Welcome to The Bay Museum Website

The Bay Museum is a friendly museum situated on Canvey Island. Based in a degaussing station, it now offers a wealth of artefacts, books and displays focusing on both local and world military history. Open from 10am till 4pm, the museum also organises trips to France and Belgium to experience the battlefields first hand, as well as helping you research your own family military histories. The museum is run by volunteers who always warmly welcome visitors and are never short of a war story!

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Air Raid Damage Reports Brentwood Division Essex Fire Service 10 August 1942.

Date                Time   Location         Damage

10/08/1942    17.00  Canvey          1 – Naval Barrage Balloon grounded at Canvey

Island             Island and on marshes at Halfway House Farm Great Wakering.  (Removed by Naval Authorities 11.8.42).

Air Raid Damage Reports Brentwood Division Essex Fire Service 3 August 1942.

Date                Time   Location         Damage

03/08/1942    Found  Billericay      A quantity of small cellophane packets marked L.

1931, 3″ Mor., 100 grns., N.C. (Y) were found in the vicinity of Stock Road and Norsey Road Railway Bridges, Crown Road, Jackson’s Land and Sunnymeade Estate.  Military authorities stated that the packets contained an explosive for use with 3″ Trench Mortars as used by Infantry Regts. and are dangerous if ignited in a confined space, as has been ascertained by a boy age 9 yrs who was badly burned about the face by throwing one of the packets on to a fire he had made in a field.

SECOND WORLD WAR

August 1942

(Britain)

Britain had been bombing Germany since March 1940. Initially the attacks were made during daylight hours but heavy losses forced the RAF to switch to night time bombing. The effectiveness of the attacks was greatly reduced owing to the limited bomb aiming equipment available. When America entered the war in December 1941 the official Allied policy was the defeat of Germany took priority over the defeat of Japan. The U.S. Eighth Air Force began to arrive in Britain in February 1942. The first American attack on occupied Europe by B17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers was carried out on the 17th August 1942. Eighteen B17 bombers flew from their base at RAF Polebrook in Northamptonshire and bombed the railway marshalling yards at Rouen-Solleville in France, escorted by RAF Spitfire fighters they split into two separate groups. Six bombers flew along the French coast to act as a decoy diversion and the remaining twelve bombers flew to Rouen. Arriving over the target at about 5.30 pm they dropped 39,000lbs (17.1 tons) of general purpose bombs from a height of 23,000 ft. (7,010 m). The overall results were moderate but their accuracy was good owing to the Norden bomb sight developed in the U.S. The locomotive shed was one of the main targets and was destroyed by a direct hit. All eighteen B17’s returned safely to their air base although two had been damaged. The Boeing B17 Flying Fortress was a four engine heavy bomber which could carry a bomb load of 6,000lbs (26.8 ton) at 300mph (480k/h) and a range of 2,000 miles (3,200 km). It’s famous nickname of the “Flying Fortress” came from the fact that they carried 13 – 50 calibre M2 Browning machine guns and a legendary ability to absorb damage and still carry the crew home to safety.  

On the 19th August 1942 the Allies carried out an amphibious raid on the German-occupied French port of Dieppe. The raid was codenamed Operation Jubilee, and intended to boost Allied morale. 

Operation Jubilee was planned to land over 6000 infantry supported by a regiment of tanks on six beaches, four in front of the town and two on the eastern and western flanks respectively. Armoured support was provided by fifty eight of the newly introduced Churchill tanks which were transported using the new landing-craft tank (LCT). The LCT’s were specially designed to carry one tank. The Royal Navy’s contribution was the supply of 237 ships and landing craft. Six Hunter-class destroyers provided pre-landing gun fire support which proved to be totally inadequate. The First Sea Lord Sir Dudley Pound was reluctant to risk capital ships in an area vulnerable to attacks by German aircraft.

Also aerial and naval support was insufficient to enable the infantry to achieve their objectives.

The RAF’s main aim was to provide a smoke screen over the cliffs surrounding the town, which would be dropped by Douglas Boston bombers. The smoke screen would be achieved by using 100lb (45kg) smoke bombs with the bombers taking off ahead of the raid without fighter escorts. However, air reconnaissance photographs had failed to spot the dug-in German gun positions and the opinion of the British planners was that Dieppe was not heavily defended. Coupled with the lack of information for the suitability of the beaches with regard to gradient and load bearing capabilities, the raid was a recipe for disaster. The assessment for the beaches was conducted by scanning holiday snapshots which led the planners to underestimate the terrain and German defensive strength.

French double-agents informed the Germans the British were showing interest in the area. The German Supreme Commander in the West Field Marshall Gerd von Rundstedt correctly concluded a raid would soon be forthcoming. Dieppe and the surrounding area was well defended. Luftwaffe fighters were on standby to oppose any landings. On the 18th /19th August 1942, following RAF Coastal Command patrols, minesweepers cleared paths through the English Channel. A flotilla of eight destroyers and Motor Gun Boats escorting the landing craft headed towards Dieppe.

The initial landing began early morning of the 19th August 1942 and the flotilla of landing craft engaged a small German convoy. The convoy was driven off but the landing craft were dispersed. Allied destroyers had noticed the engagement but did not come to their assistance as they assumed the landing craft had come under fire from shore batteries.

When the landing craft arrived at the beaches the tanks struggled to negotiate the shingle beaches and the commandoes faced a far greater number of defenders than were expected. Despite heavy fighting the commandoes were forced to begin a withdrawal from the beaches at 09.40 which was completed 14.00. The raids on the port of Dieppe were equally unsuccessful.    

3,357 of the nearly 5,000 Canadian contingent were either killed, wounded or taken prisoner. British commandoes lost 247 men out of 1,000 troops who entered the raid. The RAF lost one hundred and six aircraft and suffered the loss of 62 killed, 30 wounded and 17 captured. However, the Air Sea Rescue Service picked up about 20 pilots who had been shot down. The Royal Navy suffered the loss of one destroyer and thirty-three landing craft with five hundred and fifty men killed or wounded.

Despite the fact that the Raid on Dieppe was a complete disaster there were a number of gallantry medals awarded for the operation. Of the gallantry medals three soldiers were awarded the Victoria Cross, one British and two Canadian, one of whom was a padre. One British Major General was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, while one enlisted Canadian was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. There were two Military Medals awarded, one Canadian and one American who incidentally was the first American in the Second World War to receive a British award for bravery in action.

The raid on Dieppe proved to be an example of “what not to do”. To achieve a future amphibious operation the lessons learnt were:-

(1) Proper intelligence concerning enemy fortifications.

(2) Load bearing properties and type of beach to be negotiated.

(3) Surprise.

(4) Preliminary artillery support, including freedom of the skies and aerial bombardment.

(5) Proper re-embarkation craft.

(6) Avoidance of a frontal attack on a defended port.

All the factors were taken into consideration when planning for D-Day, the Allied landings on Normandy in June 1944.

 (America)

The U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Averell Harriman, sent Stalin a copy of the telegram from President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the 3rd August 1942. The telegram announced that in September 1942 Washington would host an international student assembly. It was proposed that delegates from the four Allied Powers of the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and China should attend. Roosevelt expressed his wish that the assembly be attended by two or three students, preferably those with combat experience against the Germans. Negotiations between Washington and Moscow finally agreed and three delegates had were selected to attend.

Nikolai Krassavchenko was head of the delegation. The second was senior lieutenant Vladimir Pchelintsev, hero of the Soviet Union. The third delegate was junior lieutenant Lyudmila Pavlichenko who was commander of a sniper platoon in the 32nd Guards Parachute Division. It was Stalin who agreed for Lyudmila Pavlichenko, as the only woman to attend as she was the highest-scoring female sniper with 309 kills.

The delegates left Moscow on a circuitous route via Egypt, Africa and America and arrived in Washington at 05.45 on the 27th August 1942. Despite the early hour arrival at the White House the delegation was met by the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Upon showing the delegation to their rooms Mrs. Roosevelt announced breakfast would be served at 08.30.                        

At breakfast, thinking it was maybe some Soviet propaganda exercise, Mrs. Roosevelt asked Lyudmila would she actually kill an enemy soldier. To American women, whose country had not been invaded, this scenario was unthinkable. Lyudmila explained that the she had lost her husband, a fellow soldier, to the Germans at Sevastopol. After the Soviet Union had been invaded, the civilian population starved and subjected to mass slaughter, her duty was to defend her country. Yes that entailed her killing German soldiers. When she received the reply Eleanor realised that Lyudmila was a genuine front-line sniper.

Eleanor left the breakfast table and the delegates were given a tour of the White House. The delegations time table was subjected to a strict schedule which entailed TV and radio interviews. On the 30th August 1942 the delegation attended a performance of the opera “Madame Butterfly” at the National Theatre of Washington. The audience were invited to donate money for a fund to assist the Red Army. Following the opera the delegation enjoyed a banquet at the Soviet Embassy. Eleanor joined the delegates for breakfast the next morning prior to their tour of America.  After breakfast she bid the delegates farewell and departed.  Lyudmila and Eleanor Roosevelt corresponded regularly and were to become good friends.

On the 8th August 1942 six German saboteurs were executed in an American jail. The United States had declared war on Germany and Japan on the 11th December 1941 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour four days earlier. German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler authorised a mission to sabotage the American war effort which was known as Operation Pastorius. The mission was headed by Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, chief of the German Abwehr military intelligence. He recruited eight German residents living in the United States into the Abwehr military intelligence of whom two were American citizens. They were Ernst Burger and Herbert Haupt.

The remaining six George John Dasch, Edward John Kerling, Richard Quinn, Heinrich Harm Heinck, Hermann Otto Neubaur and Werner Thiel who were working or had worked in the United States. The agents were given three weeks intensive training at the German High Command School near Berlin in Germany, especially in the manufacture and usage of all explosive devices. They were encouraged to converse in English and become familiar with American newspapers and magazines whilst their background “Histories” were developed by the Abwehr.

Upon arrival by two U-boats in the United States the agents were instructed to spread a wave of terror by planting explosives on selected targets. However, the mission was almost compromised before leaving Europe. The leader of the group, George Dasch left sensitive documents behind on a train whilst another agent, when drunk in a Paris bar, announced he was a secret agent. The first submarine landed at Long Island, about 100 miles east of New York City on the 12th June 1942. Four of the agent saboteurs, Dasch, Burger, Quinn and Heink came ashore wearing German Naval Uniforms. They would be classified as prisoners-of-war rather than spies if they were captured.

The explosive equipment they brought with them was buried in readiness for the forthcoming sabotage campaign. Dasch offered unarmed Coast Guard John Cullen a bribe after being discovered on the dunes. After feigning cooperation Cullen reported the encounter to the Coast Guard. In the meantime the Germans had taken a train from Long Island to Manhattan where they booked into a hotel. When the armed Coast Guards returned to the site they found the buried explosive equipment. A massive manhunt began.

The second U-boat landed the German agents at Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida on the 16th June 1942. They came ashore wearing bathing suits and German Naval hats. Upon landing the German agents, led by Kerling, discarded the hats and put on civilian clothes before boarding separate trains to Chicago in Illinois and Cincinnati in Ohio. On the 4th July 1942 the two teams met in a hotel in Cincinnati to coordinate their sabotage arrangements. Dasch and Burger agreed they had no intention of going through with the missions and would defect to the U.S. immediately. Dasch rang off when the FBI doubted his story after phoning the New York office of the FBI to explain who he was. On the 19th July 1942 he travelled by train to Washington D.C. and walked into the FBI headquarters. He managed to obtain an interview with Assistant Director D.M. Ladd and gained his attention by showing him the operational budget of $84,000. Dasch and Burger were the only two who knew of the betrayal. Over the next two weeks Burger and the other six agents were arrested.

No official evidence exists as to why Burger was arrested with the remaining six saboteurs. It is highly likely he was arrested because he had not voluntarily surrendered to the FBI, also to cover up for his wanting to abandon the mission.

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover claimed the credit for the FBI by cracking the spy and sabotage ring. However, when presenting his report he forgot to mention that Dasch had turned himself in and passed on all the details. For Hoover, the fact that Burger was arrested with the other six saboteurs would have looked better on his claim to cracking the sabotage ring.

On the 2nd August 1942 President Roosevelt issued an Executive Proclamation to create a military tribunal as he feared a civilian court would be too lenient. The Germans were charged with four violations against the state and faced a seven-member military commission.

The trial for the eight agents began in the Assembly Hall No. 1 of the Department of Justice building in Washington D.C. began on the 8th July 1942and ended on the 1st August 1942. Two days later they were all found guilty and sentenced to death. Because they had turned themselves in Roosevelt commuted Dasch to 30 years imprisonment and Burger to life imprisonment. The other six saboteurs were executed on the 8th August 1942 in the electric chair in the District of Columbia jail. Admiral Canaris was rebuked by Hitler for the failure of Operation Pastorius. The United States never received any further sabotage attempts following the failure. Send note to Martin about this Paragraph

(Germany)

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a small country bordered by Belgium, France and Germany. In May and June 1940 Nazi Germany invaded Western Europe and overran Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and much of France. Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prime Minister Pierre Dupong’s government fled to and finally settled in Canada via France, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Charlotte became an important symbol of national unity when in exile in London. When the Nazis occupied Luxembourg they began a programme of “germanisation” on the population. German was the only language permitted and the French language banned as were the names of streets, towns, shops and companies which were translated into German. The people of Luxembourg were made German citizens in January 1942. The Duchy of Luxembourg was formally annexed to the German Reich on the 30th August1942. When the Nazis announced that the men of the Duchy would be drafted into the German army, a mass general strike against conscription broke out across the country on the 31st August 1942. The uprising was quickly put down by the Nazis with extreme brutality including executions.

(The Eastern Front)

In Moscow on the 12th August 1942 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Sir Alexander Cadogan of the Foreign Office were met by Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and Chief of Staff Boris Shaposanikov. They were joined by U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Averll Harriman and they inspected an honour guard. Churchill addressed the assembly by stating that the Allies would continue in their fight against the Nazi regime until it was beaten into the ground.

In May 1942 Molotov had met Churchill in London and they signed the “Treaty of Alliance”. Churchill stated that Britain was not in a position to launch a “Second Front” during 1942 in Europe in order to divert German troops away from the Eastern Front.  When British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden received a message on the 30th July 1942 from the British Ambassador to the Soviet Union Sir Archibald Clark Kerr he passed the message on to Churchill. The message indicated that Molotov’s letter to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, following his visit to London, in which Stalin had failed to interpret the Prime Minister’s intention. It was agreed that Churchill would meet Stalin in person in Moscow. Churchill left Britain on the 1st August 1942 and arrived in Cairo, on his way Moscow, on the 4th August 1942. Whilst in Cairo he dismissed General Sir Claude Auchinleck of his position as commander of the British Eighth Army.

He departed for Moscow on the 10th August 1942 and arrived in Moscow on the 12th August 1942. The conference began on the 12th August 1942 and ended on the 16th August 1942. In the conference Churchill had given his reasons why the “Second Front” could not be launched in 1942. Stalin would appear to have been in agreement with everything discussed at the conference. Churchill felt his visit had been a great success considering the disappointing news which could not have been achieved had it not been delivered personally.

Churchill left Moscow for Cairo on the 16th August 1942 and arrived back at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire on the 26th August 1942 and was greeted by his wife Clementine.

As part of Operation Barbarossa of 1941 the Germans had launched Fall Blau (Case Blue) during late June 1942. By late July 1942 the German army, in the attempt to control Stalingrad, was slowed down by Soviet resistance in the Caucasus Mountains. The Germans reached the River Don by the 2nd August 1942 but were impeded by the lack of supplies caused by the poor state of the Soviet roads. German commanders were convinced the Sixth Army was not strong enough to cross the River Don therefore waited for the arrival of the Forth Panzer Army. By the 4th August 1942 the Germans were 97km (60 miles) from Stalingrad. By the 10th August 1942 the First Panzer Army had arrived and the Luftwaffe had sent over 300 Ju 52 transport aircraft with the necessary supplies. Although the roads were in poor condition the Germans had cleared the Red Army from most of the banks of the River Don. By the 23rd August 1942 despite several Soviet counter-attacks the Germans crossed the River Don and established a defensive line on one of its bends. Later that day the Germans reached the northern suburbs of Stalingrad. Effectively the five month Battle of Stalingrad was about to begin. 

(The Mediterranean and Desert War)

Malta was a military and naval fortress in the Mediterranean and the only Allied base between Gibraltar and Alexandria in Egypt. The Axis Powers of Germany and Italy recognised the strategic position that Malta occupied and reasoned the island needed to be bombed or starved into submission. Subsequently Malta had been besieged by the Axis Powers since 1940. With the arrival, in May and June 1942, of Spitfire fighter aircraft the Royal Air Force (RAF) had gained control of the skies. Despite the reduction of the Axis air attacks the situation on Malta was desperate. Food, water, ammunition and especially oil was in danger of running out. In June 1942 two convoys of the Royal Navy carrying vital supplies, despite serious losses, delivered 25,000 tons of supplies to the besieged island.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was aware of the weariness of the British people on the continuous defeats to date in both the desert and Pacific campaigns. The loss of Malta after so many humiliations would be a crushing blow to the national spirit. Therefore in the summer of 1942 it was decided by the cabinet that Malta must be sent sustenance if they were not to be starved into surrender. Operation Pedestal, a British operation to carry supplies to the island of Malta during August 1942 was about to begin. Royal Naval planning for Operation Pedestal began in late July 1942. Under the direction of Vice-Admiral Neville Syfret, Rear-Admirals Lumley Lyster and Harold Burrough a conference was convened on 29th July 1942 to discuss the operation. Also planned were several smaller operations to be carried out concurrently with Pedestal. The U.S. fast tanker SS Ohio was the most important of the fourteen merchant vessels which comprised the convoy. The Ohio, on loan from the United States, was manned by a British crew and carried 12,000 tons of oil. As a safeguard the other thirteen merchant vessels carried fuel in oil-drums. The convoy was protected by the largest escort force ever previously assembled. The escort vessels consisted of two battleships, four- aircraft carriers, seven cruisers, thirty-two destroyers and seven submarines. The bulk of the convoy sailed from Britain on the 3rd August 1942 and the assembled convoy passed through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean on the night of 9th/10th August 1942.

On that first morning the sea was calm, the sky was blue and visibility was excellent. Ahead of the convoy was 900 miles of sea before they reached their destination. They would have arrived in Malta in 50 hours of fast steaming but it took approximately 100 hours with the ships having to zigzag. Syfret dispatched a signal to all ships saying: ’Malta looks to us for help. We shall not fail them’. The bloodiest air-sea battle in the west was about to begin and not one person on board the convoy and escorts had any doubt the enemy would come.

Waiting for the convoy were 600 aircraft, 21 submarines and approximately 40 torpedo boats of the Axis powers of Germany and Italy. 0n the 11th August 1942 the enemy were first aware of the approach of Pedestal fleet when the hydrophone operators of U-boat U-73 detected propeller noises. Upon raising his periscope captain Helmet Rosembaum saw aircraft carrier HMS Eagle approaching fast before changing course in a zigzag pattern. He waited until Eagle was facing side on then promptly fired four torpedoes. Twenty feet below the water line the torpedoes struck her side and she immediately began to list to port. It was obvious to everyone as to the fate of the Eagle with thousands of tons of water pouring into her machinery spaces. She continued to list then turned over so that her bottom came to the surface. Within eight minutes Eagle sank in a fury of white foam.  The loss of Eagle so early in the operation did not bode well for the rest of the journey. 131 officers and ratings died but 67 officers and 862 sailors were pulled out of the sea and rescued. Also lost was approximately 20% of the fighter cover for the convoy. Immediately after the attack U-73 crash-dived in an attempt to put depth and distance before the inevitable depth-charge attack. She evaded being detected and managed to escape.

On the 11th/12th August 1942 a crucial failure on the part of the Italian navy occurred. The cruiser fleet was already at sea but naval intelligence had sighted four British cruisers and ten destroyers and thought they were heading to the Eastern Mediterranean to act as a decoy. Many Italian headquarter commanders decided to cancel the operation due to lack of air cover. Mussolini was in agreement when the issue was referred to him and rather than risk his ships by attacking Pedestal he recalled some of the cruisers to port and the rest to face the expected decoy convoy. The Italians threw away the opportunity for a crushing victory. In the meantime destroyer HMS Wolverine and four additional destroyers had been on anti-submarine patrols. Wolverine detected Italian submarine Dagabur at 4,900 yd. (4,500 m) range, she accelerated and made visual contact at 700 yd. (640 m) range. At a speed of 31 mph (50 k/h) Wolverine rammed Dagabur sinking her with all hands. Wolverine badly damaged her bow but managed to sail back to Gibraltar for repairs.

Having sailed through the U-boat attack zone and travelling nearly 700 miles they were approaching Tunisia on the North African coast. On the 12th August 1942 Operation Pedestal was faced with fast German and Italian torpedo boats and aircraft who were waiting for them, and out they came from Tunisia to stop the convoy. On the evening of the 12th August 1942 the convoy passed the island of Pantelleria. S.S. Ohio was an American oil tanker who formed part of the convoy. Axis aircraft attacked the convoy and in the mayhem an Italian submarine torpedoed Ohio amidships which immediately caught fire. The flames were extinguished and Ohio was constantly under attack until she finally came to a stop. HMS Penn began towing Ohio and the two ships were again attacked by aircraft. Ohio was hit yet again by a bomb and probably had her back broken. Ohio was sinking but with Penn and HMS Ledbury secured each side Ohio was towed into Valletta harbour in Malta on the 15th August 1942. A fleet auxiliary tanker RFA Boxol pumped 10,000 tons of fuel oil into her own tanks and as the last of the fuel was pumped out Ohio settled on the bottom.

Ohio’s English Captain Dudley William Mason was awarded the George Cross for successfully supplying vital fuel to Malta. Although Malta received vital supplies it came at a disastrous cost. Only Ohio and four merchant vessels got through, out of a combined convoy of fourteen merchant vessels. With the survival of Malta as a military and naval fortress the Axis Powers were denied the ability to easily supply Rommel’s desert campaign.

The First Battle of El Alamein ended on the 30th July 1942. The British Eighth Army, under the command of General Sir Claude Auchinleck (The Auk) set up a defensive position from El Alamein on the coast to the impassable Qattara Depression on the outskirts of the Sahara Desert. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was desperate for a victory in the desert campaign and constantly sought an offensive from The Auk even though the Eighth Army was exhausted. On route to Moscow to attend a conference with Stalin, Churchill and Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, flew to Cairo in early August 1942 to meet The Auk. It transpires that both Churchill and Brooke had lost confidence in The Auk and he was relieved of his post. He was replaced as C-in-C by General Sir Harold Alexander with Lieutenant-General William Gott as commander of the Eighth Army. However, Gott was killed when his transport plane was shot down whilst flying to Cairo from the battle area. Churchill was persuaded by Brooke to appoint Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery (Monty) as commander of the Eighth Army on the 13th August 1942. The fighting spirit of the Eighth Army was transformed after Monty assumed command. He ordered the reinforcements of the 35 mile (56 km) front line at El Alamein and that all contingency plans for retreat be destroyed. The Auk, after having withdrawn to a strong defensive he had established did not have any plans for retreat. Monty made himself known to his troops by visiting them as often as possible wearing his famous black beret. When Brooke and Alexander visited the area on the 19th August 1942 they were astonished by the transformation of the general atmosphere. The Second Battle of El Alamein began on the 23rd 0ctober 19 A popular but unproven story was that Monty was supposed to have remarked: “After having an easy war things have now got much more difficult”. He was told by a colleague to cheer up. Monty’s reply was: “I’m not talking about me, I’m talking about Rommel”.

(The Pacific)

Operation Watchtower was the codename given to the Guadalcanal Campaign which was essential in denying the Japanese the bases that would allow them to threaten the Allied supply shipping between the U.S. and Australia. Allied forces, predominately American Marines landed on the Solomon Islands of Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Florida on the 7th August 1942. The Japanese, as part of their attempt for military supremacy in the Pacific, had occupied the islands since May 1942. The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) had constructed a seaplane base on Tulagi and was in the process of building an airfield on Guadalcanal. Bad weather had allowed the Allied invasion force to arrive unseen by the Japanese taking the defenders by surprise. The landing force split into two groups with one group assaulting Guadalcanal and the other group attacking Tulagi, Florida and the nearby islands. All the beaches were bombarded by Allied warships while U.S. carrier aircraft bombed Japanese positions and destroyed 15 Japanese seaplanes at their Tulagi base. 886 IJN personnel stationed at Tulagi and two nearby small islands fiercely resisted the 3,000 Marine attackers. The Marines lost 122 men and the Japanese defenders were killed almost to the last man.

The Allied landings at Guadalcanal had taken the Japanese by surprise. In response to the landings the Imperial Japanese Navy mobilised a task force to attack the Allied amphibious supporting fleet of screening ships. The Japanese task force, consisting of seven cruisers and one destroyer, sailed from their bases on the islands of New Britain and New Ireland under the command of Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa on the 8th August 1942. Of the eight cruisers and fifteen destroyers forming the Allied screening force, under the command of British Rear Admiral Victor Crutchley, only five cruisers and seven destroyers were involved in the battle.

Japanese aircraft, based at Rabaul on Papua New Guinea, attacked the Allied amphibious forces several times on the 7th and 8th August 1942. The attacks caused USS George F. Elliott to catch fire and sink within two days and heavily damage destroyer USS Jarvis. Over the two days the Japanese lost 36 aircraft and the U.S. lost 19 aircraft either in combat or carrier accidents. Concerned about the losses to his carrier fighter strength, commander of the Allied expeditionary force U.S. Vice Admiral Frank Fletcher withdrew his ships from Guadalcanal on the 9th August 1942. Because of the early withdrawal less than half of the supplies and heavy equipment had been unloaded which the troops on shore would need.

The landing of 11,000 U.S. Marines on Guadalcanal encountered far less resistance. The partially completed airstrip was taken following the Japanese abandonment complete with intact construction equipment, vehicles, food and supplies. The airstrip was named Henderson Field on the 12th August 1942 by the Marines and was named after Lofton R. Henderson, who was a Marine aviator killed at the Battle of Midway.

Work began immediately on the airstrip using mainly Japanese equipment plus the supplies the Allies had managed to land. The airstrip was ready for operation on the 18th August 1942. A total of 14 days of food was available by using captured Japanese provisions together with the landed stores. On the 20th August 1942 the escort carrier USS Long Island delivered 19 Grumman F4F Wildcat and 12 Douglas SBD Dauntless aircraft.

By the end of August 1942 a total of 64 aircraft of various types were stationed at Henderson Field. Between the 21st August and early September 1942 air battles between Allied aircraft and Japanese fighter/bombers were fought almost daily. The 1,120 mile (1,800 km) eight hour return trip from their base at Rabaul took their toll on the Japanese air force who were slowly losing the battle in the skies above Guadalcanal. The Battle of Guadalcanal lasted until February 1943 and marked the Allies transition from defensive to offensive roles in the Pacific theatre against the Japanese.

The Battle of Savo Island was the first major naval engagement of the Guadalcanal campaign. The Allies were unaware that the Japanese Navy had trained extensively in night-fighting tactics before the war. The Battle of Savo Island was primarily fought during the hours of darkness to avoid attacks from Allied aircraft which could not operate effectively at night. On the 7th August 1942 Mikawa’s warships headed east-southeast toward Guadalcanal. On the night of the 8th/9th August 1942 during the ensuing engagement the Japanese sank one Australian and three American cruisers. The Japanese suffered very little damage in return, but fearing Allied carrier air strikes against his fleet in daylight, Mikana decided to withdraw under the cover of darkness. Following the attack the Allied warships and the amphibious force supply ships withdrew earlier than planned. This left the ground forces on Guadalcanal with limited supplies, equipment and food to hold the beach head. Both the Americans and Japanese feared counter attacks and lost the opportunity for success. The Americans for not attacking the Japanese fleet with aircraft. The Japanese for not crippling the supplies to Guadalcanal which contributed to the eventual Japanese failure to capture the island. Despite the Japanese naval withdrawal, technically Japan was victorious at the Battle of Savo Island. Their casualties were two heavy cruisers and one light cruiser slightly damaged for the loss of 120 crewmen killed. The Allied fleet suffered the worst defeat in U.S, naval history, second only to Pearl Harbour. Of the twelve ships deployed three heavy cruisers were sunk and one was scuttled. One heavy cruiser and two destroyers were damaged, for the loss 1,077 Allied crewmen killed.

The American Raid on Makin Island (now known as Butaritari) was an attack on 17th/18th August 1942 by the U.S. Marine Corps Raiders on Japanese military installations on the island. 121 Marines were transported to the island by two submarines, and their objective was to destroy Japanese installations, take prisoners and to divert attention from the Allied landings during the Guadalcanal Campaign. The Makin Island Garrison was created by the Japanese navy in early 1942 with a total force of 71 armed personnel located at the Japanese seaplane base. A further 7 non-armed military personnel were based at the garrison. 2 civilian interpreters completed the contingent of defenders. The Marines were launched in rubber boats from the submarines just after midnight on the 17th August 1942 and successfully landed on the beach about 05.13. The marines advanced from the beach across the island, despite strong Japanese resistance whose snipers and machine guns stalled the advance and inflicting casualties. In an attempt to halt the marine advance the Japanese launched two suicides raids (banzai charges). The marines wiped them out, the result being most of the Japanese on the island were killed. Twelve Japanese planes arrived over Makin at 13.30. Two of the planes were flying boats, carrying Japanese re-enforcements, who attempted to land in the lagoon. Machine gun, rifle and anti-tank rifles caused one plane to crash and the other to burst into flames. No American casualties occurred when the remaining planes bombed and strafed the island.

The marines began to withdraw from the island using eighteen rubber boats at 19.30. The outboard engines of eleven of the boats were not working and only seven boats with 93 men made it to the submarines.  By 23.00 the remaining eleven boats failed to reach the submarines, despite hours of effort to breach the strong surf. The exhausted marines made it back to the beach. They linked up with the 20 fully armed rear guard marines who had been left to cover the withdrawal. At 09.00 on the 18th August 1942 the submarines sent a rescue boat with a stretch rope which would enable them to pull the rubber boats through the surf to the submarines. Japanese planes arrived just as the operation began and attacked the rescue ship and the submarines. The rescue boat was sunk and the submarines were forced to crash-dive and wait on the bottom all day. At 23.00 the undamaged submarines received a message from the beach to say they had built a raft of three rubber boats and two native canoes and to meet the marines at the entrance of Makin Lagoon. Using that raft, powered by the two remaining outboard engines, seventy-two exhausted marines were picked by the submarines after having sailed four miles from Makin Island to the mouth of the lagoon. Casualties for the marines were nineteen killed, seventeen wounded and twelve missing. For the Japanese forty-six were killed, untold numbers wounded or missing. Technically it was an American victory but they only achieved one of their objectives. The raid did provide a reliable test for raiding tactics but more importantly it was a massive morale booster for the marines.

—     

The Battle of Milne Bay in New Guinea has been described as the first major battle in the Pacific campaign where Allied troops defeated Japanese land forces. The battle was fought between the 25th August and the 7th September 1942 involving Japanese naval infantry troops and mostly Australian troops. Located at the eastern tip of the Territory of Papua (now part of Papua New Guinea) Milne Bay is a sheltered 22 mile (35km) long by 10 mile (16km) wide bay deep enough to allow large ships to enter. A number of airfields had been constructed and on the 22nd July 1942 Kittyhawk fighters of the Australian RAAF began to arrive at the bay. The Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces attacked the Allies on the 25th August 1942, and were completely unaware that the Allies had been forewarned by intelligence, had strengthened their defences. Nearly 2,000 Japanese land troops accompanied by Tanks landed on the coast despite suffering a setback at the outset when part of the invasion force was destroyed by RAAF aircraft. The Japanese began their advance towards the airfields where they encountered the Australian Militia troops who formed the first line of defence. Heavy fighting forced the militia to retreat. Unexpected Second Australian Imperial Forces coupled with Allied air superiority tipped the balance of power in the defenders favour. Suffering heavy casualties and lacking supplies the heavily outnumbered Japanese withdrew their forces. The fighting ended on the 7th September 1942 resulting in 635 Japanese killed and 311 wounded. The combined Australian and American losses were 181 killed or missing and 206 wounded. The Battle of Milne Bay was an Allied victory with Australian Corporal John French posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions against the Japanese on the 4th September 1942.

(Other Theatres)

India was on the silk route to the far-east and formally became a direct possession of the British crown in 1858. The British attempted to bring European culture into the country. By doing so they created a large Indian elite educated in Western values who began to question why India did not enjoy the same rights. These western educated elites began to oppose the British who had educated them. Mahatma Ghandi, a lawyer, was one of the elite who led the opposition. When the Second World War began in 1939 over 2.5 million Indian citizens volunteered and joined the British military. These volunteers fought with honour on the various fronts as members of the Allied forces, and ignored Ghandi’s campaign that India should not participate in the war. He was motivated in his belief that India should not be a party to fighting for democratic freedom against Germany and Japan while that freedom was denied to India itself. He also condemned Nazism and Fascism. As the war progressed Ghandi and members of the Congress Working Committee intensified their demands for independence. He called for the British to ‘Quit India’ in his 9th August 1942 speech in Mumbai (Bombay). This speech was seen by the British government as being Ghandi’s definitive revolt aimed at securing the exit by Britain from the Indian continent. The ‘Quit India’ speech resulted in the British government ordering Ghandi’s and Congress Working Committee’s immediate arrest. Retaliation against the arrests by the population was by damaging or burning hundreds of government owned police stations, railway stations and cutting down telegraph wires. Now nearly 73 years of age in 1942 Ghandi urged his people to stop co-operating with the British government. His request was that they did not kill or injure British people, but should be willing to die if the British officials initiated violence against them. He reasoned only ‘Organised anarchy’ would be the means to bring about eventual independence, He also urged his fellow Indians Karo ya maro (“Do or Die”) in the cause for their rights and freedom. Ghandi was held in the Aga Khan Palace in Pune (Poonah) and he and his followers arrest lasted two years.  Ghandi was released, owing to his failing health on the 6th May 1944, because the Indian authorities did not wish for him to die in prison and have him becoming a martyr to an enraged nation.

Brazil declared war on the Axis powers of Germany and Italy on the 22nd August 1942 and formally entered into the Second World War. Prior to the war Brazil traded with the Allies and Axis powers. When the war began in 1939 Brazil was a neutral country but after the beginning of the conflict trade with Europe became more difficult. Consequently they turned to the United States as a trading partner. America pressurised Brazil to join the Allies which led to a Brazil-U.S. Defence Commission. This commission was to counter any Axis influence in South America. On the 28th January 1942 Brazil agreed the United States could set up air bases to the north-east of her territory. As a result of Brazil’s decision twenty-one German and two Italian submarines sank thirty-six Brazilian merchant ships. 1,691 seamen were drowned and a further 1,079 casualties was the main reason for Brazil’s declaration of war on Germany and Italy. Brazil also broke off diplomatic relations with Germany and Italy on the 22nd August 1942. Brazil was the only county from South America to provide troops to fight with the Allies in the Italian Campaign. The Brazilian Navy and Air Force helped the Allies in the Atlantic from 1942 until the end of the war in 1945.

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Air Raid Damage Reports Brentwood Division Essex Fire Service July 1942.

Date                Time   Location         Damage

03/07/1942    Found  South            3 – 2″ British Trench Mortars near the Seaplane

Benfleet         obstructions, Benfleet Creek.  Removed to Canvey Island Police Station.

03/07/1942    Found  Billericay      1 – H.E. unexploded at Snail’s Farm Jackson’s

Lane.  Time of falling not known.  No damage or casualties.

07/07/1942    Found  Rayleigh      1 – H.E. unexploded in shrubland 75 yards North

West of junction of Warwick Road and The Drive (both are unmade roads).  Date of falling believed January 1941.  No damage or casualties.

09/07/1942    08.40  Raweth          Bombardier No 1474857 Harry Owens age 20

years, a single man of the 329th A.A. Heavy Battery R.A. was examining a hand grenade at the A.A. gun site when it exploded killing him instantly.  The Army Hut in which the explosion occurred was damaged.

09/07/1942    Found  South            1 – A.A. unexploded Shell in a field 200 yards

Benfleet         South of “Winifred” a house in Thundersley Park Road.  No damage or casualties.  Date and time of falling not known.

09/07/1942    Found  Canvey         1 – H.E. unexploded in a field at the Western end

Island           of Waterside Farm.  No damage or casualties.  Date of falling believed 24.10.40.  (Disposed of BDS   42).

15/07/1942    Found  Little             1 – H.E. exploded and formed a Camouflet in a

Burstead      field 500 yards S-SW of Stockwell Hall.  No damage or casualties.  Date of falling believed 1940.  (Disposed of BDS by explosive charge 23.7.42).

22/07/1942    12.20  Great              Mr Albert Collicut of “Seaview Road, age 57 years,

Wakering       was employed at “O” Battery, New Ranges, Shoeburyness fixing plates in the butt, when a round was fired from the gun killing him instantly.

28/07/1942                Foulness       1 – H.E unexploded found in a ditch 100 yards

Island             North of cart track and 300 yards South East of Eastwick Farm.  No damage or casualties.

30/07/1942    02.40  Langdon        1 – A.A. Shell exploded in a house “Nightingale”

Hills                Lee Chapel Lane, causing considerable damage.  There were no casualties.

Air Raid Damage Reports Brentwood Division Essex Fire Service 9 July 1942.

Date                Time   Location         Damage

09/07/1942    08.40  Raweth          Bombardier No 1474857 Harry Owens age 20

years, a single man of the 329th A.A. Heavy Battery R.A. was examining a hand grenade at the A.A. gun site when it exploded killing him instantly.  The Army Hut in which the explosion occurred was damaged.

09/07/1942    Found  South            1 – A.A. unexploded Shell in a field 200 yards

Benfleet         South of “Winifred” a house in Thundersley Park Road.  No damage or casualties.  Date and time of falling not known.

09/07/1942    Found  Canvey         1 – H.E. unexploded in a field at the Western end

Island           of Waterside Farm.  No damage or casualties.  Date of falling believed 24.10.40.  (Disposed of BDS   42).

Air Raid Damage Reports Brentwood Division Essex Fire Service 3 July 1942.

Date                Time   Location         Damage

03/07/1942    Found  South            3 – 2″ British Trench Mortars near the Seaplane

Benfleet         obstructions, Benfleet Creek.  Removed to Canvey Island Police Station.

03/07/1942    Found  Billericay      1 – H.E. unexploded at Snail’s Farm Jackson’s

Lane.  Time of falling not known.  No damage or casualties.