19th February 1943
The main theatres of action can be summarised as follows:
IJN surface forces, mainly comprised of a cruiser squadron, destroyer divisions and several older type light cruisers, have tried ineffectually to close down Merauke. Several nocturnal bombardment runs have hit the base causing little to no damage to the installations or the forces stationed there. Meruake itself is supported by the heavies of the 5th USAAF based in inland bases in mainland Australia. Having neutralised and forced the Jap to give up on Port Moresby, they have concentrated their bombing runs on the three main Japanese airfields within range of Merauke. Lae, Wewak and Hollandia. The first two have already been closed down while Hollandia is the next on the target list. Nadzab has been reconed and it has been recongised as fighter base, basing A6M3’s carrying out sweep raids over Merauke. Air raids over Merauke have been limited to small night time incursions by G4M2’s and Ki-48 II’s, P-40’s on night fighter duty have done a sterling job shooting several bombers down. Pressure is to be kept up in order to maintain some semblance of aerial superiority over New Guinea.
Night time raids carried out by the RAF and the Tenth USAAF have inflicted a steady loss rate on the IJAAF stationed on the India Burma border. Ki-43 II’s have replaced the older version of the Oscar at the front and at least one squadron of Ki-45’s is providing a night CAP over his main airfields in the region (RAF Blenheims have been very susceptible to the cannons mounted on the Ki-45s). Our own fighter strength is very healthy and one squadron of P-38s decimated a unit of Sonias over Kaleymo yesterday. Of more worrying concern are the photographs brought back by recon flights over the main front lines. Several division sized units have been spotted in the jungle and radio traffic has identified the Imperial Guards Division and the 8th Infantry Division in the immediate area of the India-Burma border. A strong line of Japanese defences can also be appreciated in the aerial recon gathered so far. SEAC has put moves into place to similarly reinforce our own positions by releasing several Indian Divisions from training in the rear.
Another four Japanese vessels were sunk yesterday (three transports and a small escort vessel). The monthly tonnage of damaged/sunk ships now stands at over 113,000 tons while in the past two months over 100 enemy ships have likewise been damaged or sunk by Allied submarines. Radio intelligence is playing a vital role in ascertaining where the main Japanese shipping lanes lie but the ultimate success lies with the aggressive patrolling by the boats, their captains and their crews.