Events of the War: May 1942.
Allied High Command has decided that, despite some success, a weekly report is not justified at this stage of the war. As such, this is the report for weeks 21 through 25, completing the month of April and covering the month of May. Further details will be provided in closed session to Congress.
Week 21: Torres Straitjacket.
Tuesday, April 29: Japanese reinforcements land and capture Horn Island, completing their control of the Torres Strait.
Saturday, May 2: The 13th Australian Brigade at Christmas Island IO wipes out the last Japanese on the island.
Ground summary: Chinese advance continues and captures Kweiteh, Japanese continue to land at Perth while allies bombard them to gain experience.
Air summary: Japanese continue to lose planes to FlAK at Palembang. Few engagements.
Naval summary: mostly submarine attacks on merchants. CLs sunk a PB. No allied ships sunk this week.
Week 22: The Perth Experience Factory.
Monday, May 4: Japanese ground forces operating out of Sinyang catch the Chinese 3rd Group Army HQ as it lags behind the infanty. The road from Ichang to the Chinese in Hankow is temporarily cut.
The Japanese 16th infantry regiment finally succumbs to bombardment in Perth. The Japanese 4th Guards Division remains within the city limits. Multiple Japanese LCUs remain stationary north of the city.
Friday, May 8: a British/CW SCTF catches Japanese ships that finish unloading an SNLF unti at Christmas Island IO, sinking a TB, a troop transport, and the AMC Hotaka Maru.
Survivors of the Chinese 3rd Group Army HQ join with the damaged 48th Chinese Corps in the forests outside Ichang. They manage to repulse the Japanese attack with slightly favorable losses.
Saturday, May 9: Yet more fresh Japanese reinforcements attempt to land at Perth. The Chinese secure the flank at Canton by mauling the Japanese 245th Division and various BDE and collaborators. The Japanese retreat across the river to friendly forces, but have lost the ability to resist.
With their transports and supplies gone, the Ankei SNLF at Christmas Island IO is cleaned up after only a full day on the island.
Sunday, May 10: The Japanese continue to send carrier raids along the entirety of the Australian coast, hitting Brisbane and Perth today. At Perth, crack Australian pilots in Kittyhawk IAs destroy 17 kates, 5 vals and 3 zeroes for the loss of 6 airframes and two injured pilots.
Air Summary: 14 allied aircraft are lost this week. Japanese losses estimated at 97 aircraft.
Naval summary: 3 light transports lost delivering supplies this week.
Week 23: Ring around Australia.
Monday, May 11: The Japanese 16th Division begins landing at Palembang after successfully capturing Eastern Sumatra.
The Japanese apparently abandoned Siberoet off the coast of Sumatra immediately after capture. Elements of the 2nd USMC Parachute BN capture it easily.
LUCK: Partly cloudy weather saves an American convoy enroute from Panama to Pearl Harbour. Japanese AMC Timberwolf is spotted in time to escape in the cloudy weather. This task force was filled with valuable military troop transports.
Tuesday, May 12: The Japanese catch a fast transport force unloading at Benkolen, damaging CM Abdiel and sinking APD Sands with 5 bomb hits. Over 200 Japanese aircraft participate in the raid.
After several days of combat and a severe attrition of the CAG of nearby Japanese, the Kittyhawks at Perth are finally battered into near submission and CL Leander (part of a task force that sunk the Japanese transports that just finished unloading) takes a torpedo hit.
Wednesday, May 13: The 2nd USMC Paras recapture an empty Sabang after failing to hold it against the 16th Japanese division last month. Reinforcements are enroute from Capetown (including a full American division and multiple AA units). With the 16th Div confirmed to be in Palembang, the Japanese may lack the ability to recapture Sabang. This will make the landings much less costly.
Thursday, May 14: Multiple Japanese carriers remain off Sydney. 3 Chinese corps have withdrawn from Hankow and today route the Japanese holding the road from Ichang. These corps will move into the woods to relieve the Chinese there.
Air summary: 32 allied aircraft are lost this week to an estimated 127 Japanese aircraft. Much of this fighting has been at Perth.
Naval summary: Several Japanese transport forces were caught by allied cruisers this week. Allied loses are APD Sands at Benkolen and xAK Don Ishidoro, caught by a Japanese submarine off Seward, Alaska. While we've mostly avoided Japanese subs, PACCOM has been stepping up building and logistics networks and so more transports are now at risk than earlier.
Week 24: THE RESUPPLY OF SUMATRA.
Monday, May 18: Chinese capture Suchow while destroying 445 squads, 36 Guns and 60 Vehicles. However, the Japanese had scattered in this area and have swung behind us toward Kaifeng. While the Japanese that do this will be annihilated, the lack of a rear guard will slow our forward operations for a month, most likely. As Suchow was just a chance to attrition the Japanese, a move back towards our lines is agreeable to Chinese command, despite the oversight that led to being flanked by a substantially weaker force.
Tuesday, May 19: Chinese in Southeastern China have crossed the river north of the Japanese and swung south. Today they drive the Japanese back into Hong Kong and inflict 487 destroyed squds, 17 destroyed guns, and 12 destroyed vehicles. Ironically, Chinese command believes their soliders here had a significant experience edge on their Japanese counterparts.
Cebu finally falls, leaving the Phillipines entirely in Japanese hands.
The Japanese flanking force, after slipping past the Chinese as they moved into Suchow, have reached Kaifeng with their lead elements today and maul the already damaged 23rd Chinese corp which had been left to garrison the city. If the Japanese move south toward Sinyang, they might meet up with their own friendly lines. They cannot exactly cut the Chinese lines of communication, but lack of a larger garrison at Kaifeng has opened the possibility of mischief. The bulk of the Chinese force at Suchow has been rerouted back this direction. Only a small portion of the force would be needed, but the Chinese have little reason to hold lines so far from the front when the 5000 AV could be better used cleaning up interior lines. In a similar fashion, the Chinese are looking to free the 3000 AV sitting in Canton at for operations further north once the rest of the southern army beseiges Hong Kong and locks up the major Japanese port in the area.
Wednesday, May 20. A severe oversight by PACCOM has led to the annihilation of the 2nd UMSC at Sabang. the Japanese launched a massive aerial assault on the already severly damaged unit and destroy it. The unit should have been airlifted back to Sinabang immediately after the capture of Sabang. The Japanese also invade Attu Island in the Aleutians today. Allied lines into the region have been build up and the 1st Marine division is nearly prepped for Attu. Meanwhile, PACCOM begins sending forces from Pearl to Adak Island to great an airbase closer to Attu. Enterprise and Lexington are still in the Pacific if needed up here.
IMPORTANT: The Sumatran resupply effort has formed up at Cocos Island and begun moving to Benkolen and Oosthaven. Two carrier division (One British, one American) are accompanying about 100 smaller transports with about 200,0000 supplies to last through June (when permanent air superiority over Oosthaven should be obtainable). Land based fighters are ready on Cocos to fly into Oosthaven and a cruiser force is leading the way.
Thursday, May 21. Due to botched orders and some odd command decisions, the transports have split from the carriers. One task force heads towards Benkolen on orders but is spotted near Enggano and attacked by a small flight that downs one transport. It has been rerouted to Oosthaven. The carriers have somehow failed to follow the transports into Oosthaven, however, and 6 transports are sunk throughout the day in the harbor. The carriers and land based air have been sent in and should provide adequate cover tomorrow. The lack of surface response is a good sign that our subs have kept the Japanese in other areas. Still, losses are managable.
Friday, May 22. Allied Task Forces have converged on Oosthaven, which has roughly 250 naval support to held the unloading. Using the additional 100 naval support at Benkolen would be nice, but a since area to defend is more important for this run.
The escorting SCTF, CAs Doresetshire, Cornwall and Exeter, raid Batavia Harbour overnight and sink DD Suresushio, and several transports. 3478 Japanese soldiers are reported killed on the sunk transports. The cruisers are easily under friendly air cover and screened by the PTs which have been at Oosthaven since January.
The Japanese airforce in Java is smaller than anticipated. They are utterly unable to penetrate the CAP over Oosthaven.
Saturday, May 23. The Japanese airforce in Java only manages 36 aircraft total to attack today. They are butchered by the 150 aircraft on CAP.
The British cruisers raid Kalidjati overnight and sink a transport and sub chaser, with another 1000 reported Japanese casualties.
Sunday, May 24. The IJAF attack on Oosthaven is better today, but still loses more than it kills and fails to damage any shipping.
The British cruisers raid Batavia again at night, but the Japanese notice and evade combat tonight.
The Chinese enter the outskirts of Hong Kong. An ill advised Japanese counterattack results in 16,324 Japanese casualties to less than 1000 Chinese casualties. While this severely weakens the defense, there are at least 4 full IJA divisions, as well as BDEs and a variety of other units. Chinese command does not believe the city can be taken without using the bulk of the soldiers in China to attack, especially with the ability of the Japanese to reinforce by sea.
Air summary: 39 allied aircraft are lost this week (about 1/3 of those written off on landing) to a reported 210 Japanese aircraft. On Sunday, 69 betties were reported shot down in air to air combat over Sinabang and Oosthaven.
Naval summary: 6 transports were lost this week, mostly due to the scattered convoy due to poor orders. 125,000 tons of supplies have been landed in Sumatra, but given far lighter than expected air losses, PACCOM is leaving the carriers and land fighters there an additional day to further attrit the Japanese. The supplies should last through mid July at least, and soon we will be in a position to permanent secure the Oosthaven airspace. The carriers will be routed up to the Sabang relief (invasion if necessary) force after replenishing in Cocos.
Week 25: Let My Shipping Go (Safely).
Monday, May 25: The British cruisers launch an exit raid on Batavaia, encountering 2 destroyers but neither side inflicts serious damage. They reengage near Merak in the morning and both DD Kagero and Hatsuake are sunk for minimal system damage to the allied ships.
Tuesday, May 26: The transports and carriers are still at Oosthaven longer than desired. While the Japanese lose many more aircraft over this, the operation has gone too long. A better Japanese commander could have organized an effective counterstrike days ago.
The battle outside Ichang has definitely culminated with the Japanese nearing annihilation.
Thursday, May 28: Sub mines outside Rangoon strike again. 2 Japanese DDs and 2 Japanese CAs repotedly hit mines today.
Friday, May 29: In a somewhat surprising move, the Japanese land a naval invasion in Canton. PACCOM had considered redeploying the 3000 AV here, but it is perfectly in position to counter this move.
The Chinese near Ichang clean up the rest of the Japanese and begin to rest up. Once damaged squads are replenished, this force may attempt to clear Sinyang.
The Japanese in northern China turned north to try to free the Kaoping pocket rather than south to rejoin the central forces. While they will probably get a chance to resupply the Kaoping pocket a bit, this will merely result in more Japanese effectively imprisoned in this area.
SS-47 Torpedoes the already mine-damaged CA Myoko but is sunk in retaliation.
Sunday, May 31:
The Australians at Perth counter 16 zeroes and 54 kates with 32 Kittyhawk IAs. While the Australians achieve a massive kill advantage, many bombers get through and pound the ships in the harbor. CAs Canberra and Australia are both reported with 85 and 99 system damage, respectively, by the time the fires are extinguished. The newly reformed Asiatic Fleet hq is railing in to help with repairs, but these cruisers are out of the war indefinitely.
Naval summary: two transports and a sub were lost this week off the Andaman Islands. The success of the British CAs on their raids has encouraged a much more aggressive stance once Oosthaven and Sabang can be properly protected from the air. These bases will allow massive scale raiding of shipping lanes, though many Japanese CAs and BBs are patrolling off the shipping lanes near Sabang, so losses are likely as well.
Air summary: 16 allied aircraft are lost this week vs. 165 Japanese aircraft. While we definitely have technical inferiority in the air, judicious use of our aircraft and FlAK have led to a nearly 4:1 advantage in the air over the course of the war.
From a letter to his parents in Cincinatti by John Sawiki, American expatriot, formerly of Batavia, now living in Oosthaven.
I am well. It is oddly quiet here today after the events of the last week. Every few days, the small destroyers flit into the harbor in the night and depart in the morning. Strangely enough, there are very few non-Dutch persons here in Oosthaven. Most of the foreign troops are sitting in their trenches in the seige of Palembang, while the Dutch were dispatched down here to protect us. A group of us English speakers gather at a local pub to discuss the war. We get as little news of it here on the front as you do at home, I'm sure, but the news is fairly encouraging. Unlike the reports of some here, who lived through the Blitz in London, we face little danger. Sure, a few Japanese bombers come every day to hit the airstrip, but there has been no blackening of the skies. We rarely even feel a shock from the bombs, honestly. But last week, it was extremely busy. There were friendly planes circling us in the sky for days, creating a giant tower of protection. Many shiny warships docked in the harbor and the docks were stuffed. I joined most of my friends as part of the volunteers that helped unload the dozens of ships at the piers every day. I almost feel off the chain on Friday when a slippery spot caught me by surprise. My arms still ache from everything I helped unload, but I need to do my part.
I miss my apartment in Batavia. I wonder how my friends there are doing. At least I am amongst friends here. It's warm here, and many of us share living spaces that aren't big enough for all of us that came from Java, but we do not go hungry. We are safe. I keep busy mostly by reading. I've been reading Paradise Lost again, like you had me read back in High School. Ironically, the minelayer Abdiel has been into harbor here a few times during my time here, which is probably why I thought of it. This war begins to seem to me like the war in heaven, though. The devils get shot down again and again here, yet they still come. When will the Son come and drive them from our paradise? Ah well, it is still a Paradise here, even if we are at war. And there is still work to do to tend the garden that is Sumatra. I've gone on excursions with some of the other English speakers, and there's plenty of lush areas here. If only we were free to explore the jungle and read poetry rather than dodge falling aircraft. I will enjoy these days of peace. If last week was any indication, things will be much busier in the future. It was nice to see some American sailors on the docks, I'll admit. Reminded me of home.
Say hello to Kathy and tell her I miss her. I hear her new baby is adorable. And how is old Toby doing? I miss that dog too. Maybe someday soon I'll be able to come home and sit on the porch with all of you.