18th February 1942
The Northern Australian Squadron intercepted an attempt by the Japanese to land troops on a small island to the North of Darwin called Saumlaki. Acting on intelligence passed on by the American cryptic analysts that had detected the movement of an engineer unit to this location three destroyers (2 RAN and 1 USN) were able to engage a large force of fast enemy transports led by a plethora of minesweepers and an old cruiser. The Japanese ships were surprised as they were not expecting any interception during this operation. The initial torpedo strike achieved no hits and most of the initial salvo of shells did not land any hits. The Japanese ships, mainly comprised of APD’s, began to scatter while the CM and DMS escorts advanced on the Allied DDs. The larger CM received several telling hits setting it on fire, while the vanguard DMS was also set afire as it skewered out of course gushing oily smoke. The RAN Voyager was hit by two shells, its flimsy carapace not enough withstand the impact and it too sprouted several fires along its length. Shortly after the order to disengage was given and the three destroyers sailed southwards away from any potential air attack.
Elsewhere Japanese destroyers bombarded Merauke, a third night of bombardments following on from a visit by cruisers the previous two nights, a mirror to the real life Tokyo Express at Guadalcanal. One Dutch medium bomber was written off but as usual damage was negligible. Merauke has also been sieged by submarines, 6 of them have been spotted during the last 72 hours. These have left several presents behind as enemy minefields have been detected off Merauke. Our submarines seem to have rediscovered their aim after a slow start to February. In the last 3 days 10 enemy ships have been hit including the heavy cruiser Haguro returning to base after hitting Merauke. The following shows the current scorecard for February.