17th April 1943
Following the conclusion of the operations at Lunga and Port Morseby Allied forces are looking to consolidate their gains. Port Moresby now supports fighter and fighter bombers and has been able to deal a defeat to the IJAAF over Buna. An intial defence line has also been dug and the 1st Australian Division had moved to secure the immediate hinterland as support units begin to setup the administrative and supply support systems at Port Moresby itself.
The Americans on the other hand are not having such an easy time of it on Guadalcanal. Though a foothold has been secured Lunga is currently facing the bared teeth of enemy air power. 75 G4M1s plastered the air facilities there despite the efforts of P-38’s flying at extreme range. Though most ships have now left the area, several units are still disembarking. These were caught by a flight of D3A2 dive bombers that had the luxury of a fighter escort that kept the 5 P-38s on LRCAP at bay, though 3 A6M3’s were shot down.
First to attract attention was the destroyer Dale that took two direct hits from the first two bombers to dive on her. Burning profusely she and her were testament to the bravery of the destroyer arm as her AA guns were still engaging the enemy bombers as they dived on the unloading transports. Their main target was the Poelau Telo that was straddled by three bombs that hit amidships. She was finishing unloading some supplies for the 1st Marine Regiment and the bombs exploded in the hold carrying some 75mm shell for the regiments howitzers. A massive explosion broke the ship’s back in half and she sunk, amazingly only one unfortunate sailor lost his life with most of the ships compliment joining the soldiers and marines ashore.
Match corresponding the Premier League and played at Carrow Road.
Its the nineties all over again. Scholes and Giggs scoring and grabbing the winner deep into Fergie Time! A lethargic United performance that started ever so well. Sharp, electric and fluid movement and passing which resulted in Paul Scholes scoring from a header from a few yards out. Norwich seemed dazed and ripe for the taking, but this team deserves a lot of respect and it has guts galore. A spirited fight back first wrested control of midfield and then the ball from United that had Nani and Carrick back to their worst! Enter the much maligned David De GEa. If he was Man of the Match on Thursday night he is also deserving of the accolade today. He pull off three magnificent saves and appears to have discovered the knack of clutching a ball from out of the air. His best save, a point balnk header that he grasped out of thin air and stuck to his gloves. Time and again Norwich slammed against this inspired Spaniard while worryingly United seemed to give the ball away far too easily and create little. Young replaced a jaded Hernandez but no change. 80 odd minutes into the game Grant Holt continued his knack of scoring against the big teams and buried a thunderbolt of a shot into the top left hand corner of the goal. Norwich had justifiably equalised and Manchester City were smiling. Enter Ryan Giggs, 900 appeareance for the club today and evergreen. Young floated in a cross with 91 minutes on the clock and up pops the perennial Welshman at the far post to knock in United’s winner. The scale of the celebrations is testament to how hard Norwich City fought United. With Spurs losing 5-2 at the Emirates and them coming to Old Trafford next weekend United certainly have assure second place and keep within 2 points of Manchester City. Fergie Time!!!
Manchester United Team
1 David De Gea
3 Patrice Evra
5 Rio Ferdinand
6 Johnny Evans
4 Phil Jones
16 Michael Carrick
22 Paul Scholes (Goal)
11 Ryan Giggs (Goal)
19 Danny Welbeck
14 Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez
Ashley Young on for Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez
Chris Smalling on for Ryan Giggs
14th April 1943
Lunga Point was securely in the hands of the USMC and US Army. Port Moresby was now capable of defending itself as its fighter strips had been repaired and 9 raiding enemy bombers had been shot down over the base by a USAAF fighter squadron transferred from Cairns. Two quick operations that had been concluded successfully. Casualties would have been light if had not been for the loss of the two escort carriers at Lunga and the Nashville to enemy submarines. Overall high command was pleased with the results as two difficult operations were carried out right in front of the teeth of the enemy. No one, however, failed to notice the absence of the Japanese main carrier fleet. Where were they?
Operation Wisp D-Day +1 12th April 1943
A chaotic and disjointed day in which lady luck favours and abandons both sides.
The action starts with a nocturnal sweep by 4 IJN destroyers of Suva Bay. Two battleships and two light cruisers stand guard and they have radar sets that gives them eyes at night. As such, despite a massive Long Lance attack, the USN is able to sink the destroyer Ushio and drive her three remaining sisters away with a whiff of danger to the transports that keep unloading their troops and cargo on Lunga Point. This is where the operation starts to get disjointed as for no apparent reason the Massachusetts turns away and starts to steam for the Santa Cruz Islands, an action that will cause her Captain to suffer a court martial, a dishonourable discharge and two years in the brig. He was given specific orders to remain in place at Lunga regardless of the risk as the transports were the valuable targets and their mission paramount.
The Massachusetts BG dishing it before its untimely withdrawal.
As such three transport groups decide to also follow their cover out of Lunga but lacking radar and in the ensuing confusion they steam North East instead of South. Later in the day both the AP Fuller and the xAK West Ivis will be sunk by Bettys near Tulagi. Further disaster was averted when D3A2s were off target while attacking LSTs that had also left. Further chaos and disaster followed, this being the action that caused the Massachusett’s Captian to be jailed, when the Covering Force stumbled upon a screen of Japanese submarines that were able to sink the Nashville and hit the Massachusetts itself with one torpedo. One wondered whether the Japanese custom of seppuku should have been employed by said Captain.
A second naval engagement was fought to the West of Guadalcanal when a light surface raiding group, the light cruiser Columbia and four destroyers, stumbled across the IJN Sazanami which had also attacked Suva Sound. The Columbia was returning from an unsuccessful sweep of Munda when he radar came alive with a contact. Short work was made of the Japanese destroyer as she was heavily out gunned and out numbered.
Lady luck then once again smiled on Japanese eyes as the second escort carrier ferrying in transports, the Chenango, was hit by a Val and Kate launched torpedo. Her Wildcats, along with Martlets from the Victorious, had earlier beaten off two attack waves. Though the Chenango was still afloat she was heavily damaged and her flight deck was closed. Her fighters found refuge on the Wasp while her Avengers made safe haven at Utupua. This news was further compounded by the reports coming from the Marshall Islands were the CVE Sangamon had been heavily damaged by a submarine off Kwajalein, her AVGAS store going up in a massive sheet of flame and noise. Yet the Allies could count themselves lucky that the strikes invloving more than 100 enemy fighters and 30 bombers failed to hit either of the fleet carriers off Kirakira. Bombs, torpedoes and even aircraft in their death throes all missed the Wasp and the Victorious as both their fighter screen and aggressive manoeuvring kept both ships intact and in the fight. Better news as well from Lunga where intial probing suggested a weak Japanese defence. Orders were to be given for an all out assault on the 13th as the situation was becoming dangerous. The Covering Force had retired and the CAP was down 50 Wildcats from the CVE’s. Submarines were also making the waters around the Southern Marshalls somewhat hazardous as well. Lady Luck needed to shine tomorrow on the USMC and US Army soldiers lumbering up for the fight in hills of Lunga.
The hectic action continues apace. A solid book that picks up where A Clash of Kings left off and true to Martin’s style it is strongly steeped in violent encounters, ravishing lust and twisting, snaking plot lines. Some major players come back on the scene, Tywin Lannister for example, and others have their storylines further developed and greatly enhanced, Daenerys Targaryen. Martin does have a penchant for compicating his plots however, yet he writes in such a style that the reader can follow the twists and turns quite easily. Arya’s storyline for example had me flicking through the chapters looking specifically for those dealing with her storyline in particular.
I feel that Jon Snow’s character also takes a massive step forward in Storm of Sword part one. I read in another blog that Jon is regarded as one character that can clearly be defined as ‘good’ and this made him a somewhat unpopular character. I on the other hand was drawn to his sense of duty and honour, further compounded by Book Three part two. We also get to see his more human side as he falls for the wildling girl. Truly his star is on the rise in this third book and I do hope his is not killed off as a large number of the main characters seem to be.
As somehwhat of a spoiler for part two, I was glad that Catelyn Stark was finlly got rid off as it was a character I hated. Impulsive and manipulative there is a scene in part two where her son Robb firmly puts her in her place. More about that in the review for book two, I have roughly about 120 pages of that one left. But once again it is Tyrion Lanniester that rises above all as a ginat, depsite his stature. I think Martin has certainly hit the bullseye by making this dwarf his fulcrum of so many story plots. Sometimes odious yet sometimes easy to sympathise with. He is well aware of his role in the Lannister family yet he clearly loves his House and would certainly enjoy some positive attention or notice from his Father. Surviving on his wit and guile we see flashes of a softer, dare I say nobler side to him. He is currently in a massive pickle in Part Two but I am sure that he will wriggle his way out of the dark hole he is in!
This brings me to the one character who is developed the most and I must admit, despite being the character I liked the least in the HBO series, one that I have enjoyed being developed: Jamie Lannister. For the first time his character becomes a POV character. Martin develops him as more that the lustful, ruthless individual we see in Books 1 and 2. His crippling by the Bloody Mummers humbles him somewhat and we begin to see some of the knightly honour he possesses in his thawing attitudes to Brienne of Tarth. Though he makes it to King’s Landing and reverts to his incestuous leanings, he does stand up quick strongly to his Father. I am hopeful Jaime Lannister’s development will continue.
The plot is gradually moved on but it is quite tiresome to have ‘yet another’ twist and turn every other chapter, when is Arya’s saga going to end for example. Martin’s writing is still top notch in Book three and I am quickly coming to the point in the series when one reviewer criticised Martin for elongating his tale. I understand the series was meant to be a trilogy, and certainly Book 2 reads as the middle of a trilogy, so I eager to find out how Book 3 finishes. There are several points in Book 3 where one gets the hint of the story coming to an end only for another twist to open. Book four and Book 5 (parts one and two) will be arriving at the end of March so I will wait patiently to see how the saga evolves. So far still a thumbs up but wishing for less twists and turns.
Match corresponding to the UEFA Europa League and played at Old Trafford.
Well, well well. It wasn’t meant to have been like this. After United’s showing at the Amsterdam Arena last week it was meant to be a cake walk. It had all the markings of one when after 5 minutes Chicharito Hernandez out United ahead with a typical finish for his 10th goal of the season. Ajax got a smashing equaliser via the boot of Ozbiliz, though there was a hint of handball in the build up. De Gea didn’t have a chance. United in honesty dominated the first half but came out of the blocks very slowly in the second. Ajax started to dominate midfield with a tiring Cleverly fading out of the game. They piled on the pressure and David De Gea pulled off an excellent reflex save. Nani rattled the Ajax crossbar at 1-1 but Old Trafford, totally out sung by the fantastic Ajax away support, was left stunned after Ajax scored a second on 85 minutes via the head of Alderweireld. Things were not looking so rosy now and if Ajax got a third United would be out. Thankfully United did manage to wrest some control of the ball in the last 5 mintues of the game and saw the game out. Home defeat but 3-2 winners in aggregate. The Lions of Bilbao at San Mames next.
Manchester United Team
1 David De Gea
20 Fabio Da Silva
4 Phil Jones
12 Chris Smalling
21 Rafael Da Silva
13 Ji Sung Park
23 Tom Cleverly
18 Ashley Young
9 Dimitar Berbatov
14 Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez (Goal)
Paul Scholes on for Tom Cleverly
Johnny Evans on for Ashley Young
Danny Welbeck on for Dimitar Berbatov
Operation Wisp contd
Those Japanese fighters had instead been tasked to escort their bombers against the invasion force. The approach of the invasion fleets had been spotted by the Japanese, initially that did not cause much concern as the ship movements were intended as a feint to take attention from Port Moresby. Yet once the decision to go into Lunga was made the fact the ships had been detected was made moot. The first Japanese air raid came in over the main carrier task force off Guadalcanal. Some 50 enemy fighters approached from the North West, A6M models. They ran into a CAP of F4F-4s and Martlets. A crazy melee ensued that saw planes lost on both sides. As the fighters jousted however Betty bombers carrying sleek torpedoes arrowed in at wave height.
The sky around them was turned black as hundreds of AA guns poured their fire into them. Several bombers broke up as they were torn to shreds by the shells fired at them. Two vic however homed in on the battleship Royal Soverign, whose guns were protecting the circling Victorious. Seaman and pilot alike held their breath as four bombers dropped their fish, they hit the water with a splash and arrowed towards their target. One of the Bettys disintegrated a mere second after releasing taking a 20mm hit full on the nose, the torpedoes however all missed as the helmsman had the Royal Sovereign at full to starboard and the torpedo wakes streaked away from her.
Simultaneously over Lunga a second fighter sweep came in. Both VF-60 and VF-35 from the escort carriers Suwanee and Chenango were up early and were able to shoot down 10 enemy fighters for little loss.
Yet the real danger were the D3A2 dive bombers the Zeroes were escorting into Lunga. Despite harrasment by Wildcats a reasonably large number of these second generation Vals began their rolls, turns and dives from about 12,000 feet on the CVE Suwanne. She was a Sangamon Class Escort Carrier and a veteran of Operation Torch in the European Theatre of Operations but she was not facing Vichy French pilots but rather veteran pilots of the IJNAF, veterans of many a dive on an enemy vessel. The first two bombs missed but the third anf fourth hit her smack in the middle of her flight deck. The second bomb was the one that really did the damage as it blew a wide hole in the deck and ruptured two main fuel lines. These promptly erupted into flame when the fifth and sixth bombs struck her sealing her fate.
USS Suwannee burns after her fuel lines erupt into flame.
As their ship burned its way to the bottom of the sea her pilots, still aloft and soon to be bereft of a home, wrecked a terrible revenge on the retreating Vals. Chasing them almost back to Munda they claimed 9 enemy planes shot down. Though the Suwanee was to later sink her Avenger sqaudron was able to land in one of the bases in the Santa Cruz while VF-60 found refuge on the decks of the Chenango, later they would rejoin VT-60 on Vanua Lava.
VF-60 avenge their sinking ship.
The real life Suwannee was a real veteran and she even survived a Kamikaze hit in Ocotober 1944. She was later used as a helicopter carrier post war. Read more about her here.
11th April 1943
As the Battle of Port Moresby was being brought to a successful conclusion developments were afoot further to the East. Several units were in the process of being moved from recently finished operations in the Marshall Islands and had been earmarked for deployment in Port Moresby. The capture of this last base meant they were free for use elsewhere. Having had its eye on Lunga and Guadalcanal for while, South Pacific HQ now wanted these diverted units to land on Lunga and capture in a coup de main operation. The Japanese had withdrawn its 38 Infantry Division from there and intelligence suggested it was being moved to Babeldoab. Recon of Lunga and an extensive monitoring of enemy radio traffic suggested it was lightly held by two small units of marine infantry supported by two small air force base units. A USMC regiment and an Army regiment were readily available and aboard ships. Likewise two armoured battalions were also loaded and ready to go. The arrival of the carrier Wasp, the only surviving USN fleet carrier, and the Victorious, on loan from the Royal Navy, meant an small, blitz operation could be carried out. Two maxims however. Firstly, speed as Japan could reinforce quicker. Secondly, decisiveness in the assault as this had to be done quick.
The battleship Pennsylvania stole into Suva Bay in the small hours of the 11th April 1943 and fired a point blank range bombardment with all its available guns towards the area in and behind the main assault beaches. The light cruiser Concord also leant her steel and fire to the mayhem. Fitting that a ship there at Pearl Harbour on December 7th 1941 be the one the was dealing death and destruction to signal the start of the attack on the Solomon Islands.
Following immediately behind were four different columns of vessels each carrying a different part of the invasion force. The 1st USMC Regiment was the first unit to hit the beaches of Guadalcanal supported by tanks of the 1st USMC 1st Tank Battalion. Veterans of Wotje the Marines already had experience of landing against an enemy held shore. The second echelon comprised of the US Army’s 35 Infantry Regiment fresh from its engagement at Roi-Namur. The 3rd USMC Tank Battalion supported the US soldiers. Escorting destroyers opened fire on the enemy beach defences as it was evident that these had recovered somewhat from the Pennsylvania’s shelling. USN LST’s were involved in their second action of the war having cut their teeth during the operations on the Marshalls.
3rd USMC Tank Bn delivered by LSTs
Further support from the landings came from the flight decks of the USS Wasp and HMS Victorious. Both carriers had their dive and torpedo bombers prepped up for a bombing attack on the main Japanese defence line on Lunga. Dauntlesses and Avengers dropped 5,00lb bombs on the Japanese lines adding to the confusion and mayhem of battle. No Japanese fighters were in the air to intercept the. Those fighters had other duties to perform…
FAA and USN carrier bombers attack Lunga
April 10th 1943
Operation Cobber D-Day +5
Australia Command was pleased to report today the recapture of Port Moresby from Japanese forces. The operation was successfully concluded on the morning of the 10th April following a third assault by the 1st Australian Division. Japanese unites defending the Northern end of Port Moresby were routed and put to flight into the Kokoda Tail and the unforgiving terrain of the Owen Stanley Mountains. Australian troops are now back on soil they occupied a year ago and the focus now centres on consolidating our position in Port Moresby and repairing the port and airfield installations. General MacArthur is well aware of the isolated position Port Moresby is facing but a second toe hold on New Guinea was essential. High hopes are now centred on a feint that has blossomed into a very welcome opportunity in the form of Operation Wisp. For now Australia’s men can bask in the glory of their achievement, obtained at the cost of three ships and very casualties on land.
Operation Cobber D-Day+4
A third day of enemy air attacks over Port Moresby. Exhausted after three days of constant CAP and having their main field socked in by the heavy weather accosting much of the Eastern Australian seaboard no P-39s were flying CAP over the invasion fleet today. Enemy airplanes were thus granted a free run against the transports and warships in Joyce Bay. It seemed, however, that the Japanese were also suffering weather problems as only two small raids came in, and one only carrying torpedoes. The first raid brought in 7 Betty bombers one of which only scored a hit on the 3,500 ton Admiral Wiley. One hit however was enough to send the ship to the bottom.
The weather closing down the fighter fields was not affecting the aerodromes further inland being used by the heavy bombers of the Seventh USAAF. Three squadrons of B-24 Liberators were detatched from supporting the ground attack at Port Moresby and ordered to strike at the enemy airfield at Wewak on the far side of Papua New Guinea. They met opposition in the face of Ki-61 fighters but were able to deliver a heavy blow on Wewak. Several wrecked enemy planes were seen in post raid recon and it was clear that both the runway and the base itself had suffered damages.
Nevertheless the Japanese had a small window of opportunity to fly in some more reinforcements and as the second land assault went in a fourth Japanese infantry unit was indentified, the Guards Mixed Brigade. This unit was thought destroyed during an ill fated Japanese counter attack on Ndeni in late 1942. Intell assumes that the unit was recreated from a cadre or these are small remnants that have been flown in to stiffen the garrsion. What the case may be their presence was able to stop the Australian attack in its tracks. Depsite this over 500 enemy casualties were reported despite the loss of several M-10’s amd M-3’s. A third assault had been ordered for tomorrow and the Revenge and her consorts have once again been asked to lend their guns to the assault.