Skip to comments.ALLIES TAKE TWO ITALIAN TOWNS AND PRESS ON; FORTRESSES SMASH BRENNER PASS RAILROAD (9/4/43)
Posted on 09/04/2013 4:15:43 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
#1 - In the Blue of the Evening - Tommy Dorsey, with Frank Sinatra
#2 - All or Nothing At All Harry James, with Frank Sinatra
#3 - Sunday Monday or Always - Bing Crosby, with the Ken Darby Singers
#4 Youll Never Know - Frank Sinatra, with the Bobby Tucker Singers
#5 Youll Never Know - Dick Haymes, with the Song Spinners
#6 Paper Doll - Mills Brothers
#7 - I Heard You Cried Last Night - Harry James, with Helen Forrest
#8 - It Cant Be Wrong - Dick Haymes, with Song Spinners
#9 - Pistol Packin Mama - Al Dexter
#10 Its Always You - Tommy Dorsey, with Frank Sinatra
Australians land east of Lae
Saturday, September 4, 1943 www.onwar.com
Australian troops examine a captured Japanese naval gun [photo at link]
In New Guinea... Elements of the Australian 9th Division (20th and 26th Brigades) land on Huon Gulf, east of Lae. Naval support includes 10 US destroyers under Admiral Barbey.
In the Solomon Islands... On Arundel, American forces begin to advance out of their beachhead after a quiet period of consolidation.
September 4th, 1943 (SATURDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: USAAF OPERATIONS IN THE EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force):
The VIII Air Support Command flies Mission 47: 144 B-26B Marauders are dispatched to 4 marshalling yards in France (36 B-26s to each target); 33 hit Courtrai marshalling yard at 1756 hours; 33 hit the Deliverance marshalling yard at Lille at 1756 hours; 34 hit the Hazebrouck marshalling yard at 1831 hours; and 23 hit the St Pol marshalling yard at 1833 hours.
NETHERLANDS: During the night of 4/5 September, ten RAF Bomber Command bombers lay mines in the Frisian Islands.
FRANCE: During the night of 4/5 September, RAF Bomber Command aircraft lay mines in three locations: eight each aircraft lay mines in the River Gironde and off Lorient and St Nazaire. No aircraft are lost.
GERMANY: Berlin: In the third saturation raid on the city in 11 nights, the RAF last night blasted Berlin with 1,000 tons of bombs within 20 minutes. Only a few days ago the Germans were saying that British losses were so heavy the RAF dare not return. Bomber Command adopted new tactics for the raid, concentrating the whole fleet of 316 Lancasters and four Mosquitoes over the city in a short period of time; losses are put at 22 planes, compared with 47 in the raid three nights ago and 56 in the first raid last month. The raid left 422 Berliners dead, and caused widespread devastation.
During the night of 4/5 September, RAF Bomber Command sends eight Mosquitos to attack two cities; three bomb Duisburg and two bomb Cologne.
Hamburg: Lord Haw-Haw tells Britain that “the final blow will be struck by Adolf Hitler.”
U.S.S.R.: Hitler partially corrects one of his stupidities by ordering the German 17th Army to abandon Novorossisk and a tiny corner of the Kuban steppe, north of the Caucasus. For seven months more than 250,000 Germans and Romanians have been uselessly cooped up in the Kuban because Hitler thinks the Heer some day will go on the offensive again and capture the Caucasian oilfields. Now there’s a good chance the 17th will be trapped and captured by the Soviet Army.
In the Ukraine, the Soviets take Merefa, a major rail junction south of Kharkov.
ITALY: Allied troops land between Reggio and Catona.
Messina, SICILY: Lieutenant John Bridge (b. 1915), RNVR, was awarded the George Cross for leading the bomb disposal work at Messina with the Royal Navy’s Port Clearance Party 1500. P1500 had started work on 25 August, attempting to make the port useable in time for the Allied invasion of mainland Italy. P1500’s original officer and four others were killed at the start by booby-trapped depth charges. Under Bridge’s leadership, over 250 booby-traps ashore, and forty in the water, were made safe. Bridge himself made 28 dives to disarm two large clusters of depth charges. (George Cross)
USAAF OPERATIONS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS
* Twelfth Air Force: In Italy, bad weather prevents XII Bomber Command B-17 Flying Fortresses from locating their targets (airfields); P-38s sent to hit landing grounds at Grazzanise also fail to find targets, but attack targets of opportunity in the general area; US fighter-bombers and RAF light bombers hit motor transport scattered along the Italian toe, and bomb gun positions northeast of Reggio di Calabria and roads and railroad junction in the Cosenza-Catanzaro-Nicastro area and at Colosimi.
CHINA: Ten USAAF Fourteenth Air Force B-25 Mitchells and 11 P-40s attack Tien Ho airfield at Canton; three of 15 intercepting “Zeke” fighters (Mitsubishi A6M, Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighters) are shot down.
NEW GUINEA: The reconquest of New Guinea advanced a major step today when battle-hardened Australian veterans of El Alamein and US troops stormed ashore in an amphibious operation aimed at seizing the key New Guinea port of Lae, on the Huon Gulf.
This landing was the largest in the Pacific to that date. It formed part of the largest triphibious operation ever carried out in the Pacific.
USN Task Force 76 (Rear Admiral Daniel E. Barbey) lands the Australians, of the 9th Division, headed for Red Beach east of Lae at the mouth of the Buso River, as part of a 1st Australian Corps operation to envelop and destroy the Japanese 51st Division (Operation POSTERN). Landings are also made on the Huon Peninsula at Hopoi. As they landed on the beaches as Japanese aircraft attacked their landing craft, killing seven soldiers. Once ashore the Allied troops advanced towards Lae without interruption. The Australians had cloaked their plan to seize Lae by threatening the nearby village of Salamaua without actually attacking it; the Japanese thereupon reinforced Salamaua, thus weakening the defences of Lae. Japanese aircraft from Rabaul have continued making trouble for the Allies during the day, inflicting about 120 casualties. But the attacks failed to interfere with the westward advance of the 9th Division.
9th Division is the “right pincer”. The holding force is constituted of 3rd Australian Division at Salamaua and the left pincer by 7th Div AIF airlanding at Nadzab tomorrow (5 September 1943). This plan was conceived by General Sir Thomas Blamey.
The Australians are transported by USN Task Force 76 and guarded by ten destroyers.
The initial landing today was by two brigades, HQ and support elements of 9 Div, carried in vessels of 7th Amphib Force (Rear-Adm Barbey USN). 532nd EBSR (US) also took part in the landing.
The balance of the division came in the second wave two days later. Blamey had insisted on landing the entire 9th Division instead of the single brigade envisioned by GHQ planners. Events on shore later would vindicate his judgment.
Although there was negligible resistance on shore, Japanese aircraft scored hits on LSTs in the initial landing and in the follow-on force. 2/4 Cdo Coy lost about a quarter of its strength to a bomb hit while an infantry battalion lost its CO and other personnel. There was no CAP.
After securing the beachhead, 9 Div AIF began its advance westward along the coast towards Lae. Somewhere ahead were a lot of enemy ... (Michael Mitchell)
At 0705 hours local, 6 “Zeke” fighters (Mitsubishi A6M, Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighters) and three “Betty” bombers (, Navy Type 1 Attack Bombers) attack the landing craft and sink the infantry landing craft LCI-339 and damage the destroyer USS Conyngham (DD-371) and tank landing ships USS LST-471 and USS LST-473.
At 0800 hours local, 9 USAAF Fifth Air Force B-24s support the Australian landings near Lae by pounding Lae Airfield; at 0900 hours, 24 B-24s attack gun emplacements and other targets at Malahang Airdrome at Lae. At about 1400 hours, 40 P-38s and P-47 Thunderbolts intercept about 100 IJN aircraft over the departing invasion force; a “Val” dive bombers (Aichi D3A, Navy Type 99 Carrier Bombers) hit an LST and score near misses on two USN destroyers while a “Betty” bomber scores a torpedo hit on an LST killing 51 and wounding 30. (Michael Mitchell and Jack McKillop)
During this action Seaman First Class Johnnie David Hutchins of the US Naval Reserve won the MOH for extraordinary heroism and conspicuous valour above and beyond the call of duty while serving on board a Landing Ship, Tank, during the assault on Lae.
His citation read:
As the ship on which Hutchins was stationed approached the enemy-occupied beach under a veritable hail of fire from Japanese shore batteries and aerial bombardment, a hostile torpedo pierced the surf and bore down upon the vessel with deadly accuracy. In the tense split seconds before the helmsman could steer clear of the threatening missile, a bomb struck the pilot house, dislodged him from his station, and left the stricken ship helplessly exposed. Fully aware of the dire peril of the situation, Hutchins, although mortally wounded by the shattering explosion, quickly grasped the wheel and exhausted the last of his strength in manoeuvring the vessel clear of the advancing torpedo. Still clinging to the helm, he eventually succumbed to his injuries, his final thoughts concerned only with the safety of his ship, his final efforts expended toward the security of his mission. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country. (Drew Halevy)
NEW BRITAIN ISLAND in the Bismarck Archipelago, B-25s bomb the airfield at Cape Gloucester on New Britain Island; A-20 Havocs and RAAF planes hit the airfield on Gasmata Island off New Britain Island; and 11 RAAF Catalinas attack Vunakanau and Lakunai Airdromes at Rabaul on New Britain Island.
USAAF OPERATIONS IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC AREA (Thirteenth Air Force): In the Solomon Islands, 23 B-25s hit the Dulo Cove area on New Georgia Island; 9 B-24s, 15 USAAF fighters, and 20+ USN fighters hit the airfield on Ballale Island.
USAAF OPERATIONS IN THE CHINA-BURMA-INDIA THEATER OF OPERATIONS
* Fourteenth Air Force: In China, 10 B-25s and 11 P-40s pound Tien Ho airfield at Canton; 3 of 15 intercepting “Zeke” fighters are shot down.
PACIFIC OCEAN: USN submarines sink three Japanese vessels: (1) USS Albacore (SS-218) sinks a gunboat about 133 nautical miles southwest of Ponape, Caroline Islands in position 05.25N, 156.37E; (2) USS Sunfish (SS-281) sinks an army cargo ship about 40 nautical miles southwest of Tainan, Formosa in position 22.06N, 119.50E; and (3) USS Tarpon (SS-175) sinks a guardboat about 887 nautical miles east of Tokyo in position 35.56N, 157.59E.
U.S.A.: Destroyer escorts USS Breeman and Runels launched. Submarine USS Icefish laid down. Destroyer escort USS Scroggins laid down.
I like the little article on Basilone. He would be on his War Bonds campaigns right now.
I liked that, too. We had the luxury of returning our “heroes” to the USA. The Axis equivalents were not so fortunate.
A couple of thoughts today:
Wasn’t it only two months ago that the Germans launched Operation Citadelle? Things have certainly turned against them in the East. And the Soviets seem enamored with the concept of “body counts” in their press releases.
It’s good to see an article on the effects of America’s submarine campaign against Japan. The results have been exaggerated in tons of shipping sunk. But the effects are not. Japan entered the war with a shortage of merchant shipping, and even with faulty torpedoes, we are chipping into that resource. This year, Japan will suffer a significant net loss (sinking vs. production) and contraction of her merchant fleet. That shortage was exacerbated by the long transit times to her far-flung empire. But suffice to say, we are doing to Japan what the Germans could not do to Britain.
Front page about the Soviets:
“Big Booty Taken”
The Russians aren't the only ones who like to quantify their gains. I am working on the Oct. 4 post and noticed this:
According to official German High Command figures broadcast from Berlin today, German troops withdrawing to [censored - HJS] took with them "106,000 head of cattle, 110,000 sheep, 60,000 horses and 62,000 Russian civilians."
On the one hand, the far south was ripe for picking. It was a natural extension of our Sicily campaign and we had the troops there. Knocking one of the Axis powers out and taking its capital would boost morale on our side and diminish on the other. We will tie down units that otherwise would be available for duty in Russia or France.
On the other hand, it makes little tactical sense to go up the boot the hard way, just to get to the Po Valley. We would still be separated from Austria and Germany by the Alps. The tactically sound way to try it would be by a serious of end arounds, like Patton did in Sicily, but after the Anzio fiasco all sealift will be sent to Britain. It was a long and costly campaign that ultimately did little to end the war.
Air power. It dictated EVERYTHING the Allies did. We would not move one inch outside our protective air umbrella. At this point, the umbrella only extends to Salerno. It does NOT cover northern France, as the Luftwaffe is still alive, and would hotly contest the skies over an invasion fleet. All those fighters defending the Reich from B-17s would also defend the air over the beaches.
We aren’t going to invade France this year. But we can’t just sit around and do nothing, either. So Salerno it is...
Also one of the best German commanders, "Smiling Albert" Kesselring.
Hmmm. Not smiling now.
I knew a German vet who fought in North Africa and Italy. He despised Rommel. Said Rommel was only concerned about his own self-promotion, and wasn’t above sacrificing troops to look good. (Which seems contrary to many histories of Rommel, but not to this old veteran).
He liked Kesselring and thought very highly of him. Said most of the German troops did, too.
I did a little googling on Kesselring. I did not realize the Brits tried him and put a death sentence on him. Churchill, Alexander and others highly placed worked to commute that and later to secure his release. Kesselring seemed very loyal to the German WWII vets.
A very good study on Rommel that focuses on this aspect of his personality is Ralf Georg Reuth's "Rommel: The End of a Legend".
This is a very critical look at the Desert Fox which portrays him as a favorite of Hitler who took advantage of that status to achieve maximum personal gain. He even theorizes that Rommel most likely did not know of the Hitler assassination plan that was going on within his general staff toward the end of the war because, despite the fact that he had become somewhat skeptical of Hitler's decisions, he was still a die hard supporter of the Fuhrer and would have turned these men in had he known about it.
It would be interesting to learn which of the German commanders were most admired by their old non-coms, and how close their list would match ours...
War-time propaganda aside, I still would have thought Rommel near the top of such lists.