Skip to comments.U.S. UNITS LAND BEHIND FOE IN NEW GUINEA; RED ARMY 14 MILES FROM POLISH BORDER (1/3/44)
Posted on 01/03/2014 5:16:09 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson
Captain Fleischer has attempted the difficult task of telling in diary form the story of these tasks. The following is based on his account.
3 January 1944. At 0400 our shore defenses opened fire at about 1,000 yards range on three unidentified vessels that failed to give the recognition signal. Several hits were scored and the vessels put out to sea. But after daylight we discovered that these were our own LSTs which had lost their escort. One man was killed and three wounded by this fire. Units disembarked were the 121st FA Battalion, and Batteries A and D, 743d CA Battalion (AA). The 121st went into position to support the east flank and the 120th the west flank. The AA Batteries were placed in positions previously reconnoitered.
Over on the east flank, the 2d Battalion, 126th Infantry, sent two reinforced platoons of Company F forward to organize a defensive position along the coastal track to Mur.
An outpost of Company B killed one Japanese out of a party of three men who seemed to be wandering aimlessly in the brush. The dead Japanese was wearing sandals and a ragged uniform, and he was carrying a pack. The two others escaped.
Reports radioed from Sixth Army indicated that the Japanese troops to the east of the beachhead might attempt to break though the position sometime between 10 and 20 January. There might also be a diversionary attack on the west with the attempt from the east.
Total casualties for the day: 3 killed, 17 wounded.
Major General H.W. Blakeley, USA, Ret., The 32d Infantry Division in World War II
British bomb Berlin
Monday, January 3, 1944 www.onwar.com
British Lancaster bomber being armed for a mission [photo at link]
Over Germany... In an air raid on Berlin, the RAF loses 27 Lancaster bombers out of the 383 aircraft committed, plus 168 crew members. The damage to the German capital is negligible.
On the Eastern Front... Soviet forces capture Olevsk and Novograd-Volynski, to the west and southwest of Korosten. Red Army troops are now within 24 km of the old Polish frontier.
In the Bismark Archipelago... On New Britain there is continued fighting in the Borgen Bay area (near Cape Gloucester) as the US 7th Marine Regiment continues its offensive. American forces lack armor support at this time.
January 3rd, 1944 (MONDAY)
GERMANY: Berlin: The RAF suffered heavily last night on its second 1,000-ton bombing raid in two nights on the German capital. Firemen stayed on the city’s perimeter until the raid ended; in the past when they went into action during the raids, fire and falling masonry destroyed many engines.
In fact, they need hardly have worried, because last night’s raid added little to existing damage, described by a soldier on leave from the eastern front in the Deutsche Allegmeine Zeitung: “In the streets rubble is piled high and vast heaps of bricks tower in front of mutilated facades.”
On the other hand, Bomber Command came off badly. In last night’s raid, bombs were scattered over all parts of Berlin, with only 82 dwellings destroyed and 36 Berliners killed, while the RAF lost 27 Lancasters out of 383 aircraft and 168 aircrew were killed. In the previous raid 28 out of 421 bombers were lost; 168 aircrew were killed and 79 Berliners, 21 of whom died in a panic rush for a shelter.
The RAF losses last night represented 7% of the force dispatched, a rate which cannot for long be accepted. At a briefing for last night’s raid, crews “gasped with horror or disbelief”, according to an observer, when they saw Berlin was again the target.
During the night of 3/4 January, RAF Bomber Command Mosquitos bomb the following targets: three hit Soligen, two bomb Essen (one hits the Krupps armaments works) and one attacks Cologne.
ITALY: In the U.S. Fifth Army area, II Corps prepares for final phase of assault on the Winter Line, to begin on 5 January. During the night of 3/4 January, the 1st Special Service Force, as a preliminary for the attack on Mt. Majo, begins clearing the ridge southeast of this feature. The French Expeditionary Corps (FEC), under General Alphonse Juin, takes command of the zone on the north flank of Fifth Army as the U.S. VI Corps withdraws from the line to participate in amphibious assault on Anzio. The 3d Algerian Division begins relief of the U.S. 45th Infantry Division.
USAAF Twelfth Air Force P-40s and A-36 Apaches bomb gun positions near Cassino, the Anagni railroad station, a village near Vicenza, the railway and trains between Ceccano and Segni, and the harbour at Civitavecchia; P-40s, with SAAF and RCAF Spitfires, hit over 100 vehicles in the Avezzano-Sulmona area; other P-40s, with USAAF, RAF, SAAF, and RAAF fighters, hit targets in the Filetto-Tollo areas in support of ground troops.
Lieutenant General Nathan F Twining becomes Commanding General, USAAF Fifteenth Air Force. In the Turin area, 60 Fifteenth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses escorted by P-38 Lightnings, bomb the Lingotto marshalling yard and 53 bomb the Villarperosa ball bearing works and the Fiat motor factory. P-47 Thunderbolts fly top cover for the B-17s as far as the Italian coast, then turn and carry out an uneventful sweep over the Rome area.
Macchi M.C. 205 Veltro (Greyhound) fighters of the Iº Gruppo Caccia, Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana, the air force of Benito Mussolini’s Repubblica Sociale Italiana (Italian Socialist Republic) in northern Italy, make their debut over Turin.
U.S.S.R.: Soviet forces take Olevsk, northwest of Kiev; press beyond there to achieve first crossing of pre-war frontier of Poland. Novograd Volyinsk falls, giving Russians control of another rail line from Korosten.
YUGOSLAVIA: USAAF Twelfth Air Force B-25 Mitchells bomb a troop concentration area at Prijedor, and hit Split and Sibenik.
BALTIC SEA: U-1003 collided with U-237 off Danzig. U-1003 suffered some damage.
BURMA: To hasten the clearing of the Tanai River line, U.S. Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell, Commanding General US China-Burma-India Theatre of Operations, Chief of Staff to Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, Commander in Chief Northern Area Combat Command, and Deputy Commander in Chief South-East Asia Command, promises the commander of the Chinese 38th Infantry Division the use of the Chinese 3d Battalion, 112th Regiment, from reserve, provided he takes Taihpa Ga in two days.
Twenty two USAAF Tenth Air Force A-36 Apaches and P-51 Mustangs hit warehouses and dump area at Sahmaw; 19 B-25 Mitchells, along with 16 P-38 Lightnings, bomb a pumping station at Yenangyaung, setting oil tanks afire; and ten B-24 Liberators follow with a strike on the same target, causing explosions and leaving the target in flames.
CHINA: Twenty eight USAAF Fourteenth Air Force B-24 Liberators attack the railroad yards at Lampang while five fighter-bombers attack the town of Pingkai.
NEW GUINEA: The airlift of the Australian 18th Brigade, 7th Division, to Dumpu is completed and the brigade takes up positions on Shaggy Ridge.
In Northeast New Guinea, over 50 USAAF Fifth Air Force B-24 Liberators and B-25 Mitchells bomb the Alexishafen area.
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Top Marine ace Major Gregory Boyington, USMCR captured by the Japanese, at Rabaul, after shooting down 28 confirmed aircraft over his career. Today he shoots down three “Zeke” fighters at 0815 hours local. He is himself shot down and picked up by a Japanese submarine and dropped off at Rabaul. He spends the next 20 months in Japanese prison camps. “Pappy” Boyington, leader of island-based VMF-214, best known as the famed “Black Sheep” squadron, the second of that designation. Largely comprised of men other outfits considered misfits, this was the reason for their nickname. The first VMF-214 was formed in 1943, and known as the “Swashbucklers”, reformed a year later in California, they became the Black Sheep. The third VMF-214 flew from the carrier USS Franklin over late 1944-45.
Six USAAF Thirteenth Air Force B-25 Mitchells bomb Moisuru a bivouac area near Kahili, on Bougainville Island and 15 more hit supply areas near the Buka Passage.
GILBERT ISLANDS: Japanese planes again bomb Abemama Airfield on Abemama Island but inflict neither casualties nor serious damage to installations.
BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: On New Britain Island, aviation engineers begin work on Cape Gloucester airdrome. The Japanese attack Target Hill in the early morning and are beaten back. The attack of the ADC Group (7th Marine Regiment, reinforced by the 3d Battalion of the 5th Marine Regiment, and supporting units) halts at small stream, dubbed Suicide Creek, northwest of Target Hill. Efforts to bridge the creek so that tanks can cross are unsuccessful.
Over 20 USAAF Fifth Air Force A-20 Havocs hit positions at Borgen Bay south of Cape Gloucester on New Britain Island.
Over 30 USAAF Thirteenth Air Force fighters again sweep the Rabaul area on New Britain Island, claiming six “Zekes” (Mitsubishi A6M, Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter) shot down. Six B-24 Liberators bomb Kavieng, New Ireland Island, and several others abort due to bad weather.
MARSHALL ISLANDS: Twenty four USAAF Seventh Air Force A-24 Dauntlesses from Makin Island, Gilbert Islands, dive-bomb antiaircraft positions and radar and radio facilities on Mili Atoll. Twenty supporting P-39 Airacobras strafe runways and oil storage.
Aerial minelaying operations in the Marshalls continue: seven USN PB4Y-1s Liberators of Bombing Squadrons One Hundred Eight and One Hundred Nine (VB-108 and VB-109), flying from Apemama, Gilbert Islands, mine the waters northwest of Enijun Island, off west side of Taroa, and outside lagoon off Kumaru Island, and strafe shipping anchored off Taroa. Four PV-1 Venturas of VB-137, flying from Tarawa, mine the southeast pass of Jaluit Atoll.
PACIFIC: From Glen Boren’s diary aboard the USS BUNKER HILL: We suddenly reverse course, heading back to Kavieng. More ships reported in the area.
We launched a predawn patrol and a search at Kavieng. Several ships were located in the general area, so we launched an attack at 0800 hrs. The strike returned about noon and reported that some hits were made on cruisers and DD’s but none were believed to be sunk. The ships were out of the harbour and in open water.
It was reported that Ensign Beedle got shot down, the aircraft was repoorted on fire and had crashed in the water. Our Skipper came in to land, after three tries, he made it. The hydraulics to his flaps were shot away and he made a “fast”landing. He had taken a hit in the wing stub and severed the hydraulic line. He also got some leg injuries from the shrapnel. Trigg landed and dropped a wheel into the catwalk on the port side, messed up the plane pretty bad.
General Quarters sounded at about 1400 hrs. Radar reported boggies at 50 miles. Monterey fighters shot them down real soon. I was told it was 5 Zekes and 1 Nell.
A little later, we had the CAP and Lt. Runyon shot down a Jake. ( I have it as a 3 place seaplane w/ twin floats.) A bit later, a Betty was shot down by Mandt and Trigg. The calm finally set in. At about 1845 hrs., the submarine “USS Guardfish” surfaced in the middle of the convoy and sailed with us til dawn.
In the South China Sea, the USN submarine USS Bluefish (SS-222) lays mines off the eastern Malayan coast.
NEWFOUNDLAND: Frigate HMCS Prince Rupert departed St John’s as escort for Convoy SC-150.
U.S.A.: USMC Squadron VMB-413 departs on the USS KALININ BAY (CVE-68).
Time magazine declares the US chief of staff, General George Marshall, its man of the year for 1943.
After returning from her third convoy duty, the Turner was anchored off Sandy Hook, New Jersey waiting to go to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for repairs. The next morning, a series of unknown explosions rocked her ammunition storage areas, turning the ship into an inferno. Another explosion ripped the bottom out of the Turner and she sank by the stern taking with her 15 officers and 138 ratings. 165 survivors were taken to the hospital at Sandy Hook, their lives saved by blood plasma being flown in from New York. CDR Frank Erickson flies plasma in a Coast Guard HNS-1 helicopter from Brooklyn to a hospital in Sandy Hook, NJ in the first recorded mission of mercy conducted by a rotary wing aircraft
Destroyer escorts USS Formoe, Grady, Melvin R Nawman and Oliver Mitchell laid down.
Escort carrier USS Nehenta Bay (CVE-74) commissioned at Astoria, Oregon. The USN now has 38 escort carriers in commission.
Destroyer escort USS Runels commissioned.
U-275 had to return to base because the commander was suffering from appendicitis.
U-373 was attacked by a British Wellington aircraft in the North Atlantic. The boat suffered heavy damage and was forced to return to base.
SS Empire Housman, straggling from the Convoy ON-217, was again torpedoed by U-744 and foundered two days later. One crewmember was lost. The master, 37 crewmembers and seven gunners were picked up by the armed trawler HMS Elm and rescue tug HMS Earner and landed at Reykjavik.
Destroyer Turner (DD-648) is sunk by internal explosion, three miles north of Ambrose Lightship, New York Harbour.
During efforts to help the injured, a Coast Guard helicopter transports needed blood plasma in the Navy’s first operational use of the helicopter in treating casualties.
Destroyer Somers (DD-381) sinks German blockade runner Weserland, 14°55’S, 21°39’W, and recovers 130 survivors.”
Pappy Boyington was shot down today. He would be in Japanese prison camps the rest of the war. For a time he was in a camp with Louis Zamporini, an Olympic track champion before the war. Zamporini was a really interesting guy and is the subject of Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, which I highly recommend.
Sometime this month the word will get back to the states and there will be stories of his disappearance in the Times. I don't think his status as POW will be known in January, which is as far as I have gotten with the posts. Just MIA for now.
I don’t know when, if ever, Boyington’s status will be revealed. According to his Wiki bio, Boyington said the Japanese never reported him as a prisoner to the Red Cross.