Wednesday, September 9, 2020

April 12, 1942: Essen Raids Conclude Dismally

Sunday 12 April 1942

Esso Boston sinking after being torpedoed on 12 April 1942.
The Esso Boston sinking after being torpedoed on 12 April 1942.

Battle of the Pacific: The Bataan Death March continues on 12 April 1942. New groups set out on foot in the morning, and it is a six-day journey on foot to the San Fernando railhead. Japanese captors routinely behead or drive bamboo stakes through POWs and civilians alike for any number of reasons. The POWs are given little food and water during the march, and no allowances are made for war wounds or any other inability to march. Anybody who stops by the side of the road for bodily functions or any other reason is usually bayoneted. The distance on foot is roughly 60-80 miles to the railhead but the distances vary because prisoners starting out at different areas take slightly different routes. The prisoners walk all day and at dark are led into a field and allowed to sleep there.

The Japanese continue advancing through the Philippines now that Bataan is conquered. They take Cebu Island, where US forces destroy the motor torpedo boat PT-35 which is on the marine railway for repairs at Cebu Shipyard and Engineering Works. Staging through Mindanao from Australia, ten B-25 and three B-17 bombers commanded by US Brigadier General Ralph Royce attack the harbor and nearby shipping at Cebu (the "Royce Raid"). Afterward, Royce's command evacuates 44 officers and civilians from Mindanao. In addition, B-17s based on Mindanao also attack Cebu Harbor and Nichols Field.

USS YAG-4, the auxiliary minesweeper/patrol boat which had rescued many men from Bataan right before the fall, is shelled and sunk 500 yards (460 m) off Corregidor by Japanese shore artillery.
HMAS Laurabada arrives in Port Moresby on 12 April 1942
HMAS Laurabada arrives in Port Moresby on 12 April 1942. It carries 156 survivors of Lark Force, the Australian garrison of New Britain (Rabaul). This ship, the former touring yacht of Papua's administrator, somehow evaded detection while secretly taking off men from Palmalmal Plantation in Jacquinot Bay after the Japanese invasion. The rescue was arranged by Australian coastwatchers on New Britain who had communications equipment. Many men who did not make it to the Laurabada were massacred by the Japanese or otherwise did not survive the war (Naval Historical Collection, Australian War Memorial No 69370).

Battle of the Indian Ocean: The Japanese advance toward the Yenangyaung oil fields in Burma continues as their troops take the town of Myanaung. The 1st Burma Division, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment near Magwe (Magway), and 48th Indian Infantry Brigade are slowly falling back under pressure to the north. The American Volunteer Group (AVG, or Flying Tigers) continues supporting air operations against Toungoo Airfield. The P-40s destroy three bombers on the ground.

Eastern Front: General Seydlitz's men continue advancing slowly in their relief attack toward the Demyansk pocket. They get within 500 yards (meters) of the Lovato River today and make a turn upstream toward Ramushevo. More out of desperation than hope, the Germans begin preparing an advance by II Corps out of the pocket to meet Seydlitz's men somewhere in the direction of the Lovato. Hitler will not permit the men to abandon the pocket even though its usefulness is highly questionable.

One of the persistent problems facing the Wehrmacht is ammunition shortages and also troop deficits. General Halder meets with Generaloberst Friedrich Fromm, Chief of Army Armament and the Reserve Army. Fromm controls army procurement and production in addition to controlling all troops within the Reich itself. Knowing the supply situation better than anyone, he has recommended going over to the defensive in 1942 rather than attempting offensive gambles.

Fromm gives Halder the raw figures. The Wehrmacht is expected to be 318,000 men short of its table strength as of 1 May 1942. There will be 960,000 more men available through September, including in August the class of 1924 (eighteen-year-old recruits), to replace losses. He recommends shortening training to two months, which will enable 240,000 men to be sent to the Eastern Front by May for the summer offensive. Manpower is not yet a point of crisis, but how that plays out will depend on summer losses.
USS Wasp CV-7, Greenock, Scotland, April 12, 1942
"USS Wasp CV-7, Greenock, Scotland, April 12, 1942." Watercolor by Ian Marshall.
European Air Operations: After a one-day pause in operations, RAF Bomber Command is back in action today. During the day, 9 Boston bombers attack the Hazebrouck railway marshaling yards at a cost of one of their number. At sunset, 251 bombers (171 Wellingtons, 31 Hampdens, 27 Stirlings, 13 Halifaxes, 9 Manchesters) set out for a major raid on one of Bomber Command's favorite targets, Essen.

This Essen raid is slightly more productive than previous raids. The bombers hit the intended target, the Krupps factory, with five high-explosive bombs and 200 incendiary bombs. These start a large fire. However, as usual, bombing accuracy is poor and most bombs hit towns all along the Ruhr River. A total of 28 houses are destroyed, 50 more seriously damaged, 27 people are killed, 36 injured, and nine are missing. The British lose 10 aircraft (7 Wellingtons, 2 Hampdens, 1 Halifax) for a barely tolerable 3.1% loss rate.

This is the eighth of eight major raids on Essen, and they have been largely futile. The Krupps factory has not been put out of action, much less Essen in total, and railway lines continue to function. The city remains as productive in the German war effort as ever. However, it should be noted that the Germans do not know where these raids are heading and millions of people across the Reich are forced into bomb shelters for hours at night and lose sleep. So, there are effects on German morale, but what those are is highly debatable, and those are certainly not the intended effect of the raids.

In other operations, the RAF sends 27 bombers over Le Havre, 18 Whitley bombers to Genoa, 4 Blenheims to targets in Holland, 20 bombers on minelaying operations off the German coast, and 7 on leaflet flights over France. There are no losses on these missions.
Empire Lotus sinking on 12 April 1942
Empire Lotus sinking in the North Atlantic on 12 April 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-154 (KrvKpt. Walther Kölle), on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 5032-ton US freighter Delvalle south of Haiti. The attack is unusual in that a passing civilian aircraft spots the U-boat and warns the ship's crew, who first attempt to flee and then turn to ram the U-boat. Kölle panics and fires two torpedoes at the advancing freighter, which miss, but the freighter also fails to make contact. Adjusting his position, Kölle finally manages to pump two torpedoes into the Delvalle, which seals her fate. It ultimately takes seven torpedoes to sink the ship including the misses, a very poor result for an ordinary freighter. There are two dead and 61 survivors.
Ernst Kals, captain of U-130 which sinks US tanker Esso Boston on 12 April 1942.
Ernst Kals, captain of U-130 which sinks US tanker Esso Boston on 12 April 1942.
U-130 (KrvKpt. Ernst Kals), on its third patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 7699-ton US tanker Esso Boston about 300 miles northeast of Sint Maarten in the Caribbean. The one torpedo that hits stops the tanker and causes its crew to abandon the ship, which is carrying 105,400 barrels of crude oil. Kals then surfaces and uses his deck gun to finish off the tanker, leaving it a smoking ruin, but it does not sink. Everyone survives, and on the 13th the crew reboards the half-submerged sinking tanker, but they cannot save it. USS Biddle (DD 151) shows up the same day and rescues them just before the ship sinks.

U-203 (Kptlt. Rolf Mützelburg), on its sixth patrol out of Brest, torpedoes and damages 10,013-ton Panamanian tanker Stanvac Melbourne about 15 miles from Frying Pan Shoal Inside Buoy off Cape Fear, North Carolina. After the tanker is hit with one torpedo, most of the crew abandons ship and Mützelburg moves on. However, the tanker does not sink, and three men who remained on board, including the master, Andrew T. Lagan, decide to try to save it. They drop anchor and wait out the night, and in the morning, two tugs appear and take her to Southport. Repairs are quick and the Stanvac Melbourne returns to service on 2 July. One of the reasons the tanker did not sink was that it was in ballast with great buoyancy.
Captain Mützelburg of U-203
Captain Mützelburg of U-203, which sank Panamanian tanker Stanvac Melbourne on 12 April 1942.
Italian submarine Pietro Calvi uses its deck gun to shell and sink Panamanian tanker 7691-ton Ben Brush off the coast of Brazil. There are 34 survivors and one death.

Swedish 1839-ton freighter Scotia hits a mine and sinks off Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK. There are 25 survivors, many of them wounded, and one missing and presumed dead.

A member of Convoy SC-79, 3696-ton British freighter Empire Lotus, founders in rough seas along the North Atlantic convoy route. Everyone survives.
Survivors of SS Delvalle, sunk on 12 April 1942
Aerial view of survivors of SS Delvalle, sunk on 12 April 1942 off the southern coast of Haiti, clinging to a raft. National Archives 80-G-61538.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Luftwaffe attacks continue on Malta today and they score hits on cruiser HMS Essex and freighter SS Talabot. However, the results are less than they appear because the Talabot previously has been hit and written off, with nobody on board. The Luftwaffe aircrews, however, have been given point-blank instructions to make sure Talabot is sunk because it narrowly escaped previous attacks (or so the Germans thought), and the Luftwaffe crews carry out their orders to finish it off. The Germans have been achieving some success with a new tactic of sending Bf 109s in advance of the bombing attacks to strafe Allied gun positions on the island to suppress antiaircraft fire.

Battle of the Black Sea: Soviet freighter Kommuna hits a mine and sinks near Kamysh-Buran. There are two deaths.
Anglo/Indian Relations: Today marks the official end of the "Cripps Mission" to broker a deal between the British government and Indian nationalists. However, talks continue unofficially, facilitated by US President Franklin Roosevelt's personal representative, Colonel Louis Johnson, appointed on 11 March 1942. These talks too, however, fail by 16 May 1942.

Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the leaders of the Indian independence movement, gives a press conference in New Delhi to discuss the rejection of British independence offers. He emphatically rejects any possibility of an alliance with the Axis or his old colleague in the independence movement, Subhas Chandra Bose:
Hitler and Japan can go to hell. I shall fight them to the end and this is my policy. I shall also fight Mr Subhas Bose and his party along with Japan if he comes to India.
He also states that Bose's troops, assembled from prisoners of war, are just a "dummy force under Japanese control." Nehru adds that there will be "no surrender" to the Axis.
P-40 of the 38th Pursuit Group after crashing on 12 April 1942
A P-40E (41-125116) of the 58th Pursuit Group, 33rd Pursuit Squadron, after crashing on 12 April 1942. At this time, the 58th is a replacement training unit based at Dale Mabry Field, Florida.
US Military: The US takes another big step toward the transfer of the US Army 8th Air Force to the United Kingdom today when Lieutenant General Henry H "Hap" Arnold sends plans for the move to General George C Marshall, Chief of Staff US Army. Marshall is currently in London with Harry Hopkins, so he can discuss these plans for "Operation Bolero" with his British counterparts.

In Australia, the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron, 22nd BG (Medium), takes its B-26 bombers from Townsville to Reid River.

Hungarian Military: Advance elements of the 209,000-man Hungarian 2nd Army begin leaving for the Eastern Front. This is the best-equipped Hungarian formation. The Wehrmacht has assigned it to Army Group South to aid in the advance to take the Caucasus oilfields during the projected summer offensive. Partisans take note and attack 18 of 822 railway trains used during this move, which lasts until 27 June 1942.
Borger, Texas, Daily Record, 12 April 1942
Borger, Texas, Daily Record, 12 April 1942.
American Homefront: The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 at Detroit Olympia Arena to stave off defeat in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Red Wings still lead the series 3-1. In an epic turn of events, the Maple Leafs will win the next three games and the series 4 games to 3. This series becomes a rallying cry for decades for teams facing a seemingly hopeless deficit in a playoff series.

Future History: Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Mhlanganyelwa Zuma is born in Nkandia, South Africa. Jacob Zuma serves as South Africa's fourth President of South Africa from May 2009 until February 2018. He resigned under pressure, and after that, he had a child on 12 April 2018. Jacob Zuma currently faces corruption charges.

Carlos Alberto Reutemann is born in Sante Fe, Argentina. He becomes a top racing car driver in the Formula One series from 1972 to 1982 and later a politician in his home region. Carlos Reutemann currently (as of 2020) serves in the National Senate of Argentina and is part of the Cambiemos alliance. He is often mentioned as a possible candidate for president.

Hilario D. Ramos Jr. is born in Waimea, Kauai County, Hawaii. he becomes a guitarist, banjo player, and vocalist with a variety of acts in the 1960s and thereafter. He is best known for work with the Association and the New Christy Minstrels, with which he wins a Grammy in 1963. He acquires the rights to The Association in 1984 and becomes its leader until his death. Larry Ramos passes away on 30 April 2014.

April Tatro is born in Escondido, California. She grows up to become a famed contortionist who appears in many Hollywood productions, including the 1970s series "Wonder Woman" and as a stuntwoman in "Blazing Saddles" (1974). For some, though, Tatro's most memorable performance was her very first, in 1968, when April appeared in the original "Star Trek" as the human form of Isis the Cat in "Assignment: Earth." April is still around as of 2022.

Charlie Chan comics, 12 April 1942
Charlie Chan comics for 12 April 1942 (Alfred Andriola).

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


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