Tuesday, August 4, 2020

April 2, 1942: Doolittle Raiders Leave Port

Thursday 2 April 1942

Soviet soldiers attacking in southern Russia, 2 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Soviet troops attacking along the southern front, 2 April 1942.
Battle of the Pacific: A major confrontation in the Indian Ocean is looming on 2 April 1942 as Kido Butai (1st Air Fleet), the Japanese task force that attacked Pearl Harbor, steams deep into the Indian Ocean on Operation C. This will become known as the Indian Ocean Raid. The British under Vice-Admiral Sir James Somerville has concentrated their Force A and Force B about 100 miles (160 km) south of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Late in the day, Somerville withdraws his forces to the southwest near Addu Atoll to refuel. Somerville also disperses his forces, detaching cruiser HMS Dorset to Colombo, Ceylon, to continue a refit, sending cruiser Cornwall to escort convoy SU-4 to Aden, and sending aircraft carrier Hermes and Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire back to Trincomalee, Ceylon.

The Japanese continue attacking in Burma. Today, they force the British to abandon Prome.

B-25s on the deck of USS Hornet as it leaves San Francisco Bay, 2 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
B-25s parked on USS Hornet as it leaves port, 2 April 1942 (US National Archives).
After dark, the US 10th Air Force flies its first combat mission. This is over the recently occupied Andaman Islands south of Burma. Major General Lewis H Brereton, Commanding General 10th Air Force, personally leads the mission. The small force of two B-17 Flying Fortresses and an LB-30 Liberator claim hits on Japanese shipping. While the two B-17s are damaged, all of the bombers make it back to base. Another mission to attack Rangoon, Burma, is aborted when one of the two B-17s crashes on takeoff, killing the crew, and the other has mechanical issues.

Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-6 torpedoes and sinks British 5971-ton freighter Clan Ross in the Arabian Sea about 300 miles southwest of Bombay. There are 11 deaths. Clan Ross had survived a torpedo strike in May 1918 from U-boat UB-48 (Kapitänleutnant Wolfgang Steinbauer).

US Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet departs at 08:48 from Naval Station Alameda (San Francisco Bay) along with naval Task Force 18. On the Hornet's flight deck are 16 modified B-25 Mitchell bombers, an unusual sight. The mission is unknown to all but a select few people. This is the first step of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo.
Battleship Kirishima in Kido Butai, 2 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Japanese battleship Kirishima on or about 2 April 1942. This photograph was taken aboard battleship Hiei as Kido Butai steamed into the Indian Ocean. At the left are cruiser Abukuma and a fleet oiler (background).
Eastern Front: The Finnish Army, with German support, captures the island of Bolshoy Tyuters (75 km south of Kotka, Finland) in the Gulf of Finland from Soviet holdouts. The Axis forces quickly reinforce the island and nearby Gogland. While the Soviets mount another attack across the frozen ice on 8 April 1942, it fails. This ends the Battle of Suursaari that began on 27 March 1942. The Finns then turn the island over to German forces, who maintain control until 1944. Incidentally, these islands remain strategically important in the 21st Century, with the Russian military building a helicopter base on Gogland, which is 35 miles south of Kotka.

The Luftwaffe has been reinforced in the Crimea region to aid General Manstein's 11th Army. The planes continue their raids throughout the Black Sea region. Today, they sink 4629-ton Soviet tanker MV Valerian Kuybyshev at Novorossisk, which is fully loaded with gasoline and diesel fuel. There are 24 dead and 32 survivors. The Luftwaffe also bombs the Soviet port and supply base at Kerch. The Soviet supply situation is in chaos because of these attacks and temporarily ceases offensive operations on the Crimea.
Newsstand in Hollywood, California, ca. 2 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A newsstand in Hollywood, California, ca. 2 April 1942 (Pantages Theater in the background).
European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command sends 40 Wellingtons and 10 Stirlings to bomb the Ford motor factory at Paris/Poissy. One Wellington fails to return. Another 49 aircraft bomb Le Havre with no losses. In minelaying operations, 23 Hampdens and 7 Wellingtons drop mines in Quiberon Bay. They lose one Hampden and one Wellington.

During the raid on Le Havre, the RAF planes sink German trawler V 1515 Rothienbaum, which is being used as a Vorpostenboot (outpost/Flak ship). The trawler later is raised and repaired and returned to service as M 3857 Rothienbaum.
British invasion barge 2 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"An invasion barge (R-boat) at high speed." This photo was taken on 2 April 1942 aboard HMS Iris off Toward Point, Strathclyde, Scotland (© IWM A 8328).
Battle of the Atlantic: There is some disagreement among the sources as to whether U-552 sinks US freighter David H. Atwater late on 2 April or early on 3 April. We'll cover that sinking on 3 April. This is a common problem when sinkings occur around midnight and has to do with what time zone the person doing the calculating is located in as much as anything else.

Belgian 68-ton fishing trawler FV Marie Roberts suffers an explosion when it picks up a mine in its fishing nets. The crew abandons ship in good order before the ship sinks.

US fishing trawler Osceola sinks off Cape Cod, apparently due to the weather or mechanical issues.

Battle of the Mediterranean: Heavy Luftwaffe air raids on Malta continue. At around 10:10, Junkers Ju 88s hit the Dockyard and Submarine Base. Seven men are killed at the Army Pay Office at Villa Rosa, St. George's Bay.
SS Tiger sinking in Chesapeake Bay, 2 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Tanker SS Tiger sinking in the Chesapeake Bay after being torpedoed on 1 April and taken under tow, 2 April 1942 (US Naval History and Heritage Command 80-G-177202) (see 1 April 1942 for details).
Anglo/US Relations: President Roosevelt informs Prime Minister Churchill that he is sending his personal emissary, Harry Hopkins, along with US Chief of Staff George S. Marshall to London. FDR notes that "They will submit to you a plan which I hope will be received with enthusiasm by Russia." Hopkins is carrying the first plan prepared by Chief of the War Plans Division Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower for the invasion of northwestern Europe.

US/Chinese Relations: Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek appoints General Lo Cho-Ying as US Lieutenant General Joseph Stillwell's executive officer. Stillwell has been complaining to Chiang that Chinese generals in Burma have not been following his orders even though Stillwell officially is Chief of Staff of the Chinese Army. Stillwell and Cho-Ying then head back to the Burma front where Chinese troops have become the heart of the Allied defense. 

US Military: Task Force 39 (TF 39) arrives in Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands. This large force includes battleship USS Washington (BB 56), the aircraft carrier Wasp (CV-7), and heavy cruisers Tuscaloosa and Wichita along with eight destroyers. This is the first major US naval presence in Europe.
Japanese-Peruvians in the Panama Canal Zone 2 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Japanese-Peruvians being taken from the Panama Canal Zone to the United States for internment, 2 April 1942.
Chile: The new President of Chile is Juan Antonio Rios.

American Homefront: Paramount Pictures releases "My Favorite Blonde," a comedy directed by Sidney Lanfield and starring Bob Hope and Madeleine Carroll. Bing Crosby also makes a cameo appearance.

Future History: Claude Russell Bridges is born in Lawton, Oklahoma. He develops an interest in music and forms a group, the Fencemen. Because he is underage, Claude adopts the name Leon Russell to get into nightclubs and perform, and the name sticks. He becomes a top session musician during the 1960s and later a renowned songwriter and recording artist. Leon Russell passes away on 13 November 2016.
Cumberland Evening Times, 2 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The 2 April 1942 Cumberland (Maryland) Evening Times headlines that a "big ordnance plant" will be built there shortly. Similar headlines are seen across the country during 1942.

April 1942

April 1, 1942: Convoys Come to the USA 
April 2, 1942: Doolittle Raiders Leave Port
April 3, 1942: Japanese Attack in Bataan
April 4, 1942: Luftwaffe Attacks Kronstadt
April 5, 1942: Japanese Easter Sunday Raid on Ceylon
April 6, 1942: Japanese Devastation In Bay of Bengal
April 7, 1942: Valletta, Malta, Destroyed
April 8, 1942: US Bataan Defenses Collapse
April 9, 1942: US Defeat in Bataan
April 10, 1942: The Bataan Death March
April 11, 1942: The Sea War Heats Up
April 12, 1942: Essen Raids Conclude Dismally
April 13, 1942: Convoy QP-10 Destruction
April 14, 1942: Demyansk Breakout Attempt
April 15, 1942: Sobibor Extermination Camp Opens
April 16, 1942: Oil Field Ablaze in Burma
April 17, 1942: The Disastrous Augsburg Raid
April 18, 1942: The Doolittle Raid bombs Japan
April 19, 1942: British in Burma Escape
April 20, 1942: The Operation Calendar Disaster
April 21, 1942: Germans Relieve Demyansk


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