October 15th, 1942
UNITED KINGDOM: The USAAF 14th FG, flying P-38s, completes its first combat mission with the 8th AF by escorting RAF Boston light bombers to France. (Skip Guidry)
Frigate HMS Byard laid down.
HMC ML 089 commissioned.
Escort carrier HMS Activity commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
U-864 laid down.
U-644 and U-760 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.S.R.: German attacks continue to move slowly forward in the areas of the Tractor Factory and reach the Volga River just north of the main complex.
Soviet submarine "Sch-311"of the Baltic Fleet, Ladoga and Onega Flotillas is sunk by surface ASW ships at Porkalla area. (Sergey Anisimov)(69)
Moscow: The Soviet government calls for the immediate trial of Rudolf Hess and all German generals in Allied custody.
The Germans start a new offensive on Soviet positions in Stalingrad. (Jack McKillop)
NEW GUINEA: The Australian 25th Brigade, 7th Division, drives the Japanese back from Templeton's crossing. Fifth Air Force A-20 Havocs and P-40s attack the Japanese south of Templeton's Crossing and at Popondetta while B-25 Mitchells bomb Salamaua and hit targets in the Owen Stanley Range and in the area around the bridge at Wairopi. (Jack McKillop)
AUSTRALIA The USN's Submarine Base, Fremantle-Perth, is established. (Jack McKillop)
GILBERT and ELLICE ISLANDS, TARAWA: Following the US assault on Makin Island led by Lieutenant-Colonel Evans Carlson, the Australian and New Zealand coast watchers in the are rounded up by the Japanese.
The 17 radio operators and soldiers, missionary Tony Sadd and New Zealand trader AM McArthur were taken to Tarawa to join three prisoners from GILBERT and ELLICE ISLANDS,TARAWA: Australian teacher turned radio operator Reg Morgan; and two other white men, Basil Cleary and Isaac Handley.
After three days tied to coconut trees, they were moved to Tarawa Central Hospital, which had an enclosure for "native lunatics".
It is there that the Tarawa massacre takes place. The widely accepted account is that it was retaliation against an American attack, but no American ships or planes were in range that month. What may have happened, rather, is that one of the prisoners had tried to escape.
At 5pm, Catholic Bishop Octave Terriene's cook, Mikaere, looked across from 40 metres away to see the white men sitting in a line in the lunatic enclosure. A lot of Japanese were inside the enclosure. "One Japanese stepped forward to the first European in the line and cut his head off. Then I saw a second European have his head cut off and I could not see the third one because I fainted."
When he came to, he saw the Japanese carrying the bodies to two pits at the side of the enclosure. Twenty-two men were beheaded. (Gordon Rottman)
SOLOMON ISLANDS: During the night, Japanese heavy cruisers HIJMS Chokai and HIJMS Kinugasa (Vice Admiral Mikawa Gunichi) bombard Henderson Field between 0147 until 0217 hours, covering the movement of six destroyers and eleven transports with 5,000 troops to Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal. More U.S. aircraft are destroyed or damaged, more fuel is set afire and more facilities are destroyed on the airfield.
Beginning at 0600 hours with a strafing by 4 Fighting Squadron Five (VF-5) F4F Wildcats, the Cactus Air Force mounts piecemeal but effective attacks against ships and newly landed Japanese troops and supplies. At 1030 hours, General Gieger finally organizes a planned attack of 12 SBD Dauntless dive bombers of Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6) and Marine Scout Bombing Squadron One Hundred Forty One (VMSB-141) plus other unidentified units; 8 F4F fighters of VF-5; 3 P-39s and a P-400 Airacobra fighters and 11 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers of the USAAF; and a USMC PBY Catalina, the personal "flag" aircraft of Brigadier General Roy S. Geiger, Commanding General 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (1st MAW). The PBY carries 2 torpedoes under its wings and after receiving radioed instructions on how to airdrop torpedoes, Marine Major Jack Cram attacks the IJN ships. These aircraft conduct a succession of attacks on the Japanese supply convoy off Tassafaronga undamaged by VS-3s strike yesterday. The B-17s damage transport SS Azumasan Maru which, along with merchant cargo ship SS Kyushu Maru, is run aground, where uncontrollable fires destroy both ships. Air attacks also sink SS Sasago Maru and damage destroyer HIJMS Samidare. Two of the transports pull out at 1200 hours and the others pull out during the afternoon under continued attacks of the Cactus Air Force, but the attacks continue with another damaged. As the two remaining transports approach to finish unloading, they are waved off by General Ito.
A small USN resupply convoy consisting of the cargo ships USS Alchiba (AK-23) and USS Bellatirx (AK-20), the gunboat USS Jamestown, the destroyers USS Meredith (DD-434) and USS Nicholas (DD-449) and the tug USS Vireo (AT-144), each towing a barge carrying barrels of gasoline and 250-pound (113.4 kg) bombs, was en route to Guadalcanal when spotted by Japanese aircraft. All ships but the tug USS Vireo and the destroyer USS Meredith beat a hasty retreat. Cautiously proceeding, the pair beat off a 2-plane Japanese attack before they received word that Japanese surface ships were in the area. Only then did they reverse course. At 1200 hours, USS Meredith ordered old, slow, and vulnerable USS Vireo abandoned and took off her crew. Meredith then stood off to torpedo the tug at 1215 hours so that she would not fall into enemy hands intact.
Suddenly, 27 "Val" dive bombers (Aichi D3A, Navy Type 99 Carrier Bombers) and "Zeke" fighters, from IJN aircraft carrier HIJMS Zuikaku attack. Before Meredith can scuttle the tug with a torpedo, however, after shooting down 3 aircraft, the destroyer is overwhelmed and sunk in the ensuing air attack, by bombs and aerial torpedoes. Vireo and the two gasoline barges, however, drifted to leeward, untouched. One life raft, crammed with some of Meredith's survivors, succeeded in overhauling the derelict tug and the men gratefully scrambled aboard. The barges and the tug were later found, intact. When a salvage party boarded Vireo on 21 October, the ship was dead in the water with no lights, no steam, and no power. After abortive attempts to light fires under the boilers, using wood, the tug had to be taken under tow by the destroyer USS Grayson (DD-435). In company with Grayson and USS Gwin (DD-433), Vireo arrived safely at Espiritu Santo on 23 October. Only 7 officers and 56 men from the Meredith survived the attack and the three ensuing days of exposure to the open sea and sharks until they were rescued.
At 1245 hours, 27 "Betty" bombers (, Navy Type 1 Attack Bombers) escorted by 9 "Zeke" fighters (Mitsubishi A6M, Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighters) attack Henderson Field against virtually no opposition. A VF-5 pilot flying the last operational squadron F4F, shoots down a "Zeke."
During the day, the Japanese lose 6 "Zekes" and a reconnaissance biplane vs. 3 SBDs, 2 P-39s and an F4F. Four American pilots and 3 aircrew are lost.
In the afternoon, the Hornet Air Group in the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8), which is on station south of Guadalcanal but out of range of IJN aircraft, assumes responsibility for the air defence of Henderson Field while the Cactus Air Force reorganizes and repairs aircraft. By the end of the day, the Cactus Air Force is able to maintain air defence over Henderson Field and USS Hornet retires. During the day, IJA land-based artillery bombards the Marines' Lunga Point Perimeter. Air re-supply and reinforcements for the Cactus Air Force arrive in the form of three Marine Utility Squadron Two Hundred Fifty Four (VMJ-254) R4D-1 Skytrains each carrying twelve 55 U.S. gallon (208.2 litre) drums of aviation fuel while Marine Fighting Squadron Two Hundred Twelve (VMF-212) pilots ferry 6 SBDs from Espiritu Santo Island in the New Hebrides.
A single Fifth Air Force B-17 attacks shipping near Treasury Islands during the day.
At the end of the day, the U. S. Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Chester Nimitz calls the situation on Guadalcanal "critical." (John Nicholas and Jack McKillop)
TERRITORY OF ALASKA: ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: The Eleventh Air Force dispatches 3 B-26 Marauders to bomb and a B-24 Liberator to fly photo reconnaissance over Kiska and Attu Islands; the B-26s hit a large cargo ship in Gertrude Cove, Kiska Island, starting a fire, and hit buildings on Attu Island; AA claims a B-26. (Jack McKillop)
U.S.A.: Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command is activated at New York, New York, assigned directly to HQ USAAF. It takes over antisubmarine operations of the First Air Force's I Bomber Command, which is inactivated; most observation squadrons that have been flying ASW patrols cease and are inactivated; units assigned to the new command are:
* 13th Bombardment Group (Medium) at Westover Field, Massachusetts with four Bombardment Squadrons (Medium), i.e.:
- The 39th at Dover AAFld, Delaware with B-25s
- The 40th at Mitchel Field, New York with B-18s
- The 41st at Westover Field with A-29 Hudsons and B-25s
- The 393d at Westover Field with B-18 Bolos and B-25s
* 45th Bombardment Group (Medium) at Miami, Florida with four Bombardment Squadrons (Medium), i.e.:
- The 78th at Jacksonville Municipal Airport, Florida with B-18s
- The 79th at Miami with B-18s
- The 80th at Miami with B-18s
- The 433d at Galveston AAFld, Texas with RM-37 Venturas
The following units are attached:
- 46th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), 41st Bombardment Group (Medium), at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina with B-17s and A-29s
- 76th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) (air echelon only), 42d Bombardment Group (Medium), at Drew Field, Florida with A-29s
- 124th Observation Squadron, 75th Observation Group, at New Orleans AAB, Louisiana with O-47s
- 128th Observation Squadron, 77th Observation Group, at New Orleans AAB with O-47s (Jack McKillop)
Destroyer USS Young launched.
Light cruiser USS Denver commissioned.
Minesweeper USS Speed commissioned.
Destroyer USS Stanly commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-661 (Type VIIC) is sunk at position 53.42N, 35.56W, after being rammed by the British destroyer HMS Viscount. 44 dead (all crew lost). (Alex Gordon)
German U-Boat torpedoes cargo ship off Metis, Quebec.
U-757 was forced to return to base from the North Atlantic due to damage in the port diesel engine.
U-410 sank SS Newton Pine in Convoy ONS-136.
U-129 sank SS Trafalgar. (Dave Shirlaw)
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