Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day 874 January 21, 1942

Battle of Bataan. With the East side of the Abucay-Mauban line crumbing, Japanese get behind the West side of the line by crossing the undefended slopes of Mount Natib. They establish a roadblock on the Mauban ridge, cutting off the Philippine Army 1st Regular Division and preventing resupply of US and Filipino troops at the front.

Malaya. At 9.30 AM, Indian/Australian troops (under Australian Colonel Anderson) withdrawing South from Bakri finds the Parit Sulong bridge blocked by the Japanese, while their rear is still under Japanese attack. Anderson’s column is compressed into 400 yards of road and attacked all day. At 5 PM (with heavy casualties and almost out of food, water and some ammunition), Anderson sends 2 ambulances of wounded forward to the Japanese but instead of receiving care, the ambulances are held hostage.

Singapore. RAF Hurricane fighters again attack Japanese bombers over Singapore but Zero fighters escorting the bombers shoot down 5 Hurricanes.

25 miles off the coast of Burma, 125 miles Southwest of Rangoon, Japanese submarine I.66 sinks British SS Chak Sang (5 killed, 61 survivors) and Panamanian SS Nord.

Dutch Borneo. Japanese Sakaguchi Detachment (under General Shizuo Sakaguchi) departs the island of Tarakan for the oil town of Balikpapan, on the mainland 265 miles further South. US cruisers USS Boise and USS Marblehead plus 4 destroyers sail from Koepang, Timor, to intercept. USS Boise hits a rock and USS Marblehead suffers engine trouble, so the destroyers proceed alone.

Operation Drumbeat. At 10.21 PM 200 miles East of Rhodes Island, USA, U-130 sinks Norwegian tanker MV Alexandra H√łegh (all 28 hands picked up in 2 lifeboats 38 hours later by Boston fishing trawler Grand Marshall). At 7.22 PM off Newfoundland, U-754 sinks Norwegian SS Belize (all 24 hands lost).

Rommel launches a "reconnaissance in force" from El Agheila, Libya, sending his new tanks forward to find and engage the British tanks. The inexperienced British 1st Armored Brigade arrived recently to replace the battle-hardened 7th Armored Brigade (sent to protect British interests in Malaya and Burma). This counterattack from the “beaten” Afrika Korps surprises the thin defensive line of 1st Armored Division.

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