Dec 31st 1942

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by syscom3, Dec 31, 2007.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    ARCTIC OCEAN: The first of the JW convoys (Loch Ewe, Scotland, U.K. to the Kola Fjord, U.S.S.R.) set out. JW-51 sails in two sections. Part A left Loch Ewe on 15 December with 16 ships. All arrive safely on
    Christmas Day accompanied by supporting light cruisers HMS Jamaica and Sheffield. JW-51B (14 ships ) left on 22 December escorted by six destroyers, a minesweeper and four smaller vessels. The cruisers HMS Jamaica and Sheffield joins the convoy southwest of Bear Island on 29 December to provide close cover through the Barents Sea.
    By now the German armored ship Lutzow, heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and the destroyers Richard Beitzen, Theodor Riedel, Friedrich Eckoldt , Z24, Z30 and Z31are in Norwegian waters. The British Admiralty assumes they are for attacks on Russian convoys. In fact, they are in Norway because
    Hitler fears an invasion. Convoy JW-51B is reported yesterday and the German ships put to sea from Altenfiord to intercept the convoy north of North Cape.
    Early this morning, the British ships are in four groups (1-4). The main convoy (1) with five remaining 4-inch or 4.7-inch destroyers HMS Achates, Onslow, Obdurate, Obedient and Orwell heads due east.
    (Some of the escort and merchantmen have been scattered by gales and never regain the convoy). (2) Northeast of the convoy, detached minesweeper HMS Bramble is searching for missing ships. The
    6-inch light cruisers HMS Jamaica and Sheffield (3) cover to the north and further north still a straggling merchant ship and escorting trawler (4) try to reach the convoy.
    At about 0930 hours, the action starts with the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper's three destroyers heading north across the rear of the convoy, and opening fire on the destroyer HMS Obdurate off northern Norway about 259 nautical miles NNW of Murmansk, U.S.S.R, in position 73N, 29E. The convoy later turns as planned, but south towards the armored ship Lutzow Then the destroyers Onslow, Orwell and Obedient sight Admiral Hipper and holdher off until, at 1020 hours, HMS Onslow is hit and Captain Sherbrooke badly wounded (Capt Rupert St. V. Sherbrooke RN is awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry).
    The light cruisers HMS Jamaica and Sheffield meanwhile,following a radar contact, have diverted north towards the straggler and escort. They only head towards the action at 1000 hours. Still to the north of the convoy, Admiral Hipper and her destroyers come across the hapless minesweeper HMS Bramble and send her to the bottom around 1040 hours taking all 114 crewmen with her. They then head south, and 40 minutes later the 8-inch cruiser Admiral Hipper approaches JW-51B, opens fire and at the destroyer HMS Achates at 0930 hours and she is hit forward and a direct hit on her bridge, which kills her captain and several others. She loses steam and slows down only to be hit by several more salvos. Badly damaged, the destroyer sails on for an hour before she flounders and within the space of three minutes the Achates turns turtle and sinks, taking seven officers and 106 crewmembers with her.
    The trawler Northern Gem is able to pick up 81 survivors.
    The attack is aborted after the British light cruisers HMS Sheffield and Jamaica archive one hit on the Admiral Hipper. HMS Sheffield opens fire on the destroyer Friedrich Eckoldt at point blank range, her shells hitting the aft magazine causing an explosion which sinks her in seconds. She goes down with all hands. The exact number of casualties varies but her wartime complement was usually around 335 men. The armored ship Lutzow has already come up on the convoy from the south but does not join battle until 1145 hours. She is driven off by the remaining destroyers.
    By now the light cruisers HMS Jamaica and Sheffield have arrived on the scene. They quickly hit Admiral Hipper and sink German destroyer Friedrich Eckoldt. Admiral Hipper tries to get back to the convoy but
    again the destroyers skillfully keep her at bay. By midday the German ships are withdrawing with the two British light cruisers in pursuit. Contact is shortly lost. None of the merchantmen are more than lightly damaged and all 14 reach Kola on the 3 January.

    BELGIUM: During the day, two RAF Bomber Command Mosquitos bomb the marshalling yard at Mons.
    During the night of 31 December/1 January, three RAF Bomber Command Oboe Mosquitos are sent to attack the German night-fighter control room at Florennes Airfield.. Two Mosquitos operate their Oboe
    equipment satisfactorily and dropped six high-explosive bombs from 28,000 feet through 10/10ths cloud cover. The results are not known.

    FRANCE: During the day, two RAF Bomber Command Mosquitos bomb the marshalling yard (M/Y) at Raismes while one each bombs the M/Ys at Lille and Monceay-sur- Sambre.
    During the night of 31 December/1 January, RAF Bomber Command dispatches 29 aircraft on minelaying mission off Bay of Biscay ports: nine lay mines in the Gironde Estuary; four each lay mines off La Pallice,
    Lorient and St. Nazaire; and three lay mines off Brest. One Wellington is lost off La Pallice. Four aircraft drop leaflets over Orleans while two drop leaflets over Limoges.

    GERMANY: During the night of 31 December/1 January, RAF Bomber Command dispatches eight Lancasters and two Oboe Mosquitos of the Pathfinder Force to Dusseldorf; nine aircraft bomb the target with the loss of one Lancaster. This is a trial raid, with the Mosquitos dropping target markers by Oboe for the small Lancaster force. Only one Mosquito is able to use Oboe.
    The Dusseldorf report shows that, out of nine recorded bombing incidents, six are at industrial premises, though no serious damage is caused. Ten civilians and two Flak soldiers are killed, 34 people are injured and seven more are classified as missing.

    GREENLAND: Wooden buildings of the Fredericksdal construction camp are blown away in a 165 mile per hour (266 kilometer per hour) gale. They are replaced with Quonset huts buried in trenches. Fredericksdal is located on the southern tip of Greenland.

    LIBYA: French Brigadier General Jacques Philippe Leclerc, military commander of Chad, advances from Chad with his Free French force into South Fezzan, a desert region in southwestern Libya. Their goal is to continue north and link up with the British Eighth Army in January 1943.

    TUNISIA: Eleven USAAF Ninth Air Force B-24s, including RAF Liberators, bomb shipping and the dock area at Sfax with good results.
    USAAF Twelfth Air Force light bombers, with fighter escort, make two attacks on Sousse, bombing the railroad yards and docks. Eighteen escorted B-17s hit the harbor area of Sfax while B-26s, with fighter escort, hit the airfield area at Gabes and shipping and rail bridges in the Bizerte-Tunis area. P-38s
    and P-40s, flying reconnaissance, destroy several vehicles.

    UNITED STATES: The USN commissions the aircraft carrier USS Essex (CV-9 ) at Norfolk, Virginia. The USN now has five aircraft carriers in commission.

    U.S.S.R.: The Soviet Fifth Shock Army drives southwest from Nizhne Chirskaya retakes Tormosin. German Army Detachment Hollidt is rendered impotent to stop these attacks.
    The Soviet Navy records four submarine losses during the month that are not listed by day:
    - L-24 of the Black Sea Fleet off Cape Shabler.
    - M-31 of the Black Sea Fleet Zhebriany Bay (sunk by German aircraft south of Cape Takil) on 17 Dec.
    - M-72 of the Baltic Fleet sunk at Leningrad
    - Shch-212 of the Black Sea Fleet sunk off Cape Sinop (gasoline explosion at Sevastopol)
     
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