From: Denver, CO
December 8th, 1941
Throughout the night troops continued to unload at Khota Bharu with supporting fire from various light cruisers and destroyers, but no real resistance was encountered. The action was heavier near Mersing however.
At Mersing, as the invasion force closed on the coastline, a surface group led by heavy cruiser Chokai encountered three British destroyers and engaged in a running battle with many shots fired, but only one minor hit (on our DD Harusame). The British DD's managed to escape but CA Chokai and company had cleared the way for the transports which is all that matters. The cruisers also ran across a pair of minelayers and those were rapidly sunk.
Also in the nighttime, while running full speed from Singkawang to Mersing, the heavy surface group of Kongo and Haruna ran across CL Mauritius, DD Vendetta and DD Stronghold. This battle also saw many missed shots, but some large caliber shells were planted on Mauritius, likely sinking the cruiser. The DD's were both hit but it is hard to say how much they are damaged. On the IJN side, Haruna and CA Takao were both hit, but nothing managed to penetrate the heavy ships' armor.
Night battle near Mersing
Also leaving Singkawang, the damaged PB Fuji Maru #3 crossed paths with DD Electra and was mercilessly pounded under the waves. A pair of AK's left to unload were not bothered at all until daylight and managed to unload a great deal of their supplies.
In spite of all the activity in the area near Mersing, all the troop task forces managed to make it to the beach at Mersing and begin to unload with little trouble. Daylight would bring plenty of air attacks however.
Our fleet at Mersing was subjected to four morning strikes and three in the afternoon. The KB made a full speed sprint and was just at the edge of LRCAP range at morning. Our Navy pilots toughed it out for long range CAP over Mersing at this critical hour. The largest CAP at any time was only 14 A6M2 Zeros, but the crack navy pilots did an excellent job. In total, Mersing ships were attacked by 9x Blen IV, 30x Buffalos, 36x Vildebeest III, 5x Swordfish, 9x Hudson, 3x139WH-3, and 3x Wirraway. Some of these planes may have attacked twice as this total includes AM and PM strikes. 16x Vildebeest and 3x Hudsons made it through to attack, but none of our ships were hit.
Even one Zero can make a difference
Several air attacks were also launched against Khota Bharu, but our CAP was much better there consisting of 12x A6M2, 45x nate, and 8x Oscar(b). Again several raids came in but no enemy planes penetrated the CAP.
At Singkawang, the two 'sacrifice' AKs were attacked by 5x Swordfish and both ships were hit by 500lb bombs. One ship may make it home, the other will likely sink. This was not enough to stop our ground troops from taking the base however. Singkawang is now property of the Japanese empire as of Dec 8th, 1941.
Offensively, most IJA/IJN airpower hit Khota Bharu to ensure its capture. It fell and enemy troops retreated. Khota Bharu will rapidly be put to use as a forward airbase. To help keep the enemy from retreating in good order to Singapore, Sally's hit various locations on the peninsula to slow down enemy troop movements. No major CAP was encountered.
The cost to the enemy this day was grievous. Total enemy planes downed at Khota Bharu and Mersing total:
Vildebeest III: 24
Buffalo I: 22
Hudson I: 13
Blen I: 7
Blen IV: 4
Blen IF: 1
Swordfish I: 1
Our own losses were light - 18 planes total, and of those, 8 were floatplanes from the Kongo surface group downed by Singapore CAP.
The Vildebeest IIIs were savaged today
So it appears the enemy torpedo bomber threat is significant reduced which will help our thinly spread forces continue with their aggressive timetable.
The evening was quite as our transports continued to close on Vigan. At Zamboanga, a pair of transports left to unload supplies managed to unload about half their cargo before being chased off by enemy surface ships.
Air attacks continued from Formosa. Today we hit Clark Field and Iba airfields, along with bombing enemy troops at Tuguegarao. Only a couple enemy planes were destroyed at Iba (1xP-35A, 1xO-47A). Our Bettys were damaged by some P-26A's on CAP at Clark. Runways were moderately damaged at both locations.
Zamboagna and Batan Island were both secured by ground forces. A couple shorter legged air units have flown into Batan Island to help support the assaults on Luzon.
Troop ships arrived at Tarawa and unloaded without incident. Both Guam and Tarawa were secured easily. Base force support is already en route to Guam and should arrive within the next 2-3 days. Engineers are also en route to Tarawa, but coming from Samah means they are still several days out.
Wake was again attacked by our Nells, with one destroyed and two damaged by the defending F4F-3 Wildcats (only two airborne today). Our landing force continues to close on the island and we will hold our breath and hope the US carries are elsewhere. Tomorrow the Nells will aim for the ports, hopefully taking out enemy CD guns.
I-166 fired and missed at an enemy destroy at Mersing. However, on the other side of the world, SS I-5 near Hawaii managed to put a torpedo into the xAK Cynthia Olson. Most of the submarines in the Hawaii area are heading back to Truk to be organized into large flotillas that will be deployed in support of specific areas of operation. Most likely the Pacific subs will flood the waters near Port Moresby, Rabaul and Horn Island until that area is firmly under our control. Most other subs are being sent throughout the DEI since that is where the current offensive focus is at.