Tuesday, April 6, 2021

April 29, 1942: Japanese Preparing Operation Mo

Wednesday 29 April 1942

Hitler and Mussolini in Salzburg 29 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Hitler and Mussolini at Schloss Klessheim, 29 April 1942 (National Digital Archives, Poland).
Battle of the Pacific: The Japanese are preparing Operation Mo, an invasion of Port Moresby, New Guinea, on 29 April 1942. With a large invasion force at their forward base at Truk, they also intend to occupy and install a seaplane base at Tulagi in the Solomons north of Guadalcanal (the Australians currently operate a seaplane base at nearby Gavutu-Tanambogo). Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto places Vice Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue, a strong proponent of these aggressive moves, in charge of the naval portion of Operation Mo. General Douglas MacArthur, Allied area commander, is kept abreast of all these developments as the intelligence flows into his headquarters in Melbourne, Australia.

Japanese forces occupy Parang and Cotabato, Mindanao.
RAF Short Stirling bomber, 29 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Groundcrew refuelling a Short Stirling Mk I of No. 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit at Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire, 29 April 1942." the truck is an AEC 6x6 petrol tanker known as a "Matador." © IWM COL 201.
Battle of the Indian Ocean: After fierce fighting by Chinese rearguard units, the Japanese 22nd Infantry Division, Thirteenth Army, takes the key position of Lashio. The Chinese commander there, General Chang, orders all stores blown up before ordering a retreat to Hsenwi. There are quite a lot of them, as Lashio is a key stop on the Allied supply route to China.

Chang also blocks the road to Kutkai, though the Japanese seem more interested in heading west toward India than northeast to invade China. The Chinese 200th Division, which has had some success to the south at Loilem, loses its escape route by the Japanese occupation of Lashio and is forced to turn southwest before taking a roundabout route around Lashio to reach China. The entire Chinese position in Burma, which recently looked quite promising, is now completely adrift.

This Japanese success cuts communications between China and Mandalay, virtually ensuring its loss to the Allies. The British already assume that Mandalay will fall and have pulled their units north of the city. General Chang has little hope of holding out for long and is preparing to withdraw his entire force into China through Kutkai and Wanting. All Allied supplies to China, particularly US lend-lease shipments, now must be made by air. These flights must be made over the "Hump," or Himalayas, by the USAAF 10th Air Force.

The 10th Air Force also has some offensive capability. Today, it sends its B-17s to bomb Rangoon. The planes cause major damage to the dock area.
Portland, Oregon, 29 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Portland, Oregon, officials posting evacuation orders from the United States War Relocation Authority. Printed in The Oregonian of 29 April 1942.
Eastern Front: The Germans have solidified their contact with the isolated Demyansk garrison sufficiently for engineers to string a telephone line across the Lovat River. The two overall commanders, Generals Georg von Kuechler, Oberbefehlshaber der Heeresgruppe Nord ("commander-in-chief of Army Group North"), and Walter von Brockdorff, commander of II. Armeekorps (2 Corps) in the former pocket, finally can discuss the situation without fear of being overheard. The pocket at Kholm remains in peril, but a relief force under Generalmajor Werner Huehner is approaching. Hitler is following events there closely and is prepared to send more forces to help relieve the pocket if necessary.

The Soviets are preparing an attack to sever this tenuous German connection through Ramushevo to Demyansk. However, in part due to the spring thaw ("Rasputitsa"), they are having difficulty getting troops in place to mount this operation and it will not be ready until May.
York after a Luftwaffe attack, 29 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Damage in York after a Luftwaffe attack, 29 April 1942. Shown is a steam locomotive in the York North locomotive depot (National Railway Museum).
European Air Operations: On 29 April 1942, York recovers from an overnight Baedeker Blitz raid by the Luftwaffe. As with many other such raids, it causes only moderate damage but an inordinate number of casualties. Buildings destroyed or damaged include the Guildhall and minster. There are 79 deaths and many injured.

Tonight, 29/30 April, the  Luftwaffe attacks Norwich again. This raid destroys many buildings in the center of the city. The planes drop more than 110 high-explosive bombs despite encountering heavier anti-aircraft fire than previously. The attack is 45 minutes shorter than the previous attack on the night of 27 April but still claims an additional 69 lives.

During the day, a Luftwaffe Bf-109F-3 of 3(F)/123 succeeds in getting aerial reconnaissance of Bath, Avonmouth, and the Nailsea munitions dump. 

RAF Bomber Command, however, is not taking a break. The RAF sends half a dozen Bostons against the Dunkirk docks during the day without loss.

The RAF hits Paris/Ennevilliers in the evening, sending 88 aircraft (73 Wellington bombers, 6 Stirlings, and 9 Hampdens) against the city in bright moonlight. They run into heavy flak and fighter defenses, however. The bombing results are mediocre, with no hits made on the main target, the Gnome & Rhone aero-engine factory. There are 15 deaths and 74 injured. The RAF loses three Wellingtons.

Subsidiary raids are made to Ostend (20 bombers), minelaying (5 Manchesters off the Danish coast), and six independent intruder missions. The raid on Ostend is the first of the war, and two bombers are lost there and one on the minelaying mission.

Hauptman Joachim Muncheberg, Stab II./JG 26, shoots down a Spitfire near Le Tourquet. It is his 74th victory. The victim is likely Polish ace Major Marian Pisarek, commander of I Polish Fighter Wing.
Michigan state troopers in action, 29 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Michigan State Troopers guarding the Sojourner Truth housing project as African-Americans move into them, 29 April 1942. Many local residents objected to the location of the projects and violent clashes led to arrests (The Faces of Detroit).
Battle of the Atlantic: Both sides have sent heavy forces to the Arctic as the Allies struggle to keep the Soviet Union supplied via the Arctic convoy route around northern Norway. The Allies have two convoys converging in the area, PQ-15 from Iceland heading east and QP-11 from Murmansk heading west. Today, a German Ju 88 reconnaissance bomber and U-boats spot QP-11 a day after it left port. The U-boats prepare to attack on the 30th. The British, meanwhile, dispatch light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (CS 18) from Murmansk to beef up QP-11's escort force.

The Soviets, however, get in the first blow. Submarine M-171 (Lt. Cdr Stanikov) torpedoes and sinks 4969-ton German freighter Curityba off Vardø, Varangerfjord, Norway. The Curityba is carrying a Norwegian fishing trawler, F-14-V, and two auxiliary minesweepers, M-5403 and M-5407 (it is unclear if the trawler is one of these), which go down with the ship. There are 34 survivors and 22 deaths.

U-66 (KrvKpt. Richard Zapp), on its fifth patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 10,354-ton Panamanian tanker Harry G. Seidel west of Trinidad. There are 48 survivors and two deaths.

U-108 (KrvKpt. Klaus Scholtz), on its seventh patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 9925-ton US tanker Mobiloil about 350 miles northeast of Turks Island in the Caribbean. This happens after an excruciating 13-hour chase which includes one torpedo miss. The U-boat finally gets into position and hits the tanker at 08:57, then surfaces and begins shelling the ship. The tanker crew, meanwhile, returns fire with their own 4-inch stern gun. A long battle ensues into the late afternoon. Finally, Scholtz fires more torpedoes (for a total of six, a large number for a commercial shipping target) that break the tanker in half. All 52 men on board survive, picked up by USS PC-490 on 2 May 1942. The tanker's master, Ernest V. Farrow, is later convicted for failing to follow orders to wait for a convoy off Norfolk.

The US is finally organizing coastal convoys on the East Coast. Today, the first coastal convoy departs from New York to the Delaware River, and other convoys also begin.

The surviving 27-man crew of US freighter Steel Maker, sunk by U-136 on 19 April, is rescued today by British freighter Pacific Exporter near Frying Pan Shoals.
Construction of Allis Chalmers plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 29 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Construction of the Allis Chalmers Supercharger Plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 29 April 1942 (Milwaukee Public Library).
Battle of the Mediterranean: Royal Navy submarine HMS Urge sinks on 29 April 1942 while en route from Malta to Alexandria after hitting a mine while sailing on the surface. The incident happens not long after Urge leaves Grand Harbour, Malta. The submarine is torn in two by the violent explosion and sinks rapidly with no survivors There are 39 deaths, including war correspondent Bernard Gray. The wreck is discovered in October 2019 lying in 130 meters (430 feet) of water two miles (3.2 km) off the Malta coast.

Royal Navy 81-ton tug Alliance hits a mine and sinks off Famagusta, Cyprus. There are three deaths and seven survivors. British 157-ton schooner Terpsithea also hits a mine and sinks at the same location. Everyone on the schooner survives.

Malta's military governor, Lt. General Sir W. Dobbie, reports that 333 people have been killed there over the previous month. This includes 139 men, 117 women, and 77 children). Property damage "has been exceedingly heavy." He concludes, though, that "the bearing and morale of the public has remained admirable."  

Battle of the Black Sea: German 155-ton naval ferry barge (Marinefährprahm) F 130 hits a mine and is beached. Later, it is refloated, repaired, and put back in service.

Luftwaffe aircraft sink 950-ton Soviet auxiliary minesweeper T-494. There are nineteen survivors and twenty dead.
Hitler and Mussolini in Salzburg 29 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Hermann Goering, Karl Doenitz, Kurt Zeitzler, and other officials at the map table in Schloss Klessheim, 29 April 1942 (ONB).
Axis Relations: Following his successful (final) speech to the Reichstag on the 26th, Adolf Hitler takes his personal train down to Salzburg, near his home at Berchtesgaden, to meet Mussolini. The two dictators meet at Schloss Klessheim for a two-day meeting to review the war situation in front of Hitler's customary 1:1000 maps. Hermann Goering, Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, Field Marshal Keitel, General Jodl, and other top Axis officials are there as well, signifying the importance of the meeting.

As usual, Hitler does most of the talking. These sessions invariably default to Hitler engaging in extended monologues as Mussolini listens in silence. Hitler tells Mussolini that his sole foreign policy dream was "annulling Bolshevism as a military power." The summer's offensive in the USSR would accomplish this. After that, Hitler says he would be able to shift his main forces west for a showdown with the western Allies. He hints that Stalin might be ready to negotiate terms due to supposed frustration with the failure of the British and Americans to open up a second front in France. 

The two men agree that, now that the Wehrmacht had survived the winter intact, nothing could save the Red Army. Privately, however, Mussolini is not so sure. To his son-in-law and Foreign Minister, Count Galeazzo Ciano, he reveals resentment over his utter reliance on Hitler and the Wehrmacht. Mussolini, now privy to Hitler's plans for another grand offensive in the East ("Case Blue"), notes that the war's outcome would be decided by the end of the summer in the steppes of Russia.

Nothing is really decided today. The dictators will meet again on the morning of the 30th to discuss military plans.
The crater at Tessenderlo, Belgium, 29 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The massive crater at Tessenderlo, Belgium, resulting from the explosion of 29 April 1942 (Tessenderlo Group).
US Military: General Harold Huston George, 49, is mortally wounded in a ground accident at Batchelor Field near Darwin, Australia. A Curtiss P-40 loses control while taking off and slams into George's Lockheed C-40. Victorville Air Force Base in California is renamed George Air Force Base in his honor in June 1950.

Holocaust: A date is set for all Dutch Jews to wear a Yellow Star of David badge: 3 May 1942.

Belgian Homefront: An explosion caused by ammonium nitrate rocks a chemical factory (Produits Chimiques de Tessenderloo (PCT)) in Tessenderlo, Belgium. Ammonium nitrate is often used as fertilizer but also as an ingredient in explosives. The shockwaves are felt in Antwerp and Brussels and the explosion creates a crate 70 meters wide and 23 meters deep. Accidental explosions during its manufacture and transport cause many tragedies over the years, such are in Beirut in 2020, so the incident is not necessarily military sabotage. There are 189 deaths.
Tanforan Assembly Center, 29 April 1942 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Internees on the mess line at the Tanforan Assembly Center in California, 29 April 1942 (Dorothy Lange, National Archives 537677).
American Homefront: Top Hollywood entertainers visit the White House to kick off a 30-city tour promoting the sale of war bonds. Among the celebrities in attendance are Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Desi Arnaz, Groucho Marx, Laurel and Hardy, Charles Boyer, Charlotte Greenwood, Claudette Colbert, Olivia de Havilland, Spencer Tracy. and Betty Grable. Actress Carole Lombard, of course, perished during a tour selling war bonds on 16 January 1942.

In a sign of the times, just as the top Hollywood stars are in Washington dining with the President, civil defense authorities order all theater marquees in Times Square to be blacked out.

The San Francisco News reports that the local FBI office has made searches and raids in 24 cities and towns of Northern California for aliens and contraband articles. The Wartime Civil Control Administration, meanwhile, reports that it is having difficulty finding farmers to work all the fields being abandoned (unwillingly, of course) by the evacuating Japanese-Americans. A columnist in the same newspaper, Arthur Caylor, meanwhile, reports that many of the areas in San Francisco being vacated by the Japanese-American residents are being condemned. There is a "sub-surface meeting-of-minds," he says, that "the Japanese shall never come back."

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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