vunakanau Aerodromes at Rabaul on New Britain island in their first mission.

While fighting on land in Burma has died down temporarily, the war in the air continues unabated. The 1st and 3d Fighter Squadrons of the American Volunteer Group (AVG, or Flying Tigers) down a dozen Japanese planes near Loiwing Aerodrome.
HMS Dorsetshire sinks on 5 April 1942.
HMS Dorsetshire sinks on 5 April 1942.
Japanese troops also occupy Lorengau on Manus Island. They are brought there by a naval force led by light cruiser HIJMS Tatsuta, destroyer Mutsuki, and troop transport SS Mishima Maru. A small Australian force of B Platoon of the First Independent Company has no chance of defending against the hundreds of Japanese soldiers and withdraws into the jungle.

Australian 120 ton transport Wauchope runs aground and is lost off Port Stephens, Nelson's Bay, Box Beach.
Royal Navy cruisers Dorsetshire and Cornwall before being sunk on 5 April 1942. worldwartwo.filmnispector.cmo
Royal Navy cruisers Dorsetshire and Cornwall desperately try to avoid being bombed and torpedoed before being sunk on 5 April 1942.
Eastern Front: Adolf Hitler issues one of his most famous orders, Fuhrer Directive No. 41. This forms the basis for Case Blue, an offensive in southern Russia to occupy the Caucasus oil fields (the operational name "Case Blue" comes later). As the order provides:
In pursuit of the original plan for the Eastern campaign, the armies of the central sector will stand fast, those in the north will capture Leningrad and link up with the Finns, while those on the southern flank will break through into the Caucasus.
Needless to say, these instructions are not in accordance with the "original plan" for Operation Barbarossa except in general intent. The original plans - vague as they were - envisioned the front being much further east than it actually is on 5 April 1942. If the original plans for Operation Barbarossa had become reality, there would be no need for another offensive in Russia.

However, Hitler does return to the original vision of taking Leningrad and objectives in the south rather than Moscow. The Soviet capital now drops completely off the radar screen after becoming the target late in 1941 with Operation Typhoon. As such, Fuhrer Directive No. 41 re-establishes Hitler's primacy over the generals, who almost uniformly view Moscow as the most important objective on the Eastern Front.

A distinguishing feature of Fuhrer Directive No. 41 is its attention to minute detail. "We must avoid closing the pincers too late," Hitler cautions at one point, which seems an elementary thing to put in such an expansive campaign order. However, recently Hitler has been assuming more and more control over military operations. Dwelling on tactics just mirrors the changes going on at Fuhrer headquarters.
Aircraft ranged on Akagi's deck ready to strike at the heavy cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire, April 5, 1942.
Aircraft ranged on Akagi's deck ready to strike at the heavy cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire, April 5, 1942.
Another striking feature is a theme of assumed superiority, even domination. Even the first line - "The winter battle in Russia is nearing its end" - is questionable, considering that the German pockets at Demyansk and Kholm still need to be relieved. Winter certainly is nearing its end, but not the battles that began then. Fuhrer Order No. 41 does not even contemplate a Soviet offensive despite the many indications that the Red Army remains strong. It is German, not Soviet, conditions that matter. Soviet plans are irrelevant in the world of this Directive.

Further down the order, it notes that during these "preliminary operations," there will be "a mop-up operation in the Kerch Peninsula in the Crimea and the capture of Sevastopol." In fact, the outcome in Crimea remains very much in doubt and local commander General Manstein has had his hands full just maintaining his lines. But, the order just wishes these issues away. After these "preliminary" matters are completed, the order states it will be time to take Voronezh and then head to Stalingrad (mentioned in orders for the first time). Nothing is specified beyond that, suggesting that Stalingrad is the end-point for the year's summer operations.
Japanese aircraft carrier Ryujo preparing to launch Aichi D3A Type 99 dive bombers on or about 5 April 1942.
Japanese aircraft carrier Ryujo preparing to launch Aichi D3A Type 99 dive bombers on or about 5 April 1942.
Critically, the Directive doesn't even require capturing Stalingrad:
In any event, every effort will be made to reach Stalingrad itself, or at least to bring the city under fire from heavy artillery so that it may no longer be of any use as an industrial or communications center.
It is not to reveal any secrets to say that Fuhrer Directive No. 41 is followed almost to the letter during the summer of 1942. Virtually everything projected in it comes to pass despite its many shaky assumptions. This is the result of some Soviet missteps that play right into Hitler's hands. Fuhrer Directive No. 41 becomes one of the most successful campaign plans in history. Following it as written, though, leads to the Reich's ruin because the objectives themselves are faulty. But. let's not get ahead of ourselves.

With Directive No. 41, Hitler decides the fate of millions of people. The fate of the Reich will depend upon this successful lunge south to the oil fields. 

Luftwaffe air attacks by III/KG 30 continue at Murmansk. Today, they sink Soviet naval trawler RT-61 and sinks trawler RT-7-SEMGA. At Murmansk, emergency repairs are completed on Royal Navy destroyer Eclipse.
European Air Operations: After a brief lull in operations due to cloudy weather, RAF Bomber Command sends 264 aircraft (179 Wellingtons, 44 Hampdens, 29 Stirlings, and 11 Manchesters) to bomb the Humboldt works in Cologne. The formation uses the GEE directional aid but completely misses the target, with the closest bomb strike five miles away. Only one industrial building, a mill in the targeted Deutz section of town, is hit, while 90 houses are destroyed or badly damaged. Seven people perish and nine are injured. In an unfortunate accident, a crowd of people gathers in downtown Cologne to watch a downed and burning bomber. The flames detonate the bombs, killing 16 and wounding 30 others. Two bombers divert, with one bombing Bonn and the other Koblenz. A total of five bombers are lost.

In addition, 20 Whitley bombers attack the Gnome & Rhone engine factory in Paris/Gennevilliers. Once again, the intended target emerges unscathed, with one house destroyed and four others damaged. There are no casualties and no aircraft lost.

In minor operations, 18 aircraft bomb Le Havre, six Blenheims attack Holland, and 11 Wellingtons and Hampdens lay mines off the French coast with no losses.
US tanker Byron D. Benson sinks off North Carolina, 5 April 1942
US tanker Byron D. Benson sinks off North Carolina, 5 April 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-154 (KrvKpt. Walther Kölle ), on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 5030-ton US molasses tanker Catahoula about 37 miles off the eastern coast of the Dominican Republica. There are seven dead and 38 survivors. The ship's distress call and a sighting by a bomber bring destroyer USS Sturtevant (DD 240) within a few hours.

U-552 (Kptlt. Erich Topp), on its eighth patrol out of St. Nazaire, continues its most successful patrol of the war when it sinks 7953-ton US tanker Byron D. Benson. The sinking 7 1/2 miles off Currituck Inlet, North Carolina, leaves 10 dead and 27 survivors. The situation becomes worse than it might be otherwise when men begin abandoning ship without orders while the ship is still sailing at six knots. This momentum leaves men trying to survive burning oil in water while in their lifeboats. It takes three days for the burning tanker to sink.

British 872-ton coaster Empire Beacon hits a mine and sinks in Bristol Channel off St. Ann's Head, Pembrokeshire.

British 938-ton freighter Feddy sinks after colliding with trawler Visenda off North Ronaldsay.
Internees in San Pedro, California, 5 April 1942
Refugees heading to an internment camp. Clem Albers, “San Pedro, California, April 5, 1942” (courtesy National Archives and Records Administration).
Battle of the Mediterranean: Luftwaffe raids continue causing devastation on Malta as General Albert Kesselring continues his air offensive. Today, they sink Royal Navy destroyer HMS Galland and minesweeper Abingdon. The Galland, which had been beached due to an attack on 10 January 1941 that blew off its bow, is later refloated and used as a blockship in September 1943.

Royal Navy submarine Una torpedoes and sinks Italian freighter Ninetto G. east of Syracuse, Sicily. there are two dead and 28 survivors.
Easter Sunday 5 April 1942 compared to 2015 in Virginia,
A then-and-now photo of Easter morning April 5, 1942. This is Colonial Ave. in Norfolk, Virginia (photo by Charles Borjes). Virginian-Pilot Archives placed the group into the same spot along the street 73 years later in 2015.
Special Operations: British Nos. 1 and 6 Commandos undertake Operation Myrmidon. This is a raid on the Adour Estuary (near Bayonne) in southwest France. The plan is to land 3000 Commandos, disrupt land communications in the vicinity, and then reembark. There has been a lot of preparation for this operation, with the troops sailing quietly on transport ships Queen Emma and Princess Beatrix for a month along the coast to allay any German suspicions.

When the Commandos finally decide to carry out the mission, however, everything quickly goes wrong. The ships encounter an unexpected sandbar - which almost ruined the highly successful recent raid on St. Nazaire - and the decision is made to abort the entire mission. After all that preparation, the Commandos simply return to England. Operation Myrmidon is canceled.

US/Canadian Relations: To help the US solve a supply bottleneck for supplies to Alaska at Seattle, Canadian authorities allow US ships to use Port Rupert, British Columbia.

US Military: Two US warplanes crash within hours of each other during a storm on Oahu, Hawaii, killing nineteen servicemen. The first is Navy PBY-5A out of NAS Kaneohe, which crashes at Makapu'u. The second plane is a B-17E that crashes into the cliffs of Mt. Keahiakahoe near the Nu'uanu Pali. Relatives of the crew of the B-17E place a granite crew memorial at the Pali Lookout on April 1, 2007.

Norwegian Homefront: Lutheran ministers continue their protest of the German occupation. In Oslo, 654 of 699 ministers resign from their civil service positions in a demonstration of widespread disobedience to the occupying authorities.
Ben Hogan at Asheville, 5 April 1942
Ben Hogan demonstrating how he handles water hazards after winning the Asheville tournament on 5 April 1942.
American Homefront: Ben Hogan shoots a final round 68 to win the Asheville Land of the Sky Open. He earns $1,000 in war bonds for the victory.

Future History: Harold Allan Clarke is born in Salford, Lancashire, England. He becomes one of the founding members of the rock group The Hollies in the 1960s. During his time with the group, he helps to write hits such as "On a Carousel," "Carrie Anne," "Jennifer Eccles," and "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress." He later pursues a solo career. Allan Clarke is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 and remains active in the music scene.

Peter Greenaway is born in Newport, Wales. Peter plans on becoming a painter but gravitates into filmmaking. He begins making experimental films in the 1960s and develops his craft until releasing the highly successful "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover" (1989). Many of Greenaway's later projects focus on famous artwork, such as his 2006 series "Nine Classical Paintings Revisited." As of 2020, Peter Greenaway remains active in various forms of European cinema, television, and video, many projects focusing on his love of famous art and music.
Japanese internees at Santa Anita, 5 April 1942
Japanese-American evacuees board a train at the Santa Anita Assembly Center. April 5, 1942 (National Archives).


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

April 4, 1942: Luftwaffe Attacks Kronstadt

Saturday 4 April 1942

Arab with rifle, 4 April 1942
"Senussi Arab with rifle, Libya, 4 April 1942." That appears to be a captured Italian Carcano rifle (© IWM E 10186).
Battle of the Indian Ocean: The massive Kido Butai Japanese strike force that attacked Pearl Harbor now is operating in the Indian Ocean. So far, it has proceeded unobserved to a spot south of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). During the afternoon of 4 April 1942, a Catalina flying boat of RCAF Squadron No. 413 spots and reports Admiral Nagumo's large force 310 nautical miles (580 km) southeast of Ceylon. The Japanese quickly shoot the observation plane down before it can clarify the size of the fleet. The fleet's commander, Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, is secure in the belief that his ships have superiority over the British. So, he ignores the fact that the British have spotted his fleet and continues along his intended course. Nagumo does not even bother sending aerial reconnaissance ahead of the fleet. His plan is to attack the port of Colombo at dawn on 5 April.

The British, on the other hand, change plans immediately. Admiral James Somerville has withdrawn his fleet to Addu Atoll in the Maldive Islands. He now sends his Force A eastward in the general direction of the Japanese while Force B refuels. Admiral Geoffrey Layton, in command in Ceylon, directs heavy cruisers HMS Cornwall and Dorsetshire (which have just reached Colombo for maintenance and port defense) to turn around at 22:00 and rejoin Force A. Layton also orders old aircraft carrier Hermes to leave the port of Trincomalee and seek refuge to the northeast. The stage is set for a major confrontation, depending upon how aggressive Admiral Somerville chooses to be.

There is a preliminary action when two Japanese cruisers spot and sink Norwegian freighter Dagfred. The 40 Norwegian crew all survive after the Japanese allow them to take to the boats.

USS Hornet, accompanied by Task Force 18, continues sailing from San Francisco toward Japan. Its plan is to rendezvous with Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey's Task Force 16 and then proceed to a spot where it can launch the 16 B-25 bombers it is carrying to attack Tokyo. The US task force is following the reverse path of that followed by Kido Butai in December 1941 prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
US Navy Airship L-8 delivers supplies to USS Hornet on 4 April 1942
U.S. Navy non-rigid airship L-8 delivers spare parts for Doolittle’s B-25 bombers to USS Hornet (CV-8). Somewhere in the Pacific on the way to Tokyo. L-8 was the former Goodyear commercial blimp, Ranger. The pilot was Lieutenant Ernest DeWitt Cody, U.S.N. (U.S. Navy).
Battle of the Pacific: Japanese bombers attack Darwin, Australia again between 13:30 and 14:05. Previous daylight raids have not cost the Japanese much in terms of lost planes and pilots, but the Allies have been transferring units to northern Australia. This is beginning to pay off. The 9th Pursuit Squadron of the US Army Air Force shoots down seven "Nell" bombers and two Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" fighters.

In the Philippines, a critical section of the Allied Main Line of Resistance held by II Corps (eastern side of the line) collapses under assault by the Japanese 4th Division and 65th Brigade. The 21st and 41st Divisions of the Filipino Army are forced back again, as on the 3rd, and try to dig in around Mount Samat. This breach in the line causes flank problems for nearby Allied formations. To try to contain the breach, Luzon Force sends the US 31st and 45th Infantry to support II Corps. The Japanese attack is going better than planned, perhaps because the Allied troops are undernourished and inadequately armed after months of the Japanese blockade.

US Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet and Task Force 18 continue sailing west from San Francisco Bay bound for an attack on Japan. At noon, the Hornet rendezvouses with Navy blimp L-8 which lowers parts to complete modifications for the mission to the Hornet's flight deck. This is another step toward the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo.
Panzer III towing a StuG III, April 1942
A StuG III (right) of the Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 202 gets pulled out of the snow by a Panzer III (left, going in reverse). Eastern Front, 1942.
Eastern Front: Operation Bruckenschlag ("Bridge-building") resumes on 4 April 1942 after a short period to regroup and reorient its line of attack toward the Demyansk Pocket. The first objective of General Seydlitz's men is the Lovat River, which is only six miles away but which is heavily guarded by reinforced Soviet troops. Today begins a brutal slog toward the river through worsening weather conditions as the spring thaw ("Rasputitsa") accelerates. There is no subtlety to the German advance, it is straight down the road on the most direct route possible.

The Luftwaffe launches heavy air attacks in the Murmansk area in northern Russia. The III/KG 30 attacks Zyp Navolok and sinks 1130-ton Russian Trawler RT-103. It also attacks Iokanka and damages Russian minesweepers T-58/RT-94/Zhadanov, T-4/RT-84/Golfstrem, T-60/RT-410/Pelikan, and patrol boat SKR-78/RT-57/Smela. Meanwhile, at Murmansk, emergency repairs are being completed to destroyer HMS Eclipse.
Soviet battleship OKTYABRSKAYA REVOLUTSIYA, attacked on 4 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.cmo
"OKTYABRSKAYA REVOLUTSIYA (Soviet battleship, 1911-1956). Photographed in the Baltic during 1946. Note anti-aircraft guns on forecastle and turret roofs, added during World War II." Naval History and Heritage Command NH 78290.
Battle of the Baltic: Operation Eisstoß (Ice Assault) begins. This is a Luftwaffe operation by Generaloberst Alfred Keller's Luftlotte I against the Soviet fleet at Kronstadt, a fortified island near St. Petersburg. This is one of a series of such attacks against Vitse Admiral Vladimir F. Tributs’s Baltic Fleet. Like the others, this operation accomplishes little. The Luftwaffe sends 62 Stuka dive bombers and 70 medium bombers (33 Junkers Ju 88s and 37 Heinkel He 111s), escorted by 59 Bf 109 fighters of Oberstleutnant Hannes Trautloft’s Jagdgeschwader 54. The plan is for the Heinkels to bomb the anti-aircraft defenses while the Stukas and Junkers attack the ships. 

After dark, a smaller force of 31 He 111s return. In the two attacks, the Germans score hits on 13 warships but do not sink any. Battleship Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya (formerly Gangut) takes four hits, the cruiser Maksim Gorky is hit seven times, the cruisers Kirov and Petropavlovsk and destroyer Silnyi each suffers one serious hit each, and the destroyer Grozyashchiy, minelayer Marti and training ship Svir each takes less serious hits. Assorted smaller vessels also are hit.

This operation and the subsequent "Götz von Berlichingen" and "Froschlaich" continue throughout April without meaningful results. Overall, the Luftwaffe flies 590 sorties at the loss of 29 aircraft, a fairly high loss rate. Hitler is worried that the Soviet fleet will steam out when the ice melts and "make a fool of me," but it has no plans to leave port.
SB2U Vindicator in England ca. 4 April 1942
SB2U Vindicator code 72-S-4 of VS-72 England April 1942. This plane probably came over on USS Wasp, which arrived in Great Britain on 4 April 1942. The Wasp pilots then flew their planes to Hatson in Orkney (UK).
European Air Operations: The weather is poor for flying operations, but the RAF tries a few missions anyway. All this accomplishes is showing that bombing success depends on the weather. Out of 21 Hampdens sent to lay mines in the Frisian Islands, only two manage to complete the mission while the rest return to base.

RAF Bomber Command also sends a dozen Boston bombers and 4 Wellingtons to attack the railway yards at St. Omer. The mission is a nullity because the bombs drop in open fields and there are no losses or destruction on either side.

The RAF sends 4 Wellington bombers to bomb different German targets, but low cloud cover forces three of them to abort their missions. The fourth bomber turns south when it finds its primary target of Emdem covered with clouds, but it later finds a target of opportunity in the Essen region.
Rear Admiral S S Bonham Carter, 3 or 4 April 1942
Rear Admiral S S Bonham Carter, Commanding 18th Cruiser Squadron, aboard his flagship HMS Edinburgh, 3 or 4 April 1942. He has welcomed the arrival of powerful US naval forces to Great Britain (© IWM A 9241). 
Battle of the Atlantic: US Navy aircraft carrier USS Wasp leads a large fleet of warships to join the British Home Fleet. Rear Admiral Robert C. Giffen, flying his flag in the heavy cruiser Wichita, assumes command of TF 39. The American ships were met at sea by a Royal Navy force including the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh on 3 April. Those British ships have escorted the American ships to Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.

U-505 (Kptlt. Axel-Olaf Loewe), on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 5759-ton Dutch freighter Alphacca 154 miles south of Cape Palmas, Ivory Coast. There are 15 deaths and 52 survivors.

U-154 (KrvKpt. Walther Kölle), on its second patrol out of Lorient,  torpedoes and sinks 5034-ton US tanker Comol Rico about 225 miles (417 km) north of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The tanker sinks within seven minutes after being hit with a second torpedo. The 39 survivors (against three deaths) spend two days at sea before being picked up by US destroyer USS Sturtevant (DD 240). This is the first victory for U-154.
HMS Stonehenge, laid down on 4 April 1942
HMS Stonehenge (P232), shown, is laid down on 4 April 1942. It will be launched on 23 March 1943, commissioned on 15 June 1943, and presumed sunk on or about 15 March 1944.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Luftwaffe General Albert Kesselring's II Fliegerkorps sustained air offensive against Malta continues wreaking massive damage all across the island. The planes today sink Greek Hellenic Navy submarine Glavkos (two dead) and Royal Navy Fleet Auxiliary tanker RFA Plumbleaf. The Plumleaf, next to Parlatorio Wharf in Grand Harbor, is raised after the war and scrapped in Sicily. Damaged in the attacks are cruiser Penelope and destroyer Lance.

The air attacks take a heavy toll today on land, too. Around Grand Harbour, numerous buildings are destroyed. A bomb lands on the north end of Coronado Tunnel, which is being used as a shelter. It kills 16 men and injures 50 others, including eight men from HMS Kingston.

British 4782-ton tanker SS Turbo, a ship heavily damaged by Italian bombers on 20 August 1941, is being towed to Karachi when its old damage suddenly causes it to break in two. The forepart is shelled and sunk about 15 miles north of Ras Banas, while the stern section just drifts off, never to be seen again.
Prisoner exchange between Italy and Great Britain, 4 April 1942
"An Italian stretcher case being carried up the gangway of the LLANDOVERY CASTLE at Alexandria." Italian prisoners in Alexandria boarding a transport for an exchange for British prisoners, 4 April 1942 (© IWM A 8715).
POWs:  The British begin an exchange of 917 seriously wounded Italian prisoners for 129 British prisoners by loading the Italians on a ship. Hospital ship Llandovery Castle is used to make the prisoner exchange at Smyrna. This operation has been very difficult to transact because the Italians prefer a "one-for-one" exchange to preserve their dignity.

US/ French Relations: The United States grants official recognition to the Free French government in Equatorial Africa. It sends a Consul General to Brazzaville.

US/South African Relations: The South African government permits the Unites States Army Air Force to use the airfield at Point Noire, Congo. In exchange, the United States gives South Africa eight Lockheed Hudson bombers.

Japanese Military: The High Command has plans to invade both Midway and the Aleutian Islands. Neither is particularly strategically important but would expand the defense perimeter further away from Japan. The preliminary plan has been to invade them in sequence. Today, after a hearty debate, the Chief of the Navy, General Staff, Admiral Nagano, agrees to combine them. This will require a complex series of fleet movements and a full naval commitment.

US Military: The 5th Air Force USAAF transfers the 36th Pursuit Squadron, 8th Pursuit Group, from Lowood to Townsville, Australia. It is equipped with P-39s and P40s.

Winnipeg Free Press 4 April 1942
Winnipeg Free Press, 4 April 1942. Note the article at the lower left, "Hitler is Goaded by Need for Oil."
American Homefront: Warner Bros. releases "I Was Framed," a remake of the 1939 James Cagney crime drama "Each Dawn I Die." It stars Tod Andrews, Julie Bishop, and Regis Toomey. "I Was Framed" is a typical programmer for wartime audiences eager for any distraction. It clocks in at a brisk 61 minutes, also typical, and is only designed to make money, not be subtle or pretend to be high art.

Future History: James Louis Fregosi is born in San Francisco, California. He becomes a Major League Baseball shortstop in 1961 and later a well-traveled manager. Fregosi is notable for having been the most popular player of the California Angels franchise early in its history and still holds the franchise record with 70 career triples. Fregosi also is notorious in some circles for having been involved in the famous 1971 trade that sent Nolan Ryan from the New York Mets to the Angels. Jim Fregosi passes away on 14 February 2014 in Miami, Florida.
Saturday Evening Post 4 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.cmo
Saturday Evening Post, 4 April 1942.