Thursday, April 1, 2021

April 27, 1942: Luftwaffe Bombs Norwich

Monday 27 April 1942

U-552 returns from a patrol on 27 April 1942
U-552 (Kptlt. Erich Topp) returns to its base in St. Nazaire, France, on 27 April 1942. Note all the victory pennants, the submarine's eighth patrol has been a successful one with seven enemy ships of 45,731 tons sent to the bottom. Clearly visible is the "Red Devil" (Roter Teufel) mascot image on the conning tower (Federal Archive Image 101II-MW-4837-25A).
Battle of the Pacific: The Japanese 22nd Infantry Division of the 13th Army, based in Shanghai and Nanchang, takes the key rail and river junction of Lungyu in Chekiang Province. This is part of a back-and-forth between the two sides in this area that lasts throughout the war, with Lungyu frequently in contention. 

Battle of the Indian Ocean: General Chang, commander of the Sixty-Sixth Army headquartered in Lashio, sends the 28th South from Hsipaw to Namon. While driving south on the Loilem road, it runs into a Japanese motorized column. Both sides quickly retreat, with the Chinese commander heading back to Lashio. Meanwhile, Chang, knowing he can't hold out for long, is sending everything that can move back to China. The Japanese, taken by surprise by the appearance of the Chinese troops further south than expected, regroup for another assault on Lashio in a couple of days.

The USAAF 10th Air Force is building up its forces in India for the conflict in Burma and air supply missions to China. Today, the ground echelon of the 9th Bombardment Squadron, 7th Bomber Group, transfers from Karachi (in modern Pakistan) to Allahabad, India (in the eastern section). Their B-17 bombers already are nearby in Bamrauli.
Japanese-American internees departing Seattle on 27 April 1942
Internees being shipped off from Seattle, Washington, on 27 April 1942. Seattle Mayor Earl Millikin sends a telegram to Congressman John H. Tolan, Chairman, Committee Investigation National Defense Migration, Washington, D.C., today that begins "Disposition of Japanese property in Seattle going well." He also mentions that "Evacuation thus far very quiet and orderly." (Photograph by Tacoma News Tribune photographer, Howard Clifford. UW562, Special Collections and Preservation Division, University of Washington Libraries).
Eastern Front: The spring thaw ("Rasputitsa") is in full swing all across the Eastern Front, ending operations for the time being. The first area where the roads will dry up is in Crimea, where General Manstein is planning Operation Trapenjagd, a decisive offensive on the Parpach Narrows to eliminate the Soviet presence on the Kerch peninsula. The Soviets are still planning an attack of their own, but all of their previous attacks have failed and the Germans are growing in strength while they weaken due to the Luftwaffe's interdiction of their supplies across the Kerch Strait.

The Luftwaffe attacks Leningrad shipping and sinks training ship TS "Svir." Hermann Goering, head of the Luftwaffe, has billed this series of attacks on Leningrad as an "air offensive" but it is achieving meager results.
Spitfire crash-landed on 27 April 1942
Spitfire Mk.Vb BM240/BP-E "Clifton Cinemas" crash landing after a sortie over Lille, Pilot Flt. Lt. R.H.C. Sly, 457 Squadron, Redhill, 27 April 1942 (via Mike Mirkovic).
European Air Operations: The Luftwaffe continues its Baedeker raids on 27 April 1942, switching from Bath to Norwich. It is a clear night, and the Germans make the most of it. They drop over 90 tons of bombs and cause 67 deaths. It bears noting that, while the number of Luftwaffe bombers is smaller than those in the concurrent RAF raids, they typically fly two missions each night (refueling in France), which doubles their effectiveness. The Luftwaffe bombers are causing heavy damage and more casualties than the larger RAF raids, and for the moment at least are dropping their bombs more accurately.
Norwich bomb damage
Bomb damage in Norwich on 27 April 1942: St. Augustine's School on Waterloo Road (Swain).
The force of sheer numbers, though, is now on the RAF's side. On the other side of the English Channel, the north German port of Rostock is now a shambles after four nights of RAF bombing. It is estimated that 70% of the city has been destroyed and 100,000 people have been made homeless. However, key industries such as the Heinkel plant on the outskirts of town continue to function.

Tonight, after sending an 18-bomber daylight raid to Ostend and Lille (one bomber lost), RAF Bomber Command switches to Cologne. A total of 97 aircraft (76 Wellington bombers, 19 Stirlings, and 2 Halifaxes) inflict moderate damage on the city at the cost to themselves of six Wellingtons and a Halifax. There are 11 deaths, 52 injured, and 1683 people made homeless. The damage could have been greater, but many of the bombers overshoot the city and their bombs fall harmlessly to the east.

RAF Bomber Command sends another mission to Trondheim to sink the German battleship, Tirpitz. While the 43 bombers (31 Halifaxes and 12 Lancasters) locate the Tirpitz, they score no hits on it. This is one of many failed attempts by the RAF to sink the Tirpitz from 1941 until November 1944. Four Halifaxes and a Lancaster fail to return. Wing Commander D.C.T. Bennett is among the crewmen who are forced to bail out, but he eventually makes it to neutral Sweden and then back to rejoin the RAF within five weeks. Bennett is destined to become the commander of the Pathfinder force.

In other operations, the RAF sends a dozen aircraft to Dunkirk, 8 bombers on minelaying operations off the German coast, and 8 bombers (3 Lancasters and 5 Wellingtons) on leaflet flights. Two Halifaxes from the Dunkirk raid, two Wellingtons, and a Stirling fail to return. All told, 17 RAF aircraft are lost on 27 April for a poor and unsustainable 10.1% loss ratio.
A de Havilland Mosquito Night Fighter
A de Havilland Mosquito NF38 Night Fighter takes off on a mission.
The new de Havilland Mosquito bomber night fighter makes its first operational sortie. It can outfly many fighters at its maximum speed of 407 mph and has excellent handling qualities. The night fighters are equipped with four 20mm cannons. The Mosquito bomber, which has been conducting raids for months, remains a military secret with no announcement of its existence by the RAF.  The arrival of it as a night fighter gives the creaking RAF night defenses a welcome bit of relief as the Luftwaffe Baedeker Raids continue to cause devastation.

After tonight's raid on Dunkirk, which includes two Whitley bombers, they are withdrawn from bombing operations due to becoming obsolete. Henceforth, they will only fly occasional leaflet missions.
U-Boat commander Erich Topp returns from a patrol on 27 April 1942
Erich Topp carrying the customary bouquet of flowers upon his return to St. Nazaire on 27 April 1942 after a successful war patrol (Federal Archive Fig. 101II-MW-3755-05).
Battle of the Atlantic: The RAF bombs and sinks Danish 1494-ton freighter Inga near the South Horns Reef located off the west coast of Denmark. There is one death. 

Hitler has ordered the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe to focus on the Arctic convoys that have been passing close to German bases in northern Norway without many losses. Pursuant to those orders, the Kriegsmarine now has heavy cruiser Hipper and pocket battleship Luetzow stationed there, along with 20 submarines (8 for defense and 12 for anti-convoy attacks). The Luftwaffe also has beefed up its presence, with a dozen Heinkel He-111 bombers converted to torpedo-bombers. This large force is waiting patiently for Convoy PQ 15, which sailed from Iceland yesterday.
Time magazine of 27 April 1942 with Pierre Laval on cover
Pierre Laval and his recent return to power in Vichy France is the cover story for the 27 April 1942 Time magazine (cover credit: Margaret Bourke-White).
Battle of the Mediterranean: Italian aircraft score a major success by sinking British submarine HMS Urge (LtCdr E.P. Tomkinson) off Ra's Al Hilal, Libya. All 32 crew and 11 Royal Navy passengers bound for Alexandria perish.

The Axis bombing raids on Malta begin around 11:15. The Grand Harbour area and nearby military installations are the main targets. The day's attacks are notable for the heavy participation by Italian Fiat Br.20 Cicogna bombers, a low-wing twin-engine medium bomber. The Cicogna bombers usually only operate at night, but Malta's defenses have been so weakened that the Italians feel emboldened to use it during the day, too. The Italians also use Cant Z. 1007 bombers.

For the British defenders, the highlight of the day is a sapper's (Richard Walters) use of a machine gun to down a Junkers Ju-87 Stuka at Floriana. It is a real morale boost for the troops there, whose barracks have been destroyed and who are now living in trenches and tents.
Luftwaffe pilot Ernst Düllberg April 1942
Luftwaffe pilot Ernst Düllberg and others stand before his Bf 109 F-4 of 5/JG 27 in North Africa, April 1942. Ernst Düllberg was credited with 45 victories, 36 over the Western Front. He survived the war and passed away on 27 July 1984.
Partisans: The Axis anti-partisan Operation Trio continues making progress in the Balkans. Today, a combined force of Germans, Italians, and Chetniks occupies Rogatica without any fighting on the way to the Drina River. The Chetniks increasingly are turning their backs on the main partisan force, which is heavily manned by communists. Many partisan units with large Chetnik components are "taken over" by the Chetniks, who execute the political commissars standard in such units. More and more, the fighting is becoming ideological as opposed to nationalistic, which is to the benefit of the Axis forces due to the communist/nationalist split in the partisan units.

US/Vichy France Relations: US Ambassador to France Admiral William Leahy meets with various highly placed individuals within the French government. Pre-war political leader Edouard Herriott tells Leahy that he believes that General de Gaulle is fighting for France's survival and ideals, which is a shocking statement in occupied Paris. Later, Pierre Laval has his one and only meeting with Leahy and tells him that France will enthusiastically collaborate with Germany and that he distrusts Great Britain. Admiral Darlan tells Leahy that he hoped that the two nations would remain friends and that Vichy forces would never fight Americans. Finally, Premier Pétain also promises to remain friendly to the United States. After these meetings, Leahy prepares to Washington.
Auschwitz victim photographed on 27 April 1942
Stanisława Drzewiecka, 23 or 24, arrives in Auschwitz on 27 April 1942 and has her picture taken, above. She is one of 127 women on the first transport of Polish women sent to Auschwitz. Previously, these women were held in prisons in Cracow and Tarnów. Stanislawa was convicted of smuggling weapons from the mountains to Cracow. She perishes in the camp on 25 October 1942.
Holocaust: All Jews in the Netherlands are required to wear a yellow star badge. This practice began in 1941 in the occupied territories of Poland and the Baltic States. It quickly has spread throughout the Reich and Occupied Europe, though the Vichy authorities have not implemented it.

About 1000 Jews in the Theresienstadt Ghetto are sent east to the death camps of Belzec and Sobibor. The German plan is to "cleanse" Czechoslovakia of Jews and eradicate the Czech culture in order to make its German inhabitants fit better into the Reich. Reinhard Heydrich, the chief architect of the "Final Solution" at the 20 January 1942 Wannsee Conference, has been made the Deputy Protector of Bohemia and Moravia (Czechoslovakia) in order to handle this matter expeditiously.

Canadian Homefront: Canadians vote 65.53% in favor of conscription. Quebec Province alone votes against it.
Pryor, OK, ravaged by tornado on 27 April 1942
The Main Street of Pryor, Oklahoma, after the tornado of 27 April 1942.
American Homefront: In San Francisco, residents of Japanese descent complete their registration for evacuation to Tanforan Assembly Center. They are to board trains for the move over the next few days. A total of 1923 people have registered in San Francisco, while an additional 1187 have registered in portions of Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. The total registered to date number 12,028 people, though that figure is incomplete.

Protestant and Jewish clergymen have pledged to aid the Japanese upon their return to the area after the war. They state:

We pledge ourselves to do all in our power to preserve the right which is yours, so that when a day of healing and peace returns you may exercise freely your full rights as American citizens. We also hope that you will not only keep your faith in American ideals but do what you can to influence your friends and relatives in that direction.

The Wartime Civil Control Administration reports that 4200 farms totaling 160,000 acres have been abandoned by the departing internees. They are now being worked by other farmers from nearby localities and states.

A tornado destroys Pryor, Oklahoma. There are 52 dead.
Gandhi and Chiang in Calcutta 27 April 1942
Chiang Kai-Shek (left) and Mahatma Gandhi meet in Calcutta, 27 April 1942. Madame Chiang Kai-shek (not shown) translates Gandhi's English to Chinese for her husband, who is there to see if the Indian nationalist movement will aid the fight against the Japanese (Life). 
Future History: James Lee Keltner is born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As Jim Keltner, he becomes renowned as a session drummer from the 1960s onward. In particular, Keltner is famous for having worked with George Harrison, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr during the 1970s. He also joins Harrison's supergroup "The Traveling Wilburys" in the 1980s. Jim Keltner remains quite active in the music scene as of this writing in 2021.

Ruth Burtnick is born in Lexington, Kentucky. As Ruth Glick, and sometimes using pen names, she becomes a writer of many novels and cookbooks. Ruth Glick remains active as of this writing in 2021.

One of the Halifax bombers (W1048 of No. 35 Squadron) on the Trondheim raid makes a forced landing on a frozen lake. When the ice melts, it sinks gently to the lake floor. The bomber is raised in 1973, restored, and put on display in the RAF Museum at Herndon.
Nelson Rockefeller on cover of Life 27 April 1942
Nelson Rockefeller, Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (CIAA) in the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA), on the cover of the 27 April 1942 Life magazine. Rockefeller focused successfully on "cultural diplomacy" in order to form a united front against the Axis.

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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