Skip to comments.RUSSIANS DRIVEN BACK 80 MILES, LOSE 8 DONETS BASIN KEY TOWNS (3/10/43)
Posted on 03/10/2013 6:54:38 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Free French stop Axis onslaught
Wednesday, March 10, 1943 www.onwar.com
In Tunisia... An Axis attack, with air support, on the Free French outpost at Ksar Rhilane, southeast of Mareth is defeated by Leclerc’s troops.
In Burma... The Chindits are now operating in several columns. They cross the Irrawaddy River in two places, at Tagaung and Tigyaing farther north.
From Washington... Chennault is promoted and his command in China is to be enlarged and named the 14th Air Force.
March 10th, 1943 (WEDNESDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: This morning a RAF Beaufighter takes off for a patrol of the Bay of Biscay. It is piloted by the Free French pilot Max Guedj, DFC, who had adopted the nom de guerre of Lieutenant Maurice to safeguard his Jewish family remaining in France. His navigator is Flight Lieutenant Charles Corder. They are on their 71st operation together.
Over the Bay they sight, attack and kill a JU-88 long range fighter. However, return fire from the Junker’s gunner severely damages the Beaufighter. Guedj is wounded during the attack and the intercommunication in the aircraft is disabled. With the situation appearing hopeless, Corder crawls forward to assist the pilot before returning to his seat, where he obtains radio bearings and gives Guedj a course to steer for their base in Cornwall, 180 miles away. One of the two engines fails, and Guedj has difficulty keeping control, forcing him to fly a few feet above the sea.
Corder once more crawled forward to assist him having managed to repair the intercom.
Just before they reach the English coast, the second engines catches fire, which spreads to the cockpit. Corder transmits an SOS, a fire distress cartridges to attract the attention of those ashore. As they approach Cornwall, it is clear that the aircraft has either to ditch in the heavy seas or clear the cliffs. As Corder guides Guedj to the cliffs’ lowest point, observers on the ground are convinced that the aircraft will crash; but Guedj manages to clear the cliffs by a few feet before making an emergency landing as the second engine finally fails. Corder’s navigation has been so accurate that they manage to crash-land on their own airfield at Predannack.
The incident attracted a great deal of press interest. Guedj told one reporter: “It would have been impossible without my navigator; he was really the key man on board the most hair-raising adventure we have lived through.”
For their actions in recovering the aircraft, Guedj will be the first French airman to receive the DSO.
The long citation for Corder’s CGM remarked on how he had “calmly continued his duties, showing great navigational skill and teamwork and doing everything within his power to assist his pilot”. It concluded: “In the face of an appalling situation, this airman displayed courage in keeping with the highest traditions of the RAF.” Both men were also awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Palme. (Bernard de Neumann)
USAAF 4th Fighter Group flies its first mission equipped with the P-47C Thunderbolt fighter. (Jack McKillop)
U-540 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
BULGARIA: Sofia: A popular outcry, backed by the church and King Boris, has saved 50,000 Jews from certain death. Three weeks ago the Jewish affairs commissioner, Alexander Belev, and SS Lieutenant Theodor Dannecker agreed to deport Jews from inside Bulgaria’s pre-war borders “to the east.” A delegation of parliamentarians and other leading citizens visited the interior minister, Peter Gabrovski, and demanded that the orders be rescinded. Like Italy, Hungary and Finland, Bulgaria has tried to resist German demand for deportations.
ITALY: SICILY: Allied bombers raid Salerno.
The British submarine HMS TIGRIS is sunk by a mine west of the Sicilian Channel.
U.S.S.R.: Ukraine: Hitler has accused his once-favourite soldier, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, of “pessimism”, and ordered him on sick leave until he is ready to lead a hypothetical attack on Casablanca.
Rommel arrived here today from Rome, and was summoned to take tea with the Führer when he did his best to convey the gravity of the situation in Tunisia. He begged Hitler to allow the evacuation of the Axis troops to Italy where they could be re-equipped for the defence of Europe. Hitler refused to listen; Rommel had a similar response from Mussolini yesterday.
Il Duce was worried about the effect on Italian opinion should Tunisia fall, and offered Rommel another division. The offer was refused. Rommel has confided to his diary a “great regard” for the Italian leader, “probably a great actor like most Italians,” but the conversation ended on an acrimonious note. “Perhaps I should have spoken to him differently at the end, but I was so heartily sick of all this everlasting false optimism that I just could not do it.
INDIA: Goa: Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents, with volunteers from the Calcutta Light Horse and the Calcutta Scottish, last night raided four Axis merchant ships which had taken refuge in neutral Portugese Goa when war was declared.
The raiding party, on board a hopper barge which had sailed all the way round India from Calcutta, had hoped to board the German freighter Ehrenfels without a fight because her skipper, Captain Rofels, had agreed to be bribed. But when the barge arrived, Rofels opened fire and scuttled his ship. He died along with four of his crew. There were no British casualties. and the German Braunfels and Drachenfels and the Italian Anfora, were also scuttled.
INDIAN OCEAN: At 1720, the unescorted SS Richard D. Spaight was hit on the starboard side by two torpedoes from U-182 about 350 miles NE of Durban in the Mozambique Channel. The first torpedo struck at the #1 hold and the second between holds #2 and #3. The explosions extensively damaged the ship and showered the deck with debris. One man sitting on #1 hatch was blown overboard and drowned, while another lying on a mattress on the same hatch survived. He was blew higher than the mast, but stayed on the mattress and landed right side up to be rescued. The bow immediately submerged and the stern lifted the turning propeller and rudder out of the water. The surviving eight officers, 34 crewmen and 24 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) abandoned ship in four lifeboats. The men in one of the boats had to jump overboard because it drifted towards the propeller and was swamped. The U-boat surfaced about 2000 yards away and fired about 35 rounds from the deck gun, hitting 25 times and causing the ship to sink after two hours. The Germans questioned the survivors offered medical supplies, food and water and then left the area. Two boats made landfall after three days in Richards Bay, South Africa. Another boat reached Cape St. Lucia, while the fourth landed five days after the attack at Cuanalonbi Beach, South Africa. (Dave Shirlaw)
CHINA: General Chennault is promoted and his command is designated the US 14th Air Force. The establishment of the Fourteenth Air Force was opposed by both General George C. Marshall, Chief of Stafff, U.S. Army, and General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, Commanding General, USAAF. Chennault disliked his subordination to the Tenth Air Force and there was friction between General Bissell, CG of the Tenth Air Force and Chennault. The one thing going for Chennault was that he enjoyed the special confidence of Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese people. The Generalissimo had been disappointed by failure of the Americans to place a larger air force in China, and he was suspicious of British influence over the India-based Tenth Air Force. Chiang Kai-shek also wanted to resurrect the Chinese Air Force which had few if any aircraft.
So Chiang Kai-skek wrote a “Dear Franklin” letter to President Roosevelt and FDR talked to Marshall and the Generalissimo and Chennault got their own air force. The problem was that until the Burma Road was reopened, the Air Transport Command, and any other aircraft that could be obtained or detailed, had to fly all of the fuel, parts, etc. into China over “The Hump” which was one of the most dangerous routes in the world. (Jack McKillop)
U.S.A.: The first XB-32 crashed on takeoff after making a total of 30 flights. (Jack McKillop)
Washington: The House of Representatives votes to continue the Lend-Lease scheme.
Submarine USS Apogon launched.
Submarine USS Tilefish laid down.
Destroyer USS Stoddard laid down.
Frigate USS Tacoma laid down.
Destroyer escorts USS Dionne and Cabana launched.
Destroyer USS Daly commissioned.
CARIBBEAN SEA: At 0909, U-185 attacked Convoy KG-123 for a second time SE of Guantanamo Bay and torpedoed the James Sprunt on her maiden voyage in station #42. The ship had shifted out of position between the third and fourth columns. One torpedo struck the vessel and caused her cargo to explode, the ship completely disappeared in 30 seconds. The blast went straight up and sent debris over the entire convoy and was so large that a ship 40 miles away witnessed it. None of the eight officers, 36 crewmen and 25 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5in and nine 20mm guns) survived. Previously U-185 had sunk steam tanker Virginia Sinclair, which suffered 7 deaths.
HMC ML 072 and 081 damaged when ammunition ship SS James Sprunt blew up when torpedoed by U-185 off Cape Maysi, Cuba, The explosion was approximately twice the magnitude of the 6 Dec 1917 at Halifax. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-633 (Type VIIC) Left Kiel, Germany on 20 Feb, 1943. Last radio message received on 3 March, 1943. Sunk today in the North Atlantic, position 58.51N, 19.55W, by ramming from the British merchant SS Scorton. 43 dead (all hands lost). (Alex Gordon)
Man was lost overboard from U-634 [Bootsmaat Ernst Adam].
At 2126, the lead ship of the Andrea F. Luckenbach’s column in the HX-228, the Tucurinca was torpedoed and sunk by U-221. Five minutes later, immediately after lookouts spotted the periscope two FAT torpedoes from the same U-boat hit the ship. The first struck on the port side about 90 feet forward of the stern post and caused the after magazine to explode. The after end of the ship was blown off, destroying the after gun platform and killing the ten armed guards on station. The second torpedo hit just forward of the first and the majority of the nine officers, 46 men, 28 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) and one passenger (US Army officer) immediately abandoned ship in two lifeboats. Others jumped overboard and swam to the boats, the rafts and wreckage. The Armed guard officer gave his life jacket to a seaman who did not have one, but the officer could not swim and was unable to reach a lifeboat after he jumped overboard and drowned. The Andrea F. Luckenbach sank within seven minutes. In just over an hour RFA Orangeleaf rescued 17 armed guards, nine officers, 37 men and the passenger and landed them at Clyde, Scotland.
At 2131, SS Lawton B. Evans in Convoy HX-228 was probably slightly damaged by dud torpedo from U-221 and reached the Clyde safely. SS
Tucurinca sunk by U-221 in Convoy HX-228 at 51.00N, 30.10W.
At 0104, U-229 fired a torpedo at Convoy SC-121 south of Reykjavik, followed by a spread of two torpedoes at 0105 and reported two ships sunk and another damaged. In fact, the Nailsea Court was sunk and Coulmore, which was damaged and managed to reach port safely. At 1115 the same day, the U-boat attacked the convoy a second time in grid AL 2622, heard detonations after 2 minutes 45 seconds and 4 minutes 15 seconds and reported one ship damaged and another probably damaged. No ship was hit at this time, but the British steam merchant Scorton in station #52 saw one torpedo that missed. The master, 33 crewmembers, nine gunners and two passengers from the Nailsea Court were lost. One crewmember was picked up by the British rescue ship Melrose Abbey and landed at Gourock on 13 March. Three crewmembers were rescued by HMCS Dauphin and landed at Londonderry on 13 March.
At 0926, U-255 fired a spread of three torpedoes at Convoy RA-53 in grid AB 5939 (72°44N/11°27E) and heard two detonations. The Executive was sunk and Richard Bland was damaged, but five days later finished off by the same U-boat. The Richard Bland was struck on the starboard side by the third torpedo at the #1 hold. The torpedo did not explode, passed through the ship and went out the port side, creating holes of eight foot on either side. It cracked the deck and ruptured the collision bulkhead and flooded the forepeak tank, causing a starboard list. The ship remained with the convoy with only a slightly reduced speed but on the night of 6 March straggled from the convoy due gale force winds and rough seas and proceeded towards Iceland. At 1636, U-255 found the Richard Bland about 35 miles off Langanes, Iceland and fired a spread of three torpedoes, but only one torpedo struck on the port side at the #4 hatch. At 1647, a second torpedo hit on the port side at the fireroom, bending the propeller shaft, flooding the #4 and #5 holds. Soon after the torpedo hit, the ship broke in two just forward of the bridge. A coup de grâce at 16.56 hours missed, but another at 2107 apparently hit the stern section, which sank at 2203. The forward section was towed to Akureyri, Iceland where the ship was declared a total loss. After the first hit, the master ordered two weather boats launched, each carrying four men, and they rode at their painters until time to abandon ship. In attempting to pass these boats around the ship, the painters were lost and the boats drifted astern. The remaining men of the nine officers, 32 crewmen and 26 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 12lb, eight 20mm, two .50cal and two .30cal guns) had to abandon ship in two lifeboats after the second hit in rough seas. One overcrowded boat got away with only inches of freeboard, many clung to the side until they lost strength and drowned. The boat of the master is thought to have swamped and was never seen again. 27 survivors in the overcrowded boat were picked up after 13 hours by HMS Impulsive and landed at Seydisfjord, Iceland on 13 March. The two boats launched with four men in each were picked up the same morning; four of them landed at Reykjavik on 16 March and the others were taken to Scapa Flow. The master, five officers, 13 crewmen and 17 armed guards were lost. (Dave Shirlaw)
The Senators’ comments on Admiral Standley’s cable are interesting, and prove nothing much has changed in 70 years. Same egos, different era. Substitute “Egypt” and “Morsi” for “Russia” and “Stalin” and they could be quotes from today.