August 7th, 1942 (FRIDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: Submarine HM S/M Saracen is lost. Submarine HMS P 311 is commissioned.
NETHERLANDS: 987 Jews are deported to Auschwitz.
GERMANY: U-794, U-795 ordered. (Dave Shirlaw)
HMS Thorn is sunk by a depth charge attack from Italian destroyer Emmanuale
Pessagno. There are no survivors.
Location E of Gevdo Island, Crete. (Alex Gordon)(108)
EGYPT: Cairo: German fighters descended on an RAF transport aircraft
over the desert today, killing Lt-Gen William "Strafer" Gott just 24 hours after
Winston Churchill had appointed him commander of the Eighth Army.
The humanitarian Gott, one of the most popular generals in the Middle East, had commanded XIII Corps under Auchinleck. But many saw his leadership at El Alamein last month as fumbling and tired. Bernard Montgomery, a relatively unknown general, is flying in to fill the vacancy.
Squadron Leader (then Sgt. Pilot) H.G. James. James, only 18 years of age but with 410 hours in his log book was flying a Bristol Bombay as part of a shuttle service between Heliopolis and the front. On the afternoon of 7 Aug 42 he was detailed to pick up 14 wounded soldiers from Burg-el-Arab. Gott was also to be a passenger. At 4:45 P.M. the aircraft took off and flying only 50 feet off the ground so as not to attract the attention of Luftwaffe aircraft headed back to Heliopolis.
After only a few minutes a flight of six ME 109 Fs jumped the Bombay and set afire two engines. James ordered the rear door lifted off its hinges and placed in the back of the Bombay and landed the burning plane safely on a sand plateau. It's brakes were shot and she ran on for about eight miles.
The Germans attacked the Bombay as she ran along the sand. James ordered his passengers to bail out the open door even before the aircraft came to a stop. He and some other crew and one wounded soldier were able to get out through the cockpit floor hatch. Once on the ground they found that the rear door had not been lifted off its hinges and had closed. The aircraft was burning and there was no way to get at Gott and the others in the aircraft. (William Jay Stone)
PALESTINE: In an announcement by Sir John Grigg, Britain
creates a Palestine Regiment, with separate Jewish and Arab battalions.
NEW GUINEA: The Burns Phillip ship "Mamutu" (300 tons) with a crew of 32, set out, yesterday, from Port Moresby headed for Daru on the western shores of the Gulf of Papua. On board were 82 passengers which included 28 children, who were escaping the more than 70 Japanese bombing raids on Port Moresby.
"Mamutu" was about half way across the gulf when just after 11am on 7 August 1942 the ships crew spotted a Japanese submarine several miles astern.
It was Japanese submarine RO-33, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Shigeshi Kuriyama. RO-33 had left Rabaul in April 1942 to reconnoitre Port Moresby. RO-33 and RO-34 were both later ordered to blockade Port Moresby and guide Japanese shipping into the area.
The Wireless Operator on "Mamutu", Mr. R.J. Furbank sent a morse code message to Port Moresby to advise of the submarine's presence. RO-33 closed in at about 19 knots and caught up with "Mamutu". RO-33 opened fire with its 3.25" (80mm) gun. The first shot hit the radio room and killed Mr Furbank. The second shot wiped out the bridge killing Captain J. McEachern. Others shells hit the hull. Many people were killed or injured in the accurate barrage from RO-33.
Kuriyama then ordered his gunners to fire their 13 mm machine guns upon the survivors in the water. They killed as many as they could which included many women and children. RO-33 then left the scene of destruction. There were only 28 survivors from the total complement of 120 persons. One man, a European Engineer, Bill Griffin, escaped death at the hands of the ruthless machine gunners by pretending to be dead.
A B-17 Flying Fortress search aircraft dropped life rafts to the struggling survivors who eventually made it to shore. The Army signal ship "MV Reliance" which was used by the Coast Watchers, was sent from Murray Island to try to pick up the survivors. They were unable to locate the survivors. (Denis Peck)
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Guadalcanal: The first American offensive of the Pacific War began spectacularly today when the 1st Marine Division (reinforced), by heavy air and naval bombardments, landed on remote Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Tanambogo and Gavatu in the southern Solomon Islands.
This first offensive action in the Pacific war comes 7 months to the day after Pearl Harbor.
The Marines commanded by General
Vandegrift have close support from TF 62 under Admiral RK Turner. Admiral Fletcher with TF
16 provides air cover from carriers Enterprise, Saratoga and Wasp. The landings on
Guadalcanal are not contested. The islands of Tulagi, Gavatu and Tanambogo are heavily
USN warships of Task Force 16 begin a preinvasion bombardment of Guadalcanal and Tulagi at 0614 hours local. Carrier-based aircraft of the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CV-6), USS Saratoga (CV-3) and USS Wasp (CV-7) also conduct air strikes against the islands. At 0910 hours, the 1st Marine Division (Reinforced) initiates Operation Watchtower by landing on Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Florida, Gavutu and Tanambogo Islands.
The Australian Cruiser Squadron takes part. It consists of:
HMAS Canberra; Captain Frank E. Getting, RAN
HMAS Australia; Captain H. B. Farncomb, RAN
HMAS Hobart; Captain H. A. Showers, RAN
The squadron was commanded by a Rear-Admiral of the Royal
Navy, usually Australian-born. For example, Rear-Adm Jack Crace (who commanded
the squadron at the Coral Sea) was born in Australia but joined the Royal Navy.
The Australian naval college only started taking students in 1913, consequently
it was difficult to find flag officers of the Royal Australian Navy with the
Admiral Victor Crutchley, RN was one of the few officers to hold this command who was not born in Australia. Admiral Crutchley is in command of the Australian Cruiser Squadron at this time and has been placed in command of the transport screening forces by Admiral
Turner. (Mike Mitchell)
At 1315 hours local, the Japanese attack with 27 ( Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber) "Betty" bombers escorted by 17 (Mitsubishi A6M Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter) "Zeke" fighters from Rabaul; 18USNF4F Wildcats of Fighting Squadrons Five and Six (VF-5 and VF-6) of the carriers USS Saratoga (CV-3) and USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) drive them off and shoot down 8 G4Ms and 1 "Zeke;" 8USNWildcats and an SBD Dauntless are lost. Among the Japanese pilots on this strike is Saburo Sakai. It is this mission from which his epic return flight to Rabaul will begin. He returns alone with only one eye, one arm and one leg in a crippled Zero, 565 miles.
At 1430 hours, 9 Aichi D3A Navy Type 99 Carrier Bombers, Allied Code Name "Val," attack and damage a destroyer; 5 "Vals" are shot down by F4F Wildcats and 4 ditch returning to their base at Rabaul.
13 USAAF B-17 Flying Fortresses of
the Allied Air Forces bomb Vunakanau Airfield on New Britain Island, Bismarck Archipelago,
in coordination with Marine landings. (Jack McKillop)
The 19,000 marines who landed here were not opposed on the beach-head. It is the first
capture of territory from Japan so far in the war, and only token resistance was offered
when the marines went on to seize a partially-completed airfield. But at the second
landing on nearby Tulagi island, they ran into a stiff fight to subdue some 1,500 Japanese
who resisted fiercely before they were annihilated against American losses of 150 men.
Thus, for the first time in the war American troops have wrested territory from the all-conquering Japanese. The Midway victory had altered the naval balance, and the American Joint Chiefs of Staff moved at once to plan the seizure of the southern Solomons where Japanese activity threatened to cut vital communications between Australia and the United States. Their directive of 2 July called for a two-pronged offensive towards northern New Guinea and the Solomon Islands chain. The ultimate objective of both offensives was to recapture Rabaul and break the barrier of the Bismarck Islands. Japanese reaction to the Guadalcanal challenge is not expected to be long in coming.
Japan has a strong striking force of bombers and fighters based at Rabaul and will be determined to thwart the US offensive. The first Japanese reaction to these landings arrives in the form of an afternoon air strike from Rabaul. Among the Japanese pilots on this strike is Saburo Sakai. It is this mission from which his epic return flight to Rabaul will begin. He returns alone with only one eye, one arm and one leg in a crippled Zero, 565 miles.
Bill Paull adds: On 7 August, 1942 "I" Battery, 3rd Bn., 10th Regiment, 2nd Marine Division fired the first American offensive artillery round (75mm) of WW2
on the island of Tulagi in the Solomon Islands.
Some "dumb cannoneer" did save it and manage to get home with it. Until last year, it has always been proudly displayed at the annual reunion of our "Forgotten Battalion." Since our ranks are thinning rapidly, last year we voted to offer it to the Marine Corps Museum at Quantico, Virginia. They were happy to get it and it now is on prominent display.
The late Arnold Gladson added: On this date, 56 years ago, the 2nd Marine Reg. 2nd Marine Div. landed against the heavily defended Japanese positions of Gavutu and Tulagi in the British Solomon Islands, while at the same time the 1st Marine Division was landing unopposed at Guadalcanal, My Weapons Company platoon first landed on Gavutu and then, by way of causeway, crossed over to Tulagi where we took many casualties.
AUSTRALIA: Rescue tug
HMAS Sprightly launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
TERRITORY OF ALASKA: Aleutians: The USAAF 11th Air Force dispatches 3 B-24 Liberators to bomb Kiska Island but they return with their bombs due to solid overcast; 4 more B-24s also depart for Kiska; 1 turns back with mechanical trouble, the others abort the mission over the target due to undercast; 1 B-24, 4 P-38 Lightnings and an LB-30 Liberator fly 2 air coverage missions at Nazan Bay, Atka Island for USN tenders.
Kiska is bombarded by USN Task Group 8.6 consisting of the heavy cruisers USS Indianapolis (CA-35) and USS Louisville (CA-28); the light cruisers USS Honolulu (CL-48), USS Nashville (CL-43) and USS St Louis (CL-49); and 6 destroyers, between 1955 and 2021 hours local. The task force fires 631 rounds of 8-inch (203.2 mm), 3,534 rounds of 6-inch (152.4 mm) and 2,620 rounds of 5-inch (127 mm) ammunition destroying barracks, landing barges, a moored H6K "Mavis" flying boat and the merchant vessel SS Kano Maru and damaging two H6K "Mavis" flying boats. The bombardment serves as a diversion for the Allied landings in the Solomon Islands. (Jack McKillop)
U.S.A.: Destroyer USS Strong
commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
Public opinion poll results:
Do you think that Roosevelt and Churchill should have the final decision on the military and naval plans of the war or do you think these plans should be decided by military and naval leaders of the United Nations?
Roosevelt and Churchill 21%
Military and naval leaders 64%
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up US$0.25 to US$105.05 (US$1,105.79 in year 2000 dollars). (Jack McKillop)
The motion picture "Pardon My Sarong" is released. This comedy, directed by Erle C. Kenton, stars Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Virginia Bruce, Leif Erikson and William Demarest. The plot has two bus drivers (Abbott and Costello) ending up on a tropical island with jewel thieves. (Jack McKillop)
U-108 sank SS Breņas.
U-109 sank SS Arthur W. Sewall.
U-572 sank SS Delfshaven.
U-86 sank SS Wawaloam. (Dave Shirlaw)
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