27th March 1943
Japanese movements to and from Guadalcanal seemed to have stopped, though SS Plunger sank a small transport ships transiting South West near Tulagi. This lack of movement has been in marked contrast to a large amount of maritime traffic into Timor and islands to the East of there and to the North of Darwin. For several days planes of the RAAF and USAAF have unsuccessfully attacked enemy ships at Lautem and Saumlaki. A6M3 fighters also put up some measure of defence over Lautem that cost the RAAF some Beaufighters on a low altitude bombing run. Likewise the IJAAF also suffered aerial losses when a squadron of Ki-49’s was savaged by USAAF P-40’s over Bathurst Island. It seemed a deadly stalemate was developing. Radio intelligence was adamant that the 21st Infantry Division was now garissoning Babr, Babo and Saumlaki and that more units were enroute. As such Admiral Nimitz authorised the deployment of a Marine Corps Avenger unit to Darwin to try and hit some of the enemy ships seemingly impervious to Allied efforts to bomb them.
As such VMSB-131 was redeployed from Horn Island to Darwin and immediately given orders to sink and destroy any and all enemy shipping that came into range. Such they did when Catalina’s of VP-101 brought confirmed sightings of enemy ships unloading troops at Babar, an island some 300 miles to the North. Giving their Army counterparts a lesson in accuracy the Marines were able to hit several ships with 500lbers setting them ablaze and leaving one so heavily damaged that a follow up wave could not see the ship for the smoke billowing out of it. Said second wave (22nd RAAF Sqdn, made up of refugee Dutch pilots) kept the Australian and Army’s poor records at naval bombing. Oorah!!!
Learn more about the Grumman TBF/TBm here.
In China the 2nd Group Army continues its heroic defence to the East of Nanyang as it beats back thre determined Japanese assaults to dislodge it. Thanks to its sacrifice a strong defensive line has been built anchored on the excellent terrain between Sian and Nanyang. Further to the North, the 1st War Area and the Jingcha War Area were able to extradicte themselves from Loyang and break through a flimsy line of Japanese armour, once again leanding its strength to the aforementioned defensive line in the hills and forest to the South East of Sian. Much further to the South the Japanese 23rd Mixed Brigade crossed the Xiang River to the West of Henyang to try and cut off the railway between said city and Kweilin. It smacked into the defensive positions of the 3rd New Chinese Corps that has been able to hold the Japanese back as reinforcements march to the area. THe CAF has also seen somewhat of a revival due to these latest Japanese moves and has supported the defence both in the North and the South with its old line aircraft such as the SB-III flying alongside very recently received P-40’s from the USAAF!