Part 20: Operational Report: 26/12/41
The Dutch raider task force finds some targets and deals with them quickly.
When the say dawns the Hermes Launches her Swordfishes, who quickly sink a Jap transport.
The Battle of Sangi
TF308 finds a couple of Japanese cruisers between the Phillipenes and Ternate, the battle is long and drawn out, but ends up with one of the Japanese ships sinking beneath the water, but not before dealing some damage to the allied force.
This was nothing though, for an hour later, three large shapes were seen in the water. Howard, Captain of the Boise and commander of the task force suddenly realized that they had found an enemy carrier task force!
The Kaga, Zuikaka and Akagi were all quickly recognised, along with the heavy cruiser Tone, a match for the Boise on her own.
The arrival of the US ships panicked the Japanese, who scattered their task force, causing the Kaga to collide with one of the escorting destroyers. The Allied ships tried to get into range of the Japanese carriers, but the Tone stopped them, putting 5 shells into the Boise and causing Howard to call off the attack.
While we have no confirmed damage to any of the carriers, its hoped that the collision will have caused the Kaga to turn around for home.
Breaking off from this battle, TF308 runs smack into the first force they encountered that night.
they manage to break off fairly quickly, but this was the last straw for the destroyer that had suffered all the damage, and she sank a few hours after this last contact. But the enemy pursued, and they caught up with the Allied ships at around 9;00am amongst a raging storm. During the fight, the Boise took more hits, including one from a torpedo.
The Dragon, undamaged so far, comes into long range contact with the carriers again before breaking off after a few ineffectual shots were exchanged. Soon after this however, the weather cleared enough for the enemy carriers, fully aware of the position of the heavily damaged Boise, to launch an attack on her.
The carriers then send out an afternoon strike on Manado, causing moderate damage to the airfield there, which has no planes.
At Port Moresby, the squadron of dive bombers that arrived yesterday set off to a great start, as four of them attack a Japanese troop transport, all four planes scoring a hit on their target.
A return attack in the afternoon nets the squadron another hit on a ship, again leaving it burning.
Over Singapore, our planes shoot down three enemy planes for the loss of one of our own, while the rest of the 36 plane raid causing minor damage to the facilities there. While the ground forces to the north continue to get closer to the city.
Off Sidney a Jap sub torpedoes a light freighter moving supplies.
The Japanese hit the airbase at Rangoon hard today.
Clark Field gets hammered today, we shoot down one attacking plane for the loss of three of our own. Damage to the airfield was next to nothing, our planes selling themselves to disrupt their attack.
The defenders of Wenchow continue to butcher the attacking Japanese troops, preventing them from advancing any further.
Well, that was a bitch of a day.
Losses were fairly even, we lost a cruiser and two destroyers in the battle of Sangi, the enemy lost a destroyer and a cruiser, theirs was a smaller ship than the Boise, but its still the largest surface battle of the war in the Pacific so far, and we now know the location of some of the enemy carriers.
This is the risk we have paid for all the other surface raiders, someone was going to run into something like this at some point, and a cruiser is not to much of a price to pay.
The enemy are moving the 14th Division to Kota Bharu north of Singapore, so we can expect these troops to be used in the assault on the city. Davo and Tavoy are also going to be attacked soon.
The Dragon, the only ship left from TF308 is now fleeing the enemy carries back to Soerabaja, only two carriers are reported here, this is ether faulty intelligence, or the carrier that hit a destroyer last night has pulled back for repairs.
To the north the Dutch cruisers are going in for another go, while the Hermes is retiring, only having four torpedoes remaining in her stores.
In Port Moresby I look at the dive bombers, and replace their commander Major Wilbonre with someone a little more skilled in the field, lieutenant commander Hodges.
I'm impressed with today's performance from these inexperienced pilots.
Fed up of waiting for British planes to arrive, I've detailed three squadrons out of Peal Harbour to move to the port to support the operations there.