Skip to comments.5TH ARMY PUSHES ON, OPENS FLANK DRIVE; 2,200 U.S. PLANES BLAST REICH OIL CENTER (5/29/44)
Posted on 05/29/2014 4:14:20 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Japanese tanks engaged on Biak
Monday, May 29, 1944 www.onwar.com
In New Guinea... On Biak Island, as well as Arare on the mainland, the American beachheads are heavily attacked by Japanese forces. The Japanese garrison on Biak makes use of tanks to force the US 162nd Regiment back towards its landing zone.
In the North Atlantic... The American escort carrier Block Island and a destroyer are sunk by U-549 before it is itself sunk.
Over Germany... About 400 American bombers attack German synthetic fuel works and oil refineries at Polits and other locations. The damage caused sets back aircraft fuel production.
In Berlin... In a presentation to Hitler, Field Marshal Busch, commanding German Army Group Center on the Eastern Front, presents evidence of a major Soviet buildup along his lines. Hitler emphasizes the need to improve the defensive fortifications at Vitebsk, Polotsk, Rosh, Mogilev and Bobriusk and to defend the area at all costs.
In Italy... At Anzio, the British and American troops of the US 6th Corps take Campoleone and Carroceto. The Canadian 1st Corps begins to advance up Route 6 from Caprano toward Frosinone.
May 29th, 1944 (MONDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: The USAAF’s Eighth Air Force in England flies Mission 379: 993 bombers and 673 fighters are dispatched in three forces to attack aircraft plants and oil installations in Germany and Poland; they claim 117-38-49 Luftwaffe aircraft; 34 bombers and 10 fighters are lost:
1. 443 B-24s are dispatched to hit an oil terminal at Politz (224 bomb) and airfield and aircraft assembly plant at Tutow (167 bomb); 14 hit Rensburg Airfield, nine hit Misdroy and one hits Schwerin; they claim 29-15-10 Luftwaffe aircraft; 17 B-24s are lost.
2. 251 B-17s are dispatched to hit aviation industry targets at Leipzig/Mockau (149 bomb) and Leipzig/Heiterblick (50 bomb); four others hit targets of opportunity; they claim 11-4-5 Luftwaffe aircraft; nine B-17s are lost.
3. 299 B-17s are dispatched to hit aviation industry targets at Krzesinki (91 bomb) and Posen (58 bomb), Poland and Sorau (52 bomb) and Cottbus (48 bomb), Germany; 19 others hit Schneidemuhl Airfield and two hit targets of opportunity; they claim 22-18-14 Luftwaffe aircraft; eight B-17s are lost .
Personal Memory: For my sixth mission we were assigned a ten hour slugfest. We were to bomb a Fock Wulf assembly plant in Posen, Poland. The 303rd Bomb Group furnished 18 B-17s for the 41st Wing. We took off at 0825 and assembled at 8,000 feet over our base at Molesworth. We climbed to 21,000 feet as we crossed the channel. Our target was in the suburbs of Posen at Erzesinki. The weather was CAVU and our compass heading to the target was 64 degrees because of a 5 degree wind-drift. The intervalometer was set at the salvo position and all planes dropped as soon as bombs appeared from the lead plane. Despite considerable flak we hit the target almost dead center. We saw no fighter planes and of course we were far out of range of our own fighters. We turned north after the drop and headed for the Baltic sea, dropping down to 14,000 feet to save fuel. We had bombed from 22,000 feet. We crossed over an “undefended” island and got peppered by a four gun flak battery before we could turn enough to throw off their aiming lead. One B-17 lost an engine on their second burst and started dropping back. And then we were attacked head-on by a squadron of Me-109s and FW-190s. One Me-109 chose our plane as its target and came in from 1’oclock high firing everything he had. It’s enough to give one an involuntary colonic spasm. And we fired back of course. Evidently we missed each other but we got hit by another B-17 who was firing at “our” Me-109. At this point our plane was very light and the B-17 was quite agile. On the way home we saw a B-17 go out of control and explode with eight parachutes. We saw another ditch in the North Sea having run out of fuel. Their raft had several men who were picked up two hours later. Our trip took us near Sweden and eight bombers landed there to sit out the war. One was the now famous Shoo Shoo Baby that is at the Wright museum. This was not a “Milk Run” and the score so far of my six missions was 3 Milk Runs and 3 others. (Dick Johnson)
Escort is provided by 184 P-38 Lightnings, 187 P-47 Thunderbolts and 302 P-51 Mustangs; the P-38s claim none and none are lost; the P-47s claim 1-0-1 Luftwaffe aircraft with the loss of four P-47s; the P-51s claim 38-1-4 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 16-0-15 on the ground with the loss of six Mustangs. 592 Ninth Air Force fighters also support the mission; they claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft and lose two fighters.
23 B-24s are dispatched on CARPETBAGGER missions; one is lost.
The USAAF’s Ninth Air Force in England dispatches 450+ B-26 Marauders and A-20 Havocs to bomb airfields, marshalling yards, railroad bridges, coastal battery and NOBALL (V-weapon) targets in France and Belgium. 200+ P-47s bomb targets in the same area.
GERMANY: Poznan: Himmler promises Nazi officials that “before the end of the year the Jewish problem will be settled once and for all.”
U-2506 laid down.
BALTIC SEA: During Baltic exercises U-1203 lost one man after crash diving north of Danzig. [Maschinengefreiter Johann Igel].
ITALY: The Canadians advance north on Route 6 from Caprano near Anzio.
The USAAF’s Fifteenth Air Force in Italy dispatches 829 bombers (the largest number of bombers completing attacks in a single day up to this time) to bomb targets in Austria and Yugoslavia; B-17s and B-24s attack an aircraft factory at Wollesdorf, Austria; B-24s also attack industrial areas at Wiener Neustadt and Atzgersdorf, Austria and troop concentrations at Poderica, Yugoslavia. P-38s and P-51s escort the Austrian missions while P-38s accompany B-24s to Yugoslav targets and afterwards strafe numerous targets of opportunity; fighter opposition over Yugoslavia is negligible but around 150 fighters attempt interception over Austria, principally in the Wiener-Neustadt area; 23 USAAF aircraft are lost; the bombers and fighters claim 60+ fighters shot down.
CHINA: General Chennault asks for an increase in supplies for the US 14th Air Force to oppose the Japanese threat to vital Chinese position in Eastern China.
PACIFIC OCEAN: USN destroyers shell Japanese installations on the north coast of New Ireland Island in the Bismarck Archipelago.
NEW GUINEA: The first tank battle of the Pacific War is fought on Biak island.
US forces spearheading General MacArthur’s new thrust west in New Guinea appear to have been lured into a gigantic trap today by the Japanese force defending three airstrips in the heart of Biak island, off equatorial New Guinea.
Men of the US 158th, 162nd and 186th Infantry Regiments were suddenly hit by withering crossfire, preventing any withdrawal as they made their first advance inland, 18 hours after making a virtually unopposed landing at Bosnik, on Biak, the largest island in the Schoutens group. The US force is trapped nine miles west, at Mokmer.
Yesterday’s advance to Mokmer, along a cliff wall that swings inland to create a deep valley, met only mortar and light machine-gun fire. This morning the easternmost airstrip was discovered empty with, surprisingly all the buildings still intact. But as the US troops crossed the airstrip they were hit by salvoes from Japanese artillery hidden deep in cliffside caves where the Japanese commander, Colonel Noyuki Kuzume, is believed to have garrisoned nearly all of his 11,000 men. The Japanese 222d Infantry Regiment attacks the American lines supported by six light tanks. American M4 Sherman tanks dispatched the Japanese tanks and troops of the 162d Infantry Regiment broke the Japanese attack. The Japanese regroup for another attack and the Americans finally realize that they must clear the high ground before they can drive to the airfields.
Dislodging them could take months, rather than the few weeks which MacArthur anticipated for this latest thrust, which puts him only 900 miles from the Philippines. He has ordered tanks into Mokmer and is getting bomber support from the USAAF. For this first time he is basing some Mitchells at Wakde, 220 miles east of Biak.
Destroyer USS Henry W Tucker laid down.
Minesweeper USS Wheatear laid down.
Minesweeper USS Reign launched.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: The US escort carrier BLOCK ISLAND’s planes detected U-549, on the 28th, and an intensive hunt began by the escorting destroyers. Early in the morning of 29th May, U549 fired three electric and two acoustic torpedoes at the hunters. The electric torpedoes all hit the escort carrier which sank quickly. One of the acoustic torpedoes seriously damaged the destroyer USS BARR and the other missed. The other escorts including the USS Eugene E. Elmore finally sank U549 with depth charges at 31.13N, 23.03W. All U-boat crew of 57 are lost. This engagement took place about 300 miles WSW of Madeira. No destroyer was sunk.
Escort aircraft carrier USS Block Island (CVE-21) was the only US aircraft carrier that was sunk in the Atlantic Ocean. (Peter Beeston, Jack McKillop and Alex Gordon)
At 1256, U-23 fired a spread of two torpedoes at tanker of about 1800 tons, which was in tow escorted by two warships and aircraft. Wahlen heard two detonations, but could not observe the effects because the U-boat was attacked with depth charges for the next two hours. In fact the tug Smelyj was hit by one torpedo and sank off Babushery near Suchumi.
Picture of David Sarnoff on page 11 of the NYT.
“RAF Officer Back from Death Camp 8-9”
More on the Great Escape. Interesting that they’re not giving as much detail as was provided in the books written after the war. A few years ago, Anoreth bought a box of old paperback books at a yard sale. A lot of them were nonfiction about World War II, published in the 1950s, including several about POW escapes.
Ballantine Books had a separate division to publish books about the war.
I’m glad the weather for the invasion of France is going to be good.
What’s the weather at Pas-de-Calais?
Good thing AH stubbornly continued to believe that the main attack was going to come at the Pas-de-Calais.
Had he promptly ordered his panzer divisions in northern France to the Normandy beaches, our invasion force would have been cut to pieces.
Page 9: Dickie Van Patten at 15 years old.
“At 1256, U-23 fired a spread of two torpedoes at tanker of about 1800 tons, which was in tow escorted by two warships and aircraft. Wahlen heard two detonations, but could not observe the effects because the U-boat was attacked with depth charges for the next two hours. In fact the tug Smelyj was hit by one torpedo and sank off Babushery near Suchumi.”
This is listed under the ATLANTIC OCEAN heading, but a google search revealed it was in the Black Sea (Babushery near Suchumi are both in Georgia). Wiki also says that U-23 was scuttled in the Black Sea on Sept 10, 1944 to avoid capture by the Soviets.
Madeira is a Portuguese island off the coast of Morocco. So this battle happened in the middle of the mid Atlantic.
I forwarded your comments to the webmaster at email@example.com.
This is the first I've heard the 85th and 88th Infantry Divisions referred to as "draft" divisions. I suppose that fits because they weren't Guard or Reserve divisions and all the young troops were indeed draftees. Looking at their history they seem to acquitted themselves well in Italy.
The Allison V-3420 engine was a 24 cylinder monster, but it never went into production. It was slated for the P-75 super-fighter, but the high command never went forward with it as the P-51, P-47 and P-38 were quite adequate for their needs.
I believe this is the first we have seen in the Times of von Mannstein's relief several months ago. I suppose they didn't want the Russians to know because they probably had a much higher opinion of his abilities than Herr Hitler.
Weathermen in 1944 were about as accurate as weathermen today!
Very surprising that it took two months to report that von Manstein and Kleist had been sacked. Also surprising that it wasn’t reported by Ralph Parker in Moscow. But if it was going to be anyone else, it would be Hanson Baldwin. Interesting that Baldwin does not report when Manstein and Kleist were sacked, and he makes it sound like they were relieved at different times when they were relieved on the same day. Baldwin also doesn’t disclose the source of his information. I suspect he’s known for a while but has been sitting on the news pending censor approval.
I wonder if the German people know.