American Bombers Raid German Target
Wednesday, January 27, 1943 www.onwar.com
B-17s on a daylight raid over Germany [photo at link]
Over Germany... The first USAAF raid over a German target is carried out. A total of 55 American bombers raid Wilhelmshaven, losing 3 bombers and claiming 22 German planes shot down. The results reinforce American beliefs about the ability of American B-17 and B-24 bombers to carry out unescorted daytime precision bombing runs over Germany.
January 27th, 1943
UNITED KINGDOM: The US 8th Air Force raids Wilhelmshaven, naval base in Germany. This is the first US raid over Germany. All previous raids have been over occupied countries. 84 Flying Fortresses and seven Liberators took part in the unescorted raid. They also hit several other targets in north-west Germany.
Wilhelmshaven is considered a tough target by the RAF, but while the 55 bombers which actually carried out the raid were attacked by fighters the crews said it was “not nearly as tough as St. Nazaire”.
Captain J. L. Ryan of “Sweetpea” said: “I noticed what might have been a capital ship. I figured we’d get heavy flak ... but there wasn’t enough to bother us.”
Captain Richard Riordan, recently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for bringing home three crippled “Forts”, said that the raid was one of his easiest missions: “We came home on all four engines and that was an agreeable change.”
Major E. R. T. Holmes, the Surrey and England batsman, now a flak specialist, flew in the raid and took over a gun when the gunner was injured. He praised tight formations of the Americans. Three Fortresses failed to return.
Aircraft carrier HMS Triumph laid down.
Submarine HMS Golet laid down.
Minesweepers HMS Gozo and Tattoo launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
GERMANY: U-297 laid down.
U-309 and U-507 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.S.R.: The railway line between Leningrad and Moscow is reopened, enabling supplies to be delivered to the starving population.
PACIFIC OCEAN: During the submarine USS Wahoo’s third war patrol, Wahoo encounters a convoy of eight Japanese ships, including two freighters and a tanker. However, efforts to gain a position are foiled by a persistent destroyer escort who drops six depth charges. Though all her torpedoes were expended and she only had 40 rounds of 4-inch ammunition left, Commander Morton rather rashly decided to attack on the surface. An escorting destroyer drove him deep. When WAHOO surfaced, Morton sent, “Another running gun fight ... destroyer gunning .... WAHOO running”. (Marc James Small and Jack McKillop)
U.S.A.: Destroyer escorts USS Camp, Dionne, Hurst and Cabana laid down.
Destroyer USS Doyle commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-376 had to break off her patrol in the North Atlantic when some crewmembers were wounded in an air attack.
At 0925, the unescorted MS Cape Decision was hit by two torpedoes from
, as she steered a zigzag course in clear weather and moderate seas. The torpedoes struck on port side between the #4 and #5 hatches with an interval of less than ten seconds. The explosions did not do much visual damage but quickly stopped the ship. The blasts damaged the ship throughout and knocked out the electrical system, which halted the engines. As the ship settled by the stern, her complement of nine officers, 36 men, 26 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) and six US Army passengers abandoned ship in the two lifeboats and two of the four rafts. Two of the armed guards remained at their gun until the last moment and had to jump overboard. The master jumped into the water and brought the exhausted men, which were in danger of being caught by the suction of the sinking ship to his lifeboat. The U-boat moved around the stern at periscope depth and fired a third torpedo at 09.55 hours, which struck on the starboard side in the engine room. The vessel immediately began to list to port and sank five minutes later. U-105 surfaced, questioned the survivors and directed them to the nearest land. The third assistant engineer and an able seaman were taken aboard, but were later put back into the boats after checking their papers. The survivors distributed the men evenly between the two boats. The boat of the master with 21 crewmen, three passengers and 16 armed guards reached Bridgetown, Barbados nine days later having travelled 957 miles. The boat of the chief mate with 37 men arrived at Saint Barthelemy, French West Indies, 14 days after the sinking and were provided with food and medicine by the natives.
At 1807, SS Julia Ward Howe was torpedoed by U-442 about 175 miles south of the Azores. The ship was a straggler from the convoy UGS-4 due to heavy weather. One torpedo struck on the starboard side between #3 hold and the deckhouse. The explosion blew off the #3 hatch cover, wrecked two lifeboats, and destroyed the radio equipment. The ship immediately took a 15° list but flooded slowly afterwards and gradually righted herself on an even keel. Three shots from the after 5in gun (the ship was also armed with one 3in and eight 20mm guns) were fired in the direction of the U-boat. The eight officers, 36 crewmen, 29 armed guards and one passenger (US Army security officer) abandoned ship in two lifeboats and two rafts. The master, one armed guard and the passenger were lost. 40 minutes after the attack, a coup de grâce struck amidships and broke the ship in two. The U-boat then surfaced and questioned the crew, taking the second mate on board for closer examination. Then the mate was released and the U-boat left. The rafts were secured to the lifeboats and they set sail for the Azores. After 15 hours, the survivors were picked up by the Portuguese destroyer Lima about 330 miles southwest of the Azores and landed at Ponta Delgada, but the chief engineer died of wounds on the rescue ship.
At 2043, U-514 fired three torpedoes at the Liberty ship Charles C. Pinckney. A lookout spotted one of the torpedoes 750 yards away approaching the ship off the port bow. The master tried to evade, but one torpedo struck just abaft the stem. The explosion ignited a portion of the cargo, the blast blew the bow off forward of the #1 hold and created a pillar of flame that shot skyward. The engines were immediately secured and the most of the nine officers, 32 crewmen, 27 armed guards and two US Army security officers abandoned ship in four lifeboats and one raft. A portion of the gun crew and the gunnery officer remained on board and opened fire at 23.08 hours, as U-514 surfaced 200 yards away. They claimed several hits and the sinking of the U-boat, but U-514 made an emergency dive and escaped undamaged. The crew reboarded the vessel, but the chief engineer discovered that he could not get steam up. At 23.26 hours, a coup de grâce from U-514 missed, but a second fired at 00.11 hours on 28 January hit and all survivors abandoned ship a second time. U-514 surfaced and questioned the men in the lifeboats. Then U-514 left her victim in sinking condition, which later sank over the bow. The four lifeboats set sail, but during the night of 28 January, they became separated. On 8 February, the second mate, four men and nine armed guards in one boat were picked up by the Swiss steam merchant Caritas I and landed at Horta, Fayal Island, Azores. The other three boats with eight officers, 28 men, 18 armed guards and two passengers were never found.