British advance in North Africa
Monday, November 16, 1942 www.onwar.com
British column advancing in the desert [photo at link]
In North Africa... The British 36th Division takes Djebel Abiod. Late in the day, they have reached nearly to Beja. A British paratroop battalion farther south takes Souk el Arba.
From London... Free French General de Gaulle announces he and his Free French supporters will not accept Admiral Darlan’s rule. Many of the British politicians have doubts about cooperating with a former member of the Vichy government. The Americans however, see nothing wrong with the arrangement.
November 16th, 1942
UNITED KINGDOM: Light fleet carrier HMS Vengeance laid down.
Destroyer HMS Raider commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
GERMANY: U-721, U-857, U-993 laid down.
U-169, U-192, U-668 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
BALTIC SEA: U-418 collided with the fishing boat Stralsund off Danzig during exercises. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.S.R.: (Sergey Anisimov)(69)Baltic Fleet, Ladoga and Onega Flotillas: Shipping loss. GB “Krasnoe Znamya” - by Finnish torpedo-cutters at the bay of Lavensari Is. (later raised, went into service in 1944)
Mikko Härmeinen adds: This raid (which my sources place on 18 Nov 1942) was led by kapteeniluutnantti (equivalent of USN Lieutenant Sr. grade) Jouko Pirhonen, who after the war became vara-amiraali (Vice-Admiral) and the Chief of the Navy. Kapteeniluutnantti Pirhonen received the Mannerheim Cross, 2nd class mainly because of this success.
The story goes that after the war Jouko Pirhonen attended a formal reception where there also were Soviet naval officers present. Pirhonen was sitting on a table where a dignified-looking Russian admiral was also seated. The Russian admiral noticed Pirhonen’s Mannerheim Cross and asked him for what he had received it. Pirhonen answered that he had led the raid that sunk the “Krasnoje Znamja” at Lavansaari harbour. The Russian admiral looked at him for a long moment, and then said: “I was in that ship”. A long, uneasy silence followed. Then the admiral continued: “It was a very close call, the water rising up to my neck.”
Then he raised his glass and proposed a toast to Pirhonen for what he had done. One professional talking to another.
NORTH AFRICA: The British 36th Brigade continues its advance taking Djebel Abiod while a parachute battalion captures Souk el Arba and by nightfall are approaching Beja.
General de Gaulle announces that the Free French will not accept Darlan’s authority. To the US the arrangement is useful, while the British share the French apprehensions.
Four British officers who escaped from a Moroccan prison camp have now joined up with the U.S. troops in French Morocco.
They were in a British transport which was torpedoed on September 12. They are Wing-Commander J. Blackburn, Major Creedon, King’s On Royal Regiment, Flight-Lieut. Oliver, and Mr. Sims, an engineer of the Merchant Navy. The tansport was torpedoed 700 miles south-west of Freetown, West Africa, while repatriating about 1,000 troops and 1,800 Italian prisoners. The rescued men, who included about 400 Italians, spent five days adrift in lifeboats, and were fed by Axis submarines - six German and one Italian - which kept them together by cruising on the surface.
The submarines supplied the survivors with hot food every day. “To our surprise they treated us very well,” said Wing-Commander Blackburn. “They took about 50 women and children aboard the submarines and treated them with the greatest consideration.”
On the sixth day a French cruiser and two destroyers, summoned by the submarines, appeared and brought the survivors to Casablanca, where they were interned. Two officers were kept as “token” prisoners.
Altogether about 600 British from the transport survived.
PACIFIC OCEAN: Admiral Halsey moves the responsibility for handling cargo discharge and loading at Noumea to the Army. Brig. Gen. Raymond ES Williamson applies skill and leadership to this task, successfully!
AUSTRALIA: Minesweeper HMAS Glenelg commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
CANADA: HMC ML 097 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.A.: Marine Night Fighting Squadron Five Hundred Thirty One [VMF(N)-531] is commissioned at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. The first aircraft received were two North American SNJ-4 Texan trainers, q.v., later supplemented with Brewster SB2A-4 Buccaneers, q.v. The squadron will be assigned two PV-1s equipped with Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) equipment, Very High Frequency (VHF) radio sets and British Airborne Intercept (A.I.) Radar Mk. IV. Unlike the USNs PV-1s,the crew of the Marine aircraft consisted of three men, the pilot, radar operator and dorsal turret gunner. (Jack McKillop)
Minesweeper USS Capable launched.
Minesweeper USS Steady commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: SS Clan MacTaggart sunk by U-92 36.08N 07.23W, 100 miles west of Gibraltar while sailing independently.
U-173 sunk at Casablanca in position 33.40N, 07.35W by depth charges from the US destroyers USS Woolsey, USS Swanson and USS Quick. 57 dead (all hands lost).
First ASW mission by an American B-24 over the Bay of Biscay.
U-552 took on an ill crewmember from U-462 in the mid-Atlantic.
U-608 sank SS Irish Pine. (Dave Shirlaw)