Part 3: Operational Report: 09/12/41
Submarine I-112 hits one of our airplane transports off Borneo. One of its four torpedoes hits,sinking the ship. Then the destroyer escorts get their acts together and begin to attack the sub.
Its unknown how much, if any damage was done to the sub during this attack, But it is not much, as soon it is back and trying to sink a much larger prey.
Its torpedoes miss this time, and the destroyers hunt once more, driving off the sub, but we know that its out there, waiting for our ships to pass.
Singapore is attacked. Thanks to some clever camouflage put in place by the dock workers, they ignore the repairing Prince of Wales and attack the other ships in the harbour.
Losing another ship while loading, the crews on the dockyard redouble their efforts to repair the pride of the British fleet in the pacific. Another later strike sinks a tanker loading in the harbour.
In the Philippines, S-39 attacks a freighter, hitting it and leaving it burning. This is a good start from our Captains, and puts to rest fears yesterday that they were not going to involve themselves in the war.
Following this attack, some Patrol Gunboats move in to try their luck, but withdraw upon seeing the escort destroyers. This is thought to have disrupted the landings for a time, so is not a wasted engagement. It would have been suicide for the gunboats to approach the convoy in daylight, just spooking them is enough for me.
In the air, our planes shoot down twelve Betty Bombers without loss as they once again strike at Manilla. We lose no planes, but some get through and hit the ships loading at the docks. This is unavoidable at this point.
The B-17's take to the air today, but they fail to hit any ships they are aiming for, tomorrow they will be ordered to attack the landing troops, where accuracy is less important.
There are another wave of massed troop landings, this time capturing Vigan and Appiri without any opposition. We need to maintain our defences of the key cities, even if this means giving the enemy landing zones for their forces. While this may cause problems in the long term, its better than watching the Jap's sail a force into an empty Manilla.
At Wake, the long range bombers once more attempt to destroy the airfield, Without loss, our planes destroy three Bettys and a Nell, and limit the bombing to some inaccurate hits.
Then things really begin to heat up as planes from the Carrier Lexington detect an incoming invasion force. Every plane aboard the carrier is scrambled, and move to attack the ships. Without a carrier or land based CAP to protect them, the attack is described by the pilots as Shooting Fish in a Barrel
Command's decision to move the Carriers here has proven a wise one, the losses inflicted were heavy, one confirmed sinking and three more ships, one a cruiser, badly damaged. But this is not enough to prevent the other ships beginning their attack. There is no place to hide out here in the open of the pacific ocean.
But, warned by the Carrier fleet, the Marines on Wake were ready for this, and as the Japanese troops came ashore in broad daylight, they were met with murderous fire.
They are not repulsed fully, but they take heavy losses trying to hold on to their thin stretches of sand on the beachheads.
Today has been a mixed day, the successes of the Lexington are outweighed by the losses in other areas, but at least we have a victory to tell the people in the papers. It looks like the sting has been taken out of the Wake invasion, and hopefully with further support we can push them back from the island.
We are only getting the one freighter confirmed as killed, but the other ships are damaged, and in the case of the cruiser, the Japanese are not likely to lose face this early on by admitting its loss, if it has sunk from damage received. It will be many days, if not weeks, before they admit their losses for today.
We now have our first fighter ace. Kliewer has shot down five planes in just two missions, and three other pilots are soon to join him as Aces. So far, Pilot losses have been light, with only 16 killed and 24 wounded. With two missing in action.
The Carrier fleet, now known to be called the Kido Butai, or mobile force, is moving off. They seem to be moving in the direction of Wake. This must be watched, as we do not want our carriers being caught by the much larger force. We will allow the Lexington one more day of operations in the area, but the Enterprise is being returned to Pearl by a safe northern route.
The CAP in Pearl has been reduced to 50% to give the pilots some rest, as it seems that the danger has passed for now.
The Pennsylvania continues to burn.
The Prince of Wales is now as fit as she will be in a short amount of time, but it will take three days to make her ready for sea. She may still sink when she reaches the open sea, but that is a risk we will have to take. High command thinks it better that than scuttled or taken as prize by the enemy.
I also order our badly damaged mine layer to dump her mines in Singapore Harbour. This will slow down the enemy if they decide to move a large force into the harbour.