Tuesday, September 1, 2020

April 9, 1942: US Defeat in Bataan

Thursday 9 April 1942

HMS Hermes sinking, 9 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
HMS Hermes sinks on 9 April 1942 in this photo taken by Japanese aircrew, perhaps Mitsuo Fuchida.
Battle of the Pacific: The senior US commander on Bataan, the Philippines, Major General Edward P. King, meets with Japanese commander Major General Kameichiro Nagano on the morning of 9 April 1942 to surrender. As negotiations proceed, the US Navy destroyer its facilities at Mariveles and scuttle (or the Japanese destroy with shelling) any remaining ships there, including submarine tender USS Canopus, minesweeper Bittern, and tugs Napa, Yu Sang, and Henry Keswick (later refloated and repaired by the Japanese). A few ships manage to get away with a small number of evacuees to Corregidor, including three ferry launches (San Felipe, Camia, and Dap Dap) and some motor launches.  
The surrender begins a horrifying ordeal for the roughly 75,000 captured Allied (American and Filipino) soldiers, who from the beginning are mistreated and brutalized by their Japanese captors. Many of them do not survive the war. About 10-12,000 Allied troops either avoid capture or escape from the Japanese during the infamous Bataan Death March, which actually begins on 10 April.
Sweetwater Texas Reporter, 9 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The 9 April 1942 Sweetwater, Texas, Reporters paints the US surrender in Bataan as an "epic." This is the same tactic used by the German after the defeat at Stalingrad.
There remains one pocket of Allied resistance in the vicinity. Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright leads a small number of US forces in Malinta Tunnel on the island of Corregidor at the entrance to Manila Bay. Wainright makes a public broadcast from the tunnel during the evening of 9 April 1942, saying in part:
Bataan has fallen. The Philippine-American troops on this war-ravaged and bloodstained peninsula have laid down their arms. With heads bloody but unbowed, they have yielded to the superior force and numbers of the enemy.
The Japanese quickly bring their artillery forward to bombard Corregidor. Fortunately for the island's defenders, it is heavily fortified. Malinta Tunnel includes 13 lateral tunnels branching off from the main shaft on the north side and 11 lateral tunnels on the south side. This provides shelter from the artillery and air pounding that the island soon receives. Ironically, the cement used to build the tunnels was purchased from the Japanese. US Navy submarine USS Snapper delivers some supplies to Corregidor, which is subject to a Japanese blockade.
HMS Hermes sinking, 9 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
HMS Hermes sinks off the coast of Ceylon, 9 April 1942.
There are some naval skirmishes offshore. Two US torpedo boats, PT-34 and PT-41, harass Japanese light cruiser HIJMS Kuma and torpedo boat Kiji without causing much damage off Cape Tanon, Cebu Island. The Japanese retaliate later in the day by using floatplanes flying from Japanese seaplane carrier HIJMS Sanuki Maruand to bomb and strafe PT-34, which is beached off Cauit Island (two dead and four survivors, with two or three wounded).

The events of April 9, 1942, deeply permeate the Philippines psyche. April 9th becomes a national holiday, the "Day of Valor" (Araw ng Kagitingan). A "Shrine of Valor" (Dambana ng Kagitingan) and memorial cross are built atop Mount Samat in Pilar, Bataan, the point of the Japanese breakthrough that led to the fall of Bataan.

Far to the east, half of the US Navy's carrier force in the Pacific is sailing almost due west toward Japan. Admiral Bull Halsey leads Task Force 16 in a sprint to catch up with a smaller group led by the aircraft carrier USS Hornet that is carrying B-25s that normally do not fly from carriers. The Japanese remain completely unaware of this approaching menace for the time being. The two groups plan to rendezvous at sea on 13 April.
HMAS Vampire sinking, 9 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
HMAS Vampire under attack prior to sinking, 9 April 1942. This photo appears to show the bomb striking that breaks it in half.
Battle of the Indian Ocean:  The Japanese Indian Ocean Raid reaches its climax with renewed attacks against Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and British naval forces. At dawn, Admiral Nagumo sends over 100 planes to attack the port of Trincomalee. They are met by 22 defending RAF fighters that are brushed aside. The Japanese wreak devastation on the harbor facilities, including badly damaging/sinking 7953-ton British freighter Sagaing (3 deaths), but do not succeed in locating their real target, the Royal Navy Eastern Fleet. Incidentally, the Sagaing was raised and moved to a different location by the Sri Lanka navy in 2018 to open up the harbor.

However, the Japanese get lucky. Hearing about the Japanese raid, Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Captain R.F.J. Onslow), which had left Trincomalee to avoid the raid, turns around to help out. This turns out to be a big mistake. Japanese scout planes quickly locate Hermes and vector in bombers from aircraft carriers Hiryū, Shōkaku, and Zuikaku. They arrive over Hermes quickly before the dwindling shore-based RAF fighters can arrive, and hit it with over 40 bombs in about ten minutes, sinking it. There are about 600 survivors of Hermes and over 307 deaths. The accompanying destroyer HMAS Vampire (nine dead) also is hit, breaks in half, and sinks. Not far away, Royal Navy corvette Hollyhock (49 dead) and tankers Athelstane (5571 tons) and British Sergeant (5868 tons) also are sunk, with Hollyhock sinking in less than a minute. Japanese bombers from Akagi sink 2924-ton Norwegian freighter Norviken (four dead, 42 survivors).
Japanese Kate bomber during the 9 April 1942 Trincomalee Raid, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
B5N2 "Kate" coded EII-330 of the Zuikaku carrier during the Indian Ocean Raid on Trincomalee, April 9, 1942.
The British retaliate by sending nine Bristol Blenheim bombers of RAF No. 11 Squadron to attack Nagumo's fleet. Somehow, the bombers evade the fleet's combat air patrol, perhaps misidentified as fellow Japanese planes. The bombers make it intact over Nagumo's carriers and drop their bombs from 11,000 feet (3353 m), but achieve no hits. The defending Japanese fighters then shoot down four of the bombers at the cost of two Zeros (the planes returning from sinking the Hermes account for one of the bombers and one of the lost Zeros).

Overall, the raid on Trincomalee is another Japanese victory and caps off a very successful raid in the Indian Ocean. The British have lost a carrier, two cruisers, 23 merchant ships of 112,312 tons, and numerous planes. Royal Navy port facilities at Colombo and Trincomalee have been devastated. However, Nagumo has failed at his real goal of engaging and destroying the greatly inferior British Eastern Fleet. Sinking the Hermes is a feather in Nagumo's cap, but it was an old World War I carrier that had been converted into a training ship between the wars and not a true modern carrier. This is not meant to denigrate the Japanese victory, but assembling a five-carrier fleet and sending it on such a long mission consumed a lot of resources. The returns for the Indian Ocean raid were good, but insufficient to wrest control of the region from the British as hoped. In a way, it becomes a tactical victory but a strategic defeat for the Japanese.
Japanese Kate bombers during the 9 April 1942 Trincomalee Raid, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Two B5N2 "Kate" bombers from aircraft carrier Zuikaku depart from Trincomalee Habor, which can be seen blazing in the background, on 9 April 1942.
Eastern Front: Soviet General Kozlov, commander of all forces in the Crimea, launches his fourth offensive against General Manstein's forces defending the Parpach Narrows. Stavka representative Lev Mekhlis, who reflects Stalin's thinking, changes the strategy from previous attacks to mass tanks for a breakthrough rather than distributing them throughout infantry formations. Manstein's 11th Army, however, has received many Luftwaffe reinforcements and the 28th Light Infantry Division. Kozlov also has received reinforcements, but not the best new Soviet tanks such as the T-34.

Kozlov's men already have suffered heavy losses in his previous three offenses and one launched by Manstein. However, Kozlov still commands half a dozen rifle divisions, which could be considered arguably adequate for the job. Massing the tanks also is an effective strategy under the right circumstances, but these turn out not to be the right circumstances.

This Soviet offensive fares no better than earlier offensives and only gains undefendable (marshy, barren) ground. The German 28th Light Division has the new 2.8 cm sPzB 41 light anti-tank gun, and this proves perfect for taking on the advancing Soviet tanks. One Wehrmacht soldier, Obergefreiter Emanuel Czernik, knocks out seven T26 and one BT tank on the first day. The Soviet attack achieves nothing except piling up more Soviet casualties and depleting Kozlov's reserves. The offensive quickly peters out.
NY Times, 9 April 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The 9 April 1942 NY Times goes to press before news of the fall of Bataan. The big news otherwise is the arrival of US envoys in London to discuss the arrival of masses of US troops.
European Air Operations: It is a cloudy day, so not much happens on the Channel Front. Seven Wellington bombers attempt to raid Essen, but six turn back and the seventh bombs a village north of the city. There are no losses.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-123 (Kptlt. Reinhard Hardegen), on its eighth patrol out of Lorient, continues very successful operations off the east coast of the United States. It torpedoes and sinks 3365-ton US refrigerated freighter Esparta about 14 miles south of Brunswick, Georgia. The torpedo hit releases ammonia gas used in the refrigeration system, causing men to quickly leap overboard (one dies). It takes two hours for the ship to sink completely in the shallow water. There are 39 survivors and only one death.

U-160 (Oblt. Georg Lassen), on its first patrol out of Helgoland, is operating slightly north of U-123 and also scores a success. It torpedoes and sinks 3516-ton US freighter Malchace about 25-50 miles off Cape Lookout. The U-boat then surfaces, circles the slowly sinking ship, and allows most of the crew to abandon ship in good order before finishing the ship off with another torpedo. There is one dead and 28 survivors.
USS California entering drydock, 9 April 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
USS California entering No. 2 Dry Dock at Pearl Harbor on 9 April 1942. The battleship was hit by two torpedoes and one bomb during the 7 December 1942 Pearl Harbor raid, sank, and was raised from the mud on the harbor bottom on 4 April 1942. Source: U.S.S. California Torpedo and Bomb Damage confidential report.
U-552 (Kptlt. Erich Topp),  on its eighth patrol out of St. Nazaire, torpedoes and sinks 7137-ton US tanker Atlas near where U-160 sank the Malchace. The Atlas crew abandoned ship in good order before the U-boat fired a second torpedo that ignited the fuel cargo. However, the flames spread across the water as fuel spilled out of the tanker, engulfing a lifeboat and killing two crewmen. There are two dead and 32 survivors.

U-252 (Kptlt. Kai Lerchen), on its first and only patrol of the war out of Helgoland, torpedoes and sinks 1355-ton Norwegian freighter Fanefjeld off the northwest tip of Iceland. All 24 crewmen perish, though some debris and a body are found. The U-boat is in this unusual location because it has just landed espionage agent Ib Arnason Riis in northern Iceland on 6 April 1942.
Babe Ruth and actress Jane Withers, 9 April 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Retired baseball star Babe Ruth signs a baseball for starlet Jane Withers in the 9 April 1942 The Sporting News. Jane Withers is still alive in 2020. You may remember her as "Josephine the Plumber" in television commercials for Comet cleanser. It is reported elsewhere on this day that the Babe is critically ill but responding to treatment.
Soviet submarine ShCh 421 (Lt. Cdr Vidyaev) hits a mine in German Minefield Ursula and is badly damaged off Svaerholthavet (Porsanger Fjord) in northern Norway. The crew abandons ship to another Soviet submarine, K-22, which torpedoes and sinks it. Another Soviet submarine, M-174, attacks a German convoy off Varangerfjord, Norway, without success.

US Navy torpedo boat PT-59 accidentally torpedoes freighter USS Capella (AK-13) in upper Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, while on maneuvers. The freighter is only damaged and does not sink.

It is a bad night for collisions. The US Coast Guard is trying to implement a convoy system off the east coast, but in blackout conditions, the situation remains chaotic. Norwegian 3931-ton freighter Benwood collides with tanker Robert C. Tuttle northeast of Molasses Reef, Florida. The Benwood is beached on Alligator Reef but later sinks in shallow water, where it becomes a destination for sport divers. In another collision, 2349-ton Argentinian steel freighter Brazil hits the Smith Point Light in the Chesapeake Bay and sinks.
500 kg bomb dropped on Malta church on 9 April 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
This 500-kg Luftwaffe bomb penetrated through the rotunda of the 1833 Mosta, Malta, church on 9 April 1942. The bomb did not explode and was immediately carted away.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Royal Navy submarine HMS Thrasher torpedoes and sinks Italian freighter Gala off Benghazi, Libya. At Malta, the Axis air offensive continues and sinks Royal Navy destroyer Lance.

Royal Navy submarine Torbay uses its deck gun to sink Italian auxiliary patrol boat/schooner R-113 (Avanguardista) about nine miles off the Greek island of Antipaxos.

US Military: The US Army Air Force 8th Air Force is destined to head to the United Kingdom, but it remains in the United States. Today, it transfers its headquarters to Bolling Field in southern Washington, D.C.
The Onion depicting events of 9 April 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Onion satirical newspaper published this send-up of homefront news. Purporting to be from April 9, 1942, the page notes that internment camps have been set up for 32 million German-Americans, "including FDR himself."
American Homefront: The national New York Times Best Sellers List begins in the New York Times Book Review (Sundays). The national list debuts a supplement to regular New York City lists published by the paper and is derived from "reports from leading booksellers in 22 cities." The city lists eventually disappear, leaving only the national list.

Future History: President Donald J. Trump designates 9 April 2017 as National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day. The proclamation states in part:
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March. After the surrender of the Bataan peninsula in the Philippines on April 9, 1942, Filipino and American soldiers were rounded up and forced to march 60 miles from Mariveles to San Fernando. An estimated 500 Americans died during the march, as they were starved, beaten, and tortured to death. Those who reached San Fernando were taken in cramped boxcars to POW camps, where thousands more Americans died of disease and starvation.
An annual Bataan Memorial Death March is held at White Sands Missle Range, New Mexico each April 9th. There as still survivors of the Bataan Death March as of 2020.

Brandon deWilde is born in Brooklyn, New York. He becomes a child actor and debuts on Broadway at the age of 7. He goes on to a stellar acting career, being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in "Shane" (1953). However, as he leaves his teens, good film roles become scarce, so he turns more to television roles. Brandon deWilde perishes in a car crash on 7 July 1972 in Colorado. 
A California newsstand on 9 April 1942, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Hayward, California, newspapers of April 9, 1942, displayed at a newsstand at a corner drugstore in a Japanese-American neighborhood, recording Bataan's fall. 9 April 1942 (Library of Congress 96509399).

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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