Skip to comments.CHERBOURG ASSAULTED AFTER HEAVY BARRAGE; JAPANESE FLEET FLEES, 4 SHIPS SUNK, 10 DAMAGED (6/23/44)
Posted on 06/23/2014 5:05:20 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Winston S. Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy
Soviets target Army Group Center
Friday, June 23, 1944 www.onwar.com
Soviet T-34 tanks and infantry attacking [photo at link]
On the Eastern Front... The Soviet attack begins. There are four front-level commands engaged in the operation, under the STAVKA direction of Marshal Zhukov (the southern wing) and Marshal Vasilevsky (the northern wing). From left to right: 1st Belorussian Front (Rokossovsky); 2nd Belorussian Front (Zakharov); 3rd Belorussian Front (Cherniakhovsky); and, 1st Baltic Front (Bagramian). The Soviet combat forces directly engaged in the offensive amount to over 1,250,000 men (in 124 divisions), over 4000 tanks and self-propelled guns, over 24,000 artillery pieces and over 6300 aircraft. Soviet objectives include tactical encirclements at Vitebsk and Bobruisk while a deep encirclement would aim for Minsk. Soviet forces are then to drive west toward the Vistula River. The target of Operation Bagration is German Army Group Center (Busch) holding a salient centered on Minsk, and including most of Belorussia. Its forces, from right to left, include: 9th Army (Jordan), 4th Army (Tippelskirch); and, 3rd Panzer Army (Reinhardt). On the right flank of the army group is the German 2nd Army (Weiss) which is not targeted by the Soviet offensive. The German defenders amount to 800,000 men in 63 divisions with about 900 tanks and assault guns, 10,000 artillery pieces and 1300 planes. Advances of up 11 miles are recorded by Red Army troops of 2nd, 3rd Belorussian and 1st Baltic Fronts. The 1st Belorussian Front does not join in the assault during the day. Meanwhile in the far north, forces of the Soviet 7th Separate Army cross the Svir River.
On the Western Front... American forces of the US 7th Corps (part of 1st Army) penetrate the outer defenses of Cherbourg. Elements of British 2nd Army also make gains. The British 5th Division captures St. Honorina, northwest of Caen.
In the Mariana Islands... On Saipan, US 5th Amphibious Corps remains engaged in fighting. The 2nd Marine Division contineus to battle for Mount Tapotchau.
June 23rd, 1944 (FRIDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: The USAAF’s Eighth Air Force in England flies two missions to France.
Mission 435: At midday 110 B-17 Flying Fortresses and 102 B-24 Liberators attack 12 CROSSBOW (V-weapon) installations, damaging at least six of them. Fighter support is furnished by 141 P-51 Mustangs all of which afterward strafe transportation targets in the Paris area, destroying three locomotives, 100 pieces of rolling stock, and 14 motor vehicles; An exploding ammunition train causes a low-flying P-51 to crash, the only aircraft lost on the mission.
Mission 436: During the late afternoon, 109 B-17s are dispatched to Nanteuil; 13 hit the primary and two hit targets of opportunity; the rest abort due to heavy cloud cover; one B-17 is lost. Of 219 B-24s dispatched to airfields in France, 113 hit Juvincourt, 46 hit Laon/Athies, 23 hit Coulommiers and one hits Soissons; six B-24s are lost. Escort is provided by 155 P-47 Thunderbolts and 83 P-51s; afterwards part of a P-47 group bombs and strafes a marshalling yard while the remainder of the group bombs and strafes a train carrying trucks and armored cars, destroying the locomotive, three trucks, and an armored car, and damaging 20 freight cars.
169 P-38 Lightnings fly fighter-bomber missions in the Paris area; two P-38s are lost.
21 B-24s fly CARPETBAGGER mission during the night.
Bad weather prevents A-20 Havoc and B-26 Marauder missions by the USAAF’s Ninth Air Force during the morning; in the afternoon 175+ B-26s and A-20s bomb seven V-weapon sites in France; around 630 fighters provide escort and also bomb and strafe rail and road traffic and communications centres; 200 C-47 Skytrains and C-53 Skytroopers fly supplies to the Continent.
Destroyer HMS Myngs commissioned.
FRANCE: US VII Corps makes some progress against Cherbourg in Normandy.
The British 5th Division takes St. Honorina, north-west of Caen.
Cruiser HMS Scylla runs over a German acoustic mine and sustains massive shock damage to her midships section and total loss of power. She is towed to Portsmouth but never repaired, and her shattered hull remained in the dockyard until 1950 when she was finally sold for breaking up. Location: English Channel off Normandy Beach Sword at 49 25N 00 24W. (Alex Gordon)(108)
Frigate HMS Nith hit by a Mistel, a German composite aircraft. Suffered 10 dead and 26 wounded.
ITALY: The USAAF’s Fifteenth Air Force dispatches 400+ B-17s and B-24s to attack oil targets in Romania; the B-17s hit oil refineries at Ploesti; the B-24s also hit oil refineries at Ploesti and oil storage at Guirgiu. 100+ US aircraft are shot down; the bombers and escorting fighters claim 30+ aircraft destroyed.
Award of MoH:
“Second Lieutenant David R. Kingsley, U.S. Army Air Corps, 97th Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force. Place and date: Ploesti Raid, Rumania, 23 June 1944: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, 23 June 1944 near Ploesti, Rumania, while flying as bombardier of a B17 type aircraft. On the bomb run 2d Lt. Kingsley’s aircraft was severely damaged by intense flak and forced to drop out of formation but the pilot proceeded over the target and 2d Lt. Kingsley successfully dropped his bombs, causing severe damage to vital installations. The damaged aircraft, forced to lose altitude and to lag behind the formation, was aggressively attacked by 3 ME-109 aircraft, causing more damage to the aircraft and severely wounding the tail gunner in the upper arm. The radio operator and engineer notified 2d Lt. Kingsley that the tail gunner had been wounded and that assistance was needed to check the bleeding. 2d Lt. Kingsley made his way back to the radio room, skilfully applied first aid to the wound, and succeeded in checking the bleeding. The tail gunner’s parachute harness and heavy clothes were removed and he was covered with blankets, making him as comfortable as possible. Eight ME-109 aircraft again aggressively attacked 2d Lt. Kingsley’s aircraft and the ball turret gunner was wounded by 20mm. shell fragments. He went forward to the radio room to have 2d Lt. Kingsley administer first aid. A few minutes later when the pilot gave the order to prepare to bail out, 2d Lt. Kingsley immediately began to assist the wounded gunners in putting on their parachute harness. In the confusion the tail gunner’s harness, believed to have been damaged, could not be located in the bundle of blankets and flying clothes which had been removed from the wounded men. With utter disregard for his own means of escape, 2d Lt. Kingsley unhesitatingly removed his parachute harness and adjusted it to the wounded tail gunner. Due to the extensive damage caused by the accurate and concentrated 20mm. fire by the enemy aircraft the pilot gave the order to bail out, as it appeared that the aircraft would disintegrate at any moment. 2d Lt. Kingsley aided the wounded men in bailing out and when last seen by the crewmembers he was standing on the bomb bay catwalk. The aircraft continued to fly on automatic pilot for a short distance, then crashed and burned. His body was later found in the wreckage. 2d Lt. Kingsley by his gallant heroic action was directly responsible for saving the life of the wounded gunner.” (Patrick Holscher)
FINLAND: In Viipuri, the Red Army again tries to continue its offensive. After an artillery preparation starting last evening and lasting through the night, the Soviet troops cross the straits in assault boats and through the ruins of a railway bridge. Eleven Finnish artillery battalions and German Stukas bombard the Soviet troop-concentrations, and those Red Army soldiers able to reach the western bank are soon eliminated by the defenders.
In today’s battles west of Viipuri, Lt. Col. Alpo Marttinen’s Infantry Regiment 61 (17th Division) especially distinguishes itself repelling the Soviet attempts to advance west from the city. Lt. Col. Marttinen’s prowess is recognized by his immediate promotion to full colonel (thus becoming at the age of 35 the youngest full colonel in the Finnish Defence Forces at this time). Later Col. Marttinen is awarded the Mannerheim Cross, 2nd Class.
On the Maaselkä Isthmus, the Soviet troops of Gen. Gorolenko’s 32nd Army break through the Finnish II Corps’s defences at Karhumäki (Medvezhjegorsk).
Last night a Soviet marine brigade invaded Tuulos at the northern shore of Lake Ladoga, behind the Finnish PSS-line. Forces of the Olonets Group are defending the PSS-line against Soviet attacks, and the troops available are not strong enough to eliminate the Soviet bridgehead.
German Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 303 (Ritterkreutzträger Hauptmann Friedrich Scherer) arrives Helsinki from Estonia. The Brigade has 31 StuG IIIg’s, StuG IV’s and StuH 42’s. It’s transferred to the region of Tali-Ihantala in Karelian Isthmus.
Generaloberst Eduard Dietl, commander of German forces in Norway and Finland, is killed when his Ju 52 transport crashes at Semmering, Germany. Dietl had been visiting Hitler to report on the situation in his front. It has been suspected that Dietl was in fact assassinated on orders from either Hitler or Himmler”>Himmler, but exactly why, has not been satisfactorily explained.
U.S.S.R.: Overnight the bombardment announcing the summer offensive of the Red Army begins. Marshal Zhukov will attack on 4 fronts against the Germans from Busch’s Army Group Center. The front begins just north of Vitebsk and runs past Mogilev to the Pripet River.
In the Finnish sector Russian troops cross the Svir.
BURMA: Capt. Michael Allmand (b.1923), Indian Armoured Corps, was mortally wounded charging a machine-gun nest alone; he had displayed similar valour on 11 and 13 June. (Victoria Cross)
Rfn. Tulbahadur Pun (b.1923), 6th Gurkha Rifles, charged a machine-gun post and took two guns single-handed. (Victoria Cross)
PACIFIC OCEAN: An off course USN PBM Mariner of Rescue Squadron One (VH-1), rescues the two man crew of a Bombing Squadron Fourteen (VB-14) SB2C Helldiver. The SB2C had taken off from USS Wasp (CV-18) on 20 June and had run out of fuel after attacking the Japanese fleet. This is the last crew of the 80 aircraft that were lost that night to be found.
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Cpl Sefanaia Sukanaivalu (b.?), Fijian Infantry Regiment, was crippled trying to save comrade; seeing that his men would not go without him, he lifted himself up in view of the enemy and was killed at once. (Victoria Cross)
MARIANAS ISLANDS, SAIPAN: USS Manila comes under Japanese air attack during refuelling operations. Two Japanese fighter bombers attacked from dead ahead, dropping four bombs that exploded wide to port. Intense AA fire suppressed any other attacks but as a precaution, four P-47s were launched as a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) until radar showed no “bogeys.” The P-47s then flew to Saipan. USS NATOMA BAY also launches her remaining 12 P-47s.
The IJN begins high-level bombing attacks against USN vessels off Saipan. Between 0000 and 0100 hours, seven “Betty” bombers ( Navy Type 1 Attack Bombers) from Iwo Jima attack; one drops bombs on the wake of a cruiser while the other six damage several vessels.
The USN’s Task Groups 58.1, 58.2 and 58.3 is retiring towards Eniwetok Atoll leaving TG 58.4 to support the landings on Saipan. Radio intercepts indicate that the Japanese are concentrating about 100 aircraft on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, and TG 58.1 is ordered to change course and attack the island.
US and Japanese forces clash violently at “Death Valley”, near Mount Tapotchau.
NEWFOUNDLAND: Frigate HMCS Chebogue departed St John’s for UK escort for Convoy HXF 296.
CANADA: Tug HMCS Glendon launched Vancouver, British Columbia.
Frigate HMCS Victoriaville launched Lauzon, Province of Quebec.
U.S.A.: N. D. COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 527, Pacific and Far East. 1. U. S. submarines have reported the sinking of 16 vessels, including one Naval auxiliary, as a result A operations in these waters, as follows 11 medium cargo vessels 4 small cargo vessels 1 medium Naval auxiliary 2. These actions have not been announced in any previous Navy Department communiqué.
CINCPAC COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 61, A Pacific Fleet submarine torpedoed a Shokaku Class carrier on June 18 (West Longitude Date). Three torpedo hits were obtained and the Japanese carrier is regarded as probably sunk.
Supplementing Pacific Ocean Areas communiqué No. 59, the following more detailed information is now available concerning the strike by carriers of the Fifth. Fleet against units of the Japanese fleet on June 19:
One small carrier of unidentified class previously reported damaged received two aerial torpedo hits.
One destroyer previously reported damaged sank.
Two additional Japanese navy twin-engined bombers were shot down by carrier aircraft returning to our carriers after attacking the Japanese force.
Ponape Island was bombed on June 20 by Seventh Army Air Force Mitchell bombers, and on June 21 by Seventh Army Air Force Liberators. Gun positions were principal targets.
Seventy tons of bombs were dropped on Truk Atoll by Liberators of the Seventh Army Air Force on June 20 and 21. On June 20 five enemy aircraft attempted to intercept our force. Two enemy fighters were damaged, and one Liberator was damaged. On June 21 nine enemy aircraft attempted to Intercept our force. One Liberator was damaged and one enemy fighter. All of our planes returned.
Corsair fighters and Dauntless dive bombers of the Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing, Catalina search planes of Fleet Air Wing Two, and Navy Hellcat fighters carried out attacks in the Marshalls on June 20 and 21, bombing and strafing gun positions. (Denis Peck)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: An Avenger torpedo bomber from the aircraft carrier USS Bogue spot the Japanese submarine I-52 (3,000 tonnes and 108 metres long, the world’s largest submarine) in its approach to the French port of Lorient. Lt Cmdr Jesse Taylor drops depth charges and an acoustic torpedo. Monitored aboard the aircraft, Taylor hears the torpedo detonate and metal grinding on metal as the I-52 falls 17,000 feet to the seabed.
Commanded by Kameo Uno, I-52 was carrying 146 bars of gold bullion worth $30 million, along with 94 crew and 14 passengers. Other cargo included three tonnes of opium for medical use, as well as rubber, tin and tungsten.
RAF 248 Sqn Mosquito attacked U-155. Two men were killed and 7 more wounded. The boat was almost in port when attacked and reached Lorient the same day. [Matrosenobergefreiter Karl Lohmeier, Mechanikerobergefreiter Friedrich Feller].
Thanks for posting. Interesting to see the NYT reporting style back then.
I continue to be amazed by the globe-spanning Japanese and German submarine technology of that era! The cargo manifest on this sub is mind-boggling both coming and going...to me anyway...except fot the molybdenum because I used to work for the Climax Molybdenum Co. (AMAX) and know of its strategic value as well as that of the tungsten.
On 10 March 1944, on her maiden voyage, I-52 (Commander Uno Kameo) departed Kure via Sasebo for Singapore. Her cargo from Japan included 9.8 tons of molybdenum, 11 tons of tungsten, 2.2 tons of gold in 146 bars packed in 49 metal boxes, 3 tons of opium and 54 kg of caffeine. The gold was payment for German optical technology. She also carried 14 passengers, primarily Japanese technicians, who were to study German technology in anti-aircraft guns, and engines for torpedo boats.
In Singapore she picked up a further 120 tons of tin in ingots, 59.8 tons of caoutchouc (raw rubber) in bales and 3.3 tons of quinine, and headed through the Indian Ocean, to the Atlantic Ocean.
It is believed that 800 kg (1,000-lbs) of uranium oxide awaited I-52 for her return voyage at Lorient according to Ultra decrypts. It has been speculated that this was for the Japanese to develop a radiological weapon (a so-called “dirty bomb”) for use against the United States (the amount of unenriched uranium oxide would not have been enough to create an atomic bomb, though if used in a nuclear reactor it could have created poisonous fission products).
She was also to be fitted with a snorkel device at Lorient. In addition, 35 to 40 tons of secret documents, drawings, and strategic cargo awaited I-52’s return trip to Japan: T-5 acoustic torpedoes, a Jumo 213-A motor used on the long-nosed FW-190D fighter, radar equipment, vacuum tubes, ball bearings, bombsights, chemicals, alloy steel, and optical glass.
Nimitz’ records repeatedly refer to Japanese carriers Hayataka and Hitaka. According to most sources, those were actually Hiyo and Junyo, which were both building as civilian liners when converted to aircraft carriers. They entered service around the time of Midway, and saw action during the Solomons campaign. They were underpowered, capable of only about 23 knots, and only carried 48 aircraft.
Such was the desperation of the IJN to put carriers into service against American Essex class carriers, which are joining the USN at a rate of about one every other month. The Americans would never consider them anything but CVE’s.
The boat was to return to Japan with uranium. Not enough to build an atomic bomb, but enough for a "dirty" bomb.
The wreck has been found and there has been an effort for several years to salvage it. Here's some video. That thing was a monster for its era.
Marc Mitscher had one of the best jobs of the war. Command the most powerful carrier fleet in history, roam the Pacific and smash Japanese fleets and bases at will. A dream job for a Navy officer.
Mitscher’s flagship at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the USS Lexington, is a museum ship in Corpus Christi. I visited her about 10 years ago and went up to the flag bridge. I wondered if I was standing in the same spot he stood when he gave the order to turn on the lights.
It would be nice if they could mark the spot like they did for Admiral Dewey’s shoes on the bridge of the USS Olympia.
As opposed to land battles since antiquity, Naval battles typically don't leave a trace. Hundreds of fliers died after they bailed out or ditched at sea, unmarked by gravestones for future generations to visit.
Yes, those pilots had brass balls. Fortunately, most who had to ditch were picked up.
The flag bridge and admiral's quarters are open on the Midway in San Diego. In fact, they have much of the ship open now and some nice displays.
I'm not criticizing Mitscher at all. It must have been a decision that stayed with him for the rest of his life.
This entry in the Graybook notes the relief of MG Ralph Smith of the 27th Inf Division on Saipan. This will start a very acrimonious debate between the Army and Marine Corps that continues for years and becomes very political as the 27th Division a the New York National Guard division.
The fight becomes very much about the future of the Marine Corps within a post war defense establishment. The writings of Hanson Baldwin in the New York Times before he went to Europe have foreshadowed this looming fight.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes for this to be reported.
After the war he wrote a bitter, and in many places inaccurate, memoir where he attempted to settle all scores.
There is an interesting article about it here: