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March 27th, 1943 (SATURDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Clyde estuary: The escort carrier HMS DASHER sinks after an accident in which one of her petrol tanks explodes. There are 379 casualties and 149 survivors. Location 5 miles off Cumbrae Light 55 37N 05 00W. Wreck was located on 12 January 1944, and at the last official survey in April 1984, Dasher was found to be lying in 170m of water with a large debris field. (Alex Gordon)(108)

TUNISIA: Twelfth Air Force fighters attack German installations.  (Jack McKillop)
US forces begin an assault against Fondouk Pass. (Michael Ballard)

Soldiers of the New Zealand Corps have broken through the Axis lines after an overnight attack which has outflanked German defences now retreating from the Mareth Line 30 miles further east. The New Zealanders - 27,000 men and 200 tanks - attacked a gap in the hills at Tebaga at 4pm yesterday as the sun set  over the desert.

The 8th Armoured Brigade and the New Zealand infantry made up the advance wave, followed by the 1st Armoured Division. Their movements were given some cover not only by the encroaching dusk but also by a sandstorm which obscured the vision of the anti-tank guns ranged to defend Tebaga. By daybreak today the Allies had blasted through the gap, ensuring the ultimate breach of the Mareth Line.

Montgomery will push back the Axis forces, now commanded by General Jurgen von Arnim who has replaced Rommel, from two sides: the inland column established through Tebaga, and a direct coastal assault via Gabes. Arnim plans to deploy tanks of the 15th Panzer Division to hold off the Allies in order to allow his infantry time to retreat from the doomed Mareth Line to new defensive positions. 

BURMA: Five Tenth Air Force B-24s mine the Rangoon River during the night of 27/28 March. (Jack McKillop)

KOLOMBANGARA ISLAND: Thirteenth Air Force P-39s and US Navy aircraft attack Vila Airfield.  (Jack McKillop)

KURILE ISLANDS: The Japanese force retiring from the Battle of the Komandorski Islands reaches Paramushiru. The heavy cruiser Nachi has been hit five times and the light cruiser Tama was hit twice. Japanese casualties are 15 dead and 27 wounded on HIJMS Nachi and one wounded on HIJMS Tama.  (Jack McKillop)

MOLUCCAS ISLANDS: Fifth Air Force B-24s hit the harbour and shipping on Tanimbar Island.  (Jack McKillop)

NEW GUINEA: Fifth Air Force B-24s and B-25s attack targets on the north coast.  (Jack McKillop)

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