REPORT TO THE IMPERIAL GENERAL STAFF AS OF 18/2/42
STATUS OF OPERATIONS
REFRIGERATE: HMS Revenge was torpedoed on 10/2/42 by RO-60, which was then sunk in turn. Fortunately, our vessels appear to be of stouter construction than American ships, and she returned to Sydney at 17 knots for repairs.
IMPERATIVE: The fall of Rangoon on 4/2/42 rendered this operation untenable, and HMS Indomitable retired to Colombo with her escorts to avoid attacks by land-based torpedo a/c. Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet regretfully reports that even with the arrival of HMS Resolution and Ramillies, he can not hope to maintain control of the coastal areas as far north as Akyab. This is increasingly serious, as it will impair our ability to evacuate or resupply the Andaman outpost. If Japanese surface forces enter the Bay of Bengal, they will be able to land troops anywhere they like, provided they are supported by the aircraft carriers still docked in Singapore. However, should the enemy be foolish enough to attempt an invasion of the Andamans supported only by land-based a/c and surface warships, we believe we can hand him a stinging defeat.
GENERAL SITUATION REPORT, SE ASIA AREA: Burma is almost completely under control of the enemy. Akyab has not yet been reached by IJA troops, but the forces from Rangoon have inexplicably retreated off of the main roads, and may perish before they can completely withdraw. Mandalay has fallen, but two infantry divisions supported by tanks are moving into position to halt the enemy advance.
RAF reports serious losses in Hurrican squadrons, which are unable to compete with enemy ZEKE fighters, although they report that the NATE-type fighter is within their abilities. All Brewster Buffalo squadrons have been pulled back to ports, to provide escort for merchant shipping or RN surface forces, with the esception of the 16 a/c based at the Andamans. Despite the poor quality of their aircraft, they have shot down several enemy a/c, with one pilot reported now to be an "ace".
We are still receiving radios from UK forces SE of Kota Bharu, but regret to inform the Prime Minister that although the possibility of a submarine evacuation was discussed, losses would be prohibitive, and it would be highly unlikely that any of these men could be saved.
Operation MONOCLE can be regarded as completed, although highly unsatisfactorially. The two destroyers and two light cruisers which escaped to Colombo are undergoing repairs before being incorporated into the Eastern Fleet. There are no more transports to evacuate land or air forces from Java/Sumatra/Borneo, and a task force centered around battleships HIEI and KIRISHIMA was spotted in the Java sea. No carriers were with them, which is unusual, as these vessels typically remain with the six fleet aircraft carries of the Imperial Japanese Navy. It is possible that with the sinking of HARUNA by HMS Prince of Wales on 8/12/41 and the damaging of KONGO on the same date by HMS Repulse, not to mention the damage inflicted on ISE and KUMANO by our torpedo planes, that the Japanese are stretched for warships. Hopefully we will be able to exploit this by the end of the year.
KUMANO was bombed without result by Nationalist Chinese aircraft as she retired to the Japanese home islands. She appeared heavily damaged.
CURRENT FORCE STATUS, EASTERN FLEET:
Force C (HMS Indomitable[flag], 1 heavy, 5 anti-aircraft cruisers)
Force Z (HMS Repulse, HMS Prince of Wales[flag], 2 heavy, 2 light cruisers)
Force N (HMS Royal Sovereign[flag], HMS Resolution, HMS Ramillies, 1 light cruiser)
All forces at 100% readiness in Colombo.
SOUTH/CENTRAL PACIFIC THEATER OPERATIONAL REPORT:
The Americans are becoming increasingly tight-lipped; Japanese land-based air out of Rabaul has failed to sink any major warships, but it has made resupply of the Australian troops on the island more difficult, and resupply of Gasmata has been touch-and-go. On 14/2/42, the USAAF undertook Operation VALENTINE, sending 112 a/c (73 B-17, 39 Liberator) unescorted against Rabaul airfield, bombing from 18,000-22,000 ft. They were intercepted by 40 ZEKE fighters, shooting down 10 and damaging 18 for the loss of 17 bombers, with 54 badly damaged. There was a total collapse of morale in the bombing squadrons, according to our RAAF liason on the scene, with the aircrews calling this the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre". On a happier note, Jap raiders over Port Moresby received a bloody nose, losing two ZEKEs and three BETTYs for no casualties on the part of the defenders, who were equipped with the new P-40E (Kittyhawk IA) type fighter. We are working to secure sufficient numbers of these aircraft to re-equip the American Volunteer group at Trincomalee, as they are far superior to the P-40B (Tomahawk IIB) currently being used.
Even better on 16/2/42, the Japanese foolishly sent unescorted BETTYs over Port Moresby, losing 6 aircraft for little result. Between 14/2/42-16/2/42, in fact, the USAAF claims 11 BETTY and 13 ZEKE confirmed kills. They are shipping in more fighter a/c to maintain the pressure.
Unfortunately, this means we will not be receiving the P-39 Airacobra fighter group were were initially promised for Colombo. Despite poor RAF reviews of this a/c during the Battle of Britain, the USAAF claims it is a world-beater and is eager to try it out at Gasmata.
The USN reports that they will shortly have four carriers concentrated at Pearl Harbour, with the USS Enterprise due to depart Noumea for Pearl Harbour in the next week or so. Apparently, the USN has had trouble with convoy shipments, almost as if someone has forgotten to dispatch vitally needed fuel multiple times. Note also that this will leave HMS Hermes as the only carrier in Australian waters.
Once all five carriers are concentrated, the USN plans to undertake Operation ELECTRIC, the siezure of the Marcus Islands by a marine battalion. The USN feels that this will boost morale at home and may draw fleet elements of the IJN towards their carriers, and away from Singapore.
Although we are eager to see the carriers leave Singapore, and have placed Dutch submarines on-station to attempt to sink any encountered, we cannot help but feel that the IJN is as yet likely to win any such confrontation if they are able to bring sufficient force to bear. However, it may yet prove that the enemy is at the point of maximum effort even now, and that sufficient pressure will disrupt his operations long enough for us to catch our breaths.
FORCE STATUS, AUSTRALIAN WATERS:
Force B (HMS Hermes, HMS Revenge[flag], 2 light cruisers)
HMS Revenge currently able to make 17kts and under repair in Sydney.
CANFORCE (HMAS Canberra, FFNS Le Triomphant)
"A" and "B" turrets out of action on Canberra, otherwise functional and remaining operational as flagship, Office Commanding Australian Forces at Sea, until HMAS Australia leaves dry dock in Sydney. Le Triomphant is the subject of numerous complaints w/r/t accuracy of shellfire, indiscriminate torpedo usage, poor station-keeping, inadequate ASW training, etc as per C-in-C, RAN's signal of 28/1/42, but is maintained on station despite increasing wear and tear due to urgent need for destroyers and the insistence of French-Government-in-exile that she remain.
Currently, RNZN forces are integrated with USN cruiser/destroyer force and have been operating under their control. We have received several complaints from the Dominion navies to the effect that our light cruisers are woefully inadequate compared to American designs, and they have suggested that in the future, we ought not to sell them "second-rate ships". The Australians have not complained about the "County" class, however, as they appear very impressed with HMAS Australia's ability to absorb damage compared to the USS Pensacola.