May 2nd, 1943 (SUNDAY)
The USAAF VIII Bomber Command in England flies Mission Number 56: A maximum force, 154 B-17s, 21 B-24s and 12 B-26s, is dispatched against four targets. This is first time more than 200 US bombers are dispatched.
- The principal attack is against submarine yards and naval installations at Kiel, Germany; 136 B-17s and 21 B-24s are dispatched with 126 B-17s and 17 B-24s hitting the target at 1200-1203 hours local and destroying three U-boats; they claim 62-24-27 Luftwaffe aircraft and lose 5 B-24s and 3 B-17s.
- 42 B-17s are dispatched against the former Ford and General Motors plants at Antwerp, Belgium; 38 hit the target at 1320 hours local; they claim 5-1-4 Luftwaffe aircraft; one B-17 is lost. The bombers are escorted by 118 P-47 which claim 4-6-11 Luftwaffe aircraft; 3 P-47s are lost.
- 39 B-17s are dispatched against Courtrai Airfield, France; 34 hit the target and claim 0-0-1 Luftwaffe aircraft; two B-17s are lost.
- 12 B-26’s are dispatched against the Velsen power station at Ijmuiden, The Netherlands; 11 hit the target at 1100 hours without loss. (Jack McKillop)
Submarine FS Curie (ex-Vox) commissioned.
Patrol vessel HMS Kilbernie launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
AUSTRALIA: Japanese aircraft bomb Darwin. 18 Betty’s and 26 Zeros are in the attacking force. They are intercepted by 33 Spitfires, but five have to abort. Although seven G4Ms and seven A6M’s suffered damage, all of the raiders regained their base. Five Spitfires are lost in combat, another four suffer engine or CSU failure, and five more run out of fuel. Of the aircraft that succeeded in force-landing, only one flew again. (Steve Alvin)(136)
TERRITORY OF ALASKA: On Attu Island in the Aleutians, an attempt to capture Jarmin Pass is made by a combined attack of the Northern and Southern Landing Forces. The Southern Force will attempt to inch forward up Massacre Valley while the Northern Force will attempt to drive the Japanese off the reverse slope of Hill X, continue on to seize Moore Ridge and then take Jarmin Pass from the rear.
Each attack quickly bogs down. In the north, the Provisional Scout Battalion which has been pinned down since landing in Austin Cove on D-Day, remains pinned down. The second arm of the Northern Force also is unable to move forward because the 3d Battalion, 32d Infantry Regiment does not reach its assault position in time. Major General Albert E. Brown, Commanding General 7th Infantry Division, calls off the attack and in a report to higher headquarters that evening, states that “progress through passes will, unless we are extremely lucky, be slow and costly, and will require troops in excess to those now available to my command.”
USAAF support is hampered by poor weather. The air-ground liaison B-24 flies reconnaissance and photo reconnaissance over Attu throughout the day while another B-24, carrying supplies for the ground forces, hits a mountain side 10 miles (16 km) west of the drop zone. Ground support missions over Attu are flown by six B-24s and five B-25s while two P-40s bomb Kiska Island through the overcast.
The USN continues gunfire support for the American troops. (Jack McKillop)
CANADA: Corvette HMCS Halifax commenced refit Liverpool, Nova Scotia.
Corvette HMCS Sackville completed refit Liverpool, Nova Scotia.
Minesweeper HMCS Caraquet arrived Halifax from Esquimalt.
U.S.A.: Destroyer USS Irwin laid down.
Destroyer USS Hopewell launched.
Minesweeper USS Scout launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
U-465 sunk in the Bay of Biscay north of Cape Finisterre, Spain, in position 44.48N, 08.58W, by depth charges from an RAAF 461 Sqn Sunderland. 48 dead (all hands lost).
U-188 was heading home through the Bay of Biscay when a Whitley aircraft attacked it. The commander, KL Siegfried Lüdden and a crewmember were heavily wounded. The crewmember died two weeks later in a hospital in Paris. [Matrosengefreiter Leo Rupp].
A crewmember on U-218 broke his leg.
U-262 cruised for 4 days in Canadian waters. Her mission was to pick up some escaped German POWs, but none arrived at the rendezvous.
Destroyer HMCS Assiniboine had recently returned to service, as a member of Escort Group C-3 after a refit to repair damaged done when she rammed and sank U-210 on 06 Aug 42. She made one round-trip escorting convoys HX 221 and O, Nova Scotia. 163 during the last of which she suffered damage again (cause unknown). She was on passage to the UK to rejoin the C-3 group, which was preparing to take ON 172 back to North America, when she was damaged again. U-119 a large mine-laying boat encountered by chance 660 NM West of Ireland. Assiniboine caught U-119 on the surface as the U-boat was working her way south after laying a minefield off Iceland. Assiniboine closed to attack, opened fire when in gun range, and finally attempted to ram but struck only a glancing blow as the U-boat dived. U-119 lost 3-4 meters of her bow casing and Oerlikon rounds had holed her conning tower. She was able to remain at sea and fuelled 10 attack boats north of the Azores before proceeding to Bordeaux for repairs. Assiniboine, having had plating in both boiler rooms pushed in and with one of her two screws out of action proceeded to Liverpool for repairs which took 16 weeks. U-119 laid mines off Halifax in June 43 but was sighted on the surface west of France by an RAF Liberator and destroyed by Captain Walker’s Second Support Group on 23 Jun 43. In the 22 months between Oct 41 and Jul 43, the critical period in the Battle of the North Atlantic, Assiniboine was out of action for damage repair for a total of 12 months. (Dave Shirlaw)
Yes, I confess to schadenfraude.