11th June 1943
04:02 Radar CONTACT CL Santa Fe. Covering Force moves to intercept two enemy cruisers entering Munda anchorage from East. South Dakota fires first 16inch salvo 04:09. Enemy cruiser seen to sink at 04:35.
04:13 SS Seadragon reports sighting and engaging enemy heavy cruiser on a south easterly heading to the East of Kavieng.
04:46 SS Blackfish engages destroyer escort of two battleships near Lihir. Enemy task force on southerly heading.
05:23 Visual CONTACT CA Quincy. Damaged enemy cruiser spotted and engaged, enemy ship sunk 05:57.
06:34 SS Billfish reports two attacks by carrier planes to the East of Kavieng. Sub proceeds to shadow. COMSUBPAC orders all boats to attack. Be aggressive!
08:23 Lt Phillips sends message ***SIGHTED***ENEMY CARRIERS***
09:15 Second confirmed sighting of enemy flattops. Estimated two days out of Munda.
10:00 Enemy float plane shot down by CAP over Munda.
11:23 LRCAP scrambled as enemy planes detected incoming. Ki-43’s and D3A2’s. 30 enemy planes shot down. No loss.
13:45 TF 186 reports unloading completed, withdrawing.
15:09 CAP scramble as incoming raid detected from NW. 3 D3A2’s dive on CVE Sangamon, no hits. All enemy planes destroyed.
18:09 US I Corps receives message ***HAVE MADE EDGE OF AIRFIELD***TWO LINES OF BUNKERS DESTROYED***ENEMY HANGING ON***ATTACK TO CONTINUE TOMORROW***
9th June 1943
10th June 1943
04:53 Report from SS Sailfish. Spotted enemy ships leaving Truk
06:02 Report from SS Hoe. Attacked by carrier torpedo plane.
06:34 Report from SS 0-21 sighted enemy carrier dive bomber.
07:45 First wave hits Munda. Armoured units spearheading landings after effectiveness of tanks against Japanese infantry at Tassafaronga
08:56 First sightings of enemy search planes over target beaches. Chased away by LRCAP.
09:15 Radar CONTACT on USN Pennsylvania. Enemy ships approaching from North. Covering force moves to intercept. Two enemy CL’s engaged. One Kuma Class cruiser sunk by Pennsylvania.
11:34 Enemy air raid spotted. CAP and LRCAP engage over 40 enemy fighters. 20 at least shot down, but bombers get through.
11:42 Attack on CVE Sangamon unsuccessful. New Hellcat performs admirably.
11:54 Fuel storage explosion on CVE Long Island sinks ship in 5 minutes. 430 missing presumed killed. G4M1 launches torpedo.
14:34 Catalina’s returning from morning patrol confirm visuals of Japanese ships heading South just to the North of the Solomons Chain.
16:00 Covering Force ordered to Lunga to rearm. BB South Dakota heading North to relieve station.
18:09 Direct attack ordered by commander US I Corps to troops on Munda.
9th June 1943, Reuters, Chungking
Changsha is quickly becoming a city coming under attack. First the assault came from the skies and the bomb bay doors of the IJAAF. Then the IJA joined the fray. A small recon unit cut off the railway to Kweilin and Hengyang to the West of the city on the 7th. Chinese infantry contained this weak thrust awaiting reinforcement. Supporting them were B-25’s of the USAAF. Transferred in from Burma this reporter was taken to the frontline along with other members of the International Press to see the Allied effort against Japan. 15 bombers had carried a low level bombing attack on advancing Japanese units yesterday. The scene that greeted our arrival, some 12 hours after the attack, was one of carnage. The smell of burning oil and petrol still hung in the air along with a too familiar smell of charred meat, only this time it wasn’t a burger on the barbecue. Dark plumes of black, oily smoke arose from the plains marking the funeral pyre of an armoured vehicle. 13 wrecks lay in front of us. Weak skinned armoured cars that had virtually disintegrated under the pounding of 500lb bombs dropped by the Mitchells. Grinning Kuomintang troops smiled toothy grins for the photographer and the compulsory unit photo with a captured enemy flag was taken amid the backdrop of destroyed Japanese vehicles. Morale was up and many a Chinese soldier was seen to give a thumbs up for Uncle Sam! In further news reports were also coming in from the South of the city were an enemy probing attack in Brigade strength was held back by units of the 30th Group Army.
6th June 1943, Reuters.
China in Peril?
Japanese air units have suddenly decided that the air space over the Chinese city of Changsha is prime estate. Oscars and Lilys have been contesting the air space and bombing the airfield respectively. CAF units reinforced by several USAAF squadrons from Burma, have been fighting back. Recon of the nearby area suggests that the IJA is also on the move West. Yesterday Kuomintang units holding the river to the East of Hengyang reported coming into contact with advanced elements of a Japanese division. Reinforcements are on their way and it is now clear that the Japanese summer offensive plans revolve around the capture of Changsha whose industries are vital for the war effort in China. The Generalissimo has been reassured by allied commanders that China will not be left alone and that moves to support her have already started and two very far flung theatres of war. For now the USAAF stands shoulder to shoulder with their brave Chinese allies in the face of continued Japanese aggression. The Japs may find a different Chinese army to that they started fighting in 1937 as Uncle Sam is now arming these brave soldiers wanting to rid their homeland of all traces of Japanese occupation!
May 1943 Submarine Warfare Summary
Another lean month for the Silent Service with barely 100,000 tons of enemy shipping damaged or sunk. There has been a marked increase in aerial ASW patrols off the Timor and Ambon areas of operation and also around the entrances to the Sea of Japan. Several new convoy routes have been discovered but targets have run dry in the previous happy hunting grounds in the approaches to Tokyo. The aim for June 1943 is to seek and destroy his tankers and oilers. If I can stop or hinder the flow of fuel his heavy and carrier units lose some of their mobility. Somewhat unlucky in that there has been a large percentage of dud hits this month. Top scorer is the SS Cisco with 22,500 tons spread over 4 ships. 4 boats were also lost the American Seawolf and Grampus and the Dutch KX and KIX. God speed brave mariners.
31st May 1943 Part One
USAAF fighter pilots now have an airplane capable to defeat the cream of Japan’s naval aviation and one that can compare with the Navy’s ugly Corsair, though the Thunderbolt (as so christened by its crews) was also one ugly ‘son o’bitch’ as so colourfully put by 1LT Ward from Texas flying the P-47D2 (its official nomenclature) in the 341st Fighter Squadron from Lunga. The order to scramble had come early. Lunga was now a strong forward base and its radars now command the approaches from the Japanese bases to the North. With the taking of Tulagi and Tassafaronga and the build up of Rennell and Rossel Islands Admiral Nimitz had his eye on Russell Islands to further build another air base to accommodate the massive build up of strength coming in from the States. Bereft of carriers he needed bases that could not be sunk. The Southern Solomons provided them aplenty. Mutually supporting they could act a powerful counter measure to the enemy’s carriers and could provide cover for the USN’s still powerful and almost intact battle line.
The scramble order had come over the airwaves and both the 341st and VMF-214 were soon bolstering the aerial patrol over the transports unloading at Russell. 25 enemy fighters escorted 9 Betty bombers carrying torpedoes. The Corsairs had the high station and they immediately bounced the Zeroes rapidly shooting down two. The Thunderbolt claimed its first air-air kill three minutes into the action. The aforementioned 1LT Ward claimed an A6M3a after blowing out of the sky. The P-47 proved durable and rugged in combat, indeed Ward’s plane was seen to have received 15 hits from enemy machine guns on the tail section alone with no detrimental effect on performance.
1LT Ward makes his kill
Yet the operational bow was meant with sadness as despite the loss of 5 enemy bombers, two intrepid pilots sank their torpedoes into the transport vessel Peisander. She sank later in the day taking a large chunk of the vehicles of the 1st USN Naval Construction Regiment. A second raid later in the day (15 Zeroes and 6 Betties) was completely annihilated by the Corsairs and Thunderbolts. Over 30 enemy planes had been shot down for no loss to the P-47’s. A new and powerful weapon now bristled in the Allied arsenal.
Further good news also landed on Admiral Nimitz’s desk from Australia Command. General Blamey was pleased to report that the 1st Australian Division had ejected all Japanese troops from Buna. Allied troops were back on the Eastern shore of the Solomon Sea for the first time since 1941.
27th May 1943
1st Marine Regiment supported by three tank battalions had finally fought their way past the jungle and Japanese rearguards to the small settlement at Tassafaronga on the Northern end of Guadalcanal. The remnants of the Lunga garrison had retreated here and intell had also identified a further Japanese Naval Guard unit. Since Lunga and Kira Kira had secured their planes had been daily bombing the Japanese positions around Tassafaronga and recon planes had kept a careful watch over any and all movement that had been spotted. In all honesty the dense jungle had been the Marine’s worst enemy but by the 25th May the 1st Marines reported that they were in position ready to commit to the assault. A preliminary bombardment was ordered for the 26th May but disturbing news was brought back by the daily recon photographs recorded on the 26th May. Japanese units had seemed to abandoned their positions en mass and had melted away. Submarines did not come into contact with any fast moving transport vessels nor had radio intelligence picked up any inkling of a withdrawal. Commanders on the ground suspected some sort of charge on the Marine line during the night of the 26th/27th May. As such they prepared for said eventuality. Stuart and Sherman tanks were spread out along the line with their 75 and 37mm guns facing the tree line. Between the tanks fire teams dug in around 30 and 50 cal machine gun positions that encased the main marine bivouac in a wall of fire and steel. The hours after sundown were tense and nerve racking. Many a Marine wished the Japs to charge just to break the monotony. They had their wish granted at 1:45 am when a swarm of Japanese soldiers with drawn bayonets and their officers brandishing their wickedly curved swords broke through the tree line in an almighty roar and charge. Bravery and elan however are no match for hot lead and steel as first the Marine machine gunners began to reap a terrible toll on the Japanese attack only to be joined by the boom of the 75mm guns on the Shermans firing at point blank range. Three human waves broke their backs against the withering fire the Marines were able to call upon. Mortars and regimental field guns added to the slaughter. No mercy was given and when the sun rose and the dense clouds of cordite and gun smoke lifted nearly 3,000 ton Japanese bodies lay in front of the Marine position. The killing ground between the first fox holes and the tree line was covered in heaps of mangled, bloody bodies torn about by shot and shell alike. Here and there a wounded man moaned or still crawled stubbornly towards the American guns. The shock on the faces of the Marines, already veterans of Lunga and Tarawa was plain to see. What had the Japs wanted to achieve? What was clear was that Japanese presence on Guadalcanal was destroyed in one night of destruction. Mopping operations would begin as soon as the Marines had replenished their ammunition. Was Tassafaronga just a herald of what awaited them further to the North???
Marine tankers pose in front of their tank on the morning of the 27th May
Ground combat at Tassafaronga (113,137)
Japanese Shock attack
Attacking force 4167 troops, 40 guns, 0 vehicles, Assault Value = 161
Defending force 5273 troops, 94 guns, 370 vehicles, Assault Value = 299
Japanese adjusted assault: 20
Allied adjusted defense: 406
Japanese assault odds: 1 to 20
Defender: terrain(+), preparation(-), fatigue(-)
Japanese ground losses:
2894 casualties reported
Squads: 109 destroyed, 64 disabled
Non Combat: 75 destroyed, 23 disabled
Engineers: 0 destroyed, 0 disabled
Guns lost 15 (8 destroyed, 7 disabled)
Units destroyed 1