Monday, February 20, 2017

Philippine Gov't. Bugs Out

FRI 20 FEB 1942
Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet directs Atlantic and Pacific Fleets to establish Amphibious Forces.

TF 11 (Vice Admiral Wilson Brown Jr.), en route to attack Rabaul, is spotted by Japanese reconnaissance flying boats (Yokohama Kokutai).
Although the American attack is cancelled, Japanese naval land-based bombers (4th Kokutai) attack TF 11, centering their efforts upon Lexington (CV-2). In the ensuing battle off Bougainville, combat air patrol F4Fs (VF 3) and SBDs (VS 2) (the latter utilized in the anti-torpedo plane role) and ships' antiaircraft fire annihilate the enemy formations. In the battle, Lieutenant Edward H. O'Hare (VF 3) shoots down five bombers in six minutes, a phenomenal performance that earns him the Medal of Honor.

Submarine Swordfish (SS-193) embarks Philippine President Manuel Quezon, his wife and two children, Vice President Sergio Osmeña, and other Philippine government officials off Mariveles.

In the wake of the Japanese carrier strike the day before, Darwin, Australia, is abandoned as an Allied naval base. RAF and USAAF air operations from the field outside the port, however, will continue.

Japanese invade Timor Island, N.E.I.

Destroyer Stewart (DD-224), damaged by shellfire in the Battle of Badoeng Strait the previous night, suffers further damage when, improperly shored and placed on blocks, she rolls on her port side in a Dutch floating drydock at Surabaya, Java.

U.S. freighter Delplata is torpedoed by German submarine U-156 about 60 miles west of Martinique, 14°45'N, 62°10'W. Small seaplane tender Lapwing (AVP-1) rescues the 52 survivors (including the 13-man Armed Guard) and then scuttles the irreparably damaged merchantman with gunfire.

Unarmed U.S. freighter Azalea City is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-432 about 125 miles east-southeast of Ocean City, Maryland, 38°00'N, 73°00'W. There are no survivors from the 38-man crew.

Admiral William D. Leahy writes to President Roosevelt that he expects a recall "for consultation" since the French have not responded positively to Roosevelt's message of 11 February. President Roosevelt, while sympathetic to Admiral Leahy's position, subsequently informs his ambassador to Vichy that "to hold the fort [in Vichy] is as important a military task as any other in these days." Leahy is thus retained in France. On the same day that Leahy writes to the President, however, German submarine U-156 puts in to Martinique to put ashore one of the men wounded by the premature barrel explosion on 16 February (see 21 February).

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