2nd-3rd January 1943
Japanese carrier operations continued off the Marshall Islands. American responses during these past two dyas have been somewhat disjointed and uncoordinated. The IJN has pushed its main body to the East of Tarawa seeking sighted USN capital ships loitering in the area. The RNZ ship Leander led its destroyer squadron in an attempt to intercept the carriers at night but was unsuccessful in locating any targets.
Heavier Japanese units vented their fury on both Tarawa and Mili. Battleships closed Tarawa’s airfiled on the 2nd and Mili was hit by heavy cruisers on the night on the 3rd. SUBCOM has ordered its boats to three possible return routes back to Truk. Long range search planes have located enemy ships on a westwards vector passing in the vicinty of Kusaie Island. Having expended a lot of ammo and operationg close to their bases, the enemy’s vessels must be ready to revictual. The proximity of Truk may have meant that no fleet train accompanies the Japanese ships, at least the 5 subs tasked with operating in the rear Japanese areas have not come across any Japanese oilers.
Casualties on the bombed islands have been moderate bu materially there has been little loss. 16 SBD’s were shot down on the 2nd after strikes on the many Japanese task forces could not all have an escort. On the ground aircraft casualties have also been lighter than expected. At sea the only ships lost have been two light RAN minesweepers off Ocean Island. On the 3rd however, elements of the KB’s strike force found the Washington but the only two bomb hits bounced harmlessly off her armoured carapace.
Japan’s main body has been at sea for at least a week and engaged on full operations for three days now. The time for an interception may be now…