Skip to comments.U.S. SINKS ENEMY CRUISER, 4 DESTROYERS, HITS 4 OTHER SHIPS IN BOUGAINVILLE FIGHT (11/5/43)
Posted on 11/05/2013 4:27:14 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson
American planes hit Japanese warships
Friday, November 5, 1943 www.onwar.com
In the Bismarck Archipelago... US Task Force 38 (Admiral Sherman) with the carriers Saratoga and Princeton launches an attack on the Japanese naval squadron led by Admiral Kurita. A total of 107 American planes attack, resulting in damage to 4 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers and 2 destroyers. Only 10 American planes are lost. Later in the day, land-based Liberator bombers of the US 5th Air Force strike Rabaul and the Japanese squadron.
In the Solomon Islands... On Bougainville, the US 3rd Marine Division defeats a counterattack by the Japanese 23rd Regiment. Few of the large Japanese garrison (17th Army) oppose the landing because it is believed to be another diversion.
In Occupied France... Members of the French Resistance set off bombs in the Peugeot factory at Sochaux, destroying machinery used in the manufacture of tank turrets. This factory is described as the third most important target in France by the British Ministry of Economic Warfare.
On the Eastern Front... Soviet forces cut the Kiev-Zhitomir railroad, increasing the threat of encirclement to German forces in Kiev. Farther south, Soviet forces overrun the area between the lower Dniepr and the Crimea.
In Italy... The US 5th Army launches an assault on the German-held Reinhard Line. The German 14th Panzer Corps (Hube) defending here prevents significant gains. The defense is made easier by the difficult terrain and poor weather. Nonetheless, the offensive continues. Meanwhile, elements of the British 8th Army capture Vasto, Palmoli and Torrebruna.
November 5th, 1943 (FRIDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: An Eighth Air Force training officer arrives to assist HQ IX Fighter Command of the USAAF Ninth Air Force in setting up a comprehensive training system for fighter pilots. The training is based on the Eighth Air Force system; the Eighth Air Force and Royal Air Force (RAF) cooperate with the Ninth in instituting this program.
Frigate HMS Hotham laid down.
Frigate HMS Perim launched.
Destroyer HMS Virago commissioned.
FRANCE: The Peugeot factory at Sochaux is sabotaged by the resistance. Judged by the British Ministry of Economic Warfare as the third most important target in France, this factory makes tank turrets.
Industrial sabotage is being used with greater success than Allied bombing at the Peugeot plant which is producing war equipment on the Germans’ orders. Following the RAF raid on 14 July, which proved to be as unsuccessful as it was bloody, Harry Ree, a member of Britain’s clandestine Special Operations Executive, persuaded Armand Peugeot to sabotage the facilities of the plant with the help of his own engineers. The manufacturing of turrets for tanks has been interrupted indefinitely.
Over 150 USAAF Ninth Air Force B-26 Marauders bomb construction works at Mimoyecques, France; poor visibility causes one group to bomb the area SW of the primary targets; bad weather causes numerous aborts.
During the night of 5/6 November, the USAAF Eighth Air Force’s. VIII Bomber Command Mission flies 122: five B-17 Flying Fortresses drop over one million leaflets over Paris, Amiens, Rouen and Caen at 1917-2005 hours.
During the night of 5/6 November, 27 RAF Bomber Command Wellingtons dropped leaflets over France.
GERMANY: ETO: 48 year old S/Sgt. David J. Cole was grounded following his participation as a tail gunner in the 5 Nov. mission to Gelsenkirchen. The former taxi driver and World War I veteran was a member of the 385th BG (H). (Skip Guidry)
8th AF fighter losses:
353th FG: Lt. Robert L. Newman, 350 FS, KIA P-47D LH* 42-7907 Hit by e/a and crashed into North Sea.
Capt. Orville A. Kinkade, 351 FS, POW P-47C YJ*K 41-6583 “Alyce” Hit by e/a and bailed out near Volkerak.
Lt. Benedict E. Kraft, 351 FS, POW P-47D YJ*Q 42-8428 Hit by e/a and bailed out near Mulhiem.
355th FG: Lt. Clark Collins, 357 FS, KIA P-47D OS*T 42-8406 “Eager Eve” Hit by Me-109s west of Schouwen. (Skip Guidry)
The USAAF Eighth Air Force’s VIII Bomber Command flies Mission 121. Four targets in are hit with the loss of eight B-17s and three B-24 Liberators: In Gelsenkirchen, 232 aircraft bomb the Main marshalling yard, 49 hit the Buer synthetic oil refinery and 47 attack Nordstern synthetic oil refinery; 106 hit the marshalling yard at Munster and two aircraft bomb targets of opportunity.
During the night of 5/6 November, RAF Bomber Command Mosquitos bomb six targets: ten hit the Vereinigte Stahl armaments factory at Bochum; five hit Hannover; four attack the Rheinmetall armaments factory at Dusseldorf; three bomb Hamburg; and one each hit the Hoesch Stahl steel plant at Dortmund and the city of Heligoland.
U.S.S.R.: The Soviet advance cuts the Kiev-Zhitomir railroad and overrun the area between the lower Dniepr River and the Crimea. This gives credence to the threat to encircle Kiev.
The U.S. Fifth Army begins a ten day period of grueling action against lofty hills and mountains that form the German’s Winter Line. Designed as a delaying position, this line is disposed in front of the main defense belt known as the Gustav Line. Fifth Army’s efforts to breach the line during the next ten days are fruitless. In addition to a tenacious enemy, Fifth Army is adversely affected by terrain, rainy weather, and lack of reserves. In the British X Corps area, the 56th Division, in conjunction with left flank elements of the U.S. VI Corps, begins a battle for the Mt. Camino-Mt. la Difensa-Mt. Maggiore hill mass, concentrating on Mt. Camino. In the U.S. VI Corps area, the 3d Infantry Division begins outflanking attacks against positions commanding the Mignano Gap: as 7th Infantry Regiment columns press toward the German Mt. Ia Difensa positions, which hold out for the next ten days, elements of the 15th Infantry Regiment are sent northward over Mt. Cesima to ward Cannavinelle Hill; the 30th Infantry Regiment, upon passing through the 45th Infantry Division’s zone, during the night of 5/6 November, presses west toward Mt. Rotondo.
In the British Eighth Army area, V Corps pursues the Germans northward, the 78th Division, on the coast, pushing through Vasto. The Indian 8th Division takes Tufihlo.
A single bomb is dropped on the Vatican by an unknown plane. In 1930, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini installed a railroad station in the Vatican that was intended for the private use of the pope. Today, a single bomb is dropped and explodes near the station. Many believe that this was a message from German Chancellor Adolf Hitler to Pope Pius XII to provide a reminder of how the mission of the popes so often comes into conflict with the earthly ambitions of nations and politics. (Glenn Stenberg)
The Northwest African Tactical Bomber Force bombs roads east of Atina and north of Rome, and hits vehicles moving south from Pescara. USAAF XII Air Support Command and RAF Desert Air Force fighters and fighter-bombers attack motor transport north of Vasto, bridges and roads west of Isernia, Cassino, and Atena Lucana and the town of Castrocielo.
Three USAAF Fifteenth Air Force B-24 Liberators on a low-level raid bomb the Marittima railroad and highway bridges at Folcanara.
With the sun just rising over Torre Aningiatria, a port southeast of Naples, German bombers descend on Allied shipping. The port is of strategic importance because the Allies can unload the massive quantities of supplies they need to drive the Germans out of Italy.
Canadian seaman, Somer James’ ship offers choice prey. Loaded with ammunition, the Empire Lightning is moored to a dock piled with high-octane fuel when the bombs begin to find their targets. One strikes the fuel, setting it ablaze and threatening both the Lightning and other freighters moored fore and aft. The ship could be saved only be a careful combination of dropping some of its lines and doubling others, so it can be manoeuvred away from the fire.
The captain called for volunteers. Amidst the pandemonium, only Mr. James, who was not yet 22, stepped up. He donned a heavy jacket and lifebelt and went on deck alone. With the captain shouting instructions down at him from the bridge, with fire raging alongside and with high explosives beneath his feet, he ran the length of the ship from one mooring point to another and did his best to handle the massive hemp lines alone. The entire operation lasted about three hours, but, in the end, he managed to get the ship out of harm’s way, its sides scorched by fire.
Yet, he didn’t stop at that. Once the Lightening was secured, he helped move a number of barges loaded with dangerous cargo that had also caught fire.
The action later won him both the British Empire Medal and the Lloyd’s Medal for Bravery, an unusual double honour. While 29 other Canadian merchant sailors won the BEM for bravery during the Second World War, and some won the Lloyd’s medal, none received both awards for the same event. (Will O’Neill and Dave Shirlaw)
ALBANIA: USAAF Twelfth Air Force B-25 Mitchells, escorted by USAAF Fifteenth Air Force P-38 Lightnings, hit the Berat-Kucove Airfield.
CHINA: Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell, commander of the U.S. China-Burma-India Theater of Operations, Chief of Staff to Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, Commander of the Northern Area Combat Command (NCAC) in Burma and Deputy Commander in Chief of the South-East Asia Command (SEAC), submits a report to Chiang Kai-shek on SEAC planning and progress of preparations for an attack from Yunnan by the Chinese Yannan Force (Y-Force).
NEW GUINEA: In Northeast New Guinea, USAAF Fifth Air Force B-26 Marauders and P-39 Airacobras hit Bogadjim Road while B-25 Mitchells attack positions northwest of Dumpu, and P-39s bomb and strafe the Madang area. P-47 Thunderbolts over Wewak encounter a force of fighters and claim about 20 shot down.
PACIFIC OCEAN: Admiral Sherman leads US naval TF 38 in an attack on Admiral Kirita’s Japanese force at Rabaul. The US strikes with 107 aircraft damaging 6 cruisers and 2 destoryers for a loss of 10 planes. A second assault by B-24s also adds damage.
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Torokina: Amid fierce but sporadic fighting, US marines have established a beach-head which is 6,000 yards long and three miles deep at Cape Torokina five days after seven battalions made an amphibious assault on the uninhabited western coast of Bougainville, the largest island in the Solomons. Engineers have now begun work on an airstrip intended for bombing Rabaul, in New Britain, Japan’s HQ for the South-west Pacific. The US landings - Operation Cherryblossom - were co-ordinated with diversionary Allied attacks elsewhere in the Solomons. These took the Japanese commander, General Harukichi Hayakutake, by surprise. Most of his 40,000-strong Seventeenth Army is on Bouganville’s south coast.
In the zone of the 9th Marine Regiment on Bougainville Island, the Marine 3d Raider Battalion repels an attack by the Japanese 23rd Regiment against a block on a local trail, called Mission Trail. Later the Rangers and the 3d Battalion of the 9th Marine Regiment drive up Mission Trail toward its junction with the Numa Numa Trail. The Numa Numa and East-West Trails are the two main trails on Cape Torokina. There is not much of a Japanese movement on land to counter these landings because of the difficult terrain and because the Japanese feel these landings are a feint.
The first strategic Japanese response came 24 hours after the invasion as Admiral Omori’s Eighth Fleet attempted to harass the US armada in Empress Augusta Bay. Omori quickly lost the light cruiser SENDAI and the destroyer HATSUKAZE, with three other warships damaged - a miscalculation that cost the admiral his command.
The 14 Antiaircraft Artillery Group move to Florida Island. (Jean Beach)
Six USAAF Thirteenth Air Force B-25 Mitchells hit a bivouac area at Kieta on the west coast of Bougainville Island and sink at least six barges between Kieta and Banin Harbor.
NEW BRITAIN: The Japanese 23rd Regiment on Bougainville counterattacks the Marines. There is not much of a Japanese movement on land to counter these landings because of the difficult terrain and because the Japanese feel these landings are a feint.
For the first time since June last year US carriers have gone into action against a powerful Japanese base. Read-Admiral Frederick C. Sherman’s task force TF38, with the carriers USS Saratoga and USS PRINCETON, was ordered to make a surprise attack on Rabaul today by Admiral Halsey. News had come through that a Japanese fleet of seven heavy cruisers, one light cruiser and four destroyers was on its way to Rabaul, preparatory to a major assault on US forces at Empress Augusta Bay. Halsey had to act quickly if he was to make any impression - and luck was with him today.
The carriers, shrouded in heavy cloud, were misidentified as cruisers by Japanese scout planes, and over Rabaul harbour itself the skies were clear for the US attack. Airborne Japanese fighters waited in vain for the tight formation to break up under anti-aircraft fire, and missed their chance to knock out leading bombers. The cruisers ATAGO, MAYA and MOGAMI and three destroyers were damaged. All but ten US planes returned and the carriers withdrew unscathed.
USN F6F Hellcats from Barakoma Field on Vella Lavella Island, Solomon Islands, cover Task Force 38 which launches 22 SBD Dauntlesses, 23 TBF Avengers and 52 F6Fs from the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) and small aircraft carrier USS Princeton (CVL-23) to attack the ten Japanese cruisers and ten destroyers in the harbor at Rabaul, New Britain Island. The carrier-based aircraft severely damage four heavy cruisers, HIJMS Atago, Takao, Maya, Chikuma, and Mogami, two light cruisers, HIJMS Noshiro and Agano, and two destroyers, HIJMS Fujinami and Amagiri, at a loss of one SBD, four TBFs and five F6Fs. The Japanese lose one “Sally” bomber (Mitsubishi Ki-21, Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber) and 27 “Zeke” (Mitsubishi A6M, Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighters) and “Tony” (Kawasaki Ki-61, Army Type 3 Fighter Hien) fighters. As Japanese aircraft fly off to search for the aircraft carriers, over 90 USAAF Fifth Air Force B-24 Liberators and fighters attack the wharf areas at Rabaul. Because of this attack, the Japanese Navy orders all surface warships at Rabaul to sail to Truk Atoll, Caroline Islands.
Captain Richard I. Bong shoots down two “Zeke” fighters (Mitsubishi A6M, Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighters) over Rabaul, New Britain Island. These two bring his total victories to 21.
CANADA: Frigate HMCS Cap de la Madeleine laid down Quebec City, Province of Quebec.
U.S.A.: On 21 September, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Fulbright Resolution. Representative J.W. Fulbright (Democrat-Arkansas) called for the creation of an international organization with the power to establish and maintain a just and lasting peace. The resolution also included U.S. participation in this organization through the constitutional process. Senator Tom Connally (Democrat-Texas) introduced a similar resolution in the Senate, which passes today, with the stipulation that any treaty drafted to achieve these goals would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate.
Destroyer escorts USS Ahrens, Alexander J Luke and Robert I Paine laid down.
Destroyer USS Norman Scott commissioned.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: German submarine U-848 is sunk about 253 nautical miles (469 kilometers) west-southwest of Ascension Island in the South Atlantic in position 10.09S, 18.00W, by depth charges from two USAAF B-25 Mitchells of the 1st Composite Squadron and three USN PB4Y-1 Liberators of a detachment of USN Patrol Squadron One Hundred Seven (VB-107), both units based on Ascension Island; all 63 crewmen are lost.
“YOU SUNK MY BATTLESHIP”
Somer James never wanted to go to war.
“I didn’t want to get involved with killing people, shooting them with guns from far away, and getting involved with anything like that,” he explained. But this didn’t mean that James was unwilling to defend his country when war broke out.
This is why, in 1940, this 21-year-old joined Canada’s merchant navy as an ordinary seaman. Over the next five years, James served on 12 different ships, and won the British Empire Medal (civilian) and the Lloyd’s Medal for Bravery; both for his courageous actions on November 5, 1943.
The place was the Italian port of Torre Aningiatria. Following the successful Allied landing, our troops were being supplied by explosives-laden ships such as the Empire Lightning on which James was serving. Naturally, these ships were targeted by German bombers.
On that day when the bombers began their attack, the Empire Lightning was docked waiting to offload its dangerous cargo. Nearby on the quay were drums of high-octane fuel: Hit by a bomb, they burst into flames. Then the drums started exploding, searing the Empire Lightning’s hull with burning rain and setting two landing barges on fire.
The only way to prevent a catastrophe was to move the explosives - packed Empire Lightning further down the dock. But that could only happen if the mooring lines were set free; requiring someone to get into the danger zone to loose the heavy lines. Ordinary Seaman James volunteered to take the risk. Despite the flames, he fought with the ropes until the Empire Lightning was set free. But that’s not all: James then helped move a number of barges that were on fire. When the heat was literally on, he stayed cool.
The lives and materials Ordinary Seaman James saved are beyond calculation. To put the risk in context: When the explosives-laden Mont-Blanc blew up in Halifax harbour on December 6, 1917, the resulting shock wave and fireball killed more than 1900, injured 9,000 and leveled the city. Had the Empire Lightning’s munitions exploded, the loss to Allied troops of supplies and ships would have disastrous.
At war’s end, Somer James returned to Toronto with his new wife Jean, whom he had met in England. Soon after, they moved to Winnipeg, where James became a partner in a theatre poster business before establishing the Regency Coin & Stamp Company in 1958. From then until his death in 2005, James earned an international reputation as an expert, trustworthy coin and stamp dealer. As for his bravery that fateful day in Italy? Apparently Ordinary Seaman James didn’t speak of it much, nor of the medals he won. But they can be seen on display at the Canadian War Museum; silent testaments to the memory of this patriotic pacifist.
The Japanese sailors were great night fighters, but were no match for radar guided heavy guns.
It’s interesting the news of the Bataan prisoners came from South Africa and the Swede’s.
As always thanks.
I think there is something quite wrong about the picture of the damaged warship on P.8 above. First, I know of no major US warship sunk or heavily damaged in Naples harbor. Please correct me if I’m wrong. The light cruiser USS Savanah was severely damaged by a german glide bomb in August 1943 while supporting the landings at Salerno and she was eventually returned to the US for repairs. But that happened offshore and she first headed to Malta for temporary repairs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:USS_Savannah_(CL-42)_is_hit_by_a_German_guided_bomb,_off_Salerno,_11_September_1943.jpg
Second, the gun turret pictured looks more like the typical 8-in battery of pre-WWII US cruisers, not the 6-in gun turrets of Savanah. My hunch is that the picture released by the Navy was actually of a US cruiser damaged in the Pacific. Another bit of wartime disinformation I suppose.
BTW, thanks for posting these old newspaper clips. My dad was a Marine on Bougainville and would have certainly cheered the outcome of the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay.
Great story. Thanks for sharing it.
On November 1, 1943, the Americans landed a large amphibious force on the important island of Bougainville. They expected a vigorous response from the Japanese, and they got one. Admiral Sentaro Omori sortied from Rabaul at once with a powerful surface force of two heavy and two light cruisers, and six destroyers. The Americans, having sent most of their assault transports out of the danger zone before nightfall, awaited the Japanese with four light cruisers and eight destroyers. The advantage in both gunfire and torpedoes clearly lay with the Japanese.
Fortunately for the Americans, the Japanese force was a ‘pick-up’ team which hadn’t practiced together, and Omori tried playing a game that was a little over his head. Confused by conflicting reports he was receiving from his scout planes as to the composition of the American force to his south, he executed a series of 180-degree turns (in pitch blackness) which were designed to give his aircraft more time to bring him information. Instead, all they did was throw his squadron into disarray, leaving his screening force far out of position, just as the Americans arrived on the scene. The Americans, coming upon the Japanese screen, launched torpedoes first, and then opened with guns. The Japanese screening force, upon spotting American destroyers, tried desperately to evade the torps they knew to be in the water, and ended up either colliding with each other or suffering near-misses. Sendai nearly hit Shigure, and Samidare sideswiped Shiratsuyu, staving in her hull and putting her out of the fight. Sendai was then buried in 6-inch gunfire.
Omori tried bringing his main bodyinto the battle. This only succeeded in causing further collisions, as Myoko tore Hatsukaze’s bow off, and Haguro nearly hit two other destroyers. A brief, inconclusive fight followed between the two Japanese heavies and the four American lights. Although the Japanese launched a large salvo of torpedoes, they were ineffective. The Americans achieved several gunfire straddles, but failed to hit their targets. At 0229 Omori ordered a general withdrawal. The Americans found the hapless Hatsukaze (Myoko was still wearing her bow when she returned to Rabaul) and sank her with gunfire.
The Japanese had clearly lost this fight, failing to bring their heavy units to bear conclusively, and wiping out most of their own screening destroyers through their own ill-considered maneuvers. The invasion of Bougainville wouldn’t be stopped this night.
Nice photograph of the “parachute bombs” being used by the U.S. 5th Air Force in New Guinea. It was yet another innovation by Gen. George Kenney, whom I consider to be superior to Curtis LeMay as a strategist and tactician, and easily the most underrated American general of the war.
Kenney had very little to work with, as his theater was very low on the priority list for air assets. He worked around his limitations with several brilliant innovations. He became the master of low-level attacks, primarily with his B-25s and A-20s, medium bombers that turned out to be ideally suited for such tactics. He packed the nose of B25s with eight forward-firing .50 cal. machine guns. These were absolutely devastating at strafing airfields and coastal shipping. The skip-bombing technique gutted the Japanese convoy at the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. And now he’s dropping fragmentation bombs on Japanese airfields by parachute. The delay allows the bomber to come in just over the tree tops, drop the bombs, and get away without being damaged by the blast. The Japanese had absolutely no answer to these tactics.
Great article on Kenney found here:
What was interesting in the article is that Kenney advocated deploying the B-29s to New Guinea, and using them against the oil refineries in Indonesia. Kenney thought it would cripple the Japanese war effort much more quickly than the raids on the home islands from the Marianas. It would have been interesting to see how that would have played out.
Gen. Kenny’s book is a good read.
Thanks for those interesting posts. The Army and Air Force really did have to operate on a shoe string in the Southwest Pacific. Nimitz was in a better position because Europe didn’t need his assets, but I still wonder how the Navy got away with building a huge Pacific Fleet despite the Europe-first directive.
Three reasons Nimitz got his navy.
1. The ships being delivered now were authorized by the Two Ocean Navy Act of 1940, before we went to war with Germany.
2. It takes years to build a navy, and we couldn’t afford to wait.
3. Because we could build it.
And there was congressional action even before the two ocean navy act. There is a reason we named a freaking super carrier after Carl Vinson.
That's what impresses me the most, that we had the industrial capacity to arm the Army we were training for Europe, send aid to our Allies - and build that massive Pacific Fleet.
And with the spare change of our engineering and industrial base, build two different types of atomic weapons. In 1943, every developed country in the world had physicists who knew that it was possible to build atomic weapons. But not one of them considered it feasible to actually try to do so because they lacked any spare industrial capacity for the effort. Except us.
But as for the US Navy, and the massive Pacific Fleet, take a look at the Alaska Class Large Cruisers.
In reality, she was a 27,000 ton battlecruiser, the first built in a generation. In the photos, you can see she was an absolutely beautiful ship. She and her two sisters were also completely superfluous. We didn’t need them. The only reason we built them was because we thought the Japanese were building something comparable.
And that was the difference between the United States and every other nation at war. They all scraped together whatever they could to make what they absolutely needed to fight the war. In the case of the USSR, they made about 20,000 variants of the T-34, but almost no trucks or radios. The Germans could only make 5000 Panthers. We made not only what we needed, but we made whole weapons systems because we wanted to and we could.
Excellent points, henkster. I agree the Alaska was beautiful - and huge. There’s an aerial shot of her tied up next to the Missouri and she’s not a whole lot smaller. Very impressive ship.
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