22nd January 1943
It was the happy time as the submarines were want to call it. For the first time in the war the tonnage sunk by subamarines had risen above 100,000 tons in one month, well in the first three weeks of one month. It seemed that someone in the War Department had heeded all those reports of misfiring torpedes and had instructed the Munitions Department to do something about it. So far, roughly a 20% drop in dud hits had been reported and in excess of 30 ships hit or sunk. A remarkable success rate.
Two packs hunted off the Home Islands and the routes in and out of Tokyo. At first, confident of the faulty torpedoes, convoys were either lightly escorted or not escorte at all! Our boats wrecked havoc. But a change in enemy strategy has been identified. More and more aircraft were spotted flying low and actively looking for submarines. As of the 21st more and more fleet destroyers were seen prowling the seas in what seemed to be dedicated hunter-killer task forces. Already the SS Wahoo had failed to meet its last two report times and its feared she has been lost. SUBCOMPAC will need to reassess its options if the enemy strategy has changed.
21st January 1943
Units of the Americal Division had started to mop up around Merauke securing the base enough for support units to start disembarking. BY early afternoon USAAF fighters were already being based at Merauke supplementing efforts from bases further afield. An enemy unit, identified as the 47th Naval Guards, was completely wiped out after its HQ detachment charged, with bayonets drawn, American lines. Upon inspection of the dead it was found that the chambers of their rifles were empty. What folly, but what bravery!
Japanese raiders have been spotted in the Indian Ocean. Mayday from a transport being attacked by float planes near Diego Garcia were received by the RN station there. Upto 12 short ranged float planes were reported as diving on the sinking vessel dropping small calibre bombs. Clearly such a large number means something large than a submarine is loose in our shipping lanes and intelligence believes it is the Chitose. Eastern Fleet at Colombo have taken up the gauntlet and the chase is on!
The frontlines as of 21-1-1943
Official Press Release 20-1-143
‘The War Department can officially confirm that American and Australian troops worked in conjunction to recapture Merauke on the Papuan coast yesterday afternoon. Operations were brought to a successful conclusion when assault units destroyed the Japanese command post and routed the remaining Japanese soldiers into the jungle. Over 2,000 enemy soldiers have been killed or wounded and our own casualties are light, one transport has been moderately damaged by a plane launched torpedo. Further news will be given by the President himself in a Press Conference at 19;25 tonight.’
Match corresponding to the Premier League. Match played at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney was back from injury aster missing the mid week game and Ryan Giggs partnered Carrick in midfield. A very controversial match in which United played much better than usual with a quicker tempo. The man of the match was undoubtedly the Newcastle keeper that made a series of outstanding saves, two in particular stand out from Giggs at close range and from a Vidic header cannoned towards goal with aplomb. United had the better of the possession but a rather inaccurate Hernandez missed several opportunities. Giggs was also rather wasteful in possession and Young, deployed on the wing, also had an anonymous game. Chicharito scored United’s goal from a lucky ricochet after Krul had saved a powerful Wayne Rooney shot that fell at the Mexican’s feet. He was also later disallowed a very, very late goal that would have meant victory due to a hint of offside. Newcastle’s goal was an act of pure shite from one of the linesmen. Ferdinand executed a perfect tackle on Ben Arfa, so perfect that the ball changed direction completely. The ref points to a corner but the twat of the linesman waves his flag for some inexplicable reason, class the ref over and gives a penalty!!!! An incredible decision to say the least as not even the Newcastle players were claiming one. The ball could only change direction if Rio had touched it, and it was clear much to the chagrin of the commentators and the 80,000 at Old Trafford. Demba Ba slotted a very well taken penalty past De Gea. A late United surge resulted in some heroic last ditch defending by Newcastle, a goal line clearance and the post being hit. United deserved the three points but thanks to yet another cock up by the officials we have to settle for one and hope that the Scouse Bastards do us a favour tomorrow.
Manchester United Team
1 David De Gea
3 Patrice Evra
5 Rio Ferdinand
15 Nemanja Vidic
20 Fabio Da Silva
11 Ryan Giggs
16 Micheal Carrick
18 Ashley Young
10 Wayne Rooney
14 Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez (Goal)
Federico Macheda for Patrice Evra
Chris Smalling for Patrice Evra
Submarine warfare has taken a turn for the up. The game factors in the problems that early war US torpedoes had and the many dud hits (80% in the first year) reflects this very accurately. One does feel for those real life Captains already under great pressure in having responsibility for the lives of their crews and the welfare of their boats,compounded by the fact they went to war with a very faulty main weapon. Yet 1-1-43 saw a drop in the dud rate and this has seen an immediate dividend. I am posting a screenie from the excellent AE Sub Reporter Tool showing the tonnage sunk for the month of December and the same figure for 18 days in January. Not only are more boats scoring but a full 20% more torpedoes are exploding on impact!
As the 18th January dawned the guns of HMS Royal Sovereign led the newly named Pacific Squadron in bombarding the Japanese positions on Merauke. An excellent recon mission programme had ensured that planners had upto date aerial photo data to transmit to the gunnery officers on the Royal Navy ships. After a three hour shelling which resulted in many fires onshore, the British ships steered away from the main invasion areas to seek refuge from enemy bombers under the fighter umbrella projecting from Australia.
As the RN capital ships withdrew, smaller escort vessels were shepherding their charges into the beaches. The destroyer escorts came right up to the shore line and engaged all visible targets with all armaments at almost point blank range. Behind them smaller landing craft circled their transports as line after line of GI’s from the Americal Division climbed over the side and down the rope ladders into the craft that would deliver them ashore.
B-17s, having closed down Wewak, were now tasked to directly support the landings themselves. Flying in one massive wave at 7,000 feet they plastered the beach landing areas and the jungle immediately behind the beaches just before the first troops waded ashore amid mortar, machine gun and small arms fire. Casualties were relatively light, it seemed that the prelanding naval bombardment and the bomber raid had sufficiently suppressed the Japanese forces defending the landing sites.
Japanese response on the first day was muted but Japan’s pilots were in the air over Merauke on the D-Day +1. A small raid of 9 Ki-48’s, escorted by a swarm of A6M2s, were detected by the radar station on Horn Island and the squadrons detailed with setting a LRCAP over the beaches were up early and waiting for the enemy planes. USAAF Warhawks and RAAF Kittyhawks patrolled at around 13,000 feet. The discipline of the Zero pilots failed them and as they swopped down on the easy prey they in turn were swooped upon by the P-38s of the ‘Celebrity Squadron’. 8 enemy planes were seen to be shot down and the surviving bombers were seen to set a new course to the North East.
The day’s last action came in the form of the appearance of the large Japanese flying boats, codenamed Emily and Mavis. They were once again spotted on radar just as night was falling. Fighters were scrambled and several of the large flying boats were intercepted. It appears that the Japanese are using these planes and their large range to either evacuate troops from Merauke or attempt some sort of resupply.
16th-18th January 1942
As the bulk of the IJN was cruising around the Southern Marshalls, a plan that had been long in the making was unwrapping itself in the Bay of Carpentaria. Australia Command had long wanted to regain a toehold on Papua. Port Moresby had been effectively denied as a viable base to the enemy thanks to the heavy squadrons of V Bomber Command however the ring of bases around it made it a very difficult target to attack without carrier support. Merauke was the second option and a well developed base at Horn Island could support an amphibious landing there. Though the US would provide most of the lifting capacity the Royal Navy was asked to provide surface assests from its Eastern Fleet to support the landings. Two Royal Soverign Class battleships and their escorts along with a couple of heacy cruisers were dispatched from the Indian Ocean and arrived at Sydney around New Years. The Americal Division would sperhead the assault supported by three regimetns of artillery and two regiments of Australian armour. D-Day was tentatively penciled on 18th January 1943.
24 hours earlier however Japanese planes sunk a two transport convoy that was unloading supplies in support of the Merauke landings at Horn Island. A number of torpedo bombers, escorted by a large number of A6M3s, were able to bypass a CAP of RAAF Spitfires and sink the medium sized ships. High command immediately recognised the danger to Operation Hop and ordered V Bomber Command to move all its B-17s to Coen with orders to bomb and close down Wewak, the base from which the raid proceeded from. Three waves comprising a total of 48 B-17 bombers were successful in their mission getting at least 10 enemy bombers on the ground. With this large threat removed from Merauke’s flank Hop was giving the go ahead.
Position of Invasion Force predawn 18-1-1943