World News Headlines: 01-17-2019

GERMANY (DW)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wins confidence vote; The vote came after a key minister in the Greek government quit last week over the Macedonia name dispute. Prime Minister Tsipras said he would put the ratification of the Macedonia name-change agreement on the agenda. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday won a confidence vote in parliament, just days after the country’s governing coalition collapsed.Tsipras received the minimum 151 votes he needed from the parliament for his government to survive. Speaking after the vote, Tsipras said winning a vote of confidence was a vote for stability in Greece. “Today the Greek parliament gave a vote of confidence in stability,” he said. “We received a vote of confidence with our only concern to continue to address the needs and interests of the Greek people.” Panos Kammenos, the defense minister in Tsipras’ government who leads the small nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, was the latest minister to quit the coalition over a proposed name-change agreement with neighboring Macedonia. Greece has been blocking Macedonia from joining NATO and the European Union for a decade over the name row.

Vladimir Putin to meet with troubled Serb counterpart; Ecstatic crowds are expected to greet Vladimir Putin as he enters the Church of St. Sava in Belgrade alongside Aleksandar Vucic. For over a month, thousands have turned out for weekly protests against Serbia’s president. The tabloids report that 70,000 people will turn out in Belgrade on Thursday to warmly welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin. That could be the case: Putin is popular in Serbia. The greeting has been organized by small political associations founded by politicians from nationalist splinter groups that have close ties to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). On the internet, there are offers for day packages that include lunch and bus transportation to the festivities for about €13 ($15). Street vendors are even selling T-shirts bearing Putin’s face and Russian flags.

Taiwan prepares to hold large-scale military drills to deter China; Amid heightened tensions in cross-strait relations, Taiwan’s military is starting a series of newly designed large-scale military drills. Taiwanese analysts say the island should enhance its combat preparedness. Taiwan’s armed forces are on Thursday holding their first live-fire drill for this year, an exercise aimed at improving their military readiness. It comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping recently reasserted Beijing’s right to use force to unify the self-governing island with mainland China. Thursday’s drill is part of the large-scale military exercises designed to counter the growing threat from China. Even though Taiwan’s military holds such exercises regularly, this year’s training adopts new tactics aimed at “defending against a possible Chinese invasion,” said Major General Yeh Kuo-hui, the Taiwanese defense ministry’s planning chief.

German police raid suspected KKK members’ homes; Police conducted raids on several properties throughout Germany thought to be connected to an extremist group that associates itself with the Ku Klux Klan. A total of 17 people are at the center of the investigation.German police on Wednesday raided 12 apartments in eight different German states belonging to suspected members of an extreme-right group calling itself the National Socialist Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Deutschland. A total of 200 police officers searched properties in Baden-Württemberg, Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland Palatinate, Saxony Anhalt and Thuringia. More than 100 weapons — including air guns, swords, machetes and knives — were seized in the raids, prosecutors and regional police in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg said.

ICC halts release of Ivory Coast ex-President Laurent Gbagbo; Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and his right-hand man had been acquitted of crimes against humanity. But they will have to stay in custody until the court evaluates an appeal by prosecutors. The International Criminal Court on Wednesday halted the release of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, after prosecutors filed an appeal to keep him in custody on charges of crimes against humanity. Judges on Tuesday ordered Gbagbo and his right-hand man, Charles Ble Goude, to be immediately freed after clearing them of any role in a wave of post-electoral violence in 2010 and 2011 that killed 3,000 people.

UN officials, international parties talk Yemen in Berlin; Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has hosted further talks aimed at ending the civil war in Yemen and building on the breakthrough achieved in Stockholm in December. No representatives from the country were at the table. Representatives of 17 governments and international organizations gathered at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin on Wednesday in the latest round of talks to end the civil war in Yemen. The High-Level Strategic Dialogue on the Peace Process and Prospects for Stabilization in Yemen was intended to build on the breakthrough achieved in Stockholm in December, when an agreement for a ceasefire around the key port city of Hodeida was reached. The discussions in Sweden marked the first time that the belligerents in Yemen had come together at all since 2016. “For the first time in a long time, we’ve seen good news from Yemen,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the roundtable of diplomats in his welcoming remarks. “We’ve taken an important step towards a peace process that we would like to see in other crises and conflicts we are confronted with at the moment.”

Sweden to end months without a government; Stockholm has been trapped in deadlock, with no party wanting to govern with the far-right Sweden Democrats. Social Democrat PM Stefan Lofven is set to retain his post by promising to bring his party to the right. Sweden looked set to finally resolve four months of political deadlock on Wednesday and allow Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to take a second term in office. The Left party said it would abstain in a crucial vote on Friday, clearing the way for Lofven and his patchwork coalition. Lofven, leader of the Social Democrats, has been leading a caretaker government since elections on September 9 yielded inconclusive results. Although the Social Democrats won the most votes, their 31.1 percent support left them grappling to form a coalition in a country with eight mainstream parties and proportional representation. These problems were compounded by the fact that most other parties wanted to govern without the support of the Left and the far-right Sweden Democrats, who are rooted in Norwegian white supremacist circles.
But the Social Democrats have managed to pull together an unusual union of the left and right wing by gaining the support of the Greens, Liberals, and the Center party. In doing so, however, Lofven has had to promise to take his traditional center-left party to the right. “Sweden needs a government,” said Lofven, adding that he was “humbled to have been nominated” for Friday’s vote.

FRANCE (France24)

At least 30 people abducted’ by separatists in Anglophone Cameroon”; More than 30 people were kidnapped yesterday on the road between Buea and Kumba” in the Southwest Region, a source close to the authorities there said, confirming an account by a local NGO. Since October 2017, the Southwest and neighbouring Northwest Region have been in the grip of an armed revolt by anglophones demanding independence from the majority French-speaking country. The people were kidnapped after suspected separatists attacked buses plying the highway, one of the most dangerous roads in the country, one of the sources said.

Suspected extremists abduct Canadian in Burkina Faso; The Canadian man, identified as Kirk Woodman, was abducted overnight during a raid on a mining site in Tiabongou, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Mansila in Yagha province, said ministry spokesman Jean Paul Badoum. Woodman worked for the Progress Mineral Mining Company. Burkina Faso recently declared a state of emergency in the region as attacks by Islamic extremists increase, especially along the border with Niger and Mali. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said her government has seen the reports of the kidnapping.

Syria Kurds reject proposed ‘security zone’ under Turkish control; Senior political leader Aldar Khalil said the Kurds would accept the deployment of UN forces along the separation line between Kurdish fighters and Turkish troops to ward off a threatened offensive. “Other choices are unacceptable as they infringe on the sovereignty of Syria and the sovereignty of our autonomous region,” Khalil told AFP. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Ankara would set up a “security zone” in northern Syria suggested by US President Donald Trump.

Macau denies entry to Hong Kong former activist leader; A former leader of Hong Kong’s student-led Umbrella Movement protests has been refused entry to Macau as a “public security” threat in what critics said was a new escalation in Beijing’s drive to curb the movement of dissidents. Yvonne Leung, 25, was a prominent leader of the 2014 pro-democracy movement and the only female student leader to meet with senior government officials at the height of the rallies. But in recent years she has retreated from the political frontlines. She was refused entry to Macau on Wednesday, a decision that took some by surprise because of Leung’s less prominent public profile. Leung told AFP that the reason provided to her from authorities in Macau was “strong references that you intend to enter to participate in certain activities which may jeopardise the public security or public order”. She declined to provide further comment, including the purpose of her visit.

JAPAN (NHK)

Kim Jong Un aide expected to visit US; A close aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to go to the United States soon to discuss a second summit between the leaders of the two nations. Kim Yong Chol, a vice chairman of the Workers’ Party of North Korea, flew in to Beijing on Thursday. He is in charge of high-level talks with the US, and may leave for Washington later in the day for talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Just before the first US-North Korea summit last June, the vice chairman visited Washington to deliver a letter from Kim Jong Un to US President Donald Trump. It remains to be seen whether Kim Yong Chol will meet Trump this time around. In his talks with Pompeo, Kim faces the challenge of narrowing the differences between the two sides over North Korea’s denuclearization to pave the way for a second summit. The US has been urging Pyongyang to take more specific measures toward dismantling its nuclear program, while North Korea wants sanctions to be lifted. North Korea also wants to negotiate a peace treaty to officially end the Korean War and to have its political system guaranteed.

Japan, US defense chiefs confirm close cooperation; The defense chiefs of Japan and the United States have reaffirmed their close cooperation in dealing with China’s growing maritime presence and other regional matters. Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya met acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan in the United States on Wednesday. It was Iwaya’s first meeting with Shanahan, who assumed his post at the start of this month after James Mattis resigned as Secretary of Defense. Iwaya and Shanahan agreed to maintain close Japan-US cooperation in the domains of space and cyberspace with China’s increasing maritime activities in mind. They reaffirmed that Article 5 of the Japan-US Security Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, and that the US has an obligation under this article to defend them. Japan controls the islands. The Japanese Government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan’s territory. China and Taiwan claim them.

Expert warns about Shindake volcanic flows; A volcano expert says footage of the latest eruption on Kuchinoerabu Island shows flying rocks and pyroclastic flows from the crater. He is urging residents to be on the alert. Kyoto University Professor Masato Iguchi spoke with NHK in a telephone interview on Thursday. He said these phenomena were now limited to an area within two kilometers from the crater of Mount Shindake. Professor Iguchi urged people to follow the advice of the eruption alert level not to approach the volcano. The level is currently at three on a scale of one to five.

 

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World war Two: Papuan Campaign (6): Japanese Offensive Collapses

Ten days after the first Japanese landing at Basabua Admiral King wrote to General Marshall that, while he was willing to assume that General MacArthur was “taking all measures in his power to deny the threat of Japanese penetration toward Port Moresby,” he doubted that the measures taken (which he described as “airpower supported by minor ground forces north of the Owen Stanley Mountains”) would be successful. Since, in his opinion, the holding of Port Moresby and the Buna-Gona area was essential to the ultimate success of operations in both the South and Southwest Pacific Areas, he asked that General Marshall obtain from General MacArthur by dispatch the latter’s “views as to the present situation in New Guinea, and his plan to deny further advance to the Japanese, pending execution of Task Two.” General Marshall replied the next day. He agreed, he said, with the assumption that General MacArthur was taking all measures in his power to deny the Japanese threat, but he felt it was “a little early to assume that such measures [would] be unsuccessful.” Admiral King was assured, however, that General MacArthur was being asked for his plan to counteract the Japanese offensive. Such a message had, in fact, gone out the day before.

The SWPA: Early August

General MacArthur’s Accounting

General MacArthur had a reassuring story to tell. He had just ordered the 7th Australian Infantry Division to New Guinea—the 18th Brigade to Milne Bay, and the 21st and 25th Brigades to Port Moresby. His plan of operations to prevent further enemy encroachment in New Guinea had been greatly hampered, he noted, by a critical shortage of transportation, especially sea transport, and by a dearth of naval convoy ships to protect his supply routes. The work of defending the area had nevertheless gone on despite these difficulties. Before the defenses in New Guinea could be augmented, it had been necessary, as a first step, to move engineers and protective garrisons into the Townsville-Cloncurry area in order to complete a series of airfields there and to develop Port Moresby as an advance jump-off point for the air force. As a second step, the garrison at Port Moresby was doubled to two brigades; engineers and antiaircraft units were sent forward to develop and protect the dispersal facilities in the area; and a beginning was made in developing and securing airfields in the Cape York Peninsula. As a succeeding step, airfields were built at Milne Bay and Merauke to cover Port Moresby from east and west, and troops were ordered forward to secure the crest of the range at Wau and Kokoda.

The experienced 7th Australian Infantry Division would begin moving to the front within the next few days—one brigade to Milne Bay, the other two to Port Moresby. Seven transpacific ships, which would in due course be returned to their regular runs, were being requisitioned to get the division and its equipment forward.

General MacArthur went on to say that the final solution to the problem of defending New Guinea would, of course, come with the completion of Task One and the inception of Tasks Two and Three. After sketching a plan of maneuver for the latter two tasks, he told General Marshall that, while further preparations were necessary for Task Three, immediately after Task One was successfully completed Task Two could begin if the aircraft carriers and the Marine division with its amphibious equipment were made available for the operation.

It was an excellent accounting. Starting in late March with only a few airfields in the Townsville-Cloncurry area and two poor fields at Port Moresby, General MacArthur by early August also had effective bases in the Cape York Peninsula, at Merauke, and at Milne Bay—a remarkable accomplishment in view of the appalling terrain, the shortage of engineer troops, and the difficulties of supply.

General Rowell Takes Over in New Guinea

On 6 August all Australian and American forces serving in Australian New Guinea (Papua and North East New Guinea) were put under New Guinea Force. On 9 August Major General Sydney F. Rowell, General Officer Commanding, 1st Australian Corps, took command of all forces in New Guinea. Nine days later, General Rowell became G. O. C. New Guinea Force.

[NOTE 16: GHQ SWPA OI No. 15, 6 Aug 42; LHQ OI No. 30, 9 Aug 42; NGF OI No. 24, 18 Aug 42. General Morris, who in addition to being G. O. C. New Guinea Force had also been Administrator of New Guinea and head of the Australia-New Guinea Administrative Unit, ANGAU, continued in the latter two capacities, thereby making it possible for General Rowell to concentrate exclusively on combat operations.]

The orders of 6 August gave New Guinea Force a greatly expanded mission. It was to prevent further penetration of Australian New Guinea, hold the crest of the Owen Stanley Range, and retake Kokoda, the Buna-Gona area, and ultimately Lae and Salamaua. It was to carry out active reconnaissance of its area and the approaches thereto, maintain and augment KANGA Force, and establish a special force at Milne Bay. After infiltrating the northeast coast of Papua from East Cape to Tufi, the Milne Bay troops would join with the overland forces on the Kokoda trail in the capture of the Buna-Gona area.

As General Rowell took command in New Guinea, the Japanese on the trail were at Isurava south of Kokoda. Radio intercepts and documents captured by KANGA Force revealed that the Japanese intended to land at Samarai shortly. The situation was in crisis, but the Allied defensive position was stronger than it appeared to be—much stronger, in fact, than had been thought possible only a few short weeks before.

The Defense Falls into Place

The North Queensland Bases

By the third week in August three fields had been completed in the Cape York Peninsula, one for fighters and two for heavy bombers. Three additional fields for heavy bombers were due to be completed by the end of September. The movement of aviation units, garrison troops, and supplies to the bases in northern Queensland was proceeding but was not expected to be complete until sometime in October because of the emergency troop movements to Port Moresby and Milne Bay, and the consequent shortage of shipping.

To alleviate a critical shortage of U.S. engineer troops, and to speed construction where it was most needed, arrangements were made in August to turn over the task of airfield construction [NOTE 17]and maintenance in northern Queensland and elsewhere on the mainland either to the RAAF or to the Allied Works Council, a civilian construction agency of the Australian Government staffed for the most part by men who were over age or otherwise exempt from military duty. American engineer troops released in this way were at once transferred to New Guinea. The change-over was a gradual one, but by the end of the year almost all U.S. engineer troops in the Southwest Pacific Area were in New Guinea.

[NOTE 17: General Casey had under his command on 1 May 1942 a total of 6,240 U.S. Engineer construction troops comprising the following units: the 43rd and 46th General Service Engineer Battalions, the 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion, the 91st and 96th Separate Engineer Battalions, and the 576th and 585th Engineer Dump Truck Companies. The first three were white units; the remaining four, Negro. Except for the addition of the 69th Topographical Company, and the expansion of the 91st and 96th Battalions to regiments, an increase since May of some 1,200 men, his command was substantially the same at the end of the year. OCE SWPA Annual Rpt, 1942; OCE SWPA, Location and Strength of U.S. Engineer Units, 31 Dec 42. Both in AFPAC Engr File.]

Port Moresby

By 19 August, Brig. A. W. Potts’s 21st Australian Infantry Brigade, the leading brigade of the two 7th Division brigades ordered to Port Moresby, had already arrived there. It did not tarry but began moving at once to Isurava, where MAROUBRA Force—by this time a battalion and two companies of the 30th Brigade—was making a stand under the brigade commander, Brigadier Selwyn H. Porter. The 25th Brigade, which was to follow the 21st, was delayed by the shipping shortage and was not expected to arrive until early September.

Even so, the Port Moresby garrison, with its three infantry brigades and its Australian and American air, antiaircraft, engineer, and service units, already numbered 22,000 men. When the 25th Brigade, 7th Division headquarters, and other divisional troops arrived, it would total 28,000. The seven-air-field program projected for Port Moresby was nearing completion. Four fields were finished and in use—two for fighters, one for medium bombers, and one for heavy bombers. The three remaining fields—two for heavy bombers and one for medium bombers—were expected to be ready by early September.

Plans to make Port Moresby a large supply and communications area were well advanced. On 11 August the U. S. Advanced Base in New Guinea was established by USASOS with headquarters at Port Moresby. Its functions were to aid in the operation of the port and other ports in New Guinea, to control the activities of U. S. service troops in the area, and, in general, to provide for the supply of all American troops in the battle zone.

The port itself, shallow and suitable only for light traffic, was to be improved. Existing facilities permitted only one ship to be unloaded at a time, and that very slowly, with the frequent result that as many as two or three others had to wait in the roads to unload, exposed all the while to enemy attack. Since the existing harbor site did not lend itself to expansion, General Casey planned to develop Tatana Island (a small island in Fairfax Harbor to the northwest of the existing harbor) into an entirely new port. The new development, which would permit several ocean-going ships to be unloaded at one time, was to be connected with the mainland by an earth-filled causeway a half-mile long, over which would run a two-lane highway with a freeboard of two feet over high tide. The project was to be undertaken as soon as engineers and engineering equipment became available.

Measures were being taken to improve the air supply situation both in the Owen Stanleys and in the Bulolo Valley. After a careful study of the problem, General Kenney assigned six A-24’s, a B-17, and two transports—all the aircraft that could be spared—to the task of dropping supplies to the Australian troops in both areas. It was hoped that the use of these planes if only for ten days, the period of their assignment, would make possible a substantial improvement in the supply situation at both Kagi and Wau.

Milne Bay

By 21 August the 18th Australian Infantry Brigade (the 2/9, 2/10, and 2/12 Australian Infantry Battalions) under Brigadier George F. Wootten completed its movement to Milne Bay. There it joined the 7th Australian Infantry Brigade, Citizen Military Forces (the 9, 25, and 61 Australian Infantry Battalions), under Brigadier John Field, which had reached Milne Bay in July. The following day, 22 August, Major General Cyril A. Clowes, an experienced officer who had commanded the ANZAC Corps artillery in Greece, took command of Milne Force. His instructions were to protect the airfields and deny Milne Bay to the enemy.

After the company of the 46th U. S. Engineers had arrived in late June and the 7th Brigade, a 25-pounder battery, and some light and heavy Australian antiaircraft in early July, the second of two RAAF fighter squadrons equipped with P-40’s and part of a RAAF reconnaissance squadron using Hudsons reached Milne Bay by early August. Two companies of the 43rd U. S. Engineers had also arrived by this time as well as the 709th U. S. Airborne Antiaircraft Battery which was equipped with -50-caliber machine guns. The American engineer troops had a few .50-caliber machine guns and some 37-mm. antitank guns in addition to their rifles and light machine guns.

[NOTE 18: The 25-pounder was the standard artillery piece of the Australian and British Army at this time. The caliber was about 3½ inches; the barrel was about 7¾ feet long; and the weight of the shell, as the name of piece suggested, was roughly 25 pounds.]

Milne Force, when General Clowes took it over on 22 August, was a good-sized command. Australian troop strength was 7,429 men, of whom 6,394 were combat troops and 1,035 were service troops. American troop strength, mainly engineers and antiaircraft personnel, numbered 1,365 men; the strength of the RAAF was 664 men. Clowes’s total strength was thus 9,458 men. To guard against Japanese infiltration from the Buna-Gona area patrols were operating between East Cape (the eastern tip of New Guinea) and Goodenough Bay. The overland trails leading into Milne Bay were being patrolled regularly, as was the Mullins Harbor area to the southwest of Milne Bay. General Clowes had neither landing craft, coastal guns, nor searchlights, but the best defense that time would allow had been provided.

The Battle of Milne Bay

The Scene of Operations

Milne Bay, about twenty miles long and five to ten miles wide, lies at the extreme southeast tip of New Guinea. The fact that it is often closed in from the air probably accounted for the long time that it took the Japanese to discover the presence of the Allies in the area. On either arm of the bay, mountains 4,000 feet high rise abruptly from the shore. Between the mountains and the sea are narrow coastal corridors consisting for the most part of deep swamp, and dense, almost impenetrable, jungle. The rainfall in the bay area averages 200 inches a year, and during wet weather the corridors are virtually impassable.

At the head of the bay is a large plain into which the coastal corridors merge. This plain, the site in prewar days of an immense coconut plantation operated by Lever Brothers, was the only place in the entire area which was not completely bogged down in mud. Because it already had a small, if inadequate, road net, all the base installations and airfields were concentrated there.

At the time General Clowes took command, one airfield—No. 1 Strip, in the center of the plantation area—had been completed and was being used by the P-40’s and Hudsons. The 46th Engineer Company was working on No. 2 Strip, which was about four miles inland at the western end of the plantation. The two companies of the 43rd Engineers were working on No. 3 Strip, which was just off the north shore. Although a great deal of hard work, under the most adverse conditions, had gone into the base, much still remained to be done. The roads, for the most part, a corduroy of coconut logs covered with decomposed coral, were in very poor condition.

[NOTE 19: Major General Hugh J. Casey to author, 21 Jul 50, in OCMH files. General Casey’s explanation of the hasty construction of No. 1 Strip is that the field had to be constructed that way “in order to secure an operable airdrome in the limited time available.”]

The dock, at Gili Gili, at the very head of the bay, consisted of two barges placed side by side with a ramp leading to the small and inadequate jetty that had been there when the military first arrived. Number 1 Strip, the only runway in operation, and very hastily constructed, consisted of an open-mesh steel mat, laid over a low-lying, poorly drained base. Mud seeped through the mat and caused aircraft using the runway to skid and sometimes crack up. Since there was no time to rebuild the field, all that could be done to remedy the situation was to have bulldozers scrape the mat daily and deposit the mud in piles on either side of the strip. The runway was particularly treacherous during wet weather. Though it had originally been built as a bomber strip, the P-40’s often required its entire length for their take-offs when it had rained for any length of time. When the rainfall was exceptionally heavy they were often unable to take off at all.

This then was the place that the Japanese had chosen, at the last minute, to capture instead of Samarai. They had made the decision only in mid-August, when they first discovered the Allies were actually there. A few days later they issued the orders to attack.

The Landing

Toward the latter part of August the Japanese decided to launch the Milne Bay operation immediately. The Aoba Detachment, the Army force earmarked to land at Milne Bay, was still at Davao. Nevertheless the 8th Fleet, with naval troops available for action at Kavieng and Buna, decided to proceed with the operation without waiting for the detachment to come in. Judging that Milne Bay was held by two or three infantry companies and twenty or thirty aircraft, Admiral Mikawa on 20 August ordered some 1,500 men to Milne Bay. A total of 1,171 men (612 Kure 5th Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) troops, 362 16th Naval Pioneer Unit troops, and 197 men of the Sasebo 5th SNLF) were ordered to Milne Bay from Kavieng; the rest, 353 Sasebo 5th SNLF troops, were to come from Buna. Commander Shojiro Hayashi, of the Kure 5th SNLF, was in command of the landing forces from Kavieng. His orders were to land at Rabi, a point about three miles from the Gili Gili wharf area at the head of the bay. The troops from Buna were to land at Taupota on the north coast and march on Gili Gili overland.

The first echelon from Kavieng, bearing mostly Kure 5th troops, left Rabaul for Rabi in two transports in the early morning of 24 August. The troops of the Sasebo 5th SNLF at Buna left for Milne Bay at approximately the same time in seven large motor-driven landing barges.

The seven landing craft were the first to be detected by the Allies. The Coast Watcher at Porlock Harbor sighted them the same afternoon, and early the next morning a reconnaissance aircraft reported that they were nearing Goodenough Island. Twelve P-40’s from Milne Bay (which had been unable to attack previously because of enemy air raids and bad weather) took off for Goodenough Island at noon and shortly thereafter discovered the landing craft beached on the southwestern shore of the island, where the Japanese had put in to stretch their legs and prepare a meal. The P-40’s gave the drawn-up barges and ration littered beach a thorough strafing. When the attack was over, all of the landing craft had been destroyed, and the Sasebo unit, its stores, ammunition, and communications equipment gone, was left stranded on Goodenough Island with no way of reaching its objective, or even of returning to Buna.

The convoy bearing the Kure 5th troops fared better in its approach to the target. Heavily escorted by cruisers and destroyers, the transports were first sighted off Kiriwina Island, 140 miles northeast of Milne Bay, in the early morning of 25 August, making directly for Milne Bay. General MacArthur’s headquarters immediately ordered the Air Force to attack the convoy and destroy it. All available B-25’s and B-26’s at Townsville and nine B-17’s at Mareeba in the Cape York Peninsula took off at once for the attack, which was to be made that afternoon in concert with the RAAF P-40’s and Hudsons from Milne Bay.

Fortunately for the Japanese, the weather (except for a short break at noon which the RAAF had exploited to the full in the attack on Goodenough Island) was very bad all day, both at Moresby and Milne Bay. For hours on end planes were unable to take off from either place. Attempts by the B- 17’s from the Cape York Peninsula and the P-40’s and Hudsons from Milne Bay to hit the convoy proved fruitless because of violent rain squalls and a heavy overcast. By late afternoon visibility was down to zero, and despite occasional breaks thereafter the Air Force found it impossible to attack successfully that day.

The Japanese landing began about 2200 hours, 25 August, on the north shore of the bay near Waga Waga and Wanadala—five to seven miles east of Rabi, their prescribed landing point. The landing force set up headquarters at Waga Waga and established a series of supply dumps there and in the Wanadala area. The shore east of K. B. Mission, which the Japanese continued to think for some time was the Rabi area, became their main bivouac site and forward jump-off point. Here, about one mile east of the mission, at 0145 hours on 26 August, elements of Milne Force met the Japanese column in an indecisive engagement when a screening platoon from Company B, 61 Battalion, at K. B. Mission started a fire fight with the Japanese that lasted until nearly dawn. Although the enemy used light tanks in support of his probe, he finally withdrew leaving the Australian detachment in place.

The Advance

The Japanese could scarcely have chosen a worse landing place. Their objectives, the airfields and the wharf, were at the head of Milne Bay, and they had landed several miles from the plantation area on a jungle covered coastal shelf, flanked on the right by mountains and on the left by the sea. Because the mountains in the landing area were steep and very close to shore, there was virtually no room for maneuver, and the heavy jungle which covered the bay shore made it impossible to find a dry bivouac for the troops anywhere in the area.

It had rained steadily during the preceding few weeks, and the heavy tropical downpour continued. The mountain streams had become roaring torrents, and the spongy soil of the corridor a quagmire. The single coastal track that skirted the corridor had in places completely washed away, and the level of the many fords that cut across it had risen to almost three feet. Except for a few abandoned plantations and mission stations, the corridor was a sodden welter of jungle and swamp, an utter nightmare for any force operating in it.

Although they had seriously misjudged Allied strength, and had landed on a muddy coastal shelf thousands of yards from the head of the bay, the Japanese nevertheless enjoyed some significant tactical advantages. Their left flank was secure because they had control of the sea, and their right flank could not easily be turned because of the mountains a few hundred yards away. It was true that they could count on little air power, since Lae and Salamaua, the nearest operational air bases, were more than 300 miles away; but unlike Milne Force, which could barely scrape up a few trawlers, they had plenty of landing craft and could therefore land troops and supplies freely under cover of darkness or of the weather, despite their deficiency in the air.

General Clowes, on the other hand, was a man fighting blind. Because of the dense jungle on the north shore of the bay and frequent heavy overcasts, neither his ground patrols nor his aerial reconnaissance could tell him what the Japanese were doing or what their numbers were. Worse still, he was face to face with the possibility that the Japanese, in addition to landing on the north shore, might land troops on the south shore, or even at the head of the bay. Having no idea as yet of Japanese intentions, Clowes held the bulk of his force in the plantation area, to be committed to the north shore when it became apparent from the circumstances that the Japanese had no intention of landing troops elsewhere in the bay area.

At the time of the Japanese landings during the night of 25-26 August, the main body of Milne Force was deployed in the plantation area in the vicinity of the airfields and two companies of the 61 Battalion were on the north shore in the path of the Japanese thrust. One of these companies was at Ahioma, just east of Wanadala; the other was at K. B. Mission. There was also a platoon of the 61 Battalion on the northeast coast guarding against an overland attack on Milne Bay from the Taupota side of the mountains, as well as a reinforced company of the 25 Battalion farther to the northwest on Goodenough Bay.

The company at Ahioma did not fare as well as the one at K. B. Mission. The troops at Ahioma had been under orders to return to Gili Gili by water, and two of the three platoons were already on their way in two ketches when the Japanese landings began. Shortly after leaving Ahioma the ketches plowed into a landing wave off Wanadala. In the melee one of the Australian craft was sunk. Some of the militia troops were lost; others struggled ashore and infiltrated back to their own lines. The platoon in the other ketch returned to Ahioma and, with the platoon that had remained there, marched overland to Taupota and thence back over the mountains to Gili Gili where they rejoined their battalion several days later.

By 0745 that morning, 26 August, the weather had abated sufficiently for the P-40’s from No. 1 Strip and the B-17’s staging from Port Moresby to go into action. In an extremely successful morning’s business, the P-40’s managed to destroy most of the food and ammunition that the Japanese had brought with them. The B-l 7’s, almost as successful, inflicted heavy damage on a large Japanese transport unloading offshore.

Toward evening a second Japanese convoy (Commander Hayashi’s second echelon) was sighted off Normanby Island in the D’Entrecasteaux Group, making at high speed for Milne Bay. Before it could be dealt with, a heavy fog descended over the area, blotting out the convoy’s further movements. The troops aboard landed safely that night, completing the 1,170-man movement from Kavieng.

K. B. Mission had meanwhile been reinforced by a second company of the 61 Battalion. The Japanese, who had reconnoitered the mission during the day, struck again that night in much greater strength than before. The Australian militia was forced out of the mission and all the way back to the line of the Gama River, just east of Rabi. Fortunately for the Australians, the Japanese again chose to break off the engagement at dawn.

The following morning, General Clowes sent the 2/10 Battalion of the 18th Brigade to K. B. Mission. The battalion, intended to be a reconnaissance force, was lightly armed. Its orders were to keep in contact with the Japanese, draw them out, and in general find out what they were up to.

Without such essential knowledge, General Clowes was confronted with a cruel dilemma. If he moved his troops onto the north shore, the enemy might counter by landing fresh troops on the south shore or at the head of the bay itself. As he himself was to explain: The presence of Jap naval elements in the vicinity throughout the operation and the freedom of activity enjoyed by the enemy by sea constituted a continuous menace in regard to possible further landings. These factors necessarily had a marked influence on plans and dispositions made to deal with the enemy. On several occasions, such plans were definitely slowed down or suffered variation through the delay involved in assuring that the south shore was clear, and, further, that reports of the presence of enemy ships at Mullins Harbor were not founded on fact. [NOTE 19]

[NOTE 19: Comdr Milne Force, Rpt on Opns 25 Aug-7 Sep 42; Naval Account Japanese Invasion Eastern New Guinea, p. 26; Interv with Lieutenant Colonel Peter S. Teesdale-Smith, AMF, 22 Aug 49, copy in OCMH files. At the time the battle was fought, Colonel Teesdale-Smith, then a captain, was intelligence officer of the 2/10 Battalion.]

The 2/10 Battalion reached the mission unopposed in the late afternoon of 27 August. Under orders to move on again in the morning, the battalion had barely settled itself for the night when the Japanese struck at the mission again, this time with two tanks and all their available combat troops.

Despite unceasing tropical rain, the ground in the well-drained and relatively open plantation area was firm enough for tank action. The two tanks, equipped with brilliant headlights that made targets of the Australians and left the attackers in darkness, inflicted heavy casualties on the 2/10 Battalion. The lightly armed Australians, whose only antitank protection was “sticky-type” hand grenades, which would not stick, were unable to knock out the tanks and also failed to shoot out their headlights. After about two hours of fighting the Japanese managed to split the battalion in two. Battalion headquarters and two companies were forced off the track and into the jungle, and the remainder of the battalion was pushed back to the Gama River. A portion of the battalion reached the plantation area that night, but the main body took to the hills in order to get around the enemy’s flank and did not get back to the head of the bay until three days later. With the 2/10 Battalion out of the way, the Japanese continued on to No. 3 strip. There a heavy fire fight at once developed, a fight in which American antiaircraft and engineer troops played a significant part.

The Fighting at No. 3 Strip

The east-west airstrip, just west of Kilabo and only a few miles from Rabi, was an ideal defensive position. The runway, a hundred yards wide and 2,000 yards long, was cleared but only partially graded, and there was a sea of mud at its eastern edge which made it impossible for tanks to get through. It afforded the defenders a broad, cleared field of fire, and, lying obliquely across the mouth of the corridor with its southern end less than five hundred feet from the water, was directly in the path of the Japanese advance.

Brigadier Field, in charge of the defense, ranged his troops along the southern edge of the strip, giving the Japanese no alternative but to attack frontally. The main burden of holding the strip fell upon the brigade’s 25th and 61st Battalions, but the 709th U. S. Airborne Antiaircraft Battery and Companies D and F of the 43rd U. S. Engineers held key positions in its defense.

The antiaircraft battery with its .50-caliber machine guns was given the task of supporting the Australians at the eastern end of the strip, and the .50-caliber and 37-mm. gun crews of Companies D and F, 43rd U. S. Engineers, flanked on either side by Australian riflemen and mortar-men, were stationed at the center of the line at the crucial point where the track from Rabi crossed the runway.

The Japanese reached the area immediately in front of the strip just before dawn. They attacked aggressively but were repulsed and forced to withdraw. No tanks were used in the attack, although two of them (apparently the same two that the Japanese had used with such success at K. B. Mission were brought up, only to be abandoned when they bogged down hopelessly.

The attackers were now within a few miles of No. 1 Strip, and General Clowes, fearful lest they infiltrate it during the night, ordered the P-40’s to Port Moresby. Fortunately the Japanese were quiet that night, and the following morning the fighters returned to Milne Bay to stay.

Bogged down near No. 3 Strip.

On 26 August, the day of the landing, and again on the afternoon of the 28th, General MacArthur had ordered General Blarney to see to it that the north shore of Milne Bay was cleared of the enemy at once. Because of defective communications New Guinea Force did not receive the orders of the 26th until late on the 27th, and General Clowes, apparently, not until early the next morning. Early on the 28th Clowes ordered the 7th Brigade to be prepared to move forward at dawn the following day.

Strong patrols of the brigade moved out early on the 29th but met stiff enemy opposition, and little progress was registered. Clowes thereupon ordered in the 18th Brigade with instructions to move at once on K. B. Mission. He canceled the orders at 1633 upon learning that another Japanese convoy was on its way to Milne Bay.

His reason for the cancellation—as he was to explain later—was the renewed possibility “of an enemy attempt to land on the west and south shores of Milne Bay.” The convoy, escorted by a cruiser and nine destroyers, unloaded safely under cover of a heavy mist. It brought to the sore-beset Japanese on the north shore nearly 770 reinforcements—568 troops of the Kure 3rd SNLF and 200 of the Yokosuka 5th SNLF—under Commander Minoru Yano, who, being apparently senior to Hayashi, at once took over command of operations.

The daylight hours of the following day, 30 August, were quiet. Milne Force sent patrols to feel out the enemy in preparation for the long-delayed general advance, and the Japanese, hidden in the jungle, consolidated for another attack on No. 3 strip. The climax came that night when the Japanese made an all-out effort to take the strip.

Brigadier Field was again ready for them. The only change in his dispositions was to place the .50-caliber machine guns of the 709th Antiaircraft Battery at both ends of the line instead of as before on its eastern end. The .50-caliber machine guns and 37-mm. antitank gun crews of Companies D and F of the 43rd Engineers were as before in the center of the line, flanked on either side by the riflemen and mortar-men of the 25th and 61st Battalions. The 25 pounders, about half a mile to the rear, lent their support, as did the P-40’s from No. 1 Strip.

When the Japanese made their move against the airstrip, such intense fire hit them that not one man was able to cross the strip alive. The heaviest attack came before dawn. Like the others, it was repulsed with heavy loss to the enemy, who withdrew at first light, leaving 160 dead behind.

The Withdrawal

The Japanese were now in full retreat, and Brigadier Wootten’s 18th Brigade, the 2/12 Battalion leading, began the long delayed task of clearing them from the north shore. Very heavy fighting developed at once along the Gama River and later near K. B. Mission. Between 1 and 5 September the Australians lost 45 killed and 147 wounded. Japanese losses were much heavier. At the Gama River alone, the enemy lost at least 100 killed, and his casualties mounted steadily as the Australians advanced. Hungry, riddled with tropical fevers, suffering from trench foot and jungle rot, and with many wounded in their midst, the Japanese realized the end was near; and Commander Yano, himself wounded, so advised the 8th Fleet.

The commander in chief of the 8th Fleet, Admiral Mikawa, considered the possibility of reinforcing the landing parties at Milne Bay with the 1,000-man advance echelon of the Aoba Detachment, which had finally reached Rabaul on 31 August. It was a sufficient force, he thought, to retrieve the situation if the troops ashore could hold out till it arrived. In an interchange of messages with Yano, Admiral Mikawa offered to land 200 more Yokosuka 5th troops immediately, and the Aoba Detachment by 12 September, if there was any possibility that the troops at Milne Bay could hold out till the Aoba Force arrived. When Yano told him that the troops ashore were physically incapable of making a further stand, Mikawa concluded the situation was hopeless and ordered Milne Bay evacuated.

The wounded were put on board ship on the night of 4 September. The rest of the landing force, except for scattered elements that had to be left behind, took ship the following night from the anchorage at Waga Waga one jump ahead of the 18th Brigade, whose forward elements were actually within earshot when the Japanese pulled out. Some 1,300 of the 1,900 troops landed were evacuated to Rabaul, nearly all of them suffering from trench foot, jungle rot, tropical ulcers, and other tropical diseases. Virtually none of the evacuees, not even those who landed as late as 29 August, were in condition to fight.

The 2/9 Battalion, which was now leading the advance, met with only light and scattered resistance on the morning of 6 September. By the following morning it was clear that organized resistance had ceased. Small bands of stragglers were all that remained of the Japanese landing forces, and these were disposed of in the next few weeks by Australian patrols, which took only a handful of prisoners. The Japanese lost some 600 killed in the operation, as against 321 Australian ground casualties—123 killed and 198 wounded. American losses in defense of No. 3 Strip were very low—one man killed and two wounded.

The timely return from the Solomons in early September of Task Force 44 made it possible thenceforward for the Allied Naval Forces to cover the sea approaches to Milne Bay; and the dispatch, at approximately the same time, of two 155-mm. guns with attached searchlight units helped further to secure the area.

The base was meanwhile being steadily improved. More and better roads were built A new wharf was constructed to replace the old inadequate jetty. Number 1 Strip was rebuilt, and No. 3 Strip was completed. Bombing of Rabaul and of Japanese airfields in the northern Solomons without the need of crossing the Owen Stanleys became possible for the first time. Equally important the stage was set for a successful investiture of the north coast of Papua from East Cape to Buna.

[NOTE: OCE SWPA, Draft Engr Rpt, 31 Dec 42; Ltr, General Casey to author, 21 Jul 50. Number 2 Strip was never completed, for it was decided immediately after the battle to discontinue work on it and to concentrate instead on the other two fields.]

The Allied victory at Milne Bay had snapped the southern prong of the pincers the Japanese had hoped to apply to Port Moresby. An essential part of the plan of 31 July had failed. The rest of the plan, the overland attack on Port Moresby by the South Seas Detachment, was now to be put to the test.

SOURCE: Victory in Papua, BY: Samuel Milner (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Papuan Campaign (7); Road to Ioribaiwa

World War Two: Papuan Campaign (5); Kokoda Trail

World War Two: Japanese Imperial Navy: Makassar Straits / Darwin Raid, February 1942

Makassar on the southern tip of Celebes, was the next Japanese objective. ABDA Command knew that a Japanese invasion force was gathering, but could not pinpoint where the force would strike, the guess was, however , that the target would be Bandjermasin, inland on the southeast end of Borneo. Wherever the target, Admiral Doorman was determined to try to stop the Japanese force moving south. Doorman’s Combined Fleet sailed from Bunda Roads (between Madura Island and Surabaja) at 0000 hrs. on 4 February, 1942.

ABDA intelligence had reported that the Japanese convoy was supported by three cruisers and several destroyers, so that the ABDA force was roughly equal to the Japanese force in surface strength. However, the Japanese controlled the air; Admiral Doorman could not get Air ABDA support, even though Air ABDA included the Dutch navy’s planes. Nevertheless, Doorman resolved to deny freedom of the Makassar Straits to the convoy. In the morning of 4 February, as the Combined Fleet approached the strait, the inevitable Japanese air attacks began, with the planes having excellent visibility. The Marblehead came under continues attack by two-twin-engine bombers from Kendari; one plane was shot down by antiaircraft fire, while the other managed six or seven hits or near misses. Consequently, she suffered severe damage and lost steering control. The Houston was also attacked and met with considerable damage, losing her after gun turret, with forty-eight men killed and more than fifty wounded. The De Ruyter was also attacked, but Doorman’s flagship maneuvered well and escaped with only minor damage. The Marblehead dropped out of line and slowly headed for the Bali Strait, with Doorman’s force forming a protective ring around her. The task force retired through Lombok Strait to Tjilatjap, arriving about midnight.

Thus the first genuine attempt to resist the Japanese Navy in the Netherlands East Indies resulted in the loss of more ABDA naval power. The Japanese Makassar Occupation Force ( without the destroyer Suzukaze, which was torpedoed by submarine, with nine men killed, sailing from Starling Bay, easily took Makassar on 8 February, with only five men killed and five wounded. Dutch defenses had been softened by constant air attacks, staged from Kendari. However, at 2112 on 8 February a torpedo from the U.S. submarine S-37 penetrated the forward engine room of the destroyer Natsusshio. Her crew was rescued by the destroyer Kuroshio at 0245, but a strong wind arose, and , despite efforts of the Kuroshio to tow her, the Natsushio sank at 0743 on 9 February , twenty miles from Makassar. She had suffered eight men killed and two wounded.

Port Darwin Raid

The hit-and-run raid on Port Darwin by Nagumo’s carrier fleet on 19 February 1942 was an important element in Japanese naval strategy regarding Java. Along with the invasion of Bali and Timor, it provided away to interdict plane reinforcements to Java.

Admiral Nagumo’s First Carrier Fleet was often stationed south of Java, to keep ABDA guessing at to where the next unexpected blow would fall. Port Darwin had become an important (albeit inadequate) ABDA staging area for the sircraft and troops sent to the Netherlands East Indies, and it was the closet port to imperiled Java. The Japanese felt that a destructive air raid on Port Darwin would not only disrupt aid being sent north, but also would have a demoralizing effect on Australia–a partner in ABDA, and fast becoming a rallying point for Japan’s adversaries.

Consequently, Port Darwin Task Force was assembled, its composition slightly different from that of Nagumo’s Pearl Harbor Strike Force. It still had four heavy carriers, the Kaga, Akagi, Hiryu, and Soryu, but it had no battleships. Its heavy cruisers were still the Tone and the Chikuma, and the screen was still the light cruiser Abukuma with the destroyers Urakaze, Isokaze, Tanikaze, Hamakaze, Kasumi, Shiranuhi, and Ariake.

Admiral Nagumo’s fleet left Davao on 15 February, refueled at Starling Bay, and passed through the Flores Sea into the Timor Sea, making directly for Port Darwin. The four carriers, northwest by north their target, began their launch at 0615 on the 19th. Each sent off nine Zero fighters. The Akagi, Hiryu, and Soryu each launched eighteen attack planes, and the Kaga launched twenty-seven; the Kaga, Akagi and Soryu launched eighteen bombers and the Hiryu seventeen bombers, for a total of 188 Japanese planes. Coordinated with the carrier-plane strike were land-based bombers flying from Kendari and Ambon.

At 1010 hrs. waves of Japanese planes descended without warning on the ships in the harbor, and on airfields, military installations, and the town itself. Port Darwin’s harbor was filled with shipping, two transports returned by the Houston were crowded together with three other transports, the destroyer Peary, the seaplane tanker William B. Preston, tankers, freighters, and an Australian hospital ship. The raid caused heavy damage; in all, eight ships were sunk, including the Peary; two transports, and two freighters, and nine ships were seriously damaged, including the William B. Preston. Eighteen planes were destroyed, thus eliminating air opposition. The town, which was made up of wooden buildings, was strafed and set on fire. Civilians, fearing an invasion, evacuated the town for some days. The airfield had been made inoperable and stockpiles of military equipment had been destroyed. Darwin was thus put out of business as a port of supply for Java. The Japanese carriers recovered their planes at 1200hrs., the Kaga and Hiryu losing one plane each, and the task force returned to Starling Bay on 21 February.

Bali-Lombok

In the meanwhile, Japanese transports were loading and task forces were assembling for the next thrust toward Java. Bali was the target, along with its larger sister island, Lombok, from which it was separated only by the a narrow Lombok Strait. Bali, only a few miles across Bali Strait from Java, is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands, the last land barrier to the northeast part of the Indian Ocean. To the north is the Flores Sea, which separates the Lesser Sundas from the Celebes. Aside from its strategic location in relation to both Java and Australia, Bali had little to offer the Japanese, for it is volcanic and mountainous, and has none of the resources vital to Japan’s economy. The occupation of Bali, however, would place the naval base at Surabaja within a hundred miles of Bali’s airfields. The Japanese were finding that the airfields in Borneo and Celebes, although often useful, were slso often shut down by bad weather. Since Bali’s climate was drier, weather would be less of a hindrance there.

SOURCE: Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1941-45; BY: Paul S. Dull

World War Two: Japanese Imperial Navy: Battle of Badung Strait 19-20 February 1942

World War Two: Imperial Japanese Navy: Isolation of Java 1942

World War Two: Papuan Campaign (4);Operation PROVIDENCE

The 2 July Directive: The magnitude of the Japanese disaster at Midway was immediately realized. Offensive plans to exploit the new situation and add further to the enemy’s discomfiture were quickly evolved and presented to the Joint Chiefs of Staffs for consideration. General MacArthur, who assumed as a matter of course that he would be in command from start to finish since all the objectives lay in his area, had proposed that the operation be an uninterrupted thrust through New Guinea and the Solomons, with Rabaul as the final objective. The Navy, landing for a more gradual approach, insisted that Tulagi would have to be taken and secured before the final attack on Rabaul was mounted. In addition, it had raised strong objections to having General MacArthur in command of the operation, at least in its first, purely amphibious, stages.

General Marshall found it difficult to secure agreement on these issues, but succeeded finally on the basis of a draft directive that divided the operation into three tasks. Task One, the seizure of the Tulagi area, was to be under Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley, Commander of the South Pacific Area, while Tasks Two and Three would be under General MacArthur.

Agreement on the final form of the directive was reached on 2 July. After stating that offensive operations would be conducted with the ultimate objective of seizing and occupying the New Britain-New Ireland-New Guinea area, the directive laid down the following tasks:

a. Task One. Seizure and occupation of the Santa Cruz Islands, Tulagi, and adjacent positions.

b. Task Two. Seizure and occupation of the remainder of the Solomon Islands, of Lae, Salamaua, and the northeast coast of New Guinea.

c. Task Three. Seizure and occupation of Rabaul and adjacent positions in the New Guinea-New Ireland area.

Task One, under Admiral Ghormley, was given a target date of 1 August. MacArthur would not only supply naval reinforcements and land-based air in support of Task One but would also provide for the interdiction of enemy air and naval activities westward of the operating areas. To remove the objection that Admiral Ghormley would exercise command in General MacArthur’s area, the boundary between the Southwest Pacific Area and South Pacific Area would, as of 1 August, be changed to 159° East Longitude, thereby bringing Tulagi and adjacent positions into the South Pacific Area.

The SWPA Prepares Girding for Action

General MacArthur now had a twofold responsibility. His responsibility under Task One was to lend the South Pacific Area the fullest support possible with his aircraft, submarines, and naval striking force. His responsibility under the succeeding tasks was to prepare his command for early offensive action, and this he lost no time in doing. A change was made in the command of the Allied Air Forces. On 13 July, Major General George C. Kenney, then commanding general of the Fourth Air Force at San Francisco, was ordered to take over command of the Allied Air Forces. General Brett was to remain temporarily in command until Kenney’s arrival.

The U.S. Army services of supply were reorganized. The United States Army in Australia (USAFIA), which was essentially a supply echelon, and not, as its name suggested, an administrative headquarters for U.S. troops in Australia, was discontinued on 20 July. The United States Army Services of Supply, Southwest Pacific Area (USASOS SWPA), with General MacArthur’s deputy chief of staff, Brig. General Richard J. Marshall, in command, was established the same day. General Barnes, like General Brett, was ordered back to the United States for reassignment.9

To achieve more effective control over operations, General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area (familiarly known as GHQ), and subordinate Allied land, air, and naval headquarters were moved from Melbourne to Brisbane. The move was completed on 20 July, [NOTE 12] and brought the highest headquarters in the area 800 miles closer to the combat zone and in position to make a further forward move should one be required by the trend of operations.

[NOTE 12: GHQ SWPA OI No. 11, 14 Jul 42; Msg, General MacArthur to General Marshall, No. C-107, CM-IN 5468, 16 Jul 42. The original intention had been to move GHQ to Townsville, in order to be that much closer to New Guinea. A critical lack of communications facilities at Townsville resulted in the decision to move to Brisbane. Ltr, General Sutherland to General Ward, 27 Feb 51.]

United States antiaircraft units at Perth, which were obviously no longer needed there, were transferred to Townsville, and the 32nd and 41st Divisions were ordered to new camps in Queensland, where they were to be assigned to a corps and given training in jungle warfare. The 41st Division, then in training near Melbourne, began to move to Rockhampton on 12 July. A day later, the 32nd Division began to move from Adelaide to a camp near Brisbane.

The corps command had been given initially to Major General Robert C. Richardson, Jr., then Commanding General, VII Corps. However, when it was found that General Richardson (who had reached Australia in early July, in the course of a tour of inspection for General Marshall) had strong objections to serving under Australian command, the assignment went to Major General Robert L. Eichelberger, Commanding General, I Corps, a classmate at West Point of both Generals Harding and Fuller of the 32d and 41st Divisions, which were to make up his corps.

Airfield construction in the forward areas was accelerated. By early July, the airfields in the York Peninsula-Horn Island area were well along, and air force units were occupying them as rapidly as they became ready for use. At Port Moresby, seven fields were projected, and work was progressing on four. At Milne Bay, three fields were under way, and one strip was expected to be in full operation by the end of the month.

These heavy construction commitments made it necessary to send more U.S. engineer troops to New Guinea to assist the American and Australian engineers already there. The 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion, then at Darwin, was put on orders for Port Moresby on 21 July. The 2d Battalion of the 43d U.S. Engineers (less Company E, which was at Port Moresby) was ordered to Milne Bay the same day to join with the company of the 46th Engineers, which was already on the ground, in the construction of the crucially needed airfields there.

Buna and the Theater Plan

The theater plan of operations, the TULSA plan, was revised in the light of the 2 July directive. It had previously merely pointed to the need of a major airfield in the Buna area if Lae and Salamaua were attacked. As revised, it now provided for the immediate establishment of a field in that area in order that it might be available for support of operations against Lae and Salamaua as prescribed by Task Two.

The problem was how to meet this requirement. There was a small neglected emergency strip just southeast of Buna about which little was known except that it seemed to be too wet and too low lying to be exploited profitably for military use. On 9 July GHQ ordered a reconnaissance of the Buna area. The object of the reconnaissance was to ascertain whether the existing strip had any military value and, if not, to find an all-weather site elsewhere in the area which the military could use.

The PROVIDENCE Operation: The Reconnaissance

The reconnaissance was made on 10 and 11 July by a party of six officers from Port Moresby, who reached the area in a Catalina flying boat. The party was headed by Lieutenant Colonel Bernard L. Robinson, a ranking U.S. engineer officer at Port Moresby, and included three Australian officers who had personal knowledge of the area, Lieutenant Colonel Boyd D. Wagner, U.S. fighter group commander at Port Moresby, and Colonel Yoder. Carefully examining the terrain of the entire area, the six officers found that, while the existing strip was virtually useless for military purposes, the grass plains area at Dobodura fifteen miles south of Buna was an excellent site suitable for large-scale air operations, even in the rainy season which was then only a few months away.

In a special report to General Casey, Colonel Robinson recommended that the existing site not be developed, except perhaps as an emergency landing field for fighter aircraft. The site at Dobodura, on the other hand, he thought almost ideal for large-scale military use. Drainage was good; stone, gravel, and timber in adequate amounts were to be found in the area; and considerable native labor was available locally for the construction of the field. The site would provide ample room for proper aircraft dispersal, and with only light clearing and grading would provide an excellent landing field, 7,000 feet long and more than 300 feet wide, lying in the direction of the prevailing wind.

The Plan to Occupy Buna

When the news was received at GHQ that Dobodura was an all-weather site, it was decided to establish an airfield there with all possible speed. On 13 July General Chamberlin called a meeting of the representatives of the Allied Land Forces, the Allied Air Forces, the Antiaircraft Command, and the supply services to discuss in a preliminary way the part each could expect to play in the operation. A second meeting was called the next day in which the matter was discussed in greater detail and a general scheme of maneuver for the occupation of Buna was worked out.

The plan was ready on the 15th, and instructions to the commanders concerned went out the same day. The operation, which was given the code name PROVIDENCE, provided for the establishment of a special unit, Buna Force, with the primary mission of preparing and defending an airfield to be established in the Buna area. At first the airfield would consist only of a strip suitable for the operation of two pursuit squadrons, but it was eventually to be developed into a base capable of accommodating three squadrons of pursuit and two of heavy bombardment.

Brigadier General Robert H. Van Volkenburgh, commanding general of the 40th Artillery Brigade (AA) at Port Moresby, was to be task force commander with control of the troops while they were moving to Buna. An Australian brigadier would take command at Buna itself.

The movements of Buna Force to the target area would be in four echelons or serials, covered by aviation from Milne Bay and Port Moresby to the maximum extent possible. Defining D Day as the day that Buna would first be invested, the orders provided that Serial One, four Australian infantry companies and a small party of U.S. engineers, would leave Port Moresby on foot on D minus 11. These troops were scheduled to arrive at Buna, via the Kokoda Trail, on D minus 1, at which time they would secure the area and prepare it for the arrival of the succeeding serials.

Serial Two, 250 men, mostly Americans, including an engineer party, a radar and communications detachment, some port maintenance personnel, and a .50-caliber antiaircraft battery, would arrive at Buna in two small ships on the morning of D Day. The incoming troops would combine with those already there and, in addition to helping secure the area, would provide it with antiaircraft defense.

Serial Three, the main serial, would include the Australian brigadier who was to take command at Buna, an Australian infantry battalion, a RAAF radar and communications detachment, the ground elements of two pursuit squadrons, an American port detachment, and other supporting American troops. This serial was due at Buna on D plus 1, in an escorted convoy of light coastwise vessels, bringing its heavy stores and thirty days’ subsistence for the garrison.

The fourth serial would consist of a company of American engineers and the remaining ground elements of the two pursuit squadrons that were to be stationed in the area. It would reach Buna from Townsville by sea on D plus 14, accompanied by further stores of all kinds for the operation of the base.

The attention of hostile forces would be diverted from the Buna area, both before and during the operation, by attacks upon Lae and Salamaua by KANGA Force and the Allied Air Forces. Since the “essence” of the plan was “to take possession of this area, provide immediate antiaircraft defense, and to unload supplies prior to discovery,” no steps were to be taken to prepare the airdrome at Dobodura until Serial Three had been unloaded, lest the enemy’s attention be prematurely attracted to it.

Colonel Robinson, who was to be in charge of the construction of the airfield, was cautioned that no clearing or other work was to be started at Dobodura until the engineers and protective troops had disembarked and the ships had been unloaded.

Lieutenant Colonel David Larr, General Chamberlin’s deputy, who had been detailed to assist General Van Volkenburgh in co-ordinating the operation, made it clear to all concerned that its success depended upon secrecy in preparation and execution. Every precaution was to be taken to conceal the movement, its destination, and its intent. Above all, the existence of the airdrome was to be concealed from the Japanese as long as possible.

Movement orders for the first three serials were issued on 17 July. Serial One was to leave Port Moresby at the end of the month, 31 July. It would arrive at Buna on 10-12 August, a few days after the Guadalcanal landing, which, by this time, had been advanced to 7 August.

The Japanese Get There First: Colonel Larr Sounds the Alarm

General Van Volkenburgh and Colonel Larr had scarcely begun to make their first preparations for the operation when they received the disturbing intelligence on 18 July that the Japanese also appeared to have designs on Buna. Twenty-four ships, some of them very large, had been seen in Rabaul harbor on 17 July, and a number of what appeared to be trawlers or fishing boats loaded with troops had been reported off Talasea (New Britain). The troops, estimated as at least a regiment, were obviously from Rabaul,23 and to General Van Volkenburgh and Colonel Larr, who talked the matter over, it added up to just one thing—that the Japanese were moving on Buna. Colonel Larr, then at Townsville, at once got General Sutherland on the telephone. Speaking both for himself and General Van Volkenburgh, he noted that Serial One, which was not to begin moving till the end of the month, might reach Buna too late.

He proposed therefore that forces be immediately dispatched to Buna by flying boat in order to forestall a possible Japanese landing there. He urged that an antiaircraft battery be dispatched by flying boat to Buna at least by 21 July, and that the PBY’s then go on to Moresby to fly in as many troops of Serial One as possible. The whole schedule of PROVIDENCE, he said, had to be accelerated.

Serials Two and Three would have to arrive together; and the occupying force would, if necessary, have to be supplied entirely by air. Larr went on to say that he knew that the Air Force could not possibly move more than a hundred men into Buna by flying boat at one time. He urged that immediate action be taken nevertheless to accelerate PROVIDENCE, for both he and General Van Volkenburgh felt that the element of surprise had already been lost. He concluded his call with these words: “We may be able to hold Buna if we get there first.”

General Chamberlin answered for General Sutherland the next day. The troop concentrations at Rabaul and Talasea, General Chamberlin radioed, did not necessarily mean that the Japanese intended a hostile move against Buna. Nor was it by any means certain that the element of surprise had been lost. The suggested plan to occupy Buna immediately was likely to defeat itself because it lacked strength. The danger was that it would serve only to attract the enemy’s attention, and perhaps bring on an enemy landing—the very thing that was feared. For that reason, the original plan would have to be adhered to substantially as drawn. General Van Volkenburgh and Colonel Larr were assured that the dispatch of Serial One to Kokoda would be hastened and that every effort would be made to get it there at the earliest possible moment. It was clear however that even if there was an acceleration it would be slight. D Day would still have to follow the Guadalcanal landing.

The Enemy Crashes Through

The Air Force had meanwhile been striking at Rabaul as frequently as it was able. The bombing had been sporadic at best; and because the B-17’s in use were badly worn, and the bomber crews manning them (veterans, like their planes, of Java and the Philippines) were tired and dispirited, the results were far from gratifying. Thinking to give the men a rest and to gain time in which to put “all equipment in the best possible condition,” General Brett (who continued as air commander, pending General Kenney’s arrival) suspended all bombing missions on 18 July. Except for a nuisance raid on Kieta on Bougainville Island by an LB-30 from Townsville, no combat missions were flown on either the 18th or 19th. A single Hudson sent from Port Moresby on the 19th to reconnoiter Talasea and Cape Gloucester (on the northwest tip of New Britain) for some further sign of the troop-laden trawlers which had so disturbed General Van Volkenburgh and Colonel Larr reported no sightings whatever in the area.

The next morning the picture changed completely. A B-17, staging from Port Moresby, sighted two warships and five other vessels thought to be warships about seventy-five nautical miles due north of Talasea. Two merchantmen, which could have been transports, were sighted just north of Rabaul moving in a westerly direction as if to join the ships off Talasea.

What followed was a study in frustration. Bad weather set in; there was a heavy mist; and visibility went down to virtually nothing. The air force though on the alert, and with an unusually large number of aircraft in condition to attack, could find no trace of the convoy until 0820 on the morning of 21 July, when a cruiser, five destroyers, and several transports were glimpsed fleetingly ninety miles due east of Salamaua. The convoy, which was seen to be without air cover, was sighted again at 1515 off Ambasi, a point forty miles northwest of Buna. A single B-17 followed by five B-26’s located and attacked it there, but without result Darkness set in, and, although the Japanese gave away their position by shelling Gona and Buna from the sea at 1800 and 1830, all further attempts to locate the convoy that night proved fruitless.

The Landing

At 0635 the following morning, the invasion convoy was discovered just off Gona by an RAAF Hudson. The exact point was Basabua, about one and one-half miles south of Gona and about nine miles northwest of Buna. At the moment of discovery, landing operations, though far advanced, were not yet complete. Landing barges were still moving from ship to shore, and supplies, which were being rapidly moved into the surrounding jungle, still littered the beach. Antiaircraft had already been set up ashore, but there were no Japanese aircraft overhead despite the fact that Lae was only 160 miles away, and the Japanese, who had air superiority in the region, were suffering from no dearth of aircraft at the time. Fortunately for the Japanese ashore, a heavy haze hung over the area and made effective attack from the air extremely difficult The Air Force made 81 sorties that morning, dropped 48 tons of bombs, and used up more than 15,000 rounds of ammunition in strafing the area, but the results were disappointing.

One transport was hit and went up in flames. A landing barge with personnel aboard was strafed and sunk; a float plane (probably from the Japanese cruiser that had escorted the convoy) was shot down; landing barges, tents, supplies, and antiaircraft installations were bombed and strafed; and a hit was claimed on one of the destroyers. By 0915, all the vessels with the exception of the burning transport, had cleared the area safely and were heading north.

The Japanese in the landing force lost no time in clearing their supplies from the beach. Shielded by the luxuriant jungle and the deepening haze, they quickly made good their landing. The implications of its success for the Southwest Pacific Area were all too clear. The PROVIDENCE operation had been forestalled by almost three weeks. Plans for the early inception of Task Two had been frustrated. The Papuan Campaign had begun.

SOURCE: Victory in Papua, BY: Samuel Milner (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Papuan Campaign (3); Saving Port Moresby by Sea

Your Cosmic Weather Forecast for 2019

Cosmic Weather: Year 2019

Jane Lyle, Astrologer

From The Astrology Room

Welcome to 2019!

Welcome to 2019! We’re still crossing the bridge, still very much in transition. 2019’s astrology brings us some beautiful spiritual and creative possibilities too. Focusing on these can help us negotiate what lies ahead. It promises to be a transformational year in many ways, with powerful Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, asking us to clear out what’s negative and reform what’s outlived its purpose. This can be exhilarating, but scary too. Eventually, Pluto offers us treasures and energy. So when the going gets tough, remember there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel and keep moving towards it. It’s not the light of an approaching train…..

 

A Thought I Like for 2019:

“The little space within the heart is as great as the vast universe.

The heavens and the earth are there, and the sun and the moon and the stars. Fire and lightening and winds are there, and all that now is and all that is not.”

― Swami Prabhavananda, The Upanishads: Breath from the Eternal

 

The big cosmic patterns in 2019’s astrology involve optimistic Jupiter, dreamy Neptune, and practical Saturn and Pluto. The zodiac signs involved are Sagittarius, Pisces, and Capricorn – so planets in these signs in your chart are highlighted this coming year.

 

If you have planets or points in your own personal birth chart at around 14 – 18 degrees of any sign, this year’s astrology patterns energise your chart.

 

Special Sun Sign birthdays for 2019 are:

 

Aries:  3rd April – 8th April

 

Taurus: 4th May – 9th May

 

And if you’re an April Taurus, born between 20th – 27th April – exciting, eccentric Uranus is heading your way. This could be an outstanding year of reinvention for you!

 

Gemini: 4th June – 9th June

 

Cancer: 5th July – 11th July

 

Leo: 6th August – 11th August

 

Virgo: 6th September – 11th September

 

Libra: 6th October – 12th October

 

Scorpio: 5th November – 11th November

 

Sagittarius: 5th December – 11th December

 

All Sagittarians have a year with huge potential. Jupiter, your energy source, is in Sagittarius. Your sense of adventure thrives, just be cautious with your cash.

 

Capricorn: 3rd January – 11th January

 

Aquarius: 2nd February – 8th February

 

Pisces: 2nd March – 8th March

 

January 2019 shows us much of the flavour of the year ahead. Two of the big cosmic patterns for the year begin this month, repeating exactly in June, September and November this year. These themes are ongoing – with creative, spiritual dreams and adventures at their heart. Yet there’s a great deal of work to do to make things solid, and some seductive pitfalls to avoid along the way.

 

Faith, Hope and Charity: Jupiter in Sagittarius square Neptune in Pisces 2019

 

Jupiter in Sagittarius squares up to Neptune in Pisces this year. Both planets are in spiritual, philosophical signs, and in the signs they rule. Each planet will express itself strongly this year. You’ll likely be extra aware of this if you have your Sun, or other planets, in Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius or Pisces.

 

Jupiter and Neptune are fluid, flexible, and dreamy in 2019. So there are big, beautiful dreams buoying us up. These expanded feelings favour travel, exploration, charity, imagination and vision. Helping others, and exploring our own imaginations, spirituality and intuition bring many of us fulfilment this year. It could be an important year for the major world religions, for migration issues, and for sport too.

 

The downside of Jupiter and Neptune is inflation – from gaining weight, to hosting delusional ideas about ourselves and the world around us. We’re looking at gorgeous, pearly bubbles with no substance, and more than a few huge scandals.

 

Specifically, we must be very wary of:

 

*Smooth-talking snake oil salesmen

 

*Greedy gurus

 

*Get rich quick schemes and gambling

 

*Our personal boundaries – its easier than usual to let the wrong one in, whether in love, business, or friendship. What’s right will eventually become clear, so please do take your time.

 

*Announcing things on social media without thinking it through – Jupiter and Neptune have few filters or fact checkers on board.

 

Jupiter squares Neptune exactly on these dates:

 

13th January 2019 at 14 degrees

16th June 2019 at 18 degrees

21st September at 17 degrees

 

However, the themes of this glamorous pair will ebb and flow until the autumn.

 

 

Rock and Soul – Saturn in Capricorn sextile Neptune in Pisces, 2019

 

Our big dreams can remain just that, and never materialise. But Saturn, strong in its home sign of practical Capricorn, is here to help us manifest our ideas and visions by making a productive aspect to foggy old Neptune. Each aspect follows that expansive Jupiter and Neptune party almost straight away, encouraging many of us to not only keep it real, but to take patient steps towards tangible outcomes.

 

Saturn is known for restraint and boundaries, and can act to limit wild excess. Making a dream real can be quite a struggle, but Saturn builds to last. What we create may not be quite as amazing as what we can imagine, yet with Saturn there we can be sure it will be a solid piece of work, or a lasting relationship.

 

This year Jupiter, Neptune, and Saturn are all expressing their essence from the signs they rule. So I think they should be able to work together to produce something truly worthwhile in the end. Optimism, fairy dust, and hardworking patience – what else could we need?!

 

Here’s a story to illustrate what I mean about this astrological theme:

 

‘When I came to Dungeness….I had no thought of building a garden. It looked impossible: shingle with no soil supported a sparse vegetation. Outside the front door a bed had been built – a rockery of broken bricks and concrete: it fitted in well. One day, walking on the beach at low tide, I noticed a magnificent flint. I brought it back and pulled out one of the bricks. Soon I had replaced all the rubble with flints. They were hard to find, but after a storm a few more would appear. The bed looked great, like dragon’s teeth – white and grey. My journey to the sea each morning had purpose.’

– Derek Jarman ‘Derek Jarman’s Garden’ (1995)

 

Derek Jarman (31st January,1942) was a film director, set designer, artist, gardener, author and gay rights activist.

 

Born with Sun in innovative Aquarius, Jarman had Saturn in gardener’s Taurus aligned with eccentric Uranus also in Taurus – where Uranus is now. Their practical magic combined with Neptune in meticulous Virgo. Virgo is opposite seawater Pisces, where Neptune now rules supreme.

 

You can see how the painstaking creation of a beautiful, unconventional garden in a bleak, stony coastal setting echoes these planetary patterns. These patterns, in turn, echo some of 2019’s Saturn, Neptune and Jupiter possibilities.

 

https://www.gardenvisit.com/gardens/derek_jarman_garden_prospect_cottage_dungeness

 

Derek Jarman died of AIDS in 1994. ‘Derek Jarman’s Garden’ was the last book he wrote.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Derek-Jarmans-Garden-Jarman/dp/0500016569

 

Saturn in Capricorn sextiles Neptune in Pisces exactly on these dates:

 

31st January 2019 at 14 degrees

18th June 2019 at 18 degrees

9th November 2019 at 16 degrees

 

If you have planets or points around these degrees of any sign in your own personal horoscope, your chart is energised by 2019’s Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune story.

 

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf ?

 

Some deeply serious astrological themes are building up throughout 2019.

 

Saturn in Capricorn joins Pluto in Capricorn in January 2020, but these heavyweight planets draw close to one another all year. As they do, the circumstances and actions they represent will become more and more obvious. This is an important cycle for the world around us, and for our development and security of every kind here on Earth – including privacy, financial security, and vital resources.

 

In our personal lives, Saturn and Pluto can symbolise power and powerful people in our worlds – our parents, bosses, the forces of law and order, and our own sense of security and safety.

 

Above all, this pair flag up the deep need for a change in our collective habits, and perhaps even some of our laws. Pluto can be the great regenerator, and one result of this astrological era will be new ways to care for our environment. We may have to endure some very dramatic weather, or other shocks to the global system to push us forwards. But sticking to what’s old and refuses to change will not work. A tipping point has arrived. Saturn the Time Lord often ends things, Pluto will eventually demolish what’s not working and aim to recycle what’s useless.

 

However, if we can work with them, we can reorganise and rethink the structures we often take for granted. When we fail to co-operate at such times, we get turmoil. We do have a clear choice, and I’m certainly not forecasting the end of the world. We have a powerful opportunity to rebuild in new ways in the next few years, so lets take it.

 

 

The astrology:

 

Saturn conjunct Pluto in Capricorn is exact for the first time on 12th January 2020, at 22 degrees Capricorn.

 

However, we’ll feel its approach throughout 2019.

During December 2019 Saturn travels from 18 degrees Capricorn to 21 degrees. Pluto begins December at 21 Capricorn, reaching 22 degrees by 20th December.

 

Moon Diary Overview: The Eclipses of 2019

 

Eclipses are, basically, supercharged new and full Moons. They occur when the Sun, Moon, and Earth line up – with the Earth between the Sun and Moon at a lunar eclipse (full Moon), and Moon between the Earth and Sun at a solar eclipse (new Moon). Often, this intense cosmic energy seems to be reflected in our weather, with an eclipse bringing storms or other natural upheavals.

 

Each time, something is obscured or eclipsed. And this is part of the meaning of an eclipse – something is hidden in ourselves or our lives, information may not be fully revealed or understood until later on.

 

When an eclipse lines up with a planet in your horoscope, or the horoscope of a nation, company, or other organisation, it acts like a wild card. Its effects can linger for months, or even kick in some weeks beforehand. The planets it has touched remain sensitive, they have a message for us. Energy flows, either as a dynamic beginning or as some kind of release or paying back of debts on many levels.

 

This year’s eclipses (apart from one) are all in Cancer the Crab or Capricorn the Sea Goat. They highlight security, money, family issues, ancestry, government, and ambition. And while none of them may connect with your own chart, their effects in various locations on Earth can affect all our lives in ways great and small.

 

6th January: New Moon and Solar Eclipse at 15 Capricorn

 

A deep and earthy solar eclipse in dynamic Capricorn opens 2019. It’s focused on money, banking, power and – eventually – the transformation and release of old patterns and karma.  Anything fixed or rigid (rules, boundaries, foundations, rocks, bones….) will need to be assessed – is it useful or appropriate any more? Are the foundations strong enough?

 

This solar eclipse sits between brooding Pluto and serious Saturn. Are there blockages? Are there secret schemes, power ploys, or hidden motives?  This eclipse says that we will all have to be very practical, responsible, and realistic about resources, cash, and the earth itself. Big corporate organisations have enormous power in our world. Can they learn to use it wisely? We can always hope…..

 

It’s vital we pay close attention to what crops up now in our own lives, and out there in the big, bad world. It’s a stark message from those ultimate grown-ups, Saturn and Pluto. They draw ever closer to each other this year, until they align exactly in January 2020.

 

There’s not much wiggle room. What flexibility there is may come from a deep understanding of the connectedness of all things, for the eclipse aligns with a mystical, musical fixed star, Vega, in the constellation Lyra, the Lyre. Neptune’s presence, aspecting both Sun and Moon, offers spiritual possibilities on the one hand, misty delusions and scandals on the other. We must stay awake.

 

This eclipse is an important one for Russia, and many countries that were once part of the former Soviet Union.

 

The eclipse has a message about government, finances, and leadership for the UK, and the EU with their Capricorn Suns.

 

The USA with its 4th July Sun exactly opposite this eclipse in Cancer, the Crab will also have much to consider this January. Serious business is afoot, but some information will remain hidden for a while yet.

 

This is a South Node eclipse, with a karmic message and a need for release, giving back, and caution. Something in our news or in our lives is ‘eclipsed’ at this time. Making big decisions or judgments is best delayed for a week or two – wait until things settle, or new facts emerge.

 

The astrology: The Sun and Moon at 15 Capricorn are conjunct Saturn at 12 Capricorn, and Pluto at 20 Capricorn. Sun and Moon are sextile Neptune at 14 Pisces.

 

Mars in Cancer switches this eclipse on again between 7th – 10th June. Events and themes related to the eclipse emerge strongly again at that time.

 

 

21st January: Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse at 0 Leo

 

This is a North Node eclipse, stirring up plenty of energy and scattering surprises around us, with a challenging aspect to Uranus (28 Aries) heralding what’s unusual, unexpected or even disruptive. Look out for new inventions and original ideas too.

 

And it’s the final eclipse in Leo for a while. We’ve had a series of them, all generally highlighting leadership, royalty, family, celebrities, creativity and children. There could be big news about those subjects in the days around this eclipse as certain situations come to a head.

 

This lunar eclipse highlights news and events in many locations now and over the next six months. These include the UK; Russia; Greece; Spain; France; Israel and North Korea.

 

It’s worth watching, too, when Mars in Leo vitalises this eclipse again on 1st – 2nd July. There’s another eclipse to think about then as well – expect a bit of a shake up around these dates. It’s a hotspot.

 

 

2nd July: New Moon and Solar Eclipse at 10 Cancer

 

This solar eclipse in security loving Cancer is one of a challenging eclipse family called Saros 127. This eclipse family repeats every eighteen years. It can herald difficult financial conditions or unstable markets. Some previous eclipses in this series coincided with these notable financial events:

 

1857: The Panic of 1857 – Crash – USA, Europe

1893: The Panic of 1893 – Crash and depression – USA, Australia, UK

1929: Wall Street Crash

2001: 9/11 and financial crash, notably in Argentina

 

This eclipse opposes the Capricorn Sun in the charts for the EU, UK, and numerous other locations where the natal national chart is set for 1st January. Security and finances are in the news more than usual now.

 

The Sun and Moon align with the Cancer Sun in Italy’s 2nd July, 1871 chart, and are close to the USA’s Cancer Sun on its 4th July founding horoscope. Watch out for turning point news from both locations this summer.

 

There are, of course, many other locations where this eclipse, and 2019’s Saturn “reality bites” effect, will be felt around the world.

 

This is a North Node eclipse – we can expect a lot of discussion, energy, and important world news this summer. This pivotal eclipse marks beginnings that may be hard to see straight away.

 

16th July: Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse at 24 Capricorn conjunct Pluto

 

This is a South Node eclipse, highlighting destiny and release. With powerful Pluto there, this eclipse brings deep feelings and subconscious forces to the surface. This eclipse could herald news of secret corruption, espionage, or yet more information about banking and finance. The desire to clear and clean our world, homes, or thoughts will be strong, even intense.

 

This eclipse could be meaningful between now and December for Saudi Arabia; Australia; Nigeria and Lebanon.

 

26th December: New Moon and Solar Eclipse at 4 Capricorn

 

This Boxing Day eclipse promises to be very fortunate for some of us. Sometimes what goes around comes around in a good way – and a renewed sense of freedom and freshness may be one of fate’s gifts to us all. A different, innovative approach to finances can be one of the changes highlighted by this eclipse.

 

This is a South Node eclipse, conjunct Jupiter in Capricorn, trine Uranus in Taurus.

 

It’s lively energies are active now, and in the coming months, in the national horoscopes for Greece; Brazil; Germany; Indonesia and Tibet.

CHINESE NEW YEAR 2019: A CHINESE ZODIAC GUIDE TO THE YEAR OF THE EARTH PIG

CHINESE NEW YEAR 2019: A CHINESE ZODIAC GUIDE TO THE YEAR OF THE EARTH PIG

This year, Chinese New Year (also known as the Lunar New Year) falls on Tuesday, February 5. Though this is a full month after the western celebration of the new year, this holiday marks the change from the year of the earth Dog to the year of the earth Pig.

Most notably, this year is all about devotion to friends and family. Pig years are great for spending time with those you love. Make sure you create space for meals with people who important to you!

Of course, the main thing to watch out for during Pig years is a tendency to overindulge. Keep your spending in check, and at all those meals with your friends and family, watch your portion sizes. Take steps to rid yourself of bad habits and addictions. Keep this in mind, and 2019 can be a very productive year for you. The earth element is practical and fiscally responsible. Take some time to set your goals and look into ways to procrastinate less and to release fears of failure and success. You will likely have increased willpower and focus for your most desired objectives.  Patience will be rewarded and so “slow and steady” wins the race. Chip away at your bigger goals by doing a little bit each day.  

But most of all, connections have the potential to grow stronger, and new, beneficial bonds can be made. Paying things forward, focusing on kindness, and being considerate to others will bring you opportunities this year.  

HONORING CHINESE NEW YEAR

Unlike western traditions like champagne, noisemakers, and fireworks, the traditional ways to mark Chinese New Year tend to be more symbolic, such as wearing something to mark the opportunities coming your way or saying pleasant things to everyone you meet to bring luck to yourself and others.

This day that sets the tone for the rest of the year, so spend some time spreading kindness, offering compliments to others — as well as to yourself. (Sidenote: skip the chicken entree. It’s said if you eat chicken on Chinese New Year, you’ll spend the year scratching in the dirt for your money!)

Read to discover how your Chinese Zodiac sign interacts with the year of the Pig.

 

YEAR OF THE EARTH PIG, BASED ON YOUR CHINESE ZODIAC SIGN

RAT 

Rat sneaks in to steal Pig’s dinner, Pig chases Rat away.  

You need to be quick on your feet this year. But good news! No one’s quicker than lucky Rat. Everything you want is there for the taking but you need to make sure you’re first in line.  

 

OX 

Ox and Pig live happily on the farm together.  

A positive, happy year for Ox natives. The course you set yourself on last year now shows you it was the correct choice to make. The road ahead smooths out and you make great progress.  

 

TIGER 

Tiger and Pig face off and spar… guess who wins?  

It’s a little challenging this year as you seem to be hearing “no” more often than you generally like. However, even taking the smallest amount of action brings you great results. You’ll end the year with a win.  

 

RABBIT 

Rabbits dine well on what falls outside the Pig’s pen. 

A lucky year for Rabbit as you are in harmony with the energy. Your sensitive, intuitive nature causes you to be in the right place at the right time. Finding supportive people to help you is easy this year.  

 

DRAGON 

Mighty Dragon makes his presence known, Pig sleeps through the show. 

A somewhat irritating year for Dragon as all this lazy, indulgent energy doesn’t seem to benefit you and your goals. Fortunately, you can adjust. Soon you’ll see unexpected ways to profit.  

 

SNAKE 

Snake threatens Pig, Farmer kills Snake.

A challenging year for Snake as Pig is the opposing sign. You are not getting much support this year even from those you love. But no matter, you have the power to accomplish many things especially when others underestimate your abilities.  

 

HORSE 

Horse paces in his pen, Pig is happy in his.

This is a year for making adjustments. Horse natives should not lock themselves into long contracts or rash promises. Give yourself the freedom to change and you will attract many opportunities.  

 

GOAT 

Pigs and Goats dine together.

A happy year for peace-loving Goat. You’re in harmony with the energy of Pig. You will receive a lot of interest in your projects and support for your plans. Let others know how they can help you.  

 

MONKEY 

Monkey teases Pig, Pig doesn’t notice. 

A somewhat frustrating year for clever, energetic Monkey. Others nap when you want adventure and fun. The rest of the world may be shocked at your choices this year but you will prosper if you’re true to yourself.  

 

ROOSTER 

Rooster wakes the farm, life moves along pleasantly.

A harmonious year as you find projects and goals you’ve been working on for a while really start to show some results. There are many opportunities for you this year. Expand your circle of friends and you’ll benefit.  

 

DOG 

Dog herds Pig, Pig ignores Dog .

This will be a much easier year for you. You’ve made some changes and wise choices. Now options will present themselves for your career as well as relationships. The road ahead is clear, obstacles are now gone.  

 

PIG 

Pig enjoys the company of other pigs and the party begins.

It’s your year. This is the beginning of your 12-year cycle. Out with the old and in with the new. Let go of anything or anyone who’s been holding you back. As you release what you don’t want, you will be showered with new opportunities. Enjoy.

 

Published on Astrology.com 

Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Montmirail 11 February 1814 (Part 4)

Napoleon was in a quandary. Although most of his cavalry was present, only two infantry divisions had come up, Ricard’s men and Friant’s division of the Old Guard. He dare not commit many of Friant’s men was this would leave him without a reserve. Any advance north of the road would be risky while the Prussians could threaten his flank. For a time the cannon boomed on amid heavy showers of rain which must have added to the hazards facing the gunners. Ricard’s outnumbered division, which had retired to Le Tremblay, made an unenthusiastic attack at Marchis and was repelled. Then the Russians counterattacked and secured a foothold in Le Tremblay. Now the battle languished. Ricard still held part of Le Tremblay to the south of the road, while Friant with his division of the Old Guard watched the Russians in Les Grenaux. Napoleon lined up Guyot’s, Laferrière-Levesque’s and Colbert’s divisions of cavalry of the Guard and Defrance’s Garde d’Honneur east of the Château-Thierry and north of the Paris roads ready to launch then against the Russian cavalry, but while the Russians held Les Grenaux and an undisclosed number of Prussians the heights by Fontenelle, such an attack could not be contemplated. The terrible state of the roads seems to have ruined all Napoleon’s plans.

Then in the distance a long line of bearskins came into view. Michel with his division of the Old Guard was approcaching. Napoleon, watching the battle on horse back with his customary indifference to fire, at once ordered Friant to storm Les Grenaux while Michel guarded against any enemy reaction from the direction of Fontenelle. Friant’s Old Guard went in to action with an irresistible élan. Ney , his divisions of the Young Guard still on the road marching up, led the Old Guard forward on foot. The serried ranks of bearskins plunged in to the farm. Pirch over at Fontenelle came forward to help his stricken ally. Michel swung his division round to face him and a bloody struggle ensued.

Ney and his veterans speedily oeverwhelmed the Russians in Les Grenaux. The way forward was open. Napoleon gave the word and his massed squadrons crashed down upon the Russian horse and broke them. Now the French cavalry erupted all over the plain. Sacken had begun his withdrawal towards Château-Thierry when the thunderbolt struck. In the gathering darkness the Russian infantry formed into their squares and moved slowly northward harried by Colbert’s and Leferrière’s troopers. Guyot plunged southwards to attack Marchais from behind while Ricard aided by a couple of battalions of Friant’s Old Guard, attacked from the front. The Russians withdrew, taking cover from the relentless cavalry charges in the woods south of the Paris road. The fighting reached the great fury near Fontenelle where the Château-Thierry road switched-back to the north over the low range of hills. Michel’s division, led by Marshal Mortier in person and aided by Defrance’s cavalry, strove desperately to break through along the Château-Thierry road. A break here might have isolated most of Sacken’s army. But Pirch’s division, fighting with magnificent determination, gave ground but refused to break. Yorck, now himself on the battlefield, fed forward some of his cavalry under Jurgas. Pirch was severaly wounded; his brigade lost 1,000 men, a quarter of its strength, but it kept the road barred. Then the night and the weather closed in on a scene of wild confusion and the fighting perforce had to stop. Most of the isolated Russsian right wing found its way in the darkness to Viels-Maisons and thence northwards, but 1,000 men were captured and eight guns. In addition the action cost the Russians 1,500 casualties. The Prussians lost 1,200 men-relatively speaking far more than either of the other two contestants-and the French 2,000.

Next morning the Allies began their retreat to Château-Thierry with the Prussians furnishing the rear guard. Napoleon launched a brilliant pursuit. While one column of cavalry followed up the main road to Château-Thierry, another made a detour to Viels-Maison and then pushed north, well placed to out flank any rear guard positions. Hampered by the guns and transports of the two corps, all crammed on a single road, the Prussians withdrew only slowly. With the scent of victory in their nostrils the French cavalry raced after them. At Les Caquerets, five miles south of Château-Thierry, they drove the Allied cavalry from the field and broke the rear guard. Then they rampaged over the flat valley of the Marne to Château-Thierry itself. Some 3,000 prisoners, 30 guns and innumerable baggage wagons fell into their hands, before the last Prussians crossed to the north bank of the Marne and burnt down the bridge behind them.

For Napoleon it had been a remarkable victory. The two Allied armies totaled 30,000 seasoned fighting men under able and tough commanders. Napoleon probably never had more than 20,000 men at his disposal and at times far less. Seldom can an army so inferior in numbers have harried so unmercifully an enemy not only superior in strength and by no means deficient in courage or skill. Well might Napoleon write lyrically of the achievements of his Guards. The battle was curiously paradoxical. The battlefield was reported to be a bog, but cavalry have rarely been used to greater effect.

The armies of Yorck and Sacken suffered their worst losses retreating before an enemy greatly inferior to them, after fighting a battle that had by no means been an irretrievable disaster. Magnificently as his soldiers fought, it would almost seem that Napoleon defeated his opponents as much by imposing his will on the two Allied generals as by actually beating them in the field. He later suggested that had MacDonald advanced to Château-Thierry, not an enemy would have escaped. This is merely an Imperial flight of fancy. He gave no instructions to MacDonald to advance to Château-Thierry. The Marshal would have had two broken bridges to cross, and if by some magic he had arrived, Yorck had taken due precautions against an attack and had ample resources with which to beat it off. The allied generals did not pay Napoleon’s marshals the reverence they paid to the great master himself. As an interesting possibility, had there been no escape open to them, Sacken and Yorck might have exploited their numbers to more advantage. It does no justice to the extraordinary speed and certainty exhibited by Napoleon to suggest that his opponents were inferior, they were only inferior to him.

SOURCE: Napoleon: The Last Campaign’s 1813-15; BY: James Lawford

Napoleonic Wars: Montmirail Campaign 10-11 February 1814 (Part 3)

Napoleonic Wars: Montmirail Champaign 1-10 February 1814 (Part 2)

As the morning of 10 February 1814 progressed, about midday Müffling’s ADC. Lieutenant Gerlach, rode in from Sacken’s headquarters. The General though the expulsion of the Cossacks from Sézanne of no significance and had gone on to La Ferté-sous-Jouarre. MacDonald, however, had out-distanced him and, destroying the bridges over the Seine at La Ferté-sous-Jouarre and Trilport, had retired to Meaux. Gerlach remarked that he had ridden through Champaubert at 11 0’clock that morning and all seemed quiet. Blücher sent peremptory ordereds to Yorck to go to Montmirail and himself set out to La Ferté-Champenoise where Kliest and Kapzevich were due to meet before going the 11 milies to Sézanne.

As he went, the dull thudding of cannon fire came from the north-west in the general direction of Champaubert and Baye. There was nothing headquarters could do except hope that if Olsufiev was in trouble he would take to the woods. Towards evening so fugitives straggled into La Fère-Champenoise with a story of disaster. Olsufiev had been captured and most of his men killed or taken prisoner. Blücher halted his advance on Sézanne. Kliest’s men had already marched a long way and the wild country round La Fére-Champenoise would give some protection against the powerful French cavalry. They bivouacked for the night. Blücher had with him about 13,000 men all told, including about 500 horse; some 4,000 of Kliest’s corps including most of his cavalry were still somewhere between Châlons and the Rhine.

In the morning Blücher marched on Bergèresm and camped; during the day he accumulated about 1,000 stragglers from Olsufiev’s unhappy detachment. Some 3,000 must have been either killed or captured. Blücher anticipated that now Napoleon would turn east and attack him. With virtually no cavalry he dared not advance to Montmirail; equally he dared not retreat to Châlons. If the French cavalry caught him in the plains surrounding that town he would be cut to pieces. He stayed in camp and waited for information none came. For the rest of the day and most of the 12th he remained at Bergères in ahideous state of uncertainty. On the 13th a letter arrived from Yorck saying simply that Sacken had driven MacDonald across the Marne at Trilport, then had marched back to find Napoleon across the road at Viels-Maisons. There the message ended. All remained quiet except that some 800 of Kliest’s cavalry rode in and some French were identified at Étoges. Blücher’s old impatience began once again to take charge. He advanced, drove the French out of Étoges and stopped at Champaubert, proposing to march to Montmirail next day.

Next morning Blücher had gone about four miles along the Montmirail road and was approaching Vauchamps when his advance guard ran into a strong enemy post and a cense cloud of cavalry, well supported by artillery, descended on his marching column. The Prussian cavalry, haplessly out numbered, were soon driven off. A Cossack captured an officer of the French Old Guard. The Frenchman told Blücher that he was in the presence of the Emperor himself. Sacken and Yorck were north of the Marne. Napoleon had just completed a night march from Château-Thierry in order to destroy him.

Blücher and his army were in mortal peril. His one chance was to retreat before the French infantry could catch him up. He put Kapzevich on the right of the road and Kleist on the left while the guns traveled down it, dropping in and out of action as they went. During the bleak, cold afternoon the two columns slowly progressed eastwards while the French cavalry with their shouts of “Vive l’Empereur!” came roaring down in charge after charge. Müffling, marching with Kleist and checking progress with his habitual thoroughness, became alarmed. The French cavalry might head the columns by a wooded defile near Étoges and the survivors be compelled to surrender. Blücher, fearlessly riding about encouraging his men, was moving with too measured a tread. Müffling sent a message suggesting it would be wise to hurry. The old man replied with his accustomed bluntness. “ If Kleist did not run so immoderately fast all would remain compact.‘ Müffling, noted that a regiment of French cuirassiers had cut in ahead of the advance guard, composed of of three raw Russian infantry battalions, and was preparing to charge. The Russian infantry halted quite steadily and allowed the cuirassiers to close in. Then on the word ‘FIRE!’, every man blasted off his musket in one stupendous vvolley. It was poorly aimed and few Frenchmen fell; fortunately the cuirassiers turned and trotted off for, with their muskets empty, the Russian infantry lay at their mercy. Müffling thought ‘this was the time to make these inexperienced soldiers believe they had done something heroic. I Hurrahed them loudly. They moved briskly on, their drums struck up a march and all the drums of the corps followed their beat.

The light began to fade from the heavy skies and the muddy ground either side of the road prevented the French from bringing up their guns. This probably saved Blücher from complete destruction; but passing through Étoges, the French cavalry under Grouchy moved a head of the Allied rear guard and charging down the narrow streets virtually annihilated them. Beyond Étoges Napoleon called off the prusuit and the weary, ravaged columns halted at their old camp at Bergère to restore some of their order. After a few hours’ rest they continued on to Châlons. Blücher had lost some 6,000 men.

When he arrived at Nogent on 7 February Napoleon discovered that MacDonald, heavily outnumbered by Yorck with some 18,000 men, had kept his own troops concentrated and left the roads to Paris by Montmirail and Sézanne completely unprotected. There was nothing to stop Bücher hammering at the gates of Paris. But Schwarzenberg had swung away to the south, and a sudden and sharp blow might be dealt to the impetuous Prussian. He ordered Marmont with 2,000 cavalry, 1,000 infantry and six guns to march that evening to Sézanne 20 miles away to the northeast. While probing Blücher’s dispositions on the Montmirail road, Marmont was to ensure the enemy knew nothing of what passed between Nogent and Sézanne.

At about 4 P.M. , while he was meditating over his next move, despatches arrived from the peace negotiators at Châtillon. Napoleon read them and blenched. With their armies less than 100 miles from Paris and no signs of a mass uprising by the French people, the Allies were prepared to offer nothing more than the borders to France as theyhad been in 1792; in the north these would exclude Antwerp and the Rhine. Berthier and his Foreign Minister, Maret, begged him to accept. He retired to his own room to ponder. At last he reappeared and passionately rejected the term. “ Never’, he cried. “Never will I leave France smaller than I found it.’ Baron Fain, his secretary, remarked that he again withdrew and threw himself upon his bed. If he did, it was not to repine. Already he was organizing his next move. He himself declared that he had a mind like desk full of drawers; when he wanted to examine one he pulled it out, then when he had finished with it he shut it away and pulled out another. When he wanted sleep, which was seldom, he shut all the drawers.

That night he worked late. He constituted a VII Corps made up of the 7th and 9th Divisions from Soult’s Army of Spain. He gave the command to Marshal Oudinot, recently recovered from typhus contracted in Germany, instructing him to watch the more westerly approaches to Paris. Pajol’s cavalry division at Sens and Allix’s infantry at Pont-sur-Yonne were to come under him. He was to place troops at Nangus and Provins and be responible for Montereau with a total of nearly 25,000 men ( Napoleon always overestimated the number of troops he placed under the command of generals). Victor with 15,000 men including Gérard’s troops , now only a division strong, was to remain at Nogent and guard the crossings over the Seine to the east. The two marshals were to liaise closely over their plans. With 40,000 men between them they should be able to keep Schwarzenberg in check.

This left Napoleon a field force of 30,000 men and 120 guns, comprising all the best regiments in his army. His infnatry would consist of the two division of conscripts in Marmont’s VI Corps, two division of the Old Guard and three of the Young numbering in all about 20,000; for cavalry he had the Cavalry of the Guard, totally about 6,000, which Defrance’s Garde d’Honneur and the I Cavalry Corps, each of 2,000 gave him 10,000 troopers in all.

He estimated Blücher could muster 45,000 men. With help from MacDonald’s XI Corps, now increased to about 7,000 men, he concluded he should be strong enough to defeat him. Writing to his brother in the midst of his other preoccupations, he found time to include a postscript about Josephine: ‘ Keep the Empress happy, she is dying of consumption.’ Then with his small by choice army he set out to demolish Blücher, little knowing he now commanded 60,000 men.

The rain fell steadily and the road to Sézanne became a sea of mud; moving was hideously difficult and the misery of the soldiers acute. Marmont (VI Corps), after herculean efforts, had arrived on the 8th and during the 9th patrolled forward, indentifying Olsufiev at Champaubert and Sacken 10 miles to the west at Montmirail. Yorck, Napoleon knew, was chasing MacDonald some where near Château-Thierry. Although much of his army was still short of Sézanne. Teams of cavalry horses were needed to drag the guns out of the mud and, as he informed his administrative chief, the army was dying of hunger. The emperor ordered an advance to Montmirail via Champaubert on the 10th.

Marmont led. Olsufiev left the bridge over the Petit Morin undefended. He made no attempt to hold the difficult country near the river, here little more than a stream. The he suddenly elected to make a stand and fight in the flat open country round Champaubert, country excellently suited to Napoleon’s powerful force of cavalry. It must be supposed that the French advance was unexpected and that Olsufiev was unable to oppose it any earlier. Perhaps some rather unpleasant comments about the conduct of his corps at Brienne, suggesting that he and his troops left unnecessarily abruptly, may have weighed with him. His decision to stand and fight was disastrous. During a wet overcast afternoon Marmont’s conscripts drove fiercely forward, while Napoleon directed his cavalry to cut the Montmirail road on both flanks of the unfortunate Russians. After a stubborn resistance they were over whelmed. Characteristically Napoleon claimed to have captured 40 of their 24 guns and 6,000 out of a detachment of 4,000. It sounded better in the Bulletins.

He did not waste a moment. He told Marmont to clear up the battlefield with a single division and gave him I Cavalry Corps with which to mask Blücher. He ordered the remained to press on through the night to Montmirail, 10 miles to the west. But it was not until 1 o’clock next morning that he inhabitants of Montmirail awoke to the clip-clopping of many hooves and threw open their windows to see the leading squadrons of the Cavalry of the Guard ride by, their splendid uniforms drenched and plastered with mud.

SOURCE: Napoleon: The Last Champaign’s 1813-15; BY: James Lawford

Napoleonic Wars: Montmirail Campaign 10-11 February 1814 (Part 3)

Napoleonic Wars:Montmirail Campaign 1-10 February 1814 (After La Rothiére, Part 1)

World War Two: Hong Kong; Malaya; Force Z- Naval Actions December 1941-42

On the first day of the East Asian War, the Japanese Navy took three major risk. Disaster in any one of these operations would at least have forced an immediate change in the strategy of the war, and might, at the worst, have produced a terrible debacle. First, in the Pearl Harbor attack, they risked early detection and the possible presence of American carriers nearby, which could have severely damaged Admiral Nagumo’s strike force. They took a second risk, when the launch of the Japanese Navy’s air fleets at Taiwan was delayed by fog, for the USAAFFE could have struck a first and possibly devastating blow against these grounded planes. If this had happened, the Philippine landings would have lacked air cover, would have been met by an intact American air fleet., and American ships in the Philippines and Borneo would have been able to remain in Philippine waters. They took a third risk when the Japanese Army made landings in Malaya (Thailand), protected by a Japanese force inferior in capital-ship fire to what the British had in the battleship Prince of Wales and the battle cruiser Repulse. But again the Japanese were depending on naval air power (land-based this time) to counter and destroy British naval strength. They were throwing the dice for a third time.

Although Great Britain was hard-pressed by conditions in Europe and North Africa, she gathered ships at Singapore and formed them in to Force Z. The Prince of Wales, one of Britain’s newest and most powerful battleships, fresh from participating in the successful hunt for Germany’s Bismarck, had been so dispatched, joined by the Repulse. The remainder of Force Z consisted of the destroyers Electra, Express, Vampire and Tenedos, Force Z’s ships could not depend on the Royal Air Force (RAF), which was pitifully weak in Malaya and which, in the first days of the invasion, would be committed to the defense of the Malayan beachheads; they were supposed to get air support from a first-class carrier, the Indomitable, but that carrier unfortunately had run a ground at Kingston, Jamaica on 3 November, and was not yet repaired.

The Japanese Navy could not depend upon the planes of Admiral Nagumo’s strike force to counter Force Z; but since Yamamoto was committed to the use of planes to destroy warships, he resorted to the use of land-based naval planes at attack Force Z. The Japanese Navy had constructed three airfields in French Indochina in November 1941, and had placed an air fleet there, composed of six reconnaissance planes, thirty-nine fighters, and ninety-nine bomber and torpedo planes– a formidable groups, at the same time, as a backup force, a Japanese fleet was sailing south to engage Force Z in battle in necessary

Malayan Peninsula Landings

The Japanese Army made extensive perpetrations for the conquest of the Malay Peninsula and the capture of Singapore. The major elements in the initial landings were the 15th Army and the 25th Army. The troops had gathered at Samah Bay, Hainan, and embarked on 4 December, carried by nineteen transports. Since war had not been declared, the ultimate destination of the expedition was unknown to the Americans, British, or Dutch. They hoped that an invasion of Thailand was the objective, which was exactly what the Japanese wanted them to believe. The convoy rounded Cape Camao on the 6th of December and changed course toward Bangkok, where it proceeded to point “C” in the Gulf of Sian. Course was again changed on 7 December at 0830 toward Singora and Patani, Thailand.

The initial invasion, however, was made at Kota Bharu, Malaya, from three transports on 8 December, more than an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The landings, again, did not get off to a good start: seas were rough, landing craft capsized, the British army had artillery batteries firing in defense, and there were sporadic British air attacks. The Japanese casualties were moderate. The landing was backed by the Sendai and her destroyers, the Isonami, Uranami, Shikinami, and Ayanami, which delivered covering and counterbattery fire from two miles offshore. Conversely, at Singora, there was no resistance met by the troops disembarking from eleven transports. The operation was covered by the destroyers Asagiri, Amagiri, Sagiri, and Yugiri. (the Sagiri acted as headquarters ships for all invasion points) By midnight all eleven troopships were heading north, thus allowing the destroyer group to reinforce the warships at Kota Bharu. The second beachhead in Thailand was at Patani (sixty-five miles south of Singora); troops from five transports began landing on 8 December, again meeting no resistance. This landing was covered by the destroyers Shinonome and Shirakumo, which then also raced south to Kota Bharu. The Murakumo, who had been off Tepoh, nine miles south of Patani, also joined the other ships, gathered around flagship Sendai. (four other landings were made on 8 December against no resistance, farther north on the Kra Isthmus in Thailand; a transport of troops landed at Prachuab, two transports at Jumbhprn, one transport near Bandon, and three transports near Nakhorn. These landings did not require destroyer support. When British resistance at Kota Bharu crumbled 9 December, the Sendai with eleven destroyers could join the Southern Force heading south, possibly to meet Force Z. Because a considerable portion of the Japanese Army was then ashore in Thailand and Malaya, their lines of supply had to be open, and the destruction of Force Z therefore became an urgent priory.

Force Z

The invasion did not catch the British entirely by surprise; indeed, they had held out little hope that Malaya would be spared. But the locations of the landings did surprise them, for they had expected an invasion farther north, on the narrow Kra Isthmus. The three major beachheads, however, were about halfway between the Kra Isthmus and Singapore. Thailand surrendered on 9 December. From the very first moments of invasion, Japanese sir raids fully occupied the attention of the small Malayan -based Royal Air Force.

The officer commanding Force Z, Admiral Sir Thomas Phillips, faced a dilemma. His air forces on the heavy carrier Indomitable were unavailable, and the hard pressed RAF could promise him no air cover. But, at the same time, British naval tradition would have been violated if the British fleet were to remain at anchor in Singapore while enemy landings were taking place within it’s striking distance. Furthermore, there was always the chance that he might catch loaded or unloading transports at a beachhead. In the end, Phillips had no choice, for, although Force Z sailed from Singapore on 8 December at 1705, the invasions had been carried out too rapidly and too efficiently–Singora and Patani were occupied, the troop transports had been withdrawn, and by the time Force Z could read Kota Bharu, the transports there would also have departed.

With out adequate sir reconnaissance or other reliable information, Admiral Phillips was unaware of these events. All that he knew was that the Japanese were invading to the north–so he sailed north, between the mainland and the Anambra Islands. By 0559 on 9 December he knew Corce Z had been detected, for the destroyer Vampire had seen a Japanese reconnaissance plane. Phillips could expect an air attack, and he knew that he would have little or no air protection. Still hoping, however, to get tat the Singora transports, he took the force north, to a point 150 miles south of French Indochina and 250 miles east of the Malayan Peninsula. From there, his tactical position began to worsen rapidly, and at 1800, Japanese planes were once again spotted. He then turned south, toward Singora; but at 2330, receiving false information that the landings were being made at Kuantan (between Kota Bharu and Singapore), he headed Force Z there at top speed. At day break, when it was still sixty miles from Kuantan, Force Z was again spotted by a Japanese reconnaissance plane. After Admiral Phillips’ own observation planes reported that there were no landings at Kuantan, he then steamed first north and then east, stubbornly searching for Japanese ships. His luck, however, had finally run out, and own 10 December at 1000, Force Z came under concentrated Japanese air attack.

The Japanese Navy for its part, had a healthy respect for the potential threat posed by Force Z’s foray north. Carrier planes from Admiral Ozawa’s Third fleet had spotted an RAF “snooper’ on 6 December, so the Japanese knew that their hugh southward movement had been discovered. Although war had not yet been declared and Admiral Nagumo’s success depended on a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa nevertheless recklessly ordered his carrier pilots to shoot down any further British reconnaissance planes.

To counter Force Z, the Japanese had Vice Admiral Nobutake Knodo’s Malay Force. When, at 1315 on 9 December, the submarine I-65 sighted the northbound Force Z, south of Poulo Condore Island, Admiral Kondo ordered all transports to return to the Gulf of Siam and ordered his air fleet in French Indochina to begin showing the British force. (Submarine I-58 also tracked Force Z) Kondo ordered his own warships to close on the British to offer battle. First his heavy cruisers, the Mogami, Mikuma, Suzuya and Kumano, screened by destroyers Fubuki, Hatsuyuki, Shirayuki and by the Sendai and her destroyers, would launch a night attack if Force Z were discovered. Meanwhile, Kondo would bring up his two battleships, the Haruna and Kongo, and the heavy cruiser Atago, Takao, and Chokai, and all ships would then launch a daylight attack. Admiral Kondo was kept informed of the location of Force Z by the Kumano’s floatplane, and by reports from submarines. The surface engagement never took place, but Force Z, with its larger naval rifles, could certainly have given a worthy account of itself.

The Japanese bases in Indochina were also kept informed of the various courses taken by Force Z. On 9 December observation and attack units were sent out, but they found nothing. During the night, however, it was concluded that an air attack on Force Z, early on 10 December, would be possible, and at 0220, five Japanese planes left Camranh Bay, refueling at Poulo Condore Island and taking off again at 0430. From Saigon a nine plane formation was sent out at 0525 to search a 40 degree arc up to 600 miles. Also from Saigon’s airfields, from 0614 to 0730, thirty-four bombers and fifty torpedo planes took off. When Force Z was sighted at 1120, the location was passed to all units in the air.

Although the Japanese planes were almost at the limit of their fuel supply, they made an attack, beginning at 1148, with eighty-four planes taking part in the assault. Despite heavy antiaircraft fire the five ships of Force Z (destroyer Tenedos had been ordered back to Singapore at 1805 on 9 December), the Repulse received ten torpedo hits on her port side, almost evenly spaced from bow to stern, four forward on the starboard side, and a 550-pound bomb amidships. Unable to withstand such a pounding, she sank at 1203. The Prince of Wales received one torpedo forward, one aft on her port side, and five evenly spaced along the starboard side. She was hit twice aft by 1,100-pound bombs, was damaged in her starboard quarter by a near miss and finally sank at 1250. No British destroyers were sunk, but the Tenedos underwent a thirty-minute air attack during the morning of 10 December. In all, three Japanese planes had been shot down, and twenty-eight of the returning planes had been damaged.

Force Z had been crushed, and British power to defend Malaya at sea had been destroyed, without any intervention by Admiral Kondo’s surface fleet. Most remaining British naval units either went south to the Netherlands East Indies or retired to their Indian Ocean bases. The lack of British warships or planes gave the Japan freedom of the sea; thus the Japanese Army could by pass strong British land positions by using barges for transports. The Japanese had taken the state of Penang on the west coast by overland march on December the 19th. The Malay Force could then be released for the successful invasion of Borneo, which ere taking place at the same time.

The last effort of the Royal Navy to intervene in the rapid advance on Singapore came at Endau, a small town on the east side of the Malay Peninsula. If the Japanese could come ashore in sufficient strenght at Mersing, a few miles to the south of Endau, a considerable portion of the British’s army strenght would be cut off from Singapore, 100 miles to the south. The Japanese Army, believing that the defenses at Mersing would be formidable, by passed it in favor of Endau, which was invaded and captured on 21 January, 1942–but not in enough strength to break through the British Sungei-Mersing barrier. British Command at Singapore fully expected that the Japanese effort at Endau would soon be strengthened by a large convoy, a suspicion confirmed on 26 January when at 0715, a large armada was sighted by plane, 20 miles north of Endau. Some of the group were headed for the invasion of the Anambas Islands; others served as a cover force for both operations. The RAF threw many of its operational planes into a counterattack, flyingfrom Sumatra and Singapore. (ther had been some crated RAF planes on Singapore’s piers) By the time the air attacks could begin, the beachhead had been widened. Despite heavy antiaircraft fire and fighter-plane opposition by the Japanese, their transports, fuel dumps, and landing troops were bombed. The attacks continued until dark, with the British losing half their number of attacking planes.

The royal Navy then took up the task of breaking up the Endau landing by sending north of Singapore two old destroyers built during World war I: the Vampire and Thanet. The Vampire had only six torpedoes, and the Thanet , four. The Japanese overestimated the actual British strength, for the departure of the two destroyers was reported by Japanese naval intelligence as a departure of two cruisers. Moreover, the British submarines were reported to be in the area. Therefore, a relatively large attack group, made up of the light cruiser Sendai and the destroyers Fubuki, Hatsuyuki, Shirayuki, Yugiri,and Amagiri, was sent to intercept the British ships.

There ensued ab unequal but fierce little sea battle off Endau, in the darkness of early 27 January. In the exchange of gunfire and torpedoes, the Thanet was hit several times, she was then illuminated by the Shirayuki’s searchlights, and the Amagiri and Hatsuyuki finished her off at 0348. Fifty-seven of her sailors were rescued and became prisoners of war. The Vampire retired under smoke and returned to Singapore.

The end of the Malayan campaign was near, and thousands of people, including important officials, began to flee Singapore through the Malacca and Bangka straits, bound for Sumatra, Java or even Australia, using anything that would float. Few ships found any refuge, though. Admiral Ozawa’s Mobile Force, in the course of three days sank more than forty ships, with gunfire and bombs.

With South Sumatra, Borneo, and the Celebs in Japanese hands by the fall of Singapore, the Malaya boundary of the Netherlands East Indies had been broken. The surprisingly rapid capture of the Malayan Peninsula, in a little more than two months of war against major powers, caused the Japanese “Victory Fever” to shoot up several degrees.

Japanese losses were minimal in the Malayan campaign. An Australian bomber sank a Japanese transport in the Gulf of Siam. A Dutch submarine, O-XVI, attacked four loaded transports of Patani on 11 December but failed to sink any of them, and was herself lost when she hit a British Mine. Another Dutch submarine sank a loaded transport, while the submarine USS Swordfish sank an 8,600 toon Japanese merchant ship of Hainan on 16 December.

Hong Kong

Because the main assault on Hong Kong was overland by Japanese Troops, the Navy’s role in the city’s capture was slight. The light cruiser Isuzu of the Second china Expeditionary Fleet and two destroyers, the Ikazuchi and Inazuma, in the initial phase of the attack upon the Crown Colony, sank the gunboats HMS Cicada and HMS Robin and a number of junks of British registry, and captured enemy merchant ships in the harbor. They did not, however, assist the Army to any appreciable degree.

SOURCE: Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1941-45; BY: Paul S. Dull

 

 

 

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Escape Of Tammuz From Hades (Part 35); Assyrian

(His Death In The Clouds–Funeral Procession Of The Gods–Ishtar’s Elegy Over The Death Of Tammuz–His Revival In Hades, Where He Is Crowned As The Lord Of Hades–Ishtar’s Return Brings Light And Love Back To Earth.)

But see! they pass from those dark gates and walls,
And fly upon the breeze from Hades’ halls,
Hark! hark! the sounding harp is stilled! it falls
From Tammuz’s hands! Oh, how its wailing calls
To you bright “zi-ni”[1] flying through the skies,
See! one sweet spirit of the wind swift flies
And grasps the wailing harp before it ends
Its wail of woe, and now beneath it bends,
With silent pinions listening to its strings,
Wild sobbing on the winds;–with wailing rings
The conscious harp, and trembles in her hands.

A rush of pinions comes from myriad lands,
With moanings sends afar the awful tale,
And mourners brings with every whispering gale.
And see! the queen’s companion fainting sinks!
She lays him on that cloud with fleecy brinks!
And oh! his life is ebbing fast away!
She wildly falls upon his breast, and gray
Her face becomes with bitter agony.
She tearless kneels, wrapt in her misery
And now upon his breast she lays her head,
With tears that gods, alas! with men must shed;
She turning, sobs to her sweet waiting maids,
Who weeping o’er her stand with bended heads:
“Assemble, oh, my maids, in mourning here,
The gods! and spirits of the earth bring near!”

They come! they come! three hundred spirits high,
The heavenly spirits come! the I-gi-gi!
From Heaven’s streams and mouths and plains and vales,
And gods by thousands on the wings of gales.
The spirits of the earth, An-un-na-ci,
Now join around their sisters of the sky.
Hark! hear her weeping to the heavenly throng,
Imploring them to chant their mournful song:

“With your gold lyres, the dirge, oh, sing with me!
And moan with me, with your sweet melody;
With swelling notes, as zephyrs softly wail,
And cry with me as sobbing of the gale.

O Earth! dear Earth! oh, wail with thy dead trees!
With sounds of mountain torrents, moaning seas!
And spirits of the lakes, and streams, and vales,
And Zi-ku-ri of mountains’ trackless trail,
Join our bright legions with your queen! Oh, weep
With your sad tears, dear spirits of the deep!
Let all the mournful sounds of earth be heard,
The breeze hath carried stored from beast and bird;
Join the sweet notes of doves for their lost love
To the wild moans of hours,–wailing move;
Let choirs of Heaven and of the earth then peal,
All living beings my dread sorrow feel!
Oh, come with saddest, weirdest melody,
Join earth and sky in one sweet threnody!”

Ten thousand times ten thousand now in line,
In all the panoplies of gods divine;
A million crowns are shining in the light,
A million sceptres, robes of purest white!
Ten thousand harps and lutes and golden lyres
Are waiting now to start the Heavenly choirs.

And lo! a chariot from Heaven comes,
While halves rise from yonder sapphire domes;
A chariot incrusted with bright gems,
A blaze of glory shines from diadems.
See! in the car the queen o’er Tammuz bends,
And nearer the procession slowly wends,
Her regal diadem with tears is dimmed;
And her bright form by sorrow is redeemed
To sweeter, holier beauty in her woe;
Her tears a halo form and brighter flow.

Caparisoned with pearls, ten milk-white steeds
Are harnessed to her chariot that leads;
On snow-white swans beside her ride her maids,
They come! through yonder silver cloudy glades!
Behind her chariot ten sovereigns ride;
Behind them comes all Heaven’s lofty pride,
On pale white steeds, the chargers of the skies.
The clouds of snowy pinions rustling rise!
But hark! what is that strain of melody
That fills our souls with grandest euphony?
Hear how it swells and dies upon the breeze!
To softest whisper of the leaves of trees;
Then sweeter, grander, nobler, sweeping comes,
Like myriad lyres that peal through Heaven’s domes.

But, oh! how sad and sweet the notes now come!
Like music of the spheres that softly hum;
It rises, falls, with measured melody,
With saddest notes and mournful symphony.
From all the universe sad notes repeat
With doleful strains of woe transcendent, sweet;
Hush! hear the song! my throbbing heart be still!
The songs of gods above the heavens fill!

“Oh, weep with your sweet tears, and mourning chant,
O’er this dread loss of Heaven’s queen.
With her, O sisters, join your sweetest plaint
O’er our dear Tammuz, Tammuz slain.
Come, all ye spirits, with your drooping wings,
No more to us sweet joy he brings;
Ah, me, my brother![2]

Oh, weep! oh, weep! ye spirits of the air,
Oh, weep! oh, weep! An-un-na-ci!
Our own dear queen is filled with dread despair.
Oh, pour your tears, dear earth and sky,
Oh, weep with bitter tears, O dear Sedu,
O’er fearful deeds of Nin-azu;
Ah, me, my brother!

Let joy be stilled! and every hope be dead!
And tears alone our hearts distil.
My love has gone!–to darkness he has fled;
Dread sorrow’s cup for us, oh, fill!
And weep for Tammuz we have held so dear,
Sweet sisters of the earth and air;
Ah, me, my sister!

Oh, come ye, dearest, dearest Zi-re-nu,
With grace and mercy help us bear
Our loss and hers; our weeping queen, oh, see!
And drop with us a sister’s tear.
Before your eyes our brother slain! oh, view;
Oh, weep with us o’er him so true;
Ah, me, his sister!

The sky is dead; its beauty all is gone,
Oh, weep, ye clouds, for my dead love!
Your queen in her dread sorrow now is prone.
O rocks and hills in tears, oh, move!
And all my heavenly flowerets for me weep,
O’er him who now in death doth sleep;
Ah, me, my Tammuz!

Oh, drop o’er him your fragrant dewy tears,
For your own queen who brings you joy,
For Love, the Queen of Love, no longer cheers,
Upon my heart it all doth cloy.
Alas! I give you love, nor can receive,
O all my children for me grieve;
Ah, me, my Tammuz!

Alas! alas! my heart is dying–dead!
With all these bitter pangs of grief
Despair hath fallen on my queenly head,
Oh, is there, sisters, no relief?
Hath Tammuz from me ever, ever, gone?
My heart is dead, and turned to stone;
Ah, me, his queen!

My sister spirits, O my brothers dear,
My sorrow strikes me to the earth;
Oh, let me die! I now no fate can fear,
My heart is left a fearful dearth.
Alas, from me all joy! all joy! hath gone;
Oh, Ninazu, what hast thou done?
Ah, me, his queen!”

To Hades’ world beyond our sight they go,
And leave upon the skies Mar-gid-da’s[3] glow,
That shines eternally along the sky,
The road where souls redeemed shall ever fly.
Prince Tammuz now again to life restored,
Is crowned in Hades as its King and Lord,[4]
And Ishtar’s sorrow thus appeased, she flies
To earth, and fills with light and love the skies.

[Footnote 1: “Zi-ni,” pronounced “Zee-nee,” spirits of the wind.]–[Footnote 2: “Ah, me, my brother, and, ah, me, my sister! Ah, me, Adonis (or Tammuz), and ah, me, his lady (or queen)!” is the wailing cry uttered by the worshippers of Tammuz or Adonis when celebrating his untimely death. It is referred to in Jer. xxii. 18, and in Ezek. viii. 14, and Amos viii. 10, and Zech. xii. 10, 11. See Smith’s revised edition of “Chal. Acc. of Genesis,” by Sayce, pp. 247, 248.]–[Footnote 3: “Mar-gid-da,” “the Long Road.” We have also given the Accadian name for “The Milky Way.” It was also called by them the “River of Night.”]–[Footnote 4: “Lord of Hades” is one of the titles given to Tammuz in an Accadian hymn found in “C.I.W.A.,” vol. iv. 27, 1, 2. See also translation in “Records of the Past,” vol. xi. p. 131.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VI (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The King And Seer Conversing (Part 36); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Tammuz Is Restored To Life By The Waters Of Life (Part 34); Assyrian