8th March 1943
Back online after upgrading my PC to an i7 processor and upgrading my RAM up to 8 gigs worth! Skyrim is beautiful in this setup!!!
The Australia Squadron of the Royal Navy was called into action today as it intercepted a Japanese destroyer operating in the Milne Bay-Port Moresby area. Aerial search yesterday had spotted the Japanese vessel, though yesterday’s report indicated to a larger number of ships, and its course had been plotted throughout the day. The AUSQDN was ordered to leave its patrol around Horn Island and to steam SE towards Milne Bay. The inherent risk was judged acceptable as the Royal Soverign and her two accompanying cruisers were deemed strong enough to deal with the two cruisers spotted by the RAAF Catalinas. Disappointment then turned to egg on face when they stumbled upon a single Fubuki Class destroyer they were not able to dispatch.
Much more effective was a sweep carried out of Darwin harbour by several Japanese cruisers. They stole in from the NW and were quick to engage and sink two destroyers that had been guarding a couple of 4,000 ton transports unloading material. A quick and savaged gunfight lasted just shy of a quarter of an hour ended when both the Sterett and the Woodworth were both sunk. The Japanese vessels then, unexplicably, steamed NE and were spotted at sunrise by Catalinas of VP-101 near Ambon.
Luckily Allied airmen seemed to be possessed of a better fighting spirit. Air battles over Merauke had been a regular thing since the Allied recapture of the base. Two P-40 squadrons had already been broken there and the standing CAP patrol was taken over by Spitfire V’s of the RAAF. For the second day in a row they tussled with A6M3a’s and shot them down in their droves. The speed and height the Spitfire could attain allowed it to gain and then maintain a great advantage over the Zero. Morale surged and the omens for future deployments of the Spitfire looked outstanding.
Meanwhile developments continued to unfold in the Burma-India border. The IJA seemed hell bent on launching some sort of offensive into India. Moves had already been spotted heading towards Imphal and now it also seemed that Cox’s Bazzar was also a target. The 77th Chindit Brigade, deployed on the road by the border leading to Chittagong had reported several attacks by dive bombers over the past few days. Today several large fighter sweeps were observed over the 77th’s positions and Blenheims scouting the Japanese side of the border also reported seeing enemy columns heading into the jungle and moving northwards. Was the IJA carrying out a twin pronged offensive or was one of these moves a feint to distract attention from the other? Time will tell. 4 divisions stood ready.