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t/s of RAF report on 9 May 1942 Trincomalee attack

 
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t/s of RAF report on 9 May 1942 Trincomalee attack - 6/19/2009 3:09:06 PM   
HMS Resolution


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This might be of some interest to you gentlemen; it's a transcription of part of PRO file AIR 20/4698 "Ceylon: Japanese Attacks", dealing with the Indian Ocean Raid. If you find it interesting, I can post more of it.

SECRET

JAPANESE AIR ATTACK ON TRINCOMALEE

9th APRIL, 1942



C.I.C. (C) 3. AIR STAFF
24.7.1942. C.IC.(CEYLON).


SECRET

JAPANESE AIR ATTACK ON TRINCOMALEE ON 9th APRIL, 1942.

Own Air Reconnaissance.

1. After the attack on Colombo on 5th April, 1942, it was considered that the enemy warships operating in the Indian Ocean would rendezvous with those operating in the Bay of Bengal, and carry out a joint attack on Trincomalee. Consequently, a "Catalina" flying boat was ordered to carry out a cross over patrol at a depth of 400 miles east of Ceylon, covering an area from which the enemy might make an approach. At 1517 hours on the 8th April, the crew of this flying boat sighted and reported three battleships and one aircraft carrier approximately 400 miles due east of Ceylon, steering north by west.

2. Another "Catalina" was airborne at 0256 hours on the 9th April, and carried out a cross over patrol approximately 200 miles east of Trincomalee. At 0715 hours, the enemy fleet was again sighted, and the "Catalina" began to signal the enemy's position and composition. The signal which began "Large force..." broke off and, as nothing further was heard from this aircraft, it is presumed to have been shot down.

Early Warning System

3. At approximately 0520 hours on the 9th April, plots were picked up by R.D/F. at Elizabeth Point. These plots were indefinite in character, and appeared to move through a bearing of 60° to 100° at a range of from 15 to 30 miles. The "red" warning was sounded in Trincomalee at 0520 hours, and was in force for over an hour, but the alarm was not sounded at China Bay. The plots finally disappeared and the "raiders past" signal was sounded at Trincomalee at 0645 hours.

4. At 0706 hours, plots were again seen approaching along a bearing of 78° from Trincomalee at a range of 91 miles, and a positive track was established when the raiders were between 35 and 40 miles away. The "red" warning was sounded at China Bay 0718 hours, and the aerodrome was bombed at 0725 hours.

5. As the first plots were picked up when the enemy was 91 miles away, adequate warning was given to all defence forces.

Japanese Offensive Action

6. At 0715 hours the enemy was sighted thirty miles from the coast. The bombers were seen at 15,000 feet in "Vics" of six or seven aircraft in line astern, and were escorted by Navy "0" fighters. Some of the fighters were weaving between the bomber formations, while others provided "top cover" at 20,000 feet.

7. As they neared the target area, the first wave, which consisted of six formations of six or seven Navy type "99" dive bombers, lost height and carried out a level bombing attack from between 9 to 10 thousand feet. Each formation attacked a different objective, and all bombs dropped were in salvos of six or more. After dropping their bombs, the aircraft circled left, breaking formation and losing height.

8. The first wave was followed by further formations of six dive bombers escorted by fighters, which broke formation, and carried out dive bombing and machine-gun attacks. It is possible that some dive bombing was also carried out by aircraft that had previously taken part in the first level bombing attack.

9. The dive bombing was followed, almost immediately, by a high level bombing attack, carried out by twin-engine bombers. Neither the height nor the composition of this force is known, but one pilot states that he saw two large formations of twin-engine aircraft escorted by Navy "0" fighters.

10. Between 100 and 130 aircraft, consisting of Navy '0' fighters, Navy '99' dive bombers and what are thought to be Navy type '1' twin engine bombers, took part in the attack. The Japanese fighters were not camouflaged but were painted a light cream, with conspicuous red roundels on the wings and fuselage. The upper surfaces of the bombers were coloured a dark green and considerable difficulty was experience by all our pilots in observing enemy aircraft against jungle background.

11. It is not possible to assess the number of bombs dropped, but some of the larger craters are estimated to have been caused by 500 kg. bombs. It is believed that 250 kg. bimbs, as well as a large number of anti-personnel bombs, were also dropped.

Own Defence.

Fighter.

12. A dawn patrol of three "Hurricanes" which was orbiting the aerodrome at 15,000 feet, was vectored to meet the raiders, which were sighted at 0715 hours thirty miles from the coast. At 0700 hours, two further sections of "Hurricanes" were flown off; one was ordered to orbit base, and the other the eastern perimeter of the harbour. Simultaneously, two sections of "Hurricanes" were scrambled from the "Cocky" (Kokkilai) satellite. The last two sections climbed rapidly to 16,000 feet.

13. At 0720 hours, the leader of the "Cocky" flight observed bombs bursting in the harbour. He ordered his sections into echelon, sections line astern, and dived steeply to attack, intercepting the enemy at 10,000 feet. The combat soon resolved itself into a "dogfight". The leader of the section orbiting base was given details of the enemy's approach by R/T. and took his section to 21,000 feet. After maneuvering to get the sun behind him, he saw a large formation of enemy bombers at 9,000 feet. He ordered his section to echelon starboard and dived to the attack, passing through a heavy anti-aircraft barrage at 17,000 feet. The section was split up and "dogfighting" ensued.

14. The following fighters were airborn to intercept the enemy raid: -

No.261 squadron - 16 "Hurricane II"
1 "Hurricane I"
No.273 squadron - 6 "Fulmars"

Where possible, our pilots carried out dive and zoom tactics, and several were able to make two attacks before they were engaged by Navy "0's". Whenever our own fighters were forced to accept combat with Japanese fighters, they were always heavily outnumbered.

[the report goes on to cover losses, claims, anti-aircraft fire, damage to airbase facilities, and No.11 squadron's attack on the Japanese fleet]

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RE: t/s of RAF report on 9 May 1942 Trincomalee attack - 6/19/2009 3:54:42 PM   
anarchyintheuk

 

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Interesting reference to dive and zoom.

No mention of losses. Can you post that section?

< Message edited by anarchyintheuk -- 6/19/2009 3:55:21 PM >

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RE: t/s of RAF report on 9 May 1942 Trincomalee attack - 6/19/2009 4:15:54 PM   
USSAmerica


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What were the 2-engine bombers, and where did they launch from?

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RE: t/s of RAF report on 9 May 1942 Trincomalee attack - 6/19/2009 4:24:39 PM   
HMS Resolution


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15. During the course of this attack is estimated that the following casualties were inflicted on the enemy:-

Squadron. Destroyed. Probably. Damaged.
No.261. 14 /14/3
No.273. 1/3/2

Totals. 15/17/5

...

Own Aircraft Losses.

26. During all engagements on this day, our own aircraft and flying personnel casualties were:-


Aircraft. Personnel. Remarks.
8 "Hurricanes" shot down. 2 Pilots killed. 3 Pilots wounded. One pilot was wounded on the ground while attempting to approach an aircraft which had crash-landed.
3 "Fulmars" shot down. 1 Crew missing.
2 "Hurricanes" damaged.
1 "Catalina" missing. Crew missing.
5 "Blenheims" missing. 17 crew missing.


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RE: t/s of RAF report on 9 May 1942 Trincomalee attack - 6/19/2009 4:38:03 PM   
HMS Resolution


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quote:

ORIGINAL: USS America

What were the 2-engine bombers, and where did they launch from?



It appears to have been an error made in the heat of the moment. There are several mentions of these twin-engined aircraft---and even a drawing of one, in an earlier report of the raid on Colombo. My personal feeling is that bombs dropped from Kate horizontal bombers were mistakenly believed to have come from Bettys (Type 1 twin-engines).

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RE: t/s of RAF report on 9 May 1942 Trincomalee attack - 6/19/2009 4:58:40 PM   
dazoline II


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Interesting peice on the RCAF pilot who first spotted the fleet in the Indian Ocean.
http://www.journal.dnd.ca/vo7/no4/stuart-eng.asp

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RE: t/s of RAF report on 9 May 1942 Trincomalee attack - 6/22/2009 7:51:17 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: HMS Resolution

2. Another "Catalina" was airborne at 0256 hours on the 9th April, and carried out a cross over patrol approximately 200 miles east of Trincomalee. At 0715 hours, the enemy fleet was again sighted, and the "Catalina" began to signal the enemy's position and composition. The signal which began "Large force..." broke off and, as nothing further was heard from this aircraft, it is presumed to have been shot down.


So dry and factual, yet the scene it conjures is chilling. Poor devils. You wonder if they even saw the Zero coming or if the first sign of it they had was when 20mm cannon shells started chewing into the cockpit...

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RE: t/s of RAF report on 9 May 1942 Trincomalee attack - 12/29/2009 7:59:43 PM   
Rob Stuart

 

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To HMS Resolution:

I am the author of the article at http://www.journal.dnd.ca/vo7/no4/stuart-eng.asp mentioned by dazoline II and continue to research Operation C. Do you have the rest of this report on the 9 April attack? It's quite interesting. For example, I've seen no other document which says that "it was considered that the enemy warships operating in the Indian Ocean would rendezvous with those operating in the Bay of Bengal, and carry out a joint attack on Trincomalee". Do you have any other primary documents on Operation C from UK sources?


Thanks,

Rob Stuart

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RE: t/s of RAF report on 9 May 1942 Trincomalee attack - 1/1/2010 7:40:50 PM   
Kiwi Red One

 

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Good Morning

I don't look in here very often but thanks for posting this stuff.

HMS Resolution - Could you please post the part of the report that discusses 11 Sqn's attack on the Japanese carriers?

Rob Stuart - Don't know if you have seen them but FWIW some of the Admiralty War Diaries for the Eastern Fleet in 1942 (including the April 1942 attacks) are available on-line as transcripts on the Naval History Net at:

http://www.naval-history.net/xDKWD-EF1942a.htm

Cheers
KRO

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RE: t/s of RAF report on 9 May 1942 Trincomalee attack - 1/2/2010 1:53:24 AM   
Rob Stuart

 

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KRO,

The EF war diaries on the Naval History Net are indeed very helpful. I've been in contact by email with Don Kindell, who transcribes them, and he was kind enough to share with me the texts of the diaries for additional months, pending their upcoming posting. Regarding the 11 Sqn attack on Kido Butai, I have found the following info so far, but mostly from secondary sources, so I too hope HMS Resolution can post the rest of the 24 July report:

28 February: 11 Squadron, equipped with 14 Blenheim IV light bombers, arrives at Ratmalana. (Tomlinson, The Most Dangerous Moment, p. 66; http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/11_wwII.html. Bloody Shambles Vol 2, p. 390 says 11 Squadron arrived on 15 March, The Fight Avails p. 71 implies they arrived after 7 March.)

3 March: 11 Squadron ground staff depart Egypt (probably from Port Sudan) on HT Talma. (http://www.xisquadronassociation.co.uk/feature/loftydecom/lofty_p2.html; Flat Out, p. 161)

18 March: 11 Squadron’s ground staff arrive at Colombo aboard HT Talma. (Flat Out, p. 161.)

24 March: 11 Squadron moves to improvised airstrip at Colombo racecourse. (Tomlinson, p. 86) (http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/11_wwII.html says move was on 2 April.)

5 April, 0830: 10 Blenheims of 11 Squadron, each armed with (two?) 500 lb semi-armour-piercing bombs, take off from Racecourse to attack Kido Butai but fail to find it. (Bloody Shambles, p. 405, Tomlinson, p. 114)

8 April: Five 11 Squadron Blenheims are sent looking for the Japanese carriers but again sight nothing. (Bloody Shambles, p.411.)

9 April, 0740: 11 Squadron ordered to proceed immediately to position 9-20N, 84-40E to attack. Primary objectives the carriers. (East Indies Station War Diary)

0820: 11 Blenheims from 11 Squadron take off from Colombo’s racecourse to attack Kido Butai. Two turn back with engine trouble. (Bloody Shambes, p. 422)

1025: 11 Squadron Blenheims sight Japanese (Battle Summary 15)

1048: 11 Squadron arrives over the Japanese carriers at 11,000 feet. They take the Japanese by surprise and drop their bombs on the carrier Akagi and cruiser Tone, scoring near misses but no hits. (Kongo TROM says it was attacked too but also without success.) Zeros then attack, with following results, per Bloody Shambles, p. 426:

Z7896 (Capt Adcock, SAAF) was shot down at once

Z9574 (Lt Knight, SAAF) shot down next

R3911 (Sgt Maclennan) went down after a fierce fight. The gunner, Sgt Nell, may have shot down the Zero flown by Lt Nono, which was lost in this action

Z7803 (WO Stvenson) was then shot down. Remaining five aircraft got away.

1105: Five remaining aircraft encounter Vals from Shokaku returning from the attack on Hermes, escorted by three Zeros from Hiryu. The latter attack. V5592 (S/L Ault) is shot down and crashes on the beach, but in return the Zero of NAP 1/C Makinoda is destroyed. The undercarriage of Z7759 collapses on landing. V6010 and Z7506 arrive at Racecourse riddled by bullets. (Ibid)


I hope this is of interest.

Thanks,

Rob


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Rob Stuart

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RE: t/s of RAF report on 9 May 1942 Trincomalee attack - 1/23/2010 6:53:40 PM   
Rob Stuart

 

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Here are paras 16 through 25 of the 222 Group report, which I've now obtained from the the UK National Archives:

ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUN FIRE

16. The following numbers of rounds were fired by the various types of anti-aircraft guns that went into action:

Heavy (3.7"): 764
Light: 953

The heavy guns were very late in opening fire, due entirely to the tactics employed by the enemy. The morning had dawned with a cloudless sky and shortly after sunrise the conditions looking to the eastward were extremely difficult. The Japanese flew out of the sun and considerable glare, and, until the first formation had been sighted, it was difficult for the guns crews to focus correctly and pick up the aircraft.

17. Continual observation was maintained in areas where engagements were not taking place and although several attempts were made, no fighters were able to approach a gun position from the rear unseen. In several instances Bofors guns sited at heavy anti-aircraft gun positions were able to engage enemy aircrat approaching to carry out machine gun attacks.

18. At the commencement of the raid, shooting was poor, due to excitement and lack of training. As the engagement progressed, however, the crews settled down and were finally shooting very steadily and with good effect. The conduct of all personnel was excellent.

19. The following enemy aircraft are claimed to have been shot down by gun fire:-

Heavy guns: 3
Light guns: 6


PASSIVE

20. Prior to the raid, shipping in Trincomalee harbour was dispersed. The majority of serviceable aircraft not playing a defensive role were flown from China Bay to other landing grounds. No sericeable aircraft were damaged by bombs, but two "Fulmars" were damaged by machine-gun fire.


OWN OFFENSIVE ACTION

21. The partly received signal sent by the "Catalina" (see paragraph 2) enabled the Air Staff to estimate the position of the enemy fleet, and nine "Blenheims" of No. 11 Squadron took off to attack the carriers. Mixed loads of 250 lb. and 500 lb. A.S. and S.A.P. bombs were carried.

22. The formation set course at 0840 hours, and sighted the enemy force dead on course at 1025 hours, when flying at 12,000 feet. The following ships were observing steaming at 20-25 knots:-

4 aircraft carriers (possibly five)
3 battleships.
4 or 5 cruisers.
screen of destroyers.

The "Blenheims" passed directly over two battleships on the run up to attack one aircraft carrier and bombed from 11,000 feet. Three near misses were observed within fifty yards of the carrier. Inaccurate medium strength anti-aircraft fire was encountered, and fighters were observed taking off from the carrier.

23. After bombing, the formation turned back towards the west, and went into a long shallow dive with the object of descending to sea level. They were intercepted by approximately twenty Navy '0' fighters at 7,000 and one "Blenheim" was immediately shot down. The enemy fighters then attacked in force approaching from the stern and beam, and three more "Blenheims" were seen to go down. Owing to the severity of the attacks, our bombers experienced considerable difficulty in keeping formation, but three managed to get into a tight formation with a fourth lagging behind, owing to engine trouble. The four aircraft ran into a large formation of enemy bombers and fighters returning to their carriers; two (both returning to base) sought cloud cover, and the other two (one of which failed to return) went down to sea level and carried straight on. A further "Blenheim", which did not run into the enemy fighters, also returned, making a total of four.

24. 2,302 rounds of ammunition were fired from the four "Blenheims" that returned, and at least four enemy fighters were shot down.

25. The "Blenheim" which had been detailed to follow the enemy aircraft back to their carriers was recalled when it was known that the striking force had located the target.


Cheers,


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Rob Stuart

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RE: t/s of RAF report on 9 May 1942 Trincomalee attack - 1/12/2011 6:05:02 AM   
HMS Resolution


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Holy crap! Only just glanced at this again, a year late.

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