August 26th, 1942 (WEDNESDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: HQ USAAF 52nd Fighter Group moves to Goxhill, England.
London: The government ban on the British Communist Party's newspaper, The Daily Worker, was lifted last night after 19 months and the paper reappeared today - but only just. At the last minute the printers went on strike.
William Rust, the editor, refused to hire a printer who had worked on the paper before the ban. This was the man who had welcomed police who came in to shut down the paper. "I have been expecting you," he had said. "I do not agree with the policies of those bastards upstairs."
NATSOPA, the printers and paperworkers union, told Rust that it would not agree to selective rehiring. Rust called the man a trouble-maker. Union officials then ordered the members to stop work. Rust caved in and 120,000 copies were printed, more than double the pre-ban print.
The paper was banned for spreading defeatist propaganda during the period when the Communists were opposed to the war. Party membership fell to 15,000. After the German attack on the Soviet Union, the party switched to support of the war overnight. Membership has risen to 55,000.
Destroyer HMS Scorpion launched.
Destroyer HNLMS Kortenaer launched.
EASTERN FRONT: Tonight the Soviet Air Force will raid Berlin, Danzig and Stettin.
The Red Army launches diversionary attacks on Vyazma and Rzhev to try to take some pressure off Stalingrad.
INDIA: The training centre for Chinese troops is activated at Ramgarh, Bihar Province, with Colonel Frederick McCabe as commandant.
NEW GUINEA: While the fighting in the Solomons continues at full fury, a Japanese naval landing force has invaded Milne Bay in the south-eastern corner of Papua.
The Japanese army desperately wanted to provide air cover for its drive across the Owen Stanley Mountains to Port Moresby, to which it had committed 13,500 troops. It also wanted an air base within reach of northern Australian airfields. Under cover of darkness 1,200 men of the Special Naval Landing Force who sailed from Rabaul entered Milne Bay on 25 August. The invaders soon clashed with Australian troops, and at dawn the next morning Australian aircraft ripped their landing barges with bombs and cannon fire and killed Japanese on the foreshore.
With only three quarters of their supplies unloaded, the enemy convoy raised anchor and got under way at first light. The Japanese needed to reach the comparative safety of the offshore islands before Allied ships or aircraft found them. They were too late.
At 0630, a low altitude flight of eight American B17 aircraft came into view, heading up the bay towards the convoy. With Major Felix Hardison leading, the aircraft had taken off from Port Moresby an hour before dawn and flown on a dead reckoning course towards Milne Bay. Lt Moji saw the destroyer URAKAZE open fire.
In his book FLYING BUCCANEERS, Steve Birdsall describes the action: '...they
let down through the gloom, and the convoy was below them. The ships sent up a
torrent of fire as the B-17s made their runs. The Fortresses were rocked by the
bursts of navy guns as the decks of the ships lit up in the gray murk, and the
gunners on the B-17s returned the fire. The ceiling was down to less than two
thousand feet, and the smoke thick, but Hardison's bombardier made out his
target. The bombs hung up and would not move so Hardison turned to make another
run. The B-17s had already bombed, when there tremendous burst of flame, and
Captain Clyde Webb's plane dropped down. The Fortress struck the sea smoothly
and shot ahead, leaving a slick of orange fire on the water before it sank.
Hardison's bombs still refused to go, and the B-17 was taking heavy damage as
they made a third and fourth run, with another bomber covering them. After four
more runs Hardison finally to let his bombardier salvo the load, and four bombs
struck close to the stern of a destroyer. On the final run the rest of the bombs
went down, but missed by a hundred feet or more. The last exploded immediately
under them, evidently set off by an antiaircraft fire, blowing the door off the
radio compartment and tearing a hole through the top of the plane.
Eight 17s had gone out, and seven came back, one carrying a dead bombardier.
Several planes had wounded aboard, all were badly shot up. One ground-looped
into a tree - there was a terrific crash and smoke billowed from the B-17, but
the crew was saved. That evening the n the 93rd did some purposeful drinking.'
(The aircraft were from the 93 Bomb Sqn, 19 Bomb Group that had staged from
Townsville via Port Moresby).
condensed from p161-2
On the Kokoda Trail some ground is gained near Isurava. But they come across the AIF reinforcements, veterans of the Middle East campaigns. Despite wave after wave of Japanese attackers, also using artillery, the Australians hold for 4 days.
In Allied air operations, USAAF P-40s, B-25 Mitchells, B-26 Marauders and B-17 Flying Fortresses plus RAAF Hudsons, all of the Allied Air Forces, pound Japanese forces who have landed in Milne Bay ; a large transport is damaged and most of the supplies on the beachheads east of Rabi are destroyed. A second Japanese convoy lands more troops during the night.
SOLOMON ISLANDS: The "Tokyo Express" lands 350 IJA troops
east of Taivu Point on Guadalcanal. At approximately 1200 hours, 12 USMC F4F
Wildcats intercept 16 G4M "Betty" bombers which have just bombed
Henderson Field. The Marine shoot down 3 of the bombers but they have damaged
the aviation gasoline supply and 2 1,000-pound (454 kg) bombs and several parked
aircraft are damaged by bomb splinters.
GILBERT ISLANDS: Undefended Ocean Island, located about 242 nautical miles (448 kilometres) west-southwest of Tarawa Atoll, is occupied by Japanese troops. Like Nauru Island, occupied yesterday, the island has large phosphate deposits and the loss of these two islands cause a severe shortage of fertilizer in Australia and New Zealand.
TERRITORY OF ALASKA: In the Aleutian Islands, a US 11th Air Force photo mission is aborted over Atka Island due to poor weather.
HMCS Border Cities laid down Port Arthur,
Trawler (Canadian manned) HMS Baffin commissioned.
U-517 arrived off Belle Isle, Quebec on war patrol. U-517 was a long-range Type IXC U-boat built by Deutsche Schiff und Machinenbau AG, Seebreck Yard, at Bremen. She was commissioned on 21 Mar 42. U-517 conducted two patrols and compiled a record of sinking nine ships for a total of 31,231 tons. U-517 was sunk on 21 Nov 42 by RN 'Albacore' torpedo-bomber aircraft from 817 Sqn of HMS Victorious in the North Atlantic south-west of Ireland, at 46-16N, 017-09W. There were 52 survivors from U-517 crew of 53. Paul Hartwig was born in 1915, at Stein, in Vogtland. He joined the navy in 1935 and transferred to the U-boat force in Jul 40. He completed two patrols on the successful Type IXC boat U-125, commanded by KptLt. GŁnther Kuhnke, Knight's Cross. He was selected for command and underwent his U-boat commander's course between Nov 41 and Jan 42. U-517 was sunk just four days after leaving Lorient on her second patrol. Hartwig spent the remainder of the war in Allied captivity. After the war Hartwig joined the Bundesmarine and rose to the rank of Vice Admiral.
U.S.A.: Wendell Willkie, the Republican candidate for President in the 1940 election, leaves Mitchell Field, Hempstead, Long Island, New York, to begin a 50-day trip around the world to more than a dozen countries as the envoy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. One of the purposes of the trip is to boost Allied solidarity.
Heavy cruiser USS Boston launched.
Destroyers USS Jeffers and Glennon launched.
Submarine USS Sawfish commissioned.
U-130 sank SS Beechwood.
U-162 sank SS Thelma.
U-375 attacked SS Empire Kumari in Convoy LW-38. Constructive total loss.
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