January 2nd, 1944 (SUNDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: London: General de Lattre de Tassigny is appointed C-in-C French Forces, North Africa.
FRANCE: During the night of 2/3 January, RAF Bomber Command Mosquitos hit V-1 launching sites: three each bomb sites at Bristillerie and La Glacerie.
GERMANY: During the night of 2/3 January, RAF Bomber Command dispatches 383 aircraft, 362 Lancasters, 12 Mosquitos and nine Halifaxes, to bomb Berlin; 311 aircraft bomb the target, the second time in two nights. German fighter controllers follow the bombers all the way to the target. Night fighters are sent to a radio beacon between Hannover and Bremen but these fighters miss the bomber stream and do not come into action until they are directed to Berlin. Most of the bomber casualties are in the Berlin area; 27 Lancasters are lost, 10 per cent of the force. The casualties included ten Pathfinder aircraft. German firemen stayed on the city's perimeter until the raid ended; in the past when they went into action during the raids, fire and falling masonry destroyed many fire engines. In fact, they need hardly have worried, because last night's raid added little to existing damage, described by a soldier on leave from the eastern front in the Deutsche Allegmeine Zeitung: "Only 82 dwellings are destroyed and 36 Berliners killed." In other raids, Mosquitos bomb several targets: six bomb Duisburg (four hitting the Vereinigte Stahl steel factory) and one each bombs Bremen and Wesel.
ITALY: General Harold Alexander, Commander in Chief 15th Army Group, orders the U.S. Fifth Army to mount an amphibious operation below Rome (Operation SHINGLE) between 20 and 31 January; shortly before the assault landing at Anzio. The Fifth Army is to thrust sharply toward Cassino and Frosinone while the British Eighth Army is to keep the Germans pinned down in its sector by exerting pressure and employing deceptive measures.
Air preparation for the Anzio landing begins. USAAF Twelfth Air Force B-25 Mitchells bomb the Terni marshalling yard and iron works and nearby barracks; P-40s and Spitfires from the Australian, British, Canadian, South African and U.S. air forces, attack snowbound vehicles in the Aveziano-Popoli area, warehouses at San Benedetto de Marsi and gun positions and defended areas around Chieti; A-36 Apaches hit Civitavecchia harbour and marshalling yard to the south of town, the Anagni marshalling yard and nearby pun positions, and other targets of opportunity; B-26 Marauders bomb bridges at Riva Santo Stefano and Ventimiglia, the marshalling yard at Arma di Taggia, and bridge over the Var River.
USAAF Fifteenth Air Force P-47 Thunderbolts fly an uneventful sweep over Rome.
CHINA: Eight USAAF Fourteenth Air Force P-40s bomb and strafe Japanese headquarters and barracks at Hopang.
BURMA: Twenty seven USAAF Tenth Air Force B-25 Mitchells and 16 P-40s hit a fuel plant and work shops at Yenangyaung and set the oilfield aflame; 13 B-24 Liberators also hit the refinery, causing a large fire, and bomb a power station; and four other B-24s bomb Akyab on the west coast. About 30 A-36 Apaches and 15 P-51 Mustangs score hits on the Loilaw bridge approaches and bomb the towns in the vicinity.
NEW GUINEA: The 126th regiment of the 32nd Div. of the US Sixth Army land at Siador on the north coast, cutting off Japanese rearguard forces from the main Japanese base, Madang, only 55 miles away. US losses in Operation Dexterity were 55 killed; Japanese casualties were 1,275. The landings signal the long-awaited drive west by forces under General MacArthur to expel the Japanese from New Guinea.
The loss of Saidor, a Japanese supply depot, is a strategic disaster for the Japanese commander, General Adachi. The only escape route for his 20,000 men, now sandwiched between Australian and US troops, is a 200-mile inland retreat through dangerous, often impassable, jungle. The 7th Marines attack in an effort to expand the perimeter at Cape Gloucester.
The Australian 2/15th Battalion, 20th Brigde, 9th Division, driving west along the Huon coast from Finschhafen occupy Sialum which has a sheltered beach and an all-weather anchorage making it an excellent choice for a big supply dump. The Australian 9th Division continues their pursuit of the Japanese around the Huon Peninsula and they are attacked nightly by USN motor torpedo (PT) boats and during daylight by RAAF and USAAF aircraft.
The U.S. Sixth Army's Task Force Michaelmas (Regimental Combat Team 126, 32d Infantry Division, reinforced) makes a surprise landing at Saidor, Northeast New Guinea, under cover of a smoke screen and captures the harbour and airfield. Weather conditions prevent aircraft from joining destroyers in the preliminary bombardment, but effective air strikes are made in coordination with the landing. This landing cuts off the Japanese rearguard forces from the main Japanese base at Madang, only 55 miles (86 kilometres) away. U.S. losses in Operation DEXTERITY are 55 killed; Japanese casualties are 1,275. The loss of Saidor, a Japanese supply depot, is a strategic disaster for the Japanese: the only escape route for the 20,000 Japanese troops, now sandwiched between Australian and U.S. forces, is a 200-mile (322 kilometre) inland retreat through dangerous, often impassable, jungle. The landings signal the long-awaited drive west by Allied forces to expel the Japanese from New Guinea.
In the air, 42 USAAF Fifth Air Force B-25 Mitchells are tasked with attacking the Saidor beachhead but the mission is aborted due to weather. Over 80 B-24 Liberators and A-20 Havocs attack positions in coordination with the landings and B-25s and B-26 Marauders bomb Madang. During the night, Japanese nuisance aircraft attack the invasion fleet at Saidor.
EAST INDIES: USAAF Fifth Air Force B-24 Liberators bomb Pombelaa on Celebes Island and targets on Amboina Island, in the Moluccas Islands.
BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: In the Cape Gloucester area on New Britain Island, Company E, 5th Marine Regiment establishes physical contact with a Marine patrol from Green Beach at Dorf Point. The ADC Group (7th Marine Regiment, reinforced by the 3d Battalion of the 5th Marine Regiment) attacks toward Borgen Bay with three battalions abreast, moving around the 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment but is halted by a Japanese strongpoint, which it partly envelops.
In the air over New Britain Island, over 30 USMC F4U Corsairs and USN F6F Hellcat fighters sweep the Rabaul area claiming 11 airplanes shot down; one F6F is lost. USAAF Fifth Air Force P-40s attack barges, dumps and antiaircraft emplacements at Cape Hoskins and during the night of 2/3 January, Australian Beauforts attack Rabaul Airfields.
GILBERT ISLANDS: Japanese planes bomb the advanced base on Abemama Atoll, demolishing one USN PB4Y-1 Liberator; exploding ammunition in the burning aircraft damages two additional PB4Y-1s.
MARSHALL ISLANDS: USAAF Seventh Air Force B-24 Liberators, staging through Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, bomb Maloelap Atoll where three B-24s are shot down by antiaircraft fire. Nine B-25 Mitchells hit targets on Jaluit Atoll and P-39 Airacobras strafe shipping at Mili Atoll.
USN aerial minelaying operations in the Marshalls continue. Flying from Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, five PV-1 Venturas and a PBY-5 Catalina mine Jabor Anchorage, Jaluit Island, Jaluit Atoll.
SOLOMON ISLANDS: On Bougainville, the 182d Infantry Regiment, Americal Division, relieves the 21st Marine Regiment in the line.
In the air, 24 USAAF Thirteenth Air Force B-25 Mitchells bomb a supply area on Buka Island located off the north coast of Bougainville.
U-539 was the first U-boat to depart on a combat patrol equipped with the Snorkel breathing device.
During an attack by two Liberators (RAF Sqn 224/C/G) on U-625, the Commander, Kptlt. Hans Benker, and one man were lost overboard. The boat, on its return leg of the patrol, was damaged and returned to Brest on 6 Jan.
PB4Y (VB 107) sights and tracks German blockade runner Weserland, en route from Japan to Germany with a load of crude rubber, 595 miles south-southwest of Ascension Island. Destroyer Somers (DD-381) intercepts Weserland and opens fire.
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