20 Feb 43
My landing at Taberfane continues. It is not interfered with.
Near Munda, I-21 fires on sub Snapper but misses with 2 torpedoes.
At Buin, I send a squadron of P-40Ks on a sweep mission. Losses are heavy, with 12 P-40Ks lost, downing about 8 enemy planes. Some Zeros, some Nicks. That's ok though, they led the way to a maximum effort by my B-17s. The raid fragments quite a bit, but the CAP is not effective. I'd hoped to catch some bombers on the ground, and I did. 11 Vals and 9 Nells are destroyed. Some fighters are downed. Damage to the airfield is heavy.
One thing that contributed to the success at Buin was that a big squadron of Zeros swept Milne Bay from the Buin area. Good luck for me. The stacked defenders at Milne Bay do well, destroying far more enemy than lost.
The port at Ocean Island is attacked today with Kates, probably from Tarawa. Very minor damage is done, and there aren't any ships here. The enemy was probably looking for ACMs like they found at Nauru.
Total air losses for today were 12 P40Ks, 3 Spits, 2 Kittyhawks, and 2 B-17s, while downing 21 Zeros and 4 Nicks, and destoying the 11 Vals and 9 Nells on the ground at Buin.
My newly arrived troops on Arorae, near Tabiteuea, are bombed by Nells. It is an atoll, and losses are heavy. All of the losses are to the engineers, all disruptions.
I attack again at Wessel Island, and destroy more of the 69th JAAF AF Company.
Unoccupied Dabo was captured without a fight. Digging in and building starts.
At Taberfane, the 147th Infantry Regiment attacks. The terrain helps the defenders which include the 25 Independent Engineer Regiment and the 8th Port Unit. The odds were 1 to 1, lowering the forts to 0. The enemy takes more casualties, losing more non-combat and engineers, while the US troops lose more infantry squads.
Today I bombard with a couple of cruisers and bomb with some B-24s, and hope to take the base with another attack.
My ships at Timoeka, on the west coast of New Guinea east of Dabo, are still not spotted. My infantry regiment continues to unload. Engineers are on the way in another convoy.
A base called Nabire caught my interest today. It's a dot base, still Allied, on the east coast of New Guinea, just 2 hexes from Timoeka. It would be very interesting to get troops there and start building, unobserved. A base on the east coast could be very useful. It's close enough to Timoeka to draw supply, and far enough from any enemy bases that it would only be attacked by sea. Could be a forward refueling base for undamaged subs, a very nice seaplane base behind enemy lines, and eventually a nice airbase. We'll see if I get to it in time. I've tasked an Indian para unit to occupy the base after being shipped into range at Merauke. I bought out another Australian brigade to eventually occupy Nabire.
I'm starting to wonder what I could have accomplished if my US Marine divisions had prepped for bases beyond Taberfane and Dobo. I didn't anticipate such a quick advance past Horn Island. If I had, I could be landing at Darwin or Timor or Ambon or Sorong right now.
I did make the decision today to delay any landings at Buna or Port Moresby. It's almost March 1943, and all of those APs that upgrade to APAs do so then. I have a lot of them in Australia, and those ships are needed for Buna. I decided to upgrade them and delay an invasion. The upgrades are just too good to pass up, and I'd hate to throw them all away at Buna before doing so. I don't think this is a big deal really. The enemy infantry divisions aren't going anywhere anytime soon. And if they do, so be it. The landings would be easier. My transport shipping that isn't due to upgrade will now move to Townsville to help support moving units past Horn Island and Merauke to my new bases. And maybe a new base or two by then.
I got SigInt that there is an enemy battleship moving to Legaspi. Could be coming from Japan with Legaspit as a waypoint headed south. Eventually my western New Guinea moves will be countered in one way or another.