Monday, May 20, 2024

80 Years Ago Today Wednesday 17 May 1944



TF 77 (Rear Admiral William M. Fechteler) lands Army 163d Regimental Combat Team (Reinforced) in Wakde-Toemarea, New Guinea, preceded by cruiser and destroyer bombardment (Rear Admiral Russell S. Berkey, Captain Albert G. Noble) in Operation STRAIGHTLINE.

In an operation timed to coincide with the Wakde landings, planes from an Allied task force (Admiral James F. Somerville, RN) that includes carrier Saratoga (CV-3) and British carrier HMS Illustrious bomb Japanese shipping and harbor installations at Surabaya, Java, in Operation TRANSOM. British planes sink transport Shinrei Maru; Saratoga's damage Patrol Boat No.36, auxiliary submarine chasers Cha 107 and Cha 108, cargo ships Ch_ka Maru and Tencho Maru, and tanker Y_sei Maru.

Destroyers Frazier (DD-607) and Meade (DD-602) bombard Japanese defenses on Eniben Island, Maloelap Atoll,Marshalls.

Submarines Sand Lance (SS-381) and Tunny (SS-282) attack convoy 3503, the four Marus carrying Japanese soldiers earmarked for service at Yap and Palau, and the three escorts. Sand Lance torpedoes and sinks transport Taikoku Maru about 60 miles west of Saipan, 14°57'N, 144°47'E; Tunny torpedoes and sinks army cargo ship Nichiwa Maru west ofthe Marianas, 14°49'N, 142°39'E. Sand Lance torpedoes army cargo ship Fukko Maru, 14°49'N, 142°23'E when she stops to pick up Nichiwa Maru's survivors. Although destroyer Minazuki and submarine chasers Ch 31 and Ch 32 claim the destruction of Sand Lance and Tunny, both boats survive enemy depth-chargings.

USAAF P-38s, P-39s and P-40s carry out sweeps for targets in the Bismarck Archipelago; these operations may account for the sinking of Japanese guardboat Zuiho Maru off Duke of York Isle, 04°12'S, 152°20'E.


Destroyers Gleaves (DD-423), Hilary P. Jones (DD-427), Ellyson (DD-454), Hambleton (DD-455), Rodman (DD-456), Emmons (DD-457), Macomb (DD-458), Nields (DD-616), and RAF Wellington (No. 36 Squadron) sink German submarine U-616 in western Mediterranean, 37°52'N, 00°11'E. U-960 attacks Ellyson without success (see 19 May1944).


Twelfth AF

Operations continue in spt of Allied ground assault. B-26’s bomb road bridges in immediate battle area with generally fair results. Roads are blocked in Frosinone. B-25’s bomb landing ground at Viterbo while A-20’s bomb cmd post near Valmontone and drop supplies to French troops on Monte Revole. FBs hit railroads, bridges, trucks, and gun positions behind and along battle front with good results, destroying or severely damaging 6 bridges, creating road blocks in towns of Vallecorsa and Pico, blasting gun emplacements at Cassino, and hitting numerous T/Os.

Fifteenth AF

More than 450 B-24’s and B-17’s bomb Piombino and San Stefano al Mare harbors and shipping in the areas, harbor area and nearby steel works in Portoferraio, causeway at Orbetello, M/Y at Ancona, and town of Bihac. P-38’s strafe A/Fs at Ghedi, Villafranca di Verona, Modena, Forli, and Reggio Emilia while other ftrs fly over 130 sorties of escort duty.

Tenth AF

20-plus A-31’s hit positions S of Buthidaung and S of Labawa. An equal number pound Bishenpur- Moirang area. 18 B-25’s bomb Chauk oil installations while 20 P-38’s hit Kangaung A/F. B-25’s and FBs fly 90 sorties against Mogaung Valley tgts, hitting T/Os at Kazu and Namti and bridge at Kamaing, and supporting ground forces in Myitkyina area.

Fourteenth AF

P-40’s spt ground forces at Mamien Pass, hit Japanese positions at Tatangtzu, damage bridge and several trucks at Shweli, strafe troops at Luchiangpa, and bomb and strafe horse pack train near Tengchung. 7 B-25’s and 13 P-40’s pound Shayang barracks area and hit troops and vehicles NE of Shasi.

Fifth AF

Allied forces land without opposition near Arare after naval bombardment. Fifth AF B-24’s and B-25’s hit tgts in general vicinity at Sawar, Sarmi, and mouth of Orai R. More than 100 B-24’s, with P-38 escort, pound AA positions on Bosnik, Sorido, and Mokmer, and supply areas and A/F on Noemfoor. 120 plus FBs, A-20’s, B-25’s, and B-24’s continue to hit Wewak-Hansa Bay area.

Thirteenth AF

25 B-25’s bomb A/F at Tobera while 43 P-39’s, P-40’s, and P-38’s, in conjunction with 40-plus Navy dive bmrs, blast Vunakanau area. Ftrs on sweeps over the Bismarcks hit Nubai R bridge and strafe tgts on Gazelle Peninsula. 39 FBs hit numerous tgts in Bougainville area, including Muguai area, bridge N of Numa Numa, barges at Banin Harbor, and area around Ratsua.

Seventh AF

B-24’s from Kwajalein bomb Wake while Engebi-based B-25’s hit Ponape.


NEI—Carrier-based planes of British Eastern Fleet attack Soerabaja naval base, Java. B–24’s of SWPA follow up, night 17–18, with attack on docks. NEW GUINEA—TF TORNADO begins preliminary phase of Wakde I. operation. 163d Inf lands without opposition near Arare, on Dutch New Guinea mainland opposite Wakde I., after preparatory naval bombardment; extends flanks W to Tor R and E to Tementoe Creek. Arty is landed and registered on Wakde. Co E and Prov Groupment of shore-based arty land on Insoemanai I., and find it free of


CBI—In surprise attack in NCAC area, H Marauder Force seizes Myitkyina airstrip. While the strip is being taken by 150th Regt of Ch 50th Div, 1st Marauder Bn seizes Pamati, site of Irrawaddy ferry. In response to request for reinforcements in order to begin assault on Myitkyina itself, elements of Ch 89th Regt are flown in from Ledo. M and K Forces are moving toward Myitkyina to assist H Force. Ind 3d Div ( — ) is transferred from control of Br Fourteenth Army to Gen Stilwell’s command. 23d Brig remains attached to Br forces. 16th Brig has been flown out for rehabilitation. Squadron of American Dakotas is ordered diverted from Troop Carrier Command to Fourteenth Air Force to supply Yunnan Force. Bombers of Strategic Air Force are used to replace the Dakotas temporarily.

On Yunnan front, Ch force securing Huei-jen Bridge area gets forward elements to Hongmoshu village, well behind Japanese and only 24 air miles from Teng-chung, but Japanese later recover the village.

ITALY—AAI: In U.S. Fifth Army’s II Corps area, 85th Div continues pursuit of enemy through Formia corridor, 338th Inf entering Formia where enemy is still resisting; 337th Inf, after strong arty concentration on M. Campese, drives to Maranola. 351st Inf, 88th Div, with 3d Bn in the lead, attempts to take M. Grande, W of Itri–Pico road, but is halted by heavy fire and tanks. 350th Inf ( — ), moving forward in 2 convoys to Trivio, advances on foot through Maranola to positions S of 351st Inf. In FEC area, one column of Mtn Corps is clearing region W and NW of M. Revole as far as Itri–Pico road; a second reaches positions S of M. del Lago. 3d Algerian Div enters Esperia, which is undefended, but meets strong opposition while continuing pursuit toward S. Oliva; elements begin ascent of M. Oro, key position overlooking Hitler Line. 1st Motorized Div, continuing NW along S bank of the Liri, is halted by fire from M. Oro and extensive mine fields.

Br Eighth Army begins general offensive. Cdn 1 Corps drives W on left flank of army toward Hitler Line. 13 Corps and Pol 2 Corps, in concerted attacks to isolate Cassino, make substantial progress, but Germans are keeping an escape route open and withdrawing Cassino garrison through it. 13 Corps cuts Highway 6; Pol 2 Corps recovers Phantom Ridge and captures Colle S. Angelo.


17-19 May 1944               Saipan Northern Troops and Landing Force maneuvers and rehearses at Maui and Kahoolawe, Hawaiian Islands.

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