Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 1093 August 28, 1942

Milne Bay, Papua. Overnight, as the position on the Gama River collapse, Australian 25th and 61st Infantry Battalions prepare defenses with clear fields of fire at the unfinished Turnbull airstrip. At dawn, Japanese troops attack across the airstrip, supported by field artillery and mortars but their tanks are abandoned in thick mud around the airstrip. The Japanese, exposed to fire from the Australians on the ground and strafing by RAAF P-40 Kittyhawks from the nearby Gili Gili airfield, are forced to fall back 2 miles to their starting point on the Gama River. Japanese reinforcements (769 SNLF troops) leave Rabaul, New Britain, for Milne Bay.

Kokoda Track, Papua. Australian 39th Battalion at Isurava fall victim to a Japanese flanking attack, as Japanese 3rd Battalion 144th Regiment suddenly appears having moved through the jungle undetected on the left flank. 39th Battalion falls back 1 mile to the Isurava Rest House. Meanwhile on the right flank, Australian 2/16th Battalion holds the Japanese advance on the side track.

At 8 AM 60 miles East of Savo Island, US destroyer-minelayer USS Gamble, heading to Guadalcanal, spots the conning tower of Japanese submarine I-123. From 8.44 to 11.47 AM, USS Gamble conducts several depth charge attacks, sinking I-123 (all hands lost).

Guadalcanal. Japanese decide to bring reinforcements down “the Slot” from Shortland Island at the Western end of Solomon Islands using fast destroyers, as a result of the attack by US land-based and carrier aircraft 4 days ago on the previous convoy of slow transport ships. 600 Japanese troops (35th Infantry Brigade under General Kiyotake Kawaguchi) board destroyers Asagiri, Amagiri, Yugiri, and Shirakumo for an overnight run but they are attacked at 6.05 PM 70 miles North of Guadalcanal by 11 US dive bombers Henderson Field. Asagiri is hit in the torpedo launchers which explode blowing the ship apart (62 crew and 60 troops killed, 135 crew and 135 troops rescued by Amagiri). Yugiri (32 killed) is heavily damaged and Shirakumo (2 wounded) is immobilised and towed back to Shortland Island by Amagiri. A second group of Japanese destroyers does reach Guadalcanal unmolested overnight and lands other elements of Kawaguchi’s 35th Infantry Brigade at Taivu Point, 20 miles East of Henderson Field.

Siege of Leningrad Day 355. Soviet 8th Army advances another 1 mile into the Sinyavino gap against German 223rd Infantry Division. However, they cannot widen the flanks of the salient, as German 18th Army moves troops up from the staging areas in response to the attack.

At 2.32 PM in the Belle Isle Strait, Newfoundland, U-165 and U-517 attack convoy SG-6 taking fuel, supplies and men to Iceland. American SS Arlyn is damaged by U-165 and later sunk by U-517 (12 dead, 37 survivors picked up by Panamanian SS Harjurand and 5 survivors row ashore). A torpedo from U-165 rips a 40 foot hole in US fleet oiler USS Laramie which does not explode (despite leaks in the cargo of 361,000 gallons of aviation fuel and 55,000 barrels of oil) and returns to Boston under her own steam for repairs (4 killed, 103 survivors).

At 7.08 PM 390 miles West of Porto, Portugal, U-566 fires 3 torpedoes at convoy SL-119 damaging Dutch SS Zuiderkerk which is scuttled by depth charges from British sloop HMS Erne (all 56 crew and 12 passengers picked up by British sloop HMS Leith) and British SS City of Cardiff which sinks 2 days later (21 killed, 63 survivors picked up by British sloop HMS Rochester).

After dark under moonlight, U-94 approaches a convoy 20 miles off the Eastern tip of Haiti but is depth charged by a US Catalina flying boat (squadron VP-92), blowing off the bow hydroplanes and forcing U-94 to the surface. U-94 is rammed twice, depth charged, shelled and machinegunned by Canadian corvette HMCS Oakville (19 killed, 26 survivor picked up by HMCS Oakville and US destroyer USS Lea). 11 Canadian sailors board to capture confidential papers and the enigma machine, but U-94 sinks rapidly and they escape with only 4 pairs of binoculars.
Overnight, RAF attacks Nuremberg, Germany, with 159 bombers including Pathfinders and Saarbr├╝cken, Germany, with 113 bombers (no Pathfinders). Neither raid is very accurate or successful (126 civilians and 11 foreigners killed in Nuremberg; 15 houses destroyed and one woman killed in Saarbr├╝cken).

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