Skip to comments.ALLIES STEP UP RECORD BOMBING, DROPPING 8,000 TONS IN 36 HOURS (4/20/44)
Posted on 04/20/2014 5:45:23 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Germans using human torpedoes
Thursday, April 20, 1944 www.onwar.com
In the Mediterranean... During the night (April 20-21), the Germans use Neger (in English: Negro) human torpedoes against shipping off Anzio. A total of 37 are launched from beaches and 24 are lost. No results are achieved. Meanwhile, 6 Allied merchant ships are hit by torpedo planes near the Straits of Gibraltar.
In Ankara... The Turkish government orders an end to chrome exports to Germany in response to increasing to Allied pressure.
In Burma... The Allied garrison on Summer House Hill, Kohima, is relieved by the British 2nd Division.
Over Britain... There is an abortive night raid on Hull.
April 20th, 1944 (THURSDAY)
FRANCE: Paris: Tonight an Allied air raid kills 641 people.
The Eighth Air Force flies Mission 309: 842 bombers and 388 fighters are dispatched to hit V-weapon sites in France; 24 of 33 sites briefed are hit; 9 bombers and 2 fighters are lost:
- 438 B-17s hit sites in the Pas de Calais and Cherbourg areas; 19 others hit targets of opportunity; 7 B-17s are lost.
- 113 B-24s hit sites in the Pas de Calais area; 2 B-24s are lost.
Escort is provided by 89 P-38s, 211 P-47 Thunderbolts and 88 P-51 Mustangs; they claim 4-0-2 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 4-0-0 on the ground; 2 P-51s are lost.
The Ninth Air Force dispatches almost 400 B-26 Marauders and A-20 Havocs to attack gun positions at Etaples, Bazinghen, Villerville, Gravelines and Fecamp, the airfield at Poix, and V-weapon sites and targets of opportunity in the Pas de Calais area; nearly 140 P-47s bomb marshalling yards at Creil and Mantes-La-Jolie. (Jack McKillop)
Countdown to D-Day:
Field Marshal Rommel, commander, Army Group B,
stays at his headquarters at La Roche-Guyon today,
catching up on paperwork and chairing a number of
sessions with his staff. They attend a number of
subjects, including the distribution of an incoming
supply of “nutcracker” mines, the manufacture of
tetrahedrons, and areas along the coast where they
are needed, and the repositioning of several units.
That evening, the headquarters is in a festive mood.
First of all, it is a going away party for the outgoing
Chief of Staff, Alfred Gause, and the staff has really
put forth an effort to make this a festive occasion.
Second, it is the Führer’s birthday, and the more
celebration that is done, the better it looks to outsiders.
The Rochfoucauld family, residing upstairs over the
noisy routine of a busy headquarters, has been invited
to the evening’s celebration, and they have graciously
accepted invitation. The duke’s younger son, dressed
in the uniform of the French navy attends. The duchess
donates a bouquet of lilacs and four bottles of her best
wine — a 1900 claret - for the party.
The celebration begins. They are all present: Rommel,
his senior staff officers, the duke and his family, their
young, pretty daughter Charlotte (escorted by a number
of Rommel’s junior officers), and most of the administrative
After a fine dinner, Rommel gets up and addresses his
audience. He prefaces his remarks with a well-intended
congratulatory comments recognizing the Führer’s birthday,
and noting the strength that he has given their country.
He then begins an oratory on the finer qualities of his
outgoing chief of staff. He tells them of their struggles
together in the French campaign, and later in North
Africa. Rommel of course takes great fervour in outlining
Gause’s many and varied accomplishments during this
time, sometimes describing in detail this episode, or
recanting with a caustic tone some tale of woe
that had befallen them.
At the end of the speech, after the applause dies down,
Gause stands and addresses the Rommel and his
attendants. He tells him of the privilege it has been
working for him, and that he has enjoyed working with
all of them. Formally recognizing members of the
Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe, he beseeches them to
strive to work together against the enemy, and to resist
trifling in petty power squabbles.
The final speaker is the Operations Officer, Colonel von
Tempelhoff, who puts in a few choice words welcoming
in Hans Speidel, and hoping, on behalf of the staff, that
Gause fines happiness in his future, and satisfaction in
his next assignment. Rumour has it that, based on
Rommel’s recommendation, he is going to get command
of a panzer division.
Then the “unofficial” part of the evening begins. Gause is
informed that, after due consideration by the staff members,
he has been elected the “Tetrarch of the Tetragoner,” with
a fancy (though unrefined) dark blue coat of arms.
Charlotte is waltzed around the dancing area by several
keen young men, while the senior officers spend their
time in glittering conversation.
Even though there is work to be done the next day, the
party does not wind down until about two in the morning -
unusual for the staff, but appropriate for the occasion.
GERMANY: The so-called British Free Corps of the Waffen-SS holds its inaugural parade at the Haus Germanien in the St Michaeli Kloster, Hildesheim. Present are a small German staff and fourteen assorted British renegades including the senior NCO, SS-Oberscharfuehrer Thomas Cooper, a former concentration camp guard and veteran of ‘aktions’ in the Warsaw and Cracow ghettoes. After a brief speech from the German commanding officer and the formal presentation of rank insignia and side-arms, the British traitors are despatched to begin recruiting at POW camps throughout the Reich. (Adrian Weale)
U.S.S.R.: Soviet planes, destroyers, submarines and torpedo boats attack German and Romanian ships evacuating the 17th German-Romanian Army from Sevastopol. During the next three weeks, the Soviets will sink 10 Axis ships, but the sea lift will rescue more than 42,000 troops. (Jack McKillop)
ITALY: B-25s and B-26s of the Twelfth Air Force score hits on a marshalling yard and 3 fuel dumps at Leghorn and near misses on Cecina and Certaldo bridges and Arezzo viaduct; fighter-bombers hit railroad lines and fuel dump in the Florence area; bridges, dump, rail lines and train cars near Civitavecchia and Zagarolo, at Sezze, near Ladispoli, southwest of Stimipliano and north of Monterotondo; and guns south of Albano Laziale; in the battle area around Cassino fighter-bombers blast several gun positions and hit bridges, trucks, troops and other targets, at several points, including Falconara, Recanati, San Benedetto de Marsi, and the Fondi-Itri and Orte-Orvieto areas.
300+ Fifteenth Air Force B-17s and B-24s attack targets in Italy; the B-17s bomb marshalling yards at Ancona, Castelfranco, Padua and Vicenza and Venice harbour installations; the B-24s hit marshalling yards at Mestre, Reviso and Fano, Venice harbour, Monfalcone dockyards and Trieste; 180+ other heavy bombers dispatched against communications targets in northern Italy are forced to abort due to bad weather; about 250 fighters provide cover for the bombing raids. (Jack McKillop)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: German torpedo planes and submarine U-969 attack the 87-ship convoy UGS-38 in the Mediterranean off the coast of Algeria. The destroyer USS Landsdale (DD-426) is sunk by aerial torpedo; the survivors are rescued by two destroyer escorts. The US freighter SS Paul Hamilton is struck by an aerial torpedo and disintegrates; the 47-man merchant crew, the 29-man Armed Guard and 504 troops aboard are all killed. (Jack McKillop)
TURKEY stops chrome exports to Germany under diplomatic pressure from the Allies.
INDIA: British forces reach the besieged Kohima garrison, but Japan still holds the surrounding land.
INDIAN OCEAN: During Operation COCKPIT, an Allied task force consisting of ships of the British Eastern Fleet, including the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, and the US aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) and three US destroyers, attacks Japanese ships and positions at Sabang, Netherlands East Indies. This is the first joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean. (Jack McKillop)
BURMA: 11 Tenth Air Force B-25s hit a bivouac and supply area northwest of Manywet. (Jack McKillop)
BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: With improved weather conditions bombing of targets in the Bismarck Archipelago by the Thirteenth Air Force resumes; on New Britain Island, 22 B-25s hit the Matupi supply area and 40+ fighter-bombers blast the airfields at Lakunai and Keravat. (Jack McKillop)
MARSHALL ISLANDS: Tarawa-based Seventh Air Force B-25s, using Majuro Atoll as a shuttle base between strikes, bomb Maloelap and Jaluit Atolls. (Jack McKillop)
CAROLINE ISLANDS: Thirteenth Air Force B-24s bomb Woleai Atoll. (Jack McKillop)
NEW GUINEA: Fifth Air Force B-24s bomb airfields on Noemfoor Island, Schouten Islands. In New Guinea, B-25s, A-20s, and fighters hit a variety of targets around Hollandia, on Cape Croisilles, in the Bunabun area and along Hansa Bay. (Jack McKillop)
WAKE ISLAND: Seventh Air Force B-24s from Kwajalein Atoll search the area near Wake Island for shipping; finding none, the bombers hit Wake and Peale Islands. (Jack McKillop)
PACIFIC OCEAN: Submarine USS Seahorse (SS-304) sinks Japanese submarine HIJMS RO-45 off the Marianas. (Jack McKillop)
U.S.A.: The documentary short “It’s Your War Too” is released in the U.S. This ten-minute documentary film details the history of the U.S. Army’s Women’s Army Corps, the WACS. (Jack McKillop)
The relegation of USS Saratoga to the British Eastern Fleet show the the Americans believe she is no longer suitable for operations with the more modern Essex class carriers.
Upon returning to Pearl Harbor, Lt.Cdr. John W. Murphy Jr., was promptly relieved of command.
In February 1943, the Tambor set out for Mindanao on a guerrilla supply mission. The team that landed on March 5, was led by the colorful character Charles Parsons. Part of Parsons' objective was to meet and assess American guerrilla leader Wendell Fertig.
"Men and women of the Polish Resistance share a moment of camaraderie before returning to the fight.
Using guerrilla tactics, these fighters aided the Russian Army by harassing German troops in the area of Vilna, Lithuania.
Some Jews, operating from the Rudninkai Forest and other secret locations, participated in the Resistance, preparing the way for the liberation of Vilna in July."
Finally, I'm not certain if the Saratoga's role in the war is yet completely downgraded.
Despite increasing obsolescence, there may yet be one great battle left in her...
I see that news of the disaster with the paratroopers’ transports is dribbling out now, when most readers will be more interested in the buildup to the invasion of Europe.
And the government itself did not report the incident until after newsman Drew Pearson broke the story (dare I say, Snowden-like?).
Then belatedly they produced a wishy-washy statement which might be interpreted any way you wanted.
But your larger point about using "bright shining objects" to tamp down embarrassing stories is well worth noting.
Indeed, I've wondered if today's (really, I mean today) western-public response to Russia's invasion of Crimea might be getting hugely tamped down by the "abracadabra" of that disappeared Boeing 777?
In this case the reverse of the situation in April 1944.
That's certainly a possibility, although interest in the missing plane seems to be waning as it remains missing.
Clearly there was misdirection going on in 1944 - look at the coverage of the Lonergan murder case!
The Wiki entry about Murphy’s command of Tambor is brutal. He seriously cheesed off Adm. Spruance. Because of the mayhem he inadvertently committed, he had a wounded and defenseless Japanese cruiser in front of him but he didn’t close and finish the ship off. Earlier, he spotted part of the Japanese fleet, but didn’t close enough to see if the ships were Japanese and of what type, rendering the intel more than useless.
Yes it was. Without Murphy, the Tambor had a distinguished record in the war.
There were a lot of overage, under aggressive and just plain incompetent skippers in the Silent Service at the start of the war. It took Lockwood a while to weed them all out but he did that faster than he solved the torpedo problems. There weren’t many who started slow but became good. Donc Donaho was one, and in his case it was partially inexperience and partially bad fish. But yeah, Murphy was totally unfit for command.
Lockwood died on 6 June 1967. He is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California alongside his wife and Admirals Chester Nimitz, Raymond Spruance, and Richmond Kelly Turner, an arrangement made by all of them while living.
Continuing the discussion about the Tambor and her hesitant commander, on April 26, 1942, Nimitz had the following entry concerning the Tambor:
The Tambor reports sinking a medium tanker on April 15th and small freighter on March 23d, missed a freighter on the 30th possibly due to too deep torpedo setting. Unsuccessfully attacked a tanker the 6th, was depth charged by aircraft on the 12th. Score - 2 sunk, 2 missed. This is a disappointing score for a submarine in an area supposed to be quite active.Interestingly enough, on the same day a little later an entry reads,
the Japanese are taking an interest in Alaskan charts.
I'm curious to read more and learn why the Japanese became interested in Alaskan charts.
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